"Their false compassion is called compassion and their false understanding is called understanding, for this is their most potent spell." - Aleister Crowley
Bubump. Bubump. My heart beat too slowly. Had it stopped? I opened my eyes. I was covered in blood, lying on the bathroom floor. My head throbbed. My stomach burned. I struggled to sit up and then somehow got up onto my knees. I lost my sight for a moment. My blood took its time rushing up into my head. I had lost quite a lot of it. I lifted the toilet seat and brought my head above the water just in time to vomit up a mixture of stomach acid and partially liquefied white pills. I stood up and fell into the shower.
“Tristan is dead,” I said to myself once, twice, three times. But if Tristan was dead, who was alive? Who was I, and what did I want to become? The hot water fell down upon me and all around me, washing away much of the blood. It felt like I was being hugged…I was a fetus still safely inside the womb. I wanted to be and outcry. I wanted to fight back, fight to the death in order to attain personal freedom. I wanted to be the retaliation that all of the paranoid panicking doomsayers foretold of. I wanted to begin an uprising.
Thirty minutes later I was lying in my bed. I had thrown up again, but it seemed as if the worst was now over. I hoped that it was. I wasn’t going to a hospital regardless of what happened. I squeezed my eyes tightly shut but I couldn’t sleep. I got out of bed and took a pen and some paper from off of my desk.
I didn’t die, I lived instead
But things got worse inside my head
Past lives and the things they said
Visiting me in my bed
Everything is overlapping
It all comes back when I’m napping
Everything’s a De Ja Vu
Bits of me and you and you
Everything now seems to take me
Somewhere I have been and shakes me
All the shit is all around me
Soon I’m sure that it will drown me
When I finished writing I began to think once more. If not Tristan, then what was I now? I still had not come up with an answer. I thought about all of the things I learned in school and in the many books I read throughout my life. I remembered something from one of my history classes at Pinewood. Someone, actually.
Ivan the Terrible, a great Tsar of Russia. He certainly was one who shook up his society. He did what it took to fulfill his desires. That was perfect. Everyone seemed to think that I was terrible, so it fit. Though the first Ivan the Terrible’s title wasn’t meant to be quite as negative as it sounded in English, mine certainly would be.
Tristan hated that those around him found him to be terrible, but Ivan didn’t care. He was shameless. In fact, he wanted them to turn their heads and whisper as he walked down the street. He fed off of it. To some degree, he enjoyed it. He would bask in the hate rather than be destroyed by it. My mind was settled. I was now Ivan the Terrible. Terrible indeed…I soon fell asleep. For the first time in years, my dreams were free of nightmares.
Three weeks had passed since the phoenix decided that he would rise. During that time, I began to delve deeper into philosophy. Nietzsche was my favorite at first. We had many similar ideas and I was especially drawn to his notoriety. I wasn’t sure that I agreed with him completely on everything, but one hardly ever finds a person who they agree with completely. His views were far closer to mine than were the sermons that I was forced to sit through each Sunday.
At church, it vomited from the pulpit time and time again that they desperately needed to recruit more soldiers for their religious army. I heard things like “You need to be here!”, “God needs you to be here!”, “We need you to be here!”, and even that anyone was welcome to attend a service. If that was truly so, then why did I feel ostracized, shunned and unwanted? I was even told that I should feel ashamed… ashamed of myself for having my own opinions, simply because they were not exactly the same as theirs.
I didn’t tell them that they were going to burn in hell for all eternity and suffer unimaginable torture because their spiritual beliefs differed from mine. They repaid my tolerance by doing exactly that to me. Why was it that I could agree to disagree, but they were incapable of doing so? I was tried to be understanding of others, but if these people decided to throw tolerance out the window then I was not above doing the same.
Someone told a girl my age to go home and return only after putting on longer pants. She left the sanctuary in tears, ashamed of her body. Ivan would not allow this. I walked over to the man who had belittled her to see who it could be. The youth minister…the one who had been hired to show ‘God’s love’ to kids my age. I only saw revolting hate. He was one of those who wouldn’t let his children watch Teletubbies because the purple one wasn’t a macho man.
“What did you just say to that girl?” I asked.
“I told her to go home and change.” He openly chuckled and grinned at me. He was quite proud of what he had done. “She looks like a ‘prostitot’, don’t you think? Of course you do, for it is only logical to assume that you agree with everything I say. What nerve, coming into the house of the Lord looking like a whore!” Holy shit.
He had shamed her body and labeled her as a whore. On top of that, he attempted to tell me what I thought about it. How could he know what I thought when I had not yet told him? He was incredibly wrong. Had I gone to hell already? That was all I could take. They still called me Tristan, but I wasn’t Tristan anymore.
“You sick, self-righteous fuck!” I may have said it a bit too loudly. People began to turn their condescending faces toward me.
“I feel what I feel and I think what I think. You have no say in it. I’m my own fucking person. You just sent someone out of the place where ‘all are welcome’ because you have different clothing preferences than she does. Do you think that makes it okay to make someone feel ashamed of their body? If I do go to hell, you’ll be right beside me.”
“Satan has you firmly in his grasp, boy. Why else would you blatantly disrespect your superior?” Superior? Were we not created equal anymore? A superior wouldn’t completely fail to actually address anything that I said, declaring his supposed power over me. If this had been debate class, the bastard would have been laughed right out of the room. But alas, this setting was very far from that.
Everyone here seemed to think that his response was perfectly appropriate. He was the ‘youth minister’. He had a title. Titles go a long way. He was authority and I was just an insolent boy, nearly seventeen years old. My opinions didn’t matter, and he knew that was what the people here believed. He didn’t have to provide an intelligent counterargument for these people to believe that he was in the right. In their minds, the circumstances had already determined that. I couldn’t understand how this way of thinking could have come to be.
