"Tell me about your last seizures, Jack," a seriously looking man said while sitting in a cosy antique armchair. He was dressed in a tuxedo which, along with his stern countenance, gave out the impression of grave importance.
In truth, he was relaxed. He had the job of his dreams and enjoyed every hour of his work-time. He was a psychologist.
High in the sky, on the very top floor of a skyscraper, he had his office. The room where he had been seeing his patients. The room where he was just now, sitting in a blue leather armchair in the centre of the room decorated with an oriental carpet with exotic motives. Next to a wooden table of dark brown colour situated near the armchair, there was a sofa with flowery patterns. A spot designated for patients.
It was a soothing place to be for people who didn't mind the breathtaking view on the skyline. It was hundreds of metres above the ground, after all, and there were those who were afraid of heights.
However, that wasn't the case of Jack. He was different in another way.
"It was frightening," he said almost ecstatically while outstretched on the sofa.
"At first," Jack began elaborating but suddenly, he stopped. He tried to say a word, he battled to let out just a vowel. To no avail. His eyes were twitching and his body froze almost completely.
It was a state that had induced fear in many people, commonly causing them to call for an ambulance. However, the psychologist knew there was no need to. Jack would have recovered eventually, but he didn't want to prolong the suffering of the patient. Instead, he grabbed a box of ice from the table and put it on the patient's face.
Jack had been a prisoner of his own imagination for his entire life. He could spend the whole day dreaming with no possibility to break free by his own will. Only others could help him. Only a firm touch of the physical world could help him.
"How long have I been out?" Jack confusedly asked as he rose up to sit.
"For about half a minute," the psychologist calmly replied while returning the box back onto a nearby table.
"Impossible," Jack almost shouted. He was shuddering with fright and although soothing the patient was what the most would do, it was a bad idea. Jack was experiencing a shock and even just a touch would have reminded him of the horrors that had stalked him moments prior.
"Did it feel like an hour?" the psychologist asked silently.
"More than that," Jack said as he breathed heavily.
"Tell me about the experience."
"I was standing on the train station..."
"Was it the recurring seizure again?"
"I'm not sure. They were different."
"They are never the same. But tell me, what did they look like this time?"
"They were black ghosts without legs yet had sharp claws and gleaming red eyes. They were floating around the station, searching for me. I was hidden, however. I was hidden, however."
The sign of repetition in Jack's sentences meant that he was experiencing trauma again. A moment of his past that troubled him and he couldn't overcome.
The psychologist believed it was the way he could cure his patient. To make him deal with his fears. To make him endure it and break free from the seemingly overwhelming bond of terror completely.
However, the problem wasn't that simple and it appeared that the psychologist had misdiagnosed his patient.
"I... I was hidden!" Jack explained in an anxious tone. He was talking against his own will. He didn't want to. It only brought him more pain. "They. They couldn't reach me. There was no way they could see me. There was no way."
"They found you, am I right?"
"Lie down, Jack. Take a deep breath. One... two... three. Now close your eyes. I want you to relax your mind. Four... five... six. Let go. Empty your thoughts completely. Seven... eight... nine. Silence. Void. Ten."
Jack was standing on a desolate train station. There was a unique feeling to the place. A feeling of dimness. The skies were hazy and gray, not giving the sun a chance to brighten the horizon. Instead, paleness poisoned the air, creating a thick, impermeable fog around the station.
There were many trains and wagons standing silently on the tracks. Their age was beyond ancient. The extreme amount of rust covering them gave it away. Between the tracks, there were old, cracked and broken pavements surrounded by thorny greyish grass from both sides.
The station building was in the final state of decay, overgrown with enormous brown vines of foul odour that attracted all sorts of oversized insects. Its walls were full of cracks and rifts, sometimes even holes used as a shelter by worms.
Just as Jack looked at one, he saw an ominous black bird with long sharp talons and strong beak charge straight towards it, landing precisely and beginning to feast upon the fat and slimy grubs inside.
