Paranoia Black


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  1. #1

    Paranoia Black

    I felt such terror, after reading about the deaths of my two old comrades, from Sunday school. Felix Fletcher: burned in a fire. Rufus Monty: killed by an automobile accident. They both died in the same month, but only I knew the real cause of their deaths. Once, when we were young--we snuck into a small witch's cave, in the middle of the woods, behind the old church.

    It was littered with junk, and there were bones on chains dangling from the walls. The whole den reeked of carcasses. After a small search of the place, Monty found a horrid book lying on a small wooden table. When he opened it, and read what was inside, his whole face turned pale. At a young age, he was adept in ancient languages, and so, when he told us what he read, we found out we had just been cursed.

    Later we decided the entire affair was a hoax; and agreed to keep all knowledge of it buried, deep within that cave. But I always knew better. From that day on, we were kept apart, as punishment for breaking ground rules. After reading about their tragic demise, I wrote several letters to both families, expressing my deepest remorse. But my real intentions were to find out as much information as I could. In order to prevent my own calamity.


    Unfortunately, Fletcher’s mother was the only one who replied. We met a few times in town, but nothing ever came of it. She only spoke of trivial matters, such as, how Fletcher would always dress nicely for his vocation. Or what type of meals he preferred his wife to cook. During our last meeting--I offered to pay, then I sent her home. During this time, the curse began to feel alive. I couldn't explain it, but I started feeling a presence in the near vicinity.

    Eventually, I even became wary of the little things. Such as, dying from drinking poisoned tea, during my morning rides on the ferry. Or being accidentally trampled by a horse carriage. It was a drudge moving back and forth within the city, while avoiding every interaction possible. I tried to stray away from making any eye contact, or getting into needless conversations with strangers. I thought any one of them might be a secret assailant.

    My troubles were even harder at home, because of my wife and daughter. I could not risk saying anything about the curse, or I would jeopardize their safety. My paranoia went on for several weeks, increasing daily. Until I was utterly convinced of my inevitable doom--certain it would arise any moment. I was completely paralyzed by this notion. In my mind, it felt like a constant ringing of the devil’s vociferous clock.

    Neither day or night would grant me rest from its manifestations. Alas, even in my dreams I was tormented with visions, and kept from a proper slumber. One day, Abigail cautiously approached me, as I sat morbidly on the grey armchair. But with the severe lack of light, and with our furniture taking on a ghastly appearance, our living room actually resembled a Gothic throne.

    She immediately shot me a condemning look. Then took another moment to study my visage.

    “Darling are you feeling alright?” She was standing a few feet away from me. Her hair was a pale yellow, her voice a whisper in the darkness. She swung open the blinds, to let in a ray of sunlight. Which fought desperately to dissolve the heavy cast of melancholy. It was then that I noticed the small wrinkles on her face. They’ve been accentuated in recent times.

    These “scars” as she likes to dramatically put them, have added a new level of depth to her features. Her fair skin still caressed her narrow lips. Finally, she rested her hand on my shoulder, to offer me a bit of solace.

    “You didn’t kiss me good morning today.”
    “I’m...sorry.”
    “And you haven’t even touched your breakfast.” Then she stared at me for a moment, until she could find the right words to say.

    “Henry came by. He told me you haven’t been at the station in three days?” Of course, she was referring to Old England the newspapers that I worked for. Henry was our Chief Editor. Upon hearing her statement, I turned towards her with a bewildered expression.

    “He has no rights dragging you into this.”
    “He’s worried!”
    “Everything is fine. I just need some time to...sort myself out.”
    “But what’s wrong? You haven’t told me anything.” She said. I hid my face in my palms for a moment, then I replied.

    “I don’t know what it is. I think maybe I’m just having a midlife crisis.” I regret
    saying those words as soon as they left my mouth. Because she got really angry.

