Ariana Carlson

The August Editor's Pick Writer is Ariana Carlson

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by Ariana Carlson

She was so gorgeous the day I met her. I’ll always remember her smile as she handed out flyers in the middle of Times Square in New York City on that clear summer day. It was almost unbearably humid, but a gentle breeze cooled the air to a comfortable temperature. Even amongst all of the hustle and bustle in the crowded city, I could only see her.

I admired her from a distance as her short, white hair framed her round, caramel-colored face. Her perfect aqua-blue eyes were half-covered by the bangs of her chin-length hair and those eyes crinkled every time she pulled her lips back to reveal those gorgeous teeth. My heart jumped when that yellow, flowery sundress bounced when that young, college aged woman giggled. I had to have her, and nothing would stop me from making her mine.

It all happened too quickly. One moment I was hiding behind a garbage can, cloaked in my black cape and robes, and the next moment I was running toward her. The tail of my robes trailed behind me as though it were chasing me, and was afraid of whatever was following us. Something snapped inside me and made me do what I did. I could feel the pressure from the voices in my head. They were egging me on, wishing, and hoping that I would kidnap this woman. They admired her as much as I did.

I’ll always remember the way she screamed at my appearance. She was probably scared because I stood at nearly seven feet tall. Maybe she was frightened by the way my shoulders hunched, and the way my overgrown fingernails curled. I still hear the sound of her unconscious body hitting the pavement with a soft thud. The image of her blood on the brick I used to render her unconscious is still vivid in my mind.

No one looked twice when I talked to myself while running with a limp body hastily thrown over my shoulder. They’re New Yorkers. It’s much easier to look the other way then to get involved in other people’s business. I should know because I've been living here for years, taking victims, hiding, and resurfacing. I've never been caught, and probably never will be.

It was a blur how I managed to slip into the abandoned subway station. My hands fumbled as my curling, yellow fingernails made it difficult to open the door that led to the secret passageway. When I finally opened the door, I dropped the young woman. Infuriated with my stupid clumsiness, I snatched her legs and pulled. Her perfectly white hair, now stained red, became disgustingly brown as her head dragged through the mud, mold, and decay in the secret passageway.


I try not to gag as the unpleasant smells of my domain greet me like a loving pet. My shoulders hunch even further as I attempt to hold back the vomit that rises in the back of my throat. Through tears of pain, I glance over the beautiful woman.

She is the one. I know she’ll be the one to finally set me free. I tie her up by the wrists to the exposed beam in the worn away ceiling. Her feet dangle only a couple of inches from the floor. Now, I just have to wait for her to awaken.

Self-consciously, I start trying to tidy my living space by removing trash from the makeshift table near the door. This place is as disgusting and dismal as my own appearance. Mold covers the four rotting walls, and there aren’t many lights. There’s a single light in the center of the ceiling that illuminates a limited cylinder of my space. Glancing at my makeshift bed shoved in a corner, I let out a frustrated sigh. It’s made out of old blankets that I stole from a dumpster near the orphanage. I certainly don’t live grandly, and it shows. I try to move the rusted soup cans and rotten food pickings I scrounged from a dumpster nearby from the floor near my bed, but give up when I realize that I have no place to put them.

I resent myself for kidnapping this woman. Pacing around, I start focusing on keeping them out, but my past victims are trying to take over my body by permeating my mind. I know their forceful, unforgiving ways. They won’t give up until they have complete control. Pulling my hair doesn’t help, even when a chunk pulls free, creating a bloody mess. I continue to pull, focusing on the pain, doing anything I can to keep them out. I feel a switch happening from my own personality to a different personality when I hear my name whispered.

“Walter,” one victim whispers tauntingly. It’s my mother.

“Walter, why did you hurt me? Do you not love me anymore?” The voice is sarcastic and demeaning in my mind as it asks the questions. Then, it happens. My mother’s personality shoves my personality out of her way as if it were a terrible, disgusting inconvenience. My body assumes a feminine shape, and I start to twirl my bloody, shoulder length hair.

