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Volatile

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Once upon a normal day, a middle aged man awoke in a strange place, bound and gagged to an oak chair. The man, of course, was fearful of his surroundings. As he sat, he thought and thought about how he'd come to lie in this situation, but finding no avail in his foggy memory. No memory crossed his mind of what had happened before he woke up in this room, helpless and frightened. A second thought occurred to him: a means to escape his uncertain fate. He shifted his body weight, scooting along the cement floor in an attempt to loosen his binds. The effort proved meaningless in the end, although it didn't go unnoticed.

Suddenly from above, the sound of heavy footsteps crossed the creaky old floorboards, raining down clouds of dust and dirt. The man fell still, eyes bulging from their sockets in horror. The rusted hinged on the door leading to the basement-like area let out a cry of protest as they were carefully pulled open, allowing orange light to pour into the darkness thick as night.

The stranger took a step or two down the stairway, flicking on a light switch that doused the room in blinding definition. The bound man blinked, trying to adjust his weak eyes to the sudden light as the footsteps descended to the floor then proceeded to approach him. He looked up, making pathetic groans and whimpers that would have been words had he been able to speak. He had barely enough time to take in the dark form in front of him before a peg of the chair was kicked out of place, tipping the chair so it slammed to the hard floor, a loud crack being heard as the man fell on his shoulder. He let out a muffled scream in pain at the white hot needles stabbing into the slowly bruising area.

"Good morning, sir!" The stranger chirped merrily, kneeling before the injured victim. "Well, evening actually. I suppose I should have woken you up sooner, but I thought you could use the rest. You look so peaceful when sleeping, too!" He smiled, revealing perfectly white teeth.

"Oh, but excuse my indecency. My name is Alexander S., at your service." He rose, stepping back to do a low, sweeping bow. The victim, baffled by his captor's behavior, whined in confusion. Alexander frowned, tilting his head to one side like a confused animal.

"Oh, I'm so terribly sorry. I suppose I should cut to the chase, then? It's awful rude not only to leave guests unaccompanied, but to also make them feel uncomfortable." His gaze shifted to the man's arm, a cheerful smile returning to his face. "I see your arm's injured...not to worry, I can take that pain right away!"

Alexander broke another leg of the chair so it could rest on the floor correctly, pointed at the ceiling. Despite the frantic squirming and pleas of the man, he walked to his right, and with a swift motion popped the appendage out of its socket. That earned a glorious scream of anguish, followed by more urgent thrashing against the ropes tied much too tightly around the broken chair. Laughing, Alexander skipped back around and gripped the back of the chair, bringing it forward so the man could stare at him properly. "There, now isn't that better? No more feeling, no more pain! I only do the best for my guests." He paused, as if remembering something. Incidentally, that was the case, as his gaze abruptly turned to the stairs in surprise. "Oh no! I left the stove on!" He then released the poor shivering wretch, allowing him to fall forward and shatter his nose as he captor ran away, out of the dusty, disused basement.

Fresh, crimson blood leaked onto the cold surface, contrasting beautifully against the dull grey. The nameless man struggled feebly, all life to fight for his life slowly slipping away. He realized what would befall him if he just sat still, but also could see very little chance of his survival. No matter how he turned the situation over in his head, nothing could make it look more bleak. His breaths came in shallow gasps, his heart beating furiously against his chest, as if it could burst at any moment. He froze when the sound of boots sounded once again, down the stairs and to his side. He turned his head to see his captor more clearly, sniffling at the blood flowing from his broken nose. A tense atmosphere was present all of a sudden, as the dark male lowered his gaze to the man, his eyes burning with indescribable rage.

"Now look at what you've done..." Alexander's voice was quiet, containing the fury he held in his cold orbs. He delivered a harsh kick to the man's side, breaking the fragile bones of the rib cage. Break after break, the abuse never let up until the madman felt all his victim's ribs were far beyond repair; new stains of pretty red soaked into the cracks in the cement. The stranger stepped back, disgusted.

