I peel back the flesh. Tendrils of dark seep out, and, startled, I slap the smooth strip of skin back down, sealing the gateway once again. I stare at what has been revealed, heart arrhymic, and gape at the formerly clean tract of skin. Incredulous, I allow my fingers to trace it, the slick, tarry shadow still leaking from the cracks.
"If you keep this up, you’ll let them out."
"I know," I sigh, resigned, taking a swath of white gauze, wrapping my arm up carefully. Inky black stains slowly drift to the top layer of the flimsy cloth, and I gaze, entranced.
"It’s never going to leave you, even if they escape."
I sit up, unfolding my legs from underneath me, brushing off dust from my backside, and glance at myself in the mirror before recoiling. Not me. neverme. I feel my lip twitch; the mirror does not betray this. I curl my hand into a fist, nails biting into my palm, blackness leaking onto the tile now, swirling where it lay. This could get bad.
"Watch where you spill that."
"Sorry." Except I wasn’t. Dimly, in the back of my mind, I knew the repurcussions. But the deathdrive in me overrode that easily as the oilslick shadows pooled more, evil vapours rising to the ceiling like grim incense.
"You need to stop. Don’t you see what you’re doing? Clean that up. Right now."
"…No." PAIN. Stabbing, pinching, sudden. Excrutiating. I double over, clutching at my head now, the tarry darkness smeared against equally dark hair.
"Let me repeat myself. Clean. It. Up. Or I’ll make you mop it with your tongue."
I grimace, the pain throbbing dully away, my stomach in a dismal place now, and I brusquely seize a bath towel, sopping up the darkness as it evaporates, the cracks in the tile now clean, as if nothing had stained them in the first place.
"Learn your place. You were doing so well." I rub the broken flesh of my arm, nodding dimly. I was, wasn’t I…? Just listen to their commands, march blindly onward, autonomous. I never liked that, but…
I glance at my tool, edge still smoky with shade, dripping slowly onto grimey tile.
I’m a blight on the earth. But I’m learning to be okay with that, embrace the fact that I can unravel it all. I’m sure that if I could just focus, I could tear it all down. I’m an artist, but I’m not meant for creation. We both know what I’m meant for, deep down.
I destroy, distort, taint and poison everything that has ever mattered. And you’re the only survivor. Which could only mean one thing really. That this is supposed to happen.
You’re the only person that stayed. That didn’t die. That took the poison into them willingly.
I think that this next part, how to proceed, is being slowly revealed to us. Day by day, as our personal foundations crumble and rot. The slits in my skin are like calligraphy on some ancient manuscript, guiding my way.