Infinity

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Let me close my eyes.

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

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The Moment When My Mind Is Free

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Internet’s out again. Anyhoo….enjoy my quick update on my state of mind in Reality, which actually isn’t too bad at the moment.
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As soon as I entered my room I burst into tears. Then I saw Daniel standing at the head of my bed. “Daniel,” I croaked. I had no idea whether or not he could hear me or not, but I was at the point where I no longer cared. “I’m done with Reality,” I told him. My legs buckled under me, and part of me hoped that my head would hit the edge of my bed, and the blow would knock me out permanently.

Daniel caught me before that would happen though. He said something that I couldn’t hear and lifted me up. “I can’t hear you,” I sobbed, as he placed me on my bed. A second later, he was lying beside me, gripping me tight against his chest. “Not only do I feel like I’m dying on the inside, but I’m losing you too.” I gasped for air, trying to stay in control, and failing miserably. I don’t know whether or not he was speaking at all, but he was holding me tightly in his arms and that’s all I cared about. “Don’t leave,” I pleaded. “Don’t leave me alone with my madness…please…”

I felt his mouth graze my temple, and his hand rested on my head. I awoke several times that night with headaches which weighed a tonne and emotions that wouldn’t stop spinning, and Daniel, no matter how many times I lied and said I was fine so that he could go home, was always there. I remember that when I was crying myself to sleep, I was apologising to him again and again. I was so sorry for being a nutcase.
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Then I woke up feeling better.

But I knew I couldn’t take those pills again.

So I didn’t take them. Mum was angry, but I didn’t care, I was too numb to. I had experienced three days of utter misery in a row and I didn’t want to spend any more like that. Not even if it stopped my horrible emotions, not even if it managed to stop Delirium. For fucks sake, they weren’t even for Delirium, how could they be when I hadn’t even told mum about it? They were for depression, but all they did was store everything inside until it would all bubble over and HURT LIKE FUCKING HELL.

School was still distracting. My head was still fuzzy and I couldn’t think when it came to creative subjects like Lit and Textiles. Some deluded part of me thought that maybe the ‘medication’ was a trick, a conspiracy in to rid me of my creative powers. I quickly laughed it off though. It would soon return, my imagination, I hoped. If not, I would smash the bottle of pills in Mum’s face.

Maths was good. I had been moved down from 3A/B to 2C/D and we were doing the work that we were working on in 3A/B, only it was far easier to understand. For the first time in forever, I got through my work. In my head, I was thinking I can actually do this. I’m intelligent!….well, I wouldn’t go that far, but I’m getting it!

I was only vaguely aware of a low, familiar chuckle from behind me, and it took me two periods later to realise what exactly it meant.

I went straight to the library at lunch, and I entered the little corner room to find him. “I heard you,” I panted. “I can hear you….can I?”

Daniel hesitated. “I hope so,” he said finally.

“Oh thank god.” I threw my arms around him and just laughed for pure relief. I had this huge, stupid smile on my face and when I saw Daniel’s look of amusement, I felt slightly sheepish. “I’m sorry I’m an idiot. Last night I was probably incredibly emotionally unstable-yes, even more than usual,” I told him, making him laugh. “I thought that you were fading and that you were going to vanish, and I was scared because I thought I was going mad in my head- well, that’s not so different- but I was afraid I’d never see you again and-”

“Shhhh,” Daniel told me, before he kissed me. To my surprise, there were tears running down his face.

“Don’t cry,” I murmured after a while. “Only I cry. I’m the crybaby out of us two.”

“I’m allowed to cry, I’m a big boy,” he replied. “And I love you.”

…wait, what?

I looked back at him, eyes wide. Boys had said this to me before; Podge had, and one bad relationship years ago had also used that phrase as a way to try and coax me into unwanted activities. I believed Podge’s one though, even though I knew deep down that eventually he’d change his mind and move onto someone else. Daniel wasn’t like that, but still…

Not for the first time, I felt that rush of fear you get deep inside you, telling you that one day, the person you cared about the most would decide that he was wrong about you and leave alone in the world with nothing but a shattered heart and an ego beyond repair.

Damn anxiety.

“I…really can’t imagine why,” I finally replied weakly.

“You’ll figure it out,” he said cheerfully. “One day.”

And then my friends came in and we had to shut up.
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I had a Youth Reference Group meeting that evening, and after hanging out with Flash, Slenderman and Lady Delamore for an hour or two, I got on the train and headed there. That was where I learnt about the training session that Black Dog Institute would be holding.

It was training to become a Youth Presenter. Basically, if I got the job, I would go out to schools and talk about depression and anxiety. Initially, I decided that as someone with an aversion to speaking in front of people, I’d have to give it a pass.

However, as the meeting went on, I found myself more and more opinionated about things. We were discussing the idea of using a new statement to use for the logo.

“I don’t like this one,” I said flatly.

“How so?”

Where depression and youth suicide stops. It sounds too…authoritative.”

“It is what the organisation aims to do though,” the group coordinator pointed out.

“Maybe so, but it sounds like…like they want to eradicate it. I mean…” I inhaled. “To me, it sounds like that if I went there, they wouldn’t be so much helping me with my problems as much as…forcing me to stop feeling this way. It’s as if they’re telling me outright that how I’m feeling is a bad thing, and because of that, I’d feel reluctant to go there, if all they’re going to do is tell me that.”

“It does make you feel a bit ashamed,” Miss J agreed. She was a blonde twenty four year old woman who looked a lot younger than twenty four. “In fact, it nearly reminds me of those church groups that go around attacking homosexuality. I immediately feel as if I’m going to be attacked for feeling like this.”

We discussed it further, and before I knew it, the meeting was over. Miss J, on the way out, told me that I did well.

I thought about the training a bit more on the way home. Talking in front of people, after that meeting, didn’t seem so bad. I figured that although I suffered when it came to reading out lectures in class, my aversion to speaking aloud didn’t apply to things that I cared about. I could hold my own in an argument, providing that I was deeply interested and engaged in the topic at hand. And telling people my story, and how, no matter how bad things get, or how many mistakes you make, you could still rise above everything and keep moving, felt like something I really wanted to do.

That’s what I want to do in Reality, providing that Delirium doesn’t kill me. I want to learn how to help people through invisible illnesses that no one else can see. I want to teach people that depression and anxiety can’t be fixed instantly with a pill or a shot, and that the best thing that someone can do for someone feeling like this is to listen, and to let them know that you’re there. There’s so many things I want to be able to say. Maybe this training will be a good start for me.

I know I have my own demons. I know that I have days where I can barely function because of them. But I understand now that this doesn’t make me the psychotic freak that my family makes me out to be. And just because they can’t accept that I’m not like them doesn’t mean that everyone else is the same. Some may even understand, there are already ones who do.

Maybe I can never get rid of it, this mad world in my head. Maybe my demons will be with me for the rest of my life. Then again, if I lost them, I’d lose my only angel too.

My goal is not to get rid of Delirium. If it ends, so be it. But I intend to make my way through both of these mad, twisted worlds, and be able to smile at the demons and hypocrites within.

One day I’ll get there. And none of you can tell me that I can’t.