Eat: Reality or Hallucination?

by Monica Rodriguez
Eat: Reality or Hallucination? Monica has been writing stories since sixth grade, while most have been fan fiction, there have also been original stories.

“There is a very fine line between reality and imagination, or in this case hallucination, but sometimes that line is so thin that you don’t know on which side you stand. It’s so hard to know and harder to find out. Are we losing our minds? Am I? Are you? I really think so.”

 

There is a very fine line between reality and imagination, or in this case hallucination, but sometimes that line is so thin that you don’t know on which side you stand. It’s so hard to know and harder to find out. Are we losing our minds? Am I? Are you? I really think so.

 

Silently, she walked through the hallway. Her destination? The kitchen. Melody had studied hours to no end for the exam on psychology at the end of the week, and at the moment, she was hungry. So hungry that she could go to the savanna, hunt down a rhino, cook them, and finally eat them. She was so hungry that she started hallucinating back in her bedroom about a friendly dragon whose name was Phillp, helping her study about the different parts of the human brain. Yep, her occipital lobe was really active today, going hand in hand with her over caffeinated, powered imagination. What a lovely combination, hear the sarcasm. At least she hadn’t gone all Bertha Rochester. That was a plus. And now her brain was joking and comparing her with an insane fictional character from Jane Eyre. Maybe she should be happy that it wasn’t comparing her with Bellatrix Lestrange.

 

Melody stopped at the end of that thought, huffing humorlessly at herself.

 

“Yep, I’m gone crazy.” The lack of food was making her think weird. She continued down the hallway towards the kitchen. Hopefully her mother had gone to the grocery while she was in self-induced confinement, and yes, while some might think of still living with your parents as lame, Melody couldn’t bring herself to care about those people’s opinion. She didn’t have to cook for herself anymore, thank God. Last time she gave herself food poisoning, and the time before that, she had managed to somehow burn water of all things. She also didn’t have to worry about nosy and annoying roommates or not having hot water in the morning, so it was a win-win in her opinion.

 

Weirdly, the hallway looked darker than it had looked yesterday or four hours ago. In fact, the light that came through the big windows at her left looked almost gray-like. Maybe it was cloudy outside? But no, when Melody chanced a small glance out the closest window, the day was sunny, too sunny for her liking but sunny nonetheless. So why did it looked so dark in her house? Even now that she knew it wasn’t going to rain anytime soon, there was not a single change in how the hallway looked. The few pictures of herself and her parents looked out of place in there, even though those same pictures were there all her life. The light and the atmosphere made them look sad, longing.

 

“Spooky,” Melody muttered under her breath, but kept walking. Maybe it was the fact that she hadn’t eaten anything yet? Yeah, it had to be that. She was seeing things again, no doubt.

 

The living room looked the same to her, but she noted that it had the same atmosphere of the hallway. It looked dark and gray, out of place, it had a different feel, and again she brushed it off as her lack of actual food. The kitchen was the same dark atmosphere and somewhat-gray light, but by this point she had stopped giving it any thought, so she walked straight to the fridge to see if there was anything that did not need cooking because she wasn’t in the mood of possibly dying by her own disastrous cooking, and she wasn’t about to starve to death, thank you very much.

 

“Let’s see what we have here,” she mussed to herself. “Tomatoes, lettuce, green pepper, cheese, bread… Wait, where is the ham? If there is cheese, there must be ham somewhere in here, right?… Aja!” Melody cried triumphantly when she saw the ham at the back of the fridge. A sandwich was in order.

 

Taking all the ingredients to the counter, Melody readied herself for the arduous battle of preparing edible food. Bread, lettuce, green pepper, tomato, cheese, ham, cheese again, tomato, green pepper and bread, Melody kept repeating over and over again on her mind. Maybe if she followed this mantra, she would actually made something she could eat, not that it mattered as she was so hungry that she could afford a go to the hospital to get her stomach pumped if needed. Looking down at her creation, Melody shrugged at its appearance. It was messy, but all the ingredients were alright. She checked.

 

“Well, at least it’s not alive or moving like last time.” Softly, she poked at the sandwich with a knife just to make sure it wasn’t alive. Shrugging again, she hurled the knife to the sink. “It must be fine, then.” Taking the sandwich, she reclined against the counter, a sigh of relief escaping her mouth. Finally, her stomach would stop eating itself after this.

 

Salivating, figuratively of course, she was about to happily bit into her lunch, when a weird noise came from the front door. It didn’t sound like anything she had heard before. The floor was creaking horribly, like it was under immense pressure or weight, but nothing else could be heard. Actually, everything was eerily silent, no birds chirping outside, no kids laughing or screaming after each other like before, no dogs barking, not the soft sound of the curtains moving with the wind, just silence. Nothing. Zero. Nada. Not even the sound of silence. This was unnatural silence. There was nothing in or outside the house doing a single sound. It was frightening, and while Melody was not panicking… yet, she found this lack of anything weird. She set the sandwich down in the counter at her back and silently walked to the kitchