SYNESTHESIA • by E.E. King

Greg awoke with odd remembered scents and sounds reverberating inside his head.
Then his body involuntarily stretching, he lazily swung his legs over the bed.

The minute his feet touched the floor; he tasted dust and dirt.
Greg’s feet shot up and the flavor faded.
He froze, and remained there for a moment, brain whirling.
Cautiously he lowered his feet and gingerly tapped one toe to the floorboards.
Once again he tasted dust.

His feet flew up in alarm.
He reached over, still careful to keep his feet elevated and wrapped his fingers around a water glass on his bedside table.
Counterbalancing he righted himself and set the glass on the floor.

Greg tentatively touched toe to glass, feeling–no, tasting the smooth coolness of glass. He lifted his toe and warily set tip to water. He tasted the cool, flavorless liquid.

Was he still dreaming? Had his biology somehow been morphed by his night imaginings?

Nonetheless he still had to go to work, tasting feet or no tasting feet.
It was only in the movies where characters seemed to exist in a world uncontained by the confines of work.

He nervously lowered feet to floor and walked over to his sock drawer; he had the decidedly unpleasant sensation that he was licking a path from bed to dresser.

“I really must mop,” he thought, sensation drowning out amazement as it so often does.

Even though he was running late, putting on socks was not an easy task.
Not only was there the array of rayon, cotton, wool and silk to sample, Greg discovered that argyle tasted different than stripes and that solids presented a more subtle, piquant flavor.
He finally settled on a rather bland yellowish, light rayon pair, slightly reminiscent of vanilla.
Shoes were horrible! Greg felt as though he were enclosing delicate creatures inside hot airless catacombs.
In haste he slipped on some old open-toed leather huaraches and rushed from the house.

That night he dreamed.
The air was filled with the scents of flowers, as well of the fragrance that plants emit when they are being eaten. Plants that are being eaten send hormones through the air that usually only predators can smell.

The next morning when he awoke, he sniffed the air.

Scents wafted through his window, some enticing some repellent.
He could smell hormones, pheromones, the distant sexual callings of moths; like a male squirrel, he could sense the females in heat for a mile around. Flowers were summoning fertilization or requesting protection.
Greg was scared… Was he going crazy?

Throughout the week Greg discovered that he could identify people by their aroma.

He discovered himself privy to a myriad of secrets.

He could smell menstruation, frustration, menopause, diabetes, cough syrup and sex.
He also smelled himself. He liked the smell. He fought an almost continual urge to leave scent markings wherever he could.
He began taking clandestine night runs, pausing to urinate in empty alleyways and unobserved avenues.

That night Greg dreamed, he was in a place of mists and sun producing prodigious rainbows, rainbows that ranged in color from red to infrared, from purple to bee purple (ultraviolet color that usually only bees can see), yellow to bee yellow, and contained all the myriad light spectra in between.

Greg awoke seeing shades he had never seen before and hues he had never imagined, for who among us can picture an unknown color?

White flowers contained hitherto invisible makings and signs, the air radiated with iridescence.
Greg was amazed.
Colors hovered in the air and there was no white.
White contained all, white was infinite.
White was a veritable rainbow.

Greg had trouble concentrating; faces, floated above the psychedelic buttondown of formerly white shirtfronts. He could not focus on, or even comprehend the meaningless drivel of words.

And that night Greg dreamed, he was there, in that place, his senses fully tuned to the countless life around him. Every breath had myriad scents, every step was a buffet and sounds and colors were infinite in variety and constancy.

Greg awoke, all senses intensified.

He could no longer shut out the sound of plants growing, the smell of moth pheromones, the sight of white flowers with ultra violet markings and the taste of his socks.
Exhausted, he returned home one night, pausing only to clandestinely urinate on the fence; turning to sniff he discovered the horrified face of his neighbor peering at him from the window.
Humiliated and embarrassed, Greg slunk upstairs to his apartment, trying to overlook the fantasia kaleidoscope of colors screaming at him from the white walls, attempting to ignore the incessant cacophony in the air, straining not to heed the myriad scents bombarding him, and most of all, pretending not to taste the spicy salsa of his checkered socks.

He slunk through the door, exhausted with the effort to disregard the howling world. Obeying the cry of an unknown instinct Greg stripped off his clothes, suppressed an almost overwhelming urge to pee on his hated shoes and slunk into his closet.

He had never felt so sick in his life, his insides were churning, turning into fluid and whirling about. He was extremely nauseated.
He bent double, vomiting, but instead of the partly digested remains of some former meal, sticky white threads oozed from his mouth. Greg felt too awful to be shocked. Over and over his body heaved, regurgitating the sticky silk, and driven by urges stronger than thought, Greg revolved.
In two hours’ time he was encased, and hung from the closet looking like an overgrown q-tip. There he remained, insides liquefying, turning into something new.


E.E. King‘s publications include, Dirk Snigby’s Guide to the Afterlife in The Devil’s Guide to the Afterlife in The Devil’s Bathtub, Ten International Prizewinning Short Stories from the Biscuit Publishing Competition 2005, First Prize IntermoonLit: The Tragedy of Dewy C. McCray 2005, Aeon Award, long-listed Dirk Snigby’s Guide to the Afterlife, Synesthesia, I am This Meat, A Susurrus Press Anthology, “Dirk Snigby’s Guide to the Afterlife”, Next Stop Hollywood,

Rate this story:
 average 0 stars • 0 reader(s) rated this
Uncategorized