Thin Line

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There's a thin line between genius and insanity, I've heard. I wonder which one feels better, insanity or genius. They could indeed be one in the same, especially when you consider what I do, what I've done, what I used to be, and what I've become. I was once a college professor, majoring in world history and biological science. I taught world history classes at the community college for almost 5 years, then moved onto the university to teach biology. I loved what I did, and I felt like it was my life purpose. Almost everyone consulted me for any problems they had, whether it be understanding a certain subject in history or biology, or much more personal problems like their home life or their emotional well-being. I had many friends, barely any enemies, and a wonderful family. My wife was the most beautiful woman you could have ever come across, and my kids were equally beautiful. I loved spending my days off just watching them all play, grow, learn, and smile. They were all I believed in, all I fought for, and all I lived for. This all changed on one ordinary day, and I will never be able to forget.

I was raised in a very religious family, Baptist-Christian to be exact. Since birth, I went to church, played a roll in the different theatrical plays the church held, became very active in sunday school, and even won many awards for my studying of the bible and how Christianity affected the world. I was a very devoted Christian and church member on the outside, but on the inside it was different. I only participated with the church and it's people because if I hadn't, my family would be very disappointed. My father was an ex-military seargent, and he was the one person on this earth that I have always wanted to make proud, impressed, and happy. I was scared of him, no doubt about it. He was abusive in my early years, giving me a 2 inch long scar across my eyelid when I was 4. It was one night when he was highly intoxicated, and he had just gotten off of work. He worked a small construction job on the east side of town, and he seemed pissed at the entire world almost all of the time. In a way, I don't really blame him for being angry, because he had a pretty large family to support, and most of the time we were very tight financially. He had a big responsibility, but sometimes he didn't know how to handle his stress and anger properly. Back to the subject of how I got my scar, he had gotten angry at my mother for pointing out his intoxication, and he threw a glass bottle at her. The bottle hit the wall, shattered, and one of the pieces came flying at me and cut my eyelid wide open. I didn't need medical attention, just a large eyepatch and Neosporin. I was shocked more than anything when the blood poured over the right side of my face, and I began crying because I thought my father was angry at me. When he saw the blood, he just grunted and turned over on his side on the recliner. My mother of course began screaming and she picked me up and took me into the bathroom to clean me up. I was bombarded with many questions when I got to church and school, but my mother had told me to tell everyone that I had fallen when playing outside with my brother.

Everyday since I was old enough to realize what had happened, I had to look into the mirror and see the scar my own father induced upon me. The wound that he inflicted, but didn't even care enough to take care of me. That incident scarred me the most, pun intended. My father was not only the one person I wanted to impress, but the one person who had complete control over me. I loved him, hated him, praised him, spat upon him. I could never hurt him the way I sometimes wanted so badly, I could only bow down with my tail between my legs. He was not only a physical abuser, but a mental and emotional abuser as well. He was very manipulative, and very good with his words.

My childhood wasn't much of a childhood, just a blur of adult responsibilities and abuse. As I got older, I drifted away from religion and tried to forget my younger years. My brother and sister grew up, graduated school, got married, had a family, and settled down. My father seemed so proud of them all of the time, but anything I did or said was just bullshit to him. I tried so hard, worked so hard, and did too much just to see him smile at me. It was a waste, I realized later on. I did so many things that just wasn't me, it was all him. Not being yourself at all times can really damage you. It can push you into a world of indentity crisis, which was the exact world I ended up in. I spent my teenaged years wondering who I really was, looking for myself, and wishing to die. I didn't know how to be myself, I only knew how to be what everyone expected or what they were. I just wanted to be accepted, because I didn't think anyone would like me if I ever did act like myself. I just wanted a friend, someone who would never leave me and never hurt me. I was hurt many times in the future, and I've been abandoned.
I spent a long time looking for a purpose, and then one day I felt sure that I had found it. One of my college buddies called me one afternoon when I was at my girlfriend's house, now my wife. He told me about a teaching job that was open at the community college, and he wanted to know if I was interested. He was already one of the teachers there, and told me that it payed very good, and it was very fulfilling. At the time, I kind of wanted to turn it down, but my wife told me over and over again about how great of an opportunity it was and how I should give it a shot. I am forever greatful to that woman, because it was definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made. I went to an interview three days after the phone call, and two months later I was a part-time teacher's assistant. Of course, I had to take a few classes and study a lot in order to become even a part-time teacher's assistant, but by the next year I was a full-time teacher. I loved meeting new students, talking to them, exploring their mind and watching them learn. What I loved most about teaching was watching the gleam in the student's eye when they understood what I was teaching. They seemed more excited than I was, and it always made my day. The students were always very inquisitive, critical, and willing to learn. Watching them made me feel younger again sometimes, and they taught me many things. I did pick up a bad habit or two from the students, such as impatience and cursing. My wife told me once it was like she had to raise three kids instead of two.

