The Villain (novel excerpt)


広がり, Evan Washington, ’25

Asia Bing, '23

The Villain – 11:24 p.m

Trigger Warning: Blood, Mentions of death

There is something there in the dark. 

There always has been, whether I acknowledge it or not. Watching my every move, criticizing and sneering at my every breath…. Sometimes I’ll sneer back. It’s cold wretched grip latches onto my body and soul teasing a sweet release that I know will never come, for when it disappears back into the shadow it leaves a stain of madness on my skin. 

I’ve come to call it “guilt.”

Sitting with my head in my hands, I’ve lost track of time. An hour? More? Does it even matter? I place my hand on the nightstand and feel around until my fingertips touch the edge of a picture frame. Bringing it up to my face I don’t have to strain my eyes to know who’s in it. Not just who, but how it’s shot, the scenery, and even their name. “Mira Vera.” A motion blurred picture of my mother, highlighted in a flaking gold frame. Time and time again I’ve held it in my hands, wishing and praying to go back, back to when I could touch her, hug her, or even just talk to her. Would she be ashamed?

The pile of bloody clothes sit in the corner of my room,  in the corner of my eye. I dare not look at them directly, lest I want to lose the last shred of my conscience. I’ve ended plenty of lives, at this point it’s too many to count… but this time? My hands shook, my legs were numb, eyes hazed over, and all because I was scared. He died for nothing. All this time I worked and worked and worked towards one goal, everything, everything I’ve ever done is to accomplish that. The wine bottle sat in that alleyway begging to be used. I’d love to say that I stabbed him because I planned to, because I knew somehow it’d further my cause, but I can’t. The yelling, screaming, and grabbing got to me all too quick. And just like that, because I was “scared” the value of my words meant nothing. The promises and swears I made everyone around me keep goes to shit, because I couldn’t handle my own head. 

What a wonderful leader I’ve become.

There’s a knock at the door, but I don’t respond.

“You there?”

It’s Cooper. Even if I don’t answer I know he’ll continuously pester me, bothering me to tell him everything. 


I put my head back in my hands and try to cool my face before I start crying again.

“Open up, let’s talk okay?” 

I shut my eyes tight, sigh, and drag myself off my floor toward the door. I crack the door open, “Yeah?”

He cocks his head to the side, “Can we talk?” 

I step back from the door and let him push it open, “Listen,” he closes the door behind him, and doesn’t make eye contact. 

“I’m not-” he pauses and motions to the floor. We both sit down, “I’m not going to force you to tell me anything about your big cause, but please just trust me. We aren’t exactly friends,” he looks up at me, “but we’ve been through more than a lot of others, and all we’ve got is each other.” 

 I clench my fists, I know he’s right, but it’s almost sobering to hear that despite everything I still don’t have someone to trust. All I’m left with is the hero of this world, staring down at me with pity. There’s not a word in this universe to describe my shame, yet still I consider giving in. Does he deserve the truth? Would he even understand? 

I sigh, “Cooper-” he shoots his hands up, “Wait. Before you say anything,” he puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Are you okay?”

And there it is, the pitied stare of a man who can’t possibly understand the weight of his own words. It takes three words from a man who’s “not exactly my friend,” for me to unravel quicker than I ever have. 

My hands shoot to my head once again and I sob. And I sob and I sob. A terrible feeling washes over me and my chest feels oh so empty. It hurts so much. He starts to wipe at my face, but no amount of drying will wipe the stains. I start hyperventilating, losing my breath, I feel like a child.

“It’s okay, I’m here, It’s okay.”

He keeps repeating that while wiping my face, and I want to punch him. I want him to leave. I want him to never come back. 

No matter how much I think that, I can’t shake the truth, the one truth that will haunt me until I’m in the earth:

I want him to stay. I need him to stay.

Feeling worthless isn’t new, but this is a new feeling, an overwhelming empty void, a loneliness consuming the space around us. If he were to move, or god forbid leave? I think I’d drown. The heat of my face mixes with the coolness of the room, causing a tornado of emotions, an uncontrollable whirlwind of bittersweet comfort.  I fold, and take one hand off of my pulsing head and grip his wrist, lean in, and hug him. At first I can tell he’s taken aback, but he hugs back tighter and I continue to sob into his shoulder, nails digging into his back.

There is nothing I can do.