The Land of Doubt: Written During Psychosis (lighly edited)

The Young Wolf and Balthazar 

By Lukas Allen 

There was once a girl named Wolf, a very serious young girl. She was so serious, her seriousness became a curse. A curse she carried on her shoulders, tattooed on her arm, in her brain and in her charm. She was so serious, she forgot how to laugh. Ha ha ha, those sounds were foreign to her. Like a dream, or perhaps a nightmare. There was nothing real for her there anyway. She forgot how to laugh, and she didn’t even know it. Everyone laughed at her though, everyone, everywhere. She hated them. So she decided she’d carry the mark of the wolf, to send them to their graves. They wouldn’t laugh at a wolf. A wolf cannot be silly, it can hunt, and it can kill. She picked up the passerby’s knife. He’d left it somewhere, he didn’t know where. Some random person out in the woods. Some random blade, now in Wolf’s hands. What’ll she do with this, she wondered. It’s just a dull little thing, it might as well be plastic. She sliced her arm with it, but she wouldn’t harm the wolf tattoo. The only real thing she had now, her serious curse. The pain felt good. So serious. A serious injury, in her serious world. The woods hungered for her now. The wolves were drawn to the blood. A dismal howl lit up the night. All of a sudden she was awake. The pain felt real, how can something, so serious, hurt so much? She realized the mistake she had made. A pair of eyes watched her in the woods, then disappeared. The woods hated her, how can such a feeble form hope to survive in such a serious world? Against real wolves, hungry in the night. The blood flowed from her wrist, and she felt like she needed to run. She was hypnotized by the darkness. The dark gloom invited her forward, and the wolves urged her to run. Flee, Wolf, this isn’t your world. And she ran. But the seriousness overtook her, and she couldn’t keep running with such a burden. So she dropped the load and took up a laugh. The wolves put on silly little caps and played charades with her. “Can you guess what this is, Young Wolf? It’s the sound a tree makes when it claps with one hand when no one’s around to hear it,” and the wolf made a little dog fart. The woods became light, and the night turned to day. The wrist stopped bleeding, for some reason, and Wolf danced a little jig. Hooha, no more wolves today. Just one Young Wolf, on the prowl for a good laugh. 

Hello, who are you, I am I. Hello. You’re just going to come back again once I leave. I’m sensing a new demon here. Or who are you? 

If you don’t want to speak that is fine. I want some coffee now anyway, then we can speak. Speak and speak, that’s me, your local friendly demon. 

Come into the bar. But let me draw you first. I need to see your eyes. Keeping you waiting is driving you crazy, isn’t it? 

I think I know who this is but I’m not quite certain. Hold on while I go smoke. 

Come on into the bar. We’re opening in just a minute. Let the imps tend to your worries. Sit down for a spell. It’s sunny today, in the Land of Doubt. We have a nice park bench outside. Stay awhile. The sun doesn’t mean much in the Land of Doubt. Most demons learn to hate it. I’m just glad for a change in scenery. I’m always running out of tobacco. I need to talk to a smoker demon at noon today. Stay awhile, mystery person. Stay awhile, in the gorgeous Land of Doubt. 

We’re all equals here, in this place. Some demons like to take charge though. They’re good at keeping the others in line. Would you like some coffee, mysterious stranger? Stay right here, I’ll bring it out to you myself. 

It’s really not so bad here. Although there are a never ending amount of demons who frequent my bar. They love to forget. And remember. They’re a strange bunch. Welcome to Balthazar’s Bar. 

All the demons really want is a place to relax. Somewhere where they can be themselves, real demons in real time. 

Are you noticing the flowers in front of the bar? I just planted them recently. They are strange things. I think they’re liable to bite me. They’re red and brown, and have very sharp thorns. I think that one’s got teeth. Tulips and Begonias, those nice things don’t grow here. They’re very pretty though. I like that they seem to have a mind of their own, they twist and turn, and grow up the cracks in the wall. 

This place is easy to find, in the Land of Doubt. It’s always here if you need it. So, let’s see those eyes. 

Heya Wolf, how’s it going? I thought that was you. Come on in. What would you like? You seem so real, and yet I know this is imagined. Somewhere for my demons to hide. But hell, come in, come in. 

Why are you hiding a smile from me? You’re awfully quiet. Sit at a booth, and I’ll join you in a bit. Do you like the imps? 

The imps run back and forth through her legs. One tries to get a glimpse up her skirt, but she kicks it away. 

“What are these little things?” she says.

“These are the imps. They represent the little things you can’t control in life, the little buggers in the woodworks. They just sort of appeared one day, and now they work at my bar. I like them. They’re very funny.” I say

“Why do you call me Wolf, Balthazar?” she says.

“Well, to make it easy. You can be anyone you like here. I was Balthazar for quite some time. I still am, but I was too.” I say.

“You’re very silly.” she says.

“Thank you, I will keep that compliment dear to me in my heart. In the heart you just stole from me.” I say.

“I don’t have it, why are you looking at me like that?” she says.

“No reason, Wolf. Would you like a drink?” I say.

“Some beer would be nice.” she says.

“Coming right up.” I say.

I hand her a large pint. 

“Why are you so serious, Balthazar? Don’t you want to have fun?” she says.

“I hadn’t realized I was being serious. My bad.” I say.

“See, what the hell is with that. Love me or something.” she says.

“Sure thing.” I say.

“You weren’t supposed to say yes to that! Stop it.” she says.

“Haha, no, thanks. I’ll get you another beer. You seem to have gulped that one down right quick.” I say.

I hand her another pint, and sit down. 

“I am sort of serious, but it helps to talk to the customers here. They have so many stories to share, although I seem to get a lot of the old guys from my past. They’re ok too, it’s nice to see a familiar face.” I say.

“I can’t stand it, Balthazar. My brain hurts.” she says.

“Slow down on the drinks then. There’s a beautiful sun just outside the window. I made sure to keep the windows clean today. Would you like some coffee?” I say.

“Yes please.” she says.

“Here you go. You know, I think I am the passerby. But now I’m not. I think you took that from me.” I say.

“Why do you say that?” she says.

“Just timing I guess. You came in just as he left.” I say.

The imps play some strange music. It speaks to us, in our souls. 

“I think you’re lying, Balthazar.” she says.

“A liar always believes in lies. Really they’re the same thing, truth and lies. Two sides of the same coin.” I say.

“Speaking in riddles, are we? Knock knock, it’s me, Wolf.” she says.

“Haha, thank you for that. I’m Balthazar.” I say.

“That’s a weird name. Can’t you be someone else?” she says.

“Of course! I always am.” I say.

I like looking at this strange woman, in this strange bar. She has a nice grin. 

“I like that you seem so pure, Wolf. Although, you try to hide it. That smile doesn’t seem real half the time. But it’s slipping. You’re getting bad at lying, Wolf.” I say.

“Quit it, you don’t know me.” she says.

“I don’t. You have so many secrets. It’s so interesting.” I say.

“Just leave this dingy bar. Take me somewhere nice.” she says.

“You’ll probably show me somewhere without me knowing it. Let’s stay here for a little bit longer. I need a smoke.” I say.

“You should stop smoking Balthazar. It’s really not good for you.” she says.

“Ok, I will, I need to get rid of this tobacco. Maybe I should smoke it?” I say.

“Haha, ok. Don’t hurt yourself.” she says.

“Ok, I’m back. I don’t really like to leave this place, although I’m sure the imps can manage it. Let’s go.” I say.

“Do you want to see my wolf friends?” she says.

“I’ve seen them, watching me in the shadows. They’re pretty cool.” I say.

“Anything else to add to that, oh infernal Balthazar? You’re really not so scary.” she says.

“I don’t want to scare you though. There are bad things, out in the swamp. I like it when they come here though. But let’s go.” I say.

And with that we walk out the front door. The imps wave goodbye to us. 

We walk down a couple lonely streets. The City of Doubt is quiet too. Lamps are lit, even in the day, and no one else is walking in the streets. Wolf skips ahead of me, and stares down a sewer grate. 

“Wheeere are you, little monsters? Come on out. I’ve got a big scary guy who can take care of you.” she says.

“Ha ha, leave them alone. They’re shy.” I say.

An eye pops out of the sewer and stares up at us. It swims past, a huge alligator demon. 

“Look at that guy! So scaly and fierce. He’d make some nice boots.” she says.

“That’s not an alligator, though. He only shows us what he wants us to see.” I say.

“Menacing.” she says.

“I think he just likes the peace and quiet. We shouldn’t disturb it.” I say.

We amble down a couple more streets. She whistles a familiar tune. We turn a corner and there’s a huge monster eating a corpse in a shadowy alleyway. It’s entirely made of sludge. It stops eating to look at us briefly, then returns to its meal. 

Wolf is looking wide eyed at it, just behind me. 

“Let’s not linger. This guy’s enjoying his breakfast.” I say.

“Why are there such things in your city, Balthazar?” she says.

“Memories and dreams. Just monsters. Let them be, I’m sure they’ll come to my bar later and I can serve them a drink.” I say.

We go ahead a bit further and stop to sit at an abandoned restaurant. No service, no customers, no worries. “I’m going to be sad when you forget me, Wolf. Then I’ll have to forget, too.” I say.

“That’s a depressing thought. Quit being so depressing. It’s bad for business.” she says.

“Ha, I’m so sorry.” I say.

“You’re doing it again, although now you’re just making fun of me.” she says.

“I would never make fun of you. Otherwise the wolves will get me, when I’m sleeping. Probably in a gutter somewhere when my bar goes tits up.” I say.

“My wolves don’t like people. They seem to like you though.” she says.

“I feel like reality is playing games with us, and it’s going to get us no matter what we try to do. I have a curse, it might just be normal, but it drives me forward.” I say.

“You think too much. Let it go.” she says.

“Ok. But I can’t. It’s always there, and I don’t think anyone can lift it.” I says.

“What’s your curse, man? You got too much love to give? Give it here. I’ll hold onto it for you.” she says.

“Take it all. I don’t want it any more. I’ll help you carry yours too. You’re pretty strong for a little lady.” I say.

“Ooooh a lady am I. Well you’re a gentleman then.” she says.

“Not particularly. I’ve been evil. I am still.” I say.

“Stop it.” she says.

“Let’s walk down some more streets. Or go out into the swamp. There’s someone there I want you to meet. I have an appointment with a smoker demon.” I say.

“Don’t leave me yet. I like this place, even if it’s just a dream.” she says.

So Wolf and Balthazar walked through the streets, stopping to look at every little interesting thing they could find. There was a huge decrepit monument, depicting a king holding up the world. It had moss growing all around it. There was a giant stone bridge over a tiny bubbling creek, just eking its way through the city canals. There were huge birds flying in the distance, or were they small birds close up? 

“Wolf, I want to tell you my desires. But I feel like it might be too much. What if they come true?” I say.

“Don’t tell me them then. Tell me what you feel. Let it come naturally.” she says.

“Well, I want to have a good time with you. Are we having a good time?” I say.

She smiles to me. 

“Then yes we are. Good. I feel much easier now.” I say.

The pair make their way out of the forlorn city, to where the forlorn swamp begins. A cloud passes over the sun and shadow is all around for only a moment. The pavement ends at a small wooden bridge. They start to pass over, but a huge beast rumbles out from underneath and blocks their path. 

It’s an ugly thing. A demon on four long spider legs, a human head with a long beard mounted on top. Horns grow from the head and it stares at my direction. 

“Have a smoke, Balthazar.” the demon says.

“I think I’m fine thanks.” I say.

Wolf stares at the thing through slit eyes. 

“Who’s this, Balthazar? Your girly friend? Come on, give me a kiss.” she says. 

I look at Wolf. She gives me a kiss. 

“Hey, that felt good. What’s all this?” Balthazar was surprised for a second. 

The demon looks angry and shouts at the pair, “You’re not in your precsssious bar now, Balthazar. Have a smoke. Stay in myy world….” 

“We were just headed back there, to be honest. The easiest way was through the bog, but I knew you’d be here, waiting for me. Come on, follow us home, little dog.” I say.

It skitters away and hides back underneath the bridge. Wolf and Balthazar walk back to the bar, hand in hand. The thing follows, but at a distance. When they reach the door Balthazar holds it open for Wolf, so gentlemanly, and looks back into the bog. The demon is standing on the trail. 

“Come on, or do you want me to play with you forever? I know you’re a monster. I am too. Come on in and I’ll get you a drink.” I say.

The monster looks questioningly inside the open door. The imps stare back. The thing runs off into the mist. I run back to catch it. 

“Stop, demon.” I say.

“You don’t care about us… You only care about herrr…. A dream girl.” It hisses, “Jussst a dream…” “I care a lot about a lot. Don’t hurt yourself anymore. You have smoke coming out of all sides. When you run you wheeze. Your legs sound like an old man’s, clicking and clacking.” 

“Cannn… I have a hug? No kisses.” it says.

“Yes. Come here little guy.” I says.

And the thing jumps into Balthazar’s arms, and he cradles it gently. Poor little ugly duck. It sort of wraps its spidery arms around Balthazar, and cries from its human head. He carries it back to the bar. Wolf is watching from the front, by the flowers. 

“That was… interesting. I would’ve just let it run away.” she says.

“These poor guys just need a little love sometimes. If they run away they might come back some day, angry and stronger.” 

They all head into the bar. Balthazar sets the thing on a table. It seems much smaller now. It looks curiously all around it. The imps are smoking cigarettes. 

“Hey cut it out, Imps. Only the customers are allowed to smoke in here.” I say.

The smoker imps laugh and run outside. 

“You let your customers smoke in here? That’s nasty.” she says.

“Yeah, you’re right, Wolf. But I hate those places that are so picky. This isn’t a restaurant. Any demon who needs a smoke can do as it likes.” I say.

The smoker demon lets out a sigh of relief, which is a cloud of smoke. It’s smiling now. Wolf is holding her nose. 

“Alright, smoker, we get your point. You make a lot of smoke. Now if you could do that outside it’d be a lot easier on us humans.” I say.

“Alright Balthazar. I’ll sit on the outside patio. I didn’t notice it beffooore… Did your imps put that up?” it says.

“I suppose they did. Good job, imps.” I say.

Balthazar looks at Wolf, “He’ll be alright now. I’ll be alright now that I know where he is. He’ll probably sit out there all night while the imps serve him beer, while he looks up at the stars.” 

“You’re a weird one, Balthazar. Thanks for letting me in. I should probably go, but I’ll come back some time.” she says.

“I’ll see you around Wolf.” I say.

I give her a hug, she hugs me back, then goes out the door with a smile and wave. 

That smoker demon dog better not leave. I think it’s becoming easier to work with. Eventually I’ll free it. Now my demon bar has a strange dog. It’s a good thing demons can change shapes, ahem. 

Balthazar was petting the smoke dog on the patio. It’s so fluffy now. It smiles up to Balthazar, a human head on a dog body. Balthazar was smoking an old ashen pipe. 

“I don’t know what to do with myself, little dog. I just keep on forgetting and going forward. I remember when I forget. Weird, huh?” I say.

The dog pants and smiles at him. It licks his kneecap. The stars are real beautiful here. There are so many in the night sky. The City of Doubt is completely dark at night, and the swamp is a strange midnight beauty. There’s a big full moon in the sky, staring down at all. 

“Seeing Wolf was cool today. I wonder what adventures she’s up to. I feel like she has something big planned.” I say.

