Stranger: Part Five

Written by Derrick Nadeau

Recap:  After awaking from a horrible nightmare in which a dying woman with a slit throat attacked him, Scott tried to fight his exhaustion and head to work.  When he arrived at work, Scott began to hear the disembodied voice of a man saying horrible things to him.  Scott rushed to the bathroom to regain his composure, but was shocked to see the face of a stranger looking back at him in the mirror.  Scott’s boss confronted him in the bathroom for being late, and wound up lying on the bathroom floor with a stab wound in his stomach.  Scott panicked, left work, and rushed home.  After seeing horrible visions of both the stranger, and the woman he had dreamed about, Scott called his girlfriend Melissa and made a desperate plea for her help.  Melissa came to Scott’s house as quickly as should could, and was then stabbed several times by Scott, who saw her as another phantom woman with a slit throat in his mind.  Scott panicked and attempted to run out his front door, but was met by several more naked women with their throats cut and bleeding.  The woman attacked Scott, causing him to lose unconsciousness.

Scott heard the muffled sounds of conversation off in the distance as he began to slowly regain consciousness.  Feeling groggy, Scott slowly opened his eyes and tried to focus his bleary vision, but could only see blurred shapes and a bright light.  As his vision and hearing gradually improved, Scott could make out the shapes of two men standing near him.  Scott surveyed his surroundings, and was surprised to realize that he was lying in what appeared to be a hospital bed.  Scott tried to rub his eyes, but found that he could not move his arms because they were strapped to the bed he was lying in.  Scott’s mind instantly filled with questions as he struggled against his restraints.  Frustrated, Scott attempted to speak to the two men conversing near his bed, but found that his mouth was not functioning yet.

“This is a mess,” one man said.  The man appeared to be older, perhaps in his fifties, with a strong build wearing a dark suit.

“It’s not,” the other man said.  The second man, younger and smaller in stature wearing a white lab coat over his jeans and t-shirt, appeared to be uncomfortable speaking to the man in the suit.  “It’s not a mess.  Well, it is, but it’s not a complete loss.”

“Not a complete loss,” the suited man shouted.  “How can you say that?  We lost one of our agents!  Not to mention the civilian that bled out on the bathroom floor of a factory!”

“I am aware of that,” the man in the lab coat shouted back, then paused to calm himself down.  “I know that people have died because of him.  I know that.  But, that doesn’t mean we need to scrap the whole program.”

“Oh yes it does,” the man in the suit stated callously.  “That is exactly what it means.  He killed the agent that was assigned to watch over him, and he killed an innocent civilian.  One death alone would be enough to prove to me that your program is a failure.”

“It’s not a failure,” the man in the lab coat exclaimed angrily.  “It was just a hiccup in the program.  Just an error that needs a little tweaking, that’s all.  I know exactly what the problem is.  I know exactly how to fix it.  I know exactly how to fix him.”

“You’ve said that before,” the man in the suit said.

“I know,” the man in the lab coat said.  “But I know what we did wrong.  Just, give me a chance to explain it.”

“Who does this guy think he is,” the stranger’s ghostly voice asked suddenly, sending a chill down Scott’s spine.  “Do you believe this shit?  This little punk thinks he can fix me?  He already tried that and obviously failed.”

“What,” Scott asked, his voice barely more than raspy whisper.

“Quiet,” the stranger barked.  “I’m trying to hear this.”

“Fine,” the suited man said.  “I’ll give you one chance to explain yourself doctor.  Make it good.”

“Okay,” the doctor in the lab coat said, wringing his hands nervously.  “Thank you.  So, basically, the idea was that we take this vicious serial killer here, and reprogram him mind using the memory implants that I invented to make him a better person.  A model citizen if you will.”

“Don’t talk to me like I am an idiot,” the man in the suit snapped.  “I am fully aware of the point of this program.  I’m the one who initiated it.”

“Right,” the doctor said nervously.  “Of course.  I was just trying to get some perspective.”

“Serial killer,” Scott whispered, appalled from the revelation.

“That’s right,” the stranger answered back.  “I really enjoyed it too.  Killing those bitches really turned me on.”

