Chapter 5: Faces

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

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Comments: 1


Lance opened his eyes. White. He focused, seeing the details in the ceiling.

Where had he been last? Where was he now?

His head hurt a little bit, a similar pain running through his body. His muscles, mostly. His eyes closed again, part of his brain trying to remember while another part just wanted to go back to sleep.

But why had he been sleeping in the first place? Wasn't he just at school?

In the office...

"Lance?" A footstep; a single tap of the sole.

He opened his eyes, turning to look to his right. He was lying down, his bed unfamiliar and uncomfortable. The face he was staring at was unfamiliar, too.

She smiled, the expression curving her already narrow, almond-shaped eyes. Her hands adjusted the clipboard she held, bringing Lance's stare to the ID tag clipped to the front of her white coat. She introduced herself as he read the words on the tag.

"I'm Dr. Chu. I'll be taking care of you today, okay?"

He blinked, looking out towards the doorway further to his right. "Why am I in the hospital?" His voice was a little rough, throat lined with the slightest amount of pain.

"You don't remember?" A pen unclicked, positioned to write.

A memory came back: "You've got someone very dangerous coming for you."

Lance raised himself upright, feeling pain split into the muscles of his back. His teeth clamped against the inside of his mouth, suppressing a curse.

"Hey." The doctor stepped forward, pressing a light hand to the front of his shoulder. "Take it easy. We don't want you to get even more hurt, right?"

"Why am I here?" he asked again, his arms beginning to give out and shakily lower himself back down.

Dr. Chu's hand left him, her foot stepping forward to a spot on the floor Lance couldn't see. The upper part of his bed rose, sitting him upright as she replied, "From what I gather through your friends, you fell unconscious at school. Started shaking and screaming quite a bit."

That's right. Memories came back, and unconsciously he nodded to himself. Cal was there. Did he tell her about the voice—or the fact that I was hearing it?

"Do you remember anything about that?" Dr. Chu was asking him. "Maybe something that happened before..."

He shook his head. "No. Nothing."

I'm crazy. I'm absolutely insane.

"Well, alright." She wrote something down, the loopy sounds of her pen filling the silence between them. "Mind if I ask you a few questions about your health?

"Yeah, sure." Like how insane I am? Good luck measuring it.

"Do you remember what you've eaten today?"

"Coffee. I had like a few sips of coffee."

Her writing stopped. "Is that normal for you?"

"No. I really can't stand it."

"Okay..." She wrote something else down, and the next few questions were followed up by light movements; like she was checking off boxes. After the third check, she spoke again. "Well, you seem relatively healthy. You've been exercising a lot, too, lately with the shows you play... How many hours of sleep do you get a night, on average?"

"Like... In the past week?" At her nod, he thought back, trying to calculate it. There wasn't much to figure out. "Six hours, around six." That was a lie; he doubled the number.

"Not awful..." Another box was checked, and the front page she had been holding fell back down. "Usually people your age need about an average of ten hours." She looked over the papers for a moment, then nodded to herself. "I'll need to go consult with another doctor; our brain expert. You have some friends here waiting for you, if you'd like to visit with them."

Cal... He can probably tell me what happened.

"Yeah, sure."

The doctor smiled, turning away. "I'll send them in."

He gave the best nod he could, resisting the urge to think about much of anything as he watched the doctor walk away. She opened the door, turning to smile at him again from the doorway. "Be back in a bit!"

He nodded again, faking a small smile in return before watching the door close. He pulled himself into his thoughts, trying to figure everything out. The voice... How? Nobody else seemed to hear it except for him, and it was controlling his body, too...

I'm crazy. I'm so bat shit ins—

The door opened again, Lance nearly jumping out of his own skin from the shock. Cal met his stare, concerned. Lance didn't know what to say, except for the fact that he was also worried about himself, too. And probably for the same reasons.

Someone pushed past Cal, a familiar voice accompanying the entrance. "Don't just stand in the doorway, Cal! Jeez—" Trent looked up, a bit of surprise coming to him as he noticed Lance.

