Phantasmagoria 2 The Awakening

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

a sequence of real or imaginary images like those seen in a dream.

The next thing Steve knew the van was careening over the cliff! The falling sensation seemed to last forever as the terror flashed through Steve's amygdala. Then he saw the boulders through the windshield. Larger and larger they became as the van continued its path toward destruction. Steve screamed in terror as cortisol and adrenaline pulsed through his body. His heart rate climbed over 200 as his blood pressure escalated beyond hyper.

Phantasmagoria 2

The Awakening


By J.R. Kost


The sliver of light was a blur, but it still burned. He could barely keep his eyes open at all, but he had to know. Where was he? What was happening to him?


In a few minutes his eyes had adjusted enough to see two blurry figures moving about the room. He couldn't make out their mumbling conversation, but he knew they were talking about him. They would look and point at him, and someone else.


He moved his head to the side, ever so slightly. There she was. He knew it was a woman by the curvature of her figure, even though it was but a faint outline.


Eventually, he regained consciousness enough and his senses regained their abilities that he could hear the two men's conversation.


"We need to get these two taken care of ASAP. King and Carpenter want them disposed of before the new subjects get here. I'll go prepare the potassium chloride, you go pull up the van," the taller of the two directed.


"Okay," the shorter man replied. "How much weight do you think we'll need?" He queried.


"The usual 50 pounds each should keep them at the bottom after putrefaction sets in. We just need to make sure they don't get loose from their ropes, like last time," Joe, the taller of the two, replied.


"Right," said Jim, the second in command of the two man disposal crew.


Steve was now well aware what his immediate dilemma meant. Disposal, potassium chloride, and putrefaction didn't need any further explanation. As the two members of the disposal team went about their tasks, Steve turned his head and found two wide open blue eyes staring at him in horror. Sarah had heard enough to know what was coming, too.




Steve twisted and pulled at his restraints to no avail. He soon started to panic. His amygdala, orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate circuit began to work overtime.


"Oh, my God! They're going to deep six us!" Steve cried.


"Settle down big guy, keep working on those restraints. If we can't get them off before those two goons get back, we'll have to figure something else out," Sarah said with a calmer demeanor.


"What's your name?" Sarah asked as she looked at Steve in her bravest face.


"Steve," He stated as he continued to struggle to get free. "How about you? What's your name?"


"Sarah. Shoosh, I think I hear someone coming."


Joe came in with a syringe in hand. He pushed the plunger to get the air out of the syringe. A garage door opened up as Jim backed the van up to the entryway.


It was a stormy night lit up by nearby lightning and punctuated by the thunderous explosions that soon followed. Jim was drenched, his rain suit no match for the torrential downpour. As he came around and opened the back door of the van he yelled and pointed.


"Joe! Watch out!"


Steve had managed to get one of his hands free from his restraints and lurched toward Joe's syringe hand. As he grabbed Joe's wrist he pushed it toward Joe's face.


Sarah was making progress too, but Jim was now moving toward her with a tire iron in hand. Just as he raised it to strike, the syringe needle pierced his arm. Steve had managed to force Joe's hand and deliver the fatal dose. Jim soon crumpled to the floor as Steve and Joe continued to struggle.


Sarah gained her freedom after getting her hands free. Working quickly, she loosened her legs and was soon choking Joe with a determined grip. As they struggled all three fell to the floor, but not before Joe smashed his head on one of the gurneys. He was out cold, blood forming a pool under his head.


"Let's get out of here!" Sarah screamed as she pointed toward the van. Steve and Sarah bolted for the van and soon sped down the dirt road as the night lit up and the rain poured down. They had escaped, for the time being.




The van raced through the torrential downpour that seemed almost biblical. But, even with the occasional brightness of the lightning, it seemed that the horizon was empty.


"I don't see shit," Steve said as he held on to the dash. "Take it easy, we're fishtailing all over the place on this gravel."


"We need to get as far away from that place as possible. I don't care where we end up, but the faster we get there the better."


