Only Human: Phobia

Only Human: Phobia

A Story by Alexzandria R.
"

Neil is the only one who can save all of the missing people. But in order to do so, he must face all of his worst fears face-to-face. Will he be able to handle it? Or will he fail?

"
The school was cold as I made my way through the halls looking for someone, anyone, and finding nothing. I could see my breath in the freezing air, coming out as thick white mist. My cheeks stung and my fingers and toes grew stiff with the cold. Why was it so cold? For a moment, I assumed it was because the school had been closed for so long and the heater wasn't running, but I remembered it was the middle of May. How could a building get that cold in the middle of May?
The flashlight I'd taken from Ava's house was starting to die. The light would frequently go out and I'd have to vigorously shake the thing and hope that it would come back on. I hated that. Since I was little, I’d had really bad nyctophobia. Each time the flashlight started to die, my heart raced more than it already had been. I had no idea to expect already but if it got dark…I was just done.
Nyctophobia (n): irrational fear of the dark.
I had the constant feeling that something was lurking in the dark behind me, getting ready to make me its next victim. That fear followed me everywhere that there wasn’t light but there in the freezing air of the school, it was amplified. Nyctophobia times one thousand and two. I thought I was going to be sick and I had a feeling that if I did, it would freeze to the floor. I was struggling to keep myself warm. Nyctophobia plus hypothermia equals a really bad day.
For some reason, Dianne’s words still echoed in my head even after she left me in the road. Not just one specific phrase but the whole conversation. I found it severely difficult to wrap my head around the idea that she and her twin had been raised by something…not of this world…and now he kidnapped everyone and they were leaving the planet or something. I met Dianne in kindergarten. She was a happy little girl who always played with the other kids and was sweet to everyone. Deon on the other hand kept to himself and was rude to anyone who attempted to speak to him. I recalled that they never came to open houses or parent teacher nights. I never expected that it was because they were raised by something inhuman. I’d known Dianne and her brother up until high school. That day in the road, I wasn’t sure I knew either of them anymore.
I wandered the halls looking for something. Someone. Anything. Anyone. I was alone. Alone as far as I knew but I’m sure that’s what everyone thought before they were captured. Captured…why were they captured and not me? What makes me so special? What makes me so different from everyone else that I can’t come with them? Can’t come with my Ava…
I went down some stairs at the end of the hallway next to one of the janitor’s closets. The stairs only led to the boiler room but it was worth a try. It was worth looking there. My Ava was worth everything to me. Screw the rest of the town. I wanted Ava. If this…thing wanted to keep everyone else…take everyone else to his world…but let me keep Ava, I’d be happy with that. But then again why take Ava back when once I’m gone, she’ll be the only one left in town? She’ll have this lonely feeling. I didn’t know how much longer I had to live, especially with the doctors gone.
That’s what triggered it. The thought. The realization. When I’m gone in who knows how long, Ava will still be alive and well. If everyone else in town were still there, they’d be the same. Once I’m dead and in the ground, they’d all be alive and well and happy…and good for experimentation. This thing…didn’t want me because I was dying. I had one foot in the grave, so they couldn’t let me come with my Ava. I was only human like the rest of them…but I was a defective human. So they left me to be alone with my defectiveness. This enraged me. I didn’t want to be captured but still.
As I entered the boiler room, the cold grew and I knew I was in the right place. The room was filled with an eerie blue light like the kind you see when submarines shine a light underwater. I felt like I was underwater. The flashlight was rapidly dying but the dim, eerie, blue light was enough. The blue light was alive and well and would still be that way after the flashlight had died. I felt sympathy for the flashlight…or rather empathy. I knew how it felt.
I looked around. The walls of the room seemed to be lined with rows and rows of some type of…pods. I could see a small round window in each one of them. I looked up. There were ladders and bridges and ladders and bridges and pods and more pods everywhere. This room was proportionately incorrect. There was no way it could be part of the school. But sure enough, I looked behind me and saw the door I’d come in through. The sign on the wall next to the door read: BOILER ROOM with the same words written below it in braille. Above the door was a glowing red sign that read: EXIT. This was definitely the school. But the room seemed to be larger than the building itself.
