This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
She has always been fearing the dreams she had; for as long as she could remember. Sleeping, dreaming, and walking. She had no control over it. Only, while not sleeping, she knew how to take a little more control of the situations around her. But even then she still felt pity and fear and shame and guilt. And she couldn’t say why. In sleep, she was too insecure and never trusted her own instincts, listened to all the wrong voices making rounds in her head, pitting herself into one fiasco after another and shaming herself for each failure.
Sleep became slight as she tried more and more to put handle on her every day living a constant nightmare… like a blanket she had wrapped it around her and the only time she felt free was in the moments she could loosen her grip on her soul and fly free. One with herself and soaring into her own body and delving into her obsession until she was spent.
It lasted… until, in the end, she knew there was no place to run. She felt too sick to think everything through and re-analyze it… her body was fluid to her… no more but awkward and unsure…
She felt unworthy of love and mistrusted signs of affection. She constantly grabbed for fantasy as it slipped farther and farther away with her feet solid in a miserable reality and insanity threatening to ooze in among the cracks…
Trying to reach out for help, she went to see a doctor once. He did not seem to pay too much attention to what she was trying to explain; instead, he gave her a prescription for slipping pills, thinking she was sleep deprived. Of course she was, as she was too afraid to fall asleep. She left his office, deciding to deal with it on her own. But now, just a few weeks later, she was so exhausted, with no one to help her, she went and bought the pills he prescribed. She was at the end of the road, wherever it was supposed to take her, and she decided to end it here and now. she shook the pills out of the bottle on the palm of her hand and starred at them for a while. She was an orphan, had no family, no friends, no boyfriend. Who would want to be involved in any way with a weirdo she was anyway? Not giving too many thoughts to it, she decided to take the pills. She swallowed all; drinking some water, and lied down thinking, she just escaped the bad dreams. What she did not know was what she did was just the beginning of the worst nightmare yet.
“No, I can’t do this anymore”, the girl sighed and started to climb another long set of stairs. The rotten remains were lying everywhere around. She saw dead bodies; there was blood and guts everywhere and not a single sign of life. She knew that wasn’t usual, it wasn’t the world she used to know. She could smell fresh blood and rotten blood from the dead bodies lying around, everywhere, in piles, surrounding her, their empty eyes tracing her every step. Silence was surrounding her, not a single sign of life... Sometimes she thought she heard heavy breathing and footsteps behind her, but never saw anyone when she turned to look back. She was frightened, she was tired and she was sleepy; she didn’t know why but she knew she had to run. She was worried about being caught, and she was very hungry.
She swollen, tasting her saliva. The taste was weird, almost metal-like. She was so hungry; she was starving, not even the horrible smell of a burnt flesh of the dead bodies could kill her hunger. She hasn’t eaten in days, she couldn’t remember for how long.
With an enormous effort, a girl managed to climb to the top of the tower. She stepped forward to the edge of the roof and looked at the view unfolding itself before her eyes. She was devastated.
“No,” she whispered. “This is not happening”. She got down to her knees with her face buried in her hands and began to cry. Sudden noise made her stop crying. She looked up and saw a large, five-foot tall black shadow-like mass moving slowly across the crest of the next hill. The place before her eyes was dark, gloomy, and soul wrenching.
The bare trees seemed dressed in shadows, towering over her. Their branches looked as if they were arms, swaying in the coming and going wind. Sometimes the trees’ lower branches were swinging down as if they were trying to catch and grab her. The trees stretched out their arms, and waved them in all directions, as if they were trying to attack. They were so close she started to feel claustrophobic. The air was chilly. The only sound was the crunch of the leafs beneath her knees, as she was still kneeling down, unable to move. The lack of any sound of other living creatures was spooky; leaving her to wonder if that’s possible there was no life in the entire forest.
The naked, gruesome trees looked like charcoal in the darkness of the night.
“You know I will find you,” she heard the voice deep inside her head. It was the voice of hatred, whose she always felt utterly afraid of. “After all, you have to remember, this is MY world,” the voice laughed and it was the most horrible laughter she had ever heard in her life.
Suddenly, something caught her attention. In the corner of her eye, she saw a slimy, greasy, slippery body with only one hand slowly creeping toward her. Finished with sharp claws, the hand stretched out toward her to grasp her. Using her last strength, the girl sprang to her feet and tried to flee, but was very tired, so she started to stumble. The bloody hand stretched further without a huge effort and the creature was able to grab her by the ankle.
“No!,” she managed to break free from the remnant forces, using her last saved energy and felt the excruciated pain. The hideous monster, which once had to be a man, stabbed her in the leg and claws ripped skin. In the next second, all disappeared and, once again, she heard the same hateful laughter.
