Sins

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Still alive.

Despite everything.

Even though I need to keep reminding myself of that fact.

Daniel’s still here, despite the fact his pet human is a complete and utter fuckup. We still don’t know what he is, but we don’t really care. He’s here. He made it back from the ruins of Delirium. And he’s happy, for reasons I don’t understand. He should hate me, but he doesn’t.

And I think I’m ready to talk about what happened now.

It’s been more than a year.

I’m ready to stop being pathetic.

It’s time to confess.

Speckle Eye

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She was standing in the middle of the road, right outside my house. I froze the second I saw her. What was she doing here?

It was then that our eyes met. Even in daylight they seemed to glow. It was the first time that I’d seen the deep gash on the right side of her face instead of the left, I noted. Then she started walking directly towards me at approximately the pace of a charging cheetah and before I could run, she grabbed me. “Cat Madigan?” she demanded. I nodded my head rapidly. “Good.” She released me. She was only slightly taller than me, and even then she seemed to tower over me. “What do you know about me?” she continued, becoming more and more frightening by the minute. 

“Um…” I swallowed. “You’re…Kaya, right?”

“Indeed. Now, why have you been watching me?”

“Huh? Watching-ow!” She had grabbed me by the collar of my shirt. Oddly enough, this terrifying woman was less frightening to me than the shadows were. I had probably seen too much of her life to be afraid of her by this point.

“Answer me!” she snarled. 

At that point, I decided it would be a good idea to scream out for Daniel; if Kaya was here, then chances are, he was too. Before I could though, I heard a roaring sound, and I turned to Kaya. “Get off the road!” I yelled. I wrenched myself out of her grasp, grabbed her, and pulled us back onto the side path. The asshole in the sports car zoomed past seconds later, making no attempt to slow down not only for us, but for another car pulling out of the driveway. 

I looked back at Kaya and tried not to laugh. Her eyes were bugging out of her head, her jaw hung open. No, it was more than that, she was visibly shaking. “…you okay?” I asked tentatively.

“What the FUCK was that?” she screeched. That was it. I lost it. After failing to conceal the first snort of laughter, I just doubled over, giggling helplessly. 

She looked down at me, confused and irritated. “What are you doing?” she said suspiciously.

“Your face,” I crowed. “I’m sorry, I really am, but…” I just buckled over laughing. Kaya stared at me. “It’s okay,” I reassured her. “It was just a car, they come by all the time here. Don’t worry about it-”

Don’t worry about it?!” she shrieked. “That thing tried to maul us! Just because we were in its way! Didn’t you hear it growling at us? I knew you humans were murdering bastards, but…why are you still laughing?”

Tears were streaming down my face. I suddenly had a vision of a Hungry Hungry Hippo totting down the road like Pacman. Omnomnomnomnomnom… “Oh Christ, oh god…” My stomach was starting to hurt. 

Eventually, I managed to calm down. I looked up, and saw that the anger had faded from Kaya’s face. “Okay, I’m okay now,” I informed her. “Are you okay?”

She nodded. “You, on the other hand, are insane.” 

“Uh huh.” I grinned. “Well aware of that.” Kaya was quiet again. “Do you want to come inside?” I asked. She hesitated. “It’s okay,” I reassured her. “They…the humans can’t see you here.”

“That’s why-”

“No, I mean they literally can’t see you. You’re invisible.”

“…invisible?” I nodded. I held out my hand for her to take, but she just stared at it. “Okay…” I sighed, taking it away.

She stood there. “What…did that mean?” 

“What?”

“…you offered me your hand. What did you mean by that?”

“…it’s a gesture,” I said weakly.

“What kind of gesture?”

“…friends?” I didn’t know how that would go down with her. “Forget it, I didn’t mean anything by it. I’m sorry. Do you want to come inside?”

Silence. I took this moment to look at her face. There was no cruelty in her gaze, quite the opposite; she was scared. If you took away her scars, her mutant purple eyes, there was just a scared little girl.

Suddenly, she thrusted out her hand, holding it in front of me as I had done. She looked at me expectantly. 

Without question, I placed my hand over hers, and the claws closed around it.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“Why are they screaming at eachother?” Kaya asked, as my mother and father screamed at eachother while we quietly walked past them.

I shrugged. We ducked inside my room. “You’re lucky,” I told her. “It’s one of the cleaner days.”

Inside was Daniel. “There you are,” he said, walking over to Kaya. “Everyone at Helevia is having a heart attack right now, are you aware?”

“I’m fine,” she said. “Can you let them know I’m alright?” Daniel looked confused. “I’ll return soon. Unless you’d prefer to stay here with us.” She seemed oblivious to Daniel’s lack of interest or notice of me. I flushed and turned my head.

Daniel sighed. “I’ll go back. Will you be taking care of her from now on?” For the first time, he acknowledged my existence in this room.

“What do you mean?”

“Shadows follow her. That’s why Nereida sent me here to begin with. More often than not, I have to rescue her from them. But if she’s more comfortable with you…”

He can’t wait to be away from me. “If she wishes,” Kaya said mildly. “I cannot always be here however, and you seem more adept at this than I am.”

