Compassion Fatigue

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The Attack

Brian scrambled up from his chair, tripping over it before he could get onto his feet. His face bashed against the rickety old floor of the call center, and he bit his tongue. Brian spit the blood out of his mouth and then struggled to get back onto his feet.

The creature was in the room with him now, and it was moving toward him, elongated arms reaching out to him. Worse yet, it was making a horrible groaning noise. It sounded of despair and exhaustion, like the noise of something burdened with impossible labor. Brian could feel that groan coursing through his veins, he could sense it twisting his bones, and the creature groaned louder and louder, shattering his eardrums through his headset.

Brian backed away from the thing as it slowly stepped toward him, swaying from side to side, and reaching out to him with its horrific, disfigured, twisted arms. Its hands angled toward Brian’s neck.

“What are you!” Brian screamed, picking up pens, notebooks, and chairs to throw at the creature. “What do you want with me?”

The objects bounced off the creature, doing little to slow its pursuit. It didn’t answer him with words, groaning only louder and louder, until it had Brian cornered in the back of the call center.

“No!” Brian was screaming. “Get away from me! Leave me alone!”

But there was nothing more he could do. The creature’s arms had reached him, and it was wrapping its gangly long fingers around his neck. Brian grabbed at them trying to pull them off. They felt cold and boney, but they were incredibly strong, and Brian could do nothing to free himself from the creature’s grasp. Then the creature raised its arms, lifting Brian off the ground. He kicked and he squirmed, but he couldn’t get away.

“I just wanted -,” Brian choked out, “I just wanted to help people.”

The creature tightened the grip of its knife life fingers around Brian’s neck, and he gasped for air, but nothing came into his lungs. He started to feel a tight sensation behind his eyes, and his face burned. As his mouth was agape, begging for air, the creature’s fingers started to work their way into his mouth. Brian bit down, but there was no stopping it now.

Brian started choking, as the cold sharp fingers made their way down his throat. His vision started to get blurry, and the last thing he heard, and the last thing he saw was the groaning and the blank face of the horrifying thing that had once been safely behind the window.

Everything started to go black, and Brian remembered Sara, Cathy, and everyone else he talked to tonight. He remembered everyone he’d talked to the night before and the night before that. Then Brian remembered his friends that had long since left this job, realizing far sooner than him the toll the work took on their wellbeing. He thought of how much he missed them.

Then there was nothing. No phantom ring in his ears, nor real ring in his headset. No voices on the other line. No flickering lights, or cold draft. No knocking or jiggling of the doorknob.

Just, nothing.

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