You swipe away the moisture from your face. Under your eyes, sweat pools over your cheekbones and above your upper lip. Sunlight beams through the blinds on your window, illuminating the dust particles that rain from your ceiling. The clock says 4:25. You have a client scheduled in five minutes. You open up the manila folder lying on your desk in front of you and begin to read the information.
Her name is Andrea Logrin, she’s 11 years old, and her past diagnoses include multiple personality disorder, manic depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. She’s home-schooled, after several years filled with torment and attacks from her public school peers. She has been with therapists before, but never spoke to any of them. Her mother called your office a month ago, claiming that her only hope was to get her in with an experienced, well respected psychological doctor.
30 seconds until it’s time to dig into this girl’s mind. You wipe more sweat off your brow. Your computer notified you that she has arrived and signed in for her appointment about 10 minutes ago. You slowly pull yourself out of the swivel chair you’ve been sitting in and opened the door to the waiting area.
“Hello, Andrea?” You make eye contact with a young girl across the room. Her mother begins to scoot off the chair, encouraging her daughter to do so as well. “Have you gotten your vitals?”
The young girl and her mother follow you into the warm office and take a seat in the living chairs across from the desk. For a few moments, you are silent, reading over the medical information given to you by the nurse. Everything was normal, her weight was leaning towards below average, but it wasn’t unhealthy. The clock’s metronomic ticking seemed to get louder as the two sitting in your office waited for you to make a move.
“Andrea, I want you to explain to me” you begin, “the traumatic event that occurred that caused your PTSD.” You look up from the paper work and watch her closely, noting her body language. Her eyes glanced to her mother for 3 seconds, she must be uncomfortable with her presence. She avoids eye contact, you haven’t gained her trust. She twists her fingers around one another and bounces her knee, she is experiencing a nervous or an anxious twitch. You then watch her mother. She stares at you for a moment, she must be in shock that you started off so quickly with this kind of question.
“Mrs. Logrin, I need you to understand that I don’t waste time introducing myself or getting to know the smaller details of a patient until necessary. Especially in a case like hers.” You state calmly. She sinks back into her seat and holds her purse on her lap. You stare at Andrea again. “Mrs. Logrin, I also believe it is appropriate that you sit out in the waiting area for now.”
The mother looks at Andrea and gets up slowly, and shuffles her way out of the compact office.
“Now, Andrea, please explain to me the traumatic event that occurred that causes your PTSD.”
She still twists her fingers anxiously and refrains from eye contact.
“Andrea, I need you to understand that you have a mental illness. I am a doctor, I have been trained to label and treat said illnesses. I do not know you personally,” you explain softly, “you have no reason to be embarrassed by anything you are about to say.” Nothing. The girl does not respond. You doubt she will speak at all of her emotions. You decide that it’s time for a different kind of therapy. Slowly, you pull out a blank white board with a single black dot directly in the center of it.
“Because you aren’t answering my questions, I want you to follow my instructions. If you do not, you will be charged extra for the appointment, however, I will have to ask you to leave.” You said while dabbing your forehead with a handkerchief. She brought her head up and looked you in the eyes for a few moments. She had accepted your proposal. That came easier than expected. You hold up the white board with the black dot in the center and instruct Andrea to stare at the black dot. She sits there for a moment, staring at her feet. She looks up finally, brushes her hair from her face, and stares.
“Now, sweetheart, I am going to begin talking. Do not respond, and do not move your eyes from the dot.” You whisper. You wait a moment, and then you begin with the basics.
“Give me your money.” Her eyes stay stagnant. After five seconds, you try again. “I have candy for you”. Her eyes are still motionless. “Just let it happen.” She blinks twice, but no eye movement. Reaction. You push even more. “Do it or else…” Her eyes remain still. You keep the dialogue going. After a handful of reactionless tests, you do one more. “You said you wanted it, didn’t you?” Her eyes darted away. She sat back in her chair and looks into your eyes. An angry intimation forms over her seemingly shy face.
