loss

IV: Suicide Room

III: Suicide Room

 

A series of memorable cases from the Suicide Room. All information included in these documents is shown only for the purpose of exposing the weakness of the human mind. Together, with the right technology and purpose, we can overcome these weaknesses and create barriers to stop the impulses taking over. Together, we can create superhumans, immune to persuasion, obedience and oppression. But we can only do this with subjects willing to submit themselves to the Suicide Room. Through failure we will succeed. Through death we will live. Through the weakness of others we will strengthen ourselves.

 

–Case File 0103, Subject 0103–
–Pressuriser: 0071, Male, Experienced
–Status: Completed – Failure – Moderately soon suicide through a combination of drugs and self-amputation. Death caused by blood loss and shock.
–Case eligible for public viewing. All information contained within this document has been recorded for the purposes of scientific curiosity and for the sake of furthering the human race. All information was logged from physiological, audio and visual aids, plus the memory of Pressuriser 0071.

–Open Case–

During the initial meeting and setup of Subject 0103’s visit to the Suicide Room, several important discussions were recorded. Subject 0103, a young female, expressed the urge, which she has reportedly felt since she was a child, to become an amputee, or to amputate one or more of her limbs. She made the distinction between acrotomophilia and apotemnophilia – acrotomophilia is the sexual interest in amputees, and apotemnophilia is the interest in becoming an amputee, which may be linked to a deep spiritual or sexual desire. Subject 0103 made it clear she has never been sexually attracted to amputees, but that she has, since a young age, wanted to have at least one of her limbs amputated. She expressed a desire to remove, or have removed, her left arm from the elbow down.

Because of this desire, which, from society’s point of view, is often seen as eccentric, odd or perverse, this has brought on a strong depression for Subject 0103, as she feels cast out from the norms of society, due to the reactions she fears she will receive upon revealing her spiritual and human desire.

Because of the environment, she expressed she felt both comforted by the absence of judgemental stares, but also intimidated by the process of interviewing for a eligibility into the Suicide Room. The latter point has been raised both by potential subjects and indeed one Pressuriser, though the absence of people and use of communication directed towards the potential subjects is too precious to risk changing.

Once Subject 0103 became more comfortable speaking, knowing her information would remain anonymous and only used for scientific exploration and purpose, she opened up further.

Because of her depression, she had tried twice previously to remove her left arm, as a desperate attempt to experience happiness. These failed and foiled attempts have only made her desire stronger to achieve her goal. However, she is rarely left alone, always having a family member whom she resents near to her, so she has not tried for a third time. She also spoke of how she gets periods where her urges are so strong she considers running away, and urges where she is so low she contemplates suicide because she knows she is not happy.

Subject 0103 did seem reluctant when she arrived for the first time, as cameras captured her behaviour. She was reluctant to move, always glancing around for an escape should she change her mind. This sort of behaviour is very interesting, and always looked for when considering who should be a Subject in the Suicide Room.

Subject 0103 was chosen as she displayed several traits. She showed and expressed desire to end her own life, though her drifting and reluctant behaviour throughout the initial stages of setup provided a crucial contrast that is rare to find in those who come. Often, it is those who are definitely going to commit suicide who want to take part in the Suicide Room. Perhaps this is a way of abstaining from a guilty feeling; although they are leaving their family behind without warning, they are instead contributing to science.

Subject 0103 was not at this stage yet, so was selected relatively quickly to take part in the Suicide Room. She was assigned Pressuriser 0071. Usually, male pressurisers are not assigned to female subjects, as the male pressurisers display aggression more obviously than the female pressurisers. However, all female pressurisers were inconvenienced at the time, so Pressuriser 0071 was selected. Unfortunately, he presents a stark contrast to the 17-year-old Subject 0103, and this was taken into account when the data was analysed. However, after statistical tests and comparisons with other Suicide Room cases, Case 0103 was cleared as useful, and it was ruled Pressuriser 0071 would meet with her.

Precautions were taken immediately after clearing the case, and it was marked as a very possible potential failure. This girl fit all the criteria for wanting to end her life already, and the addition of the atmosphere and freedom from judgement, the law, or treatment offered would certainly do the opposite of deterring her from that conclusion. Pressuriser 0071 theorised it would not be hard to get Subject 0103 to take her own life. In his eager way, he only half-jokingly mentioned a bet when talking about the case. However, the bet was turned down, as it was believed she would almost-certainly take her own life.

Subject 0103 arrived three hours ahead of her scheduled time, which meant she had to sit and wait. Usually, subjects are merely kept an eye on, but Pressuriser 0223 happened to pass her an hour and forty-five minutes into Subject 0103’s waiting time. Pressuriser 0223 stopped to perceive the subject, but did not talk to her. However, after she had moved on past, and returned to her routine, she did note down her thoughts on what Subject 0103 looked like. This is second nature to her at this stage, as one of her strength is reading a person and remembering what she felt they meant as a whole. Although her notes were never officially turned in to be recorded, they were found and, as they are beneficial, will be recorded for scientific and memory purposes.

Pressuriser 0223’s Notes (written simply on a single sheet of notepaper found in the laboratory)

– Girl didn’t seem to have the look of finality around her. Simply by sitting where she was, she should have known she was almost certainly going to die, given the stigma around the SR [Suicide Room].
– Girl’s eyes were clear, no sign of tears or of crying.
– Posture suggests she’s been there a while.
– Compared to my memory of other subjects, she is alert. Not gazing into the middle distance or trying to block out the world.

Pressuriser 0223’s notes, while short and hardly relevant, as she has not received any information on Subject 0103, do raise interesting points about the subject. Perhaps it is beneficial that Pressuriser 0223 passed the subject and noticed what she was doing before she entered the Suicide Room, as subjects’ behaviour usually goes unrecorded outside, as most subjects present the same actions.

This information was passed onto Pressuriser 0071 who came to a potential conclusion that the subject was so calm and prepared because “she will possibly be able to fulfil her wish of removing her left arm”. As such, he took the hour before he was due to enter the Suicide Room to mentally prepare himself for the sights of bodily mutilation.

 

–Transcript–

This transcript captures the events leading up to, but prior to, Subject 0103’s decision. Throughout she was aware of the consequences of agreeing to be a part of the Suicide Room research, and, although withdrawal was impossible at this point, her permission and consent were given multiple times through the debriefing sessions.

While in the room, Subject 0103 showed the same calm demeanour she displayed outside.

[…]
0103 – Will I get to do it?

0071 – By ‘it’ I will assume you are talking about multiple things. If you refer to your apotemnophilic tendencies, then you are certainly not exempt from that. If you refer to suicide, you are certainly not exempt from that either.

0103 – You know what I meant?

0071 – It is my job to know.
[At this point, Pressuriser 0071 was informed via earpiece to heighten intimidation techniques. The Suicide Room is not a counselling suite.]

0071 – How did you develop apotemnophilia? Have you had it as long as your can remember, or was your perversion triggered somehow?

[Subject 0103 appears surprised by Pressuriser 0071’s questions]
0103 – I can’t rem–

0071 – I would assume, given that you’ve been shunned over this by people you should love, that it’s from birth. I will also theorise that your younger self, unable to control what she said as most children are, made it startlingly obvious at some point, either by trying to carry out your deep-set wish or by becoming obsessed with it, or with perhaps other amputees you knew.

0103 – I can’t remember. But…

0071 – You can’t be left alone anymore.

[Subject 0103 does not respond for a while, and simply looks at the pressuriser]

0103 – I… my mum didn’t want me to try again. She didn’t let me–

0071 – “didn’t”? She “didn’t” let you?

0103 – Yeah. No. No… doesn’t. She doesn’t let me… be on my own.

0071 – Don’t treat it like a mistake. A Freudian slip, maybe, but certainly no mistake. What makes you say didn’t, what makes you speak about your own mother in the past tense, a women we know to still be alive and connected to you?

