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Addiction

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He's strong. Taller than me, and heavier, with a fencer's long muscles and a fighter's power. He hasn't trained in a while, but years of it still show. He was always stronger. I liked it. It made me feel safe, except when I was afraid of him.

The dreams come every night. I claw and scream my way out, and wake to see him sleeping and know that all my screaming was in my mind. Then the morphine sucks me back down into dreams again. I hate the morphine and need it. It protects me from the racking need, my body's lust for whatever drug they gave me in that place. And it plunges me down below the surface of the dreams and holds me there, drowning. If I could only stop sleeping. But the dreams have started coming in the daytime, now. He drugs me less, and I sleep less, and the dreams shape-change into memories.

Not memories, no, but little fragments of time that catch me up and make me live them again. I'm back there, inside those grey-painted prison walls. I can see through them to the white walls of this safer place, but I can't get back. Not until memory spits me out and time rumbles on as usual.

He talks to me before I sleep, stories of gallant knights and their quests. I like his stories. Sometimes I can dream of Camelot spread out on its hill like a vision of heaven, before I'm back inside the cold grey walls. But I wonder if he knows he's talking about himself. I know he's Lancelot in his dreams, the best knight in the world. Lancelot was almost perfect, except for the sin of lust and love. In my Camelot dreams I see Lancelot sometimes, with a face as beautiful as light, and blinding. An angel, not a man. An angel with a sin in his heart, and grief and rage filling him, driving him mad.

Dreams shape-change into memories, and back again.

I hurt. My skin is too tight, and pinches, and my bones hurt under my skin. My lungs hurt, strangling me from the inside. My stomach hurts when I eat. And when I don't. The cravings hurt me, and the silence, and the dreams.

There are the grey dreams, and the steel dreams. Grey dreams are the walls, and the bright light piercing my eyes, and the questions. The promises and threats. Such a simple thing we want, after what you've done already. Teach us how, teach us. To make demons into weapons, each one its own Hiroshima of agony and death. To turn Chaos into power, into order. Such a simple thing. But if Chaos is order then there is no order, and no chaos either. There's only power, and death. Teach us to make a world of death.

The grey dreams are pain, my pain. The truncheon to the kidneys, the boot to the belly. Legs buckling under me after an eternity standing against the wall, not allowed to rest. The burning in my wrists and shoulders as they haul me up and let me hang. The grey dreams are hunger, and thirst, and the cold bite of the needle sending oblivion through me once again.

The steel dreams are of the others. The subjects. Their pain, their fear. Frightened faces, terrified blankness. Screams, and the inhuman roars and howls. They huddle in the corner, or try laughably to fight. Smells of piss and shit and terror. Sometimes men shield women with their bodies, and women shield children. Sometimes they don't. But always the blood, the torn limbs and open bellies, the pale strings of tendons and the coils of guts. Blood on the steel walls, on the ceiling, everywhere. The slurps and crunches of demons feeding. And laughter. It's me laughing, to let something out, to hear nothing but my own voice.

I come out of the dreams and he's there. So strong, his arms around me, holding me. Holding me together. His hands stroke my back where the bones grind and ache. This other morphine seeps in through his touch, feeding the older addiction. I crave, and crave, and crave. More of him, all of him. Sometimes he wakes hard, and pulls away, disappears into the toilet for a piss or a wank, comes back shamefaced. I couldn't get it up now, I can barely even sit up in bed. I'd like to put my hand on him, my mouth, let him turn me over and take me, anything to have more of him. But I'm afraid.

The worst dreams are the ones of him. I dream him with the demon in his eyes again. Or worse, I remember. He was the first one we called Eyghon into. I wore him down, goading and snarling and mocking. So he agreed. We were all naked on the floor and the demon came into him and looked out through his eyes. He was hard, sweaty, full of lust like a rutting animal. We all felt it. He was Ripper now in truth. Not just the silly stage name he tried to live up to, a good boy playing at evil, all rock music and graffiti and shoplifting and broken windows. He was the real thing now. Jack the Lad, the butcher's knife in the dark alley, the whore with her intestines fanned out around her and her breasts cut off. Ripper. He pulled the two nearest bodies down into his arms, and neither of them was mine. Hands and mouths everywhere, skin sliding on skin, howls. I tore them off him, and the spell broke and the demon roared away.

But Eyghon had touched him, known him, and left his true mark behind. On the soul, not the skin. In our bedsit that night he swore at me for spoiling his fun. He shook me, and slapped me, and slaps became punches and punches became kicks. He was so strong. In his face I saw the face of every boy who'd ever called me queer and beaten me into nothingness in the school changing rooms. It was in him all along. The demon only found it.

I was on the floor, a lump of bleeding pain, knowing better than to beg or cry. And he started to sob, and held me, and asked for forgiveness. As if I could say no. He kissed my bruises and wiped the blood away, and soon I was moaning, begging him not to stop, to have no mercy. He howled as he fucked me, and his hands pressed hard on my bruises and he bit me until I bled again. Coming was searing ecstasy, and then a scoured-out emptiness, like dying. All our little games before, bites and pinches and wrists tied to the bedposts with silk, were nothing compared to this.

The demon had us both. When we called Eyghon into my body, it only made me want Ripper's fists again. I was always bruised. Ripper beat me before sex. He beat me if the tea was cold, or the bedsit wasn't clean enough, or if a gig didn't go well. He was the man now, and I was the wife, the queer, the slave. I obeyed, and let him beat me, and got hard when he fingered the marks he left on me, and scarcely remembered that we'd once been different.

When Eyghon stopped playing, and took Randall over for real, we killed our friend together. Ripper held him down, so strong, while I cut his throat. Deirdre was screaming and the others cowered back in horror. The demon left us then, left us all to shame and disgust and a dead man on the floor. No one spoke. The others slipped off their separate ways. Ripper and I did our last spell together, to get rid of the body and the blood.

We were ourselves again, Rupe and Ethan, only we didn't remember how to be those men. Was there a way back, back to ourselves, back to Oxford and something like innocence? In his face I saw only bewilderment and anger and shame. Later, in our bed, I tried to touch him. He pulled away, sleepless and silent beside me. In the morning he was gone. All I had left were the bruises.

Addiction. Chaos gave me pain, to inflict and to suffer, feeding memories until they consumed me. And when I needed more, I had only to find him again, and call him Ripper.

And now I lie in his arms and I want to be done with pain. I've overdosed, and sickened, and begun to remember something else. He holds me, and he isn't Ripper, and I don't think he'll ever hit me again. Even if I ask him to.

Four years ago, after he came to my bed and filled me with stupid hopes, he turned all his rage on himself and only hurt me by leaving. When he used to hit me, it was something, a connection. I'd let him hit me, if only he'd stay.

There's a scar on his arm, where he had the mark of Eyghon lasered away. I want to touch it. I don't dare. Yesterday he touched the scar on mine, the ugly scar of a chemical burn. He said nothing. The demon is gone for good, and I don't know what's left. I dream, and remember, and crave, and crave, and crave.