There was no sound, no feeling, no thought, no existence. The only thing that was, was darkness. And then there was a shadow emerging from the darkness.
How could it exist without light? How could a shadow take form when all that was, was darkness. Yet, a shadow emerged and floated above what should have been me. Then there was sound. A voice. Or a thought? I couldn’t hear the words but I knew it was the shadow that spoke them.
I’m leaving you with a gift.
I’m leaving you with the power to heal.
The power to remove sin. The power to remove pain.
What pain you take from others shall be kept within you. It is a heavy burden.
But now you can heal.
This is your gift.
The shadow evaporated into light. Light shining so bright there was nothing else. No sound, no feeling, no thought, no existence. The only thing that was, was light. Then light turned into form and silence turned into sound. The beeping of a heartrate monitor. The shape of a hospital room.
I opened my eyes and looked around.
I was laying on a hospital bed connected to various monitors and machines to sustain me. Had I been in a coma? How long had I been out for? Then it came back to me.
My drug addiction had driven me to seek out danger and the company of the known psychopath Tony Landino. He had said he wanted to play a game with the police and asked if I wanted to participate as a hostage. He told me how he would put explosives around me and ask the police a riddle and if they answered correctly he would let me go. He had also said that the riddle was so easy there was no way for them to answer it wrong so he didn’t use real explosives. I knew in my heart he was lying but the pain was too strong so I didn’t care. I needed to feel something. I remembered how I was kneeling outside of a bank as he told sergeant North the riddle.
“Two identities trapped in one, one kills the other just for fun. Who is he?”
The answer was staring the police right in the face. Tony Landino, who went insane after his brother Anton killed himself, had half of his face painted blue. Yet sergeant North answered wrong.
“Veggies..” I muttered and then started to cough. My body wasn’t used to speaking. I looked around again. There was no one in the room and the hospital seemed silent. I pressed the button on the bed to alert the staff that I had woken up.
I kept pressing but nothing happened so I decided to take matters into my own hands and unplugged myself from the machines and IV. I found my clothes in a dresser in the room. Big black baggy cargo pants and a white tank top. I frowned but put them on along with my boots.
My body was shaking and weak. How long had I been out for? I managed to walk but I was struggling. I stumbled through the empty corridors and wondered where everyone had gone. The hospital was dark and ominous and looked like something from a horror movie. After walking for a while I finally found my way out and the bright sun was almost blinding. I found some money in my pockets and took a cab home.
I charged my phone and scrolled through twitter. It had been almost 2 months since the incident outside of the bank. Had Tony gotten punished? Was he still alive? Did anyone care that I was out of the hospital? Instead of texting everyone I knew I decided to tweet.
“Good morning LS. Guess who woke up?”
“Good morning @EmelieKarlsson. Had a nice sleep? Let’s talk”.
An instant tweet back? And from no one other than Tony Landino. I guess the psycho is still around I thought. Should I meet him? I wasn’t sure what to feel. Emelie before the coma would have wanted to get revenge. But Emelie after the coma? I remembered the shadow that had spoken to me. Maybe it was meant for me to heal him from his wounds? I should probably forget about it all, right? But I needed some sort of closure. I tweeted back and we decided that he would pick me up at my apartment.
One hour later I stood smoking outside of my home. It was a big building overlooking the beach and pier on one end and facing the big city on the other. I watched as the very old and classic blue Packard drove up to me, the horn sounding like a clown honk. I could see Tony’s wicked face staring at me from inside the car. I threw away my cigarette and got into the front seat. He didn’t say anything as he drove away and headed for the hills overlooking the city. I didn’t know what to say either so I just looked at him, trying to figure out what he was planning. Was I driving to my death? Had I woken up from a coma only to die the same day?
We approached the outskirts of the hills and Tony drove up to a ledge and finally stopped the car. He then turned to me and looked at me with dead eyes.
“Get out” he said with a slight Italian accent.
I didn’t dare do anything but what I was ordered and got out of the car and he did the same.
“They’re not real
explosives, they just go beep beep beep” I said to break the silence and tried
to sound like him.
“And the wine you drank did not have blood in it” he answered and grimaced into what I assume was meant to be a smile.
I shivered. Blood? I had forgotten about the wine he gave me that day.
“So what do you want?”
“I want to die” he answered.
There was no lie in his words. I saw it in his eyes. They lit up slightly as he said it and even though I knew what he had done to me I felt something for him there. Sympathy?
“You want me to shoot you here or what?” I answered as I wasn’t a stranger to guns, shooting or killing. Before my coma I had been a part of a gang and we had been in several wars with others. It was one of the things that had driven me to abusing drugs and alcohol. I shivered and pushed the memories aside.
“I won’t go out in a
pathetic way like that. I want to play a final game with the police and then I
want you to detonate me. It only seems fair right?” he snickered.
“What exactly do you want me to do?”
“I am going to walk into the PD with explosives sticking to me. I’ll give the police a riddle but no matter what they will answer the outcome will be the same. When you see them approach me you will push the button and I will blow up together with them.”
