I think the hallucinations started when I was around seven.
They were just little things, and when I told my parents about them they just said, “You’ve got a big imagination, kiddo.” So I just went with that, I had a big imagination, and sometimes I saw a butterfly on my teachers head, or my dads’ face would go bright purple.
Truth be told, I liked my hallucinations back then. They’d give me little frights, or make me giggle. Like, when I’d turn around in my chair to ask the girl behind me for an eraser, and her hair would be bright blue and spiked up. I’d jump a little in my chair, and giggle, but I think she thought I was laughing at her because she put up her hand and said, “Ewan’s laughing at me!” and I got scolded by my teacher, who had glasses that would sometimes take the form of a tiny dragon sitting on her nose.
As I grew older, my hallucinations grew longer. I was still a kid, and it was still “imagination,” and most of them were harmless, anyway. Just a little fright, just a little butterfly; just some wild hair; just a tiny dragon. But one dark night after my tenth birthday, I found myself parched at four in the morning.
I dragged myself out of bed and down the stairs, still half asleep. I just had to get a drink…and turn down the heat in the house, it’s roasting. All that I seemed to notice downstairs was the path, in which I was headed, straight to the kitchen, straight to the cupboard where all the glasses are, straight to the sink.
I was gulping down my water, and when the glass was half empty and I opened my eyes, I saw a shadow. Against the wall, next to the back door. It was a man, tall and thin, but not my dad. If he was downstairs, I’d have heard him come down. I heard him snoring away as I walked along the upstairs landing. I gasped, and the glass fell out of my hands, and crashed onto the floor. Water dripped down my chin and onto my shirt. I heard movement upstairs, but my parents didn’t get up. When I looked up, the shadow was gone.
I quickly cleaned up the glass, telling myself it was just my imagination, just my imagination¸ but to this day; the thought of that shadow shakes me.
I thought that my imagination would just go back to giving me butterflies or tiny dragons, but I was wrong. At school three weeks later, I was sitting at a lunch table with a few friends. We were all laughing and I grabbed my lunch box up from out and unzipped the little case. I was expecting so see a sandwich, an apple and a cake. Instead, I saw right in the centre of the box, was a beating heart. I yelped and jumped from my chair, and my head hit the ground. A teacher rushed over to me, and my I saw my friends peeking into my lunch box, their faces covered in confusion. I told the teacher I was okay, and that I thought I saw something scary. She gave me a funny look, as though I was crazy, and helped me up back onto my chair. My friends and I didn’t speak that much after that.
A heart and a shadow…although I was getting older, I suddenly missed bright blue hair, a tiny dragon and butterflies. I did see one butterfly one night, by the way. I looked up onto my window sill, and in the centre two wings lay, next to the fuzzy little body of a butterfly.
A note; my hallucinations have always been, let’s say, limited. They could change the physical appearance of something, or someone, and could just…I don’t know, conjure things like the butterflies, but they never made sound and they’ve never been something that would get in an individual’s name, for example, that girl who sat behind me in class when I was seven, her hair changed but that didn’t really effect her; what might have affected her could have maybe been something noticeable appearing on her desk, for example, a carrot is the first thing that comes to mind. Hallucinations didn’t necessarily affect what I was doing; seeing butterflies on my window sill was the same as seeing a butterfly outside, it’s my fault that they scared me.
However, when I turned fourteen, I tripped on my way up the stairs. My mother had made me breakfast, and I was going off to play football that day with my friends. We were chatting online, still making plans so I was allowed to eat upstairs. On the way upstairs, however, a hand grabbed my ankle. My mum was still cooking away, as my dad read the newspaper. This hand just spring out of nowhere and pulled at my ankle. I face planted the stairs, and my glass of orange juice broke, and bacon strips and eggs were everywhere. A piece of glass scratched my face and drew blood.
My mum and dad came immediately. My mother asked me if I was okay, but my dad yelled. “Look what you’ve done! Why can’t you be more careful, for Christ’s sake!?”
