The Things Within.
I was never normal. Even in high school I was different, weird. People had a habit of getting hurt around me. I had no control then, not while I was young. I barely understood what was happening to me.
When I reached twenty-one, I realized why I was different. Sure, I wasn't crazy, but whenever anyone upset me in any way – no matter how small – I was like a different person.
There was a rage inside me, totally beyond my control. This was how I came to see that I was not totally alone inside my own self. The things within me were angry, aggressive and violent. They were killers potentially, though somehow I never let it get that far.
By the time I was twenty-five, I had some semblance of control over the monsters inside me. I was able to recognize the signs of them surfacing and with some practice, I could lock them out. This ability probably saved my life a few times.
At thirty I met Dwayne. He was everything I ever wanted in a life partner. Standing at six feet two inches, he towered over me. He was well built and had a smile that could turn anyone’s knees to jelly. He was great company, funny and caring. The perfect gentleman.
He was perfect, but I was afraid. He didn't know about me, no-one did. I was afraid I would lose control if I became too emotional, and that could be dangerous for anyone around at the time. I couldn't bring myself to call off our first date, so I promised I would proceed with caution.
For a while it was the best decision I had ever made. Dwayne took me to all the places I had never been before, we toured Europe together, and had some amazing adventures. He made me happy, which made it all the more possible for me to keep the evil inside me locked away.
Around a year into our relationship, a woman approached me as I left work. She was petite like I am, and had a haunted look about her. She looked so desperate and sad, that I couldn't ignore her pleas to talk to me for a minute.
'You need to get away from Dwayne.' She told me her eyes boring into mine.
'What? Why? Who are you?' I quizzed her, dragging my eyes away from hers.
'I never used to be like this. I was confident and out going, just like you. He did this to me. Leave before it's too late for you!' She cried, her voice giving way to deep sobs.
I walked away from her feeling nothing but pity for the strangely desperate woman. Surely she must have made a mistake, Dwayne couldn't possibly have hurt her. I knew him, he made me happy, deep inside I knew she was wrong.
I didn't see her again for weeks. I had expected her to follow me; to continue to try and convince me to listen to her. No such thing happened. The next time I saw her was a day I will never forget.
It was a Saturday in early December. The ground was frozen and snow had piled up along the streets. I was hurrying through the blizzard to the shop to pick up some necessities when I was pulled into a deserted side street by the haunted woman from weeks before.
'What do you think you're doing?' I yelled at her surprised.
'I'm sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you. You must leave him. He isn't who you think he is! Please listen to me, I'm trying to help!' She was pleading with me now, obviously afraid.
All at once I felt something I hadn't felt in a long time. Pure rage bubbling through my body. It began as a slow trickle of sensation - and before I could even think about getting it under control - it burst through the dam of my consciousness with the force of a tidal wave.
The strange woman paled as she stared at me, seeming to recognise what was happening. A voice that was only just recognisable as my own spilled out of my lips.
'I'll tear me open, make you gone! No longer will you hurt anyone!' I heard myself roar.
That was the last thing I remember, until I saw the alley through my own eyes again, about ten minutes later. I suppose I must have blacked out as the things within took over. As I surfaced within myself again I blinked around at the carnage around me.
I was standing in the middle of the street, thankfully still deserted. The weather had kept everyone inside unless it was strictly necessary to go out. My clothes were covered in blood, my hat was missing and my shoulder length blonde hair was a wild and tangled mess.
In front of me was the body of the stranger. She had been brutally beaten to death. My hands were already throbbing and bruising, it was obvious I had done this. The monster inside me had finally taken its first victim.
I backed away from the barely recognisable body in front of me until my back hit the wall of a closed hardware store. I sank to the floor shaking, tears beginning to flow from my eyes as panic and fear took over my body.
I rested my forehead on my bent knees and I wept inconsolably for some time. I don't know how long I sat there alone sobbing into my knees, but by the time I felt a hand on my shoulder I had grown stiff, partially because of the cold but mostly due to the position I had stayed in for so long.
I raised my head and found myself looking into Dwayne's concerned face. He helped me to my feet looking around the street with amazement.
'Don't worry Amy, I've got you. We've got to get out of here. Come on back to my place.' He whispered, wrapping an arm around me and leading me away.
I was too shocked to register what was happening, but as soon as we got to Dwayne's he sat me down with a warm drink and looked at me, waiting for me to talk.
'She....she pulled me off the street, told me I had to leave you. That... that you are not who I think. I was angry, I don't know what happened. She was just..... she was dead.' I sobbed, and began shaking despite the warmth of the room.
'It's OK, I understand, don't worry. I always knew you were special, but I had no idea. You have one too, don't you?' His voice was low and husky, he sounded amazed.
'It wasn't me, there's a.... a thing inside me.' I told him, deciding to be honest with him.
'I know, I have one too. I lost control a few years ago in the US, that's why I moved here. I thought I was the only one. No wonder I was drawn to you.' I stared at him dumbfounded.
He was like me. After all this time being alone and different, here he was just like me. I had known he was perfect, and now I knew why. I knew I would be alright now, we could move away together and everything would be fine. I dove across the room and snuggled into him, looking up into his eyes.
'I feel safe and under control with you. I regret what I did in the street, and the hate still shames me, so hold me – until it sleeps.'
© Copyright 2017 R A B Bradbury. All rights reserved.
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