The "You" in the Night (Branded)
I once had a girlfriend.
We met and got together like the usual teenage couple: encountered at school, dated once, and soon became official. At first she seemed pretty nice and good-looking. We continued to date for three months, which was quite a happy time.
But during those dates, I only wished I hadn’t.
Her name was Mac, and she was the daughter of a blacksmith. Her father made locks and keys for a living, so I supposed she spent a lot of time with fire and metal as a kid. You’d think I was crazy for loving her. I was. But I just did. And later on, I found that she was the crazy one.
Mac took jealousy to the next level. Whenever I talked to another girl, she would appear almost immediately and scare that girl away. It wasn’t long before she started scaring all my guy friends too and claimed I only needed her in my life. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last of her antics.
One of my former crushes was found dead in the girls’ locker. She was a girl I’d fallen for long before I met Mac. I’d claimed I was over her but a rumor got out saying I still liked her when we had to be lab partners. For a moment, all was fune until someone found her lying on the floor with a knife in her stomach.
What terrified me was that Mac was at the scene of the crime when it happened. When I asked her about it, she her “lying guilty face” on. Was it me, or was that blood on her sleeve? I must’ve been delusional, because I had come to the sudden conclusion that the death was caused by her.
I avoided Mac for a whole week. Every time she’d come up to me, I’d walk away. Whenever she was near, I’d hide. It wasn’t long before she got the hint and left me be.
But that made things worse. One day, I was just hanging out in my room when she decided to come over. I couldn’t escape now.
“Why have you been ignoring me?”
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t lie to me. You have been neglecting me. I do not like to be ignored, Connor.”
Her tone was sending chills up my spine and started giving me goosebumps. I couldn’t get the right words to come out of my mouth. “No, you don’t understand—“
“Answer me now. Do you still love me?”
“Connor Mikaela Lynch, do you still love me?!”
Her shrieks pierced my eardrums.
When I didn’t have an immediate response, I could’ve sworn I saw hell in her eyes. Raging fires were practically dancing across her orbs, and they were not the beautiful, daydream kind. All I could think of was how horrified I was.
“You will love me again.”
The next thing I knew, I was waking up again. I hadn’t even realized I blacked out. When I came to, I found myself hand-cuffed to the wall, right next to a crackling fireplace; and I only then noticed my shirt was ripped to shreds. The room was dark, with the flames being my only source of light. But through the limited vision I had, I found figures scattered all over the floor. Upon closer look, I felt the light growing to show me what they were.
They were human entrails.
Intestines, liver, hearts. All stagnant, and still covered with fresh, bright red liquid. Was this recent? I only prayed they weren’t people I know. However, I had a traumatizing feeling of who caused all of this.
I struggled with the chains restraining me, but only seemed to make the cuffs tighten more. I could feel my wrists staring to bleed and go numb. No use. I couldn’t do anything. I felt so useless, like a trapped wounded animal; and I’ve never felt so weak.
Just when I was about to give up, I felt the door slowly creaking open. I froze instantly, feeling my entire body going still: Mac was there, standing like a shadow in the room, slowly coming forward. The light from the fires framed her form, until she finally revealed herself. From the dim light, she actually looked normal. But I knew better.
“Hello, Connor,” Mac whispered with a Cheshire Cat smile. “So nice for you to join us.”
I didn’t want to figure out who “us” was.
“What are you doing, Mac?!” I demanded, starting to struggle again. “Let me go. Now!”
Bad decision. In a flash, Mac had appeared at my side before I even knew it and wrapped her hand against my throat. When did she get so fast? Did she always have such a hard grip?
“I’m sorry, babe. I can’t let you go. Not yet. Not now.”
I could barely speak. My words squeezed inside my neck, against Mac’s palm, as her grip tightened. I choked, thinking I would pass out again any second.
But I didn’t. Mac let me go before the moment I thought I would faint. She seemed pretty satisfied as she watched me grasp for air. Unfortunately, she wasn’t close to finished.
Mac now turned her attention to the fireplace. The flames continued to flicker and dance in the darkness, and I watched as she picked up a long metal rod. With ass even crazier smile, she brought the pointed tip to the fire. I saw its warmth practically transmitting into the element. When Mac brought it back out, I could now see it glowing a fierce, bright orange.
What creeped me out was that Mac was nearing me with it. I had a really bad feeling of what she was going to do with it. Struggling was useless, and yet, I still was. It only made her go closer, and smile even broader.
