29 Jul The Effects of Fear
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"The Effects of Fear"Written by
Estimated reading time — 10 minutes
“Doctor Tabitha Lebarr, recording the story given to us during the psychiatric evaluation of David Shore, May 15th, 2013. Patient was admitted for treatment of what appeared to be an attempt to amputate his legs. It is worth noting that Shore is himself a psychologist, but appears to be currently in poor mental health.” There was a moment of static on the tape, and the woman’s voice continued. “Tell it to me from the beginning, Doctor Shore.”
“You know that feeling you get, when you feel as though you’re being watched? Of course you do, we’ve all felt it. We feel it more as children, and of course, when we’re already frightened of something. It makes sense to me now; it’s so simple. It’s leftover survival instinct. That, Doctor Lebarr, is the beginning. See, about a week ago, I came across a website for short horror stories, and it inspired me to do a case study on myself regarding the effects of fear. Fear is a fascinating thing, isn’t it? I read several stories until I came across one that really gave me the creeps, and the study began. I documented the basic things; loud noises that my cat was making pushed an immediate adrenal response, even though I knew where the sound was coming from. A hyper awareness of my surroundings was persistent and expected. I couldn’t help but scan the dark hallway outside my bedroom repeatedly, and the tapping from the vents in the ceiling seemed louder than they have ever been, and much more obtrusive. These are all expected results of fear and nothing particularly interesting.
“However, as I was winding down, I saw, in the dim light cast against the stairwell visible from my desk, a shadow pass from something apparently out of sight, presumably blocked by the wall ahead of me. As my cat, Gir, was in my lap, this was obviously a manifestation of my frightened mind, as nothing could have been there to produce the fleeting shade. I jotted down that it was interesting that my mind, winding down from fear, appeared to be trying to keep me in the hyper-aware and agitated state, by creating apparitions. Then it got stranger.
“I had noticed Gir’s ears perk up suddenly when I had seen the shadow but hadn’t thought anything of it. A moment later, Gir sat up very abruptly, obviously alarmed. Gir then looked directly at where the shadow had been; then into my eyes; then to that spot on the stairwell again, then to my eyes again, over and over about a dozen times, very quickly. As concern mounted and I was about to get up to investigate, as he has never acted in this manner, he jumped down and ran to the very spot in the hall where the apparition making the shadow would have had to have been standing. He then ran into the laundry room, his ‘safe place’ in the house, where he remained for about an hour until I went to bed.
“It was bizarre, but perhaps Gir just acted oddly because he sensed my fear. I decided to sleep on it. Anyway, that was my last personal entry as a psychologist. Funny, isn’t it? How something so simple can become so terrible. The night after, when I got home, Gir was still acting strangely. I decided to keep an eye on him, and again sat down to read some creepy stories. As I was reading, I heard a strange noise coming from the hall. It was the pat of heavy feet on carpet, and growling. At first I assumed it to be my frightened mind twisting noise Gir might make, but when I turned I saw that he was safely asleep on my bed. I carefully reached to my bed stand, wherein I had a hunting knife for security, and I brought it with me to investigate the hallway. Atop the stand was a picture of me and my good friend Jen, goofily waving at the camera. Looking at that made me feel a little better, and I was off to the hallway with my knife. The blasted light switch was on the other end of the hall, of course, so I let my eyes focus a moment. Just as my vision was adjusting, I saw a shadow bolt down the stairs. Air caught in my throat, and I lunged forward to the light switch, but whatever it was had gone.
“The following day went by fairly normally. Someone had placed a picture of a wolf where my face should have been on the placards indicating where each doctor was located, and there was trouble finding the old picture file again, so I had my photo taken and that was settled. It was odd, but was all that was unusual that day. Actually, I had gotten the pretty girl at the coffee counters number that day, and was walking on air by the time I headed home. I had completely forgotten about the incident of the night before. That is, until I opened my front door. Nothing was out of place, per se; but something was off about it. It smelled strange in there, the air was oddly warm and sticky. I had a strange feeling that the house was breathing, and the deep, nagging feeling that something was watching me. It was as though the whole place was plotting against me. I kicked on the AC unit, put it out of my mind and went about my business.
