The Panophobic Life of Joshua Timorstein

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
     Joshua Timorstein was an average boy, of an average weight and average height. He lived in an average house with a somewhat average family in an average neighborhood. As a matter of fact every aspect of Joshua’s life was average, except for one thing. He was a very bright individual, especially for a boy of his age. However, his mind was unlike that of anyone else. For every second Joshua was alive, it was as if time stopped, and he would analyze every aspect of his surroundings and ask himself every and any question he could think of relating to the current situation. These questions and their answers would then buzz around inside his head, blending together his emotions and feelings until there is nothing but a fine line separating reality and imagination. Throughout his life, Josh has learned to live in such a way where this would have no effect on any of his thoughts or actions, but how long will he be able to keep his disturbed psyche in balance before the barrier between these two realms vanishes completely?

Submitted: December 08, 2011

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Submitted: December 08, 2011

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It was 4 A.M. Josh’s eyes opened just enough to see the blurry numbers the alarm clock displayed on his nightstand. He reached for his glasses in order to verify the time of morning, sticking his hand out into the darkness and aimlessly feeling around the bedside table which seemed to be much further away than he had expected. He sat up in his bed, staring at the bare wall opposite him for what seemed like hours. He was in a trance, completely swallowed up and cradled like a baby by the shadows thrown over his room in every direction. This went on for several minutes until he realized that he was thirsty. Josh swung both legs over the side of the bed and hopped down to the floor. Brushing his hair out of his eyes, he looked around his room and saw nothing but a shiny, brass doorknob. There seemed to be some otherworldly force that was trying to drag him back into his bed, preventing him from leaving the safe haven that was his bedroom. A thousand hands were clawing at him, practically screaming for him to remain where he stood. However, Josh’s body was still infected with a sleepiness that immunized him from these premonitions that were warning him of what has happened in the past and what may indeed happen again. Unaware of what was going on, he opened the door ever so slowly, as to not wake his parents. A cool breeze blew through the crack in the doorway, forcing the door open. Josh stepped out into the hallway and glared into the distance. Then he saw it. His eyes were fixed, and he was unable to move. It was just there, standing there. No, it wasn’t. There was nothing at all; but there was. With piercing eyes, it returned the stare, but it was not just a stare. It looked deeper, past Josh’s eyes, into his soul. It retrieved all the darkest thoughts and images that had ever crossed his mind and brought them to life, right in front of him. You are weak. You have no protection. I am much stronger than you. No one is here to help you. You are mine. Normally, Josh would have been transfixed like this for a good amount of time. However, since half of his body was still sleeping; he was partially unconscious. Because of this, Josh simply continued on his way down the dark corridor until he had reached his desired destination, the bathroom. Stepping into the room, the soles of his feet slowly pressed against the cold, hard tile floor, sending a shiver up his spine. He turned on the dimmest light possible. At that moment, Josh had completely transferred out of the dream realm and into reality, or at least his form of reality. He looked up to the sky light to make sure that nothing was watching him and turned back to the mirror only to see a blurred image of himself. Josh slowly bent over the sink and turned the faucet on. Brushing his hair out from over his face again, he placed his lips underneath the flow of water and took a drink. The cool water trickled down his throat. He then stood up straight, taking in a deep breath and slowly releasing it, as though to let go of all the worries within him; slightly fogging up the mirror. Still thirsty, he bent over yet again to take one final drink of water. After turning the faucet off and standing up, he saw it again, in the mirror; but this time it only lasted a few seconds. Josh was becoming sick of this, but could not think of anything that might cure this illness; so he continued to live the way he had for the past twelve years. In an attempt to avoid making contact with it again, Josh quickly turned the light off in the bathroom, sprinted down the hallway, as if again being clawed at by a thousand hands following his every footstep, leapt onto his bed and buried himself underneath his protective blankets. All he saw was darkness, but in this darkness, he could see everything. Josh prayed. He prayed that he might now be free, that he would be able to finally live a normal life uninfluenced by anything and anyone other than himself. I wish I could tell you that this would happen. I wish I could tell you that Josh had a restful night and lived the rest of his life in peace. Unfortunately, that was not the case at all. This event was followed by a series of agonizing nightmares, each more torturous than the previous. The alarm rang, startling Josh. He sprung up into a sitting position, his hands and face covered in a cold sweat. All the covers were at the foot of his bed, and he was violently shivering. However, because he knew that this was simply a result of the recent nightmares, Josh ignored these sickening symptoms and got out of bed. Despite the fact that his alarm clock woke him up a half hour earlier