I got the bulk of this story from an online journal. I should clarify that it isn't mine, so there may be elements that could benefit from some sober and rational explanation, and won't always be able to offer that.
My name is Jason but my friends call me Jase. The journal in question belonged to a friend of mine... or rather, someone that used to be a friend of mine. It was on a public journalism website, which many of you will know of, perhaps you're even a member yourself. I'd forgotten all about it to tell you the truth. I'd long grown out of blogging my every thought, feeling, minor achievement and perceived injustice in the world, with the faint hope that the throngs of the internet would find me fascinating. I'd never deleted my account however, and with a little thought I was able to recall my password and log in. After a quick browse through my old entries, rolling my eyes, chuckling and thanking Christ I wasn't that ranting teenager anymore, I decided to check on the journals of a few of my old friends. Most were inactive accounts, or had simply not been updated in years. But then, as my gaze skimmed along the list of abstract, comical and melodramatic blogger names, my eye fixed on one which caused my blood to chill in my veins and a tumult of painful memories to flood my mind, shattering the pleasant nostalgia.
Oh God, Patrick. Pat, who I had attended college with, gone on lad's holidays with, and years before, been tight teenage friends. Pat had grown up in the same smallish town as me, our parents knew each other, we'd shared a lot over the years. He'd been like a brother to me, and I to him, we'd have promised to always been there for each other... if saying something like that hadn't been suicide for the masculinity, but I had always felt it was an unspoken understanding. Thinking back to our time together at college, we worked well together. I was what you might call 'sensible', a little reserved but also more level headed than Pat, I tended to be the one with a job and a handle on our plans for the weekend. He was just all about living life, really outgoing but not obnoxious with it, the kind of guy always at the centre of the fun but still pretty intelligent, he'd joke that he was studying history of literature and weed. He was usually in a group of people he was making laugh by acting the clown, you know the kind of guy. He had a lot of friends, guy friends and girl friends... oh yeah, and the girlfriends. He was in and out of relationships more times that I could remember. There was generally minimal drama, some of the relationships barely reaching a full week. He insisted to me that he always ended things with a genuine "Lets still be friends, yeah..?" but the girls rarely took him up on this offer. One night when we were just chilling in his dorm room, doing a little smoking and perhaps more than a little drinking, he confided in me his sincere desire to find the right girl and settle down. I snorted my disbelief and said "Yeah yeah, I'm sure", glancing over at his door where a petite brunette in very short denim skirt and almost see-through t-shirt had exited a few hours ago when I arrived, but he sat up and continued.
"No, seriously man. I know there's been a lot of girls" he grinned at this point and glanced at his phone out of the corner of his eye, clearly expected a text from another girl at some point that night. "But, it's just because I'm a passionate person, you know? If I meet a girl I like I want her to be my girlfriend, right there, right now. If it doesn't work out, I'll worry about that later. Cross that bridge when we come to it, you know?" he took another drink. "Seriously though, if I met the right kind of girl, all bets would be off. That would be me, sorting it all out, no more messing around, no more cheating. Gotta make a real go of it, you know? Treat her like a Princess, with respect, that's what love is man."
"Yeah, I know." I said, considering his words. "I just want to ask you one thing.."
"When the fuck did you start reading cosmo magazine?" I grinned broadly, still slouched on his couch, I raised my arm a little too slowly to deflect the empty beer can thrown at my head. We both laughed.
Thinking about those days gives me a strange feeling in my chest, a sort of tight numbness, where my ribs feel constricted but my heart beats stronger than ever. It's bitter-sweet, remember my old friend in the time before... before everything just went crazy.
Looking at his online journal I see it is set to private, viewable only by his friends. To my knowledge that means me, and maybe only two or three other people. I scroll through the entries, until I see a significant date gap. One entry, titled something about summer break dating from somewhere in the middle of highschool and has a gap after it of nearly 6 years, and is followed by an entry titled simply 'Day 1 Sunday'. I have read the story I am about to share with you, possibly a hundred times over. It doesn't get any easier, but to make the situation clearer to you I will include my own notes between some of the entries, to provide context and later on, a connection to reality. None of the entries had any comments, seemingly never being read after publishing, as if Pat was just posting his desperate story into the void.