It was a Friday morning, if I remember correctly. I walked into the classroom at exactly 7:36, with my Colombian Starbucks coffee with the two shots of vanilla/almond creamer. I remember having many papers that didn't get graded, so I sat down and immediately began grading as soon as I got to my desk. The first person who came into the classroom was very unfamiliar to me, a new student. He was about 22 or 23, judging by his looks. He could have been younger or older, because I would find out later on that he was a master at hiding. He just moved to the center of the room and sat down in an empty desk, facing me. He was around 6 feet tall, and had light brown, short hair. His features were feminine in a way, and he looked a little nervous. I wasn't sure what to say, because he came out of no where, and I had no clue who he was. I pushed my glasses up on my nose, cleared my throat and said softly, "Excuse me, but are you new here? I think you have the wrong class, son. I wasn't informed of a new student in my room." The guy didn't look up when I finished my sentence, and didn't utter a word for what seemed like 10 minutes. After a while, he lifted his head and spoke in a deep, husky voice. "Why do they always ask so many questions? Some things are better off not knowing, and I think you would know that from experience. Ignorance is bliss, my friend." The hair stood up on the back of my neck and I could feel my blood temperature dropping a few degrees. My throat was a little dry, but my hands couldn't seem to move so I could grab my coffee. I sat there for a minute or two, trying to make since of it all. I tried to breathe deeply in and out through my nose in order for my heart to slow it's pace so I could maybe get a few words out without stuttering, but I caught the faintest whiff of cigarette smoke and some kind of cologne. This guy reminded me of my father in a way. He asked, "Why do they always ask so many questions?". I didn't ask 'so many questions', I only asked one. Maybe he wasn't pointing the question towards me, but someone else. And what was with the 'I think you would know that from experience'? Who was this guy? What in the hell was he talking about? He doesn't even know me, so I thought that I might as well just get to the bottom of the subject and forget his strange statements. "Look, I-I just want to know who my students are, that's all. I'm Mr. Canda, and I teach biology. Are you a new student?" My voice cracked like an egg at the end of my last question, and I could feel the air crackle with humored energy. The guy chuckled a deep chuckle, and got out of his seat. He didn't move towards me, but just stood there in the middle of the room, staring through my skull. "I'm not a student, more like a teacher. I'm not here for your biology classes, or anyone else's classes. I'm here for business, business between you and I." He began stepping closer to my desk as he spoke, and my body felt numb. I had no clue what kind of business he was speaking of. I didn't know him, and I was exceptionally confused. "What are you talking about? I think you have me mistaken for someone else. I don't know you, and I'm sure we have no business together." He continued to move closer and closer to me, and right as his face was not even three feet away from mine, I noticed how muscular and lean he was. He seemed like he was built for war, and it scared me more than I wanted it to. I got out of my desk, determinded to know who he was. "What is your name? I assure you that you've gotten me mixed up with someone different. I don't know.." He cut me off before I could finish my sentence. "You've known me your entire life. I was there during the drunken nights that belonged to your father, and the emotional damage that belonged to you. I witnessed your fading smile in church, school, home, and any where else you went. I felt the emptiness in your heart, the lonliness in your mind, and the anger and hate in your veins. I know who you are, Devin Canda." Taking his left pointer finger, he tapped his right eyelid, saying in a low voice, "I know how you got that scar on your eyelid, Mr. Canda. Like the god Christianity portrays, I know everything, beginning to end. But unlike the god Christianity portrays, I only know your beginning and end, no one else's." My hands somehow made their way to my face, sheilding me from something, and my breathing became shallow. I didn't know how to handle this. How did he figure those things out? He could possibly be on some form of drugs, an addict just wanting the money to buy more of whatever he's on. 'He doesn't know what he's talking about', I told myself. I couldn't speak, for the fear of knowing more about what he knows was too great. For a second, everything stopped, and his voice came into my head. "Some things are better off not knowing", he had said before. It clicked immediately. It was like he had seen the future and knew what I would feel and think. "What do you want with me?", I asked the stranger in a strained tone. He just looked at me, looking at me with a penetrating gaze that made my head hurt. "I just need you to come with me for a little while. There are some things that need to be solved between you and yourself, and I'm the only one who can make it happen. I've already hired a substitute teacher for your classes, so you have the day off. I have reserved a table at the diner down the road for us, so if you don't mind, leave the papers on the desk and come with me." I knew right away that I didn't have a choice, because his tone was demanding, and his body language meant business. He definitely had years of social experience under his belt, considering how easy it was for him to control me and intimidate me. This man must be my father in reincarnation. I sat for a few minutes, playing my daily routine through my head. I began thinking of my wife, wondering if she knew what was going on. His voice made me jump when he spoke. "Don't worry, Mr. Canda. Your wife thinks you're teaching classes all day, and I'll make sure you're home on time. If you come with me, no one gets hurts and everything will turn out fine." My soul was shoving all kinds of possible dangers into my mind, but I knew I had to go with this guy. I got out of my chair and we walked out of the classroom, down the hall, and off the campus together. Even though I knew where we were headed, I was still not sure what was going on. My mind couldn't function properly, because I was panicking silently.