"I invited you here so kindly, tended to your wound, and this is how you repay me? By making a mess on my clean floor? I worked hours to scrub the dirty blood of my last guest from the floors and walls." With an angry snort, he stalked to his left and stood at wooden bench, examining whatever lay on the surface. He hummed for a moment, an unrecognizable tune. Finding what he sought for, he returned with a grey shiny something in his gloved hands. The poor man coughed, spewing more precious fluids from his mouth and creating a larger pool of red. Alexander retreated a pace, grimacing as a few flecks dotted his leather boots. For a few moments he stood, contemplating the item he held. By the victim's darkened vision, he saw some kind of blunt object he was unable to identify.

Alexander sighed, kneeling next to the nearly dead innocent. He grinned, holding the same sincere glow as before, but in a way that implied a well-kept secret on his mind.

"Normally, I would allow my guests to stay a bit longer...I do get so lonely here." Rolling up his sleeve, he revealed a gold watch, ticking silently.

"However, I have an appointment with my therapist in a few minutes. He really is quite a genius. I wish I could have introduced you to him, but alas he is rather busy." Turning the item over in his hands, he slowly raised it above his head until his arm was rigid and straight as a line. A maniacal smirk crossed his once gentle features. "I suppose I'll show you out, now. Have a nice day!"

The sledge hammer head dropped onto its mark, splattering the man's brains and shrapnel of skull over a wide range of the room.

I let out a satisfied sigh, releasing my grip on the hammer head, rising over the newest corpse added to my pile. My eyes trace the splatter of blood across the floor, frowning slightly. Now THAT would be a difficult stain to get rid of. I didn't have time to break out the cleaning supplies right away, but I can always clean the mess my new friend left later. Hmm...but what to do with the rest of him? My birds have been getting rather agitated of late, perhaps this meal should set them straight again. Unhappy birds means an unhappy community, and nobody wants that, now do they?

I exited the storage, breathing in the fresh, asbestos filled air. Where I currently stood was my home, an abandoned train station. Naturally it wasn't perfect, given the walls were crumbling upon itself and the frigid temperatures in winter (not to mention the occasional squatter I'd have to beat out). On top of all that, there was an unhealthy amount of hazardous spores growing in the underground subway, right here. Debris from a tragic train accident that shut this company down still lay on the tracks, undisturbed.

Twisted, broken metal scattered across the terminal, traced by black scorch marks from a fire was the immediate sum of the damage taken. A thick layer of dust and grime coated every available surface, adding to the overall charm of the area. I'd be lying if I said it was perfect, but it was the only place I could conduct my business without anyone getting suspicious. If anyone knew, there would be consequences. I'd be sentenced to life in an asylum where doctors and nurses in clean, white coats would probe my gray matter for the reason to my illness. Those people sickened me. I'd rather jump from the top of a church spire than sit through one of their therapy sessions.

When the fumes finally started to bother me, I groped in the dark for a minute until I found what I was looking for. I reached through the broken glass of a red box that once held a Fire Extinguisher, grasping a Respirator mask. I breathed easy when it was applied, remembering too late again to put on the mask as soon as I left the unnaturally clean storage. Well, clean in the sense there weren't any deadly spores. I double-checked that I had everything I needed before I set off, knowing it would be late into the night by the time I returned. Finding everything in order, I proceeded to the exit.

My boots echoed loudly on the enclosed space, as it was the only noise apart from the dripping of rainwater and the cawing of my birds. A small flock of crows flutter in the exposed rafters above, watching me with their beady eyes. I wave up at them enthusiastically, to which they continue to groom their pitch black feathers, ignoring my presence. It was so empty here, a sort of calm you can't usually come by. It was a miracle this place hadn't been torn down yet. I suppose it had something to do with being a town symbol of pride for something or other. As long as it wasn't condemned, I was content with not knowing. Otherwise, I'd have to find a new home, which would take a number of weeks and plenty of missed appointments with the professor.

At the top of the terminal, there was a wall of dirty glass, reflecting a glimpse of the underground and the shadowy figure on the landing: me. I slipped off the mask to get a better view of my appearance, revealing to my sight a young man, average height and lean, not at all the appearance of a serial killer. Nor of a homeless person, as I wasn't disheveled or wearing rags either. On the contrary, my dark outfit consisting of a trench coat complete with a brown fur collar, deep blue jeans and heavy black boots gave the impression of a regular middle-class citizen, capable of doing nothing but good deeds and earning low pay at an office.

