There’s blood all over my arm, and my fingers there aren’t working too well, either. Numb things that refuse to obey. I don’t know how much time I have before it wakes up. But I can always type with the other hand.
She kept asking me and asking me. God knows I didn’t want to. But she kept asking.
No, be honest.
Even before she pulled that envelope out, I knew how things would go.
And I did nothing to prevent it.
“Let’s try again,” the shrink said. She’s youngish, fair-skinned with a full head of dark, voluminous hair. Blue blouse, blue jeans. Smart casual. Probably doesn’t drink or drug.
“Do you know anything about what happened to her?”
My tongue felt dry, shriveled like a prune. Instinctively I reached my hand out for the glass of water on the table in front of me. “I’ve said this a hundred times already —” Then I realized I’d reached with the wrong hand, the bad hand, the hand wearing the welding glove — the kind that goes all the way up your forearm. So I pulled back. Decided I wasn’t thirsty after all. “I didn’t kill her. It did.”
She sighed and looked out the window at the Avon River, dyed red with the setting sun. “I’m going to be honest here, Patrick. I’m trying. I don’t want you to feel like you’ve got toys in the attic but listen to yourself. You’ve told me you didn’t kill her. She was officially reported as missing. And when I ask you to elaborate, you just say that some ‘thing’ did something to her and then refuse to go on. I’m getting a lot of fragmented information here. If I’m going to help you, I need the truth.”
I tried to swallow, but I could taste something like dirt in my throat. “That is the truth. There’s … there’s nothing more to say about it.”
She shook her head. “Why don’t you just try to relax. Remember the breathing method we discussed. Here, why don’t you just take the glove off, and …”
She leaned forward in her seat, and for a moment I caught her scent. Not her jasmine perfume. Beneath that. More vital.
My bad hand twitched.
“No,” I said, drawing back. The word came out as more of a grunt. I flexed the muscles in my bad arm so hard it burned. “No, no. I’ve told you I don’t want to do that.”
She sat back slowly. I could see faint smudges of shadow appear on either side of her mouth as she tensed her jaw muscles. Suddenly she breathed in sharp, got up, and headed over to her desk. “Alright. Alright, Patrick. I didn’t want to do this. I really thought we were making progress.”
She brought over a yellow envelope with a sheaf of photos inside. “Take a look at this,” she said, laying one of them out on the coffee table in front of me.
I looked at that picture for a long time with eyelids glued to my brow. Something grew in me like a spreading frost.
“They found her,” I said.
“Yes. Yes, they did. Last night. And what else?”
“She’s … dead.”
“Not just dead, Patrick …”
Have you ever seen those photos of a person dead from severe starvation? It’s an abhorrent thing to see. Skin clinging to the bones like it’s been vacuum sealed. Contours of the skull showing through the face. This was like that, only there were also a number of pinkish gashes all across her neck as if a shark had sunk its teeth in … and shook.
And her eyes … Oh, Christ, her eyes …
“Murdered,” I proposed, tearing my sight away from the ghastly image.
“Right. I don’t know that any animal would … would desecrate the face like that.”
But I didn’t do this, was my gut response. I’m the victim here. And wasn’t that true? Wasn’t it true that — ultimately — we’re all victims? That we’re not in any kind of control? What time doesn’t claim, chaos does. Everything you value, everything you love, will be slowly disassembled or suddenly destroyed; all just food for feeding forces.
“Will this be enough?” She asked as she sifted through the rest of the stack. Her expression was one of subdued disgust. “There are more pictures if you think it might help —”
“Maybe I can remember something,” I said. That was right when I knew. It didn’t matter anymore. Evidently, the cops had gotten to her. That explained why she’d been going at this subject all evening. Maybe they wanted to see if she could pull a confession out of me before a full interrogation; get their hands on something that could be weighed against another testimony or piece of evidence. They can legally do it, too, especially if the client is dangerous. Patient privacy is one thing, minding monsters is another.
And it would only be a matter of time before the ugly truth revealed itself, anyway.
