Sleeping Mr. Rush

Sleeping Mr. Rush

A Story by ScorpioSun

Another dream-inspired story, I hope it's not too confusing.

Mr. Rush was sleeping. He slept so deeply that nothing and no-one could wake him. He lay curled on one side beneath a thin white sheet, in a rotting four-poster bed. The house was abandoned, and he had lain undiscovered until three days ago.

A beautiful young blonde-haired girl who looked no older than a teenager stooped down next to his bed. “We've found you another one,” she whispered, but Mr Rush did not so much as move. His curved back faced her like a wall.

She rose and walked out, her high-heeled boots sounding against the warped and bare floorboards like a drum. When she returned, two men in white plastic biohazard suits and facemasks entered in behind her, carefully carrying a stretcher which held an elderly man. They moved as gracefully as cats across the room and placed the stretcher softly down on the floor next to the bed where Mr. Rush still slept soundlessly.

They set him down in the exact spot where the window directly above let an oblong of stark winter sunlight shine over the floor, and it now lit up the old man like an aura. The cross of the window pane was shadowed across his chest as a dark omen, and he shifted weakly under the blinding sun.

The man's name was Lesley, and he was dying. At eighty-six years old his time had finally come. He had felt it stalking him ever since the cough had come back two years ago. Before that, it hadn't troubled him since the age of nineteen when he lay as a strong young man in a hospital bed with Tuberculosis, but when it resurfaced he felt his life forming a great loop, doubling back and making a return. He no longer had the strength to fight it, and he sensed the circle would soon close. When it did, he knew that would be the end.

The two suited men left as quietly as they had arrived, and the girl moved gently over to Lesley, her blue eyes wide and her brow creased. She stooped down next to him. “Are you ready?” she whispered.
Lesley nodded. “Yes,” he grated with painfully shallow breath.
She then turned back to the bed and the curved spine of Mr. Rush beneath his single sheet.. “He's here,” she said. “He's ready.”

She stood and wrapped her brown leather jacket more tightly around herself, shivering in the November chill that hung inside the abandoned house's concrete-cold air. She wasn't dressed for winter.

Mr. Rush stirred, at first just his breaths becoming deeper and more audible, but soon he began to move his limbs, like a statue coming to life. One arm shifted beneath the sheet, then a leg, and soon his whole body rolled over and he lay on his back. His eyes were still closed, his mouth wide open, gasps of steam escaping like pieces of his soul. He looked ancient, wrinkled and dried into a husk of a man. The girl wondered how long he would be able to keep doing this.

With a groan of tremendous effort Mr. Rush moved again, rolling over to face Lesley on the floor, and his eyes sprang open. They were the eyes of a young man, dark and crystal-clear, with the depth of the whole of space, and in that moment there was a glow of pure light that seemed to come from everywhere.

The girl shielded her eyes and stepped back unsteadily on the uneven floor, and when she looked again the bed was empty, and Lesley was dead. Mr. Rush was unravelling his life.

Mr. Rush was used to this now. To him, time spooled out in all directions, and travelling it in reverse made as much sense to him as travelling it forward did to the rest of us. He relived Lesley's journey here to the house, the cough, the cold winters alone after his wife died, the joy of seeing his grandchildren, the heartbreak of looking after his dying wife. He lived everything, he became Lesley in reverse.

There was a wedding where he lifted the veil of the most beautiful woman on earth, and felt like he was opening a gift at long last, and he pressed his lips on hers and melted. There was a hospital full of soldiers where he lay for many weeks, racked with the pain of coughing until he thought he would die. There was a war that lasted years, and he felt the shame and determination of looking down at the bayonet fixed to his brand new rifle, and vowing never to use it. He felt the thrill of deployment into North Africa turn into horror as men died all around him.

There was a family, two strict but loving parents, four younger brothers, and one tiny house. Beds were shared, food was rationed, and he worked himself to exhaustion delivering packages and letters for the army before he was old enough to enlist.

He forgot himself, playing a role, following the script, and for eighty-six years cast backwards there was no Mr. Rush, only Lesley. It was a dream, a slumber that lasted a lifetime, but as the life he undid hastened to its source he had moments of awakening. When his bruises stung after losing a fight at school, when he cried as a smacked child, and when howled as a hungry baby, he would remember just for a moment, and he would cry even louder.

In nineteen twenty-six, when the country was not even a decade out of the first Great War, Lesley was born, and in that exact moment Mr. Rush woke.

He opened his sluggish eyes and looked around him. He was in the same bed as before, in the same house, only now it was not rotting. The room was still young and fresh with the colours of life; plush carpets lined the floors, heavy curtains hung either side of the windows, and the sunlight was warm. In nineteen twenty-six the house was still new.

Now that he was back, he remembered everything. He was Mr. Rush again, ancient and wrinkled, and he had to wait here until she found him. He smiled, remembering the same house being stark and devoid, now a lifetime in the future, and it felt like yesterday.

His own time was now a mist of memory in a lost future so far away that he barely recalled. No-one there would recognise this as their own history, or even recognise this as Earth anymore, and yet he kept going. Life by life he was devouring the past, each one a slow leap back to the start of all things. He no longer cared for what he had left behind. No-one in his own time would ever taste what he had tasted, understand the pain and beauty of things, and return to the beginning.

He longed for the day he would see all of human history unravel, when he would see the birth of the first humans and there would be no more lives to live. Only then, when he could go no further, would he truly have lived forever. He prayed with a determination that trembled through gritted teeth that his old body would hang on long enough.

Exhausted, he lay and closed his eyes, and he slept. Nothing would awaken him from his slumber until she came to find him, and bring him another.

© 2012 ScorpioSun

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Added on October 29, 2012
Last Updated on October 29, 2012
Tags: old age, death, time travel



United Kingdom