“She doesn’t want to talk. Just leave the poor girl alone.” She growled. You notice a strange masculine tone that overrode her voice.
“Who doesn’t want to talk?” You ask, hiding your startled expression.
“Andrea, you idiot. Now let her leave. Drop the extra charges.”
“Who am I talking to now?”
“What’s it matter. The poor girl doesn’t want to be here.” This masculine voice must be one of Andrea’s multiple personalities, you think.
“It matters because if I don’t know your name, how can I address you?”
“His name is Phillip,” a higher pitched voice suddenly states.
“Shut up!” The deep-voiced Phillip growls.
“And who are you, young lady?” You ask patiently.
“I’m Andrea’s best friend forever,” she replies.
“And what is your name?” You begin writing notes on their names and the actions these personalities have taken so far.
“My name is Lucille,” the female voice giggles.
“Very nice to meet you, Lucille and Phillip. You don’t suppose I can talk to Andrea, now, do you?”
“No! Fuck off!” Phillip yelled.
“Watch your language! I’ll tell your momma on you!” Lucille squealed.
“Fair enough. We still have about 40 minutes left, why don’t you two explain to me what happened to Andrea.”
“Like hell we will.” Phillip spat.
“Phillip! Language! Andrea’s mommy is paying good money for this nice doctor. We shouldn’t put it to waste.” Lucille exclaimed.
“Both of you, stop.” A monotone voice piped up.
“And who are you?” You ask.
After a few moments, she pipes up, “I’m Andrea.”
“It’s great to finally hear from you, Andrea.” You smile, a feeling of relief blankets you. She twitches the corner of her mouth and returns to staring at her feet. “So, please tell me how your PTSD came to be.”
“Hmmm.” She began to rub her arm slowly.
Knowing there were about 35 minutes left, you decided to use a different technique. You knew she was raped or molested as a child from the first test, and from gathering that information, you decided to use a new test. You pull out a stick of incense and place it in a burner. You light it, allowing the scent to fill the small, warm office.
“Now, this is an incense that relaxes the body and mind. It also brings one to a dream-like state. Because your trauma is so intense, it will bring you to that memory. I apologize in advance for making you re-encounter your fears. But it is necessary for your treatment.” You explain, “And for legal reasons, this room is under surveillance. You are completely safe while you are under this treatment.” She doesn’t seem very submissive at first, but her physical reaction eventually becomes present. Her eyes are glazed and slightly pink, and she slouched lower in her chair. Finally, she lays back and instantly closes her eyes. You feel your eyelids become heavy themselves, but you must remain outside of the dream state. You begin asking her questions.
“Who’s with you?” You ask. Your eyelids are getting heavier and heavier.
“A clown.” She replies quietly. You, although surprised, note that she is responding to the beginning of the treatment.
“Is there anyone else?”
“And what is the clown doing?” You feel your eyes close, but you continue with your questions.
“He’s standing there, holding something. He says it’s a toy.”
“I see. What kind of toy?” You scribble in your notebook without looking.
“I don’t know. He’s telling me I will like it.” You can almost picture the situation as your eyes remain closed. You can see the clown standing in front of you, holding something.
“What is he doing now?”
“He’s walking towards me, asking if I want it.” It was slightly disturbing, the raspy, phlegm filled cackle of the clown seemed to be as you continued to imagine the situation.
“Where are you? And what’s he doing now?”
“A toy store. It’s empty. He’s… grabbing my head… STOP! STOP! NO!” Her screaming startles you enough to open your eyes. You watch as she claws at the arms of her chair. She squirms and begins to cry, still in her dream state. Forcefully, your eyes close again and you begin to see it. You watch as this clown, lipstick smudged up his face, his white foundation dripping off from all his sweat, and his blue eye shadow patching over his brow, moving towards you, gripping your hair tightly. You can smell his body odor and a strong whiff of alcohol fills your nose. You feel the urge to yell at him to stop, but you remind yourself that you are still in your office.
