One of the reasons Legion of Leia exists is to support young women in the industry. Late last week, I came across an amazing story written by 16-year-old Hannah Pickering. This lady has incredible talent. The story is very, very dark and horror fans are going to love it! I couldn’t wait to share it with you all! Of herself, Hannah says, “16 years young. Desired profession: foley artist or writer or teacher or philanthropist or radio DJ or vagabond. I don’t believe in Twitter, I’m waiting for marriage.”
Sorry Mom, Sorry God
Alright, it’s very difficult to be a writer. Unless you have a story that everyone wants to hear, you’re out of luck. It’s easy to sell tragedy. Stories of triumph, stories of survival. I had never considered this before the whole catastrophe occurred. Now, I can barely stomach the task of putting ink to parchment. The manuscript before you is simply a manifestation of the progress I am required to make in my therapy in order to make parole. If I can get it all out of my head and onto paper, I might be deemed as useful to society. So here I sit, with this pen, and I will use it to slash the veins of my memory and bleed the words of the atrocities I’ve seen onto this clean, white parchment. Untouched. Pristine. Virginal. I will cover it with the things I’ve done and I will beg forgiveness. I’m so sorry.
Since the day it began to matter what I wanted to be in life, I’ve been attracted to the idea of being an author. I know I’ve never been skilled at writing, but that can be taught. The desire was there, I just had to refine my abilities. Self-improvement is what found me following the directions of a newspaper ad to a street corner, waiting for a bus to take me to a writer’s retreat. I packed one leather duffel bag for my stay and I stood there waiting. I had no company, the sun didn’t even want to rise to see me off. Teetering on the cliff of consciousness, I recalled the hours prior. Had it really been so many hours since I’d slept? I couldn’t sleep, though, could I? No, I was much too excited by the promise of, and I quote, “The writing skills you need to tell the world your story!”
Nearly unconscious, I neglected to question the safety and legitimacy of the cliche unmarked van that pulled up to greet me. I boarded it to be met by what I would find to be six like-minded individuals. We talked about what we hoped to gain from this adventure. And, reveling in the anonymity of the circumstances of our meeting each other, we decided to come up with nicknames for ourselves. Each of us seven adopted a celebrity name that we wanted. Sort of like a secret dream or an undisclosed desire to possess either the personality or lifestyle of an often mocked celebrity. We ended up barreling down some road we couldn’t see to some location we didn’t know; Me, Kirstie Alley, Bing Crosby, Edward Norton, Morrissey, Anne Hathaway, and Audrey Hepburn. An odd cast of characters, indeed. The only thing I can remember after that is how absolutely heavy the air in the van became. We only saw our driver a time or two, but, through the slow atmosphere, his image was distorted into that of what an adult must look like from a child’s perspective. The air was growing gradually heavier, to the point where I eventually gave up fighting it and slept for the first time in what must have been a week.
I woke in my bed. My bed? It was a bed, I had never seen it before, but it must’ve been mine. In this grand, victorian bedroom, I arose luxuriously from my bed and found myself draped in the pajamas I had brought. A little vulnerable, I began to descend the grand staircase leading into the foyer, my slippers crunching into the vintage red carpeting with every step. I walked toward where I felt there existed a kitchen and arrived at such as I thought. The six other guests were sitting around the kitchen island, behaving amiably, but, it was so weird, I felt like they weren’t acting like themselves. It all was familiar to me. I walked to what I suspected to be a medicine cabinet and gripped at my bottle of blood coagulant pills, but, God, they were challenging to get a hold on. It felt like my fingers were shorter than normal. I felt nostalgic for this present situation in which I found myself. I was unimpressed by the elaborate nature of the victorian home that I was sharing with these childhood friends that I had never met until recently. I threw jaded glances in the direction of the intricate tapestries and the grotesquely beautiful feast that lie in wait on the elongated redwood dining table. The extravagancy of my odd circumstances completely eluded me. I spoke to my new friends (since birth, I felt) with such eloquence and poise that I had never in my life come across. Something should have felt out of place.
As we seven adjourned to the living room to smoke, I didn’t even process the fact that at least half of us, myself included, walked with a limp. Once everyone had stood up and been revealed in their full height, I finally saw it. Every single one of us was incredibly mutilated. Missing fingers, blood giving pattern to their shirts. None of this even registered to me. I honestly didn’t even care that my fingers were nonexistent past the second knuckle.
“Audrey, darling, you’re bleeding.”
“Oh, goodness. Forgive me, dearest Bing.” Hepburn blushed so faintly from embarrassment because most of her blood was racing to clog around the outside of her torso, between her ribs. We all laughed aristocratically as Morrissey applied pressure to the area between where two bottom ribs should be, he looked so inconvenienced to have to stop her bleeding. Well, it was slightly rude of her to start bleeding like that.
“Done?” The incoherent word intertwined with a gasp as both lavishly poured out of Morrissey’s mouth. Before she could respond, he gave up putting pressure on her wound and she began to gush.
