Stress Relief

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Or to be more specific, boredom relief. But stress relief sounds better as a title.

You see, my Sunday’s total food intake was eight Mars bars, six Snickers bars and two strawberry Bulla bars. It was only after I had finished devouring that second chocolate covered strawberry flavoured deliciousness that I realised “Oh fuck, I’m going to turn into a ball of lard by February.”

So, I applied for a volunteer writing position at a magazine. It was just a local one, but it was that type of magazine where I could write about things that I enjoyed. Such as talking about my mental problems. Well, to an extent. Anyway, the interview went a lot more optimistically than I thought it would.

It was a colourful underground studio with murals covering the walls. As soon as I entered, I knew that my mind was going to be engaged for hours looking around at everything. Damn short attention span. More people came in and we started talking more about what the magazine was about.

Basically their main categories were Music, Art, Fashion, Theatre, Social Issues, Politics, Film, you know, that stuff that your parents discourage you from getting into when it comes to career choices, because it doesn’t pay as well as say medicine, or law, or business, or drug dealing. Luckily for me, the category I was interested in, social issues, had plenty of availabilities, though I could always write for other topics if I wanted. And I start on Monday next week. It’s pretty cool.

So for once, things are looking good.

Well, with the exception of my trust issues flaring up once again. They do that. Especially when it comes to strange humans.

Seriously, why do I let myself interact with the human race? What’s it with me and throbbing emotional pain that I find so addicting? And I’m getting better for fucks sake! Supposedly.

Sigh…

For those who can’t speak Cat Madiganese, after the interview, I remained behind with another strange human to wait for the managing human of the magazine to discuss stuff. After the managing human phoned in saying that they couldn’t come in today, the strange human asked if I wanted to go get lunch.

“I already ate,” I told him. “Plus I’m poor. Lunch with me would basically be me watching you eat food.”

“Okay. Do you want to come and watch me eat food then?”

“Um, okay. Why not?” I didn’t have shit to do that day. I already did a makeup thing in the morning and I didn’t have to be home till 4 in the afternoon. Not to mention if I was going to be working amongst strange humans, I might as well get used to them.

“So I take it from the interview that you write a bit about mental health stuff?” he asked.

“Um, yeah. It’s…just something that I’ve had to deal with a lot for the past few years. Usually I just use it in fiction and things like that, but yeah.”

“What sort of stuff do you write?”

“Well…pretty random things,” I admitted. “Mainly short stories at the moment. I like psychological, philosophical stuff. Things that make me think.”

“Cool, I did a lot of that stuff in uni,” he told me.

“I thought you said you did programming at Murdoch?”

“Oh yeah, but I helped around as a lab assistant for my friend, when he was working on his thesis.”

“What was he researching?”

“Well, basically his research was looking at if it was possible to change a person’s way of thinking using electrodes and stuff like that,” the strange human informed me.

“Oh yeah, I’ve heard about that stuff. Well, I mainly looked at the ways of thinking. You know CBT?”

“Yeah, cognitive behavioural therapy.”

“Yeah, I just had a look into it. My psych gave me a few pages on thinking patterns. It’s pretty cool. Only thing is I can now see all the bad ways my friends think.”

“Yeah…self diagnosing isn’t a good thing to do though.”

“Well…technically I’m doing it to other people…but yeah, I get your point.”

“Yeah, there’s just too many people going “Oh, I’ve diagnosed myself with schizophrenia or PTSD” or whatnot. I mean, sure, maybe that’s the problem, but if that is the case then maybe you should get it checked out by, say, someone who actually knows what they’re talking about?”

I thought of the girls at school who talked about struggling with depression before sniggering about someone who had scars on her arms. “Yeah, I get what you mean,” I said sadly.

“Really? Because I just looked back on what I said and thought “Wow, what an asshole.”

I laughed. “Nah, it’s okay. You’ve got a point, some people tend to make things like this become a trend. It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s an actual illness nowadays. It’s the truth.”

“Yeah, well, I guess you’ve got a point.”

“Hey, you’re the one who said it.”

We entered the cafe, he offered me the comfy booth seat and ordered his lunch; deep friend squid, beer and cheesecake. “Want one?”

