“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.” This was a quote from my birth father. He said it the day I was diagnosed with split personality disorder.
Before I really begin this story, I should tell you a little about myself. I am eighteen years old, blue-eyed, snow-skinned, depressed. I have to take my antipsychotic meds regularly or else I turn into such a crazy bitch. Even I don’t like myself when I go into a “mood.” They can be scary— I almost don’t even recognize myself.
I would describe myself as “punk rock.” Black fingernails, long blonde hair I cropped short and dyed hot pink, snakebite piercings, eyebrow piercing, nose ring, fishnet stockings, dragon tattoo on my lower back. My favorite song is “Coffin” by Black Veil Brides.
Anyway, my name is Jacquelyn Hide. Remember that, for one day I’ll be a famous scientist or whatever. My biological father, Robert Louis Stevenson, always said I was destined to win a Nobel Prize, since my fascination with the occult was bound to lead me to discover how to bring corpses back to life or how to pass over into the ghost world and speak to dead relatives. Then he died and I was adopted by a nice couple named Henry and Edward.
What is evil, I wonder? My best friend, Hattie Landon, and I constantly contemplate deep-seated questions such as good vs. evil and the cure for cancer. I always thought evil was defined as something immoral, intentionally malevolent, wicked, monstrous, relating to the devil. Good, in contrast, was everything light and innocent and pure.
But what if, Hattie argued, it’s not as black and white as all that? Where are the gray areas? The in-between spaces, where good and evil meet and the nature of the thing is uncertain?
There was a constant war waging inside me, battle after battle fought in my mind. Chaos and destruction everywhere. My brain was a barren, blood-stained field. Part of me was perfectly normal, but if I forgot to take my pills one day, the other half of me would rear her ugly head and nobody liked that. One half of me was angelic and curious and almost childlike. The other half was snarky and rude and full of petty jealousies and had serious anger-management issues. You can guess which side I liked best, so I took my medicine daily and never fought my dads on the matter. My “good” side was named Jacquelyn. Jacquelyn’s “evil” twin was called Miss Seek, because she was always searching for something or someone to defame.
I will illustrate one instance in which Miss Seek gained a victory point.
It is Sunday today. God’s day. I’m not religious, but there was always something about Heaven that struck me the wrong way, drew me towards it with cold, calculating curiosity. If it were a tangible thing, I’d have dissected it for further study. Was Heaven, assuming it did exist, up in the clouds or was it a more Greek-style Elysian Fields, a swathe of perfect land surrounded by the rest of the Underworld? Hell had always been the more interesting of the two to me. I mean, I dressed like I was queen of the demons, but that’s not what captivated me about it. I had always loved the tragedy of Hades and Persephone’s love. But I believe there was something deeper, something inside me that belonged in Hell that desperately wanted out.
It was the summer of 2014, the beginning of these fateful events. Hattie, Gabby, and I were excited because we had plans to fly to Australia, to Ireland and England, and France, and Italy. We were spending all summer in Europe then taking a gap year before college so we could extend our trip.
In my bedroom, packing, Hattie chatted about the sights we’d see while Gabby searched YouTube for a song to listen to.
Finally Hattie said in a highly irritated tone, “Jackie, are you okay? You seem totally out of it.”
“Just tired,” I replied. “Didn’t sleep well last night.”
Gabby chose a Fall Out Boy song from my playlist and joined in our conversation. “We leave in less than two weeks— probably just the nerves. I mean, we’re going to a foreign country by ourselves.”
I nodded, though that wasn’t it. I had been plagued by a weird dream. A nightmare, really. It had been dark— night. I was outside with the warm breeze sliding under my bedclothes and caressing my skin. I had a sense of purpose, walked quickly, though I had no idea what my intent was. I turned down a deserted alleyway and ducked into an abandoned old factory building. I heard a noise and turned. The dream ended. When I woke, however, I had dirt under my fingernails and blood caked my hands and streaked by cheeks. I’d actually had that recurring dream for the past three nights, since my eighteenth birthday.
“Yeah,” I lied. “Nerves.”
“You’re looking a little pale— well, more than usual. Are you sure you’re okay?” Hattie asked.
I nodded and popped a marshmallow from the bag on my bed into my mouth. “Positive.”
Hattie didn’t look convinced, but she let it slide. “I’ve been meaning to tell you— I really enjoyed your final project for biology.”
“Oh, what was it?” Gabby asked.
“Jackie did a presentation on psychology. It was on our biological make-up or something. It was really cool. She discussed the possibility of splitting the human consciousness in half and extracting the evil part to demolish,” Hattie explained. “Everyone loved it, especially Mr. Newcomen. He said it was ‘fabulously utopian’ and ‘unexpectedly inspired.’”
“Sounds wonderful,” Gabby said enviously. “I wish I was in your class. Mine has so many boring idiots.”
Finally finished packing, I sent Hattie and Gabby home. “I’ll text you later. I promised my parents I’d go to the gym to get some exercise before they got home.”
The workout went by quickly, as did dinner. I was so exhausted I nearly fell asleep at the table so Henry sent me to bed and Edward promised to save my piece of (ironically, devil’s food) cake for tomorrow.
I drifted off rather rapidly. The second my head hit the pillow, I was out like a light switch.
I woke up some time later, on a street corner somewhere. It was dark and the moon was barely visible past a black sheen of clouds and indigo sky. My head hurt and my hands felt sticky. I held them up to my face under the streetlamp and puzzled over the warm, still-wet substance coating my hands and arms. It was dark red. I knew what it was, but my brain kept alerting me that I wasn’t hurt and my eyes were telling me there was no one else around.
