Three A.M.


I have always felt more comfortable in the dark. The blackness envelopes me, and I am safe, I feel like I cannot be touched, cannot be hurt, not even tangible when I am hidden by the absence of light.

There is no such thing as a world without evil. A light always casts its shadows, but the shadows do not have need of the light at all... and no matter how many lights there are, there are always safe havens for the shadows, always places for these dark things to creep and to hide.

I've seen the Devil, you'd think I couldn't be scared anymore, couldn't be intimidated by anything... well, you'd be almost right.

The dead, the dark, the demons. None of these things scare me one bit, I walk down the street in the silence and the black shadows and I am unafraid.

I used to think that I knew, how the world worked, how the celestial bodies played in the stars, the purpose of myself and of everything.

Now, I am unsure, and that's the only thing that scares me now. Without my purpose, without certainty, I am faltering and hesitant.

Knives that are sharp with the blade of certainty cut with a swift killing slash. Knives jagged and blunt with indecision; they hack and tear, they don't kill at all fast enough. The stars twinkle above me, and the dark covers me like a funeral shroud.

"Typical," a voice murmurs to me, "In the beauty of this night all you're thinking about is knives and funerals."

"Beauty's an illusion." I snap in response, used by now to these voices in my mind...Mostly they're harmless, although lately some of them have been getting loud, and rude, somewhat alarming.

A car rushes by, the engine purring like some jungle cat, temporarily drowning out the silence, and then it's gone and the quiet swoops back in, water filling a vacancy and nearly deafening me with nothingness.

Fireflies dart in and out, small flecks of light against my precious curtain of ebony, my pre-dawn sky dotted with small lights billions of miles away, and one giant hanging moon. It gleams like polished silver, radiating an almost purplish glow out into the infinite depths of space.

My hand's numbed from the coldness of the little slushy drink I'm holding; not a Brainfreezy, but close enough to one. Half-gone and only half left to go. The cup is half-empty, of course. It is only half-full if it's free.

Absently I drink most of it, my mind totally alert despite the lateness of the hour. A bank sign proclaims that it's exactly three o'clock Ante Meridiem and seventy-one degrees.

Not bad, really, though I can stay up later with ease, I can beat the sunrise.

A dream, within dreams...sleeping is not a pleasant thing for me. The dreams of blood and slaughter are fine, but sometimes I get other dreams, creeping visions of a small boy painting, alone...

These scare me, and I dislike handing my consciousness over to my sub-, even if it's only for a little while. My subconscious can be spiteful sometimes; I've had plenty of experience with that.

The drink is gone by now, but I'm still carrying the sub-zero plastic cup, looking for a trashcan to deposit it into. The world's trashy enough without me dumping junk as well.

Streets pass, blinking 'Don't walk' signs cast a reddish glow on my skin, giving a ruby tint to my eyes, and finally I locate a rubbish receptacle, dropping off the cup. I clasp my hands together as I continue to walk down the filth-lined sidewalk, kicking along a couple cigarette butts and hoisting my backpack a bit higher on my shoulders.

A man is sitting on the street corner, next to a small jewelry shop, closed down and boarded up. There's a small, crude sign propped up next to him: "WAR VET: PLEASE HELP."

I stop, and consider for a few minutes.

"Hi." He says, looking up with alert eyes half-hidden by a dusty fedora. A beard covers the lower half of his face.

"Which war?" I inquire, more curious than anything else.

"Second world war." He sighs a little, "I was a private when we marched on the Nazis... got my hand blown off, and I can't find work anywhere. The compensation, I gave that to my family a long time ago."

He pulls back his sleeve, baring a ragged, wrapped up stump where his right hand used to be.

I nod, not repulsed, and my curiosity is sated, for the moment. I dig into my pocket, fumble around for a few minutes.

Most of my income is from my victims--I take whatever they're carrying when I kill them, and tonight I've got an even hundred.

"How much do you want?" I ask softly, glancing around the street. This human is relatively nice, at least what I've seen of him. He could be rotten at the core, perhaps...but...that remains to be seen.

"Five dollars?" he asks meekly, "I've got six was a good day."

I consider, and the voice that commented on the knives comes back once more, roaring.

"What do you owe him, Johnny? He's just a disgusting child like all the others!"

I glare off into the distance, willing the voice to leave, and shove fifty dollars into the man's left hand. He gapes down at it like I've just given him the crown jewels.

"Mister... are you sure? This is--"

I nod, cutting off his confirmation; "The government should have given you more."

"Thank you... what did you say your name was?"

"I didn't. I'm Johnny." I mutter, beginning to walk off. Some strange emotion that I could have labeled 'happy' leaps up in my heart, but it's soon smothered by the voice.

"Johnny... thank you, thank you so much." He calls after me, but I pretend I didn't hear, shoving the rest of the money back into my pocket.

"Hell, it wasn't yours anyway." The voice says, annoyed. "It was that spiky- headed brat's who called you an SOB...the one whose brains are splattered artistically all over the dining room."

The voice receives no reply from me, and so shuts up, at least for a little while. Head down, I return home, shut the door, and then lie down on the couch.

"Tired?" The voice strikes up again, "Wanna go to sleep and dream?"

"Shut up." I murmur, "You're not helping me."

"You wasted fifty dollars on an old one-handed man."

"Shut up..."

"You're a pathetic loser, just like they all told you, only you didn't believe them, did you?"

"Shut up, shut up, shut UP!" I howl, slamming my head against the couch hard.

"It's okay, Nny." A different voice starts, soothingly.

Nailbunny, my voice of reason... my friend.

"You did the right thing and I'm proud of you. You're not a loser. Go to sleep, I'll be here when you wake up."

Slowly, some semblance of sanity returns to me, and I lay my head back against the couch, almost trembling.

"You promise?" I ask quietly.

"I promise."