Strangers in Delirium

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I’m used to people shouting at me when I wake up.

Today, it was Daniel.

Everything was blurry when I opened my eyes. “Where am I Daniel?”

He didn’t say anything, but he held my hand reassuringly until my sight returned. My other senses returned, one by one. This is what I took in; the walls were made of stone, but they weren’t threatening like a prison cell. It was warm, and it smelt of pine; Daniel must’ve put pine nuts in the fire. This wasn’t a hard bench I lay on, instead, all I could feel was soft, smooth sheets.

Then I realised we weren’t alone.

I could feel the eyes on me, and I rolled over to see them. They all flinched when I looked at them. “Am I really that hideous?” I said dryly.

“Humans,” Daniel said, as if that explained everything.

I recognised the little girl peeping through the crowd. “I know her,” I whispered to Daniel. “Her name’s Ray, right?”

He nodded once, and in that moment, the girl dashed through the people to him. He picked her up and squeezed her quickly. “My goddaughter,” he told me, before popping her on the bed beside me.

“Hello…” Daniel, this is not a good idea, there is a difference from a child from Reality and a child from Delirium. I don’t want her to start screaming, I’m a freak as it is!

But, to my surprise, the girl smiled at me and sat next to me on Daniel’s bed. Her presence managed to calm me in front of all the nosy strangers; out of all of them, she was the most ‘human’ looking. It didn’t stop me from recoiling from the others.

Daniel, as if hearing my silent plea, spoke up. “She isn’t on show. Either state your business or leave.”

The majority left, though a couple had legitimate reasons to speak with Daniel. That didn’t stop them from taking a second glance at me anyway. While they spoke, I looked at Ray. She was barely three years old, from what I saw. Her hair was golden and silky looking, but it was her eyes that were the most comforting. They were plain, green, human eyes. Nothing more. She smelt of roses and cream, and when she hugged me, I didn’t resist. After they left, I asked Daniel why I was here.

“Why are you ever here?” was his response.

I just ignored him. We sat in silence for a while, until he just talked to himself. “Things are mad at the moment. The Highest wants a party, I’m sad to say. In times like this…”

I was silent. There’s a great deal that can be said in silence and stillness. It’s so unnatural, that people automatically know that there is something wrong. Daniel stopped and sat down next to me. “What happened?”

I shut my eyes.

“What,” he pronounced. “Happened.”

I made a little movement with my hand and he was quick to realise. “Who did it?” he demanded.

“They’re all shadows to me,” I said softly. I felt as if the warmth from the room had returned to the fire, leaving me in the cold.

Suddenly, Daniel snatched me up in his arms and held me close against him. “Daniel…” I objected.

“Why…” he was saying over and over. It was alarming, Daniel had never done that.

When he released me, the girl had vanished, and I felt exhausted. I lay down on the bed and told Daniel, “I don’t feel like going back to Reality yet. I just need to sleep.”

He nodded.

“But I can’t.”

“Nightmares?”

I nodded.

“They can’t get you here.”

“Because they’re afraid of you.”

“I won’t go.”

“Please don’t,” I tell him.

Daniel sat next to me; I’m now used to him being with me when I struggle sleeping. I closed my eyes. “Why?” he murmured again.

You should be teasing me. Why are you being kind? “Why?” I agreed.

Letters On My Arm

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“Cat!”

I leap out of my head. “How long?” I pant.

Daniel shakes his head. “I’m not sure, I only just-”

“Where are they?” I look around, and I speak quickly. “I had a knife, they were coming at me, I, I think I got one…”

Daniel’s gone quiet. “Where is he?”

I point across from us. There’s a big heap of black on the ground, almost like slime. The knife is lying on top of it, black and red on it both. I can remember now; after I ran him through with the blade, the others got behind me. The knife was in him, I was too slow to take it out in time.

“What do you remember from Delirium?” Daniel asks.

I shake my head. “It’s a blur,” I say. “Which means nothing happened.”

“Nothing happened in Delirium,” Daniel says slowly. “But in Reality…” He shows me my bedroom. It’s a mess as usual, but if you look closely, you can see things. Things that were on my bed are now spilled over the floor. Shoes are in random places, no two matching shoes are together.

I open the window, and the mass of black is sucked out. Daniel and I watch it float away, into the world of Reality. After a while, he speaks to me. “Your hand…”

I look at them, and I see it; the red smudge on it, originating from one thin line across my finger. “How did-”

Then I remember again. A knife, no a sword, slashes at me, cutting my hand as I hold it out, as feeble protection. “How did it only get one finger?” I whisper. It’s one singular cut, two centimetres long at most. “Are they gone Daniel?”

He nods. He’s unusually silent, and I’m beginning to panic and wonder what on earth he’s thinking when I see the red marks on my arm.

F R E A K.

“No…”

“Cat…” Daniel warns.

