in the beginning
“In the beginning, you became my prisoner. I ensnared you and you became my prisoner. Twenty years ago you lost your mind, and I took over.”
“Twenty years ago?! No, we were just at Rocco’s apartment.” Cedric said, he tried breaking the straps of the bed, vainly. Melina smiled.
“You remember, Cedric, I know you do. That night your apartment almost burnt down, you stabbed the fire fighter who came to save your life.”
The memories returned to Cedric, he remembered the fire in his apartment. He remembered being overwhelmed by the smoke, and in confusion stabbing an unknown figure with a kitchen knife. Cedric shook his head.
“After you killed the fire-fighter,” Melina continued, “you were declared unfit to stand trial, and admitted into this psychiatric hospital.”
Cedric felt nauseous as he listened to Melina.
“My family, what happened to my wife and daughter?”
“Don’t you remember the accident, Cedric? Adia is dead. You killed her because of your negligenc.” Cedric thought back. He remembered the accident. He remembered life after the accident. It was just him and Rosetta. He remembered it all.
“What happened to my little angel. Tell me what happened to Rosetta.” Cedric cried out mournfully.
“As she had no one to care for her,” Melina said, “she was taken to an orphanage. She is now a grown woman, and has cut you out of her life completely, because she resents you for abandoning her, all those years ago.” Cedric shook his head.
“No, no you’re lying that’s not true, I’m not crazy, I should not be in here, this is all a mistake.”
“This is no mistake, you have gone insane from witnessing all those gruesome murders as a detective, you are where you belong.”
“You demon, it is you, you did all this!” Cedric shouted angrily. “I’m gonna kill you!” He vainly tried to rip himself loose from the bed. An orderly came running, and tried to placate Cedric.
“I am a sane person, you must believe me!” Cedric pleaded with the orderly to let him go, but the orderly ignored him, then left.
“You have been laying here, strapped to this bed ever since, Cedric.”
“Impossible, I was...”
“Don’t you remember how you escaped through the asylum’s window to go and kill your old partner?”
“You are a mental patient, this is where you belong,” Melina said.
“This is not right, how did it come to this?” Cedric whispered in despair. He shook his head and started sobbing.
“How can I live like this?” Cedric asked himself.
“There is a way out.” Melina said and looked at the window, the burglar bars fell off the window, and the windows swung open, by themselves. “You are a good person Cedric, therefore, I will show you mercy, and allow you to free yourself from this world.” Cedric stared at the open window, and realised that he could end his suffering by jumping from it.
“I can end this, yes, this is what I should do.” Cedric nodded his head erratically.
“Yes, you must choose: do you want to continue living a meaningless life in this world of pain, or liberate yourself from it?” Melina said.
Cedric nodded. The straps loosened and unlatched themselves. Melina nodded and disappeared, again. Cedric walked over to the open window, and climbed up, and positioned himself on the window ledge.
“Daddy! What are you doing!” Cedric couldn’t believe when he saw his daughter. Only now she was a grown woman in a suit. He always knew that she would turn out to be a successful white-collar woman. Her untameable mane was trimmed into an elegant afro.
Rosetta desperately pleaded with Cedric when she saw him standing outside on the window ledge. They were four stories up, and the fall would most certainly kill him.
“Rosetta, angel, is that you?” He looked at Rosetta, shocked at how much she had grown and matured since he last saw her. Cedric wondered about all the things his little angel must have gone through while he was strapped to a bed in an asylum. The thought that she had gone through life without her parents completely shattered his heart.
“I’m sorry about all the things that I put you through, my dear angel.” Cedric said, with a coarse voice.
“Daddy, come down from there, you’re going to fall!” Rosetta yelled. Cedric shook his head.
“No, I can’t. Please forgive me, my dear angel, but this life is not for me.” Cedric said. Rosetta slowly walked to the window. She looked out the window and saw scrap metal piled up on the ground, right beneath the window.
“Daddy, you cannot give up on life. You must fight this, daddy.” Rosetta said, then held out her hand. “Come, take my hand.”
“You have grown up to be a beautiful successful young lady, you do not need me holding you down,” Cedric said, with tears in his eyes. Cedric inched further away from Rosetta’s reach, and closer to demise.
“Daddy, no, don’t do it.”
“I’m sorry Rosetta, for everything that I have done to you. I never meant... I never meant.”
“Daddy, listen to me, I am at peace, you have nothing to be sorry for, absolutely nothing.”
“I cannot face this world. This place, I don’t belong here,” Cedric said.
“This is not your world, daddy you can choose to leave here,” Rosetta said. Then Melina appeared. She hovered right next to Cedric. Her eyes were filled with anger.
“I’m seeing things, Rosetta, things that no one else can see.” Cedric said. “I can’t bear it any more.”
Cedric knew his little girl probably wouldn’t believe him, but felt obligated to tell her the reason he was going to end his life – he felt that he owed her that much, at least.
“I have to end my suffering my dear Rosetta. I don’t like what I have become.”
“Melina!” Rosetta said. “Demon of vengeance, leave this soul, go to where you belong. My father is no longer your prey.”
“You can see her? But how?” Cedric asked.
“You must choose now, daddy. Choose life.” Rosetta said.
“Do not tell him what to do, human spirit.” Melina hissed in a deep demonic voice. Her eyes were different, her pupils were completely black surrounded by a deep red sclera. “The decision lies with him.” Melina closed her eyes and opened them again seconds later to reveal her normal eyes.