I started walking in a random direction. The town was so small I’d eventually end up back at my house one way or another.
Lost in my own thoughts, I didn’t notice as the moon began to set and the sky lightened. I felt dizzy and disoriented, but I managed to find my way home and stumbled into bed just before dawn graced the horizon.
The next night was the same. I blinked open my eyes, wrapped up in my blanket, and nearly had a heart attack. No cramps, no bloody panties… The blankets were covered in blood, yet I was uninjured and my period was still approximately a week away. I had no memory of the past weeks’ nights, only faded images that I assumed were dreams. Except for the very real blood coating my hands, neck, arms, cheeks, clothes, and sheets.
Tuesday. Nobody likes Tuesday, awkward at the beginning of the week. Especially when they go to a school full of bullies and idiots.
The school hallways were crowded, as always, of cheerleaders and jocks shoving nerds into lockers.
Someone bumped into me and I stumbled, tripping over a trashcan.
“Die, weirdo!” The person sneered as they continued down the hallways.
Other whispers followed me, the “goth freak.”
“This place would be better off if she weren’t here.”
“Go kill yourself, dork.”
“Nobody likes you, goth geek.”
My vision turned red and hazy and I turned to the group of populars by the lockers. “Don’t you dare talk to me like that again or I’ll kick your asses!” I grabbed the nearest jock by the front of his varsity jacket. “Leave me and my friends alone! Got that?”
The jock nodded, looking like me might piss himself.
I blinked my eyes and suddenly my vision cleared. I set down the jock, Brian Anderson, and noticed everyone in the hallway staring.
What just happened? I wondered, staring around at all the stunned faces.
“You okay? Just ignore them, Jackie.” Gabby advised, looking genuinely worried.
“They’re just jealous of your hotness and intellect,” Hattie agreed.
Two cheerleaders pushed past me, shoving me hard into a sharp corner. Rubbing my shoulder, I glared mutinously after the miniskirt-clad bitches.
“They only treat you this way, because you let them.” Hattie said.
No sooner were the words out of her mouth than a slushie was dumped over her head.
“So, I’m assuming you let that happen?” I said.
Hattie gave me a look. “It’s better to think positive, Jackie. Look on the bright side of things.”
Die, freak. Your dork friends would be happier if you committed suicide… The awful things I’d heard said about and to me kept swirling through my brain, making it hard to concentrate or “think positively.” Nobody wants you. You’re a fat, ugly fag. Do you spell your name with a “y” or an “i” when you cut it into your wrists?
My brain was a dark whirlwind of cruel taunts and revenge plots. But sadly I couldn’t blow up the school and jail looked rather unpleasant, so murder was out of the question.
That phrase caught my attention and my head whipped up. A group of junior girls were standing by the girls’ bathroom, apparently discussing the news.
“The killer is bold. It’s been one body every night this week.”
“I hear it’s a girl. There was a witness at last night’s murder— didn’t see her face, but her profile.”
“I heard she only targets the wealthy.”
“We lost our cheer captain last night.”
I turned to Gabby and Hattie. “Hear that? Fawcett Jenkins is dead?”
“I imagine they’ll make an announcement soon,” Gabby said.
“Ooh, murder.” Hattie looked intrigued. “This is the most excitement our town has ever had!”
I remembered a faint image of Fawcett, blonde hair covered in sticky, dark liquid, a pool spreading out around her as her blue eyes went dull.
I shook my head to clear it. Great. Now I’m delusional.
Sure enough, the principal came onto the loud speaker to announce Fawcett’s death and then offered guidance in the auditorium until the end of the day.
I turned and bolted down the hall, to the nurse’s office and was violently sick in the sink. The blood…
Was it possible I had killed Fawcett, and the others? Was I the serial killer?
I dismissed the idea as preposterous.
Tuesday night had me curled up on my bed, lights on, sweating bullets. I will not fall asleep, I won’t close my eyes…
I awoke standing over Christopher Shy, our quarterback. My hands dripped his blood and I was still holding the knife. I dropped the blade in surprise. Strangely detached from the scene, I stepped back. My heart was echoing shock and horror, but my brain hadn’t caught up yet. Finally registering what I was seeing, I turned and sprinted away from the horribleness of it all. Chris Shy had been a popular bully, but now he was just a headline in the newspaper of tomorrow.
I snuck back into my room at home and pulled out a piece of paper.
Dear everyone, I wrote. This is for humanity. I am a danger to society. It was me, who killed those kids. They made my life a living hell, so I killed them. I do not remember doing the deed, but last night I woke up standing over Christopher Daniel Shy’s corpse. By the time anyone reads this note, it’ll be too late and Jacquelyn Hide will be long gone. I’m sorry. Goodbye.
I placed the letter on my pillow, then went to search through the medicine cabinet until I found what I’d been looking for— a little vial of poison I’d hidden in my private upstairs bathroom. I’d been planning on using it for quite a long time, but had never been able to bring myself to do it.
Now was vital, I suppose, unless I wanted to hurt anyone else.
I lay on my bed and downed the contents of the clear bottle.
My heart slowed, my pulse dropped, and I felt light-headed.
As I plunged into the darkness, my mind went blank except for one piercing clarity: Only half of me was a murderer.
I took comfort in that fact, even as all of me slipped into eternal slumber.
Goodbye, Jacquelyn, I thought before my brain cut out like an old TV set.
I drifted into death with the sound of Miss Seek’s laughter ringing in my ears.