0103 – She’s not–

[Pressuriser 0071 lowers his tone. On the cameras, it is clear his head tilts to the side as his voice softens.]
0071
– You know your connection with her is broken, don’t you? Just like you want it.

0103 – Yes, but… She’s… I hate her anyway so… I know. I’m free like this. Well, sort of. I mean, I’m not going to see her again, and it doesn’t matter, I’ll go.

0071 – You’re here. You’ve already gone.

0103 – That’s…

0071 – That’s not what you mean, is it? You might have thought about going, about leaving, at some point. You could have run away. But you never tried, because so many people were looking and watching you at all times. But yet, you managed to get here on your own, but you never managed to run away. Because, by “go” you don’t mean, flee to somewhere geographically different, do you?

[At this point, Pressuriser 0071 is urged via earpieace to have her make the final recorded consent. This is usually received before further verbal interaction within the room, but Subject 0103 began talking instantly.]

0103 – Obviously.

[Part approved to be cut by three separate parties. Contained Pressuriser 0071 becoming increasingly stronger with his points and Subject 0103 gradually becoming less and less positive.]

0071 – This is what you meant by “didn’t”, clearly. You arrived here on your own, twice. And this time, you haven’t the foresight to go further after your visit today.

[Subject 0103 doesn’t respond. She is looking at her hands, though she has not yet shown the common symptoms of anxiety. As Pressuriser 0223 said, she is calm, accepting.]

0071 – You are aware of the aims of the Suicide Room and have consented willingly. Your final decision can be made at any time, and any wishes directly regarding it will be followed through. You have stated your preferred method of suicide is by ingesting quantities of paracetamol over a period of time. This has been already provided and is in this room with us. You will find it below the table, available for your use whenever, and if ever, you decide to use it. However, if a different method is favoured, it can be arranged. This information has all been provided to us willingly by you and is all correct.

[Subject 0103 looks at him surprised. She soon returns to a look of dull calmness however]

0103 – Yes… can I… can I do it now? Can I just… I just want to…

0071  – Is this the opportunity or an urge that’s led you to have just made your final decision?

0103 – Both, possibly. I can’t wait anymore, you’re right. Can I just… do it, finally.

0071 – Amputation or suicide?

0103 – Both, possibly.

0071 – Beneath the table, you will find the tools with which you can carry this out. As requested, there is numbing agent, rope, painkillers and a straight-bladed motorised saw which has been sterilised for your personal use. All of these materials you requested, and every effort has been made to match your descriptions with the products. You may proceed with your final decision however you deem suitable. Should you survive the process–

0103 – I don’t think I want to. Survive, I mean. I’ve been ready for this for ever.

0071 – Should you survive the amputation process you can walk out, or continue with your final decision in another way. However, I will still be present, even if you do survive. Everything you have experienced with me will still continue.

0103 – Okay. Okay.
[Subject 0103 visibly takes a breath, before reaching beneath the table]

-Transcript Ends-

 

The following scenes are best recorded from Pressuriser 0071’s memory. As he recalls, the subject did not move from her position at the table. She first took the painkillers before tying the rope around her upper left arm. Pressuriser 0071 notes how fluidly she moved while performing these actions. He theorises she’s either practised or is well-read on the subject of self-amputation.

She next applied the numbing agent, spreading it around her elbow, just above and below it. While she waited for the agent to work, she traced a line around the bottom of her upper arm, mentally working out where she should cut.

She began to stare into the middle distance. According to Pressuriser 0223’s notes, often the very broken do that either while waiting for their time in the Suicide Room to begin, or while they wait for the applied method of death to work for them. She says that, when this happens, subjects do one of two things. Either they recall all their life, think of who they will be leaving, but often have no regrets leaving them. Or, they experience nothingness, only a calmness, such as the feeling when drowning. Pressuriser 0071 could not tell which category she fell into, though suspected it was the first one.

Finally, she picked up the saw. Pressuriser 0071 admits that this is the point he was dreading. However, as he is a highly trained and highly experienced Pressuriser, he remained deadpanned both in expression and emotion.

Subject 0103 expressed her discomfort very soon after she started up the saw. As the teeth got through into her flesh, pulling out fragments of muscle, she realised the numbing agent wouldn’t take away the deepest pain. She let the handle go slightly, and the saw fell, slicing her skin further. She gripped her arm and screamed.

Pressuriser 0071, all the while, kept his stern gaze on her, his hands clasped on the table, cuffs of his shirt being dyed a dark red. She met his eyes after a few minutes. Searching for direction or comfort, perhaps. However, she got neither, but she pushed herself on to continue, desire and futility getting the better of her. She placed her arm back on the table and carried on, the hand holding the saw shaking.

She became more serious when the got to the bone, knowing her arm was too ruined to be saved. Pressuriser 0071 says he saw her tears stop and she pressed on, still making vocal her pain but refusing to cry. Because of the adrenaline, she had the strength to push through the bone. However, because she was removing her left arm through sheer force, she was losing blood fast. It began pooling on the floor, rippling with every slam of her feet on the floor to try and redirect her senses. Her limp left hand was stretched out. A single drop of blood rolled down from the tip of her pinky and ran into the crease of her hand.

It wasn’t long before her right hand let the saw fall to the floor, and her left arm turned over freely, separated from her body. She sat back, expressing nothing, no pain, possibly because adrenaline had taken effect. At this point, her heart rate was slowing down. Pressuriser 0071, who still had not changed his position or expression, felt his heart racing. The shock was getting to him.

Before his eyes, Subject 0103 raised her messy left arm. In hers, he saw a glimmer, and the corners of her mouth turned upwards. But that only lasted a second before her head fell back, her arm collapsed to her side again and her eyes closed. Blood pumped from the stump of her arm onto the floor.

At this point, she had not died. She had merely lost consciousness due to lack of blood and from shock. However, by the time Pressuriser 0071 had readied himself, stood up and moved to check her pulse, she was gone. As usual, he stayed in the room alone with her corpse for ten minutes, just to be sure nothing else was wrong.

In the end, Subject 0103 did carry out the wish she had held for the longest time. However, this wish, this desire, something she could never deny cost her dearly, and caused her to feel isolated to the point of depression. She became weak, and succumbed to the basic human desperate response within the Suicide Room.

 

–End results: Subject 0103 failed. The results gained from her visit to the Suicide Room are certainly useful. Pressuriser 0071 reports that Subject 0103 really shook him. This has raised several questions regarding him within the process itself. In the end, Subject 0103 benefited to furthering the understanding of desire and suicide.

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Sitting at the Train Platform

Sitting at the train platform,
You’ve been there a while, waiting on
your two-way route to your mundane
and everyday location, just as
you do every day. With your mind on

Other things. Less than looking forward to the
nine hours of screen-staring, paper shuffling,
staring at the brunette you are too cowardly
to ask out for coffee. But today could be
the day for it. You take a peek at your

Watch. Then look towards the clock,
Unable to believe it’s been only two
minutes since you last looked. And yet
there are more people crowded around
you than you’ve seen so far today.

Businessmen in ties, shoes polished and
hair smoothed to perfection, giving the
sad impression they practice this every
single day, a faint belief that this is the day
their boss will recognise their achievements.

A cluster of young women, up early for a
day trip, mascara smudged over remnants
of sleep in the corners of their eyes. They
do their best to laugh despite having not seen
each other for months, though they promised to.

Train station labourers, brooms welded to their
hands, sweeping up the memories of yesterday’s
traingoers. Cigarette butts from under the
benches, a discarded aluminium can, and perhaps
a smudged napkin, all to earn their wages.

The newly-muddied shoes of a to-be-teen,
standing just far away from his mother to have
autonomy in this new place. Hair spiked to
a rebellious extent, ignoring his mother’s command
to step away from the yellow threshold.

And one man closer to the threshold than he,
his hands empty and clenched slightly, you
notice the solid way he holds himself, as if
ice has crept into his skin and frozen him in
place, a human-coloured statue on the platform.

