Chapter XVI: Santa Monica, House of Cards'You've gotta be kidding me.'
The woman turned as I muttered those words, granting me full view of her features.
The woman stood, swaying, struggling with herself. The revolver passed from one side of her head to the other, moving hesitantly, slowly, as if being forced either way. That wasn't the worst part. The worst was the bizarre makeup. Therese...Jeanette...both merged in a terrible centre. Half the hair in pigtails, the other half in a now deformed bun, Jeanette's typical makeup smudged. The..J...
They're the same person. How could you not have realised? You saw how unhinged they were, how mentally grotesque...all hail Tourette, Schizophrenic Queen of Santa Monica.
Absently, I wondered whether the woman had been insane before becoming a vampire. Her dual personalities vied for control, neither dominant. Purely equal, purely separate. It seemed vampirism had magnified and reflected the effects of schizophrenia, driving her completely, totally insane. And yet, independently, each mind worked. Yet, as if unconsciously aware of the struggle for control, each mind worked against the other.
Proceed with caution. If she...they...die, you'll never find Tung.
I spoke slowly, picking my words carefully.
'Therese, Jeanette, what is going on here?'
How could I get he...them to see reason? They were fully intent on destroying the other, both mentally and physically.
'Jeanette, please. Stop.'
The part that was Therese lifted the gun again, pointing it against her left eye, pulling back the hammer. Urgently, I pleaded with her.
'Therese, please, put down the gun. You don't want to do this.'
'Stop. Both of you. This is all in the past. Immaterial. You must move on.'
Internally, their struggle raged on. Both sides of the face curled into opposing sneers, eyes narrowing, each side once again struggling for control of the gun.
I couldn't believe my ears. Santa Monica was a child's kingdom. A house of cards, standing only on the whim of a woman unhinged by a childhood of sexual abuse. The asian vampire had been wrong. LA was ripe for the taking, but in Santa Monica, it wouldn't take force. All it would take would be a breeze.
'Both of you, stop. You need to work together. Together you can rule Santa Monica.'
For a compromise to be reached between these two personalities, each had to give something to the other. Each had to relinquish some control, make some concessions. Only then could the internal division be somewhat stable. Either stability, or the removal of one of the personalities. But could one be removed without killing the other?
'Therese, you should give Jeanette more responsibility.'
'Jeanette', I urged. 'Stop ruining your sister's plans.'
This was impossible. How could I get them to work together?
'Can't you two ever agree? Can't you learn to live with each other?' You're the same fucking person!
Fine, I wanted to say. It was so tempting, my patience worn out completely. Blow your brains out, you crazy bitch, I don't care.
'Surely there must have been a time when you both got on?'
The faces softened, lost deep in thought.
Had there ever been a Jeanette? Come to think of it, had there ever been a Therese? Perhaps there'd only been one child, who had developed a second personality to adapt and cope with her trauma. Perhaps there really had been two, and after the embrace, the already insane girl had taken on the guise of her sister as well as herself. It was impossible to truly know, only to hypothesise.
'You don't want to kill her, do you Therese?'
I began to relax, feeling the situation was beginning to diffuse itself. I held out a hand.
'Therese. Give me the gun.'
Both faces twisted, becoming ugly with hate and anger.
'Kill you', the voices finished as one. I stepped back, convinced I'd heard two voices, not one. I left The Asylum, visibly shaking.