The emptiness of space is staggering. The complexity and sheer enormity is beyond any humans comprehension. The distance between us and the sun is by no means small, but compared to the distance between us and another galaxy, it is pathetically insignificant. Those thoughts alone were enough to drive my child mind crazy, and that horrifying feeling resurfaced 3 years, and not in a way that I'd have hoped.
I was walking home from the mall, a new video game in hand and an itch to start kicking ass. Music blasting through my overpriced headphones, I was still trying to find a way to kickstart happiness. The video game was an impulse purchase, a means of trying to get this day to fly by faster. The cars were zipping by, the dense fog not slowing them down at all. Unsurprisingly there had been an accident an hour ago near the mall, someone ripping their front bumper off and causing quite a nasty bump to the taxi in front of them. While interesting to watch unfold, it was a cue to get home and away from the daft drivers.
I ran up the grassy hill, careful not to slip on the rocks as I had done countless times. I, of course, did, and promptly started singing out a string of swears that would make Ozzy proud. The street, a small cul-de-sac, was empty. This was unusual, as the weather here is pretty predictable and the kids have never been stopped by such a thing before. Nonetheless, it merely made the walk more enjoyable without having to look every 3 seconds to make sure you weren't about to step on the head of some innocent child. I slid the headphones around my neck, fishing the keys out of my pocket and prancing up the stairs to unlock the door. The key strained as the deadlock made the satisfying thunk as it clicked in, letting the door open. I, without looking, twisted the door handle and walked inside, still looking at my phone to check my email.
As the door shut behind me, something became startling. There was no light. This was a problem as it was 3 in the afternoon and my door was surrounded by windows. I looked up and immediately dropped my phone. The space was vast, beyond anything you could have ever imagined. Everything was beyond black, something devoid of all color. That's what I've come to call it now anyway. The void. I retrieved my phone from the ground, the dull glow from the naughty screensaver illuminating my shoes. I couldn't help it but I uttered a very distinct “What the hell”.
This is when the panic sank in. A couple of minutes must have passed before I backed up, hoping and praying to hit the doorknob. I didn't hit anything. I turned around and there was nothing. Nothing as far as the eye could see. My feet didn't feel as if they were touching anything solid. It was like walking on a cloud that some how kept me sustained. Then again, I'm not sure if I was moving at all, or if my feet were connecting. Naturally I unlocked my phone and tried calling 911, hoping I was suffering a psychotic break and this was something that could be fixed. The only response from my phone was a “No signal” notification and a dropped call.
There's something inside of me, but it doesn't have a name. I haven't been able to find the appropiate moniker, but let's just go with 'The Demon'. It isn't the most accurate, but it's close enough for literary purposes.
The Demon has been with me for as long as I have memories. Sometimes he's visually embedded into those memories, standing with me, and other times it's just his voice that whispers throughout the ambient noise. From swimming in the lake as a child to sitting in class, he's been with me. His hands on my shoulders, reassuring and guiding me through life. He's not in control, but he has a hand on the steering wheel.
I call him The Demon because that's what he feels like. A possession of myself, some otherworldly being that has latched onto my soul. A parasite of mind and body, wishing to do evil and harm. But I also say it isn't accurate, because he doesn't feel like a seperate entity. He feels like me, like he's part of me, like he IS me. Simply the voice of some dark and cold recess of my brain. It makes it difficult to deal with, especially with knowing that you're simply fighting yourself. I know I'm crazy, I know I'm not possessed, but knowing simply makes it more difficult.
When I was younger, he was with me but I never saw him then. I never heard him. It's simply within the minds eye that I can discern the difference between us, what influence he had over me. It was only when I discovered what I am, what flavor of insane I am, that I first met him.
He's tall, much taller than I. 6'7 and commanding, his entire frame is boreboding and demands respect, and ultimately, fear. He's dressed in a suit, flowing and black, like swaths of the night sky, cut and draped over him. When he moves, you can no longer see the distinction between his tie and his shirt, the shirt and the jacket, and the entire suit from the rest of him. Pitch black smoke, with a sinister smirk that knows you'll do what you want him to.
If Google Earth were to update right now, take a snapshot of the world and allow it for everyone to see, you wouldn't see much. You'd notice bright flares, cities burning ferociously, towers of black smoke rising into the atmosphere, staining the planet. If you were to zoom in, somehow getting through all the smoke and smog, you'd see bodies. Streets filled with blood, vomit, and strewn corpses from sidewalk to sidewalk. The population of over 7 Billion was now cut down, maybe a few million left in total.
Those few million were stranded. Probably burning alive in a building, or backpacking their way across their country to wherever they hope to find someone else. There's no shortage of radios. In the last few days no one really cared about the news or where to gather, it was just a smorgasbord of sex, drugs and partying, all of us waiting for the Earth to crack and finally swallow us up. We were given a month before our pale blue dot was nothing more. We didn't last 2 weeks.
