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“There’s an idea that hell is other people. My idea is that it might be repetition.” ~Stephen King
I looked down at my feet as I walked along the weathered sidewalk and thought about how worn my All-Stars looked. The black was faded and the white was more ivory than anything else. There was a little ink star doodled on from one of my many days spent daydreaming in class. I wondered halfheartedly what else I might doodle on my shoe to tie the star in with something a little more elaborate.
Suddenly, the feeling hit me again. The sickening feeling that I might implode on myself. It was the feeling id been getting every day, randomly, for the past year since She had appeared. I didn’t have a name for Her, and I feared Her immensely. Every time I saw Her and the self-destructive feeling washed over me I wanted to scream and run away. Tear my eyes out. Bury myself alive.
The first night I saw Her I had awoke in the dead of the night. I was never the type to believe in the paranormal. Hell, I wasn’t even raised in a religious household. Of course religion doesn’t influence your belief in the paranormal these days…
Anyway, when I woke I knew what stood before me was not human. From the follicles in my hair to my very soul I knew that it was not of our world. “It’s almost time,” She said to me. The black silhouette stood over me and was as familiar as the steady drip of blood off a murder’s blade.
I screamed after She was finished delivering her message. I screamed continuously, even as my mother raced in, much to the protest of my stepfather, and coddled me. I continued my howls until finally my voice gave way and I fell into a deep sleep in her protective arms. I couldn’t talk the next day, not that I particularly wanted to. I dismissed it as being a surreal nightmare.
She stood several feet away from me now. Her hair, unlike mine in the cool autumn breeze, was still. Were it not for my previous run-ins with Her I might have mistaken Her for a statue. An eerie wax figure, at most, who’s stillness was unsettling. But I knew She wasn’t a poorly placed statue. She was very real.
I quickly turned away and walked in the other direction. This was how I had dealt with Her appearances thus far. But Her behavior on that day was suspiciously aggressive. Rather than appearing off to the side, visible but aloof, She was standing several feet away from me. I simply could have thrown a stone at Her. Though, something told me that wasn’t the wisest thing to do.
I made it to my empty home without further events. I shambled numbly up to my room where I threw my satchel onto the bed then closed the curtains and cut on my black-light. It lit the room up with that familiar purple tint and I sank to the floor. With my back against the footboard of my bed and my eyes staring a hole into my fish tank of glowing amphibians is when I heard that familiar rhythmic chuckle. She loved to watch me. To study my actions. But had never really commented on them.
Finally too numb to care, I confronted Her shamelessly. “I’m sick of your bullshit,” I informed Her. She curiously tilted Her head to the side like an intrigued dog then finally spoke. “I was simply waiting for the opportune moment,” She said, “And now, it would seem, is just right. When you’re at your breaking point is just what I want. Because, child,” She grasped my chin and held it steady, “I will break you.” She then forced her mouth on mine, forcing me into a kiss which burned and I fought it.
Then I found myself in a field of scorched grass. Ashes drifted gently all around me like snow. Where the ashes fell mushrooms began to grow which morphed into hands then arms that grasped my ankles and wrists. She appeared and forced me to look before me where the landscape turned into a familiar scene.
I remember. I remember like it was yesterday. Minutes before the tardy bell for first period rang I stood just outside of my classroom filling my water bottle. Then I saw two juniors and a senior approach a locker I had not seen them at all year. I knew whose locker it was. I knew what was in the envelope which they slipped into a crack in it the quickly walked away but stayed with eyeshot of the locker.
Christie, a girl in sophomore class with me, approached her locker and went to work on the combination. Christie had always been an extremely skinny girl but had a muffin top nonetheless and her hair hung in unwashed strings around her acne and bruise coved face. Her clothes never fit quite right. They were always unflattering hand-me-downs which were long worn with age. She was bullied relentlessly for this.
I knew that before she opened her locker, I should have warned Christie about the prank. I should have told her about what our peers had slipped into her locker. That envelope…That damn envelope. But I didn’t…
She opened the locker and the envelope fell to the floor with a sickening thud. Warily, Christie picked it up and tore open the flap. Her face sunk then she pulled out the morbid gifts. Three razors with a word scribbled on each: Kill. Your. Self.
She began crying inconsolably and a part of me felt guilty. I should’ve warned her. No. I should’ve stopped them from doing it. ‘Don’t beat yourself up,’ said a little voice in my head, ‘it’s just a joke, and not your problem. If she takes it so seriously that’s her issue.’
Momentarily, I locked eyes with Christie and she knew I’d seen them do it. She knew I could’ve done something about it. She was giving me one last chance. A chance to tell her that everything was going to be ok and that they were going to pay. But instead I ducked into my class as the tardy bell rang. The scene faded away.
“No. No!” I shook my head in denial, “It wasn’t my fault.” She circled me. Her hand came to rest, cupping my cheek as hot tears ran down my cheeks. “It is time,” She announced, then I was exposed to another familiar scene. My room.
It was the dead of night and the girl in the bed before me was all too familiar as she stare up at me, eyes wild like a caged animal’s. “Say it,” She commanded into my ear. Her voice was a harsh whisper. I swallowed hard and resisted but knew the inevitable. I stabled myself and muttered an all too familiar phrase.
“it’s almost time.”