I seem to be full of Mentalist fic recently. It's weird, but productive.
Red John and his reflection, his Hollow Man, in five acts. Based on the poem The Hollow Men by T.S. Elliot, which is awesome and unfortunately too long to post in its entire awesomeness. The snippets you see here correspond with the acts of the poem. Go read it!
Warnings: Angst, death, creepyness (the creepiest thing I have ever written, I believe), punctuation and parenthesis abuse, and a bizarre blood fetish. Er, yes.
Dedicated to Katie and Thunderhowl, whom I adore with all my soul.
Disclaimer: I do not own Mentalist or The Hollow Men. Damn.
The Hollow Man
In Five Acts
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw.
You see him for the first time on the television; a glimmer of motion and sparkly suits and lies, caught over the body of your latest victim.
(I knew a girl like you once, you told her. Her name was Mary. She broke my crayons in first grade.)
The screen is splashed with sticky crimson (beautiful) and her dead eyes, blank and hollow (a mirror of your own, you think) are fixed on Mister Patrick Jane's beaming grin.
"Your mother forgives you." He says, gently, to his target. "She loves you.
But he's a liar because there's no such things as psychics and dead mothers don't forgive. He's a liar and a thief and a con man.
And he's interesting.
You can see it, on the bloody screen. His eyes are slanted and blue and cracked, his insides leaking from them, brilliant azure (not as pretty as red) and fanciful.
Mister Jane has had a hard life, has met a bad someone. (Bad father bad mother badbad someone, someone hanging over his shoulders, sucking the life right out of him, that's how it goes.)
And he's smart. He's funny. He's charismatic and attractive (you can't help but think of the sun) and he's got that infectious air about him that puts him in control of the room, that draws your eye.
He's also very, very stupid. He's prideful. Arrogant. Self-centered, even though he adores his family. He's flawed.
You know this instinctively, the hunter in you picking your Prey.
You know, from that one glimpse, that he's like you.
He's not hollow yet (not like you are, a hollow man, an empty shell), not completely, not stuffed with hate and pain and rage (beautiful rage), but you can fix that.
You decide, over Number Four's lifeless body, that he is yours, now.
You, in an errant afterthought, dip three fingers into Number Four's (I knew a girl like you once. She broke my crayons in first grade) blood and, on the wall, you draw a face. It's got slanting eyes and a beaming grin, and it's in the center, drawing all eyes to it.
You smile, because you have staked your claim.
And so it begins.
Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death's dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
You didn't intend to kill his family. They were of no interest to you, not really. The wife, Angela, (you knew an Angela, once. She was hit by a car.) is not a woman you prey on. She's strong and independent, yes, but kind, caring, not aloof or superior.
And the girl is a girl—there's nothing to be gained from killing her. Children don't matter to you. Children are not hollow. Instead they crackle with life, with everything, and you don't want to deal with that. So usually, you leave nice wives and nice little girls alone.
But then Mister Jane and his flaws, his arrogance and his pride, they get him, as flaws do, and they make him get up and insult you in front of the world.
You can't have that.
So you kill them.
(I knew a girl named Angela. You murmur in Mrs. Jane's ear. She was hit by a car. She was my friend.)
His wife's blood is red and violent and dreamlike (a beautiful dream, sweet, bitter, blood and nightmare flowing) and she lies still in the bed, her toenails painted crimson, her throat carved into bright red grin.
The daughter, Charlotte, dies swiftly. You don't wake her. You noticed, detached, that she will be seven in thirteen days.
Oh well. Your shadow falls over her bed.
But it's her blood that goes on the wall, that takes on the caricature of her father's face, bloody, beautiful.
You leave a note outside their door.
Mister Jane comes home (such a pretty house he has, and such a pretty garden) and howls and shatters, glittering on the floor, and then he goes away for a while, to a white world with white noise and hands that hold him down and pump white into his blood (lost as sea, don't bother him, he's drifting, he's gone).
He dreams of you, of the blood, the face on the wall that is the bloody reflection of his own.
