“Jealousy…Hatred,” I said, bouncing my gaze between them. “What is this place? Where am I? I don’t understand.”
“I’ve never seen him like this before, have you?” Jealousy asked Hatred. She shook her head, keeping her stare fixed on me.
“Answer me,” I demanded, growling angrily.
“What? No, hey, how have you been? It’s been a while. Where did you go?” Hatred mocked. Jealousy chuckled.
“Din, your days of barking orders at us are over,” Jealousy said. “Unless, of course, you decide to start respecting us.”
Their words angered me beyond comprehension. The rage swelled so quickly within me that my eyes began to water. My cheeks tightened, and it felt like my brain was hemorrhaging from the lack of space in my skull.
“Enough,” Hatred snapped, cutting my threat short. “You need us more than we need you, and you need to recognize that fact. Until you do, you will remain here.”
“We understand you rule over us, Din,” Jealousy added. “We respect and admire you, but you need to start recognizing our power goes hand in hand. We fuel you just as much as you fuel us. The mortals above ground give us everything we need to feel sustained and powerful. In return, you feel like the god you are. We want you to rule and do the things we know you can.”
I took a deep breath, allowing his words to sink in. He was right, and so was Hatred.
“Where’s Love?” I asked calmly.
“We warned you about him,” Hatred replied. “He can’t be trusted.”
“For a long time, we’ve had to listen to him bang on the door we closed on him a long time ago,” Jealousy explained. “You are more than that and more than him. We saw what he was doing to you and what he could do to you. That’s why we did what we did.”
“Why is he able to gain control over me, but you can’t?” I asked.
“We can, but we choose not to,” Jealousy answered. “As you know, we are as much of you as you are of us. We take the back seat because you are our God.”
“When you met this detective, everything changed,” Hatred said. “We felt the shift, and everything in here split.”
“In here?” I interjected. “This is my mind?”
“Your subconscious,” Jealousy corrected.
“That rift allowed Love the power he needed to kick the door in, and he’s been hiding from us ever since,” Hatred continued. “The problem was that he gained in strength the longer he remained hidden, and the more you fell for that mortal, the stronger he became. Then he began to burst through your subconscious and reveal himself to you. By doing so, you redirected your attention to him, and it somehow blocked us and concealed him from us.”
“Now you know how dangerous he is,” Jealousy said. “He took over your consciousness and left you down here to rot. As you can see, you can get lost down here very easily.”
The explanations made sense. Everything I’d experienced with him fit into their descriptions. I didn’t understand why this place was the way it was and why I felt the way I did. I needed more from my trusted minions.
“Why is this place dark? Why the statues?”
Jealousy chuckled. “It’s dark because you suppress this part of you,” he replied. “These statues are pieces of you that have long been forgotten. They’re twisted up like your consciousness. Most of them have never seen the light of day, and others were killed in here when you decided to move forward with us. We’re so very happy you did, Din, but this is the graveyard of the parts of you that you no longer want or deem necessary.”
“You are a complicated being, Dinlas,” Hatred advised. “Your head is filled with so many different parts and sides of you. Most beings can differentiate and combine them all into their personality. You couldn’t grip your reality and allowed them to run rampant, separately from yourself. That’s a dangerous game, as you’ve seen with Love.”
“That’s why we jumped in early on when your hate and jealousy were at their peak,” Jealousy said. “You were meant to rule over us and these mortal emotions. It’s your calling and what makes you…you.”
What they said made sense. Things began to click into place. There was a lot about myself that I chose to bury. I’d forgotten about feeling so many conflicting emotions, being different and difficult for my family to understand. When I gave into Jealousy and Hatred, owning my duty to these emotions, I moved forward without everything else I felt from my youth. It made me feel powerful and dead inside. It wasn’t until I met Sam that I remembered I had a heart in the first place.
“How did you two find me?” I asked.
“We were already down here,” Jealousy answered.
“We receded down here, knowing you wouldn’t come looking,” Hatred added. “We knew you’d forgotten this place.”
“We also knew it was a matter of time before you either let Love take over or he overtook you by force,” Jealousy said.
“How do I take back control?” I replied, erecting my frame to let them know I was ready.
“Don’t worry, we’ll help you, Din,” Jealousy advised.
They approached, Hatred taking my left hand while Jealousy took my right. Jealousy gripped Hatred’s right hand with his left hand, and they nodded at each other. I immediately felt a warmth pierce my hands, permeating my entire body. Weightlessness filled my being once again, and I closed my eyes. The three of us levitated from the blood-soaked ground, and a bright light engulfed our position.
“Think about everything that has angered you, made you feel envy, and channel that hatred into your heart,” Hatred instructed. “Imagine it surging throughout your body, filling up all of your extremities. Envision that surging power as a beam of concentrated light.”
I did as she told me. The light formed into a thick cylinder from my heart to the sky overhead. My skin pulsed and vibrated from the power rush.
“Now imagine Love and direct that beam toward him,” she continued. It took me a few moments, but I was able to conjure up that vision in my mind. I aimed that dose of light at the image of Love as I remembered him just before I fell. Before I could ask for my next instruction, my feet sprang upward like I was catapulted. I was heaved skyward toward the warm light while I clutched my minions tightly.
When I opened my eyes, I found myself crouched over Sam and covered in her blood. Her eyes were dim and lifeless. They looked beyond me. That twinkle they had whenever she focused on me was gone. Her blood on my skin was still warm. Confusion and grief overwhelmed me until it transformed into hateful rage.
Movement from the corner of my eye caught my attention. I glanced over my shoulder to find Love restrained by Jealousy and Hatred. Their expressions were of sorrow and pity. Love scowled at me, prideful of his final act of defiance.