Help Me, I'm in Hell (ROUGH draft)
Again, as with last thread, EXTREMELY rough draft
“We got a flatline,” asked President Gates as he circled the gurney.
“Yeah,” said Officer Miller. “Solid flatline.”
The President nodded, glancing over at the monitor.
“In time, we’ll know everything he knows,” said the president, looking over my comatose body.
“Just make sure he knows exactly where he is, next time he wakes,” said Gates, leaving the operating theater. “I don’t want to have to go through what we went through last time.”
Officer Miller nodded.
“Yessir,” he said, revving up his power tool – a circular saw by the looks of it – I didn’t have time to process, as this was around the time I woke up.
As Officer Miller lowered the saw to my upper right limb, I managed to conjure just enough willpower to grab his arm as he prepared to amputate.
A few minutes later, showered in blood – some of it my own, most of it not – I stumbled through the rusty hallways in a stupor of rage and numb apathy. As I reached the heavy steel doors leading to the lobby, a loud roar could be heard through the blood-stained metal.
Staggering outside through the double-door entrance, the first thing I noticed other than the President’s helicopter rocketing through the sky to safety, was the smell.
Bodies, most charred beyond recognition, littered the apocalyptic hell-scape.
Written on one of the alloy walls outside of the facility, scrawled and barely-legible graffiti were the phrases, “Not evil, but unholy. Not emaciated, but hungry, even… monstrous.”
16 months earlier…
“So what is it that got you started writing,” the interrogator asked, a variant of a previous question, itself a spin on basically the same inquiry. “Again, Mr. Davis?”
I sighed, unable to convey to a non-writer the process of becoming one.
“There isn’t any one ‘instance,’” I explained, leaning over my now-cold coffee, unable to go into any more detail over my life experiences. I’d described the adventures; waking up to a bloody pentagram on the wall, my roommate crashing into a table after getting into a fight with his fiancée, and proceeding to lock himself in the bathroom – the roar of the shower failing to muffle the cracking of empty beer bottles and broken mirror into hostile shapes. I’d defined the dust-coated picture frames, the brittle ceiling tiles and peeling wallpaper of the countless hotel rooms I’d got wasted in after tearing across state-lines with a devouring lust for chaos and liberation, leaving a path of destruction, bench-warrants and near-felonies in my wake. I’d detailed my childhood; the night terrors, mom and dad trying to kill each other and the divorce, the sleep paralysis, the bullying throughout school, unrequited love, and trying drugs for the first time. The house fire. Hospitalizations. Wildfires. Losing my grip on reality itself.
“I haven’t had the most… ‘Ordinary’ of a life,” I said.
The woman leaned back in her chair as another form entered, handing her a small device. She then cleared her throat, holding what appeared to be a phone just below her jawline. I didn’t understand why they kept it so dark, even better illuminated, I would be unable to keep track of all the faces that came to interrogate me in my somnolent state.
But even in this state, the features I saw contoured against the dim blue glow of the phone were unmistakable.
Even if that didn’t give it away, the brunette locks sure did.
Before I could speak, she turned the phone in my direction.
“Recognize any of them?”
I leaned forward, straining my eyes.
“Here, take it.”
I did so, recognizing the first face – even though I couldn’t place him.
“He looks almost like Ned Flanders from-”
“Read the name.”
I stopped and looked up from the phone.
“I know your name, Ellie.”
“What’s his name, Ian?”
I let out a bated breath I didn’t realize had been locked inside my chest, and looked back to the files.
“Richard Horn,” I said, unintentionally aloud.
“If I recall,” Ellie said, lighting a cigarette. “In the story, the Captain’s name is Horn, turns out… there are actually two brothers named Richard and James, one enlisted in the Army and the other got a job through his brother working at Groom Lake, just a few miles outside of Hendersonville, Nevada.”
I scrolled past the Captain’s file, Sergeant Bob Nixon’s, Corporal Angela Field’s and the rest… all missing-in-action.
“We also uncovered local North Carolina State troopers on a case dating back to the 1990’s, matching those of the Reading family,” said Ellie, standing now. My hands slick with sweat and beginning to tremble, I put the phone down. “They went missing in Creswell, near where Roanoke used to be – itself notorious for a centuries' unsolved… phenomena.”
“It has to be a coincidence,” I stammered.
“You, of all people… do you really believe that? What about the names Craig Mulligan? Jim and Paul Hammond? All went missing in Braxton, West Virginia, decades ago. And the names Henry Trimoth, Professor James Baltes and undergraduate Alison Marsden… all names of characters in your story, and all happen to be real people who exist, all three attending Yale University in New Haven… well, Mr. Trimoth up until a few weeks ago. The point is,” she said, circling the table, her brow furrowing – betraying a barely-concealed rage.
“These three people… went missing, just a few hours ago… just after we found them.”
Sure enough, in the phone, there they were – Hank, Tim, Pete, Alison, Baltes, Hudson… all of them.
“You don’t… simply think these people went missing, do you,” I asked her, rhetorically, for I already knew the answer.
In it were sketches I thought only I knew of.
There was Screenface, my most familiar night terror.
Jenny Greenteeth and the Tommyknockers, the latter in all of their smashed and stretched eldritch abominations of anatomy.
