Two separate minds cannot dwell peacefully in the same brain. So, in the case of Theodore, five was a desperate strain on his personal willpower. As each day passed him by, Theodore felt as if he was becoming less and less whilst his other selves became more and more. Call it whatever you will, a lost cause, schizophrenia, or even simple madness, but do not blame Theodore. He didn’t understand until it was all over for him and his time was nearly at the end of its expiry date.
Theodore’s friends were never with him from the beginning. One thing that is little known of Theodore is he had seen more tragedy, pain and death than anyone else in the world while he was alive. As people suffered around him, so too did he suffer, piece by piece. As friends left him, so too did his soul leave him as he drowned in solitude and isolation. As his family died before him, so too did his sanity die inside, little by little. By the time Theodore was almost finished off, he was only a fragment of himself, a distant memory. Theodore left us as only a shadow of his former self. Swirling around in the deepest, darkest recesses of his mind, masked by the storm of emotion thundering above a sea of distant memory. Theodore was a whisper among an orchestra. He still remained there, but he may as well have been nothing.
Theodore’s first detachment occurred at age seven. Theodore’s parents, Carla and Brock, died in a plane crash just off the coast of the Isle of Wight during a return trip to Heathrow airport. Like any child who loses their parents, an entire catalogue of thoughts and emotions overthrew Theodore like an angry hurricane. He had no idea what to do. For the first time, but certainly not the last, he was somewhat untethered. Theodore approached his loss by going into a severe depression but a part of him still wanted to desperately cling on to his almost forgotten happiness. The same happiness his parents wanted to see every time they returned from work, the same happiness he had when they bought him ice cream after school, the very same happiness he gave to everyone else when he hugged them. From this affection he gained the nickname Teddy. Teddy was his happiness.
Teddy looked like any average seven year old did. Untidy but fitting chestnut hair with curious and almost enchanted ocean blue eyes and a few facial freckles here and there, surrounding the bridge of his nose and his cheeks. He was thin but looked well fed and had an air of innocence about him, especially when he would involuntarily tilt his head from time to time as if he were pondering the existence of everything or just whatever he happened to be staring at during the time.
Time progressed and Theodore co-existed with Teddy rather well. Although there were times when their relationship was strained and they acted like two strangers who had suddenly become roommates.
They acknowledged each other’s presence but made no significant effort to even pretend to take interest in the other. Everyone around Teddy and Theodore dismissed them as just being a singular troubled person. Especially Theodore’s godfather, Damon.
Damon was a failed engineer who spent most of his time either drinking Special Brew or sleeping in front of a muted telly. Usually the evening news was on and there would be news of a murder or rape or terrorism or crashed economies or some other tragedy that decided to befall itself on one or many. Sometimes Teddy would force Theodore downstairs while Damon was sleeping to watch CBBC, hopefully at five o’clock when Rainbow was on. Although, the most Teddy would usually get from sneaking down at half past six when Damon was definitely asleep, was the reading of bedtime stories and the goodbye songs being played. The fun of this wouldn't last long though, since Damon would be woken up by the singing emanating from the TV and he would proceed to shoo Teddy and Theodore out of the front room with yelling, spitting and sometimes even kicking. Theodore hated every moment of it but Teddy still found some comfort from the short few minutes he would get to spend in front of that TV every night.
Years down the line and Teddy hadn’t changed in the slightest but Theodore was slowly becoming more and more out of reach. Their relationship was more strained than usual as Theodore would become more and more angry at Teddy for being so childish. Eventually, at age thirteen, he was snapped yet again. The day of his break was so memorable, you could almost hear the nauseating crunch as if his mentality and personality were bones breaking in half.
At lunchtime, in front of the whole school, Adam was able to fight one of Theodore’s biggest battles for him. Adam grabbed the school bully, Derek, by the neck and shoved five inches worth of small Lego bricks straight up his left nostril. Theodore was saddened and ashamed as he was expelled by the headmaster himself but Adam simply cackled with pride and dusted off his hands in such a manner that he appeared to have made a great accomplishment in his vile and cruel conduct. Derek left the school in an ambulance, his mother wailing above him, with tears going down his face and his clothes and lower face covered in his own sordid combination of blood and sinus fluid.
