Under the Red Sky

Under the Red Sky (Joker) Part 8


The hinges whined as the door to my apartment swung open, the light from the hallway spilling into the dark room like golden honey.

The animal squirmed in my grasp. I released her, and she scampered off into the darkness.

“Honey, I’m home,” I called weakly, swaying slightly in the doorway. I fumbled for the light switch, my fingers moving over the plaster like frantic spiders. There was a minute click. And then light.

My eyes scanned over the empty room dreamily, a kind of fog settling itself in my mind.

“Oh that’s right. I’m not married.”

I floated into the living area, hovering near the lamp in the corner long enough to switch it on. My hand lingered for too long and it fell to the floor with a crash.

I paid it no mind.

I shimmied out of my sweater never breaking my slow, measured stride, as I changed course for the kitchen. Ms. Kitty sat on the counter, waiting patiently, watching me.

I felt a yawn build up inside of me, but it never came. I rested my palms against the cold freezer door. Despite the snow, I was suddenly very warm.

This was the last time I worked late for Mr. Shrek. Being overworked and exhausted like this simply wiped me out, both physically and mentally. My head ached, my limbs were sore. And the last few hours were simply a blur.

I wrenched open the fridge door and retrieved the milk. At the sight of her dinner, Ms. Kitty leapt down onto the floor next to her assigned bowl. I bent low and poured. Into the bowl. Onto the floor. Did it matter?

That was really the only reason I kept milk in the house. I couldn’t stand the stuff myself. But I was so parched….

I brought the carton to my lips and filled my mouth with the sweet cream. And then again and again. It dribbled down my chin, onto my front, seeped through my blouse, and wet the skin underneath.

I wandered about the room, drinking, turning in circles. Or was the room spinning?

My eyes fell on the answering machine. A little red 2 smiled back.

I drifted over to it, blood pounding in my ears, and pressed Play.

I stood transfixed as the strongest sense of Déjà vu washed over me like a gigantic wave. There were a few mechanical clicks. And then:

“Hello: Selina Kyle.”

I frowned down at the answering machine. Damn telemarketers.

I remembered the carton in my hand. I smiled. I took to it again, tilting my head back and guzzling the last pint or so, most of which did not make it into my mouth. I relished it none the less, finally satisfied and I turned from the telephone as the message continued to play.

“We’re just calling to make sure you’ve tried our newest perfume, Intuition.”

I wandered away, faintly dazed, licking my lips and lapping up the last of the milk. The machine was merely noise in the background.

“One whiff of this at the office and your boss will be asking you to stay after work-”

I froze on my way to the kitchen and turned slowly. The room quivered like unsteady film running through a projector. There was a sudden thickness in the air I breathed as the feminine voice wafting from the machine faded into static.

Gloom clouded my vision and the edges of the room fanned out into nothing, into sheer black.

And then I remembered.

Play. Static. Rewind.

Voices that hung in the air, lingering like ghosts, like the chill in the room, who whispered plans of murder.

Plans, plans, strategies, strategies!

That unmistakable bite of guilt, tugging at my insides. A helplessness that wet the eyes with cold, pleading tears.

And breaking glass, like the tinkle of chiming bells. Silent screams and cold rushing air. The dark sky as the snow fell softly.

And then the sickening crack, that rang with finality.

The walls around me rose again, boxing me in, a startled animal in a cage. The air seeped back into my lungs and the force was like a punch to the chest. I blinked the smog from my eyes and I saw red.

My lower lip trembled though my jaw was locked tight, my teeth clenching my tongue. Iron and salt filled my mouth and tainted the sweet aftertaste of milk.

I felt my muscles tense and the carton in my hand shook violently, what little milk that was left sloshing around inside.

The static in my head turned into words.

“-for a candle lit conference for two. Intuition, exclusively at Shrek’s Department Store.”

My eyes pooled with angry tears and I screamed, hurling the milk carton at my yellow telephone and answering machine.

It hit the receiver with a small ring as milk splattered the walls and bled onto the floor.

My hands hovered over my skull, to keep it from shattering, as I rushed for the answering machine. I clutched it tightly and with an unknown strength, ripped the cord from the jack. I slammed the little box against the wall. Again and again, screaming with every smash.

Plastic flew here and there, and multicolored wires peeked out at me from behind their casing. The paint on the walls was chipping and a shallow depression was starting to form.

I threw the machine aside and savagely knocked over its quaint little stand, sending the telephone flying as well.