My mother just looked at him, and so did I. “Don’t you care about me? There is glass in my head dad, and it hurts like hell!”
My dad stared at me, red in the face, and it was the most angry I had ever seen him. “I don’t know who you are! You’re not the son I had two years ago, I don’t know who you are!” My jaw dropped. I recomposed myself, walked downstairs, grabbing my boots off the ground and my wallet off the table on my way out and left. I didn’t look back, but my mother had opened the door after I slammed it and called out for me, and I ignored her.
It was true, though, my dad was right. I had changed, because after my twelfth birthday, my hallucinations got worst still. I looked up one night, playing scrabble with my dad, and saw a huge gash on his face. A massive, bloody gash. I screamed, and ran out of the room. I sat against my room and when he tried to get in (he kept saying, “Ewan, I’m worried! Let me in!”), the door wouldn’t budge. I just told him I felt ill, and I would talk to him in the morning. Neither of us mentioned it in the morning. After that, I was a bit shaky around him. Of course other things happened with my dad; twice he appeared to have no legs; he appeared to be crying blood on several occasions; once he was just a shadow, but he carried a bloody knife. These hallucinations changed us.
I thought about that, and came home and apologized to my dad. He gave me a firm pat on the shoulder and said that it was okay, but I didn’t buy it. I knew he was pissed about it, and I was too.
It’s probably obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. My hallucinations continued to get worse. I saw shadows and bright eyes in the darkness, so I didn’t sleep much. I saw blood in my food, so I didn’t eat much. I once saw a human hand in my bag, so I didn’t study that night and consequently failed a couple of tests I had the next day in school. I became distant from my friends, a girl even asked me out when I was fifteen but I said no, because she was covered in blood and scars and I couldn’t handle being around that.
I mentioned earlier that up until a certain time, my hallucinations were soundless. One night, last year, I heard something downstairs. I was staring at the wall where a shadow had stood, that same shadow from six years ago, when I heard rustling from the kitchen. My parents were out for the night, and it was around eleven. It was a bit early to go to bed, I know, but I was so fatigued. For a minute I thought it might have been my parents, but I hadn’t heard the car, or the slamming of car doors. I didn’t hear my mother and fathers drunken laughter (they had gone out to a pub, they would have drank something), or them calling to tell me they were home like they usually would. I did hear, however, the back door opening and closing.
I was suddenly terror stricken, because my hallucinations couldn’t make sounds, right? And I had forgotten to lock the door anyway. Typical. I saw no other option than to go downstairs.
I crept down the stairs, and the rustling got louder. Oh no, oh God no, I thought to myself. The sounds were definitely coming from the kitchen, and it was the sounds of drawers opening and closing. It was very unsettling. Just before I reached the kitchen door, I stopped into the living room and got the racquet my dad used for badminton. It wouldn’t do much damage, and it was my fathers’ favourite racquet. I hoped I wouldn’t have to use it.
I approached the kitchen door, sweating and terrified. I had left it ajar before I went upstairs, so I soundlessly entered the room. I prepared myself to fight, if I had to, but was again at ease when I saw that no one was there. I wiped sweat from my head, and was overcome with relief and peace – for a moment.
A bloody figure ran at me, screaming, and just as it was about to hit me, it disappeared. I screamed, and dived under the dining table, cowering like a child. I panted, covering my ears with my hands and my eyes were jammed shut. I rocked in place, terrified. I wanted to disappear just so I wouldn’t have to endure the hallucinations anymore. I stayed under the table for a few hours, until my mum and dad came home. They were indeed drunk, but when they saw me, they were confused and afraid. My mother held me while my father got me a glass of water, and asked if I should call paramedics or the police.
I shook my head and sipped the water. My mother patted my head until I fell asleep for the first time in weeks.