I wish I could tell you what the cause was, but I can't remember. No one can remember. The few stragglers I've come across in my wanders, those who haven't caved and killed themselves or gone crazy, couldn't tell me what any of the scientists said a mere 8 weeks before. All we knew is that as the people got less and less skeptical, as the evidence was insurmountable, people devolved into little more than beasts. At first people stopped going to work, then they started drinking.
It wasn't long before people were beating each other to death over whatever mind altering substance they could get their hands on. Dealers were murdered not by their rivals, and not by the police, but by crazed addicts and desperate people looking to get distracted from our imminent death. Liquor stores were pillaged, trucks that were hauling alcohol had been nearly drank dry by the drivers who were pulling them. No one could cope, and no one would blame them.
News fell apart with no broadcasters to announce it. You had people who tried to commander the place, someone at a CNN News Studio trying to replace Anderson Cooper. Meanwhile on Fox you had another crazed religious lunatic spewing hate speech, saying that the 'fags getting married are responsible for our destruction'. Not that many people saw it. Electricity was failing, televisions destroyed. Our cell phones couldn't get past much more than that, constantly being taxed by people weeping on the phone with their loved ones.
For what looked like miles, there were fields of deep, blood red grass stretching into the distance. Each blade floating, gently bobbing from side to side, in the lightest of breezes. Each of those blades soaking up energy being beamed down from a small dwarf star some few million miles away. To the east you could see a tremendous range of mountains, boasting blue and shimmering trees that glinted like a Caribbean shore. To the west, a deep canyon, going to the core and showing the heart of the planet itself. At night it cast a radiant glow across the fields, the millions of blades of grass reflecting both that and the vista of the moons and stars above. To the south, you could see the cold. The frost like tendrils seemed to pierce the very air, turning even the hottest of objects into glass with a graze. Lastly, to the north, were the never ending fields of lush, red grass that felt like velvet on your skin. And there, in the center, watching this alien star set over the azure mountains, was you.
You take a step forward and brush a blade of grass, not sure whether to expect pain or pleasure. When you realize it's the latter, you run forward and realize gravity means nothing here. You're gliding through the fields, each step carrying you 20 feet as you take titanic graceful strides. The blades of grass are caressing your face and hair, extending towards the sky another 10 feet above you. You take one more step and jump, wondering how far you could launch yourself. You clear the top grass and begin to flip upside down, slowly and gently. You extend your finger and brush across the tips of the grass and watch it ripple away just like water. You look around you and see those glorious blue mountains shining a last salute, almost unbearable to look at due to the intensity of it's mirrored reflection. You look over, and you can see the canyon to the west, already glowing the night sky. A night sky which is filled with complex and gaseous nebulae, pock marked and icy moons, rings and more planets yet beyond your own. You see this intricate and exquisite extra-terrestrial artwork, look upon this wonder that no one else has seen before. How do you feel?
The sidewalk glowed in the rain, reflecting the light back from the buildings above it. Streetlights were dim, in a more run down part of the city, and the air smelt of ash and stale urine. I could feel my feet slowly crunching against the concrete beneath me, hear the sighs as people exhaled, no longer needing to keep their chest puffed up as they passed a stranger on the street. I had been walking since the sun started setting, wound up. Been having a hard time lately, and I needed to go out again. “It'll only be one more time” I promise myself, knowing that it'd be broken in a couple of weeks anyway.
The air started to become more still, the city slowing its pulse as it fell into a slumber. The sun had long since fell away, and now the lights above me were clicking off one by one. The rain was still falling, each drop falling with a soft pat on my shoulder, like the world was urging me on. As I took a deep breath in, I caught the scent. Drifting towards me from behind, a deep and heavy cologne, followed with slow steps that clacked onto the sidewalk.
I slowed down, moving off to the side and allowing him to pass me. He didn't just walk, but sauntered past. His hair was short, brown, and stuck purposefully into place. The earbuds in his ears shouted his music, and his bag bounced off his back with each step. The hoodie he was wearing was carefully chosen, accentuating his back and arms, hugging tightly to expose the definition. I only briefly glimpsed his face, but it was a confident and cocky smirk. Perfect for me in every way.
The music he was blasting helped cover my footsteps perfectly, as I ran up behind him. We were closing in on an alley way, and as we reached the edge I grabbed the handle on his backpack. He skidded in place, and I swung him into a trashbin. He crashed against it, and yelled at me, swearing. One of his earbuds had fallen out, the music even louder, but all it did was show how silent it was when he saw my knife. The second he saw my knife, he knew who I was, and what was coming.
