Why Does He Seem So Odd?

 

It is accurate to state that we operate in three essential states. There are varying degrees within those states, differing levels of intensity which are affected by factors such as the type of narcissist that we are, what we require from you, the level of empathic individual you are as well as several others. Nevertheless, there are three basic states. The first, as you would expect, is the golden setting. We are at our most wonderful, most brilliant and most loving when in this state. This always appears during our seduction of you and we will reinstate it from time to time and often when we hoover you in order to suck you back in and keep you hanging on to us. The second is the dark setting when we instigate our devaluation of you. This dark setting allows us to deploy our various machinations against you, a variety of different of manipulations as the abuse begins and we make your life particularly unpleasant. This requires effort and energy on our part and whilst we will be rewarded with fuel, a certain degree of application is required to use these manipulations against you. When we unveil our dark setting it is upsetting and confusing but often you will find some reason to explain our behaviour. It is usually the wrong reason but you will find one nevertheless as you like to understand and have a reason to explain why someone is behaving in a certain way towards you – you decide we are stressed, tired, hungover, in need of affection or perhaps you are unduly harsh on yourselves so that you, in that usual empathic manner, blame yourself for the behaviour we have meted out against you. Perhaps you did not listen when you ought to have done, perhaps you should have realised that we wanted to go out tonight, or that we would not want chicken for a second time this week.

There is a third setting and this often proves more confusing that our unpleasant dark setting. This setting might be regarded as a neutral setting, somewhere between the golden and the dark, but it is not. This setting is on the road to the dark setting and is closer to that than the golden. This particular setting is the stranger setting.

There will be times when we do not wish to apply considerable energy to our continued devaluation of you, but the devaluation must continue. It may not be as harsh, since there is no shouting, no violence, no insults and such like. It is not the golden period because we show no affection, we do not do things for you and we do not exhibit any of the charm that once flowed so readily from us. During this stranger setting we are neither wonderful nor awful but we behave like someone who doesn’t really know you and you are certainly left feeling like you are dealing with somebody else.

If you telephone us we will not dole out a silent treatment and ignore your repeated calls. We will not answer in less than a ring and speak to you with affection and enthusiasm, instead we answer and engage in a monosyllabic conversation. It is like drawing teeth. We confirm that nothing is wrong and you may think there is but we have not responded angrily or harshly. We have not accused you of anything, we have not labelled you in some way but the conversation is flat. It is as if our personality, whether golden or dark has vanished and left almost an automaton in its place. We function, we talk about our day but with little detail and certainly no enthusiasm. We ask questions of you but they are polite and perfunctory as if we are just going through the motions. There is no nastiness, no backbiting or sneering. It is difficult to process because it is not nothing, that cannot be the case because we are talking to you, but it feels like nothing.

We may call around to see you but it feels like an inspector has called around. We sit, we decline a drink that you offer us and we answer your questions without offering you anything much in return. Where has the charmer gone? Where has the monster gone? Who is this stranger that looks like us, sounds like us but is not behaving like us? You cannot accuse us of being unpleasant but it feels unpleasant because you are dealing with someone you do not recognise. Any questions about what is wrong with us are politely answered and you are assured there is not a problem, but we seem lifeless. You flatter us, compliment us and whilst we accept them there is no spark of interest, there is no response.

Why are we like this? Why is this being done? Why do we seem like someone else? It is as if we have been abducted by aliens in the night and replaced with a robot which is neither wonderful nor savage but is frustratingly something else. This third setting occurs during the devaluation period. It is not a respite from devaluation as that is the golden setting once more. It is clearly not the dark setting as that is the rolling out of nastiness and abuse. This third setting is an indicator of the calm before the storm. Whilst there are occasions where we might switch from golden to dark setting in the blink of an eye, this third setting is used when we wish to conserve energy in readiness for unleashing a particular savage next stage in the devaluation as we will move to the dark setting and crank it up to eleven. You are not cruising along being driven by fair winds, nor are you being thrown up and down buffeted by a storm, instead you are becalmed or moved along by a weak breeze. This is the time we are girding our loins, gathering information and plotting. The switch of functions to the organisation and scheming of what is to come, along with the intense outpouring of energy required to sustain the vicious intensifying of this devaluation means we adopt this near automatic state. You may not ever see this happen dependent on the nature of the narcissist you have become entangled with, but when you do, you should be aware that a storm is brewing and not just any old storm but a supercell storm of savage and damaging proportions. This is a warning.