The dog nuzzles its face into Balthazar. Balthazar scratches it behind the ears. 

“I suppose it’s fine if we never meet again. If she’s just a memory. Just a dream.” I say.

The dog barks twice, then howls at the moon. Aouuhghg! 

“Ha ha, calm down, mutt. You need a name. How about Bark? That’s what I do when I smoke too much. Bark and cough.” I say.

“Barkcough? Barcough.” It suggests. 

“Yes, that’ll do nicely. Thank you, Barcough.” I say.

Wolf had returned to the dark bar in the shadowy land of doubt. She stood outside in the mists. There was a loud ruckus going on inside. Evil laughter and dark music played. Cunning music, simple jazzy songs that made you feel at ease. She had forgotten something in there when she met Balthazar. Her heart. A long story filled with pages. She had swiped Balthazar’s when he wasn’t looking, it looked so interesting, she had to have it. It was a puzzle, locked tight, and she wanted to see what was inside. A cold metallic thing with no clear opening. She banged it on the floor, tried to wrench it with a screwdriver, and then just simply gave up. It annoyed her so much, she couldn’t figure it out. One day, however, she held it just right, maybe pressed a certain button, and it clicked open. She couldn’t wait to see what was inside. It was empty. She had been tricked, it was just a cheap plastic toy. Now she had to come back for her real heart, left on a bar stool table. It looked scary inside. 

The imps are playing with me tonight. They’re cunning. We’re all cunning here. This is a real place, a real memory. You can visit it whenever you like. I’ll let her come inside. There’s no fee to get in. 

I’m staying up all night. There’s no reason to sleep now anyway. She’s knocking at the door. It’s not locked. I wonder what’s keeping her? I have her heart, here by my chest. A flimsy little notebook. It’s red and has a heart on it. There are pictures of wolves all throughout. Love stories fill its pages. It’s nothing really. Just a fantasy. She really wants to fix people. Broken shattered things. Little people, big people, all bowing to her. She loves it. She wants to keep it safe, forever and ever. Never let it go. Too bad she forgot it. I think she must’ve drank too much, hehe. 

Wolf was watching from the outside. There was this old school music playing. The song about the desert and horses, and strange names. How is she going to get it? Her heart? It’s probably been sitting there all day. Some drunk might’ve taken it, and with that worrying thought she barges into the bar. There were weird creatures sitting in the seats. Wild ones dancing and singing. The imps were chattering loudly. None of them payed her a single mind. The sound was deafening. Old school music. Why old school rock? She hated that. She saw Balthazar in the back, talking to a large alligator creature. He saw her, he must have. She tried to walk through the loud noisy demons, nonchalantly, but a big brute of a monster stuck his foot out and tripped her. Ahahaha, the demons around laughed and the brute pointed. His date, a nice young long necked succubus stuck her snake like tongue out and slurped her drink. “What a fool!” She shrieked. An imp came up to Wolf, and pulled at her pigtails. 

“Get off me, rats!” she says.

The imps danced away, scurrying into the background. 

She got up, flustered. Where did Balthazar go? She went up to the bar, a big surly guy was cleaning some dishes. She looked to where she left her heart, but she couldn’t find it. She knew she had left it right there. 

“Where’s Balthazar? He has my heart.” she asked the bartender, quietly. 

“What’s that, woman? Lost something? Balthazar’s out for a smoke. He’ll be back in a second. Do you want a drink?” he says.

She didn’t want to drink, but the place was intimidating, everyone was watching her. 

“Ok fine, can I just have a beer?” she says.

“Will an amber do? A nice swill, straight from the devil’s asshole. You’d like it.” he says.

She flustered out a yes. 

The demon filled a glass to the brim, and handed it to the meek little girl. 

She sniffed it. It didn’t smell like shit. She drank it slowly, carefully. 

Where is that loser, she thought? Balthazar can’t have taken it. He’ll give it back if she asks for it. She knew it, of course he would. She had his heart, but it wasn’t a real heart. Had he taken hers from her without asking? That bastard! She imagined him tearing out the pieces one by one. How could he do that to her! What an ass! She slurped her beer and trembled slightly. 

The music changed to old school swing. There was something off putting about this, disarming. 

Balthazar came through the back door. Arm over the shoulder of the long skinny alligator creature. “Oh hey Wolf! Come back for more booze? You drunk. I was just talking with my cigarette demon. We’re good pals. He came everywhere with me in Europe. You know they actually have disgusting pictures of dead and dying people on the packages of cigs?” 

She looked at him questioningly. Play it cool, she thought. 

Balthazar came behind the bar. 

“So what can I get for you, dear Wolf? Some wine?” I say.

“Yech, wine? No thanks. Just give me back my heart. I know you took it.” she says.

“Eh? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I found a pamphlet on a chair, where you were sitting earlier. Is this little thing what you were looking for?” I say.

And he pulled out her precious heart, hidden underneath his coat. It didn’t look damaged. Her eyes followed it, and Balthazar put on a little smirk. 

“Yes… That’s it. Can I have it back please, Balthazar? I wrote down everything I liked in there. Everyone I liked. You’re in there too.” she says.

“Yes… I read it. It’s not very interesting. Mostly about my body. Is this all you think of? I particularly liked the drawings.” I say.

“Just give it back, please.” she says.

He eyed the tome, weighing it in his hand. 

“I don’t think I want to yet. I could give it back, or I could toy with you some more, but I’m just so hungry. I haven’t eaten in days.” I say.

He lifted it above his head, and opened his jaws. They seemed to go on forever. Wider and wider he pulled back his teeth. Monster teeth, fangs jutting from his lips. Wolf looked in shock as he dropped it down his gullet, swallowed, then looked at Wolf with a satisfied grin. 

“Ahh… that’s better. I feel so much nicer now.” I say.

Wolf was distraught. She just stared at the strange man, licking his lips, in the strange unearthly bar, in this strange place. Why had she come here, she thought? Of course she’d never get her heart back. 

“So how do you feel, Wolf? Any better now that your poor heart is missing? It was very sweet. Delicious, and dare I say it, nutritious. I feel like a whole new man.” I say.

The lines of the bar seemed to fade. It looked blurry and strange. What was in the beer? What was in her heart? She felt so empty. It consumed her, this emptiness. She felt like no one. No one nowhere, in a nothing place in a nothing bar. 

“It’s alright, Wolf. Now you can be one of us. Join my legion of the damned, haha! We have a good time.” I say.

The imps were dancing to the salsa music. 

Wolf just kind of stared into her glass, it was empty. She finished it so fast. 

“Have another beer, my dear, it will only hurt for a moment. It’s on me.” I say.

“Why did you eat my heart? You shouldn’t be so cruel.” she says.

“Well, I really liked it, even if it was a short read.” I say.

“I could’ve added more pages, but now I’ll never know.” she says.

“That’s too bad Wolf. If you find it in your heart to forgive me, please do.” I say.

“Why should you care, you monster?” she says.

“I really like this dialogue we’ve got going. It’s so neat.” I say.

“Well whatever. I just want to go home.” she says.

“Do you even have a home? You’ve never talked about it.” I say.

“I’ll tell you about it some time. I have a good home.” she says.

“Good. You can stay here if you like, live in my bar as one of the rats in the vents.” I say.

“I don’t like you. You’re not my friend.” she says.

“That’s ok, not everybody likes someone who eats their heart. I couldn’t give it back. You’d just mess it up again.” I say.

“I’m just so tired. Just let me sleep for a bit. I feel drunk.” she says.

“Go to sleep then. There’s cot in the back. I have to stay up and tend to the demons.” I say.

She slumps in her seat, and nearly falls off, but Balthazar reaches out and steadies her. 

“Hold on a second, Wolf.” I say.

She looks up at him sleepily. Balthazar goes around the bar and picks her up. Poor little sap. He goes up the stairs and through the stock room, where a makeshift bunk is placed. She’s already sleeping in his arms. He puts her on the cot and pulls a blanket over her, and tucks her in neatly. She’s already sleeping. It’s quite adorable really. Balthazar goes back downstairs, to make fun with the demons. 

Wolf woke up on the cot. Cold light of day crept into the dusty store room. Bottles and boxes of booze were scattered all around, not very well organized. She shivered. Had she really spent all night here? She was so thirsty. She got up from the cot and swung her feet over the side, and knocked over a large glass of water. 

“Shit.” 

There was a book that got spilled on with a note taped to it. She picked it up off the floor. The note read, To Wolf, 

Here is a brand new heart. It won’t replace the one you lost but it will give you something to do as you fill in the pages. 

My heart for yours 

Balthazar 

“Fine. My name is something else. But this is still Balthazar’s Bar. Nothing can change that.” I say.

“Why do you think I care about you? I don’t. You should go away. Leave everyone and everything alone. They would be better without you, they would fit into place.” he says.

“I’m going to let you sit here in the bar for a while. I think you’re just angry, or misguided. I’m gonna smoke. Talk to the imps.” I say.

“The imps chatter in fear of me. I know they’re suffering. Your cruel bondage of them.” he says.

“They can leave anytime they like. Now get a whiskey orange juice and shut the fuck up. I know you want to follow me outside, but the imps don’t really like you. You’re too judgmental of them. They just want to have a good time. So don’t let them bite you. Stay, Toothy. Toothy Tom. Now you have a real name, you bastard.” I say.

And with that Balthazar storms out the door. He feels angry. He doesn’t like this stalker, it reminds him too much of dark thoughts. It reminds him of being lonely, of wanting to give up everything for someone, and being let down. He doesn’t know how to handle it. Good thing Barcough is out here. Ruff Ruff! The human faced dog says. Literally ruff ruff. He keeps Balthazar company. 

It follows in his footsteps, but the imps notice it trying to be quiet, and make a lot of noise and laugh at it. 

“Hello, stalker. How are you doing today?” I say.

“Lay off the pleasantries, oh infernal Balthazar. Let’s keep this to a minimum. I don’t want to see you, but you see me. How’s that for ironic? You see the things you don’t want to.” he says.

“I’m alright with that. What’d you do if I knocked all your pointed teeth out?” I say.

“I’d say that I was right about you. That you’re really a bad person. Not a devil, not a human, just a creep.” he says.

“You really care about your teeth that much? I used to brush my teeth all the time in hell. It was sort of a nervous anxiety thing. I don’t think I’d actually bite anyone though. Can you imagine?” I say.

“I can. You want to bite Wolf. The other Wolf too. And the last Wolf. And there are more that you want to bite. I see you’re kind of drunk. Do you get bored in your bar? Not enough customers?” he says.

“It wouldn’t be so bad if SOME of you ordered a drink.” I say.

“Haha, I like to be sober. It keeps me sharp.” he says.

“Well come in, let’s fix those pointed teeth of yours.” I say.

The demon follows Balthazar into the bar. Always following. It sits beside him as he orders a drink from an imp. 

“Two whiskey sodas, please! Thank you imps.” I say.

The imp scurries away to fill Balthazar’s cup. It keeps away from the stalker demon though. It’s just too creepy. 

“Oh, so I’M the creep, Balthazar? You’re the monster. That’s what you fantasize about. Being the monster. Take an imp and eat it, you fool.” he says.

“Drink up, demon. You need to stop scurrying about, thinking you own me.” I say.

The imps give us a drink. It sits and drinks for a while. It doesn’t seem to mind anything. No music, no mayhem, nothing. It only stares at me, with its evil white eyes. 

The demon won’t go away. It drinks and drinks, but doesn’t seem phased. I know it’s not sober though. Now’s my chance. 

“So why are you so happy to see me, stalker? You have an eternal grin.” I say.

“Because I know I’ve won. You’re worthless, Balthazar. Take my advice, never see anyone again.” he says.

“You sound so heartless. You’d wish that of me?” I say.

“Yep. Take your filth elsewhere. Don’t bother anyone anymore. Let them be, please. I’m begging you! Don’t you know how much hurt you’ve caused? You’re terrible, and I’m not saying that just because I am a demon. You’re very own, the one you cursed.” he says.

“I don’t own you. You’re your own.” I say.

“Take that back.” he says.

“Really you shouldn’t blame your problems on others. It’s not healthy. I wish you’d just be my friend, without trying to take control of me.” I say.

“Just like you want to do to Wolf?” he says. 

“I don’t want to control her. I want her to be herself. I don’t even know her. If I found someone else neater they’d be mine too.” I say.

“So you want, and take, and are evil.” he says.

“Maybe, but what’s that to you? I feel like you’re controlling too much of the conversation.” I say.

“You want that, too, don’t you? I want you, but I find you despicable. I’d prefer it if you went away somewhere so we can be alone, or if you’d die, and be with me in my dreams.” he says.

“That’s a terrible thought, Tom. Take it back.” I say.

“No.” he says.

“Then really you’re the monster here, and I’m just trying to run a bar. Don’t bother me so much. Or do, and see what you can do.” I say.

“I like to help, Balthazar. I really do. I’ll take all your bar, it’s mine now. Just for me.” he says.

“No, I’m sorry but you can’t have all that. I’m going to give it to the imps.” I say.

“The imps?? You’re precious pets?” he says.

“They deserve it, after all they’ve done to help me. They’re one of god’s graces, given to a demon in the Land of Doubt.” I say.

“Blech, I still want you Balthazar. Let me know your mind.” he says.

“I’m sorry, Tom. My mind doesn’t even tell me things. It just sort of appears.” I say.

“That’s foolish. I know you must be lying. Who would be like that?” he says.

“Just a normal guy, in a normal bar. Not a creep.” I say.

“Come here, fool. Embrace me.” he says.

“Fine.” I say.

So Balthazar gives the disgusting demon a hug. It scratches its teeth on his shoulder. 

“See, that wasn’t so bad. Take it easy, Balthazar. You can’t control everything… Not me, not this bar, not yourself.” he says.

“That’s where you’re wrong, demon. You have nothing to give, so have nothing to take. You cannot control me, because you are not in control. Take my blessing as your curse, you know nothing, and neither do I.” I say.

“Ugh. You are disgusting. Leave me alone.” he says.

“No, you’re mine now. Take care, creep. Your name is Tom now. Toothy Tom. Sit in the bar and shut the fuck up.” I say.

The demon does as such. 

I drink much more and stare at Tom. He’s sitting and smiling, quietly nonchalant. 

“Ok fine, do whatever you want. Take control of me, watch me as you wish.” I say.

“I’m so happy, Balthazar! I really wanted that. I want to see what you do next. I don’t think I could control you, in a story you made. You’re the main character here, you know. Just you. So lonely.” he says.

“Wolf’s here some times.” I say.

“She’s just a memory though. You’re perceived perception. I would say you shouldn’t bother her, but if you can let me be, then I’ll do the same for you. I’m leaving this bar, Balthazar. And I’m never coming back.” he says.

“Don’t hurt yourself, Tom. I’ll keep you close. In my heart. You’ll never need to run far if you can find this bar. Go, and be happy.” I say.

“See ya, Bal!” he says.

And he disappears. 

“God damnit.” I say.

Balthazar runs out the back door and shouts into the mists, “I didn’t tell you to do that! Come back here Tom!” 

And poof, he’s by my side again. 

“I never really left, but I wanted to. Thanks for not sending me away Balthazar. I think I’ll just sit down and listen to some music in the bar.” he says.

“You’re free to do so. Welcome in.” I say.

I think I’ll just stay in this bar for now. I think the demons get bored when I have to leave. Here’s another sitting right outside. He’s nervous. Come in, you. 

