Friday, December 23, 2011

Jekyll: Wwary Avvoidance!!

(Omg why are these things getting longer 8\ )

Dr. Jekyll was familiar with the etiquette for a good apology: Be simple and direct, clear but not too specific (which might kindle up unpleasant memories), attempting neither to push the blame away from oneself nor making unsightly displays of self deprecation. All the while, maintain eye contact and good posture, as a show of respect.

Most of the time, this was advice he had given to others, or else had followed while apologizing on someone else's behalf. It was not often that he made enemies himself. But, he thought, there was no reason why the good, solid rules of apology would not serve him well now as they ever had.

"I will gladly accept full responsibility for any misunderstanding that may have occurred," he was saying. "I was at fault for not realizing who you were--although, naturally, I ordinarily strive to show the utmost courtesy to everyone I meet, regardless of name or status. And I hope that you will have the charity to..."

But the longer that he talked, the more he sensed that things were not going well.

He had called upon Robert Lanyon that morning with the full awareness that he would be utterly at the man's mercy. In Lanyon's own home, in an area of the city that Jekyll was not very familiar with, he was particularly vulnerable--but he would have been so anyway, since the only thing that really mattered in this situation was Lanyon himself: was he the sort of man to bear a grudge?

In his first encounter with Dr. Lanyon, he had been too dismissive of the man to consider him seriously--in the second, he had been too mortified to take in much of anything. But now he took the time to consider him carefully, reading him for clues that might win his favor.

His walk had a kind of swagger in it; he was well aware that he was the one in the position of power. It was a position he was used to. He had a thin face and seemed to be fairly young, perhaps about Jekyll's age--although there were two noticeable lines that formed parentheses around his mouth, making him look a bit older than he probably was. Perhaps they had become fixed there on account of the perennial smirk that he wore, the one he was wearing at that very moment. He seemed interested in what Jekyll was saying, but only so far that he might find a way to turn it all around in his favor.

And in that respect, he didn't waste time. "That's all very well and good, Doctor. But enough of this idle prattle. I think we both know why you're really here, don't you?"

Jekyll returned one of his blanker smiles. "I'm afraid I don't understand." He wasn't going to let Robert get under his skin that quickly, thank you.

"Oh, but I think you do," Robert insisted, speaking slowly, as if to a child. "The simple matter is that I have something you want, and I have no reason to give it to you. I am afraid your rehearsed grovelings won't win me over so easily, but that doesn't mean that my good favor is lost forever. Now, this all depends on one question: What can you offer me in return?"

"What can I offer you?" His look of polite surprise was not entirely fabricated--he had not expected quite this amount of bluntness. "Well, anything you like, so long as it is within my power." He kept his tone as innocent as he could manage.

"Really? In that case...." Robert took another one of his trademark dramatic pauses. "...the first thing I want is for you to drop that politeness act of yours."

"I beg your pardon?"

"It's simple. This facade of yours bores me to tears. I want to see the real you. I believe I caught a glimpse of him on our first meeting, but I haven't seen him since. Instead I see...." He waved his hand to summarize Jekyll as a whole.

This was not really the first time Jekyll had heard something like this. Every once in a while he encountered a man who claimed to have single-handedly penetrated his cold outer shell to reveal his soft, squirming inner self. They always thought themselves exceedingly clever. "I'm afraid what you probably saw was only passing moodiness," he replied, with a short laugh. "Surely you aren't asking me to be rude to you?"

"No, but if that is the best you have to offer, then I find you the dullest man in all of London. And I have no interest in doing business with a dullard."

Now this was a singular situation. Ordinarily, Jekyll would not allow himself to be provoked by this kind of thing. To behave badly in any social situation, for any reason at all, was against every instinct that he had built up for the last ten years. But Lanyon's meaning could not be more plain: play along, or you will never see that building's contract.

"You do me an injustice, sir!" he said, feigning an offended tone. "I must beg you not to be so quick to judge. Why, if you would only deign to examine my work and to see my collaborations with other experimental scientists, I believe you might change your mind. I invite you to visit my laboratory--at your leisure, that is. Then you may make your final assessment of my character."

As it turned out, Robert had not expected this. He was a little peeved that Jekyll had managed to turn the conversation away from himself and towards his little chemistry hobbies, but he had to admit that he was just a little interested. He had only vaguely been aware of Dr. Jekyll's scientific background--up until now, he had only heard of him in terms of his social ambitions. He vaguely recalled someone mentioning some charming little display Jekyll had put on, something involving vials and flames and fancy colors. He supposed it wouldn't be a complete waste of time to see it.

