I Am Become Death

“Show me Guacamole!” There was a buzzing noise, followed by the image of a red X. This family would definitely not win the feud.
Josh turned off the T.V..
1-2-3
Josh turned the T.V. back on.
1-2-3
Then off again.
“Good.” Josh voiced aloud. Normally, this would be considered crazy, but Josh lived alone so it didn’t really matter.
Josh’s living room was spotless, it always was. The couch was exactly 7 feet away from the television, and they were exactly parallel to each other; so they wouldn’t intersect, obviously.
It was night time, but you wouldn’t be able to tell in a home like Josh’s. Each and every light was meticulously and mathematically positioned, so nothing in the house would cast a shadow. The devil hides in the shadows.
Twenty-one three course meals. Each course separated from the other and hermetically sealed. For Josh, this was logical. He was deathly afraid of mold, and he couldn’t eat food that had been touching other food. This explains his special plates: divided into three triangles,  made out of plastic for easy sterilization, and one triangle bigger than the others for the main course.
Josh opened his spotless microwave and slid his special plate into the center of it. He looked at the clock to see how close it was to 6:00PM.
“Three minutes and fifty-three seconds,” he said, accounting for the thirteen seconds that it took to say that sentence and type the cook time into the microwave.
Josh laughed rather hysterically, his mouth full of food. He was back in front of the television, and The Simpsons was particularly funny on this night. Josh could only watch cartoons and gameshows. There was a complete absence of evil in these genres, and Josh was a very scared man. If Josh didn’t have the ability to record these shows, he’d sit in front of a lifeless television screen all day.
Josh Thanatos was more extreme than the textbook example of an obsessive compulsive person. His condition was in control of his entire life. The door of his Los Angeles apartment remained locked for the majority of the day, except when he would receive food deliveries once a week. He wouldn’t have any source of cash if it wasn’t for his sound business investments, which he acquired out of pure serendipity. His OCD caused him to buy stocks with the “godliest” share prices, and these stocks just happened to skyrocket. He was an enormously blessed, enormously strange man.
Josh’s wristwatch chirped wildly, and he looked down at its digital readout. It displayed the time to be six thirty-two and thirty-two seconds.The watch had stopped. That’s odd, he thought; and with that thought, a light flicked off behind him. Josh paused his television.
“H-hello?” he called out. There was no answer.
Josh retrieved a new lightbulb from his laundry-room cabinet. His heart pounded furiously against the confines of his ribcage. He did not like shadows. He did NOT like shadows.
A sense of relief settled over Josh as his fixed lamp clicked back on. He returned to his couch and pressed the play button on his remote. Nothing happened. Still nothing. Josh frantically rammed his thumb against the play button, hoping for a response. Suddenly, the television’s picture distorted and emitted a sound similar to tuning a radio. Slowly, Homer Simpson and the town of Springfield twisted into the shape of a dark sinister figure. A menacing silhouette now filled the screen.
“FUCK!” Josh shouted, throwing the remote at the television. It missed and shattered against the wall.
“Hello, Joshua,” spoke a low voice, with the texture of an atomic explosion.
Josh was shaking violently, and tears were streaming uncontrollably from his clenched-shut eyelids.
“Wh-Who are you?” Josh managed to utter, almost silently.
“You know who I am.” he voice cut through the air with grotesque precision.
“D-d-d-d–”
“Yes, Joshua. I am Death.” Death’s voice filled every corner of the room. There was no way not to hear it.
“Is it my time?” Josh was sitting still now, the shaking ceased, and his eyes opened. The voice had entranced him.
“No, Joshua. Now is not your time, and it won’t be until you repay me what you owe.”
“What? What do I owe you?”
“You’ve lead a charmed life. Did you really think your exceedingly good luck was all by random happenstance?”
Josh’s eyes widened. He looked at his surroundings: a large LCD screen television, a leather couch that costed around five grand, the walls adorned with fancy paintings (some originals, some replicas). He really didn’t have it hard at all.
“What do you want me to do!?” Josh blurted, digging his nails into the seat under him.
“ I want you to replace me.” Death’s voice did not echo.
“But I’m just a human, I would be murdering people.”
“The is no natural death, Joshua. Just well planned murder. You have no choice in the matter. Either you do my bidding, or death becomes history; and the natural balance of nature is destroyed.”
With that statement, Josh blacked out. He awoke the next morning with a piece of paper clenched in his hand. He unfolded it to reveal that it was blank.
“I must have been dreaming,” He said hopefully.
His hopes were dashed as letters began to write themselves on the blank paper. They formed a name: Daniel Levy.
Josh’s stomach turned with the thought of what this name meant. Daniel Levy was Josh’s third grade teacher. He had to kill his third grade teacher.
Vomit erupted from the pit of Josh’s stomach, and he watched the contents of last night’s meal cover his shag rug. What did Josh eat that was bright orange? He raced to the kitchen to get cleaning supplies. Unclean he thought as he scrubbed furiously. Unclean unclean unclean unclean.
Josh deposited his vomit-soaked rags into a plastic bag. Oh God, Josh thought as he remembered why he puked in the first place. “Why me?” he asked the wall. “Why me?” He asked the television. Josh looked at his brown rug, it was bleached white in the area where last night’s dinner had landed. “God fucking dammit!” Josh clutched the edge of his damaged rug and pulled vigorously. His couch tipped from the force. “FUCK!” Josh put his foot through the television. “THIS DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.” One by one, Josh smashed every lightbulb in his apartment. He continued on this path for quite some time. He had to break things, nothing meant anything to him anymore.
In the darkness, Josh pulled his curtains open to reveal the natural light of the sun. He hadn’t seen it in ages. He turned around to see his monstrous shadow occupying the majority of the floor. Nearly everything in Josh’s apartment was broken. His floors were covered with broken wood and glass, and blood was dripping from his hands. Josh stood up. He slid a bloody hand into his pocket, and produced the strip of paper that had inspired his anger. The name Daniel Levy stared defiantly in his face. Josh checked his wristwatch, it was 2:30PM. I can do this, he thought.

