Chapter 1: Hear Me Now
“Dear God? Why am I different? I mean, I know I’m messed up, but, why?” He always felt a little deranged, Tyler did, he felt distant as if he hadn’t found his purpose or was brought into the world without a purpose to abide by. He knew something was definitely wrong with him. Otherwise he would’ve had a conscience to stop him from his troublesome behaviour, he wouldn’t have been standing in court being pleaded guilty, four people would still be alive today, and he wouldn’t be sitting in a cell living in strict conditions he can’t handle.
He did have an excuse. He was heart-broken, suffering paranoia and a heck-of-a-lot of insecurities, it made him mad. Crazy in fact.
Let’s take a step back to last year when Tyler had just turned seventeen, he had a boyfriend at this point in time named Chris. Tyler thought Chris was everything to him and it all fit so perfectly. Tyler was wrong. Chris wasn’t a bad guy, he treated Tyler with care. He would always call Tyler in the morning to check on him, stay up at 3am when Tyler was fearful, call every night and hang up as he heard Tyler’s sleeping breaths, sit by the window and watch the rain as he knew Tyler loved the rain whilst listening to the crackling radio playing Celine Dione. Chris wasn’t a threat to Tyler. And Tyler knew that.
“Come on, Tyler.” His cell doors screech as they open, it made his face scrunch up and his ears curl. He hated that sound of scraping metal. It made his mouth water, taste like metal.
“Breakfast,” the two guards grab him up from his bunk “it’s your favourite!”
“It’s the same three meals every day.” Tyler grunts almost inaudibly “Yet you eat it every day, so you must like it.” One of the guards pats his back. He flinches. “If I refused to eat then I’d get in trouble, I don’t have a choice, not here.”
He stirs the slop around and around, he’s already gone past the phase of wondering what the hell is actually in this slop he’s eating, but they don’t give them anything else to eat so there’s not a choice really. “I guess I deserve this anyway.” He mutters under his breath, “After all, I did kill people.” He sighs. And the question he asked God comes to mind again, why is he messed up? Was it God’s intentions to make him the world’s cruelty? ‘Why’ was the word always floating in his mind.
A guard stood on Tyler’s table clanging two metal pans together, making Tyler flinch “Attention all inmates.” All inmates including Tyler rise and give all attention to the guard. “We have new arrivals coming this evening, meaning there will be a cell check.” The inmates around share a mixture of noises and most weren’t happy. “Quiet! Some of you will be moving cells; some of you will have a new inmate in your cell and the others may be lucky enough to stay the same. If anyone is to hesitate, there will be consequences.” Tyler grips his neck.
“Dear God. We are getting new inmates; I suppose you already know that. I’d like to know if I get to share my cell, and if I do, would he be nice?” Tyler kneels, arms on the bunk, hands together in prayer. “I mean, I’m finding out this afternoon whether I am sharing or not, but I need an immediate sign. Talk to me, please.” He waits. Nothing. He sighs. “I deserve this.”
All inmates are gathered in the dining hall. It’s the afternoon. Tyler’s hand hovers up to his neck as he holds his neck in worrisome. He didn’t think of it as a habit.
“We will call out the names of inmates who will have to share with the new arrivals.”
Names and names and names are called, Tyler’s beginning to grab his neck more often and heavily gulp. Why? Again, why?
His hands grip tighter around his neck. He’s killed people, four people, what if he kills on prison grounds? Surely he’d be restrained?
The prison bus has arrived; the breaks were so incredibly worn that the screech could’ve been heard for miles, Tyler’s mouth watered, and taste like metal.
A line of chain-linked men make their way through the halls. People in their cells start becoming rowdy and hectic. An act to scare the newbies. It doesn’t work. Tyler’s praying again, and again and again, he wants words. “I deserve this.” He mutters.
He sits up and flinches at the cell bars yet again, he’ll never get used to it. He sees guards and no inmate “Wh-“He ticks “Where is he?” He stands. There are at least eight prison guards standing at the entrance of this cell. “Does he have to make this stupid promise? I can take care of myself.” Tyler looks around behind the guards and catches a glimpse of candyfloss pink.
“Tyler, as you seem quite…” the guard looks around the cell at different papers of drawings and sheet music "Innocent, for someone accused of murder, we trust you to have this new inmate in your cell.” Tyler grips his throat “Right?” His voice cracks. The guards step aside as candyfloss pink walks in. “This is inmate Dun, Joshua Dun.” The guy smirks at his own name. “If you are to cause any harm and or attempt to take his life, there will be immediate action, understood?” Tyler grips his neck. He nods.
“Arthur Miller?” Joshua says, head tilted sideways. Tyler follows his eyes and looks at the book resting on his pillow “Oh, it’s this book I studied last year, it really got to me.” Joshua nods “I don’t really read much, what is it about?” His eyes don’t peel away from the book. “Some guy who has to make this crucial decision leading to the death of twenty one pilots.” Joshua nods again, “A little morbid.” This makes Tyler snort “Says the guy currently in prison.” Joshua looks up at Tyler. Tyler can’t seem to decipher Joshua’s expression. “You’ll never know the psychopath sitting next to you, Joshua.” He stares blankly at Tyler “You’ll never know the murderer sitting next to you either, also call me Josh.” Tyler’s eyes sink into his skull slightly, he grips his neck.
Tyler prays again. “I deserve it.” He sighs. “You deserve what?” Josh sits up facing his new cellmate. Tyler doesn’t turn, his eyes are red from crying mid prayer, and he doesn’t want Josh to see. “I don’t deserve God’s response, I always pray but God wouldn’t want to waste his time on me.” He slumps onto his knees and grips his throat. “You’re religious?” Tyler can feel Josh looking at him; his eyes are still red giving him no intention to turn. “I live in hope.” Tyler subtly sniffs.
“Why are you in here?” Josh turns facing Tyler who’s currently laying on his back staring at the ceiling, he doesn’t turn again. “I killed four people that meant a lot to me.” He wants to grip onto his neck again but restrains, Josh hums.
“Why are you in here?”
“Originally I was sentenced for breaking and entering, I think you only get a year for that, but I was involved in a prison murder and had added time to my sentence, then they moved me to this prison but I don’t know why.”
“Stuff got pretty bad and people accused me of things that weren’t true so there was a small fight going on so this guy was threatening me with a knife from the kitchens, I got the knife off him and killed him. I’m not sure if you like graphic detail but it was amazing.”
“Amazing? You killed somebody.”
“And you’ve killed four.”
