Flash Fiction Friday came up with a prompt that broke through my mental log jam, hope they don't mind I jumped in. I'll admit I went over the 1500 word limit just a tiny bit.)
I stepped out into the frigged cold, instinctively I cowered into the depth of my heavy coat, shoving bare hands deep into its pockets. Walking along Liberty Avenue in the blowing snow, I did my best to keep my head down to avoid eye contact with any other fool unlucky enough to be outside in this weather. I did not want them to see the guilt and insanity in my eyes. Even worse, I did not want the blood of another innocent person spilled because I could not control the rage inside me.
As I walked down the sidewalk, I could feel my toes becoming numb as the snow seeped into my shoes giving me something to focus on other than the note my right hand gripped inside the coat pocket with a surreal desperation. On the note, the address to yet another psychiatrist who I hoped would believe me as I described the nightmares that terrorized me at night and how during the day I could feel something growing inside me, slowly enveloping my soul. I deserved to be put down like some rabid dog because of the things I have done, or at least locked in some cell for the rest of my life but I couldn’t get any of the doctors to believe me. To them I was just another statistic, a number they would throw a bottle of pills at and send away. If I weren’t such a coward, I would turn myself over to the police, or even better, jump off the nearby Roberto Clemente Bridge and into the icy river below.
After what seemed like hours of walking through the freezing cold, I arrived in front of the downtown Pittsburgh office building where Dr. Benjamin Knox had his office. As my last refuge of hope it wasn’t much to look at outside, it was a typical steel and glass skyscraper, the dark gray color of the building a depressing match to the cold sky. Stepping inside the lobby I found it as Spartan as the outside with only an empty reception desk situated between two sets of elevators to offer any evidence of human occupancy. Echoes of my footsteps bounced off the walls giving the impression of a haunted tomb. Looking around I noticed the lobby was even missing a directory listing the offices and what floors they were located, something that only added to the ghostly feel of the place. Luckily, my note told me where to go and I scrambled inside the opening elevator to get away from the engulfing emptiness.
As the elevator doors opened, I saw directly inside Dr. Knox’s office. It was everything the rest of the building was not, fancy wood paneling with an ungodly amount of books lined shelves that stretched upward beyond my sight. Walking across the hall and standing in the doorway it was then I noticed Dr. Knox sitting behind his desk framed by a huge tinted window looking out at the city.
“Please come in Jacob, I’ve been waiting for you.” He said with a saintly smile. It was then I finally felt some small ray of hope. The deep shadows where Knox’s eyes should have unsettled me but I went inside and closed the door figuring it was just a trick of the light.
Dr. Knox made me feel comfortable and as I opened up to him I began to think he really cared about my condition. I said nothing about of the blood I spilled but I told him everything about my nightmares and of the thing I felt crawling around inside me. My appointment was only supposed to last for one hour but as time slipped by the doctor gave no indication he wanted me to stop talking when our meeting was scheduled to end.
Even with the relief at finding someone who seemed to care about my situation, I eventually ran out of things to say but Knox gave no hint that he wanted me to leave. “Dear Jacob,” he purred in a deep voice, “what are you leaving out? I know more is bothering you but for me to help you understand your condition you have to be truthful to me.”
“I have no idea what you mean doctor.” I said looking up at the ceiling in his office in an attempt to hide the truth.
“Don’t be coy with me boy,” he said with a suggestion of malevolence. “I have seen your kind countless times before. You have done nothing with your life except choosing to wallow in self-pity and hopelessness. Your parents, siblings, and the minor acquaintances that you wishfully call friends have all given up trying to reach you. Instead of building a life and making your own accomplishments you’ve settled for a useless and timid existence.”
His words drove deep to my core, it was true my entire life was a series of nonevents I had willingly accepted without trying to change anything. I tried to think of a friend or family member I could call for help but I came up with nothing. They had given up trying to reach me long ago. I was slightly surprised to realize this sparked the rage I struggled and failed to contain.
Knox sat in his chair smiling. “That is why I pick people like you Jacob, your common loneliness is the clay I can mold making you and others effective vessels for my works. More importantly, society churns out others like you regularly making my job all the easier. Please son, get up and walk over to the mirror, I need to show you your true self.”
The large ornate mirror hung close to the door to his office next the coat rack and umbrella container. I stood there for several seconds looking at myself and seeing nothing. I was an empty vessel devoid of any real life or friends. As Knox came up beside me it was then the thing that had taken hold of my body became visible. Black spider-like veins stretched across my face and hands forcing me to claw my shirt open to see the network spreading across my chest.
“Never fear son,” Knox said as he moved away and back behind his desk, “no one but me and others like you can see your true self. It keeps the mortals from scurrying away in fear, we don’t want to go and upset the sheep do we?”
“How did you do this to me?” I asked turning away from the mirror but keeping my arms extended as if I was dripping with filth.
“Now son,” Knox said, “you’re still early in the process and you don’t need to know the ugly details, yet. I have plans for you Jacob, I’m moving you uptown fast. I saw what you did to the young lady in the alleyway, that was talent. Believe me I know, your potential is unlimited.
The memory of that young girl came flooding back. Several weeks ago, I was leaving a theater when she called from across the parking lot. The hood of her car was raised and I could tell she would want to borrow my jumper cables and help start her car.
By the time my car was pulled over and facing hers with the cables connected, I could feel the rage building. Her smile as I saw her start her car triggered it causing me to black out. The next thing I know we are in an alley and she is covered with an incredible amount of blood.
“Why did you do this?” She whispered at me with a curious look on her face.
“I don’t know, something is inside me and makes me do bad things.” I answered back knowing how ridiculous it sounded to the dying woman.
“Just know I forgive you, but you must fight it.”
“I’ll try,” I said looking away from her.
Suddenly she gripped my arm with her bloody hand, I so surprised at the strength that I turned to look at her again. “I have faith in you,” she whispered one last time then went limp.
Her last words hung in my mind as I looked at Knox who was moving back toward me saying something about my growing talent. Something inside me refused to let go of that dying girl, her words of forgiveness and faith warred against the thing growing inside my body. My rage grew again but this time I had something to direct it towards. Fully in control of my body I ran towards Knox, charging into him and after taking a few extra steps crashing into the window behind his desk. The force of my rage was so strong that the window shattered and we began our fall to the ground. I caught a glimpse of Knox as gravity superseded whatever powers he possessed, I was very pleased to see he looked shocked and scared.
As I fell, the bitter cold was exhilarating and I felt alive for the first time.
(Author's note: As usual excuse the typos, its quiet at the house right now and I want to get this out before everything goes crazy again. Miss Wiggles is having a sleep over and a pizza dude is on the way. A school of piranhas ain't got nothing on six little girls.)
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