Fan Fears: A collection of fear based stories (9 page)

BOOK: Fan Fears: A collection of fear based stories
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"Are you certain you are even awake during these episodes? Could it be they are a specific and very vivid reoccurring dream?"

"You tell me. Isn't that why I'm here?" I snap. I can't help it. He's annoyed me, and I'm already in a bad mood. After a week without sleep, I don't think anyone can blame me. 

"It is."

"Sorry, I just.... I want this fixed. I want to sleep at night without being scared."

"And that’s what we intend to help you do. Now, let me explain again what will happen."

I nod. I know the plan of course, but I let him say it anyways since I just borderline caused offense.

"You will go to sleep here in this room. The instruments here will monitor your vital signs, brain functions and the like. I'll be in the next room monitoring you via the cameras in the corner there. I'll be sitting directly on the other side of that mirror."

I look at the camera and it's blinking red eye, then at the mirror on the wall at the foot of the bed. My blond hair is sticking to my face and I look like hell. It's almost like I don't recognize the woman I see. I can't bear to see myself anymore and look back at the doctor. I give him a nod to show I understand.

"Once you are asleep and dreaming, we should be able to analyze the data to give you some answers, and, of course, enable you to get some much-needed rest."

The words come out before I can stop them for no other reason than because I need to know. "Do you think I'm crazy?"

He smiles, and this time, it's genuine. "No," he says, closing his clipboard. "I think you have some kind of psychological issue preventing you from sleeping which manifests itself as this entity you see. Perhaps some long forgotten memory from a horror movie or book that is subconsciously affecting you. Today will be the first step towards discovering the answer."

He stands to leave and I grab his arm, too scared to care how it makes me look. "And you promise you'll be just next door? You won't leave me here?"

"I'll be right next door, Lauriette. Please don't worry. Today is the first step in stopping this from happening to you. I don't want you to worry. Do you need anything to help you relax enough to sleep?"

I shake my head. "I haven't slept for almost a week. Just keeping my eyes open at all is a constant fight. I'll be fine."

I release my grip on his coat and realize I'm so scared I can taste it. I'm so conflicted. I want him to fix me, but am also deathly afraid to be alone and know that I'm putting myself in Preacher Black's reach. I watch the doctor walk across the room and stop at the door. He dims the lights and is about to leave the room when I stop him.

"Promise me you'll wake me up if anything bad happens."

"Of course, you have my word," the doctor says, and then he dims the lights and leaves, closing the door behind him. I don't believe him. Words are easy when you don't believe. Things are easy to say if you are trying to keep the crazy woman who sees shadow people calm enough so you can do your work then go home to a wife and family, knowing that for you, there is nohing waiting in the dark when you close your eyes. Just words, meaningless bullshit that means nothing. If anything could be used to sum up the entire human race, then that would be it.  I start to wonder if I’ll be able to sleep. I'm worked up and scared, neither of which are the best conditions for trying to do so. My body is exhausted, though, and the second I close my eyes they turn to concrete. There is no way they are opening again. The pillow feels soft and bottomless, and in seconds, I'm gone.

 

TWO

 

Doctor Robert Mulgrave sat down in his chair and tossed the clipboard on the table. The room was dark aside from the dim glow of his computer screen which showed the real-time feed from the next room. At three years shy of his sixtieth birthday, he was growing tired of the monotony of the job. Most cases were simple psychological blocks due to childhood trauma or repressed memories, although every patient thought they were unique and that their stories had never been heard before. Mulgrave had heard numerous stories about shadow people and children with black eyes. They went hand in hand with stories of possessed dolls, things that went bump in the night and all manner of other reasons why their sleep was disturbed. This case was no different. He poured himself a fresh cup of coffee and watched the computer monitor. A second screen showed the live feed from the video camera. He knew he was in for a long shift. The patient had been particularly uncomfortable and seemed incredibly scared to the point where he was almost inclined to believe what she had said. He sipped his coffee and winced. It was still too hot. He set the cup down and checked the monitors. She had already drifted into a deep sleep, no doubt brought on by the exhaustion. He took his glasses out of the case on the desk, slipped them on and opened his book. It was going to be a long night.

 

THREE

 

I know this feeling.

I can't move. It's like someone is sitting on my chest.

