Chapter 6 - How Does It Feel To Be A Murderer?
Flashes of light in a dreary room, a television, a news report, fire... A blurry photo of a suspect, running, panting. Dim light in a tight space. Wires, red, blue, green.. delicate, pasty fingers swarming... Some kind of digital clock. The microscopic tingle of eyelashes stroking my skin brings me back to a reality where I’m on the floor. I push myself up and stand weakly. My head hits the door.
“Shina? Are you okay?” Mochta.. is he right outside? I quickly open the door and nearly fall into him, grabbing his shoulders to keep myself upright.
“Woah, woah. Shina, what’s going on? Are you okay?”
“I think... I- I know what this is.”
“What? What what is?”
I groan and lose myself again. A shabby house, a metal fence, an angry greyhound. Inside... A man, looking at his depressed visage in a mirror. His mailbox, 3412. License plate... Virginia. Street sign, Ulysses Drive.
“I think.. I have a job to do.”
“And I don’t think I’m going to be okay until I get it done.” I cease to rely on Mochta for stability, and start to walk away from him. Half in control, half entranced, that’s how I feel--like a cyborg, a weapon.
I look over my shoulder and give Mochta an expression of uncertainty and say, I suppose ironically, “Just trust me.”
Walking steadily fast towards the exit of the mall, another vision flashes periodically. I can hear screaming victims, sacrifices and witnesses for someone’s sick display of power. A bus stocked full of random citizens is abruptly set ablaze, the front section is already pulverized. Those unlucky enough to have sat in the back suffer from pieces of them being blown to bits, crawling over shards of glass with 3rd degree burns. The perp is watching the aftermath of his wanton destruction on his shitty box-TV and feeling accomplished. I know he is. I can see it. I can sense it, in that primitive little mind of his. I make my way to a secluded corner outside of the shopping complex. What now? My train of thought makes a stop at Confusion Station as I glance around. I look down. Slipping off this raspberry-hued cardigan previously draped over my forearms, I tie it around my waist, making a double knot for good measure. I bend my knees, succumbing to a somewhat awkward stance, and assume my “angel” wings get the message. They flap slowly at first, then I start to feel the powerful performance they’re capable of. The air being manipulated around me transforms into a rising dust storm, smoke to conceal my supernatural presence. Then, my feet lift above the ground, it’s an astonishing sensation... Soon, I’m soaring into the atmosphere, shooting off the surface of the Earth like a ship destined to reach the stars.
I lift my head to the sky and gather moisture across my skin while my body jolts through the fluffy white blobs that used to hover miles above me. I don’t know where I’m going, but there’s a discrete compass in my gut. I am linked to Death, drawn to death, like a vulture to rotten meat. I follow the scent for possibly hours, but the view that surrounds me doesn’t get old. When the sunset starts to show, it’s breathtaking. I wonder if.. Mochta would like it...? Get a hold of yourself, Shina! Right. That’s not my place. We just met, anyway, and I doubt he could feel that way about me.
I must be above Virginia by now. I have to pinpoint my landing close enough so I don’t have to walk far; it’s getting pretty dark.
For some reason, I let out a frightened holler. It starts to happen so fast, I’m only just now realizing my wings are ordering me to plummet to the ground. I shut my eyes tight, bracing myself for the worst. I’m slowing down now, rotating finely. I open my eyes, one at a time. I’m here, all I have to do is put my feet down. There. My breaths are short and heavy while I survey my destination, placing my steps carefully to complete a 360 degree turn. No one’s around. Tilting my head down, I know for sure I’m standing on a sidewalk. I look up. The sidewalk right across from the bomber’s house. That greyhound sees me, but she doesn’t seem to have the energy to try and ward me off with her ear-grating voice. Paranoia dictates my actions regularly, causing me to glance around while I cross the street. Adrenaline pushes me forward when I receive ocular snapshots of those inflicted by this bastard’s work. To have to watch a part of your body be recklessly amputated, to feel the pain of over two-thousand degrees gnawing mercilessly on your flesh until it shrivels and becomes useless… What a torture to inflict on someone, and all you have to do is plant a seed and wait for it to grow into a disaster.
I hastily climb and jump the side of the fence vacant of the grey giant. Conveniently, the vertical edge is lined with wooden fencing, giving me more cover. I crouch down, then, warily stand enough to peek through the window. He’s passed out in an armchair. Thank God.
A low growl catches me off guard. My eyes widen promptly and I tremble pathetically, reluctant to look in the sound’s direction. Some recessive instinct coaxes me into holding my hand out with a shushing soundwave emanating past my lips. The greyhound approaches; she’s scarily taller than I am when I crouch back down. To my immediate surprise, the hound nuzzles into my hand. I soon take pity on her sunken form, exposed ribcage and patchy fur. Her owner isn’t giving her the slightest care. Now, I’m really pissed. What kind of asshole keeps a dog just to cage them right next to Death’s clutches? She turns and walks off, with each movement I can see her bones rattle... I decide to follow her. Treading on my hands and knees, I see her waiting for me, sitting next to a doggie-door. My heart wants to torment me by beating on my eardrums. I make my way very cautiously through the plastic panels between this dwarf doorway. My eyes roll up, down, and sideways in an attempt to become familiar with my surroundings as my head pokes into a small hallway. From this layout, and the flickering projection of light on one side of the house’s walls... I would guess the living room is on my right and the kitchen is on my left.
