Marc always stood at the sidelines.
Marc earned his PhD. Marc’s wife was shot in a midnight drive-by. Marc’s infant daughter was taken away by the state, and spent her days being fought over by Marc and her foster parents. Marc remained in the sidelines when he was among his friends. Marc’s own demeanor kept him from seeking solace and support from those who remained near him. Other people had it worse.
Marc was just overreacting.
“Marc!” Ever-perky Lisette called with a wave. “Marc, it’s amazing! He finally proposed!” Her glee was so like Marc’s late wife.
Marc smiled. “I’m so happy to hear it, Lise! Congratulations! Have you set a date yet?” As he looked down at her short form. Pain filled his eyes as he saw an identical expression. When she smiled so brightly, they looked the same. His smile slowly faded.
“We think the summer might be a good time, but we’re still trying to pick a specific day.” She laughed happily, then paused as he noticed his gaze drifted just slightly away. The faraway look in his eyes was a giveaway. “Oh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t think-“
The man shook his head. “No, no, it’s fine. I’m really happy for you.” He waved a hand absently. “Let me know as soon as you two pick a day, will you? I’m excited to attend your wedding.”
A smile brightened Lisette’s face again. “I can’t wait! We’re planning to invite everyone we know!”
“That sounds wonderful!” The man nodded.
“Anyway, I’m off. I need to tell everyone else!” She dashed away as he waved half-heartedly.
Marc shoved his emotions away again before jealousy and depression could cripple him in front of his friends. The rest of the day moved on uneventfully.
Time moved on, and Marc saw more and more, Lisette had more in common with his own dear wife. At night, his dreams were haunting memories of the woman he swore to spend his life with until death. He dreamed of happy times and sad times. He dreamed of her face, and saw it slowly morph into Lisette’s. His wife’s slender, tall build slowly became more short and pudgy.
Photographs of his wife’s face seemed alien to him.
Marc began to spend more time away from his friends as even the more rational parts of his mind began to betray him.
Lisette and her fiance picked a date, and sent out announcements by mail.
Marc shredded the post card that arrived at his apartment in rage. His wife was about to marry another man! Rage filled him. Many times, he caught himself staring at the knives in his kitchen, but found he had no urge to stick it into any living body, and promptly turned away.
Work was a nightmare.
Marc worked for a rather shady private laboratory. People ‘donated’ their bodies and received a monetary gift. They went missing, and their family was sent a regretful notice when evidence was found that their loved one jumped off a bridge.
In reality, they were taken– still alive– to the labs. Tests were performed live, and Marc was one of the unfortunates. He could report the practice, but the company had procedures for such a thing. He watched them before, when someone reported them. There was no evidence of foul play if the entire lab burned down, or if the only willing witness ‘ran away’.
Of course, this meant they were on a government watch list.
That did nothing to slow or stop them, however.
Day after day, he watched people die who would never be buried. Their ashes would instead line a garbage pit. He broke their bones. He dripped acid on their flesh. He injected drugs beyond counting. He amputated. He listened to their screams and sobs. Some days, he imagined being on the receiving end. Other days, he remembered that he had no next of kin.
Every night, he returned home to browse imgur. Images of cats and humorous comics did little to raise his spirits, however.
Marc went to a psychiatrist.
He explained his job as though it was a dream rather than his reality.
Medication was the solution.
As Marc read the prescription, he felt ill. It was one of the drugs he tested in overdose on some of his own patients. He could not remember the effects immediately, and thought nothing of the dosage as he took the first pill, hopeful that it would solve his problems.
The first week was hellish. He did not once make it to work, and spent the entire week either in bed or the bathroom, seeing to his needs. The second week, he spent his days trying to force himself to return to work. He rarely made it to the door.
Months passed, and he finally made it to work. He signed up for paper duty, despite the short hours and shorter pay. His mind felt too clouded to do much else, and he spent the time crunching numbers and avoiding his superiors. Every day, he felt less emotions. He felt no remorse when he heard Lisette called off the wedding, nor did he feel any joy. When she explained why, he felt no reason to be angry at the fiance who had begun to beat her when she did anything wrong.
Marc moved at a slow pace, and on the rare times they saw him, his friends claimed he moved like a puppet.
Marc didn’t care.
Nothing felt important.
Marc’s efficiency at work skyrocketed, both in the labs and on paper.
A year passed, and Marc’s doctor increased the dosage. Again, Marc paid no mind to the sheer amount of the drug he was taking into his system. It was working to keep him away from depression, after all. Why should he care about anything anymore?
The company Marc worked at went under, and he was laid off. Again, his dosage rose. He became a near-vegetable, until the month he ran out of money entirely. He had no way of getting his drugs. For several days, Marc went about his day as usual. He browsed the internet or slept all day. He began to feel more energetic as time marched.
Marc had a mental breakdown as the drug finally left his system, and five bodies were found in a rented hotel room. Lisette’s body was one of them.
Marc’s body was only damaged by the neck-tie noose that was tied to the shower head.