Josh extended two fingers of a bandaged hand, between them was a twenty-dollar bill. Josh was in the back of a taxi cab. “Keep the change,” he said to the driver. Josh was dressed as inconspicuously as possible. He wore a black coat over a plaid shirt, and a pair of blue jeans. On his head, he wore a baseball cap with the bill pulled as far down as it possibly could be without obstructing his view. In the interior pocket of his coat was a pair of leather gloves.
Josh walked slowly down the halls of John Adams elementary school. He did his best to look like a parent, and even better to keep his hands in his pockets. He still remembered Mr. Levy’s room number by heart. It was number seven. Josh looked up and down the hallway, it was uninhabited. Josh put on his leather gloves and turned the handle to door number seven. He pushed the door open slowly.
“Hello?” spoke the kind voice of an older man. Josh looked in to see Mr. Levy sitting behind his desk, shuffling through a large stack of papers. The clock on the wall read three twenty-six. “Can I help you, sir?” Josh removed his hat, and Mr. Levy gasped. “Joshua, is that you? My how you’ve grown. Have a seat boy, please. I insist.” He gestured at a green plastic chair adjacent to his desk.
Josh walked through the classroom desks for what seemed like an eternity. His heart was pounding. He looked at the walls of the classroom. They were adorned with the works of many different children, exceptional works that Mr. Levy wanted the world to see. Works that Mr. Levy would never see again. Finally, Josh arrived at his seat.
“What brings you here, my lad? Wow, look at you. You look great.” A tear rolled down Josh’s face as he made eye contact with his teacher, the man who had taught him how to read when no other teacher could. “Josh? What’s wrong?”
“Mr. Levy, I’m here to…” Josh choked on his final word.
“You’re here to what?” Mr. Levy looked puzzled, but the expression quickly turned into a look of terror. “Oh god. No, no no no please.” Josh looked at his hands, then to the throat of Daniel Levy. “I’m sorry. I’m so so so so sorry. I’m a terrible person, and I’ve probably ruined your life.”
“What? What are you talking about?” Josh stared confusedly into the face of his teacher, which was twisted with angst and regret.
“I can’t believe myself. You were the only one, I swear. I’ve never regretted anything more in my life. I’m a monster!” Mr. Levy’s eyes bled profusely with tears.
“I don’t know what you’re-” at that moment, a memory jarred itself loose in Josh’s mind:
Josh sat rather still in a chair. He was a child. School had been over for at least an hour, and he had stayed late to review with Mr. Levy. Josh was looking at flash cards with various words written on them. “Cat,” chimed his youthful voice.
The sound was abruptly stripped from Josh’s flashback, and eventually Josh was only seeing pictures of this particular memory: Mr. Levy behind a camera, Josh sitting in the chair without clothing, Mr. Levy without clothing, Josh crying.

Josh’s gloved hands gripped the seat of his chair. Mr. Levy had done something horrible to Josh, he remembered now. His brow furrowed with anger, and he stood from his chair.
“Joshua, you have to believe me. You were the only one! I’m sorry that it even happened at all!” Mr. Levy retreated into his chair as much as he possibly could. His face was moist with tears, and his hair disheveled from running his hands through it nervously.
“You deserve to die.” A darkness had filled Josh, and his voice was distinctly absent of emotion.
Josh lunged over Mr. Levy’s desk and seized his neck. He felt his thumb close Mr. Levy’s windpipe with ease, a gratifying feeling. Daniel Levy’s eyes rolled gracefully into the back of his skull. He did nothing to fight back, his body only squirmed slightly as his breath escaped him. Josh let go. The limp body of Josh’s third grade teacher slumped back into the leather chair. A chair fit for a teacher.
Josh felt amazing. He felt empowered, he felt like death. Josh was interrupted abruptly by a feeling of intense panic. There was man that he killed right in front of him. Something had to be done.
Josh grabbed the chair containing his teacher’s corpse and rolled it into the center of the room. “What do I do with you?” he directed at the dead man.
He looked around the classroom. There were many desks, but aside from that it was pristinely clean. Josh threw a stack of papers from Mr. Levy’s desk. He had no idea what he was going to. He looked up at the ceiling, and noticed that there were fire sprinklers. Without much thought, Josh removed Mr. Levy’s belt and stood on a desk. He made a loop, and wedged one end securely into a fire sprinkler. Josh struggled to lift Mr. Levy over his shoulder, and stood on his leather chair. He slipped Mr. Levy’s head through the belt and let go. To his surprise, Mr. Levy hung from the ceiling rather convincingly. Josh positioned the chair under Mr. Levy’s feet and began to clean the classroom vigorously. He re-stacked the papers he had knocked over, and positioned the chair he sat in so it looked like nobody had been in the classroom.
“Goodbye, Mr. Levy.” He felt like a crazy person, talking to a dead body. As he left the classroom, he checked the hallway to make sure that nobody was around. He sprinted to the front door of John Adams Elementary, and returned to the normal world.
As Josh walked home, he could not help but feel good about what he’d done. The man that he had killed was deserving. He was filled with a sick sense of pride. I am death, he thought. It was a pleasing thought. He was doing nature’s bidding.
He returned to his destroyed apartment, “Honey, I’m home.” Josh laughed to himself. He never thought he’d feel so euphoric for doing something so monstrous. He examined his apartment, not a single part of it was clean. Josh didn’t care, he didn’t want to clean. In fact, he wasn’t going to clean and he felt fine about that. Josh made his way to the bathroom and flicked on the light. He stared at himself in the mirror, and laughed whole-heartedly. He was holding himself confidently, like a regular human being. He smiled at his reflection. For once in his life, Josh Thanatos felt like he was an attractive man. He felt capable, in charge, commanding. He was on top of the world.
Josh looked at his wristwatch; it was ten minutes until six o’clock. He decided that he wanted to eat dinner out that night.
Josh sat at a table at one of the nicest restaurants in his city. He ordered the most expensive item on the menu, and laughed riotously with his waiter. He drank merrily, and before long he was quite intoxicated.
After five long hours, Josh stumbled out of the restaurant. What a beautiful night, he thought. He walked alone through the well lit streets of inner city LA. Every shop was closed, but every club was open. Josh smiled idiotically at the people waiting to get into various venues. He heard muffled music through their doors, and the voices of many people. Many people who would eventually die, and by his hand. Josh laughed at this thought.
Josh arrived at his apartment complex, and fell like a ragdoll into his bed. He slept better than he had in years.