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Tirade

 

tirade

“You’ve done what? I cannot believe it. What on earth possessed you to do that? Are you mad? Are you completely unhinged woman? Sweet Jesus I don’t believe what you just said to me. How many times have we been over this before? Countless times. Hell, I said it only yesterday didn’t I? I cannot believe you would be so stupid as to do something like this, it just beggars belief. You know I am starting to think that you do this on purpose don’t you? It’s no good shaking your head and staring at me like that, do you think I will feel sorry for you if you give me those eyes? Do you? I said DO YOU? Yes, you may as well shake your head again, it’s about as much as someone of your idiocy can do. I swear I am living with an epsilon semi-moron, have you always been this fucking dumb? I guess you have. It was such a simple thing to do, straight forward, a child could do it, but no not you, you had to go and be clever and go and royally fuck it up. You absolute idiot. You have ruined everything now; you do realise that don’t you? I mean it is completely ruined and how about that for a fantastic start eh? Yes, I am being sarcastic, I suppose I have to explain that to someone as brain dead as you. Jesus, why on earth have I been saddled with you. Don’t you fucking dare speak when I am speaking, you’ve done enough damage as it is, you will shut the fuck up and listen to me when I am setting you straight. I have pointed out to you so many bloody times what you should do and you assured me, you stood there and assured me that you knew what you were doing. That was a lie. I SAID SHUT UP AND DON’T INTERRUPT ME! I swear you want me to hit you don’t you? That’s what you are trying to do. Oh I know you alright, you think you are so damn clever but I have you worked out. I know what you are up to. That’s right, wind me up, get it wrong, disappoint and frustrate me and then you want me to explode and land myself in some hot water. Well it isn’t going to work with me. I am not stupid. I am not you, you know. I know what I am doing. I am the one that keep this place together, you would do well to remember that when you are busy ruining everything with your mind-blowing and monumental incompetence. It is breath taking. It truly is. I told you what to do. I told you once, I told you a hundred times and you said to me and I can specifically remember what you said, you said ‘don’t worry, I can be trusted to get it right’. Yes, that is what you said. It is no point looking like that, don’t pull that face with me, don’t you fucking dare, I am sick of you not showing me enough respect around here. I work my backside off to keep things afloat, not that you give me any credit for it though. Oh no, you are too busy taking the piss, fucking things up and spoiling it for everyone and especially for me. I don’t know what I am going to do now. I mean, you’ve just, I, I am almost lost for words. You see, not only have you cocked it right up but you have lied to me as well. I don’t know which is worse, but that’s you all over isn’t it. The liar, the deceiver, you flatter to deceive. Don’t think I don’t know what you get up to. I have my eye on you, yes, you would do well to look worried, I know all about you. What are you looking over there for? Look at me when I am talking to you. Look. At. Me. Oh here we go, the waterworks. If you have messed up and you are being corrected start crying and it will be all okay again. Well it won’t will it? It won’t be okay after what you have done. It won’t be fine. It won’t be good or great or fine and dandy. You have messed it up. I knew this would happen. I knew I shouldn’t have left it to you, but do you know what, I thought to myself, no, give her a chance, let her prove she can do it, let he demonstrate that she can be trusted to get it right, I mean, after all, that is what a relationship is all about isn’t it? Trust. Without trust there is nothing. Do you see what you have done? Do you? Do you really understand the impact of what you have done? Somehow I doubt it, that is why I am having to do this. Do you think I like shouting at you? What’s that? Were you going to nod then? Why you ungrateful and nasty bitch, you have some cheek to accuse me of enjoying this when I am the one who has to put up with the consequence of your outrageous incompetence. I am the one who is put out. I am the one who has to suffer. You will just walk away muttering about having understood, how you have learned your lesson and you won’t do it again but I may as well be speaking in Mandarin for all of the notice that you take. I told you to stop crying. If you don’t stop crying, I am going to seriously lose it with you. Christ, what am I going to do? You’ve messed it up and ruined it for me. You don’t care, you don’t. If you did care you wouldn’t keep doing this would you. You wouldn’t keep making these mistakes and winding me up. You are trying to send me to an early grave aren’t you so you can have all this to yourself aren’t you? Got some fancy man on the side have we? I bet that’s what this is all about isn’t it? Ruin me through your incompetence and then waltz off into the sunset with some Johnny Come Lately after I croak it, sent to an early grave by your scheming. You’d love that wouldn’t you, to see me off. You nasty cow, no wonder nobody likes you, no wonder nobody asks you out. Oh yes, we never get invited anywhere these days because of you and your behaviour and is it any wonder. You are a walking disaster area. I mean people put up with you, they did it for my sake, I have good friends like that, or should I say I had good friends like that but thanks to you they are disappearing like rats on a sinking ship. You won’t be happy will you until you have completely ruined everything for me will you. That’s what you want. You want me on my knees, gasping for breath, miserable and wretched as you cavort and carry on with some other mug that you have seduced and promised the world to. I can’t believe I fell for it, but then I guess you keep the real you hidden don’t you, tucked away until you have your feet under the table, your name on the deeds and the joint Amex account. Well you are not that clever because you won’t beat me. I am cleverer than you. I am going to make you pay for what you have done. I am the one who is in charge here, this is my house and you do what I say. I am going to unleash hell against you after this catastrophe, it is an outrage, a complete outrage. I pity our neighbours having to put up with this, but you make me do it, it is all about you. I am not fooled by the frightened looks and the tears, other people might be taken in by it, but I am not. I know it is all for show. You disgust me, you scheming, manipulative, hateful cow. I curse the day I met you. Now look, you’ve made me late, thanks a bunch, that’s all I need. I’m going and don’t think I’ve finished; this is far from over.”

