A young man sits across from him, in a black, banded-collared shirt. His black hair was short enough, parted on the left and accented by low auburn, evidence of salt water and sunlight having assaulting it.
All of the voices combined, including his, coming from himself, "You look really fucking stupid pointing a gun at yourself..." The volume was deafening, both men stared into each other, as if seeking a soul, or maybe just a weakness. James sets the gun back onto the table, "Now what?" he finally asks ,"Where do we go from here?". "Well, for starters, you need to understand who I am and how I relate to your...situation." James reaches for his beverage, the ice having long since melted, the entire drink resting at room temperature. "I know who you are," he starts, "well I knew you once, I see you in the mirror sometimes..." His past reaches across the table towards the cigarettes James left in the open, and, brandishing a silver Zippo lighter, indulges in the newly acquired Lucky Strike. "You see us in more than your fucking mirror," a female chorus, "you've been having some rather interesting dreams lately, didn't you miss us?" "I have nothing to say to you," James snaps after gulping half of the remaining beverage, "the past is the past isn't it? better to leave it dead and buried I'd say." All the voices boom back, "You don't fucking get it do you?" his rival attempting to calm back down, "We made you, we are you, JAMES this is your past, and it's about damn time it catches up with you." James leans his head to the right, searching his reflections eyes for an answer, "What are you getting at?". A smile appears behind locks of blonde hair, highlighted with pink, electric blue eyes piercing him. "We are your endgame," one voice, peaceful, then his own voice, "every time you were scared about your past coming back to haunt you?...well, here I am, here we are."
"I feel nothing for you anymore, I've buried it all away, even you, my ghosts, will never really catch me." A full chorus of laughter echoes through the darkened bar as the ghost rises out of it's seat and fixes a gaze upon James. "I've faced the destruction you've put yourself through, more so, I was part of it, your present misery is quite comforting for all of us, we all hoped you'd suffer one day, and now it seems that we've gotten our wish sevenfold." James clenches a fist and leans against the back of his chair, cautiously eying his enemy. Then, Jame's eyes widened with a sudden realization of the magnitude of his situation, panic. Jumping from his seat, he reaches for his gun and points it between the eyes of his past, "Travis you fucking get away from me you fu..." he doesn't get the opportunity to finish as Travis reaches out and touches the gun, and through the contact launches James into a vivd flashback.
"You're past is going to kill you, James, you need to go and talk to someone because this isn't healthy." James could hear the words that Abigail, his cousin, was saying, but he wasn't listening, only staring out the window to the rain in the night. The pills, the self-help books, going out, nothing had helped, he hadn't taken his medication in days. "Do you think," he finally speaks to her, "You could section off a part of you, like split part of your mind off somewhere and erase it or like, I dunno, bury it?" Abigail looks at him with a concerned expression, she understands what he's trying to do, she understands his desperation, "I don't know love, maybe, we could try." The rain continued to fall outside the window, a faint rumble of thunder occupied the air. "It's like, being followed by ghosts, everyday, and no matter how fast I run they always can touch me, even when I'm out there..." James trails off, "they were never supposed to catch me..."
"Give him a name, then we can move on." a voice tells him through a haze, he doesn't know where he is or who the voice belongs to, but the name "Travis" escapes his lips. There is a flash, a crash, music. He comes to in an office where he sits in front of a list of names and is instructed to indicate if any of them mean anything in particular to him, none do, they send him home to rest. His past blocked away, Travis blocked away.
The bar explodes back into focus as James drops to the ground in a cold sweat at Travis' feet. "What the fuck did you do to me!?" he gasps, "what was that?". Travis shrugs over him, the chorus of female voices, again in unison, "Just getting reacquainted lover, how'd it feel?" The bar comes back into focus, the rain pouring harder than ever, "The mind is a terrible, terrible, terrible thing sometimes...and now, it's time for you to give in, and give up." Flashes of a baseball game, the Red Sox versus Yankees, a wedding ring, two rings, hate, hurt, flashes. "It never mattered" says a voice. James forces himself to focus again, back to the bar, back to the now, as Travis crouches over him, he can feel him savoring the moment. "Endlessly," she said, brunette hair brushed his face as she came into focus for a split second, maybe a single second. "I hope you suffer." says a different voice as he struggles to stand, Travis comes back into view and James braces himself against the wall and releases a slight chuckle. "Let's do this, asshole, I'm ready, it's time," James whispers, cold sweat dripping off his face, breathing heavy.
