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Mr. Hayes surmises that even immortals should look before they leap…




Aaron hayes



A whisper lurks, three shadows insane, yet of all these faces only two shall remain.

So many moons had I witnessed since my awakening to the existence of those who prey, howl and feed at the edges of the web.  So many eclipses had I admired since, having tasted the strangely Beautiful, I turned my back on the seductions of Cruelty, abandoned her and escaped, naked, into shadows content to forgo folding darkness around a diseased heart.  I had thought it was over, but alas, tonight, travelling home from work aboard a train, I found myself in the presence of one who had abandoned his post at the asylum gates - one intent on drawing me into a world where madness lives out its existence as darkness visible.

It was strange to look at all the smiling faces: the elderly lady with the Prada handbag on her lap, emotions sated; the girl laughing as she spoke to something unseen; the twenty-something man trying desperately to convince the world, through a pose, that he was their alpha male; not one aware of the anomaly among them.  It blended, assimilated, but I saw it.  Sitting directly opposite, it watched me - it knew I knew - then just as it tried to escape, the cover of a tunnel embraced us, leaving it no place to hide.  Though it was largely concealed behind an archaic black and white cloak, I could still make out the contours of its face: the masculine jaw-line, stunningly well-formed though lacking the androgynous beauty of Aedalus; eyes partially beclouded by insanity, pained yet elusive in colour; lips like suicide, a slit of the wrist, and from the wound, upon exhale, a fine mist would escape, blending a tiny crevice of black and white into grey.  I thought to myself, ‘Here is a beast of its own making, paying no heed to the web, bowing its head to none.  I see it, acknowledge it.  It exists.  Remorseless, relentless, aesthetically perfect.’ 

I looked around the carriage, wondering if others had seen it, and was struck by the degree of composure surrounding me.  Society, it appeared, had given them a false sense of protection, allowing them to reside safe under its protective wings, unaware of the Thing gnawing away at fragile feathers.  They refused to fear what It feared and what feared It, refused to see that to one outside the web, to take their lives would be merely that - to take their lives.  An act.  A simple act.  An act that simply … was. 

The seductive warmth of the unperceived flame burns near.   Through the window I could see the misty lights of the station in the near distance, faint movements of life preparing to board and escape the crisp chill of night.  I decided to try to get the thing’s attention before we stopped.

“What do you want from me?” 

It said nothing, and just sat, looking at me, occasionally smiling while the bravest of insects timidly approached.

“Who are you?  What are you?” I asked as the train slowly approached the platform.

He made a wave of his hand to dismiss my questioning, which revealed an index finger decorated with two beautiful marble rings - if marble they be - each bearing a curious insignia: the one at the base bore a cross; the other, higher up near the tip, a perfect cube.  Then, just as I was about to ask about the insignias, a commotion broke out in the neighbouring carriage as passengers began to board.  The figure before me stood up; I followed as he slowly approached the door, and there, in the middle of the carriage, surrounded by passive onlookers too afraid to intervene, were two young men savagely beating a frail old man.  The pleasure in their eyes revealed a thirst sated.  A need.  Something primal.  I could see the fear in the old man’s eyes, the storm in theirs.  There was nothing he could do, nothing the onlookers would do.   

Silent, calm, expressionless in spite of the commotion, the cloaked figure stood watching.  And then it spoke:

“I think a part of you, something forgotten, forbidden, yet still a part of you, understands that it is the inaction of the meek which allows people like this to exist.  Besides, you need it, so why deny it?  Why deny the very thing which gives you life?  Like a flame in the pit of your stomach - a flame fueled by the blood of ancestors whose deaths preceded the births of Gods.”  He paused for a moment; his eyes searching mine as though looking for signs of agreement or understanding.  “What is it you fear?  Take a look around you.  How can you deny the existence of throats which not only deserve, but beg for the edge of a razor?  Let go.  Let it go.”

Although I had thought I would never again sink to the depths in which Reapers thrive, what I heard then and there, amidst the faint howls of unfamiliar forms of life, was not a voice, not a whisper, nor the lost thoughts of a broken mind, but the beckoning of a forsaken shadow, an awakening of the animal within.  It seized me, embraced me, whispered its secret unto me: “You kill, therefore I am.”  


The last grain of sand is called, but to whom does the hour glass belong?  As though I were a spectator above witnessing a scene unfold below, I watched myself reach for the fire extinguisher before turning toward the two men.  The old man’s eyes, like two dying embers given a final breath, lit up weakly as I approached.  Pity turned to rage, rage into action; I swung the extinguisher down upon the head of the one with his back to me and was momentarily struck at the fragility of the human skull.  Before his friend could react, I struck him also, raining down blow after blow upon the bloodied mess; savouring each and every scream, relishing every single blow, I took fright, for but a second, at the reflection of failed gods in the window.  Seduced by the Black Widow herself, enslaved by the web within, I surrendered to her wholly; through delicate fangs she injected me, paralyzed me, drank me, took possession of all that was I - the very fabric of all that defined me.  The last grain of sand has been called, but to whom did the hour glass belong? 

Once it was over, all present fell silent.  And I sat, under the flickering light of the carriage, while the animal within licked its bloodied paws.  I stood up, cast a long look of satisfaction upon the bodies which lay before me, then turned to the Beast as he extended his hand.  I took it without hesitation, and in an instant found myself falling through something, which, as yet, I am still unable to explain.  

  Upon arrival, scared yet alive with the taste of blood, I asked where we were.    He simply lay a finger on his lips, and from those pale divides there escaped a smile, a tainted smile, a blackened, wistful, almost blasphemous smile, as he pointed, with his other finger, toward a sun I had thought already set. As my eyes began to make out the faint outlines of what appeared to be a public restroom, my ears touched upon the faint cries of a muffled voice.  The figure beside me motioned for me to open the door to the left cubicle so I reached forth and gave it a push.  And there!  There!  Right in front of my very eyes was the frail old man from the train …raping Innocence itself!  Just as I was about to confront my mysterious guide, the old man took fright at the sound of two younger voices in the distance.  They were yelling out a name: “Rachel!”  The old man, as best as his age would allow, ran past me as though I were nothing more than the faded remains of a lost memory.  The girl screamed, a chase ensued, and with two men in pursuit, the chase led down the stairs of the nearest subway, through and over the ticket gates, and on to the waiting train.  And as we stood watching from the platform, enveloped in the evening mist, I looked on in horror - absolute horror - as a figure in grey, extinguisher in hands, approached two young men who had merely sought justice in accordance with a primeval instinct.