A Strange Fear, from the novel Indignation
by Noah Cicero



My grandma was a benny addict.

I'm sitting on the couch.

I just got out of the shower.

I look down at my nails.

They look like they need to be cut.

I can't cut my nails that will hurt.

But I have to cut them.

But it might hurt.

They do come from my body.

My hair doesn't hurt when I cut it.

Or maybe it does.

No it can't hurt.

I've been cutting my nails my whole life.

It has never hurt before.

Why would it hurt now.

It might hurt though.

My grandma was a benny addict.

Should I ask my Mel.

No, I can't ask her that.

She'll think I'm nuts.

But I have to cut my nails.

I can't let them keep growing.

People will start asking questions.

And I'll have to tell them it will hurt if I cut my nails.

And they won't understand.

They'll think I'm nuts.

My nails can't hurt.

Nails are dead cells.

Dead cells don't have feelings.

But they are sprouting out of my body.

It must hurt when you cut them.

No, it'll be all right.

I'll go to the bathroom.

Pick up the fingernail clipper and just cut them.

How do I cut them?

I can't remember.

I know how to cut my nails, I know I do.

I've done it before.

I know I have, I must have.

I have to try.

It might hurt, but I have to try.

I stand up and go to the bathroom.

I sit on the toilet.

I pick up the nail clippers.

I stare down at my fingernails.

This will hurt, I know it.

This has to hurt.

No it won't.

Yes it will.

No, I have to do it.

I have to cut my finger nails.

I move the clippers close to my index fingernail.

I place it onto the fingernail.

All I have to do.

Is push down.

That's all I have do.

All right, here it goes.


My grandma was a benny addict.

Holy shit it doesn't hurt.

Wait, what happened?

A terror floods over me.

Why did I think my nails would hurt if I cut them?

Where am I?

I begin to breath heavily.


I am terrified.

Every time I go and see the doctor he asks me if I hear voices and if I think I can read minds or if people are reading my mind.

I tell him, because I don't.

But John doesn't know that everything he thinks is insane.

Am I thinking insane thoughts right now?

Am I as sick as one of those people I consider sick.

Or are we all sick.

No, I can't be sick.

But that's what those mongrels think too.

They think they can't be sick.

I'm sick, aren't I?

What am I supposed to do with this information?

How can I walk amongst other humans?

Infecting them with my sickness.

Is Mel sick?

Does Mel have strange thought too that she keeps hidden inside her skull.

I'm scared.

I'm really scared.

Everything is so daunting.

I want to live my life and do things.

But it is all so peculiar and terrifying.

But I have to take responsibility for this, for my own sickness.

But this is who I am.

My essence.

I wish there was a god, and I would pray right now.

I would love for there to be a god, so I could just feel for one peaceful moment that all my suffering, and even everyone else's meant something.

But it doesn't.

All my memories.

Every emotion I've ever felt.

Every person I have ever met, if I liked them or not.

Will one day be nothing.

Because I will be nothing.

My conscious will be invisible to it's own conscious.

I sit on this toilet.

Knowing that one day.

One day, if it be tomorrow or 50 years from now.

I will no longer exist.

The first human hasn't existed for 150,000 years.

Socrates hasn't existed for 2,500 hundred years.

Sartre has been dead for 23 years.

But it doesn't matter when they died.

Because when they died, they were dead.

The dark emotion screams within me.

I want to go somewhere.

Drink something.

Fuck something.

Just do something.

That will erase this all.

But there is nothing that can help.

I am in a bathroom.

Terrified that it will hurt if I cut my nails.

Terrified that my existence.

Will mean nothing and be useless.

I begin to cry.

I have no home.

Nowhere to go.

My grandma was a benny addict.

I have gone too far.

Away from home and into myself.

I want a home.

I want a safe place.

I want perfect comfort.

I can no longer tolerate these people that populate my existence.

I have a couple friends.

But, I still have to interact with the mongrels to get through the day.

To preserve myself.

I know I am not alone in these thoughts.

I know these thoughts of terror and weakness live in the heads of the other people.

I finish cutting my nails and just sit there.

I need to do something.

Something must be done about all this.

Moments like this.

I consider becoming a drug addict or joining some group that says they can save me by hating a group of other people, like Christianity or Neo-Nazism.

But I remain firm in the rules of science.

But that doesn't mean I don't get the urge to kill myself.

I walk out to the living room.

Mel is sitting at the computer.

I lie down on the couch.

She looks at me and says, "Are you okay honey?"

I look at her and smile, and ask her politely to come to the couch and have sex with me.