Fall Contest 2020 Descent into the Void


.....bring me a dream.....
The cold embrace of darkness surrounded him. He felt like retching. The pounding in his head pierced him like a spear through the temple. It was silent. No sound of his breath, no buzz of white noise, complete silence. He felt his eyes blinking, but could see no change in the black ink that enveloped him. He knew not where he was, who he was, where he'd come from. He was he, and he was there, it was all he knew. His chest raised and lowered, oxygen traveling through his trachea, filling his lungs. There was a gentle pulse of blood flowing through the carotid artery in his neck.

Then he heard it; like a quiet drone of white noise or the static from an old television. With his ears he listened, mesmerized by the sound, captivated by the external stimuli. What was it? So familiar. It grew more audible, more clear. His mind began to turn. It was the distant reverberation of rain. Gradually, it grew louder and more clear until it surrounded him. There was something comforting about that sound.

White ink poured from above. Light bloomed. He closed his eyes, but still the light remained, searing his corneas. No escape. Blurry forms began encircling, swaying to and fro, dancing silently. He watched breathlessly as they moved, drifting weightlessly in the white sea.

They looked like dancers, twirling and leaping to and fro. There was music now, beautiful music. He raised his hands, trying to block out the light, to see more clearly. The music rose to a crescendo and stopped. The blurred forms came to a halt. Then came a booming sound, the sound of a voice.

It deafened him, jolting his whole body. The voice boomed again and he felt himself falling, falling.

“John? Did you hear me, John?”

He opened his eyes and was greeted with a small, well furnished office. It was a circular room, handsomely furnished. This place was familiar. The old books lining the walls, the marble fireplace with warm, inviting flames dancing along the charred wood, the supple leather of the chair he sat in. All familiar.

He saw the man sitting directly across from him starring pointedly, waiting for an answer to some unknown question. He was well dressed with a perfectly tailored, brown suit. His shoes looked to be of alligator skin dyed dark red. He was nicely manicured, his black hair slicked back neatly. One could say he appeared gaunt, his cheek bones protruding harshly.

“What?” he replied back to the well dressed man.

“I said, do you blame yourself?” the well-dressed man answered, his face emotionless like a robot.

“Blame myself for what?”

The doctor was silent a moment. “Should we increase your dosage, John?”

The name seemed unfamiliar to him. John?

“Your left pocket,” the man in the suit said patiently. “Take six of them.” The man seemed to slither out of his seat and float over to a large desk where a pitcher of water sat. As he poured, John reached into his pocket and produced a pill bottle. The pills inside were bright green and tiny

“It will all become clear in a moment,” the man said, handing John the glass of water and sitting back down with grace and fluidity.

John threw six pills back and felt them slide down his throat as he drank. Almost instantaneously something changed, a subtly shift all around him.

His name was John.

The man sitting across from him was a doctor, a psychiatrist. His name was Dr. Adsimulo. The Corporation had arranged for John to have a session with this man.

The doctor nodded as he starred into John's eyes. “Now you know what I'm talking about. Don't you, John? Do you blame yourself for her death?”

He knew now who the doctor was talking about. “Yes, of course I do.”

The doctor nodded and remained silent a moment. “And it stands to reason, if you blame yourself for her death, that you blame yourself each time you attempt to cleanse someone.”

John didn't want to look the doctor in the face; those penetrating eyes starring at him, reading his thoughts. “Yes, I do.”

“You're walking into dangerous territory, heaping such responsibility upon yourself. Their deaths are not on you. You tried to save them.”

“Yes, and I failed.”

“And if you'd chose not to attempt to save them, would it have made a difference?”

“What do you mean?”

The doctor uncrossed his legs and gently leaned forward, his eyes locking onto John's. “What I mean is: If you had refused to help them, would they have survive?”

He thought about the question a moment, considering every possibility. “No, they had no other hope.”

“Then how can you be blamed for their deaths?”

John remained silent. It was a question that required no answer.

He could feel a sensation of vertigo begin swirling over him. It felt like he'd been turned upside-down. “I can see it,” the doctor said, a look of concern scrawled across his face. He was studying John intently. “The madness, I can see it in your eyes. Just like Michael. Just like all of them. Few people are cut out for this line of work.”

John shook his head halfheartedly. Michael had been weak, unprepared for the truth, unlike him. He was made of stone.

“You remember what we talked about, the Qliphoth?”

John nodded.

“Within the Polluted lies an outer sphere of good, but peel back the layers and the evil is there. It's always there. Surround yourself in darkness long enough, John and your core will become dark, it's a fact. How many people have you cleansed?” the doctor asked, changing the subject in a gentle, even voice. After a few moments of tense silence he persisted. “How many?”

John finally shrugged. “I don't know.”

“Do you feel anything when you do it?”