"I would have done anything, I'm sorry, I should have done everything, but nothings lost now is it?" James catches a faint glitter of blue and grey in the eyes of Travis, a lightening of the hair, "What did you say?" he demands of James. "Travis, you have very simple tastes, especially in pain, but I'm over it." James responds, with a smile, "You're just me when I was weak." Furiously, Travis unsheathes a knife and buries it deep into Jame's gut, while pinning him to the bar wall. "Remember what it all felt like?" all the voices demand in unison, "Remember what you did to us? All that anger, hurt, misery? Let it back in, baby, because its a part of you, we are you." Blonde, brunette, red, blue eyes, hazel eyes, voices.
Gasping, James places his left hand over the hand a knife embedded in his lower left side and meets their eyes with dead, black gaze. "I do remember it all, I remember trying to bury you," he winces as the blade is twisted, "but, after all those nights, all those bottles, I learned how to use it, and I learned a new trait." They look into his eyes, searching for meaning, then, they feel James twisting the knife even more, no expression, no wincing, no reaction at all, he continues to twist. "You were always scared of guns, which is appropriate, knives give you a rush..." James lets go of the knife while they look dumbfounded into his smirking face, "I knew you looked familiar, you're no stranger to taking a life, but I learned how to be perfectly and...unapologetically cruel." They open their mouth to speak, and James quickly throws his bloodied left hand into the open mouth and clinches tight. They bite down desperately and grab his arm with both hands, releasing him from the wall. As they struggle, "I've gotten to the point where I feel absolutely fucking nothing...nothing at all.." escapes James' lips. They bite down with all their collective might onto his hand, no reaction, only fear growing in them as his right hand pulls the knife out of his stomach, lacking any evidence of pain, and tosses it to the floor.
Muffled cries fill the room as a scarlet-eyed Travis furiously tries to escape the grip viced to his jaw, and they share a special moment, "I'd tell you, how much it haunts me, how everything haunts me, but you don't care, and neither will I." James lifts his right hand over his head as they share one intimate second of silence. James breaks their silence, "For you, God called in sick today..." Those red eyes widen and he can hear all the voices crying out as his fist bears down repeatedly onto their face, with nowhere to go, all they can do is accept it. Dislocated jaw. Broken Nose . Fractured orbital. James loosens his grip, and they drop to the floor, looking like one of those from the past, sobbing, begging. The cries go unanswered as he grabs them by the hair and drags all the voices, and all the faces, kicking and screaming to the table they occupied and retrieves his Beretta. "You hit bone," James calmly states to no one in particular as they lay on the ground sobbing, bloodied, "the scars will be beautiful." He set them up on their knees, beaten, finished. They lift their head, and meet his cold gaze, "Am I your anything?" All the voices, broken. James looks into those eyes he'd known so well, "The past, which I no longer want." "Please." they beg, as he lifts the pistol between those beautiful eyes.
A single shot rings out in the empty bar, the smell of gun powder and cigarette smoke fill the room as he returns the pistol to his waistband. He returns to the table, grabbing his Lucky Strikes and Zippo, and ignites a cigarette.
James slowly walks outside into the rain, and discarding the smoke he washes the blood off of his face and breathes deeply. A bright flash of lighting tears the sky open, followed by an earth-shattering kaboom.
"Man, you tell some really fucked stories you know that right?" Eric asks James as they sit around the television, perusing Netflix.
"Yeah, I know, but they are all from the dreams I have basically, I just run with them." James replies as he continues jotting notes down. "The next book is going to be off the fucking chain, man, it's going to be a wild ride..."
"If you don't lose your goddamn mind first..." Eric adds.
"Oh, that happened a long time ago, a little late for that." James snorts.
"So it was only a dream right? not this weird fantasy you sit around and think of?
James pauses, and looks towards his left hand, admiring the scars he sighs and answers, "Yeah...only a dream."
The Trickster, Maui