Dark Corners

Ed has his own personal insanity.

It is not like his mania; mania is white-hot and spurs him to do the impossible, to get up every morning and eat and go to the library to study. Mania is what he gets when he looks at Al's metal body.

humptydumpty sat on a wall humptydumpty had a great fall

This is not mania. This is cold, dark, dripping in the night. This is the smell of ozone from a lightning strike. This is fear. They talk about images branded into your eyelids, but they didn't mean it like this, he thinks. The space between your pillow and the sheets should not be fraught with peril when you're fifteen.

all the king's horses and all the king's men

He needs the knife, he remembers, since blood is the code, but why didn't it stay inside, why did the heart have to pump the blood right back out? Teeth growing out of the skull and an arm from the spinal cord, nonononono—


He wakes up in a cold sweat, clutching his metal leg, and his mother's body groans in his ear.

Ed has his own personal insanity.

It supports him, squeaks for oil, rasps for its last breath, follows him around—and he calls it 'mother'.