My life is depressing me. I get up, work, smile, go home, sleep and repeat. I am gaining weight because I have no energy to exercise, I’m lacking sleep.
And my sister is living it up in Florida.
"Hello. My name is Michael. I guess by now I’ve been sober for thirty six weeks."
Blunt, simple. What else can someone really say about their sobriety?
'It's been a breeze!’
‘I love it!’
Hardly. It was like stepping out of one harsh reality and into something much worse, something more profound than the most horrid hallucinations; Life.
He glanced around the circle at his fellow addicts. He could feel them looking at him through their troubled eyes, wondering ‘Will he share today?’. All of a sudden he felt like a bone thrown among a pack of dogs. Why had he allowed that retched brother of his to talk him into this? He was fine as he was; chaotic and out of control.
"Nice to see you again Michael." Answered the chairperson.
He was not actually Michael, but the name went down better than Srren of The Dis. Michael was just his surface name for bank cards and strangers in the night.
"Would you like to share anything to day Mike? It’s been three weeks and you haven’t said a peep?” He continued.
Srren shook his head gently and sat down. Almost immediately their eyes left him and rested on their leader.
This group, apparently, was a place for addicts to ask for help and support. For Srren this was an opportunity to prove to himself that, no matter how far he had fallen in the last forty years, he was still better than the insects around him.
He settled back into his cushioned chair between a homeless man and a dyke, and listened to the sob stories beginning to pour from the addict’s mouths. Their cries of sympathy never ceased to amuse him. Who needs television when you have this?
This first fellow was an odd one. He took Oxycontin a couple of times and thought he was God. Not a God, but THE God. Srren almost laughed. There was no way that this scrawny runt of a boy even resembled the God they worshiped, nor did he resemble any of the God’s Srren knew of. He was matched more to that of Pestilence; Scrawny and senseless.
If they had all been alive during the Great War they’d have something to whine about, but all the chaos and havoc in this city was of their own doing; surely they should rot with it?
There were a few separate occasions when Srren was called upon to speak and on each occasion he refused. He could easily lie, make up some elaborate story to get them all going, but he spared himself the effort. These people were his comrades in rehabilitation for an hour each Thursday and that is where it ended.
Srren didn’t have a sob story to tell them. He and his siblings grew up in hatred and hell fire, there was no such thing as being ‘nice' in Dis. You adapted and grew so thick skinned that the sharpest words could not penetrate your hide. You feared actual horrors, not spiders and mothers, and yet for years Srren feared reality. He loathed his own immortality, and found himself begging The Faceless One to take him home.
Srren’s addiction stemmed from his boredom and personal vendetta with the world and himself. The drugs were his way of smothering the pain. You didn’t live for over four hundred and fifty years and not feel somewhat angry with this place.
The hour passed slowly as it always did. No one made a rush for the door, most were too interested in congratulating or comforting others. Barely anyone came near him after his second week. However there was always that one bugger who tried to be your friend despite only knowing your name. For Srren that bugger was Harry, a thirty six year old ex-con who took an overdose of coke a while back and swore he saw Bob Marley.
“Hey bud how’s it going? Didn’t see ya’ last week, thought you’d gone over the top again. How you been?” Harry boomed.
Srren pushed by the man.
“I’m just fine Harry. No need to worry yourself,” He muttered in response, “If you don’t mind I have somewhere to be.”
“Oh. Where you going bud?”
“To see a man about a dog, bud.”
“You want company, I got nowhere to be.” Harry persisted.
Srren ground his teeth together in frustration. He couldn’t understand what gave some mortals the impression that he was the friendly type.
“Look Harry,” Srren swung round and gave the man below him a long grin, “I have family to see. It’s personal, and to be frank you come on a little too strong. It’s needy and pathetic. In fact,” Srren brought his mouth close to the man’s ear and spoke in a modulated whisper, “why don’t you act on those impulses you’ve been having. Doesn’t a line of cocaine sound great right about now?”
Harry’s face went blank.
“A line sounds good.” He uttered almost too quietly to hear.
Srren gave Harry a pat on the back before bounding towards the exit, his coat tails floating behind him. Sometimes it was necessary to be cruel in order to be kind; how else would the mortal’s learn?