“Yeah, but it wasn’t spectacular or amazing.”
“Were any of them trying to kill you?”
“Exactly, I was defending myself.”
“I wasn’t exactly killing them on purpose either.”
Chapter 2: We Don't Deal with Outsiders
Tyler sighs as he fastens his tie “Maybe not.” He tosses it back in the drawer. So far he’s tried on five different buttoned up shirts and ended up stuck choosing between two types of jeans. He wanted to look smart for his date. He thought of his date. He gripped his throat. “Maybe if I pray, tonight will turn out amazing and I will be thankful, hear that God? I will be thankful.” He mumbles to himself and sits at the foot of his bed. “Dear God, I’m so nervous for this date with Chris, I know you’re always there for me man. I’m thankful. Please make sure tonight is amazing, please?” He felt desperate but he wanted tonight to be the best.
Tyler leaves and sees Chris leaning against a streetlight, he was dressed up casual unlike Tyler who was balancing strongly between almost casual and very formal.
“Hey.” Chris smiles, the cool air danced with his breath.
“Hey.” Tyler smiled and stood away from the light to make his blush go unnoticed. “So what’s the plan?”
Chris smiled holding two tickets for a movie. “You said you went to see this with your sister a couple weeks ago, and she made you watch it another three more times right?” He laughs.
Tyler grunts “Seriously? Unbelievable!” He yells adding a slight giggle. “Love ya, Ty.” Chris grabs Tyler’s hand. Tyler grips his throat adding a laugh.
“Honestly man, I can’t explain to you how much I hate that movie.” Tyler shakes his head with disapproval as they leave the theatre. “You love it really, don’t deny it.” Chris looks at Tyler as he smiles. “No, man honestly, it’s a terrible movie.” Tyler glares jokingly “I know that’s why I got the tickets; I wanted to see how much you hated it. It’s pretty funny if you ask me.” He nudges Tyler in the arm laughing.
They both sit at a park bench eating the remnants of the popcorn. It was quiet. Tyler grips his throat and gulps subtly. “So Tyler, what’s your favourite season?” Tyler looks over “My favourite season?” He snorts “Yeah, like, winter or summer or?” Chris looks down at the popcorn. “Probably summer, no, spring or fall… Winter makes me sad and I get real bad migraines during summer.” Chris laughs “So spring or fall then?” They share a laugh, and then it’s quiet, except for the comforting crunch of popcorn.
This date is going well until Tyler has the visions of Chris, he’s noticed them before but they were only minor and he could always push it back, but when it’s visions of his boyfriend in horrid and gruesome situations, it’s too much for him to handle.
“His blood, imagine it all over your carpet.” The voices will say.
Tyler flinches and gropes his neck, “What’s wrong?” Chris asks, “Hm?” Tyler stares ahead “Oh, it’s nothing; I’ve just never been on a date before.” Chris smiles and pulls Tyler in from the side, placing his arm over his shoulder. “You’re a weird one, Tyler.” “I’m not weird!”
“Don’t call me that.”
“Look Ty, she’s just a friend.” Chris sighs and wipes the coffee counter, Tyler grunts and paces back and forth then slams his hands on the coffee shop windows, making Chris jump. “Do you think I’m stupid? You never hang out with me anymore, I know we’ve been dating for just over a year now and you want to hang out with others, but it’s me, Chris!” Tyler slumps into a chair “I need constant reassurance and attention from you, but you don’t talk to me for days at a time, you’re always hanging out with her!” It’s quiet. “Tyler, she works here, we’re just friends.” Tyler stares at him “Anyway be quiet, she’s at the back and she’ll be back soon. Honestly she’s lovely, don’t make her feel bad, Ty.” Tyler shrugs.
“Slam his face on the counter.” Oh God.
“Whatever.” He shrugs “I’ll be in the car.”
Tyler sits in the car and waits, he turns on the radio and dives into whatever song plays, he can’t think of anything bad. Tap tap he looks at Chris who’s signalling to put the window down. “Hey Ty, I’ll be walking her home actually, her dad can’t pick her up and it’s getting late so-““Fine.” Tyler puts the window back up and drives off.
“Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” He slams his hands on the wheel “He’s mine, he’s meant to be mine!”
Tyler parks on the curb right next to the bench they had their first date, he stares at the wooden piece of crap that Tyler remarks, with no feeling expressed on his face. “I hate this feeling. Why do I have to feel anger so easily? It drives me insane; I want to do terrible things like this.” He rests his head on the wheel. He looks up, down the road he finds Chris, and he’s with her. She must live around here then. He watches as Chris walks her to her door, they chat, and then he kisses her. Tyler’s eyes widen as he witnesses the truth before him. He continues to stare as Chris makes it down the road.
“Do it.” They say.
“I’m getting to it.” He says.
Chris takes a step off the curb and Tyler’s engine starts, “Do it!” They yell “I am!” Tyler cries as he pushes down on the pedal. And he goes blank; he keeps driving with a man on his windshield, and then breaks. Tyler gets out the car and looks around for witnesses, no one. How did no one witness this? He looks at Chris’ body that has rolled off the windshield, “Oh God!” Tyler screams, and then looks for anyone who is now a witness, again, no one. How? “I need to take you to the hospital, I’m so sorry.” Tyler cries handling Chris into the backseat.
Tyler drives and drives, he passes the hospital, he keeps going, and he looks only ahead. “Right, do I Breaking Bad this? No! I can’t just take him home and hack him up and put him in my bathtub and dissolve him with acid, no!” He taps vigorously on the wheel “Maybe dump him in the woods? No! I’ll be caught out.” Tap tap tap. He grips his throat. He stops at the woods and drags the body to the lake, “Well done, Tyler.” They say “Not now, please, not now.” He looks around for something heavy, a bunch of rocks to stuff in Chris’ pockets. He drags the body until he’s waist deep in water and plunges the body down. “What the fuck, what the fuck have I done?” He waddles through the water and sits beside the lake, he looks up at the stars, “God, “ he clasps his hands together “I’m going to hell aren’t I?”
Chapter 3: Running For My Life
“You liar, you have killed on purpose.” The voices whisper aggressively, it almost rings in Tyler’s ears. They sit in the canteen eating the usual slop. Josh digs the slop with his spoon and drops it back in the tray looking repulsed by it. “Not hungry?” Tyler smiles “You can actually eat this crap?” He pretends to gag watching Tyler lick the spoon clean, “You get what you’re given,” Tyler looks down at his tray “we deserve it.” Josh holds his spoon upside down and laughs at the slop refusing to slide off “We’re still human beings; we deserve some decent food, even in prison!” The slop still stuck to the spoon.
