Prologue: Dusk Finally Comes
‘Another shitty day...’
Practically smashing my blaring alarm clock. That was the first thought that crawled into my head. It was a daily ritual by now. And why wouldn’t it be a shitty day?
It’s not as if I have anything to ease my crippling depression.
“Fuck... me,” I softly grumble, pushing my pest-infested blanket aside. I swiftly grabbed the half-empty bottle of rum on the nightstand next to the bed. I took a swig of the miraculous potion. Thank god I passed out before I could finish it last night…
After getting the kick I needed to start my day, I tip-toed around the needles and glass shards littered around my one-bedroom apar—basement before finally making it to the bathroom. I say bathroom when in actuality; it was a crudely constructed section of the basement made to look like a bathroom; I didn’t even have a toilet. Only a sink in the corner of the room that was connected to the house pipes and a disposable water bucket as a drainage system.
‘Ah… there he is.’
Well, there’s one thing I can’t be pessimistic about, my suave appearance.
Even with the dark bags under my dull, lifeless blue eyes and my dirty blond hair. I have to say; this face was personally hand-sculpted by an entourage of gods.
The tap creaked as I slowly twisted the damned thing open. So fucking loud.
‘Oh please bless me with a few drops of your life-saving liquid.’
I chanted repeatedly in my head, hoping the bald bastard didn’t cut off my water supply.
‘Damn it. He did.’
I cast a casual glance at the razor placed on my bathroom sink.
A bored sigh escaping my lips.
‘No. You know the rule.’
Reminding myself of my golden rule, I reached into my pockets to confirm that my three dollars were still there.
Three dollars… enough to buy a single coffee.
Washing my face with the last of my bottled water—it wasn’t much, just barely enough to clean the gunk in my eyes and brush my teeth. I wiped my face dry with the old rag that was supposed to be my facecloth, then I bolted out of the small basement—each one of my steps causing a faint creak on the ancient stairs.
“Karl, unlock the damn door,” I said, bashing against the basement door, which led to Johnson’s laundry room. The door could only be unlocked from the other side. Apparently, the old couple didn’t feel safe with a junkie leaving under their house.
Full disclosure, I take no offense. I’m just glad they allowed me to rent out the basement.
“Calm down, Tarjotia I’m coming,” I heard the gentle voice of Marillin, immediately I stop banging—Marillin, unlike Karl, was a kind and warm woman if it weren’t for her I would be leaving on the streets by now.
The door opened, and instantly I was bombarded by the bright lights of the laundry room—a drastic change from my dim lair, my eyes five steps slower adjusting to the sudden change, prompting me to blink rapidly to relieve the stinging pain.
“Are you okay?” Marillin asked. “Your eyes are more dilated than usual…”
“I’m fine,” I said, staring at Marillin’s chubby face through blurred vision. My landlady was wearing a blue apron it seemed she was cooking.
I smiled slightly at the plate of toast and beacon she had in her left hand.
“Is that for me?”
“Yeah, I made you breakfast… hours ago,” Marillin said. Her tender ever-present smile somehow seemed alien to me today. “I’m sorry about the water Karl is in a bad mood. The Riljils lost the finals. I’ll talk to him about it later when he’s calmer.”
“Please do, and about the rent…”
My words purposely trailed off.
Rent? Money? Job? Those words didn’t exist in my vocabulary. Why am I mentioning it then? Well, I needed to make sure I could return ‘home’ after going out for a few hours.
Yes, I heard her say she’ll talk to Karl about the water. But so what?
I needed to be sure—after all, every variable counted.
Marillin tilted her head and stared at me with a somewhat dubious expression. “It’s been four months. Are you trying to say I’ll magically have your rent money in my pockets by the end of the day?”
“Ah, n-no. It’s—”
Flustered, I tried to come up with an excuse but the housewife burst into laughter, interrupting my sentence. “It’s fine. Just focus on getting back on your feet,” she said, wiping the tears off the corners of her eyes.
You’d think I’d be used to her shit after all this time.
But I don’t think I’ll ever get used to her bubbly attitude. It’s so exaggerated… can’t she see her happiness is based on something nonexistent? I suspect she does but to each their own.
