For perhaps the first time in my life I beat the sun up without the help of my alarm clock. I was full of piss and vinegar, as my grandmother used to say, restless energy urged me outside into the crisp coolness of the pre-dawn desert. I struggled with the combination to the padlock refusing me access to my barely-used mountain bike. 30-34-36? 36-30-34? Finally, it succumbed to my wishes and off I pedaled. A calm, pleasant warmth seeped through me as the strong muscles of my legs and ass propelled me down the quiet road. The morning was divine, the sun shot the blue-purple sky with streaks of yellow, red and orange as it climbed over Superstition mountain. I hit a comfortable rhythm, and let my thoughts pick up where they left off last evening. Unlike yesterday, when I opened this journal with much trepidation, I welcomed the memories, I embraced them as truly a part of me. The sun crested the mountain, an intense, glowing ball of magnificent heat, light and glory… even from millions of miles away, the sun could damage and kill, and a fleeting flash of envy furrowed my brow. Fleeting because my next thought was I had been that powerful-maybe more so-to many people. The list started with Ed… and finished (so far) with the teenagers. At long last… here's the final chapter to That Day.
My anger flowed out of me faster than the Mississippi after ending Keith. I sat on my bed and stared at the three terrified teenagers in the aquarium. They'd probably seen what happened, but I doubted if their juvenile minds comprehended exactly what had transpired. As I sat and debated my options, I felt Ed and Keith inside me. Separate, but somehow melded with me, we formed a trinity of power deep inside my soul. Resolute and unanimous, I/we knew that the teenagers had to be destroyed. They represented my dark side, what I was capable of-and I despised them for it. My thoughts were scattered as I stared through the teens. They sat huddled, the boy in the middle with an arm tightly around each of the girls, in the far corner of the glass prison. I gave my thoughts freedom to roam, confident that a plan would eventually formulate. Like fortunes on a magic 8-ball, a plan would briefly show in the tiny window of my consciousness before dipping again into the oblivious dark water of rejection. Meanwhile, the teens clung together, rocking slightly to and fro, too young to understand what had happened to them, buoyed by infantile wisdom that it was all just a bad dream. I envied them their ignorance.
One option consistently floated into the magic window of my mind. Although gruesome, it guaranteed results. Decision reached, I stood and walked to the aquarium. Each girl had her face buried in one of the boy's shoulders, his grip tightened around them as I drew closer. Their minds rejected reality despite my very real presence. I leaned my face over the top of the aquarium and quietly said, “Boo!” The blonde girl's head swung around, face to face with me, although her face was 1/25th the size of mine, and something snapped inside her. She began screaming, one of those piercing horror-movie screams… stopping only long enough for a hurried intake of necessary air. The young man, barely holding himself together, tried to comfort her without avail. Her fragile mind was gone and it didn't appear to be coming back. The red-headed girl, newly without a shoulder to lean on, sat with her eyes tightly shut and her hands pressed over her ears as she tried to filter out the wails. The blonde's shrieks grated on me like nails on a chalkboard and my pace towards the kitchen quickened.
I threw the aquarium on the kitchen counter by the sink, it slid and bounced off the wall. The piercing screams were momentarily halted as the captives were harshly thrown against the back wall of their prison. A tiny cut over the blonde's right eye sent a stream of bright blood down her pale cheek. Without giving her a chance to recover and resume her squalling, I reached in and grabbed her by her long blonde hair. It was silky, baby fine strands between my fingers, and I thought perhaps it wouldn't be strong enough to withstand the weight of her 2” body. Her miniscule hands shot to her head as the pain cut through her stupor. Her screams resumed with even more fervor as her legs kicked air and her body twisted uselessly like a yo-yo suspended in my grip. I turned on the cold water with my free hand and held her under the tepid stream (we don't get really cold water here in the desert.). At least her screams desisted as she sputtered for air. A blackness replaced any feelings of pity, comfort or responsibility as I watched her gasp. The water hit my fingers and fanned out like Niagra Falls over her, she had no escape. Driven by my urge to silence her, I flipped on the garbage disposal. Without pretense, I opened my fingers and let her plummet into the whirring disposal. She dropped too quickly for any reaction to register. Any sounds she may have made were drowned out by the loud chunking as she was chopped to pieces. I felt nothing-my emotional chalkboard was wiped clean-nothing remained but some chalk-dust remnants of anger.
