Self Assured Torment
Anodyne grabbed Asylum and transported them again above another planet into a new universe.
“This is my last world,” Anodyne said hesitantly.
“This is not your world; this is Earth.”
Anodyne stared down at the planet.
“I did not create it, but it is mine. This is the world of my last human life, my last incarnation before the form I have now.”
“Why are we here? I understand the other worlds; you can gain praise from them. This world can’t even be visited by you because it is your original planet. Your body will be de-synced, and no one will be able to see you, let alone feel your presence. You can go stare your past self in the face, but you will be incapable of interacting at all.”
“That is technically true, but I can interact with my past lives through other ways. The way I populated Hollow with monsters was to tap into a pocket dimension that was powered by the nightmares of the inhabitants of Earth.”
“So your thought is you can track his nightmares in that dimension in order to communicate to your past self via his dreams?”
“Exactly, and while I can’t interact with this planet, I can wander through it unseen and see the effects of my efforts.”
“But what are you even going to say? What are you hoping to achieve?”
“I am ensuring my existence and making myself stronger. I was born from fear and madness; those are my defining traits. I am going to terrify my past life till I drive him to madness, then when he eventually dies. I will be unstoppable.”
“I got other things to attend to, but I don’t think I will be gone forever. This little project intrigues me, but I am going back to that water universe. The goddess there invited me to come back for something she described as ‘fun in fish form.’ She has a weird affinity for fish, but I am curious.”
Anodyne stared, confused, at Sylum.
“I don’t think I want to know. When you come back, spare the details. I have other things to focus on.”
“Have fun stalking yourself; I am off for some fish fun.”
Sylum disappeared, and Anodyne turned towards Earth.
“Now I just need to find exactly where I am hiding.”
Anodyne descended upon Earth and started searching the Island of New Zealand; it was only a short few minutes before he was looming above Nicholas like a dark omen.
“Now, where are we off to me?”
Nicholas sat in his vehicle, gripping the steering wheel, staring out the front of his car.
“It is just like an interview for a job; I can handle this. I just need to get out of my damn car and walk inside.”
Nicholas continued to sit in his car, his stomach churning as he gripped the steering wheel harder. He glanced down at the clock.
“Shit, five minutes. I need to get going.” He continued to sit. “He said as he sat in his car, being a little bitch. Fuck me, I never knew it would be this hard.”
Reaching down, he removed his keys from the ignition; slowly, he put on his hat and made his way out of the vehicle. With leaden feet, he made his way inside; keeping his head down, he used the brim of his hat to block the faces of everyone inside the building.
“Hello there, who are you here to see?” came a voice from behind the reception desk.
“I don’t remember; I am really sorry. I, I, don’t do names good.”
“It is ok; what is your name?
Nick grabbed at his jeans as he felt his stomach sink; the realization that hiding his face was not going to hide his identity started to take hold of his nerves.
“Uhm, I’m, ah. Nicholas.”
Nicholas watched as the woman started to type on her machine, making sure the brim of his hat kept her face hidden from sight.
“And your last name, dear?”
Throat wobbling, he replied. “Baker.”
A small flicker out of the corner of his eye caught his attention as the receptionist started to type again. Turning his head slightly, he tried to get a look without making it too obvious what he was doing. Nothing but the back of the room; keeping his focus where he was looking, he turned his head back, failing to spy anything.
“Ok, Nicholas, please take a seat; doctor Sharn will see you shortly.”
Nicholas turned and took a seat, focusing his head down. Upon sitting, he leaned forward and rested his head on his palms. Placing each palm over each of his eyes, he tried to clear his head.
“Nicholas, do you want to come with me?”
Sitting up, Nick kept his hat brim, shading Dr Sharn’s face.
“Uh, yes. Thanks.”
Sharn led Nick into a room and closed the door behind him.
“Please take a seat.”