than expected, Josh did not want to take the risk of falling asleep again only to experience the same exact nightmares that tormented him just a few hours earlier. This did prevent him from having to rush through his normal morning routine. This routine, however, was the only ordered part of Josh’s day and consisted of him dressing himself, consuming a small and unhealthy breakfast, and brushing his teeth. Still in a miserable state of mind, he did so in the most lackadaisical and drawn out way possible. There is no point. Don’t even bother trying. I don’t even care anymore. Please, not after last night. Josh’s deranged form of thinking was slowly returning. “Honey, you forgot your lunch.” His mother, Gabriella, worried about him constantly, but was unaware of the severity of what was going on with her son. “Joshua!” “What?” “You forgot your lunch”. She held the brown paper bag out with a face full of distress and dissatisfaction. “Oh, right. I knew that… I just…” “Honey, come over here.” “Mom, I’m gonna be late for the bus. I have to go now.” “Joshua, wait!” “What mom! What could possibly be so important?” In a calm yet uneasy tone, she said “I’m really worried about you.” “Me? You are worried about me?! You can’t go one day without breaking something in the house then sobbing all day about it, and you are worried about me?” Josh began to walk towards the front door when his mother came running up behind him and grabbed his right shoulder, nails digging into his skin. “You don’t dare talk about me that way! I am your mother! I have to care about you, whether I want to or not! If your ungrateful father were here now, things would be much different!” “My father left because of you, you heartless witch!” Not a split second went by before Josh felt the hand of his mother whiz by, striking his left cheek with the force of all the anger and bitterness that had been stored up for the past twelve years. This was followed by a simultaneous gasp. His mother slowly took several steps backwards and collapsed onto the floor in a pathetic mess and began to cry. In Josh’s eyes, Gabriella DeFastidio was no longer his mother, just a manic-depressive, heartless witch. School was school that day. Not much varied too far from the norm. However, his friends and teachers did notice that Joshua was more quiet than usual. He sat through Algebra, Music, and History without saying a word. Because most of his teachers were younger and had just adjusted themselves to a newly built school and students, they were both uninterested in Josh’s problems and did whatever they could not to get involved and possibly cause further complications. By lunchtime, Josh’s stoic attitude as well as the slight red mark from a slap on his face had caused a disturbance among the students. He was sitting with a few friends at a table in the corner of the lunchroom, secluded from the majority of the kids. No one at the table dared to say a word to Josh and simply whispered quietly amongst themselves. What are they talking about? Why won’t they talk to me? Don’t they see something is wrong? Why won’t they talk to me?! Joshua cautiously looked around the cafeteria, scanning the faces of all his classmates. He then turned back around and began to finish eating the bitter turkey sandwich prepared by the woman that lived in his house. Why is everyone so calm? Why are they looking at me? No, they’re not looking at me. I just need to calm down. I don’t want to draw any more attention to me. He calmly stood up and backed his chair out. The metal legs of the chair made an unearthly scraping sound against the tile, directing the attention of a few kids towards him, and then quickly back to their own lunches. It seemed like the trash barrel was miles away, but when he finally reached it, Josh tossed his half-filled brown lunch bag into the garbage bag, falling down to the bottom of the barrel. He then became anxious. He spun around to look at the lunch room. Hundreds of pairs of eyes all seemed to be glaring at him as if they were all yelling at him. “Why are you here? Go home to your witch of a mother!” A thousand voices were swirling around in his head. It was happening again. The barrier between reality and imagination was fading. His eyes widened, pupils dilated, body temperature increasing. The voices of a thousand school kids and Gabriella DeFastidio were all screaming at him. “What is wrong with you? You ungrateful little thing! Go away!” Suddenly, everything was quiet. Only the slight crinkling of lunch bags as all the kids ate their well-balanced lunches prepared by a loving mother. Josh looked around again, his fingers curled and tightened around the edges of the trash barrel. “What is wrong with me?!” Josh let out a piercing scream that radiated through the lunch room. Before even checking to see who was staring at him, everyone at that point, what people were talking about or even what they were thinking about, Josh sprinted out of lunchroom, down the corridor, and out the main entrance of the school, leaving behind his backpack, his schoolwork, and the only normal part of his life. In no rush whatsoever to get back home, Josh trudged down the street, head hanging low. Then, without any warning whatsoever, the skies opened up and the angels began to cry for Josh. Water came down in buckets with no mercy at all. It didn’t take long for the rain to completely soak through every layer of Josh’s clothing as well as his sneakers, which began to sound like wet sponges slapping down on the wet pavement. With his head hung low, the water dripped down his hair, down his face and off the tip of his frozen nose. The rainwater began to mix with salty tears and formed a bitter stream of loneliness and animosity that trickled down the street. Josh stopped walking, swung his head up, and looked to the heavens. Each drop of water felt like a slap in the face from Gabriella, giving him