Case No. 003…Kevin Choi Massacre
Filed Under…Attempted Mass Homicide, Attempted Murder
Relevant Date(s)… February 03, 1988 through May 05, 1988
He cut himself across the forearm, the blood seeping down his arm. He turned it over, each drop falling down onto the table and onto his book. Kevin Choi fixed his glasses. The ‘The Genealogy of Dissent’ turning red close to the spine, the blood pooling down into the crack. He nodded his head, shook himself from the hypnosis. Kevin dropped his scissors. He winced and grabbed his arm, moaning with sudden pain. He ran to the sink and flicked the medicine cabinet open and sprayed himself with antiseptic. A familiar pain that he’d been through, one he’s felt across his body. He took deep breaths like hisses and held his arm as it bled down.
Walking the university was a frightening. Brushing against other bodies as he went up and down marbled steps, across the colored brick floors and past the roman-inspired buildings was something of a concern. Mediterranean drafts, a heat that made him sweat, all things worked against him in making sure his sleeve hid the wound.
The bandage wrapped around the middle of his forearm all the way up to his wrist. Kevin spent most of his time grabbing the cuff of his sweater and pushing it up to hide the stained bandage. Slitting his thigh last week was easier. The chest was easiest of all. A simple t-shirt and making sure the cotton did not stick to the gash. Of all his torture, the forearm was problem dumbest of all. When he opened the door and brushed against the line of students and sat down to the lowest steps, the first thing Kevin did was cross his arms and tuck them into his arm pits. He slumped forward and looked at the teacher, hooded and particularly vagrant looking. Philosophy 101 A, required lecture for the Undergraduate Havenbrook Stanley Medical program. His worst subject and the worst time of the day.
Professor Hughes took his chalk and marked the board with names and arguments and segmented periods of time and so on and so on, hieroglyphics upon the blackboard that made Kevin’s head spin. Around the mid point of class with several decades gone by in short sentences, with no notes taken on his open journal Kevin looked up from his tiny desk and started tapping wild on the boarded floor. The pencil rolled left and right as the table shook. He did not understand any of what was being said on the chalk board.
What doctor has ever needed to deconstruct platonic moralism?
The pencil fell off the desk and Professor Hughes tuned in. Gaze down upon Kevin who sat front and center. Kevin’s eyes went wide and he turned his head down. The professor stared for a while, fixed his glasses on his nasal bridge and turned back around.
Everyone noticed the pause. And the realization that everyone knew that he knew made Kevin shake all the more.
He was not still for the hour.
At noon(-ish), the usual end of Philosophy A, the professor rose up from his chair as Kevin went up the steps of the auditorium.
“You, Mr. Choi, can we talk for a moment?” Professor Hughes asked.
Kevin turned around head down. He hesitated, then took small steps down. A curiosity murmured among the students who stood at the front of the room.
“This is not a public affair.” Hughes said. The students turned and started jogging up and out the auditorium. With the last on, the doors slammed close and a sudden silence filled the room with the doomed feeling of what-did-I-do-wrong anxiety. The scent of chalk in the air, the slow-floating dust from a projector in the corner. Black earl tea smoked up to the professors face from a duster.
“How are you doing, Mr. Choi?” He asked.
“Good. Thank you.” He said.
“How are you enjoying Cristoff?”
“You should read his post-war things. Real head spinners. That one.” Hughes sipped. “Philosophers could do well to learn from poets, not a damn one writes well. And they don’t care. Too much arrogance.”
Kevin waddled in place, nodding his head. The professor cleared his throat.
“How are you doing at home? Do you like the dorm? If you don’t mind my asking.”
“Yes.” He said. “I’m doing fine?”
“Not home sick? Not depressed, anything?”
“I hope I’m not prying.”
“How’s your arm?”
Kevin took a step back. His hips poised towards the exit, his upper torso somewhat maintained towards his professor. Needles in his gut that turned and dropped inch and inch down his belly paunch and towards his testicles.
Hughes sat on his table. Legs crossed.
“What cuts?” Kevin asked.
Hughes sipped. His glasses blurred and his face foggy and the steam about him like a machine of sorts, steam come out from fresh casted steel face from the lava pot.
“It’s okay to talk about your problems. It doesn’t have to be me either, I just want you to know that.”
Sweat came down Kevin’s neck.
“I work with my dad sometimes. Warehouse, shipping and receiving. The packages can cut and sometimes the box cutters fall and there’s accidents in the lunch room all the-”
“Is that right?”