Tyler wonders how it must’ve been in Josh’s last prison to complain about the food here, maybe they had different breakfasts, lunches, dinners and maybe even desserts. “What was the food like at the other place?” Josh is still amused by the slop on his spoon “Tyler, it’s not even dropping from my spoon, imagine what this does to your stomach.” He laughs “Anyway, in the last place, we had different healthy meals every day; they served real vegetables and meat, we had flavour and stuff that definitely does not stick to the spoon.” He puts the spoon back in the slop. Tyler looks down at his tray again “Did you have real breakfasts and lunches?” Josh starts eating the apple instead “We only had yoghurts and fruits for breakfasts, and sandwiches at lunch, we even had desserts, which were just yoghurts but with more flavours like strawberry or banana.” Tyler pushes his tray away.
“Your last place sounds so luxurious compared to this place.” Tyler twists the stem off the apple “Dude, we actually had a TV room.” Tyler’s eyes widen “A TV room!” Josh laughs at Tyler’s amazement “You had a TV room and real food to eat and yet you lot still get involved in a prison murder?” Josh laughs “Yeah, I know, how ungrateful!”
Josh meets the eyes of another inmate walking by and looks down immediately, Tyler looks over his shoulder at him and catches him glaring at Josh, not even blinking, it scared Tyler a bit. This guy was huge, as in 4 Tyler’s could fit into one bicep. Tyler grips his throat and looks back at Josh as the guy walks past. “Who’s that?” “Some guy I didn’t get on with at the last place.” He keeps his head down “What happened?” Josh sighs and sits up “Nothing important, the prison murder thing.”
It’s well into the evening and the sun is still out; this was the only thing Tyler loved about summer, he dreads the migraines that’ll appear soon. Taking advantage of the sun, Tyler and Josh sit in the yard, Tyler is finishing ‘All My Sons’ for the fifth time and Josh is forming a daisy chain. In this element Tyler felt safe and calm, he felt content, and it was an odd feeling to him.
“Dun!” a shadow forms over Tyler’s book, he looks up and squints. “Yes?” Josh is still adding onto the daisy chain “We have unfinished business.” All five men stand looking down at Josh, “That’s so cliché, anyway, that’s stuff from the old prison and I’m trying to settle in here without any problems.” This really pushed a button “Just come with us.” Josh sighs then shrugs “Okay, fine.” He places the daisy chain around Tyler’s neck and follows behind the five inmates. Tyler watches them walk to a hidden area behind a fence, this area was usually a smoking area for the guards, but due to strict regulations they’re not allowed to smoke anymore so it’s really an abandoned spot now. Tyler grabs his throat. Should he help Josh? Are they going to hurt him? Maybe get a guard? No, no one likes a snitch. But Josh really needs help though.
Tyler keeps his head down as he walks back to his cell, bumping through every inmate on the way. In his cell he lifts up the mattress on his bunk to find what he once found when he first got here, a sharpened toothbrush, it belonged to the inmate before Tyler. He always found it heavily unsettling that he had a mouldy, discoloured sharpened toothbrush under his mattress. He was always too afraid to hand it in, and thought one day it could come handy. Like now.
“Do it.” They say
“Only to help Josh, only if he’s in danger.” He tucks it under the waistband and heads out to the field.
“This could be the last time you walk these halls, Tyler.” They say He grips his throat, he tastes metal in his mouth but his mouth is dry. His heart races, it’s racing and racing, as bad as it was when he murdered Chris. He hides behind the fence in the yard and spots Josh, they’re grabbing him by his shirt and holding him against the fence and one of them throws the first punch. “Stop!” Tyler runs out in front of them holding the shiv up to one of the men’s throat, Tyler looks deep into the eyes of this man he is threatening, within a blink he sees a flicker of Chris, he flinches and drops the shiv and backs into the fence. His face displayed a concoction of vulnerability and shock, his eyes wide and glued to the toothbrush before him, he links his fingers into the fence. “Tyler what are you doing?” Josh stares at him and nods to the toothbrush “Get it, Tyler!” Tyler shakes his head, he clings to the fence.
“How sweet! You tried to save your friend.” One of the guys pick up the toothbrush inspecting it in his hand, “Did you make this?” Tyler shakes his head but avoids eye contact. “So you wouldn’t mind if we use it then?” he points it towards Josh, another one of the guys kicks Josh behind the knee so he collapses onto the grass, Tyler doesn’t look at Josh. One of the guys holds Josh down whilst the other holds the shiv to his neck, Josh gulps but keeps his eyes on Tyler.
“Do it, Tyler.” The voices bombard him as he continues to stick to the fence. His hands begin to tremble which makes the fence rattle, Josh keeps his eyes on Tyler but Tyler doesn’t look back. “Do it!” They scream inside his head. “DO IT, DO IT, DO IT.” Tyler flinches and grips his throat, he feels numb. “NOW!” He launches himself at the guy holding the shiv, knocking him over; he pins the guy down so he’s unable to use the shiv and begins punching him, again and again and again, until Tyler can no longer feel his knuckles. "Holy shit, Tyler!" Josh gets up and runs as the others chase him across the track, leaving Tyler alone with this one unconscious man, staining the fresh grass with his blood.
For Tyler, everything goes black.
Chapter 4: Can You Save My...
There's slight graphic detail throughout the chapter.
“I understand you must be going through a real hard time right now, just call me back if you’re down to hang out, okay? Bye.” Tyler paused for a minute to take in all the recent events that’s happened; he murdered his boyfriend and ditched the body in a lake, there’s posters all over Columbus saying he’s missing, Tyler can’t watch the news anymore because it’s always an update on how Chris is still “missing” and it fills his body to the brim with guilt and dread, it would make him taste metal and it would linger in his mouth. Every time Chris appeared on TV, his mother would switch the channel over to some old game show reruns.
Mark left a bunch of voicemails since it was announced that Chris disappeared, he was constantly checking up on Tyler by coming over and trying to talk, but Tyler always shut him out, he felt like he’d admit to murdering Chris out of guilt.
“Hey Tyler,” Mark answers “what a surprise!”
“Hey Mark, sorry it’s been a while, I think I’ll be good to hang out tonight.”
“That’s great! Are you one-hundred percent sure?”
“I hope so, maybe just a quiet night in?”