Josh awoke with a headache. His room was dark, because his blinds were shut tightly. He pulled them open to let the light in. “Good Morning, World,” he said to nobody. Josh sang in the shower as he thought about who he would have to kill on this day. Maybe he would make this one look like a car accident, or maybe he would poison them. Every method seemed enticing.
Josh dried himself off, and put on his clothes for the day: A black polo shirt, a pair of black Dockers, and his finest pair of dress shoes. He found his magic strip of paper in the pocket of yesterday’s jeans. Today’s victim was Evan Lowry.
Evan Lowry. Josh thought hard about this name. He knew that name. Then, it dawned on him. Evan Lowry had made fun of him in High School. Josh was a strange kid, and was prone to being laughed at; but Evan Lowry was the king of these people. He went out of his way to make Josh’s life a living hell. If Josh did anything abnormal, then Evan was there to be an asshole. Josh remembered one time in particular:
He was walking home, counting his steps aloud. Every time he counted a multiple of seven, he would clap. This was his ritual, and it made no sense to anyone else. Suddenly, Josh heard laughter come from behind him. He spun around, but there was nobody there. He continued walking, but his flow was broken, he had to start over. “One-two-three-four-five-six–” someone clapped. Josh looked around again, there was nobody. “One-two-three-four-five–” once again, someone clapped. Josh began to feel anxious, it didn’t feel right. His ritual was disrupted.  An applause broke out behind him. Josh turned around a final time to see a group of kids following him. The group was lead by Evan Lowry.
“Do you like counting, you fuckin’ freak?” Evan displayed an evil smile.
“I-I-I have to,” Josh managed to return.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Do carry on then.” Evan stood nonchalantly, waiting for Josh to begin counting.
“One-two-thr–” The crowd applauded again. “Pl-please stop.” Josh’s throat began to develop a lump.
“What, or you’re going to cry?” Evan laughed maniacally.
“M-maybe.”
“Maybe!?!?” Evan laughed again, this time rather hysterically. “You are a complete nutcase.”
Josh clenched his fists as he tried to keep himself from bursting into tears.
“What? Are you going to fucking hit me? Hit me, tough guy.” Evan spat on the ground, and presented his face to Josh.
Josh swung with all of his might, and connected with Evan’s cheek. Evan stumbled backward. He felt his cheek. An enraged smile crept onto his face. “Self-defense.” he stated, as his fist flew into Josh’s stomach.