(Mirror mirror. Angela used to sing, skipping to school, across the street. Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all? Not her, not after she was hit by a car, after her blood was smeared across black pavement like a painting.)
You smile to yourself.
Your Prey, he isn't done. This dance between the two of you, it's only just begun because now he's yours.
You wait in his dreams, and you relish his screams.
(Is it like this
In death's other kingdom
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.)
You don't cross paths with Mister Jane for a long while after his family dies. You keep tabs on him, of course. You watch and you wait and you learn.
You see him put himself back together, clumsily, a child with a puzzle, with pieces that don't fit together quite right but make a nice façade.
And he's hollow, on the inside. He's empty, drained of his love and his light, his gaudy, sickening, undeserved happiness.
It's delicious, it is. It's victory, it's a bizarre, broken companionship because here is a man who is empty of everything but hate and pain and rage (so much rage) and it's perfect, it's violent and dark and bloody like you.
You love it.
He starts to hunt for you, chasing your shadow.
He does so ruthlessly, stubbornly, all bared teeth and glittering, cracked blue eyes. You enjoy it, enjoy watching him snap and snarl at air, a wounded wolf, a tiger burning bright, watching him shove people away, isolate himself, create a world in which there is himself and Red John in one bubble and then everyone else outside, unable to touch him, feel him, hurt him.
He's in the dead-land, in the land where there is the battle and nothing else, the soldier's land, the land that is churned and bloody and soaked with the tears of the lost.
He's alone, except for you.
He doesn't want to be with you, you know this. You see it—his broken eyes scream prayers to the heavens, to gods and stars and angels and dead ones, and he shakes when no one's looking, trembles with too much because he's a fragile creature, a man made of put-together glass, waiting to break. But he stays with you and you let him shake, let his fragile-glass skin clink and quiver.
And then Teresa Lisbon enters the picture. She's everything that he lost—fire and passion and life, and you hate her for it because she and her team, they fill him up, filling the lovely hollowness bit by bit, replacing hate and pain and the beautiful rage. She's the connection, the link between the hollow valley and the world of the living. She can take him from you.
You should kill her. It would be easy.
You don't, though. Instead, you put yourself closer to him. You kill again (they scream beneath your knife, oh so sweetly) and take again and maim again. You trap him below the earth and he escapes (Lisbon, again), kills your tool Harvey.
(I had a bird, once, you whispered to the girl called Maya. It was broken and I fixed it. Then it flew away and left me all alone.)
Sam Boscoe dies on your command, and Jane fights harder, gets closer to pretty Miss Lisbon. You watch and you plan, fingering your knife.
And then you take Kristina Frye and get close to him, so close he feels you, hears you, sees you, and you lean into his ear and his cracked eyes are wide and his heart thunders under your hand.
(All for me, you think.)
"Tyger, tyger, burning bright." You tell him, sweetly, a man to his reflection, a lover to his own. He shudders, his heart kicking, his whole body straining at you, surprisingly strong for such a pathetic creature.
And it's an impasse, because he wants you and Lisbon too, and you need him to be you, to be your reflection, to be your hollow man, and he will protect her fiercely and you hate her because she's trying to fill his empty holes.
But even as Miss Lisbon pulls at him, he is coming to you.
He is in his world, his dead-land, his hands tangled around the fingers of the lost and he is yours (you had a bird, a little golden finch. It sang so prettily for you.) and you will never let him go.
He knows this.
You wait for him to break away from Miss Lisbon, to protect her and drive her away, and you draw his face, smiling, in blood on walls, your shadow spilling behind you.
Of death's twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.
You meet him again under a storm that has killed the stars. His Lisbon has been taken, and he's been looking for her. She's at his feet, bloody, unconscious, alive, and there's a man who is dead on the ground, a bullet through his throat.
You know who killed him, and under your mask, you smile (because he is you, he's hollow and empty and you, because he killed that man, he shot him through the throat).
