The Sequence of Kai
I arrive home in an instant.
I ran to the bathroom after that incident with Bastien and the girl, locking myself inside before transferring to my bedroom.
I feel the pain in my side again, I’m probably pushing myself too hard. There’s no time to worry about that though, the girl from before is in danger, Kai is in danger.
I’ve seen that face before. Not on her, but on those around me, around every corner and in every mirror. It’s the face of someone who feels they have nothing left to live for. The face of someone with a warped view of how things are.
She told me not to get involved but how could I ignore someone like that? If it weren’t for people getting involved when they shouldn’t, I wouldn’t be here right now.
I try opening Paul’s door, but it’s locked, so I transfer myself in. He’s asleep on his desk again.
“Paul get up.”
I tap him on the side of his face, and he rouses in an instant.
“Ah shit, I fell asleep again.”
“Paul tell me where Bastien is.”
“Why do you want to know?”
“He just came into the bar and left with a victim.”
“Why is that a reason to know where he is?”
“Because I’m going to save her.”
“You’re going to do nothing of the sort.”
“It’s too dangerous, if Bastien has decided she’s going to die then she’s as good as dead already, no point in you getting yourself targeted as well.”
“So I’m supposed to just let him walk away, knowing what he’s going to do?”
“You do it all the time, Bastien kills as he lives, every day we have to ignore a victim of his.”
“But that’s different, they’re too far away we don’t know who they are before it happens but this time we do.”
“How would you stop him if you knew?”
“If you knew these victims ahead of time, how would you stop him? Because they’re not too far away from you, no one is ever more than an arm’s reach away from you.”
“I’d take them somewhere safe.”
“And then Bastien will find someone else, will you take them somewhere safe too? Will you take everyone somewhere safe Trish?”
“You can’t stop a murder by removing the victim from harm’s way. You can only do so by cutting out the danger at the source. You’ve always had the ability to do that, I thought you just understood that it wasn’t worth the risk.”
“Those were different….”
“They weren't different! Not for you!”
I want to cry. I want to curl up in a ball and hide away in my room. This is why I don’t like talking with Paul or with Aaron. Because I know there’s no difference between now and any other time. I know who Bastien is, I know who Maxi is, I know what Amir is. I ignore what they are because I can’t help but feel responsible. Responsible for not stopping it, for not helping. People are suffering and I know why but I’m not doing anything about it. I know why. That’s why….
“I’m glad you still have a preservation instin-”
“That’s why starting this time it will be different! This time I’m going to help.”
“Calm down Trish, don’t throw your life away for someone you don’t know.”
“Then why did you throw away your entire life for me and Aaron?”
At this stage, Aaron, who has been banging on the door for a minute or two, lets himself in by making a universal key. He stops just beside me; he wants to hear the answer just as I do. Paul is silent, he doesn’t let anything show on his face while he considers it.
“…what does it matter if you die today….”
He wasn’t whispering to himself, but he was quiet. Not trying to prevent us from hearing but not speaking to us either. He beckons Aaron over to him and whispers in his ear.
“There, he knows where you have to go. If you insist on tackling Bastien, don’t do it alone.”
I sit on top of Bastien’s naked body, blood streaming from a wound in his neck. He’s choking to death. That should be me. Why isn’t that me?
Why? Why? WHY?!
It was perfect this time, I found a dangerous man, I found someone who wanted to kill me. He confessed to me that he had a way of killing people unlike any other, and he wasn’t lying. As I was on top of him moments ago, he grabbed my wrists and I felt something flow into me through his palms. Something ripping through my blood vessels and muscles without doing any damage, up through my arms and across my shoulders until whatever it was reached my neck. And, for a single moment, my throat opened up, a drop of my own blood left my body for the first time in months, and it fell onto his face. I thought for a moment I was free, that I had finally found a way to die.
But maybe I was too relieved in that moment and God too cruel because the torrent of blood I was expecting never came. Without realizing the wound in my neck had closed over and one had opened in his.
Please let me die. If there’s someone making me live then please, stop. What’s going to become of me like this? People die because of me, and people can’t die because of me. Everyone who dies in my place is trapped within me, they scream constantly in the back of my mind, they want to be let out. If I let go then this body will be controlled by everyone, everyone inside me that’s looking for a way to get back at me, they can’t kill me, but they can become me, they know nothing scares me more than the idea of dying in other people’s thoughts.