Josh grinned as he combed his hair in the mirror. “I’m going to enjoy this, Evan Lowry.” He said to his reflection.
Josh retrieved a phonebook from his kitchen and looked at the L section in the white pages. He called three other Evan Lowrys before he finally found the right one.
“Hello?” Spoke the voice of a bully.
“Evan? Evan Lowry?” Josh said into the receiver, doing his best to sound like an old friend.
“Who is this?”
“You’ll never believe it. It’s Josh. Josh Thanatos.”
“I’m sorry, who?”
“Come on, from High School? The OCD kid.”
“Oh my god, Josh Brandt?” Evan’s voice was surprised.
“No, man. It’s Thanatos. I don’t know where you got Brandt from.”
“Really? Shit, I could have sworn it was Brandt. Sorry man. How are you?”
“I’m normal. I’ve got the OCD under control, and I’m a functioning member of society.”
“No fuckin’ way, man. That’s fantastic. Hey, look… I know I was an asshole to you in high school. I was an ignorant teenager, full of stupid pride. I’m really glad you called me.”
“Hey buddy, that’s all in the past. How about we meet up for a drink. I’d like to see how you’re doing.” Josh began to laugh in his head, it was surprising how easy it was to lure someone into a trap.
“Of course! That sounds great. I’m buying. How about the blue tattoo at 3:00?”
Josh looked at his wristwatch, it was 12:30PM. “It sounds like a plan, I’ll meet you there.” He hung up the phone and began to devise a plan. Josh was going to get Evan drunk enough, and lead him into a dangerous situation. The rest would be easy.
“Who died?” Evan joked as Josh walked in through the swinging doors of the Blue Tattoo. He was commenting on Josh’s attire.
“Haven’t you heard? Black is slimming.” Josh firmly shook the hand of Evan Lowry. Evan laughed. The laugh disgusted Josh.
“Seriously though, you look great. I’m really glad you’re here. Ecstatic.” Evan held up his hand to the bartender. “Two shots of Whiskey please!”
It was surprisingly easier to get Evan drunk than Josh had thought. After a while, Evan was so inebriated that he didn’t even notice Josh had stopped drinking.
“Get this man another beer!” Josh would say playfully, and he and his “old buddy” would laugh in agreement.
As the time passed, Evan descended into a drunken stupor. “But-but seriously man. You’re great. I’m so glad to see you aren’t a freak anymore! Haha.” Evan belched.
“You’re too much, Evan! Seriously man, let’s get you out of here.” Josh carried his “friend” out of the bar, and nobody was the wiser. Josh smiled at his acting job; he believed he deserved an oscar.
“Hey, thanks for this. I was getting really depressed at home. My wife left me not too long ago, and she was really my only friend.” Evan stumbled into the parking lot of the Blue Tattoo towards his car. “Hey, this is an odd question… but do you think you could drive me home? I’m definitely not good to drive.”
Josh’s eyes widened, everything was falling into his lap. “Of course! I wouldn’t want you get in an accident.” Evan handed his keys to Josh. Josh approached the drivers side door of Evan’s red pontiac firebird, the same one he drove in high school, and opened the door.
As they drove, Evan laughed and made even more of an ass of himself. Evan lit a cigarette and rolled down the window. “Do you want one?” Josh shook his head.
Josh pulled into the driveway of Evan’s home. “Thank you so much for the ride, buddy. I had a really good time… Hey, do you wanna come in and see the batcave?” Evan once again laughed at his own joke.
“Shit, with a name like that, I’d be missing out if I didn’t come in.” Josh forced himself to laugh, but he was getting impatient.
“Yeah, so this is it.” Evan extended his arms in what attempted to be a luxurious gesture. Josh looked at Evan’s ranch style home. The floors were wooden, and the walls were decorated with various pictures of family members and friends. His couches were leather, and the throw pillows were decorative pastels. A woman’s touch.
“Wow, Evan. This is a nice place. You must love it.” Josh sat on the arm of the couch. He was filled with silent rage, waiting for the right moment to strike.
“Yeah, it’s pretty nice. But seriously, I know I’ve said it a million times, but today was grea–”
“Today was great. Today was great. Today was fucking great. I get it.”
Evan looked at Josh with a puzzled expression. “Yeah.” he said, adjusting his gaze to his wooden floors.
“You’re a real fucking asshole. You know that, Evan?”
“What?”
“I said you’re a fucking asshole.”
“Why the sudden change of tone?” Evan was becoming emotional in his drunkenness.
“It may have seemed sudden for you, but I never came here to make amends.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m here to kill you, Evan.”
Evan laughed uncomfortably. “Hey, come on man. Let’s stop joking around. I like to joke as much as the next guy but-”
“I know you like to joke. I noticed. You’ve been laughing at your own jokes all day. You fucking prick.” Josh said through a clenched jaw.
“Look, you’re really beginning to scare me.” Evan’s confused tone began to quiver.
“Good. I should scare you, do you know why?”
“Oh god.”
“I am your worst nightmare, you piece of shit. I am death, and it’s your time.”
“Holy shit, you are a fucking nutcase.” Evan started to run for the door, but his attempt was in vain; he tripped over his own feet in a spell of drunken clumsiness. Evan’s head smacked loudly against the wooden floor, Josh laughed. He stood over Evan’s body, and examined him for a moment. Evan had knocked himself out.
“God damn, if you were any more of an idiot, I would have been able to convince you to put a revolver in your mouth.” Josh dug through Evan’s pockets and retrieved his pack of cigarettes. He then proceeded to drag Evan to the kitchen.
“You like to smoke, mother fucker?” Josh turned on Evan’s stove and lit a cigarette with the burner. He blew out the flame and placed the cigarette in Evan’s hand. “Smoke up.”
Josh was halfway down Evan’s street when the house burst into flames. Mr. Levy was a bit sloppy, but Josh felt really good about this one. It looked like a complete accident. A drunk man lights a cigarette, blows out the flame on his stove like an idiot, and falls and smacks his head in a kitchen slowly filling with gas. Josh was damn good at his job.
***
It had been one month, and Josh had succeeded in killing thirty people. A strange thought, though it never occurred to Josh, was that each and every one of these people was linked to Josh in one way or another. Josh was about to realize this connection in a very large way.
He awoke in his apartment to begin his daily routine. “Hello, Death.” He said to himself in the mirror. He brushed his teeth, showered, and combed his hair. He was ready to kill. Josh found his piece of paper, it was folded and stuffed in has wallet behind receipts for various things: bleach, draino, a sledgehammer, gunpowder, rat posion, and many other murder weapons. He unfolded the piece of paper to reveal his victim of the day: John Thanatos.
“WHAT?” Josh read the name again. and again. and again. The name was his father’s.
No no no no no, Josh’s mind was racing. “I can’t fucking do this!” He directed at a pile of trash in his living room.
Josh’s Dad had never wronged him. He was always there to support Josh through thick and thin. John Thanatos had stayed up on countless nights singing to his son in a brightly lit room, hoping that he would fall asleep. John Thanatos had identified every single one of Josh’s rituals, and had done his best to fulfill them so his son’s day wouldn’t be too tough. He was the most supportive, understanding father that a kid with obsessive compulsive disorder could have.
“I’m not going to do it!” Josh shouted angrily. “NO! I’d rather kill myself.”
“You have to. You know that.” A familiar dark voice that ground like a garbage disposal filled the room.
“Fuck you! I’ll never kill my father! I don’t car if I’m death.” Josh turned around. A man was standing directly behind him. He wore an all black suit. His eyes were like staring into a black abyss. Josh knew without asking that this was the body that belonged to the silhouette he had seen that fateful night.
“You have to.” Said Death, with a matter-of-fact tone.
“You can say that all you want, that doesn’t change a thing!”
A sinister look crept over Death’s pale face. “If you refuse, then I will make you.”
“I’d like to see you try!” Josh screamed into the face of Death.
“That was the wrong thing to say.” With that statement, Death reared back with all his might and delivered a punch with the force of a thousand men into Josh’s stomach. Josh looked down to see that Death’s fist was inside of him. “Time to go, Joshua.” Death too a step forward and disappeared completely.
“You sadistic bastard!” Josh screamed, “Why are you doing this to me?”
“It’s your calling, Joshua,” Death’s deep voice echoed inside Josh’s skull.
Josh began to move against his will. Before he knew it, he was inside a taxi heading toward the home of his parents. The taxi driver stared at Josh as he argued with himself in the backseat. “Please stop! I’ll kill anyone else. Anyone!” The taxi driver raised his eyebrow, but kept on toward his destination.
Josh stood on the sidewalk in front of his home. The home that he had grown up in with his loving parents, whose lives he valued more than his own. At the front door, he noticed a sign that read “The Brandt’s”. That’s odd, he thought. His last name had been Thanatos for as long as he could remember. How long could he remember?
Josh began to turn the doorknob. “It’s time, Josh.” Josh looked over his shoulder, Death had exited his body. He pushed Josh through the front door.
“Hello?” came a voice from the kitchen. A pleasant looking old man wearing a plaid shirt walked into the room. His face had wrinkled in some places from smiling too much. His head was balding, and his glasses were as thick as coke-bottles. He was holding a knife, with the remnants of breadcrumbs on it. “Joshua?!” John Thanatos dropped his knife. “Where have you been? Oh my god, my boy! I haven’t seen you in ages!” He approached his son for a hug.
“I’m sorry, Father.” Josh’s face twisted into a look of anguish.
“It’s okay son! What matters is that your here now! You’re mother and I thought you were dead!”
“No, Father. I’m sorry for what I’m about to do, but I have to.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s my calling. Don’t you get it? I was destined to do this!”
“Son, you’re speaking gibberish.” He began to move backwards toward the kitchen. Josh walked toward his father slowly.
“Please, forgive me. It’s your time!” Josh picked up the knife that his father had dropped and raised it high above his head.
“Oh my god!” John Thanatos seized his chest. “Oh. my. m-m-myyyy,” Josh’s Father fell to the floor. He let out an agonizing scream, and began to squirm violently. Then, there was nothing. Josh was perplexed.
“I thought I controlled death? I thought I was the decider! My father just died naturally!” he directed these statements at Death, but Death was nowhere to be found. Josh was alone.
At that moment, the front door opened. Judy Brandt walked in, clutching bags of groceries.
“Hello? John?” She dropped her bags at the sight of her son in the fetal position next to the corpse of her husband.
“Josh? Is that you?”
“M-m-mom… I’m not death, am I?”
“Sweetie… Where have you been? Nobody’s seen or heard from you ever since you escaped from the asylum.”
The Asylum? Josh had heard this word before. Only then did he remember:
Josh Thanatos was not Josh Thanatos at all. He was Joshua Brandt of Los Angeles, California. Josh Thanatos was the name of his first victim, the man whose identity he assumed after he escaped from an insane asylum in Hollywood, California. Why was Josh in an insane asylum? He was not an obsessive compulsive at all.
Josh remembered vividly sitting in a chair in front of a panel of doctors and psychologists. The diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic. Josh had been committed after he told his Mother that he had participated in a conversation with death in his bathroom mirror. Evan Lowry was right, he was a nutcase.

