December 25, 2000
‘Crazy people don’t know they’re crazy.’
I used to think that phrase was complete bullshit but, the longer I remain locked in my room with nothing but the voices inside my head to keep me company, the more I am beginning to believe that it might ring somewhat true.
They have told me that I am ‘mentally unstable’ and that there is something off with the wiring in my head but I just don’t see it. Then again, this makes complete sense if crazy people don’t know they’re crazy.
Maybe they’ve got it all wrong and they are the crazy ones, which would explain how I saw this coming and they didn’t.
My mind is a broken record, so scratched from the wear and tear of being alive that it often skips and repeats itself over and over until I feel like ripping my own hair out, which is something I once did.
It didn’t solve anything, in case you were wondering. In fact, it made things worse because, as a result of the hair ripping, I ended up zip tied to my bed for two days until I was clear-minded enough to promise that, the next time my brain began to skip, I would solve the issue in a more productive manner.
A week later it skipped again, repeating the word ‘empty’ over and over until I put my fist through the large window in my bedroom and drug my wrist along the jagged edges of the freshly broken glass.
That was one hell of a rush.
She made him take me to the hospital that day, worried I might bleed out on the bedroom floor.
I hated the smell of that place, of the hospital where he took me. It was nothing but death, disinfectant, and liquid medicine. The men in the blue jumpsuits who clean each night believe that bleach will cover up the stench but it doesn’t, all it does it add a sting to it.
Can other people smell death the way that I can and, if they can, do they smell it everywhere the way that I do?
The white coat wearing doctor and his sad-faced nurse stood in the doorway of my hospital room, asking my father questions he was sure to lie while answering.
“Do you know what might have caused her to do something like this?”
“No, as a kid she was a bit odd but it was never like this. This is the first time she has ever done something like this and I have no idea what might have caused it.”
I have been this way for over a year now. There have been monsters inside my head for over a year now.
“Has she suffered any recent traumas that you know of?”
“No, not that I can think of. I work a lot these days, you know, trying to earn what little I can to provide for us since everything happened. There are good men out there fighting to bring us back to where we were but they don’t yet have the support they need to get the job done.”
There is a mile long list of things that doctor might have considered ‘triggering’ enough for me to attempt to saw my wrist in half and my sister topped that list.
It has been a year and a half since she went missing but my father yells every day as if it just happened, always blaming me for it. He says it is my fault and that my sickness drove her away.
He had come home that night, stinking of booze, and kicked down her bedroom door to find her room empty and her vanished into thin air. He woke me up by ripping me out of bed by my arm and my mother locked herself in the bathroom, turning on the shower as he decided to explain his anger towards me using his fists instead of words.
“Any illness on the mother’s side of the family that this might be linked to?”
The biggest lie of them all.
My mother might not be the mess that I am but she is far from being the sane woman that my father made her out to be. Normal mother would have refused to leave their child’s side after an incident such as mine but my mother was at home, crushing up painkillers so that she could shove them up her nose to ease the pain from the broken arm her gave her last week when she decided to take the pills he had left for me.
He had ignored me that night, using his fists to explain to her how much the men on the corners had charged him for those pills.
Things like that, shady men who lurk the streets, weren’t allowed before my mind broke open and the monster inside of it spilled out but, now, all the men who drove the red and blue topped cars have been killed and there is no one left to stop those men. There is no one left to stop those men from peddling their magic cures to mindless kids in search of escapes, luring them into vans before disappearing into the night.
These kids, the ones who hop into cars their parents always told them never to get into, never come back.
My sister loved those pills, doing anything she could for another hit of their magic. I never saw her with those men but she always found her way to those pills, coming home a new person each week.
One day her hair was charcoal black, like mine, and then it wasn’t, now the same fierce red as the eyes of the monsters who hunted the streets she liked to roam. One day her skin was flawless and pale, like mine, and then it wasn’t, her arms now covered in poorly drawn tattoos that didn’t look right on her. Her face began to hollow, covered in layers of thick makeup that didn’t belong there.
None of that matter though, because she was older than me and she was ‘her own person’, or at least this is what she yelled at my father when he finally noticed what she had become. By then she was no longer my older sister, she was the thing inhabiting her body.
Something had always been different about her but never the way it was before she went missing.
Or did she run away?
I can’t tell anymore which is which because my thoughts are rarely my own and, most days, things just swirl together until my head is pounding like an off-beat drum.
People go missing all the time these days and most of them never come home. Sometimes they are found with pieces missing or just in pieces. Other times they are just memories, ghosts in the wind.
Is that a song? It should be.
I wonder where she went. I wonder if she is still in one piece. I wonder if she is a ghost yet.