"Oh, good." His friend relaxed, a light smile on his face. "You're not dead. Or severely injured." He walked into the room, thumb hitching behind himself in motion to Cal. "He wasn't saying much about what happened to you. Freaked me the fuck out, let me tell you."

Lance briefly looked back to Cal, trying to decipher that worry still on his face. Trent caught his focus again, stopping a ways from his bed.

"So you alright, man? You're not lookin' so well..."

Lance nodded, running his palms against the side of his eyes. "Yeah, I'm alright. I dunno. Maybe it's just fatigue."

"You think so?" Another voice; a quieter one.

He looked to the doorway again, seeing Cal step off to the side as another person came into the room. Danny stopped walking after a few steps, allowing Cal to stride in a bit further, the door swinging shut without his support.

"Yeah," Lance replied, answering Danny's question. "I'm completely fine, Danny. Don't worry about it."

The slightest amount of a smile came to his friend's face as Lance heard a sound slip from between Trent's teeth.

"Okay, well that's a lie," Trent replied. "If you were 'completely fine', you wouldn't be here. What the hell happened? Somebody better start talking..."

Lance remained silent, trying to organize his thoughts. But where would he even start?

Something drew his focus back to the doorway. Light reflected off of the cross around Danny's neck, the pendant swinging a little as the bassist shifted his weight to one foot. Lance kept staring at the necklace.

I was possessed. Was that a good explanation for it?

The door opened again.

"Lance?" Dr. Chu stuck her head into the room, smiling. "Our neurologist is having a bit of a delay, so it'll take a few moments. Your mother's here to see you, if you'd like to chat with her."

"Hell of a time for her to pop in..." Trent muttered, his voice only reaching Lance.

I need to talk to her... Something's really telling me I need to.

"Yeah, sure," Lance replied, feeling the jolt of fear from his friends. "You can send her in."

Dr. Chu nodded, letting the door close again as she slipped back out.

"Do you want us to stick around?" Trent asked him.

Lance shook his head. He need to talk with her alone. "No, it's alright. I'll talk to you guys later."

"Alright..." Trent started walking away, footsteps hesitant. "We'll be in the waiting room if you need us."

Lance heard the door swing and turned to see Cal leaning against it, holding the entrance open. Their eyes met, a memory triggering. How scared Cal had looked, holding the door to the principal's office. How scared he had been, of him.

"Hey, Cal..." Lance's voice was distant, even to himself. "Can I talk with you for a sec'?"

Cal nodded, focusing Lance's vision again. Lance watched him turn, give a quiet word to Trent, who stood in the doorway waiting. Trent nodded and left. Cal stepped forward, letting the door slip away and close once again.

The room remained absolutely silent, enough to well a small amount of guilt in Lance's chest. Cal still hadn't said a word, and that meant he was definitely freaked out about this. He looked away from Lance, blue eyes blinking at the floor. Lance pushed his own thoughts away, the ones that were still trying to figure everything out. His arm rested against the bed's banister as a hand found his forehead, holding his head upright. His eyes closed as he spoke again.

"What happened... Before I passed out?"

A long silence met him. Lance didn't look up; forced himself not to. He only focused on the darkness his eyelids were creating, waiting for the confirmation of his insanity.

"It was weird, y'know?" Cal said, voice drifting quietly to Lance. "You just suddenly dropped onto the ground and started screaming. Sounded like you were being torn apart from the inside." A pause; long enough for him to slowly shake his head. "I know that's part of a song we wrote, but it fits. You sounded like you were being destroyed."

Lance tried to think back, unable to remember anything Cal was saying. He almost spoke, almost told him about the feeling of something else being inside his own body. Controlling him. But that would just lead to a conversation about the voice, and he didn't need someone besides himself thinking he was crazy.

He cleared his throat, letting his hand fall away from his face. "Alright. Thanks."

"Yeah," Cal said quietly. "Anything else?"

Lance stared at the edge of his bed, feeling how heavy the tired lines beneath his eyes were. Made his eyes feel hollow, almost. "No. I'm good."

