After the War

2nd June 2019

You joined the fight so you could stop feeling helpless. And yet now, as the world crumbles around you, the anguish is worse than it’s ever been. All you can do is watch, and follow, as they drag them into the chamber, chained and blindfolded, silent in the face of death. Your allies. Your friends.

You curse the powers that drew you to the war in the first place. Being unseen, unheard unless made aware, was incredibly useful for intelligence gathering, for stealth missions where slit throats were better than the cacophony of gunfire. But now, though desperate to be seen, desperate to show that you haven’t abandoned them, desperate to die by their side, something within you – always beyond your control – won’t let you.

The anguish gives way to anger. You scream, but the soldiers calmly piling your friends in a room too white to be pure remain impassive. Just following their orders, unknowing, unseeing. You follow them out the door.

“You’ll kill them! You’ll kill children and old men! But you won’t kill me? Not young enough? Not old enough? Look at me!”

Nothing. Not from them. Not from your friends.

Then a small gasp from behind you. The doctor heard something. She sees something. You whirl, are on her in a second, a knife nearly severing the artery on the side of her neck before you realize with horror that she’s pregnant. They’d send someone pregnant to do this, someone carrying life to take it clinically and without thought. Does her line even deserve to go on, if she’s here? But no. You won’t kill a child. A mother. Not even one of theirs.

“How can I help them? Where are the keys?” You press the knife in just a little more, just enough to make her think she’s going to die. “Where?”

“Next room over,” she chokes out. “They always keep the keys in the next room over, to collect the chains once it’s done.”

You let her go. Grab the gauze on the tray next to her and wrap it around her throat. She says nothing, and you know she won’t betray you.

Then you’re there. Some focus, a short run, and you’re in the next room but you’re not alone. The keys are in the general’s hand but there’s no time for stealth, no time to make sure you’re still unseen. You grab. She resists, grabs for you, calls for guards, but you wrench yourself away.

You will not fail them. Not when you’re so close.

Out the room. Back to the next. Hands working fast, keys shaking and chains clinking to the floor. You can hear the guards – much less impassive now as they rush towards you all – but you don’t care as long as they get out first.

You drag them away, weary, broken, confused, but running for the lives they so nearly lost.
Then it’s over. The war.

The rubble remains. The ash still in the air despite how many months it’s been. Despite people out amongst the ruins everyday, trying to rebuild.

There’s a new leader now. You remember him. Fought with him, once. He’ll be good for the world. Already trying to make amends.

You listen to him speak, simple words from a man who spent more time using his hands. The world listens. All over, from crumbling skyscrapers to burnt villages.

You know they do, because you turn and walk away, find yourself in Tokyo, his words echoing in Japanese through the larger-than-life holograms.

Another step. The same in Russia.

Another step. The same in Dubai.

It feels like a movie. Cut-scene after cut-scene. Nation after nation. Showing what remains of the world as they listen to the one person who can give them hope.

You come to the street of the last battle. Where you struggled so hard to save your friends. The barricades have been removed, but it’s not much of a road, still. Still churned up concrete and stains you want to forget. You can’t breathe. You can’t move. But you can’t leave.

So you scream, rushing forward, seeing the horses and the enemies on top of them again, dark helmets and vests, before you’re back to reality, and the lights on top of shotguns turn into lanterns as food deliveries are made.

Food. Food sounds nice.

You wander, finally deciding on a small family-owned place. But when you walk in you realize you’re still crying. Turn just as the little boy locks eyes with yours. Curious. Concerned. Then he runs past you, yelling for his parents as you ignore him and rush to the bathroom, pour water over your face again and again.

You need to get clean, but you know you’ll never feel pure again. Still, you take off your suit, ignore the scars on your skin, try to cool your burning skin with wet cloth.

You’re about to get dressed again when she bursts in. Clearly the locks here are useless. You avoid her eye, grabbing your clothes and hoping she’ll just leave.

She looks scared. You hate that you notice. You know it means you’ll do something about it.

She notices you then. Takes a breath, puts on a charming smile. Glances at your body then lays a hand on your chest, groping. “I didn’t know you were a woman under there. That’s kind of exciting. What if we…”

You don’t let her finish. You grip her wrist, move it away. “You and I both know that I’m not your type.” You don’t tell her you’re offended she thought this what she needed to do, to get help from a soldier. You don’t tell her you’ve been used and manipulated enough to not want something as sacred as this tainted by transaction. You don’t tell her she’s pretty, and tempting, and that you might have let her continue her thought in another life, one where she wasn’t so obviously straight.

