It was to my great surprise that I awoke in my own bed, which had been dressed with fresh linens. My head felt incredibly light. Sunlight was pouring through an open window and a fresh breeze was blowing. It felt good.

I flexed my hands and stared at my wrists. I was sore, but bandaged. The pain was dull and removed, definitely not the breed of discomfort I should have been experiencing after rooting around inside of my wrists. I was thankful. In that moment I realized I had made a terrible mistake. I definitely did more damage to myself, so my health worried me.


Gerald was staring at me from across the room. He was sitting at my desk. A copy of "Applied Mathematics: The Legacy of the Progenitors" lay open in front of him. He had cracked several chapters by the looks of it.


I squeaked, my mind swimming with jealousy and shame.

"You never tried to explain yourself. I wanted to give you time, but when you disappeared I got worried."

Disappeared? So I did lose several days to her influence.

"I didn't want you to do something stupid, so I came here. You did something stupid."

I held up my wrists and inspected them. He didn't require tutoring in first aid apparently. The bandages were quite expertly applied. They were fresh and clean, very little blood marked where my wounds must have been.

I opened my mouth to explain, but I found the words missing.

"I'm not like you, Hanz. I'm not gay. I don't want to be, either. I like girls."

My heart sank. I tried to disappear into my bed.

"But what you did was stupid. You're the smartest person I know. Did you really think I was going to rat you out? Is that why you did what you did? Is that why you tried to.. off yourself on the bathroom floor?"

There was a beat.


He stood up slowly and walked to my bedside.

"I'm the last person who would hold it against you."

He told me of his atheism and how he felt like an outsider too. About how he found that same glimmer in me and that's why he valued me as a friend. He made that terribly clear. I was a friend and definitely not a love interest. But he would never judge me or allow my secret to become public.

I felt crushed and relieved at the same time. It was bitter sweet.

I wanted to tell him more. That I had confessed my nature to him through no fault of my own. That I at times lost control of myself. That I might be responsible for the destruction wrought at the library. That I saw a seductress in the pages of the very book he was just examining. My interaction with him was just the tip of an iceberg, an inconsequential coincidence.

So I did. It caused her influence to roar back to life. My eyes darted around the room through no control of my own and my fists clenched my bedsheets. But she was weakened. Through it I told him of my blackouts, the mysterious thing inside of me and of her glory. Her wonderful, wonderful glory.

He looked on in horror. After I certain point I knew he wanted to leave, but I continued anyway. I took advantage of his worry that I'd attempt suicide again, even though I thought that a foolish decision in hindsight.

I told him about her living in the margins of the books and her mysterious red script. Throughout my confession she bubbled up to the surface more and more. I could just barely hear her yelling, screaming, raging against me in my head. The words eluded me, but she was angry.

Gerald looked to me as if I was insane.

"Maybe you should see someone."

He stated, a worried look forming on his face.

I laid there and I looked at my bandages. She was still screaming at me. She was so loud that I could feel it in my teeth.


I commanded. I didn't state, I didn't squeak. I commanded.

"Hanz. There is something wrong with you. Look at yourself, I found you in a puddle of blood on your bathroom floor. You've dropped out of all your classes. You think you're responsible for dismembering a man. You think you're in love with a woman who writes you nonexistent notes in dusty books."

I glared at him, a sense of power over taking me. This was not her presence. I was fully aware and in control. She was there, but I was in control. Perhaps I wasn't, but it felt like I was.

At that moment I knew something was wrong with me. Terribly wrong. But I liked it. I felt confident and in charge. I got out of bed and confronted him. I was nude, fragile and pale. But I wasn't concerned. I could feel a fire burning behind my eyes.

"This from an atheist of all people? You think I need help? Maybe I like her, maybe I like her more than I could have ever liked you!"

I shouted, advancing on him. He slinked back. With every inch he retreated I grew more confident. I knew he was terrified. I fed on it. It didn't matter that he was scared for me.

"Who are you to judge me?"

I clenched one of my fists. I could feel my wrist muscles twitch.

"Hanz. Calm down."

He began to chatter on about how I wasn't thinking clearly and how he understood. But he didn't. His words were nothing to me. He was just pandering, trying to manipulate me into a situation where he felt more comfortable. A situation where he could be in control.

But that was the story of my life. It felt wrong all of a sudden. Far more wrong than my homosexuality. More wrong than the crazy concept of a woman lusting after my attention beneath the cover of a book.

At that point he ceased being my friend through sheer force of will.

I could feel the clockwork heart beat inside of me. It made me feel good. It aroused me. My eyes lost control of themselves again and I found myself staring at his throat. His twitching jugular. The bead of sweat that was just beginning to seed itself on his collar bone.

Something wonderful was happening.

"Oh god."

He managed to croak. I remember lunging at him, but he was quick and I was still weakened from blood loss. There was a brief struggle on the floor where I did things that I would have under normal circumstances been incapable of. But he ultimately escaped and fled.

It felt good to reverse our roles. He was the one being thrown out after crawling back to me. He was the moral degenerate.

She stopped screaming at me. Instead I received praise. She told me her name. It was beautiful. It was elegant. It was Altima.


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