- 1 -
My name is Tom Jackman. I am a family man and a monster.
I wasn't always a monster. Or perhaps I was. In fact, I may or may not still be a monster. Is that confusing? Welcome to my life.
Let's just say I wasn't always aware of my... problem.
And when I was aware of it, I was asked to ignore it. It's all in your head, people said, and that was the worst thing about it: for all I knew, they were right. There were no medical conditions that manifested like that, with drastic physical changes that came and went, undoing themselves in moments.
All in my head. I went through all kinds of possible scenarios and causes, ticked off each point like it was a shopping list: schizophrenia, paranoia, hallucinations, brain tumours, narcolepsy... how was I to know that truth would turn out to be stranger than fiction again? It was nothing as mundane as a synaptic misfire or a chemical imbalance or malignant cells. It was a beast in my bones.
There was no slow fade at the final act of the transformation, when Jackman bowed out and Hyde took the stage. The cut was abrupt, a sharp shove into blackness. There was a hollow moment just after that, an icy second of feeling left adrift entirely, which was usually when I attempted to panic before the darkness swallowed me whole.
You'd think it wasn't possible to feel claustrophobic in a void, but it is. The lack of anything around you is as constrictive as any cage or coffin.
How did you like being in the dark, Daddy? In the deep dark, the dark where I had to be when Hyde wasn't allowed to be awake.
When I woke up as myself after Hyde's little excursions, I remembered nothing. Nothing at all. It wasn't like being asleep, more like being there one moment and insensate the next. Time lost any meaning it might have had, didn't lengthen or shorten, it just ceased to function like it should. When the pain set in time lengthened, of course, like it always does in situations like that, and it felt like being pushed down underwater and forced to breathe the chill.
Silly Daddy. Silly Jackman, boring Jackman, mean Daddy Jackman who wouldn't let Hyde come out and play. And how I played. I played with bodies, made them scream and dance and scream again, danced with them even though they were slow and clumsy.
I fought it, of course. Reined it in, made myself a tightly controlled test subject, timed and calculated and thought I might actually succeed.
You might say I did. You might also say I failed.
Goodbye, Daddy. Time for me to go.
- 2 -
My name is Claire Jackman.
Lately, there's been a stranger in my bed. If he's been there at all. I can't seem to reach Tom, no matter how hard I try. It's tearing us apart, and I can't understand what's causing it. It's as though he's become someone else entirely, shed his skin and left behind the caring man I loved. Actually, he hasn't just left his old self behind, he's left all of us, his entire family, behind as well.
We were such a happy couple once.
Once upon a time, like they say in fairytales. Once upon a time there was a happy couple, Claire and Tom, and they shared everything. Right now I afraid there won't be a happy ending to this, that we won't live happily ever after, and I keep taking refuge in memories of better times.
I remember the trip we took to the seaside, remember the lights and the sea air and, let's face it, the sex. How could I not?
It's the intimate little details I keep seizing on. Like how his eyes turned black when he came, inky black like my own eyes, and looking into them was like seeing into the soul of someone else. The first time it happened, I thought it was just the light, but they changed even in the daytime, when the sun filtered in through the drapes like waves of gold. Even then his eyes went black.
It flattered me. How many women can say that they're so good in bed they're able to make their husband's eyes change colour?
When I think about it afterwards, it actually unsettles me. He's always been changing around me, little jolts now and then, and I know what my mother would say about that. I know what Cosmo would try to tell me it means. That there's another woman, that erratic behaviour like his is one of the most obvious signs of infidelity. I confronted him about it, and he denied it. Of course he did. I think I expected him to.
I'm not afraid he's lying about there being no other woman. I'm afraid he's lying about something much worse.
- 3 -
Come here, lean in close and listen. I'll tell you nine lies and one truth.
One: My name is Benjamin Lennox.
That's the first lie. What I'm really called doesn't matter right now, and it probably never mattered. If the world needs charming, capable, dynamic Benjamin Lennox, then that's who it's going to get. Times change, and if you can't change along with them, then you have no right to bemoan your failures. Success is the only thing that counts.
Two: This is for the greater good.
This project is the culmination of over one hundred years of planning. It's built on the dreams of brilliant men. I could spin slogans like these for days. Yes, it is for the greater good, but what I'm so thoughtfully neglecting to mention is that the greater good is going to have to cross my palm with gold if it wants to benefit from Klein & Utterson's work.
Three: I am loyal to Klein & Utterson.
More of a modified truth than a lie, that one. Of course I'm loyal to the company. But the one I'm most loyal to is myself.
Four: I am loyal to Syme.
I'm loyal to him when it benefits me, and quite frankly I trust him about as far as I can throw him. He doesn't know that. Of course he doesn't. I'm the best liar you'll meet, and I could convince you the world is flat if I wanted. Sell you bridges in Brooklyn. To be successful in my line of business and at the levels that I deal at, you have to be able to modify the truth to best suit your needs.
Five: I have scruples.
Used to have them, anyway. There's not many left now, and those mostly seem to be hindrances, so I should really get rid of them.
Six: I have standards.
Double standards, as some would say. Fine. Isn't it better to have a twin set? If you lose one, you have another to fall back on, ladies and gentlemen, something which should count as good planning.
Seven: I care about Tom Jackman.
I care about my possessions. He is part of Hyde, and I own Hyde. I have made Tom what he is, and while I care about him, it's a care that doesn't go any deeper. If I go deeper, it means I might risk the whole project, and when it is something of this magnitude, I think I can be forgiven if I occasionally put my own interests before those of others.
Eight: I own Hyde. I control him, pull all the clever strings that hold this kit and caboodle together.
That's a lie. Yes, I was in control for so long, reined in our little pet monster and precious source, acted as puppetmaster, and I was damn good at what I did. That is, until things started to go wrong and until I started to slide into my own hell. The hell that I'm in right now.
Nine: I never make mistakes.
... I hate to say it, but it's a lie. I made one mistake, but that one mistake was a fatal fuckup of epic proportion. I thought I knew how far I could go without risking my own skin, but I went too far. On the other hand, taking things just that little bit too far is what I do best.
I should congratulate myself on our success. Hyde really is a whole new improved specimen, stronger and faster. So very much faster, so very much stronger and so very much more deadly.
I said "fatal fuckup," not because it alliterates nicely but because it's the truth. This is a deadly mistake, because right now I am dying. It's strange how long it takes to both choke to death and bleed to death at the same time.
I promised you a truth, didn't I? I intend to keep that promise.
I am afraid. That is the truth.