“Heavens, go lie in a bathtub. You’re running the furniture, you absolute cow,” condescended a voice from somewhere inside my throat, sparking coy laughter from the others.
God, why did I say that to her?
She rolled her pupils around the perimeter of her eyelids and made her way to what I knew would be her room. She either bled to death in her tub or her bed, I don’t recall. At least she wouldn’t ruin anymore couches.
I retired to my bedroom once I felt the evening lose its passion. I was sung to sleep by what I knew was the screams and giggles of my companions. It was comforting.
Thinking back, this specific day that I’m recalling must’ve taken place after I had already been there for a month. We were there for a week or so before things developed.
“You know the hardest part about writing?”
“Oh, Lord, here comes Philosopher Norton.”
“Okay. I won’t tell you.”
“Oh, don’t kid. You’re just dying to talk about it. Or, rather, to talk about anything!” More laughter, then silence, broken by:
“Finding a story that everyone wants to read. Books and such only speak to a certain niche of readers. It’s near impossible to popular as an author.” Every one of us hid or agreement with his idea behind sneers and pretentious laughs of dismissal.
“Tragedy and triumph are the only things that sell, universally.” I guess that’s true. If you’re deaf, write a book. Terminal illness, book. Victim of something, book.
“I refuse to go unnoticed by the world. I can’t just wait for tragedy to find me.” He had been clothed in a luxurious floor-length bath robe. But, now, he let it roll off his wide shoulders to reveal bloodstained bandages that covered his left elbow. Christ, his elbow was where his arm stopped. There was nothing past it. No one reacted even slightly to this. He had made roast for dinner that night and probably drugged us up with his Vicodin so we wouldn’t freak. Was it roast? No, it was something I didn’t know. Some kind of gamey dark meat. No one ever found his arm.
He fed us his arm, didn’t he?
God, forgive me of my sins.
It seemed a grand and revolutionary idea. Create your own tragedy. I guess that’s how I lost my fingertips. I guess that’s how Audrey lost her ribs. Yes, I remember. She drugged herself up and then cut open her own torso. She reached into her own chest and ripped out every one of her ribs. And then she bled to death. Morrissey, the genius he is, pulled out his tongue. His mouth oozed with potential literary metaphors and blood. Oh God, he fed us his tongue. Oh my God, I fed everyone my fingertips. God, forgive me.
Some of the housemates decided to create the story that we were being held against our will by the very man who has driven us here. Alley decided he has trapped her. We had our villain. Now we just had to wait for the story to get elaborate enough for us to escape. Since we had yet to see our “captor” other than that journey here, we decided he would have fled, when we all made our escape, and burn down the house. Why was this okay to all of us?
We (the six of us, since Audrey had died) were running out of ways to be tortured. We started to look for other options. Our captor started making us bathe in scalding water. We allowed Bing to perform these operations, I guess you could call them, on us. I let him do this to me.
So this is how I came to be this cannibalistic, drug addicted monster. Bing is gone; he didn’t survive long after he surgically put his lungs outside of his body. Kirstie, we killed and dressed up as a suicide. Morrissey was depriving himself of sleep, but he eventually passed out in the tub and drowned. Edward isn’t dead, not legally. But he went too far. He doesn’t talk. He can’t. He doesn’t do anything. “Vegetable” isn’t the right word, but it’s the first one that comes to mind. Anne, she was so quiet, she killed herself without realizing that she would actually die. I think she created a reality in which she was immortal.
I’m the only one left.
I sit here at my table in my metal room. It’s absolutely cold in this godforsaken cell. My court-appointed therapist forcing me to put everything on paper. When I finally left that awful home of mine, I was the only one considered, by law, competent. They pinned the whole thing on me. I probably let them, I was so strung out on Vicodin. We all had been. I guess that made us so apathetic about our self-mutilation. I’m never going to fully recover, am I? I’m not human anymore. I can’t do this.
Sorry, Mom. Sorry, God.
The night following the abrupt ending of this manuscript, the author died by their own doing. The individual seems to have reached inside their torso, between the solar plexus (chest plate), and removed the organs: heart, left lung, and various connecting veins and arteries. Inmates in surrounding cells reported hearing nothing. No sound whatsoever. There was no blood found in the cell. At 0700 hours, the body and organs were cremated.
-a note found in the deceased’s hand-
Look, the thing I’ve written, the thing I have created from ink and paper, is to be my Magnum Opus. It is my legacy. It is my ultimate creation. Publish it by any means possible. My name will never die. I will be immortalized forever in God’s simplest creation; words. My blood will for like ink and, these words, I will be. Just words. Now, words are simply letters ordered in specific ways. Letters are the symbols assigned to represent specific sounds. Letters form words. These things only make sense because people agree that they do. Kingdoms have been destroyed by them. People have died. Wars have been caused. My great dream was to master these weapons. I’m sorry.