Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Svetla always got invited to parties, especially to Halloween parties. There she sat, cute in the corner, backed by the flowered wallpaper in style those days, sketching the shapes just as cute as she on a paper she held in her lap. At midnight the squiggles slipped from the paper and slithered along the floor until sensing the warmth of a human body. They inched upwards along the human obelisk, slowly, dissolving like tattoos into the skin. Deeper they went into the blood, and soon the victims saw those very shapes floating before their field of vision, following wherever they turned.

I am a psychiatrist by profession and had treated several persons of this curious malady. All had had to be locked away in a room cushioned with mats, the sound dampened, so as to stifle screams as disturbing to us as the figures obviously were to the sufferers.

I noted the following conversation with one of my patients. She was brought to me fully subdued with the mind-stilling medicines we use. This was an opportunity to satisfy my curiosity about the phenomenon, so I began to question her. She spoke flatly, without emotion, and despite the extreme dosage, there was no relaxed smile.

Doctor: How did it all begin?
Patient: I felt a breeze upon my ankle, a transient touch, a sensation that vanished just as quickly as it was placed. I was not alarmed because the shapes appeared sweet somehow.
Doctor: What happened next?
Patient: They flirted with my skin. Their touch was like warm vapor blown onto a single circle of flesh. I wanted them to continue. It was a new sensation, one that the touch of a hand or a tongue's caress could never create.
Doctor: What made it so?
Patient: The touch pulsated ever deeper into the skin, first the surface, then to the buried nerves, then to the surface again.
Doctor: How long did this continue?
Patient: Not long. I don't know. At last it submerged into me. Strange, I felt the substance of it expanding into my veins, and squirming upwards towards my brain like mindless bits of larvae.
Doctor: What did you feel as it moved closer to your brain?
Patient: It was like a prelude. I knew not of what. But something would happen when it reached my consciousness. It might be wonderful -- or unspeakably horrid. I did not know.
Doctor: This foreboding, can you describe it?

She shrieked this suddenly, and stood up, taking violent swipes at the empty air before her, a surprising reaction under such sturdy sedation. Finally after about ten minutes I could calm her. She sat down once more, and her emotionless voice resumed.

Doctor: Please continue.
Patient: I cannot go on. They are not sweet anymore.

This was not an easy condition to treat, but after weeks of therapy I finally reached my patients, worked my way into their dreadful fantasies and pulled them out dripping as from a fall into the dead waters of a stagnant lake. Soon after, I could convince them that the figures were harmless. In time the patients could safely return to the perils and stresses of actual life. The special rooms and straitjackets were no longer needed for them.

That was my occupation during the day. But I also had a personal life. On occasion my path led again to one of my former trusts. On a Halloween night of new moon darkness I saw her glance up from where she sat, surveying us, the evening's celebrants, as we stood side-by-side chatting in arbitrary cliques. Most were in rapture from the drink, the company and the mood of the night, but I was also one to observe. I stared at her a moment too long. She noticed and as our eyes met for that one sacreligious second her soft features hardened into severity. The others felt it unconsciously. All around, the conversation coagulated into silence. At that she returned to her task, sketching the figures she had seen. Something inside me began to shudder.

Story #411

Anyone who would like to contribute their own terrifying inspiration to the above photo is very welcome to do so! Thanks everyone for being so patient with me during my absense, and most of all, thanks for coming back.

Past Halloween stories:
2006: #378
2005: #301
2004: #64

Things to do:
1) answer my e-mails of the last weeks
2) answer all your comments
3) write a story to photo 408
4) read and comment the stories to 408
5) read all your blogs

Friday, October 19, 2007

Thank You

Once again I say thank you for all the stories and get well wishes for my wife. She is home now finally. The last weeks were very difficult - and I was sick last week with a severe cold, not unlikely due to the stress of the weeks before. This week and next I'm off work on vacation. Already after the days of this week our lives seem to be returning to normal. My wife has to take it easy in the next months, but has enjoyed a recovery seemingly against all the odds. We have so much to be thankful for.

I feel able to write again, and will start soon, posting the missing story for photo 408.