Written by AgentVamp, author of the Terror Lane Trilogy.
Terror Lane Released, Epidemic and Incarnated also on this wiki. Check 'em out!
Based upon a true story that occurred in my life and still goes on until this day. Names have been changed and the story slightly altered to protect the innocent.
Side note, I've written this story in a way that has sentences in bold separate different scenarios happening at the same time in the story from the normal writing. You'll see what I mean when you read through it.
A DVD disc labelled "J.S." sat on the private investigator's desk.
The interview earlier today nearly broke the P.I. He hadn't seen such a sad case before but then again, this was his 2nd year into his solo career on his own so he "guessed" that this was merely a test of his will. His tolerance, maybe. If it were this emotionally taxing all the time, he might have to retire early and get psychiatric treatment, but he hoped he wouldn't have to use his life insurance on such a bad career choice. He did promise himself to be more brave, determined and focused and so he clenched his fist, slammed the rest of his coffee down and grabbed the other one he brought home with him and drank a quarter of it.
He grabbed his notepad and set it in front of the DVD player. Writing it down would make it easier to fall back on than the unreliability of DVD players and discs. He could see it malfunctioning again like it did last week. "The blasted thing..." He mumbled to himself. He got the ta and turned it from front to back. An A side and a B side were located on the left of the small strip of paper that stuck on the disc. He took a deep breath, grabbed the pen from his ear and played the disc. A few scratches came about before the actual audio could be heard but then it finally played. The P.I. was angry that his old equipment got damaged in the car accident he had a month earlier but he didn't have time to dwell on it for long. His memory had always played up with him ever since and that's why he was refused many jobs before but he needed this case. He needed this job. Something was special about this one.
The teen spoke as the P.I. began to write in rhythm.
J.S. Case A201-B. Interview with 2 Authorized with Case Patient. Edit
"Female detective Christine recording, alongside Female police officer Kate whom was first on the scene and on trial for becoming a future detective. Please state your name, sir."
"It follows me, it shades me, it lingers when I sleep. It's there when I wake up. It never goes away. I feel like it will never go away. It never leaves me alone. It drives me insane. I've never felt normal since that day... that... God awful day... It never le-"
"Say your name for the recording please." Christine interrupted.
"I'm J-Josh. Josh Sanders" He continued. "For 7 years I've had this dark cloud over me. This haze over my head. It feels like I'm being punished, for a crime I didn't commit... at least, I hope I didn't. I'm 23 years old. This happened at 16. I have my whole life ahead of me for God sake! This consistent, bothersome memory won't go away. I cannot stand it anymore. I need to get it out into the open. Maybe then I can finally move on
with my life. I was happy before. How can this stupid thing affect me?
That... damn... game! It's only a game! IT'S ONLY A GAME! Why does it inflict such... overwhelming... intense emotions upon me? Why do I have to be this emotionally sensitive? Why me? WHY? Haven't I been punished enough? HAVEN'T I SUFFERED ENOUGH? BAH!"
A loud bang was heard.
Hmm so that's when the chair was thrown. The detective thought. He paused the disc and looked at his files. That explains the dint I saw in the interview room. He added. Resuming the disc, he laid back in his black, leather chair that he'd bought from IKEA earlier that day and sipped his coffee. He laid back, nonchalantly, closed his eyes and listened.
The senior detective can hear a puncture of plastic and something being gulped down Josh's throat and a quick skull of a bottle of water quickly restored his flow. Another deep breath continued him on.
It all started at my grandmother's place. My two cousins were there waiting for my sister, my mum and I to come and show up for dinner. A horrific bush fire had been culminating in Kinglake so they wanted to ease my grandmother's pain and worry by visiting before they executed their fire plan. There was nothing to worry about. At least... not initially. We weren't as paranoid as we are now, my mother and I... my sister handles things differently. She goes out often, away from us... but that's a story for another time. Anyway, the fire department sets these things up for a reason. It was full proof... or so I thought.
