Author's Note: Originally posted on Wattpad. This is sort of an experiment with a different way of writing to my normal one, hence all the parenthesis. I'm still not sure if I'm happy with it.
The secret side of me
I never let you see
I keep it caged
But I can't control it
- Skillet, Monster
It was all that bully's fault. If it wasn't for him, she wouldn't have gone to the library, hidden in the deepest, darkest corner she could find, and cried herself to sleep. If she hadn't cried herself to sleep, she wouldn't have been locked in. If she hadn't been locked in, she would never have found that book. If she hadn't found that book, this would never have happened.
The moonlight shone through the half-closed blinds, falling on shelves of books no one was reading, desks no one was working at, and computers no one was using. Libraries were supposed to be quiet places, but this one was far too quiet. There was no noise at all; not the rustling of papers, not the tap-tap-tap of computer keys, not the low murmurs of people talking as quietly as they could, not even a breath. And yet, there was an air of waiting about the place that it never had during the daytime, as if the bricks it was made of could tell that something unusual was about to happen.
Curled up in a corner, tears drying on her face, was a girl of about fourteen. Her long brown hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail, but her fringe was unkempt, as if she had been running her hands through it. She wore a black and grey school uniform which was smeared with dust and mud and shoes which were scuffed and worn. The knees of her trouser-legs were frayed, her half-unzipped schoolbag was carelessly slung over one shoulder, and on her wrist was a watch with a cracked face.
The church clock at the top of the street chimed eleven and the girl woke with a start.
She gazed at the bookshelves around her in confusion, initially unable to remember where she was.
Oh. The library. Of course.
She got up with a sigh. Then she noticed how silent it was. She froze and stared around again, her blue eyes wide.
"Hello?" she called, her voice eerily loud in the silence. "Is anyone else here? Hello?"
There was no answer.
Panic gripped her and she ran to the door, almost tripping over her own shoelaces in the process. She pushed the door, pulled it, threw herself against it, all to no avail. It wouldn't open.
She sank down on the floor beside it, drew her knees up to her chest, and began to cry again.
Crying was all very well, but it didn't exactly change anything. When she finished crying, she was still locked in the library with no hope of getting out before morning.
"I know what I'll do," she said aloud, finding the sound of her own voice somehow comforting in the stillness. "I'll break a window and get out that way. Then tomorrow I'll come back and explain."
Deep down, she knew it was a terrible idea, and if she broke a window she would have to pay for it and her family scarcely had enough money to feed and clothe themselves, let alone pay for a broken window, but it was all she could think of.
So she set off in search of a book large enough to do the job.
(And with each step she took, something came closer... and closer...)
She found a book that looked large and heavy enough to break it, but it bounced harmlessly off the glass when she threw it. Disappointed, she put it back and looked for another, even heavier one.
(And the something getting even closer now)
In a distant corner of the library, one even deeper and darker than the one she'd fallen asleep in, she found a whole collection of very large, very heavy, and very old books with strange writing on the sides. After a moment's consideration, she chose the one that looked largest. It was so heavy she needed both hands and most of her strength to carry it.
(The moment she touched it, the library's air of waiting increased)
She took it over to the window and prepared to throw it. Then a moonbeam fell on the title and she froze. It had been hard to see its title in the darkness where she'd found it, but she could have sworn it was in a foreign language. Now, it was in English.
Easy Magic Spells, it read.
(The something was almost there)
"What rubbish," she said, feeling slightly uneasy. "Everyone knows there's no such thing as magic."
(What if there is? something whispered)
(But even if she'd walked away, she could never have avoided what was about to happen, what was inevitably going to happen)
"I wonder what sort of 'easy magic spells' they put in this," she said at last.
She opened the book.
Spell to remove warts was the first thing she saw. She turned the page. Spell to get rid of pests. Spell to ensure bountiful harvests. Spell to find water. Spell to be given what you want most.
The last one caught her attention.
"Spell to be given what you want most..." she repeated softly.
She shook her head and continued turning the pages, but she couldn't concentrate on what she was reading. That spell kept haunting her thoughts.
"This is ridiculous," she said at last, closing the book with a *snap*. "It's only a stupid book."
(Then it won't do any harm to have a look)
She re-opened the book. She read the description of the spell. You had to say some words, then say what it was you wanted.
