Read The Forgotten Online

Authors: Tamara Thorne

Tags: #Horror

The Forgotten

BOOK: The Forgotten
13.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Will awoke suddenly from a sleep so deep that his body panicked and his mind did the same, tripping back and forth, trying to figure out where he was,
he was.
Then he became aware of the whispers coming from beneath the bed, and knew that he was in his own house, in his own bed, at the blackest time of night, and that Michael was with him. Michael, dead and gone so many years, was back.
“You're dead,” Will whispered. “You're dead.”
Will, I'm here. Will, can you hear me? It's Michael.
, Will told himself,
I'm only dreaming. I can wake myself up
Michael's voice continued to whisper, but he couldn't understand most of the words.
This is hypnogogia,
he told himself.
The voluntary muscles are paralyzed in this stage of sleep. This is when the boogeyman scares children and people see aliens coming to experiment on them. My boogeyman is Michael, and he's under the bed. I am taking charge by moving my dream arm and clicking on the light. The light will make the whispering stop. Michael will go away. He will rest in peace.
Will continued the litany, refusing to listen to the constant whispers, paying attention only to his own voice.
It wasn't working. He heard Michael whisper,
You're already awake, Will. You're awake. And I'm here . . .
Books by Tamara Thorne
The Sorority Trilogy
Published by Kensington Publishing Corp.
For Brian, the best son on earth.
You have your mother's eyes.
Now give them back!
John Scognamiglio, you are living proof that
chivalry isn't dead. For all the reasons you
know, you have my undying devotion. And if I
ever become undead, I will even eat brains
for you. I wouldn't do that for just any old editor,
you know . . .
Bill, who shoots straight and long
Q.L. Pearce, the woman who understands how
to handle bananas
Quinn, essential
Dr. Mark, who puts the psycho in psychology
Dr. Jim, epitome of veterinarians
Dr. Susan, back cracker extraordinaire
Dr. Jacques, revealer of Secret Governments
Secret Governments, unending inspiration
Jeremy, Matthew, and Nathaniel, the real
Orange Boys
Eric, Andy, Brett, Heather, Paula, Michele,
Linda, Kay, Carol, Maryanne, Gilligan, the
skipper too, but not the millionaire or his wife,
for all sorts of things
And finally, special thanks to my darling devil
man, Damien, because you always like to come
“It's awful, Doc. I can't get it to shut up.” Daniel Hatch clasped his hands together, long fingers spidering around one another, pressing red and white polka dots into the flesh. “It just keeps talking to me. Talking and talking.”
“How long has this been going on? I don't think you mentioned it during our last visit.” Will Banning sat forward, studying his patient. Daniel Hatch was a wounded sparrow of a man who first came to him after completing three months on the wagon. Physically, he had handled the lack of alcohol fairly well, but his emotional problems—centering on timidity and fear of confrontation—remained, and he had sought out Will to help him find new ways to handle them. Progress since then had been slow but steady. Until now. This was something entirely new and unexpected.
“I've heard the voice for a while now.”
“A week?” His last appointment had been two weeks ago.
“Well, maybe a month or two. But I didn't tell you because I thought I was imagining it.” Hatch scratched his head. “And until last week it only talked a little, but now sometimes I can hear it talking right through my Jockeys, through my chinos.” He touched his pant leg and lowered his voice, his nose and cheeks almost glowing with embarrassment. “I've got three pairs of briefs on under my pants.”
“And you still hear it?” Will studied his patient. The afternoon sun came through the French doors behind Hatch and glowed angelically through his thin blond hair.
“Yes. It was working pretty well, you know, muffling the voice, but it's slowly getting louder and louder.” He swallowed audibly. “I think pretty soon, other people will hear him all the time too.”
“Can you give me an example of what you hear? Of what you're afraid other people may overhear?”
Hatch's eyes bugged incredulously. “It doesn't matter what he—it, I mean—says, my penis is
to me!” He blushed and wouldn't meet his psychologist's eyes. “I'm sorry. I didn't mean to blow up at you.”
“You didn't blow up. You made a valid point, but if you tell me what you seem to be hearing, it might give us some insight, Daniel.” Seeing annoyance on Hatch's thin face, Will decided to stop speaking in Shrink and go along with Hatch's choice of words. “So what does your penis say to you?”
“Well, at the movies, it makes rude comments about actors and lewd ones about actresses.”
“Does it tell you what movies to watch?”
“Yeah.” Hatch blushed furiously and looked at his busy fingers. “It makes me watch porn.” He glanced up, almost meeting Will's gaze, then looked back down at his knees. “He really likes lesbian orgy movies. I tell him it's bad, but he won't listen.”
“It's not bad to like those movies,” Will said gently, refusing to let himself smile. “In fact, I'm sure that's a pretty common trait among penises.”
“Yeah. Well . . . Doctor, last night at a bar—I was just having a ginger ale, I swear—”
“I believe you. Go on.”
“It talked to the woman on the barstool next to me. It asked if she . . .” He blushed deeply. “I can't say.”
“You can say anything you want. It doesn't leave this room.”
“Well, it told her he'd like to, uh, have relations with her. Only he, it, used a much cruder word.”
“Did she hear it?”
“Yes. And she slapped
for what
“Think hard. Did your penis say it or did you say it?”
“My dick. Penis, I mean. I told you that.” Hatch ran a finger between his neck and collar then twined his fingers together again.
“I understand, but perhaps your penis is speaking
you.” Will paused to study the man. Hatch might be in the midst of a psychotic episode or edging toward real schizophrenia. In the three years he'd counseled him, the man had never lost his grip on reality before. The rapid change was disturbing.
