By Mark Slade
A tormented man battles with the haunting thoughts that have plagued his mind for years. As he struggles to escape the relentless cycle of negative thoughts and desires, an eerie force takes hold, blurring the line between reality and nightmare.
Malum minuitur, cum praevidetur.
You lie awake thinking these thoughts. You can’t sleep. You can’t shut your mind off. These thoughts, like other thoughts, keep coming back to you.
The children played in the front lawn, chasing each other with Nerf water pistols, screaming, squealing, long streaks of white water emitting from the foam barrels. The honey brown haired woman in the straw hat, oversized sunglasses and flower patterned sundress, tended to her rose bush. A tall, very skinny man in khaki shorts and dirty white t-shirt, kept taking out cardboard boxes and haphazardly dropping them on a yellow streaked lawn.
Those thoughts keep intertwining, or trying to replace other thoughts. They will not leave you. No matter how hard you try to purge them from your tired brain.
Okay, you tell yourself. Think of this:
Pay the electric bill. Pay the internet. Pay the cable bill. Pay the debt creditors for the credit card you barely used. A hacker had too much fun with it, though no one could find evidence a hacker used the card, nor existed. Pay the alimony. Don’t be late again. Pay the child support. Don’t be late again. Pay the rent, even though roaches are your roommates and water damage is on the ceiling in the bathroom. Don’t be late again.
Work. Pressure from the job, or jobs as it may be. Worrying about who, what, and where. Will you be done by the time your shift is over with. Why are you working so much, why this job, or jobs.
You think about that post on social media. Why on earth would someone post a video of a cat taking a dump in a candy jar full of snicker bars? Why would anyone make a video like that? Why would anyone comment on every post or like every post everyone has posted on that site?
Why does it rain on one side of the cornfield, switch sides, and the first side only has a rainbow? Why are people so mean to each other? Why are you so mean to people, especially to that old lady who always seems to be shopping at the store you shop at when you are there? Why are the same commercials about a hotel played three times in a row on every program you tube into? And why, on God’s green earth, does that one annoying song stick in your mind and you can barely remember the lyrics or middle part of your favorite song?
Malum minuitur, cum praevidetur.
But I have to tell you something. All of that is just semantics. Twaddle. Doesn’t mean a fucking thing to me. I get off on the bad thoughts you have. The worries tickle me and I giggle, yes. What really gets me excited are the thoughts of dread or harm you wish on others. The times you drive by their houses, slow down, and watch as the wife works on her garden of roses, the husband cleaning out the garage, and boy and girl chasing each other with water guns
You lay in your bed, wide eyed, dark circles under your eyes and contemplate how you would run your knife along the woman’s white swan-like neck, down to the curves of her breasts, the point sliding across her stomach, making a beeline for her………
Malum minuitur, cum praevidetur.
Ohhhh how wicked you are.
You drool over the possibilities. You lust after the image of the rooms covered in blood. You hear their screams and pleading, and you feel yourself get excited. Your heart skips a beat.
Ohhhhh yes you do.
Anger toward your childhood, perhaps? Anger, you never experienced the true, or traditional family values? Instead you lived a transient and chaotic life with your mother and three brothers. You had a revolving door of stepfathers, abusive boyfriends, until your mother could no longer attract a man, good or bad men. She finally drank herself to death by the time you were eighteen. Oh, how you hated your mother, your abusive brothers.
You left home the day of the funeral, changed your name, and made your brothers bad memories. You became a mechanic, owned a garage for a few years, fell in love, and had two children. You were happy until your wife revealed she no longer wanted you and she had met someone else. You hate her. You hate your offspring, a girl and a boy. The three of them took and took,and continue to take, bleeding you of money, and love.
Yesterday you spoke on the phone call with your estranged wife. You keep playing it over and over in your head.
“The garage was sold to a group of investors from out of state,” she said. ” They plan on turning it into a drugstore.”
“So,” you said. ” I don’t care.”
“I just thought you’d like to know,” she said.
“Turning the screws, eh?”
” No. I’m not…I’m trying to…..John said I should be more open to have you in our live—”
“Yes,” she said with a deep sigh.
“I don’t care,” you said.
“Okay,” she said, “The kids miss you.”
“Yeah. Do you miss them?”
You don’t answer right away. You give a wooden performance when you do. A very hollow bland voice.
“I miss them. Yes Do you miss me?”
“I have to go,” she said and rang off abruptly.
You still get angry at that.