“Nah. I can have icecubes.” I slipped one in my mouth and crunched down on it.

“Oh yeah, that’s right, you’re what, sixteen?”

I stuck my tongue out at him. “Seventeen. And I don’t even like drinking anyway.”

“So you have drank?”

“Once in Europe on a cruise,” I confirmed. “But it tasted like crap.”

“You’ll probably change your mind at some point,” he said. “Everyone does. It usually comes with the knowledge that life is shit and that it’s nicer when you’re plastered.”

“Well, I’ll take your word for it. But yeah, based on everything that has happened these past few years, it’s probably better that I stay clean. I don’t wanna relapse.”

“Yeah, I guess you’ve got a point. Well, you’re smart enough to make your own decisions.”

I burst out laughing. “Yeah, no.”

“Well, you’re doing better than I did two years ago.” Strange Human took a sip of beer to prove his point.

Later on…

“Aww, why did I order cake?” Strange Human complained.

“Yeah…probably should’ve waited until you finished actual lunch before ordering dessert.”

“Hey, do I look like the sort of person that learns from life’s decisions?”

“Yeah, true.” I grinned at him cheekily.

“Hey!” He cracked up. “That’s not how this conversation’s meant to go. You were meant to reinforce the fact that I’m actually a good person and make me feel better about myself!”

“Yeah. I wanted to see your reaction though. Humans are funny.”

“Hey, you’re one of us. Get used to it.”

I shrugged.

“Now, do you want this cheesecake? It would be a shame for it to go to waste.”

“It’s okay, I’m fine for food.”

“Pleaaaaaase? Wait, let me sell you this cheesecake.” He held it up to his face and smiled seductively.

I covered my face with my hand. “Oh god, don’t,” I giggled. It didn’t help things that he looked like Byakuya Togami from Dangan Ronpa and actually could’ve passed as a cheesecake model. “C’mon! You’re taking advantage of the fact that I’m a complete idiot when it comes to laughing!”

“Everyone hates how they laugh,” he replied, still modelling with the cheesecake.

I groaned. “If I eat it, will you stop?”

“Yes please.”

“Fine.” He held out the spoon and I took it. “Meanie. Now my face is red.”

“Shush and eat.”

I stuck out my tongue.

Even later…

“Tell me something interesting about yourself.”

“…ummmmmmm.”

“C’mon. There’s gotta be something.”

“Weeeeeeeell, to be honest, most of the interesting stuff about me….also happens to be in the same sorta category as depressing stuff.”

“Oh…now I feel bad, can I give you a hug?”

“Yeah, okay.” He moved over to the booth seat and put his arm around me. Then he brought his beer over to my side of the table. “Was that just so that you could sit in the comfy seat?”

“What? Awww, I’m not that bad a human being!”

“Yeah, I know. Just teasing.”

“Meanie.” He elbowed me. Which resulted in an elbow off which lasted about ten minutes.

Finally….

“I need to go home,” I told him.

“Where do you go from here?”

“Oh, I just need to go to the bus station.”

“Cool, do you mind if I walk you? I need to go to the train station anyway.”

“Oh yeah, you live in Thornlie. Yeah…if you want.”

We paid the bill, well, he paid the bill, and we walked out. “I thought of something kinda sort of interesting,” I volunteered.

“Oh?”

“I made my ball dress for my school ball.”

“Oh nice! What does it look like?”

“I….uh….it’s…I dunno!”

“Well, I’ll probably understand the technical terms if that makes it easier.”

“Oh yeah, you’re a fashion photographer. Okay….yeah, it really doesn’t. I’m not good with…verbalising things.”

“Fair enough.”

“I’ve gotta pick it up on Monday anyway. Chances are you’ll end up seeing it anyway.”

“Cat!” A girl’s voice called out.

I waved back. “Hey Elle!”

“Hi random human!” Togami called back. I cracked up. “Who’s she?”

“Oh, she’s a friend of mine. She’s pretty nice. Her boyfriend doesn’t like me though. Not that I care.”

“Oh? Is he an ex?”

“God no.”

“Then what is he?”

“Oh, just someone who slept with my ex.”

“You’re a lesbian?”

“Nope,” I replied. He thought for a moment. “Think it through.”

“Ohhhhhhh.”