Daniel nodded. “I’ll see you then,” he said to her. He started walking towards my door.

“Goodbye,” I said softly after him.

I hadn’t expected him to reply. “Good day, Miss Madigan,” he said absently. Then he was gone.

“You don’t like him?” Kaya questioned me.

“It’s not that,” I told her. “I’m just…well, he doesn’t really like me.”

Kaya thought for a moment. “He was glad to have saved you,” she said to me. “He just doesn’t enjoy being in this world.”

“Why?” 

“Because no one sees him.” Kaya sighed. “Everyone one in my world but Nereida sees him as an animal. And in your world, everyone treats him as though he doesn’t exist. You as well.”

Guilt swelled up in my stomach. “I don’t know what’s real anymore,” I said in a whisper. “I’m…I’m the only one who can see you; no one else can. I’m…” I looked pleadingly at Kaya. “Please tell him I’m sorry. If he wants to speak with me, I’ll come with him and talk privately. It’s just…”

“-you don’t want everyone looking at you strangely,” Kaya finished. I flushed. “No, I understand. It’s obvious how this would look to other humans. And you shouldn’t be discriminated for talking to us. I’ll advise him on this. And what you said.”

“…thanks.”

We sat there quietly. I looked up at her. “Why have I been seeing you?” I asked.

Kaya frowned. “I came to this world to ask you this as well. Nereida tells me nothing.”

“What did she tell Daniel?”

“That a special girl needed saving.” I snorted at being called ‘special’. “And if he saved her, then she’d help him find his home.”

“…what good is that going to do?”

“Why do you say that?” Kaya’s eyes narrowed.

I looked down, suddenly afraid. “No one can see you guys,” I reminded her. “Even if Nereida finds out who he is, he won’t be able to go back. Not if they can’t see him.”

“Worst case scenario, he finds out what happened to his loved ones, and gains closure,” Kaya returned.

“…what would he do then?” 

“That’s up to him.”

“…I cannot imagine a fate worse than being invisible and alone.” 

“He won’t be alone.” I looked up to find Kaya staring at me. “You and him have the same eyes, you know.”

“We do?”

“Yes.” She gazed intently, holding my chin with her hand, careful not to claw me. “Millions of little lines, multicoloured dots. Blue, green, grey, gold, brown, olive. Scattered like a cluster of stars. You both have galaxies for eyes.” She turn turned from me and stared at her reflection in the mirror. “We only have the one colour. We’re so…dead. You humans are so full of life, so dynamic. Me and my mind, we’re all monsters. Not just me. We’re not all aware of it, but we are.”

“…no. You’re really not.” I took her hand and pushed myself against her chest, wrapping my arms around her. She froze, then after a few seconds, returned the hug.

Alive

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I mechanically slipped the loop over my head, and pulled in the buckle to make it fit my neck. I walked over to the hinge on the door, and tossed the strap through the gap and over. I held the other end and gulped. Pull. 

I hoisted myself up, and clipped the end of the strap to my noose in one fell swoop. I closed my eyes. Sleep.

I was floating in space again, in the universe that I created. Dust and rock floated past me, the shadows swarmed around me. It was warm, not like Reality, which was steadily becoming colder and colder. 

Then someone shouted my name.

I woke up, struggling to breath. Of course, that was my intention. The banging coming from the other side of the door jolted me, causing my body to swing. Instinctly, I tried to regain my footing; but I was two, maybe three feet off the ground, dangling from my bag strap. 

I knew at once that I couldn’t do this to him. I couldn’t hurt him like this. I tried to unclip myself, but tugging on the strap only swung me around more, choked me more. I looked down. The lock. I attempted to reach it with my hand; bad idea. Desperately, I moved my foot to it, and pushed the lock down, and there was a click. 

Daniel barged in, slamming me and the door against the wall. I would’ve cried out at the pain if I had air to do so. When he saw me, his face twisted into a horrified expression. Immediately, he grabbed me and hoisted my body up. “How do I untie you?” he demanded. It was then that he noticed the clip. He held me up against the door, lifting me with his left arm, as he unclasped the makeshift noose with his free hand. 

He lowered me to the ground and loosened the bag strap, sliding it off. I just closed my eyes, ignoring his yells. I was too numb. Far too numb. 

Until I’d heard sobbing. I opened my eyes. Daniel was huddled over, tears streaming down his face. No… I crawled over to him, reached out to touch him.

He flinched. 

“I’m so sorry,” I whispered. “Please don’t cry. Daniel…”

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I spent the rest of the day in the hospital. Eventually they took me home, blaming it on the medication. And I locked myself in my cupboard, forbidding myself from seeing light.

I am a monster. 

I sobbed and screamed without letting out a sound. My parents knocked on the door occasionally to make sure that I was still alive, and I created a handy bulge in my bed to create the illusion that I was under the covers in case they came in.

How could I do that? Why would I even think about hurting Daniel in such a way? Not just him either. Willis, Flash, Bad Dog, Evil, Snugglepot. Fucking hell. I didn’t even deserve to be human.

Worthless, Inconsiderate, Selfish, Whore, Bitch.

