Title: All That's Black
The blackest of black blanketed everything around me until my existence has been snuffed out. Time slid past my body into nonexistence as I waited out my sentence. The outline of the door faded into the darkness as soon as it closed in front of me. I stared hard in its direction, fighting at the fabric that kept my upper body chained.
The air was heavy, a swelling fog that covered my senses. I felt naked, wrapped in fibrous white chains. The door is there. I know it. It can't just disappear. He'll be back. He has to come back. He has to know I'm here and once he returns, he'll bring the light of the outside world.
My face contorted in disgust at myself. I don't need your pitiful light! I don't desire salvation! But I did yearn for the holy light blessed by God... just so I can tear it away from my eyes like the angel tapestry Ruth cherished. She loved it, loved life. I took both from her with a smile in my heart.
Rough canvas strapped against my body, kept taunt by a series of cold metal buckles that dug into my hard back. The stiff white fabric was heavy, sticking to my bare arms like a layer of sweaty skin. It's silent. I can't hear anything. Not even my voice when I speak, not even my thoughts when I think. I know they should exist but in this room I couldn't tell if I even existed. Sound floated to my lips with an exhaled breath but dies when it reached the air in front of it.
The punishment endures. You can't forget about me! I can't hear You anymore after You slammed and locked the fucking door but I want you to hear me! Listen to me, dammit! Know that I'm still alive! I'm still alive! The rages that had been my undoing return full force. I yelled. Snarled. Threatened. Screamed.
Damn you! Fuck you! I know you're out there! I'll kill you! I'll peel the skin off your soggy flesh and then strip the flesh off your bones! I'll make you feel it! Feel the fucking pain of living without life!
Crawford! Schuldig! Nagi!
A pair of glasses glowed white in my mind's eye. Composed Brad Crawford materialized with perfect timing to dish out one of his infamous steely looks, a marble statue of cool calmness. Schuldig peeled away the cascading cloak of night away to reveal himself before me. The easygoing smirk on his face was a stark contrast to his tense body. I snorted in victory. He was afraid of me. Behind the protection of his Gift and his leader, Schuldig was still frightened of what I could do and say.
Before I knew it, Nagi appeared from the darkness. No, Nagi is the darkness. His small head floated above his invisible body like a hideously impaled monster. Another use of your Gift, Nagi?
Farfarello, calm down. Crawford's commanding voice thundered through my skull.
I snapped to attention at the unspoken order. In this room, their thoughts were flashed through my mind at lightening speeds.
You're telling me to calm down!? You put me here! You and him! You moved us away from Japan to Germany, let that dumb bitch Sally enter my life, and worked with him to shut me away in here!
My eye turned accusingly to the surroundings, searching for my jailer. He was everywhere and nowhere. Why can't he hear me? I didn't want my ex-teammates. I want you! Shut up, Nagi! Stop staring, Crawford! Stop smirking, Schuldig, or I'll cut off your lips! I threatened, throwing venom from my eyes until I run out of breath. Schwarz stood there, watching me silently as I heaved another onslaught of verbal abuse at them.
Still they did nothing. They knew, didn't they? That all my threats were aimed at you! I hate you! It's your fault I'm in here! You and Crawford! And Schuldig and Nagi! Fuck you all!
Black. The blackest of black rolled across the floor like a wave of oil, engulfing its victims in the sludgy chaos.
We are the devil men of Schwarz.
Crawford vanished. Schuldig follows like his little bitch, never looking back. Nagi leaves too but traveling down his own path. I liked you, Nagi. It's too bad I didn't get to kill you before you went traitor on Schwarz, chasing after that little blue-haired tramp of Schreient. Did you fuck her yet? You should have before I tried to kill her. You let that trollop live without tasting her at least once? God, you're stupid.
It's darker than the cold oceanic depths made bloody by the murders from my hands. A human body is art in motion during death. Tears and blood are shiny, flowing fluids against the smooth bony rocks. The shrill, guttering sounds of cries and death spasms become the melodious wind over the underlying roar of pain.
Scream! I want to hear you scream!
I screamed, an inhuman voice from a human throat passing through unbreakable bars of my cell. Respond, damn you! Come back here!
