I hear something behind me. Whoosh whoosh… and the door bangs shut. I scream but no voice comes out of my throat. No, I must not panic. I already had a panic attack this morning and I must not get another. I must face whoever it is. I hear my mum’s voice in my head again.
Somebody stop her. Please! Mum stop complaining! Stop calling me a coward. I will prove it to you I am strong. Believe me, just this once.
I turn and face the door. “He..ll..oo”, I stammer. “Is some..one th..there? I mean no harm. I am a friend.” I hear no response. The hallway is dark except for a thin streak of light falling on a patch of the carpeted floor. I strain to look ahead of me but I am surrounded by darkness. It takes a couple of seconds for my eyes to get used to the darkness.
I step forward, trip and fall face flat. Bloody shit! This is a bad day. I move my hand around, hoping to hold on to something for support. Something sharp cuts through my palm and I scream. Shit!
I feel another panic attack coming. I give up. I do not want to fight anymore. Mum, you were right. I am unworthy. I am a coward. I could never ‘man-up’ as you told me to. I admit defeat.
“Kill me if you want. I give up,” I say and the darkness embraces me.
A few minutes later
I wake up and for a minute I do not remember where I am. Oh yes, Mr. Garreth’s house. There was a shadow… I am alive so it means whoever it was, left me alone. Or maybe, my mind was playing tricks and there was no one in the house. I am not on Bipolar meds anymore so I get delusional at times. I cannot help it. I need to find the cure. I HAVE to find the cure.
The cut on my palm still hurts. I need to clean up the wound and stop the infection. I hope I am not infected! The virus can penetrate through exposed skin. A bloody wound means a feast for the deadly virus. I hope the hydroxychloroquine I take help stop the spread of virus in my body.
I get up and somehow find my way out. The bright sunlight makes me squint. I lift my palm to the sunlight and look at it. It has stopped bleeding but the cut looks deep. I run home, rummage my medicine box for cotton and tincture. I boil some water, dip pieces of cotton in them and clean my wound. It hurts like shit when the warm water brushes my raw skin. I pour tincture over the wound and scream in pain.
When I was a teenager, I used to cut myself and pour hot water on my wounds. This was my way of punishing myself for everything in my life. As I grew up, I realized I had to channel my hatred towards my mother in another direction. My job at the research facility involved testing drug samples on rats, guinea pigs and some larger animals like dogs and monkeys. I loved to watch them writhe in pain and die. The moment the soul leaves the body forever – a miracle in disguise.
I dress the wound in gauze and throw the bloody cotton balls into the bin. The remaining hot water goes down the drain. I gulp down a bottle of water and crash on the couch. I stare at the ceiling for a while.
YES!!! I AM GOING TO DO IT!!
I jump up and run towards the door. Oops, need to wear gloves. I search for a new pair of gloves in my cupboard, throw the old one into the bin and go out.
The garbage bag is still lying where I dropped it an hour ago. I pick it and walk towards the research facility. I dump the bag in the facility’s trash can and walk in. I feel tired. Two panic attacks in a day and an injury has taken a toll on my energy levels. I pick up whatever chemicals I need from the lab cabinet and turn around to see another shadow in the hallway.
I freeze. I slowly place the bottles on the countertop and wait. I clear my throat and shout, “Is anyone there?” No response. Must be my mind again!
I feel nauseous so I sit on a chair for some time. I must have dozed off. I feel very tired today. I skipped breakfast too. Maybe I should go home and eat something. Microwaved pizza and diet coke sound good!
I walk to the door, open it and look around. Nobody’s around. I might have to take my bipolar meds tonight. I cannot let my mind control me like this. I grab the bottles and stuff them into the pockets of my overalls. I walk out of the door, looking around. No shadows.
When I reach the gate, I hear a clang. I turn around. I am pretty sure the noise came from the research facility. I see a shadow near the main entrance. I hide behind the compound and peek. Nobody’s there.
I reach home and pull the bottles of chemicals from my pockets. A piece of paper falls from my pocket. I open it and read: “You are NEXT”.
No, no, I mustn’t panic. I SHOULD NOT panic. I take a few deep breaths and calm myself down. Whoever it is, I am not scared. I will fight.
I remove my headgear, overalls, booties and gloves. I fumigate them and enter the house. I sat on the couch in my overalls so I fumigate my couch too. And the kitchen. And the dining chair.
I pick a frozen pizza from the industrial freezer in the garage and microwave it. Pizza and two cans of diet coke, that’s what I am going to have for lunch. As I devour the bland pizza, I think about the piece of paper that fell out of my pocket. Whoever it is, is trying to scare me. Maybe I really did see someone in Mr. Garreth’s house. I need to think with a clear mind. Maybe a couple of pills and some sleep would help clear my mind.
After lunch, I swallow some bipolar meds and wash it down with a bottle of water. The wound on my palm hurts like hell and I hope it gets better when I wake up. I lie down on the couch and stare at the ceiling. Staring at the ceiling is meditative; brings a sense of calm and peacefulness in me. Slowly, my eyes droop and I fall asleep.
To be continued…