"Convinced myself, I seek not to convince."
- Edgar Allan Poe
Here’s what happened. I was driving to home for the weekend earlier this morning, my wife sitting in the backseat. I was so happy, my wife was going to have a baby tomorrow - I couldn’t fight off the joyful smile – and we thought it’d be a great idea to have my child in the place where I was born, as she was from the big city and most hospitals there are busy 24/7. I drove for a few miles further, the landscape rushing by, and I looked back at my wife.
“Honey, I have a great idea for the name!”
Before I could express this idea, I looked out the window and I saw a figure in the black.
It was a yellowish, winged figure, leering at me from its position in the road. Somehow, I seemed to vaguely recall who it was and I turned the car before it smashed into a tree. I blacked out after I caught a glimpse of the figure flapping its wings and soaring off.
I awoke to see a pole from a billboard near the tree, stuck through the backseat; my wife wasn’t there.
“Rosetta?!” I called out into the smoldering abyss of trees and fog.
I needed to get out of here, to find my wife, so I took out a shard of glass from the broken windshield and cut my seat-belt as to allow me to exit the car; I struggled my way out of the door and began to walk down the road as fast as I could, albeit my being an injured man.
After about half-an-hour, I reached the town of Oldford. I grew up here, but it seemed almost entirely empty and devoid of its usual cheer. I ran inside the close building, which was a gas station, trying to find help.
No one, just like I thought. My pulse was quickening, and I was beginning to become uneasy. As I scrutinized the inside closely for any sign of human beings, I looked out the window to the nearby, slow-moving Stone-field River.
I was shocked.
Last time I was here, the bridge had been out after it grew tired like other bridges in West Virginia in the past. I couldn't believe it. A year ago there was a bridge there, an intact one, one which I actually began to walk across. The bridge was devoid of vehicles, and looked like it had stood for centuries under the reign of intense weather and age. Normally, the bridge would head to what people called the "slums", although this town wasn’t particularly rich in the first place.
It was then that I heard a creaking noise.
I took the hint and backpedaled before sprinting right off the bridge as it fell and crashed in a cantankerous heap of metal, which then proceeded to be dragged down the river, plowing its banks. I covered my head as the screaming of alloy overwhelmed me for a second.
On this note I ran back into town, further pressing forward on the segment of highway that divided the town in two and served as a makeshift business strip that most of the town’s money makers were situated on.
It was empty, the whole place seemed to be awfully desolate. I walked into a nearby café to use their phone.
I picked it up, and dialed 911.
There was no ring.
I could hear the buzzing noise, and strangely enough I started to fall asleep; my head throbbing, I quickly left the store before falling on the ground. The last thing I saw before blacking out was, once again, the yellow figure.
I woke up, again, several minutes later to an apprehensive, oppressive feeling deep inside me.
I stumbled onward, entering a hostel, wondering if there would be anyone still in their rooms.
As I entered the lobby, I saw the yellow figure again gloat at me silently before disappearing upstairs. Giving in to my primitive urges, I followed it, and the fleeting creature vanished through a door. On the other side of the door I could hear a mattress creaking and a woman lapsing into a series of orgasms.
I opened it and, to my horror, I saw my old bedroom back home, with a doppelganger of myself, half-naked, banging away at someone else who wasn’t my wife, but instead a complete stranger I hadn’t met before. My doppelganger looked at me, before saying “What the fuck are you looking at?” in an embarrassed and angry tone of voice.
I backed away, my breathing becoming shallow. Something obviously was going terribly wrong; as far as I was concerned, this alternate, sex-crazed version of me was an obstacle in the quest to find Rosetta.
My wife and my baby were at stake.
At this point I kicked at a glass box ("IN CASE OF FIRE BREAK GLASS") on the wall, shattering it; I retrieved the axe and, adrenalin coursing through my veins, I ran and lunged at my doppelganger.
The woman screamed as I heaved the axe in my double’s side, causing him to fall off the bed and onto the floor headfirst. He tried to clamber away helplessly, but I climbed over the crying woman and brought the axe down once again, severing off his head sloppily in a torrent of blood. I swung again, and again, and again, mangling the bastard’s face while screaming “You are not me, you motherfucker!” I buried the axe in his chest before I fumbled across the carpet and fell down crying.
I looked around. The bed and the woman were gone; the only piece of furniture was a mirror, which I picked myself up off the ground to look at it. I advanced for it carefully and, upon closer inspection, the face wasn't mine. The face in the mirror was of a different man. This was the final straw; I swiftly exited the room, sobbing as the hotel’s double doors closed behind me.
