Max Arena

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11pm, 4th July (later that night). Fear

Kris sat alone on her bed, the massive wall mounted television on, but the appliance not grabbing her attention in the slightest. Instead she was numb. Her mind and body under siege.

Joe and Abdullah were right. The world was coming apart at the seams and the media were broadcasting it as an endless stream of images of violence and pain, but it was not this media driven assault of global mayhem that had her struck low. It was the news that she had received and missed during dinner. News that stabbed right into her soul.

While at dinner, Kris had received a voice message from her brother. Her parents were staying with him and his wife to keep safe. Her parents weren’t invalids and were entirely independent under normal circumstances, but the world had skewed a long way from normal in the last couple of days and so, in just being sensible, they had all decided to shelter under the same roof and keep an eye out for each other. Turned out, that notion had been an illusion. Violence had found them anyway and hit them hard.

Late that afternoon, four masked men had smashed their way through the back door of her brother’s home with steel bars and baled her brother and his wife and her parents up in a bedroom. After locking them in, the men had proceeded to smash their way through the house and ravage through their belongings to take whatever they wanted, mainly loose cash and some jewellery. Fortunately, no one had been hurt. That at least was a blessing, but it was still abuse, cruel and cutting.

The experience had left them all shaken, but Kris’ mother had fared the worst. Even while they had all huddled in the corner of the bedroom listening to their lives being violated, she had turned inwards and buried her consciousness deep inside herself, rendering herself effectively comatose and non-responsive.

The men had robbed them quickly and left without a word, but their damage now looked like it would linger with them forever more. Her brother had tried to sound strong on the phone, but Kris could tell, beneath his brave words, he was struggling, on the verge of losing it himself. Kris had enormous respect for her sibling, who had in fact pulled her through some tough times as well, but this time, the world was a different and much more awful place. He needed help and she was stuck here, powerless and remote.

As soon as Kris had found the message she had called her brother, but there was no answer, the phone turned off, or something else. She called again and again and again. Thirty times all up, but nothing and now, with no idea what was going on, all Kris had was her guilt and it had struck her numb.

The television in her bedroom was on, but it was as far away as the other side of the world. Kris had shut out the stories of pain and horror on the screen and instead focused inwards on her own anguish. It was late at night and even though she knew countless security staff patrolled the grounds outside, terror had slipped into her bedroom and just like it had done to her family, it had baled her up. The world inside her head was quiet, deathly quiet and in that silence, Kris’ fear started to swell.

In her own solitude and now with the added anxiety of her family’s suffering and her powerlessness to help, the night had begun to press in on Kris. The background buzz, which never really went away, grew in intensity. First it blocked out Kris’ hearing, like a swarm of bees inside her head. Then she could feel her fingers start to tremble and her feet twitch. Slowly the shakes spread throughout her body, causing Kris to shake all over like she was having a fit. By now, voluntary movement had become difficult and all she could do was sit on the bed and let her fear overcome her.

Finally, Kris heard a new sound in her head, a low roar, like surf gently swashing on a wide sandy beach. Steadily, the roar grew to larger and larger waves, pushing the buzzing aside. Kris forced her chin down until her face was buried as low as she could get it into her chest. Straining like she was half frozen, Kris then brought her hands up to her face, her fingers clawed. The waves pounded harder and harder. The wide sandy beach was now a rocky, jagged, line of teeth and the surf crashed down upon them like a tempest let loose in her head. The world outside her mind was gone, dashed upon the rocks and washed away into the vastness of a broiling, dark ocean.

Slipping slowly sideways on the bed, Kris curled her legs up into a foetal position. Tears streamed from her eyes. Trembling racked her entire body and her face screwed up into a mask of pain, the source invisible. All of this gripped her in complete silence, not a sound coming from her. Elsewhere in the house, everyone was either asleep or preparing for a night’s rest, but not Kris. In her room, her demons held her hostage and she could find no escape. The night drew on and the world outside became even more quiet, but not in Kris’ head. In there, it was very, very far from quiet.

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