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Admus Cain and God
When this monster entered my brain, I’ll never know, but it is here to stay.
The claustrophobic apartment opened its foul mouth and swallowed Admus Cain whole. He sat, motionless, in the belly of the beast, observing the fetid juice that ran down the walls. He sat for twenty one days. A red flashing light; his voice mail was full. He made his way over to the recorder and pressed play, then stumbled onto the couch and waited. The first few hundred messages were from Elizabeth. His mother. He wrinkled his brow in annoyance and reached over to the recorder and pressed delete. He erased Elizabeth over and over again.
The next message was from Dr. Bleuler. Delete.
When he came to the final message; his muscles tensed and his eyes widened. Her voice resonated throughout the tiny room he called home and shook the thin plywood walls. That voice—her voice—it was talking to him. He quickly reached over to the recorder and pressed replay.
“Admus? It’s Violet.” He soaked in the warm, languid honey of her voice, and it dripped its way down as the message played on loop.
“Where have you been? I’ve been worried about you! Where the hell are you? It’s like you dropped off the face of the Earth! God, Admus! I thought you were healthy again. Just call me back when you… when you get this.”
He listened to her voice for a long while before drowning in her honey and forcing himself to move into the furthest corner of the room, the kitchen. It was empty, just the way he liked it. The cabinets and a sink and a stack of dishes were piled together haphazardly, alone in their culinary pursuits. Kitchens had always been too loud for Admus. Refrigerators were romance novel-addicted idiots, microwaves never tired of informing the world on the complicated politics of their insides, and he hated all food because food never really said anything he wanted to hear. However, Admus always had a thing for listening to animals, chiefly domesticated ones.
Lucifer, his pet chicken of six years, was the most interesting person Admus had ever listened to. He had listen to animals, and even plants, ever since he entered junior high school. Admus could still remember his first conversational encounter with a creature. His name was Goliath, ironically he was a gerbil. Goliath had begged Admus to kill the neighbor’s cat. Admus refused, but deeply regretted it when the cat ate Goliath one week later.
Chicken feed was the only food that was allowed in the kitchen because it rarely spoke, except for the occasional hiccup, which amused Admus. He reached into a cabinet and poured out two bowls of feed, one for Lucifer, and one for himself. Both were consumed quickly and without anything else.
Admus reached for his medicine out of habit, a small orange bottle in the uppermost shelf beside the sink. It read: Zyprexa, consumed orally with every meal, for treatment of adulthood schizophrenia. Violet’s smooth voice echoed throughout his brain again. (“You know what I think? I think you shouldn’t make your mouth swallow something it can’t even pronounce. It just isn’t right, you know?”)
Admus tested this. “Zeeeee uh preeeee sha? Is that it?” He couldn’t be sure, since he hadn’t been taking the prescription for a few weeks now, his tongue had forgotten how to curl around the word. To taunt Lucifer, Admus asked, “Hey, how do you pronounce it? Zuuuuu pruuuuu sheeee—”
The chicken cut him off coldly, cocking his head to one side.
I believe you are aware of how I feel about Zyprexa, Admus.
“Come on, don’t be mad at me, Lucy! I stopped taking the Zeeeeeee preeeeeeee shayyyyy.”
“Forever! Uh, for forever? For forever and forever.” Admus laughed at the words tangling in his mouth.
How do I know?
“I can prove it to you!”
Admus was at a loss. “Let’s go outside. I’m tired of this place.” He stared meaningfully at the sink, who blushed.
They were already down the stairs of the emergency exit behind his apartment complex, the cold January air biting at his bare arms and legs, Lucifer tucked in the nook of Admus’ elbow. Admus had thrown out all of his winter clothes, because Lucifer had told him to. Even if he didn’t understand why Lucifer told him to do it, he knew it was right, partly because of the army of ants whom had told him so, and partly because the chicken gave him the companionship he’d always craved—unobtrusive and inhuman.
“Where we headed?”
Destination: Washington Square, Lucifer commanded.
