“What if?”

This one was inspired, in part, by a re-reading of Poe’s Tell Tale Heart. The stories are pretty much completely unrelated, as you’ll see, but it still gave me the idea or something for it.

The thought was a simple one. “What if?” But that one simple thought spiraled into an uncontrollable sequence of proceedings that took control of the next period of time.
I stood on the street, leaning against a building’s wall. I had not a thought besides that one, and was utterly humbled by the drink I had taken. But still the thought pervaded my mind, festering in it like an infection. “What if?”
The man -that man- passed by, in front of me. “What if?”
I lunged at him, apathetically bloodthirsty. He screamed, an odd response as I thought of it then, and I tore into him. Blood one way, body the other. I didn’t know him, of course. I knew nothing about him. But I needed to feel the life slipping away at my bidding, fleeing under my fury. Passionless fury?
It was an experiment, in my mind. I simple didn’t know what it would be like to kill someone, and wished to learn. And I decided now would be that time.
He screamed, and was no more. Pathetic, in a way, how weak his hold on life and consciousness was. But that it was, and unchangeable. Unchangeable especially now, that all hold on life was gone and the object -his body- lay at my feet, and unsentient, lifeless thing, no more human than a stone.
I went home in my numbness, unsure and unaware of what I had done and what had happened. It was not a murder -oh, no- it was merely a trial – as I have stated, an experiment.
In the morning, I knew not if it was reality or but one of the false thoughts that came to me under the influence.
I soon found out. Amazingly, incredibly, I was not found out. Lucky. And very suited to future experiments. Once was easy, so why wouldn’t twice be?
I wasn’t truly in control of myself. I was but an observer of the subconscious acting upon the physical body.
The second was an immobile beggar. Utterly helpless as I squeezed every drop of consciousness out of him.
The newspapers confirmed what I wondered as a half-possibility; two men were killed, with no connection. The police had no idea.
“I am the one!” I screamed at the newspaper, but the didn’t hear, or were unlistening. I cared not. I said it, that was all.
It was an unending cycle. My vision flipped up and up and up continuously, but I ignored it as I killed yet another.
I didn’t have control, you see, no control at all. My subconscious will acted out on its own with no help from me.
It was hopeless, utterly hopeless. There was nothing I could do to stop the revenge of myself upon those helpless lives unless – unless I committed that final murder; myself. It would end all of this.
The bottle helped me. It suggested my path, as it always did, whether or not I was aware of it.
The End would be soft and sweet, I thought. A slow fading from the world.
But, in reality, it was a stark shock into the next world, and meeting upon meeting of those I had killed. Remorse, yes, but too late. It did nothing, counted for nothing, here.
A cry left me.

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