As I was, I was not
“Dear Reader, this is a letter addressed from the murderer of the person you cared about just enough to check in on them after they have been slaughtered, but not enough to pay attention to the extraordinary amount of changes that took place in them before their unfortunate passing. I want you to know you are to blame. You in the plural that is, as I’m sure this is a collective failing. You saw me as I was, you saw me beneath who I pretended to be. You had your doubts and misgivings about me and my real motives but at the end of the day, you kept your worthless mouth shut. You allowed this to happen. I dedicated each bite I took from their still-warm flesh to you. You should have fucking said something. You should have stopped this. What I do I do not for pleasure, but for survival, but that does not mean I cannot see the harm it causes. I understand myself, and I understand you. If I didn’t this wouldn’t have worked. I gain no satisfaction from the killing, but instead from the knowledge that I have made a statement you will never forget. Do not think for a second that I will ever be caught, that I will ever be stopped. I am nature, I was born to be something more than you could ever even begin to comprehend. If I wanted to scare you I might tell you that you might be next, but I do not want to scare you. You will never be next. I want you to live your natural life with this weight on your shoulders. Maybe someone close to you will be next, maybe I’ll focus on those in your life and increase your suffering exponentially. But you, my dear friend, you, I will not touch. Perhaps I’ll watch from a distance, I might even worm my way into your life and become a trusted friend. Maybe you’ll trust me enough to confide in me about your pain, and I swear to you I will comfort you in a way you did not know was possible. I can do this because I understand you, I understand you because I am the cause of your suffering. Dear reader, please do your best to move on from this, please do your best to get help. Go to therapy, find God, and believe whatever underwhelming story the police tell you, it's up to you. If you ever can successfully find peace, just know it will be short-lived. While yes, it is true that I have nothing but spite and vitriol for you, I also have nothing but spite and vitriol for anything I have ever encountered. There is nothing that makes you special. Just know that if you are reading this, and I will know if you are reading this, everything I have written will ring true. Do your best to get some sleep tonight, imagine that this note was just the sick scribblings of some simple serial killer. In due time, all doubt will be quenched, but please dear reader, feel free to pretend while you still have that luxury.”
I think the letter says everything I need to.
The next few weeks, sometimes months, were disgustingly monotonous. The transformation was a tedious process, and it took a great toll on me. You see I could not consume any other living creature during this period, otherwise I would be at risk of some form of mutation appearing in the final stages. This seems like a simple workaround, I just kill whatever I want to eat, but in truth, dead flesh does not satisfy like living does. So I starved myself. Because of my inhumane physiology, I did not necessarily need to eat that often, in fact, I could go damn near half a year without any physical ailments, but fuck me the craving just does not go away. Regardless, I am strong enough to press on. Once the transformation is complete I have about a week or two of complete and utter freedom, I am exactly like every other bumbling human on the planet. I enjoy myself. Well, I do the best I can to enjoy myself. Sometimes I make good on the promises I made in the letter, sometimes I play tricks on those I have no intentions of truly hurting. Most of the time I just pretend I am truly like everyone else. My one experience with devotion came from one of these tricks. It was after a fresh transformation, one of my personal favorites honestly. I was a teenager, snow-faced and bright-eyed. Teetering on the verge of manhood I found myself in an interesting position, depending on how I played my cards I could appeal to a very diverse crowd of people to glean some enjoyment from. The person whose body I took was a college student, with quite a lot going for him. This was one of the few exceptions I made to my methods based on extremely favorable circumstances. I had been stalking him for a few months and as I got ready to make my move, I realized his winter break was about to begin. I followed him, quite easily honestly since he was a shitty driver and elected to take the backroads instead of a highway back home. As I watched him from the tree line I wasn’t quite sure how to make my move, but in the end, I decided the simplest solution would probably work on a moron like him. I ran a bit ahead of him, which was easy to do since he was more focused on packing a bowl than driving with any sense of haste, then when he was out of sight I tore up my clothes a little bit, and put my thumb out like a good old fashioned hitchhiker. When he got close he slowed down, just like I knew he would. He seemed panicked and asked if I needed to go to the hospital to which I said yes but first I needed to go back and help my little sister, who was stuck in some sort of hunting trap nearby. The story was half-baked and I was just making it up as I went, but I assumed his moronic nature wouldn’t let him see past it. Maybe I was wrong, maybe he was just secretly a goodie-two-shoes, but he chose to pull out his phone to call the cops. I struck swiftly and efficiently, dragging him out to the woods before too much blood could stain the roads. Before enjoying my meal I turned the lights of the car off