Maelstrom Mind

The Adventures of Quinn | No. 2 | (Sample)

Sheena Monster
5 min readAug 22, 2023
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That inky darkness has crept in again. Taunting me, like some creature that hides in the closet or under the bed of every childhood bedroom—the one that no adult can ever seem to find or see, but every child knows has come for their soul and only exists when the lights go out to dance in the shadows of the night. Heavy and all-consuming, this darkness devours every sliver of hope I once felt—that I think I must have once felt—sinking its fangs into the flesh of my soul and draining me of whatever is left of my humanity. Still, I’m wandering again. Trudging through a thick, mucky terrain that tries to swallow me whole like quicksand every time I stop moving. My limbs growing heavier with every step, a dull ache throbbing in my joints, a hollow buzzing in my ears makes it impossible to hear. My mouth tastes of how the air smells, dank and sticky—humid, like a bog covered in a haze of stank and mist. The tang of bile and virus linger on the back of my tongue, like rotten citrus, challenging my gut not to purge whatever is left from its last meal, from who knows how long ago.

As familiar as this place has become, I am still lost, still uncertain of where I came from. Even if I know I do not quite belong here—wherever here may be—it’s becoming more and more like home. It’s just as well. A place such as this is fitting for a cretin like me who has never been worthy of that which my heart—what every heart—most desires; longing for the embrace and validation of a love unconditional in its offering. Still, I can’t escape this niggling feeling that I do not belong here—if I belong anywhere at all—and yet I find myself perpetually trapped in this place, devoid of connection and unity. Sometimes, I get flashes in my mind of a place outside of here, a place with a consort and a couple of kids who look up to me with vibrant eyes full of forgiving adoration and subtle disquietude. It feels so distant from where I am that I can’t be certain it’s real at all—and I want it so badly that I am almost certain I have made it up somehow, through dreams and delusions that slip through the cracks of my shattered mind when things become too heavy to carry through this cold and desolate darkness gnawing at my every waking hour.

This eternal darkness wanes, from time to time, though it has been thick as pitch for some time now. When it does wane, it illuminates little and only enough to expose the vastness of this ceaseless abyss. Trembling at the sight, I yearn for the elusive existence of my waking dreams that I remain uncertain is truly real—of the companion and kids that haunt my every wakeful hour, if I am ever genuinely awake, though I am not sure what I would do or say were they in front of me now. Sometimes, I swear I can hear them whisper, beckoning me to come back to them, wherever they are. They call to me from somewhere without that feels within, a mirage of a lighthouse hidden by the heavy fog of this maelstrom in my mind that holds me captive. How do I find that which I am unsure I’ve even lost, unsurely has lost me to this surreal existence cloaked in the darkness that I struggle now to describe? All that I can tell you, if you aren’t yet another figment of my deluded imagination, is that this restless emptiness continues to grow with every in-drawn breath and enroots itself in every exhale—a living thing that morphs one shadow into the next, crawling just out of perspective, stalking me as I wander without a clear purpose through this indistinct wasteland.

Still, some unseen thing is leading me to some unseen place that I cannot name, I dare say feeding me hope that the duskiness of this place will lift; if only I can hold on to my sanity a little longer. Sanity. Such a strange concept, sanity. Are any of us truly sane—is it even possible to make it through one’s life without at the very least a touch of derangement? I remember once fearing lunacy—judging it—pondering what it would feel like and what it would mean to lose all touch and semblance of realness. Digging only as deep as a fleeting recollection will allow—a mere remembrance of emotion that does not come with a physiological response, nothing beneath the surface of the memory. I once scoffed at the preposterousness of the surreal possibility. The shallow fear of a time before—a time that I cannot identify as legitimate—now overthrown by an ever-present madness, enveloped in the panic of being trapped in the here and now that wears a different countenance. I am so lost. So…ambivalent.

My hands drag along a dampened rock wall, cold to the touch and smooth and rough at the same time, guiding me through a passage that I cannot see—perhaps you can see it from where you are, can you see it now, from the outside looking in? There is wind howling about me, above me, below me. Surely another storm is blowing in before the last has blown out, maybe this time it will rain and soften the quicksand beneath my feet enough to finally swallow me whole—I should be so lucky, for an end to finally come, an end to this cyclic yomp through hell. No, I am not so lucky as to see an end in sight; for I have not done a thing worthy of such mercy, I’m sure of it. At best I can hope to ascend on a peak that will only dissolve into nothingness, throwing me into a void, dropping me into a spiraling freefall until I hit an unseen bottom—maybe trip and tumble into that fantasy life for which I yearn so deeply, how serene that hallucination would be. Hush now, do you hear that, devoted reader—that soft hum hovering just above the wind? Angelic and euphonious as a siren’s song to a sailor lost at sea; that’s the whisper, the one that beguiles me from an illusory phantom.

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