Finally, I slept. It was cold, but I had slept in worse conditions than a closet. I should be back there, freezing to death. No, that’s not good enough. I need worse. I should have my head sliced off again, or get stabbed millions upon millions of times. Or I should be sent back to that brothel to be tortured. Neck snapped. Drowning, again. Throat slit. Something. Maybe all of those.

Suddenly, I was warm.  

I knew who it was. “Don’t Daniel,” I croaked. 

He ignored me. “What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?” I hissed. “Just leave me there, okay?”

He kept walking, with me in his arms. He dropped me on the bed and pulled the covers over me before walking out of my bedroom.

Promptly, I got out and walked back into the closet, closing the door behind me. Instantly, it opened, and he grabbed my arm. “Bed,” he growled.

“I’m sleeping here.”

“That’s mature of you.”

“Just leave me alone, okay?” I cried, wrenching myself free and slamming the closet door. 

It opened again. “Don’t be stupid,” he insisted. “You can sleep here.”

“You know that I can.”

“And you know that this is foolish,” he retorts.

I closed the door again. When it opened, I kicked him in the stomach, sending him flying. I immediately shut it, hearing his grunt and curse from the other side. He didn’t open the door again though.

Good.

The pain flooded through me, and I collapsed onto the closet floor, tears coming back again. I needed this. This was only a teaspoon of what Daniel must’ve been feeling like when he found me. Jesus, how many times has he found me in similar predicaments? Getting choked by a shadow. Beaten to a pulp by my mother. Lying on the bathroom floor coughing out water. Cutting my thighs with a razor. I deserve all this.

Then I heard him speak, from behind the door. “I know what you’re doing.” 

I remained silent. He sighed. “You’re feeling guilty.”

No shit Sherlock.

“And you’re trying to make me go away so that you can suffer by yourself,” Daniel continued. “Because you believe that you deserve to. But that’s wrong.”

Liar.

“Kicking me won’t make me think of you badly. Because that’s the only reason why you did it, so I’d hate you.”

I hit you in the beginning. When we first became friends.

“That’s the one thing about you. You’re so careful about everyone’s reactions that you calculate your every move. That’s why I know that you’re doing this to drive me away. Because you’re usually so deadly afraid of being violent towards someone you care about. And I know you do care. You let that slip today in the bathroom.”

I kept my mouth closed. I heard Daniel sigh. “I don’t hate you,” he told me. “I never would. I just want you to be safe…and I thought that was going to be possible without Delirium in your life. But…” His voice trailed off.

I curled into a ball on the ground, huddling under my clothes. Eventually, he spoke again. “Do you still need me?” he asked me. “Is there any reason for me to still be in your life?”

My heart lurched at the question. No was the right answer, the deadly logical side of me said. He’s part of Delirium, he doesn’t belong here. The longer you hold onto Daniel, the more you’ll be dragged away from the real world. And then you’ll never be normal. Say goodbye. NOW.

“I…” I found myself speaking for the first time since Daniel had began talking. I had to say it. Otherwise…. “I…” 

Send him away. Move on.

No.

So you’re going to be a freak that talks to herself for the rest of her life?

If he wants to leave, I’ll let him go. But he is the one person who has stood by me despite everything. And I’m not going to let pride get in the way, not this time.

“Of course I do,” I choked, sobbing again. “I…you’re….you’re the only person left that knows me for who I really am. And yet…you’re here.” I held onto the door handle and pulled myself up. “And I really don’t know why.”

The door opened and I was brought out into the light. Daniel stumbled backwards, as if he had been expecting me to be holding it back. His face was puffy and his eye was shining from tears. “But I love you,” I told him. “I know that. I know that I love you and I need you by my side, because…I want you to see me become a better person. I want you to see me be happy, and not post-breakdown-adrenaline-induced happy, but actually happy, and alive.” For the first time in what seemed like eternity, I smiled. It was an utterly broken smile, and the tears probably ruined it, but I didn’t care. “Is that…something you’d be interested in staying around for?”

Daniel stared at me before laughing weakly. “You and your moodswings,” he whispered. 

“Yours are worse.”

He laughed again. “And I’d love to. You being alive and happy sounds wonderful.”

Wonderful,” I mimicked him.

“Shush.”

I took his hand.

Addicted

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Things I have been/am not currently addicted to:

1- Delirium. Can you really blame me? It was a place where I could be strong and courageous instead of weak and useless. It gave me the opportunity to be this unstoppable force, and there was no better feeling.

2- Junk food. Then I decided that I’d hate myself even more if I was fat as well.

3- Cutting. This was back when I first tried to kill myself. I still couldn’t feel after that, and it took Daniel to make me snap out of it, another more powerful addiction.

4- Cracking my knuckles. I was even younger when I had this habit. For some reason, I always did it while playing video games. I don’t anymore.
Things I’m afraid of getting addicted to. A much longer list.

1- Prescription Medicine. Hence why I don’t take it. Probably should, but I’m too scared of the potential side effects, not to mention my negative history with St Johns Wort.

2- Sex. It’s not that I’ve got a problem with it, I just worry about the situations I could potentially get myself in because of it. And I can only think of the problems that it would cause if, for some reason, I happened to be in a relationship.