I took a seat on a nearby bench to recollect myself.
“What's going on?” I said to no one in particular, before the buzzing happened again.
That goddamn buzzing. It filled my ears as the town became more eerie, like it was transforming. I promptly got up and I tried to escape the buzzing by entering the diner across the street.
I walked inside, to see an odd glow at one corner of the room; the glow diminished, revealing another doppelganger of mine eating what appeared to be a whole buffet. He looked at me as he crammed food into his mouth, and I returned to my position on the sidewalk, where the buzzing seemed to have stopped.
Walking further down the street, I saw a vision of me and a homeless man; he asked me for a dollar, and I gazed into his pocket where he already had reserved about a hundred dollars in cash. Instead of contributing to this fucker’s war fund, I spat on the homeless man mercilessly and continued on my journey. As the vision faded, I had the lingering feeling as though I was in hell. I could see a bench, with myself on it, just… sitting there. These freaky hallucinations were wearing me down, and I rubbed my tired eyes with my hand.
I sighed, the power of unhappiness effortlessly exerting its control on my mind. I walked past what I saw to be a bike shop; I heard voices coming from inside. With just a pinprick of hope, I meandered inside.
I could see a vision of myself punching and kicking my wife around the living room like some sort of fucking punching bag.
I was shocked; I couldn’t bear it. He didn’t notice me, so I rammed into him and thrust him off the balcony before he could protest, watching his descent and eventual splatter on the street.
I looked back. Predictably, the battered version of my wife wasn’t there, and looking down to the street, my second doppelganger was missing too.
I turned back and the room was no longer what it had been before; now it was what appeared to be a graveyard, although the only two graves present were those of my parents. The monster was standing behind me, looking at the back of my head with a grin on its yellowish face.
Without turning to face him, I asked, “What do you want from me? I suffered enough...” The figure approached me, its feet crushing. I was frozen in anticipation and in fear.
“Where’s my wife?” I demanded, stammering with nervousness.
It didn’t respond, instead whooshing right above my head and off into the sky. I lost my balance and fell. However, there was no ground to catch me; I kept falling and falling into the dark void, screaming.
"Love is so short, and forgetting is so long."
- Pablo Neruda
Hello. You may refer to me as the mind of a conscious man going crazy, but you can also call me the Mothman.
So, shall we recap on how my work is going so far? I think you’ll be impressed. As I stalked my prey and his wife driving home, I noticed they were happy. “Happy?” I asked myself, “Oh no, no, no. We must fix that.” So I tried to help him jog his memory a small bit. You see, I’ve been stalking this man since he was just a child. It's fun really, me knowing all and him knowing none; well, I'm getting a bit off topic.
I flew to the road in an angle where he could see me for a split second and still remember me. I watched him and his wife scream in horror, and saw the car they were driving in crash. “Ha ha! That's more like it!" I remember saying as the car crumpled around the base of the tree.
It was after I took his wife out of the equation that the plan really started to fall into motion.
He wakes up scared and on a journey to find his wife. I messed around with a couple of things just to scare him, that wondrous thrill of watching in anticipation, waiting to see their reaction. It seems almost exploitative, and that's the best part.
After entertaining myself with the bridge gag, I kept following him through town; he fainted a couple of times from the ailment of a weak heart. I kept on annoying him persistently, though, like the mosquito that flies into your house and won't go back to where it came from. I kept using those string-drawn marionettes with fake expressions carved into their faces, voodoo dolls of people from times and places past. Memories are like Silly Putty; they're extremely flexible, able to be shaped into any form as far as the limits forced upon oneself are.
After catching his attention in that hotel, I made him stare at himself bang that one girl from high school he never noticed. Anyways, he didn't make the connection, and he felt threatened in what seemed to be the manner of a small animal incapable of rationalizing a thing he witnesses. He then proceeded to slash up my piece of work! He destroyed himself! Almost symbolic, if you ask me.
Sometimes I get frustrated at his absolute lack of any knowledge, a lack I think borders on idiocy.
He doesn't have the faintest idea of what’s really going on.
I was making him go crazy, so I tried a few other things. like a homeless man with a pocket full of money, and a vision of himself kicking and punching his wife around. I honestly think I'm running out of ideas, but this is going to get better... I watched him toss that imaginary meat puppet with his face slathered on it like cold cream over the balcony and onto the ground.
I pursued him, unnoticed, as I built a graveyard in front of him; the mind is a very malleable thing. It was after he murmured something I couldn't quite catch on to that I decided to send him on a forced vacation down memory lane and sent him reeling into his subconscious.
