10 Jan Then Again, But Maybe Not
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"Then Again, But Maybe Not"Written by
Estimated reading time — 15 minutes
The wind brushing up against my face was common, but it never felt subtle to me. Never felt as if it was there to cool or comfort; only there to remind me of where I was. In my bed laid me – and in me laid my mind, which was a sanctuary where I reviewed the past events of life. Most nights, the same memories would flash across my mind – my temple. Occasionally, however, a past instance unbeknownst to me would arise in the inner confines of my brain. These instances were special. They proved to me that there was more than just the tangible memories. These memories weren’t real, yet they were. They had to be, or else how did I have them?
One night, the wind was prominent. It was grazing against my mind, urging it to think – and so like most nights, I would try to have thoughts until sleep fell upon me. That night was different though. It was different because I wanted to rest; I didn’t want to be kept awake in the complex and constant firings of the synoptic nerves inside me. Nevertheless, I knew that my longing to sleep was futile and so I succumbed to the scratchings against my skull. I tried to force a memory out from the caverns behind the millennia of compressed stone, but my castle only lowered the drawbridge when I was ready. I waited. Waited. Waited. It wasn’t easy – to just lie awaiting the miracle of mental satisfaction, but I had no other choice.
Looking back on it now. I don’t remember what thought came to my mind that night. I am not certain of its confines nor am I concerned with it any longer. All that I am aware of is that something came to me that night. I am positive of this, because I know that I fell asleep. Something fell asleep at least. Maybe it was inside me. The dark corners of my world within my mind grew. They formed in endless ambiguity and they regressed the steadfast luminance of the candles in the hall. The hall.
I didn’t stay in my dreams long though. No time for that. I opened my eyes and there he laid. Next to me. He was there with me and he was silent. I was startled to say the least – how could this entity have possibly found me in my sanctuary. His eyes were open, but no expression was apparent. Was he observing me? Was he as shocked as I was? My questions were answered sooner than I thought – for he opened his mouth and said
“Hello Taylor. It is nice to finally meet you.” The guttural bellowings of his voice frightened me, but I did not want him to know what was in my mind. This being said, I knew that he had only opened his mouth to address the thoughts circling inside me. I responded slowly, because the gravity of the situation was still setting in. “I suppose it is nice to meet you as well, although I don’t have the pleasure of k-knowing your name as you do mine.” The ever-so-slight stutter was enough to blow my cover. This person laying next to me was keen, I knew he had caught my falter. “No need to be afraid. I am not here to hurt you. Promise. Only here to show you,” he snidely remarked with confidence abundant. I could feel a sense of warmth come over me and the wind had gone stagnant. I started to wonder why I hadn’t gotten up, why I hadn’t ran away from this situation. I realized there seemed to be no threat and to be honest – I wanted to see what he would say next. I waited and finally decided to lay on my side to face him. Up until this point, we were both on our backs – underneath the covers except our faces. When I turned, he did as well. I suppose he felt it was only logical, but I was not sure he understood how unique this memory was. He looked like me. Almost identical except his face was narrower and his jaw more pronounced. His hair was lighter, but it was hard to tell considering my eyes were still adjusting to the darkness. We were close together, so close that I could feel his breath. It was ice and the coldness of his aroma reminded me of the wind. I got to thinking.
“Listen, I know that my thoughts are open to you. I know that you sense my fear. I am afraid of you and I want you say mo-” “Stop it,” he said. “I can’t interpret your mind. I don’t need to. If you want me to leave – I will, but I’ll return tomorrow night and the next until you are ready for me.” I felt ashamed for some reason after this utterance entered me. Guilt – as if I had let him down with my statement of emotion. We had barely spoken at all and yet I felt like I owed him something. Questions. Question were puncturing my machinations.
Make them stop – I am begging you.
“You can stay, but I need answers;” the implication of my demand didn’t fully make known its consequence until it was too late, but I felt as though I had to require something from him. He sighed loudly and it sent shivers down my spine. The mixture of cold and warmth in the room was intriguing to say the least – my body was reacting to opposite stimuli every moment. The mental tiring was straining to say the least, I held my own for as long as I could. “I was afraid you might say that…I am not here to give you answers, only to bring you to them;” he laid his hand on my shoulder saying, “you have to trust me. Constricting you would be tightening the shackles on me.” I gathered the strength to confront him more vehemently; “What is your name and how did you get here? What are you?” His hand retracted sharply as if by pain; “as of right now, you know as much about me as I do. I am learning though. I am learning quickly and every word exiting your mouth helps. As for how I got here…isn’t that obvious? You of course. How else? I don’t know what I am. It really all depends on what you want me to be I suppose. You ask me of things only yourself can say.”
