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I had moved out of my last apartment that February. My roommate had gone crazy and I had to get out. By crazy, I don’t mean “crazy.” I mean insane. She thought she was being abducted by aliens? They were taking her at night and running experiments on her. She said they were testing her body for exposure to something. My therapist said I shouldn’t say she’s insane. He says that’s a terrible way to describe someone with mental health problems. He says she probably had control issues, and that being abducted was a way for her to both stigmatize and fetishize loss of control.
I know, right?
She got hospitalized when she tried to kill her parents. They stopped by the apartment one afternoon to bring her groceries. I think they thought she was going nuts and the grocery drop off was a not so elaborate ploy to see if she was. Their ploy worked. She accused them of being clones and made a bull rush at them with kitchen scissors, the kind you use to clean chicken breasts. Her dad was ex military, or something like that, and her got her in this complicated hold and we called the cops and they took her off to Westview. “Seventh floor,” I heard one of the cops say. I googled it later. Seventh floor was the psych ward. She lost control.
The next day I rolled out of the apartment. Without Claudia there, I couldn’t afford the rent, and with the way her parents took all of her shit, I couldn’t imagine she was coming back. That left me needing a place, which I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to manage. I had left my last job in a hasty and desultory manner
(It was Starbucks and my godawful manager accused me of taking home a tray of pastries illegally (I denied it but it was totally true); I shouted “suck my ex-corporate cock” at him as I left, even though, as a girl, I technically have no cock). I crashed that night at Julia’s, but her boyfriend hated me, so I knew I had to find something else quickly.
The next day, I found the place on Craig’s list. F roommate wanted. 250/month. I could make 250/month. You have to work to not earn 250/month.
The place was an utter shithole and it was way, way, way off any sort of bus line, which is why is why it was so cheap, but the girl, Holly, wasn’t awful at all. She was in her final semester at university and interning at some mental health outreach 20 hours a week. She had a tumblr called introspectivecats that was just pictures of cats looking at themselves in the mirror. She drank such cheap wine. I liked her.
A few weeks after I moved in, she asked me if I saw anything weird the night before. “Lights? Any weird lights?”
I knew. Before she did.
A few weeks later, she told me. They were taking her at night. While I slept. Experiments. Surgeries. She showed me a cut on her back. Look at this, she whispered. Look at it. I did. It looked like a cut.
She didn’t come back to the apartment one night. And then the next. Her boyfriend, however, came over the next. Lyle. Nice guy. I knew him from freshman year intro to english lit class (“Beowulf to Virginia Woolf!”). He told me Holly had been having problems. She moved back home to her parent’s house. She wasn’t planning on coming back.
By now, I was working again, at the trash 4-Q down the street, selling cigarettes and energy drinks three nights a week. That income allowed me to be able to afford the place on my own, so I didn’t have to move, although the empty apartment made me feel like I was the only living person in the world. Then I would leave the building and see people walking around like the world was so normal, so routine. They just left their apartments and went outside.
I was taking six credits that semester, after Holly talked me into trying school again. Although it was only two classes, it made me eligible for a few hours of counseling every week at the shitty drop in mental health clinic. I religiously went, talking to my therapist, Mr. Whitley, about what had been going on.
After a few sessions, I noticed he seemed different. It wasn’t so much anything he said or did (and honestly he didn’t say or do much in general, just sat and maybe listened while I complained about my life) but he just seemed different. Like something was bothering him.
One day, after I sat down, he started in with the questions.
Where was I from? What did my parents do? What was my earliest memory? What did I do as a child? Where did I go to elementary school?
I told him the same thing I always did: my memory is terrible. I literally barely remember the last hour of my life.
He kept asking, his voice rising.
What are the names of your parents? Where are you from? Then,
“What are you doing to me?”
I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about. His eyes looked far away and spit was coming out of his mouth, like he was a dog trying to bite me.
“They’re coming for me,” he said, getting out of his chair, “they’re taking me. At night. The lights. Every night.”
“I don’t know what —” I got up from the chair, trying to back away to the door.
“The aliens. They’re taking me. Because of you. And it stops right now.” He pulled out a fucking knife —a knife of all things! — and leapt toward me.
I screamed and kicked him. I felt my leg, I felt something enter my leg, and I started screaming again. Not in fear or anger but just sheer unbelievable wet agony. Somehow my kick had managed to knock off his glasses. When security rushed in, he was on his knees, red faced and grey haired, trying to find him. The security dude (Carlos: he was super chill. He and I talked about bluegrass sometimes. Carols loved mandolin) froze, staring at the two of us, me bleeding from the cut on my leg and Mr. Whitley, sweating and crazy looks. I think Mr Whitley made Carlos’s decision easier when he screamed, direct quote, he needed to “kill the girl! She brings the aliens!”
After everything was done, an EMT came and bandaged up my leg.
“This is a really bad cut, but it could have been a lot worse. You’re definitely going to need stitches.”
“I know. I can’t believe my therapist tried to kill me.”
“I know, right? This world is cra — Oh, did you,” she paused, “did you have surgery here?”
“On my leg? No. Why?”
“Because,” she pulled out a piece of gleaming, translucent metal out of me. Ceiling lights throbbed and reflected against the strange metallic, blood smeared surface. It seemed to soak in all the light in the room. “What is this?”
My first memories were the lights, pulling me into them.
Credit To – Kevin Sharp