I was about to expose to him something he had forgotten about years ago.
The deaths of his family.
"I drink to our ruined house, to the dolor of my life, to our loneliness together; and to you I raise my glass, to lying lips that have betrayed us, to dead-cold heartless eyes, and to the hard realities; that the world is brutal and coarse, that God, in fact, has not saved us."
- Anna Akhmatova
"Girls have cooties, Fred. Didn't your older brother teach you?"
Frederick Tristan was ignoring his acquaintance. That's what his mother told him to do in situations like this, anyways. His mother was a rather kind-hearted soul, very patient, especially when Fred's older brother David was drafted to go to Vietnam.
That was the first time his mother told him to ignore what was happening, actually. Fred's father was yelling at the entire household the day they got the letter. David assured that everything would be fine.
Now there was talk about a "Tet Offensive" and his mother wouldn't stop crying when she read the newspaper. Father had already gotten his feelings out before; this time, he was the solemn one.
Fred was now the oldest son of the family, the oldest child in fact. Besides David, Fred had Simon, his younger brother.
Fred was relaying these facts in his mind when Gerald Speta, the class bully, asked the question again.
"Didn't your older brother teach you? My older brother taught me. Said you'd turn into a girl if you catch cooties. He's not an idiot like your brother."
Fred silently scowled Gerald. The bully was a member of the same class, and on the first day of school, each member of said class had to exchange facts about themselves to further advance the school's agenda of community amongst the students. Gerald and Fred both had older brothers. What Fred didn't know was that David was just as much, if not a bigger bully when he was Fred's age.
Of course, David didn't dare to even lay a finger on Fred. As a matter of fact, it was around the time that Fred could actually communicate that David began to play a bigger role in his life. Father had work to tackle, thus David was the man of the house the majority of the time. In short, David was more of a father than Father was.
Gerald's older brother, holding a grudge of misery for the former year, had told Gerald to go pick on someone vulnerable. And what better subject than someone who was chatting with one of the opposite gender?
At this point, the girl in question was livid, although she tried to disguise it.
"Wow. Mom did say that you boys were immature... I just wanted to talk about The Beatles playing, or something, you know?"
"The Beatles? You mean that girly music? I guess Fred really IS a girl, isn't he?" Gerald sneered.
Fred was dead silent. The girl glared at Gerald in anger before speaking through gritted teeth. "Or maybe he just likes what his mother listens to. Right, Fred?"
Fred nodded as Gerald clamped his hand on Fred's shoulder, his face that of a father about to give The Talk to his son. "It's what happens when your dad isn't there... you turn into a girl, Fred. You turn into a bitch."
On the last word, the end-of-recess bell rang, followed by multitudes of screaming children running for the classroom doors to begin second period; math class. Thus, Gerald's dirty word went unheard and, in turn, nonexistent.
The two would cross paths again in class, when the order of the moment was to hand out tests. The teacher asked for volunteers, as usual, and naturally none of the children raised their hands.
"Fred, would you hand out the tests?"
As Fred racked his brain trying to deduce how he had offended the teacher as his feet moved to the desk by themselves. The teacher gestured toward a stack of papers and Fred obliged.
When Fred arrived at Gerald Speta's desk, he was overcome with a surge of mixed anger and disgust. Gerald, in response, happily stuck out his tongue.
Fred was boiling.
Delighted with how the events were proceeding, Gerald gleefully opened his mouth.
"My brother says people like you are queers."
That was it. The ultimate middle school insult: "You're gay!" Fred ripped off a page of the bully's test, to which the bully became irritated.
"Mr. Cartwright, may I use the stapler, please?"
"Yes, Fred. And be more careful next time, will you?"
"Yes, Mr. Cartwright."
Fred arrived back at Gerald's desk with a wide smile and eyes full of malice.
Mr. Cartwright did a double take when he heard a bloodcurdling scream from across the room. Sitting in his chair, frozen with apprehension, he peered across the room to see Gerald Speta writhing in torment. Tears were filling his eyes and soaking his face, mingling with the blood that was trickling from the staples in his forehead; he was wheezing loudly and shrieking at the very top of his lungs, like a little girl. He then moved his eyes to the usually quiet and reserved Frederick Tristan, who was now stapling Gerald's hand to the desk. All while this was happening, no student dared to intervene.
"Who's the queer now, bitch?!" Fred seethed, his attention beyond the horrified stares from his now-shuddering classmates.
Credited to Dublinjd, Venom-realm, Sater. This edited edition by Idealistic Prawn