“Doctor Mark, Doctor Mark! It’s so good you came here. I was just going to send someone to find you,” a redheaded nurse called on, seeing the doctor opening the door. ”Please, take a look! Again, one of those ”self - inflicted” wounds!” she lifted the sheet with the blood stain on it covering the patient’s body and pointed at something with a fear in her big green eyes.
“Huh? I… I do not understand…,” the chubby doctor shook his head. He took off his glasses and rubbed his tired blue eyes. His usually pink face was grayish from the stress and tiredness of the last few days. ”There is no way she could get a new wound on her leg. Yet, it is clear that this wound is fresh, and the bloody sheet...,” doctor was shaking his head in disbelief.
Nurse began to clean the wound, looking at the patient’s face, searching for a sign that the girl felt anything, maybe a slightest sign of pain, an eye movement, an eyelid flap, anything that would show her the girl was present here, at the hospital, but her whole body stood in a complete standstill.
“Already over two weeks, and no sign of recovery,” nurse looked at the doctor, looking for a solution. ”She has that strange, peaceful expression on her face; one would think she is just asleep. Nothing suspicious about that, we have patients in coma all the time… Just those wounds and burns...”
“Nurse Jane, can you confirm nobody was here?” asked the physician with a sharp voice, looking at the nurse.
“Of course!” replied the nurse.
“Are you certain?” doctor pressed.
“Yes! You know very well, doctor, that nobody has the permission to enter this room, not even the police. As per your order, no one has been in her room for the last week, except you and me, doctor.”
“Police, yes,” doctor turned his face to the nurse. “That reminds me. Did you contact Captain Horn today?”
“Yes,” confirmed the nurse. “I called him again.”
" And?” doctor looked at her with hope in his eyes.
“And no one even reported her missing; no one is looking for her, no sign of the family. Just if she doesn’t exist...”
“But surely she cannot inflict these wounds by herself; she is deep in coma!” doctor raised his voice. ”This is not normal! Someone just had to…“.
“I agree with you, doctor,” the nurse interrupted him, looking gently in his eyes. “But I am certain none of the staff that we have here would even think about doing something so horrible. In addition, please, do not forget that we have cameras in the corridors, and you check the tapes yourself every day,” She looked deeper into his eyes. “And, I repeat, it’s clearly visible on the tapes that nobody except you and me ever enters her room”.
The doctor sighed and walked towards the window; his tired face seemed much older than it actually was. His practical and analytical mind couldn’t understand what was happening here, but he had that weird feeling it was something abnormal. He felt somehow whatever was going on with the girl lying so peacefully on a bed in his hospital, was closer to the evil than he could even imagine.
“Well,” he started walking on the small distance between the door and the window. “I know you are right. Believe me, I understand what you mean. And, please, trust me, when I say I am not directing my words to you. I know you have nothing to do with all this; I know you are just trying to help,” he stopped, remembering something. ”And what did the police say about this? Are they giving up?”
“No, not yet,” the nurse Jane shook her head, covering the patient again with a new sheet. “Captain Horn said they are still looking around trying to find out who she is. But they cannot really spend all their time looking for someone not registered anywhere”. She straightened her back, looking at the doctor as he continued his walk. “He said they may give it about a week more and then they will have to close her file”.
“That is not enough; they need to find anything on her. Who she is, where she came from… why did she choose my hospital? Anything! - Doctor yelled, looking at the girl on the bed. - She isn’t just an anonymous soul, she is someone, and she exists!
- This is true, but she wouldn’t be the first not known missing person.
- I cannot believe they are closing her file! They saw her! - Doctor pointed at the bed. - Someone out there must help her!
- But doctor, please, remember, these wounds started to appear later, just about a week ago. In the first few days after she came here, she only had some burns and small bruises, and then ... - A nurse broke for the moment. - And then scratches and more bruises started to appear on her body… I think the police had lost their interest and you surely did not want to inform about those wounds...
- Did not and still do not want to. - He turned back to the nurse. - I do not need my hospital to deal with the media circus. - He gave a quick gaze to space and on the woman. - We have to remember she is the victim here. And it is our duty to protect her and to help her to recover without thousands of reporters by her bed.
- But doctor...
- Yes I know. - He interrupted her abruptly. - But we can’t do this. I was thinking about it a lot and, since I see we cannot help her ourselves, I think I may have an idea.
- Will you tell me?
- I heard about this man, who may be able to help us, supposedly he knows the... - Doctor pondered for a moment, gazing at the empty walls. - He knows more about such cases than anyone else. He is a professor of the supernatural or something, and I think we are at the point where I need to ask for his help... - He glanced at the nurse staring at him with her mouth open wide. - I know, I know, you probably think I’m crazy, but I see no other way. We did all we could, police is searching with no results. We tried to deal with this in regular ways and nothing seems to help. I decided I am going to see him tomorrow. He is our only chance right now. - He finished and went out of the room.