And maybe … maybe I was partially to blame …
She sat back down in her chair across from me. A smile appeared on her face. “Good. Very good. Just relax.” Then she nudged the glass of water closer to me. “Drink.”
I declined, feigning courtesy.
That word had such an abyssal, abominable ring now, like a charnel bell chanting. Too closely related to certain other words with dark connotations. Consume. Devour. Engulf. And still darker. Darker than even that Stygian, savage place my head was in a month ago. Darker than the shadow I was caught in now.
“I did it,” I said simply. “I did it all.”
“She told me I’d be okay. That my heart would heal with time. That I’d get better. Those words echoed around cruelly in the deepest warrens of my mind; I didn’t heal, I didn’t get better.
“I cried. Night after night I cried. I’d imagine what the woman who once loved me was doing with her new lover, the one she went to right after me. And I’m not talking about fucking. This isn’t angsty, teenage bullshit. I’m thirty-one now and I know there’s much, much more to relationships. No — the real pain came from the feeling of being replaced. The feeling that I wasn’t good enough. That I was unable to complete her. Then there came the questions, all unanswerable, all torturous. Questions, questions. How long was I happy while she was unhappy? How much of her life had I siphoned away? What innocence in her had I destroyed? I felt inadequate, ineffectual … inhuman. If water can be drawn from our blood, then mettle can be wrung from a soul.
“But there was one question above all others that tormented me the most. A taunting question that ended up being answered in the most insane way I can imagine:
“Had she lied to me?
“Alright. Look, I know it sounds like I’m trying to dump this all on her — I’m not. Sure, she took right off before I found too much out. Changed her number, changed her address, disappeared. The whole thing. See ya, Patrick, so long buddy, it was nice sharing the ride with you. Just like that. But pointing the finger and saying ‘She’s evil’ would be unfair and downright disingenuous. If she felt that she needed to cut me off, it was because I handed her the knife. And anyway there are other, stronger forces in this fucked up world. Forces that are truly evil. Believe it.
“Regardless, my heart felt like broken glass. That was about when I made the call to get this session.
“The secretary picked up, and almost before I even finished giving my name she impatiently informed me there was a waiting list, and if the situation was urgent to please call the crisis hotline —
“ ‘When’s the earliest appointment?’
“ ‘Let me see … six months at the earliest.’
“ ‘No. I need something sooner.’ My voice trembled.
“ ‘Er, well, for your first visit she might … yes — she could squeeze you in the evening, after hours, on … in four weeks. But you’d have to wait for the rest.’
“ ‘Put me in.’
“ ‘Alright, Mister Zac. Doctor Monique will see you July eighteenth, at eight …’
“I hung up slowly. I didn’t know if I could endure four weeks inside my head. No one to confide in, no human face to talk to. I suddenly started to feel like the air was closing in, trying to somehow choke me. I felt like I needed to do something. Get something out. Something to get the adrenaline going, you know? Get me feeling anything other than the hideous misery I was in.
“So I got this idea.
“It was just a little thing; knick on the wrist, not much more than a papercut. I never thought I’d do anything like that in a million years. Never. But there it was.
“I won’t lie to you. It felt good. Or rather, if felt better. Better in the way that pain in one spot helps take your mind off of the pain in another. I don’t know. Maybe it was simply feeling some kind of control over a form of hurt, externalizing it; giving my impossible sadness a physical form that could be seen and touched and quantified.
“I noticed it hours later, just before I went to bed. The wound had been closing neat enough; patch of pink skin, white line through the middle. It had bled so little I didn’t even bother covering it. But then there was this twitching there. This goddam twitching. Twitchy, twitchy, twitchy. Well, you know how muscle spasms are. But no matter how much I rubbed or pressed it just wouldn’t subside. It kept me up almost the entire night, and by the next morning it hadn’t let up one bit. Maddening.
“And there’s another thing.
“After a while it … it felt like it was deeper. Like something alive was beneath the muscle, burrowing and squirming.”
“So you self-harmed over the grief,” this prim-proper priss cuts in.
That bothered me.
Me? Did it bother me? Or it?
