Late night thoughts


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You know, it’s always when I think I’ve got a certain situation all figured out that I am thrown into a mental spin and start to doubt every little thing about it. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve misread some really important cues along the way or if I am screwing it all up with my over thinking and over analyzing of every little word and action, or inaction, after the fact.

I find myself in tears of confusion and pure frustration at the futility of it all.

I just can’t or don’t work well with the instability I feel which occurs as a result of mixed messages and uncertainty. And there is the crux of it. I know very well that nothing in this life is certain, nothing is promised, but this knowledge does nothing to stem the feeling of constantly being in limbo for one reason or another.

I just want to smile and feel happy and hopeful again without wondering if I’m just setting myself up for the inevitable fall I am well acquainted with.



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I’ve been really sick lately.  Going on a week here now with not much else I can do except lie around, sleep and listen to music between Netflix shows or movies.  Today started as a really down day for me but isn’t looking to end too badly.  My mood has improved, if nothing else.  A well timed message or phone call really does wonders like nothing else can.

Oh, and I’ll just leave this song here, because it’s amazing.


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I started to withdraw more and more.  I didn’t do it on purpose.  I want you to know that.  The truth is that you withdrew too.  We found our way back but you were only there physically, not mentally.  I understand that now.  It doesn’t make it any easier.  I still feel as if I failed.  Again.

I want my feelings back now, please.  All of them, the good and the bad.  At least they were a reminder that it was all real, once.  

It was real, wasn’t it?


That bitch, Cybil Bennett


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~ Chapter Six ~

That bitch, Cybil Bennett


It was alive and it was coming for them. Anything that had just happened to her, including the conversation with Harper was pushed aside as she saw the black smoke moving towards them and fast. When Claire saw it start to seep underneath the bathroom door, she moved, fast. Flying out into the mall as the older man towed her still holding her hand in a death grip she realized she’d moved not a second too soon. It was almost on top of them.

“It’s coming!” She yelled as she pushed herself to run even faster, ignoring the pain in her knee, there wasn’t time to think about that and she didn’t look back, just moving faster than she ever had before. She had no doubt that if it caught up with them that it wouldn’t end well. As they were running amidst all of the chaos of the others screaming and the pounding of their feet on the tiles along the seemingly endless corridor ahead Claire was sure that she could hear it whispering, making awful sounds that almost seemed to form words but of course there was no time to stop and think about that until they were safe.

She saw the others up ahead and heard Harper yell, “Exit right ahead!”, making her move faster as the sounds from that thing got louder and finally she stood there with the others, now taking a second to look behind her while he unlocked the padlock on the door in front of them. All she could see down the hall she’d come from was black, moving ever quicker and … was it growling now?!

“Hurry, please hurry! Who has the fucking key?!” She struggled to keep from becoming hysterical, again, but a moment later the door was opened and they all tumbled out onto the roof of the building.

They were away from the smoke, or whatever the hell it was for the moment, but what she saw now was precarious, at best, and she realized that whatever the smoke was, that it would still be coming, and she didn’t have too long to make the decision that stood before her.

Stepping away from the door, she saw that there were other buildings near the one they were standing on. She moved towards the edge of the roof, cringing now that the adrenaline was beginning to subside and her knee was now throbbing, more than ever. There was a helipad on the next roof. Clearly, it was a hospital. She could see red crosses above the roof access door, it was close enough to be able to see that, and the only way across were some not so safe looking planks. Looking over the edge, she shuddered involuntarily.

Long way down, Claire bear.

She squeezed her eyes closed and shook her head to banish the sudden intrusive thought – voice – and then she noticed the ladder leading down right by her feet. She squinted, but realized that was futile; all she could see was the fog, ever present down below, but then she made out something else, a star, one of those old fashioned looking sheriff’s signs. A police station! There would be weapons down there, and a radio. If the radio worked they could call for help.