"Right..." He heard Cal shift, quiet footsteps bringing him towards the door again. He opened it. "Good luck with your mom. Lemme know if you need some holy water."

The joke failed on delivery; his voice had shaken, breaking slightly. Lance felt the guilt crush him a bit further. He needed to tell someone...

And have them do what? Lock me in another hospital?

The door shut once more, and soon opened again. This time, he knew the sound of footsteps, who they belonged to. The hurried, familiar click of heels heading towards his bedside.

"Hey," Lance said, like this was a perfectly normal situation for them to be in.

He looked up as his mother approached. She stopped walking as their eyes met, the briefcase in her hand swinging a little from the sudden halt. She looked worried; more tired than usual, even underneath the makeup.

"What happened?" she asked. "Are you alright?"

He nodded, lying once again. "Yeah. Just kinda blacked out. Pretty sure it's just fatigue."

Lisa sat down on the empty bed next to him, letting out a sigh of relief. She shook her head.

"That's still not good, but I'm glad it's nothing else. I was beginning to think drugs, maybe. Some gang violence..."

"What?" Lance looked to her, eyes wide. "You're serious? What the hell do you think I do all day, Mom?"

Lisa shrugged, looking to the corner of her eyes. "I'm not sure; so often when I come home, you're still gone, off doing something... Heaven knows what..."

Lance couldn't even give a laugh. He forced a smile, turning away. "You still raised me better than that... A lot better..."

Lisa smiled at him and a moment later, the expression faded away, a light focus overtaking the space between her brows.

"So just fatigue?" she asked quietly, searching him. "Nothing else?"

Lance paused. He looked away again, staring at the bedsheets covering the lower half of his body. His hand clenched them, mind focusing on the memories he had been trying to block out since he woke up. Really focusing, trying to piece everything together.

"Over the past few weeks," he began, speaking slowly. Carefully. "I've been having these nightmares. Like, these really weird-ass fuckin'—" His stare went towards his mother, mouth continuing to roll with his thoughts. "Nightmares. These dreams about things I really don't understand."

And then the voice. This disembodied voice telling me to run from someone—something—I've never even seen before. Warning me like I would die if I didn't listen...

"And then what?"

He looked back to his mother. She was waiting patiently, the lines between her brows more knotted, more concerned than ever. She probably thought he was crazy, too.

Lance shook his head, looking away. "Nothing... Just those dreams have been keeping me up, that's all."

"Oh, sweetheart!" Her hand found his arm; she was reaching across to comfort him. "Get some more sleep, okay?"

He almost smiled at that. "Yeah," he responded. "I will."

After a light squeeze, her hand slipped away from him, heel tapping against the floor as she moved herself back to the edge of the other bed. When she didn't speak again, Lance looked to her, noticing an expression he had never seen her wear before. Nostalgia, almost.

"You remind me so much of him, Lance."

"Of who?"

"Your father." Her briefcase shifted, balancing on her crossed legs. She smoothed her hands over the surface, looking down at it as she spoke. "He was a musician, too, you know. A guitarist like you."

A thin teardrop hit the surface of the briefcase. Lisa smiled through the sadness, and Lance saw her hand curl into a light fist.

"He always had this acoustic guitar that was so old. Decades and decades old—his father had given it to him, passed it down from generation to generation." Her head shook, a sniff interrupting her words. "I was waiting to give it to you, before you moved out." She looked to him, a smile curving her lips. "After this, I'll probably just hand it to you when we get home."

Lance unconsciously smiled back, looking down and away. "I... Didn't know. I've never really heard you talk about him."

"He... Um..." Lisa's hand moved to her eyes, thumb carefully moving along her lower lid, picking up the smudges beginning to form from her tears. "I should've worn my waterproof eyeliner!" She laughed a little at this, the sound broken and forced. Her thumb kept moving, her eyes closing and releasing more tears. "He passed away when you were young, Lance. About three years old."

She sniffed again, swallowing back the sadness as her hand returned to the briefcase, thumb streaked with a thin line of brown.