This is the worst part, where I can't tell if I'm asleep or awake, dead or alive. I'm still in this room, though. The bed is unfamiliar to me. The pillows are too soft, the bed different from what I'm used to. I open my eyes, and even then I still can't be sure if I'm awake or not. The room is empty, the light dull with the glow of the machines at my bedside. My eyes flick towards the door, but it sits closed, just as it was earlier. The camera in the corner still watches me, its red eye glowing. I wonder for a moment if it sees me awake and looking back at it or still asleep and dreaming. A dream within a dream, just what I need to add to the confusion.

A glance in the mirror tells me I'm still in one piece, although because of the way the light is and the shadows falling across my face, my eyes are lost in darkness and I look for a moment like a skull with hair. I don't want to see that and am about to tear my eyes away when something catches my eye. A mark on the mirror, a blemish. I can't remember if it was there before or not. It's possible, I suppose, but I don't recall for sure. I reach out to the small bedside table for my glasses, and almost knock the glass of water over. I put my glasses on and the room swims into sharp focus. The blemish on the mirror is still there, a little black smudge in the corner. Was it there before? I ask myself this question a half dozen times as I stare at that little mark on the glass. It looks like a burn of some kind. The reflection around it is warped, almost like ripples on the water.  I tell myself not to be stupid, that it's just my overtired brain finally getting some much-needed recharge time, but another voice tells me I'm not asleep, that I'm wide awake and seeing the room as it is. Except for that mark, because the more I think about it, the more certain I am that it wasn't there before. I tell myself it's nothing to worry about, that it's just a mark, only.... I'm not so sure it is. It looks bigger now. It seems to have spread higher and further across the glass.  I want to move, but I'm frozen in place. All I can move are my eyes as I stare at the mark in the mirror as it grows and warps the glass.

I know what it is, what's happening, but I can't say it. Even if I could I can't move my mouth. I know he's here for me.

Preacher Black has found me. I watch him form, sliding up the mirror, spreading and growing into that shape I've grown to fear. It occurs to me that I've never seen him in anything like this level of light. It's quite dark in the room, but not night dark. Even so, he still has no features. He's a mass, his edges unclear. For what feels like a lifetime, we look at each other and then that sound fills the room and I know he's coming towards me. That scraping is loud, sharp, like fingernails on a chalkboard. I blink and he's two feet across the room near the door. Another blink and he's at the foot of my bed. I watch his black fingers lightly touch the sheets by my feet, leaving little indentions behind as he drags them closer to me. It's this detail, this little thing that makes me realize this is no dream. I'm awake, I can't move or do anything to stop him, but this is definitely happening to me. This time, when I blink he's beside me, just feet away. I'm scared to look at him, but I can't stop myself. He's there, a solid thing. He casts a shadow on the bed, he's real, he exists. He starts to do that thing with his hands like he's some sort of illusionist or conjurer about to do his big reveal. His fingers are long and thin, longer than they should be. He does this for a few seconds, mesmerizing me with the way he moves. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I can hear the heart rate monitor going haywire. Usually, this is when he goes and I'm free from his spell, but not today. I've denied him for five days, and he wants to take his time. He leans close, the brim of his hat inches from my head, the featureless mass where he should have a face so close to mine. There's a smell on him, not of death or rot as I imagined, but a freshness. He smells like winter air heavy with snow, a crisp December morning. I exhale and my breath fogs, the smell is because of him.  The cold is coming off him in waves. Something happens then that I didn't expect. He speaks to me, his words echoing around the room but also in my head at the same time. He only says a few words, but they are enough to make the last shred of my sanity snap. I scream, so loud, so hard I can taste blood in my throat. I squeeze my eyes closed and can finally move. I don't know where I am or what I'm doing. Those words are in my head, and I know they will stay there forever. Even if by some miracle I manage to exist with them in my head, I know they will always remain, an oily residue that will be impossible to wash away. As I thrash and scream, I feel him grab me, cold hands on my arms, restraining me, trying to push me back into the bed.

I hear another voice, a familiar one, a human one. I snap my eyes open and realize it is the doctor. It's him who is restraining me and pinning me to the bed. His eyes are as wild as mine, his teeth gritted. For a moment, I feel sorry for him. He couldn't imagine his day turning out this way.

"I saw him," I blurt. "He was here."