I looked at him as the setting suns final rays hit his face. There was a sadness there I hadn’t noticed before. Could I do this? Grant him his final wish when he had tried to harm me? Then again it would give me the revenge my past self longed for.
“An eye for an eye”.
“Alright I’ll do it. When do you want it to happen?”
“Well we need to plan it and get access to the explosives. Within two weeks.”
“Can I ask you why? Why do you want to die?”
He turned away from me and looked out over the city.
“Remember before The Incident when you and me met for those therapy sessions?”
I thought back. It was true. In an attempt to get closer to this dangerous man I had offered to try and help him. I had been working as a taxi driver and I did something I called “Therapy Taxi” where I picked up people and offered my guidance. At the time I was always looking for danger and adrenaline and he had interested me. We had made a deal that he wouldn’t cut anyone in a full 24 hours and I wouldn’t do any drugs. I had failed and he had become disappointed in me and continued to cut people.
“Yeah, I remember” I
“Well, it didn’t work. My brother killed himself. There’s nothing left for me. I should have known. Did I push him to the edge of the cliff? Could I have helped him? I can’t know so instead I’ll join him”.
“Well I’ll gladly blow you up after what you did to me” I heard the lie escape my mouth but couldn’t stop myself. What was this feeling? Sadness? I barely knew the man and he had shown nothing but disrespect to me. But there was something here, I just couldn’t figure out what.
And then it hit me. Memories came flooding back from a past I had pushed so deep inside me I had almost forgotten it. A splitting headache erupted and I put my hands on my forehead. Flashbacks from my childhood flooded my eyes. A dark smile. Disappointment. Drugs. Scrubbing the bathroom with a toothbrush. The pain. The love. Sweaty men and blood. So much blood. Constant stabbing. Laughter. Tears. My mother turning away. My dads smile. “I’m proud of you”. The warmth in my body. And the voices. His voice in my head.
I opened my eyes and looked at Tony’s face from the ground I had fallen to. He towered over me with an expressionless face.
“Are you ok?” he asked.
I couldn’t answer but managed to sit up, my body shaking. I looked at him again and the similarities were painfully obvious. I felt a need to share what I had experienced, but I didn’t want anyone to know about my past.
He reached out a hand towards me and helped me up on my feet. What’s the harm? I thought. He’ll take my secret to the grave, literally. I looked out over the city and realized how beautiful it looked at dusk.
“I haven’t told anyone this,
but…” I turned and looked at his indifferent face. “My dad…he made me do some
“What kind of horrible?” he answered.
“The kind of horrible you don’t want to talk about”.
“So why are you?”.
“I…there’s something about you. And, you won’t be around for much longer so there’s not that much time of you judging me or pitying me”. He let out what I think was supposed to sound like a laugh.
“You think I am the person who would judge you? Or pity you?”.
“No well, but maybe you’d tell someone? Like that purple haired girl you’re always hanging out with and then she’d talk and other people would pity me, or detest me or even worse: be frightened of me”.
“You don’t have to worry, she’s out of the picture. There’s only me and soon there won’t even be that”. “So what did your father have you do?” he continued.
What was this, interest? Was this mysterious man interested in me? I couldn’t help but feel excited and special.
“Well, my sister had this special bond with my mother that I couldn’t compete with even if I tried.” I said and sat down on the hood of his car. “They were always away on special trips and out shopping or spending time in our other apartment so I was often left alone with my dad. I guess, we had a special bond of our own”. “He was the owner of this very high-end club in the city we lived and when I was very young I learned that he was actually moving large amounts of coke through his business. Since I couldn’t be persecuted he often used me to move some of it for him, mainly to his…male clients”. My voice started to crack as I spoke the last words and I bit down on my lip to stop the tears from boiling over.
“Go on” he said, his
interest clearly peaked.
“Well, some of his clients wanted…special treatment to keep purchasing from him and…he didn’t blink when he sold me off to them.” I stopped and looked out over the city again as the last rays of the sun disappeared behind the skyline. “All I wanted was to make him proud, and he knew it. He kept telling me what a good girl I was and gave me treats and presents to enable this behavior even more.” I smiled. “I still remember the feeling. After a while he didn’t even need to give me anything. The words were enough to put me in a state of euphoria. But at the same time, his disappointment pushed me right over the edge and into despair and madness. I would do anything to avoid hearing those words, anything to make him proud”.
Tony didn’t say anything, he just kept staring at me with his dark eyes. Did I see a glimmer of something there? Was that a malicious smile? As I looked at him I could almost hear my fathers whispers in my ear. I shrugged and wrapped my arms around my body.
“After a while, my father asked for something else. He had a client who hadn’t payed him and he was past his deadline. As any addict he was flaky and avoidant, but he would never say no to a visit from me. This particular client was a very powerful man and like most powerful men he liked to be…treated a certain way in the bedroom. My father scheduled an appointment masked as a way to keep a good tone between him and his client, but really his intentions were far more wicked and disturbed.”
Why was I telling him all this? I thought. The horrors of my past that had plagued me for so long and the voices that had driven me to a different country, all of which I had managed to suppress. Why was I dragging it all out into the surface?