Whoever this guy was, he was one interesting character. He moved with confidence, spoke with power and determination, and seemed to know all. He wasn't weak in any way, as far as I was concerned. His body screamed dominance, and everything about him was just powerful. He had control over anyone he encountered, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop him. We made it to the diner, and he found our table. I sat down like I was pushed, because I felt incredibly drained and weak. He looked at me, smiled, and glanced around the room for a waitress. He spotted one, a girl with long black hair. He waved her over, and spoke in a light, playful voice. "Good morning, dear. My friend here would like a Coke, and as for me I'll have a water with a slice of lemon, if you don't mind." He smiled at her like you would smile at a newborn, and I could see her melt like ice on 200 degree pavement. Her voice jumped a little before she spoke. "Y-yes, that's fine with me. Are you ready to order your food, sir?" She didn't pay a bit of attention to me, she just looked at him. I think I admired this guy's social ability a little whenever the waitress payed all of her attention to him. He had her trapped, big time. "No, not yet. I think it will be a few minutes." His voice grew a little angry sounding, but she still stared at him in wonder. She didn't move after he finished his sentence, and he had to clear his throat to let her know she wasn't needed at the moment. When she left, he turned his head toward me and smiled a devious, crocodile smile. "Do you see how weak you can make them, just by using a different tone? Be kind to them, have them trapped, then turn and snap at them, and they are still trapped! I swear, I have never ran into more silly beings than the ones here. I think you'll be able to learn a great deal from me, Mr. Canda." I became jealous of him all too quickly. His eyes were those of the ocean, blue with hints of yellow from the sun, and just by looking into them you knew there were treasures and secrets hiding behind them. Some things are better off not knowing, I've heard, and his true being was one of them.

He spoke of America's government and society as if it was a horrible disease we can never get rid of, unless we die. I have never really focused on society and the government, and didn't really know much about either. I had always been the secluded type, and mostly focused on myself. I made the mistake by telling him this. His response is one I'll always remember. "Have you ever heard of influence, Mr. Canda? How about the abuse of power, or control? I know you've been a victim of control before, because your father did it, and I did it when I first stepped into your classroom. Did you know that whenever someone wants more power, they'll do anything to get it? It's like an entrepreneur who wants his product sold. After a while of putting his product together, he has to market it. Marketing is a very psychological business, if you don't know that by now. The entrepreneur sometimes lies about his product, just to appeal to the consumers. It's all for money, and in this world, you need money to have power. What if I told you that you and every other American was the money, and the government, the media, and society is the entrepreneur? They need you, your trust, your votes, your attention, and your money in order for them to get anywhere. It's just another fact in this world. Once they have all of those things, you belong to them, and they have you under their dirty little spell."

Ignorance is bliss, is what I've heard. This man taught me the meaning of that after a few conversations with him. I would realize one thing, then everything around me began falling into place. My world became a puzzle. I would put one or two pieces together, then the picture would become clear and the puzzle would finish itself. I'll just put it this way; I had more puzzles that came together within a week than I've had in my entire lifetime. Every day since talking with him at the diner, I taught my classes, went home, spent time with my family, then took an hour or so to research some things in history that my middle school, high school, and college teachers were very biased on. I looked at things from a different perspective, a critical, logical, and probing perspective. What I found did not settle so well with my mind, and I felt sick at one point. All I found was lies, hypocrisy, cold-blooded killing, abuse of power, and mindless actions. I became thoroughly disgusted with the government, with society, and with humanity in general. I became disgusted with myself, because I hadn't came to reality sooner. I told him what my thoughts and feelings were, and his response was, "Even if you did know about this rat-hole we're in before, it wouldn't have made any difference. You can't really act, because if you do, they'll throw you in some sort of mental facility, medicate you, brainwash you, then throw you back into the world as a zombie. You're lucky you spent such a long time in the wonderful world of ignorance. If you knew about this sooner, you would have probably killed someone or yourself already."

It was Spring time, and I usually spent a lot of time tending to the yard work while my wife tended to the garden. This Spring was different. I spent most of my time inside on my days off, researching, thinking, and slowly getting sucked into my mind. I would meet with him every weekend, and we usually discussed politics, religion, music, and many other things. I remember one night while I was cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, a knock came to the back door. It was about 10 at night, and visitors usually didn't come this late. If they ever did, they never came to the back door. I slowly approached the back door, peering through the small, triangular window to see who the knocker was. I didn't see anyone, so I opened the door very slowly. I made the mistake of poking my head out of the house. Something hit my head, and before I knew what had happened, I was soaked in water. I looked up to see where the thing came from, and I saw him on my roof, peering down at me and laughing like a madman. I jumped out of the house, closed the door, and said, "What the hell are you doing up there, and what are you even doing here?" He was brave enough to make the 6 foot jump from the roof to the ground, and landed with the coolness of a cat. He was still laughing, and mumbling something about how much of a pussy I was. "I just wanted to stop by to see if you wanted to take a ride with me." I didn't even know he had a car, and I had some things I needed to finish up in the house, but I decided to just tag along. "I have to let my wife know where I'll be going." Before I could make it to the first step, he pulled me back and said, "Dude, forget about it. Come on, you puss." I laughed, "Fine, f*** it."