Everything was made of either metal or glass. Everything seemed sterile as well but that could just be because everything was white. Everything was a pure, blinding shade of white that you’d see in hospitals in movies. The blue light was coming from some unknown source but it filled the room. I wanted to investigate. If this was the room I was looking for, then I knew Ava would be there. I would’ve liked to save everyone but if I could just save Ava that would be enough.
There were no pods near where I was standing so I had to climb one of the ladders. I looked into one of the little windows on the pod. Inside was one of my schoolteachers. My math teacher, actually. She appeared to be sleeping and bathing in the blue light (this was the unknown source. The blue lights were coming from within the pods. But I could tell by the frost on her skin…she was frozen. I went to the next pod. One of my doctors who’d helped to treat my cancer stood sleeping and frozen inside, engulfed in blue light. I looked at every pod on that row and they were all people I knew and some that I’d only seen in the hallways at school or out on the street. I knew what this was. I’d watched enough sci-fi to know what this was. Rows and rows upon rows of cryogenic sleep chambers. I guess it was just for the trip to wherever it was that the twins’ “Master” was from.
I kept climbing ladders and crossing bridges and looking into pods. Each one held someone from town, sleeping, frozen, and engulfed in blue light. Finally, on the top row, in the far corner of the room, was the pod I’d been searching for that whole time. Ava. My Ava. Her pod stood between that of her father and that of her mother. At least this thing was keeping families together. I wasn’t worried about her parents though. I was worried about her. She stood sleeping like the rest of them, frozen and the blue light filled the sleep chamber. A small icicle hung from her jaw…a tear that had cascaded down her pale cheek and frozen there before it could fall. I stared at her pale frozen face in awe. Even like this, she was beautiful.
I was startled by a voice behind me. Deon. Of course, it couldn’t be Dianne. It had to be Deon. Had to be the mean impatient one because that was my luck.
“NEIL GET AWAY FROM HER!” he shouted at me. I could hear his heavy footsteps on the bridge behind me. I turned to meet his infuriated gaze. He was not happy that I’d invaded his “Master’s” secret room. Not happy that I’d followed him to the school after Dianne specifically told me not to. He didn’t stop advancing toward me as he raised his fist, getting ready to let it down on my face. He stopped where he stood, fist still in the air, when he heard his sister’s voice.
“Deon no! Leave him alone! Come on…”
I couldn’t see over him so I thought that it was Dianne. When he turned to look at her, I saw that…it wasn’t. It was something…entirely inhuman. There was no way this thing was of this world. It had a human male’s body but it looked more like a mannequin than anything else. It wore no clothing and looked like a stripped Ken doll without hair or a face. Almost without a face. It had a slit across its face that seemed to be its mouth. It looked like a Canadian on South Park. Its eyes were holes, black and sunken deep into its head. It moved like it was drunk. It staggered when it walked and moved a bit like a robot.
“M-Master…” Deon began “I was just taking care of this intruder…what are you doing here?”
This time the thing…Deon’s and Dianne’s “Master” apparently…took on a different voice. This wasn’t one taken from a person, or at least from what I could hear it wasn’t. It sounded like hundreds of voices overlapping but saying the same thing.
“I knew he was here. I saw him come in. Go, son. Prepare your sister. We’re leaving soon.” Despite this thing not being from our world, it spoke perfect English. However, when it was finished speaking, I noticed that the voices that seemed to overlap weren’t all saying the same thing, or at least not all in the same language. Some of the voices lagged behind and I could hear that each voice was saying the same phrase (I assume it was the same phrase) in a different language. One spoke French, one spoke Spanish, one spoke what sounded like Portuguese. One even spoke Latin or maybe Aramaic. I heard one speaking Hebrew.
Once Deon left, the thing completely changed its form. It no longer looked like some type of staggering Ken doll. It grew more legs and a huge spider’s body. It grew several more eyes and a pair of fangs and pincers.
Arachnophobia (n): fear of spiders
This thing knew what scared me. He charged at me like a wild bull, opening his jaws. I expected him to bite my head off or break me in half with those pincers maybe. Instead, mid-stride, he changed form again. He took on the form of darkness. Or maybe he took on a different form and just wrapped himself around me so I couldn’t see. Maybe he didn’t take on another form at all and he just made me blind. Whatever it was that he did, in knew two things: 1. I couldn’t see. 2. I was terrified. I heard him speak. It sickened me. Not because I was scared but because of the voice he chose. How dare he take on her voice? He was defiling it, mocking me. Ava’s voice came from nowhere saying:
