My Worst Monster

I probably shouldn’t be reading this—

Was my first thought when I found the paper stuffed inbetween the vintage New Testament I had found under the tiles in the Westmont’s Hospital cleaning closet. It was an odd find—I was returning a mop accidentally left out by the janitor and had seen the tile sticking up. Before I knew it I was sitting in the palely lit closet on my knees carefully unfolding the yellowed paper with frayed edges. With narrowed, interested eyes I scanned the paper:

-I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy-

That sentence was repeated at least twenty times on the page. Over and over, in small, spastic handwriting. I read on:

-But I am. He knows I am. The man in the walls. He tells me who I truly am. He is my reflection. He is everywhere.

Have you ever been to hell?

Because I have. I still feel it. And you will too. But thats ok. The only thing we really have to fear is ourselves. I am my worst monster. I’m. I’m. Help.

I’m Not Crazy.

I’m Not Crazy.

I’m Not.

In big bold letters, across the partly torn, brownish paper, HELP is written.

Despite the sickening pull at my stomach, I read on.

-He’s watching. But that’s ok. I talk to him often. He tells me about the future.

Like a big, warm hug, it’s waiting for me. I haven’t been hugged in awhile. I wonder. No matter. And what of you, Bill? Have you thought of the future? I think I know of yours. He told me that

The lights in the closet flicker. I try to read the last couple words of the sentence before the lights buzz wildly and I’m left in complete darkness.

Before I can stand, an icy, incoherant whisper convulses my body in chills.

I get off my knees and fumble for the doorknob. Where is it? Where is it? My fingers slip along the door. Panic fills me and sucks out my insides. At last my hands find—

A hole. My hand goes down a hole where the doorknob would be. My fingers desperately grope the door for something, anything—

“Bill?” coos the chilled voice. I turn and press my back against the door. I can’t see anything. Theres nothing.

Before I can listen any further, something grabs my neck. I shriek as sharp nails claw at my face. I scream and scream wildly, thrashing my arms and pulling desperately at what has me. I’m pinned against the door whie nails rake down my neck, biting pain that causes warm blood to smear down my skin.

I scream once more, a blood-curdling shriek that rips my vocal cords as I continually hold the figure off of me.

The steady wall I was leaning on suddenly releases—and next thing I know I’m sprawed out on the ground in the blinding light. I crawl up desperately away from the closet, pulling at the smooth wax floors.

“Alison!” cries a familar nurse.

“GET AWAY FROM THERE!” I yell. Despite my threats, hands tentively steady my shoulders and help me to sit up while heart pounds in my ears.

“Relax, Alison—relax—please, breathe..”

Eventually my eyes ease up and the white stale light allows me to see clearly the three nurses surrounding me with concerned faces.

“Oh your neck—“

“Alison what happened?”

“You’re bleeding,”

“Something grabbed me-“ I stammer out, and my hands go to gingerly touch my neck. I feel the indented scratches, the metallic smell of blood under..

My fingernails?

“Something clawed me—“ I continue. “Something in the closet..”

“Something?” asks Sophia, the youngest nurse in the group. Her eyes flit to my nails, and I see her swallow.

They help me to my feet, promising to clean my neck soon. The event has clearly shaken them. They even consider calling the police. Despite their warnings not to go near it, I glance into the closet. The light is shining steadily, and the cheap silvery doorknob is glinting. I dare not look for that note.

My stomach swirls and churns uneasily.

I go to the bathroom and rinse off my hands. With the pink sudsy soap I use my opposite hand to go underneath my long nails clumped with old blood. My own. As I desperately scrub, I can’t help wondering how it made its way so deep.

And as I stare at my own tired, newly scarred reflection, I recall the letter’s words.

-I am my worst monster-

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