Knives Dark – Chapter 6 – “Ideation”

Allan woke up in a cold sweat, breathing heavily. He stared blankly into the darkness, listening to the whir of his room fan. In his mind’s eye, he imagined a gun, a .357 magnum, and a single hollow-point round. He placed the bullet in the magnum’s chamber, spun it, and flicked the gun to lock it. Cocking it back, he smiled that tired smile. Somewhere, he heard Johnny Cash’s voice singing.

I hurt myself today…
“To see if I still feel,” Allan whispered to himself.
I focus on the pain…
“The only thing that’s real.”

He imagined taking the magnum and lining it up just by the base of his skull, right there where the brain’s subconscious motor functions were. He only had one shot to get this right. Mess up, and he’d end up paralyzed, disabled, and far worse off than he was now.

Gulping, he closed his eyes.

Click.

He opened his eyes. He was still in his room. He didn’t think he had it in him for another round of Russian-roulette, so he turned on the light, and pulled out the pocket knife he kept by his bedside. It was high-quality Bohler M390 steel with a carbon fiber folder. Light, corrosion-resistant, relatively easy to hone, and it kept its edge well. He stared at the edge, glinting in the light, trying to make out its sharpness. As he looked at it, he kept imagining slicing it through his arm in clean vertical cuts, repeatedly. He wondered how much it would hurt. Then he’d lie down, and quietly let the light fade out.

He shook his head. “Stop.”

Where is my mind… he heard the faint song by The Pixies.

There was a dread in his heart again. It was going to be one of those days. He didn’t know why things had turned out this way. He didn’t really care. Before he used to think he didn’t deserve it. Truth was, he didn’t think anyone deserved this sort of fate on Earth. Even if he wore it to the best of his ability, even if he dressed up and combed his hair, he still needed an endless stream of mood stabilizing drugs to help him maintain even the slightest resemblance to a normal keel in society.

He didn’t think he could live or function in this world anymore, not in any way that counted. He did it anyways, most of the time looking forward to the day he died. Maybe then he’d be free… but no, he wasn’t even sure about that. He didn’t think God had a place in heaven for someone like him, whose best was to try and take the worst of himself and tuck it away in words and thoughts without taking it out on others. He barely even succeeded at that.

Sometimes he was angry, with the world, with women, with his parents, with his coworkers. Sometimes he just hated everyone. But he didn’t think this was their fault. He wasn’t even sure if it was the collective fault of humanity. It wasn’t the politicians, the drug lords, the dictators, the Christians, the Muslims, the Jews, the Arabs, the Chinese, or anyone else. No one was responsible for this messed up pixel of an Earth, suspended in a sunbeam. It just… was. This is how things were. Some people were miserable. Some people were lucky enough to have something to smile about and come home to.

What was he lucky for, he wondered? He was lucky that God had given him so many chances to fail. He was lucky that God had given him so many talents to succeed, even if he’d mucked it all up. But most of all, he felt like he was lucky to have ever fallen in love, even if it wasn’t real.

Of course, that’s what had brought him to this point in the first place. Love, or his interpretation of it. He could try and bury those emotions as deep as he wanted in his cemetery of a heart, but they would always explode forth, gushing like a super volcano. It would ravage his life, trying to keep such feelings tied up inside. His parents called him a fool for it, it ruined his life and his career multiple times over, and yet… this was the only catharsis he felt. To tell someone else that he loved them, knowing full well they would never say it back. How stupid was that?

It was plain outright retarded. There was a rock in his throat, and water welled up in his eyes. It’s not as if he was alone in any of this. The internet was fettered with countless people in the same boat. His situation was nothing special. Neither was theirs. It was just a tragedy of the human condition, of life, that some people had to suffer like this. He’d tried helping people with his words of support in the past, but often people didn’t even want to be saved. That besides, it’s hard to save someone else when you’re drowning, too.

Getting up, he went downstairs and sat at his laptop. He opened up a blank document and began doing one of the only things that made sense anymore. He wrote.

in darkness dreary, so tired and weary,
weather-worn and cast-aside
rock-like features and leather hide
a beast in all but inside;

his head so leaden, full of dread,
decides ’tis time to die;
no more living among the dead
only to die on the inside.

in twilight eerie, taut and teary,
he sits with gun beside,
for hours at length, brimming fury,
unable to muster to die.

“If only ’twas so easy”, mutters he,
imagining vividly, suicide;
“No more wishing” he breathes succinctly
muzzle-to-eye, peering inside.

With a click, a flash, a bloody splash,
her mind’s insides now reside
across the sheets and red bed-sides.
Still alive, he gently sighs —

“Killing love is true suicide.”

Knives Dark – Chapter 5 – “Adfector”

Proelium. Contentio. Conatum. Conflictus. (Latin)

Jihad. Alnidal. Sirae. (Arabic) 

Kampf. (German)

Dòuzhēng. (Chinese)

Kamf. (Yiddish)

Saṅgrāma. (Bangla)

Struggle.

Contendunt. Contendo. Affecto. Nitor. Annitor. Adnitor. Enitor. Obnitor. Adfector. (Latin)

Jahad. Kafih. Aistabsil. (Arabic)

Streben. Suchen. Trachten. Eifern. (German)

Nǔlì. Fèndòu. Lìtú. Miǎn. (Chinese)

Shtrebn. (Yiddish)

Strive.

***

He stood upon a transparent plane. There was no land below; he was surrounded in all directions by clouds blooming vermillion, lavender, and rose hues, lit by a perpetual sunset.

The world appeared as in rainbows. Pixels of colors no human could see, spectral emissions of radiation invisible to human eyes lined the entire breadth of his vision. It was as though the veil of reality had at last been removed and he could witness the complete truth in its full glory.

