Tonight’s story, from Minnesota writer Ellen Ahlness, provides a fascinating monster, of the all-too-real variety.
The first time I saw you, Doctor Braun, I’ll never forget. We were in University, testing, and you had reached into your pocket. I thought for sure you were trying to cheat, which didn’t anger me so much as the fact you were going to cheat so sloppily. When you pulled your hand out, instead of a paper, you had a flask. You took a swig then hid the drink away once more.
I thought it was strange, how a man such as you could fall to alcohol. What I didn’t know was that was just the tip of your depravity.
You drink so much, Braun. Night after night as you study you down enough alcohol to cripple a man my size. It’s fascinating, watching you kill yourself slowly.
Do you understand the concept of deinos, Doctor? It’s a word created by the ancient Greeks, used to describe their heroes and villains. It means strange, wonderful, and terrible. That’s the way I feel when watching you. I want to learn from your pain, but I have to struggle to watch. I’m sickened and drawn to you, you and your drunken, tortured life.
“Just one more drink, one more to pull myself together, okay?” you insist to an orderly trying to take away your flask. You don’t seem to realize how much of an honor it is that you’re about to participate in a surgery. All you care about is whiskey. “But I cannot see this through without a drink!”
You guzzle each glass down with hopeful fervor. Do you think you’ll find the secret to happiness at the bottom of each bottle? You sigh when it isn’t there, cast the glass aside, and start the search again.
I sit behind you in lecture. You’ve noticed me, but always look away. You look away, Braun, but I don’t. I’m always watching you.
You’re always staring at the corner seat. Sometimes the professor’s son sits there. He’s Johannes, barely old enough to be in University, just likes to listen to his father. He’s the kind of German you folks like, tall, skinny, pale. He moves with a womanly kind of grace- something I could easily amend by snapping his joints. Those days he comes in are the days you drink the most.
I’m starting to piece things together, Braun. Do you lust from afar, or has he rejected you already? No youth in his right mind would choose you. I hardly know why I’m fascinated with you; you’re sniveling, disgusting.
I guess it’s the lure of deinos.
Sometimes you pass out. In the library, in the halls, or in the morgue. I ought to leave you there, or empty your pockets to teach you a lesson, but I always end up bringing you back to your apartment. It’s right across the street from mine. You never wake up as I carry you. In the mornings you carry on as normal, assuming you dragged yourself to bed in a daze the previous night. It’s for the best you believe that.
I see you those mornings after, looking hung over and blurry-eyed. My kitchen window looks into yours. I don’t think you’ve ever noticed. You would have stopped making breakfast in your underwear a long time ago if so. I like it when you do that. It makes me think of those nights I drop you into your bed, and I run my fingers over you. You’re so small, Doctor, just like a woman, but I don’t mind that. It reminds me of your frailty.
We spoke today, Braun. You were obviously dead drunk, and couldn’t focus one bit on the lecture. As we came out of class, you stumbled over to me and asked what the Professor had been talking about. I lied. You were so grateful, shaking my hand for my help and telling me to call you Lars. I said I’d prefer to call you Braun. You asked for my name, and I said Jameson. You hiccupped and botched it. Then you puked.
We haven’t spoken since then. Once you sobered out a bit, you feared what you might have said in your stupor. This must change.
Johannes wasn’t in class today. Our Professor was ecstatic to announce that his youngest son was getting married, and all students were invited to the ceremony.
You wilted then, Braun. I could feel your need for a drink, your addiction seeped out in the air- the necessity to drown yourself in schnapps and rum and scotch until you dulled all the heartache into a buzz in your chest…
I won’t stop you, Doctor. Tonight, I’ll stop by your apartment with some whisky, act all friendly. You won’t refuse. I know you, Braun. I know when you’re nice and tipsy you’ll share everything with me, because you’ve never had anyone to share with before. I’ll tell you about the men I’ve killed- the ways I plan to kill again. You’ll be frightened, but that morbid fascination would still be there.
As you’d drink, more and more, you’ve become clumsy. You’d be incapable of fighting, and then you’d make the biggest mistake of all, Braun.
You’d begin to trust me.
One of my acquaintances asked me why I’ve been so distracted, Braun. He said I haven’t been focusing on my studies as much as I ought to. He asked if I was in love.
It was a stupid question. I had half a mind to show that man how incapable of love I am. I don’t love. I’m incapable of something so shallow and fleeting. I’m a better man for that. I don’t lust to love you, Braun. I long to possess you. I will be your one constant in life, Doctor. You will serve me, work for me, cater to me, worship me, kill for me, pleasure me… and you’ll do it willingly. Whether you love me or fear me, you coward, you’ll follow me willingly
Because you’ll have no one else to turn to.
Ellen Ahlness is a student and writer from Minnesota who has a strong love for other nations, especially Norway, which is a passion that finds its place in many of her works. She has been published in ‘Serendipity,’ has received national recognition for speculative essays ‘The American Hero’ and ‘Vote,’ and has been extensively published and involved as an editor for both the print and online editions of ‘Century Times.’ She believes that it’s only a matter of time before she stops writing about Norway, and goes off to actually live there.