Silence.

“I thought you would prefer raspberry jam to marmalade,” you say softly to nobody in particular.

The Player of Games

 

the-player-of-games

 

I love playing games. As I have written before, the games are always being played. I only ever play to win otherwise there is no point. I cannot lose and sit back and smile and accept it was nevertheless an enjoyable experience because if I was to lose then it could not be enjoyable. I would be accepting that you or someone else is better than me. You are not. He is not. They are not. I always have to win. In order to achieve this I operate by a particular set of rules. You think you know what those rules are because when we first come together I deign to play by your rules; I agree to operate by the systems and conventions of your reality. That is easy for me to do because everything is going swimmingly. I am seducing you and therefore you are letting me win because it feels good. I am content to go along with the pretence of agreeing that these are the rules of engagement. You think you are winning because you are getting this wonderful, generous and loving person. In reality, I am winning because I am receiving plenty of positive fuel from you.

It is thereafter that the rules alter because I decide (and it is always my decision) that we will now abide by the rules in my reality. You are not given a rulebook and you have to guess what those rules are. As soon as you think that you have grasped them and got a handle on them, they will suddenly change. It is akin to playing a game of football and I am winning three nil. You score two more goals and you are in the ascendancy and likely to equalise. There would normally be fifteen minutes to go but suddenly I change the rules so there is just one minute left. You fail to score and I win. You protest stating that is not the correct time but it does not matter because here I am the referee, the assistants and the fourth official and what I say goes. If you do not like it, tough. I will just pick up the ball and go home with it. It is like a game of darts where you have to start from 501 and end with a double. I on the other hand start from 51 and do not need a double. You claim it is not fair but why should I care about it? I have to win. Thus, you may realise that I enjoy a lie-in on a Sunday morning so you do not disturb me. I will purposefully set the alarm early and get up waking you early. Or if I do have a lie in, I will concoct some mystery appointment that I have missed because you let me lie in. When you wake me early the following Sunday I will erupt at you for being so selfish and not letting me sleep.

When you think have ascertained what the rules are they will alter. You will do your best to try and keep up but it is exhausting and frustrating. Yet, this manipulation of the rules to allow our kind to win does not end there. Goodness me no. Our driven desire to always be the winner means that not only will we sucker you by pretending to play by your rules and then change them; we will then change the game. One moment you think you are playing Monopoly and then I am telling you it was Professor Plum in the Study with the Candlestick.

“But that is Cluedo,” you will declare rather puzzled.

“I know,” I will smile in return.

“But we are playing monopoly.

“No we are not.”

“Yes we are, look this board has streets from New York on it.”

“No it doesn’t, those are rooms in the stately home.”

“What are you talking about? See here and here, street names.”

“Are you blind? Those are snakes and ladders.”

“What? You’ve changed it again.”

“No I haven’t. You are just making a fuss because you are losing.”

“What are you on about? I am not losing, I was winning.”

“Not at all. Check mate.”

“What?”

Our phenomenal capabilities for lying, blame-shifting, denial and reflection all mean that the game will change. You are wrong footed, unsure of yourself, confused and we keep on doing it. We must win, always and you have to lose, at your cost. We will apply all our methods of manipulation to ensure we are victorious and you lie sprawled in the dirt, broken and defeated. Our success has to be at everything and I mean everything, from the trivial to the substantial, Defeat is never an option for our kind and we will bend, twist and snap the rules and alter the game in order to achieve this. Now, let’s play a game. It is my favourite. You may know it. It is called Guess Who? You have no chance.