Sitting at the train platform,
You once again check your watch,
Seeing that steady rhythm of the second
hand slicing your life away, one fragment at
a time. But you still have the day to do.

A rumble beneath your feet,
Gives away the surprise of the approaching
train. You know you can sit for a while longer,
Until everyone evacuates the sliding metal
jaws of the slick and powerful monster.

You see the businessmen adjust their shoulders.
You see the women’s hair catherine-wheel around their jaws.
You see the rebellious boy obey and step away from the gap.
You see the labourers glance up slightly, an act of respect.
You lean forward in your seat, ready to begin your day.

Your eye falls once again on the frozen man. His
elbows pinned to his waist, his head only slightly
tilted, and he is looking at the train. You lose
sight of him briefly, an old woman moving past you
to sit on your left. You nod slightly before rising.

There, again, but he’s moved. Forwards,
Ignoring direct orders to move away. And there is
a clearing around him, nothing too obvious, perhaps
only deep in their minds the waiters realise this
frozen man is not their kin, not their relation.

Nor is he yours. While you wait on the platform,
And scour the surroundings of the platform,
As you do every day, and you watch the clock,
And clock time on your watch, and tap your fingers
On your knee if the train is late, he does not.

While you wait impatiently to begin your day,
Knowing the brunette will pass by you several times,
With you uttering no words of desire to her,
You at least know there will be another lunchtime,
Another work day, another opportunity.

Another day after today. A day, perhaps, where you will
wait in for furniture that won’t be delivered until the next
day. A day, perhaps, where the tracks of the bin
lorry will wake you early, and you hope they’ve emptied the bin
this week. A day, perhaps, but a day, certainly.

But the frozen man is not of your kin either. While you blend
with each other type of toe-tapper on the platform, he blends
with no one. He stands in his clearing, stark, alone,
With the heels of his shoes on the yellow threshold,
Waiting for the rumbling wheels of the train.

No destination will consume him. No tempting relish
of a mate will attract his gaze. No plans has he made for
lunchtime, or any lunchtimes after. This is the only time
you will ever see him. No yesterday. Only today. No tomorrow
when you will once again be sitting at the train platform.

II: Suicide Room

I: Suicide Room

 

A series of memorable cases from the Suicide Room. All information included in these documents is shown only for the purpose of exposing the weakness of the human mind. Together, with the right technology and purpose, we can overcome these weaknesses and create barriers to stop the impulses taking over. Together, we can create superhumans, immune to persuasion, obedience and oppression. But we can only do this with subjects willing to submit themselves to the Suicide Room. Through failure we will succeed. Through death we will live. Through the weakness of others we will strengthen ourselves.

–Case File B13, Subject 0013–
–Pressuriser:
0223, Female, Experienced
–ATTENTION:
Case File 0013 for Subject 0013 became corrupted. Physical information was lost, data was removed and documented accounts became encrypted. As no one has any leads on how this occurred, all copies and traces of Case File 0013 have been destroyed. This is a back-up case, written only in brief. It is named Case File B13, about Subject 0013.
–Status: Completed – Failure – Prolonged suffering through self-inflicted pain, similar to the Chinese execution method of Lingchi.
–Case eligible for public viewing. All information contained within this document has been recorded for the purposes of scientific curiosity and for the sake of furthering the human race. All information was briefly logged from physiological, audio and visual aids, plus the memory of Pressuriser 0223. In this particular case, the memory of Pressuriser 0223 is extremely valuable.

–Open Recreated Case–

Pre-Case Notes: The B13 file has also faced problems with corruption, though most information is still salvageable. Any scientific merit has been destroyed either as a result of the corruption or our own destruction of the original files. Therefore, this case is merely kept as a record, rather than as a means of furthering knowledge of the human condition.

Subject 0013 seemed to have no reasons for applying for the Suicide Room experimental process. Given his family and personal history, there seemed to be no trigger for his desire to enter a room where he would most likely be manipulated into suicide. However, his application was successful and he was welcomed into the Suicide Room.

He was leaving behind two teenage twins, one boy and one girl, who were entering their third year of secondary school. He was also leaving behind a partner, a fiancée, whom he was to get married to in November. As for his history, medical records indicated no type of depression in the past. Researchers concluded, though, that he could be more valuable than any other subject; someone with seemingly no reason to die could surely walk out of the Suicide Room just as easily as they had walked in. Therefore, all were anxious to understand and learn from his physiological processes in either the succumbing to or the overcoming of suicidal thoughts.

Once in the Suicide Room, with Pressuriser 0223, he asked to be humiliated and belittled verbally by her. The destruction of the ego is an important part of the jump to suicide, and it was recorded that he had asked the pressuriser to perform this. It was also recorded as a possible sexual fetish, such as masochism, though EEG scans failed to find any kind of reaction to his humiliation to verify this.

Pressuriser 0223 began as she usually did. She began talking to him, building up her words from casual conversation to subtle insult, just as the subject had asked. He picked up on it straight away, and his behaviour changed. He stood up from the table and moved to one wall, out of the way of the light.

Pressuriser 0223 recalls his facial expressions during the process of humiliation. He refused to look at her, instead turning his head away. She still continued to build up her insults. Only after he had been standing at the wall for five minutes did she get up and move towards him. She recalls how she eventually stood right in front of him, sneering offence into his face, and his expression was one of pain and concentration as he looked to the side. She made every effort to get in front of him, to stare him down to add force to her insults, but he never held her gaze for more than a second.

After thirty-five minutes of insults, Subject 0013 moved away from the pressuriser, pushing past her and retreating to the corner of the room where he crouched, staring into the corner. Pressuriser 0223 recalls how his body shook despite his defensive position. She says she has never seen such a controlled, but chaotic reaction from a subject.

Pressuriser 0223 returned to her seat at the wooden table, becoming silent. Then she set about using another tactic. It is rather juvenile, but often succeeds in either irritating and therefore panicking the subjects, or even establishing a balance of power. She began to tap one finger on the tabletop to the beat of a second, all the while staring at the subject. She continued to do this until she got a reaction.

Subject 0013 stood and turned, revealing to the camera the marks he had inflicted on himself. Clumsy chicken-scratchings covered his arms, and skin was embedded under his nails. His expression was one of hatred, directed at the pressuriser. Of course, she remained unfazed and looked at him as he looked at her. He asked for his final wish. His final decision.

His chosen method of suicide on his file was marked as unknown. This meant that the room had not been prepared for his decision. There was nothing in the room apart from the table and the chairs. However, it is not uncommon for subjects to want to change their methods. In this case, they get to use their ‘final wish’, just as 0013 did, to choose his method.

He asked for a sharp knife, though would not provide the pressuriser with his actual plan. This was relayed to the researchers who provided the knife quickly, not wanting to break the spell of the room.

Pressuriser 0223 recalls the next part, Subject 0013’s suicide, graphically. Most information from other sources, such as heart-rate, blood pressure and EEG results were corrupted after the process, most of them at the point of his decision. Therefore, only Pressuriser 0223’s memory, as well as the log from the uncorrupted video of the cameras, will be used to recreate the scene.

He returned to his seat, opposite Pressuriser 0223, who, by her own admission, stopped tapping and began to insult him again. Her offending comments were moderate, and could easily be brushed off by someone in the right mind. However, Pressuriser 0223 is experienced and knows when a subject is not, and never will be, in the right mind. She does not resort to tactics she does not have to use; “never play an ace when a two will do.”

Subject 0013 placed the blade of the knife to his arm and began to inflict several shallow cuts. With each, he barely flinched. Pressuriser 0223 theorises the first ones were a test. She recalls she expected him to next draw the point of the knife up the inside his arm, severing arteries and causing death through blood loss. She was ultimately wrong.

