To The Letter.
To whom it may concern, or whomever may read this,
I know not what purpose this letter might serve. Likely, any trust in my character or mental stability will be lost upon reading. Maybe you will take no action, or perhaps you will have me dragged away and committed to a mental institution. I do not plead; not for help, not for mercy. This is merely a theory which cannot be confirmed nor refuted. I hope that someone might read this as even such a small act would bring me some measure of comfort.
I have recently become aware of a shocking occurrence which must be written down, lest it be lost and forgotten; a fate I fear with all of my being. It happened just this last evening, or perhaps it was at that moment that I became aware. I know not whether the change I detected was an occurrence within my moment of realization, or whether it had existed prior. My only knowledge is what I recall from that time, a mere few hours past.
I was standing on the back step, leaning against the rail. The sun had fallen as the evening drew to a close. There was nothing special about this moment, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing different from the routine. I held a glass of bourbon in my hand, but I had yet to partake of its enjoyment.
I looked down and, in that moment, became aware that I was no longer in control of my own body. I looked down—no—I looked out through my eyes, past my face, and below my chest. I could see my right arm resting on the handrail, holding my glass. My left arm hung idly at my side. I moved it, or rather, it moved, responding in accordance with my intention. I turned it over, and it obeyed as it always had. I turned it so that I could see my knuckles, and again until I could see my palm. I touched each finger to my palm, then closed and opened my hand; it behaved as normal.
But I was not in control! Something, someone, was moving my hand just as I would, had I been in control.
My gaze drifted to my glass and I looked inside, hoping to perceive some evidence of poison or other cause for my state. But I remembered that I had not even so much as tasted it! Nonetheless, I cast it away out of caution; glass, drink, and all, I threw them into the hedge. Turning quickly, I entered the house and shut the door. For a moment, I stood just within the entrance. I looked about. Everything was in its place, nothing was amiss… except for me!
I began to think and ponder. I tried to reason with myself, to defeat the enigma with my mind. But I could not find any explanation, and instead sought to rest. I moved toward my bed. My steps were certain as though I had placed them myself.
As I lay in bed, I recalled the details of the effect known as “deja vu,” wherein a thought is committed to memory before it has been actively “thought,” in essence, tricking the brain into believing things to have already happened even as they happen in the present. I thought, or rather, hoped, that something like that was affecting me, and that to cure it, I only needed to rest.
I awoke the next morning as my eyelids peeled back, and my own muscles lifted me from the bed. I had performed this action so many times that it was nearly automated. I knew what came next, but my mind was caught in this labyrinthine sensation and I stumbled on my way toward the end of the room. I stopped in view of the mirror. I looked closer to find that nothing about my appearance had changed. No scars or marks were visible, no strings held up my limbs. All would appear normal.
I moved to wash myself as always. In my mind, I hoped that my own familiarity with this routine would expose my captor in his efforts. But as I discarded my garments, as I moved about, as I washed myself, and even as I dressed myself once more; my captor proved with each motion that he was more than capable of replicating everything I had once done. My senses remained true, heat and touch were still known to me in my prison. I was spared no sensation. The pain of my toe against the bedpost, the texture of a rug, the taste of food, the sound of spoon against bowl; it all came to me as though I still had need of it, as though I was still the master.
I took up my pen and set about to write a letter; this letter.
But now as I write, I find it strange that my captor would allow such a thing. Unless it is such that he is arrogantly sure that this poses no threat to him, which is perhaps true, as I am fully aware of how little credibility this letter will hold. I am also aware that since it is he that must write this letter for me, even my thoughts must be known to him.
I shall try to write again…
I write again to say that nothing has changed thus far. He moves me about as I would do myself. He speaks like I would, he desires what I once did, and through it all, I still see. I still hear, I still taste, I am constantly aware of what is happening, but powerless to act.
And yet he seeks to remain unknown. He acts as I would. For every door I see and seek to enter, he turns the knob! For every word I should say, whether by need or want, he guides my tongue! With the exception of this very letter, he pretends to be me, without change, without this realization; just me as I would have been. On that, we both agree. But what possible action could I take that would rid me of him?
If he will allow it, I will write again…
To whom may still be reading,
Long has it been since I became an observer to my own life, and I write again to commend even this resident demon on his talent. Not one of my friends or colleagues; not even my relatives have noticed. In this last week I have simply let him play my role. As each of my thoughts would surface, he still acts. He knows my acquaintances by name, he knows my employment and even the finer points of my responsibility.
Yet I find it continuously surprising that he would only seek to maintain the illusion. What could he hope to gain from it? Further, he seeks to vex even me.
I have on two occasions sought to alter my routine, merely for the purpose of testing him. I sought an alternate route on my way home, and he carried me along it as though I was once more the master of my own fate. The following day, I ate only one piece of bread, but still he played along. Alas, I have gained no knowledge from these slight trials. It remains unknown to me, whether I was allowed charge over my body, or whether he read my intentions and mimicked them in turn.
It is most distressing to know that even my deepest thoughts and instincts are known to him. For if he is reading my thoughts, and playing out before me, that which I foolishly believe to be performing for myself, then I question at what point he will cease!
If I were to climb atop a tower and cast myself off, will he stop me? Or will he let me fall, ending us both?
Or will he take a knife to my throat, forcing me to watch and feel as my life pours out?
Is he even bound to my body? Will he even suffer with my own demise? Does he intend to laugh as I am helpless to stop him from ruining me? Or will he drive me to do it myself while he laughs harder still at the tragedy of my own making?
He is a puppet master I cannot trust. Every waking moment I fear that he will take total command and ruin me in an instant. I fear that he may cast me into a fire, and merely cut a string to free himself.
I feel it waning, the sensation of being controlled.
However, this entry is not in rejoicing, but in terror, as I fear what may be at play. If such a being can so easily control my body, leaving my mind to observe, can it not just as easily control my mind as well? Has it always been capable? Have I always been under the illusion that it did not exist, that it was not controlling me? Or has it just now learn to deceive my thoughts?
In all this time, I still know nothing of its intentions. I have found no escape.
I fear that soon I will believe I am in control again. Or worse, that I always have been. I fear that my captor has grown tired of mocking me, and will shut me away, under the illusion that none of this ever happened.
Could it be that I am deceived yet further? Could it be that my body is somewhere distant, slowly decaying, while my mind is fed lies?
I pray that I can send this letter away, somewhere distant, where he cannot destroy it. For soon I fear that this will be all that remains of what used to be me. I pray that whomever may read this will not seek me out, for fear of whom or what they will encounter should they find me.
I doubt anyone will believe I am gone, for a perfect replica has taken my place, even unto stealing my body. I pray that you will remember me.
And lastly, I pray that I am alone under this curse.