I don't know why I should tell you this. This therapy idea was a dumb one anyway.

You don't have to tell me, if you don't want to.

As long as I'm here, I may as well, right? I guess you wouldn't be able to help me if I didn't.

It's your call.

Thanks for the encouragement.

Any time.

Well... I don't really know where to start.

The beginning, perhaps?

All right. The beginning.

His name was David. He's about my height, blond, grey eyes. I don't suppose you know him.

I watch the news. He looks a bit like you, doesn't he?

Yeah. He looked like me. That was the problem. See, we both worked at the same place. Called Newsoft, or some yuppie crap like that. You know what I'm talking about?

Of course.

We were in the programming division, working on a prototype nanomachine controller program. The thing was gonna be able to perform surgery within a patient. Most non-invasive technology since the fucking laser. Stuff came in a pill, guy swallowed it, the doc puts him under, goes to work, and guy wakes up, fit as a fucking fiddle. Bleeding-edge techonology.

So what did David do?

I'm getting to that. See, we both got in at the same time, as programmers under the same team leader. They needed someone to design the control interface, you know? So, we went at it for awhile.

Then she showed up.


You do watch the news, don't you? Anyway, that was the start. We both liked her. A lot. And, well...

He had better people skills, to put it nicely.

You don't have to curb your tongue around me. I don't mind.

Fine. The bastard could talk the fucking stars out of the sky and persuade Mr. Fucking Hussein himself to wear a tutu and sing "Auld Lang Syne" while handing out chocolate bars to all the nice kids. That better?

Of course.

You're a sneaky bastard, you know that?

It's my job, Mr. Jacobs.

It's Dmitri.

Dmitri, then. How'd you get a name like that, anyway?

I'll tell you some other time. Anyway, the snake beat me to Marilyn by a long shot. I didn't have a chance, and I resented that. A lot.

She couldn't have been the only reason.

Hell no. There was a lot. Most of the time, I'd get mistaken for David. Rather regularly. I don't think anyone really knew who I was. Ever have that happen to you?

Not really.

It wears a guy down. David knew what was happening, too. Used it against me. Started to take credit for my code.


Keystroke recorder, at first. Real simple, real obvious. That was to hide the second one he'd hidden a lot better. Took a few days to find it. I think there was a few other schemes, but they weren't that great. After a while he got lazy, and started intercepting the code when I'd send it to the team leader.

How'd you get around that?

Didn't. Isn't any other way to manipulate info, not anymore. Paper's too expensive, what with the lack of trees and all. Even you have a recorder. When was the last time you picked up a real book?

In a museum, when I was about six or seven.

See? The bastard knew what he was doing.

What else did he do?

After he'd taken Marilyn, he started fucking with my reputation, with the cops and all that. Started to plant stuff in my terminal, my house. Got busted for kiddie porn. Managed to prove my way out of that one, but I didn't have anything to nail David to the wall with. Covered his tracks real well.

There was a lot he did. Don't know why. Never did find a motive, and the cops didn't either. That's why I'm in here.

Anything else?

Everything became a blur after while. The only clear parts became the ones where he was screwing me over. I could remember all of the times, once upon a time. They were crystal clear, all of them.

I don't think it was very healthy of me to dwell on all this. The memories kinda sat in the back of my head, sharpening their daggers, waiting for the moment when he'd be off guard and they'd jump out and cut him into pieces.

Dmitri, I need to go. We'll continue this another time-

Then I found his weakness. I'd started carrying a ceramic knife around, to avoid the metal detectors. Idiots. That was all the security they had. Sure, we all had psych tests, but that clearly didn't work, didn't it?

Dmitri, hold on a sec. I have other appointments to keep, and-

Hold on a fucking second and let me finish, all right? Like I said, I found his weakness after all. Liked to parade around with Marilyn where I could see him, just down the hall. So one day, while he was doing this, I got up, all friendly-like, and walked over to him, big smile on my face.

Fucker never saw it coming. Took him a sec to realize there was two inches of laser-sharpened pottery sticking out his back. The look on his face made my day.

Dmitri, I am going to leave, whether you continue or not. I am late for my next client, and I will finish listening to you next time, all right?

Whatever. I was done anyway. See you next time, eh?

This was a challenge put to me by futurebird. Booya!

Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.

On my desk sits my bayonet. Standard infantry issue. It's an old one- the drill officer recently got rid of all of these and replaced them with the newer, lighter carbon-fiber/ceramic black bayonets. They don't glare in the sunlight as the Brigade of Midshipmen marches on Worden Field like the old ones, but supposedly they are more functional, and significantly sharper. But as I reach forward and hold this tool of old global fratricide, I think the new bayonets might look more impressive, but this one was actually used.

Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?

The Brigade sweats it out every Friday in the fall, then sweats some more after Spring Break, when parade season starts again. Always some dignitary. Maybe an admiral this week, or an old grad. Or maybe it's just for the Superintendent, who can order a parade at his three star whim.

Vestrum Excrucibo,
Richard J. Naughton

he probably signs the order gleefully. We hate him for it, and yet realise it's so impersonal. We are told that drill not only builds professionalism throughout our ranks, and demonstrates our teamwork, but that it is also as close to combat as we will come as midshipmen. We try not to laugh cynically, but I look at my bayonet; it's seen more combat than I could ever want.

I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.
Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going;
And such an instrument I was to use.

I don't drill with this bayonet anymore. It's been retired by the drill officer, and I can see why. There's a large dent below the blade, which runs upwards through thedudgeon and to the hilt. It's about an inch wide: clearly the result of a cranial blow. Bayonets are designed for striking the soft torso of an enemy, but if they get so close that such a thrust isn't possible, well, I guess you hit them with what you have or else they hit you. That and there is a large, random serration. I'm sure the armory didn't put that there, and I can only imagine how many times that it caught on someone's rib cage.

Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses,
Or else worth all the rest; I see thee still,
And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood,
Which was not so before. There's no such thing:
It is the bloody business which informs
Thus to mine eyes.

I've been spending the last few weeks polishing this bayonet. The terry cloth towel has spent the last few weeks accumulating a disgusting mix of black oxide deposits, brown Brasso stains and red. I don't know where the red comes from. I showed it to my roommates; they have no idea what I am talking about. I've taken the bayonet to the armory in case it is disintegrating. They say it's structurally sound. I pour some more Brasso onto the towel to see if it's a chemical reaction. It's not.

Thy very stones prate of my whereabout,
And take the present horror from the time,
Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives:
Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives.

{A bell rings}

I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.
Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell
That summons thee to heaven or to hell.
--Macbeth (Act II, scene I)

The bell rings: it's time to go to class. I put away the polishing rag and the polish, and pick up the bayonet and look at my reflection in the blade. It's warbled. I look like my face is darker, scarred...

...battle hardened. I have become death and I don't like how I look in the glare. I look like a hatchet man, a malefactor, an assassin. I am the man who wielded this bayonet and became a widow-maker sixty years ago. I brought grief to a family. Butcher. I have been Roland, Beowulf, Achilles, and Gilgamesh. I have been called a hundred names and will be called a thousand more before the world goes dim and cold. I am hero.

This only serves to scare me, even as it scars me. Slowly I push the bayonet back into its sheath until I hear the restrainers click, then place the assembly into the confidentials locker next to my desk.

This is where memories go to polish their daggers.

This has been a nodeshell challenge versus GhettoAardvark and futurebird.

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