Instead, you say, “I heard the boy. I know you’re all in trouble. Just let me get dressed.”

She sighs out a thank you, grateful and ashamed in one breath. You ignore it.

You put your clothes back on, listening to the noises outside. Loud, confident men barking orders and laughs and making the waitresses squeal in fear. You know the gangs that have emerged since the war. You know the way they’ve clawed into small businesses like this one.

You wonder if that was partly why you walked in here.

Then you walk out the door, to the large center table, and you remind yourself what it’s like not to feel helpless.

The Escape

I slip back into reality with no memory of who I am, nor what has transpired before this. I’m not alone, either; two armed guards are walking beside me. It seems I’ve been a willing prisoner (am I prisoner? For some reason, I feel like one…), because I am not restrained. However, they do seem ready to pounce if I make any sudden moves, so apparently I am an escape risk. Wait… Escape from where? What is this place? It’s outside… but not outside… Oh, we’re walking along the perimeter of a building. High wall to my left, government-looking facility to my right… Why are they always these sleek, chrome, grey-white buildings? Governments never have any imagination… Strange thought. Was that me? Must be, these guards certainly aren’t saying anything.

There’s someone up ahead. She’s standing by a door. Is that where I’m being taken? Must be. Something is bubbling up inside me, with more and more urgency. Panic. Why am I panicking? Is something bad about to happen? No coherent thoughts in my head anymore all I can think of is escape. I must escape. How? The guards are speaking to the woman now. She looks young. My age, maybe. …How old am I? I don’t feel like I’ve been alive very long. She says something about vents. Vent… I get flashing images of being huddled up in one, wrapped in a blanket… It’s comforting. Did I used to live in a vent somewhere? That’s strange. I must have been homeless. NO! Focus! Escape! I have to get out, fast! The guards are leaving me with her. I’ll get my chance soon. They need to go away first. But I can’t let her take me too far into this place or I’ll get lost. All these bright lights and identical hallways. Oh, there’s a vent here. That’s funny. Maybe she was just saying there was something wrong with it… Why can’t I think properly? What’s wrong with me? We’re approaching a door. It is the only door that is different and the panic has reached fever pitch. I need to get away. I need to get away NOW. RUN.

I do. I turn around and make a break for it, taking the same path we came from. The woman is yelling for me to come back, yelling for someone to stop me, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone else here. Yet. They’re going to come for me. The thought makes me run faster. I get to the vent and yank it open, intending to hide or find a way out. It’s blocked. I whimper in fear and frustration. Of course, that must have been what she was saying. I’ve done this before. They know. They don’t intend to let it happen again.

I keep running and get outside, a giant wall glaring right at me. Another to the right, meeting it at a corner. The sliding doors are behind me, with that woman getting closer. She is armed with back-up, now… I can sense it like the hot breath of a predator on my neck. In my peripheral vision, I see the guards who had escorted me here coming in fast from the left. It’s a long yard and they had left me eagerly, so they are still far off. I have time to make a decision. Get over that wall. Without pausing to think about it I rush forward, slapping my foot against the right hand surface of the corner and thrusting myself up, twisting my body to grab at the other ledge. Using both my legs and my arms I pull myself up and over, hearing the dismayed yells of my pursuers as I make the jump down. I have no idea how I did what I just did but there’s no time for me to think. They’ll be out soon, and they’ll be armed. I run.

It strikes me as odd how fast I seem to be, and if it weren’t for the fact I was being chased, I’d probably enjoy it more. I like this. Feet pushing the ground back and away, air rippling at my clothes. Then I see them in the distance, standing in their oncoming jeeps with guns drawn, trying to close in on me, and I forget everything except needing to get away. There are houses and buildings here. Quick as a rabbit, I flit to the right, leaping over a fence and finding myself in a small complex. I suddenly realise how winded I am and begin to pant, bending over to rest for a few moments.

“You seem like you’re in trouble.”

I snap back up so fast I hear my spine crack, searching for the source of the voice. One of the little house doors is open wide, a man sitting on the floor with some food, his side facing me. He must have been eating, or about to. My stomach growls a little. He hears, and chuckles softly. Long, slim hands attached to bony wrists toss two small scones across from him. I feel strangely safe for now, so I walk inside cautiously, shutting the door, and sit down. He smiles. He has a kind face. Weather-beaten skin and a thin, wiry body. But he doesn’t seem to be very old. I remember that I still don’t know how old I am. I don’t even know my own name.

