Something lives inside my head. Something else. Something bad. I can hear it. Hearing it ticking, ticking. A pendulum. A clock. Every day, every night. It won’t leave, it won’t leave. And it’s her. It’s her. It isn’t me, I promise. It’s her.
She’s the one the doctors told me to ignore, but I can’t. She’s always here. She’s the tumour, she’s the hands of time on the clock face inside my head. But at least, at least she can’t get out. At least she can’t hurt people anymore. She’s trapped in here, just like I am. We are. We’re forever trapped.
I lie on my bed, thinking. It’s not my actual bed because I know this place is a construct of my cortex. I think I remember reading something the brain, years ago, on a flea-bitten couch in a grotty apartment. The brain. That big, pink, fleshy thing that looks like it belongs in a Sci-Fi Show. A chuckle escapes me, or rather the echo of one. I belong in a Sci-Fi show.
I don’t know where I am, but that doesn’t matter. This is my room, the one in my mind. I can control her here. I can control everything here. Here in these white sheets, these blank books with no words or chapters; my mind only has this one room. I’ve never been very creative.
Every day I lie here, and for once, my thoughts do not jumble. I reassure myself that this is for the best. I don’t need to go back up to the surface, I’m alright here. I’m okay. I’m okay. Everyone I love, even though I can’t remember their faces, will be okay. They can live their lives. Without me there to ruin them.
As the hours tick by, I grow restless. I start talking to the walls, like always. I try to sleep, but I can’t, like always. A voice in my head echoes and I know it’s her. Like always. She is the only constant that I can count on myself to curl away from. The outlier in my head. Her sinful purr strips me naked, the way a drunken mother would rap their child across the back of the legs. She makes me pray for some form of nothingness. She makes me crave the concept of being nothing, no one, nowhere. But nothing is that easy.
One day, one day she’ll leave and then I can wake up. She is my disease, my hollowed-out shell. She’s a definition in a psychology textbook. She’s an anomaly on a brain-scan. She isn’t me. She isn’t real. Yet somehow, I’m still scared of her. My bones shiver when I hear her voice beneath my own.
As the hours drag on, ticking, ticking, like a clock, nothing changes. It’s all the same. I’ve already read all the blank books, I’ve pretended to sleep long enough. It’s now that I think I can’t go on. I can’t live like this for much longer – not that this is living to me. I want to be free. And soon I am reminded of what will happen if I go back to the world above. She will come. Burst out of my mind like a jack-in-the-box in the middle of a mall, or a party or a park. And I will spend the rest of my life paying for what she’ll make me do. I hate her. There is no other word for what I feel. She’s a monster. She’s the worst monster from a fairy tale. She’s the darkest part of the forest, with the jowls of a wolf, the sneer of the witch. She’s more than that. She’s everything that I don’t want to be. But she is my other and nothing can tear us apart.
I was told she existed by a man in white. I can’t remember his name, or his face. I can’t remember... He told me that… What did he tell me?
Her laughter shatters my memories and I scream, but other voices dull my cries. I can’t quite make them out, but they’re not hers. Not this time. I try to tell them to leave, to run away, try to save them. I thought everyone I loved was safe, I thought they would be alright because I can never leave this room. That is the price I paid. Or I thought I paid. If I leave here, no one will be safe.
I am dragged away screaming.