He ran to the side of the street, and behind the bushes awaited a black sportscar. I wasn't sure what kind it was, and I never asked. "Make sure you don't screw up my seats with your wet ass", he said much too loudly. "Lower your voice or you'll wake up every damn soul in this neighborhood!", I said in a type of whisper-scream. We both laughed and piled into the car. We drove for about two minutes whenever he asked, "Do you feel like listening to some music? I think I have some KMFDM somewhere around here." He pulled some CDs out of the console in between the two front seats and popped a burnt CD in the player of the car. A strange, technical sound came over the speakers, and he said, "It's the song Dogma by KMFDM. You know, the media likes to say that KMFDM is what influenced the Columbine shooting. That's how I heard of them, the media. Ah, how funny it is, this world. They market the so-called 'bad guy's' product by telling everyone how horrible it is. Don't they know that humans are the most curious mother f***ers alive?" I had to laugh at what he said, because it was very funny in the grand scheme of things. The so-called heros handing the knife to the suicidal civilian, or the doctor giving heroin to the heroin addict. How mixed up, twisted, crazy, illogical, and silly this world is. They tell you to stay away from the door, then give you the key to unlock it.

"Do you know who I was named after?", he asked. I didn't even know his name at all, but I was curious to find out. "No, who?", I asked, similar to the tone of a little kid asking his parents if Santa has visited him during the night. "There's this story in the bible of a species of sea monsters God made called Leviathan. He made them so they would keep order in the sea, but soon after the natural order of repopulation, there were too many. So God killed every one of them except one, and the last Leviathan's mouth is supposedly the gates of Hell. It's said that when Jesus Christ comes back to Earth, him and his followers will dine in a tent made of the killed Leviathan's skin." I had never heard of this story, and it interested me to incredible lengths. Even though I was not religious in the least bit, I sometimes enjoyed hearing a good bible story. It was like a fairytale to a toddler for me. "So, if you were named after Leviathan, what is your name?", I asked with a little bit of a shaky voice. His laugh made me jump, because I wasn't expecting it. "Haha, do you really think I would tell you? After all this time of knowing eachother and me not sharing a bit of information about myself, do you actually think I would share even my name with you? I'm sorry for the harsh humor, but curiosity in humans is one thing I can never get over. It's far too funny." That situation disappointed me, but I had to laugh along with him. I didn't laugh over my silly curiosity, I laughed over the fact that he was so mysterious, and I could do nothing to solve him.
Since I didn't know his name, I knew I had to call him something besides 'ass' or 'f***er'. So after a little while of thinking, I decided to call him Levi. He was my bestfriend, but my enemy as well. I knew from the beginning that he was one person I should never piss off, because he had something about him that frightened me, and that made me submissive to him. Sometimes I don't follow my own advice, and later on I would realize how destructive Levi could become, and how he was the worst kind of enemy to have. He was the leader wherever he went, and I could sense that from the moment he walked into my classroom. One night, a Saturday, he came to my house around midnight. My family was asleep, but like I had done lately during that time, I was awake doing some research. He knocked on the living room window, and I could hear him laughing that devilish laugh. I knew he was up to something, and probably wanting to go somewhere, so I got dressed and walked out of the house, making sure I had my house keys and that the house was locked. He was wearing these huge, black combat boots, and a leather jacket. He had gotten a mohawk, and it was dyed black with red tips. "You've certaintly changed, Levi. What's with the whole goth look?" I've always been interested in the goth scene, but never had the guts to try it out. "We're going clubbing, Devin. I wanted to show you some of the world that you've missed out on. Besides, the nightlife in your area is perfect, and shouldn't be ignored. I brought you some clothes so you'd fit in, and I think we may have to do something with that rat nest you have on your head." I had never had my hair called a 'rat nest' before, even though it sometimes did indeed look that way. Since I was a baby, it's been curly and all over the place. I don't really mess with it, just brush it every once in a while and go on my way. "I'll go clubbing with you, but do we really have to dress up? We're not chicks." He laughed his devious laugh and the air crackled with the same humored energy I felt in the classroom. "It's no fun if you don't play the part, dipshit. Being someone else every once in a while helps you appreciate who you really are." He threw me the keys to his sportscar as he fumbled in his pockets for cash. "What's the cash for?", I asked. "Alcohol and chick money, d*bag.", he replied all knowingly. I really did love how wild and brutal he was. He made me feel years beyond years younger, and much more wilder. We drove to a gas station on the outskirts of the downtown area so I could change clothes and do something with my 'rat nest'. I have never seen such dark and morbid clothing before. The jeans Levi had gotten for me were covered in chains, and there were zippers in every place you could see. I jangled like a f***ing Christmas tree. The shirt was mesh, see-through, and long sleeved. I liked it, because it reminded me of the metal mesh armor Knights have to wear. I highly doubt I was seen as a Knight in Shining Armor, but more like a Knight in Rusted Armor. The boots he had for me were bigger than his, but not as shiny or as covered in different metal pieces. They were nice though, just really heavy. I walked out of the bathroom for Levi's approval, and when I did tons of flashes blinded me. "What the....?" I stumbled for a second then regained my footing, and looked up to see that jackass with two cameras in his hand, laughing like the devil himself. "Dude, chill. I'm just making memories like any human would. I swear, they take pictures at the worst of times, and they say it's for memories! Bahaha, dumbshits. Besides the look on your face just now, you look pretty good. Goth enough, I guess. Now for your hair." He brought out a can of temporary black hair spray paint, and pulled me into the bathroom. As he was pulling me, I could see one of the gas station employees giving me a strange look, a look of suspicion. She probably thought we were two gay goths far too horny to wait until we were near a bedroom.

