Paint It Black 
by Simon sNowlock

     My windows have these black iron bars on them. Strong, thick ones that cover so much of the hole that I can only fit half my arm through it before I get stuck.
     The bars are a real murky black, right to the core. They're chipped and uneven, and broken dents on them show me how dark even the insides are. Dead black. Even when the sun shines into the window and over them, like it does every goddamn morning into my face while I'm lying on my cot, the bars only get darker. The walls around the bars can feel how black they are; they soak up the darkness and seethe with it.
     I can see the ripples of the black taking over, slowly gushing across the bricks and eating away at everything. It crawls inside of the walls, eating its way out into freedom right through them.
     Only the door of my cell is red. A God-awful red that burns at my eyes. I can't look at the door any more; it's become too bright and painful. At night it glows and leers at me, bathing me in its sickly red color. When the guards come in to drag me to my next session or to the mess halls I have to shut my eyes when they force me through it. That damn door seems to love it, it laughs at me when I fight the guards - it grows with my pain, it knows I can't stand it, that glaringness that invades me.
     At lunch once, while all of us sat in our neat rows and our neat tables in perfect parallel to everything, this one sick fuck came in wearing the same red. I think that fucking door put him up to it. Imagine that. All of us in our gray uniforms, eating in peace, when that asshole charges in like he owns the place in his fucking red jammies. Everyone else stopped and stared, but I taught the SOB a lesson - jumped right over the table and started beating him until all hell broke loose. Slamming my fists so hard into his face that he gushed red out of his nose and mouth and ears and eyes.
     I kept swinging; kept hurting the bastard so his face matched his fucking shirt, beating him until the guards finally swarmed me and pushed me to the ground. They threw me into solitary for that. Into a small dungeon where only the small slit along the door casts any light into the room. Everything else except for the small box of light that falls into the center of the tiny chamber just fades away into a calming blackness, a darkness where nothing exists and neither do I.

     I blame Richard for all this. It's that fuck's fault, all these goddamn dreams and all the shit I've gone through. Him and his goddamn cupcake.
     The first time was on my sixth birthday. When it happened, I hoped it was something that wouldn't happen again, ever. But I've never gotten a birthday wish, at least not yet. Right on my sixth birthday, he had to go and ruin it. He was always doing shit like that.
     It was a white vanilla cake with blue icing, I remember that; the candles blazing and flickering right in my face when I stood in front to blow them out, creating this fuzziness that pulled my vision at the corners and at the shadows of the darkened room.
     And that's when I see Richard, sitting right across from me, his greedy black eyes glowing as he stares at the cake - despite the vanilla cupcake clutched in his own greedy fat fingers and the smudge of icing smeared on his nose from stuffing his fat face too fast. It's an image of the moment. Nothing is moving. The candle's flame is frozen in a crescent shape, dissecting him into two pieces but lighting the white blotch on his nose to a glowing ember.
     As I blew the candles out, I thought, "I've seen this before," and shuddered. I had. An image of that fuck holding a cupcake with a smear of vanilla on his nose. It was from my dreams.
     I still have those kinds of dreams, in my cell and before I was locked in there. In the middle of my fantasies or nightmares, unconscious and helpless, my mind suddenly swarming with pictures. Pictures of things, of people, of places, registering into my consciousness and vanishing. I see the images from my mind the next day.
     They started real slow at first, easy images that didn't hurt. But, just when they began happening more frequently they became real hard and painful. These gruesome ones that burned my skull and eyes and twisted my brain inside and out. I saw people and things happening that I didn't want to see, black things that I couldn't block out.
     I tried to shrug it off when I was six, when they started. But I would suddenly see another moment from my dreams and squeeze my eyes shut just to tell myself it hadn't really occurred and I was only imagining it. But they still happened - I still had these queasy feelings that the moment was from the past, I had seen it before. And they were getting worse over the years.
     When I was ten, I was standing outside of a deli at a street crossing. Right outside, just in front of the door. It was a messy door; covered in advertising stickers for cigarettes and a jumbo gyro sandwich. Black paste randomly blotted the thing, a near solid glass pane except for the horizontal handle that ran across the mid-section and neatly divided the door into two sections for the stickers.
     And suddenly I saw one of my images. Of the deli door, standing at my exact vantage, dead in front of it. But instead of the top glass pane covered in advertisements a gaping hole had been pushed through, the glass forming an irregular ellipse within the pane, jagged edges reaching out towards me.
     I stepped aside and pressed against the storefront next to the door, suddenly nauseated by the next image pressing against my skull. Of a man, lying face up on the floor inside, oozing sticky red from his chest. Splattered all over his white shirt and white apron, suddenly covered in red except for his black shoes.
     And, almost immediately as I leaned against the storefront, the door exploded outwards with two sharp cracks. Glass shards flew into the street, over the sidewalk, into the road. Two men burst out just as quickly, whooping with delight and excitement, their faces covered in black stockings and a brown bag in each of their hands, careening through the broken glass littering the street at a flat run.
     I opened the smashed door of the deli when they'd left. It was silent except for a slight buzz from the radio on top of the empty, opened register. I stepped over the body, took a coke and Twinkies, and left.