The next day, I was getting ready to go to a wedding, and I looked in the mirror, really looked in the mirror. For the past couple of months, it had just been glances. I didn’t care much about my appearance, and I had bigger things on my mind anyway. I barely recognized myself. I had heavy and dark purple lids under my eyes, and I was a great deal paler and skinnier than I remember. My hair was greasy, and I thought of how I hadn’t showered in days. I hopped in for five minutes, got ready and then my family and I went to the wedding.
The wedding was horrible, by the way. The cake was covered in mould, the children were as pale as I was, and they were miserable and covered in dirt. The bride was crying, her make-up was smudged all over her face. The flowers she carried were dead, and she appeared to be beaten. I looked to her husband to be, who was smirking sinisterly and his knuckles were covered in blood. I shook my head, and looked to the bride who was indeed crying, but also grinning, and her groom who grinned too. The children giggled and played together and the cake was tall and white, just like the wedding cakes in films. It was a magical day – for them, anyway.
When I turned seventeen, three months ago, I think the worst hallucination happened. I had gotten a job in a little shoe store in town, and I was last in. I arrived late and my working ethic was particularly poor that day (partly because I screamed at a little girl, who appeared to be holding a bloody knife) so I volunteered to do some admin and close up after the day ended. I said bye to a girl who I was friendly with (the hallucinations hadn’t affected her so much. She was sweet and pure, seemingly incorruptible). I was just signing out of the computer at the main desk, after checking that the sales for that day were up to date. I walked into the backroom to get my coat and the keys to the store, when I heard rustling. I had heard the door close behind Kayleigh before she left (Kayleigh was my work friend), I knew she wasn’t here. I dismissed the rustling, telling myself it was just me.
I grabbed my jacket and put it on, and as I zipped it up I heard a bang on the wall behind me. That wasn’t my imagination. “Hello?” I called out, and I got a groan in return. I cursed under my breath and ran into the main store. I looked for something to hit whatever was there with. I didn’t care if it was a hallucination or not, I was terrified and a weapon was the first thing that came into my mind. I picked up the small metal bench that children would sit on when trying on shoes. Part of it was cushioned, but the bright red metal was cold in my hands, and it would do.
The door from the back opened and a figure, totally burned, from head to toe limped towards me, groaning. I was sweating and terrified. “Stay where you are or I’ll kill you!”
The creature kept coming closer. When it was about half a metre away from me, I bludgeoned it. Got it right on the head. It didn’t disappear, like I thought it would. It fell to the ground and blood protruded from its head. I dropped the bench and it landed right on the creature’s stomach, and the creature coughed some blood and stopped breathing.
I shook my head and looked down. The creature wasn’t a burn victim anymore. I saw a cascade of blonde hair, covered in blood…a slender little figure contorted in pain. I cursed, and fell down, onto my back. I felt sick; I was sick. I retched and got up again, wiping my mouth and I held Kayleigh’s head in my hands. I searched for a pulse and found lifelessness
“Oh God!” I yelled and I ran to the phone on the desk, and called the police. I told them what I had done. They arrived on the scene ten minutes later, and I was pulled into a police car while paramedics examined Kayleigh. I hated myself. I ignored the hallucinations on the ride to the police station; Kayleigh sitting beside me, laughing at nothing in particular; all the blood in my hands; the police officers laughing at each other’s burns…
My parents arrived at the police station twenty minutes after we did. My mum was crying, and my dads’ arms were folded across his chest, and he shook his head at me. I didn’t say anything, apart from, “I’m sorry…I’m sick…” My mother hugged me and she apologised to me, but it wasn’t her fault; nothing was – she was perfect.
Psychiatrists found I was mentally unstable. I was placed into an asylum, where I still reside. I’ve stopped ignoring hallucinations, and instead I attack them. This usually gets me in a white room all by myself, where the shadows are everywhere and I am terrified. Sometimes I see my mother, in my fathers’ arms, and he is still shaking my head at me. I hear my mother scream, “I’m sorry!” and my father telling me I’m not who I used to be. I see the butterfly from all those years ago, and it combusts. I hear screaming, but I’m not sure if that’s the hallucinations or real life.
The thing is…the hallucinations have become my life.