Silhouettes in Slumber

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Rachel,a young woman in her late 20's, is struggling between handling depression, and saving a nearly dead marriage.When she begins having nightmares of an all black figure, she begins to ask questions, the answers to which she may not want to have revealed.

Submitted: December 16, 2014

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Submitted: December 16, 2014

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Silhouettes in Slumber

By: Simran Bath

 

Her eyes fluttered open. Her vision was blurry, as if in a dream. She tried to lift herself up but her body refused to move. It felt as though a pile of bricks were laying atop her. It was a familiar feeling. Sleep paralysis, her doctor had told her. A state in which the mind wakes before the body, leaving you temporarily paralyzed. She was used to it by now, even the morbid hallucinations that followed. She scanned the darkness of her room, looking for it. It was too dark to see much, but she knew it was there. It always was. She looked over to her night table, she had fallen asleep reading. Her lamp sat at the table's edge, shining it's dim yellow light and casting long dark shadows throughout the room. She continued to wait, but her room remained idle. “Where are you”, she thought, or said aloud, she could never tell in this state. Then, as if in answer, the shadows began to dance. It came out from the corner, beside her dresser. It was an all black figure, resembling a person, but something else all together. She watched as it slowly crept towards her, stopping at the side of her bed. It stood there staring over her paralyzed body, and she stared right back at it. She stared, as it moved it's head closer to hers, closer and closer, until their eyes were finger length apart. Then, in a movement too quick, she felt it jump onto her chest, putting the full weight of it's body onto her. She felt it's cold hard knees pressing into her, it's long, skinny fingers gripping her shoulders. It moved it's head closer still, and whispered into her ear. “Help me,” it said, “Help me... Em...Emma... help me.” She couldn't stand anymore of it. Closing her eyes she tried to fall back asleep. That's when she heard it, the screams of a woman. It started off as a whisper, then increased, getting louder and louder until the woman's shrieks were ringing through her ears. Then, another woman began, and another, and another after that, until her ears were engulfed in what felt like hundreds of painful cries. Her breathing hastened, sweat spilled out her pores. She felt her heart booming at her chest. As much as she wanted, she could not open her eyes, the thing was still there, it's cold steel-like body still pressing down on her. So she did the only thing she thought to. She began to pray. Her eyes shut so tight she thought she might tear them, she filled her mind with a god she didn't quite believe in, looking for anything to drown out the horrifying screams. Her heart rate slowed, her breathing returned to normal, she continued. It could have been for minutes, or hours she didn't know, but finally the screams died down, the creature slipped away, and she returned to her slumber.

She woke to the sharp ring of her alarm. Moving her sheets aside, she lifted herself out of bed, smashing her hand down on the alarm in the motion. She sat there, her mind filled with memories of the night's events. It had never spoken before, she thought. It would jump on top of her, it would breath down her neck, but it had never spoken. And that voice, it almost seemed familiar. She rose up from her bed, throwing her thoughts aside as she came back to the world around her. She left her room, moving into her dimly lit kitchen slash living room, what little sunlight there giving her tacky furniture a yellowish glow. She opened the fridge as her phone began to ring. It was her husband. Looking into the fridge, she noticed a note attached to a plastic container. The note read, “Left you some of your favorite soup! Love Dad”. “Oh Dad,” she said allowed answering the phone. “Emma?” Her husband answered. “Um, no this is Rachel... who is Emma?” She sternly replied. He answered back, “Oh, no Emma's my receptionist! Emma could you grab me some coffee! But yeah how was your morning?” Emma. The name was familiar, but why. And then she remembered. It was the name she heard the monster whisper. How strange she thought. “It was the same. Yea I was actually getting ready to head to my appointment,” she said half her mind somewhere else. “Alright I was actually just calling to make sure you hadn't forgotten. I'll let you go then. Bye.” She let out a bye and hung up. Goosebumps sprout out like grass on her neck. What a weird coincidence she thought. She put water in the kettle and began getting ready to leave.

The drive was as lackluster as any. The broken radio in her father's car left her with 20 or so minutes of silence, with the occasional honks and “fuck you's.” They pulled in to the not so busy parking lot of Richard Barker. He wasn't the best psychiatrist but he was friendly and, more importantly, affordable. Her father pulled the keys out of the ignition and sat there for a moment. She sat there with him, staring at nothing. She lifted her hands to her cheeks and felt them, they were wet. And then it came. Like always it was all at once. She put her head in her hands as she balled her eyes out. Her body shook the car seat as she let out her short pain-filled moans. Her father held her, he was used to this by now. “It's alright just let it out,” he said. It went on like this for another minute or so, until finally she lifted her head up and wiped her eyes clean. “I'm fine, I'm going to head in now.” Her father clutched her hands. “I'll be right out here,” he said. “I love you, Rachel.” Pulling herself together she got out of the car and headed into the office. Rachel's depression had started almost a year ago. It started off small, but progressively had gotten worse and worse. Her husband had been understanding at first, allowing her to tackle it her way. Walking in on her jamming a piece of glass into her wrist had changed that. He rarely left her alone for too long now. Walking into the office lobby, the receptionist looked at her saying, “Hey there Rachel! How are you this afternoon?” “I'm great Debbie,” she lied. “Is Dr. Barker ready?” Debbie gave her a smile too big to be fake, “Oh yeah just go on in he's waiting for you!” She got halfway to the door when she suddenly stopped. She felt light-headed, her vision began to blur. Her body swayed back and forth as she tried to maintain her balance. She clutched her temples as she fell to the floor. Laying there her mind began drifting away, “Emma,” she said aloud, and then she was gone.

