Here is a short story I wrote depicting Sigmund Freud’s theory of the human Thanatos Death Instinct, an instinctual natural drive of violence naturally present in all human beings. Carl Jung created the concept of the Animus (Anima) – our subconscious will. I took my inspiration from Seymour’s aeon Anima from Playstation 2’s Final Fantasy X.
They call it the fever dream.
When nothing matters but the opponent facing you. The man who has wronged, betrayed, and left you to pick at the air of defeat. When you know deep inside that you are right and he is wrong.
Your blood begins to boil. At first it is slight, dismissable, and insignificant. But like a seed it unravels itself out of the core of your body and its tenacious vines begin to swarm and infiltrate your heart. Its grip is unwavering and absolute, squeezing tighter with every breath you take. It courses through your veins and turns your blood as black as tar. Your knuckles turn white, you hold your gaze, your hands begin to shake. What was at first insignificant becomes significant.
Nothing else matters.
Your mind is clouded, a blood-red haze of fog seeping through every corner of your brain and your soul. The adrenaline blows away any shred of doubt, your mind is steadfast on one outcome. You lose the concept of logic, of reasoning, and peace. There is only one outcome – his blood or yours.
The fever dream begins.
You feel the beast of Anima inside you has awakened and clawed its way out of your cage of consciousness. You never knew it even existed, that such a blood-thirsty creature is a part of you. But you know the truth, that it is the essence of your Thanatos, the death instinct. You are no longer disgusted by your thoughts of staggering violence. You begin to like it. To crave it. You are drawn to the bloodrage as if it were a drug. It makes you powerful, you feel as if you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You understand the true meaning of freedom and invincibility. It is the drug and you are the addict.
You turn around to find the door back to your old reality. Quickly it shrinks before your eyes while the key in your outstretched fist makes itself known. You have a choice. You always have the choice. But you ignore it and whip around to face your enemy. You let the door pass into oblivion and squeeze your fist with all the power you have, assuring the key meets the same fate.
There is no going back.
The unfamiliar feeling becomes as familiar as your mind as you once knew it. You discover you had this same dream before, this waking dream that leaves you disgusted and guilty each time it passes. And yet each time it loosens its grip a second longer…
Your enemy no longer remains an enemy. He becomes the victim in your sadistic game. You locate the soft parts of his body. You scan his vulnerabilities and locate the shatterpoints – to do more than defeat him. You want to hurt him. You want to break him. You want to make his suffering as agonizing as possible. Your instincts of combat vanish and become instincts of claws and teeth. You crush his throat, stab him, smash his head into the ground. The ruthless methods in which you destroy him in your dream are beyond words.
And as quickly as the fog had set in, a wave of reality sweeps through your dream. The blood stops thundering in your ears and you start to hear noises of the world outside.
Outside the dream in which you are trapped.
Trapped between the world of self-control and the world of freedom.
There is a wall of mirror enclosing your dream from the reality you once knew. The blood-red veil of haze begins to lift slowly and you rush to the wall, looking at yourself in the mirror and dropping to your knees in remorse. You cannot recognize yourself at all but your reflection recognizes you. It is the most terrible feeling in the world and yet you know the truth – that you crave, live, and thrive on that feeling. All the trust you ever had has been betrayed by yourself.
You strike at your reflection with all the strength you can muster. The mirror wall shatters into thousands of shards, faintly falling to the ground and crumbling into wisps. The air returns. Color reverts back into the world. No more pounding, no more blood, no more dual identity. You are back where you were, fully awaken from your dream world.
You look your enemy in the eye and remember what you have done to your reflection in the mirror. Then it dawns on you. You have already won the battle.
But you have not won the war.
You know in truth that just as the sun sets upon the world and the rain will always strike the earth that there will be another battle. And each battle will last a second longer than the last in the war that you call your life. You cannot let your dream become your reality and your reality become the dream.
You must not let your enemy win. You must not let your reflection win.
You take one final breath and the fist around your heart loosens its grip and disappears.
You discover that in a war without right and wrong, you don’t have to win.
All you have to do is fight.
They call it the fever dream.