How long before I am in pieces or a ghost? The monsters have already done their damage to our town, tearing things apart while we hid in a shelter created to withstand catastrophic events, but there have been stories about how they might return to finish us off.
Will they come back to find me before I figure out a way to lock them back up inside of my head?
I hope so.
Today is Christmas, or at least I am assuming it is based off the way my mother has been crooning along with the carols on the radio all day. I am not sure where she got a new one from, I smashed the old one to bits in a fit of rage, but she has been playing these wretched songs over and over since the sun rose.
I hate the holidays more than I hate most days.
I wonder if he is going to let me out of my room today. I have been locked in here for nine days now, ever since I killed Frank, our neighbor, with a gardening shovel.
It was my mother’s fault because she saw something in some magazine about how nature is supposed to help people like me heal before running off to buy everything in the lawn and gardening section on the last remaining home improvement store in town.
Frank should have known better than to sneak up on me, his callused hands snaking up the front of my dirt-covered shirt. He should have known better than to wrap his hand around my mouth, whispering for me to ‘keep my damn mouth shut’ as he tore me away from garden and back towards the shed.
He should have known better because there are monsters lurking the streets now and, sometimes, those monsters look like humans.
My father dug a hole behind that same shed, covering the punished man with a large bag of soil and seeds.
I wonder what kind of flowers will grow from a man like Frank; a man with ice in his veins and the kind of eyes that make you feel like there are bugs burrowing into your skin.
Sunflowers? Tulips? Daffodils?
I hope it’s orchids; great big ones with blue and yellow petals.
He stopped letting me watch television that day. He believes that the images I am subjected to while staring at it have caused me to grow violent, but I don’t agree. He only blames the television because, when he found me, I was perched atop Frank’s chest and was burying my handheld shovel into his chest over and over again.
It hadn’t mattered one bit to me that the man had stopped fighting fifteen stabs prior because there was something comforting about the way the motion felt and I don’t think the television is to blame for that at all.
If anything, he should blame the monsters for what I have become because they are the real culprits behind this mess.
Well, to be fair to him, I had watched television the night before and then had to be ‘taught a lesson’ because something I had seen had made me feel like lighting the kitchen table on fire.
I couldn’t help myself; that was just the way I got when they replayed the footage from the night the monsters became real.
Someone had managed to capture the entire thing on their cellphone, sending it to everyone they could before the power went out and didn’t come back on for eight whole months.
Some places still don’t have power. Or water. Or life.
I had watched on the video as their bodies hit the water-logged ground, shaking the earth so hard it actually split in certain areas.
Those who had gathered around to witness the event should have been wary of the newcomers, but they weren’t. In fact, even though local law enforcement strictly warned against it, people ran from their houses to greet them.
Then they opened their red eyes and stood up, my freshly escaped monsters, and began to rip people apart just as they had told me they were going to do when they were still trapped inside of my head.
Just like paper.
My father, who was not the least bit pleased with the way I chose to punish our handsy neighbor, used his fist instead of his voice that night to say the things he couldn’t bring himself to.
A split lip said ‘I regret allowing your mother to give birth to you’. A blackened eye said ‘you should have put down that lighter the first time I told you to’. A broken arm said ‘you should have given Frank what he wanted because now I have to clean up the mess you have made’. A kick to the ribs shouted ‘you deserve the kind of life I have given you’.
He believes that people like him and Frank should be given what they want the moment that they want it. He takes from my mother the same way that Frank tried to take from me only, instead of letting Frank win, I stabbed him before he ever had a chance to get close.
My father once told me that people like my mother, my sister, and I only serve one purpose and that is to give, even when we don’t want to.
I never knew that monsters actually existed until they took up residence in my mind but I was so very wrong. Up until that day, I thought they were just a myth but, the morning after my seventeenth, I woke up a completely different person than I remember being when I went to bed the night prior.
The next morning, I woke up to the sound of their voices inside of my head. They whispered to me all at one time, showing me what they had planned for the world.
It was a simple plan: kill everyone.
I told my father about the monsters but all it did was make him angry. He disappeared for a few hours, returning later in a drunken haze with a bag full of multi-colored pills. I didn’t want to take them and so he had to hold me down, forcing those pills down my throat before holding my nose to make sure I swallowed them.
He sat at the edge of my bed with his hands ball into fists, glaring at me until I stopped trying to throw them back up.
Once they kicked in, I slept for two and a half days; I spent the whole time trapped in a nightmare.
My mother was there when I finally woke up, my bedsheets stained with sweat and vomit, and I remember her handing me a bottle. She smiled as I drank and she cleaned me up, the bruise under her eye still fresh and purple.
She told me that, when I wouldn’t wake up and then dirtied my sheets, he had taken his anger out on her.
He doesn’t like hitting things that don’t know they are being hit.