Heavens Alley - Chapter 1: Invisible Scars
"Madness, as you know, is a lot like gravity. All it takes, is a little push"
A well ordered routine is what kept his madness in check. The alarm would buzz at 6:59 am. Everyday. He had accounted for the minute he took to rub his eyes, get out of bed and walk to the yoga mat. He would spend an hour performing a strenuous set of 25 Asanas. He would then fold his mat, place it at the exact same spot he picked it up from and head for the shower. He was paranoid of the unknown, so much so that even his shampoo was custom made. The water base was deionised in a separation chamber, and carefully measured quantities of citric acid was imbibed to tilt the pH to slightly acidic.This helped protect the cuticle layer. After the carefully measured amounts of foam boosters and thickeners were added, hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride was introduced which gave it conditioning properties. Finally, almond extracts were infused, that gave the essential vitamin B7 boost. Everything he did in life, much like this concoction, was meticulously planned to the dot. There was a reason to this compulsive need for complete control over every aspect of life. He was a Psychopath.
Eric Luf (Pronounced Eric Lyoof) was 11 when he was diagnosed with the disorder. Mrs Glenda Luf walked into their backyard to find her son Eric holding a stray rabbit in his left hand, and a kitchen knife in his right. He had stabbed the rabbit 17 times. It had died after the second jab. After the initial shock wore off, she took him to a psychiatrist, Dr Geraldine Brook, who specialised in Psychosomatic Medicine and was also a family friend. "I have bad news Glenda dear", Dr Geraldine began. "Considering what transpired, we performed a PCL-R test, and in order to get a sense of what motivates his actions we monitored his brain activity, specifically monitoring chemical secretions while showing images ranging from pretty girls to mutilated faces. The result, I'm afraid, classifies Eric as a psychopath." "MY SON IS NOT CRAZY!!!", Glenda yelled. "Relax Glenny, no one's saying he's crazy. He just has a disorder that is probably a by product of what happened with Johnny."
Eric was 4 and absolutely loved ice cream. His papa, Mr John Luf took him out for a late evening stroll one Tuesday. John loved Eric and often took him to the "Sundae house" few blocks away for ice cream. The streets around the Luf residence were safe, and they didn't see why today would be any different. They were only 3 blocks away, when a thief sprang out of the shadows, knife in hand. Johns instinctive reaction was to hide Eric behind him and put up his fists. "Give me your wallet old man, and no one gets hurt!", the thief growled. John wasn't the kind to be pushed around. He stood his ground. "Leave us boy", John said boldly. The thief shuddered. He was a virgin mugger, and he was determined to succeed. He swung his knife wildly in an attempt to prove his resolve. John jumped back and dodged the first swing, but the thief blindly swung again and this time caught the side of Johns neck. He had ripped open his Jugular. Blood gushed out uncontrollably. The thief panicked. He didn't mean to hurt anyone. He turned around and ran. Eric was too young to comprehend what was happening and just looked at his papa for instructions. Why is papa writhing, holding on to his neck? Why is papa squirming on the floor and why is there blood everywhere? The police arrived 20 minutes later to find Eric sitting by his fathers side in a pool of blood. In a fit of boredom he had decided to splash around in this warm red syrup, and was now covered head to toe in his fathers blood.
"The brain is a complex palace", Dr Brook explained. "He might have been too young to comprehend the events unfolding in front of him, but they have etched a lasting scar on his brain. There are a lot of character traits that define a psychopath, and not all of them possess every trait. That's where the studies come in, to determine which traits one patient possesses, and if they do exhibit any of the dangerous traits." "Dangerous traits?", Glenda gulped, fearful of the answer. "Some Psychopaths are harmless to themselves and society, only showing a lack of empathy and social skills. An extreme opposite, is one that indulges in damaging and usually criminal acts. In recent times we have stopped focusing on behaviours psychopaths DON'T possess: empathy, kindness etcetera, and begun focusing on traits the DO or might eventually possess: a thirst for inflicting pain. The way we measure this is by measuring levels of Dopamine and Oxytocin secretions in the brain. Dopamine causes a sudden sense of motivation and reinforces the gratification of achievement. When secreted, it gives you pleasure in what you're doing. Oxytocin brings about a strong sense of connection and bonding. In simple words, these chemicals are secreted when we do something we like and in turn causes us to repeat those actions. By examining what activities cause these chemical secretions, we can identify what traits a person possesses. In Erics case, I'm afraid....", Dr Brook paused. She didn't know how the ensuing information would be received. "Just tell me Dina!", yelled Glenda. "Well.. We showed Eric pictures of laughing babies, running puppies, you know, what you'd usually find cute and cuddly, and there was no brain activity at all. It was as if he was staring at a blank wall. But this we expected. We then showed him pictures of Stabbings, mutilations, hanging bodies... And.... And there was a sudden spike in dopamine levels in his brain... Glenda.. I'm afraid Eric possesses the criminal traits of a psychopath. He needs to be reprimanded, and at the earliest." Glenda could take no more. She wasn't going to let this bitch with a paper for a degree tell her her son was a budding monster. She stormed out, picked Eric from the waiting room and left. By nightfall they were moving to a new city. One that would give them a fresh start. They headed for Heavens Alley.
For the next 8 years Glenda was a mother, a father and a friend to Eric. She gave him the freedom he needed to grow self sufficient. She let him pick his course of education, as long he promised to pursue it. Despite the strong disagreement she had with Dr Brooks' diagnosis, she always kept a watchful eye on Eric. There seemed to be no incidents of the crazy kind, except once in the 6th grade when a student who almost died from choking on a pocket mirror swore it was Eric who convinced her to swallow it. Glenda fought with murderous rage with the school authorities and got her sons name cleared, although Eric just stood there, calmly, not a worry on his mind. Eric picked Psychology and Literature as his majors in college, learning Neuro Linguistic Programming, Social Psychology, Verbal Hypnosis, Conversation Engineering, Classical Literature, and a few other courses. Little did he know, his brain had a sly diligent plan of its own. It was preparing Eric to be a master at human interaction, so his prey could turn victim with ease.
Eric was 19 when his mother was raped and murdered on her way back from evening prayers. Heavens Alley didn't always stay true to its name. At her funeral, he stood awfully still, with a blank gaze. He felt a hollowness in his chest but he didn't know what it was. He didn't shed a tear. That was nine years ago. She left him an inheritance that got him through college and his job as a Counsellor at an IT firm got him through the rest of the years. He was now 28 years old, and a handsome man. He was five feet ten inches tall, with a slim yet firm build. He had the uncanny characteristics of a movie star, a well chiselled face with a defined jaw line and a sharp nose. His eyes were the common brown, but he had a gaze that could hook you. He combed his jet black hair neatly and was clean shaven. He was always well dressed. His suits, shoes and even his cologne, just like his shampoo, were custom made. The women he dated said his scent allured them to him, and you'd wonder if his brain had devised a way to produce Pheromones at will. Eric never had an off day.
He woke up in the middle of the night in a sweat. It had been a while since he had this dream. It disturbed him to his core. He walked to the kitchen counter and gulped down a glass of water. He didn't like being shaken. He needed his drug. He knew what he had to do. He needed a kill.
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