"Come inside, darling." My grandmother called to me as I sat out on her concrete steps, daydreaming.
"Okay Nana!" I replied and I walked back to the wire door to glance outside at the sky once again. It was a beautiful, blue. It coated the sky like fresh paint. He hoped it wouldn't drip, so to speak. The day seemed perfect. Sun was shining in the middle of Winter, the bees weren't hanging around the plants near the house, the birds were singing, nothing could go wrong, right? Not today, surely.
"...and then I went up to him and tickled his hips! You should of seen him! He was gyrating all over the place it was so funny!" I could hear from the front door leading into the kitchen. A roar of laughter could be heard as the sound echoed to where I could match the face with the voices.
My first cousin, Jennifer ("Jenny") was such a bright spark. The sun shone out of her and it radiated positive emotions. I walked through my Nan's kitchen and sat down with my mother, sister, my uncle that lived with my Nana and my 2 cousins. Mel (my other cousin) was older than Jenny and she smirked as her younger sister was telling the story and giggling to everyone else, pointing vaguely at each other and at me, making them chuckle among themselves.
"Oh come on, Jen, not that story again." I groaned and whined at her for bringing up such an embarrassing moment for me. I'm a terribly shy person so any attention drawn towards me is a no-no in my book. I hated it. I liked being the background guy. An observer if you will. I didn't like being the center of attention. Don't get me wrong, I like credit where it's due but I don't want an entire project to be focused on me, because I don't want to be the blame where it goes wrong. Anyway, unrelated and off-topic, I'm sorry if I diverge from the story. My OCD, sensitive nature, etc will cause me to go on major tangents every now and again so you're gonna have to stop me sooner or later.
"It's fine." Kate said, placing her cap on the table and leaning forward in anticipation. She grabbed her pen and pointed the opposite end of it at Josh.
"Continue." She said, calmly.
"Aw, Josh! It was cute!" Jenny giggled and came up and hugged me. I didn't get to properly greet her earlier because of idle chit chat and I eventually wandered outside to think. I'm an antisocial guy. I work alone on almost everything usually, but I do like to contribute now and again, just not as much as a... normal... person would.
"What do you consider normal, Josh?" Kate questioned, tilting her head slightly.
"I guess what you see on T.V. Guys who work out, guys who do sports, that kind of thing."
"My husband is an emotional, tightly strung, smart fella just like you, pal." She added, bringing a smile and shoved his arm lightly with her hand. Josh grew a slight smirk that caused Kate to look at Christine.
"See? I'd told you I'd crack him sooner or later."
"A smile, indeed." Christine was leaning against the wall and then sat down on her seat next to Kate, looking over the case file, occasionally nodding every now and again, lightly skimming over every sentence.
"So, back on topic..." Christine continued... "What were you thinking at the time? Can you remember?"
What I was thinking about at the time I walked out? Nothing really. A blank thought. Like most guys would usually. Just a cesspool of emptiness. No worries, no primary focus, no cares in the world. Any guys in your police force I'm sure they can relate to what I'm saying."
Kate looked up at Christine again, confused then shrugged and looked back at Josh.
"You should of seen his fa- AY - ce!" Mid way through her sentence, I saw an opportunity to pay her back by jabbing at her hips to tickle her and I did just that. She contorted to the left and looked back at me with a shocked look on her face. I just stood there with my hands behind my back and whistled idly, looking up at the roof. She smiled at me again and laughed.
"Cheeky." she said and poked me in the stomach. "I don't know what you're talking about!" I replied, sarcastically and withheld a cheesy grin on my face, withholding my stomach. Totally worth it. I thought.
We both approached the 2 leftover seats and sat down at opposite ends. Honestly, at the time, as much as I loved my cousins, I wanted to go home. The vibe at my Nan's house always projected constant worry, depression and anxiety. I wanted to get away from all that and live life blindly and happily (if that made sense), but that day was different. I actually WANTED to stay. In that rickety old house with the creeks in the floor. I wanted this afternoon to never end.
