My teeth clatter and my whole body shivers. I wrap my arms around myself, tears rolling down my cheeks, plopping to the ground along with the pouring rain. A car drives by, splashing me in freezing cold water. Now my fuzzy pink sweater is soaked, ruining the only hope I had of staying warm out here."Come on Linda, you've made it this far. You can't stop here." The voice in the back of my head says. My parents cars aren't in the driveway, so I know nobody's home. I need to hurry, they get off work at 7 P.M., which is just thirty minutes away. I reach into my pocket to pull out my house key, but my hands are shaking so much I drop it in the flowerbed.
After retrieving it, I slowly unlock the front door, my heart beating so fast I fear it might burst. Stepping inside, I see the house is pitch black, and the only sounds I can hear is the peaceful singing of the crickets. Their singing makes it feel as if I'm being welcomed home, but how could I ever be welcomed back here?
I shut and lock the door behind me, and take my flashlight out of my pocket, and shine it at the shoe rack. The pair of shoes my parents always wear to work aren't there, so I'm assured they aren't home. I walk up the stairs one by one, as quietly as I can, and I make my way to what used to be my bedroom.
Why am I not surprised when I see that all of my stuff is gone? My bed, my computer, my book collection, my posters...they've stripped my room bare! Have they no hope that I would return one day? “They really don't care that I'm gone, do they?” I hear that voice whispering in the back of my head again.
I look at my reflection in the mirror, and the sight is truly pitiful. My long black hair is all over the place, dripping wet. My hazel eyes are red from so much crying. My sweater is covered in mud and soaked in rain water. My jeans are so soggy from the rain they feel like they've doubled in weight.
I open my closet, and the only thing inside is a bag of clothes with a label that reads "Salvation Army." My clothes...they plan to send my clothes to the Salvation Army. They really don't have any hope that I'll return. I strip myself naked, tossing the wet clothes aside, and dig through the bag.
While changing into the warmest pair of clothes I can find, seeing the wounds on my body reminds me far too clearly of all the suffering I endured here, bringing the tears back to my eyes. After putting on four pairs of socks, three pairs of underwear, two pairs of sweatpants, and three jackets over my shirt, I take my items out of the pockets of the clothes I took off. First, the picture of me, and my little brother.
"I'm so sorry for leaving you all alone, but don't worry, big sis is here to make things right." I say to myself while I take the second item out of my pocket. A knife. This should be all I need to right my wrongs, right?
I walk over to my brother's room and try to open the door, but it's locked. How is his door locked when nobody's home? When the door opens, I fall on my rear in so much fear I wet myself on the spot. "I failed!" I whisper.
"Linda?" I hear the familiar voice ask. The lights turn on, and right in front of me is none other than my brother! His clothes are tattered, hair is uncombed, and in his left hand he's holding the same raggedy teddy bear he got on his fourth birthday.
"D-Did you...say my name? When did you learn to speak?!" I ask, embracing him. Could it be that my parents actually took the time to teach him speech?
“Don't be ridiculous! You know that's nothing like them! They barely even acknowledge his existence!”
"Knife...why?" He asks, pointing to the knife I dropped. Hearing his voice speaking words is a miracle to me. He was born with autism, and because our parents are so neglectful, he was never taught how to speak.
"It's okay, I'm going to save you from this hell." I hear my dad's car pull up in the driveway. It's time. There's no turning back now. "Wait here." I tape his mouth shut just to be safe, then creep down the stairs. I stand behind the door, holding the knife tightly with both hands.
“This is it...are you sure this is going to fix everything?” I ask the voice.
“Of course! Think about everything your innocent brother must have gone through while you were away! You ran like a coward, leaving him all on his own! Today is the day you make up for everything!” The voice replies.
It's been at least three years since I noticed that there's a voice whispering in the back of my head. Any normal person would just see it as your inner thoughts, but I know it's more than that. It personally told me that it's a creature called an Ivled that lives in the back of my head. Whenever it whispers to me, it's trying to help me make the right decision in a difficult situation. Like right now. Every time I take it's advice, it works out for the best, so why wouldn't I listen to it?