John thought a moment, trying to picture the last person. A woman, a maid. He'd strangled the life out of her, starring into her eyes as the lights went out and her body went limp. Had he felt anything as he'd watched her life slipping away? Not that he could remember. Slipping in and out of the Void made it hard to know what was real.

He suddenly noticed the shrink starring very sharply at him, waiting patiently for a reply. “Relief sometimes, that's about it.”

The shrink nodded in silence and sat back in his chair. “We can't continue to keep increasing your dosage like this. Soon you'll slip into the Void and never come back.”

John shook his head. “I'm fine doc, it was just a fluke.”

His psychiatrist wrote something down on a small notepad and sighed. “Mr. Meadows. You're not well.”

John was silent, feeling a strange crawling sensation climb up his back.

The shrink sat there a moment, just gazing at him. And then, he was up on his feet, walking towards him. It felt like John's entire body was suddenly tingling.

The doctor violently grabbed the armrests of his chaired, his eyes bulging. “I can see through you, boy!” He screamed, his whole face contorting and stretching unnaturally.

John felt paralyzed. He wanted to scream but no noise escaped his mouth.

The doctor leaned close to him, uncomfortably close, and took a loud sniff. “I can smell it, permeating your skin.” He ran his tongue along the side of his face.

John pulled away in disgust. Everything was starting to go numb.

“You reek of The Polluted!” the doctor shouted, spitting in disgust. “How often do your nostrils fill with the sweet stench of rotting corpses?” John didn't answer him. It felt like the room was beginning to spin.

The doctor slowly took a breath and his face seemed to shift back to normal. He walked back to his chair which had somehow transformed into a ghastly smorgasbord of body parts. The legs of the chair were human arms with the hands flat against the ground like feet. The back was bloody spines all lined up together and arched into a single, sharp tip. The doctor casually sat down as if it were any other chair.

John frantically rubbed the saliva off his face, noticing the psychiatrists unblinking stare. He gasped as he looked at his wet hand. It was covered in blood.

“I just took my pills, how am I already slipping back?”

“Because you're one of the corrupt now,” the doctor quickly retorted, his voice getting disturbingly deep. “Tell me truthfully. When you lie alone in the dark do you hear the whispers of the concealed?”

Something about how the doctor was talking made John feel sick to his stomach. He closed his eyes, feeling light-headed. The whole room reeked now, like a giant wave of shit washing over him. When he opened his eyes again, the doctor's face was gone, only a smooth white canvas was left.

“Welcome home, my son,” came a booming voice from all around him.

“No,” John whispered, feeling his pants grow warm with urine.

A tear slowly spread across the blank canvas of the doctor's face, creating a mouth. “Don't fight it, John. Fighting only makes it worse.” The doctor smiled, the smooth, white skin contorting strangely. He stood, and wings sprouted from his back; massive, black things like chard skin. With incredible speed to ran to John and grabbed him by the neck.

John struggled, clawing and tearing at the man's arms and blank face. The doctor's smooth face suddenly seemed to have something from within pushing to get out. John let out a weak scream as the smooth face split open revealing a darkness unlike anything he'd ever seen.

“Don't fight my son, let it happen. This is as it should be,” came the booming voice again.

John was wildly slapping his hands until he bumped them against the small pill bottle on his chair. It was opened and pills had spilled all underneath him. He grabbed at them, desperately trying to get a handful. With his other hand he grabbed the glass of water and smashed it across the monsters head.

For the briefest moment, the doctor released his grip, giving John time to push his chair backwards to the ground and stuff the pills in his mouth.

“Damn you!” the doctor hissed, leaping to the ground and chocking him.

John forced the pills down his throat, feeling the bile rising. He fought it down, he had to swallow. A moment passed and then the grip around his neck diminished. The monster in front of him was only a doctor now, a man who looked confused and scared.

“What happened? John, are you okay?!”

John quickly jumped up, grabbed the small table beside his fallen chair, and smashed it over Dr. Adsimulo. He cried out weakly and fell to the ground. “John, what, no please, god no! I have a family!”

The small table had broke into a dozen piece. John grabbed one of the legs and hit the man again, and again, and again. It was finally done. He dropped the table leg, now soaked in blood, and collapsed to the floor, exhausted. His hands were numb and trembling.

The only sound in the room was the crackling of the fire and the beating of John's heart.

Dr. Adsimulo's body suddenly started hissing, like hot metal being dropped in water. Steam started rising and the body liquefied into a pool of blackness. Another one of the Polluted was gone.

John knew he didn't have much time until he slipped back into the Void. He gathered up the pills and stuffed them back in the bottle.

He got up and winced, at some point during the altercation he'd turned his ankle. Limping, he walked out the door and into the streets of Paris. He had more pills at the house, enough to get him through the night. His wife would be expecting him home for dinner soon and she never liked when he was late.
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.....bring me a dream.....
Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my story. Comments or constructive criticism are always appreciated! Apologies if a lot is left unanswered in this short story. It's actually taken from a much larger narrative I'm currently working on.

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