    “Midlife crises? In your thirties?” She contorted her mouth. Something she does when her emotions are high. Then proceeded,

    “What about our marriage? Or what about our daughter getting excellent grades at school. Or what about the fact, you have such an incredible employer?“

    I tried holding her arms to reason with her, but she shoved me away, then ran into our bedroom in tears. I didn’t know how to console her, so I thought it best to give her time. Instead, I sought answers from my Lord.
    It had already been a couple of days, when I accidentally discovered a letter addressed to Abbie. It was from Mrs. Mabel. My mother-in-law. It read:

    Dear Daughter,
    I hope that your husband will come back to his good senses, and find it in his heart to be the man you want. It was very reckless of him to botch up his reputation among his peers, and to potentially put his family out on the streets. Why don’t you and Elva come stay with us for a while, at least, until he gets everything sorted out.
    Love, mom.

    When I first went over their estate, it was during the cold months of November. Abigail and I were to be engaged the following spring. We were let in by one of their house servants. The entrance was facing the large steps that went upstairs. Her parents stood atop them. Mrs. Mabel wore an elegant black dress, with her long raven hair going down to her shoulders. She had a long nose and a pair of slanted eyes. She glided softly down the red carpeted steps, like a ghost. Because of her tall stature, her face always wore a scornful look, as she had to constantly look down at us. I felt secretly judged by her.

    I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was something quite eerie about her. Her second husband, however, was the complete opposite. Wearing a beige sweater, a smile, along with his fluffy hair, that swayed back and forth; as he kept strutting about. During our visit--he seemed quite fond of his pipe, and had a rather exquisite taste in music. For the remainder of our stay; she talked casually about her affairs, while he filled every room with his boisterous laughter. This was their preferred method, each time. However, I could stand her accusations no longer. I decided I would tell Abigail the whole truth!

    I later remembered trying to comfort her, as she sat on the edge of our bed crying.

    “How could you do this to us?” She asked. You see, my plan backfired. She thought I had gone completely insane. I could only imagine how she must have felt, looking at her now estranged husband. Once a beloved and charming partner, seemingly preaching the utterances of a mad man.

    “I’m going to stay with my parents for a while.” She said. The next morning when they were leaving, London was drooping in a sad rain. I remember her standing at the doorway, with a broken expression,

    “Whatever is going on, I hope it was all worth it.” Then she turned around, and ran into a black carriage stationed outside. Carefully stepping through the puddles. I must have been a fool to believe I could tempt fate. I watched helplessly as everything I cared for slip away.

    But the worst was yet to come. I think more than anything, I dreaded facing those walls alone. Hour after hour, I felt a dark energy creeping in, ever closer. When suddenly--I heard a noise. Before investigating, I grabbed the fire iron from the corner. Then, I slowly walked towards the noise. I began hearing footsteps, right behind me. I quickly turned around,
    “ Who’s there?!” I asked. I was surprised to discover it was just a boy.

    “How did you get in here?” I asked. He said nothing, but only stared coldly. Then he lifted up his hand, and pointed his right index finger at me. That was when I noticed something peculiar about him. You see, he was no stranger at all. In fact, that boy was me.

    “I-I don’t understand…” I whispered. How could I be standing juxtaposed my younger self? Everything--from his straight black hair, to the uniform from Sunday school. It was all there. All of a sudden, the church bells started to toll, at the stroke of midnight. Dang! Dang! Dang! I felt trapped, like a cornered rat with nowhere to run.

    “It’s your fault.”
    “What are you talking about?” I couldn’t understand what he was referring to. How could he possibly be blaming me for anything?

    “Now it’s your turn.” He said. Was he referring to my friends?
    “N-no. I tried to warn them. We made a pack. We agreed to keep silent.”
    “Too late.”

    In the final hours of a man’s life, it’s only natural for him to reflect on what he has done, during his time on earth. I thought about my miserable predicament. Both Abigail and Elva were gone, and my two oldest friends were dead. I stood before my accuser with nothing left to lose, except for the tears streaming down my face.
    What fate. What isolation. Such horror. The boy morphed into a floating cloud, and before I knew it, everything went black.
    Last edited by rickyknight1; August 12th, 2020 at 10:43 AM.

