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The Haze

Author: Mora Gray
Year: Future

I can feel the haze creeping over me again. It’s forever lingering at the back of my brain, present but tameable. Occasionally though, it grows restless and wild, longing to spread and engulf me whole. It’s oh so sneaky in trying to achieve this, inching over more and more of my brain so slowly as if I won’t notice. Most of the time I do, I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I’ve also learned the most effective way of dealing with it. I used to think that fighting the haze back was best, cursing it for existing and trying my hardest to exorcise myself from it - just wanting to be free. It took a while to realise that this led to me being drained and exhausted without having made much progress. High cost for very little reward. Now I know that fighting with something that is a part of me is pointless, so I accept and acknowledge the haze. I coax it gently back into its small corner of my brain, treating it with the respect it needs but also with a firm hand. Things are fine, I can handle this.

Sometimes though, I do miss the warning signs, and before I know it the haze has consumed me. Like a storm rolling in over the sea, so quick it’s upon you before you were even aware it was coming.

Now is one of those times. The haze feels particularly thick and heavy this time, as if it is not only coating my brain but also weighing it down; suffocating my thoughts, drowning my futile attempt to save myself. The preverbal cogs in my brain can’t keep up with demand and also deal with this intense haze, they slow and slow until they are just barely ticking over. The haze has transformed my brain into essentially sludge, where even the most basic thought takes forever to form. That all familiar numbing emptiness starts seeping into my brain and down into my bones. A dark chill spreads through me, wrapping around my heart and squeezing. Slowly at first, but gradually tightening until there is no feeling left.

Nothing but emptiness remains.

A hollow vessel, floating through life. That's what the haze does, what it creates. Now it has control, the storm can begin.

Drops of all my greatest fears begin to fall, cascading down and drowning out everything else. They crash into me and I can feel myself sinking. The sludge of my brain and now waves of my fears combine like quicksand, trapping and ensnaring me so that I can not escape. A gale of whispers starts stirring, telling me horrible thoughts that before I had been sure were not true but now am not so convinced. The more uncertain I felt, the louder they howled, and the quicker I sank.

The storm raged on, and I was lost in it. Perhaps it was best to just succumb, after all battling a storm is treacherous at best.

A ghost of a thought flickers in my mind; but I need to survive it.

At this the storm thunders with fury, crescendoing with an almighty crash. Memories of past mistakes, bad decisions, and lifelong regrets flash before me like lightning, each striking a vicious blow to my heart. Claps of thunderous self-loathing boom across my brain, shattering walls of self-esteem and self-worth that had taken so long to build.

I plead with the storm to stop, that I can not cope with this, that it will swallow me whole and never let me go. My desperate cries are lost, however, underneath the turmoil. Even if it heard, the storm does not care. I’m in danger of being torn apart but I don’t know how to avoid it.

I close my eyes.

I wait for the end.

But that half-formed thought crosses my mind again.

I need to survive this.

I sigh, and open my eyes. And that’s when I see it. Through the storm, just barely visible but definitely there, a small shelter.

I run, at least I try to. But the sludge I’m stuck in is making any movement almost impossible. A quiet resolve has begun building within me though, and I know that I mustn’t, I can’t give up now. I claw and I dig and I stumble my way towards the shelter.

Keep going keep going keep going.

For what feels like eternity I scramble and fight my way there, but eventually I make it. My refuge of calm but steadfast resistance against the storm. I can still hear it howling outside, furious that I have escaped its grasp, but it is muffled. I am safe. Safe amongst my logic and rationality, which assure me that the storm twists things out of perspective and lies to make me believe the worst about myself. Safe in the knowledge that I am more than my fears and mistakes. Safe enough to accept that I am not weak for letting the haze transform into such a powerful storm. It happens, and it will end.

Because that’s what storms do. They end. It will eventually grow tired, expending all its energy trying to hurt me, taunt me, goad me. But it will fail, and it will exhaust itself out of existence, until all that is left is the haze.

I can deal with the haze. It’s like an old friend.

All storms end.

Even mine will.

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