So, this is the first actual Attic piece. A rewrite from when I was still in middle school. I have included the original, followed by its conceptual reimagining. The original was simply fluff, with no substance or plot, and I have tried to spice it up a bit, add some coherence to it while maintaining the original circular concept. Still, it works mainly as a fluff piece, not really anything. Just a way to pass the time and keep my typing fingers active on a snowy New Year’s Eve. Speaking of, Happy New Year!
Original now behind “Read More” link, updated version is the one displayed in short form. Thanks for reading!
I am not insane. I swear it. Even as they toss me into this dull room, full of its artificial lights and safe edges, I will proclaim my sanity. Because I am not crazy; I simply have seen the things they cannot—will not. I am no harm to myself or others, I only threaten the safe bubble of denial that has so carefully cradled them all these years.
I know what I have to say sounds insane—but is that not a mark of my own sanity? I do not dare proclaim these things with assurance of their rationality, because I initially doubted. I saw the things I saw and hoped that I was losing my mind. Instead, I have been forced to accept that what I see is in fact the reality shrouded around me. You see, when I closed my eyes, I could see what lies beyond. I could see the horrors of the hidden present, as well as the looming dangers of the coming future. They told me these were hallucinations, complex visual, auditory, and olfactory hallucinations. Rare, yes, but not unheard of. However, these “hallucinations” only appeared when I closed my eyes. Eyes open, I could see the world just like you do. Others told me I was dreaming, some strange form of REM disorder and narcolepsy. But I sleep dreamless at nights; sleep is the only time I can find relief from these images. Though now I grow fearful to let myself drift away, for fear of what may be waiting beyond the veil.
I must admit, I have always gotten jumbled at times. It is hard to tell which vision is the present and which is the future. Even when I had my eyes open, I was never sure how much of what I saw hovered beyond my wide-eyed vision ethereally or temporally.
I’m sure you’re curious. After all of this, what insanity have I seen? I see the world with the stage trappings torn away. There are spirits in this world that work beyond the realm of human perception. There are beautiful beings that bring peace and healing. I have seen them drift into a room, alight with grace, and bring calming with a touch. I watched once while one hovered about my screaming infant cousin, saw as it reached out a single hand and touch her chubby cheek. And she stopped screaming, instead began cooing. Everyone else in the room assumed it was the fickleness of babies, but I could see.
Of course, seeing beauty is not why they have locked me away. I see the darker beings that rip through our world. They are numerous, swift, and deadly. They sow discord, hate, and anger. And they can kill. Being in the places I have, sitting in a prison cell or bound to a psychiatric bed, I have seen how they can latch onto others. They goad us people to action, lift our hands to strike one another. They reach into us, contort our thoughts. In the hospital once, I saw them smother a man. The doctors informed the family he died peacefully in his sleep, but the tormented man I watched was anything but peaceful. Not content to wreak havoc alone, I have also seen what they do in the future. I have seen them rip apart the beautiful beings, leaving our worlds in their hands alone. I have seen a future drenched in blood and violence, a crumbled civilization ruled by animal instincts rather than human reason. I have seen the nations turned over to pure id, and the destruction sowed. The worst of all, I can feel it coming now. They have begun to rip the wings from the others, mar their lovely faces and drag them into the putrid muck of their world. The light is failing now, and I am a helpless observer to what is coming.
I’m sure I startled some with my decision, the one which led me here. But once you’ve seen those things, seen how they creep and sneak and kill, how could you ever open your eyes again? It was easier to remove my eyes; I do not need them to see the world around me any longer. I see our world, a dim image overlaid with the spectral reality that so tortures me. People are always amazed at how I can see, recognize, and move as if my eyes are still resting peacefully in their sockets. I simply see in a new way. And so, because of this, because of my curse and my attempt to save my own life, I have been locked away against my will. I am crazy, mentally ill, a resistant schizophrenic who tongues my pills and refuses to cooperate with therapy. So, here I sit. My mind is no help in tracking my progress here, content as it is to swim erratically through the present and the future. I do not think I have been here long, but perhaps I have drifted from the present to the past. Even now, I lose track of which now I am living in. I lose track of my own thoughts, slipping away and flowing through the streams of time.
But I am not insane. I swear it. Even as they tossed me into this dull room, full of its artificial lights and safe edges, I proclaim my sanity. Because I am not crazy; I simply have seen the things they cannot—have not.
But they will.
This is a WIP I really liked initially, but have cooled on it to some degree. I think the ending needs some additional work (though I like the very final paragraph), but I just have to figure out how to take it. I think there are some really good things here, but definitely something I am still mulling over and trying to nail down.
The knowledge of one’s own imminent death can provide the soul a remarkable sense of levity.
It certainly can also provide a sense of impending doom, dread, fear, and regret, but for me, the knowledge grants me the peace and joy of complete freedom. It is inevitable that I will be killed within the next few days. My case will be opened and investigated, but when neither evidences nor a suspect can be found, it will slowly descend into the urban legend obscurity of cold cases. You see, my murderer will never be caught because I am not sure if he exists.
Not to bore you with these paradoxes and conundrums, let me explain. He is real; he possesses form, mass, shape, gravity, and all those other things that often happen to describe “things.” In fact, he seems to even have the bones, blood, breath, and drives that define “human.” But he does not really exist, not in the traditional sense. He is. And he is going to kill me. I know this because he told me so.