Kevin’s eyes fell, his shoulders slouched and his whole body on the wood desk drooping like a mannequin without strings.
Silence. Nothing could be heard but the run of a fan at the top of the classroom. The quiet buzz of the engine turning wind currents. Outside, perhaps a few sounds of sneakers streaking across polished floors and the dropping of books. Muffled laughter. But sounds so remote and foreign as if to be from horizons far across the earth. He stood in the quiet feeling cold down to his feet. He did not even notice he was sweating until it started drying off and his clothes were tacky against his skin.
“I’m here to talk. About anything really, not even about your personal life if you’d like.” He said. “We can discuss Cristoff. Discuss life. Philosophy is about asking the right questions, you know.”
“I know.” Kevin said. He didn’t know. He didn’t talk.
It was a terrible way to start the day. He felt that way going in and felt that way going out the classroom. Running up the steps in that panicked rush. Out the door papers came out of his plastic binder and he had to stop several times to catch them before they drifted away. People stared and he felt colder, still. He shoved his scraps into his folder and they spurted out haywire. He ran out the main classroom building, stretching his sweater lower past his wrist and over his fingers, shelling himself in a striped red and black cotton carapace.
Just a break. Any break, please.
A few hours later, he finally came out of his dorm. He skipped class having been so afraid. It was just Art History, who would care? He needed a break and more importantly, a friend. So he called his friend and when he didn’t answer, left a note.
Kevin sunk his head and went to the mess hall, a new Burger Star having been added to the lunch area. Kevin waited out the front, not entering, being afraid to sit alone and look any stranger than he already had. But they stared any way. And he went inside not feeling much better. Nothing ever goes my way. Never has.
He sat. Head down. Napping. How long?
Someone yanked at his collar and pulled him. He shrugged the hand off.
“You look like you’re waiting for trial, man.” Anthony said.
“I practically was.”
Boyish looking, bowl-cut. A little taller and well built. Kevin always resented that about his friend. Something else to resent; today Anthony was sporting a varsity jacket, though he never played a sport. Not in highschool and sure as hell not in college. Havenbrook Crows. Black and white and red went across his jacket in several stripes.
Anthony ordered for both of them, Kevin sat and the meal plopped down before him. A large table for six sat by two and with no one bothering to join them, or cared enough to ask them to go away. They laid their backpacks on the empty seats. Kevin went for the fries first, Anthony for the burger. In minutes, Anthony was done.
“You eat like you’re about to go to war.” Kevin said.
“I’m always at war,” Anthony narrowed his eyes and leaned back. “At war with myself.”
“It’s for drama, what do you think?”
“Terrible. I’ve never heard anyone say that.”
“But I just did, didn’t I?” Anthony tapped his temple and smiled.
“I’m glad things are going well for you. How’s acting school. Good?” Kevin asked.
“Mayhaps, methinks.” Anthony took a fry from the opposite tray, his tray. “I don’t know. I’m still discovering myself, you know?”
“Discovering yourself, what’s that mean?”
“It means I don’t want to dedicate myself doing something I might hate for the rest of my life.”
“Sounds like you’re wasting your parents money.”
“No. No…” Anthony said. “If I decide on something I hate doing, and I end up doing that for years, then I’d be wasting their money. And time. Among other things, I think college is a great opportunity to test the waters, you know? What about you.”
“That must be nice. That luxury.” Kevin said.
His voice drifted into a whistle.
“How’s the doctor program going? Still working out on it?”
“Yes.” He said. “But it’s just-” Kevin rubbed his forehead, massaged his skull. “There’s so much useless shit, man. This guy Cristoff, it’s – he’s unbearable. What doctor needs to learn how to deconstruct platonic moralism? Jesus.”
“Philosophy would go over your head.” He said. “It’s not really a subject for the uh, analytic, science-y types.”
“Because it’s stupid.” He said.
“Really? I think the sciences are stupid. I mean, they all deal with surface level stuff, right? Action, reaction, record.” Anthony said. “You don’t really answer any big questions, you just make observations and record.”
“That’s the problem. We’re not answering any big questions. Cristoff just goes off and off about the will to power, and how we need to kill ourselves to reincarnate. How we’re bound to parents and lineage and I just can’t – I don’t know how people live like that.”
“Hating their family. Everything’s owed to your father and your mother, right? My dad oared his ass from a Vietnamese raft down to the shores of Florida. Can you believe that? That’s amazing. That’s…everything!”
Kevin had not breathed. Anthony stared.