Her eyes flickered open. Her body ached. There was a dull pain on the left side of her head. Looking around she realized she was in Dr. Barker's office, laying on the couch across from his desk. He sat across from her, pen and paper in hand. His glasses at the edge of his nose, nearly falling off. He looked up at her, “How are you feeling,” he asked. “I'm fine,” she replied. “My head hurts a little.” She looked at the ground. “I forgot to take my pills.” A look of frustration crossed over him. “Rachel, you need to be careful with these things,” he said, emphasizing his words. “I know, I'm sorry.” she said. He stared at her for a moment, then put his work aside. “So how is everything,” he asked, his eyes exposing his empathy. “The same as always,” she says. “I work, I come home, I sleep.” She feigned a smile, wondering if he could see through it. Of course he could. “What about things with your husband, Jeremy was it? You said things weren't going so well last time.” She looked down at the floor. Her and her husband had been drifting apart these last few months. “Yes, we've actually begun mending things. We're still far apart but, we're getting there” she tells him. The look on his face foreshadowed streams of marital advice she wouldn't be able to bear. So she continued to speak. “I wanted to talk to you about something actually. You're familiar with my sleep paralysis. Well lately, the hallucinations have been more... intense,” she explained, thinking of the dark figure. “I told you about the figure. I told you how it would stand in the corner of the room, just gaping at me. A few weeks ago, it began moving. It started as just a tilt of the head, then it began taking steps towards me. It would walk up to my bed and jump on top of me, pinning me down. Last night, for the first time, it spoke to me.” Her stomach twisted with fear. Barker squinted at her. “What did it say,” he questioned. “It was hard to make out, but it sounded like Emma,” she said. He sighed. “Well it's no big deal,” he assured her. “People usually hallucinate somebody sitting atop them, most see an old lady but, a dark figure isn't uncommon. It's just your mind, my dear. As for it saying Emma, you most likely misheard. It was probably your husband saying something beside you.” She wasn't convinced. His logic made sense but something felt odd. “It just felt so real,” she let out. “I know, but it's not,” he said. Their meeting continued for another 20 or so minutes when she finally rose to exit. She walked back past the receptionist. “See you, Debbie,” she said. As she grabbed the door handle she stopped. Turning back, she asked, “Debbie, when I... feinted, did I say anything before going out?” Debbie looked down at her work. “Not that I know of why?” She quickly replied. Rachel stood there for a moment, thinking. “Oh no, never mind, it's nothing,” she said as she turned and walked out the door.

The familiar jingle played as she opened the door to Dory's, one of her favorite places to go for lunch. “Table for two,” she said to the lady smiling at her. She ordered an ice tea as she sat down, waiting for the seat across from her to be filled. She looked around, the lunchtime rush hadn't started yet but it was about to. She sat across from the breakfast bar, at a table right next to the window. The sun shining down on her. Glad to have gotten here early she opened her menu, even though she knew exactly what she would order. The restaurant rang with a jingling, signaling the door had opened. She turned her head and saw a familiar face. “Rachel!” The woman said excitedly. “Hanna!” Rachel rose to hug her, and then they both took a seat. Hanna was a childhood friend of hers, a best friend in fact. She had met her when she was only nine years old. Rachel was never very popular. Sometimes the other children would pick on her, calling her names. However, Hanna was always there to defend her. She even went so far as to threaten a girl in to changing classes, although she'd never admit it, the look on the girl's face was confirmation enough. “How have you been?” Asked Rachel. “You know, same old, same old. I'm sorry I haven't come to see you! I've just been so busy with planning the wedding.” If, 5 years ago, someone had told Rachel that Hanna would be getting married she'd have laughed in their face. Hanna was the female Don Draper, up until she met her now fiance. Rachel couldn't believe, in fact, she didn't. She didn't buy the whole transformation act and believed Hanna would be back to her usual flirtatious self soon enough. Rachel even suspected there was another man involved now. “I honestly can not wait! You and Eric seem so happy!” Although she doubted, she would still support Hanna the whole way. She was her best friend. “Thank you, and we are,” Hanna twirled a fork in her hand. “So, how was your appointment today? Is everything going okay?” Strange, she didn't remember telling Hanna about the appointment. It must have been her husband. “Yea everything's fine, you don't have to worry,” she said as the waitress brought her iced tea. “I never do,” Hanna said smiling at her. “I'll have an iced tea as well please.” Rachel look down at her drink. She spun the straw round and round, listening to slight clink of the ice cubes hitting the sides of the cup. “There is something though,” she finally said. “I've been getting these weird sleep paralysis, uh, episodes.” Hanna gave her a quizzical look. “Sleep paralysis,” she replied. “That's when you hallucinate right? Oh man that's freaky, what do you see?” Rachel thought back to the thing in her room. How it sat atop her. The shrieks of the women that weren't really there. “Nothing really. I see this figure in the corner of my room sometimes. Usually it doesn't do anything but last night... last night it sat on me, it even whispered in my ear.” She felt crazy for being worried about this, after all it was just a dream. Hanna snickered at her. “Well maybe it's a ghost...or a demon,” she said. “Don't even joke about that,” Rachel shot back. The idea of ghosts and such always frightened her. From avoiding scary movies, to sleeping with a light on, it was a topic she tried to avoid. “I'm just saying,” Hanna said. “I've seen a movie about something like that. Well what did it say?” Rachel was starting to think she shouldn't have brought it up. “It just kept saying Emma, over and over.” Hanna froze for a moment. “What is it,” asked Rachel. Hanna stared back at her, “Nothing, it's just weird is all. Hey I'm starving what do you say we order some food.” Rachel felt the familiar gurgle in her stomach and with a smile she agreed. Hanna flicked her hand, giving the waitress the signal to come over, and the women continued their lunch date.

