I decided to FINALLY do one of The Red Dress Club’s prompts. This one is about fighting. I chose to do a short story, of course. Because, well, that’s how I roll. It’s sort of intense, sorry.
He pounds his ears with clenched fists then covers them with clammy palms in hopes of drowning out the noises. It is so loud today. He is barely able to make out his own desperate voice screaming, fighting to be heard. He seems so small, so insignificant. He doesn’t matter once they take over when it seems like he only exists because of the voices. He tries to recite a to-do list out loud, only to be distracted by chatter.
They’ve been constant lately, the voices. For the longest time he was able to ignore them, they weren’t so dominant or so needy of attention, so he never felt like mentioning them to anyone. Besides, what would people say? He figured that it was just an overactive, artistic imagination. He imagined that all writers had these voices telling them what to write about and what to say. After all, aren’t writers their own species, with their own idiosyncrasies? He is a warrior, he could face this on his own. He had since 10th grade when they really began making themselves known.
For the last couple of weeks though, he has been in constant war with these demons. They’ve taken over, not allowing him to eat or sleep. He hasn’t even been able to do his precious work, to write. During semi-lucid moments like this, when he is allowed to hear himself, he realizes he needs to get help.
He sits in a corner and rocks, missing his mom. He hurts, everything inside of him. He really wants to feel her cool hand on his forehead. He needs, so badly, to curl into her arms and let her take care of him. But he can’t find the phone. The voices must have, somehow, hidden his cell phone. He screams and cries, pounding fists to wall.
The voices are laughing at him now, mocking him. He wishes they would just shut up. He squeezes his eyes shut, tightly. Trying to hold back the tears and panic that are both threatening to emerge.
He roughly pounds his ears again and looks frantically around his small studio apartment. They are so loud, they must be hiding here somewhere. He jumps up and sneaks about the apartment, hoping to find the source of his pain. Looking under his futon, in his closet, in the tiny bathroom. Please, he screams above the din, GO AWAY!
In the conscious part of his brain and in his heart, he knows it’s him. The sickness that took his grandfather has found him. His mother had been so worried about this happening if he moved out on his own. Oh Mommy, he cries. Mommy, come get me. You were right.
He drops to the floor and pulls his knees up to his chest, sobbing. He is so scared. It has never been this bad before. The voices are so loud, so angry. They are saying things to him that no one has ever said. Mean, horrible, hurtful words. Ordering him to do things he doesn’t want to do. He doesn’t want to hurt himself, he isn’t useless.
He must keep fighting. He mustn’t let the voices win.
He drags himself to his kitchenette. So thirsty, so hungry. He opens the apartment sized fridge only to discover rotten, spoiled food. The stench is vomit inducing. When was the last time he had eaten, he wonders. He opens the cupboard under the sink where he keeps his munchies and finds a bag of Funions. That’ll do. He hopes the crunching will drown out the voices. He opens the bag and finds his cell phone amongst the crumbs.
He sighs with relief only to discover the battery was dead. He must plug it in, he tells himself. Find the plug, Matt. While you can still think. While they are sleeping. Hurry. Before they don’t let you.
He must call his mom to ask her what to do. He keeps constant dialog going with himself. Talking and answering himself. Like a crazy person, how ironic, he thinks.
He locates the charger and joins the two. He stares at the smartphone screen as the battery sign indicates it’s charging. He breathes. Just hang in there for a few more seconds, Mattie. He soothes himself. We’ll call Mommy as soon as this battery is charged.
He hears loud laughing. Cackling. He snaps his head up from his fixated position and looks around. He reminds himself that it’s within him and he needs to ignore it for now and he goes back to staring at the picture of the charging battery on his iPhone.
C’mon, c’mon. Hurry. Charge.
The slightest sliver of green shows and he takes a deep breath. The voices were starting to get louder, the party was beginning again. He had to hurry otherwise he had no clue what would happen, what they would make him do.
Matt found his mothers phone number in his directory and touched lovingly touched it, signaling the phone to dial.
It rang twice. “Hello?” a woman’s familiar voice answered.
“Mom…” Matt began and started sobbing.
“Mattie? Mattie? Are you OK?”
“Mommy. The voices. I can’t get rid of the voices.” He cries. “I think they are trying to kill me!”
He couldn’t hear anything but laughter. He gets confused. Was that his mom? He took his phone away from his ear so that he could pound it in hopes of clearing his head.
“I’m hanging up, Mattie. I’m calling 9-1-1. Stay where you are, Matt. Don’t move. Don’t touch anything. Stay where you are. Oh Mattie, I am so sorry honey. I love you. We’ll get you help.”
The laughter was so loud. It was as though a group of women were standing in a circle around him, screaming and hysterically laughing directly into his head.
“Shhh. Shut up! Shut up! Let me talk to my mom!” He howled manically.
Matt cried into the phone and hung up. He couldn’t believe she had laughed at him, his own mother. He’s sure he heard her voice joining in with the others. Didn’t she hear him crying? His desperate plea for help? What kind of mother did she turn out to be?
He crumpled to the floor in fetal position and stared at the smooth phone he still held in his hand. The slightly charged battery had died again, leaving the screen black. He didn’t have enough energy to get up and plug it in.
He lay there, perfectly still, barely breathing and hopelessly let the voices take over.
The paramedics found him that way when they broke through his door a while later. Lost within himself, fighting a war raging within. His lips forming silent words, eyes focused on something only he could see.
He didn’t feel himself being lifted onto the stretcher. He didn’t hear the paramedics words of reassurance as he was lifted into the ambulance. He didn’t hear them letting him know his mom was meeting him at the hospital or that he would be ok.
Tired of fighting, he was suddenly nothing more than hundreds of laughing and screaming voices yet somewhere, hiding deep within his mind, his own voice was waiting.