Adam was a fair few inches taller than Teddy and more adolescent looking. His hair was a murky brown and unkempt, not in the untidy way that seems to look neat on certain people but in a way that he would be regarded as either a criminal or homeless. His eyes were a brooding and apathetic blue that seemed to drain a room of all colour in order to fulfil his need for it. Very few freckles could be identified behind paled and livid skin. Adam was thin and reedy with the shadow of puberty bearing over him. Theodore couldn’t tell why he felt this way but every encounter he had with Adam would always spread an angry atmosphere around them both.
Life became more of a trial with Adam around. As each day passed, Theodore kept feeling less and less himself. It didn’t help that Damon would still constantly berate Theodore now that Adam was around to further torment him and force him into a reclusive corner.
Teddy was the only person Theodore felt he could confide in but even Teddy was almost as distant as Theodore these days. Adam would occasionally bully Theodore but, more than anything, Adam loved to psychologically torture Teddy. Adam took gratuitous amounts of pride and pleasure in restricting Teddy’s daily ten minute entertainment by waking up Damon on purpose and causing Damon to kick off again at Teddy and Theodore. Sometimes, as an even more cruel measure, he would wait a few minutes until Teddy was fully absorbed in his TV shows until he woke Damon up. However, this did not mean that Adam was safe from Damon’s bullying, he was anything but safe. At times, it would be a contest between Teddy and Damon over who Adam despised more. Adam would still subtly bully Damon back with some of his creative japes which, not only pleased Teddy and Theodore but also entertained Adam greatly. These childish wheezes were usually small and petty but very far from harmless, sometimes causing a great deal of injury to Damon. Sometimes Adam would like to place small, almost imperceptible nails into Damon’s favourite armchair and as he would go to sit down he would jump like a jackrabbit out of the chair, screeching like an eagle on the hunt. These mischievous deeds would only serve to land Theodore in deeper trouble, making him entirely more depressed and Teddy could only cry as the sting of pain to his heart ensued from seeing Theodore so miserable. Adam simply folded his arms and smirked with pride and glory.
A few more years passed and Theodore had somehow remained sewn together. On Theodore’s first day of his final year in high school, he was in no better state than he was at the beginning of his first ear when Adam arrived. Sixteen years old and Theodore was barely aware of everything around him, which didn’t help with his exams coming up. Theodore was constantly getting into trouble with Adam extending his devilish jokes toward anyone in the school who happened to be near at the time. Adam’s entertainment always left Theodore isolated from everyone, either of his own volition or through a detention from a teacher. Teddy, as always, would just sit and watch. Powerless to act for Theodore or against Adam.
There was one obstacle that life sent toward Theodore that not even Adam was prepared for. That particular road block was women. Theodore never had a single clue on how to approach girls, let alone interact with them. Teddy wasn’t much help since his idea of serenading was going out for ice cream and then going home to watch Come Outside. Then again, in this modern day, food and TV can be enough for most women. Adam was also just as clueless. His brilliant approach was to pour a bucket of water over their heads and try to pass it off as a bad joke. Everyone loves a joker but that was a bit over the top. Regardless, it was quite clear that Theodore needed help with this particular obstacle and who better to help him than Sam?
Sam had the appearance of a younger Ewan McGregor with slightly darker brown hair and less of a squared jaw, although Sam still could have easily passed for a Jedi. Every move that Sam made had a certain flourish about it and there was nobody in the entire school with more elegance and élan or style and grace as Sam. It came as no surprise to anyone that he was rather popular among the girls, whether they were in his year, the year below or even in the college years.