Anyway, throughout the night we all talked and laughed, sharing stories of the past and the present. They'd brought a plastic bag with them and in it was a
"Sorry we can't make it to your birthday, Josh." Mel said with a frown on her face.
"It's fine, don't worry." I chimed in. I figured it was an early birthday present so I'd open it early too. I got a nod from my mother confirming it.
The wrapping paper went flying from side to side as sticky tape and paper residue went everywhere, like a fountain. I turned the box around and there it was. Banjo Kazooie. I had only rented that game on several occasions but only got through 25% of it.
My face lit up like a Christmas tree. Kind of ironic since my birthday is December 6th.
"WOW!" I exclaimed!
"Thanks heaps, you guys! Mel, Jen, you two are awesome!"
"Glad you like it!" Jenny replied.
The two of them smiled at me as my face was as bright as the sun. I'd wanted it for AGES... well it felt like ages. I never had enough money. I was a terrible spender... It was always gone when I needed it. I grabbed the box and took it to my left hip and tapped my mother's shoulder.
"Mum can we go now? I wanna play with the new present Mel and Jen got me!"
I sounded like a little school boy at the time but I didn't care. I got what I wanted. I was happy. This day was 10/10 in my eyes.
"Alright, alright. Give us 5 minutes." She said calmly and rested her hand on my shoulder.
After 20 minutes of talking and laughing some more, we were off and home at around 9pm.
I could not wait any longer. I was antsy. I put the game in and turned it on. I played until midnight when mum came in the room and told me to go to sleep as I had school tomorrow. I begrudgingly agreed and turned the game off.
I fell into bed, thinking to myself that Mel and Jen would have reached Kinglake by now. I smiled at the ceiling, thinking over today and the birthday to come and I slowly closed my eyes and nodded off.
Half an hour later my eyes reopened. I checked my clock. I couldn't wait, I had to play more. I got up, closed my door and turned on my tv. I lowered the volume and turned on my N64. I was smiling to myself as I looked with square eyes upon my tv and played on for an hour.
Suddenly, the hallway lights turned on and I looked to my doorwa-...
The disc had stopped suddenly. The detective sighed as he was summarizing the story on his notepad.
"Just getting to the good part too..." He mumbled under his breath and sipped his second coffee, kicking the first cup into his bin below.
He grabbed the disc out of the player and scanned it with his eyes. No scratches he could see. He wiped it down with his jacket and pushed it back in. The same voice continued on...
Suddenly, the hallway lights turned on and I looked to my doorway.
What's going on? I thought. They never got back up on a school night.
My sister jumped down stairs and ran out the door. My mother grabbed her coat and turned on my light.
"Josh? Oh there you are." She looks down at me, ignoring the fact that I shouldn't really be up this late. She looked flustered. I raised an eyebrow.
"Turn that thing off, we gotta go!" She said. I jumped up and got quickly dressed and we followed my sister out the door.
As I grabbed my coat I quickly said to my mum who was practically flying around our front door like a humming bird.
"I'm sorry, Mum. I got excited."
"Never mind that, darling. We got to go." She said, slightly out of breath and we rushed out the bed room door.
As we drove, I yawned and stretched in the back seat.
"Where are we going, Mum?" I asked as we pulled onto the street.
"To your Nan's. We have to stay there for a little while." She said and 5 minutes later, we arrived.
We were let in the door and my uncle was pacing back and forth, his left fist clenched at his side and biting his right hand's nails. My Nana was weeping into what looked like an endless supply of tissues that surrounded her person.
"Wh- what's happening?" I asked. My uncle never kept in his anger like this. I would later learn to regret asking that question.
For about an hour and a half, my Nana and my mum had explained to me in layman's terms that Mel and Jen had followed their fire plan and went to their safe house. The water hose was used for keeping their house cool and wet so the fire wouldn't sweep over the house and burn it down... but... they didn't dampen the whole house and... it wiped them out from both sides going inwards, killing them and the owners of the house."
