And the world burned around him. It crashed into the ground, burrowing deep into the muck, and from it came the darkness. It roiled like magma, seeping and invasive, coating everything it touched. It coated him, as well, rolling over his limp form, and when it had finished with that it sank into him, burrowed in through his mouth and nose and eyes and every pore in his body, deeper and deeper inside of his very being, until the abyss that surrounded was inside of him as well. It left him empty, infinite, black. He rejected it, tried to push it back out of himself, but it felt like trying to tear away his own heart. It clung to him with sticky tendrils, and every chunk that he ripped away would be picked back up by the black strands that roiled around him, and every time it left him weeping, screaming in pain, desperate, as though he was killing his best friend. As though he was killing himself. Yet still he tried. He had to try. It was wrong, this thing inside of him. It should not exist. And it had been his duty to destroy it. Now, destroying it might very well destroy himself. Would he welcome that? This was his life, and he couldn’t say that he hated it. In fact, despite all the challenges he had faced, he loved the thought of every moment dearly. Perhaps not the reality of every moment, but the thought, the most basic idea, of losing one moment to which he had a right, be that moment valuable or not, was horrendous. Yet the darkness inside of him dictated that he should not exist, simply should not be. But he rejected that nothingness, rejected the void that tried to consume him. He filled it with memories, the sweet taste of childhood, honing his skills, even the bitter memories of those strange moments when his parents no longer seemed to love him, no longer seemed to look at him as though he was their child. But the void was infinite, and as many memories as he poured into it, of warmth and the feeling of shelter that came from being curled up in the blankets of his bed, of the pure living scent of spring as the gardens that filled his yard burst into joyous life, of the pain of injury and the pleasure of being loved, they all got reduced to nothing, to the tiniest pinpricks of light in an infinite darkness. And he was left alone, empty, infinite. He could not even have told himself where he was at this point. The world seemed to warp and bend, twisting around until he was staring at the back and the front of his own head, until he was looking down at the buildings and was strolling along the grains of wood within the trees. He wanted to clamp his hands over his eyes, but when he tried that it seemed to make no difference. The only thing that changed was that he could now feel the exact shape and texture of his eyes, pressing into the palms of his hands. He knew he was still moving. The feel of his own body was one of the only things that kept him stable, kept him upright and traveling. The flames burned around him still, but he knew they were his own, personal psychosis. He wanted to smash them, to make them vanish, and vanish with that the pain of those final moments with his family. But fear kept him paralyzed, kept him from acting, because there was no guarantee that even a touch of anger wouldn’t have the same disastrous consequences, wouldn’t make the flames leap higher and bring the world crashing down around him. He saw the car, recognised its presence flying towards him. But he lost the significance, could no longer determine what exactly that meant. And the echoing sound of the horn only blended together into all the other noise. He felt it collide with his body, could feel himself flying forwards. It was with a little bit of sympathy that he caught the thoughts of the person who had hit him. The woman certainly didn’t need this. Wasn’t there supposed to be some form of cease when the body broke? Wasn’t there supposed to be a drifting away, a blanking out? But the world stayed firmly in place around him. Even though he knew his eyes were closed, knew that he couldn’t have moved his body even if he wanted to, there was no rest. He would have given anything to be able to rest. But all he could be was awake, alone, empty. They kept him in the hospital for three days, desperately trying to find a way to manage him. He could feel their frustration; it ripped into him like a scalpel and left him bare and bleeding, but he could not do anything to stop it. They could never understand how much they pressed on him, even when they left him alone. They blended together with the twisting world, warped together into a many headed monster that leered at him from every side. And the outside world tempted him. It beckoned, gleaming, tried to lure him away. Lure him in. When he finally answered the call, slipped out of his own little cell right through the cracks in the locked door, he very nearly didn’t go back. He hated that place, with its constant hum of the far-too-bright lights that flickered overhead, sending spears that ripped into every corner, into every surface, with the people who didn’t know how to leave him alone, with the fading heartbeats of the wounded that he knew he could aid, but could never truly heal. At least out there he was alone with his darkness. Here its tentacles stretched towards everyone, wanting to envelop them as well, and it was only through sheer force of will that he kept it all within himself, even as he teetered, moments from spilling over. One of the staff who was on break saw him walking away, and guessed from the state of his clothes that he was not supposed to be leaving. The nurse walked towards him, clearly intending to stop him, but he stopped her before she could even get close. One moment she was conscious, the next she was crumpling to the ground, unconscious. It took a few more steps before he too was floored by the reality of what he had just done. The darkness did not feel, it did not care, it simply was, something powerful, empty, and infinite. He had told himself that he was nothing like it, that the fact that it was inside of him did not make it a part of him. Yet here he was, flicking people aside with no more concern than he would pay to a grain of sand. His body crumpled, falling to the ground only a few feet away from the nurse. But his mind didn’t stop. The darkness would not let him rest. They decided later that he had attacked her, knocked her unconscious, even though they could find no signs of trauma. It was as though her brain had simply ceased to work for a couple of seconds, but that was not a valid option by the laws of their science. They decided he was dangerous, and clearly mentally unstable. They kept everyone as far away from him as possible while waiting for clearance to transfer him to a nearby facility, which was experienced in handling dangerous psychotics. He was fine with that. He wanted them all to stay away. If they stayed far away, perhaps he would not hurt them. They never were able to diagnose them. After all, he never spoke a word. But it would be the facility’s duty to handle him now. The facility was warm, especially compared to the cold, sterile whiteness of the hospital, but it was a strange kind of warmth, that of insanity rubbing against itself in a pitiful hope to create fire. He settled into the back corner of his new room and set about learning how to dismiss everything around him from his attention. The doctors were the easiest. He had been familiar with the inner workings of a human mind since early childhood, and he had already gone through all of the necessary trials of learning how to control that ability. And so he ignored them, to their ever increasing frustration. They could not help him if he wouldn’t talk to him, they would say. They would try and find any sort of stimulus that might drag him out of his shell. But he had far more important matters to attend to than their desires. He wished that they would leave him alone, like the others at the hospital had. Because sometimes he lashed out without thinking, wishing they would simply leave him alone. Once, he accidentally exploded the lamp in the ceiling, and a sharp sliver of glass sliced open the cheek of the nurse who was trying to get him to eat. Another time, one of the doctors kept walking into the walls in his room, completely convinced that the spot was the door out of the room. The man was given five days leave, and told to rest. He didn’t want to hurt and confuse them. It would be better if they left him alone. Maybe then, in those moments when the repressed darkness finally surged out of his control and splattered all over the walls, no one would get hurt.