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.

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.