The Void.

David has always lived with an alien enitity in his mind, always there; he does not know what it wants, only that it is not benevolent...

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2. As a child.

Time had passed: I grew older and started to develop my own conscience and morals; to separate from the thing, from its control; I started to realise what a mind truly was. I came to understand that it was not my mind. By then I had been told what a soul was meant to be: a good thing to guide people along the right path.

   So I knew the thing was not my soul.

   But what was it then, this thing inside me? What, if neither my mind nor my soul?

   I dreaded to think, as I also dreaded the inevitable time when I must be around others; when I might have to explain what was wrong with me...

   At school there had been so many other people. Too many. I wanted to do something. Anything. I'd never been around so many; had no concept that there could be so many people in the world.

   [confusion. resentment. fear. hate. attack. flee.]

   No. It wasn't me that felt those things. It was the thing; it hated the crowds; the din. I had searched deep down inside myself, desperate to see how I had felt. And there it had been: deep, deep down inside.

   A bud of hope.

   A spark of curiousity.

   The urge to make friends.

   Then it had clamped down with an iron grip, instantly quelling my small rebellion.

   [despair. darkness. hide. eliminate. lash out. withdraw. act.]

I'd tried to keep it at bay; to control it with my mind. But my mind had been young and weak; the thing had been old and strong. Before long I had started to feel those emotions as my own; to bend to its will. And feeling them, knowing that its control was irresistible; I felt panic well up within me and cursed my own weakness. The panic bit down, sinking its teeth into my flesh, until it was a physical pain. A scream tore the air and I had snapped back to reality. It took me a moment to realise that the scream had come from behind my own lips. On my hands and knees, I looked down at my arms and was horrified to see long gashes up my forearms. A crowd of shocked onlookers had encircled me, utterly silent. The only noise in the hallway had been my heavy, laboured breathing. Noticing my bloody fingernails, I understood that I had gouged my own forearms.

   Then a teacher had burst through the crowd, pushing his way through the silent children. When he saw me on the floor, blood leaking from my wounds, he gasped and dropped to my side. "Who did this to you?" he asked, eyes wide with...fear? Was he afraid of me?

   Shame burning my cheeks, I'd lifted my arm and pointed at the poor boy who'd just happened to be in front of me, a messy-haired young lad. "It was him," I said, the thing cackling gleefully in my head. "He did this to me."

   "S-sir!" he cried, as the teacher helped me to my feet. "It wasn't me! I didn't do nothing, I swear! I-" Then he'd stopped, as if he knew his pleas fell on deaf ears.

   His stare as cold as ice, the teacher ordered the unfortunate boy to the headmaster's office before turning back to me, his expression lightening. "It's okay now," he said, smiling. "Let's get you to the nurse's office." I'd stood and walked away, desperately trying to ignore the hateful, cold glares of the other children.

   The nurse's office had been a fake-looking place. That was my first impression of it, as far as I remember. That it was fake; the bright, garish blue paint on the walls, the precision of it all: everything was just too clean and sterile. For all the bright posters in the world, it felt dead. I had answered the nurse's questions dully, hardly aware of what I was saying. The whole time I'd been there, I had been longing to go home.

   Sitting at home in an uncomfortable wooden chair, engrossed in my own thoughts, I felt its grip loosen. Enough for me to start feeling pain: the aching in my feet; the heaviness of my legs; the steady, throbbing pain in my forearms. In that moment, I found myself hating the thing inside me for the first time.

   [calm. submission. relief. appeasement.]

   And the anger had lessened, but only slightly. No, I told it. I won't be calm; you did this to me.

   [anguish. loneliness. isolation.]

   A wave of despair washed over me. Oh, to be so utterly alone...

   Ever since my father had left, I'd been living on my own; making do as best I could. I'd never told anyone. Hell, I didn't speak to anyone if I had a choice in the matter. School had been the most social environment I'd ever known...perhaps screaming and clawing at my own arms before blaming someone else hadn't been the best way to kick off my social interactions. I made no friends. If they weren't avoiding me like the plague, they were laughing and jeering at me; it wasn't long before I became sullen and withdrawn. I could trust no-one; could never allow my defences to falter for even a second. I let no-one close to me in any way.

   [silence. solitude. fortification.]

   It seemed that the thing was perfectly content with this stance on life. Perhaps it wanted me alone. Just it and me. Forever.

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