"Wait, what's that up ahead?" Steve gasped. "It looks like, yeah I think it's a cliff. I can see the crests of waves further out. Shit, the road heads right for it."


"I'm guessing there's some place where those two goons were going to throw us into the drink," Sarah replied. "I don't see any other roads."


Just then a pickup rammed into the back of the van. Sparks flew as it kept up the direct pressure.


Sarah lost control. First the rear wheels slid from left to right, then it was over. The van tumbled over and over as Steve and Sarah tried to brace themselves.


The next thing Steve knew the van was careening over the cliff! The falling sensation seemed to last forever as the terror flashed through Steve's amygdala. Then he saw the boulders through the windshield. Larger and larger they became as the van continued its path toward destruction. Steve screamed in terror as cortisol and adrenaline pulsed through his body. His heart rate climbed over 200 as his blood pressure escalated beyond hyper.


"Wake up, wake up, Steve," Sarah yelled as she shook Steve's shoulders. They were both still strapped in the van. Not falling over the cliff, but it had rolled to the edge.


"What the hell!? I just saw us going over that cliff. Falling toward the rocks below. I thought we were dead meat."


"Well, we are pretty close to dead. You must have had some kind of hallucination or something. We need to get out of here. I can see that pickup heading this way."


The two of them struggled to get free from their metal prison as the truck came closer and closer, bounding over the sand hills that the van had rolled over and over.


Sarah and Steve lunged from the van as the pickup smashed into it, again. They limped toward the cliff. There was nowhere else to run.


As they neared the edge the truck continued its course. Directly for them. It didn't slow down. It didn't turn to avoid the cliff.


"My God, that driver has a death wish!" Sarah yelled.


They had no choice. As the truck kept coming toward them they finally decided they had to jump. The truck sped full speed off the cliff overhead.


As the truck sailed overhead Sarah could see inside the cab. There was someone there, but she couldn't make out a face. The hood seemed to be empty inside. Just empty blackness.


The two held hands and screamed as they plummeted to their most certain death.




Doctors Carpenter and King stood near the mainframe computer looking at two monitors. Each had several continuously updating graphs plotting the various brainwaves of their subjects.


"It appears they didn't hit the rocks. The phantasmagoria signals seemed to have had an effect, but something happened. They're still alive, obviously," Dr. Carpenter concluded.


"Well, if nothing else we now know that the implants are working. This isn't exactly how we wanted to test the technology, but it seems to have worked out anyway. There's nowhere for them to go," King replied.


"Right, but I don't like loose ends. Any word from the second disposal team?" Carpenter asked.


"Nothing yet, but I have an idea that might finish the job. We'll have to increase the signal, though, for the phantasmagoria I have in mind to work on their conscious minds." King proposed.


"Okay, I hope it works." Carpenter replied. "You know what this means, right? If it works. It means we can essentially control fear in the human mind. Control anyone, anywhere, anytime. A powerful tool, I must say. Forget the dopamine, this could be much more lucrative to the right buyer."


"Indeed, indeed," King agreed with a grin.




"Sarah, wake up!" Steve said in a hushed tone. They lay on a ledge just a few feet below the cliff's edge. Headlights scanned the area above and Steve could hear occasional yelling.


"Did you see that driver?" Sarah mummled. "It had no face, just black emptiness. I've seen that empty hood before."


"No, I didn't, but that hallucination of falling over the cliff. I've had that sensation before. I'm not sure what this place is up to, but I get the feeling they're messing with our heads, somehow," Steve surmised.


Just then the ledge under their feet began to shake. Rocks from above started careening off of the cliff, barely missing their heads. Their legs began to wobble, their balance unsure.


"We have to get off this ledge," Sarah concluded.


"The only way to go is down. We'll have to climb down," Steve replied. "That's got to be a 500 foot drop. One small misstep and we will be deep-sixed "


They slowly began their descent as the commotion on the ledge above came closer to their location. The climb wasn't made any easier by the falling rocks and the unsettled footing.


