Working Title: The Last Chance
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.