On Trial

 

“Bring forth the next defendant,” my booming baritone declares from my elevated position. You find yourself being hauled and pushed by two of my lieutenants as the drag you up some stairs. The noise of a raucous crowd grows as you emerge blinking and anxious into the dock. Your eyes dart about the crowded courtroom as you look for recognisable faces but none are apparent. You see elements of familiarity, are those our friends and family, but they seem different in some way? You cannot quite work it out. You just see stroppy wax-like faces, mouths agape, a torrent of bilious noise raining down towards you, fingers jabbing the air, arms being waved frenetically. A seething mass of anticipation and disapproval. The crack of a gavel being wielded cuts through the cacophony and all eyes turn, including your own to me as I sit across and above from you. Attired in judicial robes in accordance with my status, I stare at you, eyes narrowed and you shrink back under this unwavering gaze.

“Well,” I announce, “What have you got to say for yourself?”

You frown, puzzled by this question. You do not even know why you are here. You cannot think straight as there is a throbbing sensation in the middle of your brow and a sickness rising and falling in your stomach. Your shaking hands grasp the rail of the dock but you remain silent.

“I said,” I declare in a louder voice, “what have you got to say for yourself?”

The assembled crowd begin to chant.

“What? What? What? What?”

The noise increases as those who have crammed into the courtroom lean forward creating walls of sneering and sardonic faces all around you. The galleries are packed with eager voyeurs and the noise cascades down on to you. The gavel once again interrupts the crowd and a hush descends. There is an air of expectancy as I and the crowd wait for you to speak. You feel a jab in your side as one of the lieutenants elbows you, a savage prompt for you to talk.

“I don’t understand why I am here,” you say. Your voice sounds weak and quiet but it is apparent that everyone has heard you as there is a collective intake of breath and then you hear the intermittent remarks thrown towards you.

“Idiot!”

“Shameful!”

“So disrespectful!”

“Fool!”

Your eyes go back to me and you see me draw myself up bristling with indignity.

“You don’t understand?” I boom. The crowd start to jabber.

“She doesn’t understand!” “She doesn’t understand!”

“Such impertinence, you should know why you are here,” I declare pointing the gavel at you. The noise of the crowd subsides a they crane forward to hear what you have to say.

“No, I don’t understand.”

“Well you ought to understand and you ought to be addressing me properly,” I continue.

“Sorry?”

“Ah you are sorry are you? What are you sorry for?” I ask seizing on your reply.

“Er I meant I didn’t understand what you meant.”

“Ah, yet another lack of understanding,” I announce to the sound of tutting from the crowd. You can see heads shaking all around you.

“Are you an idiot? A fool? A simpleton?” I ask.

“Certainly not.”

“Certainly not, my lord,” I reply with a smile which bears no warmth.

You frown still unsure what on earth you are doing in this place and who all these people are and most of all why is it that I am sat as a judge presiding over you. I give you an encouraging look. You look left and right feeling uncertain before you speak again.

“Certainly not, my lord.”

“At last some progress,” I say. The crowd nod in approval.

“So, I shall ask you again, what have you got to say for yourself?”

“I do not understand why I am here,” I raise my eyebrows in expectation, “my lord.”

“Well you should!” I explode in a sudden rage.

“Yes you should, yes you should,” repeats the crowd.

“Why am I here?” you say but your question is drowned out by the noise.

“A week of silent treatment,” I announce and slam the gavel down with a loud crack.

“What for?” you cry puzzled and alarmed. There is gasp from the crowd at your question.

“Two weeks for such impertinence,” I add.

“This is not fair.”

“Three weeks for challenging our authority,” I announce.

“You cannot judge me, this is ridiculous, I don’t even know why I am here, I do not know what I am accused of.”

“Three weeks of silent treatment and a dose of triangulation with a replacement of our choosing,” I cry with a gleeful look in my eyes.

“You cannot do this,” you assert.

“What?” I roar, “I can do as I please.”

“This must be against the law; this is not right.”

“I am the law!” I roar.

“Surely you should tell me what I have done?”

“I should not have to do anything that you say, I am the judge.”

“Then what about the jury, surely they should decide whether I am guilty or not, whatever it is I am accused of.”

I look reflective for a moment.

“Yes, you have a point, very well, I shall allow it,” I decree in a magnanimous tone, “never let it be said that this court is unfair. Ask the jury.”