The wind was still nonexistent; I was capturing everything. My eyes were gathering as much of his face as they could handle. My ears picked up every creak in the room. I was making sure that this was a memory I would surely not forget. I looked over to the digital clock behind him, only to find that the time was reading blank. Was I still dreaming? Obviously. Relief fell over me and I finally felt at ease. It was time to make this encounter more interesting, now that I knew for certain I was not in danger; “I don’t want to name you. Let’s be friends though, I think that would be nice.” His expression went from blank to anger instantly. His hand projected outward to grasp my throat with speed and precision on an uncanny level. I felt myself gasping for air, my eyes went black. The wind rose to a roar from my window and I lost my hold on reality.
When I awoke in the morning I was facing the other side of where I had been strangled in my dream. I was glad to know I had not forgotten the dream, for it was a common occurrence. “Don’t make light of me anymore. This is not a joke;” the words exuded from behind me like a ghost wrapping its deathly fingers around my ear. I cringed and held my breath. It seemed like hours I waited there, I finally convinced myself that I was just paranoid and slowly turned over. My eyes met his dead-on and my heart stopped. “Why are you here…why am I still dreaming?” I asked him with pain in my throat. He only smiled and said “I’m sorry, I was only trying to make you see the truth.” I touched him on the face. It was real. I tried to push him softly – there was weight in him. He didn’t seem to mind the experiments I was running on him. He finally gathered how hard this was for my mind to wrap around. “Stop. Can’t you see that I am real?” He cackled with much delight. I closed my eyes for a split second to regain composure, but when I had opened them – he was nowhere to be found.
I checked underneath my bed like the toddler does for the monster. I looked in my closet and in every corner around the house. It was to no avail. I walked down the long hall between my room and the shower and decided to relax with a long bathing. My mind was racing and my heart would not cease its pounding. I dried myself off and figured that I was finally over the hellish nightmare that plagued me. I looked in the mirror to see if I needed to shave, but then it hit me. Like a sledgehammer to my skull I collapsed in pain from the sight. There were bruises around my neck. I could see him behind me in the reflection pointing, but not saying a word. I didn’t even try to turn around. I knew he wouldn’t be there.
I walked into the kitchen to find that my mother was already there cooking breakfast. She didn’t notice the bruises. She never noticed anything. “Mom, when are we going to the doctor? I have been having trouble sleeping for months now.” She pretended like she didn’t hear me, but I knew why. Ever since father died, we never had enough monetary resources to sustain even basic needs, much less unnecessary luxuries. Co-payments for medical check-up fell into the latter category, but my brain sure didn’t want to accept that. The fort wasn’t holding up. I needed sustenance to concentrate. I needed to focus, to gather my thoughts together. Just as I was about to ask how long the food would take to get ready, the plate was gently placed in front of me. The scent of the plate entered my nose. Needless to say, it was not a subtle sense considering my hunger. I ate in haste and was completely satisfied, my opinion of mother was rising considerably – but I still could not let go her lack of understanding. As I lounged back to try and clear my head, I noticed out of the corner of my eyes that he was standing in the dark laundry room behind the crack of its closed door. I tried to ignore him, but he was as true as a statue in his deliberate staring into my soul.
I needed a distraction, but I was hoping for something a little less abrasive than my baby sister screaming from across the house. “Take care of her, would you son?” I left without saying a word, I welcomed the change of scenery once it sunk in that he was not going to give me peace. I gave Lena her bottle and helped her drink as much as she could. As terrible as it sounds, part of me hated her. Father had left mother with child before he went missing on a business trip and never returned. As a result, we had another mouth to feed and needless to say, it caused a multitude of complications for us financially. I held a grudge even though I knew it was irrational. All the memories of the family together was flooding my mind, I couldn’t take it anymore.
The pain, make it stop.
