Erhart gazed up at the red sky blazing above, slightly propped up against a log. He felt weak. All of his energy had been drained when he remembered how the person of his dream had been taken. Flashes of red glowed in the darkness behind his eyes. Erhart tasted salt and thought that he could not stand.
‘I will always make everyone go away and die,’ a quietly rasping voice whispered in his mind.
Erhart widened his eyes. “Why?” he asked it.
The voice seemed to know his fear: ‘You know what you are,’ it said, and other voices joined in to repeat what the voice said, seeming to seethe together. ‘Every day, you wake up to find what you are; you never change.’
As if shot, he slid off of the log and lay motionless in the sand. He could not think what he was. But knew that everyone else knew.
“I need myself,” they hissed. “I do not need that weak fish lady.”
Erhart murmured a bad word.
Their laughter squealed and rumbled like bombs. The deep loud and hollow sound reverberated in his empty mind.
‘I think that murmuring immoral words will better the situation? Yes,’ they hummed in harmony together. ‘The fish lady is a dangerous sea-witch—so weak, in fact, that she cannot even breathe out of water. She wanted to manipulate me—to fool me. To take my life and control it.’
“No,” said Erhart, hearing his pleading voice grate out, dry as sand. “She could understand…And I tried…” He choked and gasped.
‘She beguiled me; she pulled me in,’ they retorted. ‘She deceived me with her magic to make me see beauty where there was none. She is a hideous sea-witch, with grey skin plagued with black bulbous warts, and a toothless mouth. Knotted hair hangs in uneven clots on her withered head.’ They ranted on forcefully, ‘She is decaying. She is the image of death. She would have trapped me in her ship had I not saved myself. And still she followed, desiring my looks of admiration. I like something and look where it cannot be found. If I let her into my thoughts, she will only try to haze them with her murky ways.’
Erhart could not think to reason.
‘It is always the same,’ they sang.
Erhart moved his lips. He could not make sound: ‘Please leave me alone. I cannot think. Please go.’
‘I cannot tell myself to stop!’ they said in a sharp reassuring shout. ‘I am what I am.’
Erhart, his trust in his only friend lost, crawled to his knees and blinked in the harsh light of day. He might be insane, but he reasoned that if there was no one left in the world to hold onto, he ought to let go of what little care that he had left.