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They Aren't Real.
My voice is hoarse. My head is tucked into my tightly curled figure. I had been screaming for hours. Eventually I shakily unravel, and pick up my heavy body.
In front of me, Eryn takes a tentative step forward. Dark hazelnut hair. Silence. Soft bronzed skin. Concerned. Ethereal blue eyes.
I don’t see those details, yet I have known it so long that I know those features are what my eyes would present to me. Nobody else.
Beep beep beep boop. Brrringgg. Brrringgggggg.
Muffled response from the phone.
I turn around, turning my broad back on the bystander calling the police, my shedden wails, and a concerned hazelnut haired being who had stayed silent with it’s soft bronzed skin and average blue eyes.
The walk is empty. There are empty houses along the empty gravel road yet empty children play happily along the empty gravel street on the empty summer day.
Crunch crunch, crunch crunch crunch, crunch.
That is the sound of my uneven footsteps in the eerie, empty silence that rings me.
Click. Creeeaaak. Clack.
That is the sound of the door to my all-too familiar home.
Thunk, thunk, thunk.
That is the sound of my feet stomping up cleaned, empty wooden stairs.
That is the sound of a Seventeen year old young human man named Connor flopping face-down on a cool, soft bed and letting out a long, weary breath through his nose. Laying splayed on that bed like every blood cell his veins weighed more than the sun.
He is a hardworking student whose spontaneous outbursts lead to loss of friends and inability to socialize. He is the school nutcase who the teachers have to watch closely and the security has to take away kicking and screaming after a freakish fit.
His throat throbs and although his eyes are clamped shut, his vision fades from black to white to a rhythm that pounds and clicks in his head like a grandfather clock.
A soft giggling sounds near my ear and I scream angrily into my pillow. Sahrine had been mysteriously silent throughout the entire one-sided fight I had with Eryn, but I guess I never should have gotten my hopes up thinking she’d shut up for much longer.
Sahrine is the worst of my tormentors. She finds my rage amusing. She tries to rile me up in any way possible with her wicked whispers. Everyone else has a visual form, she is just a voice. A whisper to be precise. But even a whisper can extinguish a flame.
In fact, the previous scene which you were told was the first time since I was 8 where my own consciousness had left me alone. That unique moment of peace from my inescapable mind felt empty and strange and unfamiliar and unusual and hopeful.
I always wanted to fit in with the others. To have friends. Real ones. But of course, my strange, tall, creepy, hunched, spontaneous, and scowling appearance disgusted and scared off any potential for that. Don’t even get me started on my reputation because it’s not a good one. I can’t help but think what it might be like without my own self-deception.
I have friends. We meet every Wednesday to walk around town and buy ice cream at the local creamery. We joke about impossible things. Dream about them.
We horse around on the playgrounds which are too small for us to be climbing all over. The parents call their children to keep away from us punks.
We sit on the hood of Sam’s shiny Chevy watching the sunset. We are all entranced by the bleeding sky, the slight rustling of leaves, the chirping of a bird, the occasional murmur of people walking by, and the silence.
Simultaneously, the trance is broken and we all look at each other, smile, and laugh.
I head back home in my clunky car. I drive through the slow, peaceful streets. Into the garage. Through the silent house. Up empty wooden stairs. Straight to my room.
I crack open my janky window, opening up to the dark, silent street and I listen. I hear the cool, dark air, and the crickets chirping the song of a peaceful night. Nothing else.
Eventually I yawn and read a book for sixteen minutes. My eyelids get heavy like castle gates until they shut to a silent sleep.
When I wake up, I know it wasn't real.
Hot salty liquid splotches my pillowcase.
I can hear them again: chatting to one another or the walls, screaming either in argument or just for fun, running around my little bedroom, manic laughing, happy giggles, and whispering. I refuse to look at them.
I hear a soft huh of a cushion compressing, as if another being had sat on the bed next to this tormented seventeen year old young human man. I picked this sound out throughout the chaos. I know it’s not real. I know it is a bronze skinned soul who is always there with it’s curly hazelnut hair and true blue eyes.
