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There is one vice I shall never find myself a slave to: the beer.

How terrible, how miserable must those who drink this poisonous juice of rotten fruits find the world! Such terrible, intoxicating, poisonous filth should not defile the bodies of the kind and virtuous, nor should they attack the sensibilities of the pained and alone. Alas, I cannot think of this for too long before I remember the pathetic nature of my own faults.

As I walk home from school each day, I usually anticipate engaging in the trivial activities that bring me joy, like reading top 10 listicles and aimlessly browsing YouTube. Of course, such wonderful emotions never last long, for I must inevitably walk underneath the trees. Their looming presence and dark shadows never fail to dampen my mood, despite my rational mind proclaiming them nothing but trees. It could be the city's fault, it being their custom to cut the trees' branches once a year. The trees, incapable of screaming in agony as their limbs are brutally severed from their body, and equally incapable of understanding why, keep their emotions deep inside of them until all that is left is a deep, primordial fear of something.

Of course, the mere idea that the trees' fear causes mine is outlandish enough to laugh at, so I truly believe that it is nothing but a fancy I created to pass the long walk home. But as I look up at the trees, I cannot shake the feeling that they radiate oppression and despair from the torture unfairly foisted upon them.

The rustling of the amber leaves stays me a moment, but I shake it off, hoping it is a bird. Sadly, I cannot explain away the twisted face staring at me from the bushes slightly beyond. The monster who haunts my dreams has round, green eyes, and his fangs are prominent when he grimaces or gasps for air. He feasts on the intestines of a young lady with such relish that I feel a pang in my heart and my stomach. As I retch as this terrible sight, he grins before sinking his gaping, unnatural maw deep into the nether regions of the girl. Her arms are stretched out as if she attempted to fly to safety, but the beast shamelessly continues to consume her.

I must stop now, and apologize for this terrible crime. I wish it had not happened, for if it had not, your minds and mine would be purer for it. Thankfully, it is not too long before the beast tires of his prey and turns to me instead. No matter how hard I run, no matter how I beg, he always catches my arm before I am thrust back into the present. The trees are adorned with green and the new house door has fewer scars than my arm. No matter how the memory infects your life, you're always expected to move on.

As I enter my house, thoughts of the frightful monster threaten to overwhelm me, and I find myself nearly unable to dispel them. I can fondly reminisce about the long-gone days when such thoughts could not penetrate my mind with such vigor, or the even earlier days when I had not yet seen the monstrous visage that drives me mad.

The psychopathic nature of his actions cuts into my heart whenever I remember the gleam of his eyes, jubilant and innocent. Was he born to feel happy when surrounded by death? I have made efforts to shield myself from bestowing reason upon such a terrifying force of nature, but still I feel that I may have misunderstood some ultimately rational goal.

I see his eyes through the computer screen when I see just how bad my grades have become. It frightens me sometimes, but it should frighten me more. I have never known hardship, never known the slap of reality dashing my dreams, and so I cannot muster the outrage which would lead to sure improvement.

Something must be terribly wrong with my soul. I cannot believe any medical or sociological reason for why my thoughts have dulled, and I trudge mindlessly on in search of some "better" future. I don't know why I kill myself like this, but I would never wish such a thing on anyone else. It leads me to fill up my water bottle as if I can purify myself through the tap and the motion.

"Maybe this is their reason that the poor and the addicted drink the beer," I say to myself absentmindedly as the tap pours forth its glistening elixir of life. "They forget their troubles for the moment, and they have something to do when they feel their life is crushing them."

And as if by magic, the pieces which had once been scattered to me suddenly make all too much sense. I see myself reflected in the water, the cold, clear mirror which scatters my external visage and lays my soul out clearly. I see, reflected in my black heart, the very reason for which I have the computer, and for which others have the beer, and in that instant, as always, the wall I had created in my mind separating me from those drinkers of the monstrous beer is shattered.

I down the bitter-tasting water, tinged with my sorrow and my anger, with the realization that I had an assignment due which I had not done, with the poisonous quality I had once attributed to the beer. Unsatisfied, I down more, and yet more, and every time it reminds me of nothing if not the mocking, innocent glint of the monster's eyes.