DAY 1: Sunday
Ha... this feels kinda weird. I haven't been on here in so long, not since I was a teenager. Well, where to begin catching you up? I'm a 20-something, 150-something pound, damn good looking college struggler, a-thank you. It was recommended to me by Dr. Chen that I keep a journal and update it with how I'm feeling day to day, I guess starting on a Sunday seems a bit odd – but this might be an odd journal! Haha. Anyway I got into some trouble recently, apparently I have issues with authority figures and anger management. Yeah, another way to say that is I don't take any bullshit from anybody! I guess I can over react sometimes though, I'm working on it.
The trouble Pat refers to in this entry is nearly being kicked out of college for smoking weed. We had a fairly sympathetic staff on our campus but you still couldn't wander around blatantly smoking in broad daylight. Needless to say there was a confrontation, Pat didn't react well and there was a rumour that things got violent. It should have resulted in immediate expulsion, removal from campus and possible jail time... but Pat managed to sweet talk his way out of that, explaining that he was struggling with the stress of college work and some personal problems, and instead was referred for mandatory counseling. We high fived about it back then...
Day 2 Monday
Well this is day two on my path of self discover and whatever. I had my second session with Dr. Chen today. Shes my councellor, kind of a weird Chinese hippy chick, I think hes in her 50s. Shes really small, I feel so tall when I'm in a room with her. Anyway, shes pretty nice, encourages me to talk about my feelings. It still feels weird. I know I can be a bit impatient and sometimes I just flip out if people push me too far, but Dr. Chen doesn't seem to think that is a problem. She says I need to let the anger out. It's strange, she talks about it like it were alive, like an animal or something, in a cage. "In captivity your anger will writhe and coil, fighting against its bonds, forever seeking release and liberty. There is no good that can come from strangulating it, it is no noble act to deny it it's freedom." Maybe it will start to make more sense after a few more sessions. Whatever, don't have time to write more, I have plans tonight, it's gonna get crazy ;-)
I never met Dr. Chen, and Pat never talked much about his sessions. His appointments were off campus and as he had his own car there was never a need to give him a lift and in doing so scope out where he was going. All in all, none of his friends seemed to pay it much thought. The plans he mentioned were a party at a friend of our's house, I don't remember much about it, we all got pretty wasted. I do know we both hooked up with some girls that night, for me it didn't go any further than the next morning, but for Pat it was different.
Day 5 Thursday
Hey sorry I haven't update in a couple of days, I haven't been home. I met this girl the other night at this party, I was crazy drunk! She is awesome though, we've just been hanging out at her apartment. She isn't at any of the local colleges, I was surprised because the party was mostly college students, it's cool though as it means none of my friends know her and so they can't start talking about us. I've had probably more girlfriends than is really ok, I'm not a totally asshole or anything, I just find it hard to settle I guess. But Nicole (that's her name) is great, amazing actually. She works in a coffee shop in town, she had to go in yesterday but instead of going home I just went in with her and watched her serve customers all day. Shes tall, but not too tall, slim and sorta tan, but not in a fake way. She has long dark brown hair that feels like cool liquid to run your fingers through and she has the most beautiful face with big hazel eyes. Part of me wants to take her out just to show her off to everyone, but another part of me wants to hide her away from the world so I don't have to share her.
Let me just say this about that, I'd say the second part of his mind won over in the end because we, myself and the rest of Pat's friend, never got to meet Nicole more than once. From that day on we all began seeing less and less of Pat, he was always at his new girlfriend's house, or at his appointments, dozing through class or on the rare occasion he was in his dorm he was unconscious, sleeping the sleep of the dead.
Day 6 Friday
See? I'm doing my best to update daily like Dr. Chen said. She didn't seem pissed that I missed a few appointments. That's good because I was kinda worried I'd be in some kind of trouble. She just seemed interested to hear about Nicole, I must have talked about her for nearly the whole session. I had to stop myself a couple of times because I started talking kind of fast, I feel pumped full of adrenaline. I told her that Nicole wears a braided bracelet around her ankle, just like the ones Dr. Chen has on her tiny wrists. She smiled and said they are good luck or something. More encouragement to update journal. Will do. Am doing, see?
