Pain shot through Roone’s legs as he fell to his knees. The weight of the world had brought him to the ground. Defeat and anxiety filled him up like a stuffed turkey. “It’s happening again.” His voice was nothing more than a soft whimper. The man lowered his head, feeling his throat closing. Salty tears caressed his cheek. He stayed there in that fetus-like position for a while. Not ready to embrace his version of reality. His overworked brain couldn’t seem to slow down. All possible gloomy scenarios rolled off the assembly line.
“Get up, you can’t let them take over.” The stern voice shook Roone to the core. He certainly didn’t expect this. He hated to admit it, but the intruder was right. Roone couldn’t stomach it anymore. He couldn’t imagine what the man before him was looking at. A frightened thirty-year-old malnourished man. Grown out beard, long filthy hair. Lockdown had done him no good. He could feel his nerves acting up again. His sanity slipped for a moment. In that split second, fear took over the steering wheel. A captain sealing the already doomed ship’s demise.
The man shook his head. Snap out of it. “But how,” Roone cried out, choking on his tears. “How do make them stop?” The wails grew bigger, louder. One man’s despair managed to fill up an entire room. His head was pounding. It could be dehydration. Perhaps the sleep deprivation had its motives too. “Breath Roone, breathe.” How did this intruder know his name? Black spots distorted his vision as he started to feel lightheaded. His air supply was cut off by an invisible hand. “I…. I can’t..” Talking was painfully difficult. Breathing felt even worse. Oxygen felt like sandpaper rubbing against his trachea.
“Block them out, you’ve accomplished so much my friend,” the man encouraged. Roone had lost all hope during this fight. The voices in his head were boss. They made that clear. Each time the man was on the brink of recovery, of finding reality again, the demons tore him down. Reminding the man who was in charge. Roone felt like he was losing the same battle all over again. His worn-out brain was no match against the power-hungry parasites inside him. “Roone, listen to me, you can do this. Push them away. Listen to my voice, let it guide you through it.”
A sudden flash of anger activated Roone’s fists. They smashed against the ground, producing a loud bang. Why was this stranger helping him? As abrupt as the rage came, it got carried away on a cloud of tears. Sobs grew from the man’s throat. He brought his shaky hands to his ears. But keeping the loudest voices out was impossible when they came from the depths of his brain. The stranger now clasped his hands around Roone’s. The icy touch made the man shiver. Still not looking at this intruder, he lowered his arms.
“Fine,” he spat out. “I’m begging you, please help me.” His voice sounded weak, tired. He had finally accepted the fact that he couldn’t get out of this mess on his own. But as he sat there, waiting for the man to respond, his heart sunk. “Please don’t let this be true,” Roone whispered to himself, softly shaking his head. His body rocked back and forth like a child’s first horse.
By the time he had mustered up the courage, night had fallen. As soon as he met the pair of blue peepers, terror stuffed him once more. It slowly crept through his veins, turning his blood cold. Powerless, he looked at the man’s long messy hair. Black like his. A lump formed in his throat as he acknowledged the sunken face staring back at him. The familiar stranger was as thin as a straw. On cue, Roone’s stomach growled like an angered dog.
“NO,” Roone shrieked. A low animal-like grown rolled off his tongue. The man clenched both fists, swinging them at the imposter. The sound of breaking glass echoed in his ears. It cut the tension that had built up, tearing it to shreds. Broken pieces laid spread across him. Pieces of his sanity. Roone kept unleashing his rage at the man in front of him. It wasn’t till his fist throbbed, that he took a break. Panting, he examined his bloody hands. It was nothing compared to what he had done to his second half. His mortal enemy. His reflection.