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  1. Fernando.C

    Fernando.C Contributor Contributor

    Jul 26, 2015
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    Floating in the Cosmere.

    Of A Sound Mind (3501 Words)

    Discussion in '10th Anniversary Contest' started by Fernando.C, Jun 26, 2016.

    Lucy could only watch in horror as the axe connected with her best friend’s neck, cutting it off clean with one smooth motion.

    She would scream but for the dirty cloth that gagged her. She would run but for the tight rope tying her legs and torso to the old oak tree. Her hands too were tied behind her back with a separate rope. Blood, Josie’s blood, spattered all over her face and shirt, it’s warmth a juxtapose to the November cold that seemed to pierce her skin.

    Tears rolled down her cheeks, mixing in with the blood. A concoction of misery.

    “No, no, no” hissed the killer with its inhuman high-pitched voice. “you don’t wanna cry, that’s not the right reaction”.

    It stepped closer to her – yes, it; Lucy refused to assign a human pronoun to that monster. Its face was hidden beneath that strange mask – resembling a ski mask but without any holes for eyes and mouth. Lucy was glad for the fact, it meant she didn’t have to stare into its eyes as it regarded her and…sniffed her?

    She stiffened as the killer’s nose almost brushed against her cheeks.

    “Smellin’ so fresh…hmmm…so young”. It reached a gloved hand and grabbed her by the jaw. It forced her head up, running its finger back and fro across her throat. The touch of leather gave the sensation of a snake slithering on her skin.

    God, she wished someone would show up and save her. The logical part of her knew of course, that was impossible; they were in the middle of the woods, far away from the town. Even worse, likely nobody knew that Josie and she were gone, not yet. Their landlady, Mrs. Rotham, wouldn’t check up on them until precisely six in the morning. That was her routine. Every day at six in the morning sharp she would knock at every door in the one-storey boarding house and didn’t stop until the occupants opened the door and bid her good morning.

    That would be hours from now, Lucy barely had minutes. The faceless killer –Lucy had begun to call it that in her head – kept walking in a half circle around her, inspecting her from all angles, poking her, touching her – not always in the most appropriate places. It was like a customer at a horse range ensuring that its choice mare matched the promised standards.

    “Too soon…too soon” the faceless killer muttered over and over. Whatever it meant Lucy didn’t have the slightest idea nor particularly cared to know.

    After some time, the faceless killer gave up and to Lucy’s utter disbelief, turned around and left without a word. She stared after it as it disappeared into the darkness at the far end of her field of vision. Was it really gone? It seemed unreal, too good to be true. She held her breath, not daring to hope. Could this really be it? Just like that?

    She waited a good ten minutes – or was it fifteen? Hard to tell the time in the darkness of the forest – before allowing herself relief. A wolf howled in the night, a solemn, lonely sound. It received no answer. A cricket chirped from a tree nearby, leaves rustled, owls hooted and screeched. Nature’s haunting orchestra in the deep silence of the night.

    Other sounds, their origins unrecognizable to Lucy, joined in. Every living being, no matter how primitive, wished to take part in the grand performance, it seemed. Even the wind, unliving though it was, lent a hand once in a while.

    And in the midst of it all was Lucy. bound and gagged, the sole, albeit unwilling audience to what most would never have the chance nor the privilege to experience.

    Her only other companions were a headless friend, a dead campfire and an empty tent. Each passing minute found her colder and more frightened. Time and again she struggled against the restraints to no avail. The damned faceless killer knew how to tie a rope. Maybe she could at least get rid of the gag, it’d make breathing easier. But no, it didn’t budge either.

    Her eyelids grew heavy, her stomach churned and a sensation in her lower abdomen told her she needed to relieve herself. Ironic that last one, wasn’t it? Nature calling as it slowly killed her.

    The orchestra was in full swing as Lucy fought to stay awake. And at last, as nature hit its crescendo she lost that battle. A deep darkness welcomed her.



    “I think I found them…”

    “…yeah, yeah, they’re righ… oh God!”

    “Oh sweet Jesus!”


    “She’s breathing”

    A sudden motion stirred her. she was…moving, she guessed. Cracking one eye open, which was a lot harder than it should have. She was being carried by a large man. She tried to speak but was too weak to form words.

    “Hurry Mac, she doesn’t have much time,” a voice said, “It’s a miracle she made it as far as she did”.

    Lucy recognized that voice, that made her relax a bit, it had to be…

    She passed out before she could complete that thought.