While she had been standing there making her own decision she saw that two of the women had already started across the planks to the hospital, and the other redhead, Maria was standing nearby, seemingly deciding her own path by flipping a coin. Was she crying?

“Wait!” Claire called out to the pair but they were already too far from the building already. They’d wait on the other side, she decided, and they could all stop and take a headcount, check everyone out for injuries before they split up again to search this newly accessible area down below.

“Hey, are you okay?” Claire turned to the redheaded woman but she’d started to move across the plank also. She hugged herself and sighed loudly. How had she ended up on the rooftop alone?

“Well, looks like we’re all meeting at the bottom, “she muttered to herself, “although somehow I missed the memo.”

She looked around then for Harper and Darren. She’d seen the two of them together near the ladder that was leading down off the building before she’d become distracted by the women crossing by plank to the opposite building and now they were nowhere to be seen. Where would they go? She certainly wasn’t happy about going down into the fog alone, and she didn’t feel happy about separating from the others, but it did make more sense to try and get two buildings covered at the same time in smaller groups.

“Damn it, “she cursed under her breath. They should not have split up already without a decent regrouping and a check of everyone’s physical (and psychological) status. She paused for just a minute, taking mental notes for when they did all meet up somewhere at the bottom. Slightly odd but very attractive asian girl, Sayuki had gone across to the other roof with one of the other women, a very busty nurse who she thought she’d heard referred to as Beth, and that redhead, Maria had followed them across, too. Harper and Darren were no longer with her, so she could only assume that they had gone down the ladder to the police station or towards it, together.

There was nothing to do now except get on with it. She had to face any fears she had, or swallow them temporarily and get down that ladder. What was it that Harper had said back in the bathroom? That if she weren’t strong enough then she would die. He was so matter of fact about it. The comment and the tone it was made in had hurt a little, as did his disappearance now, she wasn’t going to lie to herself about that, but really, had she expected him care? Did it matter whether he did or not?

Oh, it matters. Don’t even deny it doesn’t.

“Well, I’ll show him, “she muttered to herself, and looked at the ladder by her feet once more.

You will show them all, Claire.

On reaching the bottom, Claire took a moment to sit on a low brick wall. Her jeans felt tight around her knee, which ached so badly now she almost feared staying still too long or the thing would seize up. She thought about pulling her jeans up to have a look at how bad the bruising was, but the pants were very fitting to start with, she’d have to drop them to take a closer look next time she was near a bathroom. Still, she grimaced.

“This hurts like a bitch, “she finally said, looking at Harper and Darren. “Just give me a minute, please?”

She looked in the direction Harper gestured, then, and saw the sign that he pointed out. Silent Hill police department. He’d been right, he knew it before she did. She had gotten to her destination after all, too.

As she sat there nursing her throbbing leg, Harper surprised her then by asking with noticeable concern in his voice if she was okay and if she could walk.

She nodded.

“It’s swollen, but I can walk. I’m sure it’s just a really nasty bruise, from back at the bus. Nothing some anti inflammatories won’t fix once we’re out of …” she let that sentence trail off. Once they were out of here, she’d get herself all fixed up and tuck herself up in her safe little bed and forget any of this had ever happened. Yeah right.

As if to prove her point, she stood up slowly, wincing and biting down on her lip as a whimper threatened to escape her lips, and as stupid as it probably was, she didn’t want to show weakness, she’d done plenty of that back in the mall with her mini-meltdown, most of which the others had witnessed and Harper himself when she’d tried to convince him of the woman she saw in the mirror. He probably already thought she was nuts, no need to throw completely physically useless into the mix. Still, she was annoyed at herself for having hurt herself in the first place. It had been stupid, clumsy and careless, but there wasn’t anything she could do about it. Although, she did still have the painkillers in her pocket. She supposed she could take those, but would they make her sleepy or less aware of her surroundings and current reality? There was the fear of that, and that alone was enough to make her leave them where they were for now. She’d save them until and if the pain got completely unbearable.

