Childhood is a cruelty nobody should have to bear in these short lives we live. Mine was worse than most. Things were bad, I mean REALLY bad. I just wanted to hide, to escape. But wherever I went the adults found me and the cruelty continued. When I realized I could not get away I tried to become somebody who just didn’t care. I built a new me, one who could deal with all of the things that I could not. The new me kept me safe. I gave up more and more of myself all of the time just to feel that comfort and security, even if it was a lie. Before long I gave up so much of myself that I began to disappear into the new me. One day I found that I no longer existed. I was just a spider caught in its own cobweb in the corner of the new me’s mind.
I mostly forgot that I existed. But whenever new me, which I will call Hector, got scared or encountered an extreme situation or feeling, I would find myself rising back up to the surface. Hector developed some bad habits as an adult. The methamphetamines he took gave me a glimpse of the outer world that he lived in. I became desperate to look outside again. When Hector would try to clean himself up I would whisper to him from the corner of his own mind, urging him to get high. When he would stay awake for days he became so weak that I was able to take over our body for brief moments. During those times I began to want to come back, to take over and be in full control of us again. But Hector, as always, was stronger. He beat the drugs and in the process pushed me back into my little darkened corner, where I became trapped like a prisoner of the mind. Even worse, he never knew he was doing it, or noticed that I still existed.
In fact, Hector became stronger than ever. After a period of incarceration for the weaknesses I took advantage of, he was back in full control. His new resolve gave him the strength to fight against oppression, a state our memories would not tolerate in his world. He became an activist. In fighting the demons of the world, he became stronger than I could ever hope to break through. And then one day almost a month ago, something changed.
There was another activist, a man named Alex Walsh, who lived not a few hours drive from here. He had been making some bizarre claims online about a conspiracy to discredit and kill him. Nobody took him too seriously, until one day he showed up dead. He had shot himself, and set his house on fire, or at least that is what the authorities and mainstream media said happened. But to Hector, this was more than just coincidence. Alex had been killed by those whom he had warned everybody who would listen, were trying to kill him. Whether Alex was the victim of a conspiracy or a desperate suicide, I will never know. Yet Hector’s certainty triggered a paranoia the likes of which I had never seen him experience. His fears became so profound that for the first time in years, I was able to rise back up out of my corner. Within a few days of his uncontrollable fear, the very thing I had created him to be immune to, he became weak. And that is when I started wrestling away more control.
Hector’s greatest weakness is that he had been created solely to deny fear, not accept or face it. When he found a thing to fear that he thought he could not deny, it wasn’t hard to help push him further in that direction. The more afraid he was, the more control I gained over our body. Soon I was taking it over for long stretches, mostly when he thought he was sleeping. I was not satisfied with having control of our body in that tired state he surrendered it to me in. So one night when he thought he was sleeping, I scored some methamphetamines so that I could feel awake and alert when our body was all mine. As the paranoia over Alex’s death mixed with the meth and lack of sleep, the people closest to Hector suspected our drug usage, though he was unaware it was happening. Even while feeling the effects, he could not admit their influence, because he was certain he had not used them. Once I lost control before I could hide my drugs and he found them in our backpack. I thought that would be the beginning of the end of me, but his paranoia convinced him that the drugs had been planted.
This was the point that he became certain that someone or someones were out to get him. His cautious paranoia became a certainty. The lost time he was experiencing when I took over created situations that he could not explain, and so slowly, he began constructing narratives to accommodate them. I watched these narratives unfold and tried to figure out a way that I could exploit them to gain total control of our body after all of these years.
One day we were standing in a parking lot and I was able to force myself to the surface. I remained there just long enough for the scene to change before he came back. What stood out in his mind were the extra cars in the lot and the increased traffic. He began to fixate on cars and I took advantage of this. From within I pushed him to find connections. When I gained control at home, usually when he thought he was sleeping, I began to fill our mind full of conspiracy theories from the internet. Slowly they began seeping through the thin partition between us and he was compelled to find this information ‘on his own’. I did everything I could to reinforce these theories, in hopes that I could vanquish him and have us all back to myself. When I saw that a local group of Satanists were attempting to hijack a city council meeting for some bizarre social experiment, I seized onto an idea. It didn’t take long before he caught a glimpse of the news, but from within I distorted it and made it seem far more sinister. It did the trick. He was now convinced, thanks to the ideas that I had been planting, that a gang of Satanists were stalking him for some ultimate maligned purpose.
