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j. poet is the nom de splat of a horror writer who lives in California. This vignette first appeared in Twisted.

Dark Planet is designed and edited by Lucy A. Snyder. If you spot any errors, or if you have any comments, please contact her at lusnyde@cyberus.ca.

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slashing, not stabbing

by j. poet

     i can't stop screamin'. my head's on fire. light's pourin' outta my eyeballs. the noise in my brain is deafening. my skin's blisterin', erupting into tiny, amber oozing pustules. i have to bang my head against the wall, as hard as i can. it's the only thing that'll stop the pain, except the knife.
     no, i'm not imagining things. an' you're beginnin' ta sound like my mother. everything was always in my imagination with her. my old man's drinkin', my uncle tryna diddle me. she even tol' me the blood in my underpants was my imagination, so don't you start in with it, O.K.? look at my arms, can't you see the lesions? turn off the lights, you'll see the fire, the electricity shootin' out of my eyes. stop lookin' at me like i'm crazy. you think i like this?
     screw the neighbors. they play their music loud enough to rattle the goddamn dishes in the cabinet, don't they? let 'em complain all they want.
     no, i won't stop. it feels good. punishing myself is the only thing that satisfies me. i've always been rotten. even as a kid. i'm not tryna upset you. i love you, but if you don't like it, why don't you go in the next room an' turn up the TV, an' stop tryna to control me. be quiet, for Chrissakes! is that askin' too much? it's loud enough inside my head without you carryin' on, blubberin' like a leaky faucet. if i can take it, you can.
     will you stop worryin' about the goddamn neighbors? let 'em call the cops, if they wanna. i don't care, an' i'm not gonna answer the phone, an' they can come up here an' pound on the apartment door until their knuckles bleed for all i care. in fact, i wish they would. maybe they'd know what i feel like then.
     get away from the door. you're not leavin'.
     you know i'd never hurt you, but i can't let you leave. i can't be alone when i'm like this, you know that.
     go ahead an' hit me. punch me as hard as you can. go ahead. i can take it. you think you can hurt me? ha! i've been smacked around by pros. my father usta slap me, tryna get me to shut up, but he couldn't make me stop screamin'. he'd slap me, punch me, kick me, bang my head against the wall, scream in my face. you disgust me. you pansy. you've got shit in your blood. you see that puddle of dog puke? i think more of that dog puke than i think of you. you're beneath contempt, you snivelin' little bastard. you should have been an abortion, you piece of shit. he'd punctuate his comments with his fists, his big muddy work shoes, gobs of spit. he could never get to me. he couldn't put out the fire, couldn't shut off the sparks that burned the inside of my eyelids, couldn't make me stop screamin'. I always screamed louder than him. i always won. an' i wasn't even a teenager yet.
     will you stop cryin'? i hate it when you cry. this isn't about you. how many times do i have to tell you? calm down, will ya? i've never cut you, have I? then calm down. you know what i do with the knife. that's why i can't let you leave. you'll call someone an' they'll say i'm crazy. they won't understand, not that i blame them. i don't understand myself.
     if you hate it so much, you don't have to watch, so stop flutterin' around, an' don't try to get the knife away from me. i don't want to hurt you accidentally. or me.
     i told you it doesn't hurt. how many times do i have to repeat myself? I feel like i'm talkin' ta the wall when i talk to you sometimes. no, it doesn't feel good, not exactly. but the not feelin' good feels good, if that makes any sense. an' it turns down the noise.
     i'm not stabbin', i'm slashin'. can't you see that? i usta use a fork when i was a kid. a regular kitchen fork. used to sneak it into the bedroom at night and jab my legs. you've seen my legs, right? that's what all the pock marks are. not chicken pox. fork pox. i know i lied, but i didn't know you that well, and i didn't know how you'd react. like i told you, some people think i'm crazy.
     this is so much better. quiet. praise the lord. and there's not that much blood, is there? i never cut that deep. sure you can bandage me. i don't wanna finger-paint with my blood like some manson freak.
     what was i sayin'? right, the fork. when i was a kid, it was my legs on fire, not my head. i tried everythin'. i started by tyin' myself up, but the rope got my legs got all purpley, an' it scared me. then i used a hammer, but i broke my leg 'cause i hit myself too hard. it actually stopped the fire for a couple of months, but it hurt like a mothafucker. when i got the cast off, i started with the fork. after i'd get some nice holes, i'd scratch 'em till they really bled, then i'd pull on the openin's, like how you can scratch a mosquito bite until you see that little hole, then work the edges of it until it's bleeding? only you get more holes with a fork.
     just a regular dinner fork, like in the kitchen drawer, nothin' special. sometimes i'd sharpen it on the whetstone my mother used to sharpen the carvin' knives. just a touch. use ya brain, babe! if i got it too sharp, i coulda done some permanent damage ta myself, an' i ain't no masochist.