written by J. Geronimo Herrera
2012 LOS BANOS, CA
Everything is dark. His tattooed body sweats profusely and a nervous tingling runs down the back of his spine. The only visible light comes from the bulb above him, where a thick rope restrains his hands together. He tries to break free, but the more he pulls, the tighter they become. His hands turn purple.
Just then, the door opens and the shadow appears
"Hey Man you ain't gotta do this. Whatever I did I’m sorry. Just let me go. I promise you’ll never see me again. Just don’t kill me man please."
The shadow moves to the shelves and removes a propane cylinder. He pulls out a small object from his pocket and screws it to the nozzle. He ignites it. The flame shoots out of the torch head. The Gangster’s eyes widen.
"No man! Don't do this!"
The shadow moves closer, torch raised high. The Gangster struggles with all his might, backing away from his captor. Then he heard the most haunting and terrifying giggle, and all he could do was scream.
NO PLEASE! NO!Gangster
Lucas stares up at the ceiling wide-eyed. Nothing else exists at the moment. All his attention is focused on the light fixture above. You would think he were in a trance, if not for the voice that followed.
“Do you see him?”
“Him? No, not him.”
“What do you see?”
The faces of tortured victims suddenly flash into his mind.
"I see, them."
Lucas shuts his eyes, desperately trying to fade away the images.
“Sometimes it’s hard to forget. There are nights I wake up feeling empty, like there’s something I should be doing. I try going back to sleep, but I can’t. Then I get that urge…"
He falls silent.
“Has the urge gotten stronger?”
“The urge? No. He has.”
“What do you mean?”
“Things he did, people he hurt.
“You mean in your dreams?”
Lucas shakes his head.
“They’re becoming more than dreams. I’m feeling them. I’m feeling him. I’ve been having these flashbacks lately. I’m remembering everything. Can’t seem to shake it.”
“What you went through is not something you can just lock away and forget. You will get glimpses here and there. Maybe for the rest of your life. The key is in you. These dreams, these memories will only get worse, but you have to remember they are not real. He is not real, not anymore.”
Lucas wants to believe him, but in the back of his mind, he knows the demon haunting his dreams still exists, and it’s only a matter of time before it wakes up again.
He lets out a long sigh. The Psychologist closes the notepad and gets up from his seat.
“You’ve done really well this week Lucas. Listen, it’s perfectly normal to experience flashbacks of the trauma you went through. Just give it time. Remember, the past can’t hurt you anymore. You just have to decide how you want to deal with it. Either you let it define you, or you overcome it. That’s something I can’t help you with. It’s all on you at that point.”
“What happens when these memories become more than glimpses?”
“I guess it depends on the person. People have different ways of coping with trauma. Some fall into depression, isolating themselves from the world. Others look for connection, typically in the wrong places, drugs, violence, gangs. Events like that usually happen after an overwhelming amount of stress though. That’s why it’s important to keep a mental balance. As long as you maintain that balance, you will always have control.”
“And if I lose control? What then?"
The Psychologist looks up, a bit off guard. He thinks for a moment then look back at Lucas.
“I honestly don’t know.”
Five years have passed since the killer known as "El Ojo de el Diablo" terrorized the city of Los Banos, CA. It was a time of fear and horror that resulted in the murders of nine people. Before then, no one had ever known a crime so violent, or a killer so malevolent. It was a summer Lucas Garcia would never forget because one of the victims, was Daisy.
He slept. He wasn't up to go to work, or much else for that matter. The visit to his therapist did nothing to make him feel better, so he decided rest was what he needed. But as he lay there in his studio apartment, sweat seeping out of his pores, a disturbing image appeared in his dream.
It was Daisy, his lost love. She was so beautiful standing there smiling at him. She had a glow about her and all he wanted to do was wrap his arms around her and never let her go.
Then her smile faded. He couldn’t move.
Her face turned to a scowl. Fear set in.
“Daisy what’s wrong?”
Her eyes widened. Suddenly, she let out a loud painful and torturing cry. It weakened Lucas to his knees. He covered his ears and lowered his head.
Then everything went silent.
“Lucas, stop. It’s me.”
Lucas opens his eyes and looks up at her. She giggles.
He frowns. Again she repeats herself, a bit more playful, seductive even.
“Lucas stop, it’s me…”
Lucas shakes his head confused.
“I’m not doing anything.”
Then her eyes widen and the sexy image of her changes to something horrible and scary. Suddenly she’s standing naked and badly beaten. Blood oozes out of the center of her neck where a deep cut separates her flesh. The streaks of blood run down to her torso. The image scares Lucas to the core. She yells.
“STOP LUCAS IT’S ME!”
Lucas wakes up and gasps. He checks his surroundings. Dresser, bed, closet, it was his room.
He catches his breath and checks the time. It was just past noon. He rushes to the restroom and splashes water on his face. He looks longly at his reflection in the mirror and notices a change in the color of his eyes. Its very subtle, but its there. He looks closer and sees a hint of yellow in his brown eyes. He leans in closer.
He jumps back at the sight of Daisy’s tortured face and catches himself on the towel rail. Lucas closes his eyes then slowly makes his way back to the mirror and holds his breath. He opens his eyes. Daisy is gone. The yellow in his eyes is gone. And the face staring back is his own.
Lucas rests his hands on the sink. He looks down and sighs.
written by: J. Geronimo Herrera
- Lightbulb photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
- Workshop photo by Ricky Kharawala on Unsplash
- Office Doors photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash
- Light Fixture photo by Daniel Apodaca on Unsplash
- Doll Head photo by Esteban Lopez on Unsplash
- Hand photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash
- Bed photo by Quin Stevenson on Unsplash
- Girl photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash
- Bathroom sink photo by Dan Watson on Unsplash