It was so disgusting that Jack decided to look away, his attention fixing on a screeching sound coming from the distance. He could see just a dot there, but it was closing as time flew by. It was a massive black locomotive with twisted black claw-like spikes of enormous sizes stretching into all sides, waving freakishly in the wind and giving out an impression that they were more than alive.
It was extremely close now. He noticed inhuman shrieks coming out of it as if its engine was a piece of devilry fuelled by the misery of men and the glee of demons. These spikes were twitching insanely as if trying to catch and strangle Jack. He shuddered as it roared towards him, but he couldn't step back. He was paralyzed.
It was passing him by. At moments, he saw horrid creatures of all curves and shapes in those spikes. The monstrosities were reaching out for him. Laughing at him. Looking at him so wickedly that their countenances made him unable to even shudder.
The locomotive passed him by. It was disappearing into the distance. Demons had vanished, replaced by motionless, withered claw-like limbs hanging in the air. In a minute, the train disappeared within the thick fog.
Jack was still overwhelmed by the image of the devil's machine, replaying the scene over and over again in his head. Those limbs. They were all over him. Strangling him. He couldn't move, he couldn't breathe. Those shrieks. They were making him deaf and powerless.
A loud thump echoed in the air, dispersing Jack's imagination. He noticed a flock of birds flying away in fear. Did somebody do that on purpose? Who?
The place was empty. He was the only person present. He was the only man alive. Apart from the dead. How could he have overlooked the corpses lying on the tracks? They were gazing at Jack, their eyes open wide in an expression of shock and agony.
He wanted to reach out for the deceased in front of him out of curiosity. He wanted to touch them, thinking the corpses would convey memories of their agonic ordeal to him. However, all the dead disappeared as he blinked, his hand touching a layer of rust covering an old carriage. It was so decayed that Jack couldn't tell its original colour from the current hue of brown-red.
He noticed its doors were open in a sign of invitation. He didn't think of possible dangers awaiting him. He was drawn to it. Like a moth to the fire. He couldn't command his steps. They were leading him inside without his consent. They were going to trap him. Going to kill him.
He walked the stairs, ascending into the claustrophobically small corridor with a window on his left, covered in blackish ooze stretching from one end to another. The ground, the walls and the ceiling were covered with thick veins of rust that were pulsating vividly, prompting Jack to avoid stepping on them.
The entrance shut behind him, but he didn't even realize. Instead, he was looking around the unwelcome place. He saw there were three glassed doors on the right and an urge prompted him to explore them all.
He advanced towards the first one, noticing it was an empty compartment with its six seats covered in a dark brown substance, presumably blood. As his eyes turned from left to right, he caught glimpse of large plastic bags piled up on the opposite end. He wanted to get inside, but the door was jammed.
He felt the train making off yet he didn't mind. He approached another door and saw two beings with multiple crooked limbs hanging out of their hulky torsos, making them look like overgrown weed with wines instead of leaves. They were sitting on the ground in the middle of the compartment, slowly moving back and forth with their appendages. Apparently, they were communicating with each other in a way incomprehensible to Jack.
At moment, they appeared to have turned towards him and observe him with whatever hidden eyes they had, but Jack couldn't tell as they resumed to their previous occupation within an instant.
He decided to leave them to themselves and went towards the last door, noticing an aura of green radiating out just as he approached it. He saw two holes on both sides filled with nothing but darkness. From time to time, a stream of green light passed from one into another, illuminating the room for a moment.
He wanted to get inside and study the bizarre phenomenon but before he got the chance, he was knocked to the ground by a sudden outburst of acceleration. He tried to get back on his feet but his attempts were being foiled by the shaking of the carriage. He eventually managed to stand up, leaning against the window in order to maintain balance.
How could it move without an engine to propel it forward? Jack couldn't find an answer but believed it lied within the compartment behind him. Carefully, he moved to the other side and turned around, trying to enter the room afterwards. However, the door wouldn't budge no matter how hard he attempted.
The carriage was gaining speed so uncontrollably that Jack had a hard time staying on his feet. Desperately, he leant against the window again so as to find out where he was heading, but the ooze wouldn't let go.