“She is welcome back once she corrects her appearance, but your unwillingness to accept your inferiority is a blatant disgrace to God.” By now at least half of the congregation was listening to his holy illogical tirade, vigorously cheering him on. This alerted the other half of the gathering. They began to encourage him as well, simply because everyone else was. They certainly weren’t aware enough of the situation to rationally make the decision to join in the cheering…they were just being lemmings, ready to follow each other off of a cliff. When was the camera crew going to jump out and tell me that this was all a joke? But there was none, and it wasn’t.
It seemed like the situation might soon turn hostile so I quickly took my leave, exiting swiftly through the large double doors just ahead of me to the right. Right before I went out the doors, I stuck both of my middle fingers high up in the air for all of them to see. Those were the last things they got to see of me before the sanctuary doors slowly and gently closed behind me. It was a shame that they couldn’t slam.
I was now outside and the sun was shining over me. I felt better than I ever had before. I had fought for freedom today, freedom of expression. I found the girl sitting underneath a tree outside, crying with her face buried in her tanned arms. Her long dark hair had become a scattered mess.
“I’m Ivan. I stood up for you back there, you know. I called the bastard out in front of everyone, then walked out with middle fingers flying high. They might not want me to come back again. I certainly hope they don’t.” For a moment her tears were replaced with laughter.
“That’s fantastic,” she said. “Yeah, it has been a shit day. Everything at home keeps getting worse and worse…much, much worse. Then when I first got here, I was told that since I’m not a virgin if I ever get married I will be ‘presenting my husband with a spoiled gift’.”
“Ah, yes. You’re a worthless dirty little slut. They’ve told me that one too.”
“I don’t even want to get married,” she concluded. I looked behind me as the doors of the church opened again. There was Anthony storming toward me. He was filled with holy fury, or something absurd like that.
“Tristan! Come here!” It was just Anthony. Where was Silent Cindy? Was she absent Cindy as well? That didn’t roll off of the tongue quite as well. Oh yes, that’s right. They believed that it is the man’s job to handle confrontation. “Justified”, sanctified sexism. This was going to be a long car ride home.
“…Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea…” I was being punished for my ‘act of childish, disruptive, disrespectful insubordination’, for standing up against the body shaming illogical prick who ran around telling teenage girls, who already feel insecure enough, that they’re sluts. That’s a rather ineffective way to draw in new sheep for the flock.
I guess they must not want ‘sluts’ to hear the gospel…so I might as well not go back. Was I a slut? I wasn’t ashamed of my sexual desires. They were pretty great and there wasn’t anything wrong with that. But as punishment for my crime, I was assigned the task of copying the entire book of Revelation into a notebook.
The beast intrigued me more than anyone or anything else in the book. He was the underdog, the one who no one was cheering for, no one except me. He had to have amazing courage, balls of steel, to be going into battle against the creator of the universe. Who else would have been brave enough to do that? Actually…Richard Dawkins came to mind, along with the majority of the scientific community, but that wasn’t my point.
He came up out of the sea, just as I would rise up out of this putrid mediocrity. He stood up against God, just as I would stand up against the society that was steadily building me into its enemy. Both God and the society had infinitely more resources at their disposal, but that wouldn’t stop us from trying. I didn’t care that the beast was supposed to be a metaphor for Satan. We were still brothers in a way, he and I, for we had been cast out of palace of the ‘sacred’. We had been stigmatized and ridiculed by the people of God, and the insurmountable odds which we now faced shared a great deal of likeness.
God had to create an entirely new dimension full of pain and torture just to contain him. I wondered what new and innovative form of torment would one day be created to contain me. I was finally finished with my reading. My punishment for disrespecting the church had led to my infatuation with the devil. How counterproductive for Anthony I laughed out loud. Did Revelation thirteen have anything to do with thirteen being an unlucky number? I decided that my unlucky number would be seven, mainly because the church seemed to get off to it.
Over the next month I started to think about what I would do as Ivan the Terrible, apart from dissing self-righteous religious assholes. That was definitely not enough. If I was going to be as terrible as everyone made me out to be then I still had a long, long way to go.
“Okay, Ivan.” I talked to my self quite often. “It’s time to begin your journey.”
“You little shit!” M. said as she walked up beside me. We were in my room.
“Satan has taken control over your life,” said Pastor James. He was standing behind her.
“Satan has you firmly in his grip, boy!” The youth minister.
“Military school!” Anthony.
“You’re fucking sick!” Hector. I hardly even saw Hector anymore. He didn’t want to be anywhere around me.
“You’re fucked up.” The anonymous make-out girl from the infamous ‘stabbing at the school’ day…I never learned her name. They all buzzed around me, growing louder and louder with each passing second. They took Anna. They took Veia. They took my chance to go to a school where I could make friends and have a normal, happy, teenage life.
They let me know just how fucked up my childhood was, making me feel even worse about it than I had before. Mother and Father locked me away. Now Anthony and Cindy did the same. Stained is the steel that grows in the rust. Father beat and raped both Anna and I. Mother tried to kill us. Now I was being raped and killed by the world.
“These things had to take place so that you would be willing to become what you were always meant to be,” Shadowshade told me.
I didn’t believe in predestination. I didn’t believe that any of this shit was supposed to happen. But it happened, and out of the darkness Ivan was born. If they thought that Satan was controlling me, if they thought that I belonged in a military school, if they thought that I was such a terrible piece of shit then I sure as hell would give them a reason to. I would be the Product of Society.
All the darkness in the darkness was woven to inspire
Deadly is the rage that is born in the fire