I stand, then, walking on air in slow-motion, I lean my head into the living room. He’s still asleep, snoring now. I hear the dog come in behind me as I turn towards the kitchen. A knife.. a knife... A moment later, my hand touches a heavy plastic hilt. Shing. The gentle hum of steel beckons me, calls my murderous occupation into action. I take a deep breath, staring at it, looking for my reflection. Looking for.. an answer. Is this really okay? Is this not just a dream? A nightmare? A glint off the blade resonates in my eye during a slight upwards tilt. I can see a fragment of my reflection now. It must be a reminder. A reminder that... I may have wings, but I also have horns.
I delicately rotate and retrace my steps in a chaotic dance. Closer, and closer, but slower and slower my feet take me to the back of his dusty, dull red armchair. My hand is gripping the weapon just fine, but shaking. My target is subdued, just waiting, all I have to do is... Kill him.
My eyes start to well up with tears. Why? Why is this so hard? He took all those innocent lives, he deserves to die. Isn’t that obvious? I have to do this.. I- I have to! I start to choke. I’m sweating profusely and the kitchen knife starts to loosen and wobble in my fist. When my vision starts to focus back in, my expectations are shot. My blood runs frigid in less than a second. His eye! His one, menacing, dilated pupil is staring at me, emotionless. His head is turned just enough to look behind him and look me dead in my core. I’m processing everything faster than I thought possible. In his hand on the left of me, hung over the side of his chair, a gun. Think fast, think fast, think fast!
An unforeseen shade of hot, lavender-mixed, pink floods my perception. My body reels in, I seize the biggest chunk of his hair tightly in between my fingers. My arm hooks the air on the right, and my blade squelches with the puncturing of his aging dermis. Amidst all the shock, I notice the most peculiar and disturbing thing. The corners of my mouth are curving up, stretching the skin on my face. Am I...? I can’t be...
I’m fucking smiling.
I know this isn’t my doing, this in no way makes me feel happy. It’s an unnatural smile, a wide, toothy one that makes my blood curdle without even seeing it. The acute angles of my mouth retract as I begin to register the ripe plasma dripping over my fingers. It’s so warm, it almost burns. The knife readily slips through my palm and I take each step back in trepidation. The next thing I know, my spine is pressed against the wall and I’m sitting uncomfortably with my elbows on my knees. Zoning out, staring at my muddy, borrowed sandals, I hear a squishing, then a crunching. I don’t even know what to think anymore when I rear my head to see the bomber’s dog standing on her hind legs, having her owner’s neck for dinner.
I dig my wrists into the front of my skull. “This is insane... Absolutely fucking insane.” I stand wearily, swaying back and forth a bit with a side of nausea. My feet drudge to get me to the back door. Once I swing it open, my wings hurl me into the stratosphere.
☘︎︎ ☘︎︎ ☘︎
My conscience decides to space out during the entire trip, and soon enough, I return to Mochta’s door. Void of courtesy, I invite myself in. I’m exhausted, and thoughtless.
My irises travel to the corner of my eyes to gaze at Mochta’s friendly and worried expression.
“Where did you go?!”
I don’t know what to say, or how to say it, and no part of me makes a single movement.
“Well... I.. got you those clothes you tried on, anyway.” A snap goes off in the back of my head and the smoke of useless rumination gradually disperses. Looking at Mochta’s face is hard, because I feel like I don’t deserve to. But, it makes me feel more at ease the longer I stare. “Why...? I left you... And it’s not like I’m going to be going anywhere except here and wherever Death sends me next.” I reply sheepishly.
“So what?” Mochta grins to console me, “Looking good will make you feel good wherever you are. Besides, I’ll still get to see you every day.”
A soft smile creeps up on me while my face flushes with warmth. Mochta leans his chest into the back of the couch. He props his head up with the palm of his hand squashing his cheek against his cheekbone. “Oh, I made sandwiches too. I hope you’re not allergic to anything... Wait, what’s the worst that could happen...? You’re dead.” He adds, nonchalantly.
As I eat the prepared lunch, Mochta scolds me for not immediately washing the blood off of my hands. He tells me how I could raise suspicion and eventually get arrested. Then, his eyes light up and he mentions an idea.
“Do I really need a disguise?”
“I think it would be for the best.” He tries to hide his giddiness. I know he just wants an excuse to give me an unnecessary makeover.
He waits expectantly.