The price of cigarettes was an issue but the smell was sublime and the rush reminded Srren a little of what he felt when drugged. The first drag after his Thursday group had been his most favoured in past weeks and so he savoured that cigarette as if it were his last. He often thought about giving up to save himself the expense but without small pleasures his banishment to the surface was another form of torture.
In Dis no one in The Higher Order smoked. It was seen much like it was on the Surface; a filthy habit. It was well said that Srren had long since disassociated himself with The Order.
Although most of his siblings were aristocratic bastards a few of them still kept in touch. This was especially true for his surface-dwelling brother, Jorros. He was considered a traitor in the eyes of The Order for reasons that were never disclosed, but Srren didn’t much care what he had done. They were not only brothers by blood but brothers by abandonment.
As was the routine on most Thursdays Jorros was waiting by the community centres gates for his younger sibling. He approached and handed the man a flask of tea.
"How did you get on today?" Jorros gave him an encouraging smile.
Srren knew he wanted a heroic story about how he bared his soul to his junkie comrades, but he wasn’t about to humour the man with his lies; it was too much effort, even for a devil.
"I didn’t speak.”
"Again?" Jorros barked, "Come on! You can’t keep doing this!"
"I can. I have nothing in common with these people." Srren gestured to the centre behind him.
"You’re such a surly bastard. You always were, even when we were young ones."
Srren began to trek in the direction of his flat while Jorros’ ranted on behind him. The first week he hadn’t been so strict about Srren’s silence but with every week following he became more and more impatient. Jorros had been living on the surface much too long. He had begun to develop many of their moral and emotive qualities.
"Tell me of your day." Srren broke in. He was just about done with the man’s holier-than-thou approach for this evening.
"I went to work. At my job.”
The job was another thing Jorro’s loved nothing more than to shove in Srren’s face at any given opportunity.
"Ah good. I hope you enjoyed your time with the sheep today," chortled Srren, "I certainly didn’t."
“And sister stopped by.” Jorros quickly added.
The hairs on the back of Srren’s neck stood to attention. Had he just heard that correctly? One of his sisters had graced the surface with their presence?
“I’m sorry, who?”
Srren came to a halt. He could feel his heart speed up at the mere mention of that harpy’s name.
“What’s she doing here? Who sent her?” he worried.
“I don’t know. She wouldn’t tell me a thing, Srren. But I suspect you’ll be seeing her tomorrow if not tonight.”
Srren pinched hard at the bridge of his nose. He could feel any hope he had for a peaceful evening filter away. Amerial was the last thing he had ever wanted to see again.
He took long and deep breaths to calm himself. This particular sister not only struck fear into the hearts of many men, but also into the hearts of devils. If women were allowed to take the throne, she would have had it years ago.
“I’m going to need more cigarettes if that shrew is coming anywhere near me.” He sighed.
“I can lend you something if you need it?”
“It’s fine, brother. I have ways and means.”
Srren quickly scanned the perimeter for any passing soul, and quickly found himself a volunteer. He bounded across the street and into the path of a suited man. The fellow opened his mouth to begin questioning Srren, only to be silenced by a finger being pressed along his lips.
“Good evening. You are out quite late for a man dressed as well as yourself. ” Srren commented.
“Yes. I’m going home from work.” The man answered cautiously, an eyebrow raised.
“You’re a business man?”
“Ah, then perhaps you can help me out friend, “ Srren brought his mouth to the man’s ear, his voice hushed to a silvery whisper, “You wouldn’t happen to have a twenty on you?”
“Yes. I would.” The man reached without a second’s hesitation into his coat pocket, produced his wallet and handed a few notes over to Srren.
“Brother!” Jorros’ boomed, “Stop that!”
“You slave away all day, brother, when you could simply play with the mortals.” Srren smiled and turned his attention back to the nameless man, “Thank you. Now run along little lamb.”
Srren stepped out of the man’s path; he walked down the street without as much as a glance back at the brothers.
“You are most definitely father’s son.” scoffed Jorros when they were well out of ear shot.
Srren made a guttural noise in his throat. His father was a great and respectable being, but he was not something Srren necessarily wanted to live up to, much less after his banishment.
“Watch it, Jorros’; you are treading a thin line with a comment like that.”
“You can’t deny what is right in front of you.” Jorros’ retorted.