“No!” I crumple. “I didn’t…I didn’t…”

“Listen Cat listen-”

“I promised!” I’m in tears. “I can’t…”

“Cat, they’re not cuts!”

“What?”

He holds my arm in front of me, and I flinch away. “Look Cat,” he whispers.

Reluctantly, I turn my head back. The letters are angry red, but they aren’t dripping. “Scratches, not cuts,” he says soothingly. “It’s not that bad.”

I give him a look. “I know,” he says, “it’s bad, but scratches fade, scratches don’t leave scars. You didn’t self harm.”

“Didn’t I?”

“Scratches don’t count.”

“What about beating yourself with a bar?” I retort. “That doesn’t scar either.”

His eyes are full of sorrow. They’re grey today, because my room is blue. “I’m sorry,” he says softly. “You need rest.”

I lie down, and he sits next to me. “You could be doing this,” I say quietly. “You could’ve sent those things on me, and I wouldn’t know.”

He takes off his jacket and shows me his own arm. A gash is on his left index finger, bleeding softly. And lower, F R E A and K are on his arm as bright as blood.

“How many scars of mine do you have?” I whisper.

He shows me his leg, with lines running down it. He shows me the lash marks on my arms, from long ago. “There’s even older ones,” he tells me. “D’you want to go there?”

I shake my head. Mummy, I’m bleeding! Mummy, I’m bleeding! “Stop.”

The Truth about HER

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I’ve mentioned her once on this thing, vaguely.

I knew I would have to mention her eventually. It’s just that I had always thought it wouldn’t have to be until later. A LOT later.

Say…maybe on my deathbed.

Alright then…

I’ve talked about Daniel a lot. He was the first Delusion which I sort of trusted. And now, he’s almost the equivalent of a guardian angel, in a way. He protects me from my own mind.

The thing is, he wasn’t always my guardian angel.

The one who was, I met a while after I met Daniel, but I had known her before that. She was more monster than angel though. She was a freak of nature, just like me.

She was once ordinary, she lived in the world of Delirium, I’ve seen her as a child. Then she was taken, I saw that happen too. It was worse than anything I had ever seen at that time.

I’ve seen her life. I watched how people ripped into her, poisoned her. She was changed after that, completely. Her eyes were a bright, violent purple, and her hair had gone silver. And she couldn’t cry, because her tears scorched her skin, and left burns.

She managed to stand it somehow though. I watch this happen, even feel it happen, and I’m slowly losing it. It hurts, and I don’t know how the hell she stood it. She stood it long enough to escape; when they were finally going to put her out of her misery, she decided to defy them.

She ran. Or rather, flew. And she had taken Daniel with her.

And then I met her myself.

Kaya was the one who stopped them from killing me, the ones who would choke me during the night. She couldn’t feel anything anymore, so she took the bullet, sometimes literally. She never died, whatever they did to her, it made her just about indestructible.

She wasn’t always there though. I saw her in my Delirium, enduring everything that came her way. She rarely cried, because the scars on her face attracted even more attention. It was difficult though. When we saw her friend die, her face was on fire once again. Towards the end, I always saw her with tears streaming down her face. Kaya no longer cared about scars.

Around the time she died, she had been helping me cope with the things I saw. I told Kaya how I could see her in Delirium, and how I had unwanted visitors come to me at night, when she couldn’t be there. She wouldn’t tell me who they were though, or what my Delirium was. She and Daniel were strict on that, Daniel still is. But she made up for it. Kaya was teaching me to protect my mind from them, and for practise, she made Daniel attack me.

I hated him for it. I was horrible at it, and I always ended up in tears. Daniel, for a lack of a better term, was pissed at me. He kept calling me a baby, and I probably was. When Kaya was around, he held his tongue though. Kaya later told me when he wasn’t there that his philosophy was that only pain can make you stronger, and truth be told, it was hers too. I understood, but it didn’t mean I liked it.

The only time I saw Daniel cry was when Kaya died. And I, the baby, was the only one there to help him after it happened.

Neither of us know truly how it happened. But I’ve seen it happen over and over in my head, it makes no sense why I don’t know what happened. Daniel has one theory. When someone goes through all that pain, it has to go somewhere, so what happens when expressing it leaves burns on your face? It would build up.

Kaya would have all that pain inside her, and no way to express it.

But I disagree. There are more ways to express pain than crying. Anger is one example. And physical pain becomes durable over time. Burning her face as many times as she did, she wouldn’t be able to feel anything anymore. She’d express pain without enduring it again. When you think of it that way, Daniel’s theory makes no sense.

Kaya is the reason I choose to endure this…whatever this is. I want to stay alive, no matter the cost. Daniel no longer calls me a baby; he’s my protector, like she was. He even appears to care for me. I don’t know why he does it, but I’m glad he does. I wouldn’t be able to deal with this without him, just like I couldn’t live without Kaya.

Neither of us know what happened, but we will someday. I trust of her that much.