There Is No Jesus

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Scratch it, scratch it all off until there is nothing left!

She went mad in that darkness. That darkness where she had hidden in so often. And with the stroke of her lighter, her prey would see the real Sun Li, a tortured and twisted beast that could never get what she really wanted.

maskThat mask, that ghastly, horrid mask, illuminated from the flicker of the flame, seemed to have melted into her head. Under that mask, the smell of sweat and fresh blood trickled into the bathroom. Her prey was in the next cubicle, clutching her bible. Sun Li could picture her fingers caressing the spine, waiting, for her to say something. Her soft breath and the drip from the toilet bowl, so close.

That mask, that ghastly, horrid mask, illuminated from the flicker of the flame, seemed to have melted into her head. Under that mask, the smell of sweat and fresh blood trickled into the bathroom. Her prey was in the next cubicle, clutching her bible. Sun Li could picture her fingers caressing the spine, waiting, for her to say something. Her soft breath and the drip from the toilet bowl, so close.

She edged the flame to the hole between their cubicles, the hole that so many had dared to look into before.

That beautiful face, peering in through the hole, would never be the same again.

Alisa screamed.

* * * *

She was never one of the cool kids. In fact, she didn’t have any friends at all. She was in her own world and she didn’t hear the things they said about her. She always had her headphones on, Marilyn Manson was the usual choice on the ipod, his moans and growls blocked out their voices, the guitars romped on with her marching footsteps. Her vision was also protected. She kept her Twilight novel in hand at all times, and read, whilst walking, sometimes whispering the words to herself in the crowds of students.

Things changed for Sun Li when Alisa approached her in the hallway.

She asked, ‘Hi Sun Li, how are you today? Would you like to come to my party on the weekend?’

She was smiling. Sun Li stared at her white, straight teeth.

She pulled off her headphones and Alisa leaned into kiss her. This had recently become the common greeting at school, but it was a greeting reserved for those who actually had friends.

Sun Li backed off quickly. That was closer than anyone had been in a while.

Alisa said, ‘Oh I’m so sorry Sun Li. How about we shake?’

Sun Li was bright red, trying to act like she didn’t care.

She touched her hand and didn’t know what to say.

Alisa added, ‘You have to come. Don’t worry you don’t have to get wasted. I don’t even drink, but if that’s what you like, I won’t judge you. My parents are really understanding people you know, my father is the pastor at the Church of Christ, but he won’t be there.’

Sun Li knew about the church of course. Alisa had been putting flyers up all over the school for Bible readings and Church performances all year. She even sang God songs at school assemblies and crammed a prayer in whenever she could, even though the school was meant to be secular. They made exceptions for her; she was hard to say no to. She had this charm about her that made boys follow her around like sheep and girls copy her.

Sun Li found herself nodding.

That weekend, she arrived at the party nervous.

Sun Li thought the party was a joke. Everyone introduced themselves like she was new to the school. She thought she had worn too much make up. She walked away from many of them mid-sentence, like a disinterested child.

When the basketball team turned up, things finally got interesting, the beer flowed into her, like the filling of a bath. Blurry and wet, the night stretched into a stale standstill.

Sun Li couldn’t remember the rest.

* * * *

Alisa became a very good friend of Sun Li’s. They were often seen in the hallways together, Alisa doing most of the talking, usually preaching her version of the bible. Sun Li would nod and stare. She rarely heard a word Alisa said.

Sun Li often couldn’t sleep at night. She would tumble in her black covers in salty tears, trying so hard to sleep. But the night wasn’t her friend and wouldn’t allow her any rest. Silence wasn’t either. The voices drifted in and out of her window.

Scratch it! Scratch it off until there’s nothing left!

* * * *

In Drama, one afternoon, Alisa asked her, ‘I really want you to come to church. Would you give me a chance to bring Jesus into your world?’

Sun Li just nodded and stared into her eyes.

Alisa held her hand and guided her everywhere, through the crowds of sweaty boys.

Sun Li didn’t appear interested in most school subjects but was a natural actress. Her drama teacher, Mrs. Zhang, was basically the only reason she went to school.

When she brought in those masks, Sun Li went bright red.

She said, handing them out, ‘Now we’re starting a unit on the Commedia dell’ Arte.’

