Author's Note:

I am trying a new approach at different genres and stepping outside of my comfort zone, so bear with me please. Another attempt at Horror, which yet again got thrown more into the suspense genre. I will never get the hang of Horror. Then again, it depends on how you see it, in my opinion just the 'boo did I scare ya' shit doesn't work for me. Nya, I actually do like it though, so here you go.

Constructive criticism is very much appreciated, as are any and all reviews whether they are nice or mean; not everyone shares the same opinion.


. . .

Under Your Conscious


. . .

Nathan Hale was a shady character. His reputation being built on being an asshole who took what he wanted without any questions and no compromises. He didn't have a problem making enemies and being labeled a bastard was a badge he wore with pride. He was the type of person that was rather short on options when it came to needing a favor from someone.

However, lately his usual smirk held nothing of the attitude it used to. It felt more like an empty threat than anything else, and as a loan shark he could not handle it being anything less than threatening. The situation was getting out of hand, and he had enough of it already.

The echoing clicking of booted heels, a fast paced rhythm ringing on cobblestone, sounded like a death march. It was like a symphony from hell ringing in the ears of Nathan. The walls seemed to sneer with icy venom, wrapping him in a quilt of chills. It was as though the sea green wallpaper puffed on a stick of ice, even with the heater turned on two.

Alternating grey and white squares much like a chess board covered the tiled floor, stretching out before his sight and reminding him just where he was. They too tended to feel like a Siberian winter against his bare feet.

The heels stopped just outside his bathroom window, which was shut tightly and a low murmur resounded from the other side. He heard a woman's laughter and a man's low chuckle before the mind numbing sound of clicking resumed its previous pace only to disperse moments later.

Still, it wasn't silent: the wind blew through the trees and a few cars kept rushing by the building, even a dog barked now and then. He slammed his head against the dark wood he had sat against, causing his ears to ring and his head to throb. Everything was driving him mad.

If the world would just shut up! For just a moment, that's all he asked for.

His current problem had much to do with the irritating sounds of the night's life and he felt like running a rampage outside and slaughtering every Homosapien that dared to walk by his apartment. If there was anything Nathan hated in life, it was losing control. Which was why he found himself locked up in his bathroom that lacked much-needed light, sitting on the cold tiled floor and disdainfully glaring out of the window, counting the non-existing stars.

It was indeed a bit more calming than flicking through the channels and watching re-runs of every show he could possibly think of. By now, he had etched every line of every movie shown in the last few days into the side of his brain. God, why did people love to show the same fucking thing over and over? The soft sounds the fridge had kept humming and the ever fucking present ticking of the clock irked him beyond the depths of hell his mind couldn't even conjure up.

Another second even spent in his open living room would have caused Nathan to jump out of his own mind and he was sure that it would have ended up with his furniture broken. So this was better.

The light bulb flickered while a few dry patches of paint crumbled from the ceiling onto the ground. He steeled himself, which was hard considering that every little thing seemed to bother him right then. He'd been twitching nervously for the last one hundred and forty-nine hours; it was as though his muscles had begun to alert him of that fact by becoming entirely uncontrollable.

His world shifted for a moment, sliding out of place before it became stable once more. Another dog barked and his head snapped sideways too fast, causing his neck to burn with the sudden jerk. No stars, why are there no stars? A shiver ran up his spine and through his hair. He scratched at it, running his nails along his scalp hard enough to make him grunt. A few more hours, God, time is slow.

Nathan clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth, it felt as though it stuck there for a moment for his mouth was dry. He shifted so he could pull a small black device from the pocket of his sweatpants. They'd been washed so often the vibrant black had faded to a dull grey. I need new ones.

Within less than two seconds he had managed to dial a single number wrong five times before his brain concluded to just going through his contacts. He scanned his phone, the bright white shine burned against his eyes and he wanted to shut it immediately, but his vision caught the name Bastard before his fingers went through with that request.

Another second later and the cell was pressed up against his ear; efficiently killing the stream of white light. Good, good. His fingers twitched, nearly making the phone slip from his palm and he was sure to tighten his grip around the device. It rang once, twice and by the third time someone finally picked up, mumbling incoherently into the receiver. Nathan knew he was being insulted.

