Friday, May 30, 2014

Savage 5

Adam stopped at home to change out of his uniform before heading to the Payton Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center.  He realized as he was giving himself a once over in the small mirror above his bathroom sink that he had forgotten to take the anxiety meds Dr. Adler had prescribed him.  Adam had a large collection of pill bottles and days of the week dispensers courtesy of his elderly parents.  He popped open the days allotment with a deft movement of his thumbnail, and snapped it closed again.

Adam felt fantastic.

When he had met Dr. Adler a year and a half ago, Adam was suffering from intense night terrors, paranoia, memory blackouts, and... unusual urges, all the result of severe brain trauma from a near fatal car accident that he ironically couldn't remember.  Adam knew he should be overwhelmed with concern and anxiety over the morbidly cheerful specter of his daughter flashing her pearly whites to sell toothpaste a year after her death.  He knew that his lack of urgency was wrong somehow, that his casual acceptance of this mystery was some manifestation of his illness.  Adam also knew that the tongue and teeth and skin in his sandwich cooler should have elicited a much stronger response from him, he knew all of these things.  He was no stranger to how people were supposed to be.  He had been a student of humanity his entire life, brain trauma notwithstanding.

Adam snapped open the pill case again and emptied the small white and red capsules into the toilet, watching for a moment as tiny bubbles arose from their seams before flushing them away.  Adam looked at the remaining week's pills, and left them safely enclosed in the dispenser.  He knew how people were supposed to be.

When he arrived at the Payton Center, the receptionist waved him through with a pursed lip smile.  Had she been friendlier before?  He stepped into Dr. Adler's office. 

"And you're absolutely sure it was her?  I can look into this, I can contact the agency that posted the ad"  Adam couldn't quite tell if the good doctor was overstepping out of concern for him, but Dr. Adler's agitation was good cover.  Cover for what?  Adam coolly wondered where these instincts were coming from.

"I had another dream last night", Adam offered abruptly, the good doctor stopped writing for a moment and looked up quizzically.  "Emily's mother was in this one, the shadow got her."  Adam surprised himself with the offering, he tilted his head down but kept his eyes on Dr. Adler to see how he might react.  Adam's nightmares in the past had involved this shadow tearing into people Adam hadn't known.  A few adults and children, the children were the worst because the shadow seemed to take a more true sadistic pleasure in them. 

Dr. Adler resumed writing a few notes in his small spiral notebook and looked up at Adam.  "And how did you feel seeing her hurt?" 

"I couldn't stop it", replied Adam, "I couldn't help her." 

"You wanted to help her, though?" 

Adam was taken by surprise for a moment.  He hadn't wanted to help her.  The glimpses of nightmare he remembered offered him a deep sense of satisfaction and comfort that was as far from terror as anything could be.

Adam buried his head in his hands, "I tried to help her, it was like the others, I couldn't stop it."  Even as he feigned distress, Adam saw the shadow chuckling admiringly at his performance from the corner of his eye.

"Let's go back to Emily", the doctor wrested Adam's attention away from his shaded friend, "What did you do after you saw what you thought was her picture?  Take me through it, step by step, you went home, correct?"

"Yes, home, I went to sleep"  Adam answered.  Had he?  He felt more alert than he'd been in months.  He hadn't gone home and gone to sleep. 

"You went home and went to sleep" Dr. Adler repeated, recording in his notebook. 

"That's right", answered Adam, "Home and to sleep, after taking my pills."  Adam suddenly remembered that he had also forgotten his pills the night before.

Adam's shadow creature, the stuff of his nightmares, was more alive than Adam had ever remembered him being.  Instead of using the techniques the doctor had taught him to curb the creature, Adam's eyes followed the shadow as it flitted around the room, settling behind the good doctor.  Why was Emily and Adam's picture in a frame on the doctor's desk?  Didn't he have other clients? 

"So you went home, took your pills, and went to sleep.  And then you got up this morning, concerned about what you had seen, and called me"

Adam hadn't called him until he'd found the human parts in his sandwich cooler, "Yes, I woke up and called you."

The shadow shook with laughter and swung a black circle pendant back and forth mockingly.  Adam smiled back.

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