There was a relatively divided opinion on Sam. Teddy was inspired by Sam and worshiped him as much as he idolised Zippy. Theodore was mildly impressed with Sam and found his confidence to be an admirable, if slightly narcissistic, trait to possess. Adam, obviously, scorned Sam. e felt seething anger toward Sam but still couldn't help feeling slightly entertained by Sam’s swagger and natural bravado. Eventually, through a lot of flirting, asking with flowers, chocolates and all other assortments of gifts, Sam was in a happy relationship with Lindsay.
Lindsay was a short girl with long brown hair and curious green eyes. Staring long enough would feel like gazing across a long green field on a bright, sunny summer morning. She was as beautiful as a sunset over the ocean and Sam could not bear to tear his eyes away from her face for more than a few seconds. Then again, neither could Theodore. Theodore wanted to be with Lindsay as well and became riddled with jealousy after she took more interest in Sam. Any admiration Theodore previously had for Sam was now torn away and replaced with resentment, hatred and jealousy which only pressed Adam to have much more reason to direct his anger at Sam.
A few weeks before Christmas and a couple of months into Sam’s relationship, Adam decided to execute his worst prank ever. He had set up a spring next to Lindsay’s bed which set off a rope to drag her up and dangle her by her legs. After a few minutes he would come running in dressed as Sam and throw honey over her, slap her with a feather pillow and yell “Chickens CAN fly!”. His plan was flawless and simply hilarious. In the morning, Lindsay got up and sprung the trap just as planned, but the part which didn’t go to plan was Lindsay’s slender figure. The rope slipped up her feet, well past her ankles and swung up to her neck. For a few minutes she dangled in the air, gasping for as much breath as she could steal until she couldn't reach anymore. The struggling and twitching soon died out, as did she. Adam came into the room, armed with the honey and pillow and stopped dead. Lindsay’s corpse swung before him in mid-air.
Everyone became drastically different after that. Adam became much more quiet but if he was any ever approached by anyone, his usual childish anger seemed to be magnified many times as he lashed out at people, spitting like a snake and snarling like a devil. Teddy seemed to have lost what little colour he had left in his cheeks and never went downstairs or even spoke unless Adam became mad at him for being silent. Teddy just responded with hushed cries and whimpers like any seven year old would.
If Theodore was any more further away, he would have been on Jupiter. Theodore was more of a recluse than he’d ever been and through all of the court hearings, the sentencing to juvenile halls and admittance into the high security hospital. If Theodore was not in a very dark place before, he was definitely there now. Despite the changes in everyone else, nobody was more torn than Sam. He would have killed Adam on the spot that day if it was possible. Something had snapped inside him the day Lindsay died. He became more and more strange, as if he was slowly transforming into an animal. His hair became mussed and filthy, black bags grew underneath his eyes and his pearl white teeth had become yellowed and rotted.
Theodore definitely didn’t need more followers, but out of all the sorrow and fear came a new member of this very dysfunctional family. Eddie was a skeleton-like man with a light stubble on his chin. Only two years older than Sam, Eddie looked like the most authoritative figure, second only to Theodore. Although, Eddie lacked any kind of confidence and was described by Adam as “not even able to lead a used tea bag out of a mug”. Eddie took all abuse given to him as he was a monumental coward. At any sign of discontent his first instinct was to run away.
Adam had previously focused his anger on Teddy and Joseph, another member of the hospital who spent most of his time talking to an imaginary person he seemed to have invented in his head. Nobody knew why but Joseph’s constant bickering with thin air seemed to infuriate Adam. Since Eddie came along, Adam had focused almost all of his anger on this new victim. It was Adam’s new life ambition to both mentally and physically torture his new victim almost everyday. Teddy felt sorry for Eddie but made no attempts to get in the way of Adam’s duties. Theodore and Sam actively ignored Eddie with significant effort and treated him as a needle in a haystack. Not worth the time or effort to even think about.
Eddie’s constant fear was both a burden and a pain for everyone else. He would keep them all awake at night with constant babbling about nightmares he had and always stopping them from eating, fearing it was somehow poisoned or because he thought he could see mould.