I am still angry at it. I know Eryn did nothing wrong, but it was still a problem. I would already have kicked it to try and get it to leave me alone, but I did not have the energy to move a single muscle. Instead, I continued to cry face-down into my pillow and let my body sink into the bed like every blood cell in my body weighed more than the sun.
That is when I hear the loudest sound. Louder than the scream of a raven. Louder than a fire alarm’s shriek. Louder than the shot of a pistol. Louder than the creation of a nuclear bomb.
I would not be exaggerating to say the sound is silence.
I am in a void. I do not stand, for there is no ground. There is no up or down.
Color does not exist. Everything is color and yet there is no color at all.
I am scared. I can not scream. The silence is just too loud. No being could be heard over it.
A flicker of white cloth appears, standing out against the abyss. It fluctuates in and out of existence, forming more and more into a shape with each entrance.
The cloth eventually becomes a snowy robe. There is nobody within.
Another figure begins to materialize. This one I recognize. I used to call it Borris. Borris has sandy, short, messy hair. It takes on the appearance of a young child with a delicate face and mischievous smile. It always wears a soft pink shirt. Kicking and screaming, Borris always finds a way to be the loudest out of the bunch.
Two more appear. One is called Wendy. It’s appearance is one of a dark-haired, 52 year-old woman. Wendy has always known more about the world than should be possible to know. The other illusion is named Riff. It judges everything. It fights with Wendy a lot. They both believe the other is ignorant.
Five more. Skull likes bird-watching. Bee likes to crochet. Sister likes teeth. Builder likes to watch fantasy movies. Racoon likes to draw flowers on it’s arms.
Twelve more. I recognize their faces and unique traits.
Forty-seven more. They are all faces that I know.
The empty void is filled with the hallucinations that torment me.
One more. It has a gloomy, forlorn expression upon its bronze skinned face, which is framed by dark hazelnut curls which complement despondent blue eyes which stare unblinkingly down into the nothingness.
Now every last one of them stands behind the white robe. Except for two.
One is Eryn, existing directly to the right of the sinister white robe.
The other is Sahrine. The whispering voice that haunts me the most. The one which can almost control me. The one with no real form.
Eryn’s shoulder twitches.
That's when I notice that since materializing into this void, none of the specters have moved. Not blinked. Not climbed over each other. Not burst into tumultus song. There was not a single movement within the eerie abyss. Except for that twitch.
That's when I notice the manacles. Human form or not, every illusion’s limbs are chained. The manicals are made out of the same nothingness as the void around them. It is an unnerving and sublime sight; hundreds upon hundreds of strange beings, some human, most not, restrained by mystical shackles, frozen in an endless crowd behind the robe. My closest thing to a friend frozen beside it.
A sound tears the endless stillness. Nothing can escape it. It booms and hurts and screams and annoys and thunders and torments and is a whisper.
It says mysterious things.
It comes from everywhere and nowhere and the void and my joys and my fears and my rage and an empty white robe.
It tears apart reality.
It makes a deal.
There is shock and suspicion and joy and confusion and interest and fear and contemplation.
There is a cry that joins the whispers.
It, too, breaks through.
It, too, booms and hurts and shouts and annoys and thunders and torments, but is a cry.
It, too, breaks apart reality.
It comes from a seventeen year old boy that was silent except for now with his dark hazelnut hair that curls and frames his frantic bronze skinned face which holds human blue eyes.
But it is too late.
I already agreed.
And the deal was worth it; it gave me the one thing I had been undoubtedly wanting for my entire life.
I awoke at the hospital. I was used to this sight. The smooth blue tiles. The scratched hazelnut doors. The unnatural glow of white lights in a windowless room.
This was the best place to get a fragrant whiff of alcohol wipes. The scent is sharp, but can rid most of the little pests.
I had been brought here many times before. That one kid, talking to the people nobody else could see. Of course, anyone who saw me would have thought me to be insane.
I guess that according to the definition, I was.
But right then and there in that waiting room, what I could hear was the droning air conditioner and the occasional opening and closing of doors and the click clacks of a keyboard from the neighboring room.
Sahrine held up her end of the deal.
The illusions were gone.
The story continues in They Were Real.