Sun Li put one of the masks on and Mrs. Zhang said, ‘Oh Sun Li, if you were in the 16th century you wouldn’t be allowed to wear that mask, The Gnaga: a female disguise for men only.’

She felt the heat rise on her face, beneath the rubber. She picked up another and fingered the holes and smiled.

At the end of that class, she took that Gnaga mask, when Mrs. Zhang wasn’t looking. She slipped it into her bag and ran.

Her foster mother gave her worried looks as she wore the mask around the house. She’d find Sun Li dancing around in front of the mirror, chanting in some other language.

Sun Li even wore the mask to sleep.

At night she would stare into the mirror, smiling and whispering, giggling then crying.

On a Monday, at lunch, Alisa told her, ‘I know god has a plan for you too.’

She couldn’t reply. She just nodded, staring at her hair flow in the wind.

That perfect black flowing hair, she loved to smell. The voice often whispered behind it.

Scratch it off! Scratch it off until there’s nothing left!

One day, half way through English, Sun Li took her Twilight book and walked to the nearest bathroom, just to get out of class. When she got there, she found a huge Out of Order sign on the door, so she climbed the stairs in search of another toilet on the top floor. The strange thing about the top floor that year was nobody was ever up there. There were only three classrooms and they were all empty. At the end of the hallway she was relieved to find a toilet. She pushed the door in to find darkness and a wretched odor.

She tried switching on the light but it didn’t work so she walked slowly like a blind man to the cubical. She shut the door behind her and pulled out a lighter. The flame lit up the bathroom with a wicked orange flicker. Someone had smashed a huge hole in the wall and she could just make out the toilet in the next cubical. She sat there for awhile, and then decided to read her Twilight book.

Scratch it off! Scratch it off until there’s nothing left!

That voice came back, echoing off the walls of the cubical. She reached into her bag and took the Gnaga mask. She pulled it over her face and sat there for a while. Soon, she was smiling.

In math, Alisa was helping her again, doing all the talking as usual. Sun Li would often look up at her and watch her mouth moving up and down.

She asked Alisa, ‘Hey do you know about the toilets on the top floor?’

Alisa replied, ‘No, what about them?’

‘I heard the lights don’t work and if you go in there and say, gnaga three times, this freaky ghost will appear and cut you pieces.’

Alisa laughed, ‘Oh that’s ridiculous, I pray every night to keep evil spirits from this school. I’m sure Jesus is looking after us here.’

Seeing as Alisa knew about the Gnaga story, it wasn’t long until everyone else did too. The lie grew and grew and soon it was a giant, pounding its’ enormous feet down on the hallways and classrooms of the schools, shaking the windows.

Sun Li took the Gnaga mask and lighter up to the top floor toilets and waited in the sweet darkness. She locked the door tight and smiled wickedly. Hours later the door creaked open and a young girl, probably a seventh grader entered the cubical next to hers.

She whispered, ‘Gnaga, Gnaga, gnaga.’

Sun Li flicked on her lighter. She glanced through the whole in the wall, seeing the mask in full.

She yelped, sounding like a wounded puppy. Then she ran. It was a great first performance.

Sun Li missed a lot of classes after that. She was becoming a nightmare and she loved it. Even a group of boys, went up there and after seeing the mask, ran out of there, just like the seventh grader.

A few weeks later, Sun Li bought some gloves to match her mask. They were black and felt smooth on her cold, frail hands. They looked just like any other pair of gloves, some kid would where in winter, only they had claws at the tip of every finger. Sun Li would sharpen them at night.

One time a kid peered into the cubicle and got cut. Sun Li managed to scratch his ear pretty deeply. Blood hit the wall. That kid didn’t go to the top floor again and he told all his friends about it too. He was feeding the giant.

The giant was fed a thousand times over and Gnaga was the new word around school. Alisa went on helping Sun Li with her math and science and took her to a few parties too.

One morning, things got complicated.

Alisa told her, ‘It’s time you come to my place after school for cookies and milk.’

She nodded, wondering what she meant.

She spent most of the day, red faced and shaky. She was deeply confused. It was written all over her wrinkled up face. Could milk and cookies really just mean milk and cookies?