I thump on Bastien’s chest over and over. I claw at my neck trying to reopen the permanently sealed wound that should’ve killed me.
“Let me go, whoever you are let me go!”
Every time I rip apart my throat Bastien’s neck shreds a little more just to haunt me. Why? Why? Why?!
This is horrible.
By the time me and Aaron arrived, there was no Bastien to deal with. Kai is on top of his body, naked and covered in blood.
She’s clawing at her neck like she’s trying to rip something out from underneath the skin but every time she does a piece of Bastien’s flesh explodes out of his throat. On her chest is a tattoo, I sense no power from it but given the situation, it must mean something. A red rose through a masquerade mask.
“We need to do something.”
“We can’t get close while she’s doing that….”
I disregard what Aaron is about to say. He’s about to say we should leave but I can’t do that. I have to call out to her.
I hear it. To my left ear, something drags me out of the haze. To my left, through the tears I see her. It’s that girl from before. I can’t even remember her name. No, more importantly, why is she here? How did she find me?….. I’m holding my neck. Oh my god.
She rushes up to me as soon as my hands stop moving to me. I jump off Bastien and back myself up against the wall. I hold my hands out to keep her away.
“Stay away from me! I’ll hurt you if you come close!”
The man that she’s with runs up to Bastien and wraps something around his throat. He says something to the girl but neither of us hears it.
“You won’t hurt me.”
She steps closer.
“I will! I don’t have a choice, no matter what I do I hurt people, that’s why I have to die!”
“Don’t say that. Don’t ever say that.”
She tries to step in to embrace me, but I push her back, staining the front of her coat with blood.
“Didn’t you see what just happened?! I can’t be hurt, I can’t die. People can only be hurt in my place; people can only die in my place. I can’t die and I need to! Before I hurt more people I need to-”
In an instant, she disappears from my vision and reappears right in front of me. She embraces me before I have a chance to push her off.
“I told you not to say that, ow!”
That injury from before is making it painful for her to hug me. But even so, she won’t let go. I don’t know what to do. I try to push her off me, but she just holds on tighter.
“Please let go of me…. I don’t want any more good people to get hurt because of me….”
When I say this, she starts crying, the type of tears that haven’t come suddenly.
“Why are you crying? Don’t cry over someone like me.”
“I’m crying because you’re stupid! I’m crying because you’re wrong…”
“I’m not wrong, I’ve done this too many times…”
“Not about that you idiot! You’re confusing hurt and pain. You think that because you can’t feel the pain that you’re not hurting but you are. It’s so clear that you are, no one wants to die unless they’ve been hurt.”
“It doesn’t matter! Hurt or pain, whether I feel neither or both it doesn’t matter! It doesn’t change what I am! I can’t live with myself like this….”
“Then don’t live alone!”
My legs feel weak. She can’t say that. Not now. I gave up so long ago. Don’t give me temporary hope. Please. Don’t give me anything.
“I’m like you in a way…. I spent so long pretending I couldn’t feel pain, so long I forgot what pain was. But I can feel it again looking at you and now I remember why I forgot. But just because enduring pain isn’t easy doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. Just because we can’t do it alone doesn’t mean it’s impossible.”
My legs finally give out and I slump to the floor, bringing her down with me. She grimaces in pain but doesn’t let go, she just keeps speaking through the tears.
“Do it together, find someone to share your burden. Take half my pain and I’ll take half your hurt, divide it between us and we can live half a life together. Just don’t give up. Don’t say you want to die ever again. I don’t think I can watch another person die inside their own mind…”
Her head that was buried in my chest now turns up towards me with expectant eyes. My hands go to push her off, but my arms won’t move with them. She’s giving me an out. She’s seen what I am and she’s saying it’s OK to live. Is it? Is she right? She doesn’t even know me, I don’t even know her name, how could she possibly be right?!
But I want her to be right, how badly I want her to be right.
All I want is for someone to justify my life, give me some purpose beyond death. And if she thinks she can distract me from that purpose…. Isn’t it only right to want that?
I try to speak but I have no words. All I can do is return her embrace, hold her close to me. And then for the first time as the Kai I had come to be, I felt tears forming and for the last time I cried.