When the first rays of sun crawl across one's eyes, for most, the first thing one thinks is usually not The Plan. The Plan of every word one would say that day, every action they would take, and how best to manipulate others into believing that the wool pulled over their eyes was normal. It's not much of a constant, but what else is there for Us? We, who live every day outside of normal life, are not human…but just to exist, We must pretend We are.
The day would begin as it had every time before. Wake up; get dressed in plain-color, indistinct clothes—a black t-shirt and matching pants this time; eat breakfast; brush teeth; fix fair; and head for school. A simple enough morning ritual, easily accomplished in the half-hour window I have.
As a male high school senior, I'm assumed to be loud, obnoxious, and possibly obsessed with attracting the attention of any reasonably attractive female. While I take great care to blend in, I find this generalization to be quite bothersome, and the exact opposite of what I want. I want to be the one that no one ever notices, and to facilitate that, I'm quiet, helpful, resourceful, and a bit of a wallflower. Why do I do this, you ask?
All of Us go through a period of realization, where the Truth calls out to Us, telling Us what We already know: that We're outside of it all: outside of the normal, idyllic life that all humans have, off the paved and periodically pot-holed road that they walk. We have our own demented dirt road to death, whether we like it or not. Murderers, rapists, thieves, and crazies of all kinds line up single-file down this path, and I'm with them—I just haven't yet found my calling.
I'm not like others, human or otherwise: I don't think like others, and I definitely don't feel like others do—I don't feel at all, actually. An esprit and very empty effigy is what I am, masquerading as a meticulously model man. Is it that hard to believe? All people fake some facet of their persona; I just fake all of it. But unlike the famous ones, so sloppy in their charade, the careful crafting of my perfectly human persona is my haecceity, my only unique feature.
"G'morning." I said, passing by a couple classmates as I entered the theatre. Acting is my favourite subject, simply because it's where I'm closest to the other, actually human classmates. Here, we all pretend to be someone we aren't. It helps that I enjoy acting, and am obviously quite good at it. I haven't been burned at the stake yet, after all!
"Good morning!" A raven-haired girl called, pulling me into a hug. I try to hug back, but I'm no good at physical contact with others, and feel a bit awkward. I get plenty of practice at the art of hugging with this girl, but it's a lost cause: I'll never be good at hugging.
"How are you, today, Megan?" I ask, mildly relieved and mildly disappointed that the raven-haired girl let go of me. "Have a good weekend?"
"It was alright. Didn't do much, but I'm refreshed and ready to go."
"Glad to hear it." I replied, giving her my best fake smile. Someone beckoned Megan over, so she smiled, turned, and hopped away.
Living outside of normal life, I easily see the darkness that characterizes human beings. They lie, cheat, and steal their way through life, crushing anything in their way. I suppose that I'm better off not being like them in that regard. What separates humans from Us, though, is that there are people like Megan, who are genuinely good people. She's kind, caring, and most surprisingly, will honestly feel bad for hurting others. If I could have feelings for others, I'd have them for Megan; but since I don't, I'll merely supply shadowy support to her, and any like her. The good ones deserve it.
I stood in the theatre entrance for a moment, watching Megan conversing with another classmate, then went to find a seat before class started. Luckily for me, today was declared to be a practice day, so I had free-reign over what to do for an hour. Having already prepared for the upcoming presentation, I took a shadowy spot behind the curtains and observed everyone else.
The majority of the class sat in scattered groups, chatting away the class. As one might think, the majority of the people taking this course took it because it seemed like an easy "A". Keeping some very mean comments about people's work ethics to myself, I turned my attention elsewhere. My gaze caught Megan once again, only this time she didn't seem to be enjoying herself as much as before. She was in the backroom, with the door barely open enough for me to see her.
"Stay away from me, creep!" She hissed, thrusting her middle finger into the face of a disrespectful teenager—Mark, if I remember right. "Nice work dumping Haley for some big-boobed blonde! You are the worst kind of person I've ever met!" Good on you, Megan. I thought, almost proud of her. Mark's eyes narrowed and his hand lashed out, striking Megan hard across the face. The sound echoed loudly, but somehow only I heard it.
It took all of my control not to leap from the shadows and break the bastard's neck then and there, but I managed. Megan ran out of the backroom crying, and Mark paraded not soon after, looking unbelievably smug. I closed my eyes, letting the darkness shroud me. I gave myself to the icy-cool shade, feeling its grasp tingle down my spine. Soon. The shadow whispered to me, telling me what I already knew. Mark should be punished and luckily for us, we both had a free block next. Our playdate was only a matter of minutes away.
I stalked over to Megan, who had curled up at the far corner of the theatre. I said nothing, taking the seat beside her. I remained silent even when she leaned over, hugging me for support. As brazen as she is, and as tough a front as she can put up, Megan is quite sensitive, but I'm unfortunately very lacking in my comforting skills. She didn't seem to mind, however, and we stayed like that until the bell.
To my knowledge, Megan never underwent a trauma that can turn a good human being into one of Us, even though she exhibits a lot of the same characteristics as I. It's something I'm very glad for. While having emotions and being as emotional as Megan can be trying, the way We live is hard, and the realization that you are now on Our path is worse…as I know all too well.