Levi had me bent over the sink, spraying my hair down with the black, fume-smelling junk. I would have hated for that employee to walk in and see me bent over the sink with Levi behind me. If it had happened, Levi would have laughed and pretended like we were gay, or something to that effect. After all was said and done, there was a black rim around the sink, the tip of Levi's right index finger was black, and I looked like a completely different person. I fell in love with the look, and wear it today. We were ready for the clubs, and we made our way downtown. We pulled up to a club with a screened in patio outside, and before we could park the black sportscar, all eyes were on us. I knew they couldn't see through the tinted glass, so they had to have been staring at the car. We got out, and recieved even more eyes upon us. "Was it supposed to happen this way?", I whispered to Levi. "Of course it was! What's wrong with some attention? We're harmless as far as they are concerned, so there's nothing to worry about. Besides, we might even meet a few hot hunnies quicker doing it this way." I wasn't up for chicks, considering I was married with two kids. If Levi wanted girls, he could have them all he wanted, just not me. As we were getting ready to make it to the entrance of the club, some college guy began talking to Levi. I didn't really hear the conversation, mainly because I didn't care and the music was too loud. After they departed and we got inside, I asked Levi what it was about. "Oh, he was just wanting to know about the car, that's all. He also invited us both to a party he's hosting at his parents house tomorrow night, if you would like to go. I'm always up for a party." Right as he was getting ready to finish his sentence, a girl in her mid twenties dressed in a catholic school girl outfit rounded the corner and began eyeing him. "Do you want her? If not, she's mine.", Levi said as he walked away to escourt her to some place private. I had no time to answer the question, but it would have been a 'no' anways. I really didn't feel like being alone in a croud like this, but you can't stop nature's calling, especially whenever it came to Levi. I had a mixed drink or two at the bar, then decided to join in the mosh pit that was circling and growing larger by the stage. The banner against the back wall displayed the band's name, Up In Adam. The name of course was derived from the old saying 'Up and At Em', but it sure as hell didn't have the same meaning. The music was very good, I'll have to admit. I did recieve a few bruises that night, but the alcohol made the pain of moshing less than what it really was. It was about 4 in the morning before I was able to stop myself from having so much fun, and when that time came, I had no clue where to find Levi. I looked in the upstairs area of the club, and accidentally walked into a room where an orgy was taking place. One or two of the estimated 10 turned their heads towards the door of which I came through, but the rest of them were just going on with their business. I'm sure that when you're in a world of pleasure, it's hard to pay attention or care about anything else. I left the orgy room pretty quick, mumbling an apology before I closed the door. I searched a few more rooms, either finding a drugged couple making out or having sex. I decided to go search outside on the patio. As I was walking downstairs, I heard a curse from what sounded like a drunk male. I turned around and found Levi sitting on the opposite staircase from me, holding his head in his hands. "Hey man, it took me forever to find you. I saw all of these people f***ing and kissing and moshing and my head hurts and my head wont stay still and..." Before I could get another word out, I threw up all over the place. My body was convulsing, trying to push out the alcohol and whatever kind of juice was mixed with it. "That is f***ing gross dude. Go find a bathroom", he said in an aggravated tone. I stopped vomiting long enough to wipe my mouth and mutter a "Let's get the hell out of here." He stood up, grabbed me by the elbow and pushed our way through the still moshing and drunk crowd. We made it outside, and it was eerily quiet out there. There was a thin layer of fog on the road, and it made the sportscar look like a beast crouched in the darkness. We were both drunk, and I knew it wasn't safe for either of us to drive home. "We shouldn't drive, Levi. It's not safe. Let's call a cab and just pick your car up tomorrow." I didn't think he would protest, but I'll be damned if I wasn't wrong. "F*** no you idiot! I can't just leave it here for some doped up gothic f***er to steal! You humans really are f***ing insane." I shuddered at his aggressivness, but it made me angry. "You're acting like my father. What the f*** is wrong with you? Now that I think about it, why did you even come after me in the first place? I don't even need you. You're stupid, because you never think of the consequences and you make my life a life full of secrets and bullshit. I'm not doing it anymore. Either we're riding in a cab or you can drive by yourself and get yourself killed, but not me." I knew I had said the wrong thing, because he walked up to me at full height and stared down at me. He smelled like alcohol and cheap purfume, probably from that catholic w**** he f***ed. I wasn't scared, just full of testosterone and adrenaline. I pushed him fairly hard, and he jumped at me with full force and plunged his left fist into my