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[ s h i f t e d ]
by kHo

It's midnight on a Tuesday, and Mort's been asleep since seven. He lies motionless upstairs under too warm covers in the dead heat of July with a fan circling overhead that doesn't do nearly enough to dispel the stagnancy of the air in the cabin. His hours have always been fucked, but this is ridiculous. Sleeping sixteen hours of the day, awake no more than 4 hours at a time, writing in the place of eating. He's lost ten pounds that he didn't have to lose to begin with, and is on the way to losing even more if nothing changes. Mort exists in a world made solely of his own decomposing sanity, completely out of touch with reality, and not giving a good God damn.

"Did you have to kill Chico?"

"I did."

The sanity that used to occupy Mort's consciousness sits at the computer desk, glaring at the seemingly ignorant hick sitting too close to Mort's sleeping form. "He needed Chico."

Self-proclaimed Shooter sneers at Mort's saner self and raises an eyebrow. "You really ought to let that go, Pilgrim. That was months ago."

"He needed Chico. He was his touchstone. Reminded him he still held the capacity to love and be loved."

"Chico's better off dead. This weak little shitforbrains couldn't handle his blind ass. Reminded him of Amy. Reminded him that in the end, Amy loved that damn dog more than she loved him."

Mort of yesteryear sighs and looks sadly at his slumbering host. "I can't believe he let you take over."

Shooter laughs and winds a finger into the sleeping Mort's hair. "I told you once, I'll tell you again. Mort is what we like to call a bonafide pussy."

He regards Shooter with a cool gaze. "Only because you made him be."

Shooter's grin widens. "Yes. Because you let me."

Mort's teeth clench and his eyes shift back to watch his sleeping self. "I checked out temporarily. I was making a comeback."

Shooter's laugh grates down to his very bones. "Your comeback was as slow as molasses, friend of friends."

"He's not a pussy," Mort says softly, his hand reaching over to grab the pack half full of cigarettes from Mort's drawer. "He's just human. He split himself, because it was easier to deal with it separately."

"No, now see that's where you're wrong," Shooter drawls, shifting his attention to stroking Mort's hair back from his passive face. "He split himself, because it was easier to not deal with it at all."

"He should have dealt with it," Mort says, frowning as he lit a cigarette. His eyes flicked over to Shooter. "And there was a time when you weren't so sick. When you weren't as twisted."

"Times doesn't heal all wounds," Shooter says with a shrug. "Sometimes it makes them fester. Grow infected, spiderwebs of poison marking your skin for miles."

"We used to be whole," Mort muses. If Shooter had been real, he wouldn't have heard him. That's the thing with inner selves though: you always know what the other one's thinking. "We used to cohabitate the same head space, me and you."

"And him," Shooter counters back, a hand reaching up to tug on his hat. "And then Amy happened."

Mort shakes his head. "It happened before then."

"I suppose it did at that," Shooter says. "I reckon it started with the loss of your baby."

Mort smiles and raises an eyebrow. "Yours too."

Shooter glowers down at the sleeping form and his hand floats down to his neck, fingers splaying over his vocal chord. "We could kill him now, ya know," he says with an evil glint to his eyes. "Put him out of his misery."

"No," Mort says, shaking his head. "He'll come back one day. He'll wake up one day and have to deal with it."

Shooter looks at him for a moment and cocks an eyebrow. "And he'll wish he were dead."

Mort's fingers play with his lips as he studies his figure and watches it flip over agitatedly. "No."

Shooter's laugh shoots shivers down his spine with its cold calculatedness. "You know what the irony of all of this is?" At Mort's shrug he continues. "This would make a great story, us sitting here talking over him. His conscience and anger arguing over his sleeping former self."

Mort smiles half heartedly. "Yeah. Except that story'll never come if he keeps letting you run the ship."

Shooter frowns. "Why not?"

Mort's smile widens. "Because I'm the writer of this group."

Shooter's frown turns into a sneer. "Oh is that so?"

Mort nods. "It is."

Shooter crosses his arms and glares at him. "What about Secret Window, Secret Garden? That had me written all over it."

Mort shakes his head. "No. There were parts of you in there to be certain. But that was me and him. Me and him working in tandem. Back when he still let me run things."

"And look what a good job you did at the helm, partner," Shooter says with a slow smile.

Mort glares at him. "It wasn't my fault."

Shooter cocks his head to the side. "Now that's just a break down of logic, Mort. You can't have your cake and eat it too."

Mort rolls his eyes. "What are you going on about?"

"You blame me for him killing Amy and Ted, don't you? I was at the helm by that point, wasn't I? And if it's my fault since I was in charge, isn't the other'n yours?"

Mort takes a deep inhalation of his cigarette and taps the ashes onto the desk. "There were more factors involved than that."

"And what're those, Mort?"

Mort clenches his jaw. "See, that's your problem, Shooter. That's why you shouldn't be in charge."

Shooter laughs. "Explain."

Mort sighs, leaning forward. "Listen up, Shooter. Here's the thing. I'm the ego, you're the id."

Shooter rolls his eyes. "Oh, now we're bringing Freud into this?"

"He's the Father of Psychology for a reason, Shooter, and that's because he knows what he's talking about" Mort smirks at him and crosses his legs. "You never stop to take into account outside forces. All you're concerned with is the immediate, the primal."

Shooter nods. "And you didn't want her to pay at all, is that it?"

"Of course I wanted her to pay," Mort says, waving his hand through the air. "Amy deserved to be punished. She deserved to feel guilty, and to hate herself, and she deserved Mort's hatred. And I wanted the Ted situation to blow up right in her face. She didn't deserve to die though."

Shooter raises an eyebrow. "Come on now, Mort. Admit it. A little part of you wanted her to die for her sins."

Mort shrugs. "Maybe."

Shooter laughs. "See?"

"The vindictive part did," Mort said, meeting Shooter in the eye. "But I don't let that control me. I live in reality. You live in a world of you, and you alone."

Shooter snorted. "Reality is over rated. People get hurt in reality. Reality is unfair and unjust."

Mort nodded. "I'm not denying that."

"He's happier in here, Mort," Shooter said, pointing to his head.

Mort shook his head. "You don't know what happy is."

Shooter smiled. "And just the same. He chose me."

"Did he," Mort asked, leaning forward again. "Did he really?"

Shooter laughed. "I'm the one in charge aren't I?"

Mort shrugged. "Seems to me he conceded to you."

Shooter shrugged. "Whatever."

Mort shook his head. "He'll wake up eventually. He'll realize." He took a deep breath and studied his sleeping host. "He'll let me back in."

"Why should he," Shooter asked, lying down beside Mort and running his fingers through his mussed and frizzed hair. "You made him miserable."

"He's closest to me," Mort said quietly, feeling himself losing even more hope than he already had. "He gave you a whole other name, Shooter. It's me he's closest to."

"He was," Shooter said with a self-satisfied smirk. "But things change Mort. They shift."

"They'll shift back."

Shooter laughed again. "The thing is, Mort, you used to sound more convincing back when you still believed that."