For me, it was when I was no older than nine years-old. It was a most unbearable pain, watching others play, finally realizing that I could never be like them. They interacted with others so naturally, with so much ease, and with so much raw emotion. The laughter, friendship, and belonging were not to be mine, and knowing it hurt oh so much. Worse yet, was the accompanying thought that because I was without these things, I had to learn to fake it. I would have to learn to become a chameleon and forever conceal the eternally empty shade inside, or die a thousand deaths.
With class over, I walked Megan to her next destination and began my search for Mark. I knew where he would be. I knew a lot about him, actually. He's one of the ones I keep an eye on. He consistently impressed other lowlifes, but he lacks Our darkness, and therefore couldn't hold a candle to my power.
I found the scum roaming one of the back hallways, about to leave the school and head out to the nearby forest. I knew what he was going to do there, but sadly for him, getting high would have to wait until we had some quality time. I followed from twenty feet away, silent as only one of Us can be. He exited, entering one of the back lots of the school. The architecture was such that there would be no witnesses here, and I was most grateful to the designer. The area was a sort of storage area for the wood and metal shops, and was built like a warehouse: a high roof, plenty of room, lots of cover, and best of all, soundproofed.
I said nothing at first. The loop of fishing wire I keep handy came across his neck, and he was pulled onto his back before his mind could process what happened. He struggled and I pulled on the noose just enough to show him who was boss.
"Hello, Mark. I'm sure you know me." I said, my shadow's icy intonation leaking into my words. We were in control now, and we would prove it. We mounted him, leaning forward so that I could smell his tobacco-breath. I stared into his eyes, allowing him to do that same with my cheerfully empty orbs.
"What the ****?!" He yelled. "The ****'re you doing?!" I do hate cursing ever so much, and I punished him by hammering his head into the concrete.
"I'm only here to repay a favour to you." I returned the fishing wire to my back pocket, and stood up. Mark was quick, I'll give him that, but his attempt to get to his feet was oh so futile. I brought my foot down on his head, grabbed him by the collar and threw the boy against the wall.
"Do you know what rule number one in the code of survival is?" I asked, slamming a heel into Mark's gut. "No? Well, it's not important right now." I raised my foot in a smooth circle, dropping it down full force into the back of his ribcage. "But keep this in mind: rule number one in my code is 'respect women.'"
I spent the next couple short but blissful minutes "repaying the favour", silent as a ghost. I made sure to be tactful with my blows, so they wouldn't show: a few shots to the liver, hoping to hit the Vegas nerve; one or two punches to the kidneys; and a single good blow to the solar plexus. The couple bouts of head trauma I made earlier would leave a painful, visible reminder, but hey—these things happen all the time to ruffians like Mark.
"Remember our chat, the next time you think you're breaking one of my rules." My task finished, too soon in my opinion, I stalked away to the cafeteria for a mid-morning snack. I'm traditionally quite hungry after a little mano-a-mano fun. I wasn't worried about whether Mark would take revenge, nor was I concerned that he might do the civil thing and go to the proper authorities for this heinous assaulting. After all, rule number one in the code of survival is "Don't screw with those stronger than you"; and I was confident that we both knew which of us was stronger.
As I walked to the cafeteria I could feel my black wings fold away, and I was no longer Malicious Maleficent Me. Tucked away neatly into my human shell, I was simply Masked and Machinating Me, perfectly innocent to the naked eye. I stopped in the public bathroom, checking myself in the mirror. I was presentable, I'm happy to say, save the tiny rivulets of blood on the back of my hand. I must've had too much fun. I thought contentedly, washing the lovely liquid off.
I should note here, that Mark wasn't the first playmate of mine, I'm much too skilled for this to be the case. No, I've been doing this for a few years now—protecting the good people of my school. It's a small service, but I do try, not that anyone ever knows it's me. I'm skilled at my hobbies, what can I say? My "friends" are all too traumatized to say who bopped Billy in the head a couple times…or twenty. They typically don't know me well, and I take precautions to not be memorable during the fun. I make sure to send them a card when they're in the hospital, too. I'm not all bad! Now and then, though, there is an exception, as Mark found out, and it gets a little personal. Don't get me wrong, however—I do have a bit of sympathy for them. It's not their fault that they're out of control and need to learn the rules of conduct; not everyone can be as good and well-kept as I.
Should you have been wondering, yes, We do have a name for Our kind. With all that We are and all that We are not, how could We not have one? Never will We say it, though. Sometimes it's because We are actually afraid of the word. Some already accept it, like me, but rare is the one who can. Saying the word makes it oh so real and unbearable, though. A good human comparison that I've noticed is saying "I love you" for the first time. While I don't feel the emotion, I certainly understand it and its repercussions, and it's much like admitting what We are.
But I'm not quite like the rest of Us. They're messy, angry, and selfish creatures. I'm neat, tranquil and look out for the good people of my community. It's no problem for me to state what We are. The Word used to chill my unbeating heart, but now…it's not much more to me than my name.
A teacher rushed past me, pulling the beaten Mark alongside him. The teacher was in too much of a hurry to notice, but Mark saw quite clearly. I gave him a wink, hiding daggers in my knowing smile. Try it again and I'll tear you apart, bit by agonizing bit.
My name is Felix Garcia, Master of Shade, and herald of all that is Dark and Devilish. I know what I am, and I know what I do. And I accept it. I'm a monster, plain and simple.