My gaze shifted to my abnormally colored hair, bleached of color and glowing silver in the dying rays. As inconvenient as white hair is for hiding in the shadows, it does make quite a fashion statement while walking down the street, searching for my next 'guest'. To couple my strange hair is an even stranger eye color. My right eye was a clear blue, glinting mischievously as I stared at myself. My left, a dark crimson - and no, it's not a fancy contact. Unfortunately for me, I can't see very well out that eye. It's all just a red haze of misshapen shades and objects. Somewhat like a scratched or smudged lens on a pair of 3-D glasses.

I eventually figured I'd taken enough time admiring myself in the mirror I abandoned the Respirator mask at against the wall and continued on my path, dodging large pieces of ceiling that had fallen recently. Up more broken steps, I finally reach the main entrance, gilded with gold trim and intricate patterns. I poked my head out the door first, checking both ends of the sidewalk to make sure no one would see me exit the vacant structure. There would be consequences, to be sure. Better safe than sorry, as I always say. Finding the coast clear, I pulled my coat around my frame tighter to fend of the early morning chill and set off to my right. I hurried along at a fast pace, my misty breath billowing behind me like a steam engine. I judged how long it would take me to cross the city at this rate just the realizing how long I'd tallied, as the sun had already halfway risen to the skyscrapers that blocked the fading stars from my sight. I decided to accelerate my pace to a light jog.

Nobody would be on the streets this early and if by chance they were, they would be too deprived of caffeine to notice my slightly suspicious pace. Naturally I'd thought this through time and time again to avoid hassle on my miniaturized journey. The police force in this area were annoyingly thick, like flies in a swarm, looking for any opportunity to draw time and blood from an unsuspecting murderer. I suppose it makes perfect sense, seeing as this part of town is known for drug-abusing gangsters and violent crimes under the cover of night. They're only doing their job by upholding the law and protecting the honest and hardworking citizens. It's repulsive to think they all fall under the same routine without an abstract thought in their minds. To me, I was just helping the status quo by eliminating the most brainwashed of the scattered sheep. In a way, I guess it's poetic.

The rest of my travel leaves little to the imagination. The sun now was at full height, glaring down at the shining steel of the populated city. People now flooded the streets, flowing like churning masses of flesh on the once bare sidewalks. Cars screamed their way down the stinking pavement, polluting the already poisoned air. I cough, accidentally inhaling exhaust. That can't be good for my delicate system. Pushing my frustrations aside (and a few mindless drones), I notice I finally stand before my destination: a massive run-down warehouse that perhaps once held company products ready to be sold. Taking a last grimace at the people behind me, I push through a rusted wrought iron gate and locate the entrance on the far left side, taking some effort to force the door with peeling blue paint open. Once I succeed in my endeavor, I grin and squeeze my way through the small opening I made into the empty space.

Stepping carefully, I picked my way around the maze of window shards and crumbling chunks of pavement. I observed several decomposed bodies of rodents and small birds, their bones dried in the crippling sunlight. Poor things. Apparently there wasn't even enough life to feed the vermin on the edge of corruption. These rats remind me a little of myself, in a way. Simply surviving isn't enough...but to thrive in the crevices my fellow humans left behind, while at the same time disposing of the trash the society spits out. In my case, the ungrateful civilians.

It takes only moments to exit the maze of industrial compost and head to the back of the warehouse, spotting a small office jutting from the rightmost corner. Upon the wooden door was taped a slip of paper with crude handwriting that read: "DR. CHARLIE PHD." I chuckled at my own handiwork, pausing to give three clear knocks on the door. "Professor? It's me, Alexander. I'm here for my appointment?" Silence greets my announcement, to my glee. Grinning, I turn the brass doorknob and push my way into the room, closing the door firmly behind me.

Inside the dilapidated office space is two pieces of furniture, consisting of a moth-eaten purple recliner and a scratched, wooden desk. I greet the professor and sit back in the recliner, staring into the bead eyes of Dr. Charlie. A stuffed monkey sits in the center of the desk, strange tufts of fake fur sticking out from all angles. A cheerful-looking smile was sown in black thread across the length of its face, right under a pair of blackish-brown beads. The right "eye" had at one point been scraped across the asphalt maliciously, rendering it scratched beyond recognition. Lastly, tied around his neck was a bow tie I'd fashioned from an old, red ribbon. He certainly looked like an upstanding Professor of Psychology to me, anyway.

