I wrote this mini-story in support of a friend who's going through a hard time. It's inspired by the following prompt:
Your character wants to find the source of a strange noise they can hear. Tell the story of how they find out what that sound is…
I can hear it running around inside my head. An incessant scratching. Or raking. Like fingernails over a blackboard. Shouting andscreaming don’t drown it out; it just gets louder, swallowing my voice. Beating my head with my hands can’t shake it out; they are sore from trying.
And then I look down. Clumps of hair rain down to the black and white bathroom floor from between my fingers.
The noise is a drone. It squeezes out thought and reason.
I am afraid.
Something shatters. Flecks of reflected silver splash against the wall. I’ve broken the mirror. Half a refracted face looks back at me. My face.
The phone is in my hand. A warm voice pours out of the receiver. ‘Hello?’
‘Mom!’ I’m shouting but I can’t stop. ‘I-I--’ The sound blares, a mushroom-cloud of toxic thought exploding in my head. My fingers spasm but I manage to cling to the phone. ‘It’s happening!’
Again, warmth floods towards me, poking a tiny hole in the darkness. ‘Stay where you are. Don’t move. I’m coming.’
The phone beeps when I shut it off. I see the red-tinted broken pieces of mirror lying beside me on the floor. I close my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears and wait.
D. Forde (May 2013)