Josh stood up from his fetal position, and stared his mother directly in the eye. “Mom, I’ve been a terrible person.”  Josh was still clutching the knife in his right hand.
“Sweetie, it’s okay. Just put the knife down. Please.”
“No. I can’t”
“Yes you can. Put it down, and we’ll call the asylum.”
“No mom, don’t you understand? I don’t deserve to go there!” Josh raised the knife high above his head. Judy Brandt screamed loudly as the knife came down. Josh had stabbed himself in the chest. As the blood pumped from Josh’s wound, he noticed a  figure standing over him. His vision was fading, but the silhouette was undeniable. It was Death, and he was laughing.

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So long, Roosevelt high! You will be forgotten.

This is the last time I’ll ever be looking at this classroom. I can’t believe it really went this far. It’s ridiculous, you know, thinking of how quickly something can blow up in your face. One second, you’re a high school economics teacher… and the next, you’re placing the chairs upside down on the desks and turning in your keys.

I don’t know if you’ve ever worked in a high school, but those places are fucking rumor mills. I guess that’s to be expected, though. I got kicked out for something that I didn’t even do. The stupid bastards actually believed that I was sleeping with the head of the cheerleading squad. Now, you haven’t met me, but I can assure you that I’m not high school student-teacher love scandal material. I’m a balding, thirty-something male with a degree in communications. That may sound like a dreamy older-male news anchor for some, but I promise you it’s nothing close to that. I HAVE NEVER AND NEVER WILL BE ATTRACTIVE TO ANY SORT OF JAILBAIT TEENAGERS.

You should have been at the hearing; it was everything that has ever made a situation awkward rolled into one. I stood by myself in the center of what had to be fifty of the biggest stiffs I have ever met. You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones who are constantly clearing their throats before they speak and using the largest words possible in a sentence. Yeah, those kinds of people. One guy actually used the word “coitus” to describe what blondie and I were allegedly doing. I guess he was trying to mix up the vocabulary usage since “sexual intercourse” had been used too much.

Well, that’s all over with now; and the deed has been done. I have been exiled from the hallowed halls of Theodore Roosevelt high school and label as a threat to the student body’s virginity. Hey, maybe that gives me a rebellious persona… or maybe it just lands me a profile on meganslaw.com. Either way, I’m going to have some trouble finding myself a new job. God damn, I feel like I have a fucking brand on my forehead that says “PEDOPHILE”.

This is the last time that I ever help someone out. Especially a minor. I was such a sucker. You have to realize, this girl was a charity case. She’s the one girl that every other high-schooler wants to be: prom queen, captain of the cheerleading squad, a total over achiever; or, at least that’s how it looked on the outside. Truth be told, this girl had the IQ of a baked potato. She failed every single media quiz, scantron test, and short answer test I ever gave out. She tried so hard, but she was just too god damn inept.

Well, anyway… this girl realizes one day that she’s not gonna make it out of high school, and that she’ll be exposed for the imbecile that she really is. So, she does the smart thing and comes in to talk to me… on a Saturday… at my home. Okay, okay so maybe I should have noticed the obvious foul play right off the bat; but the nerdy high schooler in me got lost in her charms. Anyway, one thing lead to another and I end up passing her in my class because she is insanely good at turning on the believable water works.

