I was an ordinary man, like any other man. I had my usual schedule: waking up, going to work, coming back and doing it all again the next day. I kissed my wife, Mia, and went off to work. Each day, more boring than the last, I was a factory worker and laboured about 60 hours a week which caused me to basically live at my job. As a basic guy, I loved my wife and hated my job, but I had to do what was necessary to keep my house running and the mortgage paid, along with all the bills. My wife stayed home, taking care of the house and cooking meals for us. Unlike Mia, I would complain most of the time about how things got too hard and how I hated this life. My anger was vivid and aggressive, which sometimes scared Mia, but she supported me as any good wife would. I often felt terrible about treating her this way because I had no idea why I acted like that, but I would try to make it up to her as much as possible.
“I’m heading out now honey, I’ll see you tonight for supper!” I said, waving at my wife.
“Alright, don’t forget your pills! The doctor prescribed you two per day. Remember, they help you get better.” Mia said.
“Would you relax? I take them every day, and I’m so tired of them, I don’t feel any better.” I said as I subtly slid the pills container behind the cookie jar so that Mia didn’t notice. My lunch packed and my uniform sacked, I left the house to go to work. For the first time since my prescription, I wasn’t going to take my pills for a whole day! I was really excited about that because I couldn’t remember why I took them in the first place. Whenever I asked Mia why I took them or what my illness was, she would just look at me with her beady eyes and tell me how I’m getting better. So, I ignored the constant thought about those pills for her sake and kept quiet. Something though always made me feel like a drug addict, considering that I was young and had to take pills without knowing the reason. Today was the final straw. I refused to take those pills until she told me the truth.
I arrive at work and put my daily smiley face mask on. I hate these co-workers. Each one of them is selfish and will stab you in the back no matter how kind you treat them.
“Good mornin’, bud!” Steve said.
“Hi Steve,” I said, trying not to look at him, so he got an idea that I was not in the mood for conversation, yet he went on with his nonsense.
“So, I came across this website last night, designed to where people can anonymously send an email to an annoying co-worker…”
“Saying things like, “You really need to go see a mental hospital!” and you enter their email!” he said, barely holding in his laughter as I turned to look at him.
“You might wanna check your email, chump!” Steve said, laughing with the rest of those low lives. I felt something build up in me, my throat got dry and itchy, my eyes started to burn, their voices sounded like they’ve dropped about three octaves, and I felt this sharp rush of adrenaline in my chest enticing me to do something.
“Woah! Get a grip of yourself, man!” I thought to myself as I stared at them till they finished laughing at me.
“I don’t… I don’t think that was funny.” I said.
“Oh c’mon, can’t you take a joke?” Steve said with such a despicable attitude. The same feeling came back to me, almost controlling my body, so I just walked away. In the hallway, as I was going to attend to my job, I heard a whisper. Unlike any other whisper, this one was very particular, it didn’t sound like it came from behind, left, right or even in front of me, but it was rather loud and continuous like an echo.
“Huh? Did someone say something?” I asked, looking around.
“You sure you don’t want to take a look at that email!” Steve laughed as he walked in the opposite direction from mine. This time, that strange feeling nearly possessed my body, and I was incapable of holding it in anymore.
“Would you shut up!” I yelled.
“Geez, man, chill out! Once again, it was a joke!” Steve said as I snapped out of this type of trance and just went back to my line of work.
“What was that? Why did I act like that?” I thought to myself, looking around the room. Four white walls surrounded me, and a creaky grey metallic ceiling locked me and my thoughts up. The workload got incredibly boring, so I examined that hideous white, somewhat beige wall. It almost felt like the patterns of paint started to swerve around, creating movement patterns.
“What in the world?” I thought as I rubbed my eyes and looked again. “Why is the wall doing that?”
As I asked myself this question, I started to see a dark shadow on the wall. It was tall, about my height, but didn’t copy my actions. I waved and moved from left to right, but the shadow remained still. Suddenly, the shadow walked across the wall on my right-hand side.
“Hey guys, this isn’t funny! You can stop now!” I said as I leaped back in fear.
“They are not here.” repeated the same whisper from earlier. This time, the echo was louder. It almost felt like it was coming from inside my head.
“Who’s there?” I said.
“You are staring right at me,” it said.
“Who… what are you?”
“I am. I am what I am. I come and go as I please. Free from humanity. Beyond understanding.”
“What do you want from me?”
“It is not I who possesses the wanting but rather you.”
“What do you think I want?”
“To be what I have become.”
“What are you then?”
“I cannot tell you,” it said as I felt instant disappointment.
“But I can show you,” it added. I felt my spirits rise as I heard those simple words. The shadow disappeared from the wall when Steve and the others walked in.
“Who are you talking to, chump?” Steve said.
“I’m guessing he hasn’t opened that email, right, Steve?” one of the workers replied as he laughed. I got furious, and this time I couldn’t handle it anymore. I felt completely possessed and heard that familiar voice.
“Are you really going to let them treat you this way again? You know you hate it. Show them to never bother you again. Let it go; they deserve it.” it said. At that moment, my temperature rose, my ears clogged, and my eyes swelled. I completely blacked out.
My heavy breath was the only thing I heard. It felt like I had been running for days and couldn’t catch my breath. It was silent, too silent. A woman’s scream broke the silence, and I awoke. My hands were covered in blood, and Steve’s body laid cold at my feet.
“What have I done? What did you make me do?” I cried out to that shadow creature.
“You have done to them what they deserved. You are satisfied deep down, do not fight the liberation,” it said. As I heard those cynical yet freeing words, a feeling rushed into my body. It tingled and felt like tiny bolts of electricity. My body welcomed it gladly.
The screaming woman looked familiar, but he couldn’t recognize her anymore. She looked frightened and guilty to see him free from his former self.
“I should’ve told you why you took those pills, but I didn’t want you to think that you were crazy or didn’t have a chance at a normal life, but the truth is you’re schizophrenic… I’m sorry, Ethan!” the woman cried to him.
“Ethan is no longer here. Ethan is I, and I am Ethan. Free from humanity. Beyond understanding.”
By Justina Hanna