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“Hello, Andrea.”

“Andrea, Drea, doesn’t matter. Just not Andy…”

“I remember, Drea. How are you feeling today?”

“I’m… fine.”

“You sound unsure.”

“No… I’m just… tired, I guess.”

Dr. Sonia Kettlemen looked over her patient. Andrea Thorne was a 23 year old woman with dark hair, blue eyes, and dark circles beneath those eyes. He dark hair fell in such a way that it almost covered her face. She looked at Dr. Kettlemen and looked through her.

“You do seem tired. Are the nightmares keeping you awake?”

“No,” Andrea said.

“You have to be honest with me, Drea.”

“Fine. They’ve started again. So yes.”

“The medication isn’t helping?”

Kill her.

“No,” Andrea said. “It was fine for the first couple of weeks, then they came back. Just like every other time. I’d wake up in a panic and couldn’t remember why. I’d hear buzzing and there wouldn’t be anything there. I’d see… him.”

“PTSD is a completely normal response in a situation like yours, Drea.”

“So you’ve said. But I feel like I’m going fucking crazy, Doc. I ran off a bus yesterday because someone came in that wore a jacket like his.”

“It’s okay,” Dr. Kettlemen said. “Triggers are also normal.”

Cut her throat.

“No,” Andrea said.

“No?”

“I mean, I know…” Andrea said.

“We can try another medication and see if that will help alleviate some of your symptoms.”

“We’ve tried so many,” Andrea said.

“Everyone’s brain a little different, Drea. We’ll find the right combination for you.”

Flay her alive.

Andrea wrenched her hands together and shook her head. “Be quiet,” she whispered.

“Drea, what’s going on?”

“The voices,” she said. “It almost sounds… like… Him. sometimes”

“Your ex-boyfriend?”

Cut her fucking throat, worm!

“Yes.”

“It’s an auditory hallucination, Drea. It’s not real.”

I am real. You know I am.

“It feels real,” Andrea said.

“I know,” Dr. Kettlemen said. “Again, it is a part of your PTSD. You’re reliving the trauma, trying to process it in a way that makes sense to you.”

“I think this is something different,” Andrea said.

“Would you like to talk about it?”

“No,” Andrea said. “But I have to.”

“If you’re comfortable.”

“You know there were seven of us… at least, that’s what I thought.”

Call me. Call me, Andy. Call me and stick me through her soft flesh.

“That’s what you thought?”

“But I think there were eight of us there now. Someone… something… that was with Billy.”

“What do you mean “Someone” or “Something” was with Billy?”

“When he… he died… he said he was sorry. I don’t think he wanted to kill us.”

“I know it’s difficult to reconcile the man you thought you knew with his actions. Many victims feel that way. But it’s more likely that he was saying that he was sorry because he was dying and wanted forgiveness from you. That he was sorry for betraying you and hurting you? Or that he was sorry he lost control?”

“I don’t know. All I know is that ever since I… killed him, I feel like there’s something inside my head now. Something foreign. Something the medicine isn’t helping. Something the therapy isn’t helping. And it’s getting worse. I wonder if that’s how he felt. What if I got something from him?”

“Drea,” she said. “You know that’s impossible.”

“So is getting up again after being shot nine times,” Drea said. “He did that, you know.”

“I know that’s what you think you saw-“

“I saw it. I saw the bullets hit him. I saw him fall off of a fucking cliff and then he ambushes me on my way to the police station?”

“But you’ve been through-“

A very traumatic event…

“A very traumatic event. I know. I don’t need you to keep telling me that.”

“Okay, why don’t we take a moment and try a few deep breaths.”

They don’t believe you. They’ll never believe you. You’re not crazy. I am real, Andy, and you are my chosen.

“Chosen for what?”

“I’m sorry?” Dr. Kettlemen said

Avatar. Champion. Murderer.

“I don’t want to,” Drea said. Tears started falling from her face.

“Drea, I’m worried about you. Please talk to me.”

 Call me.

“I’m fine,” Drea said. But she felt far from fine. She was shaking now. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why was this happening to me? She thought. Reality seemed to fade and she was there again.

At that moment, she saw the road again. The pain from the car crash. The desperation and feelings of powerlessness. The smell of gasoline pouring out of the old truck she had stolen. The panic as she heard the footsteps, his footsteps coming closer.

“I think we should consider maybe holding you for observation,” Dr. Kettlemen said.

Drea heard her, but it was like a dream. She clawed at the release button for her seatbelt and scrambled out of the broken window.

“I’m sorry, Andy,” Billy, her boyfriend, said.

He had lost the Halloween mask. Probably lost it on the way down the cliff. His clothes were torn and bloodied, his right leg was set at an odd angle and he was dragging it heavily behind him.

“I’m sorry, Andy, but I can’t let you go to the police,” he said. “I have a mission.”

She freed herself from the broken truck as Billy grabbed his right leg and with a sickening snap, bent the limb back into its proper position. As Drea crawled over shards of broken glass, Billy was now moving like he hadn’t been hit by a truck, fallen off of a cliff, or been shot multiple times. He didn’t seem injured at all.

“Drea? Are you listening?”

“Yes,” she murmured.

There was the struggle. He was on top of her. They struggled for control of the knife. It hovered above her sternum. In desperation to live, she grabbed a shard of broken mirror with her left hand and stabbed it into his neck. Billy reflexively fell back and she kicked him off of her before getting on top of him. Surprised, Billy lost his hold on the knife. The knife he had used to butcher their five friends. The knife he was going to us on her.

And in an instant, Drea wrenched it free of his grasp and drove it into Billy’s heart.

Drea felt the grief and loss again, but also a feeling of power. She would not be a victim. She would never be a victim.

“Wait here, Drea,” Dr. Kettlemen said.

Kettlemen rose and headed towards the door.

They’re going to lock you up. You’ll be helpless. Powerless again. Call me. Take control of your destiny, Andy.

“Okay,” Drea said quietly. “Come.”

A horrible stabbing pain caused Drea to scream and fall to her knees next to the couch she was sitting on. Dr. Kettlemen turned to her and they both stared at her right hand. Something pushed up the skin from beneath it. Drea continued to scream as the tip of a black knife pierced her palm and blood gushed from the wound. The knife slowly, excruciatingly moved out from the wound until the handle rested in her bloody hand.

Her fingers wrapped around the handle, and with a swiftness and strength she didn’t know she was capable of, she leapt onto Dr. Kettlemen and pinned her to her office door with the knife.

“I told you there was something there,” Drea said.

She watched the life leave Dr. Kettlemen’s eyes. Felt the life leave her body and travel into the knife. She felt a small portion of that life flow from the blade into her hand and the pain left her. She didn’t need to look, she knew that she was healed.

Drea slid the knife from the body of Dr. Kettlemen and put it into her purse.

Burn the office.

She didn’t know if that was her mind or the mind of her new… ‘friend’… but she listened to it. She set fire to the building and left. She walked to the subway station and took the train back to her small studio apartment. The landlord still hadn’t fixed the furnace and her apartment was freezing. She glanced at her black leather purse.

“Feeling hungry again?” she said.

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