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Mental Man

He was seriously considering shutting his eyes, plugging his ears, and standing perfectly still; nothing but a roadblock amidst the constant flow of foot traffic. He wanted to ignore, to block out, to escape the people around him, their thoughts oppressed him. All the cockiness, the judgment, the drama, the politics, the falsity, and masks; he felt above it all. Though his body walked through the hall, he floated above it and he was alone and he liked it. He didn’t want to be them, in fact, he refused to be them. He was often repulsed by them, angered by their false superiority, their sheer stupidity. He was fully aware that his thoughts weren’t acceptable socially, or anywhere really, which is why he kept them in his head. He plugged his ears with a set of noise cancelling ear buds, they blasted Rage Against the Machine and they kept him sane. They allowed him to enter his mental “zone” and fly away, to float above. Step, step, step, step, physically he moved forward but mentally he moved upward. He had become very skilled as a puppet master working the controls of his own body from his head; there was buttons and red levers, all labeled with their function, this button bade his mouth to smile while this lever moved the left leg in a walking motion, etc, etc. There was one button with a special label, and he almost never used it. It read in large red letters, “CAUTION: DANGER!” It made him speak. He hated that button.

To most, he was a normal seventeen year old young man, reasonably attractive, quiet, smart, but no one saw the so called, “man behind the mask.” Most saw the physical, but not the mental, but it was the mental that separated him from them. As he walked to English class, he was pondering what the world would be like if it was just him on the planet, perhaps a nuclear war or a pandemic had spread to all but him and he was free to… something caught his eye. Ah! He had become so wrapped up in his thoughts that he had forgotten his surroundings and now the girl named Jessica Orrman was walking beside him, and by the way she was looking at him, he assumed she expected an answer to a question which he had not heard and for that matter had absolutely no desire to hear. Decision time, he muttered a quick, “Sure” and turned into the next classroom. Ugh. He hung his head and put his hands in his pockets, crushed by the knowledge that he must face another day.

“I know this is a pretty FANCY equation, but let’s explore this a little, okay?” From his seat, the Mental Man oozed sarcasm and mockery. While he didn’t really mind the class or even the teacher, it was basically his MO to be judgmental. He always sat in the back of the class. It allowed him to scan the whole room from his mental perch naught but his eyes moved, individually scanning and marking every person. He worked like a computer, but a hateful one at that. It was during one of these routine scans that he first noticed Lilly Watson. She was not particularly beautiful, he didn’t notice that kind of characteristic anyway, what set her apart was, well, he couldn’t quite put his finger on it, and that is what made her so special. She was a transfer student from England; she had a fantastic accent and few friends. But there was something off about Lilly Watson. It was the way she walked, the way she looked around the class so intently, the way she avoided talking; she was like him. He was sure of it. He assumed he loved her but since he had never loved anyone before, it seemed hasty to draw serious conclusions. When her own scan crossed paths with his, he made sure to stare directly into her eyes, he really stared through them, right into the eyes of the real Lilly Watson, the one in the mental. She stared right back at him, into his mental, and they knew each other more intimately than they had ever known anyone before, just from that one look. Which is why it really sucks that she died.
Not two hours after that look, she was hit by a drunk driver and was killed instantly. He went to her funeral, half the freakin' country did it seemed, and he cried. It was the only funeral he had ever attended, and ever would attend, well, except his own but does that really count? When the foreign exchange agency came to collect her belongings to send to her family, it was uncovered that she had been planning to kill herself for some time. In fact, she had been planning to kill a lot more people than just herself, she was going to blow herself up, and the whole school with her. There were notes, plans, blueprints of buildings, and to tie it all together, a little black book full of Lilly’s thoughts and ideas. The general population was shocked by this, one might say it sent them into a small panic, but they were soon forgotten and life for the average man returned to normal. But the Mental Man’s life would never be the same. No, he saw the beauty in her plan, the sheer volumes of truth it would speak. He vowed to carry on her work, to improve it, to bring it to fruition. He was now the most dangerous man on earth and nobody even knew it.