“3rd floor please,” she said to the man next to her. Normally she'd have taken the stairs, but her ankle had been aching ever since that fall. “Yes ma'am,” he smiled back at her. She didn't usually visit her husband at work, but her car had stalled outside Dory's and it had been more convenient for Hanna to drop her here rather than home. The elevator made a screech as it came to a halt. She stepped out and looked around. If she remembered right her husband's office was at the end of the hall. 313, she read the plate on the door as she swung it open. Ahead of her was her husband's partner, talking to what seemed like a client. To her left was reception. She walked over to the desk, and stood over the receptionist. She was a small girl. Her long blonde hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail, she wore a dress shirt that seemed to need more buttons, and black pants. “Hi, how can I help you,” the receptionist asked. “Hi, I'm here to see Mr. Taylor, I'm his wife.” Rachel said a little too sternly. “Oh nice to meet you!” The receptionist smiled at her. “Well, Mr. Taylor's not in right now, but feel free to wait in his office, he should be back soon.” That was strange, she thought. It was a little past two, he couldn't be gone for lunch. “Oh , do you know where he is,” Rachel asked. “I'm not sure,” the receptionist replied. “Well I guess I'll just wait in his office then, I'm Rachel by the way,” Rachel smiled. The receptionist rose from her seat and opened the glass door to the right of her desk. “I'm Amelia, and your husband's office is just on the left here.” Rachel thanked her as she went through the door and down the hall. She reached her husband's door and read Jeremy Taylor on the front. She clutched the handle then stopped. Amelia? Her husband had told her the receptionist's name was Emma. An uneasy feeling crept in to the pit of her stomach. Then who was Emma, she thought, and why would he lie about her. In fact where was he right now? If it had to do with work the receptionist, Amelia, would have known. Then, a thought finally arrived. A thought she had been avoiding for a long time. Could he be cheating on her? She realized she had swung the door open and was standing in her husbands office. Her sweat filled pores caused the handle to clutch at her palm, she pried it loose. To her right was a small couch, across from it sat her husband's desk, cluttered with papers. The mouse and keyboard of his desktop could hardly be seen. Her eyes shifted to the right of the room. On a small wooden tabletop sat a bottle of whiskey, half empty, with a glass sitting beside it. She could still see the remnants of a fresh taste sticking to it's bottom. She wasn't aware he drank at work. She went over to his desk. Looking to the drawers on the right, she pulled on the first one. Locked. Likely just important work. She pulled on the second drawer, and it opened. It was filled with loose papers and file holders. They were odd though. The files were slightly elevated, appearing as though on the drawer floor, yet not quite touching it. There was something beneath them. Moving the papers aside she plucked out the object. It was a picture frame. A small one, the kind you'd have on your desk or by your bedside. This one, however, had been placed upside down in a drawer. Her brow furrowed as she turned the frame. It was a picture of her and her husband. What confused her wasn't the fact that he'd hid a picture of them in his drawer, or that the glass on the frame was cracked all over. It was that the bottom half of the picture had been torn right off. How did that happen, she wondered. Maybe it had been torn by accident, and that's why he'd put it in his drawer. After all, what would be the point of tearing the picture at the bottom. Perhaps he didn't like his belt. The thought made her giggle. “Are you going through my desk?” A voice came from the front of the room. It was her husband. “I'm sorry,” she said. “I was just a little bit bored waiting for you.” He smiled at her. “That's quite alright, what do you have there?” She looked backed down to the cracked frame in her palms. “I found this picture of us in one of your drawers. What even happened to it?” He took a look at the frame, and the torn picture inside. “Oh, that,” he sighed. “A client came in with her son, I left him alone for a couple minutes, and that happened.” Rachel placed the frame back in the drawer and closed it. “You should be more careful,” she scolded. That gave him a laugh. “Alright, ma'am,” he said. “Now what do you say we give your car a boost?” He began walking to the door, but she stood there. “There's another thing,” she said looking to her feet. “You said your receptionist's name was Emma, but it's Amelia.” He stopped at the door and turned to her. He had a strange look on his face. Not quite anger, or sadness. More like, disappointment. “Yea, but her nickname's Emma,” he shot at her. The frustration clear in his tone. “Now, may we go?” She felt like a fool. Here she was doubting her husband's honesty when there was a clear explanation. “I'm sorry, let's go,” she whispered guiltily, as she followed him out the door.