That’s her own demon to fight.
I flashed my best smile at her.
“Thank you. Can I take that plate to go?”
“Oh, I wanted you to join us for dinner. I’ll have it done in a few minutes”
“I don’t want to impose.”
“It’s no issue, I—”
“Thank you, really. But no.”
I grabbed the plate and walked out of the laundry room before, by the time I reached the living room door, the paper plate was licked clean. Now all I needed was some cold water for my tumor of a hangover.
“Hey Karl, how was the game?” I said teasingly, my gaze locked on the fat man lodged in his sofa. The stingy bastard would probably not even let me drink the dirty dishwater in his kitchen sink, even if I begged.
“Fuck off, you little shit,” Karl scowled, not bothering to remove his gaze from the small plasma TV inches away from his greasy face. “And pay my damn rent.”
He was a good man. Someone who saw life for what it really was.
A hellish burden.
I walked out of the house, only to be greeted by the gray late afternoon sky and the stench of smoke in the air. The cafe I usually visit was about thirty minutes away, so walking wasn’t a big deal.
The walk was particularly peaceful today, but then again I haven’t been outside for a month.
As I entered the cafe, the soft ring of the bell door sounded like a soothing melody in my ears.
I took in a deep breath.
The fresh scent of coffee spread a smile across my face. If only I could live here.
Not even a minute after I took a sit on a nearby table, an all too familiar face rushed over to serve me.
I swear, she looked as stunning as the first day we met. Her dyed green hair reflected the cool blue lights of the cafe in strange harmony. Evelyn stared down at me with her hazel eyes.
There were two reasons I visited this cafe and only this cafe for the past ten years or so. One, it was my sister’s favorite hangout before she died, and two because Evelyn worked here—she was my first and only girlfriend.
Whenever I feel like cutting my wrist open, I come here and it always calms me down. This little cafe was my haven if I still felt like killing myself after having a coffee here… I would do it without hesitation.
That was the golden rule. A sophisticated way of determining whether I live or die isn’t it?
“Hey, same as usual?”
“Yep. Black, no sugar.”
She smiled at me before walking to the counter.
Something was wrong. Her smile—
Evelyn roughly placed a coffee mug on my table, interrupting my thought.
‘Was that five minutes?’
No… she didn’t even reach the counter. I could’ve sworn she didn’t even walk five steps away from my table.
‘Am I still drunk? Guess I’m still on last night’s high.’
I slowly wrapped my fingers around the mug—prepared to enjoy what would be the best part of my day—it was cold.
I looked up at Evelyn in puzzlement, there wasn’t any animosity in her face—she was expressionless. I knew that look. The look she had when holding back a river of tears.
Slightly trembling, I placed the coffee mug back on the table.
Evelyn sighed and sat opposite me.
“Why are you doing this to me?”
I didn’t respond. Of course, I understood the meaning behind her words.
“I-I know if I trigger you somehow, you’ll kill yourself.”
“S-so, why don’t you let me take care of you?”
Her voice cracked, and she looked down, avoiding my apathetic gaze.
“… I miss you.”
My heart fluttered.
Truth be told, I still loved Evelyn. Hell, I was obsessed with her, but given our history… I would never admit that to her again.
Evelyn and I had been dating since eighth grade. After my family members started dying off one by one, she was the one who comforted me. The one who kept me sane.
But it wasn’t enough. I needed something to numb my pain—to dull my senses completely, so I turned to drugs and alcohol. I had just turned eighteen when I got my first high—that wasn’t a handful of sleeping pills.
Unfortunately, I weaved my high school sweetheart into my web of toxicity. She felt it was her responsibility to share my pain. I didn’t stop her, instead; I relished the idea.
I took narcotics, so did Evelyn.
I drop out of college, so did she.
Years of horrid decisions. We grew to be completely dependent on each other—a sort of symbiotic relationship.
Then, it happened the abortion. We got reckless. She fell pregnant. I coerced her into what I felt was right for us at the time.
She readily accepted my proposal, and we went through with it. However, because of the methods we used, we found out later that year she wouldn’t be able to conceive.