“Oh no,” Scott hissed.

“Anyway,” the doctor continued.  “So, you government types decided to try to use my brilliant research with memory implants and use it to reprogram criminals.  Which, by the way, I am still not happy  about.  That was not the intended use for them.”

“I am quickly losing my patience with you Doctor,” the man in the suit growled.  “Get to your point.”

“Right,” the doctor continued.  “Sorry.  My point is that you had me take this evil man who kills women for fun, and try to turn him into a good, upstanding, church going, god fearing, perfect American citizen.  My point is that you tried to turn this bastard into the complete opposite of his true nature.”

“I don’t understand this,” Scott whispered.

“Did they give me a lobotomy,” the stranger bellowed in Scott’s mind.  “I was never this fucking slow!”

“What  are you saying,” the man in the suit asked.
“It’s simple,” the doctor said with a sigh.  “You  wanted me to turn an evil man into something he could never be.  His natural tendencies for wickedness are so deeply ingrained in his brain that his mind realized that his new personality was completely wrong.  So, his mind rebelled and fought against the new personality you had me give him.  It’s like when a foreign object, like a virus, tries to enter your body.  Your immune system does all it can to fight that foreign object and eradicate it.  His mind fought back against my foreign programming and his true personality came back.  So, the programming failed.  But, I have a solution.”

“And what would that be,” the man in the suit asked, his tone skeptical.

“Let me reprogram him again,” the doctor answered.  “But this time, I won’t go to such extremes.  The answer is not to turn him into the model citizen, obviously.  Instead, we need to just turn him into just a boring, ordinary, working class stiff.  Just a regular, average guy.  Not too good, not too evil.  Do you see what I’m saying?”

The man in the suit did not answer, but instead turned to face Scott, studying him for a moment.  Scott struggled to move against his restraints, but found the effort futile.  In his mind, Scott could hear the stranger’s voice screaming obscenities at the man in the suit.  The man in the suit let out a long sigh before addressing the doctor once again.

“It will work,” the doctor said confidently.

“All right Doctor,” the man in the suit said.  “I will give you one more chance.  But that’s it.  If the program fails again, if even one more person dies at his hands, then it is over.  We will cut funding to your research and he will be disposed of.  Is that understood?”

“Yes,” the doctor replied enthusiastically.  “Yes, I completely understand.  I promise you, this will work.  You’ll see.  This will work.”

“No more promises Doctor,” the man in the suit said.  “Bring me results.”

Scott watched in terror as the man in the suit walked out of the room, casting one last distasteful glance in Scott’s direction.  As the man in the suit left, the doctor walked up beside Scott’s bed and smiled down at him.

“I’m so excited,” the doctor said.  “This research is going to win me a Nobel prize.  So, you had better not screw this up for me, get it?”

Scott, feeling his strength almost completely restored, began shaking his head furiously.

“Looks like you are awake now,” the doctor said, pulling a syringe out of his pocket and preparing it.  “Not to worry, this will take care of that.”

“No,” Scott shouted, his cry echoed by the stranger’s voice in his mind.

“Now, now,” the doctor said calmly, stabbing the syringe into Scott’s restrained arm.  “Don’t fight it.  It will all be over soon.  And, you won’t even remember any of this.”

“No,” the stranger shouted, his voice echoing through Scott’s head.  “Don’t let him do this!  Stop him!  Fight it damn it!  Fight it!”

Scott struggled in his restraints violently, but soon found that his strength began to wane once again.  With the sound of the stranger’s voice still screaming in his mind, Scott began to feel a calmness take over him again, as it had back at his apartment.  Soon the stranger’s voice began to fade away as if Scott were suddenly miles away from him.  Moments later, Scott slipped back into a deep unconsciousness.  The last sound Scott would ever hear was that of the stranger’s angry cries as they quickly faded away.