At bus stop…

“So you’re starting Monday?” Togami asked.

“Yup. Monday Wednesday and Friday, till I get assigned.”

“Well I’ll see you then.” He gave me a hug and let go. He frowned at me. “Are you single by any chance?”

“Um, yeah.” I looked down. “For a pretty good reason too. Because I’m mad.”

Togami looked at me for a moment before leaning in and kissing me on the cheek. “It was nice meeting you,” he told me.

“…thanks. You too.” I stepped onto the bus. “I’ll see you Monday,” I told him. He waved and started walking to the train station.

So that was the cause of my anxiety flare up. Because the only reason I could see a human showing interest in me in that manner was because they were Ted Bundy and they were going to rape and torture me. Or sell me into human trafficking. Or something BAD.

Goddammit.

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Shush

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“…I believe that I may be in trouble,” Daniel told me.

I looked down. “Little bit.”

“Ah.”

“Not with me though,” I told him. “Definitely not.”

“Good.” I felt him smile against my neck.

I paused. “Are you going to tell anyone?”

“Hmm….”

“Can I tell my friends?”

“Do you think they’ll approve?” he countered.

“Good point…” Then I shook my head. “Actually, I can tell Papa Willis. And probably a couple of girlfriends who know.”

“I thought those two were mutually inclusive.”

“True…very true.”

After a moment, he spoke again. “Am I allowed to tell anyone?”

“Well, if I am…who would you tell?” I asked.

His silence told me all. “You want to brag to Christan, don’t you?” I said flatly.

“…maybe.”

“Okay then.”

“…Really? You’re actually fine with that?”

“Oh, there’ll be conditions,” I told him.

“Ahh, here we are.”

“Rule one, details will be kept to a bare minimum.”

“What kind of details are we talking?”

“The…activity….habits, talents, which brings me to sounds-” he chuckled at that. “Shut it. ” I could feel myself going red. “And…that’s all I can think of.”

“Is that it?”

Something in his tone makes me nervous. “Wait, no.” I frowned. “I’m trying to eliminate any possible loophole that you can use to your advantage.” His resulting grin tickled the back of my neck again. “Let me think,” I insisted.

“How about what happens in the sanctity of the boudoir stays in the sanctity of the boudoir?” Daniel suggested.

“Immediate loophole right there,” I pointed out.

“What? It’s not like there’s anywhere else we’d…” He gives a gasp of mock horror. “My god, you utter whore.”

“Shush.” I looked over my shoulder at him and stuck my tongue out.

“Rule two?” he enquired.

“No making up things,” I said. “I don’t want to hear about some kinky shit that I apparently had done.”

“Understandable.”

“Three…well, just…no photos.”

“Rodger.”

Everything was so warm, and I quickly drifted off, into a world where my dreams weren’t going to hurt me.

It wasn’t perfect. Not like those crappy fanfictions where Bella/Ana have amazing sex on the first shot and feel zero pain whatsoever. Technically, Daniel had still been recovering from his near-death experience, so there were moments where he had to stop. And at times, I had to persuade myself to relax and to let go of my memories, so that I could replace them with, well…other memories. Better ones.

When I fell asleep in his arms, I felt safer than I had ever felt in my life. I would never claim that this moment, that this strange and wonderful thing, was a mistake.

You Love Him

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Daniel was no longer having seizures, but he was confined to bed rest until he could stand without falling back down. As I didn’t have anything to do on Friday, I decided to leave Reality to stay with him during his recovery, leaving Kaya to her own devices. For the past few days, Daniel’s room was occupying the space that was my room, another piece of Delirium occupying Reality. Only this one have me a large headache. It was helpful when I was busy and needed to check in on Daniel without blacking out, but now all it gave me was a giant pain in the neck.

On Friday, I woke up in Daniel’s chambers, and when I opened the door, I saw the ostentatious hallways that was the palace. Trusting that the time I spent in Delirium wouldn’t be too long in Reality, I spent ten days in Delirium with Daniel.

I became used to having Jhaq and Noah as companions for this duration. When Daniel was asleep, I sometimes helped Jhaq with reading. She practised often and was now able to understand some poems, though I usually had to read them first in case she decided to show them to little Ray.