“Oh yeah, sure, how does Mario Kart sound?”
“Sounds great, I’ll come over around six-ish?”
“Great! See ya later!”
Tyler regretted making that call instantly, he didn’t want to see anyone or do anything, since killing his boyfriend he just wanted to lock himself away, he considered handing himself in and confessing to everything, but something in him stopped him and told him to drag it out longer and longer.
It’s 5:37pm and Tyler is still in bed, the sunset is poking a beam of orange through the curtains, his eyes follow swirls of dust that spins in the orange light, that’s the only trace of light in his room.
Tyler sits up as his brother, Zack, slightly opens the door “Hey Ty, dinner’s ready.” Tyler shuffles out of bed “I’m not that hungry, I’m going to Mark’s soon so we’ll probably order a pizza or something.” Tyler hunts his dresser for jeans. “You’re going to Mark’s? That’s great man, you’re finally occupying yourself, Mom was getting kinda worried.” He pats Tyler’s back then leaves, closing the door behind him. He turns to the mirror and takes a deep breath “You’ll be okay, everything will be okay.”
He makes his way downstairs and sees his family sitting around the dinner table, he overhears his little sister, Maddy, talking about how good she’s doing at basketball recently and the whole family cheering and encouraging her. He appears at the doorway “Hi.” He says softly, the family turn and look at him, his mother smiles “Have fun at Mark’s sweetie.” And his dad just smiles softly. For a couple seconds it feels like time was frozen and his family are just staring at him and he spots blood dripping from the ceiling, he looks up and there’s nothing, looking back at the table there’s nothing. “Are you okay?” Zack asks. Tyler felt his whole body tense as he looks panicked at the table.
“Bye.” He turns without looking at his family and leaves.
“Hey man, how are you feeling?” Mark pulls him in for a hug as he opens the door, Tyler shrugs “Been better.” They both walk into the kitchen “Beer?” Mark pulls out a pack from the fridge. Tyler has never had alcohol before; he never saw the point in getting drunk. Thinking into it more he knows people sometimes when they’re sad or tired of a situation, maybe it won’t be so bad?
“Yeah, thanks.” He snaps the lid and takes a sip. “You’ve never had beer before have you?” Mark laughs “No, how can you tell?” “Your face just gave it away as soon as you had a sip, I’ve never seen someone so repulsed by beer.” At this point Mark is in hysterics, Tyler just downs his drink. “Can I have another one?” Tyler crinkles the can.
Two beers later, Mark and Tyler are starting to feel tipsy; Tyler is already stumbling a bit and feeling a different type of numb. They continue drinking as they play video games, as they play Mario Kart they argue and laugh at each other, especially when Tyler was so close to the finish line and Mark sent the blue shell after him making Tyler come 3rd. He hadn’t laughed like this in a while and it felt great, he felt great.
“I’m having such a good time, thank you for inviting me over tonight, I needed this.” Tyler smiles and sips his sixth can.
“Well you don’t deserve it after what you did to Chris.”
Tyler pauses, looking startled, “What did you just say?” Mark knows? How does he know?
“I said it’s great to see you again?” Mark sets his drink on the coffee table.
“No. What did you say about Chris?”
“Oh, I was just saying it’s great to see you again, especially after everything with Chris.”
Tyler slams the empty can on the coffee table, “No you didn’t!” He tries to stand but the room begins to spin. “Tyler, are you okay?” Mark tries to hold Tyler “No, get away from me!” He pushes Mark away “How do you know it was me?” Mark looks up at him confused “What? What was you?” Tyler grunts and stumbles around the dark room, the TV flickering as Bowser is holding a star trophy.
“Tyler you’ve had a lot to drink, maybe you need to lay down for a bit, I’ll get you some water?” Tyler grunts again, stumbles up the stairs and locks himself in the bathroom. He looks at himself in the mirror, he’s never looked so pale in his life, he stares deeply into his own eyes “This is me.” His hands grip to the sink as he’s glued to his reflection “This is who I am, this is my life, this is what I look like.” He stares longer until he can’t even recognise his own reflection anymore.
“He knows what you did.”
“No he doesn’t. Go away.”
“He knows what you did to Chris. He knows. He knows. He knows.”
“How does he know?”
“I need a minute.”
“Tyler, please unlock the door, what’s wrong?”
Tyler unlocks the door “You know what’s wrong.” Mark steps in “I understand this whole situation with Chris is hard, but everything will be okay, the cops are looking for him!” An overwhelming amount of guilt fills within Tyler “They won’t find him!” He cries, Mark leans in to comfort him “They will, don’t give up on hope.” Tyler pushes him away “They will never find him!” He sighs “I know they won’t.” Mark stands awkwardly not knowing how to comfort him “How do you know they won’t? There’s still hope.” Tyler feels the guilt filling up and up until he can no longer take it, he sits on the edge of the bathtub.
“Because I killed him.” He says softly.
Mark pauses; he looks blank, almost as if there’s a shred of disbelief in him. “You couldn’t have- You wouldn’t- You’d never hurt anyone, especially Chris.”
“Well I did,” Tyler says softly “I hit him with my car and drowned him in the lake.”
“What? Why?” Panic starts to rise in Mark, his heart is pounding and pounding but he stays still “Tyler, you need to hand yourself in, that’s messed up!”
“He knows. He knows. He knows.”
He tastes metal again and grips his throat.
“You have to kill him too.”
Tears fill Tyler’s eyes “But I don’t want to hurt him.” Mark’s eyes flicker in panic “What?”
“He knows. Kill him.”
“But God will never forgive me.” Tyler cries “He never will anyway. Kill him.”
“I’m sorry.” He looks up at Mark, his eyes widen as he realises Tyler’s intent.
Mark rushes to the door, fidgeting with the handle to escape, Tyler stands and wipes his tears with his sleeve. He grabs Mark by the throat and throws him down; his head collides with the bathtub which knocks him out, Tyler stands panicked above the body and paces around the bathroom.
“What have I done? What have I done? What have I done?” He grips his throat.
“I have.” He cries.
Tyler turns to look at the body, he checks Mark’s neck for a pulse. There’s a pulse. He leans in to hear if Mark is still breathing, his chest rises, and he hears an exhale.
Tyler wraps his hands around Mark’s throat and holds down, he felt the pulse weaken as he held down, eventually once the breathing had stopped the pulse followed. Tyler let go and sat beside him and leaned against the bathtub. He was drained.
