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The Five Stages

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The lights dim in the packed auditorium, the curtains pull back to reveal an empty stage; a deafening silence before the play is set in motion. In walks a man, a bottle of whiskey in his hand; out of job, out of time, out of luck. He walks beside a river, its dark waters beckoning him to give in. On its banks he sees a beggar, merrily skipping stones into the rising tide.His vision starts to blur, his feet start to give way, and the lights cut to black.

The scene shifts to next morning, or afternoon rather, when he wakes up with a splitting headache. He has somehow managed to come home, and that's when he sees it; his hands, his shirt and his bed are covered in red; The peculiar thing is he finds no injury. He dismisses as wine remembering the previous nights drinking.

The next day as he walks towards an office for an interview, his attention is caught by a boy selling the days news. 'Man murdered brutally on Wednesday night! Get your news here!' he shouts, and that's when he reaches the first stage: Denial.

He refuses to see that he'd done it, that in his frustration, blinded by liquor, he'd taken the life of another. After days of searching for another job, the stress killing him, eating him from the inside,he reaches the second stage: Anger,

Every time he's rejected his urge to fight grows; a little voice whispering from a place at the edge of his vision but never directly in his line of sight. 'Crush his throat!' it urged him continually, 'Split his skull in two!' it said in a voice that was monotonous yet flanged with immense hate.

On the seventh day since his blackout, almost completely insane from the now unceasing voice he saw it - a familiar face in the ever-changing crowd, a reflection from a pristine mirror in fact, yet somehow darker. The doppelgänger opened his mouth and out came the same flanging voice, the one he'd come to dread. It had dark eyes like an obsidian dagger, its veins pop from his head with a sickening blue complexion. He realizes that the doppelgänger is a projection of his subconscious, a caged animal hungry for fresh meat, one that would destroy everything in its path with joy. He knows that in a split second it could take over, knock Dr. Jekyll unconscious and let Hyde out, and that's when he reaches the third stage: Bargaining.

He pleads with his inner demon to stop this chaos, he tries to calm this chaotic beast, but alas he fails, for the beast has no other reason for hunting other than its primal pleasure, and thus he reaches the fourth stage: Depression.

He drowns away his sorrows, his stuttering self in alcohol. He contemplates on how to save himself from his ultimate enemy: his crippled mind. He decides its better to end his life than to end others so he went to the edge of the bridge, the bridge of his first kill. As he stood there ready to take the plunge, he reaches the final stage: Acceptance.

He sees that there is no monster that has infected his mind, he is the monster, the plague was never existent. He recounts that fateful night, the immense pleasure he took in dissecting his unfortunate victim, the feeling of the blood splattering on his clothes and face. And so he waits, he sits by the bridge, waiting for his next victim, and like a lion crouching in the tall grass, he pounces on him, beating him and dragging him to the underpass.

As he violently plunges his knife on the man's throat, and as he helplessly tries to scream. He looks into his eyes, his rabid eyes meet with his prey's, that are filled with horror, as he thinks, he needs a memento, to remember the pleasure of taking another life. So he takes his knife and with surgical precision he carves out one of his victims eyes, the image of his lustful smile burnt into the retina. The next day, the body is found floating somewhere down the river, as the madman now stores the lone eye in a jar preserving the intoxicating fear for eternity.

And so the lights come back on, the audience in standing ovation. The actors and the director of the play take a bow, just as the curtains pull back. The critics commend the writer, the creator of the play; his corrupted work, the horrifying twist. They all ask him for his inspiration, the reason for his creation, and they are all met by the same unsatisfactory answer: 'Its all in my head'. The writer goes home, to his expansive mansion, and he walks towards a wall intricately designed. He opens the door behind it, to reveal his collection, the area of his recreation. The room is old and musty, filled with a variety of shelves labelled with addresses, and on those shelves, lie jars filled with a myriad of eyes.

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