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Stranger: Part Four

Written by Derrick Nadeau

Recap:  Scott awoke from a horrible nightmare about a woman with a slit throat dying in his arms in time to begin day.  Despite feeling exhausted, Scott went to work where he began hearing a strange, disembodied voice saying horrible things to him.  Scott ran to the bathroom to regain his composure, and was shocked to see a strangers face looking back at him in the mirror.  Moments later, Scott’s boss entered the bathroom and began to berate him for being late.  The stranger in the mirror threatened to dispose of Scott’s boss, as they argued, and Scott attempted to stop the stranger only to find that his boss had been stabbed in the stomach.  With the voice of the stranger shouting evil words in his ears, Scott grabbed the knife off of the bathroom floor, still covered in his bosses blood, and fled work.  Scott headed home, and after a few moments of mental torture from the stranger, called his girlfriend Melissa to help him.  After speaking with his girlfriend, Scott passed out on his bed with the laughter of the stranger ringing in his ears.

“Scott, are you here?”

Scott awoke to the sound of his girlfriend’s voice as she entered the front door of his apartment.  A wave of relief swept over Scott’s distraught mind as he rose from his bed and called out to his girlfriend.

“I’m in my room Melissa,” Scott called out.

“Are you ok,” Melissa called back, her footsteps echoing off the floor as she headed down the hallway to meet him.  “You scared me with that phone call.”

“I’m ok,” Scott called back, walking over to the bedroom door.  “No, that’s a lie.  I’m not ok.  I think I’m losing my mind.”

“What are you talking about,” Melissa said, her voice coming from the other side of Scott’s bedroom door.  “What is going on?”

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Scott replied, opening his bedroom door.  Once he opened the door, Scott was horrified to find that it was not his girlfriend that stood on the other side of the door, but another woman.  The woman stood naked before him, a look of anger and confusion on her face, with her throat cut wide open and pouring out blood.  Scott let out a terrified gasp and began to stumble backwards towards his bed.

“What’s wrong Scott,” the naked woman asked.  “Are you hurt?  Do you need me to take you to the hospital?”

Scott opened his mouth to respond, but could not find the words he needed.  Shaking his head furiously, Scott stumbled back further until he fell back onto his bed.

“Scott,” the bleeding woman said, cautiously approaching him, “you’re scaring me.  What’s wrong with you?”

“No,” Scott whispered at last, his throat feeling as dry as a desert.

“No what,” the woman said standing above Scott and reaching down towards him.  “No, you’re not hurt?  What is wrong with you?”

“No,” Scott again a little louder, pushing the woman’s hand away from him.

“Scott,” the naked woman said, her tone one of confusion.  “Honey?  You need to calm down.  You need to tell me what’s wrong.”

“No,” Scott repeated, this time louder and angrier as he scrambled to get up off of his bed.

“Scott,” the bleeding woman said, reaching out towards Scott again.  “Please stop this.  Come here and let me help you.”

“No,” Scott shouted angrily, pulling the bloody pocket knife out of his pocket.  “Leave me alone!”

“Scott,” the woman said, blood continuing to pour out of her throat.  “Honey, what are you doing?”

“No,” Scott screamed charging the woman and knocking her down to the floor.  “Leave me alone!”

Scott let out a guttural scream as he began to stab at the naked, bleeding woman repeatedly.  Scott felt hot tears begin to sting his eyes, and he pulled back from the naked woman to wipe the tears away.  Scott then opened his eyes and was surprised to see his hands covered in blood.  Shocked by his own actions, Scott looked past his hands to the woman underneath him.  Scott’s blood went cold when he saw that the woman lying on his floor was not the naked woman he had attacked, but was instead his girlfriend Melissa drenched in her own blood.  Scott choked back a bit of vomit as he fell backwards off of his girlfriend and onto the floor.  Finding it difficult to breathe, Scott reached over to his nearby dresser, and dragged himself to his feet.  Taking a moment to steady his weakened legs, Scott began to sob uncontrollably.  Scott looked over to his girlfriend dying on the floor near him and felt a sharp pain in his chest.

“Oh no,” Scott whispered, turning to face Melissa.  “No!  I’m so sorry baby.  You were-  You weren’t you.  You weren’t you.”

“Keep telling yourself that,” the voice of the stranger snarled in Scott’s ear.  “Maybe you’ll even believe it some day.”