"I suppose I could work a visit into my schedule," he supposed. But don't you think for a second, he thought, that I'm letting you off easy. There would be plenty of time ensnare Dr. Jekyll in his dastardly plan--there was no need for him to rush.

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Once he left Dr. Lanyon's residence, Jekyll finally felt he could breathe easily. Certainly there had been complications, but now that first terrible talk was over, and the rest of the day would be so much easier. His only appointment for the day was to see his friends, Mr. Utterson and Mr. Enfield, for a game of cards in the evening. Until then, he satisfied himself with a leisurely walk home in the brisk autumn breeze, happy to be alone with his thoughts.

By the time he arrived, the sun was just setting and he had finally shirked off the last of the tenseness of that morning's conversation. He was greeted by Rachel in the hall, who seemed to be jittery for some reason (but there was always some reason--she was generally a high-strung girl). She announced that some of the guests had arrived earlier than expected and were waiting for him inside. He imagined it was Utterson, who was nearly always too early to be polite, so he didn't dwell on the matter.

It wasn't until he arrived in the parlor room and saw who had arrived WITH Utterson that his good mood abandoned him.

"I thought I might take you up on that laboratory tour you offered," said Robert, who had seated himself around the card table as naturally as if he had sat there every Thursday for the last five years.

"You never told me you knew Dr. Lanyon!" spouted Utterson, and Jekyll did not need to inquire further to tell that he found Robert utterly delightful company. It seemed they had been chatting merrily for some time.

Lanyon's intent had been clear enough in their talk that morning, but now Jekyll began to comprehend the full scale to which he planned to carry out these intentions. If Jekyll would not offer his so-called "true self" up readily, Robert would wear him down until it seeped out of him. It was going to be one hell of a week.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Robert: Manipul8!!!!!!!!

"I'm a fool. A complete and utter imbecile. Now it's all gone to shit and I should probably just go lie down and die in my grave. The one I dug for myself. Bleeding fool."

Rachel O'Reilly, the chambermaid, leaned forward and silently poured Dr. Jekyll another glass of wine, which he finished between outpourings of self-loathing. They had been sitting there, holed up in the doctor's study for about an hour now, and at the rate he was going, they wouldn't be there for much longer.

"There you go, sir," cooed Rachel, "just get it all out and you'll feel much better in the morning." Generally, he did. She had presided over more than a couple such pity parties in her years serving Dr. Jekyll, and she understood their pattern. Not that Jekyll would ever ask for one of his household staff to bear witness to his more intoxicated states, of course. Rachel simply volunteered. He was rarely in a state to question why the young maid wanted to stay up until four in the morning listening to his ramblings, and he would have no way of knowing just how much of those ramblings crystallized into carefully documented gossip (and the occasional erotic vignette) in her very secret diary.

"It just goes to show you," hiccuped Jekyll. "The one time you let your guard down--the one time! The bastard you piss off ends up being the sole heir to- to all the things! All the things I need. And of course he's already got complete say in who the family'll rent that bloody building out to." He turned his bleary gaze to Rachel's general direction. "Oh God. I'm boring you. This is so dull. I need to stop talking. Please make me stop talking."

Rachel smiled blankly. "You're not boring me at all, sir. Please, continue." And she poured him another glass.

Jekyll shook his head, taking an extra moment to remember how to stop once he had started. He held his head in his hands. "Enough of this. I'll fix all of it. Tomorrow. I'll go and call on this Robert Lan.... Lanyon and apologize plain and simple. Grovel if I need to. I am at his mercy entirely. I cannot afford... afford to be proud."

------------------------------------------

But Jekyll would need to lose more than his pride in order to make up for his mistake. As his poor luck would have it, Dr. Robert Lanyon was not the forgiving type: across town, under Lanyon's own direction, the first meeting of the Anti-Jekyll Association was coming to order.

In the broad scope of things, there were not many people who could say that they were not fond of Dr. Jekyll--to be liked was, in fact, the primary goal of his entire social career. He had gone far out of his way to avoid any opinion too controversial, any act that might prove offensive to even the most sensitive socialite. He followed the unspoken rules of morality most strictly without giving the impression of looking down at those who did not--in public, at least. Hence the secret drinking parties.