Jack decided that he had to get into one of the compartments. He needed to sit down somewhere without those pulsating veins, realizing only now that his clothes were stained by a reddish substance.
He headed towards the door farthest from him, passing by the middle compartment and noticing the monsters sitting still despite the rollercoaster movement of the train.
Just as he reached the entrance to the last compartment, he fell trough the door as if they were merely an illusion. He didn't understand it, but he didn't have enough time to ponder.
He gathered from the ground, sitting in the corner next to the body bags and a slime-covered window. The carriage was shaking so tremendously that Jack had to hold the seat with his hands in order to avoid falling.
It was as if the rusty piece of machinery would shatter and break into small pieces within just a second. Yet, the quake was growing stronger.
Jack was focusing on remaining in place so desperately that he didn't even notice the body bags were the only things not shaking. Worse still, bizarre clicking sounds were coming out of them. However, they were deafened by a constant clattering of metal that made up most of the structure of the carriage.
A loud crack came out of the corridor, followed by a shockwave that sent Jack to the other side of the room, making him hit the seat opposite to him.
He recovered from the shock rather quickly, but the tremor didn't stop. Just as he was about to turn around and seat himself properly, he noticed he couldn't. His legs were being held in such a firm grasp that he couldn't move them no matter how furiously he shook with them.
The clicking sound was already overwhelming the clatter. It was so loud that it was becoming unbearable.
He looked down and saw a gray slime crawling out of the body bags, having wrapped around his leg so tightly as if it was concrete.
The carriage shook so firmly that Jack witnessed how the wall and seats moved away from him yet he remained motionless. It was so much for his mind to handle. He couldn't act against the force holding him. He was paralyzed.
A noisy crash came out of the corridor once again. Moments after, he saw the two creatures being carried away in the wind, disappearing shortly afterwards. Then, the movement stopped.
He was dropped to the ground, much to his surprise. The body bags were still lying there, but the slime was no longer present. The windows were clean as well, but there was only darkness beyond.
Confused yet curious, he emerged into the corridor and began looking around. He didn't need to do that for long, though. He saw that the carriage was torn into two to his right, with the other part hanging by a thread. However, his attention wasn't fixed on that marvel. Instead, he gazed into the distance that opened before him.
Black sky full of teal crosses and shiny green triangles was mesmerizingly captivating Jack's attention, not wanting to let him go. He was floating in an ethereal realm, heading into the unknown. Perhaps towards eternity. Perhaps toward nothing.
"Wake up," a deep voice echoed throughout those vast and endless spaces. The tranquil, such a leaping contrast to the previous tension, suddenly disappeared.
Amongst the pattern of peace, a dark red star glowed strong. It was reaching deep into Jack's mind. Gnawing at his soul. The carriage was flying towards it.
He felt great pains and extreme anxiety, wishing to change course. Just not to the red mould of heat. Just not there.
Despite his hopes and against his prayers, the star was growing larger and larger until it was about to swallow Jack and his surroundings. Its heat was burning him alive, rendering him into a mush of flesh and melted bone. There was little to do against being consumed by the crimson giant. He could only open his eyes.
He was sitting on the ground back at the station next to the wreckage of the carriage, which was lying there side up, smoke rising out of it.
He rose up, smelling the sulphur in the air biting his senses.
"Wake up!" a firm voice resounded throughout the entire station like a shockwave.
Jack didn't pay attention to the meaning of those words, however. There was no meaning to language where he was.
He perceived it as noise that upset the balance of this brittle place. Apparently, the birds would agree as they suddenly left their previous positions, flying away in terror.
A locomotive horn pierced Jack's ears, accompanied by the sound of train movement, but everything was still and there was no sign of anything moving. Apart from strange shadows that were emerging across the entire station.
It must have been the loud confident voice that had started it. It must have been that noise of speech that had dispersed the silence and woke the hidden evil from its slumber.
They were everywhere. Phantoms crawling out of their hideouts. Creatures with appearances so horrific that just a glance at them could suck the soul out of the unfortunate onlooker.
The place was no longer dim and depressive. Instead, it was grimly terrifying. It was coming to life. To twisted life.