She felt a pang of guilt remembering that she had had them on her when the others had been hurt down in the gun store and she’d meant to give them to somebody more needing of them, but … well, things had happened, and by the time she snapped out of her mental breakdown, everybody had scattered again.

They really needed to stop doing that. It was clear that this was no ordinary day and there was something very wrong with this town. How were they supposed to get out of the place in one piece if they kept splitting up?

The three other women had gone across to the hospital and hopefully they would find medicine and other supplies. Maybe even a radio if the police station they were headed into didn’t have one.

She shivered then and wished she had brought a jacket. The constant fog and gloom was actually very cold and oppressive and she wanted to get indoors now. She thought she heard sounds in the distance, and whether they were imagined or real, indoors was a better option than out.

Putting on a brave face, she smiled as brightly as she could and pushed forward, down the alley and around the corner to the glass doors of the police station. She cupped her hands around her face and peered inside, but it was far too gloomy to see anything beyond random vague shapes, furniture and such, she figured. The entire building was dark. Well, it wasn’t like she had actually expected the place to be lit up and a friendly officer sitting behind the front desk all ready to rescue them, was it? She stepped back waiting for the other two to catch up, not wanting to go inside alone.

She’d hesitated a moment too long, but the fact that Harper had pushed through the doors and gone inside the police station first didn’t disappoint her in any way. She’d been relieved. It wasn’t like she could or should have said, “Oh hey, after you. You know, just in case there’s something in there waiting to tear our arms and legs off, and it will see you first.” Yeah, no, being that pathetic really wasn’t a good look, but still, she had to be honest with herself, she had been hoping one of the two of them had gone on ahead of her.

Jeez, Claire, you need to harden the fuck up.

“Shut up, “Claire hissed as the voice reared it’s head again, and she was rewarded with silence. It wouldn’t stay quiet long though, she knew that now. Whoever the voice belonged to, it had made itself a permanent fixture inside her head since the incident in the bathroom when she had actually seen the owner of the voice in the mirror. She was no closer to figuring out who it was though. And in fact, that was the one thing that she was certain of, that as crazy as she had believed it to be, the voice and in fact the woman in the mirror were not a figment of her imagination. She was there, here, and she was real.

Darren trailed in behind her and the door swung closed after them. She turned around for a moment and looked at the door, snapping the turn lock closed. Maybe that was a good idea, maybe not. But she just felt better knowing that they were locked in, and while they were inside taking a look around, at least nothing could come through an unlocked door, that was just inviting trouble wasn’t it?

She was still shivering once inside, the cold from out there and the fog seemed to have seeped it’s way into her very bones, it made her aware of her bruised knee in the ever present throb that was there now, alternating with stabs of pain, whether she was walking around on it or static. But still, inside the cold was shut out for now. It wasn’t warm inside the police station, but the damn chill of the fog was locked out.

She flicked the light switch on the wall beside the door but the fluorescents didn’t flicker on as she had hoped they would, but it could have been worse. At least there was still light out, and although that wasn’t ideal inside, at least it wasn’t dark. That thought made her stiffen. Oh god, it was going to get dark, it had to be soon too, surely. Her eyes ran over the walls of the main office, and there was a clock, but of course it wasn’t working either. It was just a regular clock, but had a digital display set into the bottom of the clock face also, and the time appeared to have been stopped at 3.33. 3.33am or pm, she didn’t know, not that it mattered. What did matter was that it was going to be dark soon. She felt the first stirrings of panic, but started concentrating her breathing to stave off the panic which she knew if she let it loose would result in either the mother of all anxiety attacks or another meltdown reminiscent of the one she’d already had back in the mall.

Breathe in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. She repeated the words over and over in her head until she felt herself feel a little better. She had closed her eyes as she did it so that the others weren’t a distraction. They would probably be aware of what she was doing, but she didn’t care for the moment. Priority number one was to stay calm at all costs. Daylight was running out and she wanted to search these offices for anything that might help them out later on. Hell, a torch would be a good start. Still, maybe if worst came to worst they might find some kind of radio that actually functioned and hole up in the station for the night. Safest place in the world to be when you were stuck in a ghost town where screaming birds flew overhead, the police station, right? Right? An audible laugh escaped her lips and she bit that back before it could turn to hysteria also.