There were three seats in the room; two of them were armchairs that faced one another, and the final one was a wooden chair with a high back. Nick stared at all three as his brain started to churn; he could not help but feel like he was being tested. He knew each chair had significance, but he was simply incapable of knowing what it was. The door closed behind him, and he knew he needed to pick a seat. Failing to figure out the puzzle, he sat at the nearest armchair, slumping in so he was facing the floor. He heard the man sit down in the opposite armchair and get comfortable.
“Ok, let us begin. Do you mind telling me why you have not looked at me yet, Nicholas?”
Nick started to fiddle with his jeans, and his neck started to bend side to side a little as a frown grew across his face.
“I can’t see your face. That is the reason why I had to stop seeing the last guy.”
Dr Sharn wrote down on his notepad and thought a little before responding.
“What do you mean? How did that stop you from seeing your last psychiatrist?”
Again Nick started to squirm, being brought a higher level of uncomfortableness by the question.
“I can’t see faces, or I see them in my nightmares. They use them against me.”
“Can you see faces in your day-to-day life, or is mine different?”
“Different, they don’t like you. They say you are inconveniencing them.”
“Them, who are they?”
“All of them, there are so many I don’t know where to start.”
Nicholas started to glance over at the door, and he frowned once again. Dr Sharn seemed oblivious to this action.
“Is there anyone in particular that seems to dislike me the most?”
Nick frowned again as he tried to think about the variety of things that resided within his dreams.
“I, uhm. I am pretty sure the Conductor hates you the most.
Nick once again glanced at the door, this time being noticed by the psychiatrist.
“You keep staring at the door. Can you see something there?”
Nick started to tear up, and his voice started to crack.
“It is the Conductor.”
“His presence seems to be affecting you; what is he doing?”
“He is grasping and twisting the handle; he is also staring at me.”
The psychiatrist noted down on his pad, scribbling for a short while before adjusting his seating position.
“Nick, I think I have some idea of why these visions are appearing. After looking over the notes from the last doctor, I believe I have a theory.”
“I assure you, you don’t; no one has so far.”
“Well, tell me what you think of my diagnosis. I believe these nightmares are fixated on you because they are all there to help you; he is grabbing at the door because that is what you want. He wants to help you because you want to leave.”
Nick scrunched up and started fiddling with his clothes more.
“No, I want to be here. Why would I come if I didn’t? If you think these things are here to help me, you clearly did not read your notes.”
“I did; it says here that they have stopped you from committing suicide three times; I would consider that helpful.”
“Did the last guy note down the reason why they stopped me? Because they need me alive till I am 24. But once that day comes, they don’t give a shit about me.”
Nick pointed at the door.
” Oh god, and you can shut the fuck up; you’re not helping.”
The doctor looked at the door then back at Nick as he was shaking and burying his face in his palms.
“I can see this is affecting you rather badly; I am going to prescribe you an anti-psychotic sleeping pill.”
The conductor turned to the psychiatrist; Nick pulled his head up in time to see him walking over to the doctor. Staring down at the doctor’s book, he began to laugh with great exaggeration.
“Why is he laughing? What have you written?”
The doctor covered his notepad with his hand.
“I would not know; this is clearly some form of anxiety manifesting in the form of this conductor.”
Nicholas did not believe him; he stared at the conductor, who was still leaned over. His lips moved as if he was reading; every now and then, he would start to grin again.
“I think I would like to leave now.”
“That is fine, I will give you a prescription, and I hope we can meet again next week. I also hope you will learn to trust me more as we go through this.”
Nick stared at the notepad with anger in his eyes,
Nicholas stood up and walked to the door; as he grabbed the handle, the conductor whispered in his ear. Nick released his grip and looked at the handle; tightening his grip again, he opened the door and gestured for the doctor to walk out.
“Thank you, Nicholas; I look forward to our next meeting.”
Sharn walked out the door with his notepad in hand. Nick quickly grabbed it and slammed the door shut behind the doctor, locking the door from the inside. Almost immediately, there were knocks from the other side.
“Nicholas, open this door. You are being misled by these nightmares; open the door and return my book.”
Nicholas ignored him, sitting against the door. He crossed his legs and flicked open the notepad.
“You’re welcome for the hint, by the way.”