“Do you want to continue living in this world where everyone hates you, Cedric?” Melina asked .
“No, I...” Cedric stared at Rosetta, he saw nothing, but sheer love in her eyes. He realised that she held no grudge against him. He reached out and grabbed Rosetta’s hand. “It is not my time, I choose life. I choose love.” then Rosetta pulled him back inside, and they landed on the floor.
Cedric embraced Rosetta, and shamelessly sobbed in front of his daughter.
“You don’t know how much I just want to get out of this mad house, and spend the remainder of my days with you. I don’t even know if I have grandchildren. Are you married?” Cedric couldn’t stop talking and crying. Rosetta was quiet, she stared at Melina still floating outside the window, Melina’s face was expressionless, and she blankly stared out in front of her.
“It is over. The illusion is ceasing,” Rosetta said with a sigh.
“What illusion? What are you talking about?” Cedric asked. Rosetta got to her feet and stood at the window.
“It is over now, demon of vengeance!” Rosetta yelled out. “Release your hold on Melina, and go to where you belong, so that Melina’s spirit may go to where it belong! I am a being of matter, retreat from the material being of dark spirit!”
There was a sudden roar as the angel of vengeance retreated from Melina’s body, the whole building started to quake. The sky opened up, and a void took its place. Large pieces of the building started to fly off, as the void sucked it in. The rest of the patients flew into the void, beds and all. Outside, the rest of the world got sucked in by the void, as well. The farmhouse, the ambulance, the wolves and other elements of the illusion flew up and got sucked into the void.
Melina, now dressed in a little red dress, floated through the wall and came to land next to Rosetta, who herself had reverted back to her eleven year old self. Cedric looked on in confusion.
“Rosetta, you are young again, like I remember you. How is this possible?” Cedric said, as he got up.
“I know you are confused, daddy,” Rosetta said, “but know that you have succeeded, you are going back.”
“Going back? where?” Cedric asked.
“Back to your body, sir. This is the void, this is where certain souls come to fight for their lives,” Melina said.
“Then what am I doing here? I’m not fighting for my life, am I?” Cedric asked.
“You’re not aware of it, but you are, sir.” Melina said.
“Don’t worry about that now, daddy. The demon of vengeance has been defeated, and that’s all that matters now,” Rosetta said.
“The demon of vengeance?”
“We call him the demon of vengeance, but his real name is Barbus. He is the king of the lacus animus.
“The lacus anim... what are you talking about?” Cedric asked.
“The lacus animus are the lower demons who live in this place, the void between life and death. This is the route Grim the reaper takes when transporting souls. It is the only way to the afterlife,” Melina said.
“So, why all this? Why the illusions, what are these demons hoping to accomplish?”
“They’re after your life force,” Melina said. “These demons plays with the soul’s deepest desires and fears. Creating happy experiences at first, using the greatest desires of the soul to lure them into a false sense of happiness, but then they utilize the soul’s greatest fears, and implant false memories to make the soul suffer and eventually yearn for death.”
“So, my wife’s not dead, I’m not a security guard, and that scene where the Mafia comes to your house were all illusions, huh?”
“Yes, and yes. Unfortunately, that last one was not an illusion. I’m not sure why Barbus used my real memories in your illusions.”
“Oh, that demon really is a sick-” Cedric stopped talking when he started to feel drowsy. He fell to his knees and started to breath heavily. He grabbed his chest and squeezed as if to squeeze out the pain.
“What’s happening to me? Is he back?” Cedric asked.
“You have chosen life, and are going back, back to where you belong, daddy.” Rosetta said.
“What about you?” Cedric asked. He felt a strong pull on his body.
“Remember, daddy. I love you, and never ever blame yourself.” Rosetta said, just before Cedric got sucked away.
Cedric awoke, gasping for air, in a hospital bed, with his wife, Adia, asleep by his side. He looked around the room, there was a nurse staring blankly at him, she seemed shocked – afraid almost. Cedric saw that he was wearing an oxygen mask, and a life support machine was attached to him. He looked at his wife, he realised that she had never died, and had last seen her before he and his daughter drove to the mall to pick up a present for her. He remembers that they were in an accident, and after that his mind was a complete blank.
Cedric removed the oxygen mask from his face. The nurse stood motionless, as Cedric tried to speak. Strangely, it was the same nurse which he saw in the illusions.
“Are you, Rebecca?” Cedric asked. Rebecca’s eyes widened, and she quickly nodded.
“Did a meteor fall?” Cedric asked. Rebecca shook her head.
“Y-You were in a car accident seven months ago, and you were declared brain dead upon your arrival.” Cedric nodded, he now understood why Rebecca was so shocked to see him awake.
“Why did you keep me alive for so long even after I was declared brain-dead.”
“It was Mrs Bay, she insisted that we keep the machines on. She kept on believing that you would wake up one day.”
“Sounds like something she’d do.” Cedric could not hold back the tears.
“It’s actually weird that you woke up today of all days. Your wife has been by your side these past seven months.” Cedric, nodded, and vainly tried to swallow the knot in his throat.
“I will go get the doctor, Mr Bay.” Rebecca said as she headed out the door, but Cedric stopped her.
“Before you do that, I need to see my daughter. Were her injuries serious?” Rebecca’s expression turned sombre.