Riiiight, Claire. An empty dust-covered police station is going to make you feel so much better once it gets dark and you can’t see what’s coming for you, only hear it.

“Shut up, “she muttered for the second time in as many minutes.

Listen up Claire bear. You need to start remembering, or I’m going to take over and make you remember.

Claire squeezed her already closed eyes even tighter and raised her hands to the sides of her head, applying pressure to her temples, instead willing it to go away. After all, telling the voice to be quiet was futile, but what did it mean, take over .. make her remember?

“Hey…” Harper’s voice snapped her out of her little moment and she fixed her attention on him. He exhaled, to both Claire and Darren, “any of these names sound familiar to you?”

She focused on what he was talking about, the names on the doors of the closed offices. She wandered around slowly, careful not to put too much weight on her injured leg, limping only a little, at least trying to keep up the facade that she was fine, and managing. Just for appearances. She got the distinct feeling that the needier she appeared to be the more that Harper withdrew, or would. She still had something to prove, and it was that she could manage, with or without him. Who was she kidding? What she really wanted to do was fling herself into his arms, bury her face against his coat, sob like a child and confess all of her weaknesses and fears in the hopes that he would want to take care of her. She wanted him to promise that they would both get out of this alive, and that he would do anything to make sure that that happened. She’d never had that assurance from anybody before, and she wouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to do that but she couldn’t let him know. He’d think her more pathetic than he probably already did. There was clearly an age difference.

A significant age difference.

He probably looked at her as no more than an inexperienced needy child. Yes, that made the most sense at least. He’d stuck around because the others had gone their own way and it made more sense to go in the same direction. Splitting up and searching two buildings at once covered more ground, and the numbers were evenly split. It made sense, it was strategic. She was fooling herself if she thought it had anything to do with wants or obligation or even emotions.

Harden the fuck up, Claire.

Again, the voice, the same words as before, and she couldn’t disagree with it.

He’d asked if any of the names on the doors seemed familiar and she read each one as she walked by them. Cartland, Coleridge, Sewell, Schreiber. No. Holloway, no.


“Yeah, “she said, “This one. That bitch, Cybil Bennett. It’s all her fault, why I’m here.”

Claire’s eyes widened and she clapped her hands to her mouth. She was talking for her now?

I told you, Claire bear. I told you that I was going to have to start remembering for you.


Black Smoke


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~ Chapter Five ~

Black smoke

Why were they going to Silent Hill? That was the question, literally. Each of them offered the other an explanation, a reason, but at the end of it all she concluded that the reasons did not seem enough to have landed them in the situation they were in now. Nothing that either Claire or Harper said seemed a big enough motivator for this.

In fact, in his own explanation, she’d never heard him say so much all at once, and he wasn’t entirely comfortable with that at first, at least his body language and facial expressions gave that much away. Finally, when he did offer his explanation, it wasn’t anything spectacular or out of the ordinary. He, well she assumed he was just a regular guy trying to carve out a quiet life for himself. Nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with that at all. At least he hadn’t come to this place blindly based on something as stupid as a letter telling her to do it and a letter from a stranger no less.

He had nodded when she explained why her behavior had been so erratic and although she’d felt incredibly stupid once the explanation was out of her mouth, he had only nodded, and somehow she was okay with that. He didn’t laugh at her in disbelief or scorn, but a simple nod as if he actually did believe.

She closed her eyes and struggled to recall anything that would make her remember any damn reason at all for her being here apart from some stupid letter from somebody who she didn’t know telling her to come here. What had she been thinking? The truth was, there was nothing, trying to pull memories was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. It was like her memory was a huge black hole and peering into it was like looking down into a dark well.

