A Beast…a Short Story
Another story in the Nasty Little Things Collection.
Two men in their early twenties on the platform. They radiate innocence and goodness, their faces suffused with benevolence, wanting to please each other into mutually dependent trust. Pure envy grinds its way into my day, this day which has been such a cruel and contemptuous rejection of me from the moment the tap attacked my forehead as I shaved, to the slap across my face from the bathroom cupboard door, to the disappearance of the sunglasses…to the iPhone which seemed stuck on repeat, so that the album I want to listen to is barred to me, apart from track one.
The train arrives. And diagonally across this carriage from me the two of them, impervious in their bubble of mutual joy, continue to celebrate their bromance.
My envy turns to hatred. Oh here it comes again! They will have to die. I have so much nenergy today, it has to go somewhere. It’s now impossible to contain, so I let it free, I let it sink into their bodies through their nerve ends, I watch as slowly their sweet smiles begin to strain as pain begins its gentle intrusion, as death starts to chew inward from their extremities into their vital organs. They will be dead within an hour.
Too much! The nenergy rebounds and hits me now, blood almost spraying from my nose. Just like that! A gush of blood, now all over my fingers. I have no tissues. Everybody in this carriage is staring at me in horror. The person opposite just got up and legged it to the farthest seat she can find.
The next station is Knightsbridge.
Feeling woozy, utterly self conscious and desperate I propel myself out of the station spraying blood like a miasma, up the stairs, find the toilet in the lower ground of Harvey Nichols and blessing free access to department store loos I wash the blood away from hands, face and clothes wherever I can and sitting on the closed toilet, pinch my nose until somehow I feel in control again. Eventually recomposed I return to the station and the Piccadilly line.
Only one seat free and the chap next to me is a space invader, his elbow annexing at least a third of my designated space. Dreadfully uncomfortable!
He will be taken. I know I can take him out right now, but the inconvenience! Of course if I push hard I could reclaim my space without anyone noticing he’s dead. But rather too risky and my nenergy levels are almost drained. So I set his death for two hours. I always set their deaths for when I am nowhere near. It wouldn’t do for a connection to be made.
This is quite a day. Three so far and it’s only midday! If only people realised how much sheer effort it takes to hold it, and then how when I let it out it drains me! For ten years I have paid for this my beast. If you were to see me you would never believe I am only twenty six. I am smaller than I was at sixteen, I swear. I know I am thinner, more lined. Year by year my ageing is accelerating and I just don’t care any more. The nenergy is now so powerful I just have to find outlets for it as often as I can. Or it will eat me alive. So I have concluded if I am going to shrivel away until I die I will take you with me. Yes, you.
I’m so tired. Chap sits next to me on my left. His phone flies out of his hand, somersaults into the air and falls, edge to my ankle before hitting the floor. The pain is sudden and deep. Sorry! He says scrabbling for the mobile. Teeth gritted I manage “alright”.
I consider not just the revenge but the cost. Four! On one journey! This is slaughter. It’s out of control. Every time I murder a stranger I lose something of myself. The energy drain is devastating, it takes days to recover. And already I have destroyed three today. I will pay for this. I have never allowed so many in one day. Dare I let it go? The anger burns. The hatred rises. It’s his casual response to having inflicted pain that has brought this on him.
* * * * * *
I remember my first victim so well. They say you always remember your first time and since I’ve never had proper sex, my first murder took my virginity.
He was my PE teacher in school. I was 16, already feeling the yawning gap between me and my classmates which was to become this unbridgeable chasm between me and humans.
He was new to the school. He was like one of those balloon animals you get at kiddie parties, all strangulated air and pomposity, ridiculous as a blown up giraffe, and with a matching inflated ego. And he thought he had a right to torment me, the weediest, least confident, most unathletic kid in school. It was pure bullying. And from the first lesson with him I knew hatred, experienced the rise of what I came to call “Nenergy”, that negative energy which has been grown, honed, perfected, manufactured out of hatred itself, my weapon, my perfect murderer, my defence and my revenge. My ally and my enemy.
Day after day it grew until that night when I gathered up my hatred, focused it, pointed it like a missile at his heart, and let it go.
He died that night.
When the headmaster made the announcement at assembly I remember how it felt – that complete slap across my life like a tsunami of hot emotion, of the fear of discovery, of guilt – I knew without any trace of doubt that this death was directly attributable to me. I had felt him die that night. As I penetrated deep into his soul and body with my purest hatred I had experienced a jolt, like electricity as his heart exploded and yet I didn’t know that it would really, really, actually. Kill.
Guilt! Fear! Two twinned concatenations I was to feel every time, but less and less as time went on.
So I knew then I had the Power. A growing certainty as I tested it out, first on my best friend’s mother – out of kindness, actually. She had cancer. She was in pain. I made it go away. I killed her.
Next fell my parents.
I had never liked them. My status as only child had given me the role, in their eyes, of mere witness to their magnificence. An obstacle, an obstruction, an ornament to be paraded before visitors as evidence of my parents’ greatness and perfection. Mother sang opera – a diva by profession and equally a diva at home. She didn’t inhabit a room, she filled it. Physically bovine, psychologically passionate and as self-obsessed as would be the only remaining earthling at the end of the world.
Father was created specifically to serve her. He adored her passionately, unquestioningly and pathetically. A clarinettist in the Philharmonic, she regarded him as a pariah and a parasite to be treated with the disdain she would reserve for a toothpick.
My cliché parents.
So the Diva and the toothpick set out in his Audi for a concert in Manchester and never returned. Well, they had infuriated me. I did not want to be left with her brother Adam again….his hands all over me. His foul breath. I hated him so much, but not as much as I hated the parents every time they left me with him. I think that evening generated so much nenergy it lasted for years.
It took me a few months to destroy Adam, months during which he fought Nanna for custody of me. So I told the Social Worker he made me do oral sex on him. He didn’t, but it worked. Frankly I will never know whether his death was a result of nenergy or just of me. He hanged himself, so I will never know.
The money from the parents saw me through many years after Nanna died. I liked Nanna. She was the only adult who seemed to believe in me and her death was a horrible experience for me, especially since she had annoyed me that day. I think the nenergy escaped and just attacked her. That happens sometimes. I didn’t mean it to happen…
But from that day I just didn’t care. Anybody who annoyed me would just Get It. No matter the cost to me. I was a slave of my nenergy. With each of its victims it grew stronger and I grew weaker.
A sort of reverse Dorian Gray.
The Beast within.
And now here I am holding on to this growing nenergy burst which wants to leap out to the throat of a man who because of a moment’s carelessness has aroused its interest and its wrath and there is no way I can hold it back….
No! No I will not allow this! You have had your fill today…
My head is bursting and once again I can feel the blood welling up in my nose, pouring out now into the Harvey Nicholls toilet paper I am holding up to my face and my vision blurs so I stand up! Too late for Mr Butterfingers, nenergy suffuses his body I see the first traces of pain disturb his perfect bearded face as he tries to hide it from the woman sitting next to him
The train comes to a halt and I lurch out onto High Holborn, my legs weakening by the minute. My nenergy is turning inward now, melting the cells of my body, chewing into my organs, demolishing my body soul and spirit. This is fine! There is no other way. The parasite must destroy the host if it is to ever get release, for there to be retribution.
I lie down on the sidewalk. I will not get up again. We are going to die here, both of us.
I am being consumed. Schoolchildren being shepherded to the British Museum are hustled away from the drunk. People walk faster as they pass.
Two men approach. “What’s up pal, do you need some help?”
I know these two men.
The two men from the train carriage this morning, weaving their bromance around the body of this dying man.