chest. I fell against his car, knocking my head on his side mirror and falling onto the ground. I rolled over onto my stomach to try and breathe, but before I could get a gust of oxygen into my lugs, his large combat boots slammed into my stomach and ribs, surging pain through me and making it even harder for me to breathe. I screamed for him to stop, but he wouldn't. I felt sure he would kill me, because he was knocking all breath I had out, and probably damaging my insides with his steel-toed boots. I layed there, deciding to quit fighting. My eyes rolled to the back of my head and I couldn't feel the pain of his kicks anymore, just the force of his boots hitting my abdomen. He stopped after what seemed like hours, and I could feel his breath against my ear. "This is the last lesson you will ever learn from me, Mr. Canda. You've had emotional pain, emotional pleasure, mental pain, mental pleasure, and physical pleasure. You have never once had a great deal of physical pain, and from experience, it teaches you a lot. The punch and kicks you have recieved from me are nothing compared to what you're getting ready to recieve from me, so just be grateful I didn't unload on you full force right away. As for our transportation, we're taking my car, whether you think it's safe or not. But of course, it probably wouldn't matter to you anyways, considering the world of pain you've been thrust into." He picked me up and slung me over his shoulder. I could feel myself falling onto the leather of the backseat of his sportscar, and I could feel the car shake when the engine turned on. My head was spinning to incredible lengths, and it took every bit of my power to keep my eyes open. I could hardly breathe, and I was in a state of mortal terror of what awaited me.
The car seemed to be on the road for not even a minute before we were stopped and a cold gust of air blew in from the back door of the car that was being opened. I was pulled by my shoulders, then left to tumble onto the ground. I heard Levi spit, and I heard the ball of saliva land somewhere by my head onto gravel. I'm sure I was imagining it, but when the spit hit the gravel, I swear I heard the ground sizzle. I heard the jingle jangle of keys and the sound of metal doors being pulled open. "Welcome to Hell, Mr. Canda", Levi spat as he drug me by the underside of my arms into a room. He dropped me onto a concrete floor, and it smelled musty like a basement. My eyes were closed now, but my other senses were running wild. I felt like a poor lamb in the mouth of the lion, the king of the jungle. I heard what sounded like different machines turn on, and I was more than scared. I wanted so badly to get up, beat the s*** out of Levi, then run like hell. I knew I wasn't able to do any of those things, considering how bad the pain was in my abdomen and how I could hardly breathe. I have never wanted water so badly in my life before. The mental picture I had in my head of my throat was a picture of dry ground, cracked, dusty, and no sign of plant life whatsoever. I could hear Levi breathing raspy, shallow breaths, and just his movements scared me. I would flinch every time his footsteps sounded nearer, but they sounded nearer every time he moved. It was a concrete room, and the echos were outstanding. I'm sure it was another form of torture he had created for his victims. He was a master at almost everything, now that I think about it. I made the mistake of zoning out, and before I knew it, Levi had crouched down and began whispering in my ear. The sound of him sucking in air before he spoke made me flinch and made my muscles twitch as if I was having a seizure, but it all only made him chuckle. "What's wrong, Mr. Canda? Are you scared? You don't think I would hurt you, would you?" He laughed some more, then all of a sudden I felt a sharp pain on my left thigh. It tingled, burned, ached, throbbed, and bled like crazy. I couldn't control myself after he had taken the scorching hot axe blade to my skin and cut me. Worst of all, he let the hot axe blade sit on my cut skin, letting it burn the raw flesh. I could smell my skin, taste the blood, and hear the sound my skin made when cut and burned. I screamed for him to go away, for me to die, and for all of it to stop. I wimpered like a puppy would if you kicked it, and I couldn't make any movements besides arching my back and clinching my weak fists. My whole leg burned, ached, and sent all kinds of chemicals running wild in my body. I hated the pain, but in a strange way, I loved it. What I was feeling was insane, something that you don't normally feel. It hurt on some major levels, but I wanted more. I didn't tell him that of course, because you always regret asking for more. I shuddered in pain and in pleasure, and my mind was exploding. Levi grabbed my right hand, unclinched it, and pushed a round, metal stamp on it. It was fire hot, and seared the flesh on my palm. I screamed more, and my eyes forced themselves open. I looked at my thigh and my body tried to regurgitate anything else that was left in my stomach. My muscles were convulsing horribly, and I screamed for an end to it all. Levi was laughing, and began screaming with me. "No one can hear you here, Mr. Canda. There's no end to it, and you can't stop it. Try if you want, but you're hopeless here." My mind raced and raced until I passed out from the pain. The last thing I remember was the smell of my burnt flesh, the sound of Levi cackling, and the sight of my dead blood.
