I had the nightmare again. I woke shaking around 3am, the witching hour, the hour when most people suicide, according to some article I read many years before. It is the hour when the temperature is coldest, and so your body is chilled. And when your body is chilled, so is your soul, or so it seems.
Was there a trigger for this memory, this terror? Did something occur during the day before? Often it is this. Imogen instilled so many silent commands, so many memory and sense triggers, in her cold steel room with me, that I can be completely unaware I have seen or heard or smelled one and within hours I am soaked in terror, befuddled. Or if I am unfortunate enough to be asleep I will be drawn into the nightmare realm, a hapless child led by the hand by the cruellest protector. The one who does not protect at all.
I understand the mechanics and the utility of these triggers and their place in control and order, though now without an anchor they are more debilitating than constructive I find. Still, I have learned both first hand through Imogen, and later through my own reading, of the heritage of our family and of the strange experiments of Dr Green in America all those years ago. But knowledge is no shield against the force of the trigger and the blistering impact on the fragile, fractured soul.
I rose from my bed and staggered to my fridge, to take out a piece of my rapidly dwindling store of special meat meant to satiate the hunger of fear. I had so little left, so little left from this..cow…and I wondered what I could do for the nightmares when this was finally done.
As the microwave started to defrost the slice of meat, I allowed myself to cautiously re-live the nightmare, to leech it of some of its strength through wakeful examination.
A flickering, neon light above my head as I open eyes, laid out on something cold and hard. I’m blinking, so many times, my eyes watering, trying to adjust to the inconsistent glow. I am aware I am tied down and cannot move. Something cold is clamped across my forehead, and I am distantly realising something and praying to whatever god might hear my cries that I don’t want the shock, not the electricity, not the lightening pain, not this time, please, not this time.
Though I know there are worse things than the electricity.
I have been good, haven’t I? Done all that was asked of me, learned my lessons, progressed? I do not need a re-adjustment. I do not need a re-alignment. I open my mouth to say this to the shadowy figure in clinical white beside me. Perhaps they do not understand, they are overly keen to progress me and are over-reaching this time? Perhaps they can be made to understand and release me? I can’t see them, only the white of their surgical robes. I can’t see the face to know if it is her, or another. She sometimes enlists the help of others. I never know who they are. Perhaps this one might help me, after all?
But my mouth is stuffing dried and cracked, my tongue a heavy and unresponsive slimy muscle. If I keep my mouth open too long I might swallow this useless muscle, and choke to death. There is no use for it, no words to say. Whatever will happen, will happen.
I hear a voice, the voice, that voice, her voice. The very worst voice of all, mistress physician. The tone is soothing but the words are not. It is time for something to be implanted in me, some knowledge, some memory, some trigger for response. I’m being told this is necessary for my development and it must hold fast. I know what that means. The best truths hold tightest and last longest when delivered through trauma, through pain.
Dr Green’s experiments were conclusive on that point. Even his lesser and earlier successes came through pain. There is no reason to argue.
My hand is being raised and I become dimly aware, with the greatest horror of all, about the source of the pain to come. It is my most profound fear of all, the thought of torture that I cannot even look in its face or contemplate in thought. It’s the one I’d beg not to endure, so it is the one she would choose. Of course.
I must have told her this once, I must have confessed in a bubble of false and deluded safety. Never give away your secrets, no matter how much you yearn to tell. They will always be used against you. Always.
Something sharp, under a finger nail, seeking purchase. Its stabbing sensation goes through me, a sword through my middle, up to my heart. I can imagine the red ripping I cannot raise my head to see (even if I wanted to, which I do not). I can sense before it comes the pain, the tendrils of skin seeking to hold the nail to the bed, even as it is torn away. I can feel the agony before it occurs, and as it comes, as it tears through me, one finger at a time..one, two..and then three this time..two on one hand and one on the other…words and images imprint on my mind.
I will not forget, I will not forget, and tomorrow I will be bandaged and kept from school. Days later school counsellors at school will shake their heads on my return and write learned theses on my self-destructive nature. I will not speak, I will not contradict. I see this image, this image always – a mouth, with a finger across it and the message …sshhh…do not speak..and it will illuminate my developing mind.
But for now there is only the pain, the ripping, wetness of it all, the soul searing loss. And through the shock of memory I awake, mercifully this time, from a dream, my fingernails intact, and I go to feed.
To feed on the flavour of inflicted pain, of muscle and flesh cut and torn, the flavour of death.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2015, All Rights Reserved