“She’s here,” I cackle to myself, only I’m not myself. She has control over my body. My voice is an octave higher than I remember it being. She forces me to finish tidying up in the damp, dark hovel like any mother would tidy up their warm homes.

“Poor deformed, disgusting Walter,” she sneers, “I never did love you. You were always so terribly ugly. I don’t know how that slouching, gangly frame bears any resemblance to me. The only thing that we have in common is our shimmering, blue eyes, but mine have always been more beautiful. Your hideousness was probably why none of the children at school liked you. It’s why your father never loved you. This girl you kidnapped will never care for a pale-faced freak like you either.”

She starts to cackle, growing louder and louder until the young girl suspended from the ceiling screams.

“Where am I? Who are you?” the young girl gasps for air, trying to put on a brave face. She is trying to not show her fear to me, and I love it. I also adore the way her toes curl in frustration and the way her perfect blue eyes twinkle with gentle innocence.

“I’m Walter Williams,” I tell her while blood runs down my face like tears. The reassurance of my own name forces my mother away so that I may have control once more. My lips curl into a sneer as I realize that I’m back in control, and I have my regular shape back.

“Walter? Please let me go! Where am I?”

“My dear, you’re in the depths of the hell I’ve been living in for twenty years!” I shout at her, enjoying the way her cross earrings jingle and the way her body shakes with pure terror. I turn away for a moment and then hear her begin to whisper the Lord’s Prayer to herself. I feel a wash of hatred turn my face red in the darkness.

“I won’t let you go and God won’t save you now! He never saved me! He’s the one who’s making me live in this hell!” I rip those patronizing earrings out of her ears. They remind me of the savior that never saved me. Tears roll down her cheeks as she tries to cope with the pain.

Immediately, my face flushes with guilt for hurting her, and I scratch the skin on my arm in anger. Why did I hurt her? I scratch until my veins release warm, red blood on my arm.

“W-walter? Take whatever you need from me. Please, just don’t hurt me,” she expresses with desperation, “Even if you need some form of help, I’m sure there’s a way to find the help you need. I’ll even help you. Let me go.”

“There’s no help for me!” I try to take deep breaths as another past victim starts making faint attempts to control me. I can’t let him in. I rub my temples furiously. “Tell me your name,” I command of the girl to keep my mind occupied.

“S-sophia. I’m Sophia Smiles,” she attempts through quick breaths.

“Well, Sophia, you sure aren’t smiling now. You look like a smart girl. I bet you were well liked in school, too. Do you know what it’s like to suffer?”

“I don’t know.”

“Of course you never suffered,” I grin while looking straight into the depths of her perfectly blue eyes, “You’ll get to know what it’s like to suffer.”

“Please, no! Don’t hurt me!” She begins to panic, her roped wrists writhing.

“Oh, Sophia, if only you you’ve felt the pain I’ve felt.” I express as I run my fingernails down the side of her face.

“Walter, why do you want me to suffer? I’ll give you anything to be free. What pain could you have possibly felt to make you do this? Let me help you.”

I’m intrigued by her curiosity and willingness to cooperate. I don’t know what it is about her, but even in this mangled state she’s absolutely beautiful. I feel I can maybe trust her enough to tell her about myself. I hate that I brought her here, but I need her.

“Sophia, this is a very dark world filled with hatred, abuse, and suffering.” I begin to pace, touching where my hair was ripped from my scalp. He’s getting closer. I can feel him pushing for control. Trying to suppress him once again I question Sophia.

“How old are you, my dear?”

“I’m only eighteen. This world isn’t filled with hatred, Mr. Williams. Even if it was, we could combat it with love and kindness. Open your heart to the goodness of the world, and you will see the world how I see it. There's some good in you, Walter. I can see it. ”

I step back from Sophia in surprise. Only eighteen? My goodness she’s young, I think to myself. I’m also taken aback by her love filled response and outlook on life. She’s still so innocent. I grimace, and press on.

“Do you know the feeling of rejection? It’s the worst pain in the world.” The victim is close, I feel him nearer than before. I know I have to hurry.