3- Not-so-Prescription Medicine. Ie, drugs. Togami mentions occasionally that one day I’ll be interested in experimenting, but right now, I’m too scared of permanently fucking up my already fucked up mental state to try.

4- Alcohol. Not likely, considering how the taste of my first drink wasn’t that good. But if I find a nice tasting alcoholic beverage, then this is likely to change.

5- Self Harm. If I am in that place where I have to mutilate my body just to gain some twisted sense of fulfilment, I’m checking myself into hospital. The end.

6- Shopping. I really don’t have that much money that I can afford to splurge it on luxuries like shoes and tea and corsets. If I’m going to be able to move out of home, I need to moderate.

7- Violence. I know that I’ve got that streak inside me. Right now, it festers as passive-agressiveness. And that’s where I want it to stay.
What I’m currently addicted to:

1- Modelling. I like people thinking that I’m beautiful. I like thinking that I’m beautiful. But I’m only capable of being that in front of a camera, and god knows for how long.

2- Friends. Mainly because if I’m by myself for too long, I’ll remember all the various reasons why I hate myself, which can contribute to why I don’t have friends in the first place.

3- Daniel. Probably the one lifeline I actually have. But what sort of life am I going to have if I can’t live without my imaginary best friend?

4- Anxiety. I thrive on those panic attacks where I can feel everything, pain and pleasure. I love to feel my heart race, to gulp down freezing cold air, right before my breathing gives out and I collapse from the feel of everything.

5- Depression. When the anxiety attack I’m hoping for just won’t come, I’ll just go lower and lower until I hit rock bottom and it hurts. Because then I’ll finally remember what better feels like.

6- Love. The scariest drug of them all.

My whole existence is a series of addictions, one after the other.

The Why-I-Hate-WordPress List

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Okay. These are the reasons I haven’t posted.

1- Writing about Delirium and Daniel is hard because emotions.

2- Writing about Delirium and Daniel is hard because memories are scrambled and I can’t find the specific dates for anything and there’s a whole block missing from ages thirteen to fourteen that I’m trying to find but can’t.

3- Whenever I write something up, it doesn’t save.

4- Whenever I write something up and it does save and I get around to posting, it decides “Hey, you know what? Fuck those extra thousand words you’ve written, I only like that single paragraph you wrote. So let’s keep that.”

5- Modelling. Which has been going well recently.

6- School. Which I really don’t feel like talking about.

7- Resume crap. Which I have nothing to show.

8- Procrastination via creepy video games. Lots of fun. Not good for sanity or schoolwork though. Or updating my blog for that matter.

9- Self destruction, through a lethal cocktail of isolation, rough unsatisfying sex and long periods of moping where I question the nature of my existence.

Aaaaaand, that’s it.

Better Than Me

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I should really stop dreaming.

Also, there was a legitimate reason for me not posting. WordPress on my iPad wasn’t working. Not to mention Year 12 is crushing my soul. 

Anyway. Flashbacks fucking suck. The end. 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 “Well? What do you think?”

I jump as the man behind me speaks suddenly. After quickly looking around for humans, I speak. “What do you mean?” 

 “I know you know,” he says flatly. 

 “About what?” 

 “About what just happened. Come on. What do you think?” 

 I turn around slowly. “Kaya…disappeared. After someone crashed into the palace, right?” 

 “…you know that someone, don’t you?” 

 “…” 

 “Who was it? Did you see them?” I can see that Daniel’s trying to keep his voice as non threatening as possible, but I can still feel the tension radiating from him. 

“…I didn’t need to,” I whisper. “There’s no one else it would be.” 

 “Who?” 

 “He killed her,” I say to him. “How could you not consider him?” 

 He’s silent for a moment. “You mean…” 

 “Yes.” 

 “But he’s in hiding. Why would he steal Kaya?” 

 “I don’t know. Because he can?” I feel drained from this conversation. Daniel’s eyes won’t leave my face, as if I’m hiding something. Which I am.

“You know what Kaya’s capable of,” I explain. “If he could control Kaya, imagine what he could do.”

It dawns on him. Even though this is more of an attempt to sway his attention away from the truth of her death, it is a genuine concern, not just for him, but for Kaya’s world. Not that I care. “You’ve got a point,” he says. “With Kaya’s body on life support, it wouldn’t take much for someone like him to reanimate her. She’d be a true weapon then.” My blood runs cold at the image of Kaya taking a step like a puppet dangling from a string, so much closer to reality than he realises. “I don’t understand why he’d leave her on the lake after killing her though,” he argues. “Why would he let the enemy take her back only to retrieve her again? As a result, we now have new information concerning Esper tech. Not to mention it would be a more effective strategy to leave us in the dark on Kaya’s status.”

“I don’t know. Maybe he’s just showing off. Showing us that he can infiltrate the castle. Putting us on edge.”

“Why not just kill us then?”

I frown. I didn’t take Daniel to be the type to not percieve this. “Obviously he wants to torture us before he kills us. It would be more fun for him that way.” I let my disgust of the monster show on my face.

Daniel just stares at me. “Since when do you know how psychos work?” he enquires.

I shake my head. “I’ve been watching monsters longer than you,” I told him. “Their insanity isn’t that hard to pick up on.”

