We all laughed - as red turned to black

The room is cold and bare, harshly echoing even the smallest of my thoughts. Voices in my head laugh without humour, and strengthen my resolve to do what I know I must. I close my eyes and wish them silent, but they ignore me. In my left hand I hold a kitchen knife. I am ready to fill this cold, bare room with memories it will wish it never had.

I walk to the solitary window at the far side of the room. Heavy footsteps echo into heavier footsteps, and it's strange how long the three metres seem to be. I trip just an inch from the window, and when I catch myself, I see dust. Risen from the floor, flying through the dry air. Given attention from the little sunlight that furtively streams through that little window.

In my mind's eye I see the world as I have so desperately wished, and never stopped wishing, it would be. The voices in my head laugh at my foolish hopes, scornfully echoing stories and wishes never told. A cynical laugh tears through the silence in the four white walls. I spin around, a dog trying to catch its own tail, only to realise that I am alone, aside from the crowd in my head. I look out the window and see a street I had never seen before and soon would never see again. Perfect. Cold, empty, deserted.

Just like me.

In a line they stand side by side. I hear their bitter insults. They call me freak. They call me mental. They call me so many things. Slowly they fade away. My mother stands, stark against midnight black, exactly the way I saw her last. Dried tears leaving marks down her face, a cracking voice telling me not to give up. Never to give up. Not to stop fighting the madness in my head.

I hear her call my name. "Victor…" "victor…" "victor…" The word echoes in my head. The voices, those cursed voices, taunting me for being so unlike my heroic name. I fall to my knees, clutching my head, reeling with a pain no person, possession, or God, could ever heal.

As the upset dust floats around my head, I feel the cold, flat steel of the blade pressing into my face. I remember my purpose through the sharp feel of pain. Hot tears splash over the grey, concrete, dusty floor. In slow motion I watch as each tear falls and splashes off the ground, till more emotion blurs my vision.

Like a wounded animal in utter despair, I curl into a foetal position against the walls, and the cold seeps into me from the bare concrete. I shudder, hands still held tight against my head. The blade slips, and cuts my face. The voices scream from maniacal delight in pain. I ignore them, watching as each drop of my life falls to the ground, physical pain forgotten in the ghosts of the past.

I raise my head. The cold room dissolves into a long forgotten bedroom of green, brown, and black. A child I recognise as me "long lost", jumps on a bed in delight, gurgling happily and curiously at the noises I know he hears in his head.

My tears come unbidden, salty water stinging the cut on my face. The sharp pain is nothing in compare to the dull ache I feel in my heart. The sick despair rises steadily from its chained corner of my mind, and runs loose.

With silent screams I entreat the child not to feed the voices in his head with his attention, and maybe, just maybe, they would go away. But what can one do to change the past?

The voices find comedy in my helplessness.

I squeeze my eyes shut and internally scream to block out their laughter. My throat stings raw, and I realise that my scream had not just been internal. The voices drown me out with little effort. Sobs rack my body with painful convulsions, but the pain inside, all the pain and desperation, grips my heart.

I open my eyes when pain melts into numbness. Through my tears the world is hazy. Blinking away the tears, I watch the metamorphosis of the room, into a bedroom I recognise better. Closing my eyes I can almost feel the comfort of a warm bed. I can almost hear the echoes of music I played, the echoes of sadness, scolding, sobbing… the echoes of the cynical, painful half truths the voices forced me to listen to.

I open my eyes. I see myself, a young teenager, standing in front of a mirror. Gaunt, tired, crying. I know why.

I feel the urge to wrap my arms around him, and drive the pain of betrayal away. I watch as the reflection hardens, and then snarls. I scream for him to control himself, to ignore the voices in his head.

I watch as the mirror breaks into a thousand glittering fragments, some stained red from blood. I watch as the boy laughs maniacally at his shattered reflection, scorning its seven years bad luck.

The voices rise in a crescendo. The knife I hold hungers for blood. I hunger from release of the torment this world has for me.

The knife clatters to the floor as I kneel down, keening with struggle. I fight to retain my dignity. I fight to retain my courage against the voices in my head.

One voice says lazily that I can never hope to win a battle against myself.

I breathe deeply in an attempt to be calm. The salty metallic tang of blood stains the otherwise dry air. Splashes of red that mar the grey concrete play before my eyes. I am desperate to let this torture end.

But I can't bear to give up.

I pick up the blade, black handle, cold silver steel. I look at my reflection in its flat edge, and see myself in red.

My vision blurs to allow my subconscious to paint its picture. I see a young man. Racked by madness, held prisoner by ghosts of his past. He sits in a cold and bare room, sobbing with pain and despair, fighting a battle he cannot win.

My vision returns as I stare again at the polished steel. Seeing the exact same young man, in the red of spilled blood.

I rise clumsily to my feet. Sunlight stares pointedly at the naked knife I hold in my hand. I do not fear the pain. No pain can be worse than the pain of despair. I have lost my hope in the life I wanted to live.

I look out the window for my last goodbye. I notice the still beauty of autumn in New York, painted in the colours of fading sunlight. Yellow leaves turn to gold, fly and fall when the wind goes past. I look wistfully at the street I had never seen before, and would never see again.

The voices in my head laugh, cold and menacing. Slowly, I hear myself laugh, too. In that single moment I feel the most sane I ever have. I close my eyes and bid farewell to bittersweet memories, bid farewell to the people who have hurt me, bid farewell to the people who have loved me.

My voice joins as one with the voices in my head. In utter relief of the escape I was soon to have. We all laughed, and then, we all screamed, as red turned to black.

But I am free.