    The next time she came to, she was lying in the backseat of a moving car. Someone sat beside her.

    “First her sister and father, now this. Poor girl” a voice came from the front.

    “Mrs. Rotham?” the same voice asked a minute later.

    “I’ll let her know once Lucy’s safe” the man sitting next to her answered. It was that familiar voice again.

    “How much farther to the hospital?” he asked.

    She tried to turn her head to see who it was.

    “Less than ten miles” came the answer.

    Then she blacked out one more time.


    She awoke to find herself lying on a crude-looking bed in a large but plain room that she didn’t recognize. A lonely lightbulb hanging from the ceiling illuminated the room; it didn’t do a good job.

    Where was she? This didn’t look like a hospital. She tried to sit up, but there was a slight problem.

    She was strapped to the bed. Two pairs of leather straps tied her limbs to the sides and foot of the bed. Another larger strap tied her midsection down as well.

    Not again…please…I can’t go through this again.

    What was the point of being rescued from the woods if she was to end up tied and bound somewhere else?

    Her heart beat so fast it hurt; drawing quick sharp breaths, trying to calm down and failing, she had no gag on this time, thank God, but still felt suffocated.

    “Hello? Anyone there?” she called out, “please just come tell me what you want, please”.

    Silence was the answer.

    Seconds passed, and those bled into minutes. She waited.

    Footsteps…Were those footsteps?


    Two figures approached from the far corner of the room. They came to stand at her bedside and she found she recognized one of them.

    Tommy Higgs; Her fiancé.

    As usual, Tommy looked exquisite with his expensive suit, his perfectly-groomed hair, and a moustache that would make Clarke Gable jealous.

    “Tommy what’s going on?”

    “How’re you feeling Lucy?” he asked, ignoring her question.

    His voice triggered something in her memory. That familiar voice…one of the men who rescued her in the forest, it was Tommy. But then, why had he brought her here?

    “Tommy Why I am restrained to the bed?” she demanded, “I had a horrible day as it is, please let me free so we can go home”.

    Tommy hesitated. he sat on the bed and began gently caressing her hair, brushing some of the strands out of her face as he did so.

    “Lucy, darling, do you trust me?”

    “Of course, but-”

    “Then please promise me you’ll do everything Dr. Malden and I ask of you” he cut her off, “we only want what’s best for you”.


    Tommy exchanged a look with Dr. Malden, and after a nod from the latter, he began to remove her restraints. Lucy couldn’t help but utter a sigh of relief.

    “Now Ms. McKay,” this was Dr. Malden, he sat on a chair which Lucy hadn’t realized was there until that moment. His tone was sympathetic, his face stern and unsmiling. Lucy wasn’t sure which one to believe.

    “Would you be so kind” the good doctor went on, “as to tell us about the last thing you remember?”

    “Uh, I was tied to a tree in the middle of the woods and the faceless killer…it was taunting me and-“

    “The faceless killer?” Tommy interrupted.

    “Yes, that horrid creature murdered Josie. Oh Tommy it was terrible, poor Josie…” She stopped as she noticed the confused look the two men shared.

    “Josie?” Tommy asked.

    “Come Tommy, you know who Josie is” Lucy told him, exasperated, “She and I live together not to mention the three of us were childhood friends and-”

    “I know who Josie is darling” Tommy said, taking her hand into hers, “it’s just that, well for one thing you’ve been living with me for the past year. And…uh, and Josie died five years ago”.

    All Lucy could do was stare at him in shock. Had he gone mad? She was just with Josie. She’d spent the day with her. They went camping in the woods early in the evening, on a dare from those two nasty boys who claimed girls could never be as brave as boys. Of course when the time had come to prove themselves they didn’t show up. Leaving Josie and Lucy to camp alone.

    She told Tommy as much. He insisted that what she described had transpired five years go not today.

    “Besides, it wasn’t me who saved you,” he went on, “It was Mrs. Rotham’s nephew and two of his friends . They found you unconscious and covered in blood far away from your camp".

    That didn’t make any sense to her. How could Tommy make claims like this when she remembered, clear as a day, that…

    “Ms. McKay? Lucy?” Dr. Malden began, “If I may, let’s concentrate on the events surrounding Josie’s death”.

    Well at least someone seemed to believe her.


    “Good. Now, close your eyes if you please and try to picture yourself back in the woods”.