Those beings were no longer ghosts. They were gaining shape and growing flesh. They were wrathful yet confused, seeking to exact vengeance upon anybody that would come their way.
"Do you hear me?" a question echoed, followed by cacophonic shrieks from all sides. The voice was hurting the ears of those dark beasts, driving them crazy.
Anxiety. Panic attack. Jack could hear the monsters howling at him. Yet he was so afraid to look at them. Slowly, he began retreating.
The tension was growing. Were they behind him? Was there a single monster preparing to claw at him? To tear him apart? The thought forced him to turn around swiftly.
They weren't near, but his abrupt movement drew attention of these creatures of darkness, tall slender devils with pointy faces and large red eyes.
They were one step closer now. They were one moment nearer. Where could he hide? Where could he go to avoid them? What could he do?
His steps were leading him towards the train tracks, but that was a path of desperation, for he was encircled. How could it have felt? Each move brought him closer to the end. Nowhere to turn, nowhere to run. Only hasten the coming of the inevitable.
They were playing with him. They could have slaughtered him in an instant. Leapt at him and torn him into pieces. Yet they crept slowly like beasts of prey. They knew their victim had nowhere to run.
"Come to your senses already!" the voice yelled, once again prompting a wailing response from those abominations. During the moment, they closed in so fast that Jack's heart almost jumped out.
Prepared to brace the fall that he thought would come, he closed his eyes and hoped the death would be swift. However, he didn't see that they slowed down again.
And so he waited. The moment of his demise was near.
A minute had passed, yet he was still alive. Or so he had thought. He didn't know because he was too afraid to open his eyes. The silence was telling him otherwise, however. The silence that hinted the monsters were no longer there. That everything he knew was no longer. That he had ceased to exist.
His eyes felt heavy. So heavy that he couldn't open them. Was it a form of cadaveric spasm that he felt? Was it afterlife? Was his death painless? He embraced the idea of having deceased that he put all the effort to open his eyes, his mind flooding itself with curiousness.
He succeeded, but the reunion with his senses was bitter. Sour to the point of causing death by shock. He was gazing into a phantom's face.
Foul smell was coming out of its jaws filled with an array of sharp metallic teeth that could rip through walls made of concrete. Its eyes were scaring the living soul out of Jack. Freezing him.
It shrieked, drawing its kin to form an impermeable circle around their victim. No matter where Jack looked, he saw those black faces staring at him, their faces devoid of any solid shape. They were flickering in a ghastly breeze, but their shallowness couldn't hide the horrifying countenance of impending violence.
"Wake up!" the voice yelled once again, starting a wave of screams that pierced Jack's ears. It was so loud that he had to cover them, yet it did little to ease the pain that was overwhelming him.
The shrieking had ceased, but the sound still echoed in his head. Tearing it apart from inside.
He felt cold metal touching his clothes. It must have been some twisted magic, otherwise he wouldn't feel the chills reaching all the way to his spine.
He tried to back down, but his feet seemed to be glued to the ground. He was trapped.
These monsters knew their prey had no way of defending itself. They gloated in the moment of morbidity.
The claws pierced through his chest like thousand blades, about to slice him. He felt the agonizing pain reaching into his head, making him want to scream. Yet he was silent. He couldn't even open his mouth. He could only hope the ordeal would be swift.
The blades left his body, leaving a puncture so deep that blood gushed out, soaking his clothes with that liquor of red.
The creatures roared victoriously, enticed by the smell of blood. One of them was even preparing to stab Jack.
"Wake up!" the voice thundered all of a sudden, instigating yet another symphony of moans and shrieks, for the demons hated it that much. It was so strong that it knocked them off their feet.
Now was Jack's chance. The wound was grave, but the pain was compelling him to move. He dreaded being cut again. He dreaded being killed.
He ran towards the wreckage where he had been just moments ago, noticing the entrance door blasted open. Ignoring the wound that was actively trying to hinder him, he climbed inside and quickly recognized the familiar place. It was shattered and tilted to side.
