The moonless night embraced Chris as he stood in the foothills high above the small town. He cowered underneath the empty sky and swallowed the bile that was his self-loathing.
Disgust paraded across his wounded soul like an ugly Mardi Gras procession, its movements suggestive of cutting, its rhythm a macabre lurching. Chris covered his ears in the quiet. Even when he was alone, he heard the ceaseless badgering that spewed out from the world. It berated his every move and word.
Work, school and seemingly every moment of his existence were filled with ridicule and scowls that screamed he wasn’t good enough. A few years ago he had reached out to somebody at the suicide prevention center, but the volunteer told him he was being a selfish kid that was just looking for attention. Even killing himself wasn’t enough. He screamed to the night until his throat hurt.
With the exception of his mother, he had never been good enough. She loved him and cherished him regardless of what happened, until dementia robbed her mind and callused her heart. His loneliness and aching consumed him after she was gone. It was all too much. A second guttural cry erupted from his quivering lips as Chris cursed the great emptiness above him.
He looked up at the sky, made blurry by wet eyes, and wondered why darkness couldn’t be darker, why the blade never cut deep enough. The blood was never enough to carry him away, and the darkness of the night was never enough to hide him.
“It’s never enough,” he whispered.
The words bounced around in his mind with awful familiarity until Chris saw them for what they were. It was the same shit he had heard for years, and now those hateful seeds had sprung unwanted in his mind. He couldn’t allow himself to go down that path. His mind fought feverishly to come up with an answer.
He wiped the tears off his cheeks as he realized that he had been going about this all wrong. The night had always held him close, and it had given him comfort and listened to his cries. For years, it had whispered ideas of impossible freedom in his dreams. Why had he never listened to what the voices in the darkness said? No, the darkness of the night was right. It had always been enough.
What about the blade? Wasn’t it always enough for a release? It was the only thing that married pleasure and pain into a meaningful emotion that wasn’t riddled with hate.
The epiphany was sweet and impossible to ignore. He heard those same whispers that came to him in his sleep, and he knew he could do it – should do it. His desire to become closer to the darkness quickly turned into a raw urge. Chris slid out from the jacket he wore and took off his shirt. Cool air surrounded him, hugged him, and carried away his negative emotions. The whispers became clearer.
He quickly took the rest of his clothes off and gave himself completely to the night. The wind hardened his nipples, tickled the hair of his body, and buffeted his flaccid length like an ethereal lover. This was all he needed.
The night had taken his self-loathing and carried it away on its cool breath. He had only to give himself to the darkness and it would consume the bad. Chris ran some fingers over the scars on his arms and he longed for the blade and the pleasure of the wet cutting. Part of him wondered if he would need the blade anymore, or its accompanying blood, but he also knew it was his only access to pleasure. The wind brought the night’s whispering to him clearly and he smiled.
“Yes, there’s only one way to find out.” He took the knife out of his clothes and pressed the tip into his arm as he started down the mountainside.
The black night clung tenaciously to the early morning sky as his bare feet crunched across the dry grass in the yard. Chris still wondered about what he was going to do, but the darkness couldn’t be wrong. He stopped in the middle of the yard and looked at the fresh cut on his arm. It hadn’t given him the same release that it normally did. There was still the intoxicating mix of pain and pleasure, but something had changed. He had changed. Opening himself to the darkness had fundamentally altered him.
“Ergo,” whispered Chris as he pulled the knife out of the sheath, “the release must change.”
He used the edge of the Benchmade dagger to spread his drying blood across his arm. It was as dark as the deepest night. Chris looked up into the barren sky and spoke in reverent tones. “Under your potent gaze my blood is dark, just as you’ve made me.”
He slipped the dagger back into the sheath tied around his bare thigh and walked across the rest of the yard. His dirty feet stepped onto the smooth concrete of the patio. The basement door was unlocked. Chris stepped into the warm air and the smell of a home that was foreign to him. He walked into a game room and plucked two billiard balls off the table.
The ability and freedom to control his destiny was like a drug. He knew what he was going to do, and it made him feel like a god. Once he had accepted the empowering darkness of the night, he had become something more than he had ever imagined. He was enough.
Chris rummaged through three rooms before he found what he was looking for. His new fate had blessed him with a nearly empty home. The only person in the house was a guy that he had known in school years ago. This guy hadn’t been more antagonistic than the others, although he had beaten the shit out of him a few times, but that didn’t matter. What mattered now was the release. He had cut and shed enough – now it was time for others to provide him with what he needed and deserved.
The billiard balls knocked against each other as they fell into the toes of the sock. He grabbed the sock by the end and let the balls swing slightly as he walked over to the bed. The sound of snoring masked his approach. He swung the sock over his head as he watched the sleeping form. The guy’s name came to mind just as he woke up. Jason’s eyes fluttered briefly until he noticed the movement. He jerked in his bed, his face a picture of shock and horror, and started to cry out. The billiard balls picked up speed and Chris slammed them into Jason’s jaw.
