Cory’s Story: for all the lonely alters

figure walking through desert
Photo by Trace Hudson on

The evidence of pain pulsed across the body, like paint stains. Cory came to, skin stinging, surrounded by shards of metal scattered across rocks. Dull red rocks. He groaned. And stopped groaning, from the shock of the body’s young, girlish voice.

Cory pushed himself up, blinking against glimmering sunlight, shoving aside sharp rocks so they didn’t jab him. In the legs. In the legs where pain ached from his skin being jabbed by…

The metal fragments were probably what was left of the tiny room where Cory had sat, for hours. Alone, until that woman, in a dark uniform. He remembered talking to her, about escaped friends, harming him, harming them. Next he remembered being back in the inner world, on his bed, speaking to Jasmine. And then he was here.

That was enough to sketch the pieces into a shape, the shape of red wounds in his arms, back, legs, he no longer remembered how those came to be so the sketch was only brushstrokes of color.

It was enough to get him teary-eyed anyway.

Running his hands down either arm, Cory shivered with the bumps he found every few finger-lengths, scabs freshly formed, dark red. He traced his legs, the holes torn through the leggings, the scabs on his calves. He reached for his back, unable to scratch the pinpricks of pain residing there.

He wiped his eyes. Where did he go? His stomach growled. Where had they come from, before the dark room that left painful scabs across their body? He rose on aching knees, studying a landscape of dull desert beneath a glimmering sun. “Anyone know where we are?” he asked. His thoughts stayed silent. He wiped his eyes again, to squint up at the sky. “And now what?” he whispered. “Where do I go?”


For all the lonely alters:

I must be mad to believe I could live up to a dramatic title like that. How about instead, A Letter for Lonely Alters? Is that any better? No?

A Letter, then.

The alphabet begins with A, then goes B, and C, the alphabet is relative, see, we could begin with Z. The alphabet begins with Z, then goes G, then C. My name is Cory. I’m the one writing this letter. I suppose for no reason other than I felt like it. Not much to do lying in bed but think, my thoughts are bursting at the seams so I asked for a paper to bleed them out on.

Maybe I could do this better if I’d practiced sketching. Show you what I’m thinking. Although Shadow and perhaps Skeleton are the only ones who would find enjoyment in a sketch of someone’s skull exploding like squashed strawberries. Bursting at the seams.

A, if you are alone, so many of us have been there before that we might throw a party. B, I think I’m terrible at my job. I try. I like to believe I try my best, but it’s hard. Nobody to teach me proper words to say to the spewing emotion of brand new alters. So I try. C, my name’s Cory, and it’s an ordinary sort of name. I’m not sure why that’s important.

G, I like to garden. It’s in my nature. I like to help these stabby cacti find the right soil, right sun, prune them into masterpieces.

Z, it is getting harder to garden myself. It is in my nature to try, to imagine I am a blossoming cherry plant, tending and watering the youngest zinnias of us. At some point I have grown large enough that I lost the ability to prune my own branches, to see what I am reaching for up there in the sky.

S, the alphabet is relative, what decides the beginning of a sound, what sounds belong at the beginning of a series compared to the end? R, we are all alters. And I do not know where we all fit. If we fit together. If we are merely sounds, plopped together, J’s adjacent to K’s far away from C’s, for no apparent reason.

L, A Letter, then. To tell you of the strangest alphabets, the strangest minds, the ones with no answers like an alphabet’s order. V, we live inside an alphabet. Trying to make all the sounds sound like they make sense.


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