01 Feb The Hell Inside My Head
Before I start in with what happened, I just need to warn you about a few things.
Firstly, I’m not all there, in the head. I have schizophrenia, and have been on various medications for the past 14 years, with varying degrees of success. Each of them helped a bit, but nothing substantial. Electroshock, attempted in desperation for a cure, instead exacerbated the condition, much to the dismay of both myself and the doctors.
Secondly, I’m rather craven. Sure, I can handle normal stuff; snakes, spiders, etc. When it comes to anything else, though, I turn into a complete coward, curl into a ball, and wait for it to pass. With all that’s happened, I doubt you’ll be able to blame me. Just, trust me on that.
Third, and probably most important, everything I am about to tell you happened after the electroshock treatments. Because of this, I entirely blame the doctors for everything that happened. Before that ‘therapy’, sure, I’d see the occasional oddity in a hallucination, but afterward, my life became a constant nightmare.
Finally, I should probably tell you why I’m writing this in the first place. The short version is, I’m worried about how much I’ll be able to tell before they get to me again, and I want to get as much out there as I can. Even if no one believes me, I need to send this out in the hope that someone will know how to help me.
The doctors took me in for shock therapy. The day after my surgery, I saw the first one. I was lying in the hospital bed. It was as uncomfortable as ever, but I’d been pretty heavily confined to that bed ever since I got to the medical floor. I really didn’t have much choice but to get used to it. Doctor Marcus slid open the glass door and came into my room.
“Good. You’re awake. We need to run a basic diagnostic test. Now, I understand that you’ve had a traumatic experience. However, we need to get this done, and the sooner the better. So, if you don’t mind, can you tell me what you see?”
Doctor Marcus held up a card with a picture of a pear on it.
“I see a pear. Are we done?”
“No, afraid not.” The doctor’s face dropped into a regretful frown. “Here’s the next card. What do you see?”
This time, the picture was of a home and family. It looked like it was drawn by a three year old.
“It’s a house, and a family. Is this really necessary? I’d like to get up and stretch my legs.”
“Please, be patient, Ray.” I guess he thought that using my name would make me feel better. “I need you to identify one more picture for me. Here, just tell me what you see.”
Another card. This time, though, the picture creeped me out. It looked like a shadow of a person, if it stood up. There was no one attached to it, just the figure. It was entirely pitch black with no features, save for two tiny pinpricks where the eyes would be. They looked like stars in the night sky. This was how it started, and I would soon come to regard that image with utter dread.
“I see a shadowy person, with stars for eyes. Where did you get that one? I don’t remember it from last time.”
I wasn’t lying. This was a test I had taken many times. Each time they wanted to assess how a new treatment or medication was working, they gave me this test. It was easy. I had actually memorized all the cards by this point, but that one was definitely new.
Doctor Marcus gave me a look that was unlike any he had shown before. A mix of puzzlement and confusion, and maybe disbelief. Regardless, he made a strange face and looked at the card himself. “Are you sure that’s what you see here?” he asked, turning the card to me again.
This time, I did recognize the card. It wasn’t the figure from before. It was, instead, a crudely drawn police officer, standing next to a crudely drawn police cruiser. What had happened to the photo from before? Or was this the real photo, and the last one fake? I hate asking myself questions like that. I learned long ago that when you live the way I live, inquiries about what’s real and what’s not real tend to go unanswered, and end up running you in circles until you’re too exhausted to think. I dropped the thought from my mind to avoid the hassle.
Doctor Marcus, however, was still waiting for an answer. I told him something I thought he would accept as a viable response. “The shadow was the officer, next to the police car.”
He saw right through my ploy. “It seems to me that you may be experiencing some… unforeseen side effects. That’s why we do this test, you know. To ascertain whether the treatment is an improvement or a detriment…” I had already heard the speech, and didn’t care to listen to him beat a dead horse. In retrospect, I should have been more fair to him. He really was trying to help: I see that now. I was tired, though, and wanted to go back to my room, instead of spending another minute in that uncomfortable bed.
Eventually, he finished his speech, wrote another prescription, and let me get up. I was happy to be walking out of there. My left leg had fallen asleep, but that was still less irritating than the speech I was given. Doctor Marcus opened my door and shuffled me inside, locking the door as he shut it behind me. I didn’t mind. I actually liked my room, save for the monotone color scheme. White-washed walls occasionally interrupted by a smudge of crayon from some loony. Boring.
The rest of the room was more to my liking. My bed was far better than the one I had been confined to before, and I had a small table that sat next to it, complete with an adjustable desk lamp. The table had a single, unlocked drawer, which I was not allowed to have the key to. I didn’t care, since the only things in there were my sketches. I like to draw, and that was the best place for me to hide them so the other residents didn’t get at them. They were like damn vultures, I swear, picking at everything, regardless of whether they had any actual interest in it.