     At twelve I had my revenge on Richard for fucking me up so badly. The bastard loved teasing me, making fun of my seizures during classes, always joking about how I drooled when I had fits or stuttered when I tried to talk. The doctors couldn't explain the fits to my parents - there wasn't anything wrong with me, they said.
     But I knew. It was those fucking dreams. They'd become real bad that year. Some nights I would press myself into a ball with my knees against my chest and hold myself so tightly that I wouldn't fall asleep, so I wouldn't see any more. I didn't want them anymore, they'd become too vicious, too painful inside my skull. One time that year it was an old lady on a wooden rocking chair, her head lolled to one side with a nasty gash across her neck. She was emasculated, bits seemed almost eaten off her, chunks bitten and scratched away. Her dress, a polka-dot mix of white and blue was matted and stained a dry black-red color from the wound.
     The next day it turned out to be my neighbor, Mrs. Kazka. I fed her cats twice a week when I still lived with my parents; my mom forced me so I could make friends with her grandson and get out of the house more often. I walked into her apartment one morning and she was sitting in her favorite chair, silent and facing away towards the window.
     I could smell it. A rotting smell. She'd been there for days. I knew what had happened the moment the smell hit my nose, it dragged out the image from my dream. So I didn't look at her as I poured the cats their dry food mix from a big open bag, all of the small animals mewing loudly as they danced around the dish and her body.
     Finally, I threw the bag into the kitchen and stood in front of her and looked up. She looked almost asleep, really, except for the gouge that poked outwards from her throat and the chewing the cats had done all over her body. Her glasses dangled from her face, right off her left ear, in this real funny way so that I couldn't stop myself from laughing, laughing so hard I crumpled into a heap on the floor and began to tear at my eyes because it was so fucking funny.
     Richard really pitched into me that day, the jealous shit. He made fun of my big ears and thick glasses. Calling me a four eyed freak. The class laughed with him, and even harder when I tried to reply with my broken, stuttering voice.
     "Oh, I had b-b-b-better sh-sh-shut up, huh?' The class roared. Everything crunched together in this real tight, sharp way when he said it, closing my vision into this one long thin strip with outstretching tentacles of pulsating blackness obscuring everything and closing me into darkness.
     Jane, the only girl not laughing, turned to me, speaking aloud. I couldn't hear her over the laughing, over the blackness as it pounded at my ears and in my head. Her summer clothes suddenly burned my eyes and I had to turn my face until the darkness passed, until the pictures bubbling upwards in my skull stopped.
     Of course, when I opened my eyes I was face up on the floor. Another seizure, my teacher said. Richard got it from her for that, for whatever he did to start my fits. He stared at me darkly as the teacher yelled at him. I knew what was coming, after school.
     He dragged me kicking and screaming to the street, throwing me up against a brick wall that faced the road. Cars were passing by even as he started hitting me, faces pressed against the windows watching, smears left on them by fingers. It wasn't a fight, it was a fucking beating. He kept hitting and hitting until I couldn't see anything beyond his blackened fists and oozing pavement. His friends kicked at my chest and legs until simply moving became painful. When I couldn't move anymore they stopped, breathing hard and wiping what was left of me off their clothes. The sidewalk was cool against my wet face and body.
     His friends were walking away when he said, "Don't ever fucking do that again, John. Ever. Or you won't fucking live to have any more seizures." And I looked up at him, dimly seeing his fat face over me, a grin from ear to ear. He enjoyed doing it, the bastard. His bright red shirt enjoyed the pain just as much as he did, seeing me helpless on the ground and bleeding. Hurting. He and his goddamn red shirt loved every moment of it.
     And, just as he was turning to cross the street, I saw one of my visions. Of a boy lying in the street, his face blank and mouth open. All of his limbs twisted at odd angles on the ground, broken at the joints. And the red shirt he was wearing ripped and covering the pool of blood oozing from within his body.
     So I lunged at him, barely leaving my spot on the street. Just getting high enough to push him and trip his ankles until he stumbled out into the street, into the oncoming black truck that sent him flying over it, cracking the windshield into spider-webs, and then back onto the pavement where he bounced once. The first sound was a dull thump as he hit the bumper and flew into the glass, then a sharp crack and another thump. When he was lying on the sidewalk, his face cracked over the right eyebrow where he had entered through the windshield and a lump protruding from his broken rib-cage out of his red shirt, he sputtered. His mouth opened and closed. Blood gushed out before he fell silent.

     After that, I was thrown into a psyche ward. My parents stood outside of the car and watched, crying into each others arms. I told the doctors about my dreams, about everything I would see. They didn't believe me. But it only got worse. At night, I could see the faces of the patients. Of the doctors. I could see all of them; I could see what I was doing to them.
     After I beat that guy at lunch they began giving me injections. To stop my aggression they said, and to keep me from screaming all night long and pestering the guards. The drugs twist everything around; they make everything into a black mess that doesn't let me feel anymore. But it works. The dreams keep coming, but I'm so fucking drugged I don't feel anymore, don't feel it when another patient will look at me and I instinctively shudder - and then two days later see him in the emergency ward.
     Damn, I need more drugs. That fucking door is laughing so hard nowadays I can't hear myself think over it.