But even he knew that it was impossible to please everyone. There were some people who found the very absence of offensive behavior something to take offense with. It was surely cause for suspicion suspicious (and manipulating). These were the sorts of people who had presently flocked to the residence of Dr. Robert Lanyon, eager to conspire amongst themselves.

"From what I observed, it seems as though our Jekyll has charmed his way into the hearts of London's elite." A sneering grin played on Robert's lips. "Lord knows why they fancy him so--I could smell falseness in him the moment I met him. Although I do suppose that could have been the sherry."

One of his companions eagerly offered his professional opinion: "Naturally he lies. His whole being is a lie, I would be willing to wager. He's too perfect, like everything's deliberate. Always throwing those perfect little dinner parties of his, always doting on people, always carrying around his little prayer book..."

"Oh, yes!" someone else piped in. "He's never missed a day of church, I'm sure of it."

"And when he's not there, he's at that wretched clinic of his, helping the poor! Imagine what the filth of this city would ever do without the charity of our saintly Dr. Jekyll!"

"And yet he is a secret drinker," interjected Robert, steering the conversation back to his own encounter with the man. "What do you make of that? What do you suppose he's hiding that troubles him so that he needs to drink it away?"

On this matter his friends were more divided. Even among these skeptics, it was clear that Jekyll's facade was so foolproof that they could only guess at what lay beneath the surface. This in itself proved frustrating to the assembly, but they didn't allow their ignorance to put a stopper to their enthusiasm.

"You will expose him, won't you, Lanyon?" said the first speaker. "I bet you could better than any of us--you could rip him right to shreds if you only so desired." And, said the very clear implication, that was exactly what they wanted him to do.

"And I do desire it," Robert assured him. "I intend to make a game of this Dr. Jekyll. He thinks he has every soul in this city fooled, but not me. He is everything I detest about this false, ridiculous city and I am dying to teach him a lesson he'll never forget."

He took a pause for dramatic effect. Here, he knew, was the place where he could speak most freely of any room in the whole of Europe. He had a room full of eager listeners, and not a soul among them would dare expose him for a word he said, as Robert Lanyon had enough material to blackmail any of them out of house and home. Still, this particular plan that he had cooked up was an unusual one, even for him. Genius, he was certain, but unusual all the same, and he wanted to be sure that all his guests were sufficiently impressed by it.


"...And that," he concluded grandly, "is why I have decided to seduce him."

Silence fell upon the room. Robert did not allow this to affect him--after all, he had wanted to give them a good surprise, hadn't he? It was exactly what he had planned to happen. He smiled defiantly at them all.

Someone coughed. "What? I mean... why, exactly?"

"Because I want to teach him a lesson," he repeated. "I plan to break through that perfect facade he has concocted for himself, and how him beyond a shadow of a doubt what a complete sham of a human being he is."

"But why do you have to seduce him, exactly? Surely there are easier ways to expose the man?"

"But none more humiliating! Don't you see? The scene will be absolutely devastating. I'll slowly slither in past all his shields and barriers, make him trust me, have him reveal his darkest and deepest secrets to me, and there, in the bedroom, when he is at his most vulnerable.... J'accuse!"

He pointed dramatically at a patch of air that presumably stood in for a naked and completely devastated Dr. Jekyll. "And then I'll leave the room dramatically, leaving him cold and alone to contemplate his shallow existence. Hah hah." This was accompanied by a few uncomfortable laughs.

Robert huffed, a little exasperated. "And I suppose he isn't bad looking either," he added. "I wouldn't mind getting a shag from one such as him."

The reaction from the room was mixed, at best. It was true that Lanyon's personal life could lean towards the libertine--or, rather, it rarely leaned in any other fashion at all--but he had never been known to pursue anyone out of pure spite. This uncharacteristic behavior was clearly unsettling his friends, but Robert was not about to be deterred. So his grand scheme had proved to be even more shocking than he had hoped for--that was a good thing, wasn't it? And it was accomplishing exactly what they all wanted, wasn't it?

Of course it was. They would all see sense, in the end. But Robert did not particularly feel like waiting around for all of them to see the obvious logic in his plan--and thus, the first and final Anti-Jekyll Association meeting was brought to an abrupt close.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It was midnight, but it was still a long way to go until the end of the night. Dr. Jekyll knew well enough not to expect this particular crowd of guests to begin leaving until two thirty, which would mean it would be rude for him personally to run on home before three.