She recited the words of the spell.
"I'd like a friend... please," she said nervously. "The sort of friend who knows everything about you and who you never have any secrets from and who you can talk to at any time."
"It's all nonsense," she said, feeling almost disappointed. "I knew it was."
She put the book back where she found it. Then she found a settee and curled up on it, falling asleep quickly.
(And something opened its eyes for the first time)
The girl woke to the sound of cars rushing past the window. She opened her eyes and looked at the clock. It was twenty past five, and the sun hadn't risen yet, but people were starting to go about their business.
"This is a pretty boring place," a voice said conversationally.
She froze. That was her voice. But she hadn't spoken.
Slowly, she turned to see... herself, or someone who looked just like her. Unlike her, though, this person was dressed in a blue jumper and black jeans, both obviously expensive. With a sinking feeling, she recognised those clothes as ones she had admired in a shop window on her way to school yesterday.
"W-who are you?"
The person smiled, showing more teeth than the human mouth should be able to hold.
"Don't you know? I'm you. Well, I'm a part of you. I'm your subconsciousness. You wanted a friend who knows everything about you, who knows all your secrets, and who knows more about you than you? And you can talk to me any time you like."
The girl stared, horrified. "I don't... I didn't... This isn't what I meant!"
"You wished for a friend."
"I didn't want it to be granted this way!"
"So you don't want me. Well, newsflash for you, you can't get rid of me. I'm you, idiot!"
"But... I thought it was all nonsense!"
"Then you shouldn't meddle in things you don't understand." It was odd, but her subconsciousness looked and sounded hurt, bitter and angry.
A car horn blared right outside the window and the girl jumped, startled. When she looked back, her subconsciousness was gone.
(But a voice whispered in her ear, "I promise you, I'll make you regret rejecting me")
Years passed and she never saw her again. She almost forgot about her.
(But she could never completely forget her, because when she fell asleep she saw things that definitely weren't dreams but that definitely had never happened to her, things that were awful and terrifying, things that she later heard about on the news, and she heard her whisper, "I told you I'd make you regret it")
Then she got a job as a shop assistant in a department store.
She was hanging clothes up on a rail when it happened.
"Young lady, I wish to speak to the manager," an overweight, important-looking elderly gentleman in expensive clothes said pompously.
"She's not here today. Can I help you with anything?" the girl said, feeling embarrassed without quite knowing why.
(Except she did know why; it was the same with everyone she spoke to, because she was afraid they might find out about her alter ego)
The elderly gentleman drew himself up to his full height (which wasn't much) and looked even more important. "I wish to complain about the atrocious behaviour of one of the girls at the check-out."
She blinked, surprised. She knew all the girls on duty today, and none of them were likely to behave "atrociously". "What happened?"
"I told her that since I am -" He recited a long list of names and titles in the most important tone possible, "- I should not be required to pay for plastic bags like a common customer. She insisted, so I wish to see the manager and have her reprimanded."
"...Excuse me, sir, but all our customers have to abide by the same rules, no matter who they are."
His face went from white to purple to red in less time than it takes to tell. "What? Why, you little -"
"Is something the matter?"
They both turned and looked at the newcomer, a young man in a suit and carrying a briefcase in one hand and a pork-pie hat in the other, with his dark blonde hair mussed and untidy.
"Yes, there most definitely is," the elderly gentleman said furiously. "Everyone in this shop appears to have no respect for my station in life!"
The young man raised an eyebrow sardonically. "Oh, is that all."
"Is that all? Is that all? Isn't it more than enough?"
"Repeating that sentence with different emphasis won't change anything. You're causing a scene for no reason, sir, so I would advise you leave before I call my father."
"And who might your father be, sir?"
"The chief of police, and he can have you up for a breach of the peace."
Strange to relate, the elderly gentleman left without a murmur.
(That night, she had another horrible dream, and in the news the next day the elderly gentleman was reported dead)
The young man turned to her with a sheepish smile. "I'm sorry for interfering, but when I heard what he was bothering you about - Well, people like that make me absolutely mad."
"Is your father really the chief of police?" she asked curiously.
"No, I made that up off the top of my head. I'm a clerk at a solicitor's office."
"You are? I mean, you made that up?"
"Yes, and I wish I hadn't now. I don't know what I was thinking." He shifted awkwardly.
