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Terrible, Horrifying, and Insanity-Inducing
“Can I stop playing now?”
“But why not? We’ve been going at it for hours.”
“This is nothing. If you ever want to get anywhere in life, you’ll need to fix that awful work ethic.”
“But I don’t even want to play the violin.”
“It’s not a violin, it’s a viol. Now shut up, people are starting to stare.”
And indeed they were, as Horatio and I were sitting on a park-bench at that time. Giving Horatio a dirty look, I resignedly turned back to my new instrument. Horatio had given it to me that afternoon. He said that a viol suited me. When I asked why he said that I needed to read more Lovecraft. I said I didn’t need to read Lovecraft, I had you, Horatio. Horatio told me to shut up and start practicing. So, having never set eyes or hands on a viol, I continued to “play” the instrument in the park, while listening to Horatio’s comments on improvement.
“Don’t hold the neck so tightly. Relax.”
“Keep your wrist straight.”
“That’s it. Very good.”
That was when I noticed her. She couldn’t have been more than five-foot-four, but she carried herself with enough pride to make her the tallest person in the park. She wore a beautiful and expensive dress, all white, and white, lacey gloves. I noticed that she also wore white platform shoes, and suppressed a chuckle. She had pale, alabaster skin, with rosy cheeks, bright blue eyes, and beautiful blonde hair that fell below her waist. I half expected a toymaker to pop out and chase her; she looked so much like a doll. Walking through the park, the girl finally stopped and sat down on the bench right across from us. Her feet didn’t touch the ground, she was so short. I was wondering how old she was, when Horatio hissed something in my ear.
“Feeling distracted?” his voice was like ice.
“No, no,” I returned to my “music”.
But then something odd happened. The girl looked around for a moment, and then made something ruffle in her sleeve. I saw a gleam of metal in her hand. Then, before anyone could blink, the doll-like girl stabbed herself in the other hand with a pair of box-cutters. Blood gushed out of her hand, and I expected her to cry out in pain. But the girl seemed to be writhing in orgasmic pleasure. Moaning and screaming, the girl rolled around as she twisted the box-cutters in her hand, causing more and more blood to flow out. Then, she removed the blade and stabbed another part of her hand, again starting to writhe in pleasure.
Almost everyone at the park reacted badly. Joggers ran in the other direction. Picnickers covered their children’s eyes and gathered their things. Kite-flyers dashed away to get the police. I just continued viol practice. If Horatio was any indication, I wasn’t disturbed by such sights anymore. Grumbling, I continued listening to Horatio’s comments as the park police arrived to take the girl away. They didn’t get very far though, when the girl quickly placed the box-cutters next to her jugular.
“If you try to take me away, I’ll cut my throat,” she said. I didn’t think the girl was bluffing. “Just leave me be for another ten minutes, and I’ll be on my way. I’ll even clean up the blood. Just don’t do anything stupid.”
The policemen were obviously conflicted by such a dilemma, but eventually they gave in. I had a feeling they would. Very slowly, they went away, and the girl turned to me. She seemed a little confused, and it was a while before she spoke.
“Aren’t you disturbed?” she asked. I didn’t really hear her; I was still trying to play the viol.
“I said aren’t you disturbed?” the girl asked louder, and I finally gave her my full attention.
“Not really,” I replied honestly. “I have a friend who’s a lot weirder than you.”
The girl looked strangely at me. Then she put the box-cutters away and held up her hand to examine. The once-beautiful white dress and gloves were stained with blood that trickled down the girl’s hand like a lazy fountain. There was an almost grotesque beauty in the way the blood seemed to defile and adulterate the picturesque beauty of the girl.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Michelle,” she said after a pause, and then after a longer one, “What’s yours?”
“Edgar,” I said.
“I see,” she said.
I turned to Horatio to see what he thought of the girl, but he had left. Very odd.
“Why do you do that?” I asked.