I point towards the jurors sat on the right hand side and you notice them for the first time. They are all staring at you. In actual fact you see my face twelve times staring at you.

“Guilty!” announces the first juror.

“Wait, I haven’t even asked you what I am guilty of yet!” you protest.

“Guilty!” cries the second juror.

“Guilty!” shouts the third.

You shake your heard utterly bewildered by the announcement of these verdicts.

“This is preposterous, no charge has been read out to me, I have not entered a plea and there should be a trial. This is a joke!” you cry.

“Six months of gas lighting to run consecutively to the earlier sentence!” I holler above the braying of the crowd.

“This isn’t fair.”

The pronouncements of guilt continue to ring out as the crowd chant “Guilty, guilty, guilty!” at you.

A man leans into the dock from behind you, he thrusts a microphone under your nose.

“Hello, Ian Sim from the Daily Smear, how do you feel?”

“What?” you reply backing away as another microphone appears.

“Hello, Mark Mywords from the Global Liar, what’s it like to be such a horrible person?”

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“Hi, Ivor Stain from Channel Bias, do you think you can cope with this sentence?”

“May Day from Bad News, did your family make you do it?”

More faces lean into the dock, jostling with one another as questions are hurled at you. The crowd’s noisiness continues as its members drive one another into a frenzy. You see my face times twelve as the jurors leap up and down, hooting and laughing as they point and continue to yell “guilty” in your direction. Through it all you can hear my baritone as more and more punishments are added to the already burgeoning list and your head swims with the barrage of sounds. Faces blur, nausea sweeps across you and your heart hammers in your chest. You feel hot, you feel faint and arms grab you from either side and pull you along the dock.

“What’s happening, I don’t understand, what I am supposed to have done?” you murmur.

“Don’t worry,” says a calm voice and you turn your head to see an elegant lady stood next to you, the lieutenants who were once there having disappeared. Who is this woman? Where has she come from? You have never seen her before.

“Don’t worry,” she repeats, “I will take care of him for you,” she smiles and promptly lets you go. She strides from the dock towards me as you teeter at the top of the stairs, the darkness of the cells somewhere beneath you and then you topple forward and crash into the chasm below.

The Haunted Chamber

 

the-haunted-chamber

Your heart has its haunted chamber,

Where the silent treatment falls,

On the floor are stalking footsteps,

Malicious whispers along the walls.

Though your perfect love is manifold,

This chamber will still persist,

Its lingering hurt and sadness,

Is decreed to always exist.

No matter how you shine and smile,

‘Tis a place of frigid cold,

That now no love, no joy, no care

Can relinquish its endless hold.

Your heart these times is haunted,

By phantoms of our past,

So insidious is the infection

It seems it will always last.

A form sits by your window,

Always in your corner eye,

Waiting and watching all night long

Yet never answering why.

I sit there in the moonlight,

Hatred etched across my face,

And point a blaming finger,

To avoid my own disgrace.

I haunt your heart and memory,

My poison flows yet still,

To remind you of your treachery,

And to scold you for causing me ill.

Each lonely darkened midnight,

You will hear my accusing wail,

The bitter and twisted arguments,

Still remain beyond the pale.

This phantom’s baleful glare,

Seems to absorb and drain your will,

The remembering of torment,

Places in your heart sick chill.

My haunting clouds your remembrance,

All else becomes thin air,

The shadows form and twist now,

So you always see me there.

The knock upon your window pane,

Wrenches your thought from me,

A relentless drumming announcement,

From the gloomy darkened tree.

There stands our oak, rain-slicked, boughs bent,

A place that was sanctuary,

We climbed it often together,

To imagine being free.

Yet now near lifeless monument,

It serves only to torment,

The greying bark and sorest wounds,

Form the night’s empty lament.

I know you look there still each night,

I know you see me there,

The haunting of your aching heart

Ne’er relieved by earnest prayer.

Your chained and weighted pensive guilt,

Is naught to my own hell,

But yours is bound in silence,

Since you can never tell.

Beneath the oaken branches,

Is the grave of that little child,

Who fell from grace so violently,

And never wept nor smiled.

So your heart remains an empty chamber,

Where my hatred will reside,

And evermore I will punish you,

For what you have always denied.

What once shone bright and golden,

Is dulled and tarnished deep,

And the memory of your failings,

Will steal away your sleep.

I blamed her then so I blame you now,

It all must  wither and turn bad,

Since I have no hope but to see you

As the parent I never had.