“No,” Scott shouted, covering his ears with his blood stained hands.  “Why won’t you leave me alone?”

“You ain’t getting rid of me bitch,” the stranger’s voice shouted.  “They tried that already, but I’m still here!”

Scott began sobbing again as the laughter of the stranger tore into his mind, and ran out of the bedroom.  Scott continued running down the hallway to the front door, and swung the door open violently.  Scott screamed when he saw another naked woman with a slit throat standing in the doorway.

“Oh no,” Scott screamed, falling backwards onto the floor of the hallway.  “No!  No!  No!”

Scott continued screaming as the naked woman entered his house, followed by several more women of various appearances, all naked with slit throats.  The women surrounded Scott, grabbing his limbs and holding his limbs so he could not move.  Scott found himself too horrified and confused to struggle as one of the woman stood above him and reached down towards him.  Scott then felt a sharp pinch in his neck, followed by a feeling of calm.  As the calmness filled his mind, Scott felt himself slipping into darkness until finally slipping away into unconsciousness.

Stranger: Part Three

Written by Derrick Nadeau

Recap:  Scott awoke from a horrible nightmare about a woman dying feeling exhausted.  Despite his fatigue, Scott dragged himself out of bed and headed to work.  At work, Scott began to hear a strange disembodied voice whispering terrible things in his ear.  Scott ran into the bathroom, fearing he was hallucinating, and was confronted by a strange face looking back at him in the mirror.  Moments later, Scott’s boss confronted him n the bathroom and was subsequently stabbed and left bleeding on the bathroom floor as Scott ran to his car and sped off.

Scott ran into his apartment and hastily locked the door behind him.  Staring down at the blood on his hands and clothing, Scott tried to calm his mind to no avail.  Every time he closed his eyes, images of his boss bleeding on the bathroom floor  mixed with images of the woman from his dreams flooded his mind.  Tears of frustration filled Scott’s eyes as his brain struggled to make sense of his experiences.  Scott instinctively reached up to rub his eyes, and paused just before rubbing blood into them.  Scott swore to himself, then rushed down the hallway to the bathroom.  Once in the bathroom, Scott turned on the faucet and washed the blood from his hands.  Scott let out a hiss as the warm water stung the cuts on his hands.

“Too much blood,” Scott whispered as he scrubbed his hands until they were raw.  “It will never come off.  Too much blood.”

“Oh yeah,” the stranger’s voice replied.  “He was a bleeder all right.”

“No,” Scott shouted, continuing to scrub his hands clean.  “Get out of my head!  Leave me alone!”

“You are a real whiner,” the stranger snarled back.  “You know that?  A real fucking crybaby.”

“Shut up,” Scott shouted again.  Scott looked up to the mirror above the sink and saw the  stranger looking back at him again.  Rather than feeling shock or surprise, Scott felt only anger as he stared into the stranger’s cold eyes.

“Shut up,” the stranger repeated in a mocking tone.  “Why don’t you make me?  Go ahead, punch the mirror again, that works.”

Scott lifted his fist as the stranger’s laughter bounced off the walls of the bathroom, then quickly stopped himself.  Scott pulled his trembling hand back to the sink, then continued scrubbing it.

“Boy,” the stranger continued, “they really snipped your balls right off, didn’t they?  Just cut ’em right off and threw ’em away.”

“What,” Scott asked, pausing his hand washing and looking back up to the mirror.  “What does that mean?”

“You’ve been pussified,” the stranger scoffed.  “There isn’t even a hint of the man you used to be left in there, is there?”

“What are you talking about,” Scott snapped.

“Well, that’s not entirely true, is it?  There’s obviously at least a hint left there.  Maybe even more than that.  There would have to be.”

“A hint of what,” Scott cried out.  “What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about you stupid,” the stranger snarled.  “I’m talking about the man you used to be!  I’m talking about the little pansy they let you turn them into!”

“Pansy?  I’m not a-  Who are you talking about?  Nobody turned me into anything.”

“You are starting to really give me a headache,” the stranger snapped.  “I’m getting real tired of playing this game.”