He didn't say anything though and just waited instead for the other person to speak again. "What was it you needed from me at this hour, yet again?" an annoyed male hissed on the other end.

"The meds are not helping," Nathan nearly shouted in anger, his thoughts finally snapping upon the sound of that familiar voice. It was the first time he heard himself speak in more than over two days and the low rasped tone of his own voice managed to scare him just a bit. He sounded weak, desperately so. "You fucking cheap ass rip off." The man on the other end sighed at his outburst.

"I can't sleep," he then added in a calmer tone.

Nathan Hale had only a few things he liked in this lousy world and far too many things that he despised about it. One of those things in particular was not getting the sleep he liked, and this meant bothering the other man at four in the morning. He loathed being awake when he didn't want to be, thus no one deserving sleep when he could not close an eye. Mister Hale was indeed a selfish man.

"I have two words for you, love: ass and hole," the raspy half asleep voice sounded menacing. "Besides, have you ever heard of saying 'good morning' instead of yelling into your damn phone? It is rude to wake people in the first place, let alone in such a demanding tone of voice."

"Good fucking morning to you," Nathan barked. "You should be glad I haven't knocked your damn door down by now or that I am not hiding under your bed with a fucking knife." Massaging his aching temples and remembering to calm down, Nathan forced the corners of his lips into a straight line. "I don't really feel like reminding you of how well you will have it with a broken bone or two. Speaking of which, do your wrists still feel out of place?"

With a frustrated snarl he heard the other man kick something away and a bang as it seemed to have hit a nearby wall. The sound caused him to twitch again, and somehow he wanted to thank the other man for the volume control he had over his own voice. Because someone yelling at him? That would have sent him over the edge and he was sure that certain someone wouldn't survive another day.

"Let me assure you, Mister Hale, that my wrists are just fine and that you're not alone on the count of not being able to get any rest. I reckon you really do need sleep by the way your mood seems to be fucking mine up at this fine morning," the man's voice was a dry mutter.

"Oh, it takes a genius to know doesn't it?"

"How long has it been a problem for you this time?" the other man sighed, sounding resigned.

Nathan ran a shaky hand through his hair, which felt greasy despite a bath only a few hours prior. One in which he had been tempted to drown himself, just to get a few minutes of rest. Each hour that stretched out without any only made him more jittery, as if there were cockroaches crawling over his skin; he scratched at it absently and nodded spasmodically. I should bathe again.

A blank gaze wandered towards the porcelain sink and up to the mirror. His dark eyes were emaciated by low hanging shadows, feeling sore from being open for so long. He felt like he was drowning most of the time, trapped in tight skin and unable to do shit about it as he powerlessly watched the clock tick interminable minutes by. There wasn't even a chance to focus on work anymore. His left eye twitched and he rubbed a palm against it, sighing while he did.

God he was thirsty, or hungry, he couldn't really tell but his stomach did feel like it was sinking and his throat tore with every new inhale. Did I have dinner? Dinner. . . sounds good. And Wine, plenty.

His gaze cruised back to the tiles before him as he chewed on the inside of his cheek. My mouths dry, too dry. Wine really does sound good, or Rum. He nodded, giving off a tired smile.

Now that he thought about it, the pills he had been prescribe not too long ago hadn't even helped him slip into a nap. He only progressed to the utter desperation he found himself in presently. What the fuck was up with that anyway?

"Mister Hale, whenever you're ready," the man on the line prompted in a soothing tone.

"What?" he mumbled. Had we been talking? His brows furrowed while his forehead drowned in the sudden creases that formed atop of his flawless skin. The nice tan that used to grace his complexion was no longer there and he was rather pale. Where's the sun when you need it?

His eyes could no longer settle on anything longer than two seconds, which made the constant twitching of dark orbs more intense than he felt he could handle at the moment. Then, finally Nathan noticed that his body was trembling, it was no longer just his hands. His cell shook within his sure grip. It was just his frazzled nerves crumbling, but he laughed nervously.