Tears clouded my eyes but I was already blind with rage and fury.

I screamed again, letting the bloodcurdling sound fill the stale air of flat nine. It pushed at the windows, threatening to break the frosty glass.

I tore at my hair mercilessly, screaming even louder as I felt the harsh tug. I let the loose tufts fall to the floor, to delirious to even give a damn.

I went into a rampage, breaking, tearing, and ripping at anything and everything in sight.

I took to the walls with a frying pan, sending plaster and paint flying. All the putrid pink. I must be rid of it. The photographs of those beautiful landscapes that didn’t exist would have to go too.

The glass shattered and pierced my face, stung my hands. It crunched under my shoes. I paused long enough to kick them off.

I picked up the right one and flung it at the window. More breaking glass.

I shuddered at the sound. It only fed the flames of my fury.

I turned to the kitchen, my rage reaching a new high.

I emptied the drawers, throwing its contents on the floor. Forks, spoons, knives. Their sterling clatter was barely audible over my shrieking. I launched the potted plants across the room, leaving two nice holes in the wall. I grabbed a steak knife from the drying rack in the sink and headed for the couch.

Glaring madly at the lumpy floral thing, all I could see was his face. Shrek’s face. His ugly, sneering face. I slashed away until it was nothing but fluff, a pink beast shredded to bits.

I stuck the knife in the doorframe and headed down the hall, panting with madness. I paused, catching a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror.

I looked horrid.

My eyes were wide and red and swollen with vehemence and tears. The milk residue had stained my mouth and cheeks a bleak sickly, gray, a stark contrast to the red dribbling down my chin. Sour tears stained my face, along with everything else. Blood caked my hair, or what was left of my hair, and framed my face like a lovely crimson curtain. Tiny cuts laced my face like beauty marks. And I was white as a ghost.

I took in a shaky breath, and edged toward my reflection.

The monster of my nightmares just smiled back, eyes shiny and glazed like buttons.

I felt the muscles of my face stretch. And realized I was smiling too.

I screamed again in terror and disbelief at what I had become.

A monster.

My fists collided with the mirror, until the shards were embedded in my skin and the blood splattered the fake white porcelain sink.

I ignored the searing pain, bringing a shaking hand to my mouth. I smeared the blood onto my lips and then onto the mirror. I peered into the broken, messy glass to see who was peering back. I bared my teeth hoping to scare away my likeness. It laughed at my cherry stained teeth. I laughed too.

I couldn’t say why. But the laughter bubbled up into my throat like vomit and it wouldn’t stop.

I stumbled back into the hall, waving goodbye to the monster in the mirror. She waved back.

I moseyed into my bedroom, giggling, my stomach churning with numb folly. My smile faded at the feel-good neon sign on the wall.

Hello there.


With my hands on my hips, I sauntered over to it, sneering at the pink lights. This needed work. I clenched my fists until my jagged nails dug into my soft, bloody palms. The glass in my skin stung.

I wound back and struck the sign, punching out the last letter of the first word. And then the first letter of the last word. A small electric shock tickled my skin and my mirth returned. I stepped back to admire my work.

Hell Here.

Much better.

I turned to face the windows, smirking. I ran my bloodied hands through my hair, my fingers tearing through the knots.

I placed my palms on the pane, making two bloody smudges. I set my nails on the glass and dragged them down, savoring the chills on my spine.

I rolled my neck, eyes half closed in wild bliss. I yawned loudly, reaching for the sky. I ran my hands down the length of my body, taking pleasure in the cold feeling of my flesh. They found their place on my hips.

I licked my lips as my eyes floated down to the scene below my window, where the darkness was slipping away

The street swam before my eyes, a fluid mess of black cement and clumps of white. The figure under the lamppost was blurry and vague. Until it became nothing at all.

I collapsed.

The bitter sweet shadows swallowed whole the throbbing, fuzzy warmth of my subconscious.

And the darkness was washed away with the crimson blood of the morning sky.


The streetlight flickered off, no longer needed to light the way. And the figure beneath it took that as his queue.

But with the tempting promise of the woman in flat nine, he vowed to return, twisted thoughts rattling around in his skull.

He slipped into the quickly fading shadows, turning from the garish light of day.

He cast one last look at the scratched and bloody window of flat nine.

The phantom at the window waved her bloody hand. He smiled.

And she vanished into dust, as evening’s empire.

Smoke in the air. Ice on the ground. Blood in the sky.