"It's so hard to talk about him... Especially when you're so much alike." She shook her head. "And you grew up so fast. I felt like I blinked and you were practically an adult." Her hand rose, palm upwards as if motioning to him, presenting him. "The time goes so fast, Lance. Always has."

An emotion awakened in Lance. A warmth; something that brought him back to his childhood. When things were better between them, when there were no fights or arguments. He recognized that warmth now; the feeling of being cared for.

"Um, y'know," he began, raising a hand to the back of his neck, "I play a few acoustic shows a few times a week." He looked to her, seeing the smile on her face. "If you ever wanna stop by..."

Lisa nodded. "I'd love that."

Lance smiled back, watching the door open again behind her. Someone was walking in, and it wasn't anyone familiar. The door shut again, something about the sound reverberating through the room. Completely changing the mood.

Lance shook the sudden chill away, opting to ignore it as the doctor walked forward.

"Hello." The smile was surrounded by neatly trimmed brown facial hair. "I'm this hospital's neurologist. I trust I'm in the right room." There was a question in that statement, one Lance quickly responded to.

"Uh, yeah," he said with a nod. "Neurologist. Sounds right."

The smile broke into a grin. "Good. My name is Dr. Fong. According to my charts, you must be Lance."

Lance nodded again, trying to beat back the feeling in his gut. Like his stomach was trying to shrivel into some sort of box...

"Wonderful." The clipboard tucked underneath the doctor's arm rose, papers flipping upwards with a brush of the hand. "Allow me to check my notes here... Seems like you had a bit of a fall. Classmates heard you screaming. Shaking a lot, too. Any history of seizures?"

Lance exchanged a look with his mother before replying.

"No, none."

"So far, so good..." The doctor's pen unclicked, checking off a box near the middle of the page. "Hm. I see your blood type is A-negative. That'll be a bit difficult."


Dull eyes looked towards him, briefly looking somewhere at his forehead. A small bit of life flashed; some sort of surprise. "Oh, nothing." Another box was checked. "We can work around it."

"You're... Not thinking surgery, right, doctor?" Lisa asked. "Or blood transfusion?"

"Oh, no." The hand holding the pen moved, fingertips against the chest of his white coat. "At least, nothing you'll be around for."

"What are you talking about?" Lance yelled.

A wide grin broke onto the doctor's lips, too wide to be anything close to reassuring. "First," he said, "let's get rid of your idiot mother."

Lisa suddenly stood up. Lance leaned forward, ignoring the pain his muscles gave.

"Mom! What're you doing?"

Lisa didn't move, continuing to stand. The doctor's grin fled.

"Parting words?" he said, seeming to be repeating something that wasn't spoken. "I suppose I'll allow it. Everything is almost sad when I tear these fools apart."

"What?" Lance watched as his mother stepped towards him, leaning down until her face was close to his.

"Listen closely, human," the doctor was saying. "This is something she's always wanted to say to you."

Lisa looked perfectly normal. She was smiling, the happiness reaching her eyes.

"Mom..." Lance said quietly. "What're you doing? We've gotta get out of here."

Her hand reached out, touching the side of his face. Her fingertips slid forward and brushed into his hair, the rest of her hand gently resting against his skin.

"I'm sorry for all the fighting." She spoke in a whisper, voice nearly broken with pain. "I'm sorry I couldn't be there like I wanted to. I'm a horrible mother—always so focused on the things we didn't have. So idiotic. I wish I could go back, do it all again. Somehow save your father, have him raise you right..."

"What happened to Dad?" Lance asked.

Lisa shook her head, eyes still trained on Lance's. "Car accident. Drove off into along the bridge." That sentence didn't make any sense. "Water. He drowned. He drowned, Lance. That's what we were all told."

"What?" Lance allowed some of the anger he was feeling to reach his face. His hand tightening into a fist, short nails digging into his palm through the bedsheet. "That doesn't make any fucking sense, Mom!"

"Then allow me to reiterate." The doctor's voice. Lisa straightened, posture pin-straight like some kind of mannequin. She stared straight ahead, then blinked. She looked down at him, normalcy in her eyes again.