All Alone

 

all-alone

Do you ever get that feeling that something isn’t right? What was that noise you heard just now? Was it in a dream or was it real? It sounded like an engine. A deep, throaty engine that you recognise and have heard many times. You sit up in bed and see that it is nearly three in the morning. You tilt your heard and listen, ears straining for that familiar, dread sound. You hear nothing. Perhaps the engine has been killed and that vehicle is sat outside now. Am I say in the pool of darkness cast by a fence, alert and watching your house. That knotted sensation is quick to take hold of your stomach as you slowly emerge from the bed. You move carefully feeling as if the rustle of the duvet or your bare feet on the floor will make a sound that I can hear. You know it is foolish for my hearing is not that sharp, but you are placed on tenterhooks and accordingly move in the same way. You make your way to the window where the curtains are drawn. You feel like flinging them back in one sudden motion hoping to make me jump. You see an image of my face pressed against the window, devilish leer prominent and unnerving. Carefully you move the curtain a fraction and peer through the gap. Your range of vision is limited and you cannot see everything but my vehicle does not appear to be there. Am I watching those curtains which I used to gently pull apart once upon a time? Or am I prowling about the outside of your house, looking for an open window or an unlocked door? You have held your breath, not daring to breathe, your drumming heart loud and roaring in your ears and you wonder if you mistook that sound for the one of my car engine but you know what you heard. Perhaps I had just driven past? How many times have you seen an anthracite black Mercedes from the corner of your eye as you have walked to the shops, headed to a bar or emerged from work? Your heart leaps every time you see one and your eyes dart to the registration plate to ascertain whether it is my car. Of course, I might have changed cars now. You do not know for sure. You want to drive past where I live and ascertain which vehicle I drive so that you can keep an eye out for it, but you fear that I may see you doing this and derive satisfaction from your appearance. Something does not feel right. You experience this sensation often these days. The hairs on your neck stand up as you feel that you are being watched. When you are about to emerge from your office building you stand behind the glass and chrome scanning the plaza outside for any sign that I am stood there. You think you have spotted me twice but then I departed, evidently alert to your perception. Once you walked leisurely from your place of work to the car park but now you scurry, hoping not to be spotted and hoping that your car has not been tampered with. Your eyes follow the same drill. They flash over the windows to ensure they have not been smashed. You look to the windscreen wiper to see if a hate-filled note lies tucked beneath one of the blades. There have been several although they are always printed so you were never able to demonstrate they were from me (you wouldn’t be able to anyway – I have them printed on a lieutenant’s PC not my own, I am no amateur). Your eyes look over the external bodywork for signs of scratches, dents and lights smashed before you check the exhaust and tyres. You never get in without ensuring nobody is lurking in the back seat and once in you lock the doors automatically and then allow yourself to breathe.

Something does not feel right. It is the same sensation as when you walk anywhere alone. Your steps are hurried, furtive glances cast over your shoulder, alleyways scrutinised, walking by the kerb, away from gates and hedges. You cross the road when a shadowy figure walks towards you. Often you have someone accompany you but it is not always possible. You pull the curtain aside a little so your range of vision is increased. You can see all to the left of your house but nothing appears to be amiss. You look to the road but you cannot see any vehicle but then again I might be parked around the corner and now stood in the shadow of a tree watching your pale face peering out. You look to your mobile ‘phone, always charged and ready and consider calling the police, but what would you tell them? You think you heard my car engine? They have been out once this week and although they are always polite you gain the impression that the officers are beginning to think that you are hearing and seeing things. You can tell. Their polite reassurances do not entirely mask the resigned tones with which they speak. Should you call the police? It might be sensible. Even if I am watching, the arrival of a patrol car should send me slinking away and what about if I am caught lurking outside at this time? That would be good. Then again, perhaps you should wait until you have some concrete evidence, until you see me and then you should call. You do not want the police labelling you a time waster, but something does not feel right.

You shift your position so you can look to the right and silently curse a kink in the curtain as it is obscuring your view. You will need to push it aside and this will surely alert me to your presence. With trembling hand, you move the curtain and then crane forward so you can look over the garden. With experienced ease you let your eyes drift over the garden, the wall and the fence, looking for shapes that do not belong. Your eyes stop on something in the corner of the garden, where the wall and fence meet, a pool of shadow. Is there a figure there? You stare, eyes adjusting to the darkness and wait. You feel light-headed as you stare trying to see if that inky shape is me or just the imagination that these days seems to be out of control. No, you cannot see anybody. Your eyes scan the garden again from your lofty vantage point but you see nothing. What if I am underneath the window, tight against the front door and hidden from view? What if I have gone around the rear of the house? You did lock the side gate didn’t you? You cannot remember. You think you did but you have so many repeated checks before retiring at night that it has become something of a blur. All gates need to be checked, windows closed and locked with keys removed – even during summer you endure the heat rather than keep your windows open. Door handles are tested twice and twice more. French doors pulled and pushed to ensure they are secure. It is a nightly ritual but a necessary one. A friend suggested a dog but who would look after him whilst you were at work. You once felt safe here, especially when I lived here with you, but no longer and moving, in the current market is not an option. Maybe a lodger would be answer? The money would be welcome and so would the company, but this is your home and you resent being forced into these steps by my lingering presence.