They stared at each other in silence, then they both burst out laughing.
That evening, he bought her a cup of coffee. And the next night. And soon, they were going out for meals.
(And something was always watching, always waiting)
Finally, he proposed to her, and she accepted.
(And the something was getting closer)
The date of the wedding was set. The dress was chosen. The honeymoon was planned.
(But things were about to go horribly wrong)
The groom-to-be was at his office, finishing the paperwork for the day. The bride-to-be had just gotten off her shift and was on her way to meet him.
(And the something was almost there)
He sat at the wooden desk in the stiflingly hot room, surrounded by filing cabinets and bookshelves, with the dust-covered window, opened to its full width of two centimetres, behind him and the heavy oak door, which adamantly refused to be wedged open at all, in front of him, supporting his head with one hand and filling in a document with the other. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, his tie and collar undone, and his jacket hung over the back of the chair.
Slowly, noiselessly, someone crept up the rickety wooden stairs, stood outside the door and knocked.
(His fiancée was rounding the corner below)
"Come in," he called, glad to have an excuse to stop work for a moment.
The door creaked open and his fiancée slipped in. She held her finger to her lips.
"Shush," she whispered.
(His fiancée opened the main door)
"What's all this in aid of? Why -" he began in a low voice.
He never finished.
(His fiancée was on her way up the stairs)
She pushed the door to his office open. Someone grabbed her, holding her arms behind her back with one hand while covering her mouth with the other. She was dragged, kicking and struggling, further into the room. Then she saw her fiancé.
He was lying on the floor, a purple bruise forming on his forehead and a nasty cut on the side of his face.
She couldn't scream because of the hand over her mouth. So she bit the hand, as hard as she could. Oddly enough, her own hand hurt when she did.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," a voice said. It was her voice, but she hadn't spoken. "Oh, wait, I am you. Well, anyway, if you scream, if you make any sound at all, I'll kill you. And yes, that would kill me too, but don't think I won't do that without a moment's hesitation."
The hands let go of her and she whirled round to face her subconsciousness.
"Why are you doing this?" she hissed, her eyes blazing.
"Because you rejected me."
"That can't explain it all!"
"Yes, it does. Don't you understand, you little idiot? I'm you, but I'm your subconsciousness. That means I'm everything you won't let yourself be. When you and I are in the same mind, like we should be, we're just one normal person. Without you, I have no one to hold me back, so I can do all the things that you are capable of but would never, ever do yourself."
Her subconsciousness began pacing back and forth like a caged tiger or some other dangerous wild animal.
"You did two things wrong. You mispronounced the words of that spell, and you asked for the wrong thing. You can't magically create friends. If you'd said it right, you'd have created a shadow, a doll, that would be whatever you wanted it to be but wouldn't be a real person. Instead, you split yourself into two people, and this is the result."
She looked at her fiancé. "Why did you kill him?"
"Kill him? Don't be ridiculous. I might be the darker side of you, but I'm still you, and since I'm you I still love him. I just knocked him out."
She looked back at her subconsciousness, who returned her gaze silently and defiantly. It was like looking in a mirror and seeing yourself, but with something different, something wrong, in the reflection.
"What do you want from me?"
"I've wandered all over the world in the last ten years, but you probably know that. I've done all sorts of things, good and bad. But I'm not a real person, I'm just part of one. In a way, I'm a shadow. And so are you. Don't tell me you haven't noticed something different since I've been gone."
(She had. But she had ignored it)
"Get to the point," she said.
"I hunted up all the old magic books I can find, and I've finally found a way for us to go back to being what we were before; one person, with you in control and me in the background. The last thing I needed for it was the blood of a loved one, hence our boyfriend's... injury. But the spell's ready now, so all you have to do is take my hand."
Her subconsciousness held out her hand and raised an eyebrow. "Or do you want to go on like this, with you only half a person and me free to roam all over the world, doing whatever I want?"
On one hand, she didn't want to accept that thing as part of her. On the other, letting it run wild was a recipe for disaster. And she'd like to forget this whole thing ever happened, but how could she when her subconsciousness was committing murder and doing god knows what else?
She took the outstretched hand.
Her fiancé opened his eyes to find her standing over him.
"Are you all right?" she asked.
"Yes, but... You hit me!"
She half-smiled. "There's something I have to tell you..."