I listened intently as the professor gave a brief summary of how our last meeting went and what we discussed. This was a sort of ice-breaker if you will before the start of each session. He tells me that last time we discussed odd nightmares I'd been having that had long since faded away, mentioning also how we got off track talking about some unrelated topic he couldn't remember. This time, he said, we'd have to make sure not to waste as much time with idle chat. I was here for help, not socializing, he said. My chipper attitude dropped slightly, frowning at his unusually blunt comments. I persuaded myself that he must have been having a bad day that had nothing to do with me. I was half tempted to ask if there was anything the matter with him, but instantly thought better of it and stayed silent. There was simply no need to dive into his personal business if he didn't wish to talk about it.

Finishing his speech, he asked me how my current mental state was, in a polite way, of course. I replied happily:

"Very good, actually. I've had few incidents with Pri lately, an exception for this morning," at his imagined curious gaze, I continued.

"A guest I welcomed today had...well, rubbed my brother the wrong way. He reacted rashly as you might expect, sending the poor bloke out almost immediately! I almost felt sorry for the man. It was rather rude to kill the man before even learning his name."

I gazed at the stuffed animal before me, pretending that the 'professor' was hanging on my every word, thinking over a detailed reply in his head. He urged me to continue, reasoning that we ought to start over at the very beginning, to the source of my illness. I sigh dramatically, countering that I'd told him before about my history with disease. He insists I refresh his memory. Rolling my eyes, I launch into my expertly rehearsed speech.

"Well, I can only say that it began with my dearly departed parents. Hardworking and honest, they raised my brother and I on strict, religious ways. To this day, I can recite a good chunk of the Bible off of memory alone. My family were well respected and praised - honest and hard-working. Everything a perfect family should be. But despite our reputation, we kept other people at a distance. I rarely got the opportunity to play with other children aside from my sibling, and I never met any relatives. The reason for this, you ask? Well...what if I told you it was all an act? The prayers, the clean house, the quiet and respectful children...all a farce. On the inside, we were nothing like we appeared to be. I often heard my parents screaming and throwing weapons and other miscellaneous items at each other. Imagine witnessing that, at only eight years old...while my younger brother - age five - cowered behind me, crying despite being the tougher of the two of us. I never shed a single tear all my life.

Not when my blessed mother hung herself from the top railing, not when our dear father turned drunk and beat us with anything he had available. I took the majority of the abuse, usually started when I stood between my brother and our alcoholic father. Back then, I felt I didn't have a choice but to protect my weaker brother at all costs. It was silly to believe that we could have both survived that kind of environment. Naturally, it had to end sometime." I stopped to take a shaky breath, launching back into my memories. "One night, I'd once again foolishly stood up for Pri and was being beaten with a wooden club. I felt my fragile bones breaking with every hit, but I still wouldn't scream for mercy. Enduring that kind of pain is unimaginable at best. Suddenly, the club stopped. My brother had picked up a splintered piece of wood, hitting it against my father's leg. Laughing, father kicked Pri aside and turned the abuse upon him. The poor kid didn't stand a chance.

I was forced to watch as he bled and died on the cold, basement floor. However, that's not where his story ends. Oh no, he would have his revenge. Before my father had even stopped breaking the corpse of my little brother, I flew into a rage and attacked him, smashing his head in with the heaviest thing I could find...a sledge hammer. I could barely lift it at the time, but the anger I had gave me the strength I needed to avenge my fallen sibling. Knowing the consequences, I fled my home. Naturally you'd think I got away with murder? That's where you'd be wrong.

"Being a boy of ten or eleven, I had no clue of where to go or what to do next. The sudden silence at my cursed house had attracted the suspicions on neighbors, who then took to investigating. Having been a week or two since their demise, they could have found the bodies of my family by scent alone. Authorities were contacted; the search for the missing son began. I can honestly say I don't remember what happened during that time before my capture. So torn by loss and the questionable state of mind I was in, I could barely process the surroundings I was in. It didn't take long for the police to find the lost child. Taken into custody, they immediately noticed my odd behavior.