I woke up in my bed at my home, my wife sleeping soundly beside me. My vision was blurred, and the sun was burning my eyes from the blinds. I tried to move, but my body halted in pain. I gritted my teeth, remembering the events that took place the night before. I knew I had to get out of bed and do something with my wounds before my wife or kids saw them, but it hurt like hell. I decided to start with my legs. I slowly slid them over the silk sheets and over the side of the bed. 'Now for my abdomen....f***', I thought to myself. I slid my abdomen towards the side of the bed, holding onto the headboard so I wouldn't fall completely off the bed. I dug the heels of my feet onto the blue carpeted floor and raised up. I thought my body would shatter all over the bed and on my wife. It was incredible how much pain I was in, and it made my mind explode, but not quite like it did the night before. I was off the bed now, a victory in my mind. I lifted one leg up and pushed myself all the way to the bathroom down the hall. I thought I would fall many times, but I never did. If I didn't have walls in my home, I would be so f***ed. I walked into the bathroom, flipped on the lights, and almost lost my breath. My face was white as paper, my eyes red as blood, and my skin cold and clammy. I felt sick, looked sick, and had no clue what I was supposed to do when my wife woke up. I felt sure I would jump completely out of my skin when I heard the house phone ring. I tried to run to get it, but I then remembered the shape I was in. I half-ran to the phone in the kitchen, almost killing myself trying to get to it before it quit ringing. I answered with a half-assed "Hello...?", and a surge of confusion and hate swam through me like scared fish when I heard his voice. "Take a shower, eat a little something, and you wont feel or look so bad. The wounds on your palm and thigh will still be there, so I'll leave it up to you to explain to your wife and children. I could see in your body movements and in your eyes that you enjoyed the pain I inflicted on you last night, so a little more wont be too bad."
He hung up before I had time to reply, but it didn't even matter. He's one for sending hidden messages, so his last sentence bothered me a little bit. Maybe he was talking about the pain I would recieve from not being able to tell my wife and kids the truth, or seeing them worry about me. I got the urge to check on them, but I was strangely scared of what I would find. I put the phone back on the reciever, getting a look at my palm as I laid it down. It was red, swollen, and there was dried blood on it. It didn't register to me completely at first, but after a little while of staring at it, I noticed the mark of a bird. I wasn't sure what kind of bird it was, but it had to have been one because of it's wings. How the f*** was I supposed to explain this one to my wife?

I snapped out of my trance and made my way to my children's bedroom. I opened the door slowly so as not to wake them up, and peered inside. They were on their beds, but their stillness frightened me. I walked in and got closer to them. I noticed the blankets looked darker, and that they weren't breathing. My heart dropped, my breathing got faster, and I began shaking them and screaming for them to wake up. They didn't move one bit, just layed there. I shook them harder, harder, harder. I screamed louder, louder, louder, and the screams of my children snapped me out of it. They weren't dead, they were awake! Their screams woke up my wife, and I could hear her yelling. "Devin! What in God's name are you doing to them?! Get off now!" My kids ran to their mother, my beautiful wife, and I fell to the floor, out of breath, out of my mind. They all crowded to the opposite side of the room away from me, probably confused and scared about what had just happened, and why I looked the way I did. My body hurt worse now that I had moved so much and stressed so much, and now I knew what Levi meant when he said, "So a little more (physical pain) wont be too bad." F***ing bastard, he knew what he was doing the entire time. I could hear my family breathing fast, scared breaths, like a tiny rabbit would if you caught it and threw it in a trap. "Devin, w-what the h-hell happened to you?" My wife was more scared than I was, I'm sure. I felt so horrible at that moment. They were terrified of me, I was a monster. I began sobbing, just like a f***ing baby. I could feel their sympathetic energy, but they couldn't be near me. I moved away from them, eventually laying on my child's bed, curling into a ball, and breaking down. My wife began whispering to my children, and they moved out of the room. I could hear my wife's footsteps to the bed where I lay broken, and she curled up with me. She whispered to me a song she sang to our kids when they were new-borns, and she combed her small fingers through my hair. I loved her so much at that moment. I could smell her, taste her, feel her, and become one with her without even speaking or touching. She sang to me for a while, then helped me move to our room where I would sleep for hours upon hours.

