You know that moment, late at night, when you wake up suddenly and you aren’t sure why? Some tiny noise or shift in the light startles your mind awake. Maybe a dream has you falling or running and you instinctively flee the sleeping world for the day time realm of consciousness. This wasn’t that.
The resounding crash had me on my feet and my heart racing before I knew what I was doing. I looked around, startled but nothing seemed out of place. A second scream of shattering glass and falling debris assailed my ears. It sounded like it was right on top of me.
I rushed out of my room and looked around frantically for the source of the sound. Nothing. The house was still and quiet as the grave.
With that disconcerting comparison going through my head I carried on through to the front of the house. I could still hear shifting and creaking, though much more distant now. I stopped at a window to glance outside but there was no sign of disaster. No neighbors rushing out of their homes to find the source of the sound.
I could still feel my heart in my throat. What the hell just happened? Could it have been just a dream?
But no, I was well awake for the second crash. What was going on?
I walked into the kitchen, clean and organized as it always was. Which was to say not terribly. But the roof hadn’t caved in so I couldn’t say the sound came from here.
I walked quickly into my work room. Nothing seemed out of place.
I ran my hands over my face and sighed. Maybe it was just a bad dream…
“No, not quite just a dream. Sorry to tell ya”
I whipped around fast enough that I almost fell over. Standing behind me was a tall man, middle aged. He wore a bright colored suit and had piercing green eyes. His voice was almost sing-songy as he laughed at the fear that must have been clearly stamped on my face.
“Oh, dear boy don’t look so terrified. It’s not as though you didn’t know I was here”
He laughed again, and the sound of it made my blood run cold.
“Who the hell are you? What are you doing in my house?”
He looked down his nose at me and clucked his tongue “Such boring questions. Come on, you’re suppose to be smart. You tell me who I am. Come on, we both know you can”
I just stared at this lunatic, wondering what I had near by that I could use as a weapon.
“Now, don’t go doing anything we would both regret. Hitting me will only hurt you after all” He laughed again and sauntered over to my desk to sit down. “Fine, I’ll give you a hint. If you really want to get to know me, you just have to look in a mirror”
He kicked his feet up onto my desk and grinned an impossibly big grin as I edged away
I swallowed to find my voice then said “What, you think you’re me?”
“No, no no. Nothing like that. Well, actually, that’s pretty close. I’m part of you. A fun little part you’ve had buried deep, deep down for a long time” He spread his arms and threw his back to look at the ceiling “And here I am! In the flesh, so to speak”
I shook my head and kept slowly making my way backwards toward the door. I had to get away from this madman before he hurt me.
I turned to dart out the door and he was suddenly standing in front of me “You can’t run away from you self you know HaHa”
I gasped and fell backwards onto the ground. “Dear sweet god what are you?”
He frowned at me and touched the bridge of his nose “We’ve been over this. You know you don’t like to repeat myself. We are us. You and me, same person, different faces. You run around during the day doing…whatever the hell it is you do. And I’m your subconscious. The part you don’t talk to much. Awake and alive in that boney noggin. Just quiet before now” he crouched in front of me and smiled “Don’t believe me. Then try this on for size”
His form warped and in a flash he no longer had the same pale complexion and bright smile. He was a tall, young women. My ex-girlfriend.
“Is this more pleasant to look at” she said softly in a voice I hadn’t heard in years.
His….her….its form warped again and my mother loomed over me, stern and angry.
“Or this one? Come on, answer me damnit. I’m not here to be stared at!”
I closed my eyes and tried in vain to calm myself. This can’t be real. This can’t be happening. It was the vodka from the night before. I was still drunk and it finally caught up to me.
His melodic voice sounded in my ear “Sorry, but no. Your drinking couldn’t cause anything as clever as me HaHa” I opened my eyes and he was sitting right next to me.
I lurched away made for the door again. He sighed but didn’t get in my way this time.
I ran down the hall and back towards my room. Slamming the door shut I collapsed against dresser and counted to ten. This can’t be real. It’s all a bad dream. You can wake up, you are in control here.
“Wrong again” I looked up with a start to see him sitting on my bed smiling at me.
“Come over here and sit down before you hurt ourselves” he patted the bed gently to indicate i should sit next to him. And lost to the confusion and terror that I must be losing my mind, I did.
“There we go! This is much better isn’t it?” He draped his arm across my shoulders and he felt real. Solid.
“Just you and me and all night to catch up. Oh, that earlier ruckus. That was me. I needed you up and alert for our little chat HaHaHa. Don’t worry, I didn’t actually break anything. Just made a lot of noise. I do love a good start”
I took a shaking breath and looked into his eyes. The bright green was almost unnerving to stare at, but I wasn’t going to be deterred.
“So, you’re me. Or, rather part of me then?”
“Now you’re getting it! Yes, I am you. Ish. I mean clearly you aren’t in control of me but we are one and the same. Different sides, same very sick coin”
“Ok, so you’re a hallucination. A manifestation of an illness?”
He scowled at me sourly, as though I had offended him “An illness? No, no, no. I am part of you. Don’t make me sound like a bad thing. This is great! You and me…you never have to be alone again. I can be here for you, every single moment from here on out”
I put my face in my hands and tried to think. Have I seriously gone off the deep en-…
“Hey, I can tell a lot about you because I am you HaHa, but I can’t read minds. You gotta talk to me. Tell me whats going on in that thick skull”
I looked at him again. He looked so familiar. So real. “I shouldn’t talk to you. That only enforces that you’re really here and you aren’t. I need to get help.”
“You got ‘help’, remember. They gave you those beautiful pills. Do you think that’s why I can talk to you now? How you can hear me? Maybe the pills actually work and they finally started cutting through the noise. Maybe that help is why you can hear me now, instead of just all that screaming and crying all the time”
I glanced over to my night stand where my medication sat. Could this be a side effect? Some times schizophrenics reported worsening symptoms on certain medications. Could I be schizophrenic?
“Let me guess, you’re asking if you’re crazier than you thought? No, again. I’m you. You aren’t crazy, you’re just getting adjusted to your new reality! It’ll be fun, you’ll see”
I looked at him again, his form becoming clearer as I spoke to him.
“If you’re part of me then I guess I can’t just get rid of you. But who are you? What do I call you?”
His bright red smile widened again and his bright, white teeth shone in the half light of the room.
“We are the same person, remember? But for now, you can just call me….Joker”