Thoughts of ghosts and demons ran wild through Rachel's head. That's insane she told herself over and over, but the thoughts remained, like a constant itch in the back of her mind. Eventually, insanity became possibility, and one afternoon she found herself sitting on her laptop, looking to the internet, and it's endless supply of faceless opinions, for answers. Sleep paralysis and potential meanings, she plugged into the search box. A list of articles appeared. Looking through them, she glanced at the third, “Sleep paralysis; Meanings and Myths. By Dr. Ramaneeswaran.” She clicked on it, in her mind randomly but a childhood of being exposed to stereotypes proved otherwise, and the page loaded. She skimmed it, stopping at areas that seemed promising. Precognitive dreaming. The idea that dreams could somehow tell the future. That could be useful, she thought to herself, and kept scrolling. Finally, she found what she was looking for. Demons. Some believe the hallucinations are caused by demons, she read. When in sleep paralysis, these demons try to lure a persons conscious out from their body, also known as an out of body experience (see paragraph 5). Once the conscious is separated from the body the demon enters, and the person's conscious is believed to be trapped outside of its body forever. Her palms began to sweat. She felt uneasy. The idea of a demon trying to steal her body made her want to vomit. It was ridiculous, she thought. There were so many other theories and this was just one of them. It was as Barker had said. Absolutely nothing. Just her imagination. She shutdown her laptop, sitting there for a moment. She needed to get some air, get her mind off things. Rising up from the couch, she began feeling lightheaded. A familiar feeling. She managed a couple of steps, and then dropped.

When she awoke, she realized it must have been more then a couple steps, because she was on her bedroom floor. The side of her face pressed down on the carpet floor, she inhaled a cloud of dust as she pulled herself into a sitting position. Using the wall for support she rose to her feet, and walked back out her bedroom door. Squeak. She'd stepped on something. Her stuffed teddy bear, the one her husband got for valentines with the big heart on it, was laying crushed beneath the heel of her right foot. I didn't put that there, she thought. “Jerry?” She asked into the air. No response. She noticed her laptop, still sitting at the coffee table, had been opened up. There was a quarter full glass of chocolate milk sitting next to it. Some of it seemed to have spilled and been, poorly, cleaned up. Walking over to the front door, she noticed two things. One, her husbands keys weren't in the bowl. Two the front door was locked. If somebody had broken into her apartment, they'd have to still be in there. She looked around, the only spot to hide would be the bathroom. Her instincts told her it was just her husband, although they didn't complain when she got the knife from the kitchen. She stepped into her bedroom. The bathroom door was on the far right. Closed, which wasn't strange, she always found it odd to leave the bathroom door open. Rising to the tips of her toes she stepped up to the bathroom door, stopping on approach. She put her hand on the door knob, turning slightly to the left, it was unlocked. Her breath hastened, her stomach felt ready to cave in. Her left hand gripping the knife so tight she thought it might crush. Then she pushed, slightly at first, hesitating, then all at once, slamming through the door, heart pumping, knife in hand ready to slam into the unlucky intruder. The room was empty. The shower was empty. It had driven her so mad she'd even checked the cupboards. A thought crossed her mind. What if her husband had came and left? That must have been it, she giggled to herself. Her smile faded almost instantly. She was looking at the mirror now, and what she saw shattered her. There was make-up on her face, make-up that hadn't been there before. This wasn't ordinary make up though, it was poorly done, as if by a man, making her look like a clown. “What the FUCK!” She shrieked, running out of the bathroom, out of her bedroom, and right out of the apartment. She slammed right into her husband. “Did you do this,” she asked pointing to her face. “DID YOU DO THIS.” His shocked expression gave the answer before he could speak. “Honey, I’m just getting home.” She looked at him, breaking into a violent sob. Then she put her hands to her face, and began rubbing. “Get it off,” she whispered. “Get it off, get it off, get it off, GET IT OFF!” She fell to her knees, her sobs sounding almost scream-like, as her husband clutched her to him.

