I Am the Reaper
There's nothing here. Nothing except the dark. Nothing except the echo of screams coming from me that makes me think I'm dying.
Maybe I am.
I doubt that, though, because every once in awhile, the blackness in my vision clears and I can make out a room of stone. My cell. My prison. It doesn't last long, though, and soon something picks my neck and I'm tossed back into a world where I am both predator and prey, killer and victim.
Two parts of me clash against each other, folding into the other like breaking waves. Instinct and humanity, and I'm caught between their rage of war. One side tells me to give up. To embrace this hunger and let it consume me. To deprive me whatever remnant of a soul I have left. But the other begs me not to. Because if I do, there will be no forgiveness for me here.
It's maddening, so to keep my sanity, I repeat what I know of myself, in my head like a prayer.
My name is Bellamy Blake, I whisper in my mind. Brother to Octavia Blake, Son of Aurora Blake. I was born on the Ark, but came to the ground to protect my sister...
I say it over and over. Drill it into every part of my head. Flip it again and again like a coin. In addition, I struggle to get some grip on my surroundings. I become painfully aware of the hard table beneath me, bleeding cold into my body. I am hypersensitive to the sweat chilling my forehead and spine, that causes goosebumps to jump up over my exposed torso.
I look over at my hands, strapped to my sides. They are dirty and encrusted in blood, but they don't feel like mine. They belong to someone else, to the thing inside me that's lying in wait for the door to open.
I already know what will happen before it does; a man dressed in a pressed suit and tie will walk in. The heels of his black shoes will click softly in his wake as he guides across the floor towards the table. He will stop in front of me, and peer over me as if I am a trophy of his. A pawn on his chess board. I don't know his name, but you don't have to know something personal of someone to want them dead.
And most of all, I know what will be clutched in his hand. It'll be a syringe, filled with scarlet liquid that my entire body would willingly die for. Yet I will tell myself that I won't want it. That I'll be calm and I won't give in to the hunger.
I tell myself every time.
But I never listen.
And as the events play out exactly as I knew they would before my eyes, I tell myself again. The last time was enough, I think. I won't want it again.
But then I see the syringe, and my vision goes as red as the liquid inside it.
The binds on my ankles and wrists dig into my skin as my body convulses and I try to hold on to my earlier words. Of who I am and why I'm here, but they are lost to the hunger. I need the syringe. I need it as much as the air in my lungs.
I must have it. Right now. Right now.
There's a loud roar in the room and only dimly do I acknowledge that It's coming from me.
The man in the suit smiles, revealing a row of pearly-white teeth that seem to glow unnaturally in the low light. He teases the syringe above me and I claw for it in vain, feeling as my chafed skin breaks and a different kind of red spills from me. It doesn't matter, though. Nothing matters except that syringe. It's the only thing that will end the hunger.
His eyes blaze with pride, like a parent praising a child. "You're strong," he says in a diplomatic voice, but it's not emotionless which somehow makes it worse. It tells me he's human enough to feel, but not human enough to feel the right thing.
"Good," he nods approvingly."You'll need that strength."
Then something pricks my neck and whatever hatred I feel towards the man melts from me as the fiery hunger disappears and I fall into something as close to peace this world has to offer.
I don't know how much time passes. A day. A year. Maybe I'm dying. The hunger eating at me from the inside out is enough to convince me of it.
I blink, up at the single light hanging from above. Carefully, I pull on my restraints and feel a lace of pain spike up my arms. I look at them.
Bloody. My wrists are bloody. I wonder if they'll leave scars. I wonder if I'll stay alive long enough for them to.
I force my eyes away from my mangled wrist and to the lit ceiling. Taking a shaky breath, I repeat what I know.
My name is Bellamy Blake. Brother to Octavia Blake. Son of Aurora Blake. I was born on the Ark.
I say it over and over, until I can practically recite it backwards. Today I don't let it go. I won't give in to the hunger that seems worse today than it did the last time. It's become a physical pain now. Hot and scorching, lighting my insides on fire.
The door opens.
I don't look at the man who will be there. Instead, I try to drudge up some memory of my sister, but her image swims in my unshed tears.
The suited stranger speaks, shaking the syringe in his hand. "I have something for you," he taunts.
And just like that, I forget the impression of the girl in my head. I forget my mantra and I turn into something I have no control over. The pain gets worse and I pull on the restraints, reopening my wounds. I don't feel any of it. The only thing I see in the world is red liquid.
In one swift movement it's at my neck and the creature inside me is subdued. That darkness returns and this time, I don't even try to fight it. On the contrary, I welcome it.
I hate the timelessness. I don't know how much of it has gone by or what I've missed when my eyes finally crack open again and I instantly notice the pain coursing through me, turning my blood to ash.
Maybe I'm dying.
I should care more if I am, but I'm not. I actually feel disappointment expand over me once I start to feel a little more lucid and I know for certain I'm alive.
I close my eyes. My name is Bellamy Blake, I recite. Brother to Octavia Blake. Son of Aurora Blake. I don't know where I was born, but it feels very far away.
I have the words on repeat for as long as possible, until the door opens again. This time, I order myself to fight. I am not weak. I won't die here. But when I see the liquid, my strength dissolves and my will degenerates into something as frail as paper. Easy to tear.
I lied; this isn't the time I fight it. This is the time I don't even try.
My name is Bellamy Blake. Brother to Octavia Blake.
I'm playing the words before I even open my eyes. I don't care what these people take from me-my freedom, my life-they will not take my sister. The memories of her are mine and if they want them, they'll have to rip apart my mind to get them.
