tw: this story contains references to and or sensitive content such as: sexual violence, mental health issues, substance abuse, physical violence, gore, or abuse and suicide or self harm.
My name is Ronan Xiu Wilkinson and I was born in North Korea in 1989. At the time, my grandfather had just disowned my father for having a child with a prostitute. We were, within 9 hours, a part of the poorest 1% in North Korea and everyone knows what comes next. I was put up for adoption against the wishes of my mother. You see, she had been told at the age of 16, that she had been sterilized. It was her first experience on the job. So to her, it didn’t make sense that I, her miraculous blessing, was the sacrifice.
Fortunately, I was adopted at the age of 10 months old not long after the end of the world occurred for my parents. I could crawl and just started learning how to make sounds at most. The perfect age for a new life…one filled with happiness and pleasure beyond compare, another world.
No further investigation was done on the side of my parents. No effort to secure my safety and confirm that my upbringing would at least be decent. It angered me but people living in their condition couldn’t afford the luxury. They didn’t even bother to meet my adopted parents.
I was sold for the equivalent of $1,500 at the time to Mr. Cedric Rius Wilkinson, a powerful man, created by the forging of iron and stone “traditions” passed down from his father and his father’s father and so forth.
He was Italian-born with broad shoulders, dirty-blonde hair, and a gaze that humbled Kings. He could pass on for whatever would suit his favor. It was a soundproof life due to money and his influence. Feared by all, so none would question him, or dare to investigate his lineage. Even his photograph was a rare sight.
My mother was a weak woman not worth mentioning. She believed in only one thing and that was my father. He brought her out of homeless life, just like me. Plucked from a family that loved her, but she wanted more. She wanted more and would sacrifice all for the tiniest taste. She was lucky she met him and she knew it. We all did. My mother could not have children of her own due to a degenerative disease she was plagued with, “the curse of my impure origins” she’d say, but I never knew what she was talking about. I didn’t care. My father didn’t want to waste more time having to conceive an heir. That’s why they looked elsewhere.
My adoptive parents were not made of love and light. They were made of fears, tears, and loss. It was their source of energy and fulfillment. Saying my father was a ruthless man was an understatement. There were weeks of pain around every corner, and I was not shielded by my mother. She watched it happen and would often revel in it. Years of strict orders, torture, and humiliation all under the guise of building the next heir to the throne. Me. I was their only child.
I only know of the details through the personal investigator I hired on the day my father died, and left his empire to me. Along with all the other “traditions” I was to carry on. I remember the date being the 10th of March, the only day of the year that I can’t stand, his birthday.
It so happened to be my birthday when the blackout happened, 2 months after my father’s death. It was noon and I was in my office on the 32nd floor when I was informed that a surge had messed up the power lines and the entire city has lost power. The generator had kicked in, however, the imbeciles that were hired did not know how to properly care for the new generator we just bought. It only lasted for 3 hours before it died out. Some oil spill and a couple of loud malfunctions later, everyone was storming out of the office, fearing for their safety unnecessarily. It’s just a blackout and a generator. It should be fixed soon.
But that was 5 hours ago.
Having an office with no windows was more of a detriment without the luminescent lighting to favor the ambiance. The emergency lights started dimming from low batteries and I wondered what madness could be happening at the power site but it was getting dark and I had to get out of the office. This was especially true for me, as I had a fear of the dark.
One bodyguard went missing at a time. They were claiming to check this area and the next for a safe exit and eventually started looking for each other. It was a mess. So I decided we had to take the stairs. The gun in my pocket should be enough to guarantee my safety. It was time to move.
I must say, it was disappointing to see the stamina of the people meant to protect me dwindle and die the more stairs we passed. Turns out my upbringing had some benefits. Before I knew it, I had wandered off ahead and lost them all. I was alone. I hated being alone.
They say therapy works wonders, but the ghost of my father haunted me even before his death. I couldn’t be saved from what was in my mind. So I took pills to help stave off the thoughts and the fears, and filled my space with light, to stave off the dark. It worked until it didn’t. Switching from one medication to the next eventually dulls the senses. It blurs the line between reality and what was imaginary, and in this blackout, who knows what would happen.