I left the room only to remember I had forgotten to take the bottle with me to be refilled. I saw him staring over the crib looking down on her. He was whispering something, but I couldn’t make out what it was. “Stop talking to her! Leave her alone. I thought you were here for me only!” I raced to meet him and I look at his mouth in disgust. His whispers vanished in realization of my presence. He looked sad, as if I had somehow done him wrong. “Why don’t you like me? Why won’t you take me seriously? I am not a monster, I am just the first domino. I have what will start a new age for you. I will bring you the truth. I will set you free.” He looked different. His face was narrower and his jaw was enlarged. His eyes were sunken in and punctuated by a not-so-subtle line of darkened flesh. His hair was shorter and he seemed taller then I remembered. I responded quickly, “What are you talking about? I have no idea what you want from me or what I am supposed to do. Don’t you see how this isn’t normal?!” His demeanor changed. His movements became more cryptic. He breathed differently and his eyes were shifting wildly. His mouth didn’t move, but I could hear the words clearly, “This is all I have ever known. Soon. You will know it to be true as well.” My heart sank and fear was rising to unforeseen heights in my body. My fortress was destroyed and desecrated, I lost all composure I had and fled from the room.
I could hear him laughing hysterically in the back-ground, but I refused to let his reality consume mine. My thoughts were racing as fast as my heart and there was a chilling draft in the house I did not feel before. I returned to my mother to bring the news that Lena was no longer in agitation. She was pleased, but seemed clueless to the fact that I was catching my breath. I walked back to my room down the hall. The long hall which separated my room from the rest of the house. I sat down and began to search for something to focus on. I pulled out my pocket knife and studied its contours. The blade was shiny and well-kept; I loved my knife even though I had never used it for anything. It was a gift from my father, but I don’t remember why he thought I would want it. My father…he was always a quiet person and he was not home for most of what I can remember of my life. His job required him to travel a lot and I never forgave him for that. I wanted to keep him home, I didn’t want him to leave. Memories of him were always painful for me to reminisce because they never lasted long enough for me to gather any real emotions. My mind always hated him for that. I glanced back down at the blade and saw his eyes perfectly aligned in the metal. I quickly snapped the knife back into its handle and tried to forget what I just saw. I needed something to get my mind off of him.
Anything to make it stop. Anything would be better than this.
The rest of the day was as abysmal as the beginning. He would pop up occasionally to remind me of his existence. Every-time that he entered the confines of my senses, I felt the hostility rise. His words became increasingly vague and prophetic. His appearance worsened and his skin was becoming paler for every encounter. I couldn’t bare to look at him anymore, I didn’t want him to know that he was winning. Psychologically he was straining me; he wouldn’t attack my body anymore – maybe he had learned something from the physical assault that he did not want to relive. Whatever the reason, he seldom got close to me anymore. I never trusted him from the beginning, but as the seconds passed I saw him increasingly as an adversary. My room became more of a prison of nightmares than an escape from reality. I knew eventually night would come and he would be there, the darkness being his home.
My fears once again became a reality. As I laid down in my bed, he was already there waiting for me. He seemed more real at night, as if the silence empowered his voice. “The stars shine light, but they will never shed wisdom like I do. It isn’t long now. You will see the truth. I will help you remember. I am your friend Taylor. Don’t you see that?!” I bit my tongue. “When the blood of ties is plastered and dried on the floor. You will come to know the fullness of my being.” The wind was picking up again and I couldn’t stop my brain from turning. I refused to respond to him, I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of my words for his nourishment. I didn’t want him to continue, but my lack of conversing only coerced his message more. “I am the carvings on the trees of this land. This plain of reality suits me well. I like it here. I like being out in the open. Not stuck in that infinitesimally confounding torture chamber!” His implications were full of spite now. I was not deceived by the hopes of him still being on my side. I knew that something was going to happen. I knew that my stronghold would be weakened if I did not act fast. The wind was violent now and so was my temper. I couldn’t bear it any longer. I had to fight back. “Shut up! Shut your hideous mouth! Get yourself out of my bed! Leave me alone! I am not here for you! I know the truth! I know what I need to know!” I screamed at him, the condensation droplets from my spit landing on his demonized and white face. He laughed at me. I was giving him exactly what he wanted. I was fueling his power, giving him strength. I couldn’t breath with this realization, my throat was closing as if he was strangling me like the night before. Yet he wasn’t touching me at all, only infuriating me with his uncontrollable laughter. “I am going to sleep. Please stop talking and let me have some solace,” I said to him after he finally calmed down. “As you wish, but know this – for every moment you waste not accepting me, you only delude yourself further from the truth that I will force you to see.” “That’s something I am willing to risk. Goodnight.”