Day 7 Saturday
Called Nicole today. She said she was in work and couldn't talk, no problem, I went to the coffee shop and waited for her lunch break. We drank coffee and talked, she really is great. We have the same taste in music, and movies, and most things! I felt ready to tell her about my appointments with Dr. Chen, reassuring her I'm not dangerous or anything, I just did a stupid thing. She was so understanding, I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders when she smiled her beautiful smile at me and said she looked for a councellor herself after a car accident a couple of years ago and thinks counseling is really helpful, but that shes never heard of Dr. Chen. Turns out shes into some alternative therapies too, whatever, it's cool.
Day 6 Sunday
Spent the day with Nicole. Was supposed to work on a college assignment, whatever, Nicole is more important to me right now. We shared a lot, I explained a bit about my frustration issues and some of the angry outburts, she seemed cool with it... shes so awesome. She gave me a little clay creature thing, I called it a gargoyle and she said it is actually called a 'grotesque'. It is an ugly little bastard, but she says it will protect me if I keep it in my dorm room. She has one too, a pale goblin looking thing, made out of cool white stone, it is much creepier. I'm planning to tell Dr. Chen about it, I reckon it will be right up her street.
The hairs on my arms and neck stood up as waves of goosepimples ran across my body when I read this light and cheerful entry. In the really bad days at the end, I remember Pat mumbling to himself about 'the grotesque'. Just the word itself still sends a shudder down my spine.
Day 7 Monday
Dr. Chen totally approves of the 'grotesque'. She recommended I keep it in my room, and that I talk to it, telling it my worries, and what is making me angry. I think it is to give me something to vent at when I'm not calm enough to write in this journal. It sounded pretty hippy-dippy, but when Nicole text me earlier this evening to say she wasn't feeling well and didn't want to hang out tonight, I talking to the little clay creature about how that upset me and afterwards I felt oddly better. I wonder if Nicole talks to her's too?
Day 8 Tuesday
Nicole still wasn't feeling well today, reckons it is the start of flu or something, and didn't meet me for lunch. I decided to go over to her apartment and bring her some food and flu remedies from the pharmacy. I don't mind, just getting to see her is enough for me. In the supermarket I took much longer than I normally would, agonising over which juice she might prefer and what would be the best soup to bring her, it felt so important to get everything perfect. Because she is perfect. When I got to her building I almost sprinted up the stairs to her forth floor apartment, I had butterflies in my stomach waiting at the door. She answered wearing a dressing gown, her eyes looked a little watery and her nose was chapped a little red from tissues... but she still looked amazing. She said she didn't want to kiss me in case I caught her flu, I didn't care if I caught it, I'd catch plague for her! We watched TV and talked all afternoon into the evening. I asked her if she talks to her 'grotesque', she does!
Day 9 Wednesday
Nicole wanted to spend the day in bed recovering from flu. I spent the day with Jase and our friends Kenny and Chris. Went to games store, second hand record store, talked a bit. Wonder when Nicole will be feeling better again? I text her a couple of times, only got one reply. Hope shes okay.
It might not sound like much but that was the first day in what seemed like ages that I was able to convince Pat to come out with us for more than an hour or so. He didn't talk much and we all found that strange, he was never normally so quiet and although he seemed alive with energy, so much so it seemed as though his body twitched with the effort to contain it, nothing seemed to interest him for more than a couple of seconds. It was like he just didn't care, that there was something praying on his mind driving him to distraction. We were all worried and told him so, but he shrugged it off.
Day 10 Thursday
Nicole is feeling better! I went round early and we had breakfast together, I offered to cancel my appointment with Dr. Chen this afternoon so we could spend more time together but she said she needed to go into work after taking those days off sick. This kind of annoyed me, I'm willing to make sacrifices in my life to put her first but she doesn't seem willing to do the same. I went to my session, today Dr. Chen talked about releasing rage. She said anger was like a poison and it was better out than in. She explained that people have a misguided view that controlling your anger means you are disciplined, but in actual fact people who can find the focus of their rage and direct it accurately can channel untapped power beyond anything they've ever done before. It's when anger spills out all over the place that things get messy. That makes sense to me. I had to admit this is not what I expected from 'counseling'.
