My eyes opened and I sat up in a rush, gasping and hands going to my throat. The flesh felt normal, like it always did. The gash was not there. I grabbed my phone from the bedside table and using the camera checked myself out.
Nothing. Fresh shave and no open wound, no trace of where the razor cut into my windpipe. I could feel the cool, quick slash. I remember the blood spraying out and down into my lungs. Could feel it choking me if I closed my eyes. Hear Her, definitely capital H, telling me I was Hers. A flash of her electrifying blue eyes and the rage within.
What the fuck happened?
I must be losing my already tenuous grip on sanity. How much of the last two days actually occurred. It is not good when you start to question yourself like this. I know it can’t be.
It is all some kind of waking nightmare. That makes sense. The last decade has been a bad dream. I am going to go into the living room and see her on the couch playing some jrpg and everything is going to be back to normal.
It isn’t. But hope is a fragile thing, and if I don’t grip it too tightly it will not break apart.
I need this.
Once my heart stopped going full gallop I made my way to the bathroom.
And instantly wished I didn’t.
The front part with the sink was covered in coagulating blood. It was every where. An especially dark spot on the floor where I remembered bleeding out. The entire area was soaked in it. Arterial spray on the ceiling, the walls and covering the basin. The mirror had streaks where it had run down over night.
And one word was smeared with a delicate finger in the center. It was written worth a delicate flourish. And it filled me with a cold sense of foreboding.
I slipped in the pool in my sudden terror. Fell hard on my ass and felt the instant bruise on my tailbone. This wasn’t real. It couldn’t be real. I should be dead. Killed by a phantom of ethereal beauty.
That I belong to.
Where has she been the last ten years if I am Hers?
I cannot stop staring at the word in blood. Even as my boxers are soaked in my own fluid. Fluids at this point, more than red I am afraid.
And I am afraid.
Scared shitless as truly as possible at this moment.
No idea how long I stared at the word, the blood, the image of her rage as she slashed my throat on replay. But zombie like resolve came over me and I knew I had to clean it all. Scour the memory if possible.
The shoddy patchwork of the living room ceiling mocked me when I finally got finished bleaching the bathroom and showering. Hunger amd fear shook my limbs violently in equal measures. I sat on the couch and looked at the pics I had taken with my phone. The word in blood kept my attention. It drew my eyes and held them, four letters never seemed so frightening.
But whose? I am not ashamed to admit that before I cleaned myself and the room I broke three more knives trying to drive them into my throat and chest. Snapped them at some unseen flaw in the metal itself.
I had dragged the razor, still sticky with my own lifeblood across my throat a dozen times. Eyes blinded by tears as nothing happened.
I had wanted to die previously to escape the torment in my mind. Now I wanted to die to escape the horror of being Hers. Of Not being in control of my own demise. Of this. This.
All of this.
I made my way into the kitchen finally sometime after noon and did the inly thing I could think of to stave off this horrible feeling. I drank nearly a liter of Vodka and packed my pipe twice with weed. in less then an hour I had burned both out of my system with adrenaline spiked from fear and whatever power seemed to have taken over me.
I ate but it tasted like ash. Possibly from shock, possibly from the container of drain cleaner yesterday. It was impossible to tell. Or beyond my feeble brain to differentiate. It was all the same honestly. I put sliced pickle and peanut butter together on the sandwich not caring for the flavor I wouldn’t acknowledge.
It was all so much protein and sodium to exist.
I could not understand being held hostage in life. A prisoner in this shell.
How hilarious it was i thought. I had felt like a convict performing penance for sins in the heavy throes of my depression for years. Now I knew it was real. And that made it an existential crisis of a new variety. No longer an entropic machine but an unwitting automaton serving a purpose untold.
I tend to wax poetic in the midst of mental breakdown. Another quirk that was downright laughable.
If I was killed last night, and I surely had to have been. What was I now?
A revenant? A ghoul? And who was my mystery owner?
She was like an itch at the back of my mind. Every time I tried to remember the kiss on my chest burned like frostbite. It grew unbearable until I forced myself to think of something else.
I need either a priest or a straitjacket. Or both. And I have always been against both ideas my entire life. I need help though. If I am losing it, if it is real. God help me if it is real.
The idea of going insane is easily more palatable. I always felt I walked a thin line, razors edge though I am loathe to use that term now, between sanity and flying off to the asylum. It runs in the family. Be it addiction or just insanity, I have always felt the sweet song in my head.
It is why I self sabotage.
It is why I self medicate.
Honestly who tries suicide once and when it fails doesn’t take it as a sign but keeps going?
But this feels different. Like a super sanity. Like I have reached a new level of understanding, sight beyond sight. Higher consciousness through lack of understanding. An obscure Tibetan ritual of stripping down to the basics and filling the void with the vastness of understanding and becoming one with all.
Grasping at straws.
Fuck. I am nearing ten suicides and one instance of being murdered. Thinking of magic and mental institutions. I am losing it. Lost it. This entire facade is crashing down around me. And for once I don’t feel alone and that is worse than any of it. Like she is watching me now. Every chill wind feels like her stare.
