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What was once my life is now gone. You wouldn't recognize what I am now as the person I used to be. I used to be smart. I used to be funny. I used to be relatively good-looking, or so they said. I used to be alive. Now I am none of these things. Not really anyways.
PART ONE: THE ZOO
I loved going to the zoo when I was a little boy. My parents or grandparents would take me every other weekend. I loved everything about that place. All the sights, sounds, and smells intrigued me, captured my attention, and demanded it for as long as the grown-ups would let them. I always followed the same path through the zoo, first stopping at the elephants, then passing the alligator inclosure on my left, a counterclockwise trip through the reptile house, and a brief glance at the camels.
My path was perfectly planned so I would end up in my favorite spot last, a small courtyard with the lions on one side and the timberwolves on the other. These two animals always amazed me, no matter how many times I'd seen them before. I could sit for hours watching the way they moved, so powerful and graceful, or observing how they interact with one another. By the time I was 17 I could tell you more about how they acted than the zookeepers could. I didn't bother with the other animals anymore, but always made a beeline for my favorite spot. That world was an escape for me. I didn't need to talk to people, to think about school, to worry about my future. There was just me and them. Nothing else mattered.
PART TWO: THE STREETS
A couple months before I turned 18 my family moved. I wasn't near the zoo anymore. I couldn't just go watch the animals like I always loved to do. I had no escape anymore, though I needed it more than ever. I took to wandering the streets of the city. Late at night I'd sneak out my bedroom window, climb down the fire escape of our apartment building, and head out into the night.
After a solid month of midnight strolls I started to pay attention to what was around me. A big city like this never sleeps, there's always someone or something else awake, moving, watching. I began to notice the feral cats fighting in the alleys, the stray dogs roaming the parks in packs, and before I knew it the streets became my new home. Just like back when I was little I had my path all planned out. First stop was the alley behind the hole-in-the-wall sushi joint up the street. There were always cats hanging out there, waiting for leftovers to be thrown in the garden. I watched them the same way I watched the lions. The similarities were amazing. The way the moved, the way the ate, the way they talked to each other all brought back memories. But there was something different too. Something ironically wilder about these back alley cats. The lions always had enough to eat, never had to worry about a warm place to sleep, or shelter from the rain. These cats had none of this security. They weren't afraid to tear each other apart over a chunk of tuna, let alone a whole fish. There was something not right about them. Something crazy.
PART THREE: THE GIRL
I met her at lunch on a Thursday. She was short with long brown hair and green eyes. I knew immediately that I would love her until the day I died. Of course I know now that is a slightly inaccurate statement, but we'll get into that later. I was the new kid at school, having been transferred into the district in the middle of my senior year of high school. I didn't know anyone, and no one cared to know me. I always sat alone at lunch, until that Thursday. She sat down next to me and started talking.
"So I've been thinking that we should be friends, ok?"
"Ok," I said. Who was I to refuse?
"Sounds good," she said with a smile that used to make me smile just thinking about it. "I've seen you around, and I'm interested. What's your secret?" She was always so straightforward with things. At this point I was already practically drooling all over myself, and in such a state had no choice but to answer truthfully.
"I sneak out at night to watch stray cats." It sounded less than impressive as it left my lips, but it's all I had to offer.
"That's a new one. Can I come sometime?"
* * *
From that point on we were inseparable, and it was only a matter of time before we started dating. I loved her more than I have ever, and will ever, love anything. She was perfect for me, I could never have asked for more from her. I wish I could better impress upon you my feelings for her, but I don't have the words anymore. I can't feel that way, and I can't remember how to describe it, how to recognize it, how to remember it, which hurts more then anything. Well, almost anything.
PART FOUR: THE END
We went out one Friday night. Saw a crappy movie, discussed the totally lack of plot and melodramatic overacting that took place, got some ice-cream, went back to the car to make out for a bit, and then started to drive home.
We were on the freeway when we got sideswiped by an idiot who was going way to fast. The next thing I knew I was thrown through the windshield onto the road, and passed out. I don't know how it happened, just as I don't know how I'm telling you this now, but I watched the rest of the scene as I floated above it. I saw the car role four times before coming to rest on its side. I saw her start to climb out of her broken window, her hair and face stained red with blood. I saw the 18-wheeler smash into the car at seventy miles per hour. And I saw her die, broken in half as car and truck crushed her beneath their lethal masses of jagged metal.
PART FIVE: THE FUNERAL
I was practically unhurt by the accident. The only evidence it had ever happened were the cuts on my face, that would later turn to scars. These scars would always be a reminder to me of what I'd lost. As if I needed a reminder. And what did I lose? Not just her. Not just a normal life. Not just love. What is now left of me lost its soul. And with it left all emotion and sanity.
Her funeral was on a Thursday. I remember arriving, wearing a traditional black suit and tie. I sat in the second row, because someone thought family was more important than me. I didn't cry though, I just stared and listened. That is, until they started to lower her casket into the grave. At that moment something inside me snapped, and I went totally over the edge into a place in the mind no human should ever know. I felt no hatred, no wanting or lust. Just pain. This was the moment I left my body. There was no trace of myself left in the shell I used to inhabit.
As at the car crash, I watched the rest of the scene from above as I lost my mind and starting attacking the people around me, biting and scratching and throats and faces. Blood sprayed over my face and chest, skin stuck between my teeth. I'd attacked five people before the motorcycle cops that had escorted the funeral procession tackled me.
I later found out that three of the five died. My first kills.
PART SIX: THE OTHER ZOO
The next few months were a blur. There were handcuffs, courts, handcuffs, prison cells, blood, handcuffs, more courts, tests, and a straightjacket. After two prisons and three dead cellmates, I was transferred to an insane asylum. I had my lucid moments here and there, but more often then not I was that creature I had become at the funeral, nothing but pain and violence. I wandered the halls wearing hand and ankle cuffs, and a muzzle to protect those around me.
The other "patients" had their own problems. There was The Singer, who thought he was in a constant broadway musical. There was The Twitcher, who sat in a corner all day, rocking back-and-forth on his heels mumbling about Communism, all the while twitching his head to the left. There was The Streaker, who. Well I bet you can guess that one for yourself.
And then there was me, The Animal. The viscous beast that used to be human, but who's mind had so decayed that it was nothing but pure instinct and constant pain.
As I look down now on my new world, I realize that I am living in a zoo just like the one I used to visit as a boy, only no children would ever want to come look at the animals here. I can't help but make the comparisons. Everyone has their own cage, away from their natural habitat, secluded from the world. Everyone in here is strange or exotic in some way, special enough to take notice of, important for the doctors to observe. They are the lions, elephants, and alligators.
I'm different though. I'm the feral cat in the alley. I'm wilder, crazier, and more dangerous than they'll ever be. But I am also less human.
Floating around the halls here at night I tend to get somewhat philosophical. I think about life, love, and pain to the best that I can manage. Everything seems muted now. The colors, sounds, emotions, thoughts. Despite this I've come up with one question that sums up my current position.
Is life worth living if you aren't you? If all your humanity is gone?
I've asked this to myself a million times, and have finally decided upon an answer. Now I will leave you to ask this yourself, as I go to make my final kill.