There’s a voice, calling my name. It seeps slowly into my conscience. I can only just hear it…in the distance and I start swimming towards it through clouds of confusion. But it is too far away and I can’t seem to make it, I can’t seem to get to that voice that keeps calling me. And then it is gone.
Deep, wrenching sobs build up in me. Tears leak out, gushing down my cheeks and drenching my clothes until I am soaked through to the skin.
“I want to go home,” I wail.
And then another voice comes. It comes on a breeze that rushes through my fingertips and whisks my hair around. It dries the tears on my face and makes me shiver with cold. It whispers its words to me and places them on my lips like a gentle kiss.
“This is your home.”
* * *
“Mr and Mrs Daniels, I have to inform you that your daughter is not responding to any of the treatment so far. We believe that the severity of the trauma she experienced will make it difficult for her to leave her catatonic state.” The doctor sounds like an automated voice.
“Will she ever speak to us again?” A woman’s sob echoes at the end of the question, bouncing off white walls to come back and hit them all.
“We can’t say, Mrs Daniels. But we are doing our very best to bring your daughter back to you.”
* * *
“Kathleen?” The whisper voice mocks me.
“Who are you?” I whisper back. “Why won’t you leave me alone?”
“Who am I?” the voice whispers back. “Why won’t I leave you alone?” Shrill, childish laughter follows from all directions. “Who am I? And why won’t I leave you alone?” it shrieks gleefully.
“Leave me alone!” I scream before I turn and run from the voice. For a moment I am running fast and then mist suddenly engulfs me, making every move ten times slower. Wildly, I try brushing it aside but more silvery-grey mist replaces it. In horror I watch as it begins to form solid bars that cage me in. I can’t escape. I am trapped.
“Well, well, well, Kathleen. You look a little bit…stuck.” A tall figure walks into view. The mist swirls around him, creating a path for him to walk along unhindered. He pauses for a second. “Do you mind if I call you Kathy?” He doesn’t wait for a response, just gives a light tinkling laugh and continues walking towards me.
I feel my body trembling and the conscience thought surfaces that I know who this man is…and I wish I didn’t. “Go away! Just let me go!” But the mist steals my voice away so that it is thin and reedy instead of strong and determined like I want it to be.
“What do you think of our surroundings, Kathy? A bit dull and dreary, maybe?” The man waves his hand casually and the mist starts float away. The cage holding me in starts to melt and hopefully I try to take a step away from him. I don’t move. Crying out with frustration, I look down at my feet. They are ankle deep in sand and not budging one inch.
We are on a beach. But not a nice beach where you make sandcastles and go swimming. This is a horrible beach. The sand is black and filled with broken bits of seashell that cut at my feet and ankles. In the water I can see dead fish floating on the surface as birds with razor sharp teeth dive bomb them, fighting off sharks and sea monsters. I shudder and turn to face the man. Turn to face Erik Diamond.
“Hello, Kathy,” he says, smiling beautifully. “How do you like the view now?”
Anger wells up in me and I try to lunge at him, to scrape at his perfect skin with my nails and gouge his eyes out. I want to murder him for what he has done to me.
“Now, now, Kathy. Such thoughts are uncalled for.” He comes right up to me and stares into my eyes. “After all, what did I ever do to you?”
* * *
“Mr and Mrs Daniels, I know this is going to be very difficult for you but we need you to go over the details of what happened to Kathleen, please.”
“Again? But we’ve told you people what happened twice already!” There is desperation in Mr Daniel’s voice, an unspoken plea. Don’t make me go through it again!
“I know, but it will help us to help Kathleen. Just once more, please.”
“I guess so. If it helps Kathleen.” A slight hesitation. Gathering of courage. “She was taken hostage, you know. Her and a couple of her friends, Amy and Sonja. The fellow…his name was Erik Diamond, and he kept them…he kept them there for three days. And then…and then…”
“And then he shot Amy and Sonja.” Mrs Daniels continues as her husband covers his face. “The police don’t know why he didn’t shoot our Kathleen. There’s no evidence of…rape…or any kind of sexual assault. No one knows what happened. And Kathleen can’t…can’t…” She stops speaking suddenly and reaches across her husband for a tissue. “When she came out she was like she is now. Catatonic.”