“I don’t know what I did to deserve this, “she bit her lip in an effort to hold back the tears that were welling in her eyes. She would not cry in front of him, she couldn’t. She squeezed her eyes closed and it came, not much, but something.

The man pressed the leather binder into her hands, speaking hurriedly. “Your apartment, the one that we are standing in front of right now has been taken care of. You won’t have to worry about it for a while. Once inside you are to read everything in here and familiarize yourself with your new identity and history, do you understand?”

She nodded, but then shook her head quickly. Yes she understood what she was being told, but she had a dozen more questions, ones which she knew she wouldn’t get, not at this moment. He was in a hurry to leave, and she was in a hurry to get indoors. The feeling of being watched was far too real.

“Alright good. Also, you will find a bank account, under your new name, with a ten thousand dollar balance. Use it, you won’t need to work. All you need to do is go to school, keep to yourself and wait.”

“For what?”

“When it is time, we will let you know, and you will follow instructions. Do you understand?”

Dumbly, she nodded.

She opened her eyes, and Harper looked at her then, his expression severe, and spoke in a tone that matched that.

“This is a test. Of ourselves, of our strength, of our will and right to live.”

Those words stuck out more than the others and she shook her head, her teeth still pressing down firmly on her bottom lip.

“What if I’m not strong enough?”

She glanced back at the mirror then, and she saw the other face again, only this time she didn’t scream when the voice spoke to her.

You are strong and you will remember, Claire. That’s why you are here. You’re home.

Even if she was going to panic again about the reflection in the mirror that didn’t belong to her again, any thought or further action was interrupted by the sounds of screaming and shouting from outside where some of the others still were. The pair shot each other a quick concerned glance before Harper cracked the bathroom door open, just poking his head out to try and get a look at what was going on.

What Claire heard outside was enough for her blood to run cold.

“ … is that thing?”

“We’re all going to die!”

She closed any gap between her and the much older man and pressed herself up against his side, trying to peer over his shoulder, her hand gripping his upper arm.

“What is it?” She whispered.

“I can’t tell, “he replied, squinting his eyes and craning his neck to try and get a better look out the door without leaving the safety of the bathroom yet. Suddenly, he shut the door again with a bang, startling her and she looked up at him with wide eyes as he turned his head and looked at her, his face pale and concerned.

“What is it?” she asked again, a little louder and more insistent, her voice rising an octave as panic began to set in. She did not like the look on his face, at all, it only made her anxiety worsen. He looked around the bathroom almost frantically as if looking for another way out and then groaned.

“Oh Gods, it’s in here too.”

“What’s in … ?”

He cut her off mid sentence and grabbed her hand in a vice like grip so hard and tugged her towards the door and she only had a couple of seconds to follow his eyes before he flung the door open and she saw what he had. Black smoke was seeping in through the windows at the far end of the bathroom but it didn’t look like ordinary smoke, it appeared to have substance and it wasn’t just coming through the cracks in the old windows, it seemed to be oozing through.

“We have to go.”

Editing fun times


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I’ve been chipping away at the next chapter for Gravity this last week and a half and it’s a tough one.  I wanted to get an update out every week but this piece has a mind of it’s own.  It reminds me every day when I sit down in front of it to edit and rewrite additional pieces that it will be ready on it’s own time, not mine.  Although, that said, it should be up in the next few days.

This story is problematic in it’s own unique ways apart from any other story I’ve posted before.  I am aware that there are what appear to be plot holes in places and that any other characters who have been mentioned aside from Claire and Harper seem to have been put aside or forgotten so far.  Even to me, when I read these chapters myself, the other ‘group’ members are like cardboard cutouts almost.  Most of them have names, a couple of which have been mentioned so far, but they haven’t been talked about or interacted with yet, they’re just … there.

Those characters were written by other people and players in the RPG from which they came, so it would feel wrong to exclude them from the scene completely but to write them in any more depth is just simply not my job, or my right.  They don’t belong to me, and so they are just props for now, in a way.  Because this entire story from start to finish was inspired by these other players and their characters, I feel an obligation to leave the characters be.  They are part of the world that was created, so they must remain.  We’ll just have to see how it plays out a little further on.