me?” Daniel's eyes widened. He began trembling and a fine sheen of sweat glossed his ruddy face. “That's it, Doctor! That's it! I'm being possessed. Possessed by my own penis!”
“Well, I wouldn't say—”
“Can you exorcize it, Doctor? The demon or whatever it is that's living in there talking to me?” Hatch crossed himself.
Will almost suggested he consult a priest, but changed his mind. Hatch had been born into a strict and religious family, but had said only enough to give Will the impression that maternal strictness was at the root of his problem, not the religion itself.
What if I was wrong? Damn!
“Your penis isn't harboring a demon, Daniel.” He paused, then asked, “Do you believe in demonic possession?”
“I do now!” He slapped his hand to his forehead. “Why didn't I think of it myself? Of course. Possession. That's it, Doctor!”
Why did I ever use that word?
“I know we discussed it years ago, but refresh my memory—do you still practice your religion?”
“Not really. I'm Catholic, I guess, because I went to Catholic school. Those nuns . . .” He licked his lips, not altogether anxiously. “They were strict. I still think about them sometimes.”
Hatch's pupils enlarged, nudging memories of past sessions into Will's mind. Yes, he'd mentioned Catholic school, joked about the nuns, but nothing in his manner had suggested his patient's sexuality was excessively tied into religion.
How could I have missed that?
He had missed it, somehow. Hadn't he? He couldn't quite believe it. Maybe it had been buried beneath a slight but evident Oedipal complex. Or maybe it simply arose from a viewing of
The Exorcist
and combined with this new aberration. “But you don't attend church now?”
“No.” Hatch smiled in small triumph. “No one can tell me what to do now. Heck, I don't even pray.” Another smile. “My mother would disown me if she knew.”
Will nodded. Mother was the problem they'd worked on since the beginning. “Do you believe in God?”
Hatch shrugged. “I never think about it.” He rubbed his chin. “I guess I do though. If Satan's in my penis, then God must be real, too.” He looked doubtful. “Unless demons have nothing to do with religion.”
“Daniel, I doubt this problem with your penis is truly a religious issue.”
“But it's trying to possess me,” Hatch insisted. “The demon wants to take me over! Thank you! It's a relief to realize why I'm hearing the voice, Doctor. Possession.”
Silently, Will cursed himself and tried another angle. “Daniel, listen to me. Do you think your subconscious might be trying to get loose long enough to tell you something? We've established that you've led a very repressed life, which makes it difficult to talk about some things. Or even think about them. Does that make sense?”
“Sure, but what's that got to do with my dick?”
Oh, just about everything
. Tension banded Will's forehead. “Maybe you need to talk about something but just can't let yourself. Some people divide their personalities to solve the problem. You may be using your penis to personify the part of you that needs to talk. Notice that you're giving it a personality of its own when you refer to it as ‘he' or as a demon.”
Will's office, cool mauves and serene tans punctuated with greenery and tranquil Japanese ink and watercolor prints, suddenly felt like a hot little box. Will knew the hour was nearly up by the slant of the sunlight dappling the little courtyard beyond the glass doors behind Daniel's sofa.
Thank heaven
. His neck and back muscles were steel cords, ready to snap. As soon as Hatch left, he could lock his door and indulge in five minutes of tai chi before seeing his two o'clock patient, the last of the day.
There had been several requests for same-day appointments this morning, but nothing sounded particularly dire, and Will needed time off, even if he used it to catch up on paperwork, so he'd turned them down. Ever since the part-time therapist who had occupied the other office in his small building had left, he'd been mildly overworked. Lately, the workload had gotten heavier; he couldn't put off interviewing replacements much longer. Exhaustion lowered his psychic defenses, a bad situation for anyone constantly dealing with mentally disturbed people. One passive-aggressive patient would be enough to do him in today—fortunately, none were scheduled.
Will had given up his last two early Wednesdays, had worked three full Saturdays and half of last Sunday. He was bushed and it seemed like all his patients today (and recently) had more problems than usual.
Or maybe I just need a vacation
. Guiltily, he stared outside, wishing the doors were open to let in the breeze. His back hurt. Maybe Gabe would be willing to give it a quick crunch later. He could invite him and Kevin over for dinner in exchange.
I'll call Maggie, maybe she'd like to come
He returned his attention to Daniel, who was holding forth on demons in a way that sounded more Hollywood than Catholic. The man was processing information aloud, something he often did, and although Will approved, he could barely make himself listen now. How would he get through the interminable final patient? The outdoors beckoned. A small patio table and two chairs rested on a cement pad edged by an oval of lawn that ran twelve feet out to a border of fragrant striped petunias and marguerites, then trees in full summer leaf, all boxed in by a tall redwood fence. Some of his patients liked their sessions outdoors, but Daniel Hatch wasn't one of them. He was more of a small, enclosed space kind of guy, a connoisseur of recirculated central air conditioning. He had a thing about needing doors and windows shut and locked. Will suddenly felt like a martyr, giving up the ocean breeze for his patient. But it would be over soon.
. He realized Hatch was asking a question. He'd stopped talking about demons and was back to the personification of his genitalia.
“Doctor? Do you think I'm getting a split personality? Like in
The Three Faces of Eve?