“Yes! Oh, um.. one more thing--”
“Please don’t.. take this the wrong way, but I got you panties and bras too.”
And everything... stops. For a moment I feel like I’m going to asphyxiate on bread. Mochta sets his head down on his arms that are folded over the top of the sofa. As he casually averts his eyes, I start to speculate. Obviously, I should just say thank you, I hadn’t even thought of the fact that I would need clean undergarments. What did I do with mine when I took that shower last night? Am I even wearing--nevermind. I clear my throat. “Oh, really? What kind?”
“Uh...” Mochta scratches the side of his chin lightly and continues to avoid eye contact. “Just normal stuff, nothing weird, I just figured... I mean, you didn’t bring anything with you when you arrived, and your clothes were all wet and smelled like garbage, so--”
“How’d you know what sizes to get?” I know this is cruel, but my curiosity has the best of me. I feel like a cat observing a mouse in its cage, wondering, how will he react?
“Oh!” He looks me straight in the eyes, which catches me completely off guard. “I washed your clothes this morning!” Lifting his head up, he looks pretty proud of himself. My plan has been foiled. Will I ever be able to fluster him the way he has with the tables turned? Is he just more socially intelligent than I am?
☘︎︎ ☘︎︎ ☘︎
A few days pass until it becomes a week. Mochta’s been cooking for me, I convinced him to let me clean, and we’ve become pretty competitive when playing video games on the TV. I like playing first person shooters the most, but Mochta gets easily discouraged so we switch to something else. It’s been pretty fun, but every day I worry when I’ll be called in for the next kill. I make excuses for myself whenever I begin to feel shamefaced for not telling Mochta everything. True, we haven’t known each other long, but I think a relationship builds upon the experiences you share and how much time you spend side by side. But... what do I know? I’ve always been a loner, too invisible to have real friends, much less something more. Which definitely won’t happen. Obviously, th-that’s not what’s going on here. That’s not what I mean--I mean... I can’t have a crush on the guy, we wouldn’t be compatible. It’s too early to even think about something like that! A-And he’s freaking gay! Get it together, Shina. You’re not even human anymore, and you’ve already caused him enough trouble.
“Whatcha doin’?” Mochta sneaks up behind me and lassoes his arms around my neck. My spine minutely teeter-totters. Where did he come from? What is he doing? Why is he like this?!
“U-Uh.. I’m sitting on the floor folding the laundry.”
“Thank you! You’re so sweet for helping me around the house!”
“Well, it’s only fair... You have a part-time job and you cook. I don’t wanna just freeload.”
“Ehh.. my job is more like a hobby, I don’t really need the paycheck.”
“Seriously?! How rich were your parents?”
“..Rich.” Mochta takes a pause and I can catch the tiny tremors of his body gently swaying behind me. The warmth coming off of him makes my heart nervous. “So,” He starts talking again. “Would you mind if I had a friend over? I’ve known him since high school but I haven’t seen him in a while.”
“How long’s a while?”
“A couple weeks.”
“Tch.” I scoff and fail to resist a laugh.
"So...! Can he come over, or what?”
“Yeah, of course, Mochta. It’s your house!”
“I just wanna make sure you’re comfortable...”
“Don’t worry about me, have fun.”
“Thank you, love!” He briskly pecks me on the cheek and exits with the same speed. I over-dramatically place my hand on the side of my face where the heat and moisture left starts to evaporate. He’s so cute... I’ve gotta tell him to stop this shit, for my heart’s sake.
At this point, I’ve passed out on Mochta’s bed, sprawling out to every corner to claim it for myself. But my eyes open groggily to the sound of sporadic knocking.
“Axel!” That’s Mochta’s voice.
“Hey, shorty.” That’s not Mochta’s voice... I want to see what’s going on, but.. maybe I don’t.
“Hold on, I want you to meet someone.”
“Oh, the roommate you said you got? Why do you need a roommate...? Don’t you have a ton of money still?” The voices inch closer, echo louder. I’m not ready. I try to let all my muscles relax, slow my breathing, and shut my eyes. This is just a bad dream, I’m still sleeping.
I gasp. Damn it, he’s so loud. Just keep still, maybe he won’t notice...
“Stop pretending to sleep!” Mochta is that relentless alarm you never want to wake up to in the morning. I whine and raise my torso against gravity with my arms as propulsion. “Hi.. Axel.”
He waves his hand gingerly in silence.
“Let’s all go play Mini Racers!” Mochta announces with a bright smile while his feet spring off the hardwood floor momentarily. It’s hard to believe what I’m looking at is a grown man.
I’m forced to follow behind them into the living room; I truly feel like a third wheel. Mochta appears especially happy with this Axel guy around, but who knows if he’s trustworthy. He’s not bad looking either. His skin is like brown sugar and his hair a pitch black, velvet curtain. The sleeveless top and shorts he has on show off his well built figure too. Don’t tell me I have competition--shut up, Shina! …Should I start working out?