I swung down with my fist, keeping the blade away from him but driving my knuckles into his jaw. He collapsed against the dumpster again, his head making an audible crack. Even with the tiny bit of light that managed to shine into the alley, I could see the blood on his forehead. A smile was erupting across my face as I bought up my fist again, breaking into a grin as I swung down, and a bellyful of laughter as I hit him again. His head bounced off of the trashbin again, making another hollow thud.
You could hear the faint sound of each drop of blood landing in the puddle below it, falling off the tips of his fingers. Granted, you could only hear it when he stopped screaming but if you got past the sobbing, there it was. That's what I listened for. The every steady drop, splashing down in time with a metronome. It kept my head on straight whenever I started to get worked up, kept me going whenever I got bored.
There was a lone light bulb hanging over our heads, swinging in sync with the drip. The legs of the chairs cast tiny shadows, little lines continuously dancing around on the cracked concrete floor. I watched them twirl for a few seconds, before looking back at the man in the chair. His flesh was torn, wounds gaping and half closed. Clotted blood was smeared all over him, for every time the blood flow slowed, I wrenched the wound open again. I gave a little smile and reached for the alligator clips. His head started to buck back preemptively, weary of the constant torture he's been exposed to.
You always knew when you were electrocuting them right because there was an instant feedback to show you. Whenever a current was established, that lone light flickered. Whenever it did you could see almost see a faint glow from the eyes of whatever poor bastard was in the chair. This time was no exception. I let it go for a few seconds before pulling back, placing the clips back on the table.
“Again. What was her name?” No response. I had been asking this question for hours, but he had been surprisingly resilient. Much more so than I had expected from someone like him. He was protecting a villain, or so I was told. I didn't care for the reasons. They were usually just political wording so someone could justify to themselves what they were doing. I didn't need a justification.
I picked up the clips again, and his moaning intensified. It was clear he was afraid of the pain, but it wasn't enough. “You shouldn't protect her. She is causing you this grief, and it will keep happening until you give me the answer I'm looking for. No one needs to know it was you, no one needs to find out that you told me, but you cannot keep this up. There isn't much left of you, and if you keep holding back then your heart is going to blow. There are only 3 things in this room, sir. Your life, that light, and the lie. One of those is going to give out before today is over, and I replaced that light bulb yesterday.”
My day is busy. Not your average “Oh, I've got so much to do before I can sit down and have a glass of wine at 8PM” busy. No no. Mine is more “Oh, I've got so much to do with the countries deficit before I can sit down for a meeting with the Ukrainian ambassador after I get my vice president to bitch slap the Senate around.” In being so busy, I don't really have a lot of time to personally relax. Sure, I could take a bunch of vacation days and retreat to Camp David but I doubt that's going to look good in the public eye. If I take one now, I might as well spend the rest of my presidency there because I won't be getting elected again.
But the one thing I've taken some solace in, is in talking to my personal Secret Service agent. He happens to be a friend of mine, from another life, and he's helped me do something that I hope all the other Presidents are able to enjoy. He's afforded me the luxury of freedom, despite being the leader of the most Free country on the planet. He's shown me a route, that can bypass all cameras and patrols, that will get me out of the White House without being detected. So, naturally, I might as well go to the one place that I feel most comfortable.
I've visited all of the homeless shelters in Washington, at least once. Some of them more than others, and they feel comfortable to me. No one really asks questions, no one talks unless it's mutually agreed. There's a quiet sense of anonymity, if you can get past the drunken ones who can't control themselves. Most of the times when I visit it's under the guise of some charity or donation, but I've been going a lot at night. Most are asleep then, with a few wandering the streets who were denied admission. They usually crash nearby, stuck in the cold and rain.
And I can see one now. Even from across the street, I can hear him grumbling. The wind ripping past me didn't drown out his sorrows at all. Maybe he needs someone to talk to, I've always had a good ear for peoples woes. Crossing the street isn't exactly difficult now, with few cars roaming the pavement. I closed the gap as quickly as possible, trying to limit the amount of time my face could be visible. A president wandering the streets at night doesn't need any extra attention.
The first thing that caught his eye was my shoes. I've always considered them an indicator of someone status, and I guess he did too. That or my shoes reflecting the streetlights managed to blind him. “How are you doing?” I said, pulling my coat up around my neck. “They wouldn't fuckin let me in.” He grumbled back, looking up at the window. He picked up a rock and threw it, missing by some considerable margin. He went back to staring at the ground.
Tears were running down his face, mixing in with all of the blood and snot. “Why” was the only thing he could say for the first half an hour, but then he grew tired of it. You could still him not wanting to waste the energy, to even hold back from crying in the hopes that he could enjoy the last few moments just a little bit more. “Evan.” I said, placing my hand on his chest. “Look at me.”