He had never put much stock in dreams, he thought it was just a process the brain went through in order to store memories. But he had a dream that changed his opinion on the subject. He was floating in space, completely naked and vulnerable; he turned, and found himself floating directly before the Sun. He started to squint but he stopped himself, he didn’t need to for he can see it perfectly fine. His unprotected body was not being burned either, in fact, there was no harm being done to him whatsoever. It loomed before him, a giant ball of fire, consuming itself from the inside, eating itself alive, and he stood as its master, while not even one trillionth its size. He stared into its heart, into the core of it’s being, and there he found the truth. It was fake. Simply one tiny light bulb being magnified and distorted by mirrors over and over until it reached such great proportions that it was completely unrecognizable. He knew he must expose it for its real self and abolish this imposter among the beasts of the universe. So he placed himself in the belly of the beast and he knew what he must do, the only way to destroy the monster would be to do it himself. He created his own fire, a real fire, an explosion bigger than any seen before, and he killed it, killed the beast through his own death. When he awoke he knew he was doing the right thing by carrying on the work of Lilly Watson, and every night after that he slept like a baby.

It turned out that that finding out how to make a bomb was the easiest part of his mission. A few clicks on the internet, and some common household ingredients and he had one powerhouse mothertrucking explosive. It was small enough to carry with him, and he did so every day to school just in case he found the time to be right to finish the deed. Over the next two months, his plan expanded to include the entire city; all he had to do was plant a few more charges all across town and wirelessly connect them to his own. He put them everywhere, businesses, apartment buildings, even other schools. He continued his charade, pushing through the bulls*** and emptiness, ascending to his mental perch as much as possible. He hated them so much, and now that he had the means to make them die, it was torture to not set off his plan prematurely. He was restless, life pained him, literally. He awoke every morning ready to die.
He began to write a manifesto of his musings so that when they searched through his belongings as they had done to Lilly’s, they would know why he did it. They would call him a psychopath, unwilling to face the truth that he was right. He wrote knowing they would reject his words as the rantings of a madman, hoping that perhaps there would be someone like him out there, someone who understood.
When he received a paper, notifying him of the upcoming talent show, he thought nothing of it, dismissing the ridiculous competition. Stuffing the paper into his backpack he forgot it, that is until later that day. He checked the bomb every night for leaks or problems, but when he opened his pack to check it this night, there was a paper blocking his view. He removed it, read it, and alas, the date was set. It was as if God himself, or perhaps Satan, had sent him a message. He would enter the talent show, and everyone there, plus most of the town would quite literally have a blast.
The night of the show he buttoned himself into his suit, rehearsed the poem he would read for the crowd, grabbed the briefcase containing the bomb, and walked out the door. He did say a final goodbye to his parents but if he was honest he never loved them anyway. In fact, he had planted a bomb inside his own home just in case they didn’t come to the show. As he walked, he felt weightless, timeless, almost as if he had passed into some sort of nirvana. He was ready to be vaporized into billions of pieces and die, to cease existence. The thought actually excited him. As he took his seat backstage he placed the familiar ear buds and for the last time ascended his mental ladder. The acts passed quickly, a comedian, some music, ridiculous dancing; he paid no attention until it was his name they announced. He made his way to center stage; it was hot in the heat of the bulbs and once again he stared into the Sun. He reached into his jacket and removed the poem he had prepared for the evening, cleared his throat with a small cough, and began to speak,
“Take note foul swine
You have not long to live
And let me tell you why
You think you are hot s***
And if taken literally, you are
You’re so caught
In your own affairs
That you will leave
Even your best friend
Out to dry
You smile to the face
But stab in the back
Your politics, your drama, your life
It’s worthless, it’s worthless, it’s worthless
You fill yourselves
With this meaningless world
You soak up every iota
Of bulls*** from the TV
It all leaves you empty
So you fake it
You are all nothing but a giant hoax
I see this and I must destroy it
Destroy you
And so tonight you die.”
He crumpled up the paper and threw it on the floor. He closed his eyes and climbed down from his zone. Mind and body as one, he lifted his head to the sky and stretched out his arms, a contented smile on his face as the world became consumed by flames…





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