I reached the 15th floor, and while searching for the next exit, I see a woman standing with her back against the wall, probably having an anxiety attack. I approach her with the intent to help and lose my footing. I slip and hit my head on the railing but grab hold of it before I crack my head on the stairs. The floor and the ceiling seem to merge and I can’t tell up from down. I take a deep breath and catch sight of the woman again.
I feel an itch start at the base of my neck and my thoughts blur. Something warm slides down my ear but all I can do is focus on her. She’s hyperventilating and there’s something seductive about it. Something that feeds the rage inside of me. I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders as if the chains of my life that were holding me back have been severed.
I’m free to do as I please. With no one to stop me. The thoughts rush into my blood and my nerves pulsed. I could almost lick my lips in anticipation, almost taste the iron from her blood dripping down my face. Its warmth against my skin. Radiating steam from the corpse beneath me. I want it. I want it now.
I approach her slowly, making sure to stay in her blind spot. “Miss, are you okay?” I say, hiding the gun in my right pocket, and gently touching her with my left hand. She looks at me with a startled gaze and a gasp. Her genuine shock raises the hair on my neck and I have to fight off a smile from my lips. “Susan?” I say, recognizing her from my office. She’s the pretty little blonde-haired intern that gets my coffee. What bliss.
“Mr. Wilkinson, I need your help - I just can’t - breathe. My inhaler fell in - in the dark and I can’t - I can’t - ” She says between gasps, tears forming in her eyes. “Okay… Okay… It’s okay Susan, I’ll help you look, just stay calm, sit down for a second.” Her breathing slows a little but keeps its strain. She needs her inhaler. I move into the shadow of the aisle, my eyes already accustomed to the dark.
Susan sits back, trusting me with her life, her breathing getting heavier and her hands slowly moving to grasp her shirt. I look to my right and see the inhaler, hidden behind a can of noodles. As I reach down to pick it up, I see Susan in my peripheral. Her eyes are blind with tears, and she’s straining to call my name. It sounds almost sweet. I turn and watch as she fades from this reality to the next and back, her chest barely moving.
I come closer and caress her cheek. “My dear Susan, I loved your ass in my office, but I hated your coffee. That’s enough for some people you know… too much sugar, not enough milk… You and I can relate on just needing a breath of air from time to time. When you first started working with us, I thought you were better than the others. Although you bend too low all the time and I can’t get that vie- Oh…”, I poke her, “You’re dead. How am I supposed to tell you how to improve if you’re dead!!” I felt it before I saw it, my foot flying straight through to her ribcage. It must have been ages before the crack of her sternum removed me from my trans.
I see my father standing over her body, with a smile of affection. I almost melt into his arms. It’s all I’ve ever wanted. To feel loved and accepted. I’ve done what he wanted me to do.
“Hey, I have an inhaler! Just in time.” My vision blurs to a clear image. I see another man holding Susan up with an inhaler pressed against her lips. I’m still in the dark and she’s alright now. She’s alright? What just happened?
“Mr. Wilkinson, you’re pale! I hope my attack wasn’t that stressful on you.” Susan says as she catches her breath. I’m at a loss for words. “M-May-Maybe this blackout is…. having more of an effect on me than I thought.” I spurt out, attempting to hide my fear. “Well, I’m okay and I’m sure you will be too. The power should be sorted out soon,” she says, to reassure me. I nod haphazardly.
“There’s some man up ahead that seems to be taking control of a group of people. I think we should go there.” Said the man as he caught his breath. Susan clings to him, whispering something that I can’t hear as they make their way forward. Leaving me behind.
I stay where I am. It’s about me, isn’t it? They’re talking about me. My parents were always talking about me. I can’t stand it, I never did anything wrong but they would always talk about me. They hated me. I could always feel it when he’d come back home. “Children should be seen not heard.” he’d say, but we all knew I shouldn’t be seen either.
I fall behind as we approach the crowd of people up ahead. We hear the rustling of their voices before we see them.
“It’s been 15 hours since the blackout if I’m correct….. all lines …..are dead and I’m …….. of the city has vacated. The fire brigade and the police are MIA, ……. everywhere. We don’t know what’s going on and there’s no way to tell left from right in this dark. We should just try to stick…… together as much as possible, or at the least, stay in pairs of ……. two.”
