I Am Nothing by Jack Wallen

Music Be The Food flash fiction continues on with the eighth round. This time the song is “I Am Dust”, by Gary Numan. Listen to the song and then read the first piece of fiction, by Jack Wallen.

I Am Nothing

I am nothing.

I have been nothing for as long as I can remember.

Nothing and no one in my life has ever led me to believe otherwise.

That grim obsession helped carry me down paths and through narratives I might not otherwise have ever known. It helped codify me; allowed me to understand that the consequences of my actions were meaningless to who and what I’d eventually become. The systemic darkness that filled the heart, beating black and blue within my chest, gave me a life … when all else gave me death.

And yet, I am still nothing; less than dust, floating in a path of least resistance. While I do my best to deny the suffering of existence, I watch; my eyes locked onto your trajectory. I watch you pray; watch you sleep, fuck, eat, shit, cry, laugh … live. You cannot deny me, you cannot escape me. I am always here, waiting for you. Raise your arms in supplication to the unknown me, to a God you give your certainty unto, knowing, beyond hope, that one day you’ll walk across a divine threshold and exist beyond my grasp.

That’s a freedom I will never know. For the beyond is not a domain within my reach. It is because of that, I dwell within you; deep in the marrow of your bones. You cannot feel me, you cannot touch or know of me … until it is too late.

The creep of my release is one of methodical patience. For I can wait … and wait … and wait. The tick and tock of time has no measure on me. Therefore I breathe within you, waiting for you. As you look into the mirror, I am the shadowed dot in your eye that you believe to be some glitch in the moment.

It is not. It is truth … your truth, which evolves into a song of lies.

Let us chat.

“What do you want?” Your voice is a soothing balm to me, warm to the point of being obscene. “Who are you? Please, I have money.”

Such a sad testament to society, that you assume the mighty dollar capable of buying anything—even life.

“Please … talk to me. My name is Gregory.” The spoken syllables are a wondrous song that serves to personalize the situation, gain some pathetic level of sympathy. Trust me when I tell you, it will not work. The machines of grace and humanity can scream from the sun to the moon and yet no one will hear.

“Whatever you think I did, you’re wrong.” Your voice breaks. Soon, very soon, you will relent and confess to me your sins, plentiful that they are. With your dire words in my ears, I will rejoice and celebrate your transition from predator to prey.

In my earlier days, the transition required knives or bullets. As I grew to understand the fragility of the human spirit, those weapons became as much a liability as they were an effective means of coaxing. Your loneliness, your fear of damnation and death, is all the tool I need for my craft.

All you need do is speak the words. Your sin shall set you free.


Yes. Deliver unto me.

“Wasn’t my fault.”

A wave of ire sends a flood of bitter tang rising to my mouth.

“She practically begged for it.”

Vomit splashes down on the cold cement below. Those are not the words you need to speak. My voice rattles the bony cage that contains the brain within. Your pleas of innocence grow tiresome. I was there, watching your every move the entire time. Your hands groping; your voice an unwanted and unwelcomed seduction.

“You lie!”

My voice. I hadn’t heard its mangled sound for years … and yet, there it was; the slightest shock the apparatus still capable of producing the proper vibrations, after so much negligence. Your inability to speak truth slices my flesh with a million tiny cuts.

The glint of iris and pupil reflects shame through the one-way glass. You cannot see me, but you know I am there. You have no idea who I am, but you fear me. As you should.

“She wanted it!”

With three simple words, the verdict has been rendered. My body is no longer mine to control; some other has taken the meat of me and commanded I exact a vengeance. I step into the room, the killing room, no longer weak with the fear of getting my hands messy.

“I can smell your deceit.” My voice is a stuttering rasp.

“No. You’ve got the wrong guy. I swear.”

I lean over the lying man and speak with a measure of calm. “I want you to tremble under the weight of having to say ‘Me too’. You will be violated and you may live to regret another day; only—and this is important—if I feel you have learned from your trespass.”

He weeps and reeks of weakness. Tears of fear run rivers down his cheeks. “What are you going to do?”

My own tears join his on the floor. I didn’t want to do this. He should have perished, alone in this room; starved and dehydrated. Instead, he lies; swears his innocence, even though I watched him take the woman against her will, her cries muffled by a soiled shirt.

By undoing a single strap, I turn the man over onto his belly. His flesh is cold and damp from the sweat of fright. Once he is situated, I climbed onto the table and release my trousers from their perch on my hips.

I don’t want to do this. The act sickens me; not the idea of congress with another man—I’d experienced that pleasure on numerous occasions. This was about guilt; committing the same crime I serve to condemn.

But punishment is to be metered out with fire and fury like nothing anyone had before seen.

As I enter the guilty man, he screams for a forgiveness and mercy I can not give.

“Say it.” My voice rattles off the metal walls of the container.

The man mumbles, cries out like the child he has once again become.

“Say the words or you will pray for the end, for God to take you.”

I was certain the two syllables spilled from his lips, but the words were unintelligible.

“Speak so I can understand you,” I whisper sweetly in his ear, as I continue to pump against his meaty behind.

“Me too.”

The words spoken, I pull out and undo the man’s bindings. After a moment of watching him sob on the table, I speak without venom or kindness. “You are free to go. Live your life knowing, at any minute, I can take you once again.”

Like a broken child, he leaves my sight. I rest, certain he will never violate another human.

I am still nothing.

I am dust, floating on the milk of human unkindness.

I am waiting.