a slight stinging sensation and then rolling down his cheeks. “What is wrong with me? Why am I like this?!...Answer me!” No one was there. He was all alone. It was right. I am weak. I have no protection. No one is here to help me. Suddenly, Josh snapped back into reality. It was raining, and if he stood out there any longer, he would have the possibility of getting pneumonia, and that’s all he needed; two sick people in one house. So he made his way up the street to his boring one-story house that on the top of a hill at the end of a cul-de-sac. It even seemed like the actual house itself was staring at him, telling him to go away and never return. No, Josh was not going to let his mind take over. He would not have his decisions be influenced by other things. With all the strength he could muster up, Josh marched up to the front door of his ominous looking home and barged right in, practically breaking one of the hinges on the door frame. “Gabriella, where are you!” No answer. “Gabriella! Answer me!” still no response. Despite the recent events that took place between him and his mother, Josh became nervous. Where is she? Did someone break in? Did she run away? Was it something I said? Maybe I shouldn’t have been too harsh. I should have known how fragile she was! What if she killed herself?! It’s all my fault. I need to find her! Frantically, Josh ran down the center hallway towards her bedroom, but, on the way down, slipped on the rainwater he brought in and fell. His body skidded along the floor like a car on ice until it came into contact with his closed bedroom door. After his head had slammed against the wooden door, Josh tried to sit up and gave a faint yell before falling back down to the floor. “Gabriella. I’m sorry,” Josh slowly drifted into a blissful state of unconsciousness. In this state, Josh braced himself for yet another painful nightmare. However, his psyche had something different in mind. Josh found himself back in his house, but not the same house. It was his old house, and both his mom and his dad were sitting together on the sofa in the family room. Josh ran up to them with unimaginable excitement, but they could not hear him nor see him. Then, he watched as another one of him walked up to his parents and began to engage in what seemed like a very emotional conversation. Leaning in, he could barely make out what they were saying, as they were all speaking in a whisper, as though someone was listening who they didn’t want to know something. They were talking about someone’s life, and how they wanted to commit suicide because of the unbearable amount of depression and unhappiness they had to deal with on a daily basis. They were talking about him! True, Josh had thoughts about suicide in the past, but he never intended on actually going through with it. Actually, as a matter of fact, suicidal thoughts had crossed Josh’s mind quite often; at least ever since his father left them. Returning to the barely audible conversation, he could now pick out more of what they were talking about. For some reason, his parents didn’t seem to think that Josh committing suicide was such an outrageous thought! They did, however seem very concerned, and truthfully answered all the final questions Josh asked them; questions such as “What will happen when I actually die?”, and “Do you think it’s really worth it?”. The real Josh then began to cry. After his parents had answered all the questions he posed, all the people Josh had some form of relationship with suddenly appeared in his house, as if to give their final goodbyes. Instead, however, Josh proceeded to ask them all if they thought he should actually go through with it. They all continued to respond with the same word, “No”. Unaffected by what they had told him, Josh still persisted. He slowly walked down the hallway and enteredhis room, the real Josh following behind him, to find a noose hanging from the ceiling and a stool underneath it. Josh then stepped up, more calm than he had ever been in his entire life, slipping the rope around his neck. He couldn’t bear to look. At that moment, something forced the real Josh’s head to turn towards the other him. “I don’t want to do this, but I have to” “No, you don’t! Please don’t!” Josh tried to yell beneath a mountain of sobs, but he could not be heard. A single tear trickled down the side of his face where the red hand mark from his mother’s slap still remained. “Goodbye” he kicked the stool out from underneath him. “NO!” the real Josh sucked in a giant breath and closed his eyes tight, as if he never wanted to open them ever again, but he did. When he opened his eyes, Josh saw a blurry image of his mother, Gabriella, and his father standing over him. As they both came into focus, Josh realized that he was lying in a hospital bed. A nurse slowly bent over to him and lightly patted his forehead with a moist cloth. “Mom? Dad?!” “Josh!” his parents exclaimed simultaneously. “Where am I?” “You’re in the hospital sweetie.” his mom ran her slender fingers through his hair. “You took a pretty bad fall down the basement stairs buddy.” Gabriel Timorstein quietly said in his naturally raspy voice. “Fell down the stairs? What about you two? Dad, you left, and mom you…” “Shhh. Don’t worry about anything. It’ll all be fine.” they both kissed him on his forehead, and his mother touched his cheek where the slap mark was. He slowly drifted off into a deep and restful sleep. Honestly, Joshua really did not care what had happened. He was just glad his parents were together and that he would no longer have to live a miserable life full of despair and regret. Everything is back to the way it was. Everything is as it should be. We are one, big, happy family, and nothing can change that, not even it. It was fear. It was anxiety. It was despair. It was him; but was it gone… It was 4 A.M.


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