Editing and rewriting my own turn posts is challenging because of the large gaps that remain where the other character stories were removed, so I am doing the best I can with what I have.  I still and always have loved the story that I played out in A New Nightmare and I would like to see it through to the end so that hopefully others can get some enjoyment out of reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  Meanwhile, please bear with me.  There is a plan!  A loose one, if nothing else.



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It was his self righteous laughter that was her breaking point.

The anger filled her entire being with such ferocity that it almost burned, physically. The rage was a force of it’s own, flooding her chest and running it’s course down her arms to fill her fingertips. She clenched her fists and flew forward in one movement, covering the distance between herself and her target with such swiftness that when her fingers closed around the man’s throat it finally an elicited the reaction she had craved.

A smile curled the corners of her lips, and her hold tightened so that he started to struggle for air. Her strength swelled and he was rendered powerless. Her body pinning his against the wall allowed her to feel every labored breath and it filled her belly with a warmth that was quite unlike any sensation that had come before it. It marked the certainty of her ability and indeed intention to end his life here in a matter of moments, and he knew it. He was afraid now, something that had been lacking before and it was this fear that consumed all her senses. It pleased her.

“Do what you will, Rheyne, but it will not alter a thing. You were not chosen.”

His last words.

“If I have learned nothing else, it is that one does not need to be chosen to achieve what is rightfully theirs, what they were born to do, what they deserve. Lesser than you have been chosen before and after this moment. I will succeed where you have already failed.”

The sharp crack of his neck snapping followed by the thud of his lifeless body hitting the floor was the last sound the man would ever make and Rheyne Varik looked down on him, folding her arms across her chest, eyes narrowed.

“You just chose your own death, brother.”

Little Blue Mailbox


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I fumble with the paper, see the words you wrote are already fading.
I’ve been waiting all this time for a letter.
My insides shaking, will this feeling last forever?
I’ve been waiting.

This video appeared this morning on one of my social media news feeds and it brought back  things.  It’s one of my favorite songs but I haven’t listened to it in a long time for a lot of reasons.

It’s been one year and three months, and in fact about three days since I thought of you last.  It’s not every day anymore, but damn near close.  When the memories surface they’re just as fresh as they were back then.  I didn’t think I’d get through it and honestly?  I’m lost without you.

I even stopped writing because I was afraid that if I started to write about you I would never stop.

You were unique and irreplaceable.  I love you, always.


White Noise


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~ Chapter Four ~

White Noise


Nobody appeared to be forthcoming with a response that made any sense. What had happened down the ladder on the first floor was some kind of explosion; they had all heard that, the ones that weren’t inside the store or on their way out at the time, but beyond that none of the group had offered any kind of explanation as to why it happened. Claire supposed that she should be – and in fact they all should – thankful that they all appeared to be unharmed, mostly. Unharmed physically if nothing else, because she herself was shaken, her heart racing from the upward scramble to the second floor and the shock from the explosion itself. Her whole body was trembling and she hugged her arms around her upper body to try to calm herself.

It was the youngest of the group, Darren, who finally asked, “Did anyone happen to find any ammo back at the shop? I’ll try to find a first aid kit to help anyone who might have one to spare. Sayuki? Maria? Beth?” His voice sounded as shaky as she felt and she wondered for a moment what his story was, why he was on the bus and where he’d been going. Casting her eyes around the group she wondered where all of them had come from and what their reasons were for being on that ill fated bus.

She shook the thoughts aside for the time being, pushing her hand inside her pocket to produce a single bullet. She held it out in front of her in her palm.

“I … I found this earlier, and held onto it.” And then remembering the cigar box from earlier she added, “I have some painkillers too, just aspirin or something. Found them downstairs, if anyone needs something.”

