cv week: to be of two minds

It never happened all at once. No, madness spread through the brain like ink in tepid water, contaminating slowly until everything was stained. Harry hadn't been keeping track of the time, though his back and eyes ached with equal measure from the last several hours spent going over deposition transcripts and affidavits for an upcoming trial. Sliding his glasses off his face, he let them drop to the desk as he reached behind him to stretch, his body lengthening considerably as his muscles pulled taught with the effort. He was getting too old for this shit, he reasoned, pushing his chair away from the mahogany monstrosity covered in file folders and documents. It was in standing that he felt it, something almost like vertigo, a spinning which quickly lent itself to a headache just behind his eyes. That never foretold anything good. Blindly opening his top drawer, Harry retrieved the bottle of Excedrin. Shaking out two pills, he chased them with a few fingers of whisky which had been sitting in the air for far too long.

When he would be asked to describe it, days later, Harry would struggle to find the appropriate words. It wasn't as though he'd been overtaken, not at first. The invasion was subtle, his own thoughts becoming tainted, twisted with each passing minute. There was no voice in his head, nothing so dramatic or intrusive, but Harry could feel it like an itch in his brain he couldn't quite locate. By the time he had retrieved the takeout menus, he could feel his thoughts shift in their entire. Even as he ordered truly shitty Chinese food, thoughts persisted which didn't make any sense to him. Struggling to finish placing his order, Harry moved to the liquor cart in the corner, slamming his phone onto the metal surface with a distinct crack of the glass. Growling to himself, he jerked open the first decanter of liquor his hand reached, filling a highball glass nearly full before gulping it down.

Stomach roiling, Harry sat into one of the pair of leather arm chairs decorating his office. Letting out a tremendous belch, he was certain he could light his own breath on fire. Fishing into the pocket of his trousers, Harry found a scarred stainless steel lighter, literally the only thing of his old man's posessions anyone bothered to keep. His thumb toyed with it, a repetitive click-snick-click as he flipped the top, struck the flint, and closed it again. Over and over, the sound calm, almost hypnotic, until a single thought persisted, growing louder until it was the only thing occupying Harry's mind. BURN. The flame was orange and blue as it beckoned, and Harry obeyed, lowering his finger into it. There was no pain at first, but with the scent of singed hair came a deep, persistent pain. Still, he didn't flinch, and he didn't move. When the buzzer sounded, alerting him that the food had arrived, the lighter was closed with a click, the heat of the metal radiating as it was shoved back into his pocket.

With the food retrieved, and the delivery person tipped, Harry moved through the hallways of his firm on autopilot. Did your brain just break? He asked himself silently, stopping to stare at his reflection in the window of one of the office doors. "Get your fuckin' head on straight," his voice sounded different; there was fear in his voice. Pushing the hair out of his eyes, Harry stalked into his own office, kicking the door closed. He didn't know what was going on tonight, but he did know that if he didn't reel it in, he'd be in deep shit with the partners come tomorrow. He himself was up for partner, something which was long overdue. It was his own fault; he had kept a partnership at arms' length every time it had been brought up in the past. After the relocation to San Francisco...

San Francisco? Fuck San Francisco! We need to go to Gotham!

"Gotham?" Harry's throat was suddenly dry, and the tall glass of Irish whisky doing nothing but leave a sickly sweet burning in the back of his throat. A bottle of water was retrieved, gulped, and then another. "Like... Batman?" He had heard the rumors, of course. Hadn't everyone? No, no rumors. It was fact. Superheroes were real. Was Batman real? "Real enough to be a pain in my ass," He muttered under his breath, surprised by the sound of his voice. There was no fear, but annoyance, even rage. "Let's go to Gotham and find him. We're overdue a reunion."

Even if that were possible, how... No. It wasn't possible. Gotham didn't exist. It wasn't real. Though, his own logic dictated that if heroes and villians of comic books and graphic novels were real, so too must their home worlds be. Right? Harry's head swam with questions for which he had no real answers, and as he dropped the bag of food on his desk, he reached for his laptop -- thereby knocking over several files onto the floor, scattering their contents. Watching them fall, he was reminded of something, of events he knew he had never been, couldn't have been a part. He could feel the acid on his face, eating through the skin, through the layers of fat and into the muscle. As his hand lifted to touch his left cheek, a thought came to him.

His fingers tapped on the keyboard in a fury, browser tabs opening as he began to search. Harry's son had loved Batman as a boy, and his father had been subjected to countless hours of what had been seemingly senseless chatter about characters, events, and locations within the shiny graphic novels he consumed like wildfire. Pulling up a new tab, Harry typed the words 'two face batman' into the Google search bar -- selecting the first result on the page. "What is this? Is this a dossier? Why do you have this?" though it was his own voice, Harry knew the words were not. He studied the words on the screen, trying to understand what exactly was going on. "Is that supposed to be me?" The question was scoffing, almost in disbelief. "I was far more handsome in the flesh. What the fuck am I wearing?"

Harvey Dent. Two Face. Is that who he thought he was now? Had his mind somehow failed him, had his psyche split and he was now partially a fictional psychopath? "I am a homocidal maniac," He said aloud, "I never actually had hallucinations. I just liked talking to myself." Okay, a homocidal maniac, then. A homocidal maniac who could apparently heal extraordinarily fast, he realized as he lifted his burnt finger to inspect the smooth, undamaged flesh. "Well, isn't that interesting."