Every day when you return from work you sweep the house making sure there has been no entry during the day. You look for anything that has been moved or is out of place which denotes whether a listening device or camera might have been placed in your living room or bedroom. You were pleased you changed the locks straight away when everything went wrong. You ought to have the place professionally swept. You used to wander about the house naked but no longer, you even feel uncomfortable standing in the shower, nervously glancing upwards looking for the winking red light denoting that a camera has been placed on a shelf and you are being watched. Nowhere feels safe from me now. Your sleep is fractured and this had led to you struggling to gauge whether your fears are real or imagined. There are too many withheld calls still, the empty texts from unknown numbers and strange voicemails left at work. You know I am still out there somewhere and you have no idea what I might do.

You can see nobody outside and consider whether you ought to check the rear but you really need to sleep. You lower yourself and sit on the edge of the bed, listening for something, anything. You are met by just the blanketing silence. No throbbing engine, no footsteps on the drive outside, no creeping advance up the stairs, no shattered glass, no jemmied door. You continue to look outside but nothing is moving. Maybe it was a dream? No, you definitely heard that distinctive growl of the engine but maybe it was further away or someone else with the same vehicle. That is possible isn’t it? Your breathing slows and you begin to convince yourself that it was another false alarm. Still, you have that feeling that something doesn’t feel right. You feel as if I have been near. Your eyes shoot to the wardrobe, mind suddenly filled with the thought that I am inside it, peering through the slats and amusing myself at your fearful expression. You try to shake the thought but you cannot. A sudden ball of anger forms inside of you and with a cry you jump up and fling the wardrobe doors open and drive your hands into the clothing inside, you push and pull but find only dresses and tops, suits and jumpers carefully hung up. I am not there. You close the doors and run back into bed, jumping into it, like a frightened child who has to run from door to bed so the monsters under the bed do not grab her ankles. Once in that bed, you are in a cocoon of safety. You pull the duvet over your head and lie there, curled up tight in a ball, cursing me and breathing hard.

Eventually you emerge, face warm from breathing under the duvet and you are grateful for the cold air of your room. You lie back and allow yourself to gradually uncoil, ears still listening out for a sound but there comes none. You glance at the clock and see it is now 3-15 am and you really ought to sleep. You roll on to your side and adjust the pillow, praying that slumber visits you soon. If only that feeling that something is not right would leave you.

Morning arrives and you emerge from bed bleary eyed but thankful that you have at least slept. You attend to your usual routine in the bathroom before dressing and heading down the stairs ready to prepare some breakfast. As you descend the stairs you halt as you see something is lying on the mat underneath the letterbox in the front door. It is square and plastic. It is only 7am and the post man has not yet been although you did not hear anybody put anything through the letter box. You slowly pace down the stairs as that sensation of something being wrong engulfs you. You see it is a CD case that has been deposited. That is not right. Nobody has borrowed any of your CDs. Something is definitely not right. With churning stomach and laboured breath, hammering heart and rising nausea you pick up the CD and turn it over to read the cover.

The Police: Every Breath You Take

That was one of your favourite songs wasn’t it?

Until I told you what the lyrics really meant.

Buried Alive

 

buried-alive

 

 

One of our aims when we entangle you is to cause the equivalent of you feeling as if you are being buried alive. Doing this keeps you in our grip and under our control. For some people, the thought of being buried alive causes them considerable terror. The concept of being bound and dropped into a prepared hole in the ground, lying against the cold, damp earth as the first shovel load of earth lands on you, dirt cascading over your face as you blink frantically trying to avoid it going in your eyes. A second shovel load lands, this time more compact and it hits your torso with the equivalent of a moderate punch to the ribs. You shout out but your unknown assailant does not respond as more earth cascades down on to you. You kick and wriggle but soon the earth begins to heap around you, your movements are constrained and you are trying to back up so you can keep your head as high as possible, just as you might do during our devaluation of you, trying desperately to retain some dignity. You continue to shout and scream and you begin to wonder whether you are making any sound at all as there is no response. Your legs are now covered and you are unable to move them now, the weight of the earth on them pinning them into place. Someone else has now taken control of how much you can move and they have deemed that there is to be no movement, at least from the waist down. Still that steady and rhythmic motion can just about be heard above you as the dirt continues to fall, a steady curtain of earth which is creating your tomb. The encroaching earth has moved over your chest and you look down, arms tied in front of you as you lift them up and down breaking the layer of earth for a little longer.