She isn’t perfect. That life was not—–
Put it out of your mind, you tell yourself. Think of…….
The Cartuck family……they are perfect in every way.
Malum minuitur, cum praevidetur.
You sought it your entire life. Why were you denied? So many times it was just out of reach, right at the grasp of your fingers.
I personally do not care why you wish death upon this particular family. I just want what you can take from them. I get off on the vibrations your body puts out when you feel…..release.
“No!” You scream, arms flailing, hands slapping at the air. “Get off me!”
You try your best to topple me from your chest. Your breathing becomes labored. You close your eyes, yet you can still see my beautiful, hideous visage that haunts you, keeps you from seeing beauty in others, beauty in everything.
My laugh is like metal scraping concrete. “You cannot vanquish me until you give me what I want. What I need.”
“Please,” you sob. “Get out of my head.”
“I am not just in your head, I am in your flesh,” I laugh. Metal scraping concrete.
You wail and thrash about in your bed. You hear a knock on your door. A voice asks if you are alright. The landlady who rents you this tiny, shabby room.
“I’m alright,” you call out. “Just a nightmare. That’s all.”
You can see her slippers under your door. She hasn’t moved away. Gone back to bed. It feels like centuries before she leaves. The light in the hallway abruptly turns to darkness. The glowing moonbeam returns to your otherwise dark bedroom, as I do, perched upon your chest.
“Okay,” you say. “I’ll bring you what you want. Then will you leave me alone?”
My blackened lips curl up in a ghastly smile.
“Most definitely,” I tell you. “Malum minuitur, cum praevidetur.”
You leave by way of your bedroom window. You basque in the bright moonlight. You walk the neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning, bare feet on concrete. You keep the .38 tucked into your pajamas. You walk a block to the end of the neighborhood and see the Cartuck house. You already know the lock on the basement door is broken. You slip into that perfect family’s home.
In less than an hour, the walls of that perfect house are covered in blood.
Their screams thrill you, fill you full of….delight.
You don’t leave the home. You stay. You cook yourself breakfast, make coffee. Enough for an army, or rather, a police force. They arrive hours later, and you offer them breakfast. Still covered in the Cartuck’s blood, you sit calmly at the dining room table, eating, drinking, smiling, thinking happy thoughts. The officers decline your offer.
You are happy. You have rid yourself of me, those dark thoughts. You are overjoyed. You see beauty in everything, even in your heinous act of murder.
You are happy.
You confess to everything. You tell your life story. You tell them about stalking the family. You tell them how you first shot the children in their sleep. How the parents came running and how they screamed and cried. You shot the husband point blank in the face. You tell the officers that you could not contain Your laughter when you see him fall sideways. You explain to them that you were not insane as the wife thought he was, that was involuntary laughter. That’s all.
You get a little excited when you tell them how you made her undress. And how you took the butcher knife you had taken from the kitchen and you ran the blade slowly down her perfect beautiful body……..
” Ah well,” you said, and signed. “You saw what I did to her. I…..kinda regret it…..but…..”
“Why did you do it?” You hear one of the officer’s say.
“I thought they were perfect. You see, I would have let them live. I swear to God I would have. I would have just occasionally drove by and watched…..them…..then I saw those marks on their faces. The kids had dark pigment marks on their foreheads. The husband….well… he had a burn mark on the left side of his face and……his nose was all….twisted……nostrils fucked up.
“The wife, oh she was beautiful…. very beautiful, until one evening, a wind blew her dress up over her hips and I saw the dark brown burn patterns on her legs. I felt sick. I vomited immediately.” You shake your head.” That’s when this thing, this…..I don’t know what it was…..this creature began to talk to me. But I’m free!”
They glare at you as you howl with laughter.
You tell them about the dark thoughts and how they had driven you to do this, because you could never, ever, achieve perfection anywhere in your dreary awful life.
Now that it’s all over with, you’ve done the deed, the dark thoughts are gone, and I am vanquished.I no longer walk the shadows of your dreams, your nightmares.
The officers cuff you, and one of them places you in the backseat of the cruiser. Your wife wakes you. You stare at her blinking rapidly. She says, “You were having an awful dream.”
You don’t know what to say except, ” Oh, yeah, the worst.”
She removed her nightgown, and upon her naked body you see the dark brown burn patterns on her legs. You strangle a cry of fear as you quickly rise from the bed and catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. You see burn mark on the left side of your face and that twisted twisted nose and fucked up nostrils.Your wife smiles at you, says, “Malum minuitur, cum praevidetur.”