Her legs suddenly felt unsteady and without warning she crumpled to the floor, tucking her legs up close to her body and holding her head in her hands then, allowing herself to be completely emotionally weak and tuning out her surroundings and company for a moment. As selfish as it was, if she didn’t just shut down right then, even temporarily, she was afraid that she was going to lose her mind, quite literally.

She squeezed her eyes shut and started humming a lullaby, one that she wasn’t consciously aware of ever hearing, but that seemed to naturally come from her memory. Memory of what? The talking of the others nearby was distracting and she hummed louder, closing her hands over her ears. She didn’t want to hear or see anything just then. She didn’t want to face the reality of the situation she had found herself in. She wasn’t sure how long she sat there that way, in her own little world, but apart from the sound of her own humming, she saw and heard nothing in her minds eye aside from the fog and the sound of the creatures that resided in it. Both of which she had a feeling would haunt her forever.

A woman’s voice broke through her self-imposed shutdown, and for a second, it sounded so far away, so she took her hands off her ears and inclined her head sideways, listening to see if she would hear it again.

“Claire?” Sure enough, there it was again, and it was coming from the bag on her hip. Her hands trembling, she opened the canvas flap and peered inside, the light on the LCD of her mobile phone was lit up at the bottom of the bag and the voice seemed to be coming from it. She looked around at the others but either nobody else had heard it or they simply didn’t care. She waited another half a minute or so to be sure that she wasn’t hearing things but sure enough the third time she heard her name coming from that phone – the phone with no service, she reminded herself – she ripped it out of the bag and pressed it to her ear.

“Hello? Who is this?” She whispered, almost as if she was afraid that someone would reply. It was irrational, but so was the phone talking to her to begin with.

No service, Claire. The phone has NO service.

But all she heard in return was static, like the sound a radio makes when it is bumped off it’s broadcasting channel, or the television when it was accidentally switched to an untuned channel.

White noise.

She sat there with the phone pressed up to her ear for a minute or two, she wasn’t sure how long and then just as it crossed her mind to put the thing back in the bag where it had come from the static gave way for just a moment and the voice came through again.

“You made it, Claire. You came, now you must –“

White noise.

She dropped the phone back into the bag as if the thing were burning hot. Her head was spinning, she could feel the color drain from her face and her mouth went dry all at once. If she hadn’t been well enough scared before, she was now. What the hell was going on, and whose was that voice? She was aware then of Harper’s presence right beside her and she glanced at him as he stared at her, his brow furrowed with concern. He wasn’t the only one. A couple of the others were now staring at her too as if she had grown an extra head. Normally she would have been upset or offended by the way they were looking at her; at least a couple of them talking to each other in hushed tones between themselves about what they had just seen and heard as she stood there talking to the phone with no service but the wave of nausea that washed over her made her unable to focus on anything else. She stumbled to her feet and looked around frantically for a rest room sign and clutched the bag on her hip so tightly her knuckles turned white.

“I think I’m going to be sick…” she managed to mumble to Harper before she rushed forwards along the tiled floor in the direction of the ladies bathroom.

Bent over the toilet bowl, Claire finally stopped retching once her stomach had been emptied, but replacing the nausea now was a pounding headache and she felt dizzy. She leant her forehead on the cold porcelain of the bowl and forced herself to gain some control over her breathing, that would help, wouldn’t it? In through the nose, out through the mouth. Slowly, the dizziness subsided, and she moved away from the toilet and sat back, leaning her head against the wall of the stall, still concentrating on her breathing.

The guilt then began to seep in, and embarrassment. What an idiot she must have looked back there, when people were actually hurt, in shock and in need of help, and what had she done? Cracked up, had a meltdown in front of a group full of strangers, all of whom were as scared, confused and in shock as she was no doubt, but none of them had lost the plot. She wanted to smack herself in the forehead with the heel of her hand.

