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Indoctrination of Roses

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I’m crazy, or so they all say.

My mother says I’m crazy.

My father says I’m crazy. (I nearly killed him once. But it wasn’t my fault.)

My ex-friends say I’m crazy.

But I am NOT crazy.

It’s all my brother’s fault. It’s ALL Vern’s fault.

I can’t show that I hate him. I literally can’t. As in, something happened to me and I am physically unable to display any negative expressions towards my brother. Whew. But at least my embittered heart can feel the hate. I think about the beginning, my naïve, stupid, asinine beginning. I wrote it down on a piece of paper, with my own blood, while I was asleep. It would be an impressive feat if I wasn’t “mentally ill and prone to such behaviour”, quote courtesy of my brother.

Today, Vern’s being more persuasive than usual when he asks me to go to the garden with him. I always found it a bit eerie, near that rundown shed in the backyard. The weeds are well-tended. And there are so many roses. Blood red roses.

“What’s so cool about the garden?” I ask. I’ve been asking for a while now, out of curiosity. “You could stand to have some time out of it. I bet it wouldn’t be hard for you to find a’re popular.”

“Well, you’re my special girl!” He grins (he should just trademark his smile) and grabs me a bit too forcefully by the arm. I don’t actually mind. He never hurts me.

“Ouch! You know I hate it when you do that! How many times have I told you to stop?” I twist myself out of his grasp and run back inside, laughing. It’s something I’ve always done, avoiding my brother. We’ve made a game out of it. Dad hates having me stomp inside the house, but too bad. “Besides, I’ve got homework to do.”

“Come on, Eliza...just once? Please?” Vern has caught up to me. His dark eyes plead like a puppy.

“Fine.” I pretend to be grumpy.

He then takes me into the shed. Roses scattered everywhere. A million crushed petals. They’re soaked in water.

“ quiet.” I look around with a bewildered expression when he shows me a small syringe with a dark liquid inside. The colour of roses.

“Don’t worry, this won’t hurt,” Vern explains. In the dark shed, it’s difficult to see, but I make out his expression. A strange eagerness. “I just want you to be my friend.” He sounds like a little boy. “But only if you don’t tell anyone anything.” A feral snarl.

“You’’re not going to stick that in me, are you?” I don’t think of screaming. It’s just my brother.

Before I react, he plunges the needle into the back of my neck. The doctors love saying that I’m crazy. They are my brother’s slaves. They love nothing more than sticking pills down my throat, and theirs. Pills that my brother made. He wanted to be a pharmacist, in order to make pills. So he could be much more. The president of the United Countries of Earth, that’s what he wants to be.

My brother has always been always an ambitious experimenter. He hated animal testing, and he thought humans weren’t animals, so I was the victim, the guinea pig. Just because I had the misfortune to live in the same house with him. I’d rather be a real guinea pig than his sister.

You know how I said he wanted to be president/king/Great Dictator? I wasn’t joking. His plans for world domination included creating an obedient, conforming army of some sort. Using a rose extract he developed. Ah, so that’s what I was writing about when I was asleep. That bast- ...

Sorry, the life support machine implanted in me decided to pump in tranquilizers just then. Was I talking about the rose extract? Yeah? Long story short, it screwed me over.

Here’s more of my intriguing past that I wrote out of boredom while I was (half) awake, which apparently doesn’t make me any more sane than if I had been writing while asleep:

More than 3 weeks later after the needle, and I’m still fine. I never see Vern these days; he just makes his presence known by dropping off roses on my bed whenever I’m gone at school. Y’know, he was probably just trying to scare me. He’s really a good person. Yeah, he was definitely trying to scare me. We always played games. They were fun.

“We always played games?” “They were fun?” If you count my brother trying to liquify and reshape my cheekbones while injecting lab-grown hair into my scalp fun, well, it’s still not much of a game. I HATE that I look so much like my admittedly beautiful brother. Hate isn’t a strong enough word. Actually, reading that was nearly enough to make me think I was insane. No, no, that’s my brother’s ultimate goal, to make me doubt my sanity. I blame my past on the rose extract. There must be no other factor.

