by The Digital Mage (26 May 94)
A thought. Sober now. Cold -the stone floor under my feet. I clench my toes, I feel the small pieces of gravel dig into my skin. The sharpness of the pain tells me this time is not like the others.
The hallway is familar. It stretches out in front, not giving way to any other passage or alcove, it leads to only one place.
I listen -this one is silent, perhaps it sleeps?
I know what I must do -what I have done before so many times. I feel the cold steel in my hand, my fingers clenched around the hilt. I run my thumb up and down the blade -a redness arises, issues forth, spills over. A droplet. A thousand years to reach the floor. It splashes and turns a dark, deathly black in the light of the candles.
I see the end of the passageway. The distance seems miles; miles to the pedestal. My perceptions confused. My eyes lie to me, or is it my mind which lies? I inhale; the smell of the herbs, it isn't here.
My mind takes the place of the drugs. I yearn to smell the familiar pungent aroma. I could blame them, project my guilt on to others. Whatever occurs now is down to me, and me alone. I touch the cold blade to my naked thigh, it steals away my warmth like a thief in the night. A choice, a decision made.
I take a step.
The blackness closes in behind me -nowhere to go but forward. I do not look back. My heel touches, then the ball of my foot, and finally the toes.
I see the coarse blanket draped upon the pedestal -protecting its occupant from the harsh lack of warmth.
I see the small frame of the child -its head turned away- sleeping. Its tiny limbs still, the only movement, its chest rising and falling.
I stand at the pedestal. The infant lies within reach. It is my choice. I know what is expected, and what will happen if I do not comply; or do I? Do I really know that they will kill me? Have I only been persuaded - -not forced- into committing the deeds I have?
My choice was made with the first step.
I stare at the baby, and try to summon all my hate. My muscles tense - -the blade bites deeply into my leg -no pain. I feel the urge rise. My temples throb, my teeth clenched; a feral snarl upon my face. I feel I must reach out and grip something soft, and to squeeze until something gives, to feel something wet seep between my fingers.
My hand. I place it upon the infant's body, above its chest. And slowly I press down. The infant is aroused from his slumber. So sorry. It tries to cry -it doesn't have the air in its lungs to do so. My gaze, my attention, fixed solely on my hand as I push down. I hear something begin to crack. My shoulders, arms, neck, tense. I raise my right hand. Place the blade between the fingers of my hand which crushes the life from the child. The blade poised above the child's heart.
My face contorted into something akin to anger -but not quite. And I push down with the knife. Slowly. The blade meets resistance for a second, then the skin is punctured and the blade sinks in easily -as it would into fruit.
I do not notice at first that I also cut myself, the small area of webbing between the fingers, sliced. My blood mingles with that of the infant. I have become what I hate.
And I am damned.