“I avoided the horror stories that night. I opted for some late night television from the comfort of my bed. This time, Gir wasn’t in my room, but when the footfalls and heavy breathing came from down the hall, I knew full well that it wasn’t my cat. I listened carefully, and it happened again; louder, heavy footfalls and angry growling. I crept away from my bed and into the dark hallway, again with the knife; that damned light switch; and as I made my way toward it, I heard the growl again, lower, more powerful. It shook me to my core and I ran to the light switch and flipped it on. Gir was staring at me from the floor, but I saw nothing else. I peered into the laundry room; nothing; but then the growl again, right behind me! I spun to face it – it was Gir! Staring up at me menacingly, this tiny tabby cat was baring his teeth and snarling like a beast; like a wolf, I remember thinking. My timid cat had never done such a thing. I tried to pick him up and he viciously dug his teeth into my hand. I screamed, I swung my arm, I had to pry his jaw open with my other hand and I locked him in the laundry room. I needed stitches.
“When I arrived home from the doctor, and as I was getting into bed, I heard my cat. My dear tabby, he was screaming and yowling and snarling and roaring, a combination of cat sounds and something much more sinister. I got up to silence him. I didn’t know how I would, but I had to try something. Maybe I would feed him a Vicodin. As soon as I stood, the noise stopped. I shook my head in irritation and my eyes fell on the photo of Jen and I; only I had disappeared from the photo, and in my stead was a vicious looking wolf, and Jen standing next to it, still smiling and waving at the camera. I had never felt such a chill as I did when I saw that photograph. It’s hard for me to believe I slept at all that night, because after I had ripped up the picture, I went to bed shaking, badly.
“When I awoke, I couldn’t believe my eyes. My darling tabby was torn apart at the foot of my bed, and his blood was unceremoniously spattered against the wall and television across from me. Shaking, I got a trash bag and scooped his remains into it. I called in sick that day, to clean my room, bury my cat and install new locks and cameras. I didn’t know what else to do. With Gir gone, I made sure the house was secure, I closed and locked my bedroom door, and I made sure the cameras were recording, one in my room, one in the living room facing the front door and stairs leading to my room, and one outside the door. I couldn’t imagine that what I might see would explain Girs behavior, but perhaps he was acting out toward an unseen intruder. He certainly didn’t tear himself apart.
“That night I slept restlessly, and awoke at around two in the morning to a thud coming from downstairs. I quickly and silently moved to my laptop, and connected to the downstairs camera. At first, I saw nothing. I peered closely, and with some concentration and patience I realized something was lurking in the shadows near my kitchen. I zoomed in on it, but could only make out small movements of some dog-sized animal. I must have peered at it for ten minutes; it barely moved in that time. Finally, it started toward my stairs. I watched it stalk toward the steps, and I reached toward my nightstand, toward my knife. I realized that I would have to take my eyes off the screen to get the knife, so I resolved to wait until it had started up the stairs, out of sight of the camera. It stopped on the first step. In the light of the streetlamp coming in through the window, I realized it was a wolf, and with a shock, it was identical to the one that had appeared in my bedside photograph. As I watched, it turned, and stared directly into the camera. Just when I thought my nerves could take no more, the wolf smiled. The goddamn wolf, smiled. It was the most disturbing thing I’d ever seen up until that point, this grinning beast, glistening teeth on display just for me, and I ran to my bed stand for my knife.