The remainder of the journey was spent in silence. The only breath broke was to the kiosk keeper when Srren purchased his twenty Mayfair. After the initial essentials and greetings, neither brother had much to say to the other. Their friendship ended at the necessities, they didn’t much like each other after that. None the less, Jorros’ continued to meet Srren outside his weekly meetings and insisted on walking him to the front door of his building. He kept an eye on his younger sibling from afar, but Lords forbid he get too close; Jorros knew that ended with a blooded nose and lip on his part.
Srren was oddly sullen when they reached his flat. It was quite probably the prospect of meeting Amerial, a woman whom he had been glad to leave behind when he was banished.
“Have a good night brother,” Jorros gruffly muttered, “I’ll see you next week.”
“Perhaps,” Srren jested. Jorros’ shot him a dark look in return. “I am joking brother; I will be there with bells on.”
Srren lit a cigarette, his hand cupped around the small flame. Jorro’s made a weak growling noise within his throat.
“Someday those things will catch up with you.”
“Someday I very much hope they do, brother.” Srren chuckled darkly.
Jorros frowned. There was nothing much else he could say to his brother to make that feeling disappear; he was not an expert in misery.
They shook hands and parted ways. Srren remained on the steps to his building long after his brother had left his sight. His stomach was ripe with worry. Every hair on his body was stood on end at even the thought of his sister appearing on his door mat. The fear that had consumed him as a young child all came tumbling back, and suddenly he was 115 again and hiding within his chamber.
Amerial, ever the artist, left Srren a hand written letter pinned to his fridge. The leaving of the letter in itself was not dramatic, but the contents more than made up for her lack of creativity.
I trust by now Jorros’ has told you of my arrival and I do hope you are quivering. You were not home, brother, and this disappointed me. I found you though. I watched you with the lambs in the circle, all begging for another’s sympathy. Poor little sheep. It’s fun to see you like that Brother.
I’ll be watching for you. I wish to carve your eyes from your skull and seize your vocal cords with my hands. It’s been so long since we’ve played together, don’t you think?
We’ll meet again soon.
She had even gone as far as to scribble the family seal beside her elegant, and quite frankly elaborate, signature.
Srren scrunched the paper into a ball and threw it across the room in frustration. He felt a sudden chill creep through his bones as he thought about her watching him. No matter how much he tried to convince himself that she was lying, he knew that she meant it. Srren was in no doubt that she would watch him for decades just to keep him on the edge of his seat, and when he let his guard down, even for a second, she would appear. She had this tendency to use the element of surprise very well.
The alleged visit of his sister kept Srren on edge for days. He found himself unable to sleep well for fear of being attacked and even his showering habits were interrupted. Once a place for pensiveness, his bathroom was now kept well lit with the door bolted shut. When Sunday arrived, exactly three days after the appearance of the note, Srren was exhausted.
His living room had become his fortress and the television his best friend. When Jorros’ called on Sunday afternoon the din of the phone almost put Srren into a cardiac arrest.
“You sound horrible,” Jorros’ disembodied voice scolded.
“I haven’t been sleeping well, brother.” Srren yawned.
“Don’t let her do this to you; it only gives her more power.”
“You were not the one she harassed for centuries. She swung me by the tail you know? And she put fire ants in my bed when I was 117. You don’t just forget a thing like that, brother; I was itching for weeks.”
“And you are now 456. You are old enough, and ugly enough, to take her on Srren.”
“I beg to differ.” Srren huffed, “She has come to inflict horrible havoc on my already miserable existence.”
“Srren!,” his brother laughed, “Don’t be so damn negative.”
Jorros continued to reassure him that all would be alright and Srren listened on with as much interest as a piece of string. Jorros had been one of the eldest of his siblings along with Amerial. She, nor any other of the older devils, had dared to bully one another. The middle siblings, and even the youngest, were the ones whom got the majority of the beatings. Jorros’ had no idea what it was like to suffer at the hands of Amerial much less any of his elder sisters.
It was around nine forty five in the evening when Srren put the phone down, and even later when he finally got around to making himself dinner. He positioned himself in front of the television set, reached down to eat his food and gagged. Everything was rotten and the sandwich was moving with maggots, but it hadn’t been that way just second ago.
“Aren’t you going to eat that?”
The silvery voice of Amerial washed over him like an icy wave. There she was leaning arrogantly against the door frame.