With his hands, he scratched and peeled at the skin covering from his legs up through his torso to his skull and face, sloppily sloughing and ripping off the garb of his humanity. As his humanity came away, there was his true self, naked musculature dripping crimson. In living, he was constantly dying. In death, would he be constantly living? 

A knife fashioned with a glazed mahogany handle materialized in his right hand. He tightened the grip on the knife, clenching his teeth, his body encompassed in a tingling that ought to have been pain but was pleasurable. The knife was double-edged, its point fine and glinting iridescent in the sunlight. The hilt felt sturdy. He took it and placed it at the corner of his right eye as he stared into the sun, then plunged it in, and gouged out his right eyeball.

There was no pain. If anything, a sense of contentedness, that this was meant to be. As his eyeball hung from its optical cords, still detecting light, he held it soft in his free palm and slowly squashed it, pulling the remainder of optical cord out of his eye-socket, feeling the fluids of his former eye flow through his fingertips. He took the knife up to his second eye.

It seemed unoriginal to repeat the same methodology. This time, he brought the tip, bloodied and dripping, until he felt it against the center of his left eye. There was a satisfying tinge as he pushed all the way through with a grin of satisfaction. It was a grin of absolute comfort. He was unsure whether it was love or hate that he felt: in his love, he began to hate; in his hate, he found love. He turned the knife in his left socket, blood squirting out. Then he pulled it out, and used is other hand to reach into the socket and pull out the dismembered remnants of his eyeball. He tossed them away.

There was no need to for eyes to see. He could see that now in vision far more clear than his eyes had ever granted him. Before him materialized an oak table atop which stood an empty wine glass. Blood streamed down his face from where his eyes once were. One could say he was… crying tears of blood.

He laughed. He laughed maniacally, as though told a joke of great hilarity. His alacrity refreshed him. Taking the wine glass in hand, he positioned the knife carefully… there, where the beat was strongest. A little above his heart, pointed at the largest artery. He pushed the knife between his ribs, slicing his aorta, as he held the wine glass up below it, ready to catch the blood which began to gush as he pulled the knife out. The glass filled up in but a second.

Still chuckling, he lifted the wine glass to his nostrils and smelled the blood like one might whiff wine. It smelled metallic, caustic. He took a sip. It left a dryness in the back of his throat with the taste of a bloodied nose, leaving pulpy clots of residue. Taking his knife, he now sliced through his esophagus. He gulped the entire glass of blood, feeling it flow down and out of the slit in his throat.

As he stood standing, his vision floated beyond his body, and he saw his gruesome visage. As he looked upon himself, his sight gradually became occluded by a darkness blacker than anything in reality. He’d seen it a number of times before. A darkness that grew darker the more he looked into it; a darkness that stared back. A darkness wherein could be seen the shadows of countless nonhuman beings. 

He was not afraid. He reached towards the darkness, towards them; he wanted to explore its true depths, but he knew… that he had to go on living. He recited Those Words as he always had.

He breathed, and it felt as though it were his first breath in an eon. The darkness rapidly receded, his wounds undoing themselves, atoms literally flying back into place. It was as though time were going in reverse, yet he moved freely forward in time, pouring the remainder of his blood out of his glass. The blood he poured was compelled by some invisible force and pulled by inescapable gravity back into his body. 

This was the manifestation of the Will to Live, for he was Immortal. The darkness would wait until another day.

***

As he pulled at his hair from both sides, his scalp split open down the middle with a sickening noise. He felt no pain at this; actually, it felt quite good, like getting at an itch that had been bothering one for a long time. He kept going, tearing his skin in half like a suit or a cocoon, exposing the muscle and fat beneath.

Around mid-abdomen, he stopped and his arms strangely came out easily, like he were sliding out of a shirt. He pulled the remainder of his skin off his legs, and tossed it. It had a mass and consistency that made it feel like texturized rubber. 

Truly naked, he stood upon that cliffside, then sat as he’d often sat before: right leg hanging over the edge, dangling, left leg upright at a steep angle, digging in to support the remainder of his partly floating body. Blood dripped from his exposed flesh and muscle into the ravine below.

He imagined how horrid he would appear to most onlookers in his naked musculature. He scratched behind his ear, then began to pick away at layers of fat he no longer needed. Sometimes he would stop and simply admire his muscles themselves. As he did this, the distance began to glow blood orange then a crimson vermilion. It was sunset.

Here, the sun seemed as though in an oil-on-canvas painting, high-energy waves that stuck out more or less clearly like paintbrush strokes with depth. It was a painting that kept painting itself over and over in the most interesting ways. He could get lost staring at the sun and clouds for hours on end, absorbed completely by the sight of them.

He liked it here. There was life and nature all around him, but no humans. The world was alive, yet everything seemed still. There was nowhere to go and nowhere to be. There was no need that needed to be fulfilled. It was a garden that was its own gardener.

***

He awoke lying on a bed. It was nighttime and insects were chirping audibly through the window. A nearly full moon shone through the window, attracting his gaze for a good several minutes.

As he stared into the moon, his mind was overcome with the discomfort and curiosity of not knowing anything about who he was or his past. He had a troublesome internal stress in not knowing these things. It felt like knowing a word but being unable to remember it, except much worse. He was able to recall feelings, sensations, instincts, knowledge, and everything related to actual experience save the experiences themselves. 

He felt haunted, he realized. Tormented by memories of people who felt significant and whom he seemed to instinctively feel close and attached to. Part of him felt like these people could even be imagined, yet another part of him could not give up on such people existing.