My mind wanders, “Count them Ronan, or I’ll start again.” He’d say, as he lifts the leather rope to hit me… “twenty-two”, a younger version of me is talking… “twenty-three”…
The voices trail off, I can’t follow them. It’s bouncing off the walls of the building and the walls of my head. Spinning, why am I spinning? Something dark approaches and I place my hand on the wall to brace myself against my father’s fist. “Sir, are you alright? You look like you’re in pain” a woman says, having just adjusted a heavy bag on her shoulder. ‘My father is not here’ I think to myself. ‘He’s dead.’
“Sir?…. Come with me,” she says with a smile filled with disappointment. She gently lifts my arm and I can see it all so clearly. She has my father’s smile. Disappointment and hatred fill my mind as laughter fills the silence.
There is no hesitation. I grab her face and smash it against the wall. Blood splatters in all directions accompanied by something gooey. Her head lolls for a moment before her body falls flat to the ground. That was easier than I thought. She’s not dead, just stunned it seems.
I feel the adrenaline rush into me as I rip her shirt off and view her bust. Covered so modestly with an inner lace vest. A tease. I grab her breast in my hand and squeeze hard. Hard enough for her to spill through my fingers. I rip her shirt off with my teeth and hands, clawing for more than I can grasp. Ripping shirt and skin alike. More, more. I need to help more.
Black surrounds my vision and fear raises my fists as I punch a hole through her diaphragm and rip out the parts of my father that taint her. He’s in everyone, but she, she is freed in my eyes. Released from a world with no love and compassion. Saved from the darkness.
As the blood curdles in her mouth from her final breaths, I can feel her restraint against my wrists weaken by the second. Her eyes had focused on mine, an inner wish poking from the corners of desperation. The last looks of one at my complete mercy.
Her heart finally gives way while my hands are in her chest, searching for that last grip of life to fade before my eyes. The climax.
I can’t play anymore. She’s not moving. Everything has stopped and there’s a stench of something vile. Oh damn… she shat herself. What a sight. My little redhead. I”m sorry you had to go but you weren’t fast enough for the wolf. I straightened my back and sit on the heels of my feet. Still striding her. I crack my neck to the left and stand up, giddy from the excitement. I need more. I need to save more people from him. From my father. I look behind me and see that he’s coming. He’s running.
A black form emerges from the dark, “Are you alright sir? Madam?” he asks. “Yes, we are. We just fell. My friend here seems to have dazed off though. It must be stress from the blackout.”
She’s… alive? But I…
“Excuse me, I need to sit down,” I say, staggering a little. The man helps me settle on the floor. “We’re going to get some help.” “Just stay where you are.” Their words spill into nothingness once they hit my ears. I’m not here anymore. Who knows where I am this time.
I wake to silence and despair. Anxiety filled the air around me. I’m alone, or at least I thought I was. I crawl into the next room, viewing a bench before me. With each movement, I feel myself sinking. I’m sinking.
Thoughts are powerful things. Powerful enough to create a multitude of galaxies, and enough to break them one life at a time. My world has been shattered by my family’s torture. The whips, the bites, the insects, the starvation, the greed, the betrayal. I couldn’t handle it and it shows. All I can think about is murder, Murder, MURDER and it won’t stop no matter what I do…. No matter what I do… I grab the gun in my jacket and force myself to lift it but what’s the point? I’ve failed.
He’s here. I feel him behind me. My body fails to move as he starts wrapping his hands around my neck. I can’t breathe. His left claw starts tearing my mouth open, forcing it wider and wider, more than humanly possible and his black sludge body is entering me. As I’m suffocating, I see him smile and my mind finally breaks. All I see turns white.
‘I need to help myself now… this is all my life has amounted to, I am nothing. They were right.’
I raise the gun to my head and place my finger gently on the trigger. I whisper to myself, “I’ve suffered enough”.
A loud bang disrupts my train of thought, a young man has broken down the electric doors separating that room from this one. He stares at me, dumbfounded at the sight before him. Me, and gun in hand. I can feel the disintegration of my resolve, and the formation of a new one. I’ve lost control. My father’s smile widens.