I can hear my dad fumbling with his keys. I steady my breath and clutch onto my knife even tighter. As soon as the door opens, before he even knows what's going on, I jab the knife right through his eyes socket, and quickly yank it out. He grabs his eye, yelling in pain, then stab his other eye out. He swings his fist in a random direction, but hits me right in the jaw, sweeping me off my feet. I'm no stranger to being victim to his fist, and I have the upper hand here. I kick him under the belt and he kneels over in pain, swearing and swinging his fists in a rage. I stab him over and over again in the chest, neck, gut, and groin, until he finally passes away.
"He's dead..." I tell myself, as I wipe the blood off my hands, staining the clean white floor.
“Yes. Now that it's all over, you and him can finally be happy.”
I hear my mother's car pull up in the driveway, and as soon as she comes inside, I get rid of her just like I did to my dad, only this was easier. With the job done, I fall to my knees and drop the knife in the pool of blood, breathing heavily.
My brother comes down the stairs, crying hysterically, trying to rip the tape off his mouth, so I do it for him.
"Shh, we have to get out of here before anyone finds out." I cover his mouth and try to drag him out with me, but he resists.
"Mommy and daddy good! Linda bad!" He shoves me back, leaving me confused.
"What are you talking about...? I came did all this for you! You're the reason I came back here! I'm here to save you!"
"Go away!!!" he yells, crying over the corpses of our parents.
I'm so confused...this is not what was supposed to happen! “I-Ivled...what's the meaning of this? You've never been wrong before, but you didn't say anything like this!”
“Kihihihihi...” the voice cackles. “Don't you get it? I've lead you astray at last! Ahaha, this was so worth the wait!”
“What are you talking about...? You've been helping me survive on my own for years!”
“All just as I planned it! Make the human think I'm her friend, then stab her in the back at the shining moment for the grand finale!” The Ivled says between it's maniacal laughter.
Have I really been deceived by my Ivled? Have I done all this just to be laughed at by some creature I can't even see?! Shaking my head and wiping the tears off my face, I exit through the back door, and run. As I run, I can still hear the Ivled's voice cackling and mocking in the back of my head. I don't know where I'm running too, but I just keep running as fast as my legs can take me. I killed my parents and now my brother hates me. There's truly no place in the world for me, is there?
How long have I been running now? Where are my feet taking me, and why? I don't know! All I know is if I can't escape this fucking Ivled, I'm going to lose my head! Or have I already lost it long ago? My legs finally start to give out on me. Huff...puff...I take deep breaths and collapse to my knees. I can't hear my Ivled anymore. Have I ran too far for it?
“Nope. Don't be silly, how could you ever escape me when I exist inside your head? Don't you get it? I'm you. Hahaha!!!”
I grasp at my hair frantically, squint my eyes shut, and grit my teeth. “AH!!! GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!! GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT!!!” I yell, backing up under a bus stop.
Once the voice stops and I don't hear it for at least half an hour, I slowly open my eyes. The first thing that I see is a black cat staring square at me with it's glow in the dark eyes. Even though cats are, or used to be my number one fear, it doesn't so much as even startle me. After what I did tonight, the only thing that could possibly scare me is that horrifying voice. Why must this be happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?! How could my brother even say something so ridiculous? I'm bad and our parents are good? Even though I've been the one protecting him from them for so many years? Despite the fact that they never did shit for him while I would play with him all day?!
I start crying again, hiccuping between my sniffles. Through the corner of my eye I notice a bottle of alcohol under the bench. Ah, I've seen wine around the house before. Can't say I've never been tempted to try it. I pick the bottle up and uncork it, taking in a deep breath of it's scent. Putting the bottle to my mouth, I take a big gulp of it only to quickly spit it out. This is disgusting...how the hell do adults drink this stuff? I set the bottle to the side and lay down on the bench, shivering.
I start to cough and sneeze as I lay here, watching the rain pour down and the lightning light up the sky. I once read that nature is always trying to tell you something, one way or another. What message could this weather be trying to convey to me? The raging storm is like a mixture of wrath and sorrow...the rain is basically the clouds letting out the tears they held in so long, while the lightning seeks to strike down those that brought it misfortune. Isn't that just like me? Could the sky be telling me that it's okay to feel this way? Heh. Yeah right. It's just mocking me, I don't have any allies. My parents didn't support me, my brother and the Ivled stabbed me in the back, and the sky is mocking me. At this point, what's the point of me even being alive?
