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[Fiction] It stalks me


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Posted (IP: Staff) ·
Anthony North: Contagion. A simple word. A medical word. Someone catches a cold. They pass it on. You suffer from closeness to the person. Contagion. Nothing simpler. Nothing more obvious. But what about contagion of the mind? Can we suffer the nightmares of others? There were precedents, I knew. Laughter, for instance, is contagious. It seems to spread through many minds, as if a contagion. Virulent. So why shouldn't the nightmares of others do the same? Ridiculous, I know. But for so long the possibility of such an event was with me. I lived in a world of cranks, of malign forces, of mind sickness unimaginable. And it was always a fear that a little of it could rub off on me. But I do not fear it now. Fear is of the unknown. Now, I know it can occur. So I do not fear. I raise a mental armour to defeat it, and realise that at times things must be done that at no other time would be acceptable.
I won't give his name. To do so could implicate me. I will simply call him the Murderer.
He had served his time. It was a typical murder, born out of hatred. The Murderer had waited for his former friend in an alley, and when he came, he beat him to death. You could even argue that murder was not the intent. But murder it became. Why, is of no consequence to the events that followed his release. And I only tell you the details to show you that it was nothing unusual. At least, not in terms of what murderers do.
'I killed someone,' he told me when he came to my office.
'You did?'
'Yes. And as for the price? Ten years I served. And now I'm free. '
'So what do you do now?' I asked.
'I suppose I exist. What else can I do when the man I murdered has been with me for so many years.'
'With you?' I asked.
'Yes. He's with me always. I see him now, stood next to you, looking down at me in judgement.'
The hairs stood up on the back of my neck at this. I could see the hollowness in his eyes, and in their depth it was almost as if this apparition of his conscience was reflected in them.
'I need your help,' he said. 'I'm free from prison, but how do I become free of him?'
The answer was simple, in theory. 'You must come to terms with what you did. He will not leave you until you do that.'
So over the following weeks the Murderer and I went into deep therapy, analysing his life, the event, his feeling of redemption. Yet all the time his eyes would dart to my side and I sensed the existence of the murdered man brushing against me.
By the third session I did, however, seem to make progress. For the first time since we met, I saw the Murderer smile.
I pointed this out; congratulated him; attempted to raise in him joviality at his success, and I have to admit a second smile did appear. But a couple of hours after he had gone; as darkness was beginning to invade my room, the telephone rang.
Picking it up, a deep, gutteral, other-worldly voice said: 'You will not succeed. I will haunt him for eternity.'
That night was horrible. My guard had slipped, and throughout the night I had nightmares, reliving the murder in my own mind. And at one point, half awake, I looked to the side of my bed and saw the victim before me, his face blooded and pulped. And through the blood, he smiled, as the Murderer had smiled.
That was only the beginning. From that point on, whenever I was alone, phenomena would erupt about me. In the morning furniture would be moved; messages would appear on my walls, written in blood. 'An eye for an eye,' they said, or, 'do unto others as they would do unto you.'
I was losing my mind. I KNEW I was losing my mind. And as the sessions continued, and the Murderer became more and more happy with himself, his haunting was transferred to me.
Eventually, I had no choice. It was late at night when I entered his flat, and with gloved hands I approached his bed, lowered my body and throttled him to death.
How I will live with myself now, I have no idea. I had crossed the divide between good and evil. But in a way, how do we know, in the ultimate scheme of things, where good and evil are? WE seem to class evil, today, as those things the law decrees as evil. Yet law is rational, and rarely takes other-worldly things into account. So yes, we must live by the law, and I pray I never have to do such a thing again. But as I went to sleep for the first time in an age, I looked by the side of my bed and an apparition said 'thankyou'; and the thought struck me that maybe I had been the agency of a higher justice.

http://anthonynorth.wordpress.com/fiction-page for more short stories.
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