He sighed. It all felt so damn troublesome. This was the whole irksome problem of being human, these damn emotions he could never be rid of. It didn’t matter if his memories or those people were real or imagined. It didn’t matter how or why he knew the things he did. Whether real or fabricated, it was all he had to go on, and that was all that mattered now and going forward.

That was right. There really was only the present. He had no choice but to accept whatever he’d been given in the form of knowledge and experience. Instinctively, his memories held a weight that led him to have faith in whatever they contained.

***

As pleasant dream and nightmare alike was displaced by consciousness, he found himself in that void once more. Here where there was nothing, not even a physical body for him to inhabit: a place where the stillness was both stifling and exciting while the tranquility remained placating.

Imagination was reality here, for there was no other reality to contend with. Why did he imagine the things he did, even here when there were no external stimuli, not even a physical brain? Nothing he experienced made any sense to him, but that didn’t stop it from being real.

Here, it seemed as though time no longer held any meaning. Often, he would find himself at the tail-end of a remarkable amount of thought that he would trace back with perfect recollect, realizing that the level of human time it would take for an individual to think the same amount was… beyond incalculable. Not only that, but his memory too: few humans if any possessed memory like that, he knew. 

Internally, he had no sense of time. It made sense to say he had always known the things he thought. It also made sense to say it had taken him a day, a week, or countless years to think any one thing. 

Time went beyond simply seeming variable and inconsistent. Often, he had this sneaking perception that everything had already happened, and he merely observed it in a certain manner as governed by… whatever it was that allowed his existence here.

None of this bothered him. He found all of it interesting and significant considering its relevance to this universe and state he found himself in. Existing naturally made him curious about the nature of his existence.

However, there was infuriatingly little he could concretely determine when there was nothing physical. Everything could only remain theory or hypothesis or, at best, be taken as axiomatic. If he had hair, he knew he would have been pulling it out.

His curiosity aside, he found the blackness wholly pleasant and would usually lose himself in contemplation until sleep would overtake him.

***

He awoke, floating once more in empty space. There was no light so he could not perceive his body or anything else in any direction. He could feel his body, but the absence of air and all stimuli caused him to “feel” things that weren’t there and have a distorted sense of his limbs. There was no sound, so his ears “heard” things. Eventually, his eyes began “seeing” things.

All of this he was well-adjusted to. He let his mind paint his senses in an endless mirage that morphed constantly between scenes that were never completely familiar and never entirely new. Absorbed completely in this world of his own making, he was ever encased in dream and never confident of his reality.

He did not know who he was, where he was, when it was, and most significantly, why any of it was. He dreamed constantly, when he was conscious and awake and when he was unconscious in sleep. Usually he would fall asleep without knowing it, passing seamlessly and indistinguishably from waking dream to sleeping dream.

***

I floated in what seemed like empty space. There  was nothing as far as any of my senses could perceive. My eyes would hallucinate things in that dark, my ears would hear things in that silence, and I would feel sensations in the absence of all stimuli. I would dream awake and in sleep alike, unsure if what I experienced was a memory, a past, a reality, or an imagining composed of any or all of these things. It seemed to me like what I experienced could be associated to anything. I could have been alive, but I doubted this; I could well have been dead, but I doubted this too. I was both and neither; a metastable paradox caught in the grays between black and white.

Here, time had no meaning. I could not distinguish between minutes and millennia. There was no clear temporal connection between what I saw, no obvious chronology. I would spend years in reveries, observing an endless sunset beneath a vanilla sky; then I would be wisped away by a kaleidoscope of tormented and nightmarish visions that offered some strange catharsis for a darkness that lay deep inside. I would always re-emerge back in that dark world-between-worlds, never with any clear notion of how much time had passed.

What is real and what is not?
Something I wonder quite a lot;
“Who is right and who is wrong?”
Has long been a wearied song; 
What once was, is no more:
This I know, to the core;
What is today is not in stone,
Even if you’re all alone;
What comes tomorrow, come it may,
Lest I die, let my struggle 
Not fade away.

Knives Dark – Chapter 4 – “Elementary”

Allan and Jim had been friends since high school. They’d reconnected years later, when Jim was working as an assistant lawyer for his father’s firm and Allan needed someone to represent him for a speeding ticket. Ever since then, they’d been meeting up at Bill Gray’s old-fashioned diner on a semi-regular basis to get plates and burgers.

“Some people are outright attention-seekers,” Jim said as he cut up the cheeseburger on his garbage plate. “Women especially. Like that one crazy woman with that psycho haircut who had the police go to your home all those years ago. Wasn’t she some twitter social-media freak or something?”

Allan smirked. “Yeah. Something like that. But I don’t think she did it for the attention. I mean, I don’t know. I didn’t know her that well. She probably reacted the way she did because she’d had a traumatic experience in the past.”

“Maybe so,” Jim conceded. “But even then, I think she enjoys the attention she gets by playing the part of the victim. Plus, that helps her push her feminist agenda, by treating you like some twisted sexual terrorist.”

Allan laughed. “I’m sure you’re right. I’m sure that she enjoys both the feeling of attention, and the thought that she’s doing something good and special.”

“Mrs. Goody-two-shoes,” Jim winked. Allan smiled and shook his head.

“So you going to eat those burgers?” Jim asked.

“I want to, just waiting for my appetite,” Allan replied as he picked up a burger and bit into it. “Man… so good,” he commented as he tried to stop the dressings from spilling out.

“It brings to point a certain fact: the ego-driven people who believe themselves self-righteous and don’t stop to consider how they might be wrong are often the most unfair and biased amongst us,” Allan said after chewing and swallowing.