I know he won't believe me. He'll blame something. A nightmare, over tiredness. I'm reminded of A Christmas Carol when Scrooge first sees Jacob Marley. 'You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato.'

I start to laugh, but it's too high, too wild and know how insane I must sound, but it doesn't matter. None of it matters. The doctor shakes me, shakes me hard. In the background, the heart rate monitor is in overdrive. I can't see the display, but I guess it's up in the two hundreds somewhere.

"Calm down, please calm down!" the doctor shrieks at me. I start to relax, Preacher Black is gone, for now at least. Back to wherever it is he dwells when I'm not sleeping. All the energy leaves me, as if someone somewhere has pulled a plug, and suddenly I’m too drained to do anything. The doctor releases his grip on my shoulder and switches off the heart monitor, finally silencing it’s  shrill tones and plunging the room into silence. For a moment, we sit there, doctor and patient. I looked at him. He was sweating, eyes wide, shirt and tie pulled out of shape.

"I'm not crazy, you have to believe I'm not crazy," I say, only, it doesn't feel like me. It feels like someone in the next room, or a distant radio heard over a great distance.

The doctor slumps further into his chair and lookes at me. "It's okay," he says, his voice a near whisper. "I saw it too."

We sit and looked at each other. The initial happiness that I wasn't crazy was quickly replaced by the realization of what this meant. I start to laugh. I don't know where it came from, but it wouldn't stop. It became hysterical. I watched as the doctor backed away, and barely heard him as he called for security to restrain me. I didn't know where I'm going, but I don't think its home, and it doesn't matter, not anymore because the doctor proved it. Preacher Black isn't something formed by my imagination, he's real. Not only is he real, he's chosen me. It feels like the laughter will subside, then I remember what he said to me and it starts up again. I recalled that hat inches from mine and that black featureless face speaking with no mouth.

"Thanks for leaving everything open for me. You and I are going to do this for a long, long time."

Yes.

A long time for Preacher Black and I. A long time indeed. I don't stop laughing even when the orderlies come into the room and restrain me, nor do I fight when they inject the sedative.  As the edges of the world lose focus and start to swim away, I can still hear his voice ringing through my head.

A long time.

A very, very long time.

 

SUBMITTED FEAR: SHADOW PEOPLE

 

 

FAN FEAR SIX:

VERTIGO

(Submitted by Christina Sandoval)

 

****

I share this particular fear myself (based on the story title I don’t think I’m spoiling too much here) and so was able to really get into this story right from the offset. As you will see, this is the longest story in the book and that was because it simply took on a life of its own. If I were to pick a favourite story from this entire collection, this would be it. This is more about the psychological effects of fear rather than the outright scare factor. I hope you enjoy it!

***

 

 

 

 

Shawn lowered the newspaper and looked across the table to his wife. "Hey, Chrissy, you seen this?"

She put the half eaten toast back on her plate and took the paper from him.

"What am I looking at?" she asked.

"Bottom of the page, the ad," Shawn said, picking up his own toast and taking a bite.

The advertisement was discreetly placed in the middle of the classifieds and would have been easy to miss

 

CONQUER YOUR FEARS!

 

Are you afraid of Spiders? Heights? Enclosed spaces?

Free yourself from these limitations and live a free and happy life. Using our revolutionary new easy program, you can overcome those things that scare you. For more information email us at [email protected]

 

Chrissy lowered the newspaper and looked at her husband. "Seems a bit vague."

"Give it a try. You never know."

"I don't see the point."

"Don't you want to be able to ride a roller-coaster, or visit the Grand Canyon? Beating your fear of heights will open things up to you."

"I'm not so sure," she said, scanning the ad again.

"Just send them an email and see what they say. If it seems like a scam, then it's not cost you anything."

She set the paper down, having every intention of ignoring it, then realized Shawn was right. She was in her mid-thirties and being afraid of heights was silly. She did want to do those things like ride roller-coasters or go to the Grand Canyon, and as it seemed like it was important enough to Shawn to point it out to her, she would try it. She picked up the newspaper again and turned to the ad, then used her phone to compose a quick email asking for more information.

When she had finished, Shawn was looking at her across the table. "Have you sent them an email?"

"Yeah, no reason not to. It might help us."