He shifted his focus from the ceiling to me, you could see the pain in his eyes when he locked onto me. A reminder of everything that he experienced, everything that happened, and all that he'd miss. “I do love you.” The barrier broke, and the crying started again, followed by him saying why and screaming again. Another 10 minutes of me holding his hand, with him gripping so hard that he nearly shattered bone, he stopped. My hand was still on his chest, feeling his heartbeat as he rose and fell through the emotions.
“I know you don't believe that I love you, but I do. I love you more than anyone that I have ever known, and from the second that I met you. I've never wanted to spent my life with you, I wanted to spend it by your side. I wanted us to be the closest friends we ever could be. And for a long time, we were.” Tears were welling up in his eyes as he asked “Then why aren't we now?” I shook my head, saddened that he still didn't understand. I needed him to before time ran out, I needed him to know why before it was too late.
“We are friends Evan. We've never been closer, but I just can't help it anymore. Things got out of my hands, and I don't know what to do anymore. I can't fight it, and you can't either.” Now it was my turn to start crying, my tears falling on his bare flesh. “Everything in my life has been leading up to this moment, everything about us was driving me here, and as happy as I am for all we've had, I can't stop what's going to happen next. And it's something that you and I are going to need to experience alone.”
The weeping started again, as he finally understood. He finally got that it wasn't my fault, that I couldn't change anything that was about to happen. I could hear the weeping turn to moans of fear, when he saw me grab the axe off of the nearby table. “I love you” I whispered, closing my eyes. I pulled back, raising the axe above my head and bringing it down with as much force as I could. The blade burrowed into his chest, the last audible words being “NONONO” from him before the blood started to gurgle in his mouth and throat, blocking anything he was about to say. I pulled back, hearing the suction and stick of the blood, feeling the spatter across my face and chest. I brought it down again, and again, until the only sound was from the axe, and no longer his throat.
There were about 15 stories between me and the concrete sidewalk, with nothing but a layer of air between the two solids. Occasionally you'd have a few heads that would stick up closer, but only just, and they were far and few between on such a slow Sunday morning. The weather was beautiful, but with it being a weekend, not many were headed to work. The streets were empty, and it was serene. For the first time in years I finally felt relaxed. My legs were dangling over the edge of the building, my hands resting on the ledge, leaning back and soaking up the sun. I wanted to enjoy my last few moments, and I couldn't have taken a better day. After decades of fighting with myself, I had finally over-ruled my previous decision to live, and take the route I always intended. I was going to kill myself.
30 years ago I had tried for the first time and very nearly succeeded. I was working and spent half of my shift preparing to kill myself at home, a few hours later. The pain became unbearable, and I instead decided to move the schedule up and just kill myself at work. I was going to be dead, what did I care where the mess was or who had to clean the mess up? While this was a great theory, working in a desolate building with no one in it on the weekends, it didn't due to one factor. The building wasn't empty. There was one person in an office that I was unaware of, and he walked by at just the moment I tried. I had filled a basin and was drowning myself, and he hauled me out of the water. 911 was called, an Ambulance brought me to a hospital, which discharged me almost immediately for being perfectly fine. Neither the Hospital nor my work knew that it was a suicide attempt, both assuming it was an accident.
When I told my best friend about it, he lost his mind. I caused him a lot of stress and heart ache, and I understood why, but he couldn't see it from my perspective. He kept saying that he couldn't understand how I felt, yet immediately followed it up with a request to not kill myself based on something from his perspective. Apples and oranges. It's impossible to explain it to him, because he doesn't feel the way I do. He doesn't feel the overwhelming, agonizing grief that I felt just existing and I'm glad that he didn't. I wish though, that just for a moment, he could feel how I feel and finally clue in to why I wanted to die. I spend each waking moment fighting for control over my own mind, fighting to sustain who I am as a person, and dealing with the internal conflict of trying to piece together exactly who I actually am. Having done it for my entire life, I couldn't do it anymore.
Then came the moment. The moment when he asked me to live. The moment when he made me promise to live. The pain I felt was immeasurable, but so was the love that I have for him, so I went with his position instead of my own. I lived for no other reason than he asked me to, and I think he realized that. The next few months were rocky, to say the very least, but he stood by me. I didn't have any energy to do anything, I quit my job, and I was homeless and keeping it from him. When he found out that I was actually breaking into somewhere I used to work to sleep indoors at night, he dragged me into his house and put me on his couch. He fed me, he kept me warm, and he was there for me.
Yet throughout all of this, I never felt any different. The past 30 years have only gone by simply because of that promise, and if he had never found out about my attempt and I had the chance to try it before he did, I would have without even a second thought. The pressure was on him, and he made it aware that he was uncomfortable with it, but what else could I do? He really was the only reason I was alive and although I tried to find more reasons to live, I never could. It was always him and only ever him.