1 A Strange Question in a Strange Dream

The monster inside made itself known when Michael was only twelve years old.

He wasn't a very talkative kind of person, even in his senior year of high school, he still had no real friends. But of that, he was glad. If they knew about this monster too, they would surely reject him, maybe even risk awakening it.

This wasn't how he always was, Michael wasn't a violent person, he didn't desire ill will on anyone else, even after he had become a prime target for bullying. But whatever caused this change, he felt this kinds of urges coming into his mind much more often, and he hated it. He was so innocent before, looking upon all the murders and other "monsters" in the world with scorn, like any normal person would. But perhaps because he started to understand where they came from, he found himself thinking what it would be like to be another monster. All the evil deeds that normal people would frown upon soon started to seem enticing to him sometimes. He hated himself for even thinking like this, but those kinds of thoughts never swayed.

There was a darkness in him, and it was trying to come out. He was innocent, but all the same, he was a monster.

Even though he avoided relationships out of necessity, trying to prevent others from seeing the untold horrors deep inside his own mind, the loneliness was no easier to deal with. Perhaps some of the counselors were right, if he just told someone, they could be a shoulder to lean on, make his problems seem so much more distant. But even they didn't know everything, even he could barely understand himself.

Of course, his family couldn't understand it either, they only arranged the counselor meetings to encourage him to make friends, to get out of his shell, insignificant things like that. If only they knew how much those sessions were really helping ironically.

Even despite all his anger, that he could feel nearly surfacing, though, he had yet to act on any of it. For that, he was also grateful. At least he hadn't yet gone on the news, hadn't been outed as a psycho or a maniac or whatever words normal people would throw at people like him.

Instead of punishing others for all his anger, he was only punishing himself. No one was calling him a freak or a psycho except for Michael himself.

Whenever he would think about hurting or even killing some of the random people who passed by him on his way home from school, he'd try a mantra. 'You're just a fucking freak,' he'd say to himself. 'I'm not satisfying a fucking monster. You deserve to get fucked up.' He often swore at himself a lot, whether verbally or just in his mind.

He had even considered letting the monster die, killing off the creature inside. Of course, the only way the monster would die is if Michael himself did first, and he knew that well enough. But no matter how badly he wanted to extinguish this monster, he couldn't bring himself to do it, that was something he could never do. As the days went by, even complete oblivion, having no trace of himself left in the world or any world, seemed merciful compared to living another day as this monster.

But he would never forget the day he got a peculiar offer.

He was asleep one night, or rather, he was torturing himself in a futile attempt to sleep. He would spend his nights crying in bed, or trying to so desperately, just to get a little emotional weight off his shoulders. Before he knew it, he was completely fast asleep, unable to wake up from whatever nightmares or hellish desires would plague his mind. But that didn't happen tonight. Instead, he heard a voice.

"Are you happy with your life?" Michael looked around, trying to find the source of that voice, but all he could see was endless darkness.

Of course, this was his own mind that was talking to him. It wasn't cruel or vile like it so often was, it seemed to be honestly asking him. He didn't feel like lying to himself that night.

"No." He said. "I'm not happy with my fucking life. I'm evil, and I hate being evil."

"Maybe you're not entirely evil," the voice replied, it tone seemed rather genuine, like it didn't want him to torture himself anymore. "You just think you are."

An uncomfortable silence was the voice's only reply from Michael. He had had a similar talk with himself many times over, had brought up similar vague issues with all the counselors, but this voice seemed to know him so much better than he knew himself. But this one wasn't using that information simply to torment him.

"What if you were in a different place?" The voice continued, breaking the silence. "What if it was somewhere you could fit in better? Somewhere you could find yourself? Would you take that chance?"

This new voice had been saying the same things Michael had been thinking this whole time. It's offer seemed too good to be true, no way a simple voice could really do much for him. But he didn't feel like denying the truth any longer.

"Yes." Michael replied, weakly at first, then with more conviction. "I would take that chance. I don't care what I'd have to do."

"Then I can help you." the voice replied. "Surrender your mind. Let me do all the work, but the rest is up to you."

Even if it would be only a brief respite from his sorrow, self-loathing, inner sadism, Michael would happily take that chance. He obeyed the voice's instruction and got ready for a good dream for the first time in a long while. Maybe this would be the road to recovery.

Michael saw no happy memories flowing through his mind, felt no respite from himself. Instead, there was only darkness, and a bit of light glowing on his eyelids.

What kind of a dream was this? You're not supposed to feel the light hurting your eyes like the sun's glaring right at them.

Michael opened his eyes, and saw that he once again was not in his home. This wasn't too strange, he had been known to sleepwalk sometimes, waking up in some random field or outside of his home. But this one was strange because of what he saw.

There were no buildings in sight, no other houses he'd usually see when he woke up. He was sitting under a tree that didn't shade him from the morning sun, a dirt road was next to him. This couldn't have been any dirt road made by a community project to encourage physical activity from the neighbors, it was paved by years of wear and tear, years of the grass being trampled until it couldn't regrow any more.

"Where am I?" Michael asked out loud to himself. Even he could tell that he wasn't close to any civilization, but how did he get that far just by sleepwalking. "It's just part of the dream." He continued. He kind of liked this dream, at least he was away from all the noise that a city or suburb could have. "Guess I'll just role with it."

Michael got up from his seat against the tree. His back ached as if he had been laying there all night, and not in his bed, not that the possibility was too far away. Without worry, Michael started following the trail in the direction towards the sun.

Next chapter