“I don’t understand any of this,” Scott shouted.  “What in the name of the Lord is going on?”

“In the name of,” the stranger repeated, then paused briefly before continuing.  “I don’t even know who you are any more!  Those pricks really did a number on you.”

“No,” Scott shouted, focusing on washing his bloodied hands again.  “I’m not listening to this any more!”

Scott focused on his hands, scrubbing furiously despite the stinging cuts.  After a few tense minutes, Scott paused again, realizing that the voice of the stranger had gone silent.  Scott looked up to the mirror, and was horrified by what he saw looking back at him.  The visage of the stranger had disappeared, leaving instead the face of a woman looking back at him.  The woman’s throat was sliced open, similar to the woman in Scott’s dream, but her appearance was completely different.

“How could you,” the woman cried out as blood poured from her throat.  “How could you do this to me?”

“No,” Scott shouted, stumbling backwards until his back hit the opposite wall of the bathroom.  “No, please!  Not this again!”

Scott ran out of the bathroom, tears flowing from his eyes, down the hallway to his bedroom.  Once he reached his bedroom, Scott slammed the door behind him, placed his head against the door, and closed his tear stung eyes.

“I am losing my mind,” Scott whispered to himself.  “I must be going insane.”

Scott took several deep breaths in another failed attempt to calm himself, then reached into his pocket and pulled out his cellphone.  Scott struggled to dial a number with his quivering fingers, and swore to himself again as he waited for an answer to his call.

“Hello,” a female voice on the other end of the call said.  Scott felt an instant bit of relief at the sound of his girlfriend’s voice, and he began to feel his nerves slowly calming.

“Hi Melissa.  It’s me, Scott.”

“Scott,” Melissa said. a tinge of concern in his voice.  “Are you okay?  Why are you calling me in the middle of the day?  Is something wrong?”

“No,” Scott replied.  “I am not okay.  Something is very wrong.  I need you sweetheart.”

“What is it,” Melissa asked, the concern in her voice intensifying.  “What’s wrong?  Are you hurt?”

“I can’t talk about it over the phone,” Scott replied.  “I need to see you baby.  I need your help.”

“Sure honey,” Melissa said.  “I can leave work early to see you.  Are you still at work?  Or are you at the hospital?”

“No,” Scott replied.  “I’m at home.  I left work and headed home.  Please come as soon as you can.  Please.”

“Your really worrying me here Scott,” Melissa said.  “But, I’ll be right over, just hang on.  I’ll be there in a few minutes baby.  I promise.”

“Thank you Melissa,” Scott whispered.

“Okay baby, just hang on.”

Scott hung up the phone and closed his eyes again, letting the tears flow down his face.  Scott took one long, deep breath, held it in for a few minutes, then slowly let it slip out of his lungs.  Scott wiped his tear-stained cheeks, then walked over to his bed and sat down.  Taking a few more deep breaths, Scott looked down at his trembling hands and clenched them into fists.  Scott focused his thoughts on his girlfriend and felt himself finally begin to calm down.  Scott let out one more deep breath, then lay back on his bed.

“I can’t wait until your little girly gets here,” the stranger’s voice whispered in Scott’s ear.  “Then we’ll have some real fun!”

The sickening sound of the stranger’s laughter was the last thing Scott heard before passing out on his bed.

 

 

Stranger: Part Two

Written by Derrick Nadeau

 

Recap:  Scott awoke from a horrible dream in which he was attacked by a phantom crying woman with a slit throat.  Feeling exhausted by the stress of the dream, Scott went to work and tried to forget the horrors he had dreamed the night before.  While at work, he began to hear a strange voice he could not identify saying horrible things to him.  Scott ran to the bathroom in an attempt to regain his senses.  When he looked at himself in the mirror, he saw the face of a stranger staring back at him.

Scott stumbled back in horror until his back hit the wall opposite the mirror he had seen the strange face in.  Scott wanted to scream, but found that his voice had been momentarily stolen from him.  Scott stared at the floor of the bathroom, shaking his head furiously.  Scott then took a few deep breaths in an attempt to calm his nerves while trying to convince himself to check the mirror again.  Trembling uncontrollably, Scott took one last deep breath and forced himself to look in the mirror once again.  Scott was instantly relieved when he saw his own face staring back at him.

