THE DESCENT

She had awoken, her long blondish hair curled beside her warm breath. As she had gasped over and over again for the same satisfaction that the others were given. She was given no word on whether she could awake or even die. She was told multiple times, over and over; ‘You will not leave this place.’ The words echoed in her encased mind. Her skull was covering up the words she wished to speak. Being held back for so long, is it any wonder why she couldn’t speak? Perhaps not. She awoke with her hands fiddling together whilst she smiled with her beautiful lips touching once more. She grasped her pillow with frustration and threw it to the other side of the room. As the pillow landed, the white door sealed with barbed wire had opened.

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14. CHAPTER 14

(THE DESCENT)

- CHAPTER 14 -

Top Hat Man, I’m sitting alone again Top Hat Man. I sit here with the book, the book you gave me to try out for the sports you told me I could try out on. I’ve put the fire on, watching that tree. The same old tree that separated her from me. Did you plant that seed on purpose? Or, am I supposed to be foolish enough to believe in that bullshit? Do you have any idea what I’m going through? Do you think you know me? Am I just speaking to the same lonely man, the same lonely thing that is me? Or are you just hurting me? Ha, I really believed in those stories you used to tell me. I’ve sold them away though, stored them in a safe place. Every one of them, a smile with a happy face. I guess that’s just it, it’s nothing.

- Little Boy

“We’ve got to stop meeting like this?” A voice crept through the curtains.

The little girl sighed. “Ahem’”

“You don’t seem to be startled by my presence. Is it possible, is it possible that you want to move away from us?”

“Away from you? Who is us?”

“I knew it. You have the heart, girl. You have the heart to tell me why…”

The little girl kneeled down on the strange-looking carpet, her heart throbbing with every breath she had to take. She looked at the curtains, and spoke back to the hidden voice. With every voice, there is a person behind it. She believed that the curtains were hiding away the voices from her. She expected others to step out and surprise her, she had the urge to scream out ‘Surprise!’ It just never came out of her mouth.

“Are you lost?” She asked.

“You know that? How? How on earth… do you know so much about me?”

“I don’t know the full story.” She whispered.

“You shouldn’t, either. The story, ha, the full story is always the words that share you existence with the world. I could put an end to that misery of yours, I’m sensing a lot of hate for someone.”

“Good. I’d like you to show yourself… maybe, just maybe, I’d hate you a little less.”

The voice was no more. A figure emerged from the side of the curtains, thick red fabric covering up the body. Its eyes stared at the little girl. She was expecting a boy to step out, she had read so many fairy tales, it all made sense to her. Instead, she was greeted by the presence of a man who was less manly than any other man she dreaded to think about. This man had no name to her knowledge, he did however have some strange hair; dark greyish hair, big eyes, half of his skull poking out of his left cheek. He didn’t seem bothered by it. It was like he was acting as if it weren’t there.

“You look so, so… beautiful.” She forced out her final word.

“Really? – Thank you, I never realised little girls were so pretty.”

She stepped back, she was afraid of a man talking about little girls in a sexual kind of way. She sensed some kind of problem with the guy.

“No, don’t back away. I don’t like it when they leave me here. They always point at me and laugh at me, whenever I step behind the curtains, I’m alone. But I don’t feel so alone, does that make sense to you?”

“It makes enough sense to me. Enough.”

“God bless you, girl. You really have a lot to think about, as do I. I might as well go with you, we could find a way out together.”

The thoughts of Sleepyhead’s death returned to the little girl’s mind. Disturbing and a cruel way to go, she remembered it as.

“No. Sorry, I will not take another one under my wing.”

“Oh, come on, now. A little girl is going to need a man in her life.”

“Stop it… you are not coming with me.” She tried to sound like the bigger (woman)

“Heck, heck, heck, heck… I guess you had me there. Why are children so stubborn? -- You aren’t the first to leave me behind, I’ve seen dozens of them. Those faces, I can never forget the faces. They always stare at me, so many eyes, so many noses and whatever else you strange people have. Why am I so different to you all? I’m a man! A man of his word. I would never harm a child…”

A gradient sky, a mixture of black and white fog had taken the colours from every object in the room. Shadows remained still, some images blurry to her eyesight. The little girl sat down with both knees pointing upwards, her legs curved with a slight angle in between the thighs. Her nose kept twitching, it must’ve been the dust. The being in front of her spoke down to her, its tall slender-like legs blocked out any linear lighting that had crept through the cracks in the walls of shadows. Its eyes glared at her, smiling with its sharp teeth, ghostly imagery poisoned the mind of her almost broken brain. Combusted, broken, slight fractures to the skull, the man looked quite happy with the pain he was going through. He smiled all the time, the little girl had nothing to say to him. He looked down at her and then spoke with a deep voice.

“Have you had a nightmare, little girl?”

“I’ve had no nightmares, I think they are just dreams.”

He laughed. “Ha, ha, I don’t believe you.”