Ordinarily he would not mind, or at least, he would not mind this much. A party held for Sir George Lanyon was the illustrious sort of gathering he would have genuinely looked forward to. But it had been a long week, stressful in more ways than one, and more than anything he wanted rest. But he knew he couldn't--no, not when it was so vital that he get a chance to talk to Sir George himself.

For over a year now, Dr. Jekyll had been planning something. No, it was nothing to do with his personal interests in the duality of man--that he knew well enough to keep out of the public eye--this was something new. Something exciting, a wonderful collaboration between men of science. But it was a project of such a scale that they would require backers and support. The support, as it were, of Sir George, so well connected, so influentially poised on so many important boards.

But Sir George had been occupied all night, and appeared in a foul mood on the rare occasion when he was free. Dr. Jekyll began to despair of an opportunity to speak with him. He was tired and anxious and beginning to be in dear want of something to drink. It would, of course, reflect badly on him if he were to make a mad dash for the refreshment table and guzzle down glass after glass of champagne. But it would not be unreasonable for him to slip out of the ball room for a moment to have a quiet drink on his own.

The practice was not unknown to him. In fact, it was becoming increasingly more common, year by year--high society began to lose its gleam, every once in a while, and he would find himself feeling just a spot empty inside. He would begin to wonder if his life were lacking in genuine friendship, whether all these flighty acquaintances and business connections really meant anything at all to him. This brief crisis could easily be remedied by a good glass or two of scotch, and he would return with spirits restored and doubts brushed to the side, where they belonged. That was just what he planned to do now, as he discovered for himself a deserted corridor leading to a deserted waiting room.

Except that someone was already there.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Jekyll didn't exactly have a start, but he did stand up a little straighter, using a particular blank smile reserved for people he had yet to categorize properly. And this man was giving him no help in that department.

What he could gather of the man was this: He had a pale complexion and a shock of red hair. He seemed to be about the same age as him, or perhaps just slightly older. He had been there for some time, judging from the half-drained bottle on the table, and he didn't appear to mind, particularly, that someone else had barged into what was clearly intended to be a one-man drinking party.

Still, the silence was uncomfortable, and propriety soon forced Jekyll into conversation. "Terribly sorry about that," he began, for which he received a silent shrug. "I . . . don't believe we've met. My name is Henry Jekyll."

He extended a hand. The stranger raised an eyebrow before taking it. "Ah, yes. I've heard of you. You're the bloke looking for the grant for your scientist friends."

Henry detected just the slightest patronizing tone in the man's voice, but it wasn't anything he hadn't dealt with before. He tried for a dash of humility: "That is my hope, yes, but we can't expect too much." He paused, hoping the man would return the introductions, but he said nothing. "Are you from around here? I feel I haven't seen you."

"No, I imagine you haven't," said the man, a smile playing on his lips. "I have been traveling much these last few years. And, as you may have inferred, I do prefer to avoid social functions such as this." He kicked back what remained of his current drink. He seemed subdued but not at all drunk, and he filled his glass slowly, delicately, as if it were the only activity he had to occupy himself with all night.

"I sympathize completely," said Jekyll, who really didn't, but who tended to agree impulsively with others in order to set them at ease. "Parties are all fine and well, but this late in the Season, they do begin to drag a bit, don't they?"

"Whenever don't they? They're nothing but dull conversation and duller people. It absolutely astounds me that there are actually people who willingly hop from house to house, night after night, repeating this ridiculous ritual! Really, you would have to be a complete imbecile to enjoy something like this." He said all this with that amused smile intact, as though he were a biologist making observations on a pack of monkeys.

Jekyll tried to keep the surprise out of his tone. "That's a little harsh now, isn't it? I wouldn't be so quick to condemn the most celebrated social events in all of London. There is surely some merit in it, wouldn't you agree?"

"I see. I suppose if I had wasted my entire year licking the boots of potential sponsors, I would want to believe there was some merit in it as well." He had guessed, correctly, that his new companion was one of those very 'imbecile's he was talking about.

Jekyll's expression lost some of its pleasant demeanor--clearly, there was no point in maintaining his usual friendly facade in front of this man. He had dealt with people like this--cynical, belligerent people--and put up with them before, but those were powerful people, important people who needed to be persuaded and coaxed. This man was surely no one of consequence, or else he would have heard of him. And with no incentive to impress him, there was no point in feigning friendliness either.