Puzzlemaw and his army of Walking Nightmares.
Bobby Bluebell, Incisor Ingrid and the Clown Bot.
And… I dropped the phone before the slide of it even fully filled the screen…
I hadn’t yet drawn the Stormtree…
My worst nightmare since the cradle.
And likely until the grave.
Before she could respond, a cadre of heavily-armored police personnel entered the room, and she nodded, leaving my side.
Before exiting the room, she stopped at the lead officer’s ear.
“He’s all yours.”
She then disappeared into the sea of masked men, and they came for me.
In the next room, Officer Miller’s face changed in my absence as he joined President Gates at the one-way mirror.
“You didn’t bring up... ?”
“He’ll figure it out, once we run him through enough simulations.”
Other than Gates, RECON Unit 1-11 and Officer Miller were the only eleven people alive on Earth who knew of the existence of human beings with psychic abilities, some of them godlike in their scope.
Apparently, when I’d written my historical thriller, I’d accidentally disclosed this to the world public.
It would explain why it hadn’t been successful, other than the bad writing… because even bad writing could be successful.
Unfortunately, the guards heaving Mr. Ian Davis down the hall kicking and screaming were much hardier than the horde of orderlies I’d fought off in my fit of psychosis all those years ago.
The authorities watched from their ivory towers through machine eyes as I changed. One moment I was the wiry limbs of Screenface, my features barely visible through the static in place of my own ugly mug. The next, I was the undulating inside-out killer innards of the various Walking Nightmares, and even the multi-mouthed, saw-toothed Puzzlemaw himself.
Before the first man-sized tree branch erupted from where my floating rib used to be, one of the guards hit me in the right kidney with a splitting-maw-sized cattle-prod, doubling me over instantly.
But it was too late.
The first guard to reach over to grab me got a face-full of Elderwood. His unhinged jaw fell from what little skin still connected it to the mangled red pulp that remained of the man’s face, splattering on the floor. His eyes followed shortly after.
Once the others snapped out of it, they collected my unconscious body.
Miller’s hand hovered over the red button with the large red print, “DO NOT PUSH,” stamped in vibrant color and thick, blocky font beneath it.
“Not yet…” said the president.
Gates ignored him, turning to the ancient late-90’s, early-00’s-era computer monitor.
“This all the files we have on Mr. Bill Goddard and ‘Self-Actualization’,” he inquired.
“Uh, yessir, we searched all corners of the Dark Web,” Miller replied.
“Even looked in the Abyss… and what we found, well… Mr. President,” he trailed off, motioning toward the screen.
“You’re looking at it… sir.”
It was an in-depth readout of what this man called, ‘the Astral,’ the domain of what early-21st and late-20th century writers identified as ‘archetypes;’ a hypothesized form of psychic-based life which drew from the subconscious of all human beings on Earth.
“Goddard speculates that the absence of an objective reality in the modern world, would cause the line between what he called the ‘astral sub-reality’ and our world to blur and – eventually – disappear entirely,” Mr. President wondered aloud.
He turned to his lieutenant. “Fact and fiction would become one and the same.”
A weary smile crawled across Miller’s features. “Mr. Davis is the key to weaponizing it, controlling it.”
The same emotion did not display on the president’s.
“And we are so close.”
Behind Mr. President were stacks upon stacks, rows upon rows of monitors. In all of them were exact copies of Mr. Davis being dissected, dismembered, incinerated, flayed, and ground into a meaty pulp by monstrous machines.
And in all of them, he was alive.
“Entirely indestructible, all within his own mind, at the crossroads of an infinitude of alternate universes and dimensions where nobody can find him.”
“And each time he dies and is regenerated, a new horror is born. Soon, the world will know they have to turn to us – the state – for protection from the hells lying beyond the thin veils of our waking world…”
The president trailed off.
“What is it?”
Something about the president’s demeanor seemed different, frailer, unsure of himself.
When he turned, Miller saw on Mr. President’s face something alien to his almost doll-like complexion.
“What if… these… ‘beings,’ these monsters… aren’t mere aspects of Mr. Davis’s psyche.”
“Well, we know the only reason we can see them is because of the implants and…”
“No… I’m not talking about the cryptid sightings you fool! I’m talking about what we just saw!”
“Yes, it’s the implants.”
“No, that’s not what I- AH!”
The president lost his composure, grabbing the computer monitor and furiously wrenching it off the table where it careened into the floor with a deafening smash. Glass shards scattered across the tiling in a sea of glittering, jagged razors.
“What if what we saw Davis doing,” he said, after breathing for a moment. “Was not a reflection of his subconscious… as we have been led to believe…?”
Miller felt the hairs on his arms and neck stand on end.
“What if it was our own,” Miller replied, finishing the commander-in-chief’s sentence.
He nodded, his brow frowning, sweat beginning to pour from his temples and across his face and neck.
“The monsters are real.”
After he said this, the president glanced up at the screens behind Miller, and his jaw opened in primal horror. His eyes grew to such a size it seemed for a moment they would pop out of their sockets.
Miller felt his own sweat-caked body barely containing a hammering heartbeat and pulse as he pushed himself to slowly turn to face the security feeds.
The last thing he saw before the lights went off…
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