and drove it carefully into a nearby ditch, out of view of anyone on the road except for someone looking for it. Once I had picked his bones clean I sent a text from his phone, which took way too long because of how shaky my hands were but what are you gonna do? I told his (my) parents that I stumbled upon a really interesting opportunity for an internship program and the college had agreed to let me stay on campus to carry it out. I would miss them dearly but the possibility for advancement in my career was just too promising to pass up. They told me they understood completely but wanted me to visit as soon as I could, which I quickly agreed to. That gave me enough time to hide out until I could assume his form. When I came out of hiding I found it was conveniently move-in week at my (his) campus. I drove the car back from the clearing I had it hidden in and unpacked in my dorm. This was going to be a bit tricky, after all, I don’t retain any memories from my victim, but stalking them for periods gave me a bit of a leg up. Nevertheless, I made some excuse to distance myself from those I once associated with and sought out new people to leave my bloody mark upon. One day while standing on my dorm’s balcony I looked out and I saw something I had never seen before. Standing on a balcony just like mine, just across from me, was the first beautiful thing I had ever seen before. She was in a stained sweater accompanied by matching mismatched stained sweatpants. Her hair was a mess and acne dotted her mascara-painted face. She was crying, but in between the sobs were muffled laughs. There was a joint in her hand that she kept having to relight whenever her tears became bountiful enough to put it out. I think for the first time I wanted to help someone. I just could not for the life of me figure out how to. I took in what I knew, she was beautiful, she was a mess, and she was smoking weed. I didn’t have a lot to go off of, but it was enough. Last semester I sold weed to all the stupid rich kids around here and just so happened to have a large amount left over. I picked up some and weighed it out on his scale, coming out to just about an ounce. I threw it in a ziploc bag and wrote a little note on a piece of paper before sealing it up.
“Hey, I’m trying to sleep can you keep the crying down? Haha just kidding sorry. My name's Josh and I wasn’t trying to be intrusive or anything but I saw you and noticed your joint was running low so I figured I’d do the only thing I could to help. I’m not trying to hit on you or anything I promise and this isn’t some weird power move, I just thought maybe this would be strange enough to pause your crying momentarily so I could fall asleep. Again, just kidding sorry, not funny. Anyway, if you need to talk or anything, my name’s Josh. I already wrote that but this is in pen so, I can’t do much about it. My number is 757-771-9184. Okay, thanks bye.”
Yeah, that was a winner for sure. I taped it close just to be safe and prayed my aim was true otherwise I would have to change my number. I threw and for once something went right for me. Sorta. I hit her right in the face, causing her to drop the joint, burning through her pants and scorching her leg. She yelled out expletives in a language I didn’t know but made it my mission to learn. Once the shock died down she examined the package and seemed confused, then elated, then confused again. She looked around and her eyes landed on me before I knew what to do, so I just kinda stood there and then awkwardly waved. She waved back and yelled out the sweetest words I had ever heard, “What the fuck is this?” I could’ve swooned at that very moment, but I did my best to compose myself and instead just said back, “Did you read the note?” She gave me a puzzled look so I repeated myself and then realized I was whispering so I did my best to muster a yell. After that she looked into the bag, pulled it out, and I could see a smile forming across her face as she read. And then she went inside and I felt my heart shatter. In these few moments, I experienced more human emotion than I think I ever had before. All for what? To be left just as I was, only with a knowledge of what I was missing out on? This was fucking evil, more evil than anything I had ever done. I bore my heart, I did my best to make her feel better and this is what I fucking get. It wouldn’t have it. I didn’t want to give up my new form so quickly but now I knew what was next, I’d go after those closest to her. Maybe her roommate first, then her parents, then who knows. As I was pondering this I only barely noticed the buzzing of my phone in my pocket. I pulled it out half-heartedly and noticed it was from an unknown number. Still, for some reason, I felt compelled to pick it up. It was her. She had to run into her room to grab her phone to call me cause it was obvious that I wasn’t good at yelling. This was the kindest thing anyone had ever done for me. She asked if I was busy, apart from trying to ignore her crying to get some sleep. I said I was wide awake now, and she said I should come over. I told her I would be there in just a second and hung up quickly, scrambling to my feet to try to think of what I needed to do to get ready. I rinsed off quickly, combed out my hair, threw on the best clothes I could find [author’s note: The best clothes our dear friend could find was a cheap suit that was a bit too tight around the ass and groin. He thought he looked dapper.] For some reason the cologne I had made me sick to my stomach so I decided to use some fruity smelling air freshener instead. There was a feeling that came over me that I was unfamiliar with. I knew what anxiety was, I knew about fear, and I could see both traits in those I hunted. I also knew the excitement that came with being the one doing the hunting. This