“Keep explaining it… Andrea keep talking…” You feel your eyes burning and you’re breathing heavily.
“He’s… he’s…” Her voice seemed to drift off. It became distant and quiet, and gradually became silent. You become discouraged to the fact that you are still experiencing the memory without her walking you through it. Vividly, you could see the clown glaring down at you, exposing his rotten brown teeth. His hand is gripping the band of his pants, lowering it and snickering. You turn your head away and scoot further back into the corner you were sitting in, clenching your eyes shut and repeatedly telling him to stop.
Pushed into a dark corner, you’re curled up in a tight ball. Your muscles begin to ache because of how tightly you contracted yourself away from him. You remember to remind yourself that this is only a dream, and that you’re really only in the office with Andrea. You strain to open your eyes, almost like you were forcing yourself to wake up. No matter what you do, though, you can’t escape this fantasy.
The man gripped your hair even tighter and pushes your head back, forcing your mouth to gape open. You struggle and squirm to get out of his grip, but you can’t even close your jaw. Your head and neck aches from how much force he’s using.
“You said you wanted it, didn’t yah?” He grumbled, frustrated with your resistance. Clenching your eyes, you cry out in pain and tears stream down your face until a bloodcurdling scream escapes from the clown. You feel his grasp loosen, and just as you open your eyes, a pitch-black hand with outrageously long fingers wraps around the terrified, painted face of the man in front of you. You relax your jaw as the clown’s fist releases your hair. The hand pulls the clown backwards, digging its fingernails into his cheeks. Another hand wraps around his neck and pierces the skin with black claws, gouging his jugular and slicing across the flesh. Blood spills out of his neck and down his body, splattering onto your face. His small, dry eyes roll backwards and you hear him gasping for air as his fat body shakes. You can’t even let out a scream, your chest hurts from how hard your heart is beating. For a moment you feel your heart stop, just as the clown goes limp.
You cover your eyes with your sticky, blood covered hands. Peeking through your fingers, the mysterious hands begin to dig its fingernails underneath the skin of the clown. You watch in horror as it begins to peel the greasy skin of his face off slowly, ripping and tearing the clown’s cheeks and chin. Dark, red blood runs down the remaining of his neck. You gag as the hands tug the colourful skin from the skull and you can see the muscles stretch as the flesh it’s attached to is being pulled from the bone. The two pitch black hands rip the skin off of the clown’s skull and dig its fingernails into his remaining eyeballs. It lifts and tosses the lifeless body to the wall with a violent slam, and standing over you is a tall figure in which the hands belong to. Through your tears, you quickly search the figure for a face. You were unsuccessful, you can only see, in the dim light that the figure has an oversized hooded-sweatshirt on. The hood from the sweatshirt is resting on the head and casting a shadow over the face. This body is thin, skinnier than any human being could be. The waist of the subject was no more than 17 inches around. The muscle on their bones isn’t apparent, and the body doesn’t seem to actually be standing. In fact, you can’t even see very far past their upper thighs, it’s so dark. You can’t be sure it has legs in the first place.
You see the figure raise their arms and let out a snarl as the room around you collapses. The shelves of toys combust, the innocent, comforting teddy bears’ marble eyes seem to meet yours as they burn to ash. The ceiling falls with a crash, sending a thick fog of dust into the atmosphere, revealing a black abyss-like sky. You shut your eyes tightly and cough wildly. You could hear things being smashed throughout the room. Small pieces of debris bounce off of your body. Vision blurred by tears, you pry your eyes open to see the figure levitating high above your head, emitting a dim, supernatural light source from around it. It turns its face to you and lets out a grunt and falls to the floor directly in front of you. The body of this figure crumbles in the darkness. Chest aching, your breath taken, and entire body in incredible pain, as if all of your bones are broken, you sit whaling in anguish. Slowly, you lunge forward to inspect the figure. Suddenly, as your hand reaches to the pile of torso lying motionless only inches ahead of you, the sweatshirt fell into itself, as if the body inside it just disintegrated. You jump back, startled, watching the pile of clothes on the ground.