I looked back into the aquarium. The two remaining tiny teens were frozen slack-jawed. The young man looked at me first. His panic palpable, he watched me with eyes as big as frisbees. From somewhere deep inside him, he managed to pull together enough composure to remember chivalry. Although he looked like it was the last thing he wanted to do, he stepped in front of the redheaded girl and tried to force a look of defiance through his terror. I felt a small pang at his attempt at bravado, especially in someone barely old enough to drive a car. Carried by a devil-may-care, James Dean attitude, he tried to face me down. I remained devoid of emotion, the tiny temporary pang was the only feeling that had penetrated my robotic methodology. My fingers looked as big as a crane shown on a TLC monster machine special as I reached towards him. I tauntingly tapped my index finger against my thumb like a ravenous mouth in search of appeasement. The young man still boldly protected the girl with his mini-body, but a spreading wetness in the crotch of his khakis revealed the true depth of his fear. The lobster claws of my fingers grabbed him by one of his slim ankles and slowly pulled him towards me. He flopped back on his ass, twisted onto his belly and desperately reached for the redhead. His small leg felt as small as a string between the pads of my finger… a fragile, living thread. Slowly and steadily I lifted him off the floor of the aquarium… seeing, but having no reaction, as his hands clasped tightly in the redheads-a grip so tight that as I raised him feet-first, she also was lifted from the floor of the aquarium. She dangled from him like a trapeze artist, afraid to hold on any longer… even more afraid to let go and drop back into the glass prison alone. Uncaring, the escalator of my hand carried them higher and higher, millimeter by millimeter. She was halfway to the top of the aquarium-about 9” to me, but a two story fall to her. The male teen, all bravado lost in the reality of his current situation, begged her with his eyes to not let go of him, to do something, anything to stop me. I watched as she let go of him, deciding on self-preservation, and plummeted back into the glass enclosure. I paused the young man's ascent, letting her desertion of him sink in… letting him watch her land in a pile, then scramble up and off to temporary safety. A few heartbeats elapsed, it gave him enough time to decide his only remaining option was to fight. He kicked with his free leg, he tried to reach up to loosen my grip on his ankle, he twisted and turned… until I squeezed and felt his tiny ankle turn to powder between my strong fingers. He was suddenly and completely motionless. I lifted him high enough for me to see his dime sized face, I shook him a little. All semblances of his young manhood machismo had been assassinated with the pain of his crushed ankle-he was passed out cold. The only thing I felt was a bit of appreciation because this was piercing screams would not grate me as I dropped his unmoving form into the still-whirring disposal.