“Thank you, Mr and Mrs Daniels. That’s all. I’m sorry I had to ask you again.”
* * *
“Would you like to dance?”
Classical music starts playing out of nowhere and Erik reaches forward to take my hands, placing one on his shoulder and holding the other one out. Then he lifts me up easily and is twirling me across the smooth black stretch of sand at an impossible speed.
“Where are we?”
“On the beach,” he replies without paying much attention. He is focussed on the music with such an intense look of concentration across his face. Closing his eyes and humming slightly to it, I can almost imagine that he is a gentle man as his persona would suggest. But I won’t fall for that trick again.
“Where are we really?” I say again more forcefully when I realise that I can’t move out of his grip.
His eyes flash open and he smiles playfully at me. “You really want to know?” He doesn’t pause for even one second as he dances us around. I nod attempting to seem sure of myself. Erik shrugs carelessly. “We’re in your head.”
“What?” I hit the ground with a sudden thud. Bark chips are pressing into my face sharply and I brush them off with my hands as I sit up. Two swings sway slowly on either side of me and Erik sits in one of them, staring down at me in amusement.
“We’re in your head,” he repeats.
“H-How?” I sit down in the other swing and stare at him in shock. “I don’t understand what you mean.”
“I mean that I am you. I am just part of your mind, a figment of your imagination, you could say.” A broad grin stretches across his face and he begins to laugh again. “I guess you just couldn’t do without me.”
I stare at him uncomprehendingly. Then hysteria begins to take hold and his laughter just fuels it. “Stop it! Stop it! Just stop!” The silence is instant and unexpected. But when I look at him I see that he is still laughing. His mouth is still poised in the same position and his body shakes with laughter. He doesn’t make a sound though.
Fear grips me and I leap off the swing and take a few backwards steps away from him. “How do I get out?” Erik Diamond laughs silently at me, at his own mad game. “How do I get out?” My voice shakes and trembles. “How do I get out?” I scream.
I back away from him, turning and running. “I have to get out. I have to get out,” I keep murmuring to myself as I run all around the park. “I have to get out.” But an invisible barrier keeps me in. I keep running but never getting anywhere. Whenever I turn around, Erik Diamond is still there, sitting on the swing, watching me with falsely sympathetic eyes.
I walk back to him. “I’m trapped.”
“No, Kathy. Freedom is all relative.” He smiles at me, takes my hands and flicks his fingers. We are standing in a busy city now. “See.” A mansion, a night club, a museum. “When you’re in your head, you can go wherever you like.”
“But what about my parents? My friends? I want to seem them!” Tears trickle down my cheeks and I wrench my hands out of his. “I just want to get out of here.”
“Ah, yes. But Kathy, you have to think of the price that’s already payed for this freedom.”
I stare at him, confused. “What do you mean?” I ask slowly, quietly, afraid of the answer.
“Amy and Sonja? Remember them? Remember what you did to them?” He leans in close and smiles at me, his teeth flashing unnaturally, filed and ready to slice through skin. “Remember the gun? Remember how I placed it in your hand? Remember what I whispered to you?”
* * *
“Mr and Mrs Daniels. I’m sorry, but I don’t think Kathleen will be coming back at all. The longer she is…away in a catatonic state, the more likely it is that she will never respond to us again.”
“Please…” begins Mrs Daniels. But she chokes on her words and can’t go on.
“Please, just keep trying,” finishes her husband, the desperation clear in his voice.
* * *
My blood has frozen solid in my veins and arteries. The air I am breathing in is thick like dust and it lines my throat making me gag. There is no sun, no light, no colour. This place is cold and black. The wind shrieks and howls, tearing at my thin clothes and hair and my feet are being shredded to pieces by the sharp, icy ground.
The whispery voice floats across, singing its words to me like a lullaby. “If you want to go free, then shoot them.”
Copyright Captain Amanda