Character created by Gary Weller.

Dr. Alex Garcia clicked open Sheila’s thumb drive, predicting that its contents would have to do with the sleep medication and why she had stopped her sessions. Maybe it would explain what had happened.  The screen displayed only one folder labeled “The Lamia”.  Inside that, he found two folders: ‘Play this First’ and ‘outside research’.

He began the video message.

“Alex,” Sheila spoke from the pop-out box. “I had to stop taking the pills. They made the nightmares too real.”

Alex paused the video and pulled up her file, then reclicked play,

“The medication wasn’t working. The Lamia still came through.” Sheila lit a cigarette then blew out a stream of smoke. 

The therapist was surprised how haggard she looked.

“I know it’s unbelievable. I only believe it because it’s happening to me,” she sounded defeated, but earnestly added, “She’s real. It’s all in the folder.” Sheila looked away.

Alex might have deduced by Sheila’s actions that she held something back. But he didn’t.

“You thought that peace would come with some dreamless sleep,” she now spoke softly to the camera. There was pain, disgust, and regret coating her words. “In my dreams I rode along in her rampage like a silent partner… until I saw what she stalked, and preyed on, …and ate without remorse,” she said glancing away. “Then I became a coward and lost myself in the darkness. I couldn’t be part of it. It would drive me mad. So I hid until she slept.” Sheila paused. “At some point, you should validate it all.”

Alex stuck a post it note to validate “rampage” into Sheila’s file.

“I can’t just sleep my way out of this. I have to stop her from using me! No more sleeping! That’s when she comes like a thief in the night.” Sheila’s head dipped down out of sight, a cut in the sound, off then back on, and she came back into view, white powder grains barely noticeable on the inner rim of her right nostril. “I’m confronting her tonight,” she said just before she grimaced and pressed fingers to her temples, her eyes squeezed shut in pain.

“Wait,”  something he thought he saw had puzzled him. He rewound ten seconds and saw the flicker run through her fingers again, then the screen seemed to wobble over the lower half of her face. He attributed it to cheap electronics and let the video continue.

Sheila appeared to ride the spasm to the end, then said, “I’ll let you know how it goes if I win control tonight. If not, oh well.” She shrugged. “Draw your own conclusions. Gotta go, Doc.” Her hand grew giant and the screen went black.

***

Alex canceled his patients for the rest of the day. He was caught up in her delusion now. He opened her private blog and read.

Getting Rid of The Lamia~ My Nightmare Blog

Taking back my control

Visiting the nightmares chat room was my act of desperation. I lurked there for a good hour before I read the only post that offered me hope for being rid of Her. 

“Blah, blah, blah- COCAINE.”  

I had a chance.

I thought maybe I could starve her out. I was at wits end- I couldn’t pray her away, I couldn’t sleep her away. She always got me when I just started to succumb to the hope of sleep. She had never gained full control when I was awake and functioning; ergo, cocaine made perfect sense. I had nothing to lose.

Wrong! I had much to lose. She took possession more frequently now. The number of missing children was mounting. Sometimes, it was young teen runaways, and not publicized. Then there was the publicity for the three children between six and ten years of age. All gone missing in the dark of night, from right under their parents’ noses. But I knew the truth. She’d shown it to me, up close and personal.

I really wasn’t given any choice. Do the right thing. Right?

What I Did-

I sat at my vanity, the irony not lost on me that she was the stunning beauty, not I. I looked at myself. A pale and gaunt cheeked woman stared back at me. “Cheers,” I said to her, then bent my head and snorted the first line. The shit burned my nose. I pinched my nostrils shut, sniffed gently and swallowed; the bitter taste of the powder ran down the back of my throat. (I really don’t miss the old days. Coke was never my thing.) I danced to a few bars of ‘Tuff Enuf’, before I remembered to record a video message for Dr. Alex Garcia. I wanted to tell him (or you, if it’s you reading this, Alex) what I was trying to do. Maybe save a few kids in the future by leaving a record of my  experience.  The headache was starting and I knew what was coming next. I safeguarded the thumb drive from Her.

I did another half-line before I pulled on the rubber gloves. I was done with the toilet, and finishing the tub when I again felt the familiar ache in my fingers. I knew she was pushing through my hands. I gripped the brush tighter and kept scrubbing.

 “You can’t come out. My thoughts are my own. I’m wide awake.”

 Then I went to extremes in describing aloud the minutia of tub scrubbing. The shriek she let vibrate inside my skull brought me up short. I pressed both hands to my pulsing head until the pain dulled; then my eyes opened to my reflection. My face mid-change squirmed and glared at me. I felt her rage as she tried to push herself into my flesh. I heard her cursing, and understood every word and nuance.

“I’m not letting you out! It’s your turn ‘To wake up and die’!” I hissed at her eyes, my lips blurring, flickering in the reflection.