Daniel accepts my excuse. “Still, it’s a big risk, letting us take her back. Would he really gamble the goals of the Espers for a quick thrill?” he contemplates.

“He’s not working for them,” I object too quickly. Immediately, Daniel’s face becomes suspicious again. I quickly clarify. “I think he hates them as much as he hates us,” I say. “He has no side but his own.” Just like Kaya.

Daniel watches me for a moment, and I worry that he’s picked up on what I didn’t say. For a moment, I feel guilty that I’m keeping this from him. If our roles were reversed, I’d want to know the truth. Then he speaks again. “He’s like you then,” he concludes. “No other concern except for himself. Maybe it’s not just Kaya’s viewpoint that makes you understand him.”

His words are cruel, and they sting as if he slapped me. Why was that necessary? I look away from him, gritting my teeth in silence. One thing was for certain; any pity or guilt I felt for him immediately vanished.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

That incident didn’t stay on my mind for long. Things at home were horrible, and though Daniel’s words stayed in my head long afterwards, I focused on other things.

Then he found out.

I didn’t speak to him when he appeared in my room. I never did. I always waited for him to start talking. And then he did. “Suicide,” he said flatly. 

My stomach leapt. 

“It was suicide,” he repeated. “Kaya knew she was going to die. And she did it anyway.” He stared at me, no set expression on his face. Then his eyes narrowed. “How long did you know?”

“…from the beginning,” I admitted, closing my eyes and shutting off my computer. I pushed it aside and sat up.

“Why?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“She didn’t want me to.”

“That’s not for her to decide,” he argued. “For gods sake, she was your friend too. How could you just accept this?”

I was shaking. “What could’ve I done?” I pleaded. “I couldn’t go into your world, remember? What could’ve I done to stop her?” Daniel continued to glare at me. “You don’t think I tried to stop her? After she told me, I begged her not to do this. But she ignored me, and then she was gone…” I took in a deep breath. “I knew her plan,” I admitted. “But there was only so much I could do. After she left, there was no way-“

“You could’ve told me!” he shouted. “I could’ve stopped her!”

“You would’ve. And then Kaya would been thrown in prison for conspiracy to high treason,” I retorted. 

“But that bastard would still be in jail. They would’ve released Kaya-“

“They killed her mother!” I blurted out. “And they wanted Kaya dead too, five years ago. Don’t you get it? This way, those men will die at the hands of the Espers. This is her revenge.”

“She wouldn’t give her life-“

“She would. You know that, don’t you?”

“I…” Daniel’s face was mixed with rage and despair. That’s when I figured it. He already knew that she’d give her life for this. That wasn’t the issue. It was that Kaya would throw him to the sharks too, despite everything they went through together. 

“Daniel…” The name was strange on my tongue. I had never called him by name before, and it was awkward. “I’m sorry,” I said at last. There wasn’t really anything else I could say.

Daniel quietly looked up at me. Immediately, I tensed up, already anticipating what was coming. And I was right. “Of course, it would be fine for you,” he spoke darkly. “None of this effects you. Even if Kaya’s dead. All you have to do is sit back and watch everyone die. That shouldn’t be too difficult.”

I had gotten up from my bed and had been pacing up and down my room for a while now, randomly picking up stuff from the floor, as if that would stop his words from hurting. He went on. “Nereida, Kaya, you’ve watched people die before. You’ll probably cheer when one of the Espers tears my fucking head off-“

That’s when I swung around, my fist smashing against his face. He stumbled back, caught off guard. Immediately, I backed away slightly, waiting for him to react. I just knew he’d get back at me. I knew that it was only a matter of seconds before I was lying on the ground getting the shit kicked out of me. I had no idea what possessed me to hit him.

Moments passed, and I realised that the blows I had been bracing myself for never came. Daniel just stood there, watching me, as if I was some strange beast that had escaped its cage. He once stared at Kaya the same way, in fact. “I deserved that,” he said finally. “I…shouldn’t have-“

“Shut the fuck up,” I hissed suddenly. His eyes widened. “How dare you. What do you take me for? I’m not…I’m not this twisted psycho who gets off on watching people die!” I was steadily losing control, but I didn’t give a crap. “Do you think I enjoy being able to do nothing? Do you think I’m happy to just sit there while people I care about die?! Why…” I tightened my hands into fists. “Why do you think I’d want you to die?!”

I could’ve slapped him for the incredulous look on his face. “You don’t?”

“No…” The anger quickly evaporated, and I was left trying to hold back what seemed like an endless supply of tears. “Don’t be stupid. If you died…” There’d be no one left to help me, I finished in my head. But I wouldn’t say them out loud to him. 

“…I spent the last few minutes verbally abusing you. You should hate me,” Daniel countered.

“I don’t.” I feel tired all of a sudden, and I sit down on the bed. “Kaya…was important to you too. I can understand how you feel.”

“….how do you do that?” he asked quietly. 

“…do what?” 

“Justify it. How can you allow people to do things to you that you can just sweep under the rug?”

I thought about that for a moment. It was just so…natural, that I never even questioned it until now. “It’s just…” I struggled to say, “it’s not like there aren’t more horrible people than them.”