“That explains the glove, though it’s rather excessive. You have scarring. And you probably just cut into a nerve-ending. There’s no need to jump to wild conclusions. But you’re avoiding the subject — what happened to Jessica?”
“I’m getting to that,” I said. I looked down at the glove-covered arm. Perfectly ordinary-looking arm, if you didn’t know what was hiding underneath. “But this is important. At first, I was reluctant. Now I think I have to explain the whole thing. And I want to waive confidentiality. I want other people to know. I’ll sign a release form if I have to.”
Out the window, on the horizon over the red waters of the Avon, the sky had gone an ugly bruised color.
“I still don’t totally understand how it got into me. It could have been something on the razor, some kind of contamination. It might have been the chemical composition of the air for all I fucking know. Or maybe it was worse than any of that. Maybe it had just been dormant. Maybe it had always been there.
“After that sleepless night, I woke up the next morning and my mattress was speckled maroon; dried blood. Apparently, my little wound had opened up while I’d tossed and turned in my bed, or maybe I rubbed it too hard while it’d been spasming. So I washed up and put one of those supersized Band-Aids over it, the kind with the inch-wide pad and looks kind of like a chubby H. Overboard, sure, but it was more to keep me from touching it directly than it was to stop the bleeding.
“It helped with the not-touching part.
“To my pure bewilderment, it was soaked red by the end of the day. So I got another Band-Aid ready, ripped the damp one-off, washed the cut. Stubborn little thing. But when I finished washing that cut off I examined it little closer this time. My eyelids peeled back.
“This stupid little nick … this ‘tiny’ cut … it was twice its original size. Maybe even a bit more than that. I held the fresh Band-Aid up to it and that entire bandage would’ve barely covered it, never mind the absorbing pad.
“I just stared at that cut for a while in a sort of morbid fascination. It looked sort of like a squinting, lashless eye.
“It wept a single red-rivulet tear out of one corner.
“I quick dabbed it down with a towel, blindly hoping that maybe I’d just been too rough with it, that I’d unconsciously scratched it in the night and it had done additional damage, that I’d torn that Band-Aid off too quick.
“There was a truer, uglier thought lurking around in the more primal, savage places of my mind. A thought that came accompanied with a grim memory.
“My grandpa had lived the last five years of his life in the spare room in the basement. Grama always brought his meals down, and we’d never see him during family gatherings. Something happened to his face where he’d get these patches of red that would never go away. It had started as something small — just a splotches of pink on and around the nose. We all thought it was drinker’s snout at first. Then it got so bad that his face had just become a mask of crimson, crusty scabs.
“I hit the net. I made the mistake of frantically typing in the first thing that came to mind. I’d typed: ‘my cut keeps getting bigger, and I think it might be a disease ive never heard of’. I mostly just found those stories people make up on Reddit. You know, those creepypasta things? ‘This is a true story, happened to a friend of a friend of mine,’ and all that?
“Anyway, I got a little more specific. So I typed: ‘disease where wounds won’t close’. The closest thing I found was hemophilia, where the blood can’t clot, so the skin can’t heal. You just keep bleeding and bleeding. That seemed close to what Grampa had — although his might’ve more related to lupus. I hoped to Christ it wasn’t hereditary. But it didn’t explain the actual growth.
“Finding nothing else worthwhile, I called my family doctor. I got the answering machine of course; this was a Friday.
“ ‘You’ve reached the office of Docter Patel-Christopher. The office is currently closed. Our hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday to Wednesday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday. Please note that beginning at noon each day we are not available for one hour as we are catching up on paperwork —’
“I slammed the phone down. Red anger flared. Typical, just fucking typical. Doctor’s hours in this country are a complete joke.
“I looked down at that cut. No more red tears now, at least. But the pulsing tick-tick-tick beneath the flesh was so strong it took every ounce of my mental fiber to resist touching it. And I didn’t put anything over it. Maybe it just needed to breathe more. That was it, right? Not lupus. Not hemophilia. It just needed to breathe.
