His skin was soft and wrinkly, lightly clinging to his tiny bones. One eye, his left, was bulbous covered with a milky film. It didn't see and was dead in his skull. The green eye was squinty and rimmed with red. When dusk set, he'd roam the subways with a candle that lit his jarring steps. It was morbid curiosity that made me follow him. At least at a distance.
Walking along the tracks frightened me but his whispering voice echoing off the walls kept me following. I ignored the smell of rats and the scrabbling paws, even when one scampered over my foot.
Just above the rats noise he said: "The bounce my eyes against my brain."
The walls would repeat, "My brain. Brain. Brain."
"But it's their game. I'll make the sacrifice for their humor," he'd continue before the echoes would die, turning into a whispering, cacophonous symphony.
"They swarm in and out of my ears."
Everything he said amplified and the rats drowned. My ears were throbbing. Why were the echoes louder than what he was saying.
"They'll reward me when they kill me."
Each word was a different bell, running out of order. "Eyes. Bounce. Game. Kill. Brain. Ears." The erratic ringing slashed colors over my eyes, each toll another color. In the midst of swirls, I saw his gods. Bald, shiny heads that each held three silver eyes, large and pupil-less. Gaping smiles ripped open their faces.
They vanished in tight swirls of prism particles when the tracks rattled, knocking my knees together and vibrating my ribs. He was in front of me, the oncoming subway light making his blind eye shine. The subway was behind me.
Time stopped. The subway pressed harshly into my spine, bending me like a bow. The dead eye came to life with the gods leisurely leaning against one another, eyes half lidded sleepily. I wanted to dig my finger into the eye socket, scoop the gods out, and throw them away from me. My back ached but he was too close for me to unfold myself. I debated trying to cut myself in half by bending even farther back. Looking at the gods tied my intestines into knots.
The subway was gone. The rats were gone. Above me, stars glittered and I could see each of the despite the cities fluorescent lights hugging me. My vision was tighter, like what I saw was only half of the picture. I closed my left eye-
Stars, galaxies, the universe.
I closed my right eye and I saw the gods playing jump rope with my intestines.