October 27, 2013
They said to get the “irrational thinking” under control, I should write. So I am. I don’t know if it will work because the medicine they give me makes me too groggy to make sense for very long but I will try…
They said they would send me music to listen to, that it would calm my inner self, it would allow me to stay centered and this would help me stop seeing Marcus Miller. This morning I went to the mail box and found a plainly wrapped package with the cd inside, so I thought this must be what they were talking about. I slipped it into my computer and transferred it into my mp3 player. It took forever…and when I started writing I put the earbuds in to listen.
Pounding, bloodthirsty guitars. Gutteral voices harmonizing…drums pounding, beating an unreal rhythm into my soul. Marcus Miller floated slowly into my line of sight. I blinked, and he was gone. Then, again he walked up to me and touched my shoulder.
I jumped up, knocking the chair over in the process, and ripped the earbuds away. This was not right! I didn’t understand how this could be happening again. The pills were supposed to make all this shit go away, and it wasn’t working!
I’ve had problems for years now, thanks to witnessing a man gut his wife outside the supermarket down the street. He had held her by her hair with his left hand, gutted her with his right, and then he stabbed her in each eye and laughed.
People had stopped and stared, and someone screamed, but everyone was frozen, their mouths forming perfect circles. I was a blur, running through the crowd with my teeth bared and screaming at him in some tongue I don’t even speak. He had looked over at me in surprise, dropped the corpse that had been his wife, and tried to bring the knife up to attack me.
I was already there, punching and clawing at his face. His face was locked in shock, and I grabbed him by his mullet, yanking him forward. He had stumbled, fallen to his knees. I backhanded him and his elbows unlocked, bringing his upper torso to the ground.
I was still slamming his face into the pavement when the police appeared, pulling me away and cuffing me while I writhed and screamed.
Finally some brave soul in the gathered crowd got the attention of one of the responding officers and told him that I wasn’t the attacker, and after a night in a cell, they released me into the custody of the Northern State Hospital for observation.
I’m not a hero. No one commended me on a job well done. There wasn’t even a blurb in the local paper. I was some woman at the scene of a brutal crime, nothing more.
I was tucked away for a few weeks, caught between bouts of screaming until I was hoarse, and hours of silence, staring at a white curtain while my hospital smock itched and reminded me of my imprisonment.
Truth was, I wasn’t a prisoner. I didn’t leave because I couldn’t leave. I had to stay for a while. Every now and again I would lunge at an orderly, screaming, and the others would show up with a shiny, dripping needle to make everything go away for a while.
Finally, after a few weeks of this odd little mental dance, I felt a fog lift. An old man in a hospital coat came to talk to me every day. He kept telling me things would get better. He kept saying what a pretty lady I was and how brave I must be, and that I must continue to be brave and get through this. After days and days of hearing this, it kicked in a little, and I began to talk to him. Soon after, I was pronounced all better and released.
My friends and coworkers at the diner thought I had been out of town, since I had been planning to leave anyway for a little vacation at my parents’ house. I left it be and went back to work. I made everything as normal as I could manage, and I thought it was going to be okay.
I always walked home from work. It was not a dangerous route, and I didn’t think twice about walking alone in the dead of night. The walk took me past several empty storefronts, an abandoned house, and cars whose owners had long abandoned them. There were homeless people in that alley next to the now defunct DollarMart, but they never bothered anyone.
Why am I writing all this? I don’t know what else to say. I don’t even know who the hell Marcus Miller IS. I don’t know why, when I walk home now, I can hear another set of footsteps following alongside mine, and just out of my direct line of sight is a man in a mask. I don’t know who the fuck he is!
I can’t remember everything all the time because this medicine keeps me woozy from the time I get home and prepare for bed, until the time I wake up from a perfect quiet dreamless grey. If I don’t take it before I start writing, I know I’ll get freaked out and I won’t be able to calm down. This insane heavy metal music is not helping, actually. There’s a song about banging your head against the wall — who the hell works at the hospital that actually thinks this is soothing?
