I knock on Jay's door. No response. I open the navy blue door. Inside, the walls are cream, but not like the stuff I pour in my coffee, there is a hue of sky blue there. The floor is a dark walnut, just like mine, but not the laminate that was installed to withstand the accidental fires I would start. Unlike me, his accents are blue, not red. His colors are the raging ocean and fresh bluebells. The windows are covered by curtains which are only opaque because of the grime. Fabric that thin should be letting the light pass as if it isn't even there but instead they cast a murky shadow over the room.
Jay is perched on the bed, and I hear him soliloquizing, talking as if the conversation is two way. His glossy eyes are fixated on the air in front of him, but upon noticing me he ceases and looks over.
"Oh hi, Kai."
Jay chirps ebulliently. His hair is as wild as the jungle, untamable and unruly. His once stunning orange-brown ringlets now vaguely resemble a bird's nest. His ninja gi is lacerated in some places and stained with drying blood. There is a large assortment of mangled stuffed animals and plushies about the room, appearing to have been stabbed.
I hadn't noticed the goosebumps creeping on my arms until now.
The room's aberrant look is extremely unnerving. The bed is unkept, and the sheets hacked to shreds. On the rug lies several plastic beads, an assortment of primary colors, some transparent, some opaque. His room is scattered with broken possessions. Dark red stains are here and there, and I am certain they aren't paint.
We just stand there awkwardly, parallel to each other. I steady my breath and try to calm the growing worry as I charily approach Jay, the wooden floor groaning with each step. There is only silence. He glances at the messy room, humming an off-beat tune to himself. It's like he's on a permanent sugar high.
"Erm, your room is a bit...a bit..."
I grasp for the right words, trying not to upset my brother.
Jay cocks his head to one side and reaches over to a rusted dagger lying on his bed before swiveling back to me.
I scramble astern, tumbling to the floor, but I have nothing to fear. Jay turns the blade on himself and stabs it inward instead. A deep wound becomes sliced into the flesh of his upper right arm. It's heavily oozing out blood and there's a bluish-purple bruise forming around it. Jay lightly presses his index finger against the center of the cut and sucks in a sharp breath as the pain spirals all across his body.
Shooting up, I rush over and press my hand against the wound to allay the bleeding, but Jay seizes my wrist. His grip is stringent, and I immediately force myself to yank free from him.
"Leave it," he gasps. He straightens up, blood streaming from his injury, droplets falling to the floor as he stares at me vehemently.
"I'm normal. I'm good! Why are you looking at me like that? Your mouth is so wide. Did you know that you have really pretty teeth? I like your teeth. I want to pull out each glossy white tooth and put them in my Ziploc bag to add to my collection. Now, where is it? I'm sure I have it on me somewhere. Why are you walking away from me? WHY ARE YOU WALKING AWAY FROM ME? Thank you. Your hair is really pretty in the sunlight. It's brown, it's like bronze. Stop it. Stop it stop it stop it stop it. You don't deserve to have hair like that. Sun-kissed, rich and colorful, the last embers in a fire. You asshole."
His chuckle is light and laced with a hum of amusement at the matter as he scrambles up.
"Umm...no," I opine, a feeling of dread creeping up from the pit of my stomach as I take two small steps backward.
"Please~? STOP MOVING AWAY. I SAID STOP. Why are you making that face? Why are you making those terrible sounds? Haha. Stop teasing me."
"Jay...what happened to you? You're acting psychotic..!"
I utter, my eyes wide. Jay tilts his head sideways. Flat black eyes with a lifeless look to them stare into mine, almost like trying to peer into my mind. Every muscle in my body screams at me to flee, but I remain frozen.
"Everyone gets dehumanized, Kai, everyone. It can be for your race, gender, age, education, religion...so many reasons. But here's the rub, the real one: teaching us to dehumanize one another induces psychopathy into us. It takes normal folks and makes them not care if others live or die. We aren't born to be that way, we aren't. The creator gives us a soul of pure love so that we can hold on to truth and honor. We are supposed to fight back, stay noble, be kind, think critically and be brave. The only other option is to be complicit in psychopathy with our eyes open; if you do that, my friend, not even I can save you. Being the 'angel' of your better nature is your only true defense, there is no manual for this stuff, there can't be one. Psychopaths subvert written rules, yet the power of love is creative and flexible; that's how we win. That's how we were always going to win."
He throws back his head and lets out a loud, humorless laugh. He continues to cackle hysterically, with tears starting to run down his face. I run for the door, horrified. Throwing it open, I slam it closed behind me before sliding down the door, bringing my knees up to my chest. I can still hear Jay laughing insanely as I do my best to block out the thoughts of that no longer being my brother anymore.