“Eat,” he says, tearing a piece off one of his scones and taking a bite.

Hungry as I am, it strikes me that this is a very small house in an old complex. Even the rug we were sitting on felt thin and worn out. He may be sharing the only food he has for the night. “What about you? Is that enough?” I marvel at the sound of my own voice. It’s quiet, raspy from lack of water. Not too high-pitched, not as deep as a man’s. I realize I do not know how I look. The need to see my face is rising.

The man watches me. He can tell I’m struggling with something, but says nothing of it. “I always buy extra. Don’t worry. Please eat.”

I gratefully reach for one of the scones when the door bursts open. In an instant, I am across the hall and in the kitchen, hiding behind the fridge. I hear a yell, then a thud. My heart races. I’m terrified and guilty. No. No, no, no please let nothing have happened to the man. Please let him not be dead. Grabbing a knife from the counter I glance out towards the room. Only one of those men, coming this way. As soon as he walks through the door I growl as my arm swings out and I stab him as hard as I can. Not waiting for anything, I get the hell out of there. There’s no time to check on the kind stranger. I can only wish he’s okay, and make sure to stay away from people. Their kindness could get them hurt. Those who were kind, anyway.

I run without a single break in stride, slowing only marginally as tiredness makes me lose momentum, then speeding up again a second later. There’s no one out but me and the men coming after me, though I have yet to see them. I know they’re out there. I change directions. Climb over walls. Vault over any obstacles in my way. Hide, and then break into a run again. I don’t care where I go, so long as it’s far, far away. I still have no idea why I ran. All I could say for sure was that I knew that once I walked through that door, there was no going back. I am a liability. Whatever they wanted from me, they did not get. And we all know what happens to liabilities. I nod my agreement and pick up speed.

But the night drags on, and soon I am too tired to continue. It strikes me as odd that it has taken me this long to tire out. Adrenaline, probably.  Find a place to spend the night. Yes, I need to sleep. I see a large villa close by. It’s big enough that I think I can risk hiding somewhere on the grounds. I can leave in the morning before I am discovered.

Exhausted, I climb the gate slowly, trying to keep my movements controlled for as little sound as possible. At this point, the temptation to just let myself crash to the ground and sleep where I land is almost overpowering. Only the thought of what would happen if I did keeps me from it. Luckily for me, the only lights on are those in a few rooms on the higher floors, so I can sneak about easily, crouching low and close to the walls of the house.

Then I stumble across the children. They spot me right in the middle of their play, and curiously make their way over. Probably heard my labored breathing and turned to look. Crap, what the hell are they doing up so late? Why aren’t they afraid of me, a stranger who’s broken into their house in the middle of the night? I don’t even care anymore. The exhaustion is taking over. Just as they reach me, saying things I can’t quite hear, I slump to the ground and it all goes dark.

Robbery at Point Lame*

Child abduction. Really? Of all the crimes in all their varying degrees of intensity that the Mob could accuse me of, they chose child abduction. You had to hand it to them- that’s the quickest way to discredit anybody. Even murderers and most serial killers can’t stand child abductors. Sick, twisted beings.

I’m not, by the way. A kidnapper of children. Sick and twisted, on the other hand… let’s say the jury’s out on that one.

I don’t even want to be here, in this dreary little suburb where the most exciting thing that happens is someone letting their grass grow over the height limit. Scandalous. Well, it was scandalous until I showed up and the Mob accused me of being one of the lowest of the low. Ironic, considering what they are. They didn’t even need proof. In this world, with all its evils, an accusation is enough. No one would take the chance of assuming the talk is wrong, whether they had kids or not.

Anyway, like I was saying. I don’t WANT to be here. I just have to because the Mob is here. And where the Mob goes, I go. There must be more to this town than meets the eye if they would go through the trouble of setting up shop and then making sure no one would come near me. Except the kids. Kids don’t believe adults half the time. They go with their gut. But cuz they’re kids no one ever takes them seriously and given the nature of the sign floating on my head, no one would ever let them get close enough. The Mob have made sure that not only am I viewed with utter suspicion, but that I have no allies. I’m surprised the cops haven’t shown up with a surprise warrant because a kid is a minute over curfew.

They’re not the real Mob, by the way. Not the Mafia, I mean. They just picked the name for the confusion and fear it would strike in the hearts of men, when it was mentioned. And it’s not like the real Mafia would be too eager to claim copyright infringement, so the name stayed. Pretty clever, these guys. Just never clever enough. And I’ve been keeping a very close watch on them in my time here (while the rest of the town keeps a disgustingly close watch on me. I can’t even go to a park).