feeling was like the two mixed together, inverted, and then sanded down to remove all seams. I wanted to puke. Despite this, I made my way out of my dorm, down the stairs, and into the lobby, crossed over to the other side of the building, went back up the stairs, and finally arrived at the dorm she gave me the number to. I knocked and immediately felt the urge rise to just run away. Before I had time to act on that, she opened the door and pulled me in. I tried my best to take in my surroundings with the eyes that had been so particular with detail for all these years, but everything just seemed blurry except for her. The sweatpants and sweater were a bit tighter than I realized from my balcony, and every curve, every individual shape, every delineation between the different facets of her body were burned into my brain. I realized I wasn’t breathing, so I inhaled greedily through my nostrils. She smelled of weed and cheap perfume, the kind of weed you smoke when you can’t get a better deal anywhere else because the dealer likes your tits, and the kind of perfume you use when it doesn’t matter what you smell like because you know people are going to be intoxicated by you no matter what. My eyes made their way to her face and it was the worst mistake I have ever made. The way her bangs draped her forehead, the way her freckles painted the most beautiful canvas I have ever seen, the way her perfect lips moved, it was too much. The way her lips moved. Why were her lips moving? Oh fuck she had been talking this whole time. I zoned back in and picked up on a story about how she had been crying because she was getting ready for surgery, breast reduction to be specific, and her boyfriend wasn’t being supportive at all. Ah, boyfriend. I guess that makes sense. Shit she had stopped, I think it was time for me to respond. “Well, I mean I don’t know the full story but if this is something that will be good for you, mentally and physically, and all he cares about is you having big boobs, then maybe that just goes to show where his priorities are right? Maybe it's a showcase of how he truly feels about you.” She was quiet for a minute, and I worried that I had overstepped. Fuck, of course, I had overstepped I mean who was I criticizing the partner of someone I was just now meeting what kind of fucking idiot does that shit I mean it's not my place at-“Yeah I know, you’re right.” Oh. I didn’t know where to go from here. Do I try to get her to break up with him so we could be together? Maybe I should give it a few more days of seeing her before I went that far. Wait, so we could be together? I’m a creature beyond her understanding, assuming the form of what could almost be a child that I had just brutally murdered. Why was I thinking like this? I had run into this issue before. If I assumed someone's life and became too invested in it I would think I was them. It didn’t normally happen this fast. I needed to stay grounded and remember what I was doing. The form I was taking was temporary, it wasn’t sustainable, and I was only here to fulfill my whims. Although, one of my whims was to pretend to be human, and what’s more human than college romance? I guess I could just go with it for a little while. I decided to not be the douchebag who immediately tried to get her to break up with her boyfriend for a quick meaningless hookup. Hell, I don’t think I even wanted to sleep with her, I wanted to worship her. “Well, are you gonna bring it up to him? Maybe if you talk to him about how his responses make you feel he’ll understand and realize what he’s doing. I mean I can’t imagine he wants to hurt you or make you feel unvalued, it's probably just an oversight on his part. A gross oversight yes, but still.” To this, she laughed a little, kissed my cheek, and gave me the most satisfying human contact I had ever received, a hug. I knew in that moment I would never be the same. I mentioned earlier that after a transformation I had a few weeks of being just like everyone else, but I should’ve specified that the transformation doesn’t wear off that quickly. After those few weeks had passed, my eccentricities began to show. I grew paler, discombobulated, cold to the touch, you know, less human. That being said, the first couple weeks were a dream, She and I spent every moment together when she wasn’t in classes or working. She told me all of her problems and praised me for being the best listener She had ever met. She never really asked me about my life, which came to offend me later but at first was perfect because I hadn’t come up with a backstory yet. There were countless nights spent together in Her shitty university-provided plastic twin mattress watching Her favorite shows. Our hands grazed each other all the time and I blushed deeply every time, but the red LED lights She kept going always seemed to hide it. I can’t count how many times we would talk to each other, both turning to look at each other and realizing our lips were barely a couple of inches away. I could see Her looking down at them, I could hear Her internal debates on whether to take action or not. It was in these moments that Her boyfriend would text or call, and She would hop off the bed to respond on the balcony. I would sit there alone, embarrassed and ashamed. I thought about eating Her boyfriend honestly, it came to mind a couple a couple times. But the thought of being trapped inside a body I had such a personal hatred for disgusted me so I chose not to. So, I bided my time. Eventually, She would come back in, and for the rest of the night would sit that much farther away from me. I did my best not to let it get to me. Apart from spending time in Her room, I would walk Her from work to the dorms on late nights when She didn’t feel safe on Her own, we would go on car rides around the city