Marcus Miller. I only know his name because he told me. But they insist he’s not real. I don’t know what to believe anymore.
I need to sleep.
October 28, 2013
I can’t believe I made it home. I can’t believe I’m still alive.
The diner closed early and it was barely dark when I left, so I thought I would make it quickly and with no incident.
This was not the case. A third of the way along my usual route, street workers had blocked off the sidewalk and street for sewage repairs. I would have to go a different way.
I turned, resigned, into the alley and picked my way carefully between broken spots in the pavement and around the burning barrels where the homeless guys kept warm. There was one guy out, his back to me as I passed, his hands held out over the flames. He did not acknowledge me, and that was fine with me. I kept walking.
The alley was long and became progressively darker as the firelight from the barrels faded behind me.
I heard a loud shuffling sound behind me, and a low voice carrying in the darkness – apparently addressing the vagrant I had passed moments before – in one vicious word.
I didn’t want to look. Didn’t want to trust the heaving sick feeling in my stomach. Why, WHY does our body betray us when we least wish it? I stopped walking, and turned.
He was walking toward me, in no rush apparently. He looked straight on, stepping easily over debris without even looking down.
Have you ever been in one of those dreams where you know you have to run, but your legs refuse to move?
I tried to blink, over and over, to see more clearly. I thought maybe this was some guy, you know? Some guy and not that man they swore did not exist. I thought wrong.
Now he was closer and I could see the mask. In the fading light, with only an old, greasy building light flickering on and shining a sickly yellow cast over the alley, I struggled to see him clearly. The mask looked wet, sticky with a viscous liquid…oh God I’m sure it was blood now that I think about it.
Unaware of my own movements, I had been backing up and to the right. I couldn’t run and there he was, and I tried to turn and discovered I had backed up against the alley wall.
His steps slowed. He was four feet away and I could hear him breathing. Then, I heard him chuckle.
Such a sound assaulting my ears…it was the growl of a beast blended with the gutteral agony of a crazed maniac.
I tried to speak, and managed a whimper.
In two massive steps he was a mere inch away. He towered over me, and I looked up, quickly, in shock — when he said in that same gutteral snarl…my name.
I was going to be sick. This motherfucker knew my name.
I tried to bolt. Had to get away, this wasn’t real and I had to run, fight, run, something.
I shoved against him, hoping to push him back just a bit, just enough to slide past and run. It was like pushing against a wall of the “safe room” back at the hospital. Enough of a give to know it wasn’t brick — enough resistance to know you weren’t moving it…ever.
It was then that this “imaginary” lunatic grabbed me, clamping his hands on my arms, just below my shoulders and shoving me back against the brick wall. His breathing…damn it. It’s all I can hear as I write.
He started to squeeze, and as my arms began to ache with the pressure I stopped fighting and considered screaming. It was hard to draw breath. Fuck it, I thought, I’m sure I’m about to die anyway.
When I stopped struggling he eased his grip and bent toward me. His face was in my face and I could feel his breath and then I smelled blood. Blood dried onto dried blood, splashed over old blood…so much blood. His shirt and tie were covered in blood stains; his arms were dark with dried blood and I could feel the bile trying to come up. So much fucking blood.
“Annie…” he said again, the voice muffled behind the mask, “I walk faster than you can run. Next time, don’t run away…Annie…”
My eyes snapped up, staring into his, trying to see through the mask and into his eyes and I didn’t quite make the connection. Next time?
Finally I could form words, and I made myself ask.
“W-who are you?”
“I told you…before. I told you my name.”
My guts twisted up and I tried to speak, but it came out as half a whisper.
His chuckle was a little softer this time. Deadlier. A dangerous sound. I tensed.
“They said you aren’t real.” I stated it flatly, willing all of this to be a very realistic dream.
Marcus Miller went very still, for a very short moment. Then one of his blood-encrusted hands left my arm and clamped around my neck in a blurred, fluid motion. He began to squeeze. I could hear his breathing again.