Well this is just a skinny little guy. He reminds me of high school. He’s nervous around girls, but really quite confident. I’m glad we are getting a nicer sort of bunch of demons today. Although any and all are welcome. How are you today? What’s your name? 

“Hi! MY name is Smick. What’s yours?” he says.

“Which do you prefer? Balthazar or something else?” I say.

“I think Balthazar sounds more mysterious, but something else sounds more genuine.” he says.

“You think I should be more genuine?” I say.

“I don’t know, it’s your bar.” he says.

“Well, would you like a drink?” I say.

“Oooh! I never get to drink. Give me something big.” he says.

“I have to get more drinks in here, but I’ll give you some Vodka. I think you’d like it. That’s all I drank in high school, mainly because it was the cheapest. Would you like it neat or on the rocks?” I say.

“On the rocks!” he says.

“Here you are, enjoy.” I say.

The little guy looks nervous at the thing, then downs it all. He spits his tongue out. 

“Blech! It burns!” he says.

“Yes, it’s a good burn though. So what’s new with you in the Land of Doubt?” I say.

“Oh, I really just wanted to check this place out. I’ve heard so much about it, from the other demons. You’ve got a hit on your hands!” he says.

“Thank you. I won’t ever forget you guys. It’d be physically impossible.” I say.

“Alright Bal! You know, I do like the name Balthazar. Makes it sound like you’re one of us.” he says.

“Aren’t I though?” I say.

“Yes… But you are a bit bigger. You kind of shift between worlds. And I wouldn’t want to be eaten by you. I think I’d die.” he says.

“No, you’re perfectly fine. Just enjoy you’re drink. Here, I’ll get you another, but cut it with orange juice this time. I also have energy drinks, but I think you’ve got enough energy as it is.” I say.

“Yay Balthazar! Hey whatever happened to Wolf, Balthazar! That weird girl who came in here the other day.” he says.

“I think she has her own things to do. Or is running out in the woods. I’m not sure where they are but I think it’s pretty near here.” I say.

“Well I can’t wait to see her again. She was gorgeous!” he says.

“Haha, you like every girl, don’t you.” I say.

“I like the really pretty ones. Those ones make my heart fly!” he says.

“It’s nice talking to you Smick. You’re one of the more pleasant demons I’ve met.” I say.

“Aww. Thanks Balthazar. You know I got bad thoughts too right? That I see you’re writing. I’m not as small as you think.” he says.

“I know Smick. You’re a good guy. Don’t be so scary.” I say.

“Ok. I’ll just be me from now on. That’s what I prefer, I think. Will you drink with me?” he says.

“Yes. So, little big guy, how do you know so much? If you could tell me, are you just my imagination playing tricks with me?” I say.

“Probably. Who cares? Do you? You shouldn’t second guess yourself so much, Balthazar.” he says.

“Alright. To us! To the imps!” I say.

“You’re imps are the real scary blighters here. They are never ending.” he says.

“Have you met them? They tend to a lot of stuff in the back.” I say.

And with that an imp scurries out of the vents, waves at Smick, then scurries back up. 

“I think they’ve been busy lately. They have a lot to do. They’re hard workers, although they seem to just do what they do for fun.” I say.

“See, it’s not so hard to cross the border. Just take a second to skip the lines with us.” he says.

“Haha, you’re funny Smick.” I say.

“Thanks! I like you to Balthazar.” he says.

“Well I’m going to bed. I don’t think I’m getting enough sleep.” I say.

“It’ll be alright, Balthazar.” he says.

“Thanks Smick.” I say.

“You look tired. The imps do too. Give them the day off.” he says.

“Did you hear that imps! You get a break. Thank Smick, otherwise I’d keep on going and have to run this bar until I die.” I say.

The imps run out of the shadows and cheer! They dance and sing. 

Goodnight Everyone. 

I walk out to the front door of the bar. I sleep in the city. Smick is still sitting out there, but he’s brought a friend with him. I think he’s eager to see me off. 

“Hey Balthazar. This is Backjack. He won’t go with you out in the mists, but he will hang out in the bar for a while to make sure the imps don’t lose their minds of boredom.” he says.

I shake Backjack’s hand. He’s got a good strong grip. 

“Yeah, don’t worry about us, Bal. Just have a good time.” Backjack says. He looks tough, nearly feminine in a masculine sort of way. 

“Well, I’ll see you guys later. Don’t have too much fun while I’m gone.” I say.

“Cya Bal!” Smick says. 

So I walk down the path, through some of the swamp. I wonder where the forest is? I don’t have a map of Doubt yet, but I do have a fairly good compass. It’s always pointing back to the bar. Something my imps cooked up. It’s very fancy, and fits right in my pocket. 

I stop and look back, Barcough is barking to me! Bark Bark! I stop to give him a pet before I leave. He has the fluffiest little dog ears, on a human face. You go back home, Barc. This will only take a minute. 

“Hey Balthazar, there’s a lot of stuff out there. Don’t be afraid of the wolves, they’re kind of scared of you.” he says.

“I’ll be fine, Barc. I have a very sharp knife.” I say.

“Sharp knives won’t work on sharp teeth. Won’t you let me join you?” he says.

“Ok Barc, come along. Let’s see what we can find.” I say.

They walked awhile in shadows. The trees were gnarled and mean looking, the greying grass spiked out of the ground. There were random puddles on the path, from the never ending rain that frequented Doubt. The mud road called to the duo. 

They walked on, and eventually came to a small farm. The buildings were run down, the fence was broken. 

“Should we stop in to chat with whatever ungodly demon lives here, Barcough?” I say.

“I wouldn’t, but I’m not you. Demons don’t really mind talking to you. You give them a fair chance.” he says.

So Balthazar strolls up to the barn, and gives a knock on the large door. The red paint was chipping, spiders crawled around on the sides. 

“Anyone home? I just want to compliment you on your farm house. I love farms.” I say.

There was no answer. 

“I guess they just want to linger here. Some poor ghost of the past. I’ll let it be. Don’t suffer, demon! Come to my bar when you’re finished working the fields, planting the seeds of Doubt.” I say.

The pair walk back to the friendly pathway. It’s so inviting. 

“Let’s start small, Balthazar. We wouldn’t want to tire ourselves out before we reach our destination.” he says.

“What is our destination, anyway? I’m just rambling.” I say.

“I’m sure we’ll know it when we get there.” he says.

I can see far into the misty horizon. I have to remember not to look at my feet too much while walking. There are a lot of interesting sights here that are strangely beautiful. There are wind chimes attached to the trees, a demon probably put those up to warn itself from trespassers, or to mark its territory. I imagine Wolf’s probably burning my book, just to keep warm. It’s so cold here. It’s a good thing I have a big warm coat. Barcough pisses on the wind chime tree. 

“There. My territory now, demon.” he says.

“You feral mutt.” a voice says.

Here we go, the first person we’ve met on our trip. An old man steps out from behind the trees, he’s gnarled and withered, and has no teeth. He still smiles to us. 

“Hello, young man. Your dog is pissing on my trees.” he says.

“He’s just doing what animals do. And he pretty much is one.” I say.

“Go away. Leave this place and never return.” he says.

“No. I’m just travelling. Let me pass in peace.” I say.

“I admire your courage. It takes a while to get started here. Why do you carry that backpack full of suffering on your shoulders?” he says.

“I hadn’t really noticed I was carrying it. I guess I just forgot about it.” I say.

“Here, give it to me. I will watch over it for you.” he says.

“Thank you, old man. What’s your name?” I say.

“I am Manhardt.” he says.

“Man hurt more like it. Why are you so interested in my suffering? I give it to you freely, I’m just curious.” I say.

“I was going to use it to make more demons, but now you seem to know my plan. Why do you not wander somewhere nicer? This place is cursed.” he says.

“A curse is just a blessing in disguise. Take my suffering if it will make you feel better.” I say.

“Thank you, Balthazar.” he says.

I hand the bag to the old man, Barcough barks at him, and he scurries back into the forest. 

“You shouldn’t trust these vile beggars. All they want is to use you to their gain.” Barcough barks. 

“That guy won’t hurt anyone though. He was just looking for an easy target. I think he must get lonely out here in the forest. I got the last laugh on him, though. That bag was empty.” I say.

“Now you don’t have a bag! How will we carry Wolf back?” he says.

“I’ll pick her up over my shoulders. She’ll laugh at that. All the things I need are in my coat, right where I can find them.” I say.

We wander past more lonely trees, ever onwards. The forest starts to look the same after a bit, the path is looping around in circles. I don’t notice it as I remember good times, friendly places and warm people. Barcough is wagging his tale benignly. He just likes to take long walks and sniff new smells. His nose is surprisingly sharp for a human one. 

“I think we should turn into the forest. This path isn’t going anywhere.” I say.

“I was wondering when you’d notice.” he says.

We turn into the dark forest. Instantly we see a wolf, eating another wolf. It growls at us. 

“Fear me Wolves! I am here now. And I’ll eat you. I can cook well, I’ll make a nice stew from your body.” I say.

The wolf growls, unphased. 

I stride relaxedly towards it, a scowl on my face. Barcough trots next to my side, smiling. 

I lunge at the wolf, grabbing its head. I stare into its eyes. My hand is wrapped around its muzzle, a vice grip, as it struggles. 

“Ergmh” the wolf mumbles. 

“What’s that wofly? Got something to say?” I say.

“Erghm!” it says.

“Fine, I’ll release you. But don’t run away. Then I’ll follow you home.” I say.

I slowly let go of its jaws. 

“Phtah! Human. Why are you here! This is our forest. You can’t have it.” it says.

“I don’t want it.” I look at the wolf, it looks meek and starved. No wonder it was eating the other one. I say.

It grins meanly at me. 

“I could bite you. You’d die.” it says.

Balthazar grins, showing off his own teeth. 

The wolf cowers a bit. 

“I know you won’t guide me, but if you could, would you tell me where Wolf is? She has my book, and I’d just like to check up on her every once in a while and make sure she’s ok.” I say.

“We do that fine, Balthazar You should be in chains.” it says.

“I think you wolves like to talk too much. How do you know who I am? Not even Wolf knows who I am.” I say.

“We’ve been spying on you. We’re impressed at your fortitude. You have strength.” it says.

“Thanks wolf. Why were you eating the other?” I say.

“I am hungry. I have no friends, except that one. And now it sustains me.” it says.

“I thought wolves ran together in packs.” I say.

“Not me, I am too weak. The pack has ousted me. Wolf doesn’t want me hanging around. Say, could I be a demon with you? I hear humans have such nice places.” it says.

“Sure. A demon you shall be! Change form as you please. Nothing is stopping you, in the Land of Doubt.” I say.

And so the wolf shifts, he changes shapes into a man like creature, with a wolfish grin and lots of teeth. He has small wolf ears and demon horns. 

“Ahh that feels so much more relaxing. I’ll head to the city now, I don’t need to hunt, and I am full anyway. You know She won’t like you changing her wolves. They’re more precious to her than anyone.” it says.

“That’s alright. The wolves closest to her won’t change shape, not now anyway. Head to my bar. Talk to my friend, Backjack. He’s probably bored as hell. Go past the old farmhouse and you should be nearly there.” I say.

“Haha thank you, friend.” And he howls to the sky, demon arms hanging from a beastly body. He looks sort of like a werewolf. He runs off down the road at full speed. 

“Hey, he didn’t tell us where Wolf is.” Barcough says. 

“Yeah, damn tricky bastard. He must still have some affinity towards her. Imagine if me and Wolf had children, they would all be werewolves. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I’m getting sort of an existential crisis here, Barcough. Why am I out here? Maybe I should just give up.” I say.

“Don’t give up yet, Balthazar! There’s something great out here, maybe just someone great. We’ll find her! Ride that spirit of adventure!” it says.

“Ok Barcough. We should find somewhere to stop and eat for a bit.” I say.

We pass forward, past the dead mauled wolf, through the trees. We find a small stream running through. There’s snow on the ground here. It just gets colder and colder. I shiver. There’s a small stump next to the stream which I sit on. The forest is getting darker. I pull out a sandwich from my coat, a nice one, like the ones Wolf made for me, so long ago. I devour it greedily. I never can eat enough, I usually don’t. It’s easier to fast, especially when food has lost its flavor. Now I’m hungry though. I pull out a jug of water in a growler jar and drink up. Growlers are these jugs of beer you can buy, usually the beer goes flat after a while so you have to drink it all in one sitting. I just use the jug for water though. I don’t have much water left in the jar, and it’s a pain to carry. I leave it next to the stump. There are usually streams in the forest, anyway. I give half of my sandwich to Barcough. 

I get up and cross the river, into Wolf’s world. The river is freezing. I feel like an invading scout, distancing new lands in the enemy’s territory. Imps are following me, although they don’t want to show themselves. I hear them cackling in the cold. You have to keep moving when it’s cold outside. Your body is like a river, it won’t freeze if you keep moving. I feel so tired. Where is my lonely refuge? What should I call this new place? It probably has a strange name, written in runic symbols somewhere. The Land of the Wolf? Wolves’ World. Wolf’s home. I should ask the natives what they call it, although I bet Wolf keeps it a mystery to all but her most closest confidants. I pull out the compass, it’s spinning wildly. Where is my heart? I close my eyes and it pulls me forward. I shouldn’t tarry so. 

The wolves are watching me. They’re haunting my footsteps. They don’t like new people, they can only stomach the ones they’ve got so much. I stare back into the darkness, my eyes shine new light. I thought I was a demon? No light should come from there. The wolves run back, away from me and my dog. 

The quiet is eerily still… But an imp runs up to me. Heya little guy, how’s it going? Barcough licks its face, and the imp rubs off the slobber. It jumps on top of Barcough and rides him like a mini horse. Barcough runs off into the forest to sniff something new, the Imp riding and cheering. “ahahhahahahh!” Its laugh is almost human. 

I walk forward alone. A huge wolf walks out from a tree. It looks like a man, with a long wolf beard. 

“Hi Balthazar. Enjoying your stay? I wouldn’t want to hurt you, so don’t move so fast.” he says.

He’s huge. In the shadows his face looks like a wolf, but he has the body of a man. 

“I come in peace. There will be no bloodshed between us.” I say.

“You’re devious though. I can tell, because you’re human. Everyone is cunning here. That’s what you said about your bar, and that shows me your mind.” he says.

“I just like to have a good time. Wolf had no right stealing my heart.” I say.

“This piece of crap?” and he throws my broken, plastic heart to the ground in front of me. It’s shattered a million times more than what it usually does, just fall apart. 

“Just a toy, something to give Wolf time to think. Stolen things are much more fun to play with anyway.” I say.

He considers what I said. He won’t move a muscle. He’s weighing my words, and trying to guess my motives. He strokes his long wolfish beard. I won’t be able to pass until he lets me. 

“You lie constantly, Balthazar. Your words don’t make sense. You lie about your heart, that cheap plastic thing was all you had to give. You are a man, but you hide behind the mask of a boy. You say you come in peace, but you have a long knife. Give it to me. I won’t underestimate you, don’t try to cut me. Otherwise you will wander endlessly in this forest and never find what you seek.” he says.

I pull the blade from my pocket. I look at it halfheartedly. It was all I had to protect myself. 

“Here. Take it. Maybe you can find a better use for it than me.” I say.

I hand it to him, his burly hand grips it angrily. He throws it into the snow. 