“But that wasn’t the truth. If you want to know, what it came down to was that I was afraid to touch it.
“I decided to give it one more day — just one — and if it didn’t get any better I’d go to ER.
“That night I put my laptop on the dresser next to my bed and put a podcast on, low volume. It helps me sleep. And of course if I slept better I’d toss around less, and so the cut would heal better. Just distant voices that you don’t necessarily need to understand, but just some kind of background noise. You know what I mean? Makes you feel a little less alone.
“I lay down and closed my eyes, let the soft murmuring lull me to another place where I didn’t have to worry about blood or spasms or ER rooms. About five minutes later, though, the murmuring from the laptop stuttered, froze … then picked up again. But this time the volume was way too loud, and whoever was talking now wasn’t talking in any language I’d ever heard. The voice was high and bubbly, like a child talking through a mouthful of syrup in a mishmash of plosives and fricatives. And yet … I swear I understood it. Understood it in some imperfect, third-eye way, like imagining the scenes that might go with an instrumental song when you listen to it.
“I groggily turned my night lamp on, got out of the bed and went over to the laptop on my dresser. The realization crept up on me, then sank in after a cold wave.
“The laptop wasn’t even on — battery must have died.
“I looked down at the cut, and, seeing it now in the dire orange glow coming from the night lamp, I quickly slapped my palm over it … and squeezed. I just barely managed to choke back a scream.
“It was speaking, you see.”
Missy Prissy opened her mouth, maybe to say something, closed it. I could tell she was getting a little frightened now.
I liked that.
It liked that very much.
“Can you … can you take the glove off, please,” she asked once again. She sounded terribly eager.
I only shook my head. “I have to finish this, first. So people know. So they believe.”
Her eyes searched me up and down. Then she sighed and said, “Fine. If it — if it makes you more comfortable.” Then she took her eyes off me and stared into someplace beyond the window, and I saw her knees were jittering ever-so-slightly. She suddenly looked like someone who was craving a cigarette very badly.
“I didn’t scream that night just because it had been speaking, horrifying enough as that was. I screamed because when I put my palm over it … I got a sensation. It took a moment for it to register, like a soft electrical current picking up voltage fast. It was an odd, unfamiliar sensation, some kind of sixth phantom-sense … yet it became as unmistakable as pain itself.
“I was tasting. I was tasting what it tasted. And it was tasting me. It tasted me as I truly am. What all of us really are.
From beyond the window, clouds had ridden in and the sky had gone grey as mason’s mud. There came a bellowing growl of thunder.
“I know that now because it told me. It told me lots of things after that night. Incredible, terrifying things.
“About the human genome, how DNA can be broken down, reconfigured — digested — and made into something new.
“About other aspects of existence. How creatures in lower dimensions can never see creatures in higher dimensions, only feel them. While the other way — something from a sixth dimension, for instance — could see many facets and inner-workings of something in the third.
“About thousands of worlds, millions of civilizations, twisting and turning through an endless never. How some planes of existence intersect, and — under the perfect condition, at the perfect time, with the perfect thought — sometimes even open a hole. And that all life forms, no matter how basic or advanced and no matter how distant, share one trait in common beyond everything else: hunger.
“Eat, eat, eat.
“My wound’s weird words and insights were what became my new night-noises; the background murmuring that allayed my loneliness each night while I drifted off to sleep — even if I didn’t always fully grasp the concepts. I didn’t end up going to ER. I didn’t tell anyone about it. It was irrational, I’ll fully admit that. But I honestly don’t know how much of me was in control by then. And in a weird way — perhaps in some fucked up, Freudian way — it felt paternal. I had something of me, in me. I had no one left, you’ve got to understand. All my friends had been Jess’s. My parents are gone. I hadn’t talked to a soul for weeks.
“And I felt it. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Its growth. Its intelligence. Its bond. I knew — as it told me — that this wasn’t something as fickle as a human partnership is; destined to end by years or by circumstance. I was now a permanent part of an absolute life-force that has existed for longer than time. That it was very happy with me. That I was a perfect host.
“I felt valued again.