You may have realized at this point that the room I’ve just described sounds a lot like a room at a mental institution. Actually, I suppose everything I’ve talked about so far does, doesn’t it? If so, you earned yourself a cookie, because in the four years leading up to my electroshock treatment, I had been living at Augustinian Institute for the Mentally Unstable. That translates roughly as “The Loony Bin”, in case you couldn’t tell.
Prior to those four years, I lived with my parents. We dealt with my illness as a family, and despite any preconceived notions you may have, we were happy. Mom would make breakfast for me every morning, and dad would watch t.v. with me. Our house was a safe place for me, and I actually had a better time dealing with the hallucinations when I was at home. With me being so messed up in the head, I’m kinda surprised at how perfect my family life was.
Then, quick as a wink, that life ended. My parents went out for a night on the town. Heavy rain was pouring down that night. I remember it keeping me awake. Apparently, the soaked, cobbled road was a bad match for the tires on my parent’s car, and they skidded off into a ditch. Neither one made it out, and that’s all I’m going to say about it. It’s a touchy subject for me, as you can imagine.
With no relatives left, I was placed in the care of my physician, the aforementioned Doctor Marcus. He, and the other doctors, had only one goal in mind for me. Get me healthy enough to boot out the front door so they could bring in another guinea pig. Bad news for them, none of their drugs worked. I was carefully monitored for the next four years, bringing us back to the electroshock, and the events that took place afterward.
I sat down on my bed and retrieved my sketching supplies from the drawer. When I would get really bored, it would help to draw something interesting that happened from the day. Well, I had been resting for most of the day, which really only left the strange flash card to consider. I drew my rendition of Doctor Marcus, holding up the card. When I tried to draw what was on the card, though, I couldn’t. I didn’t remember what it was. I do now, obviously, but for whatever reason, at that moment, it was as though the card was blank both on paper and in reality. I laid back in my bed, getting a headache. I wanted the day to end, and so, despite having rested for fifteen hours post-op, I fell asleep.
I woke up very early the next morning. I didn’t have access to a clock or watch, but there was no light streaming in through the barred window above my bed. It must have been before dawn. The doctors didn’t open the doors until 8:00 each morning, so I was stuck in there in my boredom, waiting. I didn’t want to wake the person in the room across the hall from me, so I left my lamp off. Instead, I sat in the darkness, just waiting. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw something move in my room. I turned to look, but found nothing.
As I rolled back to face the door, however, I came face to face with a horrific sight. Utter darkness, a shadow in a room of shadows, and two white stars, coalesced into a humanoid form. The monster from the card had followed me. It had crawled on all fours onto my bed and was at eye level, just inches from my face. Its white pinprick eyes stared into mine, a void of emotion, lacking in characteristic. I clamped my eyes shut and curled into the fetal position. I started crying, praying for it to be over. I could hear it, right next to me. It was breathing in my ear. The hot breath emanated from nowhere, as the monster had no mouth or nose. It stayed there for minutes on end, just breathing louder and louder. I almost wished it would just get it over with.
Then, quickly as it started, the breathing ceased. Only the hum of electricity remained, coming from the walls. I didn’t open my eyes for a very long time, too scared of what I might see. When I finally did open them, it was still dark, and the creature was gone. I quickly flipped on the lamp to make sure it wasn’t hiding in the shadows. My room was devoid of inhabitants, save for me. I started to calm down, and quickly became embarrassed. I didn’t envy the nurse that would have to take my pants to be washed.
Across the hall, I could hear someone stirring. I figured it was a patient, but I didn’t want to be left in the dark again. I angled the light away from the door as best I could, and tried to get back to sleep, to no avail. Eventually, the Sun rose and the doors were unlocked. The nurses gave me a change of clothes, clearly annoyed and a little disgusted. I told Doctor Marcus about what happened to me, for no other reason than to let him document it. He was obviously concerned for me, and decided to give me some meds to help with the hallucinations. I took them gladly. No way did I want to see that again.
The drugs had side effects, but they sure as hell worked. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary for months. I was so relieved after the first week that I actually thanked Doctor Marcus for all he had done for me. The look on his face was priceless, but I really meant it, and he could tell. I think he lightened up on me after that. He actually started taking an interest in my issues, and in helping deal with the side effects of my meds. For three months, my life at the Institute was the best it had ever been.
Then, in a moment of stupidity, I slipped up. One of the nurses forgot to prepare my psych meds, and I forgot to remind them. I didn’t even realize that the mistake had occurred, because even off the pills, everything was fine. I still slept soundly that night, and the night after, and saw nothing strange either day.