Eddie’s fear, Adam’s anger, Teddy’s silence and Sam’s insanity was bearing down on Theodore like the shadow of nightfall in the afternoon. He could barely tell his imagination and reality apart. He spent a lot of time being consoled by a worried Teddy whilst he sat in the corner, rocking back and forth with his head in his knees, covered by his arms. Adam was still at his pranks but purposely made them dangerous enough to nearly kill some of the other patients. Sam acted very strangely toward some of the female nurses. Sometimes he would follow behind them while the patrolled the halls or left Theodore’s room. He also took time to touch their hair, shadow their steps very uncomfortably closely and even sometimes touch them in inappropriate places. Needless to say, it got him in a lot of trouble.
On Theodore’s twentieth birthday, there was no celebration. Adam berated him with old man jokes, Eddie gave him seminars on being extra cautious and Teddy gave little effort into wishing him a happy birthday.
Sam seemed to have a strange surprise in store for Theodore. Sam woke Theodore up at around 11am and led him down the hallway to a cold storage room and revealed the big birthday surprise. One of the nurses was on the floor in the centre of the room, her arms and legs tied together and a gag wrapped around her mouth. She had long brown hair and deep green eyes, just like Lindsay. Theodore was horrified at this sight and felt much worse after seeing Sam’s wild, hungry gaze locked on the unconscious nurse. Sam was disheartened after he sensed that Theodore didn’t share his enthusiasm but made it very clear that he wasn’t prepared to let a birthday present go wasted. Everyone else watched in horror as Sam towered over the nurse and violated every part of her. Even Adam was left sickened as he felt a rising chill sprint up his spine and a sickly churning feeling revolve in his stomach after seeing the carnal and beastly look in Sam’s eyes.
At twenty three years old, Theodore was surrounded by strangers every minute of every day, and yet he never felt more alone. Things had stayed very quiet after what Sam did those three years ago. Eddie spent his time quietly chattering to himself and constantly shaking. Teddy would sit on the bed with his knees drawn up to support his chin as he hugged his ruined toy panda which was missing an arm, and eye and part of its left ear. Adam wasn't doing anymore pranks on anyone and just spent his time shooting mean looks to passers by and yelling at Eddie. Sam was the worst. Everyday he spent his time pacing back and forth, muttering incoherently with both his hands down the front of his pants. He was quite clearly obsessed with what he did since he would sometimes sneak out of the room, most likely to commit another foul deed, but also because, among his rambling, the name “Lindsay” would be repeated a good seven or eight times. Apart from these acts he spent the rest of his time sitting in the corner of the room and constantly dribble all over his t shirt. None of them were in any shape to think straight, let alone get on with any of the daily activities the nurses and staff pushed them to do.
The final blow to Theodore’s sanity came about when Damon came back into his life. Damon had lost a substantial amount of weight over the years but his beard was much scruffier and his curly, black hair was more wavy and much messier as if a used mop had been plastered to his head.
Damon took a seat opposite Theodore as he sat on his bed, facing the floor. Adam eyed Damon intently as the resentment he used to hold for Damon rushed back to him like a long lost pet. Sam took no notice of Damon and continued quietly drooling while staring at the floor. Teddy remembered all too well how much Damon scared him and Eddie, due to never meeting Damon, immediately assumed he was dangerous based on the reactions from Teddy, Adam and Theodore.
Damon stared at Theodore for a while, unsure how to approach his godson. His best friend’s only child. Suddenly, Theodore’s empty head rose, his fixed gaze left the floor and his hollow, colourless eyes were locked on to Damon’s. For a few seconds they were sat there staring into each other's souls. Theodore was unable to focus on anything but for a split second, Theodore’s brain was able to process the years of anger and rage that had brewed in Damon, accompanied by a new undertone of fear and slight worry, not for Theodore but for himself. Damon was unable to comprehend what he believed to be seeing inside Theodore. He was initially expecting to look into Theodore’s eyes and see a little boy full of sadness, regret and maybe anger. A tormented child with nothing left to hold on to. Instead he saw, what he believed to be, an empty shell. A desolate vessel with no living soul to find within. To him there was absolutely no sign of the boy he used to know. To him, Theodore was gone, so who was he staring at?