As I sit here, softly rocking back and forth, the chill of her lips on me and the memory of the blade on my throat I retreat into my mind. The pure flight or fight instinct screaming run. Every nerve firing, every muscle tense and my heart rate spiking dangerously.
How do you run from a dream?
How do you escape something that, as far as you can tell, is not real?
How do you die when it is taken from you? When it is all you want?
How do you make sense of the nonsensical?
These questions run through my mind in an endless loop. Crashing against me like the waves on the rocks. Slowly breaking me down to my basic elements. Turning me into sand or gravel. The constant state of adrenaline and terror finally too much I fell into my safe place. The vault in my mind.
We met online. That doesn’t mean much now but back then it was uncommon. I had hit the wall at home. Too much drink and drug, a routine of barely making it through the day in order to consume too much all night. A cycle of self harm. It was all any of us did. We made up reasons to go to the bar. Dart leagues twice a week, support a friend’s band, or to celebrate a good day. To commiserate a bad day. Anything that ended up with is seeing double.
And I was probably the worst of all. I had been single for the longest. Stopped trying. Similar to now in hindsight I guess. No real cares on the world except for the next drink, the next joint, the next sloppy and sweaty quickie in the alley or backroom. It was all the same. Waking up with a hangover, smoke another joint and eat some spicy take out to sweat out the booze. Two packs of cigarettes a day and at least a twelve pack to get through until we met up at whatever shithole had a special that evening. Whiskey and Guiness and repeat. A try of shots and two straws. And repeat.
I never wanted it to end. This was the life. Growing up with a family that did this professionally I felt I had the right to continue the family practice. And then I got popped for the DUI. It all fell apart. I saw my issues laid out and it wasn’t good times and harmless.
So I quit. I started to get myself into a better place. Began writing. Terrible stuff but they were my words and it felt good. The internet had just become big and I somehow stumbled on a punk chat room. Before the internet you went to shows and the record shop to find new bands. You had to buy based on cover and logo font. It was great. You might buy the next big thing or the worst thing put out. But with the web you could talk to others, around the world and discover new bands that were amazing.
And steal it all with Kazaa or limewire or Napster. You ran the risk of destroying your computer with viruses but it was worth the gamble. In that chat I found something bigger and better than a new band.
I found her.
We talked about music and sent each other mistakes through the mail. Yes, tapes and used the Postal Service. She was hundreds of miles away and listened to stuff I had never heard of. Opened me up to new bands. Just opened me up really. I had retreated into my shell and had given up a bit. A common theme in my life. But she was amazing. So when I got the chance to take a vacation, I went straight to her. We were inseparable the whole week. So much that I found an apartment close to her parents.
Everyone thought I was insane at home. Who met someone online and decided to pack up and move cross country to be with them?
We had three really good years together. We loved harder and burned brighter than I ever had before. Until I fell into my old routine again. Smoking too much weed and not wanting to do anything but get more fucked up. Which is fine when you are young. But I should have been past that point. She was. And waiting for me to get there while her life burned away was too much for her.
We fought the inevitable for three more years. Fought the good fight. But what is dead cannot come back to life. She left while I was at work. The note and empty apartment said all that years of not listening needed to be said.
I returned home. Tail between my legs and suitably chastised. But home is hardly ever the sunny place you remember. All of my friends and drinking buddies had grown up. They got married, had kids and were living the idyllic dream of white picket fences and Sunday cookout and football. I was the grizzled veteran returning to find home was now a foreign land. We used to be in sync and now we were living in different dimensions.
I picked up where I had stopped years before. Same mistakes, new era. It all came to ahead that night at the river. She had found that white knight and happiness. I was left in my tattered and rusted out suit. It was my crossroads and I chose to walk put onto the ice instead of heading to the light.
I wasn’t trying to kill myself. Not consciously. I was just looking for the magic solution to mending a broken heart, glueing together a broken mind. Just trying to fix something that had always been incomplete. A puzzle with missing pieces that for a while I could force a new try into and feel normal for a little while. Liquor didn’t work, drugs just numbed it for a while and love seemed like a fable told to children to make it all seem like it would be okay.
I fell through the ice that night. All I remember was being forced under the ice and the water pushing me further away from the hole. Punting desperately on the shelf above me and my lungs burned. Until I stopped. Just let go and waited for sleep to take me. Waited for it to be over.
I woke up the next morning in my bed. A fever burning me up and freezing me to my core at the same time. Pneumonia had settled into my lungs. I didn’t know how I had gotten out of the river. How I made it home. But I knew I was sick. Somehow drove myself to the hospital and spent a week at death’s door. Nothing they tried worked to make me better. A specialist came in and took detailed notes of my sex life, a last graspnthat maybe this was HIV related. On day six they put me in a wheelchair to get x-rays of my lungs. I remember the oxygen mask going on and feeling a sudden rush. Cold air rushing through my system and a euphoric feeling entering me. It was soon too much and I signalled the nurse that something was wrong. The regulator on the tank had broken and I got nearly pure O2 pumped straight through me.
The next day I was fine. The freezing breath of pure life had healed me. I went home, fit as a fiddle and rejuvenated. I had received a new lease on life and was determined to make the most of it. A new chance on a new me.