What happened next surprised even me. When he began to publicly reveal his delusions, he was encouraged by others sharing similar paranoid ideologies. His certainty blossomed faster than I could have imagined or hoped. It was no longer necessary for me to feed him the fear from within, as he was now so ingrained in his narrative that he was immune to reason. Those who tried to talk him down became ‘conspirators’ themselves and everything that happened became some kind of verification for his complex web of paranoia.
One night he contacted a pair of fairly well known activist to listen to his tale. He spent hours telling his story through fever pitched anxiety, and they seemed to be listening, maybe even believing him, or so he thought. After his tale one of them tried to convince him to get help dealing with the anxiety and stress this was causing him. From within, I could see the lie. He was trying to trick Hector into discovering his delusions. He was trying to manipulate him through false support into going to those who might be able to vanquish the delusions that would be my victory. I felt Hector pulling away, giving into some doubt, and considering the advice. I screamed from within, “He is one of them! He is trying to get you to give up, to fail, to die!” When that worked, I knew I would soon have control again after all of these years.
I did learn something from that experience, though. I learned that he believed he ‘knew’ how he would die. Hector thought that he would either be killed by a speeding car that made it look like an accident, or that he would be gunned down by police trying to capture him on behalf of the worldwide Satanist organization that was out to get him. I took every chance I could to reinforce these beliefs. The more I pushed them, the weaker he got, and the closer I got to taking over. But pushing his buttons constantly was bleeding into my own mental state, so I tried being more subtle and letting the crazy colleagues he had acquired reaffirm his fears, while he traveled down a rabbit hole of information that did the same.
Unexpectedly, as he became less frantic and more stoically certain, I was better able to take control at will. Fear had gone as far as it was able to take me, until I was able to deliver the final crushing blow. And so I also became more relaxed. I spent the time I had controlling our body leaving puzzle pieces for the final picture, but also trying to enjoy the life I would soon have all to myself once again. As I struggled to find that joy, I came up continuously empty handed. So far had I been removed from the pleasures of life in all of those years of isolation, that I didn’t even know where to find joy, and I was not sure I would recognize it if I did.
There was some comfort in the cartoons I had watched as a child, before I created Hector, as they had been my original escape. But soon even those became empty. At first I had enjoyed the meth I was secretly feeding our body, but in short order that too became a nowhere place. The family that was once mine were now distant strangers. They were his family. The pleasures I had peeked at from the corner of our mind were also his, and they brought me no comfort, no joy, nothing. The closer I got to having my life back, the less I wanted it.
When I thought of all the things that made me want my life back they were his things. They were his experiences and accomplishments and joys. I had mistaken the envy I experienced from the corner of our mind as desire. Yet once I was free to act on my own desires, I found that I had none. I had no meaning and no purpose. I had died long ago. I was a memory that refused to quit. A ghost in Hector’s consciousness.
I began to step back, to relinquish control. I retreated back to that corner in the hopes that I could feed from the experiences of his life again. But it was too late. I had ruined his life. I had pushed him so far away from his own sanity that he was just as broken as I was when I created him in the first place. So here we were, two people in one mind and one body, neither able to appreciate it. The momentum was too great. His paranoid certainty had closed every loop and became an airtight narrative outlining his own eventual demise. And the only thing worse than the outcome I had helped conjure up in his imagination, dying at the hands of the illusory forces he was certain were out to get him, was for both of us to endure these fears for days, weeks, months and years to come.
This life, that I have not even been living for a very long time, is now too much to bear. For either of us. Hector will not end it, he cannot, I made sure of that. It is up to me to free us both from this hell. I will not destroy his delusions before I end it all. They are all he has left. He will die with the courage and dignity that I have never had in life, to fight with all of his might, even though the forces he battles are all make believe. I leave this letter for his family and his friends. I have nobody. I am nobody. May you remember him kindly. May you remember him as he was before his fear gave me the chance to ruin everything. The man you have encountered recently is not the one you have known for all those years. He is a mockery of that man, a ruination built on the foundations of my weaknesses and my lies and my fears.
To the world, I died long ago, but today I say goodbye. If the car that I step in front of doesn’t kill us, then the cops who try to drag us into the loony bin afterwards will. I will be certain of that, that they do their part, not as though its hard to do these days. By the time you find this, it will be too late. Blame me if you will. Hate me. But please, do not blame Hector for what I have recently done, and what I am about to do.