“I must be more tired than I realized,” Scott whispered to himself.  “I’m starting to hallucinate now.”

At that moment, the door to the bathroom burst open, startling Scott and rattling his already ravaged nerves.  Scott’s boss Mark stormed into the bathroom, looking extremely upset.

“What are you doing in here,” Mark growled.  “You are late.  Quit messing around in here and get to work already!”

Scott opened his mouth to speak, but was frozen by fear when he caught another glimpse of the stranger in the mirror directly behind Mark.

“Who is this jackass,” the  stranger asked angrily.  “What is his problem?”

Scott, feeling himself begin to tremble again, could only shake his head in response.

“Why are you shaking your head,” Mark snapped.  “Are you telling me no?”

“You really going to let this tool talk to you like that,” the stranger in the mirror asked.  “Seriously?”

“Oh no,” Scott whispered.

“What was that,” Mark asked.  “What did you just say?  Speak up.”

“I,” Scott tried to speak, but could not think of the right words to say.

“You don’t have to put up with this shit,” the stranger in the mirror snapped.  “This guy ain’t nothing.  Just get rid of him.”

Scott stared at the stranger in the mirror, feeling his body shaking uncontrollably, shaking his head frantically.

“What are you staring at,” Mark barked, turning to face the mirror.

“Now’s your chance man,” the stranger said.  “while his back is turned.  Take him out.”

Scott’s eyes grew wide and his mouth fell open as he continued to stare back at the mirror in horror.

“What are you doing, just staring at yourself in the mirror,” Mark asked angrily.

“Seriously,” the stranger growled.  “I can’t take this asshole any more.  If you won’t do it, then I’m gonna have to do it for you.”

Scott shouted out the word no as he grabbed his boss and pushed him away from the mirror.  Mark slammed against the nearby wall of one of the stalls, nearly knocking it down.  Scott slammed his fist into the mirror, shattering the glass and tearing open his arm in the process.  As blood began to flow down his arm, the sound of laughter echoed throughout the bathroom.  Mark let out a groan as he slid down the bathroom stall, holding his stomach as he slumped to the floor.  Scott looked over to his boss on the floor, and was shocked to see blood pouring out of a wound in his stomach.  Scott moved towards his boss, but stumbled over something on the bathroom floor.  Scott looked down to see what had tripped him up, and saw a blood covered pocket knife lying there.

“Oh no,” Scott whispered.  “No, no, no, no ,no!”

Scott looked back to the shattered mirror, but only saw his own face reflected in the shards.

“What did you do,” Scott cried, searching for signs of the stranger.  “What did you do?”

Mark let out another groan, jarring from his search and pulling him back to the reality of the situation.

“What am I going to do,” Scott asked, kneeling beside his boss to check his wound.

“I suggest getting the hell out of there,” the stranger’s disembodied voice replied.

“Leave,” Scott repeated.  “I have to leave.  I can’t stay here.  I can’t let them find me like this.”

Scott reached over, picked up the pocket knife on the floor, and put it in his pocket as he stood up.  Scott turned to face the bathroom door, but halted himself.

“You need to do something about that arm,” the stranger’s voice said.

“My arm,” Scott said, staring down at his bleeding appendage.  “I have to do something about this.”

Scott walked over to the paper towel dispenser on the wall, emptied it, and hastily wrapped the paper towels around his quivering arm.  Scott held the towels to his bloody gash and took several deep breaths in an attempt to calm his anxious nerves.  Scott glanced back at the broken mirror, surprised to find the stranger face staring back at him in the broken shard.

“What are you waiting for,” the stranger bellowed.  “Get out of here!”