The oddly quiet crunch of the broken jaw muffled much of the scream. Chris started to reach for the dagger when he saw that Jason was completely unconscious. He looked around and found a few ties in the closet and quickly tied Jason’s wrists and ankles to the bedposts. Once that was done, he walked back around to the head of the bed and pulled one of the billiard balls out of the sock.
He looked down at the unconscious form and was in awe over how easy it was. There was no fear. There was no remorse. It was just as the night had whispered it would be. He felt calm and at ease. If this was the price to live free and finally be enough, then it was something he should have done a long time ago.
Chris reached down and pushed the mangled jaw open. Jason’s eyes shot open and a scream erupted from his swollen face. Chris quickly shoved the billiard ball into Jason’s mouth, busting many of his teeth in the process. His victim thrashed frantically on the bed until he pulled the dagger out and flashed it before Jason’s eyes.
“Stop moving or things will get ugly.”
Jason kept jerking his legs and had almost ripped himself free from the ties. Chris shrugged his shoulders and picked up the sock with the other ball still inside. He swung it over his head a few times and brought it crashing down onto Jason’s leg. He had been aiming for the knee but hit the large bone just below it, breaking it with a dull crack. Jason screamed and he started to swing the sock and ball again. He smashed one kneecap and then swung the ball even harder, pulverizing Jason’s other knee.
Chris glanced at Jason’s face and saw that he had passed out again. “That won’t work,” he said as he dropped the sock. He slapped Jason across the face as he pulled his dagger out. Jason woke with a start and looked imploringly at him. He slowly moved his head side-to-side; his eyes spelled out the pleas his mouth couldn’t form.
“Your begging and crying won’t work, Jason. I’m not here for something as petty as vengeance. This is about the release, although you probably wouldn’t understand that. A guy like you would never appreciate it.”
Chris took the tip of the dagger and pressed it lightly against the flesh of Jason’s thigh. Jason went completely still, his eyes wide with terror. He sobbed and breathed heavily through his nose. Chris smiled as he spoke. “No, Jason, this hasn’t been enough yet.”
He watched with bated breath as he put a little more pressure on the dagger. Jason’s skin dipped slightly with the point, but couldn’t resist the sharp blade. The dagger sunk a few inches into the fatty tissue of Jason’s thigh. Chris ignored the thrashing and pushed the blade deeper before he started to cut down towards the ruined knee.
The blood ran freely. It coursed down Jason’s leg and mingled with the shocking white fragments of his shattered knee. Ecstasy filled Chris as he reveled in how bright the blood and bone were. He looked down at his naked body and realized just how excited he had become. This was what he had always wanted and needed. But there was one piece that was missing.
Chris pulled the knife out and felt the sudden urge to lick the blade. Was that it? The darkness within him intensified with the anticipation. He lifted the dagger to his lips. The blood smelled like a wet penny. Chris slid his quivering tongue down the flat portion of the dagger. The salty metallic flavor was at once both sweet and familiar. It was like Sangria with salt and iron.
“Still not quite enough,” Chris sighed.
He pushed the blade into Jason’s thigh again and started to cut back and forth like his mother used to do with rolls of liverwurst. Jason bucked and shook in the bed, and his eyes rolled into the back of his head as he fought to stay conscious. Chris reached down, grabbed a warm slippery chunk of flesh and pulled. The morsel was almost free. It was hard to see where it was still connected because of the massive pool of blood, but Chris felt around inside the wound and finished cutting the pieces of muscle that were still connected. The mass of tissue felt warm in his hand.
“Will you hold this for me?” Chris asked as he held the dagger out to Jason. He drove the dagger down into Jason’s gut and then held up the bloody chunk. Chris peeled the skin away from the fatty layer and smelled it. His excitement grew exponentially; his body responded in quivers. He opened his mouth and dropped it in. It tasted like nothing he had ever tried. His excitement reached a climax and he cried out through a mouthful of thigh.
Chris swallowed the tidbit and wiped the blood on his hands across his mouth, face and chest. Relief and pleasure rolled over him in waves. He looked into Jason’s face and saw no sign of disdain, no sign of ridicule or scorn. Jason’s agony and fear had replaced the hatred and judging. Only the night could tell him if he was enough or not. Never again would it be in the hands of another person.
“I’m almost done here,” Chris said as he reached for his dagger. “There is only one more thing to do.”
He grabbed the dagger and pulled it towards him. Jason’s gut split and leaked organs like a mass of thick worms. Chris scooped his other hand into the opening, pulling out more of Jason’s entrails until the abdominal cavity served as a bowl. He cupped his hand, filling it with the smelly ichor in Jason’s open wound and smeared it all over his body.
Chris finished covering himself and glanced back at Jason’s face. He was nearly gone. He took his bloody hand and caressed Jason’s face as a mother would a child.
“Thank you,” he said as he put the dagger back in the sheath. He stood back from the bed and relished the feeling of being enough. Chris knew this satisfaction was temporary, as it had been with the self-harm. But the night would fill both him and the sky again and give him the ability to be a god. He would be ready because he was finally enough.
~ Zack Kullis
© Copyright 2014 Zack Kullis. All Rights Reserved