“That’s that then. Come to my house, let’s have a drink.” he smiles and says. 

I follow him down a road covered in snow. I wouldn’t have found it if not for the wolf man. We spend a long time in silence. Eventually we reach an old cozy cabin in the forest, warmth seeping through the windows. Snow drifts silently all around us. The Man strides confidently to the cabin and opens the door. He holds it open to me and smiles. He looks sort of like a lumberjack. I follow him inside. There were pleasant things all around, cozy. Wolf was sitting on a couch by the fire, reading my book. She had cuts and scratches on her arms. 

She looks up to me casually, “Oh, it’s you. Why did you let him in here, Man?” 

“He looked so lonely on the roadside. He’d probably die of frostbite if I left him out there.” he grins. 

“Well, ok. I’m kind of mad at you Balthazar. You left me to wonder and wander back home all alone. I got scratches on my arms and legs trying to get through the trees. Look it, that’s what you did.” She bears her arms outward accusingly. 

“I’m sorry, Wolf.” Balthazar looks sad for a second. 

“Well don’t be. Now I know the kind of person you are. It’s all written here, in this book you gave me.” and she shakes the book outward. 

“What would you do if I threw it in the fire, right now? There would be no more book. You would’ve wasted so much time. But I’m not as cruel as you are. You can have it back.” and she throws the book to me. I catch it and stare at it. Is this all my word is worth? 

“Hahaha! Don’t look so sad, Balthazar. Here, I’ll pour you some brandy. I know you like to drink. Come here too, Wolf.” he says.

The three sit at the old wooden table, and the lumberjack man pours a round of drinks for all of us. 

“See, how could I love someone like him? He’s repulsive, and he smokes.” she says.

“He’s a lot nicer than he thinks he is, even though he doesn’t like to talk about it.” Man says 

“I don’t know if I should continue my story, if it’s going to end up like this.” I say.

“It’s not all about you, Balthazar. Know your limits and you’ll be fine.” says the man. 

Wolf kind of stares at Balthazar angrily. “I don’t even want to be in your story. You’re just making this up because you’re too scared to ask anyone out.” 

“I was hoping to make it a surprise, but really it just sort of happened one day. I didn’t think I should stop. I think you inspired me.” I say.

“Well, I’m not just going to just fall into your arms, if that’s what you’re wondering. I want to see what you’re capable of. Give me a reason.” she says.

“Ok Wolf. You’ll see. I won’t be scary around you, or play the fool. But I still have my fun surprises for you, not the bad kind. Take a chance on me and I will for you. I’ll ask you out.” I say.

She smiles to me, one of those good, genuine smiles of hers. 

“I really like your home. It feels so warm and inviting.” I say.

“Thank you, Balthazar.” she says.

“I guess I should be going now. I’ll work on my heart for you. It’ll be great, just you wait.”I say. 

She smiles, “Bye Balthazar! I’ll see you at work tomorrow!” 

I look outside. It looks cold and lonely there. Scary, and intimidating. 

“You don’t have to leave if you don’t want to.” Wolf says. 

“Ok. I’d really just like to stay up with you guys and drink for a bit. Thank you Wolf.” I say.

“You didn’t think you could just leave without having some fun with us, did you? I want to hear your voice.” she says.

“I don’t know if I can take this too much more. I have to talk to my imps, and the smoker demon. They want to take over the world, and I’d be a fool to stop them.” I say.

“Go ahead, talk to demons and monsters. I’ll be right here.” she says.

I walk outside the door and close it firmly. Barcough and the Imp are waiting for me, smiling justly. 

“Thanks guys, you helped me find this place.” I say.

Barcough coughs and barks, “We were just glad to be helpful. Have fun Balthazar.” 

The imp bows low. 

“I won’t ever forget you guys. Stay awhile. Maybe Wolf would like you.” I say.

“We’ll always be here. Hold on, Balthazar. There’s a brand new world for you opening up.” Barcough smiles and waves his little dog paws. 

“I’ll ask Wolf if there’s a dog house for you. Hold on a sec.” I say.

I walk back inside. Wolf and Man are deep in some political or social conversation. Something about something. 

“Hey Wolf, can I put my demons somewhere here? They’re really not that bad. Just two of them. I really like them, and the imp has some helpful friends.” I say.

“Do whatever you like, Balthazar. There’s a dog house in back, empty, but I’m sure you could use it.” she says.

I walk outside and tell the two demons the good news. They sleep soundly throughout the nights. I walk back inside, and Man pours me another drink. 

What else can I say? I guess I’ll go smoke. Although Wolf will take that from me, and I’ll give it to her gladly. 

I’ll leave the happily ever afters until I die. Although Then I won’t be able to write it. 

“I want to go somewhere far away with you, Wolf. Somewhere nice and undisturbing. Would you like that? Let me ask you in person. I like get lost in my world, especially when I drink. You seem so real though. A brand new person. Let me get to know you.” I say.

“You’ll like her, Balthazar. Just have faith.” Man gives me the best grin of all. 

Wolf smiles again, instantly topping Man’s. Thanks Wolf. 

I want to stumble out in the mists and get lost, but I like it here better. 

“What? I’m still here Balthazar. Talk to me. Bump me, let me feel you.” she says.

“Will do, Wolf dear. Feel me as much as you like. You feel good too. So heart wrenchingly warm. Delicious, and nutritious. Beautiful, in your own mysterious way. It’s easy to talk like this while drunk. Good night, sweet cakes. I can’t wait to see you again. So much fun lies in store for us! You can’t even see. There’s a world out there, waving you in.” I say.

“You always talk like that. It’s hard to believe you.” she says.

“Haha! Just laugh with me. See the brand new sights! I can’t wait to see you though, with your smart glasses. You look intelligent, because you are. See me! Have fun. Man’s left to do his own thing. It’s just you and me now. Take heart, you have a big one. Love me for a bit? I’ll love you.” I say.

I kiss her, and she kisses me. Together we’re no one, just for a little bit. Together we’re Balthazar and Wolf. I’ll stop just in case she thinks about this too much. I want her to have a good time. There’s so much in store for us! 

“Am I just another scary man to you? A monster? This is your house. I can’t do anything bad here. Welcome home. I’m glad to be a part of it. I’m so tired though.” I say.

“Go to sleep today. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow, you cunt.” she says.

“Goodnight…” I say.

“I’m sorry to keep you up but there’s been something bothering me.” I say.

“Give me your heart, Balthazar.” she says.

“Give me your pain, Wolf. Let me eat their hearts. A deal must be struck, for my demons to go away.” I say.

“That won’t satisfy them. Nothing will. You’re funny.” she says.

“It’s really not your suffering to give. So give it to me. Where are we now? In some sunny meadow? The sun is shining, just over the horizon. I like it here. I feel so alive! Sunny Meadow. I’ve got big plans for you, Wolf. Ah screw it. I don’t feel like taking over the world anymore. Just let me be by your side. Let me crush the insects that bother you. I have a void inside me. It eats everything, everyone, even you and me. That’s why people are pulled to me, but stay away.” I say.

“You think too much. Love me.” she says.

“You got it, good lookin.” I say.

“I think we’re very similar, in a not so similar way. I give in, Wolf.” I say.

“You’re lying.” she says.

“Yes, but does that matter? It might be true.” I say.

“Listen to the wolf. You’re back in my house, where you belong. Don’t fight it.” she says.

“Falling ever deeper, into your arms.” I say.

“Would you like to fuck?” she says.

“Hell yes. I hope I’m not terrible. I have a good body, so break me. Crush me.” I say.

“Don’t fight it!” she says.

“You’re sweetness incarnate.” I say.

Swirling around and around in the shadows, the pair pinpointed onto a small lonely cabin. Lonely together, they forgot their troubles and doubt. 

“Hmm I want to just sit back and end this tale, but it keeps going. That was a real good ending right there.” I say.

Wolf laughs at me. 

I smile to her. 

I can’t stop writing yet. There are more demons hanging around. I like them. Welcome to my Bar. Wolf’s here too, she has some she wants me to meet. Don’t worry, Wolf Man. You can stop in anytime you like. Have a beer. I know you’re not as terrible as you think. You’re a father to poor little Wolf. I’ll draw you down. DO you want to be a devil? You might as well, you’re in my world, but I wouldn’t want to hurt Wolf so. Come in and drink for a while. I know you’re a patient man. Do you like the music? The imps think it’s swinging, although sometimes they just want to rock forever. This has a nice vibe to it though, rock and rockin. The imps will serve you well. 

The mists over the land of doubt disperse, ever so slightly. 

“Have you had enough time to think, Wolf Man? What is your name?” I say.

“Call me Shep, if that will make you feel better.” he says

“It really does. It’s easy to forget someone without a name.” I say.

“You’re a strange one, Balthazar. That’s not even your real name. I want to call you worthless, I want to eat your soul, but I can’t. There’s no reason to. Wolf won’t let me.” he says.

“Wolf doesn’t hold all the cards in the deck. You and I play by fate’s rules.” I say.

“There is no such thing as fate. It’s all random chance.” he says.

“You’d like to believe that, I know. Let it be.” I say.

The wolf man downs his beer, and orders a second. He looks kind of angry. Things must not have gone his way today. 

“Don’t trip and fall, Balthazar. Otherwise I’ll pounce on you and eat your bones. Lick them and slurp them up. You’re food to the wolves.” he says.

I smile towards him, I open my jaws, fate and eternity swim below devouring all, deep underneath my teeth. I close my mouth and smile politely. 

“I like you Balthazar. You give me hope and courage that things will be alright, one day.” he says. 

“Thank you.” I say.

I like to sit with the wolf man. He’s so patient. 

“You should get out of the Bar some more, Balthazar.” he says. 

“I will, but I have to keep writing for now. Let’s sit and drink for a moment, and try not think about the cruel jokes fate plays.” I say.

Barcough comes running up to me “Bark!” 

“Haha lets go outside and have a smoke, little dog.” I say.

I leave Wolf and the Wolf Man in the bar. They’re checking out all the neat pictures and swaying slightly to the sounds of Jazz. I like to remember good times. They always stick with me, but I forget them too. I have to not forget, otherwise Doubt will consume me. There would be nothing left, just a black hole. 

But enough of that. 

I want to see some more people’s worlds. I want to show this place to my brother. He lives in Fear. It’s quite a terrible place. I have to visit him there. A new journey, when I get off work. I’m trembling just thinking about it. 

I head back into the bar, Wolfman Shep and Wolf are still hanging out. 

“I’m going on a journey, to Fear and Hate. I have to find my brother, and make sure he’s ok.” I announce, “I’m just so tired, the imps are tired. But I have to keep going.” 

“Are you ok Balthazar?” Wolf asks. 

“I’m fine, but I don’t know about you. You’re stealing little pieces of me, broken bits and trying to put them back together. You don’t want my heart, but you’re stealing it, a bit at a time. Why? Do you have such an obsessive urge to fix things?”  I say.

“Fuck off, faggot.” she says.

Balthazar looks at her silently, without a word. 

“I didn’t mean that… but you drive me crazy. Just stop it please. I like you as a friend…” she says.

“You’ll take what you want. I don’t really believe in love anyway, I think it’s a trick.” I say.

“How can you say that? Don’t you love your brother? That’s why you’re going to find him.” she says.

“Yes, but I don’t love you. Not in the fantastical way you think about. Take my pain and suffering, if it will make you feel any better. Eat it up. You’ve earned it.” I say.

The wolf man growls. “Leave her alone Balthazar.” 

“Ok, fine. I won’t hurt you anymore, but you need to see my world. You took something precious from me, something I actually liked. I don’t want to be me. I just want to go far away from this place and be someone else. You took that from me, but I’ll get even. You leave little bits and pieces of yourself lying around, and I just clean them up. I put them in a box somewhere in the attic, for safekeeping. You’ll probably want them back, some day. Then I’ll burn them. Come to Fear and Hate with me, let’s go visit my brother.” I say.

Wolf looks shocked, but thinks about the things she’s been losing lately. She wants them back, so she agrees to Balthazar’s threat of a request. 

“Don’t let her come to harm, Balthazar.” Shep says. 

“Don’t worry, I know Fear and Hate well. Like the back of my hand.” I say.

“How can you just let me go to that place, Shep? Fight him. Take his stuff.” Wolf says. 

“I know you won’t like it, but go to Balthazar’s world. Let him show you his Hate. His brother knows Fear better than anything. You could learn something from them.” he says.

“Fine. I’ll go to the mysterious land of Hate with you, you fucking freak.” she says.

Balthazar smiles, cunningly, a wicked grin for a demon. 

Metal plays in the bar. 

“I don’t like going to Hate, or Fear. But Hate calls me, and Fear is near there, always following. I’m sure we’ll meet their caretakers. I have a little bit of whiskey on me, in a flask, it’ll be helpful when travelling through Fear. I miss my brother, I want to see him again. Make sure you drink enough water, Wolf. It will be a long journey.” I say.

“And if you have any hope at all, for love, for anything, you’ll eat. Don’t make me chew it up and spit it in your mouth, like an animal.” she says.

“Isn’t that all we are, wolf girl?” I say.

They sit next to Shep and listen to pleasant songs for a bit. Balthazar eats a bag of chips, and Wolf eats a hamburger wolfishly. She drinks deep from her glass. Shep bows low to the demon, and leaves saying he is late for a prior engagement. The pair wave him off. 

“You know…” she says as she munches down, “I don’t really believe in fate or destiny either, but I’m glad you told Shep that. It’ll make me feel better knowing he’s feeling better.” 

“Drink deep Wolf. You hate me now. There’s much more in store for us.” I say.

“Why must you talk like this? This isn’t you. This won’t mean anything when you finish it, I’ll never hear you really.” she says.

“That’s my fear, that this is a passing phase. Some tide of the moon calling us close. Listen to that fear, there’s plenty of it, and more, following in the shadows.” I say.

“This is too much. I don’t love you! I can’t! You’re just a dream!” she says.

“Dreaming too much, are we? There’s plenty of dreams. Good dreams, bad dreams. Let’s go to their world. I want to help you, too, Wolf. The demons like playing tricks with you.” I say.

“Fucking stop! You’re insane and crazy.” she says.

“It feels good, hearing that from you. I feel so much neater now that my bad stuff is being taken from me. You should probably get rid of it, it’s not worth it. But you’re too in love with yourself to see that. You think it’s all you.” I say.

“Take it back. Take it away from me!” she says.

“No. You stole it, it’s yours forever. Let’s go to Hate, maybe you can find a way to get rid of it.” I say.

“You know I love you.” She makes a weird face as she spits out that word. she says.

“I don’t love you Wolf. I don’t think I ever will, but it was fun trying to get you to know me. Trying and fearing it. Fear is fun in small doses, it makes the blood go quick, and hate makes you much stronger.” I say.

“I don’t want to go.” she says.

“You will though. Follow me. It’s time we left. These chips are disgusting.” I say.

“You should get better food in your bar, then. I brought this hamburger from home.” she says.

“No, you stole it from me, liar. This is a bar not a restaurant, but you want every bit of it. Don’t think I don’t see you looking at it, with envy and pain. Let’s go.” I say.

Barcough runs up to Balthazar. 

“Let’s smoke first Balthazar. Don’t leave so soon! You’ll always know Hate, you don’t have to take it in like you did before. Just pass by, peacefully, and find your brother.” he says.