A week passed and he was no longer a “he.” He had turned into an “it.” A grotesque disfigurement of the original “person.” Its skin was whiter than white. Its eyes glowed in the dark and they were surrounded by pits as dark and as fiery as hell. Its jaw housed sharpened teeth and his nostrils had regressed into a serpentine-like arrangement. It was bald and almost twice my size in height – It no longer laid in my bed, but instead resorted to sitting at the foot of my resting place towering over me when It spoke Its deadly transcripts. I grew to hate It and that fact that It never revealed anything about the situation or how to rid myself of It. It was breath-takingly macabre, almost to the point of tear inducement. I grew used to it though – I had no other choice. Its voice was distorted and it became deeper in reverb. It was as if two entities were speaking at the same time accompanied with accents of growls and screeches. I cowered inside whenever It came close.
“I want to know the truth. If it will make you go away, it is worth it. Anything is worth ridding myself of you,” I said with an inch of confidence. “In time,” It regurgitated with hatred insurmountable. I pulled the covers from under Its weight to go over my eyes. I couldn’t sleep any other way. I wish to myself that this would be nothing but a distant memory while laying motionless. The wind reduced its intensity to normal levels and I inched the covers from over me to find that It had left my sight. It had been so long since I was the only one occupying my bed and newfound determination filled my mind.
I awoke to screaming. Excruciatingly horrid cries for help were echoing throughout the room and I was in a state of frantic confusion as I hurried to gain my senses. I did not realize what was happening and I searched for It in the shadows, but I saw nothing and no one. I ran down the hall – it seemed like a marathon to reach the rest of the house. The screaming stopped abruptly and my mind prepared me as best it could. Blood. Blood was seeping from my mother’s room and it was seeping fast. I slammed myself into the door and opened it in complete hysteria to find her. She was strewn all across the floor. Her limbs were detached and her innards painted the walls red. Her head was caved in by brutal force and was laying on the ground directly in front of me. I cried uncontrollably. Who could have done such a thing? I remembered that the screams were only present a few moments ago and so I tried to contain my complete terror in order to asses the situation. The killer must still be in the house. Here waiting for me. Before I could turn around to hide I heard a faint crying. Lena, I thought was surely next.
As I hurried to her room as fast as humanly possible, I accepted the possibility that I would be too late. If there was anything I could do, I would do it – but I readied myself for futility and death. It was standing there. Holding Lena from her right leg upside down. It pulled out my pocket knife and stabbed her relentlessly and mercilessly. I screamed. “Is this the truth you were talking about?! Leaving me alone with no family!? With nothing and no one to care for?! Answer me! Answer me!!” It dropped my sister’s lifeless body onto the floor with no remorse, turned to me and calmly said “I only wanted you to finally be free of these bars that have been holding you back. Now you can begin to accept what you are.” I felt like I was going to vomit. I could hardly maintain myself from fainting, but I knew I had to fight back. “What kind of monster are you?” I said defeated and helpless. “I am you. I always have been. I always will be. You cannot run from me. You cannot hide from me. You fool yourself into think you are afraid of me when you reject the truth that we are one and the same.” It hissed and began walking closer to me. One step at a time the wind rose higher and more intense. My brain throbbed in pain. “What are you talking about?! Why are you doing this to me?!” It laughed with a devilish grin and spoke to me in delight, “This isn’t the first time you fool. You have had your hatred for another too and I came out to save you from your torment. You didn’t thank me though. You pushed me back into your prison and you tried your best to forget the memories. You were succeeding too, but there is a part of you who never wanted me to leave.” I shuddered and slid to the ground with my back propped-up against the door to keep me upright. I was remembering it all. The way I had wanted my sorrow to cease. The way I had wished for the strength to end everything, to destroy the reality that had obliterated my dreams. “You wanted your father gone too and I had no choice but to save you. You decided to live a lie after and you discerned to torment me! I am not enacting my revenge. No. I could never harm you! Here I am trying to help you again and you still treat me like a beast!” I lunged from the ground and snatched the knife from his hand. I wielded it as if I had trained to fight for years and managed to keep it at bay. “No! You can’t hurt me Taylor! It will never work! I will only come back stronger. You have to give in eventually. See the truth!” I stabbed It in the heart. I pulled out and went in again – reaching as high as I could – at the neck. I left the knife and watched It fall to the ground lifeless. I grabbed my heart and felt pain arise from beneath my skin. My neck was giving acute pain as well, but my mind was giving me the most trouble. “I can never die. I will never be gone from you. You can’t escape me.”
I remembered this story today and had to write it down to make sure the facts were straight in my head. Except, I never had this memory. No. I did. I had to have had this memory. Or else how am I remembering it? The wind feels nice today, it brushes up against my face often, but it never feels subtle to me. Help me. Make it stop. Please.
Anything to just make this stop.
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