She recalls him never meeting her eye, never acknowledging her presence in front of him. Instead, his attention remained on his arm. With the knife in his left hand, he began to slice deeper into his flesh. He levered the knife under the living flesh, pulling it and slicing it away from his own body, the whole time attempting not to scream. He failed this very soon and, for the next twenty minutes, Pressuriser 0223 was within an echo-chamber of noise. The flesh he had severed was not a huge chunk, but the wound in his upper arm was seeping blood, flowing down to his elbow and onto the arm of the chair, before it overflowed onto the floor. Subject 0013 stabbed his nails into his thigh, the muscle of the right arm beating and pulsing blood from its severed self.

The pain was not over though. With cries and curses, Subject 0013 removed his trousers,and turned the knife on his calf. Pressuriser 0223 had since returned to sitting silently. She watched his every move, eyes cold. Her morbid curiosity was unquenchable at this point.

The wound the subject inflicted on his leg stained almost his entire foot red. He pushed the knife in, though, in the process, his hand slipped on the handle, slippery with his own blood and he stumbled, opening up the side of his leg too. The wound was bigger than he had intended, and suddenly his voice was all the pressuriser could hear. “Red, raw, animalistic, music born through pain.”

Pressuriser 0223 moved around to the side of the table to keep an eye on the subject, who was holding his leg. She leaned against the table to see him scattering blood as he reached again for the knife. In her eyes, he was inflicting pain on himself to save himself from the pain he was experiencing. This is a common reason for self-inflicted wounds anyway, though usually they are to counteract emotional pain. If Subject 0013 was following that idea, his emotional pain, the pressuriser says, must have been “nothing less than horrific”.

He made his final attempt to bleed. He pushed against his side, just below the ribs, though the blade did not get in deep. He had no strength to get it in deeper. Blood loss had sapped his strength, and the adrenaline from the first few cuts had run out. He lay gasping, saying no words, offering no pleads or cries of regret. His leg, stained and glistening, lay contorted behind him. From his side, the knife lay still, dark liquid and loosened gristle around it. The subject’s hands, clenched, eventually slackened. His pale skin, almost grey with stress, seemed crinkled. His lips were dry and breath came slowly.

Pressuriser 0223 stood still. She watched him. She says her own senses were heightened by the prospect of his death. The colours and sounds she experienced as he died are still clear to her. She remembers how, with his last breath, his chest fell and his shoulders slackened. His eyelids twitched but did not shut. Some of his eyelashes were joined with sweat.

Usually the researchers are called in after ten minutes after the subject’s supposed death. This time, though, Pressuriser 0223 requested an extra ten minutes. During that twenty minutes of silence in that room, all she did was move her chair so she could sit facing him, her elbows on her knees. She did not move much through that time, just sat and watched his corpse.

The researchers entered after the twenty minutes was over and were hasty in declaring him dead. Pressuriser 0223 left the room after rearranging the chairs, and the researchers were left with the corpse. Pressuriser 0223 reported the whole process “surreal”.

 

–End Results: Subject 0013 failed in our expectations of him to leave the Suicide Room alive. His threshold was surprisingly low, needing only Pressuriser 0223’s insults to drive him to make his final decision. His Suicide Room process will only serve as records, though it has remained a case permanently cemented in Pressuriser 0223’s memory.

 

III: Suicide Room

I: Suicide Room

A series of memorable cases from the Suicide Room. All information included in these documents is shown only for the purpose of exposing the weakness of the human mind. Together, with the right technology and purpose, we can overcome these weaknesses and create barriers to stop the impulses taking over. Together, we can create superhumans, immune to persuasion, obedience and oppression. But we can only do this with subjects willing to submit themselves to the Suicide Room. Through failure we will succeed. Through death we will live. Through the weakness of others we will strengthen ourselves.

 

–Case File 0045, Subject 0045–
–Pressuriser: 0223, Female, Experienced
–Status: Completed – Failure – Moderately soon suicide through drug-based methods
–Case eligible for public viewing. All information contained within this document has been recorded for the purposes of scientific curiosity and for the sake of furthering the human race. All information was logged from physiological, audio and visual aids, plus the memory of Pressuriser 0223.

–Open Case–

Subject 0045 seemed nervous even before he stepped into the Suicide Room. The cameras caught him shaking, his knees jiggling up and down as his adrenaline levels peaked and ebbed. Subject 0045 was initially not a strong subject, so Pressuriser 0223 was assigned to gauge just how much strain could be put on a relatively weak mind like Subject 0045. This case was logged very carefully, and multiple cameras and recording devices were used throughout the procedure. All three cameras in the stark white waiting lobby captured Subject 0045’s behaviour.

Every few seconds, his head would swiftly glance towards the door to the Suicide Room. It has been recorded how much an ordinary door strikes fear into subjects. His panic seemingly arose from the fear of his future. For ten further, agonising minutes, Subject 0045 sat there, his hands tightly wrapped around each other, his eyes wide and slick. The underarms of his loose-fitting gown became dark with sweat, though he seemed to be unaware.

Aware of every sound, his head rose quickly upon hearing the footsteps of the researchers. Two of them, both wearing dark glasses to avoid unnecessary eye contact with the subject, began to fit him with various implements to monitor his body’s physiological reactions to various psychological stimuli he would be facing once inside the room. Heart-rate monitors were attached to his chest, his neck and his wrists, while a blood pressure monitor was attached to his upper left arm. Electrodes were secured to his temples, and beside his eyes, so as to monitor frontal lobe activity, and eye twitches. Other information was to be logged visually and audibly, such as noticeable bodily habits or verbal patterns borne out of anxiety.

Subject 0045 was briefly informed of the purpose of the Suicide Room one more time, and he gave his final permissions, his voice clearly shaking. The researchers, having secured his consent, steered him to the door. They stood behind him as he steeled himself for entering. Finally, he pushed open the door.

Pressuriser 0223 was already seated behind a simple wooden table. She watched Subject 0045 as he approached and took his seat on a hard wooden chair. Light sources pointed towards him, casting Pressuriser 0223’s visage into darkness. His expressions, clearly lit by the bright lights, will be unmissable.

Pressuriser 0223 introduces herself, spreading her hands, inviting the subject to offer the same information. He did so, hesitantly, gulping every few words. After introductions, the pressuriser begins to engage him in casual conversation. This was done to find out if his panic could be easily overcome by the introduction of a comfortable, everyday conversation. However, EEG results, in addition to the subject’s verbal answers to Pressuriser 0223’s questions, indicated that his amygdala was completely engaged, and that the subject’s emotions were too extreme to be calmed.

Pressuriser 0223 decided to begin the process of manipulation soon. The casual conversation lasted a mere few minutes before she cut off Subject 0045 in the middle of his sentence. She sat back in her chair, her eyes on him. By the way the shadows lay, it was difficult to make out her expression. His, though, was easy to read. He was waiting and anxious for the pressuriser to begin.

From his file and research into his life history, the pressuriser gained the knowledge that Subject 0045 had recently suffered a loss. His wife of twelve years had left him only months after the death of their four-year-old child who succumbed to measles. This is not an unusual situation found within the records of Suicide Room subjects, as deaths in families often drive people to depression or suicidal thoughts. Pressuriser 0223 had this information, and more to use, though she started off her processes slowly and carefully.

 

–Transcript–

This transcript captures the events leading up to, but prior to, Subject 0045’s decision. Throughout he was aware of the consequences of agreeing to be a part of the Suicide Room research, and, although withdrawal was impossible at this point, his permission and consent were given multiple times through the debriefing sessions.

[…]
0223 – Within this room, there are only two voices. Yours. And mine. You are aware of the aims of the Suicide Room and have consented willingly. Your final decision can be made at any time, and any wishes directly regarding it will be followed through. You have stated your preferred method of suicide is by ingesting quantities of paracetamol over a period of time. This has been already provided and is in this room with us. You will find it below the table, available for your use whenever, and if ever, you decide to use it. However, if a different method is favoured, it can be arranged. This information has all been provided to us willingly by you and is all correct.

