Memories flash through my mind’s eye. Every wretched thing I can recall my dark alter doing, floods through me like a tidal wave. The walls of my mental prison shake and shudder with each intake of breath as I focus on my hatred for her. I let it consume every fiber of my being to the point that the air itself feels statically charged. I’ve always felt so helpless against her sway, but right now, I’ve never felt more powerful. I take in one last deep breath before letting out a banshee screech that shatters the walls of my prison.
I hear my dark alter scream as she’s sucked back into the same void she had stuffed me into. I let out a loud gasp as I’m thrust back into consciousness, feeling as if my head had been held underwater. However, as I look around at the state of things, my heart sinks. I blink away tears, coughing as the air is heavy with smoke and flames. The heat of the fire around me warms my skin. I cough into my hand, standing from the bench and stumbling into the fray. Charred corpses litter the ground, and many others take their final breaths as the thick smoke suffocates them. I’m too late. Tragedy has already struck.
“Wait, where’s Dinlas? Oh, my gods, what did I do to him? Dinlas!!!” I scream before doubling over in a coughing fit. I am suddenly scooped up into strong arms, and I sink into the person’s grasp, my energy depleted from my great escape. My eyes flutter as I’m carried out of the fire engulfing the bar, the cool night air like a balm to my skin. I lift my head weakly to look up at my savior, only to find—I let out a scream. I am once again staring up at the man in the Guy Fawkes mask.
“Are you two alright?” I barely hear someone shout over my screaming. A concerned citizen runs over to us. He gives my masked rescuer an odd look before turning back to me as I struggle in my rescuer’s arms. He grunts, shifting me in his hold before reaching out and tapping the guy on the forehead. Just like that, the guy drops in a seemingly lifeless heap.
“What did you do to him?” My screaming reaches a fever pitch as I struggle against him. He huffs, clearly frustrated, before tapping me on the forehead too. Darkness engulfs my vision.
One, two, three. My vision comes back into focus with each blink. I find myself in the middle of nowhere. Frowning, I slowly pivot on my heels, taking in my surroundings. Fields of green grass encompass me as far as the eye can see. I do a complete 180 before jolting to a halt as I realize I’m not alone. A slender form stands a few yards away with their back to me. I take in the head of platinum blonde hair flowing down to about mid-back. A black corset and form-fitting gown hug their curves before cutting off just above the knee. Wait, is that my—
The person turns around, a wide grin spreading across a face identical to my own. “Well, well, well. Fancy meeting you here. I think it’s about time for you and me to have a little chat,” my dark alter drawls, causing my heart to drop into my stomach.
“W-why can’t you just leave me alone?” My voice trembles. She makes a tsking noise at me, approaching me, but for every step she takes forward, I take two back. She stops with a huff, shaking her head at me.
“You’d be nothing without me. I’ve been picking up the crumbling pieces of your psyche for the past several millennia,” she chides me.
“I wouldn’t be so broken if it weren’t for you!” I croak. Her resounding laughter feels like a slap in my face.
“You don’t have the faintest clue how a split personality is created in the first place, do you? Then again, I wouldn’t expect you to. Those memories are buried deep. I made sure of that. Believe it or not, all I’ve ever tried to do is protect you.”
“By killing innocent people! By hurting my family, by hurting Dinlas!” It’s her turn to look affronted.
“I would never hurt Dinlas. As for all of those innocents as you call them, need I remind you that we are the embodiment of tragedy,” she affirms. “Now let’s get back on track here. I don’t know how much time we have left before you wake up—”
“Wait. I’m asleep?” I look around. This doesn’t look like a dream. Everything is so vivid. It feels so real…well, except for her. Okay, maybe it is a dream.
“Focus, Melpomene!” she hisses at me. “The man in the Guy Fawkes mask. He’s stalking us and no telling for how long as I think he’s somehow attached to our tragic mask. I know we don’t see eye to eye, but please believe me when I say that you’re in danger and—”
I wake up with a jolt. I’m in my own bed, but I have no recollection of how I even got here. It’s a scenario that’s becoming all too familiar these days. I’m like those mortals who drink themselves into oblivion and then wake up with a huge black spot in their memories, only I don’t need alcohol to do that. My dark alter does that for me all on her own. I frown as fragments of a dream come back to me.
All I’ve ever tried to do is protect you… He’s stalking us… You’re in danger. Her words, the words of my dark alter, come back to me piece by piece, and it feels like a crushing weight is now sitting on my chest. “I-I can’t do this by myself,” I admit out loud, possibly for the first time in forever. But for the first time, I also realize maybe I’m not alone. Maybe I never have been.
“I still don’t trust her,” I add stubbornly, throwing the sheets off of myself. I pause. Who tucked me in? Did I, or—A shiver goes down my spine as I remember the man in the mask carrying me out of the burning building. Did he bring me home? Did he come inside my house?
I look around nervously as I reach for Ajax’s club I keep beside my bed. I brandish the weapon as I survey my room. Catching my reflection in the mirror, I see that I’m still wearing last night’s clothes, and I note that the edges of my black dress are singed. Tiptoeing around my bed and to my bedroom door, I peek my head out into the hallway. I look up and down it, and everything seems to be in its place, but the silence hangs heavy in the still air. Having worked in the funeral industry for so long, I have grown accustomed to the silence that comes with the deceased, but the living is a whole other story.
I shut my door and lock it before getting myself ready for the day. I have a bad feeling it’s going to be a long one.