Where am I? How did I get here? Why am I here? No, no, no. It’s happening again!
I am sitting in the far corner of a packed bar, my knees pulled up to my chest. I was driving back home after running errands, like any other day, when I must’ve blacked out. Then I woke up here. Wherever here is. My eyes flick over to the windows, looking out at the night sky. It had been a couple of hours before sunset when I left the strip mall. There’s no telling how far off course I had managed to drive. For all I know, I could be out in the boondocks now.
I whimper, hugging my knees. No one seems to notice me, and if they do, they don’t acknowledge it. As always, I’m alone, so painfully alone. My gaze flits every which way, searching for answers to all the questions crowding my mind. Truth be told, deep down, I know why I’m here. The call of tragedy brought me here. I just don’t want to accept it. To accept it would mean I have even less control over my life than I already think I do, which is practically nil.
I feel a shift in the air. My gaze darts up to meet eyes like obsidian, black hair, a five o’clock shadow, and a certain ruggedness to him overall. I blink as I take in the familiar planes of the man’s face. Dinlas, God of Jealousy and Hate. He cracks a smile that would stop any mortal woman’s heart. For me, it causes a jolt of sheer blind-panic.
With a loud yelp, I jump to my feet and take off at breakneck speed. No, no, no. He can’t be here! I don’t want to hurt him!
“Wait!” I hear him shout after me, but nothing can stop me. Nothing but— I suddenly slam into what feels like an invisible force field. My feet come to a grinding halt as I feel her black tentacles wrap around my subconscious. I try to scream, but it doesn’t meet my lips. Instead, laughter bubbles up from me as she pulls me under.
“Oh, Melpomene, so predictable you are,” my dark alter chides me. Locked inside my mind, with only a tiny crack to look out of, my body is no longer mine to control. She turns us around to look at Dinlas, a wide grin spreading across our features.
“Din Din! It’s been a long time!” she exclaims. He says something in reply, but it feels far off, like I’m under ten inches of concrete. Is this what it feels like to be buried alive?
I feel my body move, sliding into a booth as she continues the conversation. I shove my face against the peephole, trying to figure out exactly what is going on.
“Run away, you idiot! That’s not me! She’s evil!” I shout at him, hoping he can hear me.
I jump back with a yelp as something slams into my cell as if trying to shut me up. “You and I have a lot in common. More like a common thread,” I hear her say to him, followed by something else I can’t quite catch. I stomp my foot with a huff before pacing my cell. This can’t be happening. This can’t be happening.
I chew on my nails before inching forward to peek back through the crack in the wall. I have to know what’s going on if there’s any hope for him. My heart drops as I see him smile at her, a look of admiration in his eyes. He’s actually buying whatever it is she’s feeding him?
“Get away from him, you—you bitch!” I spit.
“They can be irritating, can’t they?” she says to him with a chuckle. Rude. You think you can just shut me up and shut me out while you hurt my family? Well, think again!
I let out a bloodcurdling scream. The walls of my cell shudder, lights flickering. As I feel her countenance break, I take things up a notch. I muster every last bit of strength I have over her and slam my fists into the wall, letting out another banshee scream. The wall splinters and cracks under my hands, a hole large enough for my head to fit through opens up before me.
I take a deep breath, preparing for my next blow. Before I can exhale, I’m suddenly thrown backward. I hit the back wall with a thud, and my world is plunged into darkness. I fall to the floor, coughing and sputtering to regain my breath. I pull my knees up to my chest, curling up into the fetal position as the first gold ichor tears roll down my cheeks.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Dinlas. I tried. I tried to save you,” I cry, shaking as sobs wrack my body.
I weakly lift my head as a light flickers back on in the cell. I push myself up, wondering what’s going on. I climb to my feet and do a slow spin, my gaze scanning the walls and ceiling. They’re solid, not even the slightest crack in sight, and no light fixture in sight, yet there’s light. You’re trapped inside your mind, dummy. It doesn’t have to make sense, I chide myself, shaking my head.
I scream, back hitting the wall as a man suddenly materializes before me. Beady black eyes stare at me from behind a Guy Fawkes mask. A shiver of recognition runs through me. I remember seeing him the other day, like a phantom amidst the carnage I had created. “Wh-who are you? A-and what do you want with me?” I ask in a trembling voice.
“Who I am is irrelevant. Right now, we both want the same thing,” he says.
“Yes, we do. I want that god to get away from you just as much as you do. You are the key to that.”
“I-I don’t understand.” My heart leaps inside my chest as he approaches me. I desperately slide against the wall, trying to get as far away from him as possible, but I soon find myself trapped in the far back corner. Please don’t hurt me!
He squats in front of me, leaning towards me until his face is inches from mine. “All that hate you have for her, use it. Draw every last bit of it up. Let it consume you. Soon enough, he will be far too distracted to even notice your existence.”
And just like that, he winks out of existence, and I’m left all alone again.