I slowly learnt to trust Noah, against my better judgement. My reasoning was that he had loved Kaya and supported her after her death, and anyone who was sympathetic with a traitor must have a decent reason for doing so. Besides that, he was willing to talk of things at court, and talk about Kaya when she was a child. He was able to satisfy some of my curiosity, though he still had boundaries, just like anyone else did.

When Daniel was considered competent to work from bed, I became used to servants coming in and delivering messages to him. They no longer did double takes at the sight of me, one even bowed when they entered and encountered me sitting by Daniel’s side as he slept. I was responsible for taking messages when he was unconscious. Most of them were queries as to when he would recover, but there were some requests for him to look into something suspicious around the Lake of Ghosts after he was better. I kept that one in mind, just in case I felt like tagging along.

Daniel’s bandage was removed and replaced with a black eyepatch, like Noah had told me would happen. He complained of the strangeness of only having one eye on a regular basis, and how he wouldn’t be able to react properly now that his peripheral vision was disabled on his right. He was embarrassed about taking his eyepatch off, so he kept it on even when he was sleeping. He probably took it off when he was helped down to where the hot steam was to bathe, but according to Jhaq, he usually did that when I was catching up on rest.

I shouldn’t have been entirely surprised to see Christan raise his admittedly beautiful head again. Daniel was still bedridden, and he was asleep when Christan quietly came in.

“What are you doing here?” I demanded.

Christan put his finger to his lips as he closed the door behind him. “No one knows I’m here,” he explained.

“Should they?” My left hand started burning again, and I didn’t even care that Daniel was sleeping next to me. I would light this prick on fire if I had to, no questions asked.

“I don’t want to hurt either of you,” he told me. “I…may I sit down?”

I didn’t answer him. “As you wish,” he sighed. “I understand why you hate me so.”

I didn’t respond to that either. Daniel suddenly cried out, and I immediately grabbed his hand. “Cat,” he hissed.

“It’s alright,” I told him. “It was just a dream, that’s all Daniel.”

“Argh…” He let out a shudder and his left eye squeezed close. He was still wearing the eyepatch, the vain man.

“Relax now,” I told him. “Do you want to go back to sleep?”

“Sleep…yes…” he murmured. His eye blinked open and gazed up at me. He lifted the hand he was holding to his lips, and kissed the fingers. “You should sleep too, you know,” he told me. “You look drained.”

“I’m fine,” I insisted. “I’ll go to bed soon, I promise.”

“Good girl.” Even drowsy and exhausted, Daniel’s tone still managed to sound as dry as a bone. His hand slowly drifted down to his chest and he fell asleep once more.

I was gently removing my hand from his when Christan spoke. “Tell me about him,” Christan asked quietly.

“You’re lucky he didn’t see you,” I told him.

“Cat…I…” I turned to face him. “I want you to know that I am ashamed of what I had done. Not only what I had done to Daniel, but to you as well, most of all. You…” His face was scarlet, but he didn’t stop. “I called you a dear friend, and then I treated you like a dog. I know you can’t forgive me, but just know that I will never do anything like that again. To anyone.”

I hesitated before giving him a nod of acknowledgement. “Thankyou,” I said.

Christan tentatively walked to the end of Daniel’s bed. “Thommand would’ve banned me from coming here,” he confided in me. “He told me to act like the whole thing never happened. But that…wasn’t right. It did happen, and Daniel is proof of it.” We both watched Daniel’s sleeping face. “I’m curious,” he started.

“About what?”

“Mercy.” Christan was frowning. “Everyone knows who you are, Cat Madigan. What you’ve done hasn’t gone unnoticed.”

Here we go again. “I want to understand why some people die at your hand, while others are left alive,” he said. “Why you let me live.”

I hadn’t thought much over that, much to my surprise. I chose to spend more time considering why I killed at all, but I soon realised that he was right. “I…I don’t know.” I held my hand in front of me. The letters aren’t glowing right now, all that’s there are the dark scarlet carvings. “I…I suppose it has to do with loyalty. Of a sort,” I amended. “It has to do with my state of mind as well. In a blink of an eye, you don’t see that you have another option, you just focus on your instinct.”

“Instinct?”