“I’m sure that’s right, Allan,” Jim concurred, “but you gotta admit, just about everyone thinks they’re self-justified. Even you and me.”

Allan nodded. “We’re all trying to justify our own stories and narratives. All I’m saying is, it’s good to stop and think whether what you’re doing is right or wrong, and how you might be trampling someone else’s toes by doing what you think is right.”

“Yeah, but no one’s going to be that considerate,” Jim grimaced. “That just ain’t how the world works.”

“True that.” Allan conceded. “That’s why it’s so precious to find someone who is that considerate. Those are real friends.”

“Damn straight, buddy.” Jim said, and they pounded fists. “We men gotta look out for each other. Women don’t get us, they never will. They’ve got their own little self-help groups where they bitch and whine about every little thing like it’s some Shakespearean tragedy.” Jim chuckled, and Allan followed suit.

“They do tend to blow things out of proportion.”

“A little more than that, Allan. But think about it, you ever see a single pro-male activist group? I think if the women have one, the guys sure as hell deserve one, but we don’t form it because, honestly, who gives a damn? Guys fight the good fight and roll with the punches. Women break down and cry, boo-hoo, look at how helplessly vulnerable I am. It’s pathetic, really. It’s overplayed and overdone.”

“But it doesn’t change that there are some men who are very real threats out there,” Allan countered, playing devil’s advocate. He knew Jim wasn’t completely serious, but rather expressing his frustrations with the problem.

“No, it doesn’t. But then again, there are also plenty of women who are just as nasty, if not moreso, than the men. I think at the end of the day, both sides have got good and bad, but it’s unfair for these witches to categorize you so haphazardly as being bad, when you’ve done nothing to deserve that.”

Allan nodded, looking at the skin of his arm. “Except be brown. And Muslim.”

“Well, yeah. Most everyone in America is going to hate you just for that. Stuck-up rich country filled with filthy whites,” Jim joked, despite himself being white.

Allan broke down laughing as Jim grinned while chewing his food. It was unfortunate, he thought, that there was actually truth to Jim’s words.

Knives Dark – Chapter 3 – “Descent”

As Allan stood watching over the city bathed in morning light, he reflected upon something that had been on his mind of late. It was the concept, or rather the delusion, of being in love. He’d oscillated between both poles of the emotion before: from the top of cloud nine, where all the world was wonderful, to the depths of hatred, where everything burned molten.

The women he’d fallen in love with had always fallen definitively under the archetype of stronger and more independent females, whom he’d come to respect for their ability to do things. Invariably, these were also the same women who caused him the most grief, for their general inability to perceive his perspective of things. He could always understand their perspective, and despite wavering between being empathetic and uncaring, he held respect for it, because they were human like him.

The issue was, their actions towards him always felt as though they were somehow blind and deaf to his situation and circumstances. Perhaps it was this contrived notion that men did not feel as emotively as women, or that men were stronger and due less consideration in society. Whatever the case was, he didn’t appreciate the disparity, though he was forced to accept it as an unchangeable facet of existence.

Though he had sometimes thought these women to be despicable, it was only in the throes of frustration and anger that such sentiments became manifest. To be fair, he wasn’t sure whether the women he found himself attracted to were either good or bad. Those moments when he thought they were the latter, misguided souls fated to a different sort of delusion and misery in life, he wondered what that meant about his soul. Was he too misguided, as delusional as they were? Was his likeness to them the reason he was so attracted?

Or was it that he was so unlike them in his perception of things, that he found their viewpoint complementary? It wasn’t clear to him whether likes attracted, or differences attracted when it came to the game of love. It probably didn’t matter. Allan didn’t think he had any right to judge either himself, nor these women. They each had their own path in life, which they walked to the best of their ability.

Allan shook his head and sighed. In the end, he was simply tired; tired of his crusade, and of other people. Tired of this life, this existence, and these problems. Tired of human society and this Earth, but not of this universe. Despite his exhaustion, he held on for dear life, because his survival instinct and will to struggle were the strongest traits about him.

Because he held on in this way, his tiredness yielded to another, much sweeter emotion. Love for the beauty of this universe, and the fairness of this existence. Love for God, who bestowed upon him such traits of strength as to enable him to endure, and survive. Love for himself, who struggled to the best of his ability, despite all setbacks and obstacles.

Indeed, Allah was over all things wise, the most merciful, and the most kind.

Knives Dark – Chapter 2 – “Cold Diamond”

Allan felt the pleasure course through his biceps, triceps, traps, shoulders, and upper back as he pulled down on the cable cross machine in the gym at work. He clenched his teeth as sweat absorbed into his neon green Nike headband, pulling the lower weight in a downward punching motion but not keeping count. Reps, sets, and high weights were for the emasculated bulky gym clunks who only cared about their exterior image and appearance. Those muscle-headed wannabes didn’t have a notion about what it really meant to be a man: they were nothing more than overinflated sex toys for an increasingly female-dominated world.

Allan still retained his dignity as a man. He didn’t care about how much weight he pumped or about how he looked. No, for him, it was something much deeper: functionality. Allan wanted true strength, and he knew that came from steel-like tendons and ligaments, connecting tissue in joints and on the muscles, the lean muscle mass that were like the tension cables holding up bridges. He wanted the power of acceleration, speed, and agility: he knew the physics of it. Force was mass times acceleration squared. Even if a man’s arm was bulked up, the mass increase in muscle didn’t generate that much more power, but it did slow down the acceleration of a punch. In contrast, a leaner arm with more toned muscle definition could accelerate faster: the power of the punch increased with the square of the increase in acceleration.