“It got very big. From the heel of my hand to the crook of my elbow. The skin around it was all milky-white. What was once a little cut had become a long red line with pulsing pink flesh showing through. It twitched as much as ever, only … only I found myself rubbing it freely, and maybe even …
“I mean, I didn’t really think I was — petting it. No, that would just be crazy. But, talking about it now, maybe I was.
“One time it … it yawned, I suppose is the word … and I … I looked into it. An eerie, empty feeling of a limitless void shivered through me. There’s was, of course, no way all that could fit in just my arm. But it was in there. I distinctly remember turning my arm over and sure enough, nothing was on the other side but my skin and arm hairs. It was as if my skin was just some illusory cover. I should have been terrified. I wasn’t. It’s so weird to say it out loud, but really — I wasn’t.
“Well, one night it told me something more interesting to me than anything else, even more than the stars or the galaxies or planets. It told me how Jessica was doing. How great she was doing, more accurately. How unaffected she felt about the whole thing. How I was farther from her mind than a star called Icarus.
“And how she’d been cheating on me.”
“You heard your inner-voice,” the shrink said quickly, and quite anxiously. “It’s subconscious, entirely emotional, which is why you think it wasn’t speaking an identifiable language. ‘Self-talk’. Often observed during suicidal behavior, like yours, convincing you that you aren’t worthwhile or that you’re a failure. But it can convince you of many other things, too, especially when the subject has isolated themselves from other people.”
I grinned, chuckled softly. “Is that just what you want to believe, Doctor?”
She swallowed. Then she shifted in her seat.
I rubbed the arm. Twitchy, twitchy, twitchy. “It wasn’t self-talk, Doctor. I know about self-talk. And I now know more about self-deception than I ever wanted to. Besides, it told me things I couldn’t possibly have known myself.
“Like where Jessica was living, for instance.”
“I drove to her new house, convincing myself that I only wanted to talk to her. We’d only talk. And I’d only show her. I’d show her what she had done to me so that she’d never do it to anyone else. That would be all. And if I’d been a whole and complete person, maybe I’d have done only that. I might have still gone to a hospital, too, but that memory of Grampa kept haunting me; a prisoner to his pain, forbidden topic, being eaten alive by his own body. And whatever I had? It wouldn’t just be a diagnosis and amoxicillin. No shit. I’d almost certainly be sent to Nevada to take a permanent tour of their infamous facilities. I’d be opened up and studied and then stored in a freezer unit, and I could just picture the major heading on copies of Weekly World News, right next to ‘DOLPHIN GROWS HUMAN ARMS’.
“This is just a bad dream, I decided. That was another thing: you don’t escape bad dreams. We say we wake up from them, but the reality is that they simply let you go. Dark fantasies don’t leave you until they’ve had their way with you, like grief or sorrow, and you just have to ride it out, all nightmare long.
“Listen: I told you I don’t blame her, and I don’t. But I also said that after all this happened. At the time, though? Well … I wonder just how many of my thoughts had been my own.
“I pulled my car into her driveway. Oh, she’d done well for herself. The house was a quaint little thing, no neighbors, in the farm area just outside of New Hamburg. But no way she could afford this alone. She was living with someone.
“It had been right.
“I went to the door, pounded a fist against it a few times. Then I waited. My hand tweaked, twitched, and for a moment it clenched into a fist.
“The door opened.
“She was there.
“She asked something about how I found her, but I didn’t hear it. I could smell her now and mind was slipping sideways. I suddenly felt a sense of terrible confusion, as if I was caught in some never-ending maze. Words escaped my mouth as my eyes rolled around in their sockets: ‘You tore my heart out. And then you ate it.’
“A moment after, I lost all control. My hand — the wrong hand, the bad hand — shot out at her. She backed away and I lurched towards her like I was a puppet being pulled along by an invisible string tied to that arm. And each breath I drew I could taste her, her essence, her fear.
“It drove me mad.
