Nancy clicked her well manicured nails on a rusty metal bar in the boiler room.
She was dead. Click click click.
Well, scratch that. She wasn't totally dead. Not really. She could still move and talk and speak andshe paused for a moment to look down at the four gaping holes in her stomach, still sticky and festeringOkay, so she was mostly dead, but still alive in the dream world.
Click click click.
She had been sitting and thinking for a very long time, due to the fact that she was very bored and very alone. The boiler room was cold. She was dead, and in a pink sweater of all things. And she couldn't figure out for the life (er, un-life) of her why she was here instead of frolicking away in a field of beautiful flowers goddamnit.
Click click click.
She sighed and crossed her arms, resting her chin on the metal bar and swinging her legs freely below the catwalk. She had to admit to herself that there were quite a few coincidences prefaced her death. She didn't want to think of them at the time, because thinking of them would make her think of him, and that wouldn't have been sane at all. Her time in school had taught her that, that she was a physiatrist now and thinking silly things like that would put her on the other side of the glass. She didn't need any paranoia.
But it was all very odd.
She had needed an apartment near Westin Hills, and set out her search with bright eyes. And caution. She really didn't like to be near Springwood. There were things she missed about her childhood, like her friends and her mother, but living there was always like living in a bubble. Everything held that eerie, too perfect quality that she found other cities were blissfully void of. But work was work, and she could help here. She knew she could.
There was only one apartment complex on the west side of Springwood, tucked nicely between a hardware store and a café. The Shady Elms Apartment complex was nice and clean, with big windows and a washer and dryer unit in every room. She rented apartment 14.
She really didn't notice anything odd. Really.
She didn't even blink when her mailbox lock broke and she had to use the empty one for room 28. Sure, she frowned slightly when she saw the previous owners curtains, a hideous striped pattern clashing with the pale cream walls, but she threw the red and green nightmares away and was done with it. She put it out of her mind.
She knew her first day on the job that she should've stayed out of Springwood. The poor girl was horrified, tear stained and shaking with the scalpel in her hand. She finished the rhyme with ease, wondering where it came from, because she thought she had put it all out of her mind for good.
Things began to get quite unhealthy after that.
At first, her mind was cold to the fact that he was back. It didn't sink in. Not even when she was telling Neil that the rhyme was to keep the boogeyman away, all the while thinking, roaring, it doesn't keep him away, it lets him in.
When she went home, she noticed something was off in her mind. Everything seemed a little darker. A tint creepier. She ignored it. It was after she fixed herself some spaghetti and sat down to think of a strategy that she realized that the voice in the back of her head, the one that had been kicking up a fuss all day, didn't sound so much like her anymore.
It sounded like him.
Hell, when she thought about it, she realized that he was sitting clear as day across from her, watching her eat spaghetti. His eyes followed it as it fell out of her mouth and onto her plate.
"You know it's true."
When he spoke, he only spoke in her head, and it was a comfort to realize that he sounded like her inner voice, though manlier and rougher. She shook her head, but he remained. He was different than she remembered. Duller, she supposed. Cleaner, less insane. He didn't seem to want to kill her, and for that she was grateful. He was just a figment.
"You're crazy. Nuts. Bonkers." He twirled a claw at the side of his head.
"No I'm not. I'm
stressed." She spoke aloud, then realized that she didn't need to, because he wasn't real. She took her dishes to the sink and rinsed them, then hopped on the countertop to do some thinking. He just watched.
"If you're back, then they need to know about you. Right? That's safest."
He nodded, fingering his hat. "I suppose. But don't you need to stop me?"
She frowned, remembering her failed attempt. She knew she was dreaming that night, just as she knew her mother had died and she wasn't coming back, and the sky was a little too bright outside to be real. When the car went crazy, and her friends decomposed before her eyes, she realized that he wasn't really going to go away. Not completely. But he was weak, because their fingernails didn't cut, and though Glen bit, she awoke to clean sheets and the smallest of scratches.
"I did that. I don't need to stop you, I just need to
" She hopped off the counter and grabbed her purse, pulling out the files on the children she would be monitoring. He leaned over them with slight interest, tapping his claws on the table. They made no sound.
"Look. Yeah." She pressed her lips together and furrowed her brow, fanning all the files out, eyes searching for consistencies. She tugged on her solitary stripe of grey hair, and ignored the scarred figment across from her. He seemed content to sit and watch, every once and a while looking down at the papers with interest. She started when he clicked a sharp metal claw on the home address of one of the patients.
She looked at the next one.
And the next. 1429 Elm. That was the link, and they were in serious trouble.
She rifled through her bag and pulled out her bottle of Hypnocil, shaking one into her hand. The figment watched as she washed it down with a glass of juice.
"You're supposed to kill me." His voice was slightly less gravely, his eyes slightly more blue.
She nodded at him, or rather, at herself, and ran her hand over her eyes. This wasn't good. She was going crazy, and she really needed to keep focused if she was going to help these kids. She turned away from the figment, because if she said his name then she really would go crazy, and strolled into her bedroom, and though he was sprawled on her bed, she took off her pants and crawled under the covers. He held no weight, and when she opened her eyes again, it was morning.