Riggs, the unassuming rookie, has been working as a school bus driver. Honestly, he’s the best man for the job. He looks like the kid you’d bring home to your parents, if you were the type. Baby-faced bastard. All blue eyes and blond hair, like he was carved by angels. How he turned so rotten as to work for the Mob is anyone’s guess, but what do I care? He did and he does, and that’s enough. Anyhow, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that whatever the Mob is up to, it has to do with that school and the bus Riggs drives. And they obviously want me nowhere near either, hence the child abductor rumour they threw into the air the minute I walked into town.

Or rather, flew. Well, not that either. Something in between, I suppose you could say. Brilliant for getting around, it really is. Saves on gas and plane tickets like you wouldn’t believe.

So now I’m in this tiny suburban town basically next door to all the wilderness, tracking a nationally notorious gang, with the entire population against me and no intel on what the heck these jerks are up to.

I love my job.

 

*I don’t remember why on earth I titled it this. Or even where the idea for this came from. A dream, probably.

Ira

Robert Frost wrote,
“Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.”
Anger is both.
It is all-consuming
And my mouth tastes sulfur
And my throat feels charred
Witches would cower at my insides if they saw
(And Hades would feel at home)
Then,
silence reigns
Screams are hushed down to nothing
Cold winds blow
And there is nothing anymore
(Or so the iceberg would have you believe
As it waits for you to sink)
There is a sense of stillness, of Zen,
when it comes to such cold fury
Medusa’s snake hair would be envious of my stare
My anger is the end of the world.
Touch me and you’ll freeze.
Touch me, and you’ll burn.

Life is a hypocrite.
A liar, a cheat.
A tease, a bully.
A carrot-dangler.
A lover of never-ending cycles.

Why?

To see who is brave enough to call it out.
To see who is smart enough to catch it in its lies.
To see who is strong enough to stand up to it.
To see who is wants it enough to get that carrot.
To see who is determined enough to break the cycle.

And if you’re not?

Then it teaches you how to be.
Only, it’s up to you to learn the lesson.

Isn’t it beautiful?

They were sitting on a bench overlooking the water, the city’s bright lights and impressive skyline reflected on the ever-moving surface. It was cold, and they both felt it, yet by unspoken decision they moved no closer to each other.

Finally, the silence became unbearable and he had to speak, if only to remind himself that he still could.

“Are you really sure it will work this time?”

His companion glanced at him, then went back to staring at the water. “I am.”

“How?” The word was out of his mouth before he had the chance to stop it. He sounded disbelieving and he felt horrible for it.

To his surprise, he caught a small smile flit across his brother’s face. “Because I don’t believe it will.”

He looked at him in confusion, wondering if this time, his brother really had lost his mind entirely. He could tell that he was trying to find the right words, so remained quiet.

“Before, I would work on my projects fully convinced that I would succeed. That this would be it and I would never have to worry again. I was tireless, exhilarated. I had complete faith. And every time, I would be proved wrong. This time, though, while all other emotions remain the same, I no longer have that conviction. And that is how I know it will work.” At last he turned to face him, the small smile back on his face. “I know it’s a strange idea. But it makes sense, somehow.”

He smiled back, understanding, and they both returned to staring at the ripples running across the city.

Witches’ Storm

{Inspired by a dust storm.}

“Get away from there!” Nat yelled. The double-glazed glass gates were shaking ominously, despite the many hands of other students pushing against them. She was terrified they would come crashing down on their heads.

She was the eldest, so they did as they were told, stepping beside her while their eyes remained fixed on the doors. Nat cursed inwardly. She was deeply her regretting her choice of transparent curtains. A set of dark thick ones would have kept them from having to look at the sight ahead, maybe even muffle the noise, which was bad enough as it was.

The ghosts of burned witches past continued to howl then attack the doors all together, their wails and screams combining to form one mournful, blood-curdling sound. Beneath her terror, Nat couldn’t help but feel sorry for them. All they had wanted all those years ago was salvation, and even now the doors were barred to them.

It went for hours. After a while, the others grew used to it. The novelty wore off and they continued with their work, but Nat gazed on. She felt like she owed it to them. That to ignore them would be disrespectful; like their torment meant nothing.

She watched as they raised dirt and dust until nothing could be seen. She watched as they gathered storm clouds, speeding them up and pushing them to crash together and thunder their rage. She closed her eyes, shaking, every time they launched another attack, convinced that they would break through.