"I believe I'm beginning to see why you don't enjoy parties," he said lightly. "If you're this charming with everyone, I can't imagine you're invited often." He opened the door, checking to see if anyone would catch him exiting through it. "Bitterness doesn't become you very well, I'm afraid. Enjoy your drink." And he shut the door behind him.

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He was pleased for having gotten the last word, but his spirits were dampened on the whole by the unpleasant conversation. It had distracted him enough that he had barely felt like having a drink at all. On the bright side, he was now feeling enough stubborn pride that he didn't feel he needed it anymore. He drifted into a circle of ladies surrounding the fireplace and managed to put the strange man out of his mind.

Sir George continued to be occupied for nearly an hour after that, but after his recent encounter, Jekyll was more than happy to wait patiently for an opportune moment. When he sensed this moment about to arrive, he carefully made a path to him, slow enough so that his approach might appear casual, but not too slow so that someone snatched him up before he had his chance to talk.

"Henry!" growled the old man. "So glad you could come!" His face had a naturally stern look to it, making the greeting a little unnatural. They exchanged pleasantries, Jekyll allowing Sir George to lead the conversation at first. He was, in fact, spared the task of having to weave his new project into the conversation naturally, when Sir George said: "And I hear you've got a certain . . . matter you wish to take up with me."

His tone was not quite as pleasant on the subject as Jekyll might have hoped. It sounded guarded, perhaps a little suspicious. He knew Sir George to be a conservative man, though, and he had prepared himself to be persuasive. Confident, he was about to begin his speech to charm the man into support when he spotted someone walking up behind him.

True to his character, the red haired stranger showed no qualms in barging straight into their talk. "Henry!" he announced, in a mock tone of Sir George. "So glad you could come!" And in horror, Jekyll watched as the stranger patted Sir George jovially on the shoulder, prompting the stoic old man to laugh.

"Oh, so you two have met already, have you?" chortled Sir George.

"Oh, well--" stammered Jekyll, just barely managing very forced smile across his face.

"Not properly, then? Ah, it's too be expected! Our Robby will never learn manners as long as he lives." He exchanged glances with the stranger, smiling. The stranger's affectionate smile was not all too different from his insulting, amused smile, and they both came off as rather sly and eerie. "This is my son, Robert Lanyon."

And it was a wonderful thing that Dr. Jekyll had been doing this sort of thing long enough that the correct, polite exchange of introductions was automatic, because he felt as if the bottom had just dropped out of his stomach.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

More general webcomic drabblings

A shiny carriage rides up the street to Dr. Jekyll's house. It delivers a seemingly unending supply of a strange, clear-colored liquor that glows faintly in the light. None of the servants can figure out why Dr. Jekyll has ordered all of it, and to their dismay they realize Dr. Jekyll is nowhere to be found (this leads to a transition of Dr. Jekyll in some unfortunate situation relating to his ex-girlfriend).

The end result is that he is having a party for Riverside and the local society ghosts, and he is rather too embarrassed about it to tell anyone.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Stealing more of Becky's characters

I'm trying to come up with a story for a short comic . . . which is basically a thinly veiled excuse for me to find an idea for my third year film.

So I'm writing in this weird cut-up style that's supposed to be sort of like script style only without making the effort.

------------------------

Charlotte wanders around London in search of Jekyll’s estate.

Awais is carefully pouring tea in the laboratory with Jekyll somewhere in the background.
He begins to realize that he’s out of honey as Jekyll announces:
“I’ll be taking off for the evening, I might be back late.”

Distractedly Awais searches the cupboards for honey. He searches through some dusty-looking shelves, but finds nothing. As he leaves to search elsewhere, the contents of one of the forgotten jars bubble.

Charlotte stands in front of Jekyll’s house. She holds a letter of correspondence.

As Awais is searching, the side door opens. Rachel stands nervously in the doorway and asks:
“Hello? Is this the home of Dr. Henry Jekyll?”
Awais looks up. “Y—yes it is, but I’m afraid h-he’s not in right now. . . .”
Charlotte makes a tight-lipped grimace, glancing down at her paper. She says nothing.
Awais offers: “But I’m s—sure you could wait for him.” He glances down at his tea tray.
Charlotte looks at him, and then—past him. Something seems to be worrying her.
From the cupboard, a cloud of something dark and unpleasant rises. It has nearly reached Awais, who hasn’t taken notice yet. It is nearly there and then—
Something light and quick rushes by, slicing at the cloud. It bursts into a tiny little bubbles. The something light and quick opens a vial that contains a tiny bright shard, which sucks all the black bubbles into it. It seals the vial shut.
Charlotte stares, still silent. Awais cringes—oh, it’s him. “U—um, if I may introduce . . . Dr. Jekyll’s assistant, Mr. Edward Hyde.”