“No, not in that sense. In that case you wouldn't be aware of the division. This is a conscious separation, not so different from the public and private personas most of us slip into now and then.”
He nodded. “So I'm not nuts?”
“You're not a split personality.” He couldn't hazard a guess about the nuts situation, not yet. Hopefully, Daniel was experiencing a brief delusional disorder or a nonspecific psychosis that would subside as quickly as it appeared. But if it lasted, if it grew, they might be looking at schizophrenia or a schizoaffective disorder. Will hoped not. “Have you heard any other unusual voices?”
“Grackle spackle,” Daniel said softly.
“You heard it, didn't you?” He gazed at Will, eyes wide and hopeful.
“I thought I heard you say ‘grackle spackle.' ”
“He said it.”
“What does it mean?”
“I don't know.”
“What's a grackle?” Will asked, testing the waters.
“A bird.”
He nodded, remembering that Maggie had mentioned she'd never seen a grackle along this stretch of the coast. Maggie noticed things like that. “Where did you grow up, Daniel?”
“Here. Well, Red Cay, but that's not far. Have you been there?”
“Sure, but not recently.” Red Cay was a small fishing town maybe twenty-five miles south, just below Candle Bay. When he was a kid, his dad had taken him, Michael, and Pete fishing on the pier there now and then. It was supposed to be the best fishing in the area, but Will primarily remembered how Pete would point up to the old lighthouse and mansion across a narrow bay and try to scare him with stories of the ghosts lurking there. He remembered it well and fondly because it was one of the few times Pete had failed to get under his skin. Will was a born nonbeliever.
“There's a haunted house there. Body House. It's famous.”
“Yes, I remember. Did you ever see or hear anything while you were there?”
“No. My friends and I dared each other to go in when we were kids—it was closed up then. But we never even got close.”
Will nodded. Daniel wasn't the adventurous type. But more importantly, he hadn't hallucinated any sights or sounds, even near the haunted house, where it was likely no matter how normal you were. A good sign.
“That author lives in it now. David Masters. He's a novelist, but he's a ghost hunter too.”
“He's a good writer.” The idea that the man presented himself as a real-life ghost hunter took him down a notch in Will's mind. He hated charlatans.
Ghost hunter
. He settled back in his chair, hiding his annoyance, then opened his mouth to speak.
BOOK: The Forgotten
13.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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