Bruce Lee and all martial arts masters knew this. The zen of true martial arts was in the focused discipline of hardening one’s body and loosening one’s senses: to perceive all and flow with it, like water. For Allan, it was akin to sharpening knives and steel. The honing of the edge of a weapon was the hours of practice put into a gym. It gave his mind intense focus and concentration, it provided his body with strength and stamina.

Most people who went to the gym did it because they wanted to look good and feel good about themselves, or because they wanted to eat more food. This was why they counted reps and sets, rather than always working out to exhaustion. They had a prescription in mind, that by doing so much work, they could get done and continue to wasting their time doing something more “enjoyable.” They lacked real motivation and commitment; they were all about shortcuts, fast gains, and showing off to friends and family. These were the people who got off when others complimented their cars or perfume or taste. These were the people who had to tell others how selfless and caring they were, when in fact they were the most selfish and depraved. Most people were cowards who had no notion of what it meant to be alive, because they had never even dared ask the question itself.

Allan knew what it meant to be a man and what it meant to be alive. He had that sense, and he could see the same qualities and colors in others. He also knew full well those people who lacked these traits, and he could smell it, much as a wolf can sense weakness in prey. There were plenty of laid back, self-righteous eggheads he’d had to work with in society and life who thought far too highly of themselves for nothing special. Most women were like that too, dazzled by glamour and attention without realizing how much of a fraud they really were. In general, most people were so ego-driven, they had forgotten who they were.

That’s why it was always so refreshing to find someone who was truly genuine and courageous. Someone who had their own outlook and struggled in their own way to navigate life’s challenges. Certain people had ego, but not in unnecessary proportions; they wore it with dignity, applying it meaningfully. These people were far and few between, but Allan loved these people from the bottom of his heart.

In his spartanly approach to life, Allan really only cared about actual strength: that was why he worked out. He wished to become stronger than all the people around him, emotionally, intellectually, and physically. He wanted to attain the august of human strength, to be a pinnacle of achievement. He wanted this not for fame nor recognition in this life, which were all ephemeral and immaterial. No, he wanted this for his own soul, so he could stand before God one day and say that he had strived with all his might to make something of himself, that he had struggled, and he had lived and died by the ideals he thought to be right. That upon his death, Allan could look back and genuinely say, “I have no regrets” — this is what he craved most of all.

Life, it was meaningless until the moment of death. That was when the meaning of it all became clear. This was why Allan always walked with one eye upon his inevitable death, for it was the lens of truth that made everything clear in the confusing tapestry of this Earth.

Few could understand this intensity or empathize with it. And thusly was Allan a greatly feared and misunderstood creature, for most humans were but vapid grazing sheep with little notion of anything save their selfish needs. Few were the shepherds who oversaw such herds, trying but always failing to communicate to them that which was best for them. Such was the position of all men who rose above society and civilization, able to extricate themselves from the noise and tumult of the world to offer clean insight and cognizant wisdom. They forever sung their songs, but few could even hear.

It was not a fact that Allan decried, no. He believed that Allah had indeed made the world such as it were with good reason, and that all people would receive their due reward in time. There were doubtless many good people upon this Earth, in varying degrees and shades of goodness. There were equally if not more bad people upon this Earth in just as many, if not more shades of badness. Though it often seemed that the bad outweighed the good, Allan knew also that their was more density in good than bad. Even if most of the universe were empty space and darkness, it was the matter and light in it that gave it its purpose.

Finally, Allan’s muscles began to actually hurt, and he stopped, breathing heavily. He took his water bottle and drank deeply of the gatorade infused with creatine. On his headphones, the soundtrack to the movie Interstellar began playing, filling him with the sense of intense sweeping grandness.

He watched a woman in a tank top and yoga pants lying down doing core exercises. Most women came to the gym to do that, cardio, and squats, which made sense. They wanted to look thin and have well-shaped butts. It occurred to Allan how superficial so many of them were, the way they stared at themselves in the mirror as they worked out. They were mesmerized by how good they looked. It was laughable, honestly.

Allan had once been banned from a gym for asking a woman if he could watch her do squats. He’d done it because he thought it was funny, and because he was seeing if he could pick up a girl doing that. She’d told him “no” and that had been the end of it — or so he’d thought, except the next time he came to the gym, the receptionist said he was banned. Then he got a call from the Rochester police department saying he couldn’t go to that gym anymore.

Allan shook his head, looking at the brown skin of his hand. White caucasian women in general saw him and only saw someone foreign and dangerous. They couldn’t look past and see any aspect of the soul inside. It was such a tragedy that Allan was even attracted to such creatures, but he found them beautiful, and that beauty soothed his aching heart just a bit. At the same time, he wasn’t sure he could ever have a peaceful or comfortable life with a woman. He knew too much of the bad side of partnerships, and had never seen any of the good. It didn’t help that he had never had a meaningfully deep relationship or connection with anyone. It wasn’t for lack of trying either, nor was Allan a despicable person. Just different, misunderstood, and looked over by the vast majority of women.

Allan had realized he was a diamond in the rough. People had not yet realized his true worth, but one day, they would see. Of this, he had no doubt.

Knives Dark – Chapter 1 – “A thesis for God”

Outside, the morning September air was crisp, the sky vermilion hued with the fiery glow of sunrise. Allan Darque opened the garage door to his mansion situated in the countryside just outside the suburbs of the city of Rochester in upstate New York. He looked at his two sports cars, a black Honda Civic Type-R and a white Subaru STI. Rocking his head back and forth, he decided to drive the Subaru today.