There was no way anyone had broken in. The door was locked from the inside, and her and her husband had the only keys. Unless they had scaled the building, which was highly unlikely as they were on the 14th floor, nobody else had been in the apartment. “Your father was supposed to be here,” he said. “I hate leaving you alone for too long.” Her father was feeling under the weather, she'd told him she'd be fine on her own and he'd reluctantly agreed. “It was only a couple hours,” she said. Her husband poured himself a drink. He'd cleaned the room up while she'd showered. Other than a circular chocolate milk stain on her coffee table, it was as if nothing had ever happened. She reached over and poured herself a drink as well. Her husband stared at her, sighing, “Listen, I think maybe you should stay at your dad's for a little while.” She looked back at him, the grasp on her drink slightly tightened. “Do you want me gone?” She asked, forcefully. His, now empty, glass made a clack as he dropped it in the sink. “You know that's not it,” he said. “I just worry about you being alone here.” How could she be mad at him for simply worrying, she thought. After all, she was frightened being there even with her husband. “I understand, but i'm not leaving. I'll be just fine.” She finished her drink. “Rachel,” her husband let out. “I'll be fine,” she replied sternly. With that, she turned and went back to her bedroom, ready to put this day behind her, ready to sleep.

It wasn't a normal sleep. Or, the sleep itself was normal, but the awakening that was odd. Rachel heard her husbands low, muffled snores, and realized she was awake. She looked around. Sleep paralysis, she thought. But it wasn't. It was something else. She pushed herself upward, sitting on the bed. She was awake, but at the same time felt asleep. That was when she noticed the light beneath her door. Coming from her kitchen, the bright, almost sun-like, yellow light shown into her room, using the slit between her door and the floor as it's entrance. Her husband lay beside her. Perhaps he had left the light on, she thought, stepping out of bed. Walking over to the door, she stopped just in front. Her body froze. To her left, crouched beside the dresser, was the monster, the shadow. The demon. “GAH!” She shrieked, backing into her bedroom door. The creature rose up from it's crouched stance, it was tall, almost 7ft. Shrieking again as it began to walk towards her, she turned the door handle and flew through, slamming the door behind. Falling to the floor, she clutched her hands to her head, eyes shut tight, whispering, “It's just a dream, it's just a dream, it's just a dream.” She continued like this, until she heard a noise. It was high pitched, like metal scraping metal. It was a swing, she thought. Finally, she opened her eyes and looked around her. What she saw wasn't her kitchen, in fact not even her apartment. She was in a park, a park she knew. It was only a couple blocks from her place, she'd walk past it on her way to the market. There was a slide, monkey bars, a seesaw, and, a swing. Unlike the others, the swing was occupied. A little girl swung on it, her back turned. She wore overalls, with a striped yellow and black long sleeve beneath. Her auburn hair covered the top half of her back. She looked about four years old. It was strange though, most children would be screaming on the swings, or at least laughing. But there she sat, perfectly silent, not a sound but the scraping of the swings. Rachel stepped towards her, completely forgetting the monster she'd left behind her, nor the wonder of what was happening. She got right behind the girl, grabbing her shoulder, “Hi, there, what's your name?” The girl turned towards her. What Rachel saw, would haunt her for nights to come. The top right half of the girls face had been completely torn apart, revealing a juicy red interior. The girls abdomen had been cut open, her intestines creeping out ever so slowly. “Hello!” The girl smiled. Rachel, for the third time that night, let out a shriek. She turned and ran back across the park, back through the door, and back into her bedroom. It was dark. She scanned the room, for the shadow, and there it sat. Arched over her bed. Was it trying to get her husband, she thought, and then she saw. It was arched over her. Her body lay on her bed, as if she had never gone anywhere. But she had, and she still was gone. Her mind had separated from her body, she thought. The thing was trying to take her. She ran over to it, screaming. “No! NO, NO, NO!” Grabbing at it, she felt the familiar cold, steel-like, arms. “NO,” she screamed over and over, fighting with the monster, in her mind, fighting for her life.. Then, she was awake. In her own body, in her own world. Her husband sat up beside her. “Are you okay?” He asked. “It sounded like you were having a nightmare.” She looked back at him, her eyes filling with fresh tears. “Honey,” she whispered. “I think I'm being haunted.”

“Will you just listen to me?” Rachel shouted at her husband, who was getting ready to shower. He wrapped a towel around his waist. “You're being ridiculous,” he replied sternly. “You had a bad dream. THAT'S IT.” She got out of her bed. “Then how do you explain what happened the other day, it wasn't a break-in.” He stared at her for a moment, his eyes heavy with dark circles, his forehead with more wrinkles than she remembered. “There's an explanation. Now just drop IT.” With that he left her, slamming the bathroom door shut behind him. She was being haunted, she told herself. How else could you explain all this. But what could she do? Maybe she could get a priest? No, her husband didn't want her talking about it, bringing a priest home would drive him insane. She walked over to the kitchen to make herself some coffee. Her husbands keys were on the counter and she began fiddling with them. That little girl, maybe she was Emma, she thought. Was it even Emma though? She had only heard a whisper, it could have been Emma, it could have been Anna, it could have just been a grunt for all she remembered. Whatever it was, that little girl was definitely a big part of it. Maybe if she looked into previous owners of the apartment, she thought. She looked down at the keys in her hand. “That's odd,” she whispered to herself. There was a tiny little key. One she'd never noticed before. It wasn't the apartment key, too small for a car, not the mail key either. She remembered the locked drawer in her husband's office. “It's not of my business,” she whispered, setting the keys back on the table. Although, it was her husband, she had a right to know. Jeremy would later notice that key to be missing.

