Whispers. Probably the only sounds that scare me more than my own shadow. You have no idea what it’s like to be constantly traveling in fear. I have to watch every step I take. I am on everyone’s “Most Wanted” list.
One wrong move, and I could instantly disappear. What are these whispers saying exactly? No matter what they proclaim, once you hear the whispers their words are etched in your mind for eternity.
I was in the park, and I decided I wanted to explore the surrounding area. The park resembled an island in the midst of the woods. I noticed a pathway from the bench covered in ivy that I was sitting on. The pathway appeared desolate, as if no one had ever dared to explore it. Something inside of me nagged me to be that person to take the chance. I came to this park alone, and presumed I always would. This would be my little secret.
I got up from the bench and walked in paced steps towards the dirt pathway. Step by step I came closer to the end. My eyes narrowed in on a willow tree. Its branches and leaves draped across this new bench like a bride's veil. In this part of the woods, no one would notice my absence. It could be my own secret world.
There were a few signs telling me to turn back or go away, but I couldn't. This place reminded me of the warmth I had been deprived of in my own house. I decided to return tomorrow, to see if there have been any changes to the quiet atmosphere.
The next day I returned with a camera and a flashlight. I was ready for anything. I took the same path that I engraved in my mind the day before. This time a feeling of being watched cascaded over me. I decided to ignore these slight warning signs. I wanted to get away from reality for a while, and this was my chance. I arrived at the tree and draped back the branches, as I had before. I then took a picture to keep it in my memories. When I examined the picture on the pixilated screen, a pond showed up. I might have been insane, but I did not recall a pond from my past adventure to this place. Nevertheless, I sat down to contemplate my life. That is when I first heard the whispers. When I returned from examining my mind, I noticed that the bench was moved closer to the pond. I came to the realization that I wasn't the only one who used this place as an escape from reality. However, was this thing a human or a person?
My eyes shifted to my peripherals. Who was out there? The air seemed to drop in temperature till my fingers were frozen over. Something was there... I scanned my surroundings once more. Who was it? What was there? In my petrified state, I called out to the wind. In the back of my mind I knew that it was always the worst thing you could do but the fear took over.
I called over and over. The thing never responded. My eyelids clouded over until all I could see was night. The darkness consumed my sight as if a thousand crows had come in mini clusters. All I could see was night. All I could hear were whispers. All I could hold on to, was my sanity.
I awoke. The first shape I saw when I opened my eyes was a figure hunched over. It appeared to be human, but I did not know for sure. All around me the blinding darkness I had seen when I first closed my eyes filled the air. I couldn't talk or shout and my throat itched. If I could have , I would have scratched my throat from the inside out. The figure turned my way. It was covered in black from head to toe. I couldn't tell you where it ended or where it began. Finally, it spoke for the first time.
"Drink this. You're parched." It handed me a glass container that looked exactly like a jam jar. I took it, already too thirsty to think about the consequences. After I took a gulp, I had enough comfort to speak.
"Who are you?" The thing stood motionless.
"I am everyone. I am someone. I am no one." The creature spoke in a combination of various voices. Some of these voices appeared similar enough that I could almost recognize their origin. Others, sounded demonic. My spine crawled out of place inside of me from the fear. The fear of the unknown. Whatever this was, it, was not human. It, was something entirely different.
I then made out a bit of color on its face. Its eyes. I glanced upon cloudy blue eyes that appeared in all the pictures I saw throughout the years. I couldn't place a name to those eyes. As my vision cleared more I concentrated on the loopy figure. I now saw the entirety of its face. Then I grasped the new information. That thing... it was... me.
I sat there, paralyzed with fear. My childhood contained logical explanations for everything. Yet, I couldn't come up with one for this mirror image right in front of me.
“What?” The creature growled as if a lion had found a place inside its mouth. I backed away cautiously.
“Why do you look like me?” The thing grinned at this. My face looked back at me with a wide smile. I felt as if this would be the end for me.
“I am you.” Shivers lurched across my whole being. The creature looked to the left side of the room. Instinctively, I followed his gaze to find... bodies. Thousands of cadavers were stacked on top of each other. To tell if they were dead or alive, I would have to stare directly at their faces. Limbs were twisted and feet dangled on top of heads. There were too many people. I dissected them with my eyes,but figures jumped in and out of my hazy mind. The thing scanned the area and lifted one up.
“I think you remember him,” It cackled. I spared a glance and looked closer at the sprawling body. It appeared to be a man. The man opened his jaw and spoke.
