Enoc Anthologies

by Edison T. Crux

Season 3,  Episode 5: Rock Bottom

Will walked through the doors of the one place he dreaded most.

He knew this was a bad idea. Knew that no good could come from it. But he had to go. He had to see with his own eyes, even if it meant more mental torment.

So he walked into the Mercy Elkhorn Psychiatric Center, clutching a bouquet of flowers.

It had been three days since Will and Eliza’s disastrous date. He called her several times to apologize. Eliza claimed to forgive him—but also claimed to have too much schoolwork to hang out. Will suspected she was avoiding him, and he couldn’t blame her.

After all, was she wrong?

Halfway across the country, in the magnificent mansion of a secret society, it sounded like a good idea to control the Beast. Will was weak, and he was likely to face incredibly dangerous threats moving forward. The Beast offered power… but at what price?

It became increasingly clear that Will and the Beast were intrinsically linked. It was that fact that allowed Will to banish Moyset from his mind and reclaim his life. It was liberating at the time, but that connection weighed on Will in recent months.

Maybe he would be better off locking that part of him away, instead of bringing it back to the surface.

With that question in mind, Will entered the lobby of the Psychiatric Center. He spoke with the woman at the front desk. When he explained who he wanted to see, she was confused; he was neither a relative of this patient, nor had he visited before.

When Will explained that he’d donated money for treatment, a switch seemed to flip in her mind. He knew that look all too well; it was one of suspicion and mistrust. That look said she didn’t know Will’s face, but she knew his reputation. He was the boy from the Fair. The one everyone thought was responsible for it, but no one could prove guilty.

At last she phoned the patient’s parents. Will shuffled his feet nervously, until the woman got off the phone.

“Alright, they said you can see her,” the woman said. She squinted at him. “But I’m sending an orderly with you. To make sure she’s alright.”

Will nodded. “Thank you.”

He was escorted down the hall, and led into a simple white room. It was sparsely decorated, nothing more than a bed, a window, and a sturdy end table.

On the bed was a little girl.

This may be the first time Will visited her, but he knew who she was.

Her name was Olivia.

She was five years old.

And last summer, Will nearly ate her.

Not intentionally, of course. It was the night of the Walworth County Fair. The night Will lost control of the Beast. It got away from him, and went to hunt where “the herd” gathered in abundance. The first person the Beast targeted was a little girl—this little girl. She saw the Beast watching her, even before it materialized. The Beast swooped down, solidified its etheric body, and wrapped its enormous maw around her neck.

Will restrained the Beast in time to save her life.

But not her mind.

Olivia suffered extreme PTSD, and received intensive care ever since that night. She rarely spoke, and would swing between moods of utter isolation and dangerous self-harm.

As Will recovered from his own injuries, he insisted on tracking down the girl he almost killed. It wasn’t easy—there were many traumatized children in the aftermath of that night. Eventually he found her, and learned the extent of her suffering. Overwhelmed with guilt, Will reached out to her parents and used money from his inheritance to help pay for her treatment.

Now, Will gingerly entered her room, seeing her through human eyes for the first time.

“Hi… Olivia,” he spoke weakly.

The girl looked at Will, her expression blank.

Will took a few steps closer. “I… brought you flowers.” It sounded lame, but he didn’t know how to begin. There was so much he had to say, but now that he was here he couldn’t find the words.

The orderly took the bouquet and set it in a plastic vase on the end table. Olivia continued to stare at him.

“I…” Will’s throat felt like sandpaper. “I just… wanted… well, I need to say… I’m sorry.”

Olivia’s face showed nothing, but her eyes searched him.

A sickly sweat broke out across Will’s skin. This was harder than he expected it would be. “I’ve wanted to say that for half a year. I’m so sorry. It… shouldn’t be like this.” He hung his head. “You don’t deserve this.”

There was a long silence. Out of the corner of his eye Will saw the orderly casting him suspicious glances.

“I wish I could make it better,” Will said, his voice barely a whisper. Tears gathered at the back of his eyes, but he refused to let them flow. “I want to make it right. I just… don’t know how.”

Will forced himself to face her. He could barely meet her gaze.

Suddenly Olivia’s eyes grew wide. The blood drained from her face. Her mouth opened in silent panic.

She made a guttural banshee screech.

It was the kind of scream that tore up vocal cords and left you mute for days. The shriek of a creature pushed beyond the mortal limits of fear. The yell of unbridled terror. The little girl kicked and thrashed against her bindings, flailing her small body with all the force she could muster.

The orderly immediately went to hold her down. “I need backup in here!” he called.

“I…” Will was frozen, staring at the spectacle. His blood ran cold, and he couldn’t bring himself to take a breath.

People rushed past him to help Olivia. One wielded a syringe, and the others tried to hold her still enough to inject her.

All the while, she stared at Will and screamed.

“You need to leave!” someone shouted at him.

“B—but, I…” Will stammered.

“Now!”

He backed away, one step at a time, until he stood in the hallway. One of the orderlies slammed the door in his face.

Will left.

He ran through the lobby. Past the lady at the desk. Across the parking lot. He reached the curb and dropped to his knees.

For a moment he stayed there, eyes wide as saucers and heart throbbing in his chest.

Then it was Will’s turn to scream.

He rocked back and forth, pulling at his hair and wailing like a madman.

That was it.

His breaking point.

Over the last few years, Will faced challenges most people never dreamed of. He struggled, he fought, he got knocked down, and he pulled himself back up and kept going. But in recent months Will got beaten down, further and further, grinding his psyche into a pulp.

Seeing the way she looked at him—the recognition in her eyes—that was the moment Will hit rock bottom. Any semblance of composure cracked under the pressure. The screams that roared up his throat seemed to come from his heart instead of his lungs.

He kept it up for several minutes, until sheer exhaustion forced him to quiet down. Voice hoarse, face drenched in tears and snot, Will curled up into a ball on the grass.