Two down, one to go. That was exactly my attitude towards this… a chore to be meticulously done, check marked off before moving on to vacuuming the floor. Clunky belches occasionally came from the disposal as it caught another piece of teenager, a loud reminder to the redhead. She was coping well, however, considering the events and circumstances. She was running down the far side of the aquarium, one of her hands trailing her along the glass like the tail of a kite. She rounded the corner and was running straight towards me. As soon as she realized her direction, she put on her brakes, arms windmilling to reverse her forward motion. She tried to turn around, she was a spinning top of flailing arms and legs that became entangled and sent her down hard on her hip and shoulder. Adrenaline pumping, she spun around and onto her ass. Her already ivory face paled even whiter as she saw me staring down at her. Her skin was almost translucent, her freckles stood out like dozens of tiny reddish purple cigarette burns across her nose, cheeks and arms. Her Sketcher enclad feet began propelling her backwards on her behind. They pumped furiously… not stopping when she hit the back wall. Her momentum pushed the towel covering the bottom of the aquarium in front of her in ripple after ripple of little green terry cloth dunes. Her tiny hands beat on the wall so hard that her fragile skin split and left bright red dots of splattered blood on the glass behind her. Terror and apprehension kept her unblinking eyes steadfastly on me. I absorbed all of her actions wordlessly and thoughtlessly, it was if I was watching a movie I'd already seen twenty times… there was no suspense, no drama-and I already knew the ending. Without delaying the inevitable any longer, I reached in and pinched her abdomen between my fingers. I held her gently, ironically not trying to hurt her. She froze for a few seconds, and then became a caged wildcat in my grip. She twisted, kicked, pounded… her face was a fierce grimace of determination in her fight for survival. I was momentarily surprised at her aggressiveness and stopped to watch her actions. She felt me watching her and my curiosity incited her to struggle even more furiously. She doubled over and bit the soft part of my thumb right beside the fingernail.
With a gasp of pain and amazement, I instinctively flung her away from me. I held my thumb to my face, watching as a crescent moon of blood appeared. Her tiny, sharp teeth had cut with the quickness and pain of a paper cut. I looked from my thumb to where she lay crumpled in a misshapen heap by the microwave. My frozen feelings finally thawed, and I was bombarded by many overly strong emotions at once. Horror at what I'd done… hatred at the teens because they represented my darkest side and were icons of what I was capable of… chagrin because the redheaded girl reminded me of me-it felt as though I'd killed a part of myself… relief because the responsibility was gone, and guilt because I was relieved… apprehension because someone might find out what I'd done. Each emotion was a dart in the dartboards of my heart and mind, ten penny nails of reality forever pounding out all naiveté and innocence from me.
I grabbed the female cautiously by one of her twisted Sketchers, I handled her as if she were contaminated. Her head lolled on her fractured neck, her open eyes accusing blue pools following me like a portrait in a haunted house. Out of options, and swallowing back the acrid acidity in my mouth, my nose turned up in disgust, I quickly dropped her in the hungry black hole. As the meaty chunks started, I couldn't stop my rebelling stomach and violently vomited into the sink.
As some of the fierceness of my sudden emotions faded, only apprehension remained strong and unclouded. I called my job and told them that due to circumstances in my private life, I was going to have to take an indefinite leave of absence. I began hurriedly packing my things, I sent groceries down the disposal after the teens and left the water running all day. All told, I had everything handled, decided and was headed west within two days. During those two days, however, the missing teen's pictures were everywhere… their names and faces mocked me every time I turned on the television. The community was in an uproar, and my nerves were tighter than a tourniquet. I didn't start to relax until I started driving. With each mile that faded behind me, my apprehension and worry was incrementally replaced with calmness and optimism. Each mile marker was a cement block in the wall to the room of the memories. By the time I reached the ocean, and could drive no further, the room was completely sealed and I was a different person.
Or am I? I returned to the present to feel a warm ache in my pedaling legs… and a warm ache in a spot conveniently located in the saddle. Months ago, I may have been emotionless, but remembering had quite a different effect on me. The only guilt I felt now was a twinge because I didn't feel guilty about what I'd done. Instead, I felt very excited-passionate about my power. The lust and hunger spread through me as I pumped my legs. I leaned forward a little and rocked left and right in the saddle. I let the euphoria that had diligently been withheld months ago fill me up. Images of the teens played in my mind, for the first time I realized the depth of their terror… and it drove me insane with craving and longing. My pedaling slowed as my arousal grew, until finally I stopped altogether. I stood with one foot propping the bicycle up. Every inch of me tingled with desire. I still gripped the handlebars with white knuckles, trying to gain some control over myself. I may have stood there a couple of moments or a couple of hours before I could turn my bike around and head home. As I pedaled, I didn't think about what the future may hold, I just basked in my newfound acceptance of myself.