    Lucy did as instructed. When she opened her eyes again, she was standing in the woods and this time she wasn’t tied. Josie’s lifeless body lay at her feet, blood oozing from stump whereupon her head used to rest. Flies were gathering by the body in dozens, vultures circled high overhead awaiting their turn.

    The brutal sight along with the overwhelming stench was too much for Lucy. So she doubled over and let her stomach contents rush out.

    A hand patted her on the back; she turned to fast she almost fell down.

    The faceless killer stood before her. It wore no gloves now but still held the bloody axe.

    “You!” she screamed at it,” how could you do this?” she pointed at where Josie lay, “why do you wanna hurt us?”

    “Us?” she’d forgotten how unnerving its high-pitched voice was. “I never intended to harm you, only her”.

    Then it took its mask off. Lucy gasped.

    The face staring at her… was hers. A nightmarish version of her at least. The entire right side of its face was burned beyond recognition, even the hair on that side had burned off. An empty socket was all that remained of the right eye. The left side, in contrast, was whole which was how Lucy had identified the face as her own. The only disfigurement on this side was the missing ear.

    Lucy almost threw up again when she saw black slimy leeches crawling out of the hole where the ear should have been. There seemed to be no end to the creatures. Lucy forced herself to look away.

    “What are you?” she asked the killer that bore her face, not certain if she wanted to hear the answer.

    “Why, I’m you.”

    It ran off before Lucy could say more, discarding the axe as it did so.

    Lucy went after it. She ran on and on for some time before realizing she had lost track of the killer’s whereabouts. And of her own.

    Nothing was familiar to her in this part of the forest. She did a three sixty turn trying to determine where she was. That was in vain.

    It was then that she noticed the river for the first time. She could’ve sworn it wasn’t there a moment a go.

    Nearby two young girls played by the river. They had yet to notice her. One was older, around fifteen or so. Tall and graceful for her age, she danced around on bare feet, her auburn her blowing in the wind, covering her face.

    The younger one was short and stout. She had icy blond hair tied in a ponytail and didn’t seem in a happy mood as all she did was standing still and staring at the older girl.

    This whole scene, the girls, even the river. Reminded Lucy of something. Then the older girl turned around and Lucy knew. Rose. That was Rose, her older sister which meant that the younger girl was Lucy herself.

    The realization brought tears to her eyes. She missed Rose, it’d been years since…

    She felt her knees buckle. There was another reason the sight was familiar.

    “Rose! Rose!” she called out to her sister.

    Rose didn’t appear to hear.

    “Rose” she screamed again.

    Her sister took no notice.

    So she run towards her at fast as her legs permitted her. as she did, she saw her younger self rush her sister, throwing her face first in the river.


    She forced her legs to go fast, they ignored her. She begged them, they refused.

    Her younger self kneeled beside Rose as she made to get up, grabbed her by the hair and slammed her head to a rock sticking out of the water. The water turned red and Rose went limp.

    Lucy was almost upon them as her younger self pushed her sister’s head under water. And kept it there with both hands.

    Gathering all her might Lucy jumped the rest of the way head first into the river. Her younger self disappeared as she landed beside Rose.

    She dragged her sister out of the water.

    “Rose, Rose…please…please” she panted as she checked her sister’s pulse and breathing.


    She did her best to perform CPR, but still nothing. Rose was dead. She held her sister in her arms, tears falling unto her lifeless features. Wasn’t it enough that she had to go through this loss once? How cruel was it to make her go through it again? And to show her what preceded it which…no, she wouldn’t duel on that. That was nothing more than a sick joke.

    Gently she lowered her sister to the ground, then reached to close her eyes. Only to jump back in shock. For the person lying before her was no longer her sister, but her father. And he lay not on the grass-covered riverside, but on his bed in his spacious bedroom.

    “What on…”

    Lucy found herself standing beside her father’s bed, looking at him as he regarded her with terror. She glanced down to find her hands around his throat, tightening.

    “No, God no, Dad.”

    In trying to get her hands away she found that she had lost all control of her arms. It seemed as though some other force had taken charge of them and was using them to strangle her father.

    She watched with dread as her father gasped for breath, his face turning blue, his eyes popping out of their sockets. No matter how hard she fought, her hands wouldn’t budge.

    It was only after the light went out in her father’ eyes, his head rolling sideways, limp, that she regained control of her arms. She threw them back at once.

    Across from her, at the other side of her father’s bed, stood the killer with her face. It smiled at her, an ugly smile. all her anger, all her pain and frustration exploded from her as she lunged after the creature.

