"What do you think he wants?"
"Yeah, why do you think he's here?"
She didn't know the answers to the questions. She didn't even know why she would bother answering them even if she did. There was the impulse to do so, regardless. Her fingers continued to lightly drum against her temples, barely registering the presence of the white gauze wrapping covering them. Each tap offered a distraction from the others. The ones no one else could see. No one but her, even if her world was now darkness.
They were darker than the black abyss she had thrust herself into. There was no escaping them. And even had she been successful in erasing them from her vision, she knew she would still hear them.
Their chanting. Their whispers.
"You thought you could get rid of us?"
And they knew her every thought. She heard disembodied laughter.
Hearing her name from a voice that should sound so familiar, but yet was so foreign, ripped her apart inside. Twisted her insides. The man speaking wasn't alone, she could sense others in the room. It was as though after losing her sight her other senses had kicked into overdrive. She could almost smell the fear from her guests. All of them.
"Aren't you going to answer him? Don't you want to know why he's here?"
"I don't know," Erin whispered harshly.
"Erin," she could feel the man's hesitation, "it's me, Sam. Your brother..."
"We know who you fucking are! Why are you here?"
Sam continued, "Your big brother. I know it's been a long time, but I had to see you. They told me you did this... this...," she picked up on his hand motions, "...to yourself. Is that true?"
"Yes, yes it was a wondrous spectacle to behold!"
"Shut up..." Erin began to slowly rock back and forth, fingers drumming faster.
Erin knew the man claiming to be her brother wasn't comfortable talking with her, not in her current condition. Even more so given the questions he was asking, while others were hovering over them. But she knew he'd press on.
"Listen, I wish I knew what was going on inside your head right now..."
"Liar! He doesn't care about you. He abandoned you, just like Brandon did."
"... to know how to help you. Understand what all is happening to you, but I realize that I may never get that opportunity. You may not even know yourself."
"Who does this fuck think he is?"
"Yeah, what an arrogant fucker. He's been gone for how long and he thinks he can suddenly come back into your life? Does that sound right to you?"
"Shut Up!" Tap, tap, tap. Erin began feeling her throat close, panic setting in.
"Please, you don't have to shout. I can leave if you want."
"Mr. Williamson," a second, deeper voice addressed her brother, "perhaps it's best we wrap this up. It's apparent that she isn't open to this engagement at this time."
"Who the fuck is this guy? He thinks he can speak for you?"
Her sibling was nodding in agreement. She knew it.
"I just wanted you to know that I'm sorry. For not sticking by your side. For not being there for you and... and your daughter..."
"Don't you dare say her fucking name, you piece of shit!"
"If he utters her name I swear I'm going to rip his goddamn balls off and shove them down his fucking throat and laugh while he chokes to death!"
Tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap. Tap. Tap.
Erin began striking her head harder and harder with each passing second. The value of each finger fall offering diminishing returns in relieving her from the nightmare. Her breathing became more labored. The urge to begin slamming her head against a table, or wall, or anything, was close to overriding all of her functionality.
"Oh no he didn't..."
"She means the world to me and I know I fucked up by not being able to take her in when she, you both, needed me."
"I hope this prick is hungry for salty, sweaty nuts!"
"I think I found a way to make a lot of money. It's through a clinical trial, so it will take some time, but their compensation is crazy. Very low risk, from what I've gathered. And, in turn, I can find Samantha and do what I should have done from the beginning. Take care of her."
"A clinical trial? What kind of deadbeat tries to earn a living through clinical trials?"
"He's not going to make it."
"True, I bet he dies in the first couple of days. May as well kill him now yourself and save him the hassle."
She was shaking. Tap. Tap. The voices were growing louder. Tap. Tap.
"I said, shut up!"
Erin leapt from her chair, which was thrown backwards and crashing to the floor. The others in the room reacted. The real others. She could almost see Sam also leaping from his chair, being grabbed and pulled back towards the door. There was a jostle of keys, a security guard, lunging in her direction. Not fast enough to catch and stop her from slamming her head into the window. She thought she heard a shattered web crackle into existence. Feel the trickle of blood spring forth, being absorbed by her bandages. Then she was tackled to the ground, arms grappling with hers.
"Don't let them do this."
"Do it, kill them all!"
"They're already dead!"
There was nothing she could do to make them stop. Nothing but scream. As loud and as long as she could. So she let loose, her wail reverberating in the small visitation room. She trusted the guard wouldn't attempt to stifle her. Not after what happened to the last who tried.
She screamed and she swore she heard others screaming with her. She never knew if they were real or not. But while those beings — or creatures, or whatever — who were darker than midnight itself, momentarily deterred from their incessant babbling, she could always hear their laughter. Relishing in her plight. Her belief that she could cast them down.
She knew she was the only one being cast down. Punished unapologetically for her sins. Thrust downwards, spiraling into madness.
Thanks for reading! What did you think of the piece? Any constructive criticism is welcomed!