I realised how awful that sounded. “It’s not always my instinct to kill,” I informed him. “But in that moment, when Daniel or I have been hurt by them…anger takes over, and I don’t see anything else.”

“What’s the difference between them and I though?”

“I think it’s the Cat Madigan,” I said. “You came to my world, remember?”

“I thought you two were the same.”

“No…” I told him sadly. “I’m weak in Reality. Daniel would tell you differently, but that’s the truth. When I’m in Reality, I can’t let many people know about your world, so I conceal my actions. So I can’t fight back in Reality, at least not with my physical body.” I remembered that day I murdered that Fury in the brothel, when I broke away completely and snapped every bone in her body. “Using…that though, is difficult. I can’t control her as easily.”

“The shadow,” he told me. “That’s your shadow.”

“I…yes…that’s what it is.” I closed my eyes. “I hate it when I come here. Every time, I feel like I’m becoming some sort of monster. I shouldn’t be able to kill like I do. But I can. I’m losing my humanity, and that means something to me.”

I knelt down on the floor beside Daniel’s bed. “He’s the only thing keeping me human,” I told Christan. “The only reason I can live with myself.”

“How did you two meet?” Christan asked. “When did this start?”

“I…was fourteen at the time. Or fifteen, I’m not sure actually. No, I was fifteen. I was being attacked. Strangled, to be exact. Then suddenly, it stopped. And he was there.”

“You must’ve been frightened.”

“Of course I was. But not of him.” I thought back. “He wasn’t like them. He didn’t make any move to touch me, and I decided he was safe.”

“He wasn’t your guardian though,” Christan pointed out.

“That was Kaya,” I confirmed. “I could see Kaya, so it made more sense that she take care of me instead of Daniel. I still saw him though, of course. He was often with Kaya. He was annoyed with me though. Like I said, I’m weak in Reality, and I had trouble fighting off the Shadows there. So he didn’t have time for me unless he needed something. He was an ass.”

He laughed at that. “He wasn’t that bad though,” I added. “A couple of times, after bad attacks, he’d stay with me and help me sleep. And then when he found out about my parents, he stayed with me all night.” I smiled slightly. “He insists that he didn’t cry, but I know that it wasn’t me. I didn’t cry in front of others, well, not when I wasn’t in physical agony.”

“Never?”

“Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration,” I admitted. “Still, I could count on one hand the number of people whom I trusted enough to cry in front of for no reason.”

“Then Kaya died,” I sighed. Well, not exactly, but I don’t tell him that. “He was devastated, you know that.” Christan nodded. “So was I. But I…” I changed my mind at the last second. “I…I managed to get past it,” I lied. “I made myself focus on helping Daniel recover. It was difficult, but I managed to do it, somehow.”

“But then, after he recovered, I started having nightmares. I kept dreaming about Kaya dying, again and again. I thought it was me though, and I knew that I was going to die.

“Then the dreams got really bad. I could feel everything she felt, from the ice beneath her feet to the sudden shock of her heart stopping. And I couldn’t take it anymore. So…” What I was confiding in him was more than I trusted to some of my close friends, but I continued anyway.

“One night, I tried to drown myself,” I said quietly. “I held my head underwater until I started dreaming. But then I realised something.”

“And that was?”

“I was the stupidest person alive,” I said. “I would let myself die because of my visions, because I was frightened of a figment of my imagination. So I got my head out of the water, somehow.”

“Daniel came immediately. He was furious at first, but I was too out of it to care, I just wanted the pain inside my head to stop. I didn’t speak to him for a few days, not really. I couldn’t speak about it to anyone. I tried to get help from my friend, and she had a panic attack. She made it clear after that incident that I shouldn’t tell her these things, even if they were killing me, because she would be hurt too. So I kept it inside, along with everything else.

“I don’t remember when I started self harming, but I hated myself for doing it. I just wanted some way to get my pain out, and that seemed like the only option. Soon after, Daniel caught me, and I expected him to be angry. Instead, he took the razor from me, and let me cry on his shoulder.” I paused. “It was good to cry,” I added. “Before, I felt so cold on the inside, and I couldn’t do anything to get rid of it.”