 The eyes staring back were definitely hers. I went and did another line, and then stared across at the eyes. I saw my own and sensed her retreat. I was encouraged.

She stayed with me, occasionally striking out trying to gain hold until the crack of dawn. But I’d finished the eight ball, and my thoughts had their own screams. By sunrise, I’d beaten her back to where I could not even sense her anymore.  For the next three nights I stayed up with my cocaine. I reorganized my legal documents … I wrote in this blog, and I did further research about her mythology. I searched on-line newspaper sources for signs of her work in recorded print. Up until last night, I had never seen myself change. I didn’t think I could handle it. It’s still surreal if I think about it too much.

I couldn’t let her continue, and casting her out would just send her onto someone else. I can’t let that happen.

Getting Rid of The Lamia~ My Nightmare Blog

The Final Straw

Work’s been miserable. My class knows I am not myself. Creeping Coke-Paranoia makes it worse. I feel her sizing up children when I look at them. She taunts me without words. I look like I am well-charged on caffeine until noon, when I crash. Today I feigned a migraine and went home. I set my alarm for four pm, and pulled the afghan over me. I was asleep and in deep REM when she licked my ear. I woke disgusted.

 “You are not as clever as you think,” she said, piercing my brain from the inside. “You’re too exhausted to think clearly. You need sleep.”

I felt myself nodding in agreement with her.

“You won’t hear the alarm. And I am going to eat your niece. She looks like such a sweet, little dumpling! I’ll start with those chubby little fingers, then suck out her eyes. A little bitty long pig!” Fury radiated from her; I felt singed by the heat of her anger. Her hunger was my own. Even in this dream I felt disgusted.

I was no longer able to move, even though I somehow watched myself turn and look over at me watching this. Then the dream-me smiled; I had her devouring teeth.

That’s all I remember until I really awoke to bright morning light and my phone ringing. I was halfway untangled from the afghan and in a panic when I saw a note on the coffee table.

“I left you breakfast,

love, Lami”

I scrambled, and struck my face on the corner of the couch but didn’t feel it. I smelled bacon. I gagged and froze. I sensed her perverted delight in the back of my brain. In that gut wrenching moment, all the Bible classes I had ditched, all my expressions of doubt, all the denial, all the sarcastic comments I had shared with others of little faith, all came back to twist the knife that had just been stabbed in my heart. My thoughts had no words, but I begged forgiveness and mercy, and I promised the moon and the stars in return. All this in the few seconds it took to get into the kitchen. I grabbed the phone and was relieved to hear my niece babbling about her up-coming birthday party. I was crying just enough to blur the sight of the empty bacon wrapper in the trash. This was personal. The revelation came like a bad taste. Fuck me.

 I know from years of therapies that you never really forget anything you’ve experienced or thought. I needed a plan, and a contingency plan in serious details. Once readied, I would put the very idea of any plan from my mind. She’s becoming more voracious, and more aggressive. The final stand will have to be when she is distracted and eager to change. Gracie’s birthday party tomorrow will be that distraction. All those tasty morsels. How can she ignore them? It will need to be mid-change.

Gotta do what’s right, right?

Tell Gracie I did the right thing.

Gotta go. Got to put this out of my mind.

Sheila Barnesworth

***

Gracie’s six year, one month birthday.

She and Daniel stand outside Alex’s office.

“Daddy, why are we here?” Gracie questioned while tugging on his hand. “You said pancakes for breakfast!” Her voice reached an impatient whine.

“Just be patient, Gracie. I have to deliver this to Dr. Garcia. Then we can go have breakfast. I promise.” Daniel’s voice was patient.

He stood outside the doctor’s office, daughter gripped in one hand, a thumb drive in the other. He looked anxiously at the mustached man approaching.

“Dr. Garcia?” he looked at him for confirmation but continued on without it. “I’m Daniel Barnesworth… Sheila’s brother.”

Caution flickered in Garcia’s eyes. “I’m so very sorry for your loss, “ he responded with a sad smile. “How can I help you, Mr. Barnesworth?” Garcia offered his best façade of concern.

“I was cleaning out her place and found this with a note that it was your property and should be returned to you,” Daniel paused and handed the thumb drive to him. “I didn’t look at it.” He lied. He wished he hadn’t. Unconsciously, he wiped his hand on his pant leg like he was scrubbing some taint from his skin.

Daniel gave Garcia a nod and turned to follow Gracie’s tug in the direction of the diner. They were dealing with Sheila’s death the best they could. Daniel tried to forgive her. He and Ellie decided to move away for Gracie’s sake. He wondered how long it would take before she forgot the sight of her Aunt Sheila thrusting her fork into the wall outlet. One minute before, she’d been laughing with a mouthful of birthday cake. A few guests had later mentioned her teeth looking pointy before the flare of electricity shot out. At least she died fast.

Alex watched the man go, then went inside.

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