She tried to keep herself still, thinking that the thing speaking to her was just inside her mind.

“Not at all, I’m a serious girl.”

“As serious as can be. What I would say to you, what I would suggest! – You don’t stand a chance out here. Inside, outside, no matter where you go, they’ll just follow you. I’ve been running circles since day one. Look where it got me.” He pointed at his head.

The little girl tried to ignore the wound he had suffered. His pointing, his constant nudging, she didn’t flinch, not even once. He looked at her with those red eyes, bright blue lights shining through the rims of the eye sockets. She had named him already, ‘Scanner’ – what a name indeed. She was sure she had heard that word before, ignoring it was no option. He became an annoyance, looking at her, smiling at her, trying to speak to her now and then. She had lost her mind, she knew that already, she never expected a strange tall man to hold her captive in a world of fantasy. The man spoke to her again, this time with a deeper voice and a lot of seriousness flowing out into his words.

“Dare I say it, dare I say it. – I know what you’re thinking. You think, how the heck did he make it out of here? I didn’t. So, why are you following me? I’d say that you don’t have much life in you. I’d put it to the test, I can’t do that. I’d like you to dare me to do something crazy! – I dare you to say it. Ha, I dare you to write it down in the dirt, look at it, smile at it, hold it close, I will do that to you. I owe you the hug, it’s the best medicine for a little girl. Don’t you read books? Okay, I see you are afraid of what is to come. I am in front of you, let it be known that I was here first.”

She sobbed. “No, I was here first…”

“Oh really? How can you be so sure?”

Another presence lurked behind her. The Top Hat Man himself revealed through a glowing light. Behind her, she felt his presence. The strange screeches that would always become so high-pitched inside her mind. She could not take the pain, he always had a tune with him. It sounded like a nursery rhyme, but it wasn’t. It was a jingle, something from an old baby’s toy. She said to herself; it sounds familiar, it sounds so real. After that, she was almost certain that the Top Hat Man knew her completely, she had no idea why he kept following her. He sent her around in circles, it sounded familiar yet again. The skull man, Scanner, he was to blame for it. She believed that Scanner knew more too, more than he’d like to share with others.

“Out of the shadows, I approached you. You usually scream when I appear, this time, you are holding your head? Is it possible, is it possible my dear. That you may lose that sleepy head?” The Top Hat Man whispered.

“Ignore him. I did, I don’t think he will follow you after. It’s before you need to worry about. Before you take that first step, after that step, it becomes an endless circle. A circle that is endless? I know, it don’t sound impossible, and it isn’t. It’s a cycle, and it continues like a paradox.”

“H-how did you get home?” She rudely interrupted.

“Your scream filled the room with such awareness. This awareness was nothing. Funny how you always smile when I used to say that to you. Is it possible, is it even remotely simple to how you solved a problem? A problem I’ve suffered with, something I lived with-in for so many years…”

The little girl changed her focus from Scanner to Top Hat Man.

“Okay, you just said the word ‘years’ – how is that possible?” She asked.

“I always say things that make sense. Words that sound so simple but have something behind them. Memories? I’ve suffered so many. Do you think its medicine I need? Are you asking that scandal, that sick infested creature, that abomination of this world for answers? Or, are you trying to get inside my head?” It screeched at her.

“No way! I know now, you are the one inside my head. Ever since I heard you, you always bring some horrible sounds with you.”

“Along with me, my girl. Don’t you see what I see? – It’s as open as a window, I’d like to change that for you, make it a door, and it will welcome you inside our happy family home. It’ll kill you too, it always locked behind everything you feared so dearly… and your death is nothing more than the word nothing. Existence, what is that? Tell me now, tell me why you believe that fighting for answers in a place so deadly. Is it worth everything you have?”

She shouted at the Top Hat Man. “No, I don’t have anything to lose. Inside this place, I feel so different to what you remember me as.”

“There is a reason to why I follow you. Every reason has a purpose, it doesn’t have to have an answer. With no mystery in your lives, how would you explore and discover new things? You would not find anything familiar, inside this place, you feel more at home than out wherever you last remember. I remember so much more than you, that sick guy over there, he looks at me every night, every day, and soon, I kill him.”

Scanner spoke out with his deep voice breaking the silence in the girl’s mind. “Kill him? How is he still there?”

The Top Hat Man scratched deeper into Scanner’s skull, it stared at the little girl, and it didn’t give Scanner any direct eye contact. A creepy smile formed on its face, its top hat looked a little taller than before. She shivered whenever it would look at her the same way, again and again. Lifting up Scanner by the skull, its sharp claws impaling the flesh behind a hard shell, throwing away the sick infested Scanner, removing him from the world. He screamed once, after that, it was over. Little to no blood was left to witness, the little girl struggled to look away from the situation. She had the urge to sleep and the nerves to stay awake.