“Anyway, after that, Daniel changed. Before, he was saying that I was weak, though never to my face. But then he took me under his wing. He didn’t treat me like an invisible person, he explained things to me, and he took my opinions seriously. And he stopped discouraging me when it came to fighting off the shadows. In return, I stopped being timid about everything, and I warmed up to him more. And I developed more a thick skin when it came to…what happened to me.”

“He cares about you deeply,” Christan observed. “He’s devoted to you and your safety, I know he is.”

I smiled softly. “When I changed, so did Daniel,” I said. “When I opened up to him, he relaxed a lot around more around me, and he stopped being so serious.” I laughed a little. “He teased me a lot too. But it wasn’t mean hearted, like other people are. He just did it to get me to stop being a sulk.” I looked down at Daniel. “He’s not perfect. But he’s the best man I know.”

“You love him.”

That statement made my heart stop. “You do,” Christan told me. “I should’ve seen it before, but I was blind. Now I can see the truth. He has your heart.”

“No, we’re not like that!” I flashed around in horror. “No, I don’t.”

“You do,” he repeated. “If he hadn’t survived your blood, how would’ve you felt? Tell me that.”

“I believe you should leave now,” I told him coldly. “You’ve overstayed your welcome enough.”

“So you don’t deny it.”

Leave. Now.”

He closed the door behind him, and I realised I was shaking. It made no sense to me why I was shaking, and I felt anger at Christan for making me feel that way.

Romantic feelings would always be pushed to the back of my mind when it came to people. Because no one would want to love a depressive schizophrenic, particularly one who is a total fuck up. It didn’t stop me from growing attachments to people though, which may or may not contribute to my emotional instability.

My ideal ‘romance’ wasn’t the type involving mushiness and flowers and stuff. To me, it’s more simple than that. I haven’t ever fallen in love, but I think that it would happen when I finally let myself trust them inexplicably.

Hence why I have classified myself as Forever Alone. Because after everything’s that happened to me, I don’t think I can let myself trust anyone that much. Besides, they all leave in the end. People always do. The only person who has stuck by me this far has been-

Oh god no.

The One You Should Fear

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Okay…so this is what happened.

After Taste the Whip, I couldn’t remember anything. I had just woken up in Daniel’s room like nothing had happened. And Daniel acted like nothing had happened too, so I had thought that maybe nothing had happened. Like, maybe it was just a dream.

Of course, I knew better than that. But there was another part of me, a larger part, which persuaded me that to not know might be the safer option. Because what could be so bad that my mind had blocked it completely?

I had finished my shift at volunteering when I was approached. I knew it was him, even though I didn’t dare look at him. The room just became colder, as it always did when he entered.

“I would sit down if I were you,” he informed me.

“Why?”

“Because it would shock your patrons less if you fell asleep on a chair than if you fall asleep mid step,” he said smoothly.

Cautiously, I did as he said. “Make it quick, I’m needed elsewhere.”

He just laughed. And when I closed my eyes and reopened them, I was in the empty college. The same in The Rage of a Cat. “Any significant meaning to this?” I asked. “Do you want me to try and kill you again?”

“I’m not going to bother anymore,” he told me cheerfully. “I know what you are and I know what you can do.”

“Are you a coward?”

“No. It’s just that I hate dying as much as you do. Especially when one has to do it over and over again.”

I grimaced. “As if I had any choice.”

“You always do.”

Don’t look him in the eye, Daniel had always told me. Not if you want to start your slow, painful demise.

So I looked.

The left of his face was falling to pieces, the skin speckled with green mold. His blue hair was falling out and his teeth were nothing more than chipped pieces. His eyes…

Well, in his case, eye. Daniel was literal when he said that. It had no pupil, it was just a white ball rolling around in his head. Disgusting, isn’t it? a voice said merrily, and I realised his voice was now in my head.

“Get out.”

As you wish. His broken mouth spread into a giant grin. “Impressed yet?”

My hands grew hot. “Is that why you brought me here? To show off?”

“I’m here to make an offer.”

Immediately I was wary. “An offer? And what would that entail?”

“How would you like to remember what happened?” he asked. “Would you like to know why everyone doesn’t mention it?”

“I can already guess,” I told him. “I did things I wasn’t proud of, and I’ve blocked them from my head. And everyone else has the decency not to bring it up.”