“Thanks; I had not noticed the door handle had a lock on it.”
Nick paused his page flicking.
“Why are you helping me?”
Upon hearing no response, he looked up to see that he was alone in the room once again.
“Alright, let’s see what this fuck wrote down.”
Nicholas flicked through the pages as the doctor continued to knock on the door.
“Can I get something to open this door immediately?”
Nick reached the most recent page. The top section was the notes from the last doctor, eventually leading down to the current doctor’s notes.
‘patient – Nicholas
Nicholas claims to suffer from nightmares and hallucinations, which should be a simple case of sleep correction and chemical balances.
Nicholas claims to have had no prior significant negative events in his past. However, his actions and side effects would say otherwise. I am unsure if he is hiding something, has suppressed memories, or simply is telling the truth.
Nicholas is not suffering from anything; his stories never match up, and the way he reacts to things changes every time I ask. I believe he is someone who just wants to have someone pay attention.
Change over notes –
After several sessions, I have concluded that there is something very odd about Nicholas; he is consistently inconsistent but seems to be plagued by something deep within himself. My notes from earlier sessions were me jumping to conclusions; I now believe them to be inaccurate. I would suggest looking heavily in depth to this individual. There is something more here.
My other notes from other sessions have been digitized and will be emailed to you.
Sharn session one
Nick took a long time to sit; he seemed to overthink everything.
This session is not very helpful I have no idea what to ask this kid.
I believe he is faking; I will give him some placebo pills to see what he does.
He just shouted at the door, a pretty vain attempt to show some form of insanity.
I should really keep this kid on my list, though; it should be interesting when he admits he is fake.’
Nicholas stood up and unlocked the door; opening it, he was greeted by the doctor trying to trigger the release on the other side of the door with a pin. He handed over the pad to the secretary and walked out without saying a word. The doctor snatched back his book quickly and shouted at Nicholas.
“I will call or text you to set up our next appointment.”
Nicholas walked silently out of the building and back to his car. He took no time in turning the engine over and pulling out onto the road. He drove dead-eyed as he headed out of town, driving over the bridge leaving the township he pulled over. Slamming the steering wheel, he cried out in frustration.
“Fucking no one believes me; talk about it, Nick. It will make you feel better. Best fucking joke that was. The more I talk about it, the more people try to tell me I am faking or it is all in my head; why in hell do I even bother anymore?”
Nicholas slammed his head against his staring wheel and let it rest, the vibrations from his idling engine slowly massaging his forehead.
“I believe you.” A sweet voice sounded as Nick sat in his car.
“You don’t count.”
“That is not very nice. I was just trying to help.”
“That is the issue, Penrose. You don’t exist; you are a little demon girl from my nightmares.”
Nicholas sat up and looked across to his passenger seat, where a little girl sat. She adjusted her dress as she tried to get comfortable; where eyes once were, now sunken in pits, she stared down Nicholas before he turned back to his steering wheel.
“Penrose, can you just go?”
“Oh, but I wanted to play; I know of some nice stairs nearby if you wanna come visit me.”
Nick remained silent.
“No, come on. You know I don’t like the silent treatment. Nick come on, I wanna play.”
Again Nick remained silent, gripping his wheel as tight as his grip would allow.
“Fine, I will go, but know if I am not here, that leaves the spot open. I want to be your friend; the others want other things, mean things.”
“Mean things? This is coming from the girl who cuts people up with a sickle because they played on her stairs.”
“They know the rules, no playing on my stairs while I am there. I don’t want to share; I still have to find my little brother. Can’t find him if there are people everywhere.”
“You do know he is dead, right? The monster consumed him all those many years ago. Or yet to come, I don’t know how time works between our worlds.”
“You’re being a jerk today, Nick; you really are Anodyne. I’m going; I hope the Conductor takes my place, then he scares you again.”
Nick turned back to Penrose to see that she had disappeared; below where she was sitting, he watched as his phone started to vibrate. A new message from his doctor.
‘Nicholas, I do not know what you think you saw, but I would like to talk about why you reacted the way you did. Please meet me next week at the same time.’
