January 19, 2008
By Peter Berquist, Shoreline, WA

An undeniably strong odor reached the man’s nose. Dim lights flickered above, providing a tinted color with which the room’s cracked tiles could be viewed. Turning around in a semicircle, he noticed the sinks coated in the powdery soap of years past. Looking to view himself, the man concluded he would have to turn elsewhere, for the mirror was useless after having been constantly punished by the markers of youths throughout the years. Not limited to the mirror itself, the graffiti continued on across the multi-colored walls. Plain for the man to see, this odd array of colors hadn’t come about intentionally. Layers of paint had been piled on one after another, as time faded on one layer, the layer below would begun to show through the cracks. Viewing the multitude of colors allowed the man to realize the styles and trends of previous years. After a brief washing of his hands, the man unsuccessfully tried to dispose of the trash in the waste bin. Already full to the brim with a wide variety of items, the man’s crumpled up paper towel never reached the bin’s inside and fell gently to the ground where many more paper towels sat motionless.

As the man turned to leave, the lights gave out after a brief second of total light in the room. Trying to grasp the door’s handle, the man felt the walls to no avail. Being that his hand had just been on the door, the man thought of himself as completely incompetent, maybe even insane. After feeling the wall for another five minutes, he contemplated calling the staff of the office building to let him out. Whether it be a fear, embarrassment or laziness, the man decided not to call. Suddenly, the door burst open and light from the outside flooded the room. Three men walked in the door, two dragging the other by his collar forcibly into the room. From the stall he had been restfully sitting in upon their entrance, the man could view the odd trio with complete anonymity via the light provided by the flashlights of the two men. From the perspective of those who recently arrived, the bathroom was completely empty aside from them and they were assured no more people would join them by welding the lock into one solid mass of metal via the heat of what looked to be some sort of miniature flame throwing device. Once this task was complete, the victim of the two men was thrown on to the ground. A spine-chilling yell was admitted from the man as he rolled his ankle as he hit the floor. Though he generally considered himself a man of great sympathy, the pain he felt for this seemingly innocent victim seemed unheard of and out of context for someone he didn’t know. It was if he was feeling the pain the man was feeling, not just emotionally but physically as well. By then, most movement had ceased and it was plain for the man to make out the appearance of the two of the three men in room. The two men that were standing both had a bruisery physique. They seemed like the low-life, low intelligence creatures that were paid by the criminals of the city to the do the dirty work that had been deemed below their level. Without the flashlights being shined on him, nothing about the victim was clear. From his vantage point, the man in the stall could get no grasp on the man’s physical characteristics. All that he had to go off of was the victim’s scream; A scream which sounded much like every other scream in the world. After a brief conference between the two burly individuals, the helpless man on the floor was addressed by his two captors.
“My uncle runs his business the right way. He stresses loyalty, and is only loyal to those who have some of the same qualities as him. Truthful, honest, believable, and credible. Obviously, him letting you place a 1,000 dollar bet, even though you don’t have the money, means he has a lot of trust in you. You decided to betray him, you’re in a bad position right now. You better start praying you can at least get to H*** because this is going to be a lot worse.” Quicker then anything that seemed within the realm of possibility for a human, the man broke out what looked like a barbed whip and began beating the man just moments after the other man had ripped the shirt off the victim on the floor. With each strike the man would count farther upward, “One Dollars. Two Dollars. Three Dollars.” As time passed, pain grew inside of the man in the stall. With each blow, he seemed to feel more and more pain. The pain was so real it felt to the man like he was the one of the floor being struck with the barbed whip. In the midst of the whipping, the lights came on. From his vantage point, the man saw something that was so unbelievable to the point of no possible comprehension. Looking back at him was a face he recognized, it was a face he had tried to look at earlier in a mirror in this same room. It was his own.