I moved slightly, flexing my muscles, trying to feel myself so I know I'm still alive. I know I'm still here. That no one can kill me. No one can touch me...but you. The walls and floor are still here although it's unseen and unfelt. My eyes are wide open but the light had been sucked out of this room. It blinded me as if I was sinking in the heart of the sun. Just as you had intended.
You can't lock me away! You can't take me away from everyone!
I have never hated anyone but you. Not like this. The hate for Weiß could never compare! The hate is my blood, it burns me every moment I think of you and it freezes me when I want to rebel against you.
Why can't you just die?!
Knives! I needed my knives! Long, yellow hilts of my retractable poniards gleamed bright within my hands and the soft, harmonious snikt of the blade sound as comfortable as my beating heart. I imagined the silver lancing through your body. I want to tear apart the weakness binding you together. The same weakness binding you and me together.
Why couldn't you die like everyone else? I killed you years ago! Just stay dead! I don't need you!
The knives won't come to me. The needles are gone. The gun is empty of bullets. I'm still alone. But I don't need you!
Silence. Not even my screams could penetrate the silence. All my motion, my anger, and my voice...nothing disturbed the silence. I heaved against the fabric of my body. My pale skin alternately tears and melds together in fluid response to each action until I am mended, marked by disfiguring scars.
People recoil in fear and shock, seeing my golden eye and black eye patch. I recoil from them, seeing their devout faith shining from theirs. Young voices mingled through the darkness like silk ribbons twisting around each other before transforming into a white fog. Schoolchildren, dressed in uniforms of the Church, rushed towards me with pearl white candles in their hands. They stopped, encircling me with their solemn eyes. Laughter flies from their tiny mouths but they are whispering in unison, their pitying eyes intently on my face.
Are you saying a prayer for Farfarello? Are you asking for God's forgiveness for my sins?
The knives come to me suddenly and I lunge forward without a second thought, banishing the white straightjacket. The laughter lasts long after the bodies touched the floor.
I lick blood off the blades, cutting my tongue in the process. I shift the crimson elixir against my bleeding tongue in slow savoring motions. Drink the crimson up.
The knives vanished and I'm back in the straightjacket, leaning against the wall like nothing had happen. But something atrocious did happen. I know it. They know it. God knows it. You know it.
The bodies pick themselves off the floor and they began to pray again. Blood-stained uniforms, white collared shirts under little navy-gray jackets, black pants and shiny shoes. Black tapered candles with red flames that gave off no light replaced the pure white ones. Their young eyes were intently on my faces, full of sympathy.
God can't hear you. God won't answer.
A young boy looks at me with sable eyes and hair. I freeze, seeing Nagi, somewhere along the age of six years old or so. Only a decade younger than he was now. The same age he began his training to kill under Eszet's control.
Nagi whispered a prayer, holding his red-flamed candle against his chest in tiny white hands. Forgive him for his insults about Tot and me. He didn't mean it because he misses everyone.
Crawford? I turned to the boy beside Nagi. Crawford, at aged ten or eleven without his pristine suits and ties, gave me a solemn look of compassion. The red flame danced on the top of the candle as he too whispered a prayer. Forgive him for his cursing. He was angry. Help him learn to control his temper.
Don't tell me... I snort in derision at the sight of Schuldig, dressed in a uniform. Schuldig? The Guilty One? He should be in this straightjacket! Not me! But not even a uniform could keep the wild red-orange mane from looking like he woke up and started the day without combing his hair. The mess of hair only gave the young version of Schuldig a more convincing look.
Forgive Farfarello for being a member of Schwarz. He didn't have a choice because Eszet forced him.
My eye twitched as I stared at Schwarz. I knew everything they said was a lie. I did mean that Tot was a retarded whore and that Nagi was a know-it-all brat. I did mean every profane word that entered my mind and mouth. I did mean to kill everyone while in service of Eszet. I meant every single one of them!
A youthful voice void of its usual deep baritone sounded beside Schuldig. I stared. I stared long and hard at the round face half-hidden behind the red-flamed candle. Was his hair red or was it just the fire? Was that...Abyssinian?
Abyssinian, a boy of nine, dressed in a Catholic school uniform? It slipped before I could stop it. The phrase "My God..."