“It's so cold...” I whisper, sitting up and wrapping my arms around myself. Despite how warm I dressed, I'm freaking freezing to death out here. Is this nature trying to tell me just how cruel and cold the world is towards me? Thanks, nature, but I already knew that.
What are you going to do from here? You don't think you can just sit here for the rest of your life, do you?
NO!!! THE VOICE IS BACK!!! I spring to my feet and cower into the corner, pulling furiously at my hair. “GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!! PLEASE, JUST LEAVE ME ALONE! HAVEN'T YOU DONE ENOUGH ALREADY?!” I yell at the top of my lungs.
Why would I do that? Your head is where I live.
“SHUT UP!!! GO AWAY! GO TORMENT SOMEONE ELSE, PLEASE!!!”
Why? I like you, you're the most interesting human for me.
Breathing heavily, I glance around until my eyes catch the bottle of alcohol again. I grab the neck of the bottle and hastily drown down the rest of the contents in one long draw. After emptying the bottle, I sit back down on the bench, staring blankly ahead and shaking violently.
“Just ignore it and it will eventually leave me alone...” I repeatedly tell myself.
Several minutes pass by without the Ivled saying anything. I let out a sigh of relief. Is it finally gone?
Of course I'm not. I exist within your thoughts, remember?
I steady my breaths, trying my best not to panic this time. “You know, you're nothing but a deceiving coward. How about instead of hiding in my head you show yourself?”
Ha...haha! Why would I do that? Not like you can do anything to me.
“Prove it! You saw how I disposed of my parents, I can get rid of you just as easy! I am the lightning, I strike down anyone who brings misfortune to me!”
Such big talk, I like it! Maybe you're right, maybe you can strike me down like the lightning bolt you are. Let's see if you can live up to that.
A strange, mystic, fog-like aura appears in front of me and starts to shape itself. Once it's taken it's form, standing before me is a human shaped creature, the exact same size as me, with extremely pale skin. There are no pupils in it's eyes and it's face has no ears, nose, or mouth. It has the same black hair as me, and is wearing my clothes. The very sight of the Ivled in this form causes me to stagger back.
“W-What the...” is all I manage to say.
Why are you surprised that I look like you? Haven't I already told you that I am you?
“Ah!!!” I scream, and charge at the Ivled, swinging my fist at it's face.
“Ow!!!” I yell when I feel my fist connect with my own eye. What just happened? Where did the Ivled go?
Suddenly, I feel something breathing down my neck, which sends a chill down my spine. I'm right behind you. I turn around and quickly swing my fist at it again, only to feel it connect with my mouth. When it materializes in front of me again, I try to knee it in the gut, and somehow feel the pain myself, which causes me to drop to my knees and vomit.
Don't you get it? I am you. By trying to hurt me, you're only hurting yourself.
I spit out blood and lick my lips, staring up at the Ivled. “You think I'm finished? I'm only getting started!” I rise back to my feet and continue trying to attack it. No matter how many times I try to harm it, I only damage myself. Yet I keep on fighting until I'm battered and bruised to the point where I can't even get back to my feet.
What a fool this human is. You're no lightning bolt at all! You've bored me, so I'm going back home.
The Ivled turns itself into the mystic aura again, surrounding itself around my head, then evaporating back inside.
I crawl my way back to the bench, and grasp the empty wine bottle.
Now what are you going to do with that?
“G-get...rid of you...!” I sit on one knee, holding the bottle with both of my shaking hands. I slowly raise it to the air, then smash it on the back of my head.
I collapse to the ground, feeling the sharp pieces of glass in my head and blood dripping out. “P-Please...be gone now...!”
Nope. Still here. A mere mortal can't do anything about me.
“Dammit...! Just dammit all...!” I lay on my side and start to cry for at least the twentieth time today. What else is there left for me to do anyway?
I feel my bile rise up and bring my hands to my mouth, but end up emptying the contents of my stomach all over my clothes and the ground again. I fall back to my side, and lay there shivering and crying, occasionally sneezing, until I pass out.