I'm taken aback though when it isn't the suited man that comes to me today. It's someone dressed in a body suit, with a mask over their face. They look otherworldly and I know with every fiber in my being I don't want them to touch me.
But here I get no say. I see the flash of a syringe and the fire licking at my veins erupts, into an all consuming agony. I'm ready for it. I wait for it.
But it doesn't come. What comes is a bright shaft of light and a sound that threatens to split my head open. The hunger diminishes and in its place falls something impossibly worse. The cry coming from the light shatters my eardrums, raking down my skull like nails on a board. I can feel my bones breaking but it soon doesn't matter because the flames will just reduce them to dust anyway. There must be blood everywhere. I must be painted on the stone walls around me and I know this must be death.
A second later, the sound vanishes, and I'm cruelly left breathing. I pry my lids back and find I'm not covered in my own blood. How, I don't know. But what I do know is that I will do whatever these otherworldly people want if it means not experiencing it again.
My name is Bellamy Blake.
That's my first thought. My only thought, circling alone in my head. It feels insufficient, more of a fact than a tangible truth because I'm a stranger to the person its tied to. What I am. Where I am. Why I'm here. The slots next to the questions are blank leaving a gaping hole in my mind. Is there someone waiting for me? I don't know. Then again, perhaps it's better this way; at least I have no one to miss.
To occupy my time, I count the seconds until the suits' inevitable arrival.
But it isn't the suits that greet me. It's that man again, the one with the impeccable attire and sleek, black shoes. He is profession personified.
That usual smile lights up his face, but I'm not looking at it. My gaze is locked on the syringe, and I yearn for its numbness-the relief. I don't want to be in this world anymore. I ache for the shadows.
As if reading my mind, the man shakes his head, but the action does nothing to disturb his combed hair. "I know you want it, but this time you'll have to work for it." His smile turns into a wolfish grin. "See, I think you're my favorite, but there's another that's caught my attention and I can't seem to decide between the two of you. So I thought I'd let you prove it to me yourself."
He raises something and I don't even have a second to prepare for the pain the screaming device brings. I go limp, and my insides boil. I can't feel my body or register one of the suits that suddenly appears and starts undoing my binds. The pain in my head makes me curl into myself, until I'm in a fetal position. There isn't enough room on the table, though and I fall to the ground. I don't feel the impact.
In the corner of my eye, I see someone else. Another man. He isn't suited and wears no mask. He's bedraggled, with matted hair and bloodshot eyes. He has his own hands over his head and I know the sound is hurting him, too.
The suited stranger steps between the two of us and I watch in mute agony as he lowers the red syringe to the stone.
He retreats to the door, still holding the terrible device. Then he shuts it off, and I can feel the hunger once more.
"May the best man win," he says, and then he closes the door.
It's instinct that has me rising to a crouch, keeping my eyes on the man opposite of me. He looks as crazed as I feel and for a second, we just stare at each other.
Then his eyes drop to the syringe, and I lose it.
I crawl forward like an animal just as he tries for the red liquid, gleaming the color of rubies. Before his fingers can graze it, I ram into him. We both hit the stone hard and I drag in a breath before I'm on him again. In some part of my brain, I know this isn't right. But I couldn't stop even if I wanted to. And maybe that's just it. Maybe I don't want to.
His fist connects with my jaw and stars explode across my vision. He tries again. Ropes of muscular arm wrap around my neck and I lash out, trying to twist from his hold. He's pinning me and I have no leverage. I buck, and manage to loosen his grip enough to worm out. Then I'm on him, my fists meeting his face. The skin over my knuckles breaks but this red is just a color.
I beat him until my hands are numb. Only when I'm satisfied with his still figure do I turn back to the syringe. I reach for it.
A hand latches onto my hair, tugging out follicles by the roots and a roar of anger tears up my throat. It's choked off though by strong fingers, pressing under my jaw, cutting the air from my lungs. I choke as those stars return and I'm drowning in my own galaxy. My vision blurs and I propel my body backward, slamming him into the cold wall. The man stumbles back, breaking his hold.
Before I even register what I'm doing, I'm behind him, hands on either side of his head, twisting. He flails, trying to get away even though he must know he's already lost. Fingers bite into my arms but I don't move. I don't even flinch. A little voice begs me to stop, but I can't. I want this.
My grip tightens.
A snap resounds around the room, and the man between my fingers crumples to the ground. Glassy eyed.
I drag in gasps of air and step over him, to the syringe on the ground that waits for me. I bring the needle to my neck and stick it in the fleshy tissue just beneath my ear.
The hunger leaves me and that emptiness returns. I lower myself to the ground, leaning my head back and drinking in the moment, for once free of pain. My gaze falls on the dead man next to me and I expect to feel some sense of guilt. Of regret.
But I feel nothing but relief.
The next time I open my eyes, I don't know what to repeat. The words are gone, and though I feel them toying just beyond my reach, I don't strain to grasp them. They're too far away, like an echo carried on a broken wind.
Maybe I'm dead. It's a fleeting thought-one that is quickly contradicted by the hunger that instantly flares up and just like that, the pain is back. But I know I only have to wait forty two seconds, and as I do, the image of wide, unseeing eyes fills my mind.
A new mantra comes to me and I say it over and over, drilling it into every part of my head. Flipping it again and again like a coin.
My name doesn't matter. Who I am doesn't matter. I am no one. I am not human. I am a monster, and there is no forgiveness for me here.