“I search up psychopaths. “How to Cure a Psychopath”, says the first result on Google. I click it and am met with some advice about teaching morals to kids. Not going to help. I click the next link, which says “Beware of High-Functioning Sociopaths and Psychopaths!”. There’s a picture of a dead body, too. The muscles of my face stretch to create a painful grin. Something about the body excites me. I quickly shut down my computer. What is wrong with me.”

Oh, the next part’s even more interesting:

I can’t seem to remember why I even like Lana, my best friend. (She clings to me like a magnet.) Why I try to live with my “parents”. (They ignored me for my younger brother Justin. He’s smart, needs more nurture.) I’m getting more fed up with people. Knocked an old lady down “by accident”. I hear she broke a few bones. Oh, and then my dad, who failed to get me a birthday present or cake, he...the doctors say he’s in critical condition. Yeah, yeah, he lost his job, but still. He doesn’t care about me? I don’t care about him.

Vern and I are starting to get along really well. We’re together all the time. He tells me I’m growing more sane by the moment. I’m also starting to look like him, Vern says. The mirror proves it.

'I knew there was nothing wrong with Vern. Or me, now that I think of it.

No, there is definitely nothing wrong with me.

Vern cared enough to give me a birthday present. It’s a beautiful silver knife, with a ruby-encrusted handle. I don’t ask him where he got it from. I love it so much, and I can’t wait to use it. Use it? Wait, what? Oops, my mind slipped for a second there; shouldn’t be asking.


I’m paying close attention to this new video on my computer. Lots of liquid, the same color as those roses.


More roses.

I prick myself and lick the drop of blood that forms. roses.

'I have my usual nightmare, of Vern trying to maim my (our?) loved ones, except it’s not a nightmare. It’s more of a pleasant dream. I let him do what he wants this time. '

I wake up and cry. After crying I start smiling for no reason.

'A part of me shudders. At what I’m becoming. But my heart’s getting numb, and I’m getting bored...I itch to do something. A smile makes it way onto my new face. (Did I mention that I look like a girl version of Vern now?) '

I watched a crime drama, and was really happy when the “antagonist” shot the annoying policeman. It’s fake blood, but still. I don’t like the police, they restrain essential freedoms. '

The only love I will ever feel is for my master, my brother. I plaster on a nice smile. My teeth are porcelain white. I’m ready for my first kill.

Ignore the last paragraph, ignore the last paragraph, ignore the last paragraph. Do you want me to stop ripping my writing up into pieces? Ok, here’s the rest in one chunk:

“Eliza: never leave evidence. Have fun. Pick anyone you’d like.” Vern’s voice echoes through my head. Wow, I think we have telepathy between each other! (No, I’m NOT going crazy.)

'I arrive at school early. Everyone gapes at me, including my (well, former) best friend, Lana.

“What did you do to your face?” she whispers, with noticeable jealousy. I sigh. Maybe she’ll be my first victim. “And Eliza, you’ve been really mean to me the past few days. I don’t want to be your friend anymore. You always ignore me on Facebook. It’s your fault I failed that assignment-”

“I didn’t get plastic surgery. Now, if you’ll excuse me...” I push past her and grab a cute boy from 11th grade. His eyes immediately fill with animalistic lust, and now I want to retch. I seem to have picked the wrong guy. Keep your composure, I remember Vern saying.

We enter an empty parking lot, and he presses his lips onto mine. I try to kiss back without making too much physical contact. It’s not easy. Ugh, this must be why Vern never had a girlfriend. I’m itching to draw my knife out now.

“Come on, let’s go to the forest...” I try to whisper attractively. The 9th grader, whose name I don’t even know, starts pulling me towards the local forest (it’s close to school).

We’re there. But before he can slobber any more saliva onto me, I grab that perfectly shaped handle and carve into his chest. He coughs up blood, tumbles onto the ground. I widen the incision and pull out some ribs to see his heart, which has already stopped. He didn’t even last a minute. I lick the blood from my knife. It tastes like roses. I am not satisfied. I want someone who can actually enjoy the fun.

Back at the parking lot, I meet up with Vern.