“why couldn't you save me Neil? They're gonna kill me Neil! They took me from you and now they're gonna kill me! Why didn't you protect me Neil?!” the last sentence sounded like it was merged with several other voices. Not like I'd heard when this thing spoke before though. These were all voices of people I knew. Mom, dad, a couple of my teachers, Pedro's accent stood out over all the other voices and Riley's nasal-sounding voice was quite noticeable. I was focused on Ava. Ava's beautiful voice. I couldn't see a thing and it felt like my throat was closing and I felt so overwhelmed by all the voices on top of hers but I just kept focusing on her voice. Not her words but her voice. I knew it wasn't really her but that voice kept me going. I would use this thing's abilities against itself. Make it empower me instead of breaking me down. It worked until I finally saw something in the dark. Normally being able to see something, anything, in the dark would've been a relief. But when it's my sister who'd been dead for years, that's a different story.
Necrophobia (n): fear of the dead
Nell (we were both named after our father, Neil) had died when I was just seven years old. She drowned in the pond behind our house. She was five years old. When she came to me in the darkness, she was wearing the same thing she'd been wearing that day. A little yellow dress with yellow socks and a pair of white Mary Janes. She was soaked and dripping all over a floor that I couldn't see (and honestly I was no longer confident that the floor was still beneath me). When she spoke, the other voices silenced, including Ava's. This thing knew that Ava's voice was giving me strength. I realized what the goal was here. This thing was trying to suffocate me with my own fear. For a moment, I wondered how it must have been for the twins growing up with this thing, especially when they had to be disciplined? Did this thing suffocate Deon with his fears until he broke? Is that what messed him up so bad? Nell spoke quietly. I had forgotten her voice and was startled when it came out of her.
“Why didn't you protect me big brother? You could swim but I couldn't. You could've saved me but you didn't...”
To my surprise, I began speaking to the hallucination myself.
“I-I'm sorry Nell...I was just a kid. I didn't know you were drowning. I'm sorry. Karma's coming for me anyway though. I'll come with you soon ok?” I felt tears gather in my eyes. Her form began to change. Her soft blonde hair fell out and in its place grew a rainbow mess of frizzy curls. Her nose dropped from her face and in its place grew a large red ball. Her face grew paper white aside from a painted-on smile. The yellow dress and white Mary Janes was exchanged for a baggy suit with large buttons and big red shoes.
Coulrophobia (n): fear of clowns
She advanced toward me, smiling her creepy painted-on smile. My breath caught in my throat. After a few moments, however, I remembered how to speak.
“You're-you're not real! Go away you're not real!”
Nell or the clown or whatever it was giggled. It was Nell's laugh. I remembered that from before she died. I wondered if this thing had put everyone through this before putting them in one of the sleep chambers. I wondered...if he'd done this to Ava.
The laugh faded, as did the darkness. I was surrounded by that blue light again and I was so, so very cold. My breath reminded me of when mom would smoke. Thick white mist dispersed into the air around me with every exhale. It was over. Or so I thought. With every exhale, my vision fogged and blurred. I looked straight ahead. I was seeing the world through a small circle of glass in front of my face. The blindingly white metal walls...were so close to me. I couldn't move my arms more than maybe an inch and a half from my body. The glass was only centimeters from my face. I didn't have enough room to look down at the rest of my body without banging my head on the glass. Once again, my breath caught in my throat.
Claustrophobia (n): fear of confined places
The last thing I saw was that...thing...taking its hairless faceless Ken doll form and just standing outside the door, staring. I looked at the wall behind it and saw that the lights in the sleep chambers were turning off one by one by one. The room was ever so slowly growing dark again. The last thing I would ever see would be that...thing. That awful thing that fed off of our fears and planned to take us to wherever it was that it was from. I was the last chamber. And in the dim light of the room which came from just my chamber, I thought I saw a hint of a smug smile on its slit-for-a-mouth before my light went out.
Nyctophobia (n): irrational fear of the dark.

© 2016 Alexzandria R.


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Author's Note

Alexzandria R.
I know I overuse commas. Please ignore that. Review based on the overall plot. I encourage constructive criticism but please don't be rude :)

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Added on July 16, 2016
Last Updated on July 16, 2016