His palms were gross and sweaty. Nathan couldn't understand why he felt so nervous. He rubbed a finger into one itchy eye. "I asked how long you haven't slept this time?" the man interrupted his thoughts again. It took a moment for his brain to register the words.

"Haven't slept this time," he muttered. "It feels like I have worms under my skin."

Too many worms, his mind added. He felt weightless, yet heavy. Every movement was like a movie in slow motion, it ached. His eyes dashed through the room again. Dust covered the left corner of it, and he started to try to count the particles he saw. Pointless, so pointless.

Then his mind and body froze for the slightest of moments as terror crept through him the minute the lights flickered and he could see something move to his right, behind the shower curtains of the large porcelain tub. It was a quick motion that made a soft sound that resembled the ocean's roar.

"You don't have worms. It is your nerve endings, you are succumbing to dementia from lack of sleep," the other man said calmly.

Dementia? Nerve endings? Nathan raised an eyebrow. "You said the meds would help me."

"They were supposed to," the man muttered, his concern a flawless veneer. Succumbing to dementia. Nathan nibbled on his bottom lip, once biting hard enough to draw blood though he was oblivious to the pain. His thoughts kept going over the other's words.

A jolt of electricity burnt it's way through his body and he jerked away from his spot against the door. "They fucking aren't, you motherfucking liar!" he yelled settling against the dark wood once more. His bones ached and he suddenly felt much cooler than before. He found himself rocking. The ever-present itch continued to crawl across his skin. "You sure there aren't any worms?"

A car honked and a woman yelled loudly, cursing like a sailor before the sounds faded into the night again. Nathan's head jerked at the sudden interruptions and he found himself staring out of the window again. The night was dark, unusually so. His rocking quickened. His free hand kept going through his hair, the motion starting a burn in his muscles.

"Listen"—the other man's voice pulled Nathan back to the conversation—"just go lie down and close your eyes. Sleep will come eventually."

Nathan's fingers scraped over his stubbly chin, he hadn't even noticed his hand leave his hair, and he cursed himself as it had never been so hard to keep himself from constantly moving about. Then, after more than a two minute interval, the other's words finally clicked in his brain and he snorted. "But I failed to sleep for six consecutive days. So apparently I do not warrant the ability to do so. Are you fucking dense?" he snarled into his phone, fully loading his tone with sarcasm.

Then, there it was again, the flicker of the light and the dance of a shadow to his right. Nathan's mouth curled in an expression of pure scorn. "There are fucking worms!" his voice rang in his own ears. Out of instinct he started scratching at his skin again while his eyes kept darting to his right. His nails had already left trails of red behind on his forearms.

"Mister Hale, calm down. I told you: there are no worms," the other man said slow and precise. "Do you understand me?" the man asked. Nathan's head twisted to the sudden buzzing of a fly, he swore he could see its small shadow waltz before the shallow glow of yellow light. The shadow to his right seemed to be looming closer than before now. Why was there a fly?

Suddenly he is on his feet: "Fuck," he cursed loudly, moving towards the mirror. The phone fell from his shaking hand, sounding a thud as it hit the ground and he fumbled with the little silver knob etched into the wood holding the mirror. The moment he ripped it open a few pill bottles bolted his way and the shimmering metal of a pair of scissors caught his attention.

"Stop, stop, stop," he mumbled to himself.

Nathan hated the whiny tone in his voice, but his ego had died around the same time he had been forced to seek medical help from an old friend, and now his brain was demanding in no uncertain terms that it needed another little white pill to try to sort things out.

He fumbled with a bottle that had fallen into the sink and popped it open. Throwing his head back he flicked a pill into his mouth and attempted to swallow. But everything felt so dry, so he found himself leaning forward, turning the tab of cold water on and gulping down handfuls of it. He was practically drowning himself with the amount of water, and more than once he had to cough the liquid back up, nearly spewing the contents of his non-existent meal into the porcelain bowl.

Somewhere within his frail, shaking mentality, he knew that it was probably nothing and that the shadow did not even exist. It was just a trick of the mind. Dementia like the Bastard said. Whatever that was anyway.

