Bright colours on a grey Day Two bodies in a hot room, one leg between two thighs, four awkward

arms, one fan spinning from the roof. The dark, shabby haired boy, Evan, watched his own body as it moved without him willing it to, and he made it stop. His skin was a tanned brown with light patches where the sun seldom shone. In his mouth was the taste of skin and his muscles were relaxed in the way they could only be after having exerted itself in the way he had the night before. He rose then, silently, counting the steps it took him to reach the front door. The soles of his feet were soft and the carpet rough, and he pleasured himself in scraping slightly against it each time his feet met the ground. His lips were hard as they had been stretched and broken and were now healing – they were often dry in Summer time. His clothes lay in a bundle at the door and he put them on in a whisper. Stained blue jeans, a yellow checked shirt and brown boots. He had been asleep for almost twelve hours and it was already late afternoon. Once, he remembered, he had not seen the sunshine for two days of hibernation after one of his encounters. He smiled in remembrance of this, but not too widely or he would crack his lips again. He looked back at the motionless figure on the bed. Suddenly he felt a pang of guilt and his face fell into a vacant expression. He thought for a second that he wanted to be normal again. He wanted to care enough about them to sacrifice himself, but the thoughts were pretentious. He hated himself suddenly, and left the room before the smell of death became disturbing. Nothing physical disturbed him, but he was sensitive to the physical for consideration of those whom were concerned. This was number three hundred and forty-eight. It had been two years since his promise, since his bargain. More precisely 793 days, 7 hours and 23 minutes. The numbers ticked on a watch inside of him, constantly, loudly, but he had learned to live with them. This was borrowed time, and he would always be reminded of it. When he reached the outside he smelled the city, bustling, alive. He did not see it in the way others did. He saw scars on foreheads, luminescent and neon-purple. But he had asked to see those scars, and would not complain. He counted the scars as he walked along the busy streets: thirteen; fourteen; fifteen... People passed him but

he did not see them as people, only as scarred or not scarred. Race, colour, age, sex did not matter to him, only the scars. Eventually he would have to kill each of them, as he had promised, but he had years still to do so. He remembered the day he had made the promise – he was a different person; physically at least he was very different. Inside he was always one of the scarred and hated his kind. And so he changed, willed it so and prayed it so and eventually made it so. But he would have to pay for his change, because being one of the non-scarred meant having to do certain things, and he had promised to do so. He walked into a bar and ordered himself a drink. There were many people there and many of them had the bright purple scars which he sought. He counted them, and realised that this would be where he would spend many weeks. His chest burned slightly and he scratched it… not because he minded the burning, but because he wanted to. The air was thick with the heat and smell of cigarettes. Four men sat at the bar counter, three seeming to be in conversation with each other (all scarred) and one sitting aside with a tall glass of dark beer. Scarred. Deeply. And Evan walked over to him and sat down next to him smiling weakly, not wanting to crack his lips. “Hello” “Hi”, the other man said, seeming reluctant to speak with Evan. The man beat his fingers against the counter nervously. “Are you alone?” Evan asked. He knew that his kind had no need for pleasantries. He raised an eyebrow and maintained his weak smile. “I’m waiting for someone” the other man said. He was lying, and Evan knew it. He knew how they operated, the scarred, and was amused at the comment. Evan was silent then, but stared at the man through smiling eyes. He reached over for the man’s glass of beer and took a large gulp of it, and as he put it down he stroked the man’s hand for a second. “Do you mind?” he asked. The man answered too quickly and nervously, “No, no, not at all. Can I buy you a drink?” At this Evan knew that he had won and stood up. “Why don’t you come with me.” The man looked shocked and mumbled, “Okay, where are we going?” Evan took the man to a hotel and had him pay for a room. The man wanted to shower first and Evan waited on the bed for him. Twenty-two minutes. The man stepped in then, smelling of lavender and with no clothes on. Evan looked at his body

and smiled, but something was wrong. The scar, which had been on his forehead so brightly a few minutes before, was faded, almost gone. Evan’s smile disappeared. He could see the man’s eyes now that the purple light did not cover them, and saw the eyes of an unscarred. He watched as the man walked towards him, six steps, and had sex with him. Could he still kill this man? Would that be in line with the agreement? When they finished the man kissed Evan on his lips. It had been Evan’s first kiss in over two years. The man slept then and Evan waited. His body did not hurt and he could not make it hurt now. He tried to count the breaths of his sleeping partner, but he lost count in his thoughts. He got up then, slender and naked. He walked numbly towards the balcony and breathed in the fresh air. Below him, many stories down, he saw the purple flashes of people he would have to kill. He wanted to know how many there were, altogether. He wanted to know how long this would continue. He heard a rustling from behind him and saw that the man was awake and staring at him, smiling broadly. “That was wonderful,” he said, and continued, “By the way, my name’s Mike.” Evan smiled then until his lips cracked, and tasted the blood. Grant Andrews

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