"Why?" The man choked out. I knew the face from my memories. He had to be part of my past if I could remember him so clearly. Then I saw it. I looked back to find that all the bodies were alive. They moved as if a giant centipede had possessed them to throttle forward.
"What is this?" I said. Fear petrified me once again. Something here was demonic. The creature slyly grinned from ear to ear.
"This is you. These are the people you have left behind." My heart wrenched with the impact of the accusation. No matter the hurt, I forced myself to focus back on the monstrosity in front of me.
“You don’t get it, do you?” It spoke as if I was supposed to know something. Try as I may, the enigma the monster had created had no way to be cracked. Had these poor souls taken the same risk, gone down the same path? I honestly had no clue how long I had been in this state of unconsciousness. I didn't realize I would wake up to this nightmare.
It’s as if my whole life flashed before my eyes. My soul had been taken over by something else. I felt no pain, but I saw it. Then I understood that I was next in line. I would soon become like the soulless bodies tossed aside in the corner of this death chamber I've found myself in.
I glanced over at the creature. He seems to be talking to the pile of flesh. The chance to actually make a break for it presented itself. But, where would I go? Which way was up? Which way was down? The room started to spin. That same darkness clouded over my eyes like the one before. I saw no light, just darkness. I then realized my body had become like a strand of forgotten fibers. I lay on the ground, again.
I awoke from yet another fall. The setting had changed again. The hellion that was back in the cave now consisted of the park. I brushed the wood under me only to come to the conclusion that I was back on the same bench. Was it all a bad dream? I started walking toward the drooping branches to exit.
"Remember what you have seen. It won't be the last time" A voice snapped at me while I still stood in my dreamlike stumble. The voice resonated in my ear as I searched for the exit. I needed to get out of here before anything else happened. Sharp cries pierced the wind. I turned around to see who was making such noise. No one waited behind me. Before anything else had the chance to kill me, I bolted with the leftover adrenaline. I could only hear the sound of my own hyperventilation as my footsteps became heavier.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a figure coming in from the entrance. This caused me to run faster than I ever had before. Home was just around the corner. I learned my lesson about escaping reality, and I never wanted to wander off again. Instead, I wanted to escape the unreal.
I walked through the door to my house. My parents were at the dinner table waiting for me with open arms. The putrid smell of something unfamiliar scratched my already sore throat. I needed something to eat before I locked myself in my room for the rest of the night. An awkward silence ensued at the table as the three of us ate. My mother finally broke the silence.
“Where have you been all day?” My fork clattered onto the floor. I had no rhyme or reason to reassure my parents with.
“I was just... taking a nature walk,” I lied. Although, my day did start as a walk and ended as a panic attack.
“All day?” my father’s eyebrows rose. He sensed the lie faster than a bloodhound.
“Well... you know how big our neighborhood is. Miles of buildings and distractions.” The silence picked up where it left off. I could hear a whispering conversation take place before me. I was sure that I would get a tracker attached to my ankle like those kids on house arrest. Out of curiosity I asked, “What?”
“We didn't say anything,” my mother replied. What was going on? The whispers continued to grow louder and louder, and my parents’ mouths weren't moving with them.
A shape erupted from the whispers. The shape for a second stayed in its lifeless form. Then before I could warn my parents, it morphed back into my place. I watched the creature become me, once again. I yelled at my parents, warning them to get away. They didn't listen. My body trembled as the figure took my place and conversed with my parents. It acted exactly like me. It thought exactly like me. I was not noticed at all...
I stared at the figure for many months. I watched my life unfold as if I was casually perusing a TV drama where I once used to be the main actress. After all these months, the figure backed away from my parents and registered that I was there. It smiled, but not the kind of smile you received from a friend. This smile was clouded in malicious imprints. I stood, petrified. Then, the gears in my brain turned, and It all made sense.
Now I understood. After all the years of escaping reality, I failed to see that I already had everything I wanted. All those people deep in the cave, they were real. All those people, were parts the monster took from my life. The man the monster held up, was my father. The monster had replaced my entire life with its universe. These people weren't my family. These people... were all it, and it had transformed every single person till they were all demonic replications, cloned to be exactly like it.
Then they all smirked. They knew I knew. They knew I was awake. No more trying to escape reality because reality had already died. This... was ...their home. Had my whole life been a lie? How long had this been going on? Had this plague struck every aspect of my life, my loved ones, me? The demon now owned me and there was nothing I could possibly do about it. It had taken another of its victims because curiosity got the best of me. My life was hopeless.