“What? I think we lost the plot. A little too much injection of the personal on your part, don’t you think?” Anthony asked. “What’s this got to do with how you’re doing?”
“What?” Kevin asked.
“How are you doing, K.”
Kevin mulled it over with a fry pointing over his lips that he rolled around his mouth until he ate. He shook his head and nodded.
“Why does everyone keep asking me that? Of course I’m fine.”
“You look uneasy.”
“Midterms are coming up. We can’t all just do a little dance on the stage. You know? Some people have to study.”
Anthony’s eyes narrowed. He mulled over the words with a fry, like he was leading an imaginary orchestra.
“Good luck on your mid terms.” Anthony said. A sort of quietness came over them that not even the surrounding tables could stop. Anthony stared at Kevin, wordless. Kevin looked down to his food. Kevin finished. Anthony waited, before he smiled awkward and dismissed himself. Then it was just Kevin. Kevin in that cafeteria. Tables of people around them. Warm pilot light from the kitchen, the tiles red and white and the murmur of the crowd distinctly sounding muted to him. He brought his backpack closer to him and chewed quickly.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Physics A 45/100
CALCULUS II 51/100
PHILOSOPHY A 101
Multiple Choice 33/100
FILM HISTORY 88/100
PILLAR NUMBER 3 – And we must accept that any first act of transgression against institutions of power will and should be the destruction of the individual agent. For only in self-destruction, in that great mutilation, do we prime ourselves in objection over the world that is for the world that can be.
He sat in his dorm. Cinderblocks all about him like prison walls, playboy posters across where his roommate had slept. His toes dug into the carpet that felt rough on his feet. He had to his side a single-bed with neat grey covers, spotted with copper colored stains. The flourescent light buzzed. People in the hall rushed and laughed. Across from him on his study desk was a single family picture. Him and his mother and father with tropical button shirts. He forgot when they took it, only that it must have happened and now he was looking at it. His eyes trailed down, back to the report card.
He sat slumped.
His report card, Cristoff next to him. Seeing where he went wrong. Seeing where all of it must have gone wrong.
Kevin read it over and over until his eyes looked like they would roll up to his skulls. Eyes blackened, a pale pigment had formed around the edges of his lips and the tip of his cheekbones. He rubbed his face and took out the pair of scissors. Just a little incision, just to help him through the day. No where special. He chose his hips and started the line cut. A smile, a crescent moon, across.
He bled and put his palm over it and shook his head and threw the scissors back on the table where it rolled above the sheets of class work. It was only a few days after the report and by now he was about feeling the courage to tell his parents. Later that day, perhaps. For now he was looking at his cut and stretching out the skin. Watching the blood go down the folds of fat along his body, down the creases. He smiled. Tilted his head. Then shook as if waking.
“Oh.” The pain came through. “Oh! How’d that happen?!” Kevin went for the first aid kit in the kitchen.
He left for philosophy class early in the morning to start the week right. First to class. He went for his top row seat in the class and sat quick, the glaze look on his face. He sat with his hands interlocked, weak smile throughout the hour and a half. Then he went up.
“Oh Kevin, can we talk?” His professor asked.
Kevin left without so much as raising his hand or voice and made his way to the library, which was to him a kind of sanctuary. He went in. Past the main study room at the front and base floor, to the corner where he went down carpeted steps. Into the basement deep, the reclusion spot at the bottom of the library. Where most of the philosophy books were, where few even came down for.
He sat down on the first table he could find. Wooden and sturdy, laid all his belongings on it and put his head down. No more tears left to cry, nothing left to do but enjoy the failure that was his school life. He slept. He enjoyed the silence of the room. Who would be here? No one. No one ever was but half a dozen psuedo’s scattered about and so anti-social as to not exist in the first place.
“Hello, Mr. Choi.” Someone said.
He woke up from his rest. He rubbed the crusts off his eyes and looked around. Someone breathed deep in front of him.
“Who are you?” Kevin shook his head.
“The Librarian.” The Librarian smiled.
A tall man with gaunt cheeks, a receding hairline like a crows beak. He wore a black vest up to his neck, a chain around him with a symbol Kevin had never seen before. Somehow religious, but certainly not a faith he recognized. The Librarian extended his hand and reached into Kevin’s backpack.
“Do you mind?” The Librarian asked.
“Your book. Do you mind?”
Kevin hummed, made a disgusted face. But kept quiet. The Librarian took out the book.
“The Genealogy of Dissent.” He said. “Are you a student of philosophy?”
“No.” Kevin said.
“Of course you are. Why else would you have this book?”