"Exactly," Shawn said as he turned his attention back to his breakfast. As they sat, Chrissy's phone vibrated. She picked it up and opened the email that had arrived.

"It's from the phobia people," she said.

"That was quick."

She opened the email and read it. "It looks like one of those automated response emails."

"What does it say?"

"Thank you for your inquiry and for taking the first step in conquering your fear! Please fill in the questionnaire below and let us set you on the road to recovery."

"What sort of questions are they asking?" Shawn said.

"Nothing too intrusive. Name, age, address, marital status, the usual stuff."

"Any mention of how much it costs?"

"No, I don't think so," she said, scrolling through the rest of the email. "It just says more information will be provided on receipt of the questionnaire."

"Anywhere that doesn't give you the cost upfront always makes me wary."

"It's not like we're committing to anything, though. Besides, I'm quite curious now."

"May as well fill it in then, you never know," Shawn said. She loved that about him. He was always so supportive towards her; always there to help in whatever she chose to do. Even though until she had seen the ad it had never occurred to her, she now desperately wanted to beat her fear of heights so she could move on with her life and do the things Shawn had mentioned. Her breakfast forgotten, she filled in the questionnaire.

 

TWO

 

"What time is your appointment?" Keisha asked. They were in a coffee shop neither of them had been to before on the outskirts of the city.

Chrissy checked her watch. "Half an hour."

"You nervous?" Keisha asked. She and Chrissy had been best friends for years. Keisha had kind eyes and a bright smile and had agreed without question to accompany Chrissy to her first appointment for her phobia treatment.

"Yeah, I am a little. I still don't know what to expect. This has all happened so fast. It was only a week or so ago that I filled in the questionnaire. Now I'm here."

Keisha looked across the road to the featureless building down the street. "It doesn't look like much, their office I mean."

"That was definitely the address they gave me. Thanks for coming with me. I appreciate it. Shawn would have come, but he's working."

"You know I don't mind. This is a big step for you though. How do these people help you beat the phobia?"

"I don't know. Today is just an initial consultation with a specialist. A guy called Reeves."

"Like Superman?" Keisha asked, unable to help but grin.

"No, not like Superman," Chrissy said, put at ease and smiling herself.

"And how much is this costing?"

Chrissy sipped her coffee. "Free consultation. You know as much as I do. I just hope they can help."

"I bet it's some kind of hypnosis thing. A girl I knew once managed to stop smoking by just listening to these special recordings as she slept, of this guy talking telling her she didn't want to smoke anymore."

"Did it work?"

"For a month or two. She's back to a twenty a day habit."

"Great," Chrissy said as she finished her coffee.

"Just don't get your hopes up until you know all the info. There are a lot of scammers out there looking to make money from people in any way they can, phobias included."

"That's why I brought you. You're my bullshit filter."

Keisha grinned. "Damn right I am. First sniff of a scam and we leave. Got it?"

"Absolutely."

"Then finish your coffee and we'll head over and see what they say."

 

 

TWO

 

The building was unremarkable. There was no buzzer, no signage for the company of any kind. They pushed the door open and entered a murky foyer with dark brown carpets. An air conditioning unit growled on the wall. There was a fire escape door and a single narrow staircase in the same brown carpet which climbed out of sight. On the wall beside the steps, was a small card sign taped to the wall with an arrow pointing to the steps. Above it, in large block text was a single word:

 

PHOBIAS

 

"Classy place," Keisha said, looking around the small deserted space. "I'm not holding out much hope for this being the miracle cure you want it to be."

"Me either, but we're here now so we may as well take a look," Chrissy said. She looked around the foyer again then at the staircase. "Looks like this is us."

"After you," Keisha said. "You're the one with the appointment after all."

The two friends grinned at each other then began to ascend the steps, the tired floorboards creaking as they walked. At the top, they turned onto an equally dark corridor and through a fire door. Beyond, there was a waiting area and reception desk behinds which a frizzy haired woman typed at a computer, her headset perched on her perm. It was a brighter space, the windows on one side of the room letting in the warmth of the sun. Beyond the woman was another closed door. To their right, a waiting area with grubby sofas and a coffee table filled with magazines.  Chrissy and Keisha shared a quick glance, both fighting off the urge to smile, then approached the desk.

"Hi, I have an appointment to see a Mr. Reeves," Chrissy said.