Breathing heavily, the room fell silent. The darkness of the toy store was thick and heavy, almost like a fog, blackening all of your surroundings. You try and stand, stumbling over yourself and the pile of clothing that was left on the floor from the strange entity. Trudging through the darkness, you hold your hands out in front of you, feeling your way through the room. Not sure where you are heading, you try to at least make out your location. Currently, you can feel hills of rubble and debris from the shelves of innocent toys and the ceiling that was destroyed earlier. You feel a slight pressure form on your back between your shoulder blades. It grows, and you feel yourself being thrown forward. You trip over the broken pieces of plaster and wood, until the pressure on your back recedes. Slowly, your feet begin to raise off of the ground. You squirm and flail your legs as you feel yourself lifting higher and higher into the air. It seems like something is picking you up, you can feel resistance under your ribs, as if two hands were grasping your midsection. The smell of sulfur and rotting eggs fills your lungs and you begin coughing and wheezing. Breathing becomes difficult and your throat becomes tighter and tighter as you float higher into the air. Suddenly, the force holding you up releases you, causing you to fly through the air, quickly yet aimlessly. Shooting through the dark, you feel yourself slam into a wall, releasing sounds of cracking bones. You scream in anguish, a terrible pain consumes your body the moment you slam into the wall. You fall to the floor with a crash. Breathing slowly and painfully, you feel a slight gust of wind.
Tears roll down your sweating face, just as something bashes into your temple, and your eyes close.
A crisp, cool air comforts your body. You feel yourself laying comfortably on something soft. Although your eyelids are heavy, you manage to awaken. White walls and a bland ceiling are all you see. You hear mechanical beeps coming from beside you. For some reason, you can’t move. You try and try to turn your head but it just releases a spark of pain in your neck.
A woman appears above you, smiling. She wore a badge that read “Nurse Lucille”.
“Good morning, doctor!” She exclaims. You manage to move your lips, enough to mumble a question.
“Where am I?”
“You’re in the hospital, sweetie. The doctor will be with you shortly.” Lucille replied. The woman disappears, you assume she left. A deep, masculine voice rises to your left.
“Hello, doctor. Sleep well?” The man asks, eventually coming into view.
“I can’t move.” You whimper.
“That’s the sedative. It will wear off soon.”
You study the man, looking for a name tag. Surely, his name tag reads “Doctor Phillip”.
“Where’s Andrea?” You ask frantically.
“Andrea… Andrea.. uhh.. Andrea Logrin! Where is she?”
“No one named Andrea Logrin has signed in.” He begins poking at your arms and legs.
“She… She’s my patient. I was in the room with her… The office…”
“Shut up!” He growls. Surprised, you watch his face twist into an angry, stern expression. He raises his arm and stabs your vein with a thick needle. Painfully, you feel something run through your body, and your eyes close again.
Gasping for air, you jump out of your seat. You quickly study the room, noticing that it’s your office. Panting, you look at the chair across from you, a familiar young girl sits, slowly waking up.
“An-Andrea?” You ask, wide eyed. “Are you all right?”
“Yes.” She replied.
“I’m… so sorry you had to experience that again...” You look at the clock, still trying to capture your breath. 5:00pm. Only 5 minutes have passed by.
She gets up slowly, zips up her sweatshirt, pushes her hair out of her eyes, and walks towards the door.
“Thank you, doctor.” She smiles.
“Same… uh… Same time next week?” You ask, still in shock.
Your heart continues to beat rapidly as you sign out of the office and walk down the hallway towards the exit. Andrea is no longer alone in this world, and neither are you.