“Like who?” Daniel retorted. “Is it even possible to hate someone who’s never done anything to you?”

“Yeah. It is.” If I looked at Daniel, I would burst into tears, so I kept my eyes firmly closed. “You were right, you know. About people who can’t do anything. Sometimes you can hate people so much just because they were involved and couldn’t, or didn’t, do anything to stop it.”

“…you mean…”

“…I’m sorry,” I said to him in a whisper. “I need to be alone.”

“You’re shaking…”

“I don’t care. Just go. Please,” I begged. 

For the first time since I had known him, Daniel did as I asked. I was finally left alone to shed the tears that I had locked in for the entire conversation. And for the rest of the night, I lay there, holding my knees and hating myself.

Next thing I knew, I was in Delirium.

Infinity

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Let me close my eyes.

When I open them again, they’re yours. But what does that mean?
_______________________________________________________________________________

“GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME!” I screamed, obliterating the Espers whose claws were digging into me. “How…much…longer…”

Neekah finally came into view. About fucking time. “So savage…

“Stop,” I hissed. “What do I have to do to make this stop? I’ll do it.”

No shame at all…

“Nope. None at all. I’ve given up,” I said flatly.

One more, my love. One more.

I closed my eyes. I had been attacked by the mangled body of my mother, a screaming Jhaq, and finally, I’d been thrown back into a war where I finally gave up and let them tear me to pieces, only to wake up hearing Emisair barking orders before I was let lose into another. I just wanted to go home, wherever that was. I wanted Daniel…And that bastard knew it.

One….more….

…of course. Who else was left?

Oh god, what was this bastard going to pull with him?

My heart throbbed. Daniel… I opened my eyes, and stared at him. “Oh…”

He lay motionless, all life drained from him. His eyes were blank and empty, as if he were a stuffed animal. Was he going to come alive like Kaya had? But surrounding him were at least a dozen Espers along with a large array of lights and screens. I didn’t know what was going to happen.

Wait.

Eyes.

Two of them.

The right side of his face was completely unscathed. It wasn’t just the fact that his eye was still there; he looked younger than I had ever seen him. But it was undoubtedly him.

The Espers started murmuring suddenly, and I watched helplessly as wires were connected to his head and needles were inserted in his skull, causing the lights to start moving in a pattern that would only make sense to them. I didn’t know what was going on, but I could only assume that this was another distorted image that he was showing me. Another ‘scene’ he was creating.

The ‘Daniel’ gave out a sigh, and the Espers began speaking directly to him. “State your name,” I heard one say.

“Mmm….” It was as if he had a frog in his throat. “Mmmah….mmmahphh…mmmahphheeeu.”

….huh?

Matthew? Before I could think any further, he spoke again. “No…..I’m…wait….Gah….Gabe? Gabriel? I…” His voice was finally becoming clearer, though the things that came out of his mouth made even less sense.

“Two of the personas have been recognised,” one of the Espers spoke. “Continue uploading.”

I didn’t know why I was paying so much attention. This was all fabrication, it wasn’t real. It was all in my head…it didn’t make sense, none of it made sense. And why did it matter that it didn’t, this was not real!

In an attempt to remove myself from the situation in front of me, I looked around to see where exactly I was in this place. As I adjusted, I figured that I was looking down on this situation. Was I in a cell then? Wait…

Slowly, I raised my head to see my hands cuffed to the ceiling in front of me. I almost automatically became overwhelmed with nausea, as I made myself check behind me. Yup. That was the case for my legs as well.

Okay…

Carefully, I let the skin on my left hand heat up once again, and after a while, the metal began bubbling into a boiling liquid. I ignored the searing hot fluid burning my skin and focused on removing my hand from the cuff. Ow. I held the hand out in front of my face and analysed it. No cuts. Giving myself a moment to recover, I placed my left hand on the right cuff.

It was then that Daniel began screaming. My eyes flashed back to the scene below me, helpless to do anything but watch as the lights went haywire and the Espers hurry to wrench the wires and cables out of his skull. “Let me go!” he snarled, spasming uncontrollably. “No! Noooooooooo-”

With a loud zap, he suddenly fell silent, and slumped. His eyes fluttered shut. One of the Espers sighed, pulling out one last wire. “Encase the brain,” they murmured. “Send the subject to Readers for examination.”

“What alterations are required?”

A pause. “Wait until it’s awake, and capable of speaking. After analysing speech patterns, see if you can close off some of the data implanted. Then analyse it’s interactions once again.”

I squeezed my eyes shut as I heard them all walk away, Daniel in tow. I couldn’t bear to see his lifeless body strung along like a puppet. “I fail to understand why this is necessary,” a remaining Esper spoke, not walking with the others. “A functioning form is all that is needed, why bother giving it a personality?”

“We’ve already established the creation process,” the same one who was giving the order replied. “However, there are Etherals who would be greatly interested in the ability to change one’s personality. Who knows? We might not have to create more subjects if they are willing to supply us with them.”

“Still, I’d hardly call the creation process ‘established’. The other creations have been giving out as of late. We may no longer have ones to spare for extra experiments such as this.”