“And what happened next?” I
heard his voice say and I realized I had suddenly gotten quiet.
“I met with the client at his hotel room and as the many times before I acted as his perfect little housewife. We did some coke and I proceeded to tie him up to the bed. My father had provided me with a poison he wanted me to put in the man’s drink. Like always, after he was tied up he asked for a beverage. I went over to the counter and discretely poured it into his glass. Luckily I was often shaking because of the drugs or being nervous and uncomfortable so he didn’t think it was weird that I was shaking that night.”
“I went over to the bed and climbed on top of him like I usually did and then helped him drink his wine.” I looked up at Tony and in the darkness of the night I could only see half of his face. The smile that looked back at me sent chills down my spine. He licked his lips and stepped a little closer. I flinched as his hand gently caressed my face, but strangely the touch also had a soothing effect.
“Don’t be frightened” he said. “And please, Emelie, continue your story”.
I thought back and I could feel it like it was happening all over again. The emptiness I had had for so long evaporated and I was filled with excitement. Watching the man who I had been forced to seduce since I was a teenager, a child even, crumble underneath me sent electric rays of power and control unlike anything I had ever felt before. I smiled.
“There is no feeling like the first time you take someone’s life.” I said and looked into Tony’s eyes. “I was abused for so long with no control of anything in my life, except in that moment. In that moment I was in full control.” I looked at his face for an emotion I could understand, but Tony was a mystery. It looked like he was smiling, but the expression was so vague that in the dark it could have been anything.
“Did it make your father proud?” he whispered. I should have known then and there that he would be the end of me, but the feelings of power and exhilaration from the past clouded everything else. His words spread a familiar warmth all through my body in the chill night.
“It made him so proud that from
there on out I was the one he turned to when he needed someone taken care of.
His clients never figured out that it was me, I was but a young innocent girl”.
“Where is your father now?” he said. A malicious smile of understanding met me as I looked at him.
“My father…” my voice cracked. “One night he told me he was…disappointed and…it felt like knives all over my body. I couldn’t take it!” I started to breathe heavier and heavier but managed to continue. “Since I was a child he had taught me that the only way to please men and to be valuable to them was with…sexual acts. I was high after a long bender and all I wanted was for him to be proud of me. I…” I couldn’t fight the tears anymore and as I spoke they rolled silently over my face. “I undressed thinking he would finally be proud and happy again but he…he said that the behavior I was showing only made him more…disappointed”. I hid my face in my hands and started shaking violently as the memories flooded me. The knife.
A dark smile. Disappointment. Drugs. The pain. The love. Blood. So much blood. Constant stabbing. Laughter. Tears. The look of shock and horror on my father’s face. The coldness in my body. The voices. His voice in my head. “You’re such a disappointment”.
Tony’s touch brought me back from the paralyzing pain that the memories had put me in. He put his arms around me and I felt something I couldn’t explain. Was he actually human? Was there a person in him that could care? That could love?
The smell of him made me calm down and I dried the tears from my face. I took a deep breath and continued.
“Something took over me. It felt like a different person, like it wasn’t me. It was the person that was constantly being abused, the person that I had to become to be able to do all of these horrible things.” “I heard a whisper. A wicked voice that said “cut him”. It was silent at first but then it became louder and instead of that voice it sounded like him, my dad. “Cut him” he said. “Kill him, he’s not your friend. You should kill him”. I didn’t want to be a bigger disappointment so I grabbed the switchblade that was on my fathers bedside table and I…I…” I couldn’t continue. I was still sitting on the hood of the car, Tony standing in front of me with his arms around me stroking the back of my neck. I put mine around his waist. Why did this feel so good? This was a man who had injured me, put me in a coma and now asked me to end his life for him. I took a deep breath for I said the words that had haunted me ever since I was 18.
“I killed him Tony. I don’t know what came over me. Or I mean I do but, how could I do that? I just wanted him to love me and not be disappointed but then I became the biggest disappointment ever.” I looked up at Tony expected to see a disgusted or horrified face but to my surprise and enjoyment he was smiling wide. He moved his hand from my neck and caressed my head gently.
“You did good.” Was all he said.
“I left. My mom and sister wasn’t home as usual so I just went to the train station and booked a train to Norway and never looked back. I kept partying to try and deafen the sound of my father from inside my head. He kept telling me he was proud or disappointed and I kept trying to please him. But I couldn’t. I finally got some help and years later I left Norway and came here to be a different person but no matter how hard I try I always end up with the wrong people”.
“Well, your luck seems to have changed” he snickered and let go of me. I felt cold. I didn’t realize how much I had enjoyed his touch. “As much as I enjoyed your story it’s time for me to go. We have a lot to plan. Where do you want me to drop you?”.
I got off the hood and into the car. “Just drop me at home”. We didn’t speak at all while he drove me back and I felt like I had shared too much. Why, why did I feel like I could talk to him about my biggest secret? Why had I opened this pandoras box of confusion and pain?
He parked the car outside of my building and as I getting out he took a hold of my arm and looked me straight in the eyes.