As if by magic, Damon felt the sudden rage inside him explode like a restless, vengeful super volcano. He grabbed Theodore by the shoulders and shook him violently, screaming and swearing in his face. Everyone was aware of the fight that was about to happen. Adam was angrier than ever but was powerless to do anything. Sam tried grabbing Damon’s arms but his bony hands were no match for Damon’s overwhelming anger. Eddie ran into the corner. covering his ears and yelling hysterically. Teddy saw the violence and immediately began to cry. Theodore didn’t care, he just sat there with empty eyes going in every direction, flopping in Damon’s grip like a fish out of water.
After a few minutes of yelling and shaking, Damon took his clenched fist and threw it at Theodore, punching him in the nose. Theodore collapsed and everyone winced as if they all had felt the pain of the punch. Theodore looked at the floor which had become stained with his own blood. Anger was swelling inside him and suddenly, an unknown force rose up from Theodore’s crippled state and swung back at Damon. He was forced backwards, holding his eye where Marcus had punched him. The scruffy bearded, untidy Marcus wanted Damon’s blood all over the walls of Theodore’s room and his head mounted on the bed post. Marcus advanced toward Damon, grabbed his head and threw it against the mirror above the sink. Holding his torn face, Damon pleaded with Marcus for his life but to no avail. This monster didn’t feel remorse or regret, he didn’t just want pain, he wanted agony and death.
Marcus threw Damon to the floor and repeatedly kicked him in the face and ribs until, finally, after a swift kick to the temple Damon lay blood, broken and most definitely dead on the floor below the sink. Marcus stared at the corpse and got a most wicked idea. This was far worse than anything anyone else had done. Worse than Adam’s accidental killing of Lindsay and far worse than Sam’s predatory advances on the nurses.
Marcus took up a shard of broken glass from the shattered mirror and carefully carved the skin from Damon’s face, leaving only a fleshy, red head and his other facial features intact. Marcus proudly hung the skin mask on the wall, suspended from a piece of broken glass.
Everyone was in awe at this murder, even Sam. Marcus was not finished though, he wanted more. The next few days he spent killing both patients and staff at the hospital, starting with the most vulnerable patients and working his way up to the staff. After a week, Theodore’s room was lined with face masks. It was like a bloody, grotesque masquerade dressing room. Marcus knew he couldn’t collect any of his counterpart’s faces, not even Theodore’s which he craved more than anything. He always thought Theodore was pathetic.
By the time Marcus had finished at the hospital, Theodore was dead weight. He was so silent that it took significant effort and great pain for him to open his mouth, He barely ate and rarely slept and eventually looked like a skeleton. But his body refused to die.
Teddy, aged seven, was a small and frail child who never spoke and always cried. Adam, aged twelve, was a kid bully who had an excuse to get angry at anything except Marcus. Sam, aged sixteen, was a severely disturbed teenager who took full advantage of the female bodies Marcus left behind. Eddie, aged eighteen, never smiled. Paranoia surrounded his thoughts everyday and he even suffered terrifying hallucinations that only amplified his fear. Marcus, aged twenty three, was a murderous, vengeful monster. He happily killed anyone without a second thought. If anything, he thoroughly enjoyed killing and enjoyed skinning the victim’s faces even more. Finally, there was Theodore. Aged twenty seven, Theodore was an empty, soulless skin sack. Accommodating five other people, he had no room left for himself. Theodore was, or may as well have been nothing.
Nobody really knows where Marcus “The Collector” is now after the hospital was burned down and all possible evidence of murder was never discovered. Police assumed that everyone died in the fire and nobody escaped so faceless corpses were unnoticeable and the possibility of murder was hidden by charred remains. To the present day there have been various killings and skinning around the UK, and indeed the world, but Marcus had been since sent to Strangeways prison to serve a full life sentence. Nobody has figured out how people are still turning up with their faces peeled off but everyone does know for a fact that The Collector still updates his face collection and probably won't stop.