    Only to fall down head first to the ground, the killer nowhere to be seen.

    A pair of hands grabbed her. She tried to break free until she realized it was only Tommy. She was back at that dull room. Tommy helped her back to her feet and on the bed as Dr. Malden, still seated, took notes.

    “Tommy…I” She began, hesitated, took a deep breath, then began anew. “Tommy, did I killed Josie, Rose and Dad?”


    “Just answer me. Please.”

    Frightening as the very thought was, Lucy needed to know. No sense in denial and hesitation.

    “In a manner of speaking, yes” It was Dr. Malden who answered and earned himself a sharp look from Tommy.

    “What do you mean?”

    “From what I can gather, you seem to suffer from episodic bouts of psychotic breaks whereupon you grow exceedingly violent. Afterwards, when you come to your senses you’d have no memory of your actions during your episode.”

    Lucy wasn’t certain which terrified her most; that she had psychotic episodes or that the knowledge of it made perfect sense to her.

    “I killed them, three of the most important people in my life. They’re dead because of me”.

    “You shouldn’t think like that, it’s not your fault Lucy” Tommy’s expression contradicted his words. Even he couldn’t deny the truth.

    “It was my hand that strangled Dad, Tommy, my arms that wielded the axe chopping Josie’s head. And Rose…God, Rose…”

    She broke down at the utterance of her sister’s name. She’d been her whole life, her best friend, her idol. To know that she herself had…

    Tommy held her in his arms as she cried, telling her how it wasn’t her fault, how she was sick and shouldn’t feel responsible for actions she had no control over. She appriecieted his support but it didn’t change the facts.

    “Who else?” she asked.


    “Who else have I hurt?”


    “I need to know Tommy. At least tell me how many”

    Tommy hesitated.

    “Tommy!” she hissed at him.

    “Ten” he said at last.

    She felt cold. “Ten…and did I…all of them?”

    Her fiancé nodded.

    She had killed ten people. Ten innocent people.

    Tommy went on to explain that this was the second time she was brought to Dr. Malden’s lunatic asylum. The first time was over a year ago when she’d spend two weeks here after being released.

    Afterwards she had been episode-free up until a month ago. Over the last month her condition had deteriorated to the point that she barely had any lucid moments. Then the worst had come five days ago when Tommy had come home to find her two nurses dead and Lucy herself missing.

    Tommy had then enlisted the help of the town police along with a few of the neighbors in order to locate her. At long last they had found her at the backyard of ninety-year-old Mrs. Harding’s house, beating her young great nephew to death next to the corpse of the old lady herself. They were too late to save the poor lad.

    “You’ve been here ever since” Tommy concluded, looking miserable.

    “Under heavy sedation most of the time as well” added Dr. Malden, “this is the first time you been lucid since your arrival here, Ms. McKay”.

    “I need to be stopped” she muttered in response.

    “We’ll help you Lucy, I promise” Tommy said as he held her tight.

    She rested her head on his shoulder.

    I need to be stopped, she thought, before I hurt even more people.

    “There is one likely cure” said Dr. Malden.


    “It is a dangerous procedure and there are side effects which must…”

    “What is it doctor?”

    She looked from the doctor to her fiancé. The former still stone-faced, the latter crying. Crying? Tommy? This was the first time she’d seen him do that.

    “Doctor, What’s the cure?” she repeated.


    Lobotomy. The very name left a sour taste in her mouth.

    “There could be other ways darling. Dr. Malden and I were discussing that just before we came in and…”

    “Will it stop my psychotic episodes?” Lucy asked the doctor, cutting Tommy off.

    “Most probably, you see…”

    “I need you to guarantee that I won’t hurt anyone ever again if I do this.”

    Dr. Malden didn’t answer right away.


    “Yes? Oh yes. Following the proced…”

    She stopped listening and closed her eyes, bracing herself.

    “I’ll do it.”

    “Lucy…” Tommy protested.

    “Tommy I’ve destroyed ten lives”

    It occurred to her that he hadn’t told her about her last three victims. She didn’t ask him. “I won’t have even more on my conscience”.

    Tommy didn’t answer. Instead, He stood up and left without looking back. Lucy watched him disappear into the darkness with teary eyes.

    “It’s settled then,” Dr. Malden declared, taking no notice of Tommy’s departure.

    “Tomorrow, you'll be given a lobotomy.”
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