I was cheerful and friendly at all times, despite the trauma I'd been through. On the opposite end, I could also be sarcastic and cynical at random times. Soon after, they subjected me to psychological tests to find the condition of my mentality. After a month or so of this, the idiots finally concluded I was "not of a sound mind". They plastered cruel names on me like 'Multiple Personality Disorder' and 'Schizophrenia'. Finally, my brother and I felt we'd had enough. On a sunny, warm afternoon, I was led outside to be escorted to another psychiatrist. I suddenly bolted, running faster than I'd ever thought possible. I heard yelling and gunshots behind me, trying to hinder my progress. But it was no use. I was free.

"Through the rest of my years, I moved around and lived off anything I could find. In the beginning I avoided populated areas like cities, but soon concluded the only way I could survive was to forage for scraps the people wasted. I lived alongside the humans I hated but so desperately needed. I watched in disgust as they passed by me everyday, turning a blind eye to a lonely street urchin. These people...these DEMONS had stripped me of all I owned and left me to perish in the trash. My anger built upwards until it collapsed in on itself, putting me in the position I hold today. I am the only one who can see the darkness in so-called 'ordinary' people. I rid the world of their filth so no one else has to suffer like I have. I'm doing my race a favor by silencing these humans, so why am I still persecuted? I find it unlikely that anyone will understand what I do for humanity." I finished, staring at my hands. Just through recounting my tale, Pri was growing extremely agitated. I tried to quiet him, which ultimately did little to help my aching head. The professor waited patiently for me to recollect myself, to which I complied eventually.

Dr. Charlie proceeded to give me an analysis of his thoughts and my current condition. He admitted I'd come a long way from when we first met, though not far enough. He told me to better control my temper...or rather, his temper. He tells me he's dealt with tougher cases than this, but it will take my assistance as well to put me on the road to recovery. I agree, subconsciously tapping on the air of my chair. The professor noticed my nervous tick and asked me if anything is wrong. I complain that my brother is being bothersome currently, trying to get my attention while I'm busy focusing on him. The professor comments that he's acting like a child; a volatile and homicidal child.

Then, something strange happened. An invisible, icy hand gripped my shoulder and shoved me backwards, forcing me clean out of my body as something wriggled in to take my place. I'd experienced this before, of course, but it was a shock every time Pricen took control. From outside, I watched helplessly as my doppelganger - my brother - reach into his pocket and pounced on the professor in a swift motion. I cried out as a small blade now stuck between the stuffed animal's eyes. In my conscience, I saw streams of blood seep from beneath the cloth, from every stitch, every hole in the inanimate object. With a smirk of triumph, I stared, horrified at the look upon Pri's face.

"Now who's volatile, you bastards?" He hissed in a monotone, cold voice.

It sent chills down my spine every time I heard him speak, as it was so different from my usual warm tone. As much as we'd helped each other in the past, we really are polar opposites, as one might describe. I could barely stand the sight of his arrogance, giving a false front to my optimistic disposition. He, in turn, loathed the sunshine I always carried in my pocket. He hated my light as much as I hated his dark. Disposing of unkind guests was one thing, but harming a good friend was something completely different. I would't sit back and watch my sibling tear my therapist apart before my very eyes! It was time to step in.

"That's enough of that inexcusable behavior, thank you very much!" I writhed forward, brushing my brother's will aside.

He was kind enough to step back, deep into the dark recesses of my shadowy conscience with a hollow chuckle. My vision cleared, left breathless at the force of being back in my own flesh. After getting back my bearings, I sprung forward with a gasp, yanking the pocket knife out of the professor and tossing it across the floor. I adjusted his position in order for him to be sitting upright once more, smiling back at my pale face. I apologized frantically, claiming it wasn't my intention to harm him in any way, shape or form. I envisioned his grin to spread a little wider at my dismay, a knowing expression on his fabricated face. He brushed off the experience with an air of calm, revealing he had purposefully tried to provoke a reaction out of my brother. Obviously he had been successful in his endeavor.

Relieved, I leaned back in my chair with a sigh.

"You gave me quite a scare, professor. Keep in mind that next time, I might actually kill you - on accident, I assure you." I laughed, patting the stuffed monkey's fluffy head, the force of my touch tipping him sideways.

Correcting him, I rested my arms on the desk, gazing into his empty eyes. For a fleeting moment, I swear I noticed a flicker of life in those plastic orbs. "You have indeed always been a charismatic individual..."

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