Surrounded by dark, entrapped by his own mind, he’s struggling to understand what brought him to this point. He used to have a name, a family, a home, friends.
Now he has a number tattooed across his soul (its copy on his blouse). He has time. To think, remember, analyze and interpret. He’s a student of the University of the Past, but he keeps failing freshmen year.
He doesn’t know, doesn’t understand, can’t comprehend- how he allowed himself, justified to himself such disgusting, unimaginable things. He closes his eyes.
Blood. Everywhere around him. On him. On the knife in his hand. Blood. An imprint on the core of his being, but not his – never his.
Theirs. Always only theirs. He closes his eyes. Tries to recall a smile of the past. One of hope, happiness, bliss. All he can see is a sad grimace, eyes filled with disbelief and fear, and a plea.
And then everything goes black. When he comes to, everything is red again. Red, marked the ending of a lifestyle.
He had no choice.
There’s always a choice.
The never-ending conflict. It is what it is.
Three lives. Three, someone’s most worthy, most important lives. And the end. A thread he cut. Bottomless anger and the darkness that follows.
His father’s hunting knife and his victim’s hopelessness.
Waking up in red and four lives that ended. His life with no perspective, fear in the eyes of his loved ones – the infirmity of his mother and his father’s shame. He let them down. He let himself down.
Why, why, why, why.
Behavioral disorder. Depression. A compulsive need for aggressive discharge. All of that hidden inside of him. Deep, deep down.
He didn’t know. Nobody knew. A spirit of the devil himself, inside of plain old him.
And then, a snap and four lost lives. He learns about them.
The three strangers.
He watches the daughter of the shortest of them and realizes that she has her father’s eyes-the exact shape and color. He closes his eyes and sees another pair of those eyes, older, blurred, irises dilated by fear, begging.
Asking: why, why, why, why.
A tragedy, says the press.
He doesn’t look at the stranger’s families anymore. He’s the one afraid now.
Her eyes haunt him. He dreams of them. Always curious. And then -the realization.
He is a beast. A monster. And something changes in them. They stare with contempt, hate sprinkled with fear. He learns of them. Understands they didn’t deserve it. That nobody deserved that.
He learns about them, gets to know himself.
He’s the one. The one everyone observes. Hateful eyes and a lawyer who can’t convince himself to do his job.
Ha. A lawyer with ethics.
But apparently, you don’t need a big moral compass to refuse to defend a monster. There is no death penalty. There is no salvation. Only walls and a try to remember.
But the memory keeps slipping away.
What made him do it. Why him. A good guy. Nice. Not too happy, not too unhappy. Him – the mediocrity of mediocrity. An average freak of the modern world. A ludicrous creation of a higher power.
He’s the chosen one. Special. Created to be the Egyptian Apophis, the vile snake always seeking the darkness. Created so that he doesn’t know and can’t, doesn’t know how even though he wants, to conquer the abyss within and the tendencies for the wicked. Him. An inconceivable concept. A monster in a pretty frame. Unnoticeable. Invisible. And now, known everywhere.
He remembers the childhood stories. Tales created to teach a lesson. He thinks he is the bogeyman now, used to scare the little ones.
He can’t blame them. He’s the one. He’s everything they say and more. And he knows it. He’s aware. But then again, he’s not.
The world is a fog. He can’t see his own hands. He does see his future. He sees four walls. And he’s happy. Insanely happy. This is him. And he should be punished. Whipped, until his red replaces theirs. Marked, labeled, rejected. In that order.
There’s no sympathy even when he whines. They’re right. He doesn’t deserve it.
Neither did they.
They’re making them into martyrs, as it usually is. All the evil of our people is overcome by death. He’s stomped on. And it hurts. But it hurts nicely. It should hurt. That’s the only thing that fills the void. Better than nothing.
Time passes. A court room. A jury. A new, freshly appointed lawyer. This one also can’t make himself look at him. The prosecution seeks the highest punishment. No objections. He’s silent. He stares at the floor. Stares at his lace-less shoes. Stares anywhere but the empty seats behind him.
Nobody came. Nobody actually cares. Only him, the lawyers, the jury and the press.
The world cares. They’re seeking a conviction for the merciless giant. For the fairytale dragon of the real world.
He closes his eyes. Wherever the road takes me. Surrender. I’m guilty. And silence. His cuffed hands. Three guards around him. Three. Such a strange number. A destined one.
Then again, four walls, not three.
He stares at a single spot. Draws constellations in his head. The rattle of keys. Lunch set under the door. Thirty three years in solitary and the same number in communal area.
He chews reflexively, keeping himself alive. Three is a symbolic, strange number. An empty tray. There was something on it before. He returns to his wall. Another key rattle, a fear-filled look in his direction and loneliness.
A second later, a few hours, a few days, a few months and years later, the light goes out.
He closes his eyes. Dreams of curious, scared, scornful ones. The light is back. Morning check. He’s awake and the cycle can start again. Thought, agony, staring, darkness. No end in sight. Only the abyss.
Panic overwhelms him. His palms sweat. The guard enters and he snaps.
Him, in all his glory.