“Walter, I know rejection hurts, but if you—”

“I’m cursed, Sophia!” I yell, cutting her off mid-sentence. I’m grasping my hair and pulling hard while pacing around the room hopelessly. “I’ve killed people. Every time someone dies by my hand, their personalities are added to mine. I can’t handle it! I had to kill, though. When you’re this hideous no one loves you, not even your own parents.” I continue to pace, but I feel my voice becoming louder as I express my contempt for myself and my parents.

“My mother would always remind me of how disappointed she was at my appearance and how I was always alone. I never had any friends. My dad wasn’t any better. He used to come home drunk every night, if he came home at all, and hunt around the house for me. When he finally found me, he would throw me against whatever furniture or wall was around us and beat me with his fists until my body was bloodied and limp. Then, he would remove his belt and whip me until welts ran along my entire back. Just as he was about finished with me, he would unzip his jeans and urinate all over my unmoving body while slurring at me how useless I was. My mother never stopped it. She just watched, usually high on whatever mixed drug she could find. I still hear the sickening sound of that zipper on his jeans. It makes me want to vomit.”

I glance at Sophia to see her reaction to my confession. She’s staring at me, tears streaming down her face. I’m not sure if it’s out of fear or out of compassion.

I continue my story while pacing and pulling what's left of my hair. My hate releases from me while I remember my horrendous family. In a burst of anguish, I continue until I’m nearly screaming at Sophia. “One night, Dad came home particularly drunk, found me, and did his stupid routine. He broke my nose and was laughing the entire time. I was only nine years old.”

I touch my crooked nose as I remember. I also notice that I am soaked in blood, but I don’t care. I continue to press on through the horrendous memories.

“That night, after he passed out on the floor, I crawled into the kitchen, and snatched the biggest knife I could find. Do you know what I did, Sophia? I slit the devil’s throat and watched him die. I felt his anger fill me as his personality took over my own. Then, I snuck into the room my mom was sleeping and slit that witch’s throat too. I enjoyed watching the life drain from her beady eyes as my father’s personality controlled me.”

I am becoming hysterical now; grabbing nearly all of my hair from my scalp and the demanding control of my father washing over me and taking over. There is no stopping him now. My body contorts inwards as I curled up, shoving my dominant personality out of the way, then release to reveal a tall, evil figure. I stand tall, revealing my full height, and feel my voice deepen as a chuckle growled out of my throat.

“Well, well, well, what do we have here?” He has control over my body. My father was never a graceful man. He had always been too forceful. My father grabbed Sophia and removed her from the ceiling beam. Then, he threw her against the mold covered wall, laughing as she slumped to the floor. He must be reliving the final night of his death.

“You’re a worthless waste of a human body, and no one will ever love you!” I hear my father yell more insults between punches on Sophia’s body, just as he did to me every night. Just as he’s about to grab her a final time and break her nose, I hear her scream. It’s enough for me to barely make it back into control with my dominant personality, but my father is pushing hard against it, and quickly shoves me out. I have no control over my body, and I know that this won’t end well.

He grabs Sophia by the hair and forcefully slams her face into the ground until she stops breathing. The last thing my ears hear is one final agonizing scream from her throat. She doesn’t move, and silence quickly fills the room.

It wasn’t my father, it was me. By killing Sophia, I killed them all. The curse is removed by killing an innocent. The tension in my shoulders release when the wash of calm that comes with the peaceful silence settles.

“I’m finally free,” I whisper to myself with triumph. I shout this phrase again so that the mold-ridden walls nearly shake, my fists held in the air. “I'm finally free!” The reassurance is comforting until a whisper tickles my ear, calling my name. It makes me shudder uncontrollably.

“Oh, Walter,” Sophia says.

Towards the end of her high school career, Ariana Carlson is newly branching out into the publishing world. Born and raised in southeast Minnesota, she’s accustomed to the close-knit feel of her small hometown. With the help, and encouragement, of her amazing creative writing teacher, she published her very first short story about a unique type of personality disorder entitled “Peace at Last.” She enjoys reading, knitting, writing for her class, and performing music. She’s planning to study both music and Spanish in college as she continues to explore the writing world.