The car doors unlocked as he slid his hand into the passenger door handle and pulled. He tossed his laptop attache into the passenger footwell, shut the door, and walked around the car to the driver side, relishing in the fresh air. He got in, feeling slightly like a klutz as he plopped into the low seat. He paused a moment, taking a deep breath, his racing thoughts gently settling, like sediment at the bottom of a riverbed.

Reversing out of his driveway, Allan drove slowly through his neighborhood. The engine of the Subaru STI roared to life as he dropped the clutch to engage first gear while turning left onto the single-lane country highway. He felt the pickup of his 300 HP stock engine, the whining of the turbo as the pressure gauge revved up to 10 PSI, then 15, before he finally kicked the clutch pedal to shift into second.

He accelerated to 60 in under five seconds as his eyes darted to his radar detector, which signaled the all-clear, and he continued accelerating, shredding through third gear and into fourth. He was doing 90 a few hundred meters from the highway on-ramp to I-490 West when he let go of the accelerator, letting the alternator, engine braking, and air drag do their work in slowing the car back down to a cool 50. His car hugged the inner lip of the on ramp as he felt the G’s in his stomach, his left hand wrapped around the steering wheel like a vice grip while his right hand floated loosely on the shifter.

Radiohead’s “4-minute warning” played gently over the audio system in his car, the one component he hadn’t left stock. The default sound system in the car was abysmal, and he’d replaced both the head unit and speakers within a month after buying it. The Alpine head unit and Focal front speakers with the 15″ subwoofer and dedicated 4+1 channel DSP were proof of Allan’s devotion to music: the entire sound system had easily cost upwards of four grand.

If money could buy happiness, then Allan Darque should have been a happy thirty-something bachelor. For all intents and purposes, he was faring far better than his millennial counterparts in all things career and material, but when it came to life satisfaction, he felt like he was at the bottom of the barrel with the rest of them. Upper middle class was not that much better off than the nation’s middle and lower classes. It was only the upper echelon, the economic elite of society, who were truly financially “free” — if such a thing even existed in the world. Even then, Allan was certain that the filthy rich were equally, if not more, shackled than their poorer counterparts, but by a different set of circumstances. It was a dog-eat-dog world, after all; the cutthroat nature of post-industrial capitalism had a noose around everyone’s necks.

This is just a nightmare… cooed Thom Yorke’s melancholy voice. Allan’s lips parted to lip synch to the song. Soon I’m gonna wake up… Someone’s gonna bring me ’round.

Allan had stopped waiting for someone. He now found solace in the thought of never waking up from this nightmare: the nightmare was his reality. In his heart of hearts, he embraced his quiet solitude so it no longer weighed upon him as it had during his tumultuous twenties.

Instead, he had decided that unquenchable black hole deep in his breast was a gift to be cherished. It was God’s blessing: a vacuousness which propelled him in career and life towards success. It was his inability to be content or satisfied with any station in life that was the infinite engine whose endless supply of energy would catapult him far above the eyes of all onlookers. Age and experience provided the yoke for that incredible spirit, allowing him to harness the vitality of his will to survive.

He had long sought love in his youth and had come no closer to it than a bird might come to swimming the ocean’s depths. Rather than drown himself trying, he had done the only reasonable thing a man could do: give up in his search for love, and play his hand the best he could in this game of life. In accepting himself for who he was rather than contemplating what he lacked, he’d extricated himself from the stormy waters and crashing waves, and had come to soar high above the world. It was from this aloof view that he peered down upon the rest of mankind, who appeared to him smaller than insects, privy to the truth of their cosmic insignificance. It was from here, too, that the stars sparkled with such startling clarity that the vision of the heavens was burned into his mind’s eye, unshakable. From this height, he could perceive of only one all-encompassing truth: God, Yahweh, Allah, the Almighty. Indeed, He had many names, and He was the Most Merciful, Most Kind. Ah-rahmanir rahim, the lord of all worlds.

Though he considered himself a Muslim, Allan hardly considered himself a good Muslim. In fact, many days, he wondered if he could truly call himself a Muslim. He prayed only on occasion, never went to the Mosque, and did not observe Ramadan through fasting. The only thing he did religiously was try to avoid pork, an immense challenge in western society, and recite the few suras he knew on a daily basis. His remembrance of God, though flawed, was still evident in his life, and the gentleness by which he treated others. Though he had felt wronged so much in his life, he long stopped bearing any grudges against his fellow humans, seeing hatred for the disease it was.

Instead, he fostered a sense of compassion and forgiveness, understanding that life was difficult, and the straight path was never the easy one to walk. Indeed, Allan had succumbed to the temptations of this life far too many times to feel righteous in any sense of the word. He was simply a man doing the best he could, may Allah have mercy on his soul.

He also knew that, more often than not, it was the arrogance of those who perceived of themselves as self-righteous that committed the greatest atrocities and sins. The Christians in their crusades, Hitler in his holocaust, the modern militant Islamic factions splintering the middle east, and countless other tragedies that speckled human history like leprosy: at the root of all this devastation was arrogant self-righteousness.

This was the supreme sin, the sin for which Iblis — Shaytan, or Satan — had been cast out from the heavens. It was Shaytan’s arrogant self-righteousness to believe that he knew better than Allah. It was the same self-righteousness that convinced religious zealots to cause such destruction upon the Earth in the name of God. It was again that self-righteousness that had led white Americans to enslave countless Africans during the heyday of slavery, terming them an inferior species of humanity. That trend had not stopped there: racism continued to shackle African Americans with Jim Crowe laws following their emancipation in post Civil War America, then later with discriminatory police brutality combined with a multi-billion dollar socioeconomic prison industry designed to detain minorities.