“Alas, this one is already spoken for. If there’s no more forms for Mutations, then it is up to them to create more. However, I’m not to take responsibility for the ones who lose control when it comes to experimentation. Hmmph. If one can call it that.”

“I believe that I’d have to agree. It’s still functional, despite everything. It wouldn’t do any good to simply send it to those who are all too happy to destroy it. Especially if it gains the ability to act as a natural subject would.”

“That’s indeed what I’m hoping for. An artificial being that is capable of thinking, feeling, reacting identically to a natural being.”

“You aren’t craving companionship are you? Mayhaps you shouldn’t be here, if you’re wanting more.”

“You’re the one making jests. It’s not a habit you should retain.”

“Hmmph. Even if your experiment is successful, it’ll be used for some other task after the Etheral are satisfied with your ability. If it’s physically functional, then it can be deployed for other more important things.”

“Very well. Once the data is confirmed as the prototype for later experiments, I’ll-” The Esper was suddenly cut off as my right hand suddenly broke free of the cuff and my upper body dropped.

For a few seconds, I just hung there upside down by my ankles in silence as they stood there frozen in disbelief.

Then I raised my hand and finished them off.

As the laboratory burned, I heard footsteps behind me. “That wasn’t necessary,” he purred. I closed my eyes, and felt my tears run down my forehead. “There there…” he said soothingly, wiping my forehead with his slimy hand. “Would you like to come down?

My eyes blinked open and I glowered at him in silence. In response, his hand cracked across my face. “Fuckin’ bitch,” his voice snarled. Obviously he got bored again. “Say something’. You know the truth now, don’cha? Your darling Prince Charming isn’t even human. Cmoooooon. Gimme some reaction!”

“Don’t give me that bullshit,” I hissed through the pain. “There’s no way that this is fucking real. You’re an illusionist, this is what you do. You mess with people’s heads, you messed with Kaya’s head, you messed with Nereida’s head!”

Urrrrrgh…god you’re dense,” he groaned dramatically. “Jeez, aren’t you meant to be the open minded one?” He shook his head and immediately, I felt myself falling to the ground. Instinctively, I braced my hands for impact and pushed against the cold metal floor so that I could roll safely onto its surface. “Very well. Why is it so difficult to believe Nereida and Daniel? Yes, yes, those weren’t their present forms, I believe that’s abundantly clear. But why does that mean that it’s not them?

Before I could object, he lifted me up off the ground and onto my feet. “Consider me an illusionist with a cause,” he said. “Both you and Kaya searched for the truth, and that’s what I’m giving you. It’s merely that you’re denying that it’s real because it’s something only you can see.” He chuckled darkly, his rotting face contorting into a strange grin. “That’s a bit rich, when you think about it. Why is what I’m showing you different from the entirety of my world to you?

I clenched my teeth. His words were all too familiar. How many times had I used that argument? Just because someone else can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Pain, love, knowledge… It’s amazing how people can completely ignore the things they can’t, or even refuse to, understand. Even though I was forced to admit that the world in my head was essentially a hallucination, I never ignored it, because it was just as real as the world I was born into. And so was this experience he had dragged me into. Why should I deny that his word was truth?

I found a valid argument. “Stop trying to confuse me,” I said. “The experience with you, Nereida and I had never happened. I don’t know whether or not that’s how Nereida felt, but that definitely never happened. That wasn’t reality. Also…there’s no way that you would’ve known about Daniel’s life when he was imprisoned. Because they didn’t upload him to the network. He was considered unsuitable for experiments.” I pushed the memory of Daniel hooked up to those computer-like mechanisms out of my head. “And in the real world, you wouldn’t be allowed to set foot in the facility. So…wouldn’t that experience be purely based on your interpretation? Considering of course you’re not making that up…right?” I felt so drained by this argument. I was still trying to make sense of everything happening around me. The only thing I was clinging to right now was the fact that this was all something that he implanted in my head, a figment of my imagination. Because if this was another Delirium, then what the hell was happening to my head?

After a while, he spoke again. He sounded normal, well, as normal as he could’ve been. “Do you wish for an explanation?” he asked me. There was nothing hidden in his voice.

“…yes.”

He turned around and walked toward the hallway, toward more laboratories. It was then that I realised that this room was on fire. “Follow me.

I couldn’t allow myself to put my trust into this madman, no matter how normal he seemed now. But still…curiosity drove me to follow him into the darkness.

At last, we came to a door. “Ready?

I nodded faintly. He opened it and stepped inside, beckoning for me to follow. I stepped inside, and took it all in.

It was a playroom. More specifically, my playroom. I recognised the pink paint and the stickers covering the walls. “Why have you taken me….”

I was cut off by the sight of Kaya’s corpse lying on the ground, along with the body of a girl with long brown hair and hollow green eyes. My eyes. And next to them was…

“There’s…two of you?” I croaked.

Quiet now. Do you want to know how you were created or not?” Neekah asked, the one who lead me here.

“I…thought you were explaining how this was real.”

I am. You’re just being impatient.

“I think I have that right.” I approached my body and felt for a pulse. Nothing. Suddenly, something clicked in my head. Slowly, I turned my head toward Kaya’s body, toward the familiar, whirring sound coming from the life saving device inside her. “…oh.”