“Urgh, fuck off cunt. Like I am going back to that asshole.”
Nick tossed his phone back on his seat; getting ready to take off, he checked his mirrors to see the conductor sitting behind him in the car.
“Where are we going?”
“We are not going anywhere; I am going home. For a ‘we’ to travel, we need at least two people; seeing as you don’t exist, it is an I situation.”
“If I don’t exist, how are we having a conversation?”
Nick sealed his mouth, staring out the front window.
“Don’t ignore me; I am a part of you. Ignoring me is like ignoring your common sense.”
Nick stayed resolute; putting his car into gear, he started to pull out slowly. The Conductor looked at him with anger, but in his fashion, he spoke calmly.
“You think you can bury me at the back of your mind, well think again. Here I am, In the foreground, ever-present, ready to speak. Every day we grow stronger in your presence, to the point where we can do this.”
The conductor reached out and lightly tapped Nick’s shoulder. Nicholas panicked and threw himself from his car. In desperation, he lashed out at his seat belt till it was unclicked, and he was free to fall from his car. He watched as his car coasted to a stop, and the Conductor sat inside, smiling and waving.
“They have never touched me before; he can’t touch me because it is all in my mind. It must have been something else. A bug, maybe my clothes shifting, literally any other excuse.”
Nick’s mind started to race as his chest raised and lowered drastically. Nicks’s car spluttered and stopped as it reacted badly to being left in gear.
“I don’t want to go back in there; why in hell would I go back in there?”
He stood up and slowly walked around the car, which was empty. Cautiously he climbed back in. Looking around fully, he turned his car back on and pulled back out onto the road. The whole drive home, he madly checked his mirrors as he drove well below the speed limit in fear he might crash. After a much longer than usual time, he arrived home. Quickly he removed himself from his car and made his way inside.
“Hey man, how was the doctor? Said Nick’s flatmate.
“Uh, yea, uneventful. Nothing really happened ae. Just going to bed, night, man.”
Nick’s flatmate looked at the clock and then back at Nick as he closed the door to his room. Under his breath, he spoke.
“But it is only five in the afternoon?”
Ignoring his odd statement, he went into the kitchen to make food.
Nick sat against his door as he heard the loud clattering of dishes coming from the kitchen.
“Damn, that guy is loud doing literally anything.”
After spending a short while against his door listening to the sounds of his flatmate, he decided he needed to get up. With a small amount of motivation, he got back onto his computer, resuming the tabs he already had open, he got back to researching.
All over his screen, he had tabs open related to sleep issues, and hallucinations, all based on a scientific method. Chemical imbalances, poor diet, bad sleeping patterns, and drug use. All the tabs revolved around any and all research papers that anyone had released, giving any and all the benefit of the doubt. Hours in, and Nick heard a knocking at his door.
“Yo man, can I come in?”
Nick let off a sigh of relief, realizing he was talking to someone.
“Yea, come on in.”
His flatmate opened the door and stood in the doorway eating a bowl of noodles.
“seeing as you are still looking up dream stuff and the fact your answer was rather odd when you walked in, I assume it did not go that well.”
“Yea, long story short, I ended up locking myself in the room with the doctor’s notes and the doctor on the other side. Read his notes, and while they were bad, there is a slight possibility I was not actually reading his notes but a hallucination.”
“Well shit, I just woke up like an hour ago and had a shower today. I had to lock my dog on the other side of the door, so yea, I get how you feel.”
There was a slight pause as Nick looked up at his flatmate, then they both started laughing.
“Oh yea, exact same situation, man. Actually, I think your situation is worse.”
“I didn’t want to say anything but yea.”
Taking a couple of mouthfuls of food, his eyebrows raised.
“I forgot the reason why I came here. I was on a forum earlier, and some people were saying that a way to dispel bad hallucinations was to use a tulpa.”
Nick looked blankly at his flatmate. He turned to his computer and googled Tulpa.
