Sibilant (1)・Sibilant (2)・Sibilant (3)・Sibilant (4)・Sibilant (5)・Sibilant (6)
"Why did you do that?" Alan's jaw was tight.
Michael put down his headphones. "I'm sorry?"
"What, do you have a girlfriend now?"
"So what if I do?"
"So, I dunno, could you maybe, like...not fuck her three feet from me?" His volume rose.
"Alan, you're being childish. This is a dorm room. We're college kids. You're going to experience other people having sex."
"You're supposed to be focused on ME!" An awkward silence stretched as Alan realized how selfish and strange this sounded. "...I just...I thought you were helping me...be that."
Michael sighed. "Alan, I am. Believe it or not, I'm also human, and I have my own needs."
Alan sat on his bed. "Yeah. Whatever. It's fine. Just...don't do it too much. I live here too. You know?"
"Soon you'll be the one waking me up."
"...I gotta go to class."
Alan's departure brought much to contemplate. At first Michael had felt moral uncertainty in using Emma as a tool for his own pleasure and psychological experiments, but in the end, it was she who had asked to come up, who left before he woke. It felt unfair that something callously self-serving could be a victimless act, and disappointment tinged his morning until Alan's outburst. Despite the lack of a romantic or sexual tie, it was Alan who clung, who felt jealous, who was stung. It was Alan who yearned for his attention. Because I captured him when he was weak, Michael reminded himself. Emma was not emotionally vulnerable to him, not even in the act of sex. But she had served her purpose. He wondered how long he could carry on this way before Alan did something rash.
Willing partners were easy to find, and the more pleasure they expressed, the more furious and brooding Alan grew. One night, in the midst of their base revelry, he stomped out of the room and slammed the door, which drove Michael to orgasm. Some women did grow attached, or wildly jealous, which he attempted to avoid by being upfront. He had no reason to hurt them; their pain was not a puzzle. He liked to fuck them from behind so that he could keep an eye on Alan where he lay with headphones clamped around his ears, trying to drown out the brazen display of what he could not have. Michael could have sworn he saw the glimmer of a tear once, and he clutched onto his woman so tightly that she yelped.
And then, after so much psychological foreplay, it came. Michael had been very curious whether Alan would turn on him, or on his own self. He should have predicted that it would be both.
"You're a piece of shit, you're a fucking robot! You pretended to care -- just -- fuck you!" Alan held a knife over his wrist. "You said you were gonna help me, but you don't give a fuck how you make me feel. Lying asshole."
"Alan, calm down."
"Like hell!" He started to press the knife into his vein.
Something deeply sinister came over Michael. His voice went soft. "Do it."
"I believe you, Alan. Let's do it. Let's do it together." His voice sounded hungry. He crept over to Alan and knelt by his wrist. The faint reek of sweat. The knife was pressed down hard, but not enough yet for blood. That shaking, desperate arm. The pale skin. His eyes gleamed. "I'll drink it. Like a bat."
"The fuck is wrong with you?!" Alan staggered back, dropping the knife. The light that had turned on inside Michael clicked off. He took the silly little pocketknife.
"Let's be serious. Alan, I'm sorry. I made a mistake. Haha, I got so horny, you know? I felt insatiable. I couldn't see how you really felt. But I understand now. I do. Let's go back to how things were. Until you bring someone home."
Alan started to shake his head, grinned, dropped onto the bed, sobbed. "Fuck you, man..."
"You haven't done your push-ups yet tonight."
"Yeah. Yeah." He climbed onto the floor and began counting.
Michael mentally explored the possibility that he had glimpsed from the floor: the wild spray of crimson blood, the hot sensation on his skin, the metallic flavor on his tongue. Alan's dying body on the floor. He could press on the arm to make the blood come faster. What is the purpose in that? he asked himself. No philosophical purpose. No self-exploration. Just mundane, lowercase-gothic pleasure. He felt ashamed of himself. He was still stagnating. After all this, he still had not climbed back to the familiar seat of calm, controlled excitement in exploration. What can be more extreme than this? he demanded of himself. What more do you want?
But he wasn't really going to do it, he retorted. It wasn't really the face of Death. Just a child's gambit for attention. He was begging me to stop him. Now Michael understood what he wanted, and it terrified him.