My Empathy Is Currently Unavailable, But Please Don’t Bother Calling Back.

I meet black, dead eyes with my own, my fingers stretching out to intertwine with theirs. Black blood intertwines with red. I can taste blood on my tongue.

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2. the madness of two

 

Outside, the sky is beginning to lighten, stained crimson, as if the clouds have been taken to with a razor blade. The world is almost as scarlet as the blood on my kitchen knife.

'Don't you feel better now?' Their voice is so soft, like the smooth song of death shrouded in silk. 'Isn't it all better now they're finally gone?'

​I look back at the house. There's blood coating the window, and I can barely see through it. How curious.

​It's strange, how numb I feel. It's almost as if I'm floating out of my body and watching the world move past through from the air. It's almost as if I can see myself standing next to them, blood tattooed to my skin, scarlet raking dark fingers through my messy hair.

​I pause, flicking my gaze down to the knife in my hand before back up to them. They look bored- their arms crossed, watching me lazily with half-lidded eyes. This is all there fault. All of it. Has to be. 

Then I drop the knife, and it clatters into the gravel drive. I feel a droplet of blood splatter against my cheek.

They're beginning to smile. 'What was that for?' they open their mouth to say, and I stagger away from them, my legs failing me until the window sill digs into the small of my back. I appear to amuse them, like a small dog performing tricks for their entertainment.

How have I only just realised? How has it taken this long?

My breath's coming in bullet shots, spitting out into the warming air, my chest heaving, hands shaking. It's taken so long, but I finally find my voice.

"This wasn't you," I whisper, I then I clutch at that sound, hold onto it tightly, as I continue again. "This was never you, was it? It was always, always me." I laugh, the sound shrill and sharp, like a broken window, as it bursts into the air in a shower of red. I throw my arms out, an insane grin splitting my face in half.

​They're smiling properly now- cruel and cold and dangerous, dark lips retreating into ivory fangs. 'You've only just worked this out?' they start to whisper. They take a sudden step forward, leaving me with nowhere to move. I freeze, just as I would if they were a wild animal. Which, I suppose, they are, in more ways than one.

​Their laugh is as cold as the morning air. 'Please don't say that it's really taken this long to figure that out, friend. We both knew that from the very start of our little adventure, when you were so cold and alone and angry. Or have you just been smothering that idea for all this time?' They dig their fingers into my throat, pressing their body against my own, their tongue snaking beneath my ear as I gasp at the sudden lack of oxygen. There's nothing sexual about these actions- it's nothing more than controlling, possessive.

I shudder, red spears of repulsion flickering down my spine. My hands find their shoulders and I try to push them away. I can't. It's almost as if they're a twenty-ton weight holding me in place.  

'Come one, admit it,' they open their mouth to whisper. 'You really have enjoyed this, whatever you say. You just smothered that beneath the insistence that it was just me all along, not you.' Their fingernails feel like claws, digging into my bare arms, freckled with scarlet, and raking away the skin, ripping away long bloody strips in my flesh. I bite my lip. 'What was it? Did you like the idea of being the victim through all of this? Did you fancy reciting witness statements about what I made you do, who I made you hurt, even though you were so sure that you never wanted to?' 

There'd been the neighbour, the girl who shared the room with me. The nurse with the clear blue eyes. Them sitting in the corner, screaming an endless howl of 'HURT THEM KILL THEM BURN THEM ALL', over and over and over and over until-

Until I finally did.  

It really was me all along.

I push again, this time with more force, with more venom, and with widened eyes, they stagger back as I plunge the kitchen knife into their chest.

Their thin lips part into an expression of utter surprise as they fumble backwards, the knife ripping form their body and spraying blood over their own face. They lift their hand to the whole in their breast and then to eye-level, admiring the way their blood trickled between their fingers. Rather than red, it's black, and I'm not even surprised.

'Is that how this is going to work?' they open their mouth to say. Then they lick the blood off their fingers and I want to scream.

But I can't. I'm numb: my body heavy, my limbs frozen, my thoughts slow and muddled. They lick their lips as their eyes glint. 'Friend, don't ruin it now. not after everything we've been through.'  

I force myself to shake my head. 'I'm not your friend. I'm just your puppet.'  

'Friend, puppet, when was there even a difference?' They shrug and take a step forward as I raise the knife.

"Don't come any closer," I hiss, trying to mask the fear beneath a façade of bravado. "I don't want to do this anymore. I'm not going to do this anymore, no matter what you say."

'Are you really that naïve?' Their expression twists into one of complete, rabid fury. 'Do you really think that you can ignore me? That you can throw me away like a piece of rubbish?' They lunge, blood-slick fingers wrapping around my throat, lifting me from my feet.

I choke, spittle flying from my lips as I flail, hands wrapping around theirs but unable to pry them free. I can't breathe, the roar of my heartbeat filling my ears. 'I am the only one you have' they start to scream, their black eyes flickering with murderous hatred. 'How dare you, when I gave you everything you have.'

They spit at me.

'I will not be thrown away,' they almost snarl. 'You cannot get rid of me, even if you want to.'

I kick feebly, but with every choked second that passes my movements become weaker, a dull fog clouding my vision.

'Don't you realise yet?' My legs feel too heavy to move, my lungs shuddering against my ribs, searching for the oxygen that isn't there. 'You. Can't. Get. Rid. Of. Me. I'm part of you now- you let me in.' They smile as I choke, their words becoming fainter with every passing second. It's as I'm sinking in oil. 'Don't you remember? Back in the hospital ward, when you were all alone and dressed in white. Back when you were lonely and broken, thoughts clouded by those pills they gave you?'

