Snapshots From Hell
The gray-haired older man paused, his hand on the lever of the steel door marked '304'. Turning to his much younger companion, he said, "Now this patient is not treated the same as any of our others. He is not dangerous to anyone but himself and, unlike the rest here, has never, so far as we know, committed a violent crime."
"Why is he here, then?"asked the young psychiatric resident.
"Well, for two reasons. The first is hysterical blindness brought on by a delusional incident that he completely believes in, and insists was real, and second, because any time he has access, he will break any drinking glass or bottle and begin to cut himself horribly."
"Oh. Oh, my. What was the incident that brought on his blindness?"
"I think it best if I let him tell you that for himself."
The Chief Resident pushed down on the lever and opened the door.
The man inside was sitting at a table, doing nothing. He lifted his head and turned his face toward the sound of the door opening. It was a face ravaged by something more than just time or the self-inflicted, circular scars where he had ground a broken bottle into the left side of his head. His eyes roved unfocused, back and forth, never stopping their movement.
"Hello?" he said, in a trembling voice. "Who's there?"
"David, it's Doctor Wilkins. I've brought someone to meet you."
"Another shrinker?" asked David with a twisted smile.
"Well, yes. This is Doctor Jacoby. He is fresh out of school, and coming to work with us, here."
"So you brought him by to show him your best loony?" The smile was wider now. Just on the edge of a grimace.
"David, you know that's not how we think of you."
"No, really? You think I am crazy enough to make something like that up. You think I just enjoy the story so much that you keep bringing people to hear it, and no-one ever does anything to find the bastard!"
"David, we have been through this many times. The police have combed the whole hillside, over and over. They checked every place you could possibly have seen, that night. There is no evidence at all of what you say happened."
David lowered his head into his crossed arms. "They didn't look hard enough," he mumbled. "They just did not look hard enough."
"David," said the younger doctor, "you don't mind if I call you David?"
"Hmph!" grunted the ravaged man. "I don't care what you call me as long as you don't call me 'Liar!'"
"No-one thinks you're a liar, David," soothed the older man.
"No. You all just think I imagined this. You all think I wanted to see this! You all think I wanted to go blind! You think I wanted that girl to die! That I wanted never to see the stars again! He slammed his head down onto the table, hard enough to make both doctors wince. His shoulders shook in silent sobs.
But after a few moments he raised his head again, and the grin was back. It was past a grimace, now. David's mouth was open in a rictus of horror at a sight that only he could see.
"Well," he whispered. "So are you here to listen to my story, Young Doctor Jacoby? Are you ready to try to pick my brain apart, too?"
"I would like to hear, David."
"Are you sure? Do you have a strong stomach?" David grinned again and without waiting for an answer, started to talk again.
"It was three years ago, August 27th. The night of the giant thunderstorm and flash floods, remember?"
"I remember. I was a third year psychiatry student at the college, and had just come back to school for the fall semester."
"Then you know how it was."
"I was happy that night," David continued, "after almost four years of saving, I finally had enough money to buy myself a good telescope. I had spent the afternoon, getting it ready, setting it up. Making sure the spotting scope and main scope were perfectly aligned. I was waiting for it to get dark so I could see the stars. I hadn't heard a thing about the coming storm, so when the sky started to turn grey I was happy.
Then I saw it was black clouds rolling in. They were moving faster than I'd ever seen them. I knew I wouldn't get any seeing that night." David paused, then said 'Huh, not get any seeing. God I wish I hadn't." David closed his eyes, and the doctors could see them moving behind the closed lids. He began caress the scars on his face, tracing each raised circle with his left forefinger.
"Well, since it was already getting dark at 7:30, and I knew I wasn't going to see any stars, and it was a brand new telescope, I decided to look around on the ground for what I could see."
"I watched a cat stalking a bird, which got away. I watched cars driving, with their lights on. I watched a mother calling her children into the house. All of them looked like they were close enough to touch. I was happy with my new toy."
"Then I looked further out." David's voice got quiet. "I started to look at the hills outside of town. I saw a few animals, but not many. Then I saw a boy and a girl, sitting under a big tree. I thought to myself they were in a bad place, they were going to get soaked by the storm I could see coming up fast, or even hit by lightning under that tree."
"I looked again, and the young man was holding the girl, kissing her. But she was trying to pull away. He grabbed her face, and kissed her again, but she jerked her face away. Then he slapped her. Then suddenly he was on top of her, tearing at her clothes. She was hitting him, and he was hitting her. It was so dark I could barely see, now, but I kept my scope pointed there, and my eye on the scope."
"Suddenly there was a bolt of lightning that lit the whole sky. I could see he was raping her, now. Her head was thrown back, screaming, and her arms were thrashing through the leaves and plants under the tree."
"I couldn't move. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to tell police where they were."
"There was another flash and I could see her hand come up with a broken bottle, smash into the side of his face. She ground it in hard, and now he was screaming, too."
"In the next flash, I saw him holding her right arm on the ground, and punching her with his other hand."
"In the next flash, he had taken the bottle, and jammed it into her chest, slicing her. Her head was thrown back, but no-one could possibly hear her scream over the thunder." David's voice was shaking, now, and tears were streaming from his empty eyes.
"I got my phone and dialed 911. They put me on hold!"
"I ran back to my scope. He was sitting on her, now, and just slashing. Her arms and head were moving, her legs were kicking, her mouth was open, screaming, but he just kept slashing." David sobbed as he spoke.
"In one flash, I saw him cut off her breast."
"In the next, I saw her chest open down to her ribs. She was still moving a little, the poor girl wasn't dead yet.."
"Every flash of lightning showed me something. Another slash, another stab. It was like seeing stills from the worst horror show ever made. Or like snapshots from Hell."
"Finally, he started slashing at her neck. She had stopped moving, now, but her eyes were open, and looking back at me through the scope. He cut and he cut. Then he started to jerk back and forth on her head, until he pulled it loose from her shoulders. He held it in front of him, and kissed her bloody lips."
"As he did that, there was one giant final flash of lightning, everything lit up brighter than day, then went completely black. have never seen anything, outside of my own memory, since then."
David sat, rocking back and forth at the table, grinding his closed fists into the tops of his thighs. Tears flowed freely from his eyes. His voice was muffled.
"All I can see now, when I dare to sleep, is that poor girls dead green eyes, open and looking at me through my scope, and that murdering bastards long dark hair and the blood running down his face, from where she had cut him. He should be easy to find. He should have round scars the size of a coke bottle on the left side of his face and head. Like these," and he pointed to the scars on his own face.
"But the police can't find him. They can't even find where it happened. They said the rain was so heavy that night that any trace of any 'possible' crime was washed away."
The three men sat in silence for a few moments, then Doctor Jacoby, eyes wide, nervously excused himself and walked shakily down the hall to the nearest staff restroom.
He leaned on the lavatory counter and looked at himself in the mirror, habitually checking for dark roots in his blonde hair. Then he reached into his pocket and removed the tube of makeup he always carried to cover the circular scars on the left side of his face.
As he touched up the covering makeup, he gave himself a tight little smile. He began to wonder just how difficult it would be to give poor David access to some broken glass and enough uninterrupted time to make sure he would never tell his story to anyone else.
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