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There was no light in the darkness and it scared me. It seemed to sallow all life, and it consumed me for a minute. I couldn't stop staring at the surrounding darkness. It was as if it was wanting me, no needing me, to walk into it. The air was frigid, making the hair on my body stand straight. The skin on the bottoms of my feet slid across the floor like ice. My clothes draping my body as if I were a Roman God. God. I am the furthest from any such holy being, but still I felt no regret.
Now picking up a bit of speed, my toes peeled off of the unforgiving floor, followed by my heel. I paused, not on my own free will, but my body froze. The smell of sulfur over-powered me before I realized I was on my hands and knees. The floor was freezing. It made my skin crawl. My mind drew a blank, the only thing I could feel was a slipping sensation. My body, and mind, were slipping into a very dark place, but I couldn't stop it. Then all of a sudden the air became warmer until it almost burnt. There was a faint sound coming from a ways away, the sound of trees blowing in the wind. It was pleasant, it was almost a lovely song. The tall grass bound me to the ground, like a prisoner bound in chains. I felt hopeless, I guess there's a first time for everything. A new sound joined the symphony, a little girl's laughter. I cringed, I recognized it. My body shut down, I couldn't grasp a single breath. My heart pounded in my chest, I knew what was going to happen next. The little girl's hair was braided, just as I remembered it; two french braids one thicker than the other. Her dress was a crisp white, it seemed to float, even she seemed to float in the wind as she ran. I tried to turn my head in fear, but the grass held me still. Her face was so innocent. Then all of a sudden the wind shifted, it became darker, and I appeared. My face wasn't innocent, just full of angst and rage. It was strange watching myself do this, it had been over 5 years ago. The feeling of hopelessness hadn't gone away yet, but I didn't mind anymore. As the 30 year old me closed in on Jasmine, I smiled. I couldn't help it, I had done so much research just for that one moment. I knew she would be in that field alone at that time.
When it was over I dragged her into the near by lake, her body floated, just as she had done before, but this time she sunk. Then it was over.
This place, where ever I was, was bring back old memories that I had forgotten. I wondered how one's mind could forget things that otherwise would have been to hard to hold on to.
I was back in the darkness, the air was frigid again. The temperature changed so fast it took my breath away. I stood there for a moment, soaking in all that I had just witnessed. I didn't even remember that night when I woke up this morning. Once I had run the scene over in my head, about three times, I took another step. Toes followed by heel. One after another, until the smell of sulfur surrounded me for the second time. I found myself on my hands and knees once again, but this time I knew what was going to happen. I tried my hardest to resist, but it controlled me. It was too late, the slipping sensation was back. In a matter of seconds I was against a brick wall. Somehow I was chained to the wall, once again I couldn't move. The smell filled my nostrils, it smelt of fresh bread. Immediately I knew where I was. I was outside of Joe's Bakery, it must have been past six, the sun was going down. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw Samuel, I almost started crying just at the sight of his face. He started walking towards me, I quickly realized that he couldn't see me; it was like I was a ghost. He was carrying a book bag with a long strap around his shoulder. I thought I would never forget that bag, but somehow I did. It was a hunter green with his name written on the strap in permanent black marker. I remember thinking it was just the right size to fit around his little neck. A small laugh started in my throat, but I swallowed it down. After he took about five steps I appeared. I was 31 at the time, just a short year after Jasmine. I remember, clearly, the feeling of rage building up inside me once again. I knew that I had to strike then. The last thing I saw before I returned to the darkness was, Samuel turning to look at me. His face was so pure.
Back in the darkness I gathered my thoughts and took another step, this time less hesitant than before. I jerked my head to the left thinking I had heard something moving in the pitch black, but saw nothing. My head quickly looking back and forth, left to right, front then back. I had lost track of which way was forward. So I just followed which way my feet were pointing. After about six steps the smell of sulfur filled the air. I forced my eyes shut, counting to ten then opening them again. I was, just as I suspected, in a little boy's room. His room was blue and had stars all over the ceiling, they were glow-in-the-dark. In the bed straight across the floor from me was Nick, his long brown hair covered his face. The sounds he was making indicated that he was sleeping. Someone had once told me that if someone died in their sleep, they didn't feel themselves passing. Behind me was a closet, of course I was bound to it, forced to watch this all over again. Next thing I knew I was watching my 32 year old self climbing through the window. I remembered how I was struggling to get up to the 2nd floor, but I had finally made it. I watched as past me stood over Nick, my heart beat like a drum. Before I knew it I was in the complete darkness again. My heart slowed, it became dangerously slow. Then I finally took a breath, which was followed by weeping. I fell to the ground, holding my head in my hands. Once I gathered myself I stood up and ran, I wanted to get whatever was coming next over. I couldn't handle it anymore.