His own attempts of fixing this problem had been rather extreme, such as a foolish attempt to drink himself into oblivion. It had failed horribly. Nathan ended up painfully sick, followed by being hungover, but never any sleep. For the first time in what he could even recall, he had been tempted to cry. Cry, like a fucking five-year old throwing a tantrum.

A loud snapping sounded from below, nearly as loud as a gunshot and Nathan felt his soul jump out of his skin for a moment. He let his heart rate calm before he picked up his phone again. He heard a string of curses and loud bangs coming from it. "Don't do that," Nathan finally barked into the receiver. The noise made him panic.

"About damn time. Look, I don't feel like wasting my night here with you. It's nearly five, so pay attention," the man on the other end muttered. Nathan blinked rapidly, confused and dumbfounded at the fact that he had picked his phone up. When did I drop it?

"As I was trying to say before you started swearing and ignoring me: I'd rather not give you any other heavy sedatives in this situation." Nathan whimpered in despair, it had been a chore to think coherently and the man on the line obviously wasn't going to help him.

The other man was speaking again but he was not listening. The atmosphere shifted, as though it became heavy all of a sudden and the sound dropped into a deafening silence.

"Someone is in here, I can sense it," he suddenly mumbled as he turned to stare at the shower curtain. The shadow wasn't present right then but the buzzing of the fly had increased. His gaze flickered towards the light bulb and he saw that the tiny shadow there had grown in mass. The sound of his beating heart became an annoyingly loud rhythm.

"This is worse than I assumed," the man sighed heavily. "Mister Hale, no one is in your home."

"Do you think I am crazy?!" he spat. Do you?

Nathan laughed, a hollow sound that crept along the walls, which seemed to be closing in on him all of a sudden. The room grew tinier by the second, colder even. The air around him turned stale and it left a foul taste clinging to his tongue. "There is someone in my home," he then said again.

Without turning his back on the tub and the shower curtains he never really liked, he fumbled around the mirror with his left hand, gliding across the shelves until his fingers curled around the cold metal of a pair of scissors. He tightened his hold on them, causing his knuckles to turn white.

"Give me your address, now!" the other man ordered.

The light went out again, and this time it stayed dark, besides the soft stream of the moon's light creeping through the window. A low chuckle sounded amidst the constant buzzing of flies. And it did not belong to either man. Nathan's head pounded with his heart, it was a skull splitting pain.

He was not ready to be chopped into tiny pieces and packed into one of those pickle jars that some dark minded people liked decorating their home with. He almost felt his brain override and crumble as he took a long, hard look at the shadow that seemed to dash behind the stupid shower curtain again. Why the fuck do I even have them, I don't even like them!

"Mister Hale, will you fucking answer me!"

But Nathan ignored the other person and took an unsteady step forward. His leg ached and he felt as though he was lifting the ground itself. The sound of his sweaty feet leaving the floor left a tasteless pop to resound in the stillness. It was only a matter of time before he felt long-fingered hands sweep across his skin, and Nathan swore he even felt someone breathe against his neck.

The solid floor beneath him seemed to shake. His eyes were wide open and glued to the spot before him. "Listen! You're one hell of a loan shark, feared throughout most of the city if not all, no sane person would break into your apartment," the other man tried again.

Nathan still had the phone pressed against his ear, his muscles frozen in that position. He was unable to answer because every particle of his being was fixated on the shadow. The buzzing was becoming unbearable. His vision swam for a moment, blurring into a haze before returning back to normal. He rubbed at his temples and the tip of the sharp metal caressed his head.

His heart was beating so rapidly he could hear it growing louder with every passing moment. Short gasps slipped from between his lips, forming mist in the suddenly dropping temperature.

"Mister Hale, sit down and take a deep breath, then close your eyes and start counting. Do you hear me? This is all just in your head," the man urged.

The shower curtain moved. Panic weaved itself through his system, fully occupying his bloodstream and a tear actually fell from his eye, slipping between his parted lips and soaking his tongue in its salty flavour. The light flickered on again, leaving him in its low glow and he was greeted by nothing.

