Inside of Me

*for the Halloween competition* What if your inner demons became real?


*If you like this, check out Two Faced by Chetna*

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1. Control

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Are you happy?

Are you sad?

I'm looking in the mirror right now. My mascara is running. My long black hair is fuzzy and tousled from constantly running my hands through it and clutching at my head.

It's all your fault.

Don't you dare say that.

But it is.

STOP IT.

MY NAME IS JOLENE. I AM SIXTEEN YEARS OLD. AND I AM IN CONTROL.

I repeat this to myself, shouting it in my mind, trying to drown Her out.

My name is Jolene Whiteley. I am sixteen years old. I have a little sister called Bernadette.

Had.

Shut up. Now.

I look at the heavy black object in my hand. My finger strokes the trigger lightly. A sharp smell hangs around the barrel. Tiny droplets of red litter it.

Bernie's blood.

Stop.

From when you killed her.

"SHUT UP, YOU - !"

I slam the end of the gun into the mirror. Spiderweb fractures spin out from the point of contact, with a gentle shattering noise. The mirror is now in shards. I can see Her in the multiple pieces of glass. She's smiling. Her lips, coated in slightly smudged scarlet lipstick, are drawn back over pearly white teeth.

Red, like Bernadette's blood.

Did she drink it?

Was that lipstick, or my sister's blood?

Wouldn't you like to know.

I AM JOLENE WHITELEY. I AM SIXTEEN YEARS OLD. AND I AM IN CONTROL.

Do you really believe that?

What?

Do you really believe that you are in control?

Yes. Yes, I do.

Then why did you kill them?

Don't you dare even talk about it.

I can still see their faces in my mind. My mother's, her mouth huge in her scream, her eyes terrified, the little red flower blooming on her forehead. My father's, his eyes wide, his mouth drawn sideways, half-open, about to ask a question, as he falls backwards with the little black hole in his shirt.

My sister's, her dark red hair swirling, the blood running in rivulets from her forehead to her chin, her high scream rattling in my ears.

Bernie.

Bernie, if you can hear me, I'm sorry.

I'm so sorry.

She can't hear you.

I AM JOLENE WHITELEY. I AM SIXTEEN YEARS OLD. AND I AM IN CONTROL.

She came about six years ago. Her. That. The Thing. The Voice.

I don't know quite why, or how. But She was there all the same. Chatting in my head.

She said nice stuff at first. Like your hair is really pretty today. Or that boy Josh winked at you. And She talked to me about stuff. Clothes, books, movies, boys. Soon, She became my obsession. My friends - the small group I had once treasured - began to disappear, slowly and quietly, as She became louder and a more frequent visitor.

Then She talked to me about more serious stuff. Like stealing. She said stuff like if you're good at it, no-one will care. And it's okay if you know what you're doing. And even it's obvious they don't want it anyway. Then She began persuading me. Gently but firmly.

No-one will miss that necklace. Look at it, old rusty thing, She would say scornfully.

Well then why do you want it? I would reply.

Because of the thrill, She said. The adrenaline rush. It feels so good, Jo, don't you want to try it?

I caved in, of course. She told me precisely when and how to snatch it.

A week after that, she talked me into nicking a few bits of chocolate. Then a ring from a costume jewellery store. Then some food. Random things, easily replaced. About a month into my crime spree, She nudged me to grab a diamond bracelet.

I'd protested at first. Said that it was crazy. Security cameras everywhere, and it had far too much value. The punishment if I was caught would be astronomical compared to my original pinched objects..

But look, She'd said. If you angle yourself this way and put your hand like this, the camera can't see it. And besides - it's all just stuff, isn't it?

I'd taken it in the end. It was too hard to resist.

Stealing had led to bullying. Pathetic little things. Their faces are crying out to be punched and mocked. Bullying led to mugging. It would be so easy to grab her purse, almost too easy. Mugging led to outright street fighting. You'll beat 'em, Jo, I know you will. And then everyone will respect you.

All this happened over the course of four and a half years.

Then came the killing.

Nobody will miss that little bugger, She had said to me, mentally pointing at the small three-year-old boy playing in the sandpit in the local park. You'd be doing his mother a favour. No more nappy expenses, no more crying in the night.

I don't even want to remember this child. The look on his face when I led him away, promising him ice cream.

The look on his face when I stabbed him.

The look on his face when his heart stopped.

Tears begin to stream down my face again as I remember my victims, and the words She used to shout me down and get me to do it.

That redhead, the one with all the eyeliner that worked in the bookshop. Hipster freak - no-one likes her. Do away with her and everyone will be glad. The twenty-year-old busker, the handsome one with the floppy blonde hair and the worn down guitar. His guitar is horribly out of tune - what the hell is he supposed to be playing? Do everyone a favour and stop his awful music. The middle-aged woman with the flowery coat. Face like a pug, that one. Ugly as could be. What an eyesore. Those blonde twins with the name stickers on their coats saying Mabel and Daniel. Their parents must be awful, putting them in those garish coats. Arrogant. Put them out of their misery, Jo.