Day 11/12 Friday night/Saturday
I'm not really in the mood to write an update. Went out tonight with Nicole to a party, was excited to introduce her to my friends, everything was fine at first. Jason didn't seem impressed, I thought he'd be supportive of my new relationship, I'm really happy with Nicole. Everyone else thought she was great of course, in fact I think a few guys were a little too friendly with her. In fact in sure they were trying to flirt with her, was she flirting back? I don't know. I had to leave before Jason could notice and rub it in my face, he is just jealous because I've found the perfect girl, he'll try to pick it apart. He made fun of me when I told him I felt something really special for Nicole, I can't give him a chance to prove he was right for not taking me seriously.... I love Nicole.
I honestly have no idea where he got the idea that I would try to pick his relationship apart. I was happy for Pat, a little concerned for him sure, but Nicole seemed really nice and I was pleased for them both. He had seemed on edge that night, didn't drink much, didn't socialize much. Nicole was being friendly, chatting to a bunch of us, guys and girls, I didn't notice her flirt with anyone. But at around midnight he pulled her to one side, I heard them having a hushed but agitated conversation and they abruptly left. It hurts me imagining Pat saw me as someone who would resent his new found happiness, that must have been why he was so resistant so the help I tried to offer him later on.
Day 13 Sunday
Feel shitty. Last entry was in the early hours of day 12 after that 'party'. Waste of time, my friends are all idiots. I fell asleep as afternoon was approaching and slept the day away at Nicole's apartment. It is so wonderful being in bed next to her. She was a bit upset that I had wanted to leave the party early the other night, but I explained that I just wasn't comfortable and she accepted it... she's so understanding. I felt immediately better once we were alone. We lay in bed as we normally do, with me spooning her soft, slim frame, one arm draped around her waist, holding her hand tightly. I feel so safe there, so calm.
Day 14 Monday
Met Jason at class today, he didn't meet my eye. I suddenly felt a stab of guilt for being such a jerk to him the other night. I apologized, he said it was cool, I didn't explain everything to him though... just in case. I had another appointment with Dr. Chen this afternoon. She asked me if I was acting on my anger, but acting appropriately, I said I thought so. She said I must “Offer kindness to those who deserve it instead of wasting love on ingrates. When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers me, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him”. What strange advice, it kind of makes sense though.
Day 15 Tuesday
I can't stand living in the dorms any more. The constant noise of other peoples music, their footsteps, muffled conversation reverberating through the walls. It's driving me crazy! I can't switch off any more, theres no silence, no peace to be had anywhere in these buildings. I've been talking to my grotesque, I've named him Chen, after Dr. Chen, and it really seems to help to have a face to vent to even if it is an ugly one. I think I'm going to ask Nicole if I can stay with her for a while.
Day 16 Wednesday
I stayed last night with Nicole, it was great. I feel so comfortable around her, I feel like there is this wire coil wound tightly in my chest all the time, but when I'm with her it unwinds and I can relax. I didn't bring little Chen with me, he is still on the shelf in my dorm room. I've heard Nicole whispering to her little goblin creature sometimes, it is pretty cute, the whispering not the grotesque! Unlike the one she gave me, which looks like a cartoon gnome, her's is truly hideous, actually quite scary despite it's tiny size. It has this wide flat head and lantern jaw, bristling with what look like a row of sharks teeth, it's body is gaunt and elongated, arched into an awkward crouch. It has no nose and all of its skin is smooth and white... wait, what am I talking about, skin? I mean what it is made of is entirely white. Apart from it's eyes, they are small and beady, and totally black. I don't know how she can take comfort from that, but she seems to tell it everything.
We didn't see Pat for several days from this point on. I will just paste his entries as I read them as there is no further explanation of the next few days that I can offer and for that I apologise.
Day 17 Thursday
I got a text from my friend Jessica this morning. Nicole saw it on my phone and asked who Jessica was... no, not asked, demanded. I explained Jessica was just a friend wanted to know how I was because I'd been missing a few classes recently. I don't know if Nicole believed me or not. I'm hurt, genuinely, I don't know why she would mistrust me? Haven't I given her every reason to have faith in my feelings for her? I talked to Dr. Chen about it at my session this afternoon, she says being quick to suspicion can be a sign of a guilty conscience. Could Nicole have something to hide?
Day 18 Friday
I'm positive now. Nicole isn't being entirely honest with me, I don't even know if she shares my feelings. She has been less and less talkative, sort of irritable. I asked her if it was her time of the month and she told me not to be so fucking sexist. I don't know what her problem is? She's been talking to her grotesque again and texting on her phone a lot. She gives me a dirty look when I look at my phone. I think she might be cheating on me. I walked into her living room earlier this evening and she closed the windows on her laptop really quickly. She's hiding something.