"Hollow man." You sing to him. He twitches, his blue eyes bleeding gray in the lightning-strewn light. The lightning brings out the cracks, you notice, makes them full-blown fractures. "Hollow man."
He doesn't say anything, but he's wound tight (tyger, tyger) and ready to spring but you have a gun on his Lisbon and he needs her because she's his link, his connection from dead-land to living-land, and while you should kill her now and bring him back to you, back to death and blood and smiling faces, you won't because he'll be on you, the wounded tiger burst from its cage, all sharp teeth and horrible claws and he might kill you because you know he can, he's stronger than he looks, he's tough and vicious and dark, when he needs to be.
(You made him this way. He should be at your feet instead of staring into your mask. You created him, made him strong.)
You are not ready to battle your Prey, not yet.
"My sister's name was Lucy," you say, the gun in your hands a promise. "She was crazy, Lucy was. Cracked in the head. One day she just up and slashed the knife, and Mama was dead and Papa was dead and they took Lucy away, you know."
Mister Patrick Jane doesn't say anything. He's white and fighting himself (to kill or not to kill? Lose his Lisbon or lose the murderer of his family?) and glaring at you and the gun with his magic eyes, and he can see your intent and you know it, revel in it.
"Tyger, tyger." You tell him, and then you raise the gun and, in one swift movement, he's on the ground, blood (brilliant, crimson, gorgeous, his blood is gorgeous and you just want to snap him up, to drag him back with you and cut him again and again and watch his blood swirl and make pretty patterns).
"Soon." You say, and he snarls at you, half-curling around his Lisbon. It would be easy to kill her.
You don't though. You admire your bleeding Prey, call 911, and then you are gone, a shadow in the land of dying stars.
Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
This is the end.
You know it, know it as surely as you know the knife that is singing in your hands. (Beautiful knife, old friend, spiller of blood.)
"Tyger, tyger." You say to him, and this time he sees your face (the reflection of his own, broken, shattered, hollow) and his teeth flash.
"Hollow man." He replies, evenly, a man to his reflection. He's got a knife too, and he holds it like you do (mirror mirror, on the wall) and his cracked eyes are shattering with promise.
"You want to kill me." You say, circling.
(The hunter and his Prey)
You grin at him, horrible, and he grins back, wild and fierce, the wounded wolf, the broken tiger. "Now you understand the desire." You sing. "The need to see blood."
"Yes." He says.
You frown at him.
He's unflappable, his face calm and collected, only his eyes (gray-blue-green in the flickering light, the guttering light. The shadows dance in his eyes.) betraying his intentions.
You mock-lunge and he jerks, spasms, half-leans into your attack. His teeth betray his need and the knife in his hand is potent, is the loaded gun.
The thrill makes your heart pound.
"Mister Jane, why so sad?"
(You know why. It's been eight years and he's finally caught you, and all his pain is compounded and fracturing inside him, it is.)
Here, you stand.
This is you and this is he, this is the dead-land, the valley of the dying stars, the shattered storms and light and bodies. You were made for this and so was he, since he is your reflection, and you bare your teeth in anticipation, in the wholeness of it all.
"We were made for this." You tell him.
Your shadow billows in his eyes.
"I know." He says. His knife glitters.
This is, in its essence, the end. One will die, and you know who it is. It's led to this, your hunger, his pain.
You look into cracked eyes and you smile. (His smile, dripping his daughter's blood.)
"I knew a woman once." You tell him, softly, sweetly, a lover to his own. "Her name was Angela. She screamed and screamed for her husband to come home and save her. He didn't, and I killed her."
The cracks in his eyes explode and he (tyger, tyger, burning bright) goes for your throat in one swift, violent movement (you always knew he was a violent creature. He just hid it better than most).
There's fiery pain and the spray of blood, soaking your shirt, his face. You lash out, catch him, see his beautiful crimson life force flow out, mingle with yours, mixed, together, one and all, all and one (forever, it binds you to him forever). You twist, choking, dying, and this is the end—
Your shadow falls with a sigh.
You die smiling.
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
-T.S. Elliot, The Hollow Men