Admus walked, then ran.
As they approached, he winced. Even on a Thursday night in January, Washington Park was always full of people and their noises. He had never been fond of these types of humans, even when he’d been medicated, and now, after weeks of solitude, their mind pollution was giving him a headache.
When they reached Hangman’s Elm, Lucifer clucked violently. There—across the rows of gossiping, crotchety old roses, was a bleached blond head of hair that seemed to glow in the midst of the dissonance. André. Lucifer stabbed at Admus’ hand. André! André! Both owner and pet enjoyed spending time with the eccentric insomniac.
André’s slender frame was planted firmly to the wet grass. His eyes danced wildly in their sockets, dodging from left to right. His fingers tapped rudiments on top of the garbage bin he was standing behind. André was a coke fiend, but he was also the only human Admus seemed to be able to tolerate. They had met in middle school, both in their school’s extremely under-populated Remedial program (only two students, in fact), and both with a knack for being left out. It was the formula for a quick friendship.
Admus made his way over to André’s luminous figure. André spotted him.
“Hey, hey! My Adbrother, and Lucy Goosey. Long time no see! What brings you to the jungle?” He stuck his hand out, waiting for the customary knuckle-brush. None came, and the hand was withdrawn, André undaunted.
André nodded. “Talking to the chicken again? Off your meds then, eh?”
“That, I am.”
“Why’d you stop takin’ em? Not that I’m against it. Let the mind roam free!”
“I was tired of being alone, you know?”
André nodded again. Even though he wasn’t a schizophrenic, he understood. That was the plus side of being friends with a dope fiend.
“So, Admiral. Where’s that babe you used to go around with?”
Violet? Admus tried to evoke an image. What had happened to her? He tried to conjure up anything, realizing there was absolutely nothing only when Lucifer started to cluck impatiently.
“I don’t remember.”
“My Adman, that don’t matter! You know I say, a girl you can’t remember is a girl worth forgetting!”
“I guess so.”
“Yeeeeahhh, so anyway, you’ll never guess what went down yesterday. Remember that punk Joey? Well, he…” André’s voice trailed off, as Admus was now focused on the flock of night pigeons that flew overhead. Pigeons, especially the ones that came out after dark, were as wise as they were tough from living in the city. Admus closed his eyes to hear them better, something he’d done since the diagnosis. Lucifer rolled his beady black eyes as if incredulous at the fact that Admus could find interest in the pseudo-sage pigeons, but made no other move to stop him.
ILLUSION IS THE DUST THE DEVIL THROWS IN THE EYES OF THE FOOLISH.
Admus pondered their proverb for a while, but his interest waned as his headache waxed. He opened his eyes and glanced over at André, who was speaking to himself at this point. Violet’s voice trickled into his veins, “Admus” she called out from behind his frontal lobe. Admus then looked down at Lucifer, whose small eyes pierced his own. Lucifer spoke in his typical warbling, high pitched voice.
Admus, I’m sure you can at least recall my feelings towards Violet.
“I know. But, you don’t understand—”
Lucifer interrupted him. Don’t.
Lucifer had felt bitter towards the girl ever since she’d made a mindless comment regarding him, the pet chicken. (“Why do you insist on keeping that creature? He’s so filthy. And do you have to talk to him? Are you crazy, or something?”)
Though Admus knew that Violet could be pompous, she was also wonderful. But the one axiom he knew above all others was that it was better not to challenge Lucifer, so he dropped the subject.
His brain had started to rattle in his head, like a single marble in a glass jar, and all he wanted to do was loosen up. His focus returned to André, who was now picking through the Big Mac wrappers and old clothing inside his former drum.
“Hey, how about a party? I don’t feel too good.”
André stopped looking for a midnight snack, and turned to Admus. “You? Party?” He burst out in to ovine laughter. Admus, the king of the socially stunted, was not the typical partier.
“Not that sort of party.” Admus knew that André could whip up the right concoction to relieve him of his headache.