It's only now, on the brink of consciousness, that I see it: like cheap snapshots taken at theme parks. The white walls and cold floor, the consultations and medical examinations. The forced smiles and broken voices.  

And them- coming to me as if in a dream, offering escape, revenge, redemption. Offering freedom and strength.  

My immediate acceptance of their offer.

Maybe they see something in my eyes change in that moment, because their grip on my throat loosens and I hit the ground with a crunch. For almost a minute, I don't move- I can't- sucking in greedy lungfuls of air as oxygen rushes back to my starved brain in a dizzying wave.

They don't move; instead they watch me impassively, waiting for me to speak again.

​I don't.

'Darling, my friend,' they almost whisper, and it's only now that I realise that they've never said a word. The voice is just inside my head. Always has been. 'Haven't you worked it out yet?' They crouch down so that they're level with me, lifting my face to meet their with one long finger. Can anyone else even see them? Or are they nothing more than a broken shard in a fractured mind?

'You can't hurt me,' they continue. 'Everything... this killing, this fighting, this listening to me... this is all you. This is all self-preservation, your insistence to keep living. You can't kill me, because to do that would mean killing you. And that would, essentially, defy all point of creating me in the first place.'

Creating them.

Creating them.

I... created them.

They don't exist. Never have.

And it makes so much sense, now. They're nothing more than the darker side of myself, the harsh, blackened side. The side that wants to hurt, to hurt everyone and everything so very badly.

This is the side of me that I listen to. Always have.

'You won't escape me.' Their eyes flash, the heavy, drowning blackness glowing with fire and death. 'You don't want to, not really. You enjoy the apathy, the assurance that you're not the one that should feel the guilt because you're not the one who wants to inflict it. That's me. I'm the darkness in you, the barbed wire around your heart, and with me, you don't need to fear. You don't need to fear anything, because you tell yourself that you're not in control anymore.'

The doctors. The psychiatrists. The teachers, the boy who would call me names at school. The girl in the ward next to me. My parents.

They're all dead. They're all gone forever.

And I'm still telling myself that I shouldn't feel guilt- that I shouldn't have to worry about my actions because I wasn't the one who suggested carrying then out.

But I can't listen to myself anymore.

They say that a classic quality of post-modern literature is an unreliable narrator, where the reader can't trust what they've been told.

I can't help but be reminded of that now- I can't even trust my own thoughts, can't even rely on my own eyes.

I slowly stand- one foot against the ground first, then the other, pushing myself back onto unsteady feet. The knife is still in my hand, somehow. I must have picked it up again.

I finally understand.

I lift the knife again and they sigh, shaking their head with a smirk. 'Admit it: you don't really want me to leave, anyway. You need me with you, and now that I'm here I'm never going to leave.'

I nod. I realise that now.

But I can't hurt anymore people.

I can't cower away from my actions anymore.

And I know- I know that if I listen to them, I'll give in again. I'll listen to what they say and do what they tell me.

Like a slave.

Exactly like a slave.

I can't do that.

But I still meet their eyes and nod slowly, and they smile, looking almost like a child on Christmas Day.

'Friend,' they whisper. 'Wonderful, wonderful friend. We're going to have such a perfect time together.'

They look delighted, their eyes bright and a cruel smile marring their pale face. Their hands are clasped in front of their mouth.

I know what I need to do.  

"Yes," I murmur. "We'll be together."  

The knife slides between my ribs, the skin and muscle parting easily for the blade to pass through, puncturing my lung and sending hot white pain setting my senses alight. I try to scream, my knees buckling, but the only sound I can make is a hollow gargle. I hit the ground, the impact causing the knife to jar a little deeper into my breast. Above me, they scream.  

And then they choke on the blood filling their mouth. Sticky and black, like tar.   

And then they fall.  

For someone of such inhuman beauty, they fall gracelessly, their legs folding beneath them, their head smacking against the ground with a sharp thud.   

I can barely make anything out- the world swimming in and out of focus, as if I'm vainly trying to stay afloat in the middle of an ocean.  

The rich sting of blood is on my tongue.  

The sky's stained the same rich colour as the blood leaking onto my fingers, drawing lazy scarlet fingers over the knife handle, the blade of which is still embedded in my chest.   

'You...' they gargle, inky syrup dripping from the corner of their mouth. I meet black, dead eyes with my own, my fingers stretching out to intertwine with theirs. Black blood intertwines with red.  

'You...' I can only hear their voice inside me head now, their lips stilled, their black eyes unmoving, fixed upon my face.   

It's curious, how their final expression is one of fear.  

My lungs are full of blood.   

I can taste it on my tongue.  

I can feel it coating my fingers; but not just mine- I can feel the blood of each and every person that I've hurt, that I've killed, on my hands.  

All I can see is scarlet.   

The world is swimming in blood.  

They're dead.

And through this sea of red, I make out one solitary star emblazoned against the fading sky.  

Blood swathing my body.  

The star gleaming down. 

And maybe, just maybe, it's hypocritical to say that I don't want to die, not like this.  

But I can't help but admit to myself that I'm looking forward to being the only one in my own head.   

No more blood in my body.  

All my blood on the floor.  

No more air in my lungs.  

All the air surrounding me, brushing my parted lips like final kisses.  

So tired.  

Can't hear a thing.  

Silence filling my ears.  

Finally quiet.  

Finally peaceful.  

But so very  

very

 

 

 

tired.

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