Once he managed to get Mark standing upright and down the stairs, Tyler planned carefully what he was going to do, he placed Mark in the backseats and grabbed a match of matches and a can of gas. He drove to the lake where he left the body of his boyfriend. Dragging Mark out of the car, he filled his pockets with rocks like he did with Chris, dragged him to the exact spot where he let go of Chris, and then watched the body sink. He waddled through the water and back to the car, he grabbed the can of gas and doused the car, leaving the gas inside. He lit a match and watched the flame for a second. The flame danced around the little stick in the wind, Tyler was fascinated by the little dance and its orange glow against his skin. He throws the match onto the car and runs before the flame reveals him.
He runs through the forest, his house wasn’t that far, his dad used to walk him here with his brothers to go fishing years ago. The glow of a streetlight gets closer and closer and eventually a road. He keeps running until he reaches his street, he slows his pace and picks a key from under the doormat and let himself in.
Cautious of everyone asleep, he takes gentle steps to his room, tip toeing up the stairs and taking slow and steady steps down the hall. Once in his room he removes all his damp clothing and crawls into bed.
“God?” He clasps his hands “I don’t know if you’ll ever listen to me, but I am sorry, I deserve your worst.”
Chapter 5: Feel My Spirit Is Contained
Everything sounds muffled, all Tyler can hear is a high pitched ring in both ears, there’s also shouting? He isn’t so sure, he can’t feel anything but his body is moving, punching? Everything is a blur to him. “Tyler!” Someone is shouting, he keeps punching, “Tyler! Tyler, listen to me!” They keep shouting and pulling him away. Eventually Tyler is pushed over, he looks up to Josh shaking him and shouting, but he can’t feel or hear.
Whilst numb; he lays next to the unconscious body he had beaten, Josh picks up the shiv and stabs Tyler in the shoulder, this brings him back. Tyler shrieks as he recognises the pain digging into his shoulder, Josh plants the shiv in the hands of the unconscious man beside them. “Come with me.” Josh helps Tyler up and holds him as they find a nearby guard. “You hurt me?” Tyler whimpers in pain “Yes, I’m sorry, just go along with it.” Tyler looks around at all the other inmates watching as they struggle to walk across the track “Where are the other guys?” “I ran as soon as you started punching and they chased me, some guards stopped them and mentioned they’ll be keeping an eye on them.” Tyler smiles weakly.
Two guards spot Tyler and Josh covered in blood and struggling to walk across the track, one of the guards hold Tyler “What happened here?” he asks as the other guard calls for a medic. “The guys that were running after me earlier, one of them got him and stabbed him in the shoulder with a toothbrush.” Josh responds, suddenly out of breath. “A toothbrush?” The guards look at each other confused “A shiv.” Tyler whimpers. “What happened to your knuckles?” A guard holds and inspects Tyler’s hands, “I punched him.” Tyler pulls his hand away “More than once I’m guessing, the other guy must be knocked out.” The guards laugh together, “And I got stabbed, he had a weapon, contraband even, so I punched him out of self-defense.”
Tyler spent the rest of the day being treated by medics and making statements over the situation, praying Josh was giving them the same story.
“Mr. Joseph, all other men involved are stating you brought the shiv into their fight, which you initially were not involved in, is that correct?” Tyler was cuffed to the table whilst being interrogated; it made him think of the series of interrogations he went through for his case.
“Lie. Lie to them. You know what to say.”
“No.” Tyler looked at them dead in the eyes, the light keeps flickering, making Tyler feel more uneasy. “I wasn’t initially involved, that’s true, but I didn’t bring the weapon. I was trying to help Josh, and then one of them threatened me with the shiv. I remember being stabbed in the shoulder and punching the guy, then I blacked out.”
“So, did they go easy on you with the questionnaire?” Josh laughs and jumps onto his bunk, Tyler sits up and sighs “They were being calm with me; I’m guessing they had to go through my records to find out how to approach me.” Josh laughs “Really? A guy has a couple nervous ticks and suddenly they give the gentle approach.” “There’s more to it than that.” Tyler scoffs. “No, I get you.” Josh’s tone softens “Really?” Tyler almost seemed enlightened knowing Josh understood in a way. “Yeah, I suffer from anxiety; it gets the best of me sometimes so I can understand.” Josh laughs to lighten the mood a little. “At the last place I was actually on medication for it, it made me so numb, like I was inside my brain watching the world go by in a daze and I wasn’t in control anymore. So I stopped taking them.” “How did you manage to stop taking them, they check your mouth after you take them?” Tyler shudders at the thought of it. “I spoke to the doctors and explained the medication isn’t working out and I wanted to feel in control of myself again.” Tyler stares up at the bunk above “And they just allowed that?” “Yeah.”
Tyler takes a deep breath.
“Even though you stabbed me in the shoulder today, there’s something telling me I can trust you.”
“Seriously? Wow, thanks.”
“My head has a hard time letting me figure out who I can trust but my gut just tells me there’s something about you I can trust. You’ll never know the murderer sitting next to you, or the psychopath, but there’s good in you.”
“Everyone has their moments, I guess.” Josh laughs.
“But no, seriously, my head is a mess; I hear voices, I heavily disassociate a lot, I just feel so numb I can’t feel anything but I feel overwhelmed and feel everything at once. It gets pretty crappy sometimes.” Tyler gulps and grips his neck.
It’s quiet for a moment, all Tyler can hear is the creaks of the bunks and the yells of inmates going down the hall and banging of batons against railings. He begins to regret telling Josh about himself.
“You shouldn’t have told him! You shouldn’t have told him!”
“Well I’m with you Tyler, you make the world a little less boring for me.”
Tyler gulps “What do you mean?”
Josh laughs “Well if everyone in the world was sane, imagine how boring that would be?”
“You’re right! I mean, I can’t embrace these voices, but I can bare it.”
“They are after you, they will haunt you until you end up in hell.”
“You’re going to hell.”
“God will not accept you into heaven, you’re a heathen.”
“HEATHEN, HEATHEN, HEATHEN.”
He keeps tossing and turning, the bunks rattle and rattle and squeak.
“Tyler?” Josh sat up from his bunk and felt the rattling bunk below him. “Tyler, are you okay?” He jumps down to find Tyler rocking and grabbing his head and shaking, his eyes squeezed shut. Tyler begins to frantically rock and hit his head with the palm of his hand. “Please leave!” He cries “Please just go away, I’m sick of you!” He keeps hitting himself. Josh grabs his hands and sits beside him “Tyler?” His eyes stay shut and he begins to shake his head “They won’t leave me alone.” He cries “Who won’t leave you alone?” Josh holds Tyler to gently stop his rocking. “Them, everyone I killed, they won’t stop until I’m dead and go to hell.” At this point Tyler stops rocking and shaking and sobs into Josh’s shoulder. “I don’t want to lose to myself.” He sobs “Tyler, look at me,” he pushes Tyler up to look at him “you won’t, you have me in here, and I’m someone to help you until you get out.”