Scott took one last glance at his boss lying on the bathroom floor, bleeding to death, and quickly exited the room.  As he walked to the employee entrance, Scott’s eyes darted around the hallway, searching for the eyes of his coworkers looking back at him.  Scott was relieved that he did not come across a single person as he rushed out into the parking lot of his plant and ran to his car in the nearby parking lot.  Feeling his nerves get the best of him, Scott stumbled to pull his keys out of his pocket with his injured arm.  Scott took one last look around him, searching the parking lot for anyone that might have seen him.  Once he had determined that there was not a single person around him, Scott got in his car, and started the engine.  Scott took one last quick glance around the parking lot, then sped off in his car.  Though uncertain where he would go, Scott knew he had to get as far away from his work as he possibly could.  Scott glanced in his rearview mirror to check the traffic behind him, and saw the stranger looking back at him once again.

“Good job,” the stranger snarled, flashing a wicked smile.  “Now, what are we going to do next for fun?”

Stranger

Part One

By Derrick Nadeau

Scott felt disoriented as he looked down the long, stark white hallway to the door at the end.  As he focused on the door, Scott could hear what sounded like a woman crying on the other side.  Scott took a deep breath, and slowly began to walk down the hallway.  With each step he took, the door at the end of the hallway seemed to be getting further away rather than closer, yet the sound of crying seemed to be increasing in volume.  Scott began walking faster, almost to the point of jogging, but still the door remained just out of reach.  Frustrated, Scott stopped walking, and turned to look back in the direction he had come from, and saw nothing but a cold, empty darkness.  Feeling panic begin to set into his mind, Scott turned back to the other end of the hallway, determined to run as fast as he could towards the door.  As he turned, Scott was shocked to find himself suddenly standing directly in front of the door.  Scott stared grimly at the doorknob, feeling an intense sense of trepidation., as the sound of the crying woman continued to grow louder.  Scott took another deep breath in an attempt to calm his nerves, then slowly opened the door in front of him.  The door opened to reveal a heavy darkness on the other side.  In the center of the darkness, a large bed could be seen bathed in a dim light.  Scott was shocked to see a naked woman on her hands and knees on top of the bed, facing away from him.  It was evident to Scott that the crying he had been hearing was coming from the woman on the bed.

“Are you all right,” Scott asked as he approached the bed cautiously.

“How could you,” the woman asked between sobs.

“I’m sorry?  What did you say?”

“How could you do this to me,” the woman cried, remaining perfectly still on the bed.

“Me,” Scott asked.  “What did I do?  Are you okay?”

“How could you,” the woman repeated coldly.

“What are you talking about?  What did I do?”

When Scott reached the head of the bed, he froze in his tracks and let out a loud gasp.  To his horror, Scott immediately discovered the answer to his question.  Through the dim light, Scott could see a large pool of blood soaking the bed directly under the kneeling woman.  Upon closer inspection, Scott discovered that the blood was pouring out of a large gash cut into the woman’s throat.  A sudden rush of panic filled Scott’s mind, and he began to stumble backwards into the darkness.  As he moved back, the woman began to stir on the bed, rising up and appearing to float off the bed and onto the floor.

“How could you do this to me,” the woman cried as her body began to move towards Scott without moving her legs or feet.

“What is this,” Scott asked, his voice barely more than a whisper.  At that moment, Scott tripped over something he could not see and fell to the floor.

“How could you do this to me,” the woman cried again, moving closer and closer to Scott.

“I didn’t,” Scott said, shaking his head furiously.  “I don’t know what this is.  I don’t understand.”

“How could you,” the woman asked again, this time a loud shout.

“Please,” Scott cried.  “Don’t.”

“How could you do this to me,” the woman asked again, this time in a scream so loud that it hurt Scott’s ears.

Before Scott could say another word, the woman suddenly appeared directly on top of him, pinning him to the floor.  Scott tried to push the woman off of him, but found himself unable to move as blood from the woman’s throat flowed down into his face.  Scott felt terror overtake him as the blood flowed down his throat, choking him.  Scott wanted to scream, but could not get out a sound as the deathly pale visage of the woman began to peel back, revealing a deep darkness underneath.  Scott could only watch in horror as the darkness expanded out, swallowing him up into it.