I was becoming light headed, and completely lost my train of thought. All I knew was that I was running, as if someone were chasing after me. I was running for what felt like hours, until something or someone brushed up against me in the dark. At first I jumped, I don't remember if I screamed or not, then I assured myself that it was just my mind playing games with me. But now that I think about it; I think someone was there, standing in the dark. Soon I started running again, this time slower and more securely. After about seven minutes I vaguely smelt sulfur again. I slowed to a stop, then dropped to my hands and knees, without being forced. I waited there for a moment then shut my eyes, making a million tiny wrinkles. As I counted to ten, I sneezed. I definitely knew where I was going next. Claire, she was a very gifted child, she was loved by everyone. Well, but me. I sneezed a second time, I couldn't move my arms to wipe my nose, because for the fourth time I was bound. This time I was bound to a rock in the middle of a museum. Claire was standing by the dinosaur bones, she always loved prehistoric things. It took about five minutes for me to abduct her, even though in the moment I had felt like I was rescuing her, this was my first and last time going to a museum. Til this day I still don't know what the smell was that made me sneeze so much, but whatever it was it was strong. I felt myself sweating while I was watching my 33 year old self grab her. I tried to remember, but I couldn't figure out why I had picked her. She had so much going for her. My sweat turned to tears, in a matter of seconds. Once it was over I felt sick to my stomach. In the moment two years ago I felt like I was doing the right thing, but now watching it again I couldn't breathe.
Soon I was back in the pitch black, I wanted to get out of there. I felt myself fighting to even stay alive. I started screaming on the top of my lungs, to the point that it hurt. But no one answered back, I knew deep down that I was alone, but I didn't want to admit it to myself. I started walking, toes then heel. Over and over again til I could hold myself together. Both of my feet felt lifeless, I couldn't feel either of them it was so cold. After ten steps I could smell sulfur for the fifth time. Before I was even on my hands and knees I knew where it would take me, and I didn't want to go there. I fought, like I never knew I could, to resist the slipping sensation. But it was too strong, I fell to my knees then my hands followed. Once I realized that I had lost, I forced my eyes shut. I didn't want to see where I was going, even though I knew exactly where it would take me. I hated this, whatever it was, it kept bring old memories back to the surface, and making me live them all again. I felt completely vulnerable, it was worse than the feeling of hopelessness. The temperature of the air didn't change, because it had been winter. I kept my eyes shut, I wasn't going to go through this again. I felt in control for a while, not giving in, but then everything changed when I heard his cry.
My eyes shot open, I could tell that they were blood shot. Young little Zachary, he had been five at the time. I suddenly became very warm, then it became hard to swallow. Zachary's cry could have woken the dead, it must have been heart-breaking. The words, at the time, he was yelling sounded sad, but know listening to them again they sounded scared. He was yelling at the top of his lungs; "Mom! Please help me!". My whole body tensed to the point that it hurt. While 34 year old me stood strong, and grabbed his bony shoulder. He lunged forward, away from me. I jumped at him with all my force. He tried to hard resist, but I was 29 years older than him at the time. He was still screaming in my arms. It was the same words repeating over and over again, " Mommy help me!". Little did he know that his mother was in the shower, she couldn't hear a word he was screaming. After a minute or so he gave up a little, his yells turned into whispers, and he stopped resisting. As I watched this I realized that my hands had been in fists, and my nails were being driven into my palms. My blood made a small pool on the floor. I slowly lifted my head and saw Zachary on the carpet, which used to be tan, but now was red. His body was so lifeless. Cold.
My 34 year old self lunged into the closet across the room from Zachary. I looked back down at my hands, still dripping with the awful liquid that followed me everywhere I went. When my eyelids opened, they revealed Zachary's mother walking into Zach's room, just her face would've made a sinner cry. I can't even begin to describe the face someone makes when they find their own child murdered on the floor in his own room. Her eyes could have been compared to a waterfall, how her tears were pouring out of them. Her mouth was open, and sound was coming out of them, but I couldn't hear the sounds over me crying. No, I was begging for mercy. I found myself watching as my 34 year old self smiled at the scene before us. I felt ill, my stomach turned into thousands of knots all at once. Zachary's mother now running for the phone to call 911, 34 year old me leaped out of the closet and out the window, and just like that I had gotten away with another murder. Or at least I thought at the time, now I wasn't so sure. I pulled and pulled until I was off of the wall, which had held me still. I was on my all fours, crawling towards little Zachary. I was just about to reach him when I was back in the darkness. I quickly jumped to my feet, not wanting to touch the unlawfully cold floor. My eyes felt like they were going to roll back into my head, just rewinding what I had just seen. I pounded on my head until I felt my eyes looking straight again. Not wanting to waste anymore time I took, what felt like, my very first step. My legs were wobbly, but I kept walking.