Tyler looks around at the cell they share together in disgust; the discoloured cream painted walls, the cemented flooring with mysterious stains, the rusty bars that makes his mouth water every time they screech, the metallic taste he’s always left with after, then there’s the screams of other inmates from all floors.
“No, I deserve to rot in here, no one wants me out there.”
“We can both be out there, Tyler, we have each other’s backs.”
“I have no life out there because I killed them.”
Metal scraping, metal scraping.
It makes his mouth water, it tastes like metal, and he hated it. Realising this was the bars opening he shot up and rubbed his eyes. “Joseph, Dun, this is your new temporary cellmate.” The officer throws a thin mattress and a bag filled with bedding on the floor, another officer and said new inmate proceed to walk in. “This is inmate Urie, he’s transferred from Nevada, due to prison riots he’s moved here temporarily until further notice.” They remove the handcuffs from the new inmate and close the bars as they leave.
“Wait, Josh? Hey man, how’s it going?” The new inmate smiles up at the top bunk. “Oh man, Brendon, how are you man?” Josh hops down and gives him a hug, “Man, after the whole prison murder thing I was transferred to Nevada, man that place is riots twenty-four-seven!”
Tyler looks at the new cellmate
“Ugh, another one to get used to.”
“Hey, I’m Tyler.” He stands and holds out his hand, “Hey man, I’m Brendon.” He shakes his hand. “So, you know each other?” Tyler grips his throat “Yeah, we worked in the kitchen together at the old place.” Tyler nods.
“So what happened with the riot, what got you in this place?” Josh asks, Brendon dramatically rolled his eyes and laughs, “Oh man, right, so when I first got there I pretty much nearly fuckin’ died. Like, everyone was involved in gangs and no one gives a shit. So, I kept to myself and stayed in my cell because fuck that, right?” Josh laughs “And it’s only a matter of time before it gets out of hand and a whole back up team is called in and the alarms go off, I’m just in my cell, and it starts to get hot, right? And the fuckin’ fire alarms go off too, and an officer just holds me down and puts handcuffs on me and I’m being dragged into a bus outside, but dude, that place was on fire.”
“Dude, seriously?” Josh gasps “Yeah man, it was all over the news, we had a bunch of reporters outside and helicopters. Didn’t you see?”
“We don’t have a TV room, so we can’t watch the news.” Tyler joins “You don’t ha- Dude are you serious? What do you guys do for fun around here?”
“Well, I read.” Tyler adds.
“That’s cute.” Brendon mocks Tyler and smiles sarcastically.
“Just wait until you try the food here.” Josh smiles at Tyler.
Chapter 6: If I Lose to Myself
This chapter is rather explicit, be careful, take care of yourself!
TRIGGER WARNINGS: mentions of suicide, graphic violence and vomit.
“Breaking news; two bodies have been found in a lake in Columbus, Ohio, They have been identified as Chris Salih and Mark Eshlemen. They were discovered early this morning as a local dog walker found a burning car nearby the lake, the car was owned by Mark.”
Tyler’s mother turned off the TV and turned to him “Oh, Tyler, I’m so sorry.” Tyler gulps and grips his throat “It’s fine.” His voice cracks. He turns to see his younger sister and brothers staring at him, he can feel their sympathetic eyes stab into him. “I need to be by myself, I’m sorry.” He grips his throat, the lump in his throat makes him choke and his voice weakens.
He drops onto his bed and grips onto the covers, using them to lower the sound of his crying. Suddenly it feels as if the whole world is against him, they will soon find out it was him and everyone will leave him for the monster he is. At the moment it will be constant sympathy for him, to which he despises, he doesn’t want the sympathy for his friends, especially the friends he killed.
“I don’t deserve the sympathy.” He sighs, wiping his tears and taking a deep breath.
“They know it was you.”
"They know it was you, they know it was you, THEY KNOW IT WAS YOU!”
“Can you just sto-“ He’s interrupted by his phone ringing.
“Tyler?” It’s Mark’s girlfriend, Ruby, she’s crying.
Tyler shakes his head violently.
“Hi, Ruby, I’m sorry about Mark.” He sighs. “How are you doing? I figured you must be taking this quite badly, I wanted to check up on you.” She laughs awkwardly; it made Tyler cringe, more sympathy.
“It’s been a rough morning, I guess, I was going to come over later and check up on you.” Tyler cringed at his lie.
“You can come over anytime; I guess we could both use the company today?”
Tyler decided to go to Ruby’s and at least act like he’s going to give some form of sympathy. As soon as she opens the door she throws herself into a hug, Tyler hesitantly wraps his arms around her. “I’ve been trying to work it out.” She says, still buried in Tyler’s neck. “Work out what?” He pulls away “The case!” Tyler grips his neck “Why? The police are doing the best they can, we shouldn’t interfere.”
Ruby runs up to her room to grab the scrapbook of memories she made a while ago, Tyler helps himself to the couch. She comes back with a messy scrapbook filled with photos, movie tickets, concert tickets, plane tickets and Disney passes from the time they all went to Florida for a week in the summer. Tyler hovers his hand over a photo of him and Chris, they looked so much happier. Tyler was happier then, his head wasn’t infested, he could think a little more clearly. “I just don’t understand why it had to be them two.” She sighs, Tyler felt the lump in his throat.
“They said it could be a murder suicide, like, Mark killed Chris then eventually himself.”
“I know that’s not true, Mark would never hurt anyone or himself, it’s just not him.”
Tyler tries to swallow the lump in his throat “So, they think it’s Mark?”
“Well either it was a murder-suicide, both suicides or both murders.” Her voice is shaken.
“It just doesn’t make any sense.” She turns to face him “Tyler, you were with Mark last, what happened?” Her eyes dug into his, she knows there’s something. His eyes widen as he gulps “Everything was fine, he didn’t seem off or anything, it doesn’t feel right.” Tyler grips his throat again, she looks at him with concern.
“She’s onto you.”
