Landon Dunlevy

The Dark Passenger

Over the course of the past month, I have had a Dexter marathon on Netflix. For those who may not know, Dexter Morgan is a serial killer who focuses his urges to kill on those he feels deserve it, such as murderers, rapists, drug dealers, etcetera.

He refers to his need to kill as the Dark Passenger. This is who takes over when Dexter is at work in his kill room, with a victim on his table.

His relationship with that part of himself was truly epiphanous to me. I deeply related to Dexter on a number of levels.

No, I'm not a serial killer. I can't even eat meat anymore without feeling like a murderer by association. I try to leave as shallow a footprint as possible in this world. It's the least I can do, considering how my species is the worst thing to ever happen to planet Earth.

But I do have a Dark Passenger. I think everyone does, but some seem to encounter their Dark Passenger in a very real way. In the show, Dexter finally accepts his Dark Passenger as being a part of him, and that the things he had always attributed to the Dark Passenger were actually his doing. I think I'm coming to grips with that right now.

Over the past few days, I've been in a frenzy of writing, my vision of Cadmus Pariah sharp and undeniable. He talked a young woman into killing herself, he bludgeoned a Great Egret to death with the driftwood that would become his Harming Tree, and he departed the Cygnus family without a single word of gratitude for their saving his life. He is beginning to experience emotion, and he has decided to cope with this new experience by murdering humans and Vampires and adding pieces of them to his tree, in commemoration of each feeling he encounters.

He has no remorse, no empathy, no regard for anyone, unless they serve a purpose in his life. Any minor transgression on the part of people in his orbit earns the offending party a death sentence.

And that reminded me of something that happened when I was 5 years old. I was on my bicycle, riding down our long, dirt drive way, enjoying myself, when my cousin Johnna, who was there for a visit, kept getting in my way. After the third time of her not moving, I turned my bike in her direction, with the intent of running her over. She jumped out of the way just in time, but I did clip her a little.

The Mother and Father Units were displeased to say the least, and I was duly punished for my attempted murder. But I never regretted what I did. I regretted the punishment, and I remember thinking that I wish I had been more successful in my aims since I was being punished for it already.

And it occurred to me that, all this time, I had simply been transferring these dark thoughts of mine to my demon child, so I could walk through life in as much harmony with those around me as I could muster. I'm very empathic, and it hurts me to see others hurt, especially animals. I can't fathom trying to run Johnna down now. It's not part of who I am.

But it is. I wonder now, if Cadmus had not been born that Summer of 1990, would I be a radically different person? Would I be a Dexter, or worse? Clive Barker once said, "Be regular and ordinary in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work." Is that what I am doing with Cadmus Pariah? Am I treading lightly in this world, and letting Cadmus do the things that, in the most secret chambers of my heart, I wish I could do?

The art of creation often comes from an act of destruction. It's a cyclic law I've long honoured in my personal philosophy. The creation of black sand beaches is the direct result of the destructive properties of the volcano that rises far above them. Destruction is a thing of beauty and terror, and the song first sung by the universe as it exploded into life. From the void we came, and to the void we must someday return. And by filling up that void with the snuffed-out lives of biological awareness, we will become something entirely new, and entirely different.

All that said, I think I understand Cadmus Pariah and his function in my life more than I ever have before. And I understand that other people's violent and original art exists so that they, too, can live a kindly life, and achieve their own kind of harmony.

And I'm cool with that.
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