Well it has been almost one year since my last post and I’ve written very little in that time. Here is my first attempt at getting back in the saddle. I must admit it was a struggle. I hope…well I hope.

Beast Within

By Jason Warden

She says things she doesn’t mean. Makes promises she can’t fulfill and swears to and by things she has never believed in. How I want to believe her. Nothing would bring me more joy than to see a spark of her inside still fighting. The other is only telling me what it thinks I want to hear. It doesn’t know her. I don’t know how that can be, but it doesn’t. How can a thing take over from the inside; how can it drive out all its host’s thoughts, yet not know the very nature of its host?

“Pleeease, I’ll do anything,” she cries, “just don’t hurt me anymore.”

As if IT is the one hurting. I spend every hour here, I know I must go eventually, but I’m afraid, afraid the last part of her will emerge just as I leave and her final image will be of me walking away. I haven’t eaten in two days, not since I caught it. IT, isn’t HER. Robbie never would have lied to me, but I know a secret, one that makes this almost bearable. Its eyes are not her eyes, it doesn’t know I can tell the difference, mustn’t let it know. I maintain eye contact as I move closer to it/her. It cringes back, ropes taut and veins swollen beneath them.

“Please God, don’t hurt me.”

I pray, pray for myself, for strength, for guidance. I pray for her, that she has peace whether she is still inside or not. I pray for God to cast out the interloper within. I listen so hard for an answer but my hurt is too loud.

Her spirit is pure, I’m sure of that. She’s always been such a good girl, always so considerate of others, always willing to help anyone. It will kill me to do it, but I don’t know what else to do.

“Please God, don’t hurt me.”

I could almost believe it, if not for the hard black irises. If they had been the maple brown I had seen in homeroom all of last year, or the ones I had looked into as I asked her to “go with me” in fourth grade I might have just let her go. Instead, I slash IT again. It/she cries out, and for just a moment it is her voice I hear, her true voice. Are her eyes brown again? It’s hard to tell through the tears, but for just a second…

My arm slashes out again of its own accord, she screams, not in pain this time, but real terror, and it is her, I know it is, nothing so stupid could mimic the awful power in that scream. I look to the space that my knife so recently passed through hoping I didn’t…

“Roberta, I’m so sorry. Don’t give up Robbie, stay with me.” I pull off my shirt, and try to slow the bleeding. Slow, but not stop. It has to come out.

“Spirit is pure Robbie, Spirit is pure. It’s in the blood.”

I don’t know if this gets through or not, her eyes are barely open but her mouth is moving.

“What baby? What?”

I shake her to bring her around. Hoping. Is it possible, could it have fled her?

“Mother, I…Want my …Mother.”

“Just keep fighting it baby,” I tell her, “You’re strong, stronger than it would believe.”

“Fuck you.”

And once more, I’m again stuck with the thing inside her, the IT.

I tell myself its good she doesn’t know what she’s become; her face has been a blank canvas for hours. A thousand pounds of nothing cross over her eyes every second. Through my tears, I can see the bleeding has stopped.

“Robbie?”

Not even a twitch. I move to her warily and place my fingers on her neck just below the bandage. I don’t feel anything, and in that instant, I feel everything. Pain, hurt, love, grief, all the emotions swallow me and I pull her to me and hold her wanting only to die here in her arms. It cannot end like this. WE cannot.

“Oh God, I’m so sorry Robbie, I tried, I…”

Just before the pain, there was the moment in which I felt her breath on my neck, in that split second I saw our future, our family, our children and grandchildren. That image is the one I hold to as  I back away from her bloody face, ITs teeth still gnawing a piece of me.

I can already feel IT in my veins pushing and bullying me aside. Its eyes look through mine, but I’m not ready, yet. I can’t stop it, I see that now, but if she is still in there, I want her with me.

She lunges as I get close; spitting profanities I know Robbie has never heard. I’ve lost everything. In minutes or seconds, the other will take over. I have to free her first.

My hands are calm and undo the knots around her ankles with surprising ease, as I loose her hands the world swims in and out of focus. There’s a flash of movement, I’m falling, pulled and pushed away from the window of my mind. In the distance, I hear crying. In the black, I scream for her to run from the thing that is not me.

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