Terrible Things

(September 29, 2009)

The arrival of the police didn't worry me, causing not even the briefest flutter of anxiety; after all, what did I have to hide? They were probably just on patrol, looking around my neighbourhood because that's what they're paid to do. I was no concern of theirs, and their movements were no concern of mine.

Then I remembered the submachine gun in my hand, and my heart started to beat a bit faster. Where had it come from? Memories started to appear, poking into my consciousness like the fingers of a curious extradimensional creature; I felt them arrive, a few wisps at a time. A pretty female officer came to my door, and I began to stutter explanations which were only explained to me as they were leaving my lips: I'd bought it off of the Internet because I wanted to see if I could, but I'd never used it. "Oh, no, I'd never do that - I'm a pacifist, you see - I just like guns."

The woman sat with me and we talked about this for quite some time, but it was clear that she believed me. She told me I'd have to explain the situation to my mother - I was in my parents' home, after all, and I owed her that much - and do something about the weapon, and then she left.

I went to Mom and sheepishly told her about what I'd done. She was understandably horrified, and agreed that the gun had to go. "Could you send it back to the seller?" "No; what if it were found in transit?" "Yes, then you'd be accused of trafficking weapons. I see." Unsure of what else I could do at that moment, I went up to my old bedroom and hid it in the closet. I tried to imagine the least likely hiding place, then stuck it there: in between the folded layers of my old nightgowns. I didn't want it to be found, although I didn't know why; I suspected that I was lying, but I wasn't sure.

More memories came back to me then, and I realized I was in serious trouble. I looked out my window at my mother's favourite tree and saw only branches, but the ghost-image of a bag filled with weapons dangled there, too. What had we done? A friend was involved, and I had the sense that while she had been the mastermind, I had willingly helped. I was curious to see if we could get away with it, whatever it was. The chances of that seemed to be dwindling.

I was called out of the house by a few officers in front of a group of patrol cars, then led down the hill to a patch of marshland near the home of a blind old neighbour who doesn't actually exist. As I watched, they pulled a black bag from the marsh; it was stretched taut over the face and torso of the former human who occupied it. With a sudden, terrible understanding, I knew that we had killed him, dumping his body in the fetid water where only the sightless lady ever went and stowing the murder weapons in a tree overnight before disposing of them. Our fingerprints were everywhere, and there was no point in my trying to blame this on the friend; I was clearly just as guilty. I still couldn't remember why we had killed him, but with a terrible, sinking feeling, I knew I would soon. As hard as I'd tried to forget everything, to protect myself from myself, it was all coming through again.

I woke up before the police could arrest me, but the feeling persisted into the waking world: what terrible things do we do outside of our own notice?