Day 19 Saturday
Had to go to a catch-up class today because I've been missing so many lectures. I woke up this morning feeling heavy, I didn't sleep well. My dreams are chaotic, a lunatic show reel of discordant sounds and images. I seem to expel more energy asleep than awake. Regardless, I still had to drag my sorry ass into class this afternoon. Nicole went to work, she hardly said goodbye this morning. I'm sure she's cheating on me, maybe with her manager at work? I don't know, but I know she's hiding something from me.
Class today was pointless, I didn't adsorb anything, I couldn't focus my mind. Is it any wonder? I could hardly hear the lecturer over the sounds of people breathing, whispering, the scratching of pens against paper, the rattling click of keyboards, the humming of the heating system, footsteps in the halls outside of the classroom, the shuffling of bodies in their seats, their clothes rustling, people clearing their throats, sighing, I swear I could practically hear their hearts beating!... my head hurts. Walking back to Nicole's apartment in the early evening I felt like the shadows lengthened faster than normal for this time of year, as if they were reaching out to touch me as I hurried along the quiet streets. I didn't see anyone around, but I felt watched. I'm starting to wish she lived nearer the college, or at least a busier side of town. She still isn't home, she should have finished work over an hour ago, what is she up to?
Day 20 Sunday
I'm at the end of my chain with Nicole. When I confronted her last night about there she had been for hours after her work had finished she just brushed my question aside, as if it didn't matter. When I pushed the issue she snapped at me. Said she had gone to a bar called Catalan with a friend after work, said she was tired of me always wanting to stay in on the weekends, not letting her have any fun. I asked her what friend, a guy fiend?! She said so what if it was? ...I don't get her! Why is she acting like this? I have done everything I can for her and now she is treating me like I don't even matter! Doesn't she understand the only reason I don't want to go out any more is because I want to protect her, to be alone with her? Because I love her! She refused to discuss things any further, went to bed without me. That's what she does when she wants to end a discussion, just goes to bed, ignores me if I follower her and keep talking. I don't know what to do. I followed her to work today, I know she only went in on a Sunday to avoid me. I sat in my car across the street from the coffee shop all damn day. Nicole seemed so casual, bright and carefree, I could tell she wasn't even thinking about our fight last night. When her manager came out around lunch time she was all smiles, he was leaning over her shoulder as she was writing something behind the register, he was way too close and she seemed so comfortable with it. That settles it, I know shes fucking him.
Day 21 Monday
I didn't go to my appointment with Dr. Chen today, she never calls when if I don't show up, it's like it doesn't make a difference. I don't know why I'm even still writing this journal, but weirdly it does seem to help clear my mind. I can get things straight when I write them down. I feel like my brain is full of static right now. After seeing Nicole cosying up to that guy yesterday I decided to follow her after work in my car. The coffee shop closed at the usual time, and sure enough she left with him. They got a cab to the bar Nicole had mentioned the other night, Catalan, it looked like a cheap tapas and beers place. A lot of tacky red lights round the entrance. I didn't follow them inside, just sat in my car and stared at those bright red lights. Even through the class of my car windows I felt as though I could almost hear, even feel, the buzzing of the electrical fuses inside those crimson bulbs. The vivid, constant brilliance of those red lights seared into my mind, mocking me with the knowledge that just past their glow was the woman I loved and another man, doing god knows what in that tacky low rent bar. I could feel my heart thumping in my chest, my breathing becoming raspy, I gripped the steering wheel so tight my knuckles went white. The buzz of the electric light was drowned out now as I could hear my pulse bounding in my inner ears. I was aware of all these things clearly enough to consciously take note of them in my mind, but didn't seem able to snap out of it. I felt sick with anger, jealousy, betrayal... I wanted to know how she could do this, what I had done to deserve this kind of treatment, but at the same time I didn't care to hear any explanation, any empty apologies. I wanted her to know how much she was hurting me. I don't remember much after that.