A strange feeling was relayed from his mind out throughout his entire body. Seeing himself lying hurt on the floor provided similar thoughts and emotions to viewing oneself in the mirror after being severely hurt. Anger took over. He felt that this copy on the ground hadn’t felt all the hardships with which he had to deal with his entire life. In this man’s mind, he had done all the work to develop into the man he was today; this victim on the floor had just jumped on the train late but caught up just the same. No longer did he feel remorse for this victim. He wanted all of the world’s pain to be unleashed into his limp body. Not fearing the consequences, he stormed out of the stall to lay the final blows to this man on the floor. As soon as he was within a reasonable distance, the man unleashed a brutal kick into the ribs of the man on the floor. While the victim of this attack was crying out in pain, the assailant felt equal pain and almost keeled over. Seemingly of low intelligence, the two bruisers stared down in surprise. They seemed to be frozen to the ground, unable to react to this odd sequence of events. Knowing his current state of weakness, the man from the stall scampered out the door on his arms and legs. Collecting himself in the hall, he meandered across the floor he worked on to the elevator. The events he had just witnessed in the bathroom troubled him immensely. Just the thought that there may be another version of him drove him to the brink of insanity. Stepping off the elevator and onto the main floor, he tried to convince himself that he had been delirious, maybe he was even crazy, and that he hadn’t seen himself lying on the floor. This proved to be futile, because the more he tried to persuade himself that he was crazy, the more he believed he was crazy for trying to do so. Besides the fact that he had seen himself being beaten, the other thing bothering him immensely was the fact that this seemingly innocent man was being beaten. Since this supernatural encounter, the man’s soul had felt restless due to the great amounts of physical and emotional pain he was feeling.

When he walked into the crisp downtown air, the man’s nightmare resumed. Where there had previously been homeless people, there were exact replicas of him. Passing one after another, a multitude of both physical and mental feelings filled his body. Walking without any purpose or destination in mind, the man was feeling each of these copies’ pain. His body ached. His stomach yearned for food. His mind was in such a state of depression that it seemed impossible that he would ever be happy again. As had happened in the rest room, anger enveloped his body. When it happened this time, it was a different type of anger than before. No longer did he live with this sense that he had been cheated but now he lived with this feeling of misunderstanding. Why would these people ruin his life? What was their cause? Like so many questions he had asked himself before, he didn’t have the answer. Though he had never been one to turn to a deity in times of need, the man prayed to God that his life would be fixed as quickly as it had been ruined. Someone else had done this; not him. Of all people, why was it him who saw himself in all who suffered and who bore the weight of their pains. Surrounded by the large crowds of holiday shoppers, the man still felt alone in this world. Standing in the middle of the sidewalk, the man concluded that whatever awaited on the other side, whether it be anything remotely similar to Heaven or H***, was better than what lied ahead for him on earth. He didn’t kill himself right there but he still felt this burning desire to get even. Wild imagery ran rampantly through his head as he imagined how he was going to take out his anger on those who had ruined his life over the course of forty-five minutes. Five minutes of his irrational thinking passed and he concluded that the only people he could reasonably, in his own opinion, get even with were those who now seemed to be copies of him. Despite a sufficient lack of funds in his credit card’s account, the man paid for a baseball bat at the nearby sports store. Walking out the automatic door, pain and coldness filled his heart. Quickly, he turned around to see himself hobbling down the street with a cane in hand. Mustering all the force he could bear at the moment, the man swung the bat at the man’s stomach and connected. Onlookers gasped in horror, as from their perspective a twenty something year old man had just attacked an old homeless person. The delirious assailant experienced and equal amount of horror as he collapsed to the ground, gasping just as if the bat had hit him. Keeling on the ground with this paranormal pain he felt, he looked at the old man who he believed to be himself with a sense of understanding. He knew what he was going through, this pain was as real to the victim as the attacker. Tears had begun to fall from the collective eyes of the crowd, as the old man sputtered and coughed on the ground. Perspiration dripped down this innocent homeless person’s face as he sensed and tried to fight against the end. Muted cries were emitted from his throat. “Save me God.” “Bless Ron and Jimmy.” Everyone’s eyes were on the old man and not his attacker. No one seemed to care that this man was dangerous and a possible murderer. They didn’t see the amount of pain he was feeling. At the current moment, the large crowd of onlookers didn’t care about getting even with the attacker, they cared about life and it being saved; something that this crazy man, this monster, hadn’t cared about as his life was prematurely winding down. After a final burst of energy, the old man collapsed dead because he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. When all the emotion and feeling left the old man’s body, so did it leave his attacker as the monster lay dead on the cold sidewalk.

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