My eyes slowly open up to see myself in a room with plain white walls and a TV hanging from the wall. “Where am I...?” I wonder, and quickly jolt up, only to feel a sharp pain in the back of my head. “Ngh...” I groan, rubbing my head where the pain is. I notice that I'm lying in a bed, wearing just a gown. Am I in a hospital...?
The door opens and a woman walks in, writing something down in a notebook. “Oh, you're awake.” she says after looking up and noticing me.
“What's going on? Ah... Why am I here?” I ask, gritting my teeth in pain.
“You were found unconscious, bruised and bleeding at a bus stop. There was glass sticking out of the back of your head, we had to stitch you up real good. Can you tell me what happened?”
“N-No...I don't remember anything...”
“Memory loss...” the nurse says, writing it down in her notebook. “With the damage done to your skull, it's to be expected that you'd have some type of brain damage. Can I get your name and age?”
Does this lady really need to know my name and age? What's she going to do with that information? As I sit, shaking in fear while I try to remember what happened, I suddenly hear a voice whispering in the back of my head.
Go on, tell her your name. She'll help you out, don't be afraid. It says, cackling softly.
“Huh?! Who's there?!” I demand, looking behind my shoulders frantically.
The nurse stares at me with a raised eyebrow. “Miss? There isn't anyone in here but you and I.”
She's right, what are you so scared of? It's just you and her. After all, I'm nothing more than your Ivled.
Ivled. That word seems to ring a bell in my head, and I quickly start to remember everything that happened. It's like I'm watching a video tape playing on fast forward. Then the Ivled appears in front of me.
“Ivled...AH!!! It's you! Why are you back?! I thought I destroyed you already!!!” I yell, pulling at my hair.
The nurse walks over to me and places her hands on my shoulders in attempt to calm me down. “Please calm down! Like I said, there isn't anyone else in here!”
I shake my head and feel tears swelling up in my eyes. “No, the Ivled is right there!!! It's here to lead me astray again! Please, make it go away!!!” I shove her hands away and throw the covers over myself.
My attempt to hide from the evil creature fails, as the nurse simply takes the cover off of me, and once again I see the cruel fiend standing in front of me with that creepy smile.
I point at the Ivled with my tiny, trembling fingers. “Why can't you see it?! It's right there!!! Take it away, take it away, take it away!!!”
The Ivled chuckles at me. Silly human child. Haven't I already told you that I am you? You can't get rid of me! You already tried and failed! Haha, some lightning you turned out to be!
The nurse flinches when I start grabbing random objects in my reach and banging them on my head. She stops me right when I'm about to shatter a flower pot on my skull. I resist and continue trying to smash it on my head, but just then another nurse walks in.
“Get back up! The patient is going crazy!” The first nurse says while trying to restrain me.
“U-Uhm, okay...” The second one, looking confused and startled, rushes out of the room.
After a while, the second nurse comes back along with several doctors dressed in white.
“Help me! The Ivled just won't leave me alone! I just want to have my mind to myself! Take it out of my head!!!” I shout when I see them, still resisting the nurse holding me down.
“Ivled...?” asks a puzzled doctor.
“She claims there's something here called an Ivled that wants to 'lead her astray'. Judging by the condition she was found in, it's safe to assume that she was already mentally deranged before her brain damage.” the nurse explains.
Just then I manage to toss the nurse to the ground and leap to my feet. I glance from one doctor to the next, like a cornered beast. “If you people won't save me from the Ivled...I'll just...just run from it!” I then make my attempt to dash out of the room, but the doctors grab me and hold me down.
“What should we do with her?” asks one of the doctors.
“She's unpredictably dangerous as she is. We'll have to put her to sleep.” another doctor says, taking a syringe out of his pocket.
“W-What are you going to do to me?!” I ask as he walks over to me with the syringe.
He leans in close to me and whispers in my ear. “Don't be afraid, we're going to save you from this Ivled.” He says, then injects the syringe in my arm.
What did he do...? I'm starting to feel weak and light headed, and my vision is becoming blurred out. I can barely see anything now, but I can feel someone picking my up and carrying me back to the bed. As my eyes start to close, I can hear the doctors talking, but all I can make out of their words is 'The Institute'. Then I feel my consciousness drift away.