0045 – Yes. Yes it is. Though I…

0223 – Do you remember your childhood? Do you remember any particularly happy memories?

0045 – I. I remember… I remember how I learned to ride my bike when I was six. My dad had a holiday from work and he… he spent the time taking me up to the park with my bike. I…
[Subject 0045 pauses for a while]
I remember falling off. But my dad was there to take me home and he carried me. I… I remember I skinned my knee… and I wasn’t happy but… I wasn’t happy because it hurt but I was happy because the time was special.

0223 – Teaching your child to ride a bicycle is often an important time in the life of a father too. When their toddler begins to find their calling, to set their sights on their life and their future. Because riding a bike allows them freedom.

0045 – Yeah I…
[Subject 0045 does not begin speaking again]

0223 – Your child, a son?

0045 – … Yeah… He…
[Subject 0045 does not begin speaking again]

0223 –  What was his name?

0045 – It… was O**r. After my wife’s dad.

0223 – I see. A father. Such an important part of any child’s life. He must have influenced your wife quite a bit. Did O**r ever get to meet his granddad?

0045 – No… They lived too far away. We couldn’t afford to take the time off to take O**r up to see them.

0223 – That is a shame. I suppose, if O**r was only four years old when he got measles, he didn’t get to experience the same happiness from you teaching him to ride his bike?
[Subject 0045 does not respond]
I suppose he never had a bike in the first place. It was such an important memory to you, it must hurt that O**r will never get to experience it. Though he has been saved from the pain of skinning his knee, just as you did. And his father pulling the bike behind him as he carried O**r home. Are you… sure the memory of you learning to ride a bike is happy?

[Subject 0045 has begun to sob violently. His heart rate is high, and his brain activity shows huge emotional activity in the hippocampus and amygdala]

0223 – How did O**r get measles? There are vaccines.

[It takes a few minutes for Subject 0045 to calm down enough to respond]
0045 – 
He was supposed to get vaccinated. But I couldn’t take him on the day it was scheduled because… I couldn’t take any more time off work. It… it was either… provide for my family or be… sacked and have O**r vaccinated. I… I thought it was going to be okay. We never… rescheduled.

0223 – You gave up your child’s life just for something to get up to do every morning?

0045 – It wasn’t…
[Subject 0045 becomes unable to respond for minutes due to excessive emotional expression]
It was… It wasn’t my…

0223 – Fault? No, no…

0045 – My wife… always blamed me until she left.

0223 – And… rightfully so. What I mean is, your decision cost the life of your child. And not just your child, but your wife’s child. She, who carried O**r within her body for nine months, of course she blames you. There is no way to convince anybody that your decision didn’t cause this. Though, perhaps she is happy now.

[Subject 0045 begins to react again, but before long he straightens himself up slightly in the chair. His eyes are red, his posture is stiff and his expression is one of helplessness. He slumps back in his chair, defeated and loose]

[Pressuriser 0223 stares at Subject 0045 for a few minutes. His heart rate is lowering but his amygdala is still peaking]

0223 – Time passes. Time we’ll never get back. Some people grow up, some people grow old. No one and nothing stays young. But the dead never age. O**r will remain four forever. Bone doesn’t grow, not when it’s dead.

[Subject 0045 makes eye contact with the pressuriser but does not respond]

0223 – I think it’s time for you to make your final decision.

[Subject 0045 does not move for a few minutes]

0045 – Yeah.

Transcript Ends

 

Subject 0045 reached below the table, his body shaking but his hands calm and ready. His demeanour was one of someone who was facing something they neither wanted nor dreaded. It was simply a look of acceptance. Pressuriser 0223 asked the subject if he was sure. Subject 0045 ignored her, and set about preparing the paracetamol. Within the pack was indeed paracetamol but also a bottle of mineral water.

Subject 0045, over a period of half an hour, slowly ingested double the amount of paracetamol needed to easily kill a person. All the while, Pressuriser 0223 watched on, saying nothing, but giving the subject time to carry out his final decision. With each few tablet, he choked back a sob, before swallowing them. His expression returned to one of placid indifference after every mouthful as he slowly waited for the tablets to soak into his body and take effect.

Subject 0045 lost consciousness. Pressuriser 0223 remained in the room with the subject for fifteen minutes, before calling in the researchers. On arrival, they pronounced Subject 0045 dead. The EEG scans indicated he had died almost as soon as he had lost consciousness. No brain activity was detected in those fifteen minutes.

 

–End results: Subject 0045 failed in beating emotional pain and manipulation. The results gained from his visit to the Suicide Room will, however, not be useless. Pressuriser 0223 reports that Subject 0045 was one of the quickest and easiest subjects she has ever interacted with.

 

II: Suicide Room

SERIOUSLY, help me. Help me. Help me.

How much must I breathe to wake up with gunfire in my ears? How much of my body, life, soul must I pay for that? How much must it be for the gunfire to be coming from me? A single metal pellet, fuelled by nothing but hate, I’ll stand and force it out of my skin.

And watch it fly.

And watch it strike. Raise my other hand, a machine gun, no longer fingers but a cannon. I’ll step back, between two buildings, and raise and fire. And raise and fire again. Oh, good Lord, I’ll let go several thousand rounds in a matter of minutes. What am I shooting, what am I shooting at? Is it so much? Oh, I’ll tear through buildings, I’ll desecrate concrete with these metallic fists of mine.

More, longer, faster. Fuel, hatred and anger. I am no longer the silent fool you took me as. I am fury, I am the metal in the fire.

I can be the metal in the fire. How! Shoot, shoot, and keep myself scowling. No laughter, no joy. No psychopathic tendency to let a cheer fly from my throat. Concentrate. Calculate. And fire. I am angry, I am furious.

I want to wake with that gunfire, I want to hear it burn through the metal and stone, I want to know how far it flies through the other side, how long until it crashes to the ground. I want to stand on the edge of the world and scream it all, after I’ve destroyed everything in my wake, when there is no one around to accuse me of myself. Give it out! And let it destroy! Come on, darkness, come on. I’ll shoot you, too.

I’ll step off, I promise, I swear it, when I’m finished. A mercy killing followed by a self-sacrifice to end the world. My scream will be friction, my scream will be power. Friction and power, and bring him back to me! Why, why did you leave me! Why did you leave my head!

 

My frustrations are real, my block is too real. I can touch it, it’s inside me, a huge forbidden weight that strips me from Automatic to Catastrophic. I am Catastrophic. I am Catastrophic! I’ll fucking get him back, I’ll try anything. I’ll work everything. I’ll draw him until I know each inch of skin. I’ll draw him until I know the true colour of his greasy hair. I’ll draw him from the inside out to know how he works, maybe he’ll come back to me.

Oh, God, Yestin! Where the fuck did you go? Where the fuck did you run off to? I have no idea if you died, or if you lived, I have no idea what happened to you. I want you to return, for I am dangerous without you. I am furious. I need you to be my guardian. I need to write with you. I must write with you. You’re the only way I can move forward.

My disgusting guardian angel. I cannot tell what you are. Human, demon? Do you love children for what they are or do you love eating them? Are you alive or dead? Can you die? You made out like you could.

“Enjoy it. / For it could be my last.”

Yes, yes, apparently that child was your last. Did you know when you wrote that down? Did you know that, and I didn’t? Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you tell me? But you can’t have known, surely, because… because you didn’t know you were to become obsessed. You didn’t know you’d retreat into your dying mind with her. Is that what happened? Or did her soul… did you manage to inhale it in time, did it live in your mind, did it cause your obsession?

Yestin, I don’t care for the answers, actually. All I wish, all I ever want now, is for you to return to me. I cannot get over this. You were the best, the worst and everything in between. You gave me the drive, the power and the superiority to present something truly unreal to the world. And yet, I cannot get you back.

I’ve tried writing with Lull, his poems. I wanted to know his mind, because his life is interesting too. But it’s not yours. I couldn’t truly get into it. I wrote about a nobody walking a line three times. The line between life and death. And I never got that. The concept, sure. But, past that, nothing.