“Sorry, little girl. – Sick children don’t work here. Sick men don’t belong here. Anything that is infected, ill, tired, on the verge of dying… I know, I know, it sounds monstrous, sick and vile. How can I be straight with you? These things, they are the minors to our problems. We grow bigger every time you hear the clock cheer, I know, it sounds scary. The sound of a clock screaming out its insides, it’s not pleasant to see either. Then again, what is pleasant to see? So many questions left unanswered.” He smirked, looking away from her with an evil grin.

The little girl stood on her feet. Her remembrance of seeing the Top Hat Man before was different, it was a shock to see her looking small next to him. She flinched once and then continued to confront the creature. It looked happy with her progress, happy to see her moving about again. It stretched out its long slender arms, brushing them against the invisible winds that were inside the room, just no feel for them. She felt as if the Top Hat Man had been a tree all along, she remembered a tree from her nightmares. It had the same characterises of a tree, the same behaviour, just mobile. A tree that could move, she didn’t find it that hard to believe.

“What did you name this?” It looked at the corpse of Scanner.

How did it know? How did it know that I gave it a name? She feared.

“S-scanner…” she sighed, feeling terrified with revealing a secret from her mind.

“Pity, I would have named it that. It was always scanning for information, it reminded me of you.”

“Why’s that?” She felt that she had said an obvious question that had an obvious answer.

“Time will tell, little girl. Nothing is revealed alone. Dreams, I heard you talk about them earlier. What is it you want from these dreams?”

“I just want a chance to understand myself.” She bravely replied.

“Interesting. You have a key to the wonders of dreams? – Not a waste of space, I knew you had something in you. From what I’ve gathered, you have a lot in you. Something that pumps blood around your body. Incredible. Scanner, ha, a waste no matter what you called it.”

The little girl was annoyed by the hatred towards Scanner. She felt Scanner was friendlier, easier to get along with. He had a few problems of his own, an attitude being one of them. She covered her mouth, feeling queasy with what the Top Hat Man was doing to Scanner’s corpse. Burrowing inside the chest of him, the creature with the top hat, the shadow that stood tall had begun dissecting Scanner’s body. Using no medical kit, it was just claws and sharp teeth. Again, little to no blood, just enough to make you vomit.

“See. This is what I’ve found out about you ‘others,’ you are all keeping this from me?” The Top Hat Man spoke in a dark tone.

“No, no, I’m not keeping anything from you. I don’t lie, I’m a good girl.” She panicked.

“This must be different for you. What’s inside you? You seem so explorative, always wanting to find the hidden secrets, kind of like this wasted creature. What is it? Are you feeling dead? You keep looking at me with those beady eyes! – You have seen nothing. Nothing. Nothing at all. Understand? Are you okay? You don’t look it. I’d have to dig further, adventure further into this. Look, every time you wonder further, look what happens to everything around you!” It screeched with a terrifying tone. Enough to scare anybody out of their skin.

The little girl watched the anger build up inside the creature. It used a lot of aggression on the body, ripping out random parts. It revealed a still beating heart, a rib cage from Scanner. It was furious with the little girl, she had no idea why. From what she gathered, she believed that exploring wasn’t the best way to survive. She was afraid of the Top Hat Man, just when she thought she had it figured out. It surprised her with the toxic tones, the toxic behaviour deep with-in the horribleness of The Top Hat Man. She slowly backed away from it.

“Look at you. You walk away whenever you see violence, is that what mummy taught you?” It screeched, holding the skull of Scanner in its claws.

“I-I don’t want you near me. Stay away from me!” She screamed.

“Stay away from you? – Look at this. This skull is a reminder of what happens to those that always want to stay away from Death. From me. From anything that you are afraid of. You little—“

She backed out through a wall of fog, ignoring the words from the Top Hat Man, trying to block out everything it had said to her. Full of threats, a violent behaviour that would only come to the surface to surprise others. She had no idea that the creature was so terrifying to stay with. Knowing everything so far, knowing that it can move through shadows, and just appear like that, out of nowhere. It was a real shock to her, she knew that she weren’t safe. She begged for her life to be in the safety of a God. She wanted to believe it, she tried to believe it, hiding away in the darkness, and she ignored the words around her.

- (Back In The Planet) - ***

“You had it, so why did you lose it?” A man in a lab coat whispered.

Crying and moaning continued in the background.

“I know why. You don’t know I had it. If you do, then why would you ask for it?”

“Calm down. I’ll have to give you this. One daily dose, don’t take any more than two, okay?”

She looked up at him. “For as long as I live for. Sure. You don’t control me, Doc.” She looked at him in anger.

“Yes I do. I control you, I keep you safe. – You father had nothing on you, he had the remains of your mother…”

***

“I remember now… my mother, she died.” The little girl cried.

Revealing himself again, the creature returned to her. Its eyes still glowing white, and its skull behind a transparent skin.

“Ah, yes. Welcome my dear. You’ve just taken the first step to recovery…”

***

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