It wasn’t just America. This trend of oppression was present all across the globe, with the empowered majority quashing the often impoverished and ethnic minority. It was the harrowing song of humanity, a tune whose chords kept repeating in distinct syncopated harmonies, to the rhythm of a broken heart. Allan saw it all, and once upon a time, he had cursed God for creating so unjust a world.

Back then, Allan’s real reason for despising God was his own isolation in high school. Allan desperately wanted to feel close to someone, to have friends who cared about him beyond the superficialities of school, to have a girlfriend whom he could care for. These were all healthy desires, but alas, for whatever reason, Allan had a difficult time finding people capable of keeping up with the emotional and intellectual tempo at which he functioned. Somehow, most people just seemed glaringly inadequate, and did little to bring him comfort. The few women he was interested in had zero, or less than zero, interest in him.

Like the angry teenager he was, Allan cursed God for the angst which consumed him. If God existed, how could he make a world that left Allan feeling so terribly alone? And while Allan’s father was incredibly devoted and caring, this was not something that a parent’s love could solve.

So Allan had decided he would take no stock in a God that created such a world, though he cited all the other far more egregious injustices within it as reasoning for his decision. He decried God and declared himself an atheist, though he would later realize he was much more an agnostic, because unlike most atheists, he still thought God probably existed.

It was in his sophomore year of college, separate from his parents and home, living on his own, that his psyche began to crumble and fall apart. Back then, he wanted to kill himself. Life felt too difficult to bear, surrounded by callous college students who were indifferent to the pains of one another, lectured by professors about materials he enjoyed, but pummeled by exams and homeworks that stressed him out to no end. He wondered why he existed at all, what was the point if there was only this overwhelming emotional pain?

Depression seeped through the cracks of his mind, permeating his every thought with dark ideations of suicide and self-harm. He imagined shooting himself in the head with magnums, slicing his wrists and resting comfortably with the shower on as the world faded, taking that lethal injection of heroin to enter into perpetual bliss. But no, he wouldn’t let himself do it, because his parents loved him too much, and he was bound by that love, he owed himself to them, to see life through.

Thusly, he kept putting one step in front of another, continuing onwards despite all the pain he felt inside. He took a leave of absence from his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon, only to return later, then to take another leave of absence. Each time he took a leave, he found a job as a software engineer and worked using skills he’d picked up on his own, outside of classes, and paid off his student loans. He returned to Carnegie Mellon a third time, completing his junior year and his engineering capstone. He hardly had one semester’s worth of courses left when he took one more leave of absence, this time, seemingly for good.

It was during these years at Carnegie Mellon, sandwiched between coursework and the burden of his existential crisis, that Allan began to ponder about the truth of the universe. What was it all amounting to? Allan began at the quantum level, reasoning that quantum mechanical particles and phenomena gave probabilistic rise to the protons, neutrons, and electrons that comprised atomic nuclei. These atomic nuclei then congealed in different sizes to form the array of known atoms in the universe. Amongst these atoms, certain atoms combined to form the basis of organic compounds: proteins and self-replicating RNA. Allan observed that each “level” was effectively a layer of abstraction whose interactions gave rise to more complex and intricate behaviours at the next higher level.

Organic compounds then interacted in such a way as to form viruses and unicellular organisms: prokaryotic cells such as bacterium which could form colonies with signaling mechanisms, and eukaryotic cells such as amoebae. From the eukaryotic cells evolved collections of cells into organs in a tightly knit organism. These organisms continued evolving to give rise to the complex lifeforms that inhabited the Earth. These organisms in turn developed societies and hierarchies, and from this arose humanity.

Mankind is the byproduct of countless years of evolution and organic pruning. To believe that such a well-ordered and magnificent system could arise arbitrarily seems akin to saying that a microprocessor or computer program can design itself. It cannot. But how intelligent design dictates and leads biological evolution forward is a mystery that humanity may never solve.

All Allan could see repeated through all these layers of existence was one truth: order begets order. Therefore, it had to be that there was a universal order, that everything amounted to something. Here, Allan applied a leap of faith and concluded that, for him, it was undeniably true that God must exist. God must be directing the evolution of everything, by means and mechanisms of which humans knew naught. And so, Allan proved to himself, through his own knowledge surmised from reading, that God must necessarily exist.

If God so definitely existed, Allan decided he had to become closer to God in order to understand his purpose in this life. That was the only path to absolve his suffering, which back then, choked and asphyxiated him. But how does one become closer to God?

Allan first sought the texts which he thought were the least perverted by mankind’s touch. He did not trust the Bible nor the Torah, for he felt both the Christians and Jews had altered the word of God for material self-gain. Instead, he looked to Tao Te Ching and the Quran. In the Tao Te Ching, he found the abstract essence of Allah, the mysterious and all-knowing; the tao was akin to wisdom knotted between the boughs of perplexing paradoxes upon the tree of life. In the Quran, he found commandments, the wisdom of which was not at first clear and initially seemed almost tyrannical, but upon further reflection, felt sagacious and guiding.

Indeed, Allah had sent many prophets to this Earth before Muhammed. Mankind had been graced with guidance all through its existence upon this plane. God had seen to that. For a being so omnipotent and all-powerful, Allan conceived that it was but child’s play to concoct a universe such as this, with physics that gave rise to such complex lifeforms and organisms as humans. It was not mere chance, it was dictated by design.

Nevertheless, it was not a belief that he imposed upon others. “Allah will guide those whom he wishes,” was Allan’s tacit belief. Empirical science would always reconcile itself with Allah.