The third day off my meds, however, would prove to be a moment of clarity for me. I woke to the sound of my door being unlocked. I flipped on my lamp sleepily before opening my eyes. There wasn’t a doctor standing there to greet me this time. Just the open door. I got out of bed and stepped out into the hall. I turned and closed the door behind me, locking it back up. I looked down the hallway…
And froze solid at what I saw. I wasn’t in the asylum anymore. I was in… I don’t know. I can’t adequately name the horror that now faced me. I always pictured Hell as being fiery and smelling of brimstone. This wasn’t hell: This was… visceral. The hall had contorted into a fleshy mess. Horrible smelling fluids leaked from sores in the walls and blood coated the squishy, vein-covered floor. The doors to other rooms were replaced with sphincters, and down the hall, I could see a figure standing with its back to me. I could hear it sobbing. I tried to turn around, but every muscle in my body locked. Something inside me knew that whatever was behind me would be far worse than what was in front of me.
I looked back to the door to my room, only to find that it wasn’t there. The intestinal tunnel I was in had overtaken the door. I could see the knob in the folds of flesh, though. I thought, “If I can just get back through the door, it will be alright.” I don’t know why. Out of pure horror, I concocted the notion that my room was a safety net. It was a stupid idea, but I tried it anyway. Nowhere else to go, regardless, except toward the figure. That was the last thing I wanted to do.
I tried to reach for the knob, and the flesh closed around it. I pushed through the slimy, squishy mess, until I felt my knuckles touch the knob, and I took hold of it. The wall clamped down on my arm, crushing bone and trapping me there. The figure stood and turned to walk toward me, still sobbing. Its pitch black skin was broken only by its pinprick white eyes, which leaked a gray fluid that oozed down its cheeks.
The sobbing grew louder and louder, becoming like a banshee’s wail, somehow echoing off the twisting walls of flesh. It stood perfectly still a few feet from me, and the gray slime continued to dribble out. My crushed arm felt like it was on fire, and my blood sloshed to the floor, mixing with the gore. I started crying out for help, and inside I was praying that this was a dream, or vision.
Then, for the first time, the monster spoke. A horrible, ghastly, grating voice. It was utterly inhuman, and that alone gave me strong goosebumps over my entire body. There was no movement of its face, as it had no mouth with which to speak. This made the sound all the more horrible. But it was what the creature said that was truly terrifying.
“We are in you now, and you are in us. Neither can escape, and you cannot stop us now.”
My knees gave out, and I dropped to the floor, sloshing the various fluids where I hit. I started bawling, waiting for whatever horrible things the shadow had planned for me. I felt warm hands on my shoulders, and I flinched, cringing away from the evil being that had caught me in its web of sinew. It spoke again.
“Ray, are you with us? Ray!”
I looked up to find Doctor Marcus holding my shoulders, trying to help me. The hallway was normal again, as was my door. My arm had healed. Doctor Marcus pulled me to my feet, but I was still unable to stand well, and I was crying my eyes out as he helped me to his office. It was more than an hour before I calmed down enough to tell him what happened. I spared no detail, watching as his face switched between visages of horror, disgust, concern, and outright fear. These looks made me more frightened, because this was the only time I ever saw Doctor Marcus afraid of what a patient reported seeing.
He made certain that the nurses never forgot my meds again. They didn’t work anymore, though. I don’t know why. I was really scared of this though, because I was still hallucinating. Flames in the hallway, meals made of maggots, and the damnable creatures that stalked me in the darkness of my room. Once they realized that nothing was helping anymore, they had no choice but to cast me out. I couldn’t benefit from their type of help anymore, and they needed the space. I went back to the home I knew before.
It’s been twenty-seven days, and each day the visions get more and more intense. The starry-eyed shadows have been following me everywhere. The only place they can’t reach me is in my home. They’ve gotten more… creative… since the asylum. Everywhere I go, the scenery and people turn into fleshy piles and shadows, all in the blink of an eye. Sometimes, the people wouldn’t be shadows, but instead twisted, mutilated corpses. It doesn’t stop there. If I try to go anywhere, they corner me, cut me open, burn me…
I feel everything, the agonizing pain of mutilation. It’s torture, literally. I can’t go anywhere. I’m starting to run out of food. I don’t trust canned foods at all anymore. It’s like a god damn game of surprise. What’s inside this time? A bunch of eyes, strands of hair? The distortions have invaded my home. Even now, the walls in the living room are pulsating, like a heartbeat, and the t.v. only shows static. I don’t think anyone will believe me, and I’m scared to go outside. They have me surrounded. I think they are waiting for me to leave.