Please know that while this short story is fiction and is meant to be enjoyed for its style and content, it is inspired by a frightening reality faced by people all over the world. Mental illness does not discriminate. The stigma surrounding disorders and diseases like depression and schizophrenia needs to be destroyed, and we can make that happen by creating a conversation and educating ourselves and others. Please show compassion to everyone you encounter in life. They may just hear or see something you don’t.
Another day of work.
You’re a joke.
Another day of mediocrity in the name of a paycheck.
You’re a waste of space. What’s the point?
Another cold morning with visible breath and achy joints.
You deserve to hurt.
She sat daydreaming in her unremarkable car, staring out the windshield at the other unremarkable vehicles, both idling and parked, between fading yellow lines.
The familiar pop song on the radio ended and the chipper, charismatic voice of an underpaid disc jockey interrupted her absent musing.
She sighed, defeated. She pulled the key from the ignition and opened the door, and as she turned toward the center console to fetch her purse, an object in the passenger floorboard caught her eye.
A large black pocket knife lay in plain sight, clumsily and mistakenly left behind by her husband. She paused and thought for a moment, and her flawed logic made her decide not to leave the weapon in the car.
I shouldn’t leave this in such a visible spot, she thought to herself as she retrieved the knife and, instead of concealing it in the glove box, she tucked it in her purse before locking the car and walking to her office.
The same stained carpet.
Disgusting, like you.
The same cluttered desk with stacks of unending paperwork.
The same jingles of keys from the same insufferable colleagues.
They all hate you.
She worked routinely, but just going through the motions allowed her to slip into an ever-darkening state of mind. Each sheet of paper and click of the keyboard left her more agitated. She heard her associates babbling too enthusiastically about their ordinary lives, and her phone seemed to ring again and again, just seconds after ending the call before.
Anxiety rose in her throat like bile, and she frantically pulled open her desk drawer to find the pills that would calm her enough to allow her to finish her work without a breakdown. Addiction was the name of only one of her many inner demons. With shaking hands, she fumbled with the zippers and snaps of her purse.
Her fingers grazed a package of tissues, a tube of lip gloss, her checkbook which might as well be kindling, cough drops, and-
An unexpected metal object.
Did you forget about that?
An unexpected desire replacing anxiety.
End their incessant chattering.
An unexpected lapse of caution and conscience.
Do it. You have absolutely nothing to lose, you piece of trash.
She suddenly rose and walked away from her desk, and she felt as if she was floating. She navigated the halls purposefully and quietly, but paid no mind to her surroundings. It was effortless; she acted similarly to a lucid dreamer who works impossibly quickly and without consequence.
Her boss was the first victim. He only had enough time to shoot her a concerned glance before she practically lunged across the room and made the first inelegant incision.
Voices told her to do it.
Make them bleed.
Voices whispered to her night and day but she attempted to quiet them with pharmaceutical muzzles.
We’re still here.
Voices convinced her to kill.
You’re a monster.
Her ears rang as she thrashed and plunged the knife into her colleagues’ flesh over and over, moving from office to office deliberately and rapidly. Her work mates had no time to process or react to her blows. She couldn’t even hear their pained screams despite how they must have been tormented by every stab and slice.
The rooms filled with the scent of pennies, and brilliant red adorned the mundane walls and stained carpets. She laughed joyfully and hysterically at the sudden change in scenery.
They were all dead. There was no one left to call for help but she knew someone would become aware of her actions soon enough. Oddly, she felt no remorse and even smiled as she leaned back against one of the freshly blood-painted walls and slid to the floor.
No more mediocre life.
No more routine, no more insufferable coworkers, and no more weight on her shoulders.
You’re going to die.
“Call an ambulance!”
“Oh, God, what have you done?”
“Check her pulse! What are those pills?”
“There’s so much blood!”
So much blood.
So much… blood…
So much… pain?
She slumped in her chair, and her downward glance revealed her bloody hands, holding both her entrails and the knife with which she was sure she had just murdered at least three people. She choked and sputtered as she began to realize the damage she had inflicted, not on any of her coworkers, but on herself.
As the scope of her vision receded, she lifted her head to see her physically unscathed colleagues, and the empty pill bottle, almost indistinguishable amidst the pools and spatters of crimson. Warm blood replaced the last of the air in her lungs.
One last heartbeat.
One last sound heard before everything faded away completely.
One last time the voice of her mental illness said
National Institute of Mental Health
Mental Health America
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