Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Black Heart Syndrome

Black Heart Syndrome: The Account of Bryn

“Bryn, you’ll never amount to a thing! You’re just like your mom.” That’s what my dad said to me one day after school. He thought I had been running around with some boy he had made up in his crazy head. So I killed him.

I didn’t show any mercy when I drove that steak knife deep into his chest where his heart was supposed to be. He didn’t know me. I was a recluse. I ignored all the boys who hit on me. I tried my best at school, at everything, but it just wasn’t enough for him. Day in and day out he would vocally harass and abuse me, telling me I was nothing, and would never amount to a thing. He wasn’t a real parent, not since mom left.

Warm blood spewed like a volcano, speckling my face as I drove the knife deeper. It was disgusting, but all I could think was “finally”. It just felt so right. I had killed the man who had a black heart.

For as long as I could remember I had this super power- no, that’s not it- this bad habit of looking at people’s hearts. There was a wide variety of them; some sparkled, some glowed in the dark. There were bright red ones, green ones, and I even saw one that had the lines of a puzzle, like I could pull it apart and piece it back together if I wanted to. Each person’s heart was just plastered on their chest, like it was sewn to their clothes as a fashion statement, but only I could see them. Me. And I always hated that my sorry excuse for a father’s heart was blacker than his rotting teeth.

Years passed, and I killed freely. It made sense to me, to kill the black heart scum. It gave me a high every time the life of a black heart left their lips, their eyes. It was like I stole their energy. I grew stronger as they fell. Nobody, no black heart, could cross me and expect to escape. I kept to myself, I didn’t socialize. I didn’t want to be involved with anyone.

Except Henry Walker.

The first day we met he saw me execute of some wealthy politician stalking women in the alley. His golden business pen was rammed through his chest like an arrow. I towered over his crumpled body, disgusted. He was a filthy man. He reminded me of some of the boys I grew up with.

The minute before the stranger spoke there was this striking smell that sifted through the air. I knew it didn’t belong to the ally; it was a good smell, something I’d be willing to buy at the store. “Nice execution, but you might want to work on your form.”

I looked down at the body of the politician, then back up at the stranger. He was gone.

I told myself a lot of things to explain what had happened. He was a stupid fan who read articles about people being stabbed through the heart. He was a hallucination. Maybe he was a ghost.

But I couldn’t get him off my mind no matter how hard I tried. I would sit in brightly lit cafes thinking of him, and one of those times, while I wasn’t paying attention, he slipped into the chair across the table from me. He was wearing a nice white shirt and his black hair was cut short. He looked like he hadn’t shaved in a few days, and large sunglasses covered his eyes. He definitely looked nice. Then there was that smell again. It was so… human.

“I know how to kill you and make it look like a triceratops impaled you.” This was the only response I felt I needed to make him leave, but he didn’t. He stayed there staring at me through his aviators. I thought a little about my own hair and how compared to his it was a mess, just a blond ponytail. My jacket and skirt also had faint smears of blood on them from my kill earlier in the day. They didn’t look nearly as nice as his clothes. I would have felt embarrassed if I wasn’t able to change what about me people saw after a kill. It was part of my bad habit; In fact, sometimes that was the only way I was able to escape from a kill, by making people think I looked like someone else. If anyone was looking in my direction, they’d see me looking at least a little nicer than I really was; no blood on my clothes and better hair. Definitely better hair.

“That’s my dream death. How’d you know?” He said whimsically. He had a charming smile. I was pretty sure that if I kicked him in the crotch it would go away pretty quickly, though. “You only kill black hearts. That I know. Check my chest; I’m clean.”

I stared at his chest. His heart wasn’t so much clean as it was missing. I was extremely confused, and a little worried.

“You look cute when you’re confused. Like watching an alpaca in the rain.” That didn’t make any sense but I still felt myself blushing. “We both have bad habits. Because of that we can’t see each other’s hearts. We can’t even see our own.”