The police worked out that Mark’s house was left open, his parents aren’t home, his car is the car at the lake, the lights are on upstairs, the TV is still on, there’s blood on the corner of the bathtub and the floor. None of the neighbours witnessed anything. The police turn up at Tyler’s house late in the evening; they take him in for questioning and inform him on the said discoveries.
“Statements show that you weren’t seen with Chris before he disappeared so we don’t need to question you on him, you’re not a suspect, but you was last seen with Mark on the night of his murder, could you tell us why?”
He was given a cup of water, he was shaking too much to drink. “Yeah, I-“ The lump in his throat appears, choking his every word. “I was going through a bad place, he-“
“They know, they know.”
“He was helping me calm down, my boyfriend was recently missing at the time, and he just invited me over to his place to play some videogames.”
“Did you both drink?”
“He offered me a couple beers, just so we could chill and have a good evening, I had never drunk before then so I felt really strange and tipsy. I felt scared, so I went home early.”
“Okay, Mr. Joseph, the forensic team only found finger prints on the beer cans and game controllers and that’s all, so we don’t believe you could be a suspect, you’re just a kid.”
Tyler’s heart paced faster and faster, it made him feel light.
They believe his story as they refuse to believe an eighteen year old scared boy with a heck-of-a-lot of mental health issues would bother harming someone when they’re THAT vulnerable. Tyler looks down at his thumbs as they twiddle around, he smiles to himself weakly, no forensic reports on him.
“So you’re no longer a suspect?” Ruby’s voice was filled with desperation.
“No, forensics only found my fingerprints on the beer and the controllers; they assumed he may have been vulnerable to attacks during the night as he had alcohol in his system.” Tyler grits his teeth. He hated lying, it’s all he’s done recently, lie.
“Okay, good, I can cross you off. I started growing quite suspicious of you but there’s no trace of you on him or the car, okay, that’s good!” Her voice hurried, she was scribbling something in the background. Tyler grew cautious of her as she grew to become infatuated with the idea of solving these murders. Of course the voices already had a plan.
“Frame her, or kill her.”
Tyler knew framing her was almost impossible and that should’ve been pre-planned a long time ago, he has to kill her. And of course the voices already had ‘Plan B’ created.
“Kill her and then make it look like she killed herself.”
Tyler felt disgusted in himself but he felt it was right, and it would get her off his case. She knows Tyler’s temperamental outburst behaviour so she knows Tyler could be a suspect even if she, and the police, aren’t thinking that way anymore, something could change her mind.
“Tyler, are you there?”
“Yeah, still here.”
“Good, can you come over tomorrow afternoon, I need to show you something.”
“I don’t know, I don’t feel like seeing anyone.”
“No, you can kill her.”
“Tyler, please, it’s really important.”
“Okay, will your parents be there?”
“No, they’ll be at work, why?”
“I just don’t want any sympathy, it’s getting too much with Chris and now Mark.”
“Oh. Yeah, I understand. See you tomorrow.”
He hangs up and chucks his phone on his bed and slumps down.
“Tyler, sweetheart, Chris’ family are on the phone and they’re checking in to see if you’re okay, would you like to talk to them?” Tyler’s mother pokes her head around the door. Without a word Tyler shakes his head “Okay honey.” She smiles weakly and slowly shuts the door. Tyler stands and holds his head next to the door to listen.
“Hello? Yeah, I spoke to him but he’s really not coping well, but he sends his deepest condolences, he’s very sorry.” Her voice becomes muffled as she walks further down the stairs.
“You’re not sorry.”
His voice cracks “I am.”
A beam of light poking through the curtain disrupts Tyler’s sleep, he looks at his bedside clock, only nine in the morning. Tyler rubs his face and sits up, he felt drowned by the overwhelming amount of thoughts he woke up to. He can hear his family already downstairs.
As he walks into the dining room his family fall silent. “Good morning, Ty.” Maddy smiles followed by the good mornings wished by the rest of the family. Tyler sits with them and pours himself a bowl of cereal, they resume their previous discussion, including Tyler this time. They all spend their breakfast discussing Maddy and Jay’s basketball skills and Zack’s upcoming tournament. Tyler used to love basketball, it was something he became heavily passionate about, back when he felt healthier.
Everyone paused and look at Tyler, he drops his spoon into the bowl and pushes away from the table, excusing himself. He opens the door to a bunch of flowers and his neighbours behind them. “Tyler, we can’t imagine how you must be feeling, it’s quite devastating isn’t it?”
“Great, more sympathy.”
Tyler shrugs “I guess.” They look at him as if he’s a lost helpless puppy stranded next to a road, he grits his teeth. “Well, it won’t help, but we bought you some flowers and chocolates, we are really sorry.”
“Thanks.” Tyler smiles weakly and takes the flowers and chocolates. He walks back into the kitchen and dumps the chocolates in front of Maddy and the flowers on the table. “But Tyler, they’re for you.” Maddy tries to hand them back “I don’t want them.”
Ruby calls him over, 30 minutes later he arrives. She pulls him in as soon as she opens the door “Ruby, what’s going on?” she grabs his arm and pulls him up the stairs “I need to show you something I’ve been working on.” She shows Tyler her room; it’s covered in photos of Mark and Chris, post-its of their last whereabouts and the details of their last moments. She couldn’t link Tyler to Chris’ death because he was last seen with the waitress from his work and Tyler had ‘already driven home’. Tyler grows more paranoid as he looks around her room.
“You did this, you did this, you did this.”
“Guilty, guilty, guilty!”
“You are a monster, you are a monster, you are a monster.”
“She knows it’s you, she knows it’s you, she knows it’s you.”
The voices attack him and shout all sorts as he grows overwhelmed. He begins to cry and grabs his hair, squeezing his hair between his fingers.
“YOU DID THIS. YOU DID THIS. YOU DID THIS.”
“GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!”
“MONSTER. MONSTER. MONSTER.”
“SHE KNOWS. SHE KNOWS. SHE KNOWS.”
Tyler begins shaking his head to shut them up, Ruby turns to see him so distressed, she comforts him with a hug. Tyler relieves into the hug and feels himself become less tense as his muscles relax. She rubs his back gently to sooth him and keep him calm.
He squeezes his eyes shut and holds his breath. He pulls away and strangles her, she struggles and tries to push back but her movements become slow and limp her watery eyes look into his. He lets go and she lays still, unconscious, but still alive. The panic sets in and he looks around her room, he slaps himself in the head with his palm.
“She did it. She did it. You found her.”