Feeling Mac’s breath against my skin got me motionless, and it didn’t help when she gently push away the fabrics of my torn shirt. When she pressed a palm against my exposed chest, I shivered at how cold it was. If anything, she must’ve been trying to make it go numb. And I was almost glad she tried, because as soon as she removed her hand from my heart, the rod pricked my skin.
My screams started to fill the room. Sweat poured down my forehead and my eyes were kept bloodshot open, while all I could think of was how hot, hot, hot it was. I was clenching my fists, my teeth, and clawing at the floor with my feet as the rod was slowly searing a word onto my skin. The pain and heat surged through my entire body, as I desperately tried to endure the hurt and shame. But every ounce of my being wanted to yell at her to just get it over with. But all I could do was shout. Through my wide uncluttered orbs, I started to see white, and my hearing went anesthetized, but I could see Mac laughing with glee.
“Yes…you are mine, Connor. This is only the beginning. Nothing will keep us apart.”
The moment she carved the final letter, warm tears threatened my eyes. I shut them immediately, refusing to give in to someone so powerful. And with that someone being my girlfriend in that matter. I was definitely breaking up with her. Maybe then she’d just kill me properly. I didn’t dare try seeing the next thing she was about to do, before I heard the sounds of police sirens outside the building.
“I have been caught,” Mac cursed. “This isn’t over, Lucas~! I will be back! My love for you will never end~”
What did she mean by that? When I decided to open my eyes again, they widened when I saw Mac bringing the rod to her own heart. Only for her, she went full power. The red liquid splattered over her white blouse and continued to spread, up until it reached her jeans and the tan sandals on her feet. The girl I once dated collapsed back first, onto the floor. I wanted to say something. Anything. But all I could do was stay frozen and stare.
By then, the cops burst into the room, piling in one by one. They saw me first and started asking questions. But I couldn’t speak. They knew I was the innocent one, though. The way Mac left her body proved it. Other than the name she just tattooed onto my skin, there was one thing I would never forget she did before she died.
Mac’s creepy, Cheshire Cat smile was forever burned into my brain.
So here I am now. One month has now passed and I am never the same ever since my ex-girlfriend attacked me. Every day, I am forced to reminisce every single moment of that petrifying memory for I always relive it in my nightmares. Now, I stand before the mirror, still as disgusted with myself as from that night. The actual evidence that it had all happened was right there, scarred over my heart like a rare disease.
I was, and am, damaged for life. Every moment was a waking moment where Mac invaded my thoughts. I should’ve relaxed and be glad she was dead. But I could never stop thinking about her. For your information, I do not mean this is the good way. I kept visiting therapists to help me with my problem, but none of them could ever help me shake out of the feeling. I even started skipping my classes. My grades have been dropping so much, and though I’d cared less before, it was still bad.
Ever since Mac, I was doubtful with who I trusted. The friendly, never-afraid-to-speak-up kind of guy I used to be was gone, thanks to her. I grew less confident, and concealed myself more. My friends have been limited to a number I could only count on one hand.
“We’re really worried about you, bro,” my best friend, Rover, said one day by my locker. He, along with my friend Eve, had appeared to me on one of the rare days I decided to go to school, so they could possible talk me out of my delusion. However, it wasn’t working. “Man, you have to start getting out again.”
I only shook my head, closing my locker door as I turned to the two. “Look, guys, I’m fine—“
“Don’t give us that,” Eve interrupted. “We know how you’ve been. You haven’t been the same ever since Mac kidnapped you. You’re a wreck, Connor!”
“Way to bring that up, Eve,” Rover mumbled. “The point is, we miss the Old Con.”
“You’ll get him back,” I murmured quietly. “I’m just…adjusting. You guys understand, don’t you?”
Rover sighed. “Whatever, man. I got Chem class soon. Teach’ hates tardiness. See you guys later.” He shouldered his bag and left me alone with Eve.
“Listen, Connor,” the girl said, turning to me with a stern look. “Rover isn’t kidding. We’re your friends. We’re here for you.” I didn’t immediately respond to that. “OK, look, we’re going out to coffee tonight at eight. You and I are gonna talk abut your problem. At least this once, say that you’ll come.”
I had to smirk a bit at that. “Eve, are you asking me out on a date?”