The nurse escorted him with her eyes, shook her head in disbelief, and then began to straighten patient’s bedding, wondering who is crazier, the doctor, for whatever he just said, or herself, for believing him.
- All right, are there any questions? - Almost all hands rose. - Questions regarding the lecture we just heard. - All hands went down as one. - Well, in that event, this will be the end of today’s lecture. - A man began to arrange the papers scattered all over the desk. He was putting his notes and jottings in order; he did not raise his head until everyone left the lecture hall. When the door closed with a quiet click and he was finally alone, he gathered a pretty big pile of small cards that were left on his desk by leaving students, mostly by young females, and threw them into his backpack remembering to discard them outside of school. Harry was quite an interesting man, one would not describe him as a handsome, but there was something very eye-catching about him. With deep-green eyes and a bit too long hair that needed a cut, he looked more like a rebel than a teacher. It seemed he didn’t care too much about his appearance. His suits and shirts always looked a bit wrinkled, his shoes needed a bit more cleaning, and someone should definitely buy him a tie.Harry locked the class and started to walk down the hallway. He compassed the lengthy corridors and staircases with an ease, like someone used to long walks and exercising. He used to say what keeps him in shape are walks and ghosts. Harry almost reached the faculty room when he heard someone calling him
- Professor... professor. - Harry heard the voice behind him calling him. The voice was not known to Harry and certainly did not belong to any of his students. - Professor, please, do you have a moment? Can you spare me a moment of your time? There is something I need to talk to you about. - Professor stopped his walk, turned around, and looked at who was calling him. He saw a man, short and a bit chubby, probably in his fifties, certainly not any of his students. His balding head and round face were shining, he was breathing a bit heavily, as their owner would run here. Usually well-brushed gray hair was standing in all directions.
- Yes, what can I do for you? - Asked Harry. - Are you here to talk about your son or daughter? I have a little time now, so... - He broke off. The unknown man shook his head.
- No, it’s not about the student, I don’t even have kids. - He smiled with a very sad smile. - I have to talk to you about a very important issue. - Here he lowered his voice almost to a whisper. - It’s regarding your “part-time” job, so to speak.
- A “part-time” job? I hope you are not a journalist. - Asked Harry with a cold reserve in his voice. - I told you people many times, I’m not interested in any interviews and…
- But no, no way. - A man denied. - I am sorry, I should’ve introduce myself. I am a doctor, my name is Mark Andrews.
- Well, well. - Said Harry. - A doctor. And what is going on? Last time I checked I wasn’t sick, so why is a doctor coming to see me? Did the dean decide I am still under the surveillance?
- Maybe we could talk in private? - Dr. Andrews looked around. The hall was full of students rushing to the next lectures or outbound from the university and every second someone stopped to greet the professor. The doctor could not help to notice most of the greeters were young female students.
- Let’s go to my room, there will be a little calmer, and I have already finished lectures for today. - Said Harry.
The doctor did not blink, hiding the fact he learned in advance professor’s daily schedule and he was very aware it was Harry’s last lecture for today. Harry led the doctor to a room situated far away from other rooms in the building. After they entered the room doctor came to the middle and stopped, amazed, and began to look around an absolutely normal looking place. With a desk in a center, a few chairs here and there, one cozy looking fauteuil, and the shelves filled with books and manuscripts it looked like any other teacher’s room. The only distraction was a painting, hanging above the desk. It was something about a ghost and a man, fighting with each other. Doctor noticed the cross hanging at the wall between the two windows, blinds were half-way down and the gentle light shining through was giving the room a very cozy feeling.
- It looks as though you were expecting something of a completely different design - Harry smiled. - Well, you know what one may expect. - Harry raised his eyebrows amazed when he heard it. - I mean, you know, the phenomenon, a strange phenomenon...
- I think you mistaken me with someone else. - Said Harry coldly. - Of course I give lectures on the paranormal subject, but… I’m just a teacher... - Harry shrugged.
- Who are you trying to fool? - The doctor came closer and looked deep in his eyes. - I know who you are and what you do, or rather what you used to do. And I am here not to talk about the classes you teach here, but, as I mentioned before, about your “other” job.
- Please sit down - Harry pointed at a comfortable fauteuil.
- Maybe it would be best to start from the beginning. - The doctor shook his head at the proposed glass of water. - I’m sure I came to see the right person. - Doctor straightened up in his chair. - It will be better if I tell you the truth. Before I came here, I researched a few things about you.
- A few things about me? - Repeated Harry, slowly walking around the room.