I think I must have driven back to Nicole apartment and slept on the couch, that is where I woke up. After a quick glance into the still dark bedroom I saw that she had come home, and gone to bed without me, again. It was then that I realised I wasn't wearing the same jeans and shirt I had on yesterday, I'd changed at some point last night. I also had a headache, and my mouth tasted gross. I couldn't remember when I'd done when I'd got back to the apartment. Checking the kitchen though, sure enough there was an almost empty bottle of Jameson's on the counter and in the washing machine were my clothes from the previous night, still wet from washing. I then had a terrible thought, had I been so jealous of what I'd seen last night that I'd decided to go out myself, get drunk and cheat on Nicole? I remember a while back when I'd cheated on this girl I'd been dating, we hadn't had anything special but I still wanted to avoid the drama of getting caught, so I'd washed all my clothes from the previous night before she came over to guarantee there would be no lipstick marks or tell tale smells of perfume on my clothes from the other chick. I went to the bathroom to take a piss and brush the rank taste of the night before out of my mouth. I glance into the mirror over the sink and noticed a few red marks on my cheek and neck... oh fuck, I must have hooked up with some chick, I have entirely no memory of who though. The marks were a bright crimson red, a colour way too slutty to be Nicole's lipstick. They reminded me of the glow of the red lights outside Bar Catalan. My whole mind seems to be filled with red right now, it hurts my head. I'm pretty sure Nicole figured out what I did last night and that is why she is ignoring me. Oh fuck.
Day 22 Tuesday
Jase called me this morning and insisted I come out and meet him. I didn't want to but Nicole still isn't speaking to me, she is just lying in bed and wouldn't even respond when I tried to talk to her. Her little grotesque figurine isn't on the dresser where it normally is, she must have taken it bed with her to talk to about what I did. I think she is really upset with me. If she has figured out that I cheated on her I'm not surprised. How could I have been such a moron? Anyway I couldn't stand sitting in the apartment in silence, TV hurts my head and I can't concentrate enough to make a start on any of the huge pile of neglected college work I've left sitting on the coffee table. So I met up with Jase, none of our other friends were there, which I was kind of grateful about. Jase kept giving me weird freaky looks out of the corner of his eye, like he expected me to burst into flames or something, he seemed totally on edge around me... I don't get it? I tried to explain a little about what was going on but he didn't seem to follow any of what I was telling him, even though I'm sure I was explaining it as clearly as possible. It was like we were talking in different languages. After a couple of hours he said he had to get back to his dorm, he had an assignment to do, but insisted that if I needed to talk again I just had to text or call. Sure Jase, I'll call if I need to talk to someone who will just give me creeped out looks and hardly respond. Thanks a lot.
Now, here I feel the need to jump in and again and provide a little dose of reality. I remember that day with Pat as clear as crystal. I should do, it was the last time him and I spent any time together. I did not think I was acting strangely toward him, if I was, I am sincerely sorry that it made him feel he couldn't talk to me. But you need to understand, he was rambling gibberish. Most of what he said was just broken sentences, paranoia and resentment leaking through between the nonsense. He was jumpy, and that made me jumpy. He wouldn't maintain eye contact and when I was talking to him, he'd appear to be listening and then suddenly whirl around to stare behind him and you'd realise he'd actually been totally ignoring you, listening out for... something. Eventually I couldn't take it any more, I made my excuse and left. I really meant it when I told him to call or text though. Of course, he never did.
Day 23 Wednesday
I'm starting to feel like this journal is the only place I can talk about what is going on in my life. I don't feel safe talking to anyone, not my friends, not Dr. Chen (I've decided not to return to my sessions with her, it was after I started that so-called counseling that all of this shit started to happen, she hasn't been in touch since I stopped attending either and I've realised I don't even have a phone number for her... whatever)...
Nicole still won't say a damn word to me. I think she is depressed, she hasn't gotten out of bed the whole time I've been here. I went out for a walk earlier to try and clear my head, just a brief one though as the streets round here seem shadier than normal to me, she must have gotten up while I was out and then gone back to bed. I feel so alone, and yet somehow, watched. The shadows in the apartment seem darker than is natural, I've begun to dread sunset. Daylight seems to be my only friend, as soon as night comes and I have to rely on electric light I am tortured by the buzzing of the fuses and I swear the lights dim and flicker as and when they choose. It creates more shadows than is necessary, and not just in shades of grey.