Allan believed in Allah above all else. More than his parents, more than his siblings. There was a warm constancy in his heart towards the thought of Allah. For Allah had answered Allan’s prayers to be strong: Allan had become emotionally and physically quite capable over the years. Many people tend to pray to God that good things may come of them upon this life. Rather, Allan prayed that good would come to those whom he loved, his brothers and sisters, and all the humans struggling in the world. He prayed that he would be able to grant his parents peace in this life, through his success. But most of all, he wished for strength: insurmountable strength that would allow him to attain his dreams, and to protect those whom he loved.

His parents would say discouraging things, but they did not know the world the way Allan did. They were not privy to its gross underbelly. Allan had a clear notion of it: of the moral sickness and decay that gripped humanity by its loins. He didn’t know what to do about it either. It was not something he could cure, he’d realized.

Part of it was pornography. The western portrayal of love in media combined with a tremendous porn industry disaffected poor males, incapable of being anything other than their horny selves. The sexual revolution of the 80s had given razor sharp teeth and knives to women who now used it to emasculate their husbands and the workplace. Women were far more dangerous now than ever before.

And the men of the day were consequently much quieter, more emotively intense. Somehow, the cards had been reversed. Where men once tread freely, now they had to tip-toe as though walking upon broken glass. What was fair, and what was right? Women in their stupefying, irrational paranoia, or men in their wanton lust? At the very least, one was more innocent than the other; women wished harm upon men where men wished good upon women.

Allan had seen this play out numerous times during his life. He’d fall for a woman, wishing with earnest purity to be with her. In describing his feelings for her and his open intent to court her, she would call law enforcement, evoking that Allan was harassing her. How was it harassment to tell someone how beautiful they were? This, Allan did not understand.

Nevertheless, Allan would cease and desist. He abided these petty games which affected his life negatively. Once, he’d lost a job and the position on a board of directors because of his innocuous confession to a woman. He was never angry at the women for how they reacted. He thought it was rather sad, that women should have to feel so vulnerable and frail that the smallest approach that was to their distaste, they would attempt to unleash the dogs and hounds that were the police.

Women were in general, a sad lot. Pitiable, really. Allan truly loved women, but had no idea how to get along with them. They were intoxicatingly attractive, and yet so cold and ferocious. It seemed that somehow, society had made women backwards. Why couldn’t women be more warm and upfront? Why couldn’t they be more endearing?

Instead, they were secretive and seditious. They said mean things within their circles of friends. In countless ways, women were far more treacherous than men in their covert manipulation of men’s hearts. Men, on the other hand, were far too innocent and pure in their pursuits to be as scheming as women.

That is why Allan loved men, though he was only sexually attracted to women. It was the men in Allan’s life that made him feel comfortable with himself. Women — they were a necessary poison to society. Allan loved women, but knew the havoc their treachery could wreak.

upon this shadowy path

walk life’s dark hallway
shadowy boxcar of a train
silver moonlight stacked
atwixt venetians, cracked
a carpet dark crimson
like a clotted incision
in its veins a faint beat
slight lukewarm heat
like a body dead, decaying
its edges worn and fraying
this life’s linear pathway
limned by light at death’s gate
heaven’s inevitable shimmer
surrender to its golden glimmer
walk towards your lonely grave
alone, full of love all the same

Thoughts on Being Human (and male)

Some part of me tries to own up to my actions and my mistakes, and I do. I don’t blame other people for what I do, but I also find that I forgive myself for my actions. Sometimes I’m strict, mostly I’m understanding of my situation and what causes me to act out.

In the end, it’s loneliness and a general inability to handle it properly. I go out there and do things without thinking about the repercussions or how it will affect other people. This has gotten me banned from a gym of late, suspended from work, voted off the board of directors of a nonprofit, has led to a run-in with the secret service for my blog posts, and in the past decade, I’ve had numerous other encounters with the police.

I don’t try and justify my actions to others, because I don’t think I ever could. My actions seem justified to myself, because I know how my mind becomes short-circuited and acts impulsively and outrageously. I asked a girl if I could watch her do squats at the gym — this seems like I’m being perverse, or horny, or gross. That wasn’t the case at all. Honestly, I thought it was pretty funny, though I doubt I would have been very entertained in the end. It wasn’t an act I sought for sexual gratification.

I’ve confessed my love to numerous women, but yeah, these have all just been acts of desperation. All these women are already either married or in relationships, so that makes it doubly unlikely that anything would have come of it. But for me, I experienced a brief catharsis for being able to express my pent up emotions.

What I want more than anything else in the world is to just be in a relationship that is nurturing and inspiring. A relationship that enables me to be the best I can be, and to no longer be plagued by emotions of loneliness and emptiness. But I am okay with the thought of such a thing never coming to pass. Some part of me definitely feels like relationships are overrated: there’s a freedom to being a bachelor that I would lose in a domestic partnership.

My past has left me feeling leaden and constricted. I have moments where I want to do something spontaneous to see what happens, without worrying about whether what I’m doing is stupid or inappropriate. 

But blind spontaneity like that gets me into trouble, probably rightly so. Me being thick-skinned and thick-skulled, I keep repeating the same mistakes, though I have made tremendous strides in refraining. These past couple of weeks have just been extremely trying, partly because of horrible insomnia, partly because of new medications, and entirely because of the fallout from my actions.

I don’t expect forgiveness or understanding. I know that’s not how the world works for the most part. Right now, I’m actually thinking clearly, so I wanted to take the time to get this off my chest, and say I’m sorry. Not to anyone in particular, but certainly to all the women I’ve mistakenly harassed without thinking I was doing anything wrong.

Before you say I should seek therapy, just know that I’m already getting help.

I doubt I’ll be a problem for anyone in the future. I’m moving on with my life.