“I am as real as the air you breathe, Annie,” he spat out in fury, “you do breathe air..?”
The edges of my vision were getting fuzzy. He kept squeezing. I was losing consciousness. I felt sudden warmth on my legs and realized, hazily, that I had wet myself.
Suddenly he eased up on my neck, enough to revive me, and his face came very close to mine, his eyes glittering in the sickly light. “Look at me.”
I looked. He began to speak, his voice a melodious disaster.
“I am more real than you will ever know. I will show you what you never…ever…want to see, and you will know then that they lie.”
He released me, abruptly…and walked away.
I went limp and slid down against the wall until I found myself sitting on the ground, my back against the wall. My arms throbbed; my neck was on fire. I sat there for minutes or years or seconds, feeling hot liquid ooze from the corners of my eyes and slide down my now dirty face.
I don’t remember making it home, and yet here I sit. The pill bottle sits next to my keyboard, inviting me, whispering…“There, there…it’s alright. Swallow me, all of me, chase me down with the bourbon in the cupboard, and get away…”
I don’t want the pills. They lied, or I’ve gone completely mad. Reaching up, I touch the tender places on my neck and flinch.
I suspect my sanity is intact. I don’t think it’ll be that way for long.
October 29, 2013
I was off work today. Tomorrow and Thursday, too — after the last few days I can’t think of anything better than staying at home and telling the world to go fuck itself. I’ve been flipping through channels and everything on t.v. is Halloween themed and I am not in the mood. Maybe I could take a nap.
What an idiotic idea. I can’t take those pills and when I sleep there’s a bloody hand sliding across my throat and squeezing. I can’t stay inside forever. This apartment building has a life of its own, pipes making noises at the oddest of times. I’m getting restless.
I can’t take it anymore. I’m going out. There’s a bar down the street. It’s early.
October 30, 2013
OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD HE KILLED THEM HE KILLED BOTH OF THEM OH GOD I DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED SOMEONE HELP ME OH GOD HE KILLED THEM HE KILLED
I can’t stop crying and I don’t know what to do and I don’t even know why I’m tapping this shit out on my computer except its the only thing I can do to keep my thoughts straight and maybe someone will believe it when they read it or at least they’ll know what I went through whether they believe me or not oh God what do I do I need someone to help me first I need to calm down and tell you what happened or all this journaling will be for nothing for fuck’s sake calm down
Okay. Okay. Stupid fucking pills. They told me not to stop taking them suddenly. I did because the pills were a lie. They don’t make me stop believing my own eyes. I didn’t have some hallucination. I know what I saw. I know what I saw.
I went to the bar. It was empty. EMPTY for fuck’s sake. There were, what? Four, maybe five people lounging around? WHAT THE HELL. I wanted to be in the middle of a million people, or at least a room full — I didn’t need to know any of them but I needed the normal stuff around me for a few hours and I couldn’t even get that.
I sat at the bar and sipped, and glanced around. A guy and a girl cozied up in one corner, talking in hushed, heated tones. An old man at the other end of the bar, concentrating on scotch and some defunct t.v. show blinking on the t.v. above us. A guy in a hoodie, his back to me, drinking beer and texting on his phone. And me.
I got up from the bar and went to the bathroom. When I came back out, the guy and girl were gone. Now I was the only female in the place. Forget it. This place was dead. I decided to leave.
I went outside and headed back toward my apartment. I was thinking about the events in the last few days. I had almost talked myself into believing it was all a bad dream. I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings.
They were walking ahead of me, the guy and girl from the bar. They were still arguing. I remember thinking, What is so important that you have to argue about it non-stop for all this time?
They crossed the street and were walking in front of the closed down store. They stopped, the guy trying to make his point while motioning wildly with his hands. The girl had her back to the store, her hands on her hips, head cocked to the side as though she didn’t believe a word of what he was saying. I can’t believe I didn’t notice the door of the store was wide open, the darkness yawning heavily inside. It had been closed down for well over a year, partially gutted by a fire in the back. The neighborhood was going to hell.