blasting music, and sometimes even went out to restaurants together on little “friend dates.” Spending time with Her was the only thing I looked forward to. As those short few weeks had drawn to a close, I realized we were closer than I had ever been to any human in my life. It was surreal. I was worried that as the changes began to happen, She would grow disgusted by me and block out any contact whatsoever, so I distanced myself. Not being around Her hurt, but Her not making any effort whatsoever to reach out hurt even more. It gave me clarity though, this whole thing had been a silly distraction and it was time for it to end. I began to roam the campus at night, trying to find the addicts and users among whom my condition would help me fit right in. Less by my own means and more by sheer luck, I came across a person who took an immediate interest in the form I was in. We became intimate within a matter of hours and she seemed hooked. I had had sex before when in human form, but just like all the other times I felt absolutely nothing. I didn’t know if I wanted to eat her, I didn’t know what I wanted to do honestly. I felt aimless and adrift. I don’t think I cared what happened next. I’m not sure what would have happened if I stayed on this course, but fate always intervenes. We were in a shitty motel room, sharing lines of uppers and downers that barely affected me. Due to what I was, I’d need an elephant tranquilizer to get the same effect a normal person does from average drugs. But she got fucked up, and that’s all that mattered to her. After about an hour and forty-five of overly violent sex and three faked orgasms on my part, we seemed to reach a stopping point. She asked if she could invite some friends over to smoke and hang and I said sure. Lo and behold, one of those friends was Her. By the time She arrived, I had gotten somewhat dressed, grey sweatpants with nothing underneath and a jacket I chose to leave unzipped. My jewelry was still on, she liked it on while we fucked, and I was sweaty and smelly and honestly a mess, but I didn’t realize She would be coming till I opened the door. She looked me up and down, seeming to pay particular attention to my maybe too-tight sweatpants. I did my best to seem casual and invited Her and the two other people with her into the room. We all made a big show about how crazy it was that I knew her and Her before settling into other conversation and a generous partaking of weed. When the drugs ran out I mentioned I had some more in my car and She jumped on the opportunity to come with me to grab them. When we went out, She hugged me closely and told me She knew what was wrong. She saw that I was an addict, and knew now why I had grown so distant. She didn’t apologize for not reaching out, which I took note of. She did, however, offer to make up for lost time and said we should go on another drive. Just like that, I was in the palm of Her hand again. We drove through our usual spots before she finally suggested the beach. The one She chose was a decent drive away, which was perfect for them because they brought shrooms, and it would be a perfect amount of time for them to kick in. Coming to me saying She knew I was an addict, and then offering drugs was something else. I began to wonder if I knew who She was. I wasn’t particularly concerned with it at the time though, I accepted the psychedelics, not thinking they would do much for me based on my previous experience with drugs. When we arrived at the beach I got out of the car and noticed a change. The air felt crisper than it ever had, every ray of light emanated with an aura of another light. I could hear the sounds of nature in a way I normally could only in my actual body. Was the transformation wearing off right now? No, it couldn’t be I still had time, so what the fuck was this. The mushrooms. The fucking mushrooms got me high easier than any authentic drug ever had? That felt weird to think about but I didn’t have the mental capacity to mull it over. I felt every grain of sand between my feet and saw the waves shape before they had even formed. There was a certain bacteria that existed on this beach that shone with a bright blue light in certain situations, and tonight just so happened to be one of those situations. I watched as She slipped off the clothes She was wearing and ran off into the sea. I followed suit. When the water hit my ankles I became more in tune with the world around me than I ever had been before. I felt the entirety of the ocean, and everything inside of it, including Her. I could see She felt the same. I walked over to Her, feeling the water rise to my knees, then above my waist. We embraced, and then we kissed. Those lips I had watched take all sorts of shapes for what felt like all my life now were moving against mine in a way that gave me an understanding of pleasure I had never known before. She began to touch me, grazing Her hands over my body before suddenly jerking away. Fuck, She still had that boyfriend probably. This was just a psychedelic-fueled impulse for Her. That’s what I thought She was going to express, but instead, She said, “Not here.” We walked out of the water, hand in hand, retrieving our clothes and silently getting back into my car. I started heading towards the dorms, but She plugged an address I hadn’t seen into my GPS. It was Her parent’s house, Her actual house. It hadn’t occurred to me until now that She had never invited me over until this point. When we got there we crept inside, trying our best not to make any noise, but Her over-excitable dog made that nigh impossible. When safe inside Her room we giggled to ourselves, stripped down again, and collapsed on Her bed. We kissed and began to touch each other when it started. At first, they were quiet, just a couple of sentences in the