She only shrugged, but I still saw a light blush on her cheeks. “It isn’t if I’d have to drag you off your bed to be there. Just meet me at our usual, K?”
“I’ll think about it.”
“Works for me.” With a final smile, she walked away.
For the first time in a whole month, I truly smiled.
School seemed to pass by quickly. Before I knew it, I was walking down the usual road to my street It was only late afternoon, so my only source of light was the rays of the sun. I admit, I was excited to get home and maybe spend some time with a good friend. I’m pretty sure Eve isn’t crazy enough to kidnap me.
However, as I was walking, I heard a rustling in the bushes.
‘Must be the wind,’ I assured myself. I wasn’t going to hallucinate again.
Unfortunately, the rustling only got louder. For every step I took, I hear something beckon closer. I tried looking around, but whatever seemed to be near was good at hiding.
Suddenly, I realized something. Did I just wander into a random street? Where was I? I must’ve taken a wrong turn. Weird. I never lose my sense of direction.
As I tried to focus on the road more, I heard a voice.
“Hello?” I called out. “Who’s there?”
No response. I walked slowly.
I froze in my tracks. There was definitely something there. The rustling got louder, the sun was setting faster, and my steps started to quicken. Was it me, or did I see a shadow behind me…?
My feet broke into a run. I wasn’t hallucinating any more.
What was this voice? Where was it coming from?!
“Get out of my head!”
By the time I reached my house, I struggled with my keys, opened the door, and slammed it shut. Once I was inside, I was panting hard, with my back against the door as I slid to the ground.
Whatever just happened was truly a petrifying experience for me. Shivers and goosebumps proceeded to run up and down my spine and my skin. I burst into the room without even realizing it. I could almost hear the whispers continue to pierce my ears. Shaking it off didn’t help either. It was official. I was that boy from one month ago once again.
I hated how I felt so weak. Mac was ruining my life, and that did not satiate me at all. I then walked over to my mirror, unbuttoned my shirt, and stared at her name on my chest.
Her words echoed in my mind.
I will be back~ My love for you will never end.
What exactly did she mean by that? It wasn’t possible. She was dead. Unless she was a ghost. Ghosts couldn’t hurt people. Monsters hurt people. Right? Was it me, or were the letters actually glowing?
Someone help me.
I looked back at my reflection and almost jolted back. A grimacing figure of a girl smiling stared back at me. She was covered in blood, and her blonde hair covered her face. The only thing that could be seen was her red-stained teeth and face. What made me scream was the stick-like object poking out of her heart.
Closing my eyes, I kept them shut tight, only praying the figure would leave the mirror. Please, please, please. I slowly opened my eyes afterwards and it was gone. Looking around, I made sure there was nothing else in my room. I almost sighed in relief. I really did.
I backed away from my mirror slowly, but suddenly felt something wet and sticky. I jumped onto my bed when I saw all the blood flooded on my floor. It wasn’t there when I first entered…
My back was now against the bed frame as I grasped my sheets. I looked up from the floor and my eyes widened at what I was seeing now. The figure had left my mirror, alright, but it was now floating in front of me, in the form of a glowing blue ghost. I wanted to scream again. But no sounds could leave my throat as the figure took the stick out of its heart and held it in its now-bloody hand. The ghost lifted its head and I recognized the Cheshire Cat smile I’d grown to fear.
I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t scream. I wanted to run, but a force had bolted me to my bed. I couldn’t move. I could only stare at Mac in terror.
“Hello, Connor~ Did you miss your girlfriend?”
I could almost feel the heat of the rod all over again. She got on the bed and stroked her name on my chest. Her palm was even colder than ever. “I’m afraid we didn’t finish what we started~”
No words. Nothing.
“I can’t let you go on your little date, Connie~ Don’t you know it’s wrong to cheat?”
Not even a shout of “go away!” I wanted nothing more than to take her rod and stab her myself; over and over and over again. I couldn’t.
“You will be mine now, Connor~ Nothing can keep us apart~!”
I felt a sudden urge of déjà vu as Mac crawled up to me. Her cold, pale, bloody lips kissed the name over my heart, and I could feel myself falling into a deeper trance. I felt sleepy, but every fiber of my being told me to stay awake. I tried; I failed. Once again, a girl – even dead, pretty annoying – was overpowering me.
For a final time, I hated it.
Her smile was the last thing I saw before I fell into another death sleep…