So, not only does this girl use me to get her high school diploma; she also gets her community college classes paid for in full. Or, maybe she’ll get into some sort of “fashion” school with the settlement she is getting.

I examined the bare walls in my classroom. The walls where stupid motivational posters once were, the white board that still has remnants of a pie chart on it. I was just beginning to get settled here, it was only my second year. I guess you could say that I got a late start. I messed around for a bit after high school before going to college. I took a couple years off and lived in a nature commune in the outskirts of Humboldt county. I did alot of drugs during that stage of my life. It was all the LSD that I did near the end of my stint there that made me want to re-vamp my life. I realized that I was two years out of high school, and I hadn’t done a thing. I thought the answer at first was to get married and settle down, but that failed horribly. So, I enrolled in my local community college and got my life together. I was finally happy where I was.

I slid my name plaque out of its holder. This school may be keeping my dignity and my oak desk, but they sure as hell aren’t holding on to my fucking name tag. I picked up my box and turned around to flick off the light switch. There was a knock on the door and my focus came to a pair of blue eyes staring through it’s window. The destroyer of my life was here to have a chat. I opened the door and addressed her politely:

“What the fuck are you doing here.” I felt no need to censor myself, considering that I was no longer employed. Therefore, I am technically not a teacher.

“I just wanted to say sorry.” God damn, why does her skin glisten like that?

“Oh, well apology not accepted. Seeing as I’ll never work in this town again.” I assumed she was going to let me walk out the door after I said that…

“No, you didn’t understand me… I want to show you how sorry I am.” I stared at her, confused.

Then, before I knew it, we’re at my apartment… and what I was fired for was now considered a pre-emptive strike. Needless to say, I think I was just mad because I was pinned so easily by the school board as a teacher who would sleep with a student in a heart beat. You can’t judge me either, because it’s perfectly legal. It’s just not an extremely morally-conscious thing to do, dating a teenager. Oh well, I still sleep at night because I know that plenty of people would love to be me.

Steven (or, if you have a better title…let me know)

Originally posted on Monday, November 2, 2009 on facebook.com

His name was Steven, or was it Jim… Jeez, I’m not sure, give him whatever name that you think fits him. Wait, maybe he was really a she… or an it? Anyway, he/she/it looked like any other average Joe: nondescript facial features, average height and weight, some sort of hair/eye color… the works. Well, don’t worry none of that stuff is relevant anyway. What’s relevant is the story that surrounds StevenJim GirlGuy [insert name/gender here].
It was a bright morning, but sort of like the night time too. You know, like the morning or the night. One of the two. Our character walked at a slowish fast pace through one of the rooms in their dwelling place (like a house/apartment/condo/timeshare)… possibly the kitchen or the bathroom. The main person in this piece of writing examined all of the objects in the room, and noticed that there was something wrong with one of them. The protagonist moved closer, until they were like… really close to it.

“Holy shit!” exclaimed the person, “there is clearly something wrong with that object.” And our hero could see it very clearly, even if it was a little vague. He/she decided that something needed to be done, and nothing was going to stand in the way. Unless, of course, something were to stand in the way.

StevenJimJessicaKatie was on the way out the door, when something stood in the way. Character A (you know, the one I’ve been talking about) looked character B(the newcomer) in the face and posed a very articulate question, even if it was inarticulate and more of a statement.
“What the fuck are you?” He/she/it asked.
“Can’t you see?” replied the plot device.
“Oh yeah, I suppose your right. How stupid of me. Anyway, I have to do something about this object that has an imperfection… could you please move?” proclaimed our plot-mover.
“You and I both know you can’t do that,” said the thing… possibly a monster or something.
“Well, I suppose I’ll use the back door then,” said the humanoid.
And that is exactly what the main character of this story did. They used that back door. The person we have grown so fond of strode briskly yet slowly out the back door of their… uhh… place where they live, and started down some sort of path or road with the object in hand.
“Don’t worry, inanimate object, I’ll get you fixed. Or at least appraised!” Exclaimed our hero.
Just then, a shot rang out from the grassy knoll (or was it the book depository?) adjacent to protagonist boy/girl. He/she looked down and confirmed what he believed had happened.
“Jesus christ, I’ve been shot.” He/she said.
At that moment, the antagonist that we met briefly a couple of paragraphs back walked on screen.
“Yes that’s right! It is I who shot you. I was vengeful for some reason. Do you have any last words?” This character was clearly evil.
“I only have one thing to say,” said the guy/girl who you have grown so attached to because of character development, “I really hope that the papers see my death in a valiant light. Like you know what I mean? Like I hope they don’t criticize my death in the wrong way… like applying their opinions to their judgement of my death? Do you know what I mean? Ah, nevermind…”
Then he/she died a very gruesome, yet clean and not disgusting death. Everyone lived happily ever after, or they didn’t. Whatever.
THE END (OR IS IT?!?!)