Jack found himself crawling on the ground, which was partly train tracks and partly broken window. His condition was getting worse, but he held the pain at bay by reminding himself those monstrosities were after him. He could even hear them roar.
He saw the end of the carriage was sealed by a razed platform and realized it was a dead end. He didn't think about it though, he didn't think about anything at all. Instincts were guiding him and told him that it was the only way he could survive. Hide inside.
But now that he was inside, was there a place to hide in? He looked up and saw one of the doors hanging loose. It was the room where octopus-like monsters had previously been.
Without hesitation, he crawled inside and began closing the door behind him. The devilish moans were drawing near. They were signalizing the coming of doom.
The door was easy to close, thankfully. Question was, would it stand against the flood of darkness? Would it hold against the horde of blood-crazed spawns of hell bent on hunting Jack down?
They were coming. He could hear them. He could see their bodies covering the window above him, denying entrance to the light and casting the doubt of dark upon him.
With each second, he felt the carriage shake as the demons approached. They were drawing nearer. They were getting closer. They were determined to chase after Jack until his last dying breath.
He grabbed the door handle and held it with all the waning force he had. He didn't want those abominations to reach him. He dreaded it as he imagined it. Smashing the door. Taking him in and tearing him to pieces. Alive.
He wasn't far off. They were indeed there. Bashing against the door. Shrieking angrily. It was almost as if they were intimidating him to open and submit.
"Wake up!" a voice shouted, but the monsters were so determined that they ignored it completely.
He couldn't see, but he could hear. The cracking of glass. The intensifying of inhuman yells.
He could feel. Sharp tips of their claws scratching him, trying to reach out more and cut him into two. They were getting inside.
"Come to your senses!"
Jack was still holding the handle, still hoping he would survive. Still clinging onto his life. Still enduring his wound.
The light began finding its way in. All the monsters were rushing to get him. In a moment, Jack could see again. See them. Their angry, crazed faces. Their savage thirst for the kill.
The door finally broke. They seized his body. Proceeded to rip it apart. He was helpless. Nothing could save him. Almost...
His name. A key to the gate of reality. He started waking up.
Those monsters were still holding him in a firm grip, but he realized the pain was artificial. The dawning of reality had begun, his eyes realizing the blurry lines of his psychologist's office. The carriage was no more.
He laid his eyes upon the only man inside, who was watching him unsurely. It was apparent that something went wrong, but Jack didn't worry that much. All he cared about was the recovery from the shock. He looked down on his chest, sighing in relief that his wound wasn't there.
"How do you feel?" the psychologist asked, but Jack didn't answer. He didn't even look at him. It was as if his mind was absent.
Instead, he was paying attention to those black demons gnawing at his legs and arms, piercing his ears with their ever-present screams and roars.
"Jack, are you alright? Jack? Do you hear me, Jack?"
"Yes, I hear you," he replied suddenly.
"Why don't you tell me then?"
"I don't need to," Jack answered apathetically, his mind focused on the abominations. They weren't harming him anymore. "Everything is fine."
"You need to. You must tell me. I can't help you without your cooperation."
The voice of the psychologist was serious to the point of desperation.
"Answer me, Jack!" he demanded.
"It's perfect. I'm okay now."
The psychologist couldn't understand what had just happened. Both worlds had collided and joined harmoniously together.
"I will ask again. Is everything okay? Talk to me please, Jack."
"Yes, but I can't answer to you," the patient replied laconically, his expression giving out the impression of him being reduced to a mere ghost of his former self.
Although it seemed inexplicable to the psychologist, it was perfectly clear to Jack. Those monsters were all around, residing in the real world now. They were tearing the doctor apart in front of his eyes.
"Jack, tell me!"
For a moment, the patient smiled. It was so strange to see somebody being snapped in two yet be perfectly capable of speaking.
"I'm fine," he responded, but the psychologist didn't say a word anymore. He was dead. It was apparently the end of their sittings.
Feeling alive again and at peace with his former enemies, he left. The creatures were floating around and although they tried, they couldn't harm him anymore. Finally, he learned how to live with them.