Scott woke up with a scream and quickly sat up in his bed, breathing heavily and drenched in sweat.  Scott shook his head, trying to shake the horrible dream out of his head, and then rubbed his eyes wearily.  Scott took a deep breath to calm his nerves, looked at his clock, and swore when he saw the time.  Though he felt exhausted from a night of disturbing dreams and wanted desperately to go back to sleep, his clock told him that he had a mere six minutes before his alarm would go off to let him know it was time to get ready for work.  Scott swore again, then stumbled out of bed to start his day.

Though he felt like a zombie, Scott managed to follow his routine and get himself ready for work.  Once he arrived at work, Scott headed to the break room and bought himself a cup of coffee from the vending machine.  Though he usually found the sludge masking itself as coffee served by the vending machine completely disgusting, Scott hoped that it would be gross enough to pull him our of his funk.  As he tried to force the coffee down his throat, his mind suddenly flashed back to the blood choking him in his dream, and he almost choked on the viscous liquid.  As he tried to recover from his choking, Scott’s friend Rich entered the breakroom and greeted him.

“Hey buddy,” Rich said.  “You okay there?”

“Yeah,” Scott replied, clearing his throat.  “Just trying to suck this crap down.”

“That stuff is nasty,” Rich said.  “Why are drinking that?”

“Didn’t sleep well last night,” Scott answered back, trying to decide if he could stomach another swig of motor oil.  “Figured this might help me wake up.”

“Yeah, you look like crap,” Rich said, shaking his head and chuckling.  “Late night with Sarah?”

“No,” Scott replied with a sigh.  “I didn’t even see Sarah last night.  She had to work late.  I’ve just been having some really bad dreams lately, that’s all.  They’ve really been messing with my head and ruining my sleep.”

“Really?  What kind of dreams?”

“Just,” Scott paused a moment, deciding if he wanted to discuss the nightly horrors his mind had been playing for him.  “I don’t really remember them.  I just know that they are bad and they are causing me to sleep like crap.”

“Sorry to hear that buddy,” Rich said.  “Maybe you should have called in sick today.”

“Maybe,” Scott said with a frown.  “But I think I needed to come in to keep my mind off of my crazy dreams.”

“Have you thought about going to see someone about this,” Rich asked.  “It’s obvious that it is something that is really affecting you.  You look exhausted.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Scott replied.  “I guess I could try to make an appointment with my doctor later.  Maybe that will help.”

“I’m sure they will be able to help in some way,” Rich agreed.  “Come on, it’s time to get to work now.”

“Yeah, okay,” Scott said, dumping the coffee he could not stomach down the drain of a nearby sink.

As Scott and Rich exited the breakroom, Scott paused in front of the doorway to let one of his coworkers, a woman named Mona, enter the breakroom.

“Good morning Scott,” Mona said, offering a greeting smile.

“Morning Mona,” Scott said back, attempting to return a weak smile.

“Have a good day today.  I’ll talk to you sometime later.”

“Sure thing Mona,” Scott said, as Mona walked past him into the breakroom.  “You have a good day too.  I hope it won’t be too busy.”

“Look at the ass on that one,” Scott heard someone say near him.  “I bet you could have some real fun with that one.”

Horrified, Scott turned to see who had made such a crass statement, but was surprised to see that there wan not a single person around him.

“I must be hearing things,” Scott said to himself, letting out a frustrated breath.  “My lack of sleep must be getting to me.”

“Come on,” the voice said again with a rough growl.  “You know you want a piece of that.”

Scott looked around again, desperately searching for a source to the voice he heard, but was dismayed to once again not find a single person near him.  Scott shook his head furiously, and hurried out of the breakroom.  Scott felt a surge of panic as he began to worry that his mind might be slipping, causing him to begin to hallucinate.  Scott ran into a nearby bathroom, walked up to the sink, and began to splash cold water on his face.  Scott grabbed a couple of paper towels, dried his face, and rubbed his eyes for a long moment.  Scott then took a couple of deep breaths, then glanced at himself in the mirror to see just how tired he actually appeared.  Scott’s blood turned to ice when he saw the face of a stranger staring back at him.

“Hey buddy,” the stranger in the mirror snarled.  “Remember me?”

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