The frizzy haired receptionist looked at the two women then back at her computer. "Can I take your name, please?"

"Sandoval. Christina Sandoval."

The receptionist typed something on her keyboard and then smiled. "Please go on through, Mr. Reeves had a cancellation, so can see you straight away. Your friend can wait here in reception."

"Can't I go in with her?" Keisha asked.

"I'm afraid not. The free consultation is for one person only. You are welcome to help yourself to coffee whilst you wait, though."

Keisha was frowning, and looked at Chrissy.

"It's alright, it's just a consultation," Chrissy said.

"Yeah, well remember, don't buy anything today. Don't let them pressure you into it, got it?"

"I hear you."

"I'll be right out here."

"Stop fussing. I'll be fine, okay?" Chrissy smiled and then turned back to the receptionist. "Through that door?"

"Just go right in. Mr. Reeves is expecting you."

Christina walked up to the door, knocked once then went inside the room.

 

THREE

 

The office was small and as dull as the rest of the building. A rotating fan hummed in the corner, pushing the sticky air around the small space. A desk was in the middle of the room, behind it, a small balding man in glasses sat, hands palms down on the table.

"Mrs. Sandoval?" He said, motioning to the tatty blue chair opposite him. "Please, take a seat."

Christina sat down, wondering why she had been so worried. Reeves was flabby and had old acne scars dotted over his skin. She watched as he picked up his glasses from the desk, put them on, then picked up a blue folder and looked inside.

"Alright, Mrs. Sandoval, let's see what we have. It says here your phobia is of heights."

"That's right," Chrissy said, meeting Reeves’ eyes for a second before he turned them back to the folder.

"Is that a medical condition?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean do you suffer from such things as vertigo?"

Christina shook her head. "No, I just.... I don't like heights."

"I see, and how serious are you about overcoming your fears?"

"I'm just here for the consultation. I'm not committing to anything yet." Christina said.

"Which is why I'm asking you this question. Neither of us wants to waste our valuable time today I'm sure. Some people come here and say they want to conquer their fears and then when we start the program, they find that they are not as sure as they first thought."

There was something in Reeves' voice. Pride, or maybe a very lightly veiled threat. Christina wasn't about to be pushed around by a little man in a shitty office, though. She leaned across the table, smiling slightly. "I was told this was just a friendly, no obligation consultation."

"It is," Reeves said.

"You're being a little pushy, Mr. Reeves. I don't even know what it is you do here."

Reeves closed the folder and smiled. "You're right. I do apologize. I have a passion for the job, that’s all. I get quite carried away. The joy of helping someone overcome their deepest fears is unrivalled. The gratitude they have at the conclusion of the program is incredibly rewarding."

"I'm sure it is," Christina said. She had already made up her mind not to proceed and was just humouring Reeves until she could make her escape.

"The reason I was asking about your commitment, was that we currently have an exemplary success rate amongst those who complete the program in full."

"That’s good. It shows that whatever it is you're doing, works."

Reeves grinned and set the folder down on his desk. "It does more than work, Mrs. Sandoval. It's flawless."

"Nothing is one hundred percent perfect."

Reeves opened a drawer in his desk and pulled out a sheet of paper. He set it on the surface and slid it towards her, his gold wedding ring catching the sun. Absently, she thought that he didn't seem the marrying type.

"See for yourself, Mrs. Sandoval. The statistics don't lie."

She picked up the sheet and looked at them, then across the table at Reeves, for the first time taking it seriously. "Is this real?"

"Absolutely. We are proud of our program. It works."

She looked at the sheet again and was less inclined to leave. "A one hundred percent success rate?"

"Yes," Reeves said, grinning with pride.

"You're telling me that everyone who has taken part in your program has been one hundred percent cured of their phobia?"

"Not everyone who takes part, Mrs. Sandoval. Everyone who completes the process. A very clear difference, which again brings me back to my questioning of your commitment. I wasn't at all trying to be rude or seem forward. I'm sure you can appreciate that we devote a lot of time and resources into each individual client to ensure we can give them our full attention and tailor the program to their exact needs. Without a full commitment from both parties, we would all be wasting our time, which is what I was trying to get across earlier rather less eloquently I'm afraid." He smiled again, and Chrissy returned the gesture.

BOOK: Fan Fears: A collection of fear based stories
10.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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