“Gir was sitting on the nightstand. In shock, I paused, and he leaped and clamped his jaws around my hand, right into the stitches from his first bite. I forced him off and pinned him down; he weighed no more than twelve pounds, but his thrashing still managed to nearly knock me away from him. I threw him in the closet, and as I did so a loud bang came from just outside my room. I grabbed the knife, peered at the monitor; the wolf was gone. I stood against my door and listened to breathing. Blood poured from my hand; I had to get to the aid kit in the bathroom. Hell, I just wanted out of that house. But the breathing from the door, the growling; was it coming from behind the door? Jesus, it sounded like the door itself was breathing. It swayed against the lock, gently tapping in the doorframe, and all the while, I could hear that wolf pacing the hall. But the door wasn’t moving with the wolf. It took me another moment of staring at the door to realize; it was breathing. The door was swelling and contracting. I shoved my knife through the center of it, and blood spurted against me. I had had enough. I grabbed my laptop, with all of the camera feeds and recordings on there, and with my knife in the pocket of my pajamas I leapt from the window, down the kitchen awning and landed hard on the side of the house. A great howl rang out from my bedroom, and I looked back as I ran for my car, and saw Gir peering out of the window after me. He didn’t have eyes of my cat anymore. He had wolfs eyes.
“I drove. Jesus, I don’t even know how far I drove. I know now, and suspected then, that whatever was in my house, it couldn’t, or wouldn’t, follow me out. I don’t know if there’s a demon in my house, some entity that just wants to torment me; I don’t have an answer for whether my cat is alive, or what he has become. I just know that the worst mistake of my life was stopping in front of the Starbucks that morning, turning on my laptop and looking at the camera feeds.
“The first thing I saw was my Facebook account; it had been left open. There were maybe a dozen messages asking me why the hell I had Photoshopped a wolf in my place in all the pictures I was in. Several people asked me how the hell I’d altered pictures of myself that were on their accounts. I trembled at the idea, but pushed it to the back of my mind and turned on the feeds. There was the wolf, staring me down from the hall, through the bedroom camera. It just stared, and smiled. I backed up the video. Jesus, I wish I could go back and stop myself! I backed up the video, and watched in reverse as I stabbed the door, stood by it, was attacked by Gir, who, according to the video, had been there since I was asleep. Gir was just watching me, all night. And when I got to about eleven PM, right about the time I had gone to bed, the video skipped and what I saw was not me getting into bed in reverse. The walls appeared to come alive, formless entities came out of them with knives and began cutting at my legs. To my horror and agony, as the video played, my legs were being slashed and cut before my very eyes, right underneath my laptop. I closed the damned machine, and it stopped. It had found me through the camera; that was my last thought, before I passed out, and woke up here.
“You see, they like to watch when people are afraid. They’re fascinated by fear. There’s no other rhyme or reason for this. We unlucky souls who pique their curiosity, we’re like rats in a horrible maze. The feeling you’re getting right now? The feeling that you’re being watched? Of course you are. Because they’re watching me. They’re waiting. I only hope, for your sake, that they find you less amusing.”
Lebarr shivered. There was a moment of static on the tape, and it ended. Doctor Lebarr sighed and stood up, stirring her now cold coffee thoughtfully. What had happened to Shore? They had been colleagues. He was smart, well adjusted, and now obviously completely insane. The hunting knife was covered in his own blood, and matched the wounds in his legs. They may have to be amputated, he was in ICU now. She peered carefully at the laptop that had been brought in with him, opened it, and saw that the recording of the video was paused on him sleeping peacefully. She shrugged. What did she expect to see? A possessed cat, a wolf entity and walls with knives? No. She expected to see nothing at all. She pressed play, and at first, the video was still. The cat on the bed stand did have an odd look as it stared at its owner. Maybe Gir knew that Shore was crazy. Soon, however, the walls did appear to come alive; long, slender arms reached out and grabbed the doctor from his bed, and began ripping and tearing the very meat from his bones. They used scalpels and medical drills, and Lebarr, completely convinced it was some sort of elaborate video prank, watched in horror as pieces of a wolf were stitched and forced into his body. He writhed in pain, helpless, until he was a wolf, lying on a bed soaked in his own blood. The cat hadn’t moved at all.
Lebarr shut the laptop, disgusted. As she left her office, a black and grey tabby ran by her feet. Very suddenly, she felt as thought something was watching her, and from the ICU, she clearly made out the sound of growling.
Credit To – C. Vox