The Weiß leader sounded so strange. So...normal. Abyssinian looked at me, straight into my eye and spoke quietly. Forgive him for hurting himself because it was the only way he knew of to reach You.
A boy of eleven with lanky honey blond hair peered over the shoulder of Abyssinian before stepping up with his candle. Don't...not you too. Balinese? Why are you here? I don't need to see you. I don't need you to see me. Not like this...
I sank against the wall, feeling my stomach roll in revulsion at the sight of my enemies praying for me. Balinese's eyes shone brightly. He felt important to be in the presence of a killer.
Forgive him for fighting against us even though we are all God's children because he was ordered by Eszet.
You're blaming Eszet again? Don't you know I will gladly kill you all if I had the chance?
Siberian, unmistakably him, appeared like a little ghost beside his comrades. The same rough and tumble look in his demeanor. A sad look was on his face because he too once was devoted to the religion of the Lord. He was a boy who knew of the man he would become.
Forgive Farfarello for killing Ruth-san. It was m-my fault. I couldn't protect Farfarello or Ruth-san.
What?! You're taking the blame? What about Eszet? Did you all decide to change tactics? The feeling of lucidity began to overtake me even though I didn't want it to. I groped blindly for the anger, the will to throw myself against the children and take them all down. Biting, kicking, anything! I sought for it desperately like the madman everyone made me out to be.
Over it all, Bombay, a boy of six, with the final red-flamed candle. Forgive him for being Farfarello because that's how you created Jei.
Myself, at aged ten. Praying for me, a twenty year old killer.
Forgive me, Lord, for I have sinned against everything you have declared wholeome. I pray that you can grant me another chance. I will control myself and stop-
I... am sorry.
SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!
The eight little boys vanished, melting in the blackest of black. The candles go with but the red flames remain. The red became droplets of my own blood. Bright crimson red shone against your ghost white skin, running in rivulets along the contours of your body. I felt the urge to clamp my jaws around your neck and drink all of your blood until it returned inside of me.
I don't need this! I don't need you!
My jailer appeared finally after sticking me into this dreadful hole for years. Gold strands float in the air and it was the light surrounding his head. It is not an angelic halo. You and I both know there was no way God would ever make you an angel.
So do I.
What do you want?
I want to leave.
I can't let you.
Let. Me. Leave.
I snarled at your answer. It was as simple as that.
No, nothing is ever simple, Farfarello. Not when I became you.
No, that was you. I became strong. I faced up to everything and I restarted my life.
You stole mine to do so!
No, you were the one to take mine away...when you killed my family.
They were my family too!
Do you love them?
NO! I grimaced at the thought of being with them, to see their faces when I die.
You won't see them, Farfarello. They're in Heaven. You're going to Hell.
So will you! Murderers go straight to Hell! They can't ever repent.
I aim to go to Purgatory...but I don't believe I will. I...accept that.
You're Catholic again, aren't you? I glared at the man before me, seeing weakness incarnate.
I'm Jei again. That's all there is to it.
You should have stayed Farfarello. Stayed like me.
I need you like you need me. We are one person and two minds. But I'm capable of living without you.
The bonds disappeared. I am standing to face a man without scars, physical, mental, or emotional. My red blood made up his armor and the golden light of his hair, a remnant of faith in an ancient religion touches the glistening silver of my own, a mark of sin. One of his hands reached out, hovering between us.
But I'm willing to accept you as a part of me... if you're willing to become me. To become...Jei again.
I'll see the light beyond the cell door again. To taste, to touch, and to smell everything. The bars of this cell in Jei's mind will disintegrate and I will be able to walk free. A shadow of the blackest black will always be there but this time, I won't be alone to face it.
They're waiting for you.
Who? Suspicion marred my words. I'll have to work on that when I'm free.
A smile unseen came with his reply. Your friends and teammates.
A lot of time has passed. Much has happened since you were here. It's time for you to catch up.
I reluctantly raised my hand, feeling it shake in frightful anticipation. Jei leaned forward and clasped it. Golden and silver light flooded the room, drowning us in its brilliance.
I opened my eyes and see everything with a new set of eyes. Two eyes.
"Welcome back to Kritiker, Jei-san."