Her laptop made a familiar whirring sound as it started up. She sat in her usual spot on the couch. Her father, who was supposed to be taking care of her, was sound asleep in her bedroom. It was for the best though, with him asleep she could finally look into things. Taking a bite out of the chicken sandwich her father had made for lunch, she opened up her browser. Her local library had an online database of newspaper articles, she had figured she would search through some to see if she could find anything. The landlord had denied there being any little girls living in the apartment before her and her husband had moved in, but she wasn't convinced. Had there been a murder here, he would want to hide it. She decided to skim the articles, starting with the year they moved in and working backwards. After the half hour her determination began to dwindle, an hour after that it was nearly gone. Nothing. There were murders, kidnappings, stabbings etc. but nothing in or near her apartment. If nothing had happened here then what was going on, she thought. Maybe it was just all a dream. She could hear her father getting up now. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out the tiny key that should still have been attached to her husbands chain. She couldn't believe she'd actually took it, what kind of wife was she. She'd sneak it back on to his key chain when he got home, she thought. No, he'd have noticed it to be missing by now, if it magically reappeared he'd grow even more suspicious. I know, she thought, I'll call and tell him I found it at home. She smiled at the clever thought. She dialed his number and listened as it rang. Driiiingg, driiingg, driiing. “Hi, I can't get to the phone right now, leave a message after the beep.” Beep. He must be in a meeting or something. She would try the office. She dialed the office number this time, and listened to rings again. “Taylor-Wiggum, how may I help you?” The secretary's familiar voice shot through. “Hi, this Mr. Taylor's wife, is he in right now?” Her father was getting out of bed now. “Oh no,” the voice, Amelia, replied. “Sorry, he just left to have his lunch break, shall I tell him you called?” Lunch break? It was nearly 2. “That's alright, i'll call back later, thanks Emma.” She said, nearly hanging up the phone. “Oh my name's Amelia not Emma.” Rachel put the phone back to her ear. “Yes I know, but Emma's what you go by isn't it? Like a nickname?” Rachel felt a familiar lump in her throat. “Umm, no, haha. Nobody calls me that. It's just straight Amelia.” Rachel hung up the phone. He was hiding something. Could he be cheating on her? But with who. She remembered Hanna, how she knew about her appointment, how Rachel even suspected there being another man in her life. She'd heard her husband say Emma, but could he have said Hanna? She felt the tiny key in her pocket, heard her father moving out of the bedroom. She was gone before he could complete the motion.

Her husband's chair squeaked as she took a seat in it. She held the key in palm, staring at it. Amelia had said her husband would be back any minute. If she wanted to do this, it would have to be now. What was he hiding from her? And he definitely was hiding something. She had been ignorant before but the signs were all too clear. The way he looked at her. The way he drifted off, his new habit of drinking throughout the day. It felt as though they were on different worlds. She held the key in her hand. She was nervous. But she had to know, and so she put the key in the drawer, turned it, and pulled it open. The bottom of the drawer had some sort of a binder, it looked like an album. But that wasn't what caught her eye. There sitting atop the binder, was a pistol. She picked up and carefully placed it on the table. She had no idea what to think. What would he need with a gun? Self-defense? She looked down at the binder. She recognized it. It was an album, their album in fact. He'd told her it had been misplaced. They'd had to replace the whole thing. She opened it up. All their pictures were in here, from when they were only dating, all the way to their wedding. 15 pages full of their life, but there was more. That can't be right she thought. She remembered, the pictures were supposed to end here. She turned the pages. More pictures of her and her husband, pictures that she didn't quite remember being there. She felt her heart speed up, a lump grew in her stomach. She was frightened. Not at her lack of memory, but at the pictures themselves. As they went on, she noticed her belly got larger and larger, until finally she was staring at a picture of a newborn, with the words, Our angel Emma, written underneath. She dropped the album to the floor. “Rachel,” a voice came from the front of the room. Her husband. “What is all this!” She screamed at him. “Where did these pictures come from? I DON'T UNDERSTAND!” He came towards her, but she pushed him back. “I'm sorry,” he said, through teary eyes. “You weren't supposed to find all this.” She could see the sadness in his eyes. “I still don't understand. Who is that girl.” He held her hands in his, this time she let him. “That girl is our... was our daughter.” Her mind was spinning. Our daughter? Was he insane? But the pictures, they looked so real. “She was run over by a car almost a year ago. It was traumatic for all of us but you... you couldn't handle it, and you just... erased it.” She pushed away from. It couldn't be true, it just couldn't. Looking down at the pictures in the album, she stared at the girl. It was the same girl she'd dreamed of. It couldn't be, it couldn't be the truth, but deep down she knew. Her head began to spin, she felt the familiar dizziness. “Oh dear god,” she said, and was gone.