I was crossing the street…I almost made it to them. Maybe I could have saved them? I don’t know. Maybe not.
The arm reached out the doorway of the store and grasped a handful of the girl’s hair. Marcus Miller yanked her inside the building before she could even gasp.
The guy stood, staring — I don’t know what he had been drinking earlier, but I can only guess it was a bit too much. He yelled, HEY! and ran in the building after his girlfriend. By this time, I had made it to the front of the store and I stood in the doorway, teetering back and forth. Go, or stay…go, run home — or stay?
I stepped in the store. The short wide aisles were empty, dirty — the room was dimly lit by emergency lighting that had never been disconnected.
Marcus Miller stood at the back of the store, close to the burned out area. In one hand he held the back of the woman’s head, her hair entwined around his hand tightly and she looked as though she’d been bitch-slapped a few times before I ever got inside. Blood leaked out the corner of her mouth and she stood weakly, unable to move. She didn’t even see me…she was staring off past me somewhere as though she were in shock.
The guy… where did he go? There. On the floor in front of Marcus…face down. Marcus had one boot firmly planted on the back of the man’s neck. The man might have been unconcious. I thought I saw his body moving a little. He was still alive.
That voice — it cut into my mind, and I snapped back to attention.
“You will see, Annie. You will see that pain is necessary.” He emphasized each word, biting each one off as though it were painful to even have to explain it.
Pain. Is. Necessary.
I took a step forward. The alchohol from earlier might have made me foolish, or brave, or both.
“Please,” I said, taking another step toward him, “Please, you don’t need to do this. I believe you. You’re real. I’m sorry. I’m sorry –”
I stopped as I heard the sound he was making. It was almost…yeah, it was. Tsk, tsk, tsk…
He slowly shook his head. No. It was not good enough. Nothing I said was good enough.
And then I watched in fascinated horror as he put his full weight on the foot holding the man’s neck firmly against the floor. The audible crunching of bones made me weak. The man’s body convulsed and flopped. Then the boot came up and back down heavily, a stomp into the neck and that was it: I lost it, grabbing the side of an old aisle display and bent, vomiting against the dusty store equipment.
When I straightened and looked back at this insane scenerio, I saw the blade. He held it with his free hand. Damn…it was a huge blade.
Marcus Miller released the woman’s hair, and shoving her against the wall, he brought the knife down in a powerful arc, burying it into her neck and into the wall behind her. Blood escaped her in cascades and short spurts, covering his front as he let go of the knife, leaving it to hold her up.
I needed to run, but recent experiences froze my legs in place. His tasks complete, Marcus Miller stepped over the body and stood in front of me. His mask was covered in fresh blood, his shirt soaked, his arms and hands wet with it. He wasn’t even breathing hard. Killing was this easy?
My mind was running in gibbering, non-sensical circles. He brought bloody hands up to my face, covering me in red. I freaked out…stumbled back. He snatched my shirt, hauling me forward. The blood covering him smeared onto me, and I cringed.
I tried to grab his arms, get him off me…ahh GOD WHY AM I HERE and what is going on and he brought his masked face to the side of my head and whispered, “Annie…no one will believe you. But I will…”
With that, he released me, casually brushing my hands off his arms and pushing me away. He turned his back on me, deliberately; made his way to the back of the store…leaving, I think. I don’t know. I was too caught up in stumbling back through the front and out the door, kicking it shut and walking away, toward home…those words floating around in my head.
No one will believe me.
October 31, 2013
He’s standing outside. He’s across the street, arms crossed, standing there. I don’t know how long he’s been standing there, and I don’t know what he’s going to do next. I can’t go out there…I don’t know what he wants from me.
I’m going to get drunk now.
NO MORE SURPRISES
October 31, 2013
Just got off the phone with my friend Dana. I hadn’t talked to her in years. she was the only person I had spilled my guts to when that thing happened…that guy who killed his wife. After that I just couldn’t bear to talk to her.