Tyler slides his hands through his hair and looks around. He goes in the garage and looks around, though he’s already killed two people, he felt most disgusted in this situation. He finds rope bundled on the shelf, he pulls his sleeves over his hands and takes the rope.
“You need to do it, Tyler.”
He leaves the garage.
“You deserve to.”
“No one deserves this.” His voice cracks and a tear rolls down his cheek.
He walks up the stairs.
He enters her room.
The voices instruct him on what to do with her. He can’t look at her. He grabs a pen with his sleeve and writes “I can’t work it out, I’m sorry Mark.” In scribbled capitals on one of the post-its. Tyler backs away from the walls and her body, his body becomes worryingly calm and he leaves her room. He stands outside her door and finally looks at the crime he committed. Calmly, he makes his way to the bathroom and locks the door behind him. He felt ill, he felt sick to his stomach, he wanted to be sick. He looks at himself in the mirror and grips onto the sink.
“You are sick, Tyler, sick.” He stares into his own eyes.
“You are a vile human being.” He analyses the tears welling up.
He dials ‘999’ and explains that his friend called him over and he’s arrived to find her dead. He pretends to be in shock. The police and an ambulance arrive, and officer works on trying to calm Tyler while they deal with the situation. He explains she was Mark’s girlfriend and she wasn’t dealing with his death very well. A couple push past the officers outside and stop when they see Tyler, it’s Ruby’s parents. “Where is our daughter?” Her mother runs up the stairs. A scream followed by hysterical crying can be heard from her room.
Tyler is taken home by the police, whilst the officer explains the afternoon’s events he goes up to his room. He feels himself breaking down, like he’s deteriorating, he felt brittle and fragile. His siblings stand at his door, Tyler takes a deep breath, “What do you want.” They all look at each other and back at Tyler “We’re worried about you.” Zack speaks up “You won’t need to be.” Maddy runs to Tyler and holds him “We all worry, Tyler, we love you.” Tyler cries and holds onto his sister, Jay and Zack join and hold Tyler. “Everyone close to me are dying, I’m scared, I’m so scared.” He cries into his sister’s shoulder.
Chapter 7: Quiet is Violent
“Okay, but where are the pudding cups?” Brendon slams his tray down opposite Tyler and Josh; Tyler flinches whereas Josh laughs “What pudding cups?” Josh continues to laugh. Tyler looks at how Josh’s eyes squint when he laughs, as if it’s a genuine and meaningful laughs.
“Man, how does this guy stay positive, how is he not so miserable?”
“Miserable like you, you mean?”
“Cut it out.”
Brendon lifts his tray to look underneath as a joke, “You have got to be kidding me?” He slams the tray again, Tyler flinches. “First of all you don’t have TV room and now no pudding cups? And what is this crap?” He stabs the spoon into the slop. “I told you.” Josh smirked.
“Attention all inmates,” a guard steps up on the table beside Tyler “after breakfast all of you will line up outside the medical office.” Suddenly all inmates look around at each other making the atmosphere grow wary. Brendon’s expression changed into a smile filled with suspense “Ooh, what do you guys think it’ll be?” Tyler looks around at everyone collecting all of the emotions surrounding them “Ugh, I hope it’s not shots.” Josh shuddered. “I think we may be getting shaved.” Tyler adds, Josh and Brendon look unsettled. Suddenly Brendon bursts into laughter “Oh man, Josh, say goodbye to the pink.” Josh smirks at Brendon “Say goodbye to that stupid quiff, plus the pink looks weird now most of my natural hair has grown out.”
They all stand in line; Tyler, Josh and Brendon. Tyler twirls his hair between his fingers as he stares blankly at the off-white tiled floor, Josh and Brendon keep making jokes back and forth, Tyler was getting tired of it already, only considering the fact he doesn’t understand the concept of enjoyment anymore. Tyler had always wondered how free and expressive he’d feel once his head was shaved; maybe his little demons trapped behind every strand will fall out with the chunks of hair, the strangers shouting at him and his every move was really sickening, maybe it’s a type of devil personally assigned to him, like a guardian angel but for the ones God rejects? Tyler grips his throat.
Once sat and cuffed to the chair he takes a deep breath, hoping that shaving his head will free him, at least a little.
He sat for a moment as they released the handcuffs from the chair, he didn’t feel free at all, not one bit. If anything he felt like his demons were more internal, as if they seeped through his follicles and pores into his bloodstream.
Josh and Brendon were welcomed back to their cell by Tyler screaming his prayers and pacing he cell, “God isn’t listening to me, why won’t he listen to me?” He rubbed his face and slumped onto his bunk. “I’ve been praying non-stop, it’s like he rejected me before any of this!” Brendon and Josh exchange eye contact “Maybe I’m possessed? God rejected me and the devil took me in, that’s why I’ve killed and hurt the ones I love?” He begins to pace again. “Hey, dude, have you ever considered that maybe there isn’t a Go-“ Josh elbows Brendon in the ribs to stop him. “Maybe it’s a form of tough love?” Josh guides Tyler to sit back on his bunk. “But why would God give tough love, how is any of this tough love?” Tyler buries his face in his hands “This is perhaps God’s way of teaching you, you know? Like in the bible? There’s teachings and stuff?” He rubbed Tyler’s back “It’ll be okay.” Tyler looks up at Josh and Brendon, all his muscles relax and unwind and he laughs “You two look funny.” Josh continues to rub Tyler’s back. “It’ll look even better when it grows back, my hair gets so curly.” He chuckles and smiles at Brendon, who’s rolling his eyes, “Dude stop. I’m not leaving this cell until it grows back.” He flops onto his mattress. Silence fills the cell, it’s quiet for Brendon and Josh, but for Tyler it’s almost deafening.
“God won’t take you.”
“You were born a heathen.”
“A family of pure Christian blood, you’re evil.”
“So,” Tyler takes a deep breath “do you really think God is just giving me the tough love treatment?” Brendon grunts and turns over to face Tyler. “Dude, God loves everybody, that’s what everyone preaches about all the God-damn time.” Tyler looks down “But why won’t he listen to me?” Brendon sighs and sits up “Alright man, have you seen the movie ‘Bruce Almighty’?” Tyler nods “Remember that scene where Morgan Freeman makes Jim Carrey sort only a few local prayers and Jim Carrey found it pretty much impossible?” Tyler nods again “Well, dude, that’s what God apparently goes through with most of the planet! He’ll get to you soon.” He says with a reassuring smile. Even with that everlasting taste of uncertainty and metal, he felt something in his gut, he liked it, and its name is hope.