Michelle put her hand down and forlornly looked up at the sky. Finally, she said, “Isn’t it chillingly alluring, seeing something as pure and angelic as a white dress made ugly and disgusting by being stained in blood? I once could see things. Terrible, horrifying, insanity-inducing things. But then one day, they just disappeared. I couldn’t see them anymore. At first I was ecstatic, but then I realized that the world was just a boring place without them. And one day, a voice said to me that pain would let me see them again. I didn’t know what the voice was, but I was willing to trust anything. And now I go out every few weeks, and I stab myself.” She pulled off her glove, and I saw bandages stained with so much blood. “I can almost stop feeling it now.”
“That’s stupid,” I said.
Michelle blinked at me.
“I can see those things too, and I don’t think it would be that big of a deal if I suddenly stopped seeing them. I mean, sure, the world’s a lot more boring without them, but it’s not like that’s a bad thing. And even if they’re gone, the memories of what you shared are always there, so long as you keep them dear. I don’t think stabbing yourself is the way to go, even if it does bring them back.”
“But…I want to see them so badly,” Michelle bowed her head.
“Why?” I asked shrewdly.
“What?” Michelle looked up in confusion.
“Why do you want to see them so badly?” I asked again.
“If you can see them too, then you should know,” Michelle replied just as shrewdly.
I paused. I did know. It was the same reason that Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit from the tree of Eden. Humans desire knowledge, even if they don’t like to admit it. Humans want to know what creeps within the darkness, what secrets the mysteries of the world hold. Even if the answers to those mysteries are terrible, horrifying, and insanity-inducing, we love them all the same. No, we actually love them more if they’re like that, because it goes against all the propriety and pompousness and pig-headedness of organized and civilized society. It takes us back to the primordial ooze that we came from, and that we return to so frequently. It gets under our skin so easily, and we always crave more. Strange at how we always profess the opposite.
This girl wanted to see those things again, because she, like everyone else in this world, was a junkie to the drug of forbidden knowledge. I knew it because I was a junkie too. I enjoyed seeing Horatio, seeing all the terrible, horrifying, and insanity-inducing things in this world, seeing what lurked there, dark and terrible deep. The world was quite a lot more interesting when you knew how screwed-up it was. But this girl wouldn’t be able to see those things anymore. She could only make a mockish sort of insanity by staining a beautiful white dress with blood. I didn’t know how to comfort her.
Then a familiar voice said “He understands.”
Both Michelle and I looked up in surprise to see Horatio standing there.
“I was wondering where you’d gone off to,” I said.
“I just went off for a walk. Why should I pay attention to you when you shirk on your practice?”
Michelle had a shocked look on her face, but it was a good shock, like seeing a friend that you thought had died a long time ago alive and well. I assumed that meant that she could see Horatio.
“If a human is stupid enough to want to see us again, who am I to interpose?” Horatio snorted. “How disgusting.”
“Thanks Horatio,” I said. I guess some problems do have simple solutions to them.
“Whatever,” Horatio said. “You need to get back to practicing.”
“Aw, come on,” I complained.
“Shut up,” Horatio stopped me.
Suddenly Michelle handed me something. I blinked and looked at a piece of paper with some numbers written on it. Glancing up, I saw Michelle looking at me.
“It’s my telephone number,” she said. “I’m sure we both have some tales to share.”
“I suppose so,” I smiled.
Michelle bandaged her hand, wiped up the blood on the bench, and walked away. I wouldn’t say she had a look on her face. I wouldn’t say it was happy, but more grotesquely fascinated. It seems that she would once again be able to see the things that I could. What a messed-up ending, I thought to myself.
“Well, are you going to start practicing again?” Horatio gave me look.
“Alright,” I said, and started playing again. I really was awful.
“I told you to keep your wrist straight.”
“I know, I know.
“Apparently not, as you aren’t doing it.”
“’Sigh’, alright, alright.”
“You’re getting better.”
“Thanks, I think.”
“Don’t thank me, keep playing.”