It was all Her fault.

All of it.

All of them.

Their blood was on Her hands.

Not Her hands.

My hands.

I can practically see the crimson, She gloats now. The warm spray on your fingers, the feeling of the gun kicking back in your hands. Your hands. Not mine.

Shut up. Shut up now.

Face it, Jolene. You're not in control anymore.

I AM JOLENE WHITELEY. I AM SIXTEEN YEARS OLD. AND I AM IN CONTROL.

About a week ago She'd began to move my body with Her own will. I'd questioned Her. What are you doing? I'd asked, as She twitched my finger, scratched my thigh, brushed my hair. Getting used to your body, Jo, She said, as if it was as normal as brushing your teeth. We've been living in this for six years. I think I should gain a bit of control.

Control. That word had set alarm bells ringing.

I'd talked to Her less and less over the course of the next few days. Meanwhile, She'd managed to control my arms. My legs. My mouth. She'd said some dreadful things to my mother. I'd watched Mum, her face shocked and hurt, as She insulted her again and again.

Stop it! I'd screamed at Her internally.

Why? She'd laughed. It's fun.

I'd tried to ignore the problem. Pretended She wasn't there.

But She was.

What the hell do you think you're doing? I demanded, when She'd moved my legs over to a weapons store in several towns over. She'd sweet-talked the youngish guy behind the counter to get him to lend Her a gun without a license for a little while. Just for protection, She'd said using my mouth. You get some godawful guys around where I live.

He'd laughed and handed it over, no questions asked.

I'm doing something that needed to be done a long time ago, She'd said with relish.

My brain felt scrambled at Her tone and Her enthusiasm. What was She planning? I couldn't tell. But I knew that it was bad. Very bad.

She'd hidden the gun under my bed for a night, waiting. Letting the tension inside me rise.

Then, at seven o'clock this evening, She'd taken it out with my hands, stowed it away, gone to a party all dressed up, kissed a few boys, come home, and shot my family dead.

I stare more intently into the mirror. This wasn't even my face anymore. It was Hers. Her nose, Her eyes, Her mouth.

Are you finally admitting defeat?

Yeah. I guess I am.

Her lips twisted into an ugly smile.

You're such a good girl, you know, Jolene. I knew you'd comply eventually.

For some reason, that ruffles my feathers. Comply?

How long have you been planning this? I question.

Since I first talked to you. It was easy, Jolene, it really was. Befriend you. Make you feel loved and wanted. Persuade you - gently, in a friendly manner, to do things. Gradually, the things will get worse and worse, and you won't even notice the transitions any more. And finally, I can have you all to myself.

All to yourself?

Your family was a distraction. You loved your sister too much. Bernadette? She got in the way. But now we can be together forever, Jo. Just you and me. Best mates.

I smile gently. Together forever.

Yes. Just us. Total bliss.

Total bliss, it will be.

I'm glad you see it my way now, Jo.

Oh yes, I certainly do.

I check the gun for a last bullet. Just one left.

Why? Fancy going out and killing someone else? Ooh yes. Let's go and get Katelyn, that pretty girl that always gave out cupcakes in Ninth Grade every Monday.

It feels like a punch in the stomach. I remember Katelyn. Her brown pigtails, cheery smile, and box of fresh, sweet-smelling vanilla cupcakes with the pink icing. Always homemade. Always delicious.

But I press on.

I click off the safety.

Or someone closer? Quicker to get to?

Oh yes. Very close.

I can feel a bit of suspicion in her now.

Like that guy that mans the till in the all-night corner shop down the road? The idiot with the acne that always gives out the wrong change?

Not quite. I have someone else in mind.

Jolene? What are you doing?

I calmly raise the gun, and wedge the barrel between my teeth.

Jo. Her voice has a quiet quiver of panic now. Jo, what are you doing?

What do you think I'm doing?

I think that you're trying to get away from me. I think that you're going to leave me all alone, forever and ever. But you promised, Jo, you promised.

Promises can be broken.

I thought we were friends, Jo. I thought we were best friends.

Best friends? Oh, no no no. We were always worst enemies. I just didn't know it until now.

We're not enemies, Jo. We're sisters. Soul sisters.

Her voice is silky smooth, now.

A pulse of rage goes through me.

You're not my sister. Bernie is my sister.

But Bernie is dead.

And so I will join her.

I AM JOLENE WHITELEY. I AM SIXTEEN YEARS OLD.

 

AND I AM IN CONTROL.

 

 

Fin

 

 

 

 

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