“Let’s see, tulpa is a concept in mysticism and the paranormal of a being or object which is created through spiritual or mental powers. So what, I create a gun in my hand mentally and kill my hallucinations?”
“Na, that is not exactly the thing I saw. They talked about sitting by a mirror and making a mirror image of yourself to fight the hallucinations.”
“Man, I really ain’t into this mysticism shit ae.”
“Ok, that is a fair point, but hear me out. You have been through like three psychiatrists, and I don’t know how many forums. All of them say the same thing, but none of them is accurate to your situation. Why not try some of the supernatural answers? The supernatural is all through history. It had to stem from something, maybe something factual.”
Nick looked back at his ongoing list of open tabs. Closing all of them, leaving only the Tulpa page open, he looked back at his flatmate.
“Fuck it, why not. Wanna give me a link to the forum and any other stuff you looked into?”
Nick’s flatmate looked over at the time on the computer.
“I will link you but hold on a second first.”
His flatmate put his food down on Nick’s desk and ran off; Nick picked up the food and started to eat it.
“Thanks for the food, man; been really hungry.”
“Oi dick put my damn food down!”
Nick, after taking a couple of mouthfuls, put the food back, looking into the specifics behind the Tulpa. After a couple of sentences, his flatmate returned with a tall mirror.
“I went out today and bought this.”
He set it down on a clear wall.
“All you need to do is sit next to it on your chair and use your peripherals to look at your reflection. You should, after a while, be able to make it move mentally. You just have to focus on wanting to make it move. So focus on moving your own limbs but don’t actually move them. Eventually, your reflection will start to move.”
Nick’s flatmate dragged Nick across his room till he was sitting in front of the mirror.
“The best time to do it is just after the sun is setting; at this time, your body tries sleeping. Being in this state is referred to as the astral consciousness. It is when you are more likely to shift your soul from your body, which is something you need in order to create your tulpa. Your soul will travel into the mirror and drag it out once it can move.”
Nick looked up at his now fast-talking friend.
“You seem really invested in this; why spend so much time on it?”
His flatmate punched Nick’s shoulder with as much strength as he could muster.
“That is a stupid question, dude. You are seriously fucked up. You can hardly work, you barely sleep. Why wouldn’t I want to help you out?”
“Fair enough. I do appreciate this man; I know I can be difficult to live with.”
The lights went out, and Nick’s flatmate set up a lamp behind Nick, making it so only the mirror and Nick were lit up.
“Now, this can take anywhere between one session for the advanced users of the astral plain all the way to weeks or even months. I asked a couple of questions, and by the sounds of things, most people think you are desynced from Earth and are constantly shifting into the astral plane. That is the hallucinations, so you should get this done quick. Oh, and you will fall asleep doing this; that is the point, so don’t fight that. Ok, go or whatever, I am out.”
With that, he took his food, left the room, and closed the door behind him.
Nick stared across at his new mirror, looking at himself sitting just beyond the glass.
“Hey there, me; I am going to name you something so I am not confused later when I need to talk to you. I am going to call you Jac. Nice and simple, I hope you like it; I am sure you will tell me what you think when you are here. I think that is how I am supposed to say that.”
Nick turned his head away from the mirror till it sat in his peripherals, but he found that the light from his computer screen was distracting him.
“First, let’s deal with that; I’ll be back, Jac.”
Nick got up and started to shut down his computer; he closed all his windows and then hovered over the shutdown button.
“I wonder what the negative side of having a tulpa is.”
Clicking the shutdown button, he went and sat back down.
“Fuck it, I want to do this.”
Nick put the mirror in his peripherals and waited for his pc to completely shut down, watching out of the corner of his eye at his reflection. The lights slowly dimmed as his monitor went through the stages of shutting down. Eventually, he was left to himself and Jac. Focusing on moving while remaining still, he watched cautiously, optimistic about the movement of his new friend. He started falling asleep, allowing himself to drift off. He found his vision getting darker and darker till he eventually faced darkness.
“Hey Nick, wake up.” A voice called out.
Nick sat up but kept his eyes closed. Still half asleep, he mumbled out.
“What, who are you?”