background that I could ignore. But they got louder and louder, more violent until I couldn’t tune them out. I rolled onto my back and froze up. I don’t know how long I stayed like that, could have been a couple of minutes, could have been fifteen, maybe even thirty. All I know is that in those moments I regretted everything I have ever done in my life. These voices weren’t random. I knew them all intimately, they were everyone I had ever consumed. They were the voices that I took time to learn and imitate, speaking with the same vernacular that I had become so familiar with. They told me they saw me, they knew me as well as I knew them. There was no coming back for me, there was no happy ending, soon I would rot, I would fade, and then I would be left as just a Thing, barely able to be called alive. It was easy, some things were and some things were not. As I was, I Was Not. They told me She would soon see through my facade. They told me She already was. They told me what I had done would be returned to me in abundance. No matter how hard I pretended, no matter how disassociated I became, it wouldn’t change the fact that the body I was in was not my own. I think I would have kept in this state permanently, but a thought came to me, an awful, beautiful, perfect thought. I knew what I would do next. I snapped out of it, coming to and seeing a look of deep concern on Her face. I made a joke about not taking shrooms for a while and said that I was okay. It took a few minutes to convince Her, but eventually, She came around and we picked up where we had stopped. For the rest of the night, we made love. It was the first time I had ever felt anything during sex. I was on a short timetable so I had to act fast. She called out sick and we used our sick days for our classes and spent every minute together. She gave me some backstory and explained that while we weren’t talking She had broken up with Her boyfriend and come to realize She had deep feelings for me. It was bittersweet. It was all I had ever wanted, or maybe it was all He had ever wanted, I’m not sure anymore. I met her parents and learned the ins and outs of Her family dynamics, which was a bit more dysfunctional than I had previously expected. I learned everything there was to learn about Her, and then some. The changes were subtle at first, I gained more color to my skin as Hers faded. I grew more invigorated as Her spirits fell. We hid Her worsening condition from Her parents, I subtly hinted that it was probably just a cold or something. I’m not sure how long we had spent together, but it felt like a significant amount of time at this point. I was trusted. I suggested to Her that having the place to ourselves might help boost morale, so with the last of His money I got a hotel room for her parents and set them up with reservations at a very fancy restaurant in town. The day came and I made sure She was set up with everything that She could need. There was nothing that She lacked, and for what it's worth it did seem to make Her feel a tad better. Midnight came around and She was drifting in and out of sleep when I decided to make my move. I watched Her eyes flutter as I walked up and took off my clothes. There was a slight smile that formed on Her face, thinking that I had gotten Her parents out of the house for other reasons than I had stated before. Instead, I began to peel off my skin. I scratched it off bit by bit, peeling it away from my face, my shoulders, and so on. It became easier when I got the skin around my hands off and my claws were able to be used again. I tore and I tore and I tore until the pile of flesh on the floor was complete. Her eyes were wide, like a rabbit running straight into the cave of a bobcat. I kept going, stripping away my muscle and sinew, the same way I had to all my victims before. I was trying something new. I wasn’t sure if it would work or not but I had to try. I was left with the bare minimum I needed to move around, some amalgamation of a devil and man formed with the twisting of my skeleton. I slowly shambled towards Her, leaned in, and gently kissed Her forehead. I felt warm tears run down Her face as She struggled to comprehend what was going on. My first bite was the sweetest I had ever tasted.
It's been four months since that nightmare occurred. I’m still not sure where Josh went or really why he left but regardless, things have been improving a lot. I checked into a hospital and got the all-clear physically, but they sent me to the psych ward because of my night terrors. After getting discharged I explained everything to my boss, my parents, and my school, and they all were extremely understanding. Things have been improving a lot, since the whole incident I have been making major changes in my life. The people around me I make sure to check in on them, giving them the attention and love they deserve. I don’t give the time of day to the men who only want me for how I look. Again, I don’t know why Josh left, he had his issues, but still, after him, I know what love looks like. Love is not comfort, love is not obsession, love is devotion. Josh was devoted to me and I will devote my life to being the best I can possibly be to honor his memory. These four months have been the best I have ever lived, the happiest, most fulfilling experiences have been dropped in front of me like the universe was rewarding me for good behavior. But I know it can’t last. I look in the mirror and see my skin stretch a bit too much. My bones ache like they’re growing because they are. I knew deep down this was not forever, but I hoped it would last a bit longer than this. Oh well, I had a good run. Tomorrow my parents will find my corpse, I pray death halts the transformation. If I can remain Her till I rot in the ground, then everything will have been worth it.