They were all dead.
I kept on repeating the mantra while I stared at the ceiling of my cramped room with the moonlight as the only source of illumination; a foul odor lingered in my nose as a result of poor hygiene due to the days of my confinement and withdrawal from society.
Remembering the scene from last week, my hand darted on top of my green shirt—to my tightening chest—while I struggled to control my breathing. Relax.
With my hands trembling as the memories flooded my mind like a breached dam flooding a nearby city, I recounted that fateful day where we casted a curse upon our own selves. Closing my eyes for a brief second and then opening them again, I was instantly transported at that moment:
“So… what’s it for you, Nate?” Asked Jen as she inched closer to me; her sweet perfume blessed my sense of smell while her fingers tucked some strands of her golden locks behind her pierced ear. With her ocean blue eyes filled with curiosity, she probed me further. “What do you think is the worst way to die?”
“W-worst way to die? Why this out of the blue?”
“Way to be random and a creep, Jen.” A brunette male said before drinking a cup of water. “Certainly one of the best topics to discuss during lunch.”
“Oh come on, Toni. I am just curious.”
“The worst way I can think of is dying alone without anybody by your side,” I answered her question. “I mean, that would really suck, wouldn’t it? You don’t have anyone and you’re left all by yourself as your own demons dance and torment you with glee. All you have is silence around you until the clock ticks for the last time.”
“I do agree it isn’t a great way to die. I’d rather have my family or friends with me in my last moments.” Toni dropped his asshole attitude that he liked to put up in front of Jen. “Well, to give my two cents, the worst way to die for me is being burned alive. Imagine the horror of realizing you are in flames and the fire is consuming every bit of you.”
Jen nodded her head in agreement. “I can see both of your points.”
“Well? What’s yours?” I asked; struggling to keep my eyes open and maintain focus. It wasn’t the lack of sleep or tiredness that had caused it, but I couldn’t seem to put my finger on the reason why.
“Mine is pretty brutal. Imagine being tortured and having to feel nearly every physical pain a human could ever take.” She shivered with the image in her mind that only she could see.
Giving in to the lull of temptation, I closed my eyes for a bit to get some rest just so I could regain my focus. “Yeah, that is indeed a shitty way to di–”
Opening my eyes, I saw the very image she was imagining seconds ago right in front of me:
Jen—or what was left of her rather—was tied to a steel chair; her innards were sprawled on the dirty floor that was coated with a metallic–smelling liquid. The pale, long limbs that was once a part of her body were organized in a straight line in front of the chair: both the arms and the legs were folded in an unnatural angle and each fingers, void of any fingernails, were detached and placed on top of a silver tray placed on the ground. Her decapitated head was on top of the wooden table beside the chair while the beautiful blue eyes that once were located in their respective sockets were now residing inside her open mouth with a dislocated jaw.
I felt a bile climbed my throat as nausea started to devour my being when I blinked and saw another scene completely different from before.
On top of the soft mattress, Toni’s drenched body struggled with his red eyes wide open as beads of sweat dripped from his small face; his wrists and ankles were shackled to the wooden edges of the bed he once found comfort in. His screams and curses were muffled by the gag on his mouth while his chest heaved rhythmically under the accordance of a music of panic and fear that only he could hear.
Letting go of the breath I did not notice I was holding, the smell of gasoline assaulted me instantly. Coughing, I blinked my watering eyes and saw that the scene in front of me changed once again.
This time, I was standing a bit farther from the bed he was on. However, compared to the previous sight, the present one would forever haunt me in my dreams.
The heat eminating from him was intense and I could clearly witness every twitch and spasm of his body as a reaction to the kisses of the flame that had engulfed him as a whole. From the ends of his chocolate brown hair to the tips of his toes—everything was being eaten by hell itself; he was being burned alive as if it was a punishment for a dire sin he had committed to the gods above.
Stepping back as I embraced the emotion of mixed uncertainty, fear and cowardice, I caught a glimpse of my hands that held a nearly empty box of matches.
This wasn’t making any sense.
Blinking, I was once again in a different setting. Only this time, I knew I was back at the present for I could see the familiar set of furniture in my room and the foul odor had greeted me once again as a replacement from the smell of gasoline. Shaken by the nightmare I’d seen, I stayed in the very position of leaning my back on the stone, cold wall.
What were those scenes? Why did I imagine them? Were they… real?
I shivered at the thought.
Yes they were dead, but I couldn’t have seen their bodies in those situations. I didn’t have any memory of those. The only time I saw them after that day we talked was when what was left of them were stored within the confinement of their caskets being lowered down to the hole on the earth as if it was a cue for the curtains to close and the ending music to play.
The cries of despair by their families and moans of anguish by their friends still ringed in my ears like I was still there; my cheeks were still stained with tears from losing my two close co-workers and I certainly wasn’t over their death.
How did I bring myself to even imagine those horrifying images?
Clenching the fist still placed upon my green, sweat soaked shirt, a car drove past my place with its headlights contributing to the illumination within my room. I glanced on my right and saw a glimpse of a reflection on the mirror placed on the right of my bed.
Although I was a wreck at the moment, I was smiling. A grin was formed on my lips which stretched from ear to ear as my eyes reflected a maniacal glee. I looked like a convincing impostor of the devil, himself.
Then, something clicked.
Toni’s eyes were supposed to be of the color green. Looking down at my green garment, realization kicked in. My shirt was red… it was stained by Jen’s crimson blood when I was torturing her down at the basement of an unoccupied house while she begged for her dear life.
Oh, that’s right.
With the echoes of the words ‘split’ and ‘personality’ by the doctor I was seeing and my heart shattering into a bunch of small fragments of lost innocence and humanity, I then knew what had happened.
Their deaths were caused by me.