Do you think a person can tell if they’re insane or not?
How exactly do you find the line between reality and delusion?
They told me that I was seeing things. It was all in my head.
I even started to believe them, too. They’re cunning like that.
When they realise you’re onto them, they convince you it’s all in your head, all in your mind, they’re just sleeping, not really dead.
I suppose I'm getting ahead of myself a little. I mustn’t do that, oh no. See, you have to understand. You have to believe me. Nobody else does.
I’m not really sure where it all began in the first place. But I started to notice things. Little things. Have you ever noticed the shadow in the corner of your eye? It flits out of sight before you can catch more than the briefest of glimpses. But what is it? Just a blind spot in your vision? A reflection of some kind? Yeah, I didn’t know either. But there had to be some rational explanation, right?
I didn’t have many friends, you see. So I was bored a lot. So I invented this little game, if it can be called that. I’d try to see the shadow in the corner of my eye. I’d pretend like I was doing something else, then suddenly look as quickly as I could. Of course, it never worked. But it was a way to pass the time.
4:27 am, my eyes burst open. I check the clock. I check again. Now, I live in what has to be one of the rainiest cities in the world, I swear. Constant rain, frequent thunderstorms; and to top it all off, I live in a student village, so noise is something you grow accustomed to. So if you’re a light sleeper and get woken up at the slightest sound? Well, you learn not to be. Either that or you don’t sleep at all. I like my sleep, so it takes a lot to wake me. I can’t remember the last time I woke up in the middle of the night. But I just did. And I’ve no idea why. I lie still, listening, trying to figure out what woke me. There it is. A slight…whispering, I suppose. Not actual words, not that I can tell anyway. Just…whispering. It’s faint; an echo of an echo. I look around, and it stops. Shrugging, I try to go back to sleep. It starts again. I might be a deep sleeper, but it’s always taken me a long time to actually fall asleep. Lately though, it’s gotten worse. So rather than count sheep, I try to catch a glimpse of the shadow in the corner of my eye. Realising it’s going to be a long time before I can fall asleep again, but resigning myself to my fate, I try it now. And I freeze.
I mentioned earlier that I live in a student village, which means my room is pretty small, but it’s all I’ve got to call my own. Not much in the way of furniture, really, but it’s all crammed in. As a result, my chair is in a rather odd place; just next to my bed. Sometimes I use it as a sort of nightstand; I’ll put my phone or laptop on it if I can’t be bothered to put them away properly. There’s nothing on it tonight.
Or at least, there shouldn’t be.
A chill runs up my spine, and I slowly close my eyes, hoping, praying that it didn’t see me.
I’ve never been particularly religious. But twice in my life, I have thought I was going to die; once when I was a child, stuck in a marsh, and the other by my own hand. Both times, I’d offered up a quick prayer just in case. When you truly believe you’re going to die, your breathing changes. The enormity of what is about to happen sort of…overwhelms you. Your breaths become…shallower. Shakier. Louder.
That whispering was terrifying. But what I heard next was worse. As I let out a solitary, shaky breath…silence falls. It’s sudden. The hairs on my arms stand up. Cursing myself, I sit bolt upright, and look straight at the figure on the chair. And blink. It’s empty. I sigh, and fall back into bed. As I pull the covers over me, my face falls slack. There was a shadow in the corner of my eye.
I think they’re always there, always watching. We can’t see them, usually. But once you’ve seen one, you start seeing more. In the corner of the coffee shop, or standing in the queue behind you. They don’t seem to do anything; just follow someone around.
I was so naïve. I guess my eyes have adjusted now. I can see the truth. They’re solid, now. Not just shadowy figures. Not just whispers in the night. Pale, clammy flesh sheaths them. The odd thing is, they’re…uniform. They all look identical; dozens of them at least. The same wicked scars, same blood-stained mouths. They all tower over you, at seven feet at least; putting my eye level at the perfect height to look into the gaping chasm in their chest, containing nothing but a bloody heart, pumping away in the empty space. But that’s not the worst part. It’s the eyes. I’m not sure why. Sure, they’re pretty horrific; bloodshot and cracked, glittering black irises oozing crimson rivers which flow down their faces. But there’s just…something about them. They look into you. And looking back, you see a torrent of memories; all your worst fears, most horrific nightmares. But you shouldn't judge by looks alone, and I didn’t, though the thought of them makes my skin crawl. No, that’s not why I hate them now. I found someone else who can see them. I didn’t believe it at first, but sure enough, the girl who kept nervously glancing into the corner of the room wasn’t crazy. She was watching one.
About a week ago, I think they became suspicious. I don’t know if I grew too obvious, or if it was just the two of us in one place. But they became more aggressive. Waiting, watching; testing us. At first it was just little things, we scarcely noticed the change. They’d stand a little closer. Whisper a little louder. They began following us all the time; first one, then two, then half a dozen. I woke up in the night again three days ago. It couldn't have been more than an inch from my face. You cannot imagine the willpower it took to act like I couldn’t see it. I suppose she didn’t have enough. Walking through campus together, she looks me dead in the eye and I know something is wrong. She glances up, and we keep walking. But I’ve seen it now. It’s standing on the roof of the library, staring right at us. We keep walking.
The sound of bones snapping against concrete doesn't sound like you’d think. It’s…blunter. The contrast of pure white bone piercing the deep red consistency of blood is almost beautiful. But not when you know where it came from. As the blood began to pool around the corpse laying on the floor, a dozen eyes looked on in horror. But not hers. She looked right back at the thing on the roof the moment she saw the body. That was her first mistake.
People often say they wouldn't want to meet something in a dark alley. I learned that the light doesn’t matter. Not when a seven foot tall chunk of white flesh is looming over you. The next moments will haunt me for what little of my life I have left. I closed my eyes, and kept walking. Until I heard her scream. We’d never actually seen them touch anyone before. They’d always just drift away, just out of reach at the last moment. It’s almost laughable. I’d woken up with a face an inch from mine, I’d watched it kill, and all the time not given a single indication that I had seen. But the sight of those stubby little fingers covering her face proved too much. As I looked on in horror, it looked me dead in the eye and grinned.
What haunts me most is what I did next. I should have done something. I should have fought, or tried to save her, but I didn’t. I turned and ran. In that moment, I think I understood why some people are afraid of clowns. It’s not the make-up, or the props, or the jokes…it’s the sick, maniacal laughter.
They told me I was seeing things. That I’d developed psychosis, that I was hallucinating. The man we’d seen had jumped; a combination of depression and pressures of his job. The friend I’d watched die had suffered from an aneurysm. Of course, they didn’t have any answers when I asked how common it is for someone’s face to disappear due to an aneurysm.
Apparently it’s not okay to get angry when people are lying to you. They locked me up, threw me in a padded cell. They told me that I was insane. Of course I was going to scream when the nurse didn’t have a face. It would be insane not to.
So why am I writing this? I started when I heard the whispering through the padded walls of my cell. It’s just as well I’ve pretty much finished, because I can see white, stubby fingers reaching through the barred window set into the door. That’s not what terrifies me though. What terrifies me is that I can hear what they’re saying now. It’s