He was alone.

The cowardly scream that had been bubbling in his throat died down, and he gritted his teeth to keep it from even trying to develop again. It felt like the buzzing grew strong enough to actually shake the room. Slightly dilated pupils roamed around the small area. Nostrils flared, desperately trying to inhale as much oxygen as possible without choking. "Dementia?" Nathan questioned.

"Yes, Dementia. Calm down," the voice on the line cooed.

The buzzing continued splitting his mind, nearly blowing apart his eardrums while it grew. The fast pace of his heart hurt as it hammered harshly against his ribcage. The faint sound of a hand brushing over wallpaper made him leap towards the door again. He pressed his back into the wood, feeling his bones crack at the pressure.

"Your fucking meds don't work. They don't work! What the fuck am I supposed to do?!" he yelled into the receiver. "Worms, fucking worms," he mumbled, scratching at his skin with the scissors.

The sound turned into a sort of nails running across the walls, over the ceiling and the light began to flicker yet again. It grew fainter and louder, though never overpowering the buzzing. Bumps covered his flesh, pricking forth from underneath his skin and he felt the worms crawling.

"Your address?" the man pressed again.

The sounds became frantic, like clawed hands scurrying behind the walls and then there was a voice, barely louder than a whisper, sounding like a sort of scream from the bottom of a deep well; yet intimately close. He suppressed a scream. It was an incoherent, eerie tone. Nathan knew it wasn't the male on the other line, he was sure it hadn't come from him. "Fuck," he gasped.

The scratching was replaced by the sound of fists slamming against metal, the pounding rattled him to the core. The tempo slowly increased until it resembled a continuous sound of rolling thunder. And that time a sort of deep growl did escape from his throat, through his gritted teeth and a whine fought its way through his pressed lips, sounding a terrifying rhythm.

Then, there was silence. Everything hushed, even the buzzing.

A building pressure whipped through the room, and a creaking, warping sound rumbled around the enclosed space. Something slammed into the walls, smacking and scratching. The pricking beneath his skin grew stronger, harder and he could barely stand it anymore. "Hardwook Street 95," he mumbled, his tongue stumbling on the words as he rushed to say them, nearly biting his tongue.

"Holy fuck, that is all the way on the other side of the city! Just how much money do you make thieving around, love?" the voice on the line said.

"Stop calling me love and hurry the fuck up," Nathan snarled. His mind whirled, the floor shifted and every little hair on his body rose. "Break the fucking door down. . . I-I can't move. . ." his voice was barely a whisper. A new wave of tears stung at the edge of his vision, blurring his sight. He fought the panic within himself, he tried to calm his mind. . . but it didn't work.

The line clicked. Someone's here, someone is here. . . Finally, the phone did slip from between his fingers and this time he was aware of it, but he couldn't have cared less about it as it dropped to the floor. He listened to the sound it made once it hit the ground, trying to distract his brain with anything he could.

Something inside of him twisted urgently, warning him and he looked up, seeing a handprint swell from the wall above his head. The ceiling stretched like latex as the hand slowly reached into the room, pressing hard and trying to claw its way through the white cement.

The light flickered, the buzzing emerged once more and the lack of oxygen caused Nathan to start panting; he was close to hyperventilating. The grip around the scissors tightened, he felt his nails dig into the tissue of his palm, parting his skin and drawing blood - though he was unaware of this.

His brain savoured the sensation of fear surging through his bloodstream, letting it seep into every corner of his mind until he was left with nothing but terror clinging to his bones. Desperately raising his hand with the scissors, he held it out like a gun, daring the hand to reach out further for him.

Sweat dripped down his skin, covering him in a glimmering sheen that left him glowing in the stream of flickering yellow light. He wanted to scream out into the night so the world could feel the rapturous agony ripping through him, but his throat was swollen and he could've sworn the worms were making their way through it, trying to escape. Fucking worms, fucking pest!

A screeching, hoarse voice echoed from the walls. It washed across his being, swept right through his tissues until it embedded itself within his body. His heart fought to burst through his chest, and he felt his flesh crawl, swell as though the worms were devouring any semblance of sanity.

