The men who ate themselves

The world was smothered in white, a trees gnarly limbs pointed to the sky in accusation with curled fingers.
‘I can’t breathe out here,’ I reported.
‘Get back!’ Mack’s voice came through the static.
‘I can’t,’ I told him, ‘I can’t,’
‘You’re gonna die out there!’
My footsteps trailed behind me, I wanted so bad to cover each up, cover my tracks, ‘Soldier down,’ I said breathlessly.
‘Flint, If you don’t get back here now I’m gonna kick your fucking arse!’
‘soldier….down…’ I gasped.
‘Flint you fucker! We’re right here! Just walk back. Crawl back. Do anything and get back here, right fucking now! Don’t make me come out there!’
‘Mack, I’ve seen it.’ I fell to my knees, ‘I’ve…’ between each breath I uttered my words through gritted teeth, ‘seen it, Mack,’ a gush of wind blew the snow in circles around me. ‘He ate himself, Mack,’ a tear ran down my cheek, froze solid on its way down.
‘Flint, You cared too much. But it’s over, you need to let go.’
‘I can’t,’ I fell headfirst into the snow-covered ground. ‘I’m so tired Mack, I’m so tired of caring. The anger, the pain…’
‘Flint, if you let go you can get back! Let go!’
‘I can’t Mack. He’s a husk, a ghost. I never believed in ghosts but now I know they’re real.’
‘Right, that’s it!’
‘Don’t come out here!’ I screamed into the static, ‘Don’t come out here!’
Ghosts aren’t what you think they are, they aren’t the spirit of the dead they’re sadder than that. They’re living people who are helpless not because no one can help them, but because they won’t accept the help.
‘He ate himself, Mack,’ I cried into the void.

The snow slushed underneath me, my body leaving a trail covering up the footprints of the man dragging me.
‘You need to get out of his headspace,’ Mack was droning on, ‘he’s got you caged in his head.’ He paused and bent over winded trying to take a breath. ‘It’s an illusion, Flint,’ He coughed, ‘he got into your head and projected his own. you’re in his headspace inside your own headspace. You can let it go.’
I sat up and opened my eyes dazed and confused, he shut the door and switched the oxygen on, sat down next to me to get his breath back.
‘You don’t have to care all the time, Flint.’
But I knew I would. And I knew it would hurt and I was angry he saved my life.

I saw a man eat himself like the way the critters eat my mind. He ate me too, and now the critters in our heads eat us and we eat us and we’re all just consumed.

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