She awoke standing. Looking around she was still in her husband's office. She was on the far side now, standing over his whiskey. Her husband stood across the room, staring at her. There was something in his hand. It was the gun. He was pointing it at her. “Shit, Jeremy, what are you doing with that thing!” She screamed at him. His eyes were bloodshot, he had been crying, no, balling. “You're back,” he said, his voice cracking. He lowered the gun and began walking towards her. “Why do you have that gun!” She screamed. Her mind was still groggy. Moving her hand behind her, she searched the table, for something, anything. She found an ice pick. “No it's fine now,” he said, gun still in hand. He came in trying to hug her, or attack her she couldn't tell. She drove the ice pick into his abdomen. The, shocked, expression on his face was haunting. “You were lying about the girl weren't you!” She screamed. “It was all a LIE. You made those pictures to hide something WORSE!” He stumbled backwards, landing on his back. “WHAT WERE YOU HIDING!” She screamed, jumping on top of him. “TELL ME THE TRUTH.” But it was too late. He was gone. “SAY SOMETHING.” Screaming she grabbed his lifeless body by the neck and began to shake him, as if trying to wake him up. “SAY SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING,” she sobbed. “Say something.” What had she done. The door to the office slammed open, and two police officer poured through. “Jesus christ,” the first one said, as the second one called it in. Rachel looked up at them, sitting atop her husband in his pool of blood, ice pick in the left hand, dripping with red. “I'm so sorry,” she said. “I'm so sorry.”

When she awoke, she was in a tiny room. It had four walls, four blank white walls, her bed, a toilet and sink. She lay in her twin bed opposite the toilet, her clothing matching the bedsheets. Where the hell was she. Her first thought had been prison, but that couldn't be. The last thing she remembered was being shoved into a police car, then she'd felt the spinning again, and had passed out. It couldn't put her in prison whilst asleep, so where was she? She walked up to the door and looked through the small square window. She was in a hallway, both to her left and right were doors that looked the same as hers. There was nothing else. What the hell, she thought. “Hello?” She screamed, knocking on her door. No answer. She kept at it for a few minutes and realized there would be no one. She sat back down. Maybe it was a prison.

Nothing happened for nearly four hours. She was beginning to think nothing would, that the world had forgotten about her. When her door opened. It was a nurse, or at least, she looked like a nurse. “You have a visitor,” she said. Rachel looked at her. “Who are you,” she asked. “Where am I? What is going on?” The nurse simply rolled her eyes and walked away, leaving the door slightly ajar. A hand came out pushing it fully open. In walked Dr. Richard Barker. His face was dark, his glasses sitting at the tip of his nose, as if about fall off. He was wearing a a blue dress shirt, no tie, and black dress pants, the usual. Lifting his palm, he adjusted his glasses. “Doctor Barker, what is going on,” she asked, her voice filled with desperation. His face lit up slightly at that. “Rachel,” he smiled, taking a seat beside her. “I don't even know where to start.” His eyes grew teary. He was sad, not only that, he was frightened. “My... my husband?” She asked, already knowing the answer. “He's dead Rachel, I'm sorry.” She was sobbing now. Head in her hands, all out sobbing. What had she done. “He told me... he told me we had a daughter. Emma. Doctor where AM I?” She looked up at him through teary eyes, hoping for something, anything to soothe her pain. “You're in a mental hospital, Rachel,” Barker let out softly. “What,” she whispered. A mental hospital, that made no sense. “You've been here for almost three weeks.” That made even less sense. “Three weeks,” she said. “That's not possible, the last thing I remember is being taken by the police. I think I would remember if I had been here for THREE WEEKS!” She was standing now, “Rachel,” Barker let out, in that same soft tone. “Please, just let me explain.” She eased up. “Was my husband lying? He was lying, he had to be there's no way we could have a daughter. There's no way I could just forget that.” But those pictures were so real, she thought. Each one still etched into her mind. “He was telling the truth. Your daughter was killed about 11 months ago, your mind couldn't handle the fact, and chose to simply forget.” She felt a familiar lump in her stomach. “No... I don't believe you!” But the pictures, she thought, the pictures were just so real. They flashed through her mind along with that feeling. That feeling of the ice pick tearing through his abdomen. She had to kill him she thought. He'd had a gun, she simply had to. She collapsed to the floor in another fit of sobbing. This one harder than the last. “He was pointing a gun at me!” She screamed. I woke up, and he was pointing a gun at me! I had to kill him!” Barker, his face full of pity, looked down at her. She could see that he too had begun to cry. “There's more,” he said. What else could there be. “You're not,” he paused, searching for the right words. “You're not mentally stable Rachel.” She understood that, with all that had happened, it was clear that she needed help, but then he continued. “You're aware that you, lose consciousness ever now and then?” She nodded. Still slightly sobbing. “Yes my narcolepsy,” she replied. “That's the thing,” he said. “Rachel, you're not a narcoleptic.” She froze. What did he mean, not a narcoleptic? “It was a lie me and your husband made up, to protect you from the truth. I didn't agree with it.” Another pause. “To be honest, he was, he was paying me to keep silent, to keep up the charade.” What was he talking about. “The truth is Rachel.” Another pause. “The truth is, you have dissociative identity disorder.” She wanted to speak but her mouth wouldn't move. “It's an illness where a person has multiple personalities. In your case there were two. One was you, as you are now. The other... the other was your daughter, Emma.” She wanted to shout at him. Wanted her husband to come into the room and scream that it was all some sick joke. She opened her mouth, wanting to scream at him for being so idiotic. All she got out was, “That's impossible.” He came down to the floor in front of her. His previous, barely visible, tears had turned into streams down his wrinkled cheeks. “I'm so sorry Rachel, but it is. You witnessed your daughter's death. That kind of trauma can have severe effects, this was simply the effect on you.” It was impossible. There was no way. Doctor Barker was insane, he wasn't even that great of a Doctor, she knew she should have gotten someone more expensive. But then, she began to look back at the last few weeks. Her husbands constant decline in happiness. How he'd called her Emma by mistake. How her apartment had been left, as if a child had been there, and her make up, as if a child had gone through her mother's cabinet. And her husband pointing that gun, not at her, but at the other half, the half that had been a constant reminder of his dead daughter, and his ill wife. She broke down again. This time, Dr. Barker clutched her close to him. Her mouth mumbling nonsense, with an occasional “Emma,” and “Jeremy.”