Finally, she watched as they faded away one by, one each with a mournful wail. Then she made the mistake of looking into the eyes of the last witch to go; the last to have died. As the sun returned, a single tear rolled down her cheek at the great sadness she’d seen within them.

“At least the town will never forget what they’ve done. They won’t let them. And we too shall always remember the betrayal of our ancestors, which is why these gates are made of glass. We must never forget, no matter how far out into the world we may one day reach, how we turned our backs in fear and pride.”

Nat looked up at her mentor and nodded. Taking her outstretched hand, they walked together to continue their Potions lesson. She turned back one more time to where the witch had been, and promised to never forget.

Words Are Useless

I dreamt of words that free and that bind
Of words from heart and words from mind
Words so cruel, words so kind
Words that reveal, words that blind

I dreamt of words bitter and sweet
Of words that fool and words that teach
Words better read, words made for speech
Words of small consequence, words of far reach

I dreamt of words of love and hate
Of words that destroy and words that create
Words of agreement, words of debate
Words that bring together, words that separate

I dreamt of words of hope and light
Of words crouched in weakness, words standing in might
Words that feel wrong, words that feel right
Words from the unrepentant, words from the contrite

I dreamt of words hidden within screams
Of words about reality and words about dreams
Words respectable, words obscene
Words that err, words that redeem
Words filled with sorrow, words full of glee
Words of generosity, words of greed

I dreamt of words that praise and defame
Of words that alter and words that stay the same
Words excitingly mad, words boringly sane
Words that don’t stick, words that remain
Words of pride, words of guilt and shame

I dreamt of words of anger and reprimand
Of words that give and words that demand
Words of the sea, words of the land
Words small and simple, words complicated and grand

I dreamt of words whispered and yelled
Of words organised and words thrown pell-mell
Words all in motion, words that stood still
Words of friendly greeting, words of sad farewell

I dreamt of words of peace and war
Of words despised and words adored
Words from the present, words from before
Words for tomorrow and forever more

I dreamt of words of prose and rhyme
Of words of innocence and words of crime
Words for forgetting, words to remind
Words of dark sin, words pure and divine

I dreamt of words of ugliness and beauty
Of words irresponsible and words of duty
Words that spoke of desire, words that poured with need
Words burning in passion, words hollow in apathy

I dreamt of words and they consumed me whole
Stripped me down and laid bare my soul
And when I woke, I woke in pain
For the very last thing they spelled was, “Words without action…
…are words in vain.”

Inspired by a strange dream, where I could take hold of words. Some slipped from my hands, some were in bold, others normal. Different fonts, meanings, textures. Jolted awake and wrote as much as I could before I couldn’t any more. Continued throughout the day. Changing, adding. Here’s the final cut. There’s no particular order, really, except the structure of the verses.

Stream of conscious madness

I’m tired of going snap a mouse trap surrounding the room with no gaps to maneuver around them. One false move and they’re all sent flying shut the words infused in the metal wires clamping down to shoot the sting beneath skin and cause words of anger and pain to come flying back at me like poisoned darts. There are booby traps all over this metaphor of booby traps.

No commas or pauses just continuous flow of lexemes (lovely word for word don’t you think?) as they enter circulate from mind to neck to shoulders down arms through fingers onto keyboard onto text that doesn’t appear fast enough for the torrent that just keeps on coming. Make no sense? Of course not. Nothing makes any sense until you stop untangle put together all nice and proper follow the rules set to make sense of a mind that truly has none at all in its most primitive form. They call you insane if you don’t follow those rules. I’ve been calling myself insane all my life but I’m as far from a rebel as this galaxy is from the next. Light years and light years but like the scientists of astronomy and studiers and explorers of space I want to get there even though the chances are one in those billions of light years. But hey at least there’s that one.

Where was I? Oh yes booby traps of vicious cycles that loop the loop and no one knows how to stop it because I started it and I don’t know either. I think the only way is to clamp my jaws shut with the intensity of one going through an epileptic seizure swallow down rage that really has no reason to be there in the first place so what am I doing who am I becoming what’s going on and why am I losing control I’ve fought so hard so many years to gain? No that work will not be in vain. I will get it back because it can’t go on like this I can’t be victim and perpetrator all at once I don’t want to be either so why are they opposites can there only be those two options do it or get it done to you? Then I’d rather be victim to be honest since I’m no good with guilt but I’m pretty good at handling pain. It’s unhealthy but hey it works doesn’t it except for times like these when domination over my own human nature gets a bit too difficult to obtain. It’ll happen it’ll happen I just need more time. Till then I’m sorry be patient thank you for putting up with me so long I’ll learn I promise I’ll learn to stop being such a bitch when it gets too much. I’ll expand the container feelings like that are kept in and redesign the lid so it’s much more airtight and lasts far longer I promise. I’m really really sorry I don’t mean it or rather I do but you were never supposed to know that or rather I don’t really it simply seems to be enhanced making me worse than the situation entails whatever the situation that happens to trigger me at the time is. I’m sorry.