-------------------

I REALLY hate using "generic creepy dark monster thing" but I need something to allow Hyde a cool introduction scene. :| I dunno. I also can't decide whether I want Hyde to introduce himself or for Awais to introduce him--I tend to think the less Hyde speaks, the cooler he is.

This gets less dull, really.

My general thought is that I like the back and forth in the first couple paragraphs and then it gets dull once the black cloud comes in.

Also I think I tend to overuse the formula of "weird girl who doesn't like talking and is secretly EVEN WEIRDER than she is on the surface".

----

Also I sort of liked this little moment of recent RP (Jekyll has tagged along on one of Frankenstein’s graverobbing expeditions) and I might like to illustrate it:
“Oh, that was probably for the best. There was no use in Jekyll making a fool of himself with trying to do actual physical labor. Meanwhile, Frankenstein had set the eye into a tiny box with a carrying handle, which he handed to Jekyll. The thing was so small and so delicate that it almost felt like carrying a woman's purse, and he had the embarrassing thought that Frankenstein didn't trust him with anything heavier. He watched with embarrassment as his old mentor covered up the evidence of his work.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Neurotic to the bone, no doubt about it

I'm probably going to use this blog once every forever or so to post silly irrelevant drabbles from various stories. :| Mostly Jekyll and Hyde because uhhhh I'm obsessed.

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Hallucinations over Tea Sandwiches

(timeline: takes place very soon after Mr. Hyde murders Sir Danvers Carew. After agonizing for some time, Jekyll decides it's time to abandon his experiments with the HJ7 and take up life Hyde-free. It works just fine . . . until withdrawal starts kicking in.)

Rachel brought lunch on a tray. Cucumber sandwiches and iced tea—Cook had finally given up serving him full meals. Even so, he didn’t feel like eating. The near non-taste of bread would make his mouth taste like bile.

He sat at the large, plain table he had arranged at the very center of the room. The entire rest of the surgical theater was empty, clean and gray. The look was entirely unnatural, so much that it distracted from the pathetic self-awareness that often comes from eating alone. Only him, the tray, and a few remaining tools from his chemistry set. Wishful thinking—inspiration for the next project. Everything else was well locked away.

“You should eat something,” said Hyde. He had walked in from somewhere just beyond his field of vision. It took Jekyll a moment to be properly surprised.

Hyde sat down in the chair across the long table, where there had not been a chair before. He was wearing a well-fitting white shirt and vest, plain black pants, no hat. No jacket, either—the weather would have made it look out of place, even for an apparition. Without it, it was painfully obvious how small and impish he was.

“I’m sick of waking up hungry all the time,” he complained, snappishly. “And if you never eat, then you’ll get bony and sunken and ugly. That’s no good.”
“But—” Jekyll began. He swallowed an urge to vomit. “I’m—not hungry.”

“Yes, you are,” Hyde shot back. “You don’t need to go hiding things from yourself. It wastes energy. But I suppose that’s the point, isn’t it?”
“I ate already. Yesterday.”

“You had breakfast yesterday. And not a very big one, either. I can’t imagine how you’re not doubled over in pain from not—” He stopped himself short, biting at his bottom lip. “I don’t see why you do this.”
“Do what?”

“Ignore things! Look—look at me.” (For Jekyll had been averting his eyes from the apparition just slightly, looking past his shoulder.) “Look at me!”
With a defiant reluctance, he met Hyde’s eyes directly. It was like looking into a very flustered mirror. “I- should- not- be- here- now,” said Hyde, spitting out every word very precisely, as though explaining to a stupid child. “Doesn’t it bother you that you’re seeing—” He paused, reluctant to call himself an imaginary person. “Seeing things that aren’t there? Aren’t you in the least bit concerned that you might be going mad?”

Jekyll was locked in a silent staring competition with himself. Hyde’s image did not flicker or fade; it was as real as the table in front of him. But of course he couldn’t be real, could never be real unless Jekyll gave into him. And if he didn’t? Perhaps Hyde would shout himself hoarse, wear himself thin, using up all his strength until he disappeared forever from the world. . . .