As I sit here and write this I am convinced that just out of the corner of my eye there in a darkness that is much too dark, blacker than anything found in nature, the kind of pitch that comes from a shadow concealing something... I know that if I stare directly into it my eyes will eventually focus revealing, nothing. But for some reason I cannot force myself to turn and look, my spine is frozen, because if I do turn I will have shown fear, and whatever is watching me, wherever it is, will know I am scared.
Day 25 Friday
It has started watching me during the day now. I can't even sleep on the couch with the blinds drawn and sunlight pouring into the living room. I am still watched. Nicole acts as though I don't exist, just lying in bed, not responding to anything I say. I pace her apartment, trying to relieve some the frustration and anxiety I'm beginning to feel crushed beneath. The guilt, the confusion, the fear. I know she knows what I did and I know she told that fucking grotesque creature. I don't know where it is, it is still missing from it's spot on the dresser. I can see most of the bedside table from the bedroom door, even in the half light, and it isn't there either. I am beginning to feel convinced that it is the presence I can sense watching me, following me with it's dreadful beady eyes. I can see, or perhaps feel, the outline of it's hideous deformed features in the shadows, in the corners of every room, it's bony contorted form disappearing just behind a turn in the corridor, or evaporating from view in the crack of a door left ajar. Always there, always gone as soon as I get it within my line of sight. And although the figurine as only ever a few inches high, I swear, I swear... it is growing, feeding on my fear. I can smell it too, this foul odour has begun to gradually taint the whole apartment, it is trying to drive me insane with anxiety and exhaustion. It is punishing me for hurting Nicole.
Day 26 Saturday
I cried today. Cried the agonised, hysterical tears of despair. Nicole will not talk to me but I cannot bring myself to approach her in bed, to demand a response, to shake her violently until she looks at me. I am too ashamed, too crippled with my own self loathing that I am the one who, through my own selfish actions, pushed her into a depression so deep she cannot move from her bed. I still have not slept, I barely close my eyes for more than a fraction of a second. I can't afford to let my guard down. It is getting closer. The grotesque has grown overnight. Yesterday is was a flicker, a silhouette, never taller than the natural extended shadow of the figurine. It would sneak behind corners and watch me with it's empty black eyes, it's rancid sweet stink wafting in and filling my nostrils, burning my throat. Today it's smell is filling the apartment, but I did not see it all day. I stayed in the sunlight, the rays warming my skin and banishing excess shadows, but not calming me. I haven't eaten in several days, haven't been able to eat, it is making me weak. While in the comparative safety of the sunlight I went into the kitchen and tried to eat a sandwich. It tasted hardly of anything. Swallowing was difficult, the muscles in my throat didn't seem to want to cooperate, after gulping down a class of water to try and flush the food into my stomach I was overcome with nausea.
I sprinted to the bathroom and dropped to my knees, hugging the cold porcelain bowl, the rough chunks of my only meal for 3 days forcing their way back up my gullet, the water I had drunk still cold as it flooded my mouth and splashed into the toilet. After spitting a couple of time and clearing my throat and I got shakily back to my feet. I turned on the cold water in the sink and washed my face. As I straightened up and looking into the bathroom mirror I felt my heart lurch in my chest. I blinked and it was gone, but there is no denying that for that sliver of a fraction of a second, there was the figure of the grotesque behind me, just outside the bathroom door. It's crooked form stood taller than any human now, long limbs and pallid body crouching almost double under the confines of the apartment's ceiling. It's low slung jaw gaping wide, revealing the vicious jagged teeth of no earthly creature, it's cavernous mouth, like a black hole into oblivion waiting to swallow all living things. It seemed almost eyeless, only two slightly shining points in it's huge, warped, waxy head... no iris or pupils to follow, but there was no question that is was staring directly at me. Before my brain could comprehend the instinctive terror of the prey searing through my body, like shards of ice piecing outward from my heart... it was gone again. I stood there, motionless, breathless, for what seemed like an eternity before I had the courage to peer, trembling, into the corridor to see.. nothing. The smell of it is overpowering now, I could hardly breathe but I still tried to beg for forgiveness from Nicole in the hope that she would call the thing off. I approached her bedside, it was so dark, I reached my hand out to hold hers... all I felt was the cold, moist skin of the Grotesque under my fingers and I ran from the room feeling the shadows writhe around me. I know that to try and leave would only anger the thing more, oh please God help me, protect me from the vengeance of this creature. I am so sorry for what I have done, do not let it punish me any further.