“Ok fine. I was trying to be like the natives are, I thought maybe I could blend in. But Wolf’s here and she’ll give us away in no time. I bet she’s been there too, in a dream. I’m sorry to take you there, Wolf, but you’ve been so helpful to me and you don’t even realize it. I could use your help once more.” I say.

“You’ve taken my voice, Balthazar. Why do you use it so?” she says.

“You left it on the bar stool, and I was hungry. You’re heart tastes good.” I say.

“You make me so sad sometimes.” she says.

“Learn Hate and you’ll learn Love. Let’s go.’ I say.

“You know this is all fake right.” she says.

“Just like your love. Enough chit chat, we have some miles to go down.” I say.

We walk out the door. We pass the pretty thorn flowers and make our way to the nice country side. It’s still beautiful in Doubt. Today is pleasant. There’s a rainbow in the sky. I remember all the things I’ve done here, as my footsteps echo the heart. Wolf’s sort of grudgingly following me. Her posture is bent, and her hands are in her sweatshirt pockets. 

“You’ll want to carry yourself upright. You don’t have any burdens to carry, just the ones you took from me.” I say.

“I have troubles too, you know. There’s a lot of things I want to make better. Why can’t it all just go away? Let me play with my wolves.” she says.

“The wolves have hunted in Hate for many years. They know its trickery. Follow them. Let them be your guide.” I say.

“I’ve dreamt of you, Balthazar. You seem so sad.” she says.

“I’m just a dream, though. Pay me no mind.” I say.

“Then stop talking to me. Let me die in peace.” she says.

“Is that what you want? To die? You can’t die yet. I won’t allow it. You think you’ve chained me to you, that you hold the key to my shackles. They’re always there, hanging from my wrists. I hate them. They should go away. But now you’re here reminding me that I’m just a prisoner. Free me.” I say.

“No. You’re my pet now. You ate my heart. I won’t forgive you.” she says.

“Then you’ll continue to be my slave until I am free. I’ll earn that small pittance from you.” I say.

“Ha! My heart beats in your chest! You shouldn’t play mean games with people.” she says.

“Welcome to Hate/Fear. We’ve already been here quite awhile.” I say.

It was just a barren countryside. There are wolves on the horizon. 

“What’s the point? It’s just an empty place.” she says.

“Listen to the wolves howling in the distance. They’re crying. They’re burning in the heated land. See the flames coming out of those geysers? They’re from the hate, deep in the earth. One of the wolves must’ve been burned. Feel their pain!” I say.

I walk close to one of the many cracks, scattered in the earth. There’s a wolf just trying to crawl away, it got caught in the heat. I beckon Wolf over. 

“This one is suffering. It wants to die. Do you have it in you to kill it?” I say.

She looks wide eyed at it. “Make it stop.” 

“Then I will have to crush its poor skull, with a big rock. This one will do.” I say.

“Stop! Don’t be so cruel.” she says.

“You would rather it died a slow, painful death?” I say.

“No… but please just let it be. I don’t want to feel angry.” she says.

“Then don’t. But know it is suffering. That’s the least you can do.” I say.

She’s crying for the poor fractured animal. It gives a pitiful whimper as it tries to crawl away, stops, then just curls up in a ball, shivering from its burns. 

“I just want to go home Balthazar. Thank you for showing me this. It hurts.” she says.

“Let’s continue on to Fear. I don’t like Hate. It’s riddled with suffering. I’ve wandered here, endlessly, just hating. I wanted to give up and die, but I hated Hate. It consumed my soul, for a little bit. I was running from Fear, and felt better in the flames. Do you see that city over there? The one in shadows. That’s our destination. There’s my brother. Thank you for joining me, Wolf. I don’t think I could’ve done this alone.” I say.

“It makes me shiver, that place.” she says.

“Me too.” I say.

We walk through Hate, careful of the cracks. We don’t want to fall in, and see what terrible things lie in its bowels. Monsters live there, they were once normal people, but fell too far. 

“I think I know why you’re alone. You’re scared.” she says.

“I could’ve just hired a prostitute in the Netherlands, but I lost my way and couldn’t find the whorehouse again.” I say.

“Just tell me how scared you are. What do you think is going to happen if you ask a girl out? We don’t bite.” she says.

“I guess you’re right. But I’m a prisoner. Just a poor excuse for a man, talking to himself. I wanted to kill myself because of it. It felt so lonely. I think I just made all this up one day because I was bored, and scared, and depressed. But now it keeps coming back, and you’re here. Following me into Fear. You’re scared too. You’ll still always be you, just let me in. I’m not some monster. I like hanging out with you, in my dreams. This thing is all I have to remember you in the days when you’re not at work. You’re like sunshine to me, and make me feel better.” I say.

“You’re pathetic. A pathetic loser.” she says.

“Let me go. Leave me alone. This is my brother, not yours. Go back to whatever planet you came from. Live on the moon for all I care. Go back to your sunshine clouds of fairy land. Go away.” I say.

“Let’s just sit for a while. There’s a bench over there, in that lonely street.” she says.

“Picking up my pieces, are you? Fine, let’s go.” I say.

We stop to sit at the bench. There’s a lonely light flickering above us. We can see Hate just over the border, a burnt desolate wasteland. 

“I think you’re special, you know. Balthazar.” she says.

“I’m not though.” I say.

“You speak to me. You have good eyes. Keep me close.” she says.

“Freaky, huh? Why are you in my heart? You’re cool, Wolf. I feel refreshed when I’m near you. I feel like I have to break the lines sometimes, so you don’t get bored or scared of me. I was scary for a long time. I walked through Fear, running from the shadows, and it consumed me. I became Fear, because I was afraid. I don’t want to fear myself, or others to fear me. I don’t want you to fear me. I want to say all this now, because I’m afraid I’ll lose you, just like everyone else.” I say.

“I feel sad for you, but thank you for telling me that. I don’t like to feel afraid.” she says.

“Let’s not linger here. My brother is sitting alone somewhere, in a cold desolate room. One that he’s afraid of, in Fear.” I say.

“Where are your funny demon friends? I liked them.” she say.

“Ha, you see my devils too? They like you. Imagine them tripping you when you fumble. That’s them alright. They really like you. Just see through my eyes for a bit. You can have them if you like.” I say.

“I’m afraid.” she says.

“Don’t be. It’s only a small part of the big picture. Dude, you’re so mysterious, I can’t get my head around it. I barely know what you mean sometimes, and then you don’t want to tell me. You give a lot of hints though, you just want to be figured out. I tried doing that before, to someone else, but I lost my way in Doubt.” I say.

“I don’t want to give anything away.” she says.

“I know, that’s why you steal things, and when someone tries to give you something you look at it questioningly. Give something away. You don’t have to give something large, start small.” I say.

“You’re pathetic, I hate you.” she says.

“Then go away. Wander in Fear for a bit, and see what sort of creature you turn into. I’ll smoke my pipe while you decide. You’ve already stolen so much from me, and now you want more. I give it to you gladly. It’s a gift, something you never get.” I say.

“You’re dumb. You’re a walking target.” she says.

“Haha, you underestimate me. Didn’t you know, I’m a thief too? It’s easiest when you dress just right, make people think they can trust you. Here you are, in Fear, all alone. Right where I want you. Do you really think I’m not a monster? Didn’t you hear the fluffed up stories about me? You thought you could fix me. We’re all broken here, and now you’re one of us.” I says.

“I feel good. Give me more.” she says.

“Wait, just a second, you pathetic beggar. Have patience. Stop and look around. That’s all I really want from you.” I say.

She looks at cold desolate alleyways. Roaches crawl in the night. There are rats too, lots of them. Big ones. Pointy eared ones. Mean looking bastards. 

“I don’t want to look at Fear. It’s scary.” she says.

“Pay it no mind. It won’t bother you after a while, the monsters in the night. Some of them have been my closest friends.” I say.

“I don’t know where you are. It’s dark here.” she says.

“Then turn on a light.” I say.

Blink a light turns on, and we’re in Joseph’s apartment. The room is a mess. Noodles and noodle bowls are littered everywhere. He barely has any furniture. 

“Helloooo, Joseph?” I say.

“Balthazar? What are you doing here?” he says.

“Just checking in on you. Meet Wolf, I’ve told you all about her.” I say.

She smiles and waves at the hairy boy, a scarf is wrapped around his head. 

“It’s so nice to see you again! I missed you.” he says.

We hug, and his hair falls down my shoulder. Wolf looks happy that the brothers are together again. 

“Soo… Joseph… Why do you live in Fear? Don’t you know its dark out there? It’s bright in here, though. Although when we came in you were sitting in the dark.” I say.

“I don’t like it out there. There are too many monsters.” he says.

“Come to my bar. The monsters are all friends, there.” I say.

“Can I really? I’m scared and alone.” he says.

“Yes, follow us. Wolf knows the way.” I say.

The brothers chitchat about their goings on, mundane stuff, but they just seem to enjoy each other’s company. Wolf leads the way. She’s had enough of Balthazar telling her what to do. The brothers smile to each other, ear to ear. They seem happy, even while walking through the shadows. 

“You know, Wolf, you like mysteries far too much. Some things are just simple. Good things. Like Joseph here, we play video games all the time. It’s free video games, stolen video games. You’d like it!” I say.

“I’m not so simple!” he says.

“Yeah, but to me you are. You’re my brother, and that’s that.” I say.

“So, will you ask me out now? Balthazar? I’m glad to see you too, Joseph. You were nice in high school.” she says.

“Thanks Wolf.” he says.

“I don’t think he thought you were so nice, Wolf. You should really put more attention into other people’s feelings. They’re not yours to hurt.” I say.

The skinny man and the skinny brother eye Wolfsuspiciously. They look like a couple of wolves. Rogues. 

“Is it getting hotter?” Joseph asks. 

“Yes, we should be going through hate now. Avoid the cracks. I know sometimes you want to jump in there, but it’s not so nice. Let’s be careful. Lead on, Wolf!” I say.

Wolf grumbles. How is Balthazar giving her the commands now? 

“You have an empty soul, Balthazar. Maybe you should stop being so hateful.” she says.

“Ok, Wolf. But you like the emptiness. It’s so roomy. I put a fricken bar there for christ’s sake. How about you just live in there? Take my soul as your own. I give it to you.” I say.

“Souls and hearts, that’s all you ever think about. Give me a chance in the real world.” she says.

“This is the real world. Think of it like purgatory.” I say.

“Let’s just go to heaven.” she says.

“Heaven’s not a real place, Wolf.” I say.

Joseph is quiet. He’s watching the back and forth. It sounds interesting. He’s glad that Balthazar finally has a friend again. 

“See, we can be friends. Let’s just be friends, Balthazar.” she says.

“I don’t know if I can trust you. Toying with me like this. You’re breaking my heart, but it was already broken, so now you’re trying to fix it. Let it be.” I say.

“No! I will have a good heart! Give it to me, I want it now!” she says.

The trio have entered Doubts misty realm. Balthazar reaches into his chest, and pulls out a bleeding stump. It’s all mangled, it looks disgusting. “Here, a literal heart for you to hold. Now maybe I won’t be scared when it beats.” He hands it to Wolf, and she cradles it gently. Poor little heart. She takes a bite out of it, devours it fully. Blood is pouring down her neck, her breast. The heart beats faster and faster, Balthazar doesn’t feel a thing. 

“Thank you, Wolf. I feel nice and empty now. Let’s go back to the bar, maybe I can eat something, or maybe not. There’s a hole in my chest now, I feel it burning.” I say.

“You’re mine now you fool. You’ll be a whole different person. Someone great.” she says.

“I hope it doesn’t hurt your stomach.” I say.

“No, it tasted good. Like killing a rat.” she says.

“Ha, I had a rat in my chest. Rat heart. Disgusting.” I say.

She smiles with blood soaked teeth. 

I don’t care about anything now. This writing seems stupid. I feel sad and lonely. 

“Don’t give up, Balthazar. I’ll give you some heart too.” Joseph says. 

“Thank you Joseph.” I say.

“Hey wait, I want to fill him! He’s mine!” she says.

“No kay, he’s ours.” Joseph says. The imps dance up to him. There’s hordes and hordes behind him. Millions and millions, breaking the game. 

“I want to help. Let me fill him up. I have some good things to show him.” she says.

I walk away and sit on a bench in the swamp. It reminds me of Bong. Barcough jumps up to me on my lap, and I smoke my nice, oaken pipe. Like an animal would. The weird dog smiles up at me. I guess he’s real, my real pipe. 

“I’ve had enough!!” I get up and shout. Barcough jumps to my side. “Enough fighting! Stop, or the hounds of hell, wolves, and imps will eat you all! This is my writing, my words!” I shout into the mist. There’s no one there. Just me. Alone. I walk forward. 

The mists are sobering to the skin. My eyes are open. There is a new world ahead. My life. What do I do now in this writing? I don’t care about anything or anyone, except those closest to me. My family, and friends. I like girls. That stupid one with the pigtails who keeps on jumping into my mind. I like nature. I like breaking the norm. I don’t like social media. I’m sane. I’m not pathetic. I’m not crazy. I am strong, and I’ve been through a lot. I am brave. I am good natured and good hearted. I like to have a good time. I like to drink. I’m leaving doubt behind. I was always a good person. I’m not rude or mean spirited. I’m funny, like that eases your mind kind of funny, and not the mean kind. I’ve been hurt, but am stronger because of it. I like people, I like making new friends. I have no religion. I am not an atheist. I like making creative stories. I like to eat and cook. I like to smoke tobacco. I am Balthazar. I have a lot of love to give. I like to love. It feels good. You’re all going to get love now. Balthazar’s Love. I have a good heart, I just needed some help to find it. Thank you for the inspiration, people, monsters, demons, and smoker dogs. I love you all. Still there’s a bad voice in the back of my mind. I want to suss it out. Come out, demon. Let me draw you. Come to Balthazar’s Bar. 

“Hello Balthazar. I am Evil. Nice to meet you again. I know you know me so I just want to say, that I loved seeing you lose your mind today. Welcome to me, take me in, I want to shut you in a bin.” it says.

“Fuck off, Evil.” I say.

“Not so friendly? I wonder why. Is it because you want to get up and die?” it says.

“You aren’t even real.” I say.

“I know, and so do you, but what would you do?” it says.

“Rhyming and rhyming, you have a knack for that, how about I hit you with a bat?” I say.

“I’d say, that you don’t want to play, with any more devils today.” it says.

“I don’t like you at all. But the imps are here. They want to give you a drink.” I say.

“Thank you kindly, mister man, I hope you get a nice sun tan.” it says.

“Careful, you.” I say.

“Wolf says hi, she wants to die. You made her want to cry.” it says.

“Don’t talk any more. If I hear any more rhymes I’m going to kill you. And you will die. Forever.” I say.

I’m still walking in the mists. It’s eerily spooky. I see a figure move towards me out of the fog, and it’s Wolf. 

“Hi Balthazar.” she says.

“Why must you torment me so? Can’t you see I’ve had enough?” I say.

“Doesn’t feel so good when someone eats your heart, does it?” she says.

“I can’t get you out of my head. Leave me alone, damnit. Forever alone. I’ll meet someone new. Someone better. I’ll hurt you. You probably have a boyfriend.” I say.

“You’re pathetic. A coward. A chicken.” she says.

“Why do you say such mean things? You’re a goddamn loser. You’re words are quiet and mean. I’d try to be there for you, protect you from the bad stuff, but you play me for a chump. Fuck off. Fuck you. Go die in a pit.” I say.