On it continues as more and more dirt tumbles onto you now making it seem as if the ground is swallowing you. How many times had you wished that would happen when you were on the receiving end of one our vicious tirades? You try to move your arms but the weight is too great and now the terror has taken your voice so that your once hearty yells and piercing screams are replaced by a strange strangulated rasp as the cries for help become lodged in your throat, just like the earth will do so very soon. Your pleas to be spared, your bid for clemency and begging for mercy has gone unheeded as the earth continues to rise and you shake your head from side to side, trying to fight off the onslaught. The whole of your body, save for your head, is now paralysed, trapped by the significant load of earth which has been dropped on to you. You can feel your lungs being squashed as your breathing becomes harder. You wish you were dead. A gun shot to the head, quick and instant. That would be better than this lingering, slow and crushing descent into suffocation. Sounds suddenly become muffled and you realise that the earth has now begun to cover your ears. You still twist your head but the room for movement has become even more reduced. Your eyes are shut now otherwise they would be filled with grit and crumbs of dirt. You spit and blow away the earth which lands across your mouth as just an oval of your face breaks the surface of the soil.Your terror and panic is at its zenith and then there is a cessation in the onslaught. You cannot feel anything dropping onto you any more. There is a spark of hope. Is this it? Have you been spared at the last moment? Have you perhaps been rescued, your tormentor now pinned to the ground by the timely arrival of law enforcement? Will it be only a matter of moments before the shovel tentatively digs around you to free you? You blink furiously and open your eyes hoping to see the glare of a flashlight.

Your vision sharpens into focus and you see the silhouette of somebody leaning over the edge of the pit, shovel in hand, peering down at you as if scrutinising you for the last time. You cannot make out any of their features against the darkening sky behind them as they stand and then the earthen rain begins again. You manage to muster a final scream of defiant protestation as the soil begins to gather over your face, covering your eyes, blocking your nose and sealing your mouth as a thousand thoughts flash through your mind, mixing with the terror as you wonder how long you have left?

Such a thought of being buried alive by an unknown aggressor or waking in a coffin having been mistakenly thought dead and thus buried alive, hands scrabbling at the smooth wood, yells and shouts unheard through the coffin lid and heaped earth above, causes considerable anxiety in many people. Such an imagined experience is akin to the way we treat our victims. We control them and restrict them, steadily and effectively, through the always used slice, slice, slice technique as we little by little reduce their movement, just as if we were heaping soil onto them. We create that sense of rising panic as there remains some movement but it is insufficient to escape the looming threat. Through our manipulations we keep you rooted to the spot with nowhere to escape to, nowhere to turn,just as if you are lying helpless in the bottom of a pit.

The steady and repeated accumulation of our manipulations make you feel as if you are being slowly suffocated. You cannot speak without approval or reprimand, your thoughts no longer feel your own as you are left to second guess what we want in order to try to avoid a further consequence. You close your eyes hoping it will all end and then your heart sinks as it does not. Each day you feel the air being drawn from your body, your strength sapping away, the will to fight back being diminished and stolen from you. The walls seems to close in on you, the air becoming stale and foul from you being kept indoors for so such long periods of time, prevented from seeing other people and leaving our sphere of influence. We invade your spaces, reading your messages, your e-mails and post. You have nowhere to go to in order to escape our incessant and all-consuming presence. We are like a weight on your chest, around your neck and about your heart.Your identity is steadily squeezed from you as we impress our thoughts, needs, desires and demands on you. Every day the pressure increases, just like the weight of the earth piling on your chest. You beg and plead for relief from this incessant pressure but just like the silent and unresponsive wielder of the shovel, you receive no respite from us either. The panic rises and the anxiety robs the breath from your lungs, forcing you to gasp as the panic attack takes you in its grip. You are suffocating. You cannot breathe. We are all around you, pressing against you, holding you, pressurising you, leaning on you, invading your space and driving the breath from your body. Being with us is just like being buried alive.