It had been forty years since Srren had last seen any of his siblings other than Jorros, but even with those years behind her Amerial still looked exactly the same. Her hair was still that long, raven black mess it had always been, her skin still as grey and her eyes still has cold and green as ever. Yet it was her smile that had always struck fear into Srren’s bones. It pronounced her shark like teeth in a long, Cheshire Cat beam and meant something sinister was afoot.
“Hello Brother.” She greeted.
Srren stood up to his full six foot. It was his subconscious way of showing her that he was stronger, when in fact he wasn’t and it was more to reassure himself.
“Sister.” He answered hesitantly. His breath quivered and hung in a cloud around his mouth. When had it gotten so cold?
“You look,” she hesitated for a moment as she inspected him. Srren knew he should have gotten out of his pyjamas, “you look emasculated.” She chuckled.
“I assure you all is still intact, sister.” Srren growled through ground teeth.
Amerial had already begun to pick slowly at his nerves. She had the whole room dropped into sub-zero and all his eatables reduced to mush. What next?
She prowled around the living room inspecting things with her finger tips and chucked to herself. Srren stood in place trying to keep his composure. Eventually she found a seat in his favourite armchair. She pushed the plate of spoiled mush away with the toe of her heels, settled back and gave Srren that infamous grin.
“Sit little one, we need to talk.” Amerial gestured to the sofa opposite.
She acted as if this was her home and he was a welcomed guest within it. She proudly sat in her armchair throne, with her legs crossed and her fingers towered in front of her. All she needed was her crown of thorns; Ever the smug bitch.
Regardless of his mind screaming at him to stand firm, Srren obeyed and sat cautiously on the sofa.
“What are you doing here, Amerial?” He enquired in a voice much to unsteady for his liking.
“Are you still that little junkie that I remember brother?” Amerial spat ignoring Srren’s question.
“You know very well that I’m not.” He snarled.
“Pity. It was fun watching you like that; like one of them.”
“Sorry that I cut your entertainment short. Now, what are you doing here?!”
“Courtesy call?” She sniggered, “No, I’m joking. It’s nothing so vile, nor is it all as bad as you think.”
Srren cringed. She always did this no matter how many times father had warned her. It appeared to be her sick pleasure to rummage through the rubble of her sibling’s minds, especially those she disliked.
“Stay out of my mind.” Srren barked.
“You’re shit out of luck Brother. Daddy’s rules aren’t here to defend you.” Despite this being true Amerial’s grin disappeared, and her proud composure began to crumble.
This change in his witch of a sister grabbed Srren’s attention. His fear was quickly melting and being replaced with a sort of sick curiosity. Somewhere in his mind he was hoping that his father was dead; and he expected it to be bloody.
“What is it?” he began to chuckle, “Has the old man finally fallen? Has The Faceless One shown up to take his lordship to the abyss? Or am I being too hopeful?”
“He’s not fallen yet. But he will follow grandfather soon enough,” Amerial bowed her head grimly as she spoke.
If he was entirely honest with himself Srren hadn’t really expected anything to have happened to his father. Of course he could hope but the man had been unmoveable for centuries. His father before him was the same and if it hadn’t have been for his grandfather becoming bored with the position as Lord; his father wouldn’t have been given the throne as early.
“I don’t know what you expected but I honestly couldn’t care any less.” Srren answered.
“No I didn’t expect you to, however it pains me greatly to say that you’re needed in the City.”
Srren screwed up his face in disapproval and shook his head.
“You don’t have the option, Srren. Father needs you.”
“I’ve been banished sister, and as you very well know the gates don’t allow those that have been banished to enter again, permission or not.”
“Yes but there is a way around that and you know damn well what it is.”
Srren grimaced at the thought of The Five Hills and the creatures that made it their home. Every demon has their nightmares and they all can be found living upon those hills.
“No, forget it.” Srren shook his head, “I’m not setting foot in The Five Hills for love or money, Amerial.”
“Like I said brother, you have no choice. You know what father will do to you until you crack. He’ll grind you down in ways you can’t even imagine.”
“I’ll take my chances with the grinding. Thank you all the same sister.”
Srren stood to his full height and gestured towards the door.
“You’ll regret this Srren.” With a click of her fingers Amerial was gone and the words were left echoing in the room.
Bad body image day.
Even recovery bloggers have them.