“Those, hallucinations I would have,” she finally said, after a long 8 and a half minutes. “The sleep paralysis. That creature. I would sometimes even see.. her.” Barker looked slightly surprised, and a little confused. “They were all just in your mind Rachel. You said it yourself. Hallucinations. That monster might have just symbolized your daughter. Or the memories you were hiding.” He then began to put himself together, getting ready to leave. “I should be off then. Someone will be contacting you about a psych evaluation shortly.” She got up from the ground and he hugged her. “Good luck, Rachel.” She didn't hug back. She didn't want it. She didn't want anything. She just wanted to roll over and die. He nearly stepped out the door when she stopped him. “If it was my mind symbolizing my daughter, why didn't I see my daughter? Why was it such a horrible creature.” He looked back at her, expressionless. “I don't know.” And with that, he was out the door. She expected the nurse to appear to lock it behind him, but she hadn't. She crept up to the crack in the door, and looked down the hall. The nurse was down the hall, near the entrance talking to another nurse. Both their backs were turned. They were next to the entrance, so there was no way she could get out, but she didn't want to get out. Not that way. Two doors down from hers was a trolly. Not full of food, but medication. She crept up to it, all the while eying the nurses every move. She grabbed a worthy load of, what seemed like, painkillers, and crept back into her room. A few moments later the nurse took a look at her, then locked the door tight. She clutched the pills in her hand. It'll be hard swallowing them without water, she thought. Then, she began to feel light head. “No, not now,” she whispered. She had enough time to stuff the pills under the mattress before she was gone.

When she awoke the room had begun to darken. There was a sharp pain coming from her fore harm. Looking down she saw her left forearm was bloody. Deep, horizontal cuts stretched across it. She saw that blood had leaked onto the mattress, and the floor. She looked over to her right hand, and noticed the palm covered in blood, more suspicious, there was blood dried under her finger nails. What the hell, she thought, looking around. There was blood on the wall beside her. Looking at it, her heart dropped. It wasn't just blood. Something had been spelled out. Looking closely, in the dim lit room, terror struck her. There on the wall beside her, in her own blood, was written, “Mommy, please don't kill us.” Tears streamed down her face. She felt around under the mattress, the pills were still there. Thank god, she thought. She couldn't bear this hell any longer, and shoved all of them into her mouth. At first her gag reflex kicked in, and she tried to spit them out. Putting both her hands to her mouth she forced them down. That's that, she thought. Someone once told her, that most people committing suicide regret it once it's too late. But staring at the blood stained wall, she knew, this was not a world she could live in. She lay in her bed, eyes closed, and let the pills take effect.

She opened her eyes, to an all too familiar scene. She was frozen, unable to move her body, and there it was. Standing in the corner, with its lanky black limbs. It's dark, empty face. Almost 7 feet tall. The monster, the creature, the thing, the shadow. Her shadow. It crept towards her, it's breathing heavy, crept to the edge of the bed, then jumped right atop her. She felt it's cold hard knees crushing into her thighs. It's skinny little fingers gripping her arms. “Momma,” it whispered, clutching her close, and she let it. She stared into it. Felt it it trembling over her. “Come,” she whispered back. “Come die with me.” Then, there was only darkness.


© Copyright 2019 Sbath. All rights reserved.

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