Chapter 10 – Battle 3, Part 1

I enter the catacombs – feeling somewhat confident for the first time in a long time – may be the first time ever.

Once again, the coliseum door is open. I can hear the beat of the war drums inside. Another battle – so soon after the last one? Maybe a stronger challenger. Who could it be?

I enter – and am stopped in my tracks – seeing my opponent. Hate stands in the middle of the arena staring at me – that stare that never ends, never shifts, never stops haunting. There is no stronger opponent – I see they intend to put me down before my strength increases more.

I start walking towards Hate. The coliseum is as loud as ever. The demons are all chanting – the first word is inaudible. The audience is just too excited to chant together, and the drums are overwhelming, making the word lost in the noise. I can hear the second very clearly. The second word is Hate.

I take a deep breath and continue my approach – I circle Hate – Hate’s head spins with me most of the way and spins around from the other direction to continue the stare – that never-ending stare.

My stance is hesitant; my hands start to sweat, I have a hard time keeping my head up looking back at Hate – staring back into those piercing eyes. After I go around one whole circumference – keeping my distance – looking for any attack from Hate – I stop. I turn my body away and sit down – just as I did before. Not looking at my enemy – not knowing when an attack will come – responding the way I responded to the weaker opponents. Indifference is the only ammunition that comes to mind.

The crowd gasps – the chanting stops. The drums stop. As the chanting silenced, one of my demons says the first word clearly – and I hear it. I hear it very clearly, and it sends chills down my back. The word is “Self.” I hesitate — my mind races. Self Hate is the true identity. Safe Hate is the real enemy. Somehow I always knew this but never put the pieces together. What comes to mind next, though, is even more frightening. I realize if Self Hate wins this battle all the demons, all the monsters, all of them are fed – all of them get stronger. Much of the hard work that I have accomplished would be lost, and the tide would turn back against me. I would be stuck in these catacombs forever. I stand, turn around – and face Self Hate directly – looking into those staring eyes.

Self Hate feels my hesitation. The eyes expand even further, and Self Hate reveals his wings. The wings unfurl, showing a massive 18-foot wingspan. I have never seen the wings before – I didn’t even know they existed. Self Hate releases a tremendous screech, and the audience feels the power – feels the confidence in Self Hate – and feels my weakness. The audience of demons start to chant even louder – this time, their chant is clear as it fills the coliseum. One side yells “Self” while the other side squeals “Hate,” creating a mesmerizing stereo effect of sound. I lower my head and my eyes; my shoulders fade, my stance weakens.

I feel desperation. I feel defeat. I feel death. Even Suicide looks healthy at this moment.