Guilt ate at my soul. I ruined this girl’s life. She would’ve had a bright future if she chose right—if it weren’t for me. I couldn’t bear the feeling—and her beauty beside me was a constant reminder, so I broke things of three years ago.
With nowhere left to turn, Evelyn returned to her family home after the breakup. They admitted her to a drug rehabilitation center. A year later and I have to say she has never been better—her glow had returned. She was finally getting her life back together.
‘I’m glad I didn’t completely ruin her.’
I gently raised Evelyn’s chin—so she could meet my eyes, then I slowly moved my hand across her right cheek tenderly.
Her cheeks reddened.
“You know that’s not good for you, Eve. You need to stop asking me this every time we see each other. It bums me out.”
Evelyn’s eyes dimmed slightly.
“B-but Tia… I need you…”
It was sad that I broke her to this degree. I can’t help but wonder how my inevitable death will affect her. Though I’m sure it’ll be good for her in the long run.
“You’re done with your shift, right? Let me walk you home.”
I tried to derail Eve’s train of thought before she could get a chance to break down.
“Sure… let me clock out.”
I silently nodded and watched her perform her last duties of the day.
‘Funny… I still want to kill myself. How the hell did doing this every month for the past two years cheer me up?’
I couldn’t remember, I didn’t want to remember—all I wanted at this moment was death. Everlasting peace.
I shook my head to dispel the momentary relapse and focused my attention on Evelyn. She was talking to the girl who I’m guessing had the next shift.
Finally, she walked over.
“Let’s go. But I want to take a detour, is that alright?”
Shrugging nonchalantly at her request, I stood up and gestured for her to take the lead while bowing. She giggled softly at my gentleman-like behavior.
The ‘detour’ we took was near an ice-cream shop a few blocks away from the cafe. Evelyn brought it upon herself to buy us some frozen yogurt—turning the detour into a date.
We talked for an hour—mostly about her daily life—then I took her home.
“Well, this is me… you want to come in? Maybe for some warm coffee. A shower…”
I laughed at her charmingly blatant attitude.
“Tempting offer but I can’t.”
Evelyn grumbled softly.
“Fine,” she said, slightly pouting her pale pink lips. “I hope you’re keeping your promise.”
“Lay off the drugs? Of course, I am.”
I lied, I lied as though it didn’t mean the world to her, whether I overdose or not.
Evelyn smiled and hugged me tightly—her ample chest squeezing against mine. The guilt. I hate myself.
“I will forever love you, Tia. Please don’t forget that.”
“… I know.”
A gentle kiss on my cheek, and then she mumbled something I couldn’t make out in my ears. Evelyn’s hot breath against my earlobe left me dazed.
By the time I came out of my stupor, she was halfway to the door of her apartment complex. It was already nearing dusk, an especially lonely time of day.
Sighing, I slowly strode back to the Johnson’s house. On the way there, I had to resist the urge to jump into traffic—but as I knocked on the mossy wooden door of the suburban house, I immediately regretted my decision.
I heard Karl scream, “Don’t open the door for that damned Kid!” through the hollow door. And for some, oh, so ominous reason—like she always did—Marillin was defending me with vigor.
“He’s just a kid that needs some guidance!”
Marillin shouted at the top of her lungs.
“Guidance?! He’s a goddamn leech!”
Unable to wait any longer. I banged on the door—their argument was about to get heated, and I didn’t want to feel responsible for Karl hitting Marillin again.
“It’s okay, Karl. I just want my bags,” I said, placing my forehead on the door. “I’m finally getting out of your hair, buddy.”
There was a brief silence. Perhaps they heard the dread laced within my voice. Frankly, I didn’t care, I just hoped he would allow me to get my stuff.
Then, as if he heard my inner plea. “Fine, open the bloody door, Marillin,” Karl said with his distinct grumble.
I heard Marillin open the many locks and chains on the door.
Finally, the door opened—its rusty hinges creaking slightly—my kind landlady was standing on the other side. I could see the bare pity in her eyes.
Nonetheless, her gaze did not faze me in the slightest. I wordlessly strode past her, unbothered, through the living room, to the excessively bright laundry room, down to my home.
My gaze swept the dimly lit basement. I had been living here for about two years. After switching from one homeless shelter to the next; fate led me here. Who would’ve guessed an ad of someone looking to rent out a space for fifty dollars a week was actually true?