Where are you? I spread out your manuscript, I look at it, and I begin crying. I read the first words, Yestin, and I feel depressed and sad. I miss you.

“Hello. / Am I / scared? / scarred? / sacred?”

And that’s enough to ruin me for the rest of the day. I hold your manuscript close to me, hoping that if I never let it go, you’ll return to me. You’ll give me something to work with. I imagine you walking behind me, I talk to you as I walk, I tell you to put your huge hand on my hip so I know you’re close. I walk along the street, sad, angry, in denial, talking to the face only I can imagine.

Please, Yestin.

Return to me. I want you and I need this. Please. Please.

I didn’t even know you. I know you so much better now.

“I’m content to squat here. With my fluorescent lights.”

Don’t go. I need you. Wherever you are. Please.

Miscarriage

Simply an instance where Yestin got far too excited.
Simply an instance when he couldn’t help himself.
Simply an instance when he became hungry for its premature soul.

You may as well get rid of the body. It’s not as if it’s needed.
No soul, no birth. It’s that simple.

So don’t worry.
The baby, yours or whoever’s, they’re safe.
They’re fuelling him.
And therefore fuelling me.

VII: Hello

I: Hello  II: Hello  III: Hello  IV: Hello  V: Hello  VI: Hello

Hello P14Hello P15

This is the end.
I hope he’ll finally be happy.

If anyone has feedback on anything (what they think happened, who they think’s talking, if they liked or disliked it or parts of it) please, don’t be Scared to tell me.
Let me know there’s someone out there and I don’t just live in an endless void of white paper desperate to be filled…

 

-Ema Schopenhauer-

VII: Can I make it Snow on the Inside of my Heart?

I forget your name. What was it? I cannot read. Cannot speak. Oxygen mask in the way of my words. They are swallowed and shot right back at me, my own musty breath into my nose and into my lungs. It is like being inside an old library book. I have half an hour here, then half an hour outside, then another half an hour here, then another half an hour outside. I am a gazebo. Put me up for half an hour. Pull me down for half an hour because my joints are hurting badly and my temper is fraying at the edges. I am dressed in a green gown, after all. I feel like awning.

Well, I cannot actually feel anything at the moment. All the feeling I have in my body is confined to the first and third fingers on my left hand. I cannot even feel my lips, and I am usually able to do that. It is the drugs. The drugs they pump into me to stop me from turning. I do not know what they mean. I have always been like this.

My shoulder was fixed. I do not know what happened, but it is fixed now. Of course, I cannot move it, and it hurts. Or it would if I could feel it at all, which I cannot. I kind of wish I could, because then I could lie on my side all I wanted before nurses came and rolled me back. Even when they touch me it feels like a tonne on my side. I feel pressure on my body, but nothing more. Right now, lying here, I can explore the world with two of my ten fingers. Uncomfortably slippery bedsheets stretched tight over a bed coated with what feels like varnish.

On my back I can see a ceiling. It is not particularly interesting, but it is white, and that gives my eyes a chance to play. Any blip or spark I see within my eye is projected onto the white canvas above me. I should take up painting when I get better.

My sanity ebbs, I know that. Ebbs and flows. That would be a great band name. I find it particularly hard to focus on any one thing in my head. I can think I am awake, but as soon as I try to move my leg, I become fully awake and whatever I was thinking about is gone forever from my brain. That is normal. I am glad that is normal. It means I am.

I have a new counsellor. He is okay and he makes me talk. He leaves me having to say something, rather than not wanting to say something, like my previous two. So I told him everything. I told him how it started and I told him how it ended. I told him how my monstrosity started. I don’t understand. Was I really a monster? I am pure and good. I am golden-hearted. Maybe that heart has corroded a little, though, revealing oxidised iron that represents my jealously. I am jealous.

According to my counsellor, admitting it is the first step on the way to defeating it. But I don’t want to defeat it, I want to relocate it. I want to take it out of my head and put it in my body, so that my body feels so jealous of other people’s walking and working bodies that mine starts to strive to want to be human again, instead of a vegetable, which is what it is. Impossible. Yes, I know. But it’s how I feel and how I feel is jealous.

My half an hour away from the maddeningly sanitised curtained off room starts now. Disconnected from the oxygen tanks and drips, but still closely monitored. Sitting a few feet away from me is the person watching me. I do not mind this at all. In my head, I am the only one on the grass. I take a single step. My fractured ankle has nearly mended. The physiotherapist said I had to keep moving and strengthening it, so that is what I am going to do. I want to be strong again. I want my bones to be able to withstand a tank falling on them. I want my muscles to ripple with energy and brim with power. I want to feel strong. Strength. It is what I desire most now. Strength with keep the monster inside me, if I can supress it. Mental and physical. If I can prevent the creature from taking me over, I do not have to stop it, but if I can’t do that, I will have to try to physically restrain myself somehow. Maybe building up my body is the wrong thing to do. If the creature takes me over, becomes me, then…

Sorry, I mean if I become the monster, I will use that strength I built up over the hours of exercise. I will have to talk that over with myself. My counsellor will be no help here. This is not something he can help me with.

The grass. The grass. Soft. Silky. Cool. All the sod’s cruel coolness had gone. Replaced with sympathetic coolness instead. The parts in the sun are even warm, but I do not intend to go there. Who knows, I might faint if I go there. The heat could rise and rise, through my legs and up through my torso to my head, boiling my blood and dehydrating my brain. I am not going to risk that.

I stay in the shade, sensitivity gradually returning to my body, working upwards from the soles of my feet. It is a good feeling. I can feel. I can sense again. I walk around the tree that offers the darkness of the shade and raise my right hand to its trunk to feel its bark. It is rough, grooved, trenched as it should be and not just neutral, like everything else I can feel when I am lying down.

My nostrils flare as I breathe in deep, deeper than I have ever breathed before, it feels like, and my lungs fill to the brim. I notice the sensation, hold my breath for a few seconds before letting it out through my mouth. The breath is not musty anymore. I can taste the nature of it. That might come from the fact that it is becoming winter, and summer freshness is making one last effort especially for me before it cradles down into the soil to make way for its brother, the winter freshness. But the winter’s freshness is not the same. It stings and it glimmers, inviting children to play on its blank slate. As I child, I liked to take slow steps, thinking, hearing the compression of the snow beneath my wellies. Compression was the right word. I used to look behind me, seeing the once-fluffy snow crushed into the shape of the tread of my wellies. Some people say the snow ‘crunched’ underfoot. Some say the snow ‘gave way’ underfoot. Snow does not do either of those things, unless it is not snow but frost, or if the person is suddenly walking on an overhang of pure snow without realizing, then falling to their freezing deaths.

Like you did.

Well, you did not take a tumble off a precipice, or slide yourself to death on ice by breaking your skull open. To be honest, how you died has been shut off. It was cold. I know that. It was cold when we held your funeral. I say ‘we’… I was not invited. Why was I not invited? I can demand an answer from you for all eternity, only to be faced with your silence, but I still blame you for not inviting me. Was it your family? Did you turn them against me? What did I do wrong? Tell me! Tell me!

Oops. Did I take a fall onto the ground? Turns out I did. I face the dappled tree leaves. The word they always use is ‘dappled’. I guess I know why. The light is dappled. Yes, I face the dappled tree leaves, lying once more on my back in the shade. I wave my hand and try to laugh my predicament off. I just fell, I just tripped is all. They still insist on examining my shoulder, which is plastered in place so that all I can move is my lower left arm. They examine my ankle more closely though. I understand that, too. I took a fall, and it would have been my ankle to bear the brunt. Nothing had broken though. Life has some mercies at least. They decide to take me back in, but I try to argue, say I’ll sit down against the tree and won’t try to walk.

They agree to let me sit on the bench with my minder. At least I get to stay outside. Optimism. They said I should try to use it.