I was speechless. My mind hadn't fully wrapped around what "being killed" meant and I insisted on going back home instead of staying. Mom nodded silently with tears going down her face.
We drove back home and we went back to bed, or at least tried to. I couldn't sleep though.
Killed? What does that even mean? I mumble to myself. I knew what it meant but I didn't know how it... felt. Especially to happen so recent. Turning to my right I glanced at the N64 console on my shelf. Banjo Kazooie was still in it from when we left.
M-my last present from them? I thought. My mind still hadn't fully grasped yet and I drifted off to sleep from what felt like hours of my mind wandering in circles and I nodded off from exhaustion.
The next day, I was at school and lunch time had passed me by. We were heading to my favorite class. I.T. (Information Technology).
I loved computers and I'm pretty good with them. We'd been assigned a project to create our own calculator in Visual Basic.
Half way through though, I had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. Really badly. I asked the teacher if I could go and he nodded. I ran out the door to the bathroom that was about 30 feet to the left. I sat in one of the stalls for 10 minutes before tearing up. I... I felt like I couldn't breathe.
With my pants down and my hands cupped on my face, I started sobbing uncontrollably. My stomach was churning with a flood of butterflies and my mind was whizzing at what felt like a million miles an hour. "I c-c-can't cope. I can't do this on my own!" I cried and pulled my pants up and ran to the sick bay. Now I look back on it, I'm glad no one saw me. Imagine... a guy weeping in the boy's toilets. You'd think he'd be out of toilet paper. Now let me tell you. The nauseating feeling I had was more than my mind and my stomach could bear. I had to go somewhere. I couldn't do school work properly, I couldn't socialize properly, I couldn't even think straight about anything!
I told the receptionist how horrible I felt and she rang my mother to come pick me up. She came and we drove home with me explaining how bad, emotionally and mentally, I was feeling. I felt physically drained. I felt like I was forced to do 20 laps around the oval. My mother had tear streaks and spread make up falling down her face. She clearly felt the same way and put her hand on my lap, reassuring me.
My sister, however, wasn't grieving. She completely ignored it altogether. No emotion, no talking to mom and I, nothing. She was out of school at this point and it hadn't quite registered yet. This one event in my life had screwed up a lot more than I knew. It was definitely not just me. I'd almost felt selfish at first but seeing the anguish around me quickly flipped that initial, paranoid thought.
This horrible situation had went on for 4 more days, feeling terribly ill at different times of the day, feeling the same way and having to run to the toilet's stalls, having suicidal thoughts, grief, self blame for them dying, anger would also be thrown at my aunt for letting them do it and then soon after I'd end up running to the sick bay and being taken home early. Those days turned into months. I was failing not just I.T. but every other class now. I barely made C average at best beforehand, at least I had an inkling of passing a year level. This time, I wasn't even close. Everyone else crossed the finish line but I hadn't even begun running. In fact, I turned around and started running the other way.
At home I sat at my desk, distressed and emotionally drained and confused.
My mother came to
my room and threw a suggestion my way. "Josh, I'm not gonna lie to you. You're failing really badly right now. This happened when... 'it' happened right?"
I nodded silently, looking at the floor, wiping my eyes. No words could form how I felt at this point. I was speechless on the outside but had so much anger and sadness welled up inside me.
"Well..." She continued. "We could always take you out of school and have you take time off to process things. Maybe get a psychologist or a psychiatrist and... we'll see how we go, alright darling?" she looked at me and wiped the tears slowly coming down from my cheek. She ran her hand through my hair and I looked up at her. I nodded again and sadly turned my way back to my computer to attempt to take my mind off of the emotional mess that I'd become.
I'd spent the past few months from then on, dreading to even touch the N64 again... I couldn't bear it. All those memories would just... come flooding back. I-I *sniff* I...
A tissue was pulled and what sounded like a loud horn blared throughout the audio.