I’m always sorry and I always mean it and you’d think I’d get tired of feeling so reprehensible but I seem to feel the need to beg pardon for every consequence of my existence and every breath that robs someone else of oxygen because it went into me instead. Breathe I’m sorry Breathe I’m sorry Breathe I’m so sorry I can’t help it. I’m too scared to die because I know exactly where I’m headed. Purgatory. Funny thing is while I know I’ll scream in agony that I also know I’ll still feel deserving of every lick of flame because this guilt in this life my life is so great there is no doubt it will carry with my soul when my heart stops beating.

I’m sorry for being like this I’m sorry for being like this I’m sorry for being me and if I could put that word in front of every other stupid word in this fucked up post without making it sound even more fucked up and hard to read I swear I would but please know my heart is making all the apologies all the time with every pulse every rush of blood through my undeserving veins arteries and capillaries.

I’m sorry.

(I don’t like who I am when I’m with you.)

You bring out the some of the crappiest parts of me and worst of all I can’t seem to help it when I’m around you which makes you resent me all the more because with anyone else it’s easy to bite back instead of fight back. I’m sorry for that I know it isn’t fair I really do know. I’m trying. I’ll try harder I promise.

(I don’t like who I am ever.)

(I don’t seem to be taking this very well.)

It must not agree with me. Maybe I’m allergic. Or intolerant. There is a difference, you know. Maybe I should just surrender to it and let it swallow me whole. The best way out is through, as the mysterious “they” say.

(Who are “they”? Hey! Can you give me the answers? Where can I find you?)

Really, though? Who has the energy for it? How are we supposed to get through over and over and over and over and… Well. You get the idea. It’s exhausting, isn’t it? Or is it just me? Maybe. Maybe it is and I’m just weak. No surprise there, but I seemed to get on fine so far. I made it so far. So why now?

(Can’t I just lay here among the pillars holding me up?)

They’re cracking. I can see that, yes. There, and there, and there, too. Hmmm. Seem to be growing bigger. I can hear things inside them. They’re… No. I can’t tell. It’s too tumultuous. Muffled, but no less chaotic, no less… loud. I can see thin hands no less fierce for their look of frailty reaching out. Biding their time.

(I don’t want to look. They scare me.They’re waiting. Waiting to escape. Can’t I just lay here and not move? If I don’t move, they won’t be able to get out… Can I, please?)

Oh no. I can’t breathe again. It’s happening again. It’s been happening a lot. My lungs will contract again. I’ll choke in my effort to get oxygen into them again. My heart will beat unpleasantly faster again. My throat.. Oh god, what’s in there? Knives? Must be. In my core, too. Somewhere that’s not my gut, but not my heart, but everywhere at once. Knives. Daggers, sabers, scythes, short swords, long swords.

(Inhale. Exhale. Come on now, it’ll pass soon. Focus. Breathe. No. Don’t sob. Tears go back. BACK. There we go. It’s over.)

I know. I know you’re waiting inside me. I know you want to explode. I know you’re getting impatient. I don’t care. You won’t. I won’t let you. I won’t let you, you hear? You can destroy me if you want. But until you make very clear what will happen if I set you free, I will not. I will not risk you destroying everything dear to me. Because I know that’s what you may well do. Tear everything apart without a care. Go on a rampage.

(Then who will be left to clean up the mess? Make amends? Pick up the shattered pieces of not just myself, but everyone caught in the blast? No. You will never be free.)

Growl all you want. Make your threats. I will not break. I may be wavering now, may be growing a bit tired, but I will not break. You can’t make me. I won’t let you. I won’t let me.

(I’ll get my strength back. You’ll see… I won’t let you hurt them. They’ve done nothing to you. They don’t deserve it. I just need a little time… That’s all. Just a little time…)

You’re rattling your chains. I can hear them. You’re trying to set yourself and your minions free. I see them. I see you. Don’t you see? You can’t. Never. Ever.

(You’ll never be free. Even if it means that nor will I.)