My minder asks me if I want to talk, but I shake my head. I have things to think about. However, he has different plans and starts blathering. Rather annoying. I nod occasionally. Shrug occasionally. After a while, he must be able to sense I don’t want to talk at all, and falls silent once again. My head wants to fall to the left, onto my aching shoulder. I make it, force it, to fall onto the other side, trying to make it look natural. I do not want to use any of my body muscles that are not necessary. I want to relive our time together. I want to ponder. Maybe think of what it would have been like if we had not split so soon. Could we have held hands more? Could we have actually kissed? Could we have actually made physical contact while lying in the same bed? Not that we ever lay in the same bed, but maybe that would have happened too. We lay side-by-side once. Once. And I was so happy. So very happy that night. Five days later, it was clear to me that we would never do that again. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that, but I kept trying. I kept trying for two more years to get close enough to you so that you would ask me the fateful question, ‘do you want to go out with me?’

You never did, and, fair enough. I understand that perfectly. I cannot try anymore. No way would your corpse rise up to ask me something like that. You have more important things on your mind. Like… death and being dead. What do you think about when you die? Do you just stop? Or is there more? Do you get another life? Do you get another body, another life to live? If you did, I would hunt for you. You would probably not remember me. And if I found you, you would probably be a baby-child or something, therefore what I wanted to do would be rendered illegal.

Best I don’t find you.

VI: Can I Make it Snow on the Inside of my Heart?

Twelve months have passed and they say now that I am healthy enough to live on my own again. They have had me under surveillance ever since I turned into that monster thing. It seems like a distant dream now; I cannot believe that thing was me. I have had two counsellors, both of whom I never spoke a word to. I am afraid to speak. My body was left to rot in the sun and snow while my mind remained sharp. If I speak out, they will know my intentions. I do not want them to know. I only wish to tell you, my dear.

A living-death experience, they called it. I was alive against all sane probability; a temperature of 55oc, malnourished, sick in the head. Apparently my ankle was fractured. They made me come back to the hospital with them. I refused, screaming, because I wanted to come and find you.

I can live on my own again. Freedom, finally.

I sit at a café table, trying to focus my eyes on my hand that is resting on the table to my right. My eyes refuse to work together. They point outwards, I can feel it, rather than pointing at my hand together. I can see my hand in two places, overlapping in the middle. I lift it and both hands I see distort and lift. It is a different feeling than being drunk, though.

I close my eyes, press my thumbs to them, pressing them into my skull slightly. It hurts, but, when I open them again, I can focus happily, despite the headache that is coming on. I see a couple walking hand-in-hand across the road. They pass by the red brick houses. For a moment, my view is obscured as a truck passes, but there they are again, and the woman is laughing. I should not be able to hear her; the café is so dreadfully loud, but the world is utterly silent for me, and all I can hear is her laugh, on repeat, replaying again and again as she walks on by. The boyfriend points something out to her and there is that same laugh echoing. They turn a corner and the world rushes to normal. My mind and sanity is crystal clear, a weight has fallen away. I am not resentful of the relationship I witnessed only for a brief second or two at all. Not jealous. Not envious. I know that love ends eventually. Love ended for me when your spirit left your body and the planet but, as soon as that love’s river ran dry, a new one for you has kindled. It grew and I mistakenly urged it to build. Now you are my only goal.

You may think that, since I have almost lost my mind, I will not love you anymore. No, I love you more. More than I ever have before. I feel like I have said that before, but it is true.

Blinking. I am blinking. So fast that the world is just a reel of photographs. Each one is blurrier than the last: tears are obscuring my view and there is rushing wind in my ears. None of the trees are moving. The wind is in my head, so I shake it. I shake it back and forth, trying to clear the gust and the rain.

I am seeing in sepia. Something else has gone wrong. A man comes over to me. I can hear him clearly enough now that the world is back making its noises, but I can only hear out of one ear. The left one. Fortunately, he is standing on my left side. I stand and quietly reply that I am fine, it was just a fly near to my face. He laughs. Says how much of a problem they are at this time of year. Fascinating, really. Not really. I agree half-heartedly, not caring. My vision is still in that strange brown colour, and I take the opportunity to explore the world through what seems to be old camera film. Tree leaves are brown. A woman’s scarf, which used to be red, is brown. The pale skin of a child is pale brown.

I realize that everyone around me, in one hundred years, will be dead. I do not feel that death will take me, though. Not for at least one hundred years. Perhaps longer. Perhaps never. Maybe in my desperation to get to you, I have created an immortality, a place where I will stay, unable to live normally, unable to die.

I died when you left. I died then. I died when I realized your hand would never be in mine again. I died when I realized you would never hold me in your arms again. I died when you died, is what I am saying. When you were alive, at least I could hold onto hope that I might, somehow, be able to win you back.

Clearly, you would rather be in the arms of death than be in mine. Necrophilia, my sweet? Really?

The man is staring at me. Oh yes, I am still at the café. I smile, feel my cheeks crack with the effort, but I smile. He smiles back, but there is worry there. He questions me more. I delicately shrug, tell him that I have been through something in hospital and it might take me a long time to recover. Well, it’s not a lie. He seems to want to know what. But what can I say? I know that if I describe how I saw myself, he will never believe me. I simply say I don’t want to talk about it much. I would have thought that that would be enough to deter him from interrogating me more, but he insists, pushing me for an answer. Gently, though. Sly. He is not asking me directly. He is asking me questions that would, in a matter of minutes, lead him to discover everything.

I am panicking now. I try to answer his questions as vaguely as I can, but he demands more information. He is pressing me, pressuring me. I take one step back, and feel the seat of my chair meet the inside of my knee. I draw forwards, then kick out my back leg, scattering the chair across the ground. Then I twist around, sweating, seeing the path spread for me as fellow café-goers rise from their own seats to see what is happening.

I see the gap and I take it, moving past the people as if they were cardboard cut-outs. They all move so slowly. I am at waist-height somehow. I must have dropped to my hands and knees. I take a leap over the chair I struck, and land on the pavement on my hands. However, they do not hold me up as I would have like them to, and I collapse. The man is right behind me. Who is he? Why does he follow me?

I have to be human. I pick myself up as quickly as I can, onto my legs only, jamming my hands into my armpits so I cannot revert to my horrific running once again. I stagger a few steps, feel the ghost of the man’s hand on my left shoulder before he grabs me. His grip is hard and my bones are brittle. He squeezes ever so lightly and pulls me back, reflexes making my arms fly out. My left shoulder disintegrates, breaking under so little force. I let out a scream. It is painful, but I scream because I know that if I do, he will let go.

He does, pulling his hands away as if I was poisonous. My left arm hangs uselessly by my side, and I press it to my chest, holding it in one position so that no pain will shoot through me when it moves. I take off again, and he does not chase me. In less than a second, it seems, I am gone, scrabbling down the pavement towards the pond again. You do not call to me this time. Even if you did, I would not go to you. Not this time, sweetheart – you have caused enough problems for me.

Somehow, though, I always seem willing to solve them.

There is bruising on the inside of my left shoulder now. The broken fragments of bone must have ripped blood vessels. What was I thinking, running from them like that? Now they will be looking for me, wondering why, wondering how my shoulder shattered so easily.

I bet I could rupture my whole body if I concentrated hard enough. I bet I could. I could break all my bones into three-thousand plus pieces, and I could make them tear through my skin, I could make them pull at my organs, piercing them, puncturing the puncturable, ripping the rippable, blocking the blockable. I bet I could. I bet I could make my intestines move, folding in on themselves and working up my body, through my stomach, breaking free of my insides through my mouth, bringing my stomach and windpipe with it. Appendix? What is that for? I bet I could make it explode, scattering flesh like ball bearings out onto the grass.