And to top it all off after paying for the first two weeks, I just ‘settled’ in—thanks to the selfless landlady.
I cut my reminiscing short and walked over to my bed. Reaching beneath the twin bed I grabbed the small fanny pack I had hidden under there.
The small black bag had the words [Suicide Kit] messily written on it with white ink. Smiling at how childish I get when high, I strapped the bag on my waist and headed out.
When I reached the living room, Marillin blocked my path. She smiled. “Where are you going to stay now?” she said, her eyes flashing a dull red color. It happened in an instant, but I clearly saw the change.
“Maybe at a friend’s…” I said. My mind scrambled as I tried to calm Marillin down. Letting out a shallow breath, I bowed gently. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, I’m forever grateful.”
“O-oh,” Marillin mumbled in a daze.
Capitalizing on the opening, I dashed out of the front door, pushing the housewife to the side. Who knows how deep her Minor Possession runs.
I want to die but on my own accord!
With that thought, I ran and didn’t stop, neither did I look back once. I ran until my breathing was so haggard it was a mystery whether oxygen reached my lungs, which felt as though they were about to explode.
‘My drugged-up body is not meant for running.’ I thought while glancing around at my surroundings. It seems I ran all the way to downtown also known as Hell. And that name wasn’t just for show—most ‘unsolved’ Demonic Possession happened around this area. In other words, the priest bastards from the Covenant didn’t bother with exorcisms.
A pit of despair.
Just looking at the dark alleyways shrouded in darkness filled me with a new sense of dread. I silently walked through the night, my eyes planted on the cracked pavement—not daring to spy on residents of the slums who wandered the night aimlessly—as I let the flickering lights guide me to my destination.
Slowly and carefully I avoided the violent parts of Hell—and made it up the Corlidon Bridge.
It was breathtaking. It was scary, yet its beckoning call was impossible for me to resist. The city river that is. As I peered down the abysmal waters, many thoughts ran through my head simultaneously.
… None of them were good.
I’ve never been more eager to kill myself. But I held myself back and unzipped my suicide kit.
An old worn-out picture, two syringes, and a thick rubber band.
Those were the items I had packed in the bag. The syringes were filled with a potent psychedelic, and the old photo was a picture of my sister and mother.
My dad died in a car crash when I was six, and when our house burned down, the last of his already scarce pictures were all incinerated. It’s been so long, I don’t remember how he looks.
But thinking about how my sickly mom loved him so dearly—he had to be a good man. I stared blankly at the faded picture—a wave of anguish hit me like a truck, and all the emotion I had been burying under a mountain of drugs resurfaced.
I cried… thirty minutes, an hour, maybe two. I cried unrestrainedly as I wheezed and coughed until there were no tears left to shed.
Then I slowly administered half a syringe of the hallucinogen I brought. At first, I was planning to OD before hitting the cold watery floor but… after some thought I felt as though I wanted to bask in my death.
Enjoy the final moment.
With that in mind, I leaped from the bridge—a distance of three hundred meters between me and the water. I gazed at the pitch-black night sky of Vaga which was now twisting and turning with bright colors and patterns.
Suddenly a clear feminine voice resounded in my head.
『I’m sorry I couldn’t save you… again, my love.』
I instantly recognized the voice.
My bones shattered as I hit the water, and even though I was high, the pain of my organs rupturing did not feel lessened. I didn’t fight it… almost instantly the water submerged me in completion.
The pain of the filthy water… entering my punctured lungs…
But then it all faded to darkness. I was enveloped in a warm—almost divine feeling, a feeling that was completely foreign to me. When I tried to perceive my surroundings I was further surprised to find I was lying on my back in a silver field of flowers.
The violet sky was inhabited by three moons—one bright red, another bright blue, and the last moon was a dull gray color. I heard faint voices out in the distance—soft cryptic whisper.
However, I was incapable of moving my body so I couldn’t discern whose voices they were. That was fine. My only concern was sprawling in this warm feeling.
‘This must be heaven… that or… I’m still high… either way I hope it lasts… bliss.’
[The Slothful Moon Goddess intervenes with your curse!]
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