André’s smile widened, revealing weathered teeth. “Alright! Let’s go, Adbro!”
The three left the park, and soon arrived at a seedy looking building. A dull sign pulsed l’Hôtel Heureuse. Heeeeee uhh rooooo eeeeeezz? Mick decided the building was inedible.
André darted inside, patting the goose bumps on his arms. Admus, on the other hand, was numb to both cold and pain, and took his time entering the building, but Lucifer was freezing, and for his sake Admus followed André inside. André waved them over and put his index finger over his dry lips, motioning for silence. Admus didn’t understand why, for the crusty lobby was full of noise. He looked around but saw nothing. He walked over to the nearest wall and pressed his icy ear against the flaking floral wallpaper. The noise increased about twenty decibels… cockroaches were atrocious creatures. Nothing to listen to; just noise. He lost interest and followed André up the stairs. One flight became six, and they were in front of room six sixty one.
They walked in cautiously.
André locked the door behind them, and turned on the solitary light, a bulb which hung undulating overhead. Its sharp yellow rays muted by the shadows of countless flies. The walls were bare, with the exception of a lonesome clock. It was nearing two in the morning.
“Whose place is this, André?”
“Ours, for the night.”
André made himself comfortable in the middle of the room. Admus put Lucifer down and joined him.
“What’s your poison?” André was no longer smiling.
Admus looked over to Lucifer for advice. He always did, when there was an important decision to be made.
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide. Tell that oaf to be generous.
“I’ll have some sugar. Lots of sugar.”
“And would you like a side of Tootsie rolls with your sugar? Go big or go home, my Adman.”
“Okay.” Admus pondered. “I pick big.”
He was handed the desired dosage. They were silent. He devoured them. The relief for his anticipation as to what was to come was almost immediate: trails of light from the swinging bulb wrapped their arms around him and squeezed; the numbers on the clock rearranged themselves, performing a numerical ballet (it was, apparently, midnight again).
Then, billions more people entered the apartment. Where were they coming from? The corner of the room’s floor caved in, and Admus could see the storey below. More people crawled out from the crater. Their doe eyes burn holes in the crumbling walls. Butting their antlers, they yelled. They were yelling at him. Yelling at André. Yelling at Lucifer. People were out to get him. They always were. “Come on. Make them leave. Go, go, go.” André didn’t question Admus, then again, he seldom did. Nothing happened, and the deer people kept coming.
A few more capsules, and the entire ceiling was collapsing down into showers of liquid mercury that splattered deep into the sky. Cockroaches fell from the new-formed clouds, and they poured from cracks in the walls. They covered every inch of the floor and a violently spasming Admus. André began to contort; shiny black holes replaced his once electric eyes, and a hard black shell seeped into existence from his pores.
Black is the absence of the reflection of light, observed Lucifer, calmly picking off cockroaches from his lustrous white feathers in the midst of the chaos.
“Help me, Lucifer! Lucifer!” Admus was crying, and the cockroaches drank his tears. “Help me, Lucifer, please!”
What do you want me to do?
“Make it stop make it stop make it stop oh Violet oh Lucy make it stop!” Admus was curled up into a small ball now, crushing cockroaches in the folds of his stomach.
Why don’t you just get up and… leave?
Admus parted his lips again with an answer ready, but the cockroaches beneath his tongue ate it. He stared up at an ethereal reflection in the face of the dancing clock. Mary Magdalene looked back, wagging a sinister finger. His eyelids grew heavy and locked themselves shut, but the key was back in Washington Park. Lucifer marched over to his side and began to peck on his trembling carcass, searching for chickenfeed. The street savvy night pigeons, the cockroaches, Goliath the gerbil, the housecat that killed him, they all appeared in the corners and joined Lucifer in the raiding of Admus’ pockets.
When this monster entered my brain, I’ll never know, but it is here to stay. How does one cure himself? I can’t stop it, the monster goes on, and hurts me as well as society. Maybe you can stop him. I can’t.
- Dennis Rader