That afternoon she nervously took Alisa’s hand and went to her place. She owned the penthouse suite on the top floor in the middle of Pudong CBD. The furniture was sleek, leather and modern.

Alisa said, flipping back her hair, ‘So are you ready for the best home baked cookies in the world?’ she guided her into the kitchen, noticing Sun Li’s sweaty palm was shaking.

There stood her Mum, smiling the same perfect smile. She said, ‘Hi Sarah, I’ve heard so much about you. Welcome to our home.’

She stared at her eyes, that amazing light brown, just like Alisa’s.

Alisa’s mother pulled out a tray of cookies from the oven. Cookies did mean cookies.

Alisa made it worse by putting her arm around Sun Li. She said, ‘Here try them when they’re hot.’

She put one of the cookies into her quivering mouth. It must have been delicious but she could hardly taste a thing. Alisa was centimeters from her face, the closest she had ever been.

So she munched. She forced a smile. She sipped their milk and listened to them go on about the church and Jesus. She watched her mouth and tongue, not hearing her words.

Soon, Sun Li couldn’t hear a thing. The voice blew in through an opened window.

Scratch it off! Scratch it off until there’s nothing left!

At five o’clock she went home alone. She took the subway, jammed in with suits and smoky collars, men, everywhere sweating their awful stench all over her. Finally she got home and ran straight to her room. There she put her Gnaga mask on and felt the tears beneath it. She cried for a long time. The voice was yelling down her ears.

She made a fool of you, asking you in for cookies.

She didn’t sleep at all.

The next day at school she walked in there like a ghost, shadows over her face and warm red cheeks.

The last person she wanted to see, Alisa appeared in front of her and asked, ‘Hey, what’s up? Are you sick?’

She knew what to say, she had planned the whole thing out the night before, over and over again.

She said to her, ‘Hey, I really want you to teach me about Jesus, you know.’

Alisa was very pleased, ‘Of course, you let me know, whenever you are ready and I’ll tell you everything I know.’

‘Well, I’m really embarrassed about it so I want to do it in private. Can you meet me in the top floor toilets after school?’

She looked proud and said, ‘I’ll be there with bible in hand. I’m so glad you’ve finally come around.’

Sun Li gave her a hug and she felt her breath and warm touch. She stepped back and looked away.

When the last bell went Sun Li hurried to the top floor and made sure everything was ready. The claws on her gloves were so sharp they cut through her shirt when she tested them out. She breathed in and cut a claw deep into her cheek. Dragging it across her nose, the blood ran into her mouth and teeth. She pulled the mask on and sat on the toilet, door closed. The darkness soon relaxed her.

Minutes later she heard footsteps. She yelled, ‘Is that you Alisa?’

She called out, ‘Yeah, I’m here.’

Sun Li replied, ‘We are going to have to do this in the dark, can you come a sit on the toilet next to mine.’

She said, ‘OK, anything for you Sun Li. Don’t worry I know most of the New Testament off by heart.’

She heard her walk in, close the door and sit down.

She said, ‘Now you know Jesus loves you right?’

She flicked the lighter on and she peered in to my cubicle. Her face would never be the same again. That perfect, face would be gone forever.

She dropped the lighter and the voice came back.

Scratch it off! Scratch it off until there’s nothing left! Scratch off her perfect face, so you never have to look at it again!

She growled, ‘There is no such thing as Jesus’ and grabbed her head.

She pulled half of her into the cubicle and went wild, like a hungry tiger, slashing and clawing at her face and arms.

She screamed and when she could cried, ‘Stop it Sun Li, please’

But Sun Li wasn’t listening. She was cutting into that face, that face she wanted so bad. Blood hit her arms.

Soon after, Alisa managed to break free. She tumbled over and hit her head on the toilet wall. There were scrambling footsteps and then the light of the outside door. Sun Li was left panting, still smiling under my Gnaga mask, blood all over her.

The police then came for her. The tiger went wild again, slashing and hacking at the young cops. They shouldn’t have worn short sleeves.

Another bigger cop hit her hard in the jaw and she went down pretty quick. He cuffed her and pulled off her mask.

He said, ‘Oh Jesus!’ seeing the smeared blood and a fresh wound right across her face.

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