I told him someone was here!

Footsteps were on the ceiling, fingers brushed against the walls and the hand dug deeper into the room; it all caused him to shake so badly his knees could barely hold his weight. The flies fluttered against the light, causing more shadows to dance in the room. He listened to the sound of someone breathing who wasn't there.

Nathan could feel parasite crawl around in his stomach, biting through his flesh from inside.

"Fucking slow ass doctor, can't depend on any-fucking-body!" he groaned quietly as his voice started to break with the sudden chattering of his teeth and constriction of his throat. No, he was no longer the man he used to be, the man who was feared. . . he was a child, utterly afraid. Tears ran freely down the loan sharks face and for the first time in his life he felt weak and useless, lost and helpless.

He begged in his mind, wished and prayed for the man from the phone to hurry, run, do anything to get there on time. The sudden pain shooting from his skull was too much and he fell to the floor. Eyes peeked from around the ugly shower curtains he completely and utterly hated at the moment.

The shadow from behind it pulled them aside and he watched it step out of the tub. Thick, black droplets of skin drip from its form onto the ground, sizzling the moment it hit the tiles and Nathan watched as it strode towards him while he scurried into the corner next to the sink.

It's nothing, it's nothing, it's nothing, it's nothing; don't do this. . .

He felt it more than saw it reach out towards him. Its being slithered among his, biting at his thighs and draining the muscles out of it. His body felt like it was on fire and as the moment of shock finally wore off he thrashed about, throwing his hands around and cutting at anything he could.

He felt something sharp slice into his shoulder, it ripped through his back. The hand from above reached for him as well and he tore his scalp open with the scissors, ramming them into his skull as he tried to cut the hand. Viscous red fluid seeped into his nails, soaking his hair, drenching his back and it flowed before his sight.

Pain took over every fibre of his being but he kept throwing punches, swinging the metal around, screaming a high-pitched scream that he would have been ashamed to admit came from his lips once upon a time. Every bit of his existence was dipped in the bittersweet flavour of agony.

He hit his stomach, aiming for the shadow again, and the tip of the shimmering red silver entered his bowels. Everything slipped from his reach. The stench of blood grew stronger and the ever present buzzing seemed closer than before. He felt the flies fight their way into his ears and he screamed, a bloodcurdling tone that washed against the walls, drowning him.

Lifting his free hand he scratched at his face (fucking worms, fucking worms), digging his nails right into the tissue of it and dragging them down his cheeks. Flesh parted, blood seeped and creeped as he continued to dig into his skin.

His vision swam in red, his skull drummed in pain and he cried, begged and crumbled in on himself, unknowingly pressing the scissors deeper into his flesh. However, Nathan was oblivious to the pain, all he could feel were the worms crawling beneath his skin, the parasites eating his flesh and the flies invading his brain. He slammed his forehead into the ground, trying to do anything to escape. . .

The alternating grey and white squares from the tiled floor were painted red and he was left gasping for air, screaming a soundless scream. He felt his world darken, and grasped at the pain in his chest, digging the tips of his fingers into his shirt until they went deep into it, parting the skin and gracing his bones with their presence. He could easily make out the distinct pounding against his front door, but he was too weak to call out. His mind was lost in a dark, hollow prison.

They didn't help, they didn't do shit. . . Fucking rip off.

He heard that familiar voice from the phone shout out his name, he listened to the sound of boots rush towards the bathroom while his vision receded as well. There were a few stray tears sliding down the side of his face, into the self-inflicted wounds and causing a new kind of ache.

The pain embedded itself further into his system. The buzzing was louder than before, overpowering the sound of his own shallow breathing and slowly beating heart. His skin prickled, burned and he saw the shadows tongue lap at his flesh, at the blood clinging to his form.

The man from the phone, the one he had always called Bastard, the only human being currently there to save him was at the bathroom door now, so close but slipping from his mind. Terror wrapped around him like a quilt, still, he couldn't help the smile that slowly started to spread across his face as he felt sleep finally knocking on the threshold of his conscious.

. . .