But she was flustered—like she was late for something. Her hand rose, fingers out as she leaned down towards him.

"I have somewhere I need to be. I'll come back as soon as I can. Be safe, okay? Let me know if you find out anything; hopefully it's not surgery." She pressed her lips to the top of his head, and Lance could only sit there in shock.

He watched as she turned away, briefcase in hand again. He lunged forward, reaching out to grab her wrist when suddenly his hand froze. She walked out of his reach, passing the doctor like he wasn't even there.

"I'll be back soon!" she called over her shoulder, and with a swing of the door, she was gone.

Lance tried to breathe. Tried to force the panic away. But he couldn't even think right anymore. The only thing coming to him was how this had to be some other dream. Just another whacked out nightmare. He would wake up any second—

"Mm." The doctor's slight sound cut through his focus. "Dreams are such awful things, aren't they? They trick you into believing things you don't really have..."

Lance started breathing again, thoughts coming to him. He collected the ideas one by one, ways to try and get out of here. But he couldn't move. He couldn't even lift his finger. The muscles were being stimulated—almost to the point of pain. But his pointer finger wasn't even twitching.

"I can't move." At least his voice was working.

"Yes." The doctor took one step forward, the sound loud against the tile. "Wonderfully useful, isn't it? We don't want you running away from us, now do we?"


"Your father was much more scared than you're acting." The doctor's head tilted, eyes softening a little as he looked to Lance. "But it was nearly fourteen years ago that the cells rejected his body. I suppose the human race has built some thicker skin over time..." A horrible grin curved his mouth. "Using what little time they do have left, of course."

Lance repeated what he had just heard, trying to figure out the meaning of the words. They came to him through a fog of confusion, and even when he flipped over the meaning of it all, one question continued to repeat itself.

"What—What did you do to my Dad?"

"A little injection, a little pain." His hand rose, imitating a syringe being pushed. "Well, a lot of pain, at the sound of his screaming. We do hope you'll last longer than four minutes, though."

Lance forced himself to not repeat the time frame, realizing he could move his head. He turned away, looking down and still trying to think. There had to be a way out!

He couldn't run, but maybe he could stall until someone else came in.

"What're you going to do to me?" he asked, looking back up.

The doctor smiled, almost endearingly kind. "That," he said, "is strictly between me and my client. Quite the request, I might add. You're very lucky to be chosen by her."

"Chosen? What the fuck are you talking about?"

The doctor looked behind himself, turning towards the door. He returned to Lance, lowering one hand with the fingertips pointed towards him. "Let's not have you talk so loud, hm?"

Lance opened his mouth to yell again, only getting a soft sound that barely reached above a whisper. He forced his breath in, feeling his mind ready to detach from the panic swarming his thoughts.

"How are you doing that?" His words were so quiet; way too quiet for anyone else to hear. "What—"

Laughter came. Mad cackling, like it was the funniest thing ever spoken.

"You were warned!" the doctor yelled, words boomed from his throat. "You were warned and you still don't have any clue at all!"

Memories flashed, no faster than a lightbulb bursting before Lance saw the doctor change. His skin was flaking off, pieces rising upwards as if a wind was carrying them. These pieces disappeared, adapting and giving way to new, lighter skin, a taller body. Differently shaped ears.

Eyes opened; yellow ones. Blue hair. The memory of the voice came back, repeating the words he'd heard last night.

"If you see this face, run."

A burst of energy came to him; in any normal situation he would've been halfway across the room. But his left hand barely twitched to the side. His lungs barely kick-started into a slightly faster pace. His heart, however, felt like it was about to explode from beating so fast.

He had to get out of here. He was going to die if he didn't. He needed to leave!

"Let's start the examination process, shall we?" The doctor's long fingers swept over his sight, the darkness trailing behind his hand rendering Lance unconscious.



Submitted: October 31, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Meaghan Kalena. All rights reserved.


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Al Ashcott

Well, that was unexpected and terrifying! When I finished the previous chapter I couldn't even think something like this would happen to Lance!


Wed, October 27th, 2021 8:49am

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