And yet Hyde was restraining himself, astoundingly. He had no choice. Shaking from the effort of restraint, or from plain fear, he stood and walked behind the chair where his other self sat, infuriatingly silent. “It isn’t fair, what you’re doing,” he said quietly, as he draped his arms down to rest on Jekyll’s shoulders. “I haven’t been out in over a week. Right after that murder. . . .”

He toyed nervously with Jekyll’s collar, buttoning and unbuttoning and moving dangerously close to his neck. The sensation was horribly real as well, mingling with the heat of Hyde’s breath in ear.

“There must be some misunderstanding,” he continued, voice wavering with barely-restrained hysteria. “I know that you think of things . . . differently. And maybe you think it was all a big mistake to do the killing. But you must remember how it felt. What a perfect moment it was.”
“No,” said Jekyll, unable to stop himself. “It was awful. I nearly died of grief that night.”

“Oh, dramatic!” scoffed Hyde, gripping Jekyll’s shoulders painfully. “Once again you’re ignoring, ignoring. You didn’t nearly die. Watch, you’ll get over it just like all the rest.” He paused theatrically. “But! What you might not get over are these funny little hallucinations you seem to be having. I mean, look at this—”

He reached his hand down and pressed hard on Jekyll’s forearm. He felt pressure, and a little patch of white bloomed and faded where contact. “This is a bloody convincing image your head is cooking up of me. Think about it—there’s the image, there’s the sensation, there’s all this displaced material you’ve had to rearrange in your head because I’ve messed with it. I mean, it’s either that you’ve made it up in your head that I’ve mussed up your hair like that, or else it’s you doing it yourself and you don’t realize it—which is even creepier, I’d say. It’s all gone off inside your head. And do you know why that is?”
“Why?” asked Jekyll obediently.

“Because you’ve let it all happen,” he whispered. With each new phrase he tightened his grip on Jekyll’s shoulder. “You rearranged the chemicals in your body. You put yourself through withdrawal. You went and starved yourself. Well, that’s all going to change, isn’t it?” Tighter, tighter, burning searing pain—unable to ignore it any longer, Jekyll grasped his ghost other’s hand with his own and tried to pry it loose—to no avail. A groan escaped his lips.

“Stupid!” spat Hyde. “You can’t beat me any more than you can ignore me. And as long as I’ve got your attention—” He dug his nails in sharply. “—there’s going to be a few changes around here. Starting with this. . . .” He relinquished his grip suddenly and resumed his post behind the sandwich plate. “You,” he said, presenting one of the cut pieces between thumb and forefinger, “are going to get some food in you.”
For a moment, Jekyll sat in silence, breathing heavily. “I’m not hungry,” he repeated, but there was no power in his words.

“Wrong! Look—I’ll appease your delicate little appetite. You don’t have to eat the damn cucumber.” He held out the top slice of bread, which Jekyll took with a mechanical gesture. “Any creature who actively work towards its own destruction has something desperately wrong with it. Something in its very essence is broken beyond all repair. That’s you. You’re broken. And I’m going to fix you.”

Jekyll looked down at the bread. Although it made his stomach churn, its appearance was entirely innocent—what was it called? Irony? Ironic that this hellish battle of wills was over a thin little triangle of bread? Yes, it was quite ironic. He tried to find it funny, but the reaction just wouldn’t come.

Slowly, shaking, his stomach hating him all the whole, he raised the slice to his lips. . . .

And then Rachel came in with a slam of the door. “There’s a Miss Lucy Harris here to see you, sir.” Her voice was dripping with some kind of bitter jealousy, immersed in some petty feminine drama.

In Jekyll’s head, the world righted itself. “Miss Lucy?” he gasped, twisting himself around to face the door. He must have been some wild-eyed sight, holding that bread as though it were a deadly poison, but hell, he didn’t care. Miss Lucy had come back! She wanted to see him again! He . . . he wasn’t ready yet. He ran up to his study, straightening his clothes, rearranging his hair, checking his expression. . . .

And all the while, Hyde’s image faded into the colorless gloom of the laboratory. No one was there to see him go, but if they had, they would have observed strange, desperate look on his face, nearly frantic, bubbling rage. “It’s her,” he murmured. “He thinks he can replace me . . . with that girl. . . .” And the green of his eyes was the last to go, fading into the grey walls until there was nothing left of him at all.