Day 26 Saturday
I concede. I am a wreck, I am broken. The grotesque has won, and rightly so. Nicole told me that she told it everything, that it would protect her. It has seen inside of me, it's hollow eyes have violated my very soul and it has found me unworthy of her. I am doomed, by my own actions, it will never let me leave. She will not leave her bed, I cannot leave this apartment. Even if someone comes to find us, I am beyond help now.
That was the last entry posted in the journal. From the date on it I could see that it was 6 days before the police eventually broke down the door to Nicole's apartment. A neighbour had complained of a foul smell seeping under the door and through the walls, and her manager at the coffee shop, who she was clearly friendly with, began asking in the building if anyone knew where she was, eventually someone called the police.
Pat's parents were called obviously, and they called me I suppose for moral support as we had been best friends, and we visited him in the hospital. The police said that upon forcing the door of the apartment they had been hit with a wave of sickening putrid air and they had found Pat, curled up in a corner of the living room, unwashed and half starved, every light in the apartment switched on. He was mumbling to himself, his eyes wide and roaming around the walls, seemingly unaware of the police intrusion until they tried to help him to his feet, where upon he began thrashing wildly, screaming... not to be punished. This had confused them at first, until they continued their sweep of the apartment and entered the bedroom, which it was obvious was the source of the horrific and overpowering smell. Swinging the door inward as massive cloud of flies was disturbed and filled the air, landing on the walls and ceiling, forming pulsating black shadows. Approaching the bed they saw what appeared to be a figure asleep until someone switched on the overhead light. It was the body of Nicole, at an advanced stage of decomposition, her flesh near liquefied and saturating the bedsheets. Her dark brown hair was a tangled mess spread over the pillow, swept back to reveal the obvious cause of death. Blunt force trauma to the skull, the entire right side of her head caved in with what appeared to be a small, but heavy, white stone figurine. She had apparently put up something of a fight as her fingernails were split from clawing at her attacker. The cream coloured wallpaper was stained a brownish red with huge splatter marks of now crumbling congealed blood, as she had obviously been struck several times with the ornament. Pat was immediately arrested, and taken directly to hospital.
I felt utterly useless sitting in the uncomfortable plastic chair, under the fluorescent hospital lighting, looking at the figure strapped to the bed... I didn't recognize him, could hardly understand a word he said, I picked out 'red' and 'grotesque', that's about it. I wasn't going to be any help to his parents, or the police. I told them everything I could, but I don't think it amounted to much. Someone had tried to find contact details of the Dr. Chen I informed them Pat had been seeing, but there was no listed phone number, and nobody could find any records of a counselor or therapist locally under that name. She seemed to have disappeared, if she ever existed in the first place. Since nobody else ever saw her it now seems entirely possible she was just a figment of, what was turning out to be, Pat's very fractured mind. As far as anyone could tell, Pat had gone insane with jealousy, bludgeoned Nicole to death that night after she got home from the bar, whether he was already drunk when he killed her was up for debate. But he had certainly gotten drunk and either before or afterward, proceeded to wash his bloodstained clothes and cut off all contact with the outside world, convincing himself she was just sleeping. Even know he didn't seem to be aware of what he had done, concerned more about being pursued by some creature. Initially police and doctors had assumed his impassioned pleas not to be 'punished' were directed at the authorities in relation to his crime, it is only now that I begin to hear them, echoing in my head, in an entirely different context.
The press obviously got wind of the bizarre nature of the incidental and by the second night Pat was under observation there were a couple of reporters loitering in the hospital lobby. I had ducked by them quickly, but glancing back saw that Pat's parents weren't as quick and had been cornered. I felt a painful lump in my throat as I saw their faces, twisted in confusion and grief, as they were bombarded with questions. I began to walk back, to try and offer some kind of distraction to the reporters so that perhaps Pat's mother and father could slip away unnoticed.
“Is it true he smashed her head in with a gargoyle?” crudely demanded one of the reporters, pushing forward a recorder.
“No” I interrupted before Pat's father had a chance to tell the reporter to fuck off or even take a deserving swipe at the man's head. “I think... I think it's called a grotesque.”
To my knowledge the object is still sitting in an evidence locker somewhere. Though I know it had no power it itself, I can't help but take some comfort in the knowledge it is locked away, forever.