After more horn blowing, sniffs and incoherent sobbing, Josh continued.
Throughout a couple of years, this had continued. I had finally decided while constantly being at home and away from society to only go on my computer felt like it helped me, I was slowly forgetting to eat breakfast, lunch and to only eat dinner. I resorted to chocolate, chips and soda as my "diet" to take the pain away. It seemed like the only aphrodisiac I could think of that wasn't doing drugs or alcohol, but with how much I ate, it ceased to be different from a crack cocaine addiction. Only different consequences. THAT was my breakfast and lunch from then on. I ate to help comfort what felt like my own mistake. To sedate my real feelings. To never think. Luckily my metabolism was still good, or things could have gotten a lot worse.
I felt like I... I could have done something... I could have suggested to them that they stay the night here or at our Nana's place until things blew over. I... I could have done... SOMETHING! WHY? WHY COULDN'T I DO ANYTHING?!
Loud wailing and sobbing could be heard throughout the recording and pounding on the table.
"Josh, please, calm down. They wouldn't want you dealing with your grief in this way. We can get through this but you need to report your side of the story or we won't know and we won't be able to help you!" Kate said.
"Will you be able to continue or would you like a break?" Christine chimed in in a calm, collected tone.
"No, I..." He paused for a moment and cleared his throat through the phlegm, sweat and emotional pain that built up in his chest.
"I need this to be out in the open... I- I need to get this off my mind. I'll never be rid of it otherwise."
"So after a couple of years, I had finally gotten the courage to see a psychologist and I was prescribed the Efexor XR in this bag."
A plastic bag can be heard being shook in the air by Josh.
"Mhmm..." Christine whispered.
The only way I could keep my mind off of everything else was video games. They were my escape before but now, I needed them more than ever. They were my deceased Dad from when I was 4 but now, they are my cousins too... my only comfort I could hold onto from them. I plugged in my N64 and I looked at my cartridge of Banjo Kazooie and flipped it front to back.
"I need to get over this... I will get through this." I said to myself. I chanted it again, and again, and again to motivate myself, getting louder each time.
"I will get through this!"
I shoved it in until that faithful click was heard, locking the cartridge into place and played the game for about half an hour when, something unusual happened.
I was on Freezeezy Peak, collecting the jiggies (the main collectible you go out to find in the game by the way) and as I collected the jiggy at the Christmas Tree, I had felt an overwhelming sense of dread loom over me.
I wish they were here to enjoy this with me. I thought to myself and after about 5 more minutes of playing, I turned it off to get rid of the overwhelming cloud of sadness that slowly formed over my head.
"Do you think the game caused that grief because they'd given it to you?" Kate questioned.
"I... I really do. I mean how could I not think that?" Josh responded and started tearing up again.
A tissue box and a half later, Josh finally got the encourage to spout full sentences once more and continued.
The next day, I got out of bed onto my two feet and my knees immediately started shaking.
What the hell? I thought. Have I forgotten how to walk overnight or something?
I slipped onto my bed and my arms immediately took over and I started shaking while my heart started beating faster and faster. Like I was running a marathon.
"What the fuck is happening to me?" I screamed as thoughts of suicide circled in my head. Thoughts of growing old and dying alone, my sister and my mother dying while I live alone and other unrealistic thoughts plagued and swarmed my mind. I could not think straight. I could not control my thoughts, my actions, I was in a complete state of fear, panic, sadness and grief all at the same time.
My mother came rushing into the room, comforting me and hugging me. I didn't know what was going on. The pure emotion that poured out of me. I was helpless to rationalize my own thoughts or anything else that went on around me. I was terrified not just from the sudden change in emotion but also of what would happen to me next, and that made it even worse.
For half an hour my mother comforted me and organized another appointment with my psychologist and he immediately increased my dosage when I went to see him that following week. For a couple of weeks afterwards, things became drastically different. If I had enough sleep and took my medication on time over a 24 hour period, I'd be fine, but if I hadn't had enough rest and/or I had stayed up for too long, my mind would begin racing again. The same feelings would come back, I would lose control of my body and my mind, but one day, I had enough.