He scoffed. “And you’re fine with this.”

I thought of everything I have done, everyone whose lives I’ve ended, everything I’ve destroyed. “So you’re afraid then,” he concluded. “You don’t want to remember.”

“Exactly. I am unstable as it is. To bring up repressed memories now wouldn’t be the wisest option.” I glared at him. “I would like to go back.”

“This isn’t just about your memories, Cat Madigan,” he growled suddenly. “This is about everything you don’t know. So many secrets, so much hidden knowledge. This world has many things that you don’t know.”

“So?”

“One example; Daniel.” He grinned as I flinched at the mention of him. “How much does he keep from you, Cat Madigan? This isn’t the first time he’s kept something from you, is it? And yet you trust him inexplicably.”

“Not inexplicably,” I objected.

He just smiled. “Liar,” he hissed. “Despite all these secrets, you continue to trust him. But what if he was the one you should actually fear?”

“He’s not,” I insisted.

“And how do you know that?”

“Because I am!” I growled. “I am the only person I am afraid of, and I am the one you should be fearing right now!” My hands were red hot, ready to fry him.

He just laughed. “I underestimate you, Miss Madigan,” he said to me.

I woke up immediately the words came out of his mouth. I was on the couch, and no one had noticed, so I got up and quickly left the soup kitchen.

School was just across the road, so I went across and met up with my friends. Things were good. Bad Dog was talking about her ex boyfriend (who, by the way, is an asshole, just to let you know, Bad Dog, AGAIN,) and how he said something along the lines of how talking to me was like talking to two different people, (though I’m pretty sure he’s only talked to me once).

Either way, it was weird. But it was a nice weird. The familiar weird which you don’t really care about.

Then I felt him again. “What do you want now?” I whispered.

“I’ve decided something,” he told me, his voice right next to my ear.

“And what is that?”

Something sharp pierced my neck. “You are the dangerous one.”

It was a needle.

“No…”

Suddenly, I was in hell.

Walking Away

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“The only thing determined”, my philosophy teacher told us, “is that we are all going to die.”

“Yeah…about that,” Daniel murmurs next to me. I just grimace, and try to ignore the memory of my head being smashed in.

Philosophy Club was spent discussing Liberalism and Determinism. The two basic beliefs relating to time travel. Liberalism believes in free will; our actions determine the future, reality is composed of what has happened and what is happening right now. In other words, it’s our own fault if the world blows up tomorrow. Determinism, on the other hand, messes with my head to the point that I slip into Delirium purely from the confusion. If everything is set out for us, then we don’t really have free will, meaning we don’t really think, we just follow a script which has already been written. And if that’s the case, what is the point of being a good person, if it’s in our destiny to have a happy ending? And how do we know these things? I’m now writing this in a place with red grass and trees with veins, so I’ll stop there before I slip permanently.

I didn’t have any questions during Philosophy Club. I saved them for after, when I was with Daniel.

“Are you from the future?” I asked him.

“No. Why do you ask?”

“You refuse to say anything about yourself, and everyone in Delirium has funny skin that glows in the dark.”

“I don’t have funny skin.”

“You’re…different. You don’t look like a shadow in Reality. They would though.” I thought for a moment. “Are you human?”

He laughed at that. “Seriously,” I said. “You are the only one in my head who looks normal. Ish. Why do you think I didn’t start smashing your head in when I met you?”

“I thought that was because your psychotic tendencies hadn’t surfaced yet?”

“Nah, I’ve always been this mad.” Daniel’s face is one of mock horror. “I didn’t smash anyone’s head in,” I amended. “But I thought about it. Believe me…” I crossed my arms. “We, my friend, are getting off topic.”

“Are we? Good. What’s for dinner?”

“Something gluten free and disgusting, you know that. Are you human?”

“I’m not sure…” he murmured. I frowned, waiting for him to go on. He looked up at me. “I liked the sausages,” he said. “You can’t tell them from the-”

WHACK!

“OW!”

“Give me something!”

“No!”

“Why can’t you tell me?” I yelled at him.

“Because I can’t!”

“I don’t-” I stop when I see him. His face was still, his mouth open slightly. “Daniel?”