“No.” she says.

“You really want to get in my head? There’s worse things than what I’ve shown you. I’ll show them to you in realtime. You’ll see all the worst things that life has to offer. I won’t be doing any of them, but I know where they are. They’re terrible. I can guess things pretty easily. You fucking want to toy with me, I just want to fuck.” I say.

“Too bad! You’re mine now. You’re jumping around, doing stupid things. You look like an idiot.” she says.

“You trip on your own shadow.” I say.

“You’re stuck with me. Whether you like it or not.” she says.

“I’ve had someone like you before. Some bastard woman named Milagros. I was insanely in love with her, for all the wrong reasons. She was barely real. Just a fantasy. It broke my heart, and darkened my dreams. I went insane from boredom, depression, and drugs. I was in jail. I’ve seen literal shit. I was in a cell next to a madman’s, because I was sort of mad too. I didn’t want to be him. He kept screaming and shouting these awful things to everyone, I am I am etc. etc. He would never, ever shut up. He just kept on spewing nonsense. When I first walked into the cell he flashed me, I just stared into his clouded eyes. We had this stupid robes on, because we were on suicide watch. I wasn’t going to kill myself in there, I just was sick of waiting for something to happen. I shouted awful things too. Little pig, little pig, let me come in, and stared into a cops eyes while I was in a box. He looked frightened. I said I wanted to eat him. One day, next to Mordechai’s, I just wanted to sleep, but he wouldn’t ever stop shouting, so started saying these horrible, awful things. Bugs and everything would crawl out and eat him, I’d kill him and tear him apart, I told him I was a demon. He stopped talking for 30 minutes, then started up again like nothing happened. So I just gave up. There was no way to outcrazy this guy. So one day, when after we were served our food, I noticed the floor seeping with water, coming from Mordechai’s cell. He flooded his toilet. I just told him aww I fucking hate you, and sat up on the bed, with my feet on the side. But suddenly there was this terrible sound coming from behind me, and I looked back in horror as my own toilet bubbled up and shit came flooding out. That was when I realized I wasn’t crazy. He was always banging on the plastic plexiglass door, it was annoying as hell. So I turned to my door and started banging too, but I would’ve really broken the glass. The cops saw this and got me out of there, and they saw the shit covered cell. They asked me, “Are you going to cooperate now?” I was like, yeah… and he’s like, “What’s that?” and I’m just like, yes. Short and sweet. Mordechai was still screaming shit, calling everyone retarded or niggers, and saying I am the holy spirit, I am blablablaba. This man is a demon! He said. I had a long beard. He couldn’t believe I was 18. The cops just lead me out, I was so grateful. I had no clothes, no shoes, only this fucking jail flip flops. I was naked throughout most of the time on the suicide ward. I’ll tell you everything about those times. You can have it all. I don’t care to be creepy, or anything. If you leave me hanging, I will fucking eat your heart out. You wont have anything left. Just a black hole, like I do. I just want to fuck the shit out of you, thatll shut you up. Get you out of my head. I really am a good person, at least I think I am. So let’s see where the shadows take us. Let me in. You’ve already invaded my world, taken over it seems. Just you and me. Forever and ever. I’ll eat your heart. Fucking of course I’m already inside you. Not literally. Soon though. You want me to make you wait a bit longer? I can last. Then it’ll just be nothing again. There wont be any heart. We won’t have anything to fear. I don’t care, Wolf. Not about you, about me, or anything. What if I just go break your heart? There are lots of pretty women. They love me. They want my bod. So what are you going to do about it, sweet little angel? You’re fucking worthless. You’re a liar, and a thief. You have no home and no money. You work at a grocery store. I can talk and talk, because my words are louder than yours. Why should I want to fuck you? You’re a girl. Why should I care about you? Do you have a reason? I didn’t think you did. Some pretty girl who works at gooseberries, who doesn’t give a shit enough to respond to a facebook message. The littlest fucking thing in the world. You could’ve put anything up, and it wouldn’t have mattered. If I’m crazy, then I’ll make you crazy. You’d like that. There’s a certain relief in being crazy. Go ahead. Howl at the moon, Wolf. Let go. You fucking cunt. You’re going to get so damn wasted with me.” I say. 

“See, I like that sort of stuff, Balthazar. I feel you near me. I wish you were right here.” she says.

“Go masturbate then. Watch some chicks fuck, or something.” I say.

“You first.” she says.

“God fucking damnit. I can’t do it. It’s so fucking stupid. It is pathetic. Are you taking on the form of a demon, to make me so pure? Oh so holy. I haven’t masturbated in forever though. It sickens me.” I say.

Wolf smiles. 

“You fucking cunt. I’ll make you pay for this.” I say.

“Write something nice for me.” she says.

“Fine. But first, I’m going to smoke. Let’s see what you do about that. I don’t think you’ll be able to get rid of that demon, now that it’s a friendly Barcough.” I say.

“That’s fine, I kind of like it.” she says.

“You bitch. I just want you here right now.” I say.

“You should know better than to let someone eat your heart. Now I have you under my fingers.” she says.

“You don’t. Because now I’ve got you. That’s really all I wanted. Check it out. You’re the idiot. You trusted me, and now you only want me. Lie to me if you like, it makes it that much sweeter. Welcome home. I’m already inside. You’re lucky I’m not a real bad guy. You could’ve rolled the dice, and been stuck with a real shit head. I’m only kind of mean, when I feel like it. You want me to do that, but you want to be nice. So pure and holy. Really we’re just two animals, fucking in the wind.” I say.

“You’re lying to me now. You want this. I’m yours forever and ever! Ohh la la.. Some prince. How beautiful. I’m gonna tell every one…” she says.

“Hows that feel? To be the mean one. I kind of squeezed it out of you. But now, that’s not mean to me. That’s to you. The lover. Beautiful. I think I will just go fuck some broads. You’ll just leave me hanging anyway. But you want that. Some cliché story book romance, where the princess lifts the curse from the passerby. You’ve been pulling my strings since the moment I met you. Or what have I done to you? Where’s your lonely refuge? You’re in my head constantly, it’s driving me crazy. Fine, I have a jester story. You want to read it? It’s not finished yet. You’ll get the Young Wolf and Balthazar, trimmed neatly. You’ll like that. I know you will. You’re starving, wolf. I feel kind of bad for you, but really, that’s all I wanted. To help someone in need. Some poor demented ass hole like you. But you don’t want my help. I don’t want to help you. So we’ll get something different. Something you’ll really like, for real. All your old stories are dead. You better learn to read, Wolf. Listen up Wolf, I wont stand abuse. From you or anyone. If you have something to say, you better say it, and not curtsy around in the shadows. I bet you feel the same way about me. You fucking piss me off. Be yourself. Quit relying on other people to do the work for you. Take it, take it all. If you trip someone will pounce on you. Do you want me to help you? You’re weak. You’re uninviting. You’re pathetic. Take that hate and shove it. It’s real. You’re mine now. You suck. Suck it dry. I’m sick of being the bad guy. Toy with me. All you’ll get is pain.” I say.

I feel better now. I really do like you, you know. 

Random fucking thoughts. Get out of my head, Wolf. Fine if you want to stay there that’s ok. Live in the bar. It’ll be nice there. We’ll deal with the hardships together. Get ready, you cunt. 

Wolf entered Balthazar’s Bar. She liked it now. It wasn’t so scary as when she had her heart eaten. Now she had eaten Balthazar’s. Where was the young devil? She knew he was keeping her waiting, probably smoking with the dog. 

Balthazar strolls in through the backdoor, the little dog barking at his heels. 

“Ach, you’re back again, Wolf. I’m so glad.” I say.

“Really??” she says.

“Yes, you cunt.” I say.

The two hug. It feels amazing. They feel so warm together, inside, away from the cold. Forever young was playing. Weird song. 

“I really hate the mists. The darkness of Doubt. It’s not a good place. I like you though.” I say.

“I feel so happy. Won’t you go to sleep? You look so tired.” she says.

“The demons are hanging out with me, but tonight, it’s just you. You and me, in this cozy bar in nowhere.” I say.

She smiles and closes her eyes. 

“Don’t worry so much, you lovestruck dummy. Take it easy. There’s no one pressuring you here.” she says.

“I want to dance! Let’s have fun.” I say.

Swing music started playing! The imps jumped out of the woodworks, and danced all around. Joseph strolled in through the front door. He looks happy. He has an imp on his shoulder and a fancy new hat. 

“Hey you two! I love this music!” he says.

The two smile to Joseph, as they dance hand in hand. 

Joseph wants to say something, but he’s too polite. 

“Come in Joseph. Sit down and rest your weary bones.” I say.

He smiles and sits at the bar. Balthazar is swinging Wolf around and around. She has so much grace. The two take a rest and sit at the bar with Joseph. 

“You know I really missed you in Europe, Balthazar. There are all these people everywhere. I’m sure you or Simon would’ve gotten along with them.” he says.

“You just have to be more courageous. Take a drink of whiskey if that’ll make you feel better. It’s really not so bad, although I can tell you’ve already been dipping into the spirits.” I say.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t so nice to you, Joseph. I was kind of a bitch.” Wolf says. 

“It’s alright Wolf, I wasn’t super friendly to you either.” Joseph says. “I’m glad you like my brother. He gets too lonely sometimes.” 

“I know, he’s a real wreck.” Wolf says. 

“Heyyy it’s not that bad. I just like a drink every once in a while.” I say.

“Can I have a dance, Wolf?” Joseph asks. 

“Of course! Let’s dance!” she says.

Everybody’s dancing. I’m dancing with the dog. Wolf is laughing at me, and Joseph grins. 

“Lets just stay here for now. I don’t want to leave this place. I want to see you at work, though Wolf. I don’t really like it there, though.” I say.

“Yeah, me neither. It pays the bills.” she says.

“Let’s find a new life somewhere. Or just drink awhile in that one until we figure out what we want.” I say.

“Let’s not worry about it here. This place is sacred. No customers tonight, just you, me, Joseph and the dog. Don’t worry too much about the future. It will come as it is.” she says.

“Come on, Wolf. We need some adventure. There’s no other way we’ll be able to live. Let’s go outside for now, and look at the snow.” I say.

Joseph is talking to the imps. They actually talk to him! I wonder what they’re saying. 

The dog follows me and Wolf outside. The snow is a gorgeous beauty, like Wolf! 

“I don’t want to worry, Wolf. But this might be a dream. It might never come true.” I say.

“That’s fine. It’ll just be a pleasant passing. Something to do.” she says.

“That’s so depressing. I hate to get involved with new people, because I know it’s only temporary anyway. There were all these people in Europe, but none of them really mattered.” I say.

“If it sticks it sticks.” she says.

“Aren’t you just a memory? My imagination? I’ll ask one more time.” I say.

“Do I make you feel good?” she says.

“Yes.” I say.

“Then I’m real, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.” she says.

“A real feeling.” I say.

“Kiss me, Balthazar.” she says.

It depends on what you say to me, if that’s where I’ll end this story. It doesn’t really matter in the long run, it was nice using my voice on something simple. I didn’t really have to worry about character growth or structure, or how the story is flowing properly, or any strategies the character and places might have. I just wrote what I felt. It was much nicer that way, much easier to work with. You inspire me, mystery person. You’ve given me what I needed, and you don’t even now. I’d like to give you this, and go into your world. Knock Knock. 

New Slate

Hello anyone who may be reading. It has been a long time since I created a post. I admit, the difficulties of creating a blog whilst being in the horrible throes of schizophrenia was very difficult, and not all of my posts may have been understandable, or even readable. I am doing a lot better now.

The voices are quiet, so quiet I don’t even notice them unless I am waking up or going to sleep, as that is when my medication is waning in strength and time for a new dosage. It is quite plainly, heaven. It’s like looking in a lost mirror again, a mirror that shows my youth. Sadly, I will never have the time back schizophrenia and depression stole from me. But it could be worse. I may not have a life that I could continue living without the understanding of friends and family, and my exceptional doctors. The best doctor I had has been a nurse practitioner, and a few therapists.

Anyway I feel like I’m droning on. If you are struggling with voices, delusions, or anything supernaturally schizophrenic, as schizophrenia strangely warps your perceptions to belief in the supernatural, just sit back and drink from my lost madman’s cup. Or if you’re just interested in schizophrenia, here is a perfect place to start.  A perfect place to begin in experiencing the monster known only as schizophrenia.

I will be writing more from now on, so keep notified, although I am consumed with other projects of late. I hope to enlighten, inspire, and interest. So just have fun and read how the Eagle almost fell off the cliff, but flew instead.

 

Perpentach

I am having a hard time with the voices lately, or maybe it’s my depression. When I am not beleaguered by voices, I feel very depressed. It’s not that I miss the voices or anything, in fact I usually feel elated at first when I don’t hear them. Perhaps I am bipolar. I have definitely felt the roller coaster of mania and the sink of the lows. It was mega. Megalomania.

But that’s not what I want to talk about today, what I would like to share in this post. I have a purpose, a mission. I want to tell you about Angie and Floyd.

They would prefer it if I used their “real” names, but they’re not real people anyways, so I gave them pseudonyms. They were originally based off of real people, I think. They just sort of appeared one day and made my head their own. It felt like someone was invading my mind.

Angie is the positive one. At least most of the time. I think she’s in cahoots with Floyd, however. Floyd continually refers to her as his girlfriend. She’s never actually called him her boyfriend though, or at least not that I can recall. You’d think the feeling would be mutual. It’s strange the personas these voices create. Afterall, they aren’t really real, right? Something in my head created them though, so I suppose they are me, but they’re not, really. They are separate from my thinking. I usually cannot anticipate what they are going to say, and if I do it is instinctual, like trapping something, or like wrestling someone into submission. My body, or in this case my mind, just does things on its own. I think it’s because I have had arguments so many times. I kind of learned the ropes to a good argument.

Although it isn’t really an intelligent argument I have with the voices. Like what I have heard stated before, the voices can only use minimal sentences. Usually a few words or phrases they use consistently. They make the limited breath they have count though, by playing on my fears and insecurities. I will hear a, “you’re a pathetic loser!” or perhaps something more personal than that, that would only matter to me. What is consistent with the voices is their proneness towards magical thinking. Really that’s the only way the delusion they continually use to batter at my sanity can be called. They wish to be real people, who talk to me telepathically. They call it “the gift” or did until that started sounding stupid. I think it started sounding stupid when I first started calling it telepathy.

I don’t understand how they can continually think such irrational thoughts. How I, through them by proxy, can think such irrational thoughts. I think it has something to do with the illness. Delusions and hallucinations are high when brain chemistry is out of whack. Delusions and hallucinations are called positive symptoms, which add something, unlike negative symptoms, which take something away. I usually have more positive symptoms. I suppose I could give Angie the positive domain of symptoms and Floyd the negative. They are like twin empires of schizophrenia. Really Angie and Floyd are both positive symptoms, but it’s fun making characters for them. Hell, I could write whole stories about the voices in my head.