- Yes, I had to know if you are who I thought you were. - Doctor paused
- And you decided I am who I am? - Harry smiled.
- Yes. Please do not get me wrong. I was not trying to interfere with your life. It is only because you are the only person who can help me. However, I was supposed to start from the beginning... We have a big problem at the hospital with one of my patients. It is a young woman, in her mid-twenties, I think. She is unconscious for almost three weeks now, and nobody has any idea on how to help her.
- But doctor, I am not a physician, how am I supposed to know what can be done to help her? I do have to admit you are flattering me, but even though I had good grades in college, it is not a medicine I was studying. - Harry sat down at the edge of the desk.
- It’s not the knowledge of the medicine why I am insisting to talk to you. - Doctor lowered his voice. - But, as I already said, and I know I am correct, about the knowledge you have of the so-called “spiritual phenomena”. - Seeing Harry wanted to say something, doctor raised his hand in a silent request for not interrupting. - And this takes us back to a little over two weeks ago. Before I came here, I read all I could find in any of the possible newspaper, I visited the library to get some more information from any previous articles they may have had about your past and finally I asked my friend, who is a detective, to make the so-called master-data available to me.
- And if it is not a criminal case... - Harry did not look too delighted.
- Maybe it is but I had no other choice, as I have said I had to know that you were who I hoped you were. - So now you know - Harry got up and opened the door - thank you for your visit but I think it’s best for you to go now and...
- You must help me! - Doctor shouted, jumping up from his chair
- Doctor, but quietly, please, do not scream, the security will be here any second, and they are fast and a little overprotective. Please, sit back down. - Seeing doctor calmed down a tad Harry relaxed a bit. - What would it be I would need to help you with?- Please come to the hospital tomorrow, first thing in the morning. - Doctor sat back in his chair with a new hope in his eyes. - There is no possible way to tell you what is happening, must see it yourself. Please tell me you will come.
Harry was looking at him a long time, then sighed and turned to the window
- Well, I’ll come, but remember once I decide cannot help you, you will let me go, no questions asked. - Yes, of course. Here is the address of the hospital. It’s St. Mary’s Hospital. Thank you, thank you very much. - Doctor headed towards the door, repeating his thanks as if Harry just saved his life. - I will see you at the hospital, I start the visits at 0700, if you can come at 0830, would be great. I will be done with my morning tasks, and, if anything unusual happens, I will have about two hours I will be able to dedicate to our mission.
Doctor looked at Harry, but he seemed to be somewhere else, deep in his thoughts. He slowly closed the door hoping Harry won’t change his mind. Harry didn’t hear when the doctor left, he stood still, stared at the window ...
“Promised”. - He heard the voice he hasn’t heard for so long, a voice he tried to forget in vain, but he knew he couldn’t. - “You promised that never again...“. - Harry shook his head with a grim, and putting the tape into a walkman - yes, in spite of all the jokes his colleagues and some braver students were making of him, he still listened to the tapes, he squeezed the headsets deep into his ears, trying to silence all the voices, but Steely Dan.
JanThompson: This book gives a beautiful description of a country which one rarely gets to see. The contrast between rich and poor is very evident too.The storyline actually sheds a compelling light on why women in certain countries sell themselves just to help their families or even to survive themselves. I ...
Carolyn Hahn-Re: I really liked this story! The writing was well done, and the plot was suspenseful. I couldn't stop reading chapter after chapter, on the edge of my seat! The characters were well developed, and true to form. Thank you so much for this wonderful read.
Jacquie Walker: This is one of the best books I have had the pleasure to read. Claudio has created a very "real" world brought alive as his words paint a rich tapestry of the lives of his characters and the world they live in as they journey toward their destiny.I recommend this to all who love this genre.... it...
missmary: This story sucked me in from the start and kept me reading when I should have been in bed. My only disappointment is how it ended. While I have nothing against Sherlock/John pairings- and this was well done- I kind've hoped it would come out a little different just for a change. Still, this was w...
Jordan Young: *ALERT FOR POSSIBLE SPOILERS* Where to start? I don't know how to sum up this review, this story was absolutely sensational. Brilliant. Flawless. I loved every single bit of this story, it is truly amazing. I read this story in fifteen hours, it is magnificent. I loved everything about it, the p...
Someone: This was a fun, entertaining read. Although the novel wasn’t stylistically polished, and although the first couple of chapters struggled to hold my attention, the rest of the novel was engaging and beautifully done. You had me fooled until the end. The rest of this review will contain spoilers fo...
Maryam Rehman: The story was overall amazingly penned down. I loved how the story transitioned from the lavish city of London to the war torn Aleppo. Even though the story had some loopholes in some places, it made me contemplate failing in chemistry, because I was up all night glued to my mobile screen rather ...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."