The room turned black. Suzanne was gone and I was no longer seeing her subconscious. I didn't know where I was. Suddenly I was staring at my father, Derek. I was taken back by the sight of him and felt anger seep through my body. Why is he here? Where is Suzanne?
He stares at angrily at me. He gives me that stern look he used to give me when I did something wrong like break a lamp or run through the house. His eyes screamed anger as well as I thought mine may appear to him but I did not understand. He should not be angry. I should be.
I jumped as I felt someone place their hand on my shoulder. It was me ...or as I think I've come to understand…my subconscious. It terrified me. It was like looking into a mirror, but the reflection had a mind of its own.
"Hey, I bet you're angry" my subconscious says with a slight smirk.
"Of course I am …this disgusting human being is staring at me. Why is he here? Why are you here?" I ask
"You know why...you feel guilt"
"Guilt? Guilt for what?" I ask, confused at his realization I didn't know I had.
"You blame yourself for your father leaving your mother. You didn't want to believe it at first, but eventually it sunk in. Your parents…they were happier when they didn't have any kids" my subconscious tells me and he places a photo on my lap. It was of my mother and father when they were young. They had smiles on their faces. They were happy.
"I don't feel that way…my father just wanted to find a justifiable reason to cheat on my mom. That had nothing to do with me or Sammy" I say, but I feel a hint of dishonesty in my voice.
"Yeah right...not only do you blame yourself for your parents’ divorce, but you also blame yourself for Sammy being taken away by Jasper. You know if they hadn't separated none of this would have ever happened"
"No....I - it's not my fault" I say, feeling a pain in my chest.
"Then who's fault is it Matt?" he asks and I glare at him.
"I'm waiting..." he continues while laughing. "Admit it" he probes pushing me right in the chest. Right where he knew it would hurt.
"I won't admit to something that isn't true" I say and try to take his hand away from me. It didn't work. When trying to touch him my hand moved right through his body. He was invincible. He could not be touched or harmed. He can hurt me…torment me, but I cannot do the same. You cannot hurt your mind...but your mind can hurt you.
"Tell me something Matthew...something I know only you know the answer to - remember Elizabeth? That girl that died because she came too close to the forest? Did you enjoy hearing her scream?" he asked devilishly and I felt a spring of pain in my head.
"No…I did not enjoy that. How could I enjoy the sound of a little girl's life being ripped out of her body?" I ask him, confused as to why that would even be a question he would ask.
"I thought you'd say that..." he says and a sound that was at first muffled started to become louder and louder. It was the sound of Elizabeth screaming. It banged against my ears and head. I shook at the sound seeming to only affect me as my father and subconscious remained still. However, my father walked over to me. I tried to back away, but my body would not move. It was as if I was glued to the floor.
"Matthew! This is all your fault! Do you understand? You are a horrible son and you always will be. You can't even take care of your own brother!" my father pokes at me.
"That's not true! You're a liar and a cheater" I scream back at him, knowing two forces were now against me. Elizabeth's screams and my father's patronizing voice.
The claims and the accusations all storm at me at once.
"Make it stop!" I scream, hardly able to hear myself.
Suddenly I felt as if my ears would explode. Blood started to flow down my face like a waterfall of pain.
"Stop it!" I yelled in pain, "I can't take it! Stop it now!"
"I'll stop it when you admit that you feel guilty" he says and I shudder.
"Fine! I feel guilty! I wouldn't even be here...I wouldn't even know Jasper...if my parents were still together! None of this would be happening…maybe I could have stopped it...been a better son - I don't know! I just want my brother back! I feel like this is my fault!" I reply to him, he smiles, and nods his head.
As he accepted my words the screaming stopped. I couldn't control it, but when it had stopped tears started to fall out of my eyes. I couldn't stop it. Poor Elizabeth I thought...forever her soul will remain here.
"Good boy. You seem to follow directions very well" he says to me, "You did better than Jasper anticipated"
"You're supposed to be my subconscious...how could you know things about Jasper that I don't?" I ask
"The subconscious mind stores information that the conscious mind may not immediately process with full understanding...meaning that I've pieced together something you haven't figured out yet. You have not processed it in its entirety to fully grasp what I know" he responds and I shake my head.
"So, what is it that you know? What is it that I haven't fully processed?" I ask in bewilderment.
"Matthew, this is not just random jolts of electricity that Jasper is shocking you with. Everything that's happening...everything that has happened.. it all has value and meaning. There's a code you need to crack. This is a game to play and I wouldn't want to lose if I were you"
"So, what do I do from here?"
"Find out what happened to Jasper...start from the beginning. You need to find out why everyone started fearing the forest in the first place"