When I dialed the number, it rang and rang…and rang. I was almost ready to hang up, when:
“Hello?” Her voice was sleepy. I forgot she worked odd hours.
“Dana..? It’s Annie,” I said softly into the phone.
She perked up immediately. “Annie?! Why haven’t you called me? I’ve missed you!” She sounded sincerely worried.
“Dana…it’s been really bad lately,” I said, trying not to cry. I took a breath and continued.
“Did you see the news from up this way..?”
Silence. Just for a moment, total and complete silence. Then she spoke, “Everyone here is talking about the double murder and they think its a new gang thing.”
I laughed, bitterly. “It wasn’t a gang.”
“How do you know?” I could hear her, moving around in her kitchen, probably making tea.
“I saw it.”
“Annie, what do you mean you saw it? We all saw it on the internet after that guy posted all those pictures from his cellphone,” Dana said,”I gagged after I saw it was real.”
“You don’t understand,” I said, gripping the phone and glancing over at the window, “I saw it happen.”
I could hear her sharp intake of breath, through the phone…a thousand miles away from me. I waited. I knew what would come next.
“Damn it, Annie, start talking. No bullshit, no candy-coating. Talk.”
So I told her everything that happened over the last few days. I stopped trying not to cry and sobbed into the phone, recounting every detail I could remember. I told her about the couple at the bar, my weak attempt to talk the killer out of doing his ghastly worst, my complete failure. I poured it all out and then ended with, “…so I saw him standing across the street around midnight last night and I said fuck it and got drunk.”
“Oh, Annie,” Dana’s voice dropped to a whisper in my ear. “Why do these things have to happen to you?”
“I don’t know.”
We spoke for a few minutes longer. Dana urged me to call the police, make a report, do the right thing…
“What am I going to say to the police..? ‘Hello, I’d like to report a big scary man in a mask who stomped a guy to death and pinned his girlfriend to the wall with a knife to the throat. What’s that? How do I know? Because, y’know, I was hanging out, chatting with the guy just before he did it…’ Yeah, I don’t think that would go over too well,” I shrugged, despite the fact that she couldn’t see me through the phone.
“Well, I don’t know what to say, honey, this is really worse than what happened…y’know…before. This is serious, and it’s not just a one-time thing. What are you going to do?”
I thought for a moment.
“I don’t think leaving town will help. I’ll have to come back eventually,” I said, slouching back into my chair.
“There is one option…” Dana spoke hesitantly. Through the phone I could hear her clicking the background noise of the television to silence. Then she told me her idea.
I’ve got my bag packed. Dana was right. As much as I dread doing it, it’s the safest route for me. I don’t know why Marcus Miller wants to teach me a lesson. The only lesson I can figure is that misery loves company. Well, I won’t be a part of this anymore.
I already called Dr. Patoa — I didn’t have to go into any detail. He said he’d send an unmarked car for me and that a room will be waiting.
I didn’t think I’d ever try to check into the hospital after finally getting over the atrocities that landed me there, but I know I’ll be safe. The place is state-of-the-art; there’s security on every floor, cameras, the works.
I know if I don’t do this, he’ll get tired of “showing” me things and just do something terrible to me. Now I know I’ll be safe.
I’ll be safe, for as long as it takes.
I’ll be safe.
The character Marcus is based on Matt Farnsworth’s character “The Orphan Killer” – All rights reserved.
3 thoughts on “Cornered”
Absolutely shattered after reading that. From beginning to bitter end it had my heart in my throat and I can still taste the metallic sauce.
You are an exceptional scribe and the way that it feels like a real diary entry is not an easy feat to pull off. Pull it off? You yank its epidermal blanket off like David Copperfield.
Your use of Imagery is also outstanding. Very slick, moody photography which laces it together beautifully.
Absolutely vital reading and a wonderful insight into a great mind.
Thank you, Keeper. That’s high praise coming from you.
LøV£ this piece! Fabulous writing ♥