"I was sick of my own brain and my own body being completely out of my control and so I researched online and scanned through a few videos until I came across a news article promoting 'ASMR' for those with anxiety, panic attacks and depression."
"What is ASMR?" Kate asked curiously.
"I'll explain." Christine chimed in.
"ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. In layman's terms, you hear a sound like finger tapping on the desk, finger tapping on glass, microphone massaging, crinkling of paper, plastic and many other sounds that trigger a tingly sensation in the head or scalp. It's a way to calm those who live life in constant tension. They are always worried about if and when they have another panic attack which causes a vicious loop that takes a lot of time and energy to go through so in essence, your mind is focused on something meaningless that has no consequences and consistent repetition to ease your mind and trigger this ASMR in your head and scalp."
"Intriguing..." Kate added and turned her attention back towards Josh. "Go on." She implied with the motion of her hand.
I thought to myself after an exhausting two years I had finally found something to help me, but according to the article, I wouldn't ever be able to get rid of my anxiety and panic attacks because it will last for the rest of my life. The only two things I could do was lower the tension pent up in my brain so it doesn't come out as severe and I can deal with it rationally at a lower volume of intensity by doing some breathing exercises, or I could do this ASMR "therapy" by watching the videos of them on Youtube to give my mind, in theory, less to think about and to not ponder a horrible future for myself."
3 more years flew by and I still use it today. I don't get much panic attacks anymore unless I stay up late and don't take my pills on time but I have got it more under control now than I initially did when I discovered my panic attacks. I still grieve for my cousins... My cousin Mel, who I hadn't gotten along with as much as Jen, had depression also. To this day, I wish I could have spent more time with her and relate to her more but, *sigh* there's not much I can do about it now.
I deal with it every day, one day at a time, slowly. I create stories out of existing video game universes and expanding worlds, creating adventures to add to existing heroes, anti-heroes or villains to give them more credibility. Different adventures, different outcomes. Alternative ways to not make every story cheesy and have a "happy" ending unlike me. I work day in and day out to come up with better stories and hope to get hired somewhere someday and see where I go from here. Then I got a call about the anniversary of what they now call Black Friday and police were interviewing the victims and what they heard to honor and treasure the memory of those who'd fallen, and that's when I was directed to come here.
"You're a good kid, Josh. I'm sorry you had to deal with all of this." Christine said and a wooden chair creaked forward.
"If you have any more info on this incident, we'd greatly appreciate your input, but please, do take your time and grieve for a bit first." She added and a collection of papers could be heard being collected and swooped off the table as the door opened. "I hope I don't see you again." Christine said sincerely and shut the door behind her.
"Thank you for helping with our investigation." Kate said and a chair could be heard pulling out and the door was opened again. "No...Thank you." Josh said and he was escorted out the room.
Joshua Sanders case A-201B closed until further notice.Edit
The recording had finished.
The P.I. scratched his shaven chin and pondered how he'd fair today. To have that never end and to only be able to lower the severity, he couldn't imagine the time and energy it took to get through HIS ordeal. He closed his notepad and shoved it into his pocket. He grabbed a box and gulped 2 pills down his throat with the last drops of his coffee. He grabbed his mobile and called the case filing department of the local police. A woman's voice picked up.
"Case name and number please."
"Case A-201B. Name: Joshua Sanders."
"Any current illnesses that you have we should know about, sir?"
"Cross-linking in left eye, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, amnesia."
"Um.. are you sure you should be working sir with that amnesia of yours?"
"It's recently acquired, doctors said I'll be fine and it will recover in time."
"Right you are. Send it when you're ready, sir."
Within a couple of minutes, the case was emailed and sent off to the police station to be archived.
"Oh by the way sir, can we get your occupation or ranking please?"
"Okay, and your name sir?"