Two hands grabbed my neck and jerked my head to the right. I heard the bones snap a second before the pain began.

My last thoughts? Not again…

I later returned to Delirium. When I woke up in Reality, I was taken to the sick bay to ‘recover’. No one was there, so I lay on the bed and dropped out. Daniel was sitting where I had died, his back to me. “Have you come up with a reason why?” I asked him.

He leapt up. “Yup. Still here.” I looked down at the ground. “Neck hurts a bit. Don’t die by breaking it. Actually, don’t die period.” I met his gaze. “You die, I die. And not just in Delirium. Not even Kaya would be able to stop me. Got it?”

Daniel just glares at me. “When was the last time you looked at me like that?” I pondered. I turned away from him and walked off.

Now, writing this, in the same space I ended up, I wonder if I meant that. Would I be able to live without Daniel?

I know if Delirium still existed, but Daniel was dead, the answer would be no. I wouldn’t be able to live on my own in a world full of monsters.

But if Delirium were to go away…

That’s something I’ve always thought about. If I had the opportunity to stop my hallucinations right then and there, would I? Would I be able to say goodbye to Daniel?

Saying goodbye, yes, I think. Maybe. I don’t know. If I were allowed one last moment with Daniel before my Delirium went away for ever…yeah. I’d be able to live with that.

What if it were more abrupt though? What if everything closed, and I never got to see Daniel again? What if this is the last time I’m in Delirium, and that’s the last I see of him, his face glaring at me as if he hated me? Maybe he does hate me. In that case, it would be okay.

I hear him coming, and I grab my books and hide. I’m high in the trees when Daniel comes into the clearing, looking for me. “Cat!” he yells. “Cat Madigan, come out here now!”

I don’t go, I just watch him. “Cat,” I flinch at his voice; he’s hurting. If I could go back in time, and change what happened; if I had killed him instead of trusting him, trusting him enough to be my closest friend, would it be easier than what I’m eventually going to have to do?

“Cat, I need to talk to you. Please, I…” His voice just trails off, and he keeps walking the other way. And I watch him go.

Faith in People…Status: Depleted.

Standard

Cat Madigan is not happy.

Neither is Daniel.

It’s not every day that you accuse non-existent readers of things, but here goes.

WHO TATTLED ON DANIEL???

Yesterday, I came home feeling a lot happier than I had been in a while. I have no idea why, but I was. Which made things even worse later that evening.

During dinner, a notepad had been left in front of where I was eating. One that my mother often used. And, one word caught my eye. HYPNOTHERAPY.

Now, I have a massive aversion to hypnotherapy. I do not like the idea of someone getting inside my head and tampering with the shit in it. Even in the name of therapy. Yes, my opinion of hypnosis may have been influenced by Alice: Madness Returns, but I hated the idea even before the video game.

I have enough trust issues as it is, and I am not comfortable with the idea of someone having the power to lock things away in my head. Nonononononono.

There was more to the note than that. One sentence made me go into full blown panic mode.

Daniel is a devise.

My mother knew about Daniel.

Or at the very least, knew of someone called Daniel who was probably causing me to need something involving hypnotherapy.

In other words, my Daniel, a figment of my imagination.

So. Who tattled on Daniel?

There’s a number of options. Unfortunately.

I’m going to guess my therapists though. Because on that note was details about someone called Mia, who works at CAMHS. Which is where I’m having with someone I’m calling Lolly.

But the thing is, my therapists remind me just about every session that everything I tell them is confidential. Unless I am of threat to myself or to others, they are not allowed to tell anyone anything. Nothing I say leaves my conversation with Lolly.

So someone has lied.

Someone who obviously thought that it was their place to tell my mother about Daniel. Meaning someone who has contact with my mother, and who I’ve trusted with information about Daniel.

They might even read what I’m writing now.

Funny…the one time I get a reader, and they’re betraying my trust.

If you’re reading this, tattletale, read till the last word.

I had never given anyone permission to tell my mother anything. Especially not about Daniel, or what I see. And whoever you are, you had no right to tell anyone anything, no matter what you had thought. I would’ve never said anything to you if I knew you’d tell my mum.

If my mother tells me to go through with the treatment, beats me, yells at me, or screams at me to force me into it, it’s you who’s to blame.