“How’d you do?”

“Pretty good, I guess...I reported him missing to the police. I think I was a good actress.”

“Excellent.” He plants a kiss on my cheek. He moves his lips to mine for a quick second afterwards. Brotherly love, yes?


My mother’s watching the news today. She almost never does.

“A teenage boy, Louis Mallory, was found brutally murdered in Ashton Grove yesterday night. When he did not show up for a meeting at a friend’s house, the friend and her brother walked over and saw the dead body. (Comment: I didn’t even know him. Of course I wasn’t actually his friend.)... A recording of the 911 call:

‘Hello? 911, state your emergency.’

‘ think my friend’s dead...’

Some loud sobbing can be heard. When the tears pour out of my eyes, my mom immediately turns the TV off. She comforts me, “It’s alright, baby, shush,” while I try to cry hysterically. What kind of girl doesn’t cry when her best friend dies? (Me.) 'Then she notices me smiling at Vern. Oh dear. 'I think Mom will be seeing roses tonight. Mom never did see the roses. Instead, right after, Vern blurted out that I had been on a killing spree. Apparently I had threatened him to not tell anyone about it. Vern’s little performance was convincing enough for my mother to call the cops.

Strangely enough, merely getting arrested for murder wasn’t enough to land me where I am, this hell operated by Vern’s most trusted cronies. No, what did it was a suicide attempt. An ironically useful one at that, because the medications used to keep me alive (and suffering) ended up reversing the effects of the rose extract. Which caused me to attempt suicide in the first place. But I suppose I’m lucky to be immune from the roses that plague the rest of the world.

A nurse enters my room. She injects something in my arm. Has she been affected by Vern’s pills yet? Yes, she has: her eyes are dark, her hair is brown, her cheekbones are razor sharp. But her eyes still hold a remnant of sanity, the sanity that will soon belong only to me...I can’t scream. The injection seems to have dissolved my vocal cords. Oh well, I haven’t spoken in a while anyway. 5, 6, 7 years?

A doctor enters my room. He injects something in my arm. Has he been affected by Vern’s pills yet? Yes, he has: his eyes are dark, his hair is brown, his cheekbones are razor sharp. I try to look for glimmers of sanity....but now I can’t see. The injection seems to have blinded me. Oh well, there was nothing to look at in my room anyway.

Vern himself enters my room. His voice alerts me.He murmurs, in a disappointed tone, that I’m quite mad. I cover my ears so he can’t torture me that way, calling me abnormal and a load of other shameful things. But Vern’s smart, he injects a chip into my arm. It transfers audio signals twice as loud as they actually are, directly into the brain. Blah blah blah, I don’t care anymore. At my worst, I’ll still be more sane than the mindless zombies he has somehow managed to create. Noticing that I’m still not paying attention, he injects another chip. What’s going to happen this time?

The only love I will ever feel is for my master, my brother. I plaster on a nice smile. My teeth are porcelain white. I’m ready for my first kill.

Oh no. Not that. Flashbacks. I don’t love my brother and he’s not my master. This is proving to be very irksome.

“Well, you’re my special girl!” He grins (he should just trademark his smile) and grabs me a bit too forcefully by the arm. I don’t actually mind. He never hurts me.

False. Of course he hurts me. He’s hurt me so many times, it’s not even funny. If it weren’t for my vaporized vocal cords, Vern would be deaf...

I knew there was nothing wrong with Vern. I knew there was nothing wrong with Vern. I knew there was nothing wrong with Vern.

Wow. It’s like I’m actually saying it.

I’d rather die in peace than in pieces, but Vern was, and is, cruel enough to withhold that mercy. He dares to give me a kiss, knowing I can’t squirm or cry out.

I’m wishing I could cut all my nerve endings out. That would be better than just losing my voice and sight.

Vern’s real voice echoes along with the flashback chip. “Brotherly love, yes?”

I will not nod, despite the fact that Vern’s hands are trying to push and pull my neck. In fact, I’m hoping that he’s infuriated enough to hold on, but just when my neck is about to snap, he lets go.

“Not now, Eliza. You know I don’t want you to die.”

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