Chapter One – The Festering
“No, no, no, I scream. Not aloud of course lest they hear me. That inner voice – that blasted inner voice. Be silent, stop your banter, I am sick of you.” Outwardly the turmoil in this man’s mind is not expressed. He sits, constantly monitored, within a padded cell. The monitors never sleep, someone is always watching. Round the clock someone sits, looking for signs that this man’s troubles still exist.
Committed to an asylum for throwing a young woman to her death beneath the grinding wheels of a commuter train, the man, Allen Whosis, has spent two years raving at the walls, the silent padded walls of his cell. Then his cries were silenced as if upon command. Unknown to those who gaze upon the glowing monitors, it was upon command. Even now, even with his hatred seething at the thing within his head, he obeys.
After the tragic incident, after the train had finally ground the woman to indiscernible fragments beneath its wheels, his reasons for doing the deed were explained. “She was evil, she planned to kill me, I have been told.” It didn’t seem to matter to him when it was pointed out that he didn’t even know the woman, that she had done nothing or said anything to elicit such behavior. “She bumped me, said pardon me, and then I knew!” Allen asserted. How did you know, they pressed him for an answer: “That damned voice in my head told me so!” Allen screamed. The proceedings of the court were quick. He was to be committed for insanity.
Due to cost, due to compassion, who can fathom the reason, now the public was giving him a chance to leave this horrid place. If he can only put forth a sane countenance a little longer he might return to normal life. His voice, his inner demon, immediately ordered his physical self to be stilled. Knowing that he is not free of this creature, that he had not healed, he tries vainly to express his frustration, his anger, but finds all efforts stifled. If anything at all is noted about his features, by the observing audience, it is the blankness of emotion, his nearly robotic movements, and his lack of any expression whatsoever.
Under subsequent interviews to ascertain his mental condition the quick and steady responses made without hesitation are duly noted. Progress, it is noted, is being made. The doctors, of which there are many, speak among themselves and pat each other upon the back congratulating themselves upon the fine progress the patient is making under their care. All the while they fail to detect the roiling turmoil which in reality exists beneath the façade.
It is a Sunday morning when the patient is informed that a decision has been made to free him from this prison. “Mr. Whosis, you have been deemed well and will be released into the care of the halfway home nearby. After you spend a few months there you will be free to leave and resume a normal life, isn’t that exciting?” explains the attending doctor. Allen’s face displays a wide grin totally masking the screams inside his head, imploring the doctors not to make this mistake, begging them to change their minds.
Monday morning comes and finds Allen traveling in a plain, unassuming sedan on his way to his new “home”. The two attendants babble to each other engaged in small talk. Allen is oblivious to their voices, as inside his head he is screaming, begging them to take him back to his padded cell. His face expressionless, his countenance calm, the attendants drive on unaware of the bomb within his head that is so close to exploding.
His restraining hand ties removed, he is walked up to the house; everything is, it appears, as it should be. A man greets them at the door, a man who introduces himself as ‘buddy’, how appropriate. “My buddy, my friend, how nice,” Speaks the voice within his head. “Shut up, shut the hell up” responds Allen silently, without an outward sign of his rage.
Sitting at a table with ‘buddy’, Allen is the picture of sobriety, a calm and quiet man of even temper. “I think you will fit in nicely, Allen, we have a nice room on the second floor all ready for you to move in. Later, once you are situated we will take you out and find some clothes and other amenities to make your room, your home,” Speaks buddy with complete confidence in his voice, a genial man, a gentle man, who has greeted many others like Allen before. “What a dupe, what a pushover, this man will be,” the voice in Allen’s head exclaims. “You better not, you monster, I’ll … I’ll …,” responds Allen, silently, of course. “You’ll what? You can’t do anything to me. After all, I’m you,” Is the curt reply.
Alone in his room Allen rests on the edge of his bed. He clinches the pillow securely with his hands, attempts to strangle the life out of it, and then begins to cry. The sobs are silent, as the beast within does not allow a sound to emerge that might betray its presence.
That night, after he showers, brushes his teeth, and turns in Allen decides to confront this thing, this creature, this beast, which has made his life a living hell. “Who are you, what are you, you lecherous thing. Why do you torment me?!” he shouts into the darkness of his head. “As you were told before, I’m you,” Is the reply. “What is your name, monster?” For moments silence reigns, then the voice speaks, “You know my name, you sign it on many documents, along with yours. You are Allen, I am Whosis.” With that revelation Allen sinks into a tormented sleep, a nightmarish sleep, images follow, where the creature, the monster, is clearly seen. A beast appearing as an animal, complete with the traditional horns protruding from its head. A head like some horse, or camel, or some other unreal thing adorns its body. Sharp claws, glinting light from some fiery source nearby, frightfully curve from its hands, or paws, or whatever things jut from its arms. As many devils are accompanied by smells of sulfur, so it is with this one as well. “Welcome to my abode, Allen, glad you could drop by,” speaks the thing in low guttural tones. Allen awakes immediately upon realizing it had noticed his presence. Sweaty, highly agitated, he knows that no more sleep will come his way tonight.
Morning finds Allen ushered into breakfast, a breakfast shared with seven others plus the host, his new friend ‘buddy’.
“Allen, I have a surprise for you, someone I know has offered to provide you with employment. He has offered you an apprentice position with training in his plant. All you have to do is say yes, and you will have a job,” buddy, beaming, reports.
Startled, Allen hears himself speak, “Why of course, I will accept his generous offer” The monster has seized control of his body. Allen tries very hard to reveal the truth to these innocents at the table, but instead, merely mirrors the smile on buddy’s face.
“We’ll finish our breakfast and then I will take you down to see him right away,” buddy, pleased with the answer, offers.
As Allen, in the privacy of his room, prepares for his trip to the potential job offer, he rages within with the monster. “Why are you doing this, what plans do you have in mind?! Let me go!” he shouts, in silence. “I don’t know yet, Allen, I’ll be making this up as we go. I’m sure it will be fun, though,” the beast mocks.