  2. #2
    This feels like a good start, and there is much here for you build on depending on how long you wish to make it. The idea of a man going paranoid from a perceived witch's curse can make for good psychological drama. The possible strain such paranoia can have a person's relationship is presented well in the conservations between the husband and the wife but needs to be expanded it upon. Perhaps even showing us the wife's reaction as he explains the truth behind his behavior to her. Also instead of her immediately thinking he's gone or is lying, show her at least trying to comfort her husband, maybe even have him be the one suggest she and Elva go stay with her parents out concern for their safety.

    I would also suggest adding a scene where the narrator has at least one conversation with one of his friends, who after the death of the other is either paranoid himself, or came to terms with his impending doom and it just looking to tell his old friend goodbye and give him some advice. Such as suggesting he spend time with family or settle his affairs as best he can before the end. Advice he only remembers just before his death.

    The boy at the end is interesting element, and one that you could use to help build up to his paranoia rather than just explaining it to us. Have the creepy little chap show up earlier, maybe give us a scene where appears at his job, then later during his conversation with his wife.

    Beyond the above there also a couple sections you give addition attention. The first is the transition from the end of the letter to the next paragraph. It feels a bit rough. Whose estate being referred to it's all that clear, until much further into the paragraph. I think giving us just a few lines about where parents are staying or perhaps have the mother something like, "Why don’t you and Elva come stay with us, at the estate," or "at our estate." could help. Along with adding a sentence, like "Her parents estate, that takes me back" or "The estate, it's been years since I was last there." Then perhaps show us the scene where he first visits their estate.
    The second part you should look at it, is the scene where he sees the boy near the end. Consider building that up. Perhaps have the narrator really look at the boy and describe to his appearance before the narrator realizes that "he was no stranger at all" "that boy was me".

    Overall, what you have here is a good foundation, but it could use improvement in the emotional department to better portray what the narrator is feeling.

    Hope this helps, and keep at it.

  3. #3
    Thank you for the suggestions, I will see how I can implement them into the story. But, remember, he only found out about his friends after both of them were already dead.

  4. #4
    One day, Abigail cautiously approached me, as I sat morbidly on the grey armchair. But with the severe lack of light, and with our furniture taking on a ghastly appearance, our living room actually resembled a Gothic throne.
    I think you mean the chair, rather than the room, to assume the appearance of a throne.
    I regret saying those words as soon as they left my mouth. Because she got really angry.
    There is a tense issue, regret, present, left, past. I would also see this as a single sentence, there are several places where punctuation strikes me as an issue, perhaps someone with better understanding than me can expand on this?
    The next morning when they were leaving, London was drooping in a sad rain.
    Here is one worth remembering, a subordinate phrase is one that can be taken out of a sentence without changing its meaning and it should have commas either end of it, so "The next morning, when they were leaving, London was drooping in a sad rain." I can't spot it now, but on my first read through I found one that had a full stop either end; turning one sentence into three.
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  5. #5
    Pretty good! I like the fast pace to the end. its interrupted slightly. For example, explaining his job and boss. My thought plot-wise was that the boys didn't really do anything wrong to deserve such a curse? I dunno. Well written though.
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  6. #6
    Pretty good! I like the fast pace to the end. its interrupted slightly. For example, explaining his job and boss. My thought plot-wise was that the boys didn't really do anything wrong to deserve such a curse? Well written though.
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  7. #7
    Member Terra's Avatar
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    I like it!! and it could definitely be expanded on with more description and as JohnGB mentioned, development in the emotional department that would grab the reader even more than you already are with the story. For some reason I related the mother-in-law somehow to the witch's cave and the curse ... perhaps she's part of a coven from the cave back when the MC was a boy? I thought the ending was perhaps a bit weak compared to the rest of the story ... the boy turned into a cloud and everything went black ... oh, is that all? I felt let down, expecting his death to be as dramatic as his two friends - even without details, how they died was way more interesting than 'everything went black'.

  8. #8
    Yes, I’m definitely reworking the end. Thanks for all the feedback guys!

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