“It’s just a class.” Kevin said.
“It never is just anything.” The Librarian said. “Have you read his other books?”
“I can’t even read that one, let alone-” Kevin stopped and looked around. “Am I not supposed to be here? Who are you again?”
“The Librarian.” He said. “You’re in the library.”
Which wasn’t wrong. As a matter of fact, all of that seemed factual. The man did have a badge over his breast, with a scratched name tag blurred with light from a slow spinning fan above. That being said, Kevin retraced his memory: he was in library and this was the bottom floor and there was a haunting silence of books all around him. Layers and layers, rows and rows, half bulging out or laid flat on the floor, rolling trays with tomes that pressed deep with heavy weight.
“I’m sorry, I’m just a little confused. I was napping.” Kevin said. “What time is it?”
“I believe it’s a little past eight.” The Librarian said.
“I guess that means I missed physics.” Kevin chuckled, he waved his hand aimlessly. “Ah, fuck it.”
“Mr. Choi.” The Librarian said. “As a student of Havenbrook University I can not quite allow you to blunder about so aimlessly. May I make a reading suggestion?”
“Walk with me.” The Librarian went without warning. Kevin groaned, grabbed his stuff and chased after. A carelessness about him. Apathy beyond anything he’d felt before. His waist was still in pain, he was still failing, and he was dedicated to skipping everything until he’d flunk out. Perhaps school wasn’t for him. Perhaps being a doctor wasn’t in his fate. And he’d tell his parents all this later tonight. That and much, much more.
Kevin walked behind the tall man. All fate and history rolling over his dreary eyes, eyes passing by the blurry letters on the spines of textured books. He fixed his glasses. Both of them went around a corner (which corner? They all looked the same). And stopped at the C section of the books. Books of multi-colors, all blending into a seeming brown wall.
They came to no one particular spot. A few frills on the spines of the books. A few ribbons draping the edge of the book cases. And amongst that giant wall of brown and occasional red and orange, the Librarian took out a black book. Melancholia it said, by Cristoff Wulf. The Librarian looked it over, opened it, shuffled through the pages and turned it over to Kevin.
“Here you go.” He said. “Something to help you.”
“What? Help me? In what way?”
“In all the ways you need help, no?” The Librarian said. “You’re failing everything. Aren’t you? Academics are very important, Mr. Choi. And as an employee of Havenbrook University, it is my responsibility to assist the student body.”
Kevin stopped and looked at him.
“How would you know that?”
“Know about what, exactly?”
“The failing everything.”
“Knowing the students of this elevated institution of education is half my job, young man.” The Librarian smiled. “It is the job of every octogenarian to propagate the next wave of wisemen.”
A smile like none other, thin. A little crackly given the giant wrinkles upon the Librarian’s face. The giant spots rose and bent and scrunched along his forehead, where his hairline once was many decades ago.
Kevin took the book. His hands shook for whatever reason. Perhaps it was the temperature of the room, though it was a moderate, controlled one. Perhaps it was the ambiance, though there wasn’t anything strange about the basement room save for it being a little red on the spectrum. Warm toned. Kevin looked down to the book, to the title and to the author. This was Cristoff, though different. A moody looking thing, unlike the republished and reprinted jovial covers of past. This one was blank. Oppressive†1 Stranger than the circumstances of its printing even is the circumstances of its contents. A stark contrast in subject matter, Cristoff seems to abandon the argument for free-will and speaks volumes of man as a caricature of himself. Or man as a ‘human puppet’, he posits. Frequently framed by depressive stream of consciousness of his circumstances in the war, Cristoff resolves to argue for the death of humanity. Though arguably his most emotive, Melancholia is his weakest argument of the Dead Dreamer trilogy. But is a good primer for what would be known as his unrecognized magnum opus; Shadow of the Dark Star. He tucked the book close to his chest and looked back up.
The Librarian was gone. Kevin rubbed his eyes and looked both ways of the alley. A few books were jostled out of place, there was a shuffling of people. Readers from aisles across were repeating the phonetics of difficult words. Kevin shook his head. He slapped his face. He looked around again. He was truly alone. Then he looked down to his chest to the book. Maybe he’d read it, after dinner. After a phone talk. Sometime…soon…tomorrow…
|↑1||Melancholia was the first of Cristoff’s Post-War books. Written about two years after his infantry service in Vietnam, many scholars credit it as the beginning of the Dead Dreamer Trilogy, printed and published by Fowler Press. Now since gone bankrupt. Few copies remain, if any and each is (probably) valued in the thousands.|