I woke up sometime the next morning, possibly around 6. My wife wasn't beside me like usual, and the house was silent. I moved out of bed a little too fast, forgetting that I was still wounded pretty badly. I pushed myself again though, needing to see my family and make sure they were okay. I went to my children's bedroom first, and it was empty. The kitchen, bathroom, dining room, living room, basement, and attic were empty. I knew what had happened, and I fell onto the couch sobbing like a baby, again. They were gone, because of me. I layed there on that couch for a long time, blaming it on myself and wanting to die very, very badly. I got a hint of anger in my veins after a while, and Levi popped into my head. I needed to find him, to kill him. He did this. He knew this was all going to happen. Why did this happen to me, though? Why not someone else? I knew I wouldn't be able to find Levi too easily, considering I didn't have his address, phone number, anything I could use to track him down. I got off the couch, determined to somehow find him and destroy him. I planned on going to get dressed, but a knock came to the back door before I could move out of the living room. I stopped dead in my tracks, not because someone was at the door, but because someone was at the back door. No one besides him used the back door. I moved quietly to the door, peering slowly through the triangular window. I saw him, and I slung the door open, ready to kill him. He moved back fast, knowing the mood I was in. "I just want to talk, Mr. Canda. I'm not going to hurt you, I just want to speak with you." He had his hands up in surrender, and I noticed a marking on his right palm. It was the same bird that was on mine. "What the f*** is on your palm, and what the f*** did you stamp on mine?" I wasn't too ready to kill him I guess, and he was right about curiosity in humans being so damn strong and silly. "It's a mythological bird called the Phoenix. The myth states that the bird is made of fire, burns itself in it's nest, then rises from it's ashes later on." After having him in my presence for more than two minutes, I didn't care about the stamp or why he was there. I just wanted to see him die. I knew I shouldn't have done it in a loud, open manner infront of the neighbors, and I had the slightest urge to give Levi a taste of his own medicine. I decided to pretend like I wasn't angry, and that I wanted to speak with him as well. I invited him inside, and we discussed more about the phoenix and other things he holds dear. We talked for more than an hour before he finally got to the subject of our 'physical therapy' session two nights before. "Look, it's something I went through, and I thought you should have went through it as well. You and I have grown to be on the same page mentally, and I wanted to take it further. Besides, I was planning on doing it soon anways, and you gave me the perfect opportunity to do it whenever you pushed me. The thing with your family is another part of the therapy. You experience physical pain, then emotional pain to top it all off. Your family will come back I'm sure, and in the end everything will be fine. This pain you have recieved helps you out when everything's said and done, trust me." He was very convincing, but I was not buying it at all. I wanted him to feel the way I did, even worse if possible. I couldn't wait any longer, so I offered him something to drink. "Sure. If you've got any alcohol, that would be great." We did have a bottle of wine somewhere in the cubboard, but that's not what I was going for. I walked into the kitchen, walking towards the cabinet that held the cups. I grabbed a cup then moved to the refridgerator, out of his sight. Beside the refridgerator is the granite table top, and on the granite table top is the wood block that holds the kitchen knives. I grabbed one of the butcher knives and tucked it safely in the backside of my pajamas. I poured a glass of applejuice, and walked casually and cooly into the living room where he sat. I handed him the applejuice. "We didn't have any alcohol dude, sorry. I hope the kids don't mind you drinking their juice." He laughed like he always did, but the air crackled with a different kind of energy this time. I looked at him, and noticed something in his eyes. It was a gleam of wisdom, solace, and utter power. I flinched again, remembering the hot axe blade that cut through my thigh like butter. The feeling in the room told me that he knew what I was planning to do, and it put me in a state of panic. I began fumbling with my fingers like an idiot, and I couldn't find the voice to speak. He got up quicker than any human or animal I've ever seen, and he was in my face in a matter of seconds. "If you're going to take that butcher knife and kill me brutally with it, do it now before you don't have a chance. I know the aftermath of you killing me, so do it." There he went again with the hidden messages. Maybe he was talking about how much legal trouble I would be in after I murdered him, because you can't get away with murder these days. In the end, it didn't even matter. I had lost my family, my temper, and my ignorance. None of it mattered, and he wanted it anyways. I grabbed the knife slowly from my backside and plunged it into his left side. I could feel the blade enter his body and slide back out 3 times. He was crumpled at my feet within seconds, and blood poured on the floor. I stepped back, dropped the knife, and ran down the hall into my bedroom. I closed the door and sat against it. My stomach began aching like nothing I've ever felt before, and I had a good feeling I was becoming sick. I went to the bathroom and curled up infront of the toilet, seeing if anything would come out. Nothing did, but I could feel it. I stuck my finger down my throat to see if that would work, but it didn't. I began to feel even more sick at the smell of the dirty toilet, so I got up and washed my hands. My toe dipped into something warm as I stepped away to reach the sink. I didn't pay much attention to it at first, then got a little curious. Curiosity did indeed kill the cat, and ignorance is indeed bliss, because my blood was spilled on the tiled bathroom floor. I looked on my palm and thigh to make sure the blood wasn't coming from the wounds there, but it wasn't. I looked down at my left side, and my shirt was soaked in blood. There were puncture wounds in my shirt, and my head began to spin. I felt cold all over, and my body was going numb. I made it to my bed without falling or hurting myself further, and layed down in confusion and terror. I stabbed Levi, he didn't stab me. I didn't know what to make of any of it. I knew the one thing to prove that I had stabbed Levi was to go see him in the living room, on the floor, in his blood. It was harder to get my vision back to normal and keep my head from throwing me off balance than it was getting out of the bed. I slowly made it to the living room, but Levi wasn't in the spot I left him. I frantically began searching the entire house for him or his blood, but couldn't find anything. All I saw that was left of him was his cup of applejuice I filled for him, but nothing more. I stumbled back into the bathroom to try and clean myself up, but I just had to glance into that mirror. What was looking back at me was not what I expected....it was Levi. I couldn't stand any longer. I fell on the floor, shaking, screaming, and wanting death more than I wanted my wife, my kids, peace, happiness, God, water, food, or anything else. I wanted to die, but within two hours, it never came. I layed there for a long time, out of my mind and alone.





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