It took some time, but they finally reached the large boulders near the beach. Not soon after they saw the boat spotlight scanning the shore.


"Shit, they're everywhere," Steve observed. "How's your swimming?"


"I'm a pretty good swimmer, but that surf looks rough," Sarah answered.


"That boat is our only way out of here. I have a plan," Sarah said. "It looks like there's two onboard. If you can get them to come to shore I can take the boat from the back."


"Whoa, what are you, some kind of Navy SEAL?" Steve asked in surprise.


"No, but I am a black belt, so I know how to handle myself," Sarah informed. You're a big guy, you can take one of them, can't you?"


"Yeah, let's do this. I'll be the possum on the beach. Just give me a sign somehow when you're in position and they come on shore," Steve answered.


Soon the boat was on their position and Steve was on the beach, in apparent agony. Sure enough, the boat beached and both crewmen came ashore to take a look.


It wasn't hard for Sarah to send a signal. The flare gun was right next to the captain's chair. She loaded it up and fired.


The flare burned a hole through the goon in the rear. The surprise and shock gave Steve the chance he needed to incapacitate the other one.


"Pretty strong signal, don't you think?" Steve asked sarcastically. Sarah smirked and put the boat in reverse.


"Let's get the hell out of here!" Sarah yelled.


"Damn right," Steve agreed.




"Well, on the one hand the return signals seemed to indicate they did experience the shaking and the falling rocks. On the other hand, it didn't have the results I had hoped for," Dr. Carpenter said.


"It now appears that they've pirated the boat. We need to stop them from reaching the mainland. Our whole operation, our entire future fortune depends on it," King replied.


"I've got one more trick up my sleeve. If it doesn't work, we'll need to send the drone. One way or another, that boat won't make it to shore," said Carpenter.




The boat sped through the surf at the fastest clip it could go. Soon, lights on the mainland became visible.


"Yahoo!" Steve yelled. "We're almost there!"


"Sorry, to rain on your parade, but what's that?" Sarah replied.


They both looked in the direction Sarah pointed. A seemingly calm spot on the water seemed odd, out of place. As they came closer they realized it was too late. The vortex had started to pull the boat in. The boat didn't have enough power to escape.


"What the fuck," Steve exclaimed. What is that and why is it here?"


"Hmm," Sarah replied as she looked at Steve. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"


"You think? It's not real?" Steve replied


"Either way, I think the only way to be sure is to escape it by getting up enough speed to cross it. Shoot toward the middle and hope we come out the other side," Sarah concluded.


Steve looked skeptical. "Okay, but I'm not sure I like that idea. Just saying."


Sarah gunned the throttle and headed for the eye of the vortex. She had to fight the steering to keep the boat from spinning. Or did she?


In an instant the vortex was behind them. Then it wasn't. It was gone. If it was ever there to begin with.


"Wow! That was awesome piloting, Sarah," Steve patted Sarah on the back.


"I'm not so sure. I don't think that it was ever there. Another illusion. Another manipulation of our brains." Sarah said.


"Do you think that's an illusion?" Steve asked as he pointed at the drone flying toward them. It wasn't your hobby drone, either. They don't come with missiles attached.


Just then the two missiles fired and rocketed toward the boat. Sarah and Steve weren't taking any chances. As the missiles headed for their target they jumped overboard.


In an instant the boat exploded. The only thing left was part of the hull that Sarah and Steve now hung on.


"Well, that seemed pretty real to me," Steve said as they both kicked toward the mainland.


"Yep, but it's hard to know. We need to figure out what's in our heads before those bastards mess with us again. Hopefully, they think we’re dead."


"Yep. Whatever they're doing, it scares the shit out of me." Steve responded, as his amygdala finally began to settle down.



The End





Cover art:,_The_Nightmare,_1781.jpg

Submitted: September 03, 2023

© Copyright 2023 J.R. Kost. All rights reserved.

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