I want to scream, because I feel like I cannot deal with it anymore. I feel too entitled, too lazy. There must be something deeply broken in my heart. I lie down on the sofa and fall asleep, only awakening when I feel a familiar presence in the room.

I cannot help but whimper as I watch the monster meander closer to my face. He repeats my cries, mocking me as he nears me. His hot breath feels like a furnace, like an opening into the reviled gates of the underworld.

"Not now," I mutter as I close my eyes. "Be gone." I hope that he may understand my plight. I had watched the death in an almost detached manner, yet I now feel the guilt and shame for being so detached that I let my idle thoughts of familial love trump my fellow-feeling towards a life lost. I may have overcompensated, but in my defense, I had been feeling restless and angry for some time by that point, and I have been tormented by the hideous beast ever since.

I open my eyes, and the monster regards me with one cool green eye. He rasps, "Do you feel that you are better than all other humans?"

"No!" I cry, for I do not wish it to be true.

"You wish to rid yourself of hate, but you cannot."

"Untruth!" I shriek, even though it was a hasty and unrehearsed answer. The monster waits - perhaps he knows of my mind's own tricks - but I am loath to correct myself.

"You lack any semblance of love for your classmates, your sister, your cat, your mother, and your father."

"Sacrilege!" I roar, but I cannot get up. I feel heavy. The water within me pins me to the sofa, like a content cat purring within my stomach.

"You do not respect your parents, because your schoolwork is undone and your belly is taut, filled with water."

"I don't understand you, foul-mouthed being," I snarl, bluffing so that he will tire of my insolence. "Do you mean to suggest that my schoolwork is undone?"

"I have seen your backpack, friend. You would be afraid to discover that you have not opened it. Your snack rots inside your lunchbox; your pens dry from disuse. Aye, you are either a hypocrite or a liar."

"Why have you come, awful being? Am I to die at your terrible hands? Will you rip me apart?"

"I come bearing a message which you should have learned months ago. Your foolish sacrifices mean nothing."

I attempt to will him away by closing my eyes, but his breath is like that of a furnace. No matter how clean he becomes, he can't shake his ominous aura of rotting flesh. I find a water bottle in my hand, and I drink instinctively so he backs away.

"You down the Internet like beer and drown your sorrows in water, hoping desperately that you can reverse your past mistakes. Beware, for the sheer volume will end your life."

"Neither beer nor water kills."

"All things kill in too high a volume. Attempt to neutralize your soul with fetid water, and you shall find yourself fading, until you become but a testament to their erasing effects."

I consider it. Would I rather live this life in which I am nothing but a disappointment, or sink to my rightful place, the bottle in my hand?

The light within my eyes agitates the monster. "You are a fool to consider yourself worthy of death."

"You were a fool to consider your meal worthy of death. I know your kind. You eat well and then kill harmless birds to wind yourselves down. Millions die from your foolish endeavors. Pathetic."

What can he do? He surveys me, disgusted. "Do you think your affinity for distraction is in any way the same as mine? You and your kind trap us in glorified cages, while the others let us free. You too trapped yourself in a cage, attempting to ignore the fact that by maiming me, you did nothing but sadden your sister."

What was I to do? He killed the bird, feasting on its nether regions. He looked to me in innocence, as if he had done nothing. Then, not only did he tempt me with his gentle eyes, he sank his fangs into me without a moment's hesitation. I could not resist. I had to hit something in this world which couldn't really hit me back. Besides, he got his revenge - a month of hallucination and fever from the tainted needles in his maw. If I deny my gut instinct that what I did was wrong, it's easy to reason that I was in the right.

"You are in the wrong." With that barb, he finally leaves, and his words resonate within me as I sleep.

When I wake up, my arm feels fine, though the scars from my previous dealings with the beast mock me like a twisted sort of stopped clock. I accept that I do not really love my classmates, that I hate my cat and I'm lukewarm towards my sister, that I love my mother and father even though I don't work hard enough to stop them from worrying. But I can change all that if I admit that I can't focus and I have an internet addiction.

I can, right?

I go to my backpack, take out my homework, and start finishing it, hoping that I can stop hiding this problem from myself. But I can already feel myself forgetting what happened today.