I took six steps one after the other. Both of my legs completely numb now, not just my feet. Soon I smelt a hint of sulfur, I didn't know what this would show me next. After two more steps my legs gave out on me. I fell to the floor, first my hip hit then my arms followed. My whole body hurt, but I shook it off and got on my hands and knees. I once again shut my eyelids, my eyes stung from all the crying. This time I held my breath, I don't remember why, just like I couldn't remember why I took those kids lives anymore.
Once I couldn't hold my breath any longer, I opened my eyes wide and breathed in through my mouth, swallowing huge gulps of air all at once. As soon as I could feel air in my lungs again, I adjusted my eyes to see what was in front of me. There was a little girl dressed in a over-sized men's tee-shirt. She was lying on the mattress, that was on the floor. It seemed as though she had been crying. There was a noise coming from the far room, it sounded like fighting. First a snapping sound, followed by a crushing sound. The little girl lifted her head to look into the other room, but then quickly she whipped her head back down towards her lap. Tears came to her eyes, then her nose began to run. Something about the little girl was familiar, but I couldn't place her. Then I lead my eyes back to the source of the noise, but I didn't have to look far, because the two that had been fighting were now in the same room as the young girl. Their faces were hidden from my sight, until the male figure slapped the women, then her face turned in my direction. My heart stopped, my blood froze, my brain shut down. It was my mother, her face was so bloody and raw, that vicious man was my father, and that meant that the little girl was me. Little Nicole. It all came back to me at once. My mother now turning back towards my father, she hit him in the gut, then turned towards me. It was last time our that we made eye contact. I immediately started leaking out tears, they felt like they were coming out of every hole in my body. There was, what seemed like, a flash of light then my mother was died. My father held the gun in his hand, and stared at me with his horrible blood shot eyes. Six year old me screamed and ran, I remember thinking I was next, now I wish I were so lucky. I ran as fast as my little legs could carry me, but my father was right behind me. Once I reached the bathroom, he grabbed me and threw me at the wall between the sink and the bath. My head had hit the wall first followed by the rest of my body. He started walking towards me with this awful look in his eyes, I remember exactly what I prayed right in that moment; "God please save me. I haven't done you wrong, and I promise that I will never hurt another being in my life. Amen." Right that my father stopped in his tracks and dropped the gun. He told me to promise that I would keep this a secret, and to tell people that my mother left us. I agreed for I didn't want to upset him.
My palms were still bleeding from the last memory, but this time I had new fingernail marks. Blood oozed out of the new and old cuts. Then I noticed that the ground had changed from scraped up wood floors to wet grass. I lifted my eyelids and looked around until I saw my father and I standing over my mother's grave. Which was in the middle of the woods. We both had shovels in our hands, my six year old self looked up at my father and said "I will never tell." He then tilted his head down to look at me and replied "I know you won't.", after we exchanged glances he looked up at the sky and whispered "We will never see the havens now."
Before I knew it I was once again in the darkness. I stood there for a good long time, before I could even move my body. I was in a mental cage that I couldn't break out of. After another ten minutes I fell to my knees for the last time and started crawling deeper into the darkness. There was a light getting brighter and brighter in the near distance. After two minutes my skin felt as though it was on fire, so I quickly jumped up and saw that my epidermis was peeling off. It had been my layer of deception that kept me "normal" through out my life. Soon all I was left with was this beastly form. I looked over myself and saw that I was a monster. I had hair covering my body and had nails as long as knives. I screamed, not just once, but three times. I couldn't look at myself, I was so disgusted. I had become what I hated about my father. I started crying, but I stopped the tears. I slowly raised my head noticing that ten small children's feet were standing in front of me. As my head rose I saw that the children were Jasmine, Samuel, Nick, Claire, and Zachary. They all were in the clothes that they had died in, even Samuel's hunter green bag. It hit me that they couldn't move on until I figured out who I really was. They seemed much braver than I was, and this time I couldn't fake it. Slowly I realized that they were rising. For a moment I thought I would go with them. I stood there hoping and looking up at the never ending pitch black, then I felt a tingling feeling on the bottoms of my feet, it quickly turned into a burning feeling. In those last few moments I heard the song that my mother used to sing to me. It soothed me. Once it was over the only thing I could remember was looking up at my hand, and watching it being swallowed by the fire.
There was no light in the fiery darkness and it welcomed me.