The room is silent, just the ticking of an old clock to keep him company. Can he really hear the clock, of that he is not sure it could just be the drugs. Pregabalin and Diazepam are his company. They keep him somewhat sane. He is waiting for the door, he’s always waiting for the door. Coffee, drugs and the door. The story of his existence.
The tock follows the tick. He had not noticed it until now but it was always there. As night follows day the tock follows the tick. He sits almost hypnotised by the noise, counting every second as it passes. Tock to tick and tick to tock. He jumps as the letterbox slams shut.
He can hear it creeping, slowly moving forward. Slow at first but with a growing sense of confidence. He knows it will soon be faster. An urge to run fills him but he knows he has to look. He cant leave it forever and turning and running is not the answer. Its easier, oh god its easier but its a trap. If you run once when do you stop running?
Its behind the curtain, like the wizard in Oz he knows he has only to pull back the curtain to see the truth, he knows its there but all he can hear is the scratching. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. He is almost ready, once more with the breathing exercises. Another breath, holding it for a moment and then out. He reaches for the curtain and pulls it open in one quick movement.
The spider grips both sides of the door frame. Six feet of legs and eyes. Looking at him almost with an amused grin. He can feel his heart racing. He wouldn’t have believed it could have quickened and yet it did. Tick Tock. Tick tick tock tock. Ticktockticktockticktock. He bile is rising as the spider moves closer its palps are right in front of his face. He can feel the breath the putrid stench of decay as the creature breaths. As it exhales he can almost hear the word “scrounger” as it inhales its almost as if it is saying “workshy”. He feels the legs slowly creep around his, the grip tightening pulling him closer. He stumbles, it is his only way out to fall backwards away from the beast. He falls banging his head on the staircase behind him. His head makes contact and his eyes flick open the spider has vanished to be replaced by just a brown envelope.
The spider was bad. This is worse. He knows what it is before he has even picked it up. The spider is psychological torture but its short, its over quickly. The letter is worse. Fuelled buy decades of “workshy scroungers” its torture, the final psychological weapon. Its not over in a short space of time it drags on, and on. When you think its over the next one drops on the doorstep. A prolonged weapon to be used against the sick and disabled. He leans forward and grasp the letter in his hands. His heart is pounding so hard now, he imagines he looks like one of the old cartoon characters who has just seen the love of its life. He rips the top open and peeks inside. He looks and it is what he expected. Suddenly a sharp pain.
A sudden tightness in his chest followed by a cold sweat. Heartburn that feels so close to erupting from his throat. A dizziness follows and breath, a commodity he has always taken for granted and now every gasp is so difficult. The ticking stops, as does the tocking. A darkness starts to engulf him and he feels peace, at last he feels a calmness he has not experienced in years. When he is found two weeks later the letter lies on his chest, held tightly in his hands. Its a work capability assessment. He had had one six months prior.