“I watched in in pure horror as the hand grasped a big clump of her hair. I screamed at her to run. I screamed so hard it felt like swiping sandpaper up the back of my throat. But it was too late. Now her head was in its mouth. Its lips were wrapped tightly around her neck. And suddenly, insanely, I was stuck in stasis; my mind was being pulled with equal strength in two directions of desire. One part of me wanted it to stop. The other part …
“I shut my eyes, helpless to this lunacy. I don’t believe she saw anything during her last moments as her eyes were pulled and then ripped out of their sockets. But I knew what I saw.
“Yes, I saw. Despite squeezing my eyelids closed tight, I saw, in that alien, third-eye way. I saw a carmine-colored seascape, churning and swaying as if some nameless, monstrously gigantic creature beneath the surface had merely nudged its shoulder, topped with a sky that was flat vermilion. I saw abominable, eyeless, fanged fiends, their limbs seemingly a heinous fusing of the parts of beasts also impossible to name. I saw canyons of sinew laden with deposits of bone, tides of blood washing through, all flowing in from beyond an endless network of orifical holes.
“And of course I could taste, too. I could taste her flesh, sweet with sweat, heady with horror, and succulent as honey-ham.
My arm was shuddering like crazy now beneath the thick material of the glove. The dark clouds outside had blotted out the red remnants of the sunset, and the pointed-top roofs of the buildings of downtown Stratford were almost black. It had started raining.
“At some point, I passed out,” I said. “When I woke, I suppose I was mostly back to myself again. But then I had her … her shriveled corpse in front of me. By some twisted fluke, Lover-Boy hadn’t come home yet. So in a nauseated delirium of dread, I dragged it to my car trunk. Then I drove north. I dumped her body in the woods. And of course, they found her. I’d panicked big time. I didn’t even think to clean up the blood.”
I sat back, sighed. “So … that was last week. Then I came here. That’s what happened. Now you know. You know I’m telling you the truth, right?”
“No.” Priss Princess’s face was set, her eyes not much more than two dark holes. But her lower lip quivered. “You’re … making things up. You need help — help I can’t provide. You need to go to the Perth County Sanitorium. They have people there. It’s time for you to leave, I think. I’ve got their information around here …”
Twitchy, twitchy, twitchy.
I rose. “Maybe you need more convincing.”
“Patrick, don’t —”
With my good hand, I grabbed onto the glove …
Beneath, my new mouth gnashed its teeth.
… and yanked it off.
She didn’t see my smile. Her eyes, wide and dilated, were looking at it.
“You see,” I said hoarsely. “How ’bout now, Doctor? You believe me now?”
She stood and nearly tipped the table, knocked the glass of water over. Her face was marred with sudden unbelieving horror. Lightning detonated in the distant sky, thunder boomed like an artillery blast, its echo marching across blackish clouds.
She looked utterly delicious now. How could I have gone all this time without even touching her? Smelling her skin, breathing her scent. She wasn’t a woman, but a morsel. A little morsel. Clean. No chemicals, organic, just food for —
I clenched my teeth, shook my head around madly. “Run!” I shouted, in one brief moment where my mind was my own. “RUN!! GET AWAY FROM ME!!”
She tried to. Started for the door behind me. Then my bad hand flew upwards, bearing above her face in a claw-like gesture, my fingers pointing at her like the heads of a hydra. She just froze, caught in a mind-seizing, insane terror.
The maw on my forearm opened before her, foamy saliva drooling out and splatting onto the floor. A spongy tongue slithered out. Its teeth, curved hooks sharp as daggers, gleamed white with their sure-promise of exquisite pain.
There was a massive, neon-blue streak of lightning that made it seem like the sky itself was cracking open. Waves of hard rain splashed and swept across the window.
It jerked me forwards. In a cruelly swift pounce, it enveloped her head. Once again I shut my eyes tight. But just as with Jess, it wasn’t enough.
I heard a squish as it slid its fangs into her neck and wrapped its lips tight around. She clasped both hands around my arm, nails digging into the skin. She kicked her legs, legs that had been lifted right off the ground. She screamed and screamed, and screamed, and those cries were all smothered beneath warm flesh. What was clearer were the sickening sound of sucking and smacking, like someone greedily chomping on pork rib down to the bone. For one crazy moment, I had a nightmarish image of my father’s greasy, home-cooked T-bones. Use your hands, he used to say, the best part is at the bone.