“Idiot!” She mumbled out loud, and then started slowly back to her feet. When she felt steady enough to move, she fished around in her bag, she and retrieved her phone, checking the call log for actual evidence that she’d received a call, but it showed nothing new. The last incoming call had been from a friend back home.

One she’d probably never see again…

She shook her head, cutting that thought off before it could go any further. She was going to get out of this.

Still, she had spoken to someone, and the voice had been familiar, although she couldn’t place it. Stuffing the phone back inside her bag, she pushed the door of the stall open and moved back into the bathroom.

It occurred to her suddenly that while she’d been having a mild mental breakdown in here, that she had no idea where everybody had gone, if they’d moved on or if they were still outside where she had left them. But she was hyper aware of how alone she was in that bathroom. It was too quiet. She couldn’t hear any movements or voices outside anymore and the only sound that issued from inside the bathroom was her own breathing.

Suddenly, all that Claire wanted was to see another familiar face or heard a familiar voice – one that wasn’t coming from the other end of a phone with no service at least. She frowned.

Harper. Admit it sweetheart, you want Harper.

Her head snapped around at the voice, it was her voice again, the woman on the phone. But the bathroom was still empty. Great, first she had started hearing voices on her phone and now she was hearing things in her head too?

“Big picture, Claire. There is a big picture here, and you’re not seeing it. The world doesn’t revolve around you, at least, not to these people.”

“Fuck… “she squeezed her hands to the sides of her head again, “I’m going crazy, I’m actually going crazy.”

Laughter then.

“Get a grip, Claire!” the voice was louder now, and more firm. “Look at yourself and get a grip.”

She turned towards where she’d manage to pinpoint the voice coming from, the mirror, and what she saw caused her mouth to drop open and the screaming to start. She didn’t know whether it was shock or fear or even confusion but in any case, it wasn’t her face she was looking at, and once she’d started screaming she couldn’t stop.

In her peripheral vision she was aware of someone else now in the bathroom with her and er eyes widened in surprise at the appearance of the man beside her – Harper – and clapped both hands over her mouth, attempting to stifle the noise she now realized she was making. Her surprise at seeing him and having something to distract her from the face in the mirror was quickly replaced with relief.

“Look!” she pointed at the dirty glass on the wall, her outstretched arm trembling,”do you see her?”

Not alone anymore, it’s going to be alright, not alone anymore. She repeats the mantra in her head, and looked at him expectantly. He didn’t say anything for a moment, and she blinked rapidly before looking at her reflection again. It was just her. Claire. No raven haired stranger with the piercing eyes of green. Just Claire and her mane of red hair a disheveled and unsightly mess, her eyes wide but now confused instead of frightened.

“You saw her right? Harper?”

He didn’t respond right away and she wished that a hole would just open up beneath her feet and swallow her whole. He glanced between her and her own reflection in the mirror and then slowly shook his head.

“No. I didn’t see a thing, I don’t see a thing except you.”

She covered her face with both hands and a small muffled sob issued from her and she felt his hand on her arm, gripping firmly but gently. His voice held a slightly softer tone when he spoke again.

“What happened in here? Don’t worry, I’ll believe you. Whatever it was … or is.”

That was all she needed to hear. She trusted him.

Too damn trusting, Claire, that was always your problem.

She shook her head trying to get rid of the voice, her voice again. She was calm now, seconds earlier she’d been screaming hysterically. Back outside in the hall she’d been rocking herself and humming lullabies but now, now she was just too exhausted to do anything but just accept that whatever was happening, she had to play along, because really, what other choice did she have?

“There was a woman in the mirror, but … but it wasn’t me. She had black hair, green eyes. And back in the hall, she spoke to me on my phone too. I can still hear her voice, in my head. She won’t go away.”


He thinks you’re crazy, Claire. One hundred percent bat shit crazy.

“I’m not crazy, “she whispered.

She allowed her hands to drop from her face and looked up at him with big eyes still glistening with tears as she brushed her hair back from her face.

“Why were you going to Silent Hill, Harper? You were going to Silent Hill … weren’t you?”