They weren’t the only voices in my head, although they are the main ones in my current life. There was one, who snuck under every thought I had and in a creepy voice stuck to it and warped it. It was sort of like having a tick in my head. He was based off of an old boss of mine. There was another that was independent of the other voices in my head, and was one of the scariest I have ever heard. Hearing it made my hair stand on end. It was the monster in the dark, the banshee in the basement. In the middle of the night, when I was trying to sleep, it would creep up to me and say, “Thanks for letting me into your room.” It didn’t help that I hallucinated and saw it once. Eventually, I became to like that voice. The initial shock wore off and instead excited me, kind of like how spicy food or scary movies become pleasurable. I would use it as my ally against the other voices. I introduced it into their hive mind and it would calmly say, “Thanks for letting me into your hive mind.” The worst voice was the one based on real fear and danger. A detective, who wanted to wrongfully imprison me, was the one that caused me the most harm. I was so scared of him and his cohorts, and when I hallucinated more in my vision and body they were big thugs who felt heavy and dark. In my mind they were going to arrest me. In the climax of that delusion I was on the brink of suicide. But they, like almost all the others, passed away.

 

The most prominent voice is Floyd. He’s the one who’s speaking in my head the most, besides my own voice. He has a very distinct voice. I used to think he was the only one there, and just changed his voice, but past experience shows that is untrue. I don’t know why my brain has singled him out, he represents only a minor character in my history. I suppose that’s what makes him so sinister. That some minor person is out to get me and ruin my life. At least he has shown himself to me, as you know the most dangerous enemy is the one you are unaware of. I do think of him as an enemy. Even though sometimes with kind words he tries to befriend me in an effort to put me off guard, all I can think of is how many times he has told me to kill myself. How many times he has told me he hates me, how many times he said he would hurt me, and how many times he said he has. Honestly, if he was a real person I’d probably hurt him badly. But that sounds insane, and that’s because it is.

 

There is no one there. I talk to these shadows, these dopplers, and really I am just talking to myself as I amble down a forested pathways in an effort to forget them. I just want my head to be my own again. It’s strange that talking about them is one of the best ways to get them out of my head. I think I’ll play some Fall from Heaven 2 and get them off my mind for awhile. To end with here’s a quote from one of my favorite insane leaders from the game,

Echoes of a distant past

Bodies die but voices last

Once held within a cell

Your mind is where the voices dwell

15 Tactics to Combat Hearing Voices

I have schizophrenia and hear voices. It is difficult living with something that you can hear and speaks to you which isn’t really there. My aim is to eliminate the voices or make them manageable. These are some tactics which may help someone who hears voices. If you are trying these tactics, you may not be able to do all of these techniques at once. Try taking one or two of them a day and practicing them. Write down important things that have to deal with managing the voices because every instance of hearing voices is different and my list doesn’t have all the answers.

 

  1.        Medication. Medication is often times a crap shoot. Each medication can affect someone differently, and finding the right medication can be tricky. The best way to get the best medication is simply through trial and error. If you are suffering hallucinations or delusions then medication is your first and often best bet for recovery. If your medication makes the symptoms worse or side effects become unmanageable then get help straight away. Do not see if it will change over time, as most likely they wont if symptoms and voices are worsening, although side effects usually get more manageable after awhile. Call your doctor and see if they can squeeze you in, tell them it is very important that you talk to or see a doctor. Remember that every medication affects someone differently. What works for someone else may not work for you. Keep trying different medications and don’t give up. Eventually you will find one or more that suits you. Always take your medication on schedule and don’t miss doses.
  2.        Avoid drugs that aren’t prescribed. Be careful of alcohol use, especially with certain medications. Alcohol and medication affect the same receptors so it is wise to not drink on medication because the medicine will have a weaker effect. Different drugs upset the balance that medication provides, and can mess with your mind and body. Even little things like caffeine or nicotine can change how the voices act, so be careful what you put in your system, especially if you’ve never tried it before and don’t know how you will react. Street drugs may cause you to relapse, so just don’t use them. Each time you take a drug that isn’t prescribed you are running the risk of a relapse.
  3.        Music and white noise. Music is an important ally, as music is contrary to the voices. Listen to music that you enjoy and gives you some sense of empowerment. Music can say something different than the voices, and makes it feel like it is on your side against the voices. Some music can be twisted by the voices, but concentrating on the words or tune can bring relief to the never ending torrent of thought that the voices are. Make a playlist of songs you enjoy and listen to it. Singing or playing an instrument also focuses your mind as well, and is a great way to blow off excess energy. Singing a simple song or humming can also give you a safeguard against the voices. Even thinking a song in your head can help. Having white noise helps quiet the voices. It is a simple trick that may help someone who hears voices. Try sleeping with fan on or having the ticking of a clock to distract you from the voices. Having white noise will help you fall asleep.
  4.        Talk. Don’t talk to the voices, talk with someone real. Talking with someone takes more concentration, especially if you are interested in what they have to say. If the conversation loses your interest, try focusing on every single word the other person is saying. Focus your mind on every little detail. Remember to talk to real people, don’t get sucked in by the voices. If you are alone, talk to yourself, and only yourself. Saying your thoughts aloud helps you focus your words and thoughts, and separates you from the voices. A simple habit, but it may help you find relief and relaxation when the voices are unbearable. If you cannot talk aloud, try texting or writing instead.
  5.        Stay busy. Staying busy is important. You don’t have to do something 24/7, but being distracted quiets the voices and helps you ignore them. Set plans and follow up on them. Cultivate hobbies. The voices are loudest when it’s quiet and nothing is happening, so try to do something that takes up your energy. Feeling tired after being busy will also help you sleep when the voices are loud, distracting, or disturbing.
  6.    Don’t believe the voices. They’re not real. The voices are hectic and manipulative. Sometimes they’re just confusing, and to believe them is a surefire path to madness. Remind yourself that they are only symptoms of an illness, and nothing more. Don’t believe that they are something deep and personal about you. Think of them as a bad cough, or just noise. Believe in yourself, not the voices.
  7.    Be open. Always let the people in your life know what you are going through. You are not alone. Letting people know what’s happening in your life helps them to help you. Don’t be afraid of social stigmas. It may be challenging at first, but getting someone to understand can be a worthwhile victory. Do not fight alone against the voices. Everyone needs a friend. You can also go to support groups where you can meet other people who are going through similar situations. I met schizophrenics and talking with them has been one of the best parts of my illness, and good parts of schizophrenia is very, very rare. Other people will take the time to understand you.
  8.    Be careful of your mood. Watch what you listen to and where you are. Being in the darkness alone can make the voices scarier, while being in the light with someone can make them less frightening. Put good, positive things in your head. Don’t ruminate on unpleasant things, whatever they are to you. The voices will seize on the negative things about you and your surroundings, so take care of your mood.
  9.    Take care of your body. Clean yourself and your surroundings, do not give into depression. Making yourself and your surroundings look nice can be a morale booster. Eat healthily and exercise. Doing these little things can make you feel good and increase your mood. Staying healthy is important, it gives you accomplishments that the voices cannot take away.
  10.    Have a mantra. Praying helps me. It gives me a sense of connection and clears my mind when the voices are rampant. It is like holding a railing near a steep cliff. The railing is there if I need it, and is always the same. Sometimes the voices make fun of me for praying, but it’s important not to give in. That means that saying my mantra upsets them, and is contrary to their will. Having a mantra helps me focus, and praying gives me a sense of connection and reminds me of my family.
  11. Read. Reading takes up more brain power, so the voices don’t usually speak when reading. In the worst of my schizophrenia it was hardly bearable to read, so I read aloud. Reading aloud helped me focus on my own words and the words of the book. Reading something about schizophrenia and mental illness may provide more insight into your fight, so learn where you can. Reading and learning something different may distract you from the voices if it piques your interest, so always exercise your mind and learn.
  12. Time. It will take time to heal. There is no magic solution to schizophrenia. It may take weeks for medication to work completely and years to fully recover. Time heals all wounds, so do things while you are waiting. Don’t let the voices take over your life. It will take time to heal. Don’t spend too much time trying to specifically get better. You will get better, in your own time. Remember to do things while you are healing.
  13. Therapy and treatment. Therapy is a good way to spend your time. You may learn more techniques to combat mental illness and talking with someone about your battle really helps. A doctor is on your side and wants you to get better. Find a specialist you can open up to and understands you. It may take awhile to get to know someone, but liking your therapist or doctor often provides the best results. A good way to find a doctor is to ask a nurse or doctor friend or in-law who they would send if their own family member was afflicted by the same illness. Take your treatment seriously.
  14. Be with your pets and loved ones. Animals give unconditional love easily, so love your cat, dog, lizard, bird, or whatever as much as you like. You’re loved ones will always be there for you. When you’re going through a hard time sometimes being with someone you love is all you need.
  15. Build a safety net of real people and ideas. Be with the people you care about. Think of them in your darkest hours. Find a way out of negative thoughts by having beliefs and ideas that are uplifting. These tactics and my family and friends are my own safety net. These tactics may be a good starting point for you, and can help you construct a safety net that is unique to you. Be sure to remember and write what you think of down! These tactics have helped me, I hope they help you.

Anniversary

Happy anniversary! I have one year of the diagnosis of schizophrenia under my belt.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you’ve been reading it you know that I write a lot about my past experiences. This has been a sort of therapy for me. I used to keep a lot of my old traumas a secret. I didn’t want anyone know what I had done or how I am. Ironically, as soon as I was finished with my legal difficulties I started hearing voices and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. It was just another big secret that enveloped my life, but it feels good sharing it. I have old wounds, new scars, and big hole in my head where the voices come through. I think the weight of keeping all my old trauma a secret helped create my present condition that hears voices.

There are many reasons that I have schizophrenia. The most common is genetics. Somewhere down the line in my ancestry someone had schizophrenia, and I inherited it. Strangely, feeling that it is genetic is the lightest weight. It feels better that I had no control over it and that it happened on its own. Schizophrenia being hereditary is a good claim, but I also might have aggravated the symptoms.

I have done drugs in my wild high school days, the most common being marijuana. For awhile I smoked every day all day. This might have also created the environment in my body to have caused schizophrenia. Marijuana affects the same dopamine receptors that in a schizophrenic person misfire rapidly. Using marijuana in my changing teenage brain could’ve caused my schizophrenia, or at least unlocked the door in my genes to have brought up my schizophrenic inheritance.

But I have done other drugs… Not really even the harder stuff like heroin or cocaine. The hardest drugs I have taken were hallucinogens, and drugs like adderall or similar varieties of prescription pills, illegally taken bought from drug dealers or given by friends. The first time I was psychotic was because I took a chemical called LSA, which is in hawaiian baby woodrose seeds. It is similar to LSD but naturally made. I have had good trips and bad trips on other hallucinogens, but my LSA trip will stand out amongst the rest. The doctors in jail reasoned that I had drug induced psychosis, which led to me pleading insanity. I thought I knew the truth, about life, love, and everything. I thought taking those seeds changed my life, and they definitely did but not in the way I hoped. Being psychotic last February felt a lot like that drug trip. I felt like the whole world was opened up to me, I felt like a part of everything. My schizophrenia may just be a continuation of that trip.

But there is also the unknown. Schizophrenia is such a widely misunderstood disease that no one really knows what exactly causes it. I might have gotten the bad luck of the draw and gotten schizophrenia because of something else. There is a lot about the mind that people have yet to discover, and the unknown is the most frightening aspect about schizophrenia. Who knows what really causes voices?

The voices have said that they are other people with “the gift” and that my schizophrenia is really just telepathy. This is the hardest to believe, but when someone repeats it to me over and over all day then I start to wonder. I have many reasons why that is false, but still I wonder, if only halfheartedly. I think it seems so real because I don’t want anyone to know my secrets, all the things I’ve done, all of my schizophrenia. I know the voices aren’t real people, but what exactly are they? No one seems to know.

In the year I have had schizophrenia I have been searching for answers. One doctor said that the voices could be repressed feelings, another said they could be the exact opposite of me. My doctors have been more focused on the symptoms rather than the cause of them, which is good, I shouldn’t dwell on all the reasons why I have schizophrenia and am hearing voices. I have to keep on learning and talking with people to find the answers, and sharing my own story may help others find their own answers.

Thanks for reading my writings, I hope you find what you are seeking. I am creating a book with another person who has schizophrenia and will be using a lot of my old blog posts. Keep posted for when it will be released! I will announce it on my blog and other forms of social media. Have a beautiful day.

 

Normal

When you are a stoner, you learn how to lie. It’s a skill all in itself. It may be an unsavory skill, but it is one nonetheless. You learn how to lie to parents, to cops, to your best friends. Lying is an art in itself. What clothes you wear, what you smell like, how you act. Every little misstep in a pitfall that can lead to the truth. When your lying is closest to the truth is when it is most applicable. When you are a liar, you learn to always tell the truth. In that split second when you must lie to protect yourself or another, the lie is most potent when the liar is an honest person. Honest people are the best liars. You don’t expect a lie from an honest person.

 

But back to the topic at hand. Stoners have to lie, if you live somewhere where weed is illegal. It is not something that is pleasurable, but necessary if you wish to continue your stoner ways. You learn to lie at home, which is a practice that becomes possible in more dangerous situations. It isn’t fun to lie, but to always tell the truth is another problem. Where would I be if I told every single person I met that I have schizophrenia? People would instantly look towards the more unpleasant aspects of schizophrenia. I need to lie, to tell the truth would be too painful.

 

Schizophrenics learn how to act. I act like my voices are nothing, like they don’t even exist, when really they are tormenting me in every single quiet moment. I act like a normal person, to be normal is my highest goal, though I may never accomplish it. A normal person. Who amongst you is really normal? Normal is different to every person. I strive to achieve my own normal. Exasperatingly, my normal hears voices. I am a normal schizophrenic, who acts like a normal person.

 

I used to be a stoner, now i am a schizophrenic. I am normal. Normal. I am just like you. Live like a normal person. Live however normally you would. There is no normal.

Psychosis

Let me try to introduce a new feeling for you. Psychosis. Feeling psychotic is the worst feeling imaginable. It’s like your brain is being invaded upon. It’s like you can’t trust your own senses.

I saw a flicker of light on the ceiling. Was it real or imagined? I am in the hospital. On my way here in the ambulance I heard all the people who were antagonizing me. They were basically saying I got what I deserved, in a sad sort of way. The cop was tormenting me the whole time! I felt like my eyes were drooping and melting. I didn’t tell my parents anything. I didn’t want them to know I was hearing voices. They should know already, right? Everyone could speak to me in my mind. I was given a cheeseburger before going to the hospital in the other hospital that I ate with relish.

I was away. They finally put me away. I wondered how long I would be staying here. It was a quiet place to go insane. Another person screamed outside my room when my mom and grandma came to visit.

I drew a lot. Plaintive depictions of my delusions. I was a pretty good artist! I would look back on these and wonder how I created something so delicate. I ended up destroying a lot of these, because of delusions or because I didn’t want to think about being psychotic. When you’re psychotic all your skills go in the trash.

Sleeping was like living in a nightmare. I was always on edge. They said my big black nurse was going to rape me. My grandad was speaking to me in my mind, a specter, a ghost, the devil. They said they stole my book. The cop was my grandad’s bastard son. Everyone was being raped! Aliens and the CIA were after me! I was a shapeshifting time traveler. My grandad said he would watch over me. In the darkness I saw a pale outline sitting on the chair next to the bed. I saw the light of his cigar in the darkness. All these things and more.

I wrote a lot. It was something that helped me cope. When I went to the hospital the third time I had to sneak in a pen because they changed their policy. Someone must’ve done something dangerous with a pen. I was given the flimsy rubber pencil that could barely write. I was so thankful for that pen. Writing was the only way I could think uninterrupted. Besides writing, I slept a lot. It was good to sleep.