Are you beginning to realise?”

“…I don’t know. I…think I can gather how I ended up in Delirium though…and maybe something else. Assuming this is true, of course.” I looked at the second Neekah. “What are you planning to do here?”

He laughed in response. This one was still insane. “Very well…Miss Blackrim here has kindly followed me home, you see. Gave your lot quite a shock, you know. Anyway…she needs to go back, to do a little job for me. However, she can’t go back as the poison dragon with the poisonous tongue, you see. She needs to go back as a sweetling, an innocent child for them to corrupt. But not just any sweetling. A sweetling that has all their secrets, too dangerous to live, alas, there’s no way for her to die.” He gave me a bright smile that sent chills down my smile. “Let us make it a human sweetling, just so that it can pose as one of many who have come here by accident. A human sweetling that a lonely freak can keep as a pet.” It was then that he raised a sharpened sword and swung it down on Kaya’s hand. And then the other. “We must keep this though,” he said, rolling her onto her back. I took in the sight of the disc and flinched. “For a pretty, innocent and mysterious sweetling isn’t going to get off so easily with them. They’ll kill her again and again in order to get their fill.

In the span of a second, he raised his sword and swung it down on Kaya’s long neck. A black, murky fluid flooded out onto the floor, painting her face and hair. My stomach flipped and my head started spinning. And then he walked over to the girl who looked like me. I turned my head, not willing to watch him brutalise what I believed to be my corpse. “You should be thankful for all the effort I went to, in order to create an exact likeness of you,” Neekah said to me, the original one. “They’ll consider your hands, your feet and your face, but not much else. Though rest assured, your personal attributes shall be accounted for.” He walked away from me, towards my twin and kneeled down next to her. “Do you want anything adjusted? But your skin is already so silky…and your hair…” To my horror, he lifted up the girl’s freshly severed head and held it close to him. He started whispering words I couldn’t understand, as if he was soothing her. Blood spilled out onto his hands, and he stared at it, as if he was seeing the sun for the first time. Then he spoke again. “Just like a rose…” he sighed, taking a finger to his lips.

Hey!” the other man snapped, swinging his sword up, getting ready to drive into the madman holding my head. “That blood belongs to the freak with two heads! Give it back!

I started shaking then. Another time, another place, I ended up dead so that I could exist in a world I didn’t belong in. It wasn’t me though; but it could’ve been. They might’ve chosen me to get cut up, so another version of myself could travel to another world, another Delirium. I raised my trembling hands to my face, seeing nothing but blood. In another world, I was kidnapped and slaughtered like a pig. Maybe I didn’t even know Delirium existed. Why….

“Why?” I croaked. “Why did I have to exist here? Why…why did you have to kill her…so that I could live?”

Don’t feel so important,” Neekah told me, skilfully dodging his doppleganger’s swings. “You’re not the only one who gets to live. In an infinite amount of worlds, there is a Cat Madigan split between two worlds, choosing between the world she was born in and the world that only exists in her head. And in an infinite amount of worlds, there’s a Cat Madigan who is taken in order to play her part in a very important project. And in an infinite amount of worlds, that project ends up failing.” When Neekah looks up at me, I see no madness anymore. Only hard determination. “That’s your role in this. I want you to bring about a world where we succeed. And if you can do that, then you can return to your world for good. Isn’t that what you want?

It took a while to sink in, the words return to your world for good. At first, my mind was overcome with the knowledge that my existence in Delirium was the result of murdering another Cat Madigan; maybe even one who never was Cat Madigan. Maybe she had grown up without Kaya, without Daniel, until one day, she had an encounter with a corpse like man that would result in her death at his hands. And that could’ve just been easily been me.

And then it hit me. Delirium could stop. I didn’t have to have blackouts ever again. The hallucinations could stop, the dying could stop, the bloodshed could stop.

…Kaya could stop.

……so could Daniel.

Was that what I wanted?

I was so absorbed with this that I didn’t notice that Neekah had managed to come in close to my face. “Well?” he said, chuckling as I leapt back.

I straightened up and inhaled. “Tell me more about the project,” I ordered him. “I’m not agreeing,” I said, as he started grinning hungrily. “I doubt that you’d let me go unless I listened to what your purpose was. But if this is the only chance I have of returning to normal…then I have no choice but to take it.” My voice became a whisper.

As you wish…but we might want to go elsewhere.” He indicated his alter ego, and I realised with a shock that he was on the ground with a sword in his back. “Any requests, ma cherie?

“…I have one.”

I am all ears.

“…take me to your world,” I told him. “Take me to the world inside your head. Show me what the world looks like to you.”
_______________________________________________________________________________

The world that he envisioned…

It’s before me now, an endless abyss, nothing but shadows.

I shaped this world. Creator, destroyer, it depends on the teller. As my friend once said, history is written by the victors, or in this case, survivors.

What do you think when you’re here? Are you proud of me? Angry? Not that I care. You were once so important to me. However, I don’t know anymore if I was just another pawn in your mind games.

It doesn’t matter though. You’re gone now. Erased from existence, sealed away, I wouldn’t know. But there’s still the mystery of how I can see things from your eyes, despite everything.