The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Kendra Hale
“Amidst the mists and coldest frosts he thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.” – Curt Siodmak
Gabriella Lavender’s hands hurt as she pulled them closer to her chest. The skin on the back of her knuckles were raw and the skin was pulling away from her body in layers as though the struggle to breakfree was a true choice. She tried to cradle her hands but it only caused a sore ache to run up her body, her nerves telling her this was the price she must pay for the pain she had inflicted upon herself.
“You could have made this so much easier on yourself if you had just let me stay in control”
The voice, grating and low, spoke out in her mind. It was flagrantly condescending as it challenged her authority over her own being. Gabriella had been told many things over the last two year of her 14 year old life. When she had first started hearing the male voice at 12, there had been talk of Schizophrenia but once the voice had made itself known to the doctors it had changed to Dissociative Identity Disorder, even though the doctors still weren’t ready for this to be their official diagnosis.
As Ragtime Piano by Scott Joplin played over the speakers in the office of Dr. George Campbell,, Gabriella knew that the reason the doctors had debated was because the presence of DID usually came with two or more personalities…and she had only ever exhibited the one. She slumped in the uncomfortable office chair and a sigh escaped her lips, she was bored with all of this. It wasn’t that she wanted normal because frankly that had left months ago. The Priest had ruined that for her.
She had first heard him on her twelfth birthday, he had come forth from her mouth to her parents about what a disgrace they were for allowing their child access to all manner of sin worthy items. The makeup, the clothing with holes cut to show skin.
“Only sorrow comes from a sin filled life and here you are serving her up to Satan on a platter like a stuffed mouth hog.”
Gabriella had hated him instantaneously. If for no other reason than the look her parents had given her once his presence was made known. Not disgust or fear, but worse. Like she was broken,their view of her forever changed as they wondered what had become of their girl.
She had good parents, at least she thought so. Given the world around her and those she had seen of her friends for comparison. It had been their idea for her to come to this doctor after her mom had given up on the others who seemed to do nothing but debate what was wrong, rather than help.
Her wait for Dr. George Campbell lasted what felt like forever but in reality was ten minutes. As the nurse finally called her name and led her back to the “calm” room, Gabriella realized that a part of her didn’t want to go. He…was fighting her again. In her mind she felt her frustration lashing out as if a child fighting against a raging storm, hands raised in anger, a primeval yawp to the sky.
“Don’t go back there.” He whispered along the echoes of the hollow behind her eyes.
She scoffed and chuckled softly as to not alert the nurse as she opened the door. Like we have a choice, this is your fault. She sent the words as she entered the room watching the doc stand in greeting. He was an older man with kind eyes and sometimes a sad smile when he tried his best to relate to her sadness.
“Hello Gabby, are you ready for today’s session?”
Dr. Campbell even sounded like a grandpa or dad would. He most certainly didn’t come off with the cold medical distance that the other doctors had. That was the reason Gabriella was fine with coming to see him, to talk to him candidly.
“The Priest is not happy about this visit, you make him nervous doctor. He wants to leave and leave things as there are.”
“I see, and how do you feel about this? Do you wish to leave?”
“I wish him to leave.” she said finitely.
“Well then, let us begin with today’s treatment.”
Gabriella felt a small bit of fear creep up her spine. She was resolute in her life going back to normal…but was scared of the treatment she had agreed to. Dr. Geroge Campbell was known for positive results in patients with mental maladies, he was going to try a mix of electro shock style bursts with a bit of hypnotherapy to help her remove The Priest. Taking a steadying breath, she moved to the small couch in the middle of this burgundy wine colored room. The books on the shelves that lined the walls no longer held her attention.
“We will start with getting you to a sleeping state, and then begin. You may feel pressure but there should be no pain. Are you ready?”
He sounded like a damn dentist lying through their teeth about the pain, but she was ready. She nodded and closed her eyes as she had several other sessions.Today was the day The Priest would leave and she could become herself again. She took deep breaths and listened as the Doc began his countdown with the metronome.
“Deep Sleep, you are entering your safe space. Can you hear me? Good… Good. Now with each shock, we will push The Priest out. I want you to do so from where you are. Can you envision him? Ah, good. When I count to three, I want you to imagine the strongest person you know and take in their strength, make it your own. Then together we will push the Priest out. Ready? Let’s Begin.”
Gabriella heard the countdown and then remembered her safe space dissolving into blackness. She saw nothing. Heard…nothing. It seemed to last for a while but suddenly her eyes opened and she saw the same deep burgundy. But as she sat up, she saw the Doc was no longer there next to her.
She stood confused and saw that his clipboard and pen were on the floor. She didn’t want to look but her eyes traveled over to the desk and sure enough there the Doc sat with a letter opener in his eye socket, fluids seeping over the mouth held open in terror. Gabriella ran out and ran to the car where her Mother waited. She didn’t wish to speak but nodded to her Mother’s questions. Her Mom was used to her daughter being tired after a session.
Once home her parents turned their cell phones off, ready to be there for their daughter. A smile lit her face, she was happy they cared so much. She went to the kitchen for a drink and as she came back it was then that she knew her movements were not her own… but she was trapped, behind the pane of her eyes as she watched the knife slide home into her Father’s chest and heard her Mother’s terror…
“Bless me Father…For I have sinned…”
Fiction © Copyright Kendra Hale
Image courtesy of Christina Sng
More from author Kendra Hale:
A Gothic Bite Magazine Anthology
A collection of poetry.