That didn’t last very long. No one believed me about falling through the ice. It was the fever from the sickness. It was all a fever dream. I returned to the river to prove it, to show them but it had all frozen over again and I just looked stupid. But I could see the fresh ice, not quite as thick as the rest in the shape of an open mouth.
The shape of two perfect lips.
The same shape as on my chest.
I snapped out of my reverie and ran to the bathroom. The too clean smell of bleach and memory of blood made bile rise in my throat. The throat the had been slashed. The lips on my chest the same as the ice.
They had to be the same. The feeling of recognition was staggering. For the second time this day I was on the floor. This time running the mark, feeling the cold seem to radiate from it.
It was connected. It had to be. I was not crazy. Or farther down the rabbit hole than I had previously guessed.
I made a few calls and received voice mail boxes. None of them ever answered me any longer. I knew in an hour or two they would text me back to see what I wanted. Hoping I did not respond. They were sick of my shit. We all are sick of my shit. I need someone to talk this through with. Someone who will listen and not judge.
Back to the idea of a priest or doctor. And neither would just listen.
The walk down memory lane had decimated the day. It was dark out. And the temperature was doing a nose dive from the cool Autumnal bliss to the arctic throes of winter. And that sent a chill through me that had nothing to do with plummeting degrees. The weather app told me tonight would be the first night of freezing temps. I looked out the window with trepidation, suddenly afraid of the cold. Of what lurked behind the frosty winds. And felt the cold metal as it had torn through me.
I decided to slam back a healthy double shot of Nyquil. Hoping against hope it would put me under in a way the dreams couldn’t reach me. And drugs have always worked in the past.
Wait. Never change horses in mid stream. Bad connotation.
The idea of passing the bathroom of horrors was too much. So the nice uncomfortable couch and soothing music would have to do for this night.
The devil lies in the best intentions.
I dreamt. Of water. Black water and no escape. I had no sense of direction, no knowledge of up from down. My lungs burned, my skin freezing and I felt all hope ebb away. It is in the last moments, when realization hits that it is over that you figure out if you truly want to live or die.
I knew I didn’t come there to die. My every cell screamed for life. In want was obviously my final seconds all I wanted was to live. And as I scraped the ice above, below, around me. The use growing thicker and pressing against all sides as spots formed on the edges of my vision. I couldn’t stop myself, knowing it would be my death I had to take a breath even if it was water.
Sweet cool air filled my lungs. I opened my eyes, not aware I had ever closed them and was blinded by light. Blinking and trying to get my bearings, I recognized this place. It was bright in the way the world looks after a blizzard, when the sky clears and the light is reflected and refracted in a dazzling array. There were coniferous shapes all around, but covered in ice and snow. A giant frozen pine tree forest dressed in white and crystal perfection. Deja vu set in as I looked about.
My clothes were dry, no sign of the waters that had taken me to the brink of death. In fact there was no sign of water except the ice and snow. Nor was there a sense of cold in this frozen land. Like a mirage except as I reached out it was solid.
A voice, female and sultry whispered, “Come.”
I looked around but no one was in view.
“Come to me Mikhail, my love. Find me darling.”
Unbeholden my feet began to move and I found myself nearly running through the trees.
Now I was running. Effortlessly sprinting through the forest of ice.
“Come to me and receive your fondest wish my dear.”
I didn’t want to. I knew that voice. Knew the danger behind the sweet tone. Fear ran like an icicle down my spine. I tried to stop bit my body was no longer in my control.
“My love, hurry. We shall feast in celebration.”
The trees became a blur and I moved with what felt like Olympian speed. I came to an abrupt stop arlt the edge of a clearing. In the center burned a campfire of the purest azure. It was obvious no heat came from it. I slowly made my way towards it, mind screaming to stop but body steadily pushing on.
She stood as approached. Perfection given form. A long diaphonous gown of woven ice managed to cover and leave nothing to the imagination. Raven black hair hung to her waist, silver icicles woven throughout. Her eyes two masterceafted sapphires in her pale and beautiful face. Hard like gems, cold like ice and mesmerising.
She reached out her left arm, long and sinuous, towards me. Her hand and long delicate fingers, tipped in blue with nails painted the color of the Caribbean and sharp like talons to me.
I reached out and grasped it, pulling it to my lips unbidden, where I gently kissed it.
She smiled and for a moment her teeth appeared sharp and like fangs but quickly smoothed out into perfect ivory. Her smile held only the promise of winter and her eyes took on a fierce hunger as she watched me.
“Mine,” she whispered and I felt the icy chill of death upon me.
I looked about, for anything to take my eyes off her. She was gorgeous, a dream given form. And frightening to the animal part of my brain.
“Let us finally eat my love,” she said seductively. I noted no food, nothing but the two of us and the flickering frozen flame in the circular clearing.
That was when her mouth opened, and kept opening, wider than any human mouth could go. It seemed her jaw unhinged and I was frozen as I watched it. A long serpentine tongue licked across her lips and she lunged at me. I heard more than felt the bite that consumed my entire head and torso.
And then nothing but black.