No one else seems to see him. True, they may bounce into him on a busy street or lift their eyes in his directions when he laughs at my pitiful life, but they only look through him. They do not see what is staring right back at them. I know he is real, however, because I have felt his hands on my body, seen the scars and bruises he leaves on me. He has tried to kill me before. I know this because the hospital records serve as proof of his frequent attacks. Alas, no one is ever charged. Sometimes I wonder if the police even really try looking for him—not that they would find him. He’s just one more shadow in a city full of ghosts and half-lived lives.
I’ve watched him destroy relationships and opportunities, pushing away every friend or romantic interest I’ve ever had. He’s sabotaged me at jobs, led me through paths of incredible misfortune, and tried his hardest to bury me without ever resorting to physical means, but he has always failed at that, and now he has left me beaten, bruised, poisoned, sick, and barely coherent. My thoughts center on him and his toxic presence all day, every day. It’s hard to focus on anything else. He has ruined my life.
But, now I know this drama is nearing the curtain, and I can’t help but feel freed in some way. Instead of dreading how he will destroy the next waking moments of my life, I can look forward to his success as I finally escape to a place he cannot follow.
This levity almost inspires nostalgia. I remember the first time I met him, dark one night when I couldn’t sleep. He sat by my bedside and smiled, whispering dark things to me.
“You know you’re hopeless? Couldn’t even hold on to the one thing that made your life worth something.”
He was right, of course. I had just “dropped out” of college, which was code for the fact that I had managed to fail most of my courses and lose the last scrap of scholarship that I hadn’t thrown away with partying and drinking. I was now just another unskilled, unmotivated, hopeless drop out who didn’t even have the sense to realize something was wrong. The clarity of death pulled away the fog of self-aggrandizement I had placed over everything, and I realized it then.
He thought about attacking me then. He whispered the things he could do to me, how he could flay my skin with razor blades, fill my food with pills and poisons, wrap my sheets around my neck until it snapped or I stopped breathing. He whispered dark things that shook me to my core. I knew at the same moment that he was going to kill me, and that he wouldn’t harm me. It was terror and comfort rolled into one, because in many ways it was refreshing to hear someone who finally understood. But the reality that he would kill me was hiding just below that understanding. Anyone who truly understood the failure I had become really had no choice but to punish me for squandering what I had been given.
Now I see him everywhere. He whispers things to me. I can hear him even from across a busy street, whispering hateful messages. But now….now I can be free to screw up my life however I see fit. My first stop was at the local bar.
He was in the corner, watching me, but I didn’t care. If he chose to end me here, so be it. At least I would go out with a drink in hand. . It was early yet, just passing six o’clock, so the bar wasn’t completely filled yet. Within the next hour, all the big shots with their nice jobs would trudge in, ready to wash away another day of work with some well-deserved revelry, but for now it was quiet and only home to a few patrons. I sidled up to a pretty girl at the bar, casting care and doubt to the wind. Rejection couldn’t sting now, because it was the last day of my life. He became jealous.
“Can I buy you a drink?” I was smooth; I didn’t care.
She smiled, agreed, and we spent some time together. My newfound confidence made me irresistible, I felt, and I took those chances that were far too risky. They paid off with a phone number I would never dial.
I left the bar a few shots heavier and began to walk to a movie theater. If I was going to go out, I might as well catch the latest blockbuster so I could fill in the folks in heaven. Besides, what did I care how I spent the last twenty dollars in my wallet? I was going out with a bang, movie theater popcorn and all.
The movie was good, but drinks with another pretty lady after was even better. This one I could probably do something with, I imagined. I was fearless and it was paying off.
The night was a blur, the edges darkened by his constant presence, counting down the moments. It was all drawing to a close, and I knew he would have some grand finish. I coul dfeel him bristling as I walked the girl towards my apartment. I didn’t deserve to spend the night with a such a beautiful woman. I was a failure, a piece of trash, and this was all nothing but a ridiculous farce. She was out of my league and then some.
My apartment was a travesty, and she quickly noticed. Her disgust was evident; he could sense it too. I didn’t deserve someone like her, but nevertheless, here we were. She grimaced at the dirty tile floor, the unwashed clothes lying on most surfaces, the extensive stack of unwashed dishes. She saw it all and she hesitated. He was right, I knew, I didn’t deserve her, and now she was about to get away.
His rage was palpable, though. How dare she entertain something as lowly as me. She had judged me, found me lacking, but in his thoughts, that wasn’t enough. She was still here, still stepping in time with my advances. I could hear him screaming, yelling, cursing her for seeing my filth and not reviling at once. In a flash, he had a knife, diving at her. I could hear her scream, watch her eyes panic, feel blood splashing over me as he savagely drove the blade in again and again. How dare she not think I’m good enough! How dare she reject me! Who was she to judge me?
No. That wasn’t right. He knew I didn’t deserve her. He must have been yelling something else. The memory is brief, violent, and hard to nail down. He was angry with her, and he killed her, that is all that matters. And now he is going to kill me.
This time he is serious; he will not make mistakes. He brought a gun with him, and I can feel the metal pressed against my temple as I sit in the only armchair in the world more run down than me, feeling the once hot blood cooling on my skin. It’s funny, as he pulls the trigger, I can almost feel its weight in my hand. He has finally won.
This work by Katherine C is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.