Yes, I’m not in the water just yet. I sit at our bench, holding my arm tight. I have not lost it. It is still able to be saved. There is warmth at my core, despite the cold autumnal winds. My skin is shivering, but in the middle of my torso, there is a light and there is heat. When I fold up my body slightly, the light burns brighter. I don’t know what it is burning on, I don’t know what is feeding the fire, but it is lit and it is smouldering.

It is still not enough. Still not enough to worm through the ice to the left slightly. My heart. It is encased. Ice. A shooting pain as an icicle grows. All the water from the pond has frozen around my heart. Proof I went into the pond, really. I am glad it is still there.

The ice must be grimy and full of dirt. In all the pictures, ice is so perfect, so beautiful, and it always glints and shines. My ice probably does not. My sanity is the glittering beauty, though. Like the clearest diamond crystal, like the freshest water, I can see through all problems, getting through, sane in body and mind. Monstrous blips are nothing. They are merely my sanity adjusting to my body after a long vacation away.

I close my eyes. The sepia, the sepia. I close my ears. The deafness, the deafness.

When I open both again, I can see and I can hear. I can hear what you cannot hear through your empty ear holes, the call of a lone swan, slowly dying as their partner has not yet returned. I can see what you cannot see through your empty eye sockets, the bluish pond, the khaki grass, the chain-grey sky, even the mauve bruise, in clear, glorious technicolour.

What?

Yes, of course I am sane.

V: Can I Make it Snow on the Inside of my Heart?

Only recently. Only recently have I realize that, no, I was not dead. In one part of my brain, I felt disappointed; perhaps I am jealous of the fact that you are something I am not, but perhaps I am annoyed at the fact that I may not meet you in Heaven, if such a place does indeed exist for a bit longer.

I am starved. God knows how long I stayed in the same place. Apparently, I never went into the pond. Apparently, I never touched the water. But I remember it all; the feeling of the water around me and its coolness as it prickled my lungs. I remember it all. The swans, they parted and made space for me to join them. Maybe I was wrong. I do not know what happened. I can recall it as clearly as I can recall the feeling of a young man, sandy blond with worried brown eyes, putting me in the recovery position. He already touched me more than you did, dearest, and I don’t even know his name. I don’t know yours. I cannot remember anything.

He never spoke or, if he did, it was not directly to me. When my eyes adjusted suitably enough to let me see, I saw the face, the eyes, the hair, and I heard his voice in his head. I am not sure, he may have spoken and the voice burned onto my conscious, but I cannot recall his vocal sounds. But I could hear them, low and deep inside me, his kindly tone with worry stitched into it, and the stiff instructions he must have given.

Ambulances don’t just arrive by themselves, you know. They have to be summoned. Clearly, this young man must have summoned it up. Such a kind-hearted, warm-spirited gesture that would, undoubtedly, go to waste. I may not have made it to the pond that time, but one day I will.

My lips are still dry, my eyes still glassy, my skin still waxy and pale. How do I know? I can see myself, sweetie. I float above myself, trying not to go too far, but I am angled in such a way that I am hovering over myself, turning over slowly in the breeze that tip-toes through the window. The hospital workers decided that a window would be best for someone with my ‘condition’. I don’t know what they were saying. Something to do with a psychological disorder, probably. I am not… I don’t believe. Schizophrenia… Depression… Madness… people write endless books about them, countless and countless pages on the causes for, reasons why, and how comes. I do not believe this is right. I do not believe I have a psychological disease. If I do, the last thing I want is people knowing about it.

If I do, I am going to be another statistic, and I am going to be another case study for psychology students to use in their A-level work. Fuck that. I am not crazy, I am not mad, I am not insane.

I turn again, and I am facing the window. I try to whistle, but my mouth does not seem to want to move. I try to look down to see myself, but I cannot see suddenly. The world is black. I thrash out and cry, but no one hears. A flash of white, and my vision is back, and I see the wax figure below me, eyes wide and sweating. It thrashes and cries. I thrash and cry with it. It is not me, anymore. The last time I looked in the mirror, I saw a much different person. I saw a human. Now, I am seeing an animal. Someone rushes over, tries to calm the monster. I remain calm, still rotating slowly. There is no point in me panicking. I have figured it out; I must not try to move; I must not try to see; I must not try to hear. Anything that happens in this bubble of calm around myself, I must submit to.

I have twisted enough to see the ward. The crying of that monster is faint, and sounds like a snarl now. I cannot understand why it is so inhuman now. It is me. I am it. I do not understand…

Maybe I was lying beside the pond for weeks. Maybe I died and came back to life. Maybe for a moment, I blacked out and moved of my own accord.

I need to see the figure again, so I turn my head to the right. White hot pain and blue sorrow slashes through my neck. I don’t know why, but it feels as if my head has been pulled off. But I can see the monster lying on the bed, its head facing to the right and it is screaming, but the noise sounds like it is coming through a radio in my brain, hissing. I turn it down, turn it up. I am in control of that part of me. The pain doesn’t bother me, and it is fading.

The momentum of my head turn has changed my rotation from rotating left to rotating right. I spin, looking out of the open window, my head still cemented in the place where I turned it. The thing on the bed has eyes like large marbles, slick and unseeing, and its chest is rising and falling, pale and sweating. It looks like it is going to die. Its mouth opens and a sigh escapes, and, just before it disappears from my view, I see the teeth, yellowing and sharp.

Is that thing me?

I need to return, sort out the body I call my own. The radio becomes less and less fuzzy and suddenly the whole hospital ward explodes with noise in my ears. Even the nurses’ paces on the tiled floor sound like gunshots to me. I fall, screaming, but no noise is coming out of my mouth. I fall into the body, turning around until it is at the same pose as the monster’s and I feel feeling flood into my fingers, my toes, my chest and I am the monster. Again.

I feel so much worse. It is as if my veins are full of black syrup. I can see them under my skin, pumping, rising and falling. There is not enough feeling for me to lift my hand. It hurts so much, though. Not as much as when you walked away from me, love.

Well, enough is enough. The nurse seems to think so, him standing beside me, ramming a needle into my arm in slow motion. There is a dull, sharp pain and I half expect the syrup to explode out of the pinprick. Nothing explodes. A tube is inserted and the fluid pumped into my lifeblood.

I feel human; I feel pinkness returning to my flesh; I feel the syrup dilute into blood; I feel my pupils dilate instantly. The roar stops in my ears.

I don’t want to close my eyes, though, because I might die. Even if I feel so much healthier.

Why am I scared of death now? You died, and you are not afraid. I wanted to join you, so I fell into the pond. Or, apparently, I didn’t fall into the pond. I do not know what happened, but…

I want to be near you, though dying does not feel right enough.

I must go to you instead.

I pull myself up, my body screaming at me to quit what I am doing and lie down. No, I need to move. No one is around, they have left me for a while, possibly to go off and get some more chemicals to pump into my bloodstream. I take one step, feet numb. I look down, and the foot of a monster is there. Pinker, more flesh-like, yes, but definitely not human. My eyes are dry and my lips are cracked, my teeth visible in a grin. I am coming, lovely. I am coming for you.

Now I am on the grass. I don’t know where I am, but I can feel your corpse calling. Maybe not for me. Maybe you want to keep me away. But why should I stay away? I can hear you, so I can find you. However, there is wood in the way, a coffin, but your call is still harsh and shrill, if a little muffled. I keep walking. I am walking on air, it is lifting me up, numbing my whole body and making me cold. A nice cold. It bites into me more than the cold water of the pond did, but I still recognise that coolness.

Now I am on a road, lurching. Feeling has returned to the soles of my feet and one ankle and I feel the agony I will suffer for another seven miles. The sun is gone. Raindrops fall. A pain in my stomach. It is like sorrow and I want to cry. My tear ducts are blocked. I cannot cry. I try to, but I cannot cry.

I am a monster because I cannot cry.

There is light above me, so harsh through the rain, but it is not the sun. I look down. I have no shadow. It is in my head. The light is breaking the clouds and is shining down on me, but it is in my head.