The rain gibbered incessantly against the panes. I wanted to stop it all. I wanted to. But the taste. The taste was … delightful …
Her shrieks mounted, horrible and desperate. It sucked, and sucked, and sucked, until — just as Jess — her eyeballs popped out of their sockets and the blood flowed freely through. Then it swallowed.
Her cries suddenly ceased with one high-pitched, gargling croak as it clenched its jaws even yet harder. There was a smart CRACK like snapping a bundle of carrots in half as its incisors pierced into the upper-spine and broke the vertebrae. Her hands slipped off of me and then dangled at her sides. Her legs swayed. For a moment her body was a big rag doll.
And still … still it kept sucking … and swallowing … even as her body tightened, tensed, and slowly started shriveling against the skeleton.
The last thing I remember before I passed out is the sound of it licking its lips.
When I came to, I was sprawled out drunkenly on the floor, facing the big window. The storm had died down to a drizzle. It was dark in the room. Lightning flashed from outside.
And when that lighting did flash, it revealed what was lying next to me in a flat white: a woman whose face was now a pallid, skull-like visage, with two dark, Merlot-colored holes where the eyes should have been.
I scrambled to my feet, reeled sideways, braced myself on the desk. Drawing long breaths, I turned my bad arm over. The mouth was closed but curved slightly in a lazy grin, a grin glazed red. But there was no twitching anymore. It was satiated now, as it had been after Jess. Sleeping.
I turned my attention to something on the table. Something the doctor had used to open the yellow envelope. More lightning, and its blade glinted as if to wink at me.
In that moment of lucidity, I thought very hard before making the decision. I thought about how we live in an indifferent world that turns and turns like the hands on a clock, and as it turns it consumes. It consumes memories and lives, consumes all the things that make you human. And then you become not the victim but the monster. And the world just keeps on turning.
We are all being eaten alive.
And we don’t even know it.
But there are worse ways to be eaten. I wondered how many more would have to feed this thing in my arm. One? Two? A-fucking-thousand? Would the next one a nurse? A police officer? Would it be — oh, God — what about a child?
Eat, eat, eat.
It had been using me. Plain and simple. Yes, using my body to bring it to what it wanted. And now, with the therapist dead, it had eaten up the hope that other people would find out. And yet it had only fed me what I needed to know; just enough so I’d act on the impulse.
It was a two-way street.
I could have turned myself into ER of my own volition, as I had made the decision to hide Jessica’s body of my own volition, as I had chosen to visit the therapist of my own volition. I could have chosen.
But I was too caught up playing the victim. And in writing this I have realized a horrible truth: that I am a coward, through and through. It’s why Jess left me. It’s why I was so easy to manipulate. It’s why I fear that place in Nevada.
I grabbed it off the desk; the letter opener. I knew what had to be done. I’d made my decision. I had to do it while I had time before the wound opened up again.
But then I also saw there was a word processor there with some notes on it. The cursor blinked at me in the blank space.
I had time. I had time. I could do this one thing, at least.
I sat down and began typing with my good hand.
Someone had to know.
Someone had to believe.
And so ive typed it all out for you. and im still here. only the mouth has started breathing a little heavier.
its going to wake up soon i think.
theres someone knocking on the door.. the sounds got it twitching again …..we locked that dor but bang bang bang,, its gettinglouder and louder and bang bangbang mabe theyll brek it down,,. but we could alway s open it and makethem stopp o how we coud mak them stop
Focus, God dammit.
Okay. There’s no time now. I’m going to post this wherever I can now. Quickly. Then I’m going to make a new cut, a bigger cut, a cut that will end this nightmare forever. Across the neck. I pray I’m dead when anyone finds me.
I hope this reaches someone. I hope someone believes.
And if I do somehow live through this, I hope that wound on my neck closes.
I certainly do.