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Fiction Horror Mystery

This story contains sensitive content

TW: There is mention of death, suicide, and insanity.




I don't even know if I am Mara anymore. I don't think the version of me shouting knows either. That's why it has to end.

Three weeks ago...

Of course today is going to start off like this. I wake up to the fire alarm going off in my neighbor's apartment. She's 90 and probably shouldn't be living on her own. I've offered Mrs. Brady to live with me many times, but she never take the offer.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK "Mrs. Brady?" No reply. I knock again. "Mrs. Brady?"

"Yes dear?" her pleasant voice calls out behind me in the hallway.

"But, the fire alarm..."

"What fire alarm? I've been out all morning." And she's right. I hear nothing.

"Nothing, sorry to bother you." I go into my apartment feeling frazzled, and sit down on the couch while pulling up the news.

'Thank you for watching Channel 10 news, the top story for today involves 90 year-old Lillian Brady. Her neighbor and her were both found dead after an oven fire in Brady's apartment this morning.'

My jaw drops in horror as I see picture of me and Mrs. Brady in the victim section.

2 weeks ago...

It's been about a week since the fire incident. I'm finally starting to feel sane again, and I've been taking my dog out on a walk every day--honestly making me more relaxed and I feel less alone. "Let's go Emmy," I say to my puppy as I clip on her leash.

We usually walk past the park near our complex, and then stop at the coffee shop a block down before we head home. I sit on a bench and let Emmy wander around a little, letting her leash run long. Looking out at the sunset suddenly the sky flashes blue, white clouds across the sky. And jut as quickly as it appeared it was gone--back to the lowering sun. I close my eyes while taking a deep breath, it's all in my head. I'm not crazy, my eyes are just playing tricks on me. Either way I make sure we leave after that.

I'm at the eye doctor. I've never worn glasses in my life, but I've heard strange things, and seen strange things so I'd rather be safe then sorry and get checked. It feels insane, but the sky at the park was crazy too.

"Good morning," the specialist says, turning off the lights and preparing a machine. "You're in for an emergency visit?"

"Yes, and I know it seems a little weird, but I feel like me vision isn't what it used to be." I fidget with my hands a little as he prepares the machine.

"It's better to be cautious. Alright, you can put your chin here on the chin rest, and look into this lens." He directs me into position and begins the test.


Fine. My vision is fine he says. In fact, he said it's better then most people's. What is wrong with me? Am I insane? Or just sick? Sick, yes, I'm sick. I have a cold, that makes sense.

4 days ago...

It's been three weeks. I'm convinced I've gone crazy--what other explanation is there? Sometimes, late at night, I hear a baby crying, and I involuntarily get out of bed, and walk to the corner of the room where a bassenet sits. And then everything gets fuzzy, like static on a tv, and when it clears the bassenet is gone and it's my normal bedroom. I went to my mom's house, and she was talking about planning my dad's funeral--telling me to make sure my brother doesn't do drugs before we go. When I sleep, I have dreams of what I can only describe as another life. I've dreamt of a life in the mountains, 3 kids, a dog, a loving husband. One's where I became a journalist, like what I used to go to school for. Recently, I had a dream that I think was the future. I finished my EMT schooling, which I'm in right now. And I ended up becoming a doctor--never married and not many friends but I loved my job. Eventually I passed away alone, just me reading in the break room because I never retired.

I tried to get rid of the dreams, and I started taking sleep medicine. And that made the weird events in real life worse. So I stopped taking them, and started taking anxiety medication. Now, I don't take either. I don't do anything. I can't. I haven't seen Emmy in 3 days, or heard from my mom. The color of my walls has changed 7 times since I last closed my eyes. I rock back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...

1 hour ago...

Ha, ha! I figured it out. I'm in control! I control everything. The color of the sky, how fast time moves, it's all the same. And yet none of it's the same. No one has noticed yet. That I control their every action, every thought. What else would the answer be? I don't remember what being hungry feels like, and I don't remember what sleep feels like. What is it? What is what? Are all questions meaningless if I decide everything? Or is there someone in charge of me. Making me do things, changing my mind, and making me feel absolutely insane? But I'm not insane. Crazy people overdose on drugs. And crazy people kill their kids. I'm not crazy. No, no, no...NO NO NO! I feel tears run down my face, but my eyes are open. I am insane. I shouldn't be here. I'm not even real. At least I don't feel real. I need to be gone, to restart, to dream! I know, it's so easy how to make it all go away. I will meet this "great" person controlling me. All I have to do is jump.

I walk past the bloody lump that used to be Emmy, just bleeding out onto the floor. But she's not real because this isn't real. I wander out into the hall, and that's when I hear it.

"Mara," but I won't let it control me anymore.




I don't even know if I am Mara anymore. I don't think the version of me shouting the name knows either. That's why it has to end. Standing on the edge of the balcony, I look out at the road--it flashes a variety of colors as it goes between water, asphalt, dirt, and anything else my twisted mind can think of. And I step off.

"Damn!" I say to my brother Michael. "I died again--this try was just really unlucky. I feel like my character was against me."

Michael scoffs and takes the computer from me. "You sound ridiculous. You've tried to get the best ending so many times and you still suck. My turn."

February 07, 2023 18:44

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1 comment

Wendy Kaminski
15:20 Feb 12, 2023

Nice, Alexis! I think our self-imposed entertainment alternate realities will certainly be problematic (moreso than now) into the future when immersive realism technology catches up. I already spend way too many hours in a video game; I couldn't imagine, if it was a Ready Player One situation, the mind-bending that would occur. Great story, and welcome to Reedsy!


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