“Who are you?”

“Henry Walker. The pleasure’s all mine, I’m sure.”

Henry kept on popping up wherever I went, and after a week of this I reluctantly told him that my name was Bryn. Once I told him that he started joining me on my hunts for black hearts. He told me there were others like us, which I found hard to believe at first. He could pick out black hearts from a crowd just like me, though, and that was all the proof he had to give me that at least he was legit. I would ask him where he had met the others, and he would point out places in the city on our prowls where he had encountered them. Henry would rarely say more than that. I could never understand why he was so secretive about it.

“You know I’d rather learn more about you, Bryn.” Henry said to me on one particular walk through the alleys. He lifted up his sunglasses and placed them on top of his head. The sun was setting behind a fast food sign, and I wasn’t sure why he had even bothered to bring his shades since we always walked at night but he never liked giving me a straight answer. “I know I’m an amazing fella, but at some point you need to admit that you’re more than a little amazing yourself.”

Henry gave me that smile of his. This time I think he tried to add a little more sex appeal to it by angling his head downward a bit so his eyes looked more mysterious. I groaned and nudged his face away with my hand.

“If you knew just how amazing I really am, your hair would keel over from shock. Happy now? C’mon, let’s keep it moving.” I silently scolded myself for thinking even for a moment that he might be even a little cute.

Our little black heart prowls kept up, and he kept coming on stronger, little by little. First he told me I looked cute. He started bringing me flowers, then a heart-shaped necklace and eventually he said he thought he loved me. He had this unsure sincerity, and I believed him. I somehow got more comfortable around him and even his strange scent. I still wanted to be a recluse, but amazingly I was okay being a recluse with Henry, if that made sense. And one night I even let him take me to his apartment.

We lay side by side on the floor of his living room, staring at the white ceiling. That organic scent of his lingered everywhere in his place. It started fogging up my mind. I turned my head sideways to look at him and he stared back with his pretty boy smirk and ocean eyes. He whispered I love you, and then crawled on top of me. He wrapped his hands around my neck. My arms were free but I couldn’t bring myself to struggle. I could only choke out questions.

“If we’re the same…?”

“We’re not. I can’t see black hearts. You’re probably the only one who can.” The smell in the room was choking me as much as his hands were. “Oh, but don’t get me wrong- I have met and killed other people like us, with abilities. They were all unique and pretty fantastic.”

“How- Black hearts?” It wasn’t a real question, but it was all I could choke out.

“Black hearts have this smell… like trash. People like us have a smell too, of course.” His grip grew tighter. Instead of my life flashing in my mind, it was the moment I killed my father. My real birth. “I release pheromones in the air to make people like us fall in love with me and unwilling to fight back. Then I kill them.” Henry paused for a moment. “I’ve learned to hide my inner self from people like you, who can see what people really are. I’m what you are to the black hearts. A hungry, hungry wolf in black sheep’s clothing.” He leaned forward and his lips brushed against my forehead. “You look so cute with the color drained from your face. I just thought you should know that.”

I couldn’t see his heart, but I told myself it had to be blacker than black, like ink, as black as a lump of coal, or a black hole. Those thoughts, and the image of my father, got me angry and gave me the little bit of strength that I needed. I would enjoy every second of his demise.

My hands moved to the waist of my pants, drawing out the small knife I kept there in a sheath. Henry wasn’t paying attention; he was drinking in his victory, thinking I didn’t have any strength left. One swift motion was all I needed for my knife to find its way to where his heart should have been. A steady stream of blood trickled warm droplets on me. He fell over and I got up, shaking and coughing. I stared at his body, watching while his life drained with every heartbeat and his life became my strength. But I didn’t really feel a thing. On his chest, after his last breath, appeared a black heart. It was shattered into a thousand tiny pieces. I placed the necklace he gave me on top of the pieces. I had broken his heart.

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