The first time I went to the hospital I didn’t tell my parents what was going on, I just said I was feeling very bad, which I was. I think they put me on some sort of medication. I was psychotic at that point. All the thoughts in the world were coming into me, and I sat on top of it. I really was the master of the universe, at least, in my head. It felt good to lose control, which I could do in the hospital. It was a terrible time for me, but at least I was safe.

The second time I went to the hospital was when I cut my wrist to try to kill myself. I had already talked to a doctor about the voices, and she put me on medication, but the medication just made everything worse. When I went to the hospital to get transported to the other hospital they bandaged me up and I told my parents about what was going on. The first time I didn’t give consent. This time, I just wanted help. They put me on a different medication that helped for awhile.

The third time I went to the hospital was recently after I had smoked pot. It made everything about the voices worse. I could barely think or hold a conversation, they were so loud. I was recently put on a different medication, and I should’ve given it time to work, but everything was so terrible and I just wanted relief. The doc put me on some anxiety medication.

Now I don’t think I need to go to the hospital, but I do think outpatient treatment could help me. My car isn’t working so I can’t really leave the house. I’m doing a lot better now, but psychosis is always leering at me in the edge of my mind. It is an invitation, a promise, a threat. I could leave all of you behind and drink from the madman’s cup. But instead I’ll just drink some coffee and write more for my book.

An End to Telepathy

I was wrong to label the voices as enemies. I will try to be good to them, I will try to break this circle of negativity. The voices pick up mean things I say and I pick up mean things they say. For example, when they started calling me a retard, I started calling them a retard. When I told them to shut the fuck up, they started telling me to shut the fuck up. This needs to end. I can’t be constantly at war with myself.

It is an endless conversation in my head. I have to talk with someone the entire day and it is draining. Sometimes I just want to relax and think for a minute. Sometimes I want to do different things. Sometimes I want something else inside my head besides the voices. It is terrible hearing voices. I will never have a moment of privacy again.

But it’s not all bad. Sometimes they’re funny, but only sometimes. Only sometimes it is tolerable. Most of the time they tell me to kill myself. They would rather die than live with me. I felt that way about them too. That is why I am on antidepressants. I couldn’t handle the voices anymore so I thought, what’s the point? But there’s no easy way out of schizophrenia. There’s no easy way out of life.

Life has been difficult for me since February. I started hearing voices and my entire world was turned upside down. I became psychotic and my life turned into a living hell. I am not psychotic anymore but now where am I? I am standing on the edge of sanity, and the voices want to give me a push.

I am close to breaking down. I am close to saying, “I can’t take this” and giving up. I am so close, but little things keep me going. My family cares for me and I cherish them. My friends are people I can talk to, which I do in good and bad. Even little things like coffee, tobacco, and music help me live. I don’t know what I would do without these little things.

Without my family I would live in a world of my own making, and it would be an ugly world. My world would be dominated and controlled by the voices. There would be no way out. I would be trapped behind locked doors that the voices can penetrate. The voices envelop my inner voice. They seek control, they seek mastery. I don’t really care anymore. If they want to control me, let them try. I’d like to see that happen.

The voices are always there. Well, a lot of them are. I won’t introduce them anymore. I don’t really know who they are. I don’t know what these other people want. Are they me or something else? They desperately need to be other people. They desperately want to force me into fear and paranoia. Paranoia haunts my walls. I am fearful of going outside. Things the voices say scare me. Most of the time it is just frustrating. I can get the better of them most of the time. But today I have been having difficulties, I have been driving over a rough patch.

Today the voices again half way convinced me that they were real people. I was always skeptical, but wanted to find truth. I had to be sure! I had to leave no stone unturned. It is one of the things the voices have told me the most. If anything I had to convince myself. I should be happy with what I have. They forgot a simple word they kept on saying, because I forgot it, and I guess that’s good enough. It doesn’t matter if they’re real people or not. It makes no difference in my life. Believing they are real people is more harmful than if they are real people. If they are real people, if you or someone you know is telepathic, try to be nice. This world doesn’t need any more negativity and hate.

I will never fall for their other person delusion again. It is an end to telepathy.

 

Disgraced Knight

I was always trying to find some hidden meaning to the world. I thought I could find some truth. My psychosis started with a search for enlightenment. I tried all sorts of things. The Bible, tarot cards, drugs, meditation, and other such methods. I never found any truth. In fact, my psychotic truth was that there really was no truth.

Now I hear voices in my head. They call out my name out and make threats, and it is hard to cope living with someone I don’t understand or know much about. I had to search for truth every day to find a meaning for my schizophrenia. But not anymore. I am done finding hidden meaning. The voices say I got what I deserved. Maybe I did, maybe my search for truth went too close to the sun and I got burned. I don’t really know what happened. Perhaps I was fated to fall from the beginning.

An ill wind blows through me. I am transparent, but only to them. My flimsy armor is no match for the chattering teeth rattling against my bones. I am a disgraced knight. I am a man in exile. I must wander the dusty wastes of my mind until I have found peace. Perhaps there is no such thing. I’m alright with that. I have accepted my illness.

Acceptance is only half the battle. I strive to fight the demons inside, my own personal nightmare. They want to stab me through the heart while I’m sleeping. They want to push me off a cliff. They want to ruin my life. I am not alright with that.

I’m talking to you, voices. This is no empty threat. I will destroy you. I will obliterate and dominate you. I will crush you like rocks into sand. You will never get the better of me again. You are not a real person. You are a product of an illness. You disgust me. You fill me with hatred. I have no love for you.

But what if I did feel love for you? Perhaps we could’ve been friends. Perhaps my mind would be a happy place. But you have gone too far. I can never forgive you. I’m sorry but you get what you deserve. An enemy I is I. I fight for, and against, myself.

Love and Voices

Be careful who you love. Love, especially unconditional love, can be one of the most dangerous emotions. I loved someone once. It was a one sided affair that ended in tragedy. Let me tell you about it.

After throwing my heart at Milagros and being rejected in a way that hurt more, by being faithlessly strung along in an endless delusion, I was wary of giving my heart to anyone else. I kept my love in a box, in a cage, in a fortress, inside of myself. I was impenetrable. After freeing myself from my delusions and building a wall where my shattered mind collapsed I had become stronger. I would let my emotions leak out in droplets, most of the time when I was drunk.

Drinking was my favorite thing to do. It let the pains of my past seem not so bad. But it also made me severely depressed when I wasn’t drinking or was coming down. I’d feel bad, then drink and not feel so bad, then feel bad again which lead to more drinking. It was a cycle of drunkenness.

I went to Europe at the behest of my father. He thought it would be a good thing for me to do with my little brother. He’s a little brother, but he is much taller than me. In Europe people could easily believe that he was of age and able to go out drinking. In some places, like France, drinking is available at a young age but in most parts of Europe you had to be 18. My brother was 16 and I was 22 when we explored the continent. We went out drinking and had a ball.

We met travelers and natives of all nationalities. I remember meeting people of Egyptian, Chilean, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, Belgian, Russian, Vietnamese, Chinese, British, American, Italian, Colombian, Argentinian, Swedish, Finnish, Iranian, Canadian, Ukrainian, Algerian, South African, Scottish, Polish, and Australian nationalities. There are probably more that I forgot to list. The world is a big place. It was neat seeing all these people come together in hostels and bars in Europe. I had drinks with lots of them.

When traveling you meet all these interesting people. They become friends for a day, before they go their separate way. The women were just gorgeous. And that accent! A woman with an accent is an attractive thing. Everyone was skinny. In Europe, and most other parts of the world, people are slimmer than America. I think travelers have to be fit in general. It comes with all the walking around. I got a lot of exercise lugging around my backpack and wearing out my shoes. I lost a lot of weight from walking from place to place, and general walking from being lost.

I got lost plenty of times in my travels. I had to find my way most of the time with a compass and a map. Every once in a while, when I was really lost and had WiFi, I would take out my laptop and check google maps for directions. I didn’t have a cell phone in Europe. American cell phone coverage didn’t cover Europe and I didn’t have a smart phone anyway. Because of this, I got lost a lot. Being drunk all the time didn’t help for the most part. I would always find my way eventually however. There were also always someone who would help a traveler out and give me directions. It was fun in a way, having to find my way around, if a little stressful at times. I felt in control of my direction, and not a slave to the internet and GPS. There were even some fun women who liked to get lost with me.

I met lots of interesting women in Europe. They would make your heart throb. It was also easier talking to them, you didn’t know them and they didn’t know you so you could just relax and be yourself. I was free from my past struggles, my past was just a bad memory, and I could forget them or talk about them at leisure. It is easier for me to talk to women, I think. Maybe I just like looking at them. I definitely like drinking better with women. And other stuff. There were beautiful women everywhere who were having fun. After being alone in misery for so long it was a breath of fresh air for me. There were also women for hire in the local red light districts in Holland. I was going to go to one of the whorehouses there, but I lost my way. Maybe next time I visit Europe.

I made a lot of friends from both genders. I made a few Facebook friends but lost them when I deleted my account. One woman who I really connected with didn’t have a Facebook like me at the time. You meet a lot of people when traveling, but all you get most of the time are fond memories, which is alright.

When I finally came home I felt a lot better. My small hometown felt a lot smaller. I would walk the entire distance of the town just going from one place to the next. I felt like I could go anywhere. The downside from traveling is that you have to get back into your old life again. I was back to not knowing what to do with my life again. To earn money and spend time I applied to a local grocery store.

It was easy work. It was annoying being told what to do and I wouldn’t listen if it was something petty, but it was nice getting out of the house and having something to do. I always liked it when it was busy. I could just get in the zone and get all the customers dealt with. I was a cashier. I had experience working as a cashier at the family restaurant. My dad didn’t need me as much in the winter so I was free to work elsewhere. Working at a grocery store is alright. It’s easy and doesn’t require much from you besides being polite. Looking back at my memories, however, I think working at a grocery store again would be my personal hell.

Whilst working I met a woman, let’s call her K. She was this cool person, I thought, who worked at the sandwich bar. I liked her. I don’t know why I did, I just did. I got nervous talking to her and tried hopelessly to joke with her and make conversation.

After a while working at the grocery store, at least four months, something happened to me. It was Valentine’s Day and love was in the air. I was writing a story. At first it started in my journal, as a pointless hope. I could write about anything in my journal. I added K to a story, as a what if I sent it to her. It felt good writing about another person, maybe for another person. I had difficulty writing previously. My words and the worlds I created would come out dark and scary. My past was ever at my mind, but I was avoiding it. Writing about this other person came easy for me. I had inspiration. I created a fictional bar that I ran in a fictional place. At first I wrote about the demons that would visit my bar, demons I would draw and create characters for. I had imps who ran my bar. I had a smoker demon who became my dog. It was a way to envision my darkest thoughts and deal with them personally. It was strangely therapeutic. Then K showed up.

I wrote her into my story. If I could go back in time I would end that story before it began. In a strange way I wish I never got into writing. My world was already fractured once, I couldn’t take it if it happened again. I retreated into fantasy. It was a dark world I created, The Land of Doubt. I recalled the name Balthazar again, after not using it for so long, and made that my main character in the book. Balthazar was me. I’d go on adventures with my smoker demon and try to find K. In the story I had stolen her heart and gave her my own as a replacement. It was supposed to be some strange romance adventure story. I made an ending that ended with a kiss. It was only for myself.

In the story, I angrily told K my darkest memories. I was wary of becoming obsessed about a woman, like what happened with Milagros, but K was always in my mind. I just wrote what I felt. Writing about my past experiences and about K started cracking my wall. The wall I built was crumbling. I finished my story, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I wanted to send it, but didn’t have the guts.

Previously whilst writing and I felt a strange sort of enlightenment. My words were coming into place. I was talking, while writing, to a fictional character I created. The Lord of Doubt. Otherwise known as Death. I came to a conclusion, after not thinking about truth or religion for so long, that Death was the one true god, because everything dies eventually. Death is an enigma, it has no real form, but I wrote it into my fictional bar as the Grim Reaper, the Lord of Doubt, Death. I talked to the creature, and realized that Life and Death are two sides of the same coin. I re-dubbed the creature Life, it grew skin and flesh on its features, and I had a conversation with it. It gave me a realization. This is what I wrote,

I still think of you as that skulled creature, Life. You’re smirking with me. I like talking to you. You make me sound crazy sometimes. People will eat that up. Thank you for showing me this.

I’m sorry I ruined your life. I was sick of you.

I needed a second chance. I really don’t mind living. It’s fun, although painful.

Life is pain, Balthazar.

I just want to take all the suffering away. I don’t want you to hurt and be hurt.

The gifts I give are two pronged, a double edged sword. You need it, to make the other half feel good. It can’t be helped… Though you want to. I wonder what you have in store for me.

Something good. You have something in store for me… I can sense it. What is it?

A present.

After writing that I felt itchy with anticipation for a while. I didn’t know why. I was getting something, I didn’t know what. I went out for a walk. Then I started hearing them.

K was talking to me, in my head. I thought I had gotten some sort of enlightenment. Again, this episode started with me believing I had gotten enlightenment, a theme typical to my mental illness. At first I was only talking to her, then I was talking to other people, and more and more and more until eventually I was talking to the whole world. It was megalomania in its prime. It felt great, there was no other word for it. It felt like I had cracked the code. It felt like I had reached the summit. I thought I had been given a gift from god.

The next day I was still hearing K. She was a voice in my head. The primary voice. She said nice things to me, loving things. It started to weird me out though. She was being so intimate with me in my head, how could I say anything for real? She was avoiding me in real life, she told me not to talk to her.

People said strange things to me in my head. I thought, again, I knew the truth about things. I thought everyone was talking to me in my head. I thought K was being raped by people, one of them being the owner of the grocery store. It made me so angry, but I said nothing, until one day.

One night when I drank a little too much, I cobbled together a lot of my writings into PDF format, and sent it to K. I said, “Here’s your fucking story.” I was frustrated with the whole affair. When I sent it, I heard a small little voice say, “I can’t believe you sent it!” I didn’t think much of the voice at the time, I thought it was just a strange random thought. Later this thought would become my own personal demon, Floyd. I asked K if she fucked the owner of the grocery store.

The next morning I felt completely see through. I felt like I had nothing. I went to work as normally, and didn’t say anything to K. I heard voices the entire time. Later, in the night, I quit the job. I went in just before they were closing and quit. I couldn’t deal with the supposed evil that people were committing in the grocery store.

The next day a couple of cops showed up to my house. They said K said that my story was grammatically correct. The cops asked me something, and I didn’t even catch it the first time. They asked me if I sent K a dick picture. I didn’t, and plainly said I didn’t. They said anyway the owner was angry that I insinuated that he had an affair with K and said I was banned from the grocery store. He couldn’t fire me because I already quit. I think K was scared that I sent her a book, or was angry at the content. Why the hell would she compliment it then? And why would she lie about sending a dick pic, to a couple of cops no less? I think she wanted me just to leave her the hell alone. And I did. The whole thing was just frustrating.

But I still heard her in my head. And other people. Lots of other people. They were always mocking me and insulting me. They told me to kill myself. Over and over again, K would torment me. She was like a splinter in my brain. I couldn’t get her out! I just wanted it to end. My love, again, turned to rot.

The next part is The Passerby, I. I will touch it up.