6. Feel free to panic
Fear. That all-destructive dark force of the universe which lurks around silently, dressed in splendidly-effective camouflage gear. Perfectly immobile, until it suddenly attacks, unexpectedly and resolutely. Fear. With the ability to devour, to demolish, to pulverize everything in its passage, indiscriminately and at will.
Dealing with fear effectively is something one can learn to do, theoretically. Each person has their own way of coping with it and people get better at combating it as they get older, theoretically. But some fears are undoubtedly, undeniably, indisputably, harder to deal with than others. They target the inner core of a person, their soft spot, and strike exclusively where it hurts most. The only purpose of these sorts of fears is to inflict maximum damage in a way which will leave a scar, which will create a trauma, which will never abandon the person involved. The most readily identifiable characteristic of these types of fears is that they come in waves. Moments of sheer terror, followed by sudden calm, before the panic kicks in once more with a greater intensity and then there’s calm once again and then panic anew, this time with a phenomenally greater strength than before.
That was the exact type of fear the little boy was faced with during the time the strange-looking man was in the flat. It didn’t last long nonetheless as the uniformed, professional, strange-looking, incredibly scary man, spent only a few minutes in the flat. He didn’t want to be there longer than necessary, it seemed. His swift departure was a welcome relief for the little boy but, curiously enough, it proved to also be a whole new source of inquietude for him. The boy, as psychologically composed as possible, made a note of what the man had told him; purely technical information on the state of the device. Once the man had left, he gave the cookie a call to let her know what had happened. He tried hard to hide his anxiety, but the cookie understood what he was going through.
She was fine with all the info he provided her with, didn’t think anything was aloof, thanked him calmly for taking care of it and proposed he joined her for lunch at a restaurant close to the lab where the medical exams on her continued with undiminished intensity. The boy agreed, but made no actual mention whatsoever about what was going-on in his head. He had opted for keeping his thoughts to himself. Perhaps he did it so that he wouldn’t upset her or maybe because revealing his thoughts would render them real, no longer theoretical and therefore dangerous. The two of them got together as planned and were genuinely happy to see each other. It was, funnily enough, one of their very few interactions when they were both together out in the normal world, surrounded by regular people. It felt particularly nice, but that pleasant feeling was condemned not to last.
Within half an hour of sitting down, the cookie started feeling uneasy, shaky and slightly sick. She didn’t have to say out loud what she was thinking. The little boy noticed the shift in her mood, instantly. He tried to help her by making small chat, asking how her day was going, but it didn’t work. What’s worse, the little boy’s fears had by that point returned, with a vengeance. Not a particularly simple thing, trying to calm someone else down, when you yourself are in a state of terror. They were now both sitting opposite each other, both in a heartbreakingly deplorable mental state, both trying to hide it and both aware they couldn’t keep secret from one another what they were feeling individually. Without really wanting to stay and finish lunch, they got up from their chairs and started making their way out of the restaurant. As soon as they got up, the cookie started having a strong negative physical reaction to something. A general feeling of malaise, clearly more pronounced than her psychological discomfort of earlier-on, was settling-in. She starting to get physically sick.
As they were making their way out of the place they were having lunch, the little boy’s eyes shifted -by their own volition it seemed- up high above, close to the ceiling. A device, identical to the one from the flat was there. The little boy’s fear had reached such levels of unimaginable intensity that he felt the device was looking at him, was smiling at him, was taunting him! The utterly distressed physical state of the cookie and the boy’s fear proved to be a most explosive cocktail mix, which had started to truly take its toll on the psyche of the little boy. The cookie, despite her sad state, noticed this. Something which actually made her feel even worse than before.