She didn’t stick around long. I hate it when she does that – it’s my body, and I hate the fact that she’s in it, in my head. But she believes me now. I can tell Hannah Aines believes me. I think I’ll tell her the rest of what happened because maybe she can help me. Maybe she can help me get rid of Cynthia once and for all... And suddenly that thought scares me. I’m not sure why, because I hate her. God in heaven, do I hate her! And she makes me... do things. Things that I would... would never never never do. I shudder. I can hear her whispering to me now, but now I know I have to resist her. I need to tell Hannah my story. I need to get rid of her, even though it scares the life out of me – what if I can’t live without her? I don’t care. I’d rather die. ‘To die, to sleep.’ I’d much rather die. I don’t know what I’d find after death. I don’t know if I’d dream.
“To sleep--perchance to dream: aye, there's the rub,” I say to myself.
But Hell is this. Hell is what’s happening to me now. So I go and find Hannah. Her desk is littered with coffee mugs.
“You said you wanted to help me,” I say. She looks up.
“I don’t know if I’m qualified to deal with your ah... unique problem, Clara.”
“You can’t give up on me now.”
“Clara, listen...” And suddenly I’ve had enough.
“No, you listen. I need help. I need it more than anyone else in this God-forsaken place! I have a demon, in my head... and it makes me... do things that I don’t want to do. It can control me. It will kill me! Please,” I’m holding my hands out to her now, begging, tears in my eyes. “Please help me. You’re the only one who believes me.”
She stands up. She walks over to the coffee machine. She sighs, turns round, and faces me.
“What exactly do you want me to do?”
“Listen to me.”
“We’ve tried that and it nearly killed me.” I look at her in disgust. She had a little scratch on her neck... if she could see. If she could SEE! See the things I’ve seen, the things I’ve done... She’d crawl into herself, live in her head. Go insane. It’s a miracle that I’ve retained my sanity; something tells me she wouldn’t be so fortunate. “Oh for the love of God. Fine. One more chance. But next time you try to hurt me in any way, I’m locking you up in the ward with all the other dangerous bloody psychos and leaving you to rot. Got that?” I hiss at her. I can’t help it. I’m only still here because I need her.
“Got it.” I avoid the spike-backed chair and sit down on the sofa, plastic pyjamas crinkling. She sits down on the other end. I’m shaking with the enormity of what I’m about to do.
“After she died, I started seeing her everywhere. I woke up in the morning and she was on the door of my wardrobe. I’d walk out the door and she’d be the postman. My dog would look like her. I couldn’t sleep, I barely ate. In the end, my boss told me to take some time off work and come back normal or not at all. When I was walking home on that last day of work, it happened again. Cynthia walked up to me in the alley. I... remember her face so clearly. She was glaring, her little eyebrows almost touching in the centre. She had a knife. I tried to back away, but she always seemed to be right in front of me, though I never saw her move. I tried to run and stumbled; she held the knife out to... to my thr... throat and I though – I thought it was all over.” I have to pause for a second to rub my eyes. I have a blinding headache; Cynthia doesn’t want me to tell Hannah this. I carry on, my speech stuttering and stumbling. “Then she pulls the knife away. I look at her in confusion, and instead of killing me, she puts her finger on my forehead-” I break off and scream. I feel like someone is splitting my brain in too. I clamp my hands over my ears – a high pitched squeal has erupted somewhere in my head. Cynthia is beating against my skull and wailing. “S... sorry. She disappeared and next thing I knew she was talking to me from in my head. Ugh...” I think I’m going to be sick.
“Is that how she managed to influence you? Like when your eyes went black.”
“No... no. She was just a passenger at that point. But she could... suggest things. But if I really didn’t want to do them then I could... I could stop myself.” I stop and take a few deep breaths. And then a few more. When I finally continue, Doctor Aines is looking at me and she’s one of Them again and I want to slap her but I can’t. I need her, I know that when she understands, she’ll help me. She has to help me. “She told me that... that she wanted to be free as much as I wanted to free her and I was so confused and messed up by it that I believed her. And... and that’s when she told me about to books. She told me that a monk who had lived in a monastery near here had owned a book – a forbidden book about necromancy. Devil summoning, demon-worshipping. She told me I could use it to free her. I didn’t believe her. God how I wish I had believed her! So I asked where it was and we went there. But when I asked where the book was...”
I’m sort of a sickly green colour at the moment.
“Did she tell you?” I don’t trust my voice. I look up and nod ever so slightly, and there’s a stabbing pain in my head. I imagine a tiny person – who looks just exactly like Cynthia – sitting in my brain and stab, stab, stabbing away. Like the ticking of a clock, tiny little notifications that a second has passed; only one second. But it’s one second that you’ll never get back. And one second throw you away.
“It’s in his grave, she said.” Doctor Aines goes pale.
“Yes. I dug up the grave. And when the caretaker came out and he saw me I... I... she told me to! She was so strong, and I could have said no, I know that but I was so scared and I wanted her gone!” I’m crying convulsively now, and it’s hard to get the words out.
“What did you do?”
“I didn’t mean it! God, oh God help me I didn’t mean it!”
“Clara, stop, you have to tell me.” She grabs my shoulders and I look up.
“I killed him.” She lets go of me and fixes her hair, trying to act as though she’s okay.
“H... how?” she asks.
“I beat him with the... the spade.” I’m calmer now, though my voice is as quiet as space and as insignificant as the worlds inside it. “And I cut... I cut his head off. There was so much blood, and when I started I just – couldn’t stop. I remember how warm it was; it shot out of him. And I could feel it, on my skin, mixing with my tears.” My voice is barely there. “I killed a man in cold blood, because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” I whisper.
“God help me.”