's 2017 Horror Write-off:

The Bad Man

Submitted by Althaea Rose

I am a very bad person.

Let me ask you something: how does a person become evil? Are they born that way, or are they a product of their environment? Most sociologists would say it's a mix of both these aspects.

Take me, for example. I was born into a typical middle class family: I had everything I ever needed. I was happy and healthy. There was no dreaded childhood sickness, no signs of neglect and no consistent abuse. Just me, my mother and my father, living together in our safe, loving home.

For me, I'd say it only took one moment. Just one single incident that served as the catalyst in changing the course of my life forever and sending me hurtling towards my despicable destiny. It had been the night of my 7th birthday. That day, I had also helped my junior soccer team win the match that would take us to the finals. I was full of excitement and pride. Lying in bed, I looked at the little league trophy shining on my shelf. I could hear the party still going on downstairs. The young ones, like me, had been put to bed whilst the adults in our lives continued the celebrations well into the night. My family had always been one to have wild parties, and they always looked for any excuse to bring the champagne and karaoke machine out.

The door to my bedroom had slowly creaked open. I felt the covers shift behind me. I saw a face that I cannot remember. My memory of what happened exactly is faulty; I assume this was a self-preservation strategy created by my small, terrified self. There was a sense of humiliation. I knew what was happening was wrong. There was pain I never thought could exist. There was also a strange feeling I couldn't comprehend. A strange feeling that since that godforsaken day has never left me. So I suppose you could attempt to justify my future horrific actions by saying it was out of my control. I had been tainted at a young, impressionable age. I had no choice. If I had told my parents what had happened, perhaps I could have gotten therapy, perhaps I could have made those intrusive, compulsive thoughts go away.

Perhaps I wouldn't have grown up to become a monster like the bastard who had defiled me. Thankfully, I was caught out before I continued the horrific cycle with another innocent youth. I was 17 - friendless, awkward and sexually frustrated. I was at a playground a block from my house. I found the boy sitting by himself on a swing. I recognised him - he was the child of my next door neighbour.

The intrusive thoughts in my mind were screaming to me like a legion from hell. Now was my chance.

I told him I had pizza and an Xbox. He came with me straight away. It was so easy. We were nearly at my front door when I was confronted by the child's father. I lost what wouldn't be the last tooth that came flying out of my skull. They had to send me to the hospital before I went on trial. The police ransacked my room and found my laptop and all of the USB drives. My parents were mortified and ashamed. They severed all ties with me, as did the rest of my family. I had countless charges pressed against me. I was told I was going away for a very long time. I was told I was going to suffer, and suffer I did. I went to a maximum security prison filled with murderers and hardened criminals. They all knew who I was, word spreads quickly. I was a skinny, pale youth - practically a boy myself. Hell is real and I have lived through it. I was humiliated, tortured, violated - I was that seven year old in bed all over again. Only this time, I knew what was happening and I knew that I deserved it. They wouldn't let me kill myself. They wouldn't even sterilise me, as much as I begged for it. In the end, I accepted that this would be my fate until the end of my natural life.

In an effort to atone for my sins, I decided to clean myself up. I stopped masturbating. I got rid of anything I thought could trigger my urges - my television, magazines, books. I started to meditate. I turned to God - I became a born again Christian. I became an assistant to the prison's chaplain. I spoke to other men who were like me - unforgivable bastards with disgusting thoughts. I like to think that I helped to cure at least a few of them of their sickness. I was still hated, but I turned the other cheek. They could hate me, but I would let them. One day, I was approached by a man in a white coat. He was the first person in a long time who didn't treat me with scorn. Instead, he saw me as a guinea pig. He offered me another way to redeem myself to humanity and to contribute to the pursuits of science. I accepted. After all, if I died, I would be making the world a better place. I was put inside a silver cylindrical device. I was covered in monitoring equipment. The door was locked so I wouldn't escape. Rest assured, I didn't plan to. As the machine whirred to life, I closed my eyes. I wondered if I would be forgiven for my sins and accepted into Heaven or if I'd cry and gnash my teeth in eternal suffering. Either way, I was ready.

When the doors opened I was greeted with darkness and a strange feeling of heaviness around me. Blinking my eyes to adjust to the lack of lighting, I realised I was inside a coat closet. Stepping outside into the hallway, I recognised the faded green wallpaper and brown, stained carpet. I could hear laughter and buzzing excitement from the living room downstairs. I approached a familiar door and opened it slowly. The moment I saw the small figure sleeping soundly under the covers I felt the compulsions overcome me. Years of meditation and suppression flew out the window. I finally had my chance and nobody would ever be the wiser.

After I had finished, guilt surged through me. I crept through the party and approached my next door neighbour. He was more than a little tipsy and had a microphone in his hands. I told him the day he would meet his wife and when his child would be born. Then I gave him a day and a time he needed to remember. I warned him he must be outside my house at that exact instance or else. He stared at me in bewilderment as I raced out the front door.

At the moment, I'm in an all too familiar playground. I'm sitting on a swing, speaking into the voice recorder the scientists had given me. I wonder what will happen to me now. The scientists who conducted this experiment had failed to mention what would occur after my transition. Will I return back to my own time? Will I vanish into nothingness? Will I stay here, stagnating until I eventually give in to suicide?

I think of that poor boy I violated less than an hour ago. I think of how he is going to grow up friendless, hating himself and objectifying innocent bodies. I hear someone stirring in the bushes behind me. I can hear their heavy breathing. It sounds like they're angry or perhaps on the verge of tears.

No matter what happens to me now, at the very least I can confirm something I have always known. I am, and always have been, a very bad person.