The Tragedy of Comedy

Originally posted on Tuesday, September 15, 2009

“GET THE FUCK OUT,” Scarlett screamed, and she actually meant it this time. I grinned nervously as an expensive antique lamp whizzed by my head and shattered against the wall. Looking my red-faced lover in the eyes, I did the best thing I could do; made an emotionally abusive remark. “Whatever, you’re getting fat anyway. I don’t much enjoy making love to Shamu,” and then I walked nonchalantly out the door. It was a lie, she looked great and I loved her to death; but I just couldn’t bear to be the one who looked hurt.
My name is Sam Lynch, and I am a terrible person. You are going to learn that very quickly. I live in my very own piece of shit studio in the center of San Francisco, and make a meager salary working for the glorious golden-arched establishment that is McDonald’s restaraunts incorporated. My passion isn’t exactly flipping burgers, but it’ll get me by while I work toward my life-long dream of being a professional people-insulter; or, in Layman’s terms: a stand-up comedian. I used to have a girlfriend named Scarlet, but as you can see that isn’t working out too well at the moment. I guess you could say she hates me, but I’d like to think it’s out of love.
Calmly walking down the front steps of Scarlet’s twenty-story apartment complex, I shot an obligatory middle finger toward her window. I like to think that she saw it. Just to make sure, I stood in the same position for about a minute before departing toward my home. As I walked the damp streets and insulted bums, I couldn’t help but think that I had done something wrong. Scarlet was the first girl I had ever met who didn’t dump me in a week because I was “too much of an asshole”. She liked my pessimistic, comical view of life. She maybe even loved it, but I was always too busy making a joke to reciprocate her sentiments.
Well, I guess tonight was the last straw. Scarlet finally gave in to my callousness after 2 years. She decided that I do more harm than good. It all started at her house during the second of our bi-weekly committed relationship dinners. Like always, she made one of the two meals she knew how to make, (spaghetti with meat sauce or tuna surprise) and I brought the mood-setters (a jug of the cheapest wine I could find and a selection from my Adam Sandler collection). Everything was seemingly normal, until Scarlet dropped a bombshell capable of blowing up ten Hiroshimas. “I love you,” she said, her eyes soggy with emotion.
“I want to break up,” said some idiot. Then… blah blah blah…“GET THE FUCK OUT”… and here I am walking the streets, wondering why I do the things that I do.
The moist air made me feel extremely sweaty and tense. Every breath I took felt like I was suffocating a little more. I walked slowly, observantly watching the tall towers get shorter. The scenic “San Francisco” that tourists love gradually progressed into the ghetto. This is my San Francisco, this is my home. Tiptoeing up the creaky wooden steps to my gunshot-decorated front door, I turned my key in it’s deadbolt and stumbled inside; flicking on each light switch as I came to it.
I found myself in the bathroom, observing my reflection in the mirror. I examined my muddy brown hair, the stubborn jaw of my dead father, the wide nose that doesn’t belong in my genealogy, and my heartless white-blue eyes. I am disgusted with these features. There’s no way people look at me and don’t see a hostile person. God, I need help.

****

I woke up at 3:00 PM today. I suppose that makes sense because I stayed up watching “Everybody Loves Raymond” reruns until 6:00 AM. I’m definitely depressed. I brushed my teeth, took a shower, and spent about 20 minutes faking smiles; until I found one that fit enough to get me through the day.
I arrived at the SF Comedy club at exactly 8:30 PM, about 30 minutes early. This was odd for me because I usually arrive 5 minutes after I’m supposed to be onstage. It was interesting watching all of the up-and-coming “comedians,” and thinking of how I was once there. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly a veteran; but I’ve been putting on mediocre acts for quite a while now. Tonight felt different:

“Hello everybody! I’m Sam Lynch, let’s get this over with…
I’ve got places to be. You know, sometimes people look at me and say,
‘Sam you’re so heartless’. These kinds of people really get to me,
because I do my best to be a good citizen. Every time I commit
a hit and run, I try my best to dial 911 and report it on my way home.
I mean, it’s illegal to be on a cell phone in the car;
but I do it anyway because I care.”

I heard laughter, my heart skipped a beat. I looked at them, somewhat bewildered, and did my best impression of making a 911 call while speeding away from a crime. I forced a smile at the audience and continued:

“I swear, you’ve got me all wrong. I love to give.
Don’t believe me? Ask my girlfriend, I gave her all sorts of things.
Given, most of the things I gave her were transferrable
through bodily fluid… but I gave her things nonetheless.”

I imitated a shocked Scarlet calling me on the phone. I hushed her quickly, and spoke in a soothing tone. “Baby, it’s because I love you. That’s all it is, it’s a product of our love.” The audience continued to laugh. If only Scarlet was here, then she could hear what I really feel (minus the STDs) . I wish I wasn’t so stupid sometimes. I get the thirty-second warning from the sound guy, so I wrapped it up:

“But seriously guys, don’t be like me… don’t be
anything like me. It’s a long dark path being a comedian.
I swear to god, I had to fight like 5 different mythological
creatures on my way through the SF Comedy
Club Labyrinth, and you bet your ass David Bowie was
there. He seduced me into joining the dark side with
his beautiful music and promises of space travel.
…Thanks everyone! Have a great night.”

I left the stage, not even listening to the applause I received. I strode to the bar, and ordered myself a stiff drink. “Whiskey on the rocks, please,” I said to the bartender.
He gave me a look of strange approval, and politely replied, “This one’s on the house, buddy. Great job tonight.”
I did my best to smile, accepted the drink gratefully, and took a seat next to a drunkard sitting at the bar. He looked at me without shame, and a grin bubbled onto his face. “Great show tonight, buddy. Y’know, I’ve always thought you were a hack.. but something was different tonight. It’s like you really are an asshole.”
That’s when I realized it. I used to be a shitty comedian, because I was happy. I was satisfied with my life, and I fucked it up. I found a girl who was softening me, and I really liked it. I knew what I needed at that moment. I jumped out of my chair and raced out of the bar, making a huge scene. I tore my way through the front door, and abused my way down the street to Scarlet’s complex. Nearly giving an old lady a heart attack, I squeezed inside and up the elevator.
I knocked sporadically on Scarlet’s front door. She answered, looking beautifully pissed at me as usual. “Scarlet, I’m sorry for everything. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I just can’t say how I feel and it kills me because I care so much about you.” The anger melted away from Scarlet’s face in an instant. For the first time in a while, Scarlet smiled. “I love you,” I said, smiling back.
Scarlet continued to stare at me, silent for another couple of seconds. Then, the smile disappeared. “I fucking hate you,” she finally replied.
“I hate every single thing about you, and I have no clue why I used to enjoy you so much. You’re inhuman, I’ve never seen losing a parent effect anyone more than it has you. You just can’t relate, you’re like a sociopath…except you have this strange value for human life. I think it’s because you enjoy making fun of people. I’m moving, Sam. There’s nothing here for me. I hate this fucking city and every person contained within it. Especially you.”
I looked at Scarlet, and I felt like I should cry for the first time in 6 years. The tears didn’t come, the smile didn’t fade. I just stood there, looking exactly the same.
“See, nothing.” Scarlet slammed the door in my face, and that was the last I would ever see of her. Just before I left, Scarlet pushed an envelope out from under her door. I opened it and found a card inside. Across the top it said “Get well soon” with a picture of Bugs Bunny with his head wrapped in gauze. I opened the card and read Scarlet’s familiar handwriting:

“Look who gets the last laugh. I bet you
never thought it’d be me. To be a true artist,
you must suffer. I get it now, you never wanted to be
happy. Remember me when you perform on
HBO. The pain is worth it.
-Scarlet”
I dropped the card, and stomped on Bugs Bunny’s horrible face. Tears began to stream from my eyes, and there was nothing I could do to stop them. I walked out of the apartment complex a broken man. Everyone stared at the big baby.
I’m going to mail that girl a million dollars someday. A million fucking dollars.

Steven

Originally posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 on myspace.com

Steven started drawing people on his walls when he was in kindergarten.
Every couple of years Steven’s parents would have to paint his walls again so he could draw more people.
They would always pick a different thick pastel color to try to discourage this act; but he always persisted.
Steven’s talent grew with him as he progressed in years, the people growing more realistic as time passed.
Steven’s mother and father began to grow weary of these drawings, the eeriness of the realism kept Steven’s parents from entering his room.
The year that Steven died from a horrible case of pneumonia, Steven’s father painted over his walls one last time.
This time it was a permanent color that would mask the fact that a talented boy had ever once lived in the room.
It was black.
The room was no longer bright and pastel with people on the walls.
They moved all of Steven’s things from his room and burned them, never wanting to be pained by the thought of the boy whose talent they ignored again.
Every night, they would sit in the middle of Steven’s old floor, and listen to the voices of the people talking behind the paint.
Thousands of unique voices, all talking at once.
Steven’s entire universe.
3 years later, Steven’s parents decided to draw one last person.
One last smiling boy.
And so they drew the best they could, a life sized portrait of their son shining in the midst of the black void.
So every night, he could talk too.

High School Sexcapades

Originally posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2008 on myspace.com

Teenage boys don’t understand sex.
I should have taken that advice.
It was given to me over and over by every single one of my family members.
I always thought it was about getting drunk, and getting laid.
That there wasn’t any feeling behind it.
I should have waited until I had the hormonal capacity to “make love” with a woman, and not just fuck.
I lost it at a party.
God was that a mistake.
I suggest not losing at a party, especially with basket case girl.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, basket case girl is cute in an emotionally unstable kind of way.
But I swear to god, if she smiles at me and says, “hey handsome” in her best “seductive” voice one more time, I’ll fucking punch her.
Hard too.
I fucked myself into a crippling emotional attachment.
Why was she even at a party?
Why did she have her hair done all nice, and that dress on that showed she really had a body?
Why was she so vulnerable and drunk with tears coming down her face?
Hey, I didn’t have a date to prom either, and I wasn’t crying.
It was probably that meathead jock who called her a crazy bitch.
That was probably it.
But why me?
WHY ME!?!?
I walked by her, red cup in hand, and she grabbed my arm.
I should have pulled away at that moment, like her skin exhaled acid on my arm or something.
I should have shouted, “JESUS CHRIST, GET ME TO A HOSPITAL, IT’S EATING MY SKIN.”
But instead, I looked down at that make-up stained face, and into those puppy dog eyes.
Then I kissed her.
Everyone saw it, too!
I mean, I wasn’t popular before, but now I’m really not.
I took advantage of the situation.
Like a dog in heat.
No feeling behind it.
No porno style moans.
Just 5 minutes of a new addiction, and the rest of my high school year with a lost dog following me.
Worst part, she calls me, all the time.
In a drunken stupor, I took a sharpie from my pocket and wrote my cell phone number on her forehead.
Brilliant, I know.
Even my handwriting was drunk.
Sad part is, I don’t think I can ever get to know this girl now.
I might have been able to look past all the rumors and gotten to know her for who she really is.
Then I could have had sex that made sense.
Instead, I have a cancerous growth on my hip.
Which is why I have to tell you what I said before.
Teenagers don’t fucking understand sex.
Masturbate until you can.

Death of a prom queen

Originally posted on Tuesday, October 21, 2008 on myspace.com

She went out of her way to say hi to me one day.
That means alot to me.
It probably means nothing to her, but it means everything to me.

I’ve paid attention to her forever.
Ever since that day she moved here from Cincinatti.
She was so alone, she had no friends.
I knew some people, but I was never too popular.
We talked alot when we first met, about everything.
I learned all I could know about anybody except myself.
Then she got popular.
Whatever.
We were still friends, right?
No.

She became to good for me.
We don’t talk anymore.
But one day, she went out of her way to say hi to me.
After three years she waved frantically from across the quad.

She has an addiction now.
A terrible one.
Cocaine is her drug of choice.
I knew what had happened.
All that pressure from being the most popular girl in school had driven her to a nasty drug habit.
She could never be too skinny.
Or too happy.
Cocaine provided both of those things.
Weight loss.
Temporary happiness.

I should have never said hi back.
But I did.
From that day on, she was back.
For a little bit.

She now called me every night.
I learned more secrets.
It felt closer than ever between us.
But there was something wrong.
She was destroying herself.
I had to convince her to quit.
But I couldn’t do it yet.
And you have to trust me.
I really planned on it.
Until one night.
She invited me to destroy myself, too.

I had never been invited to a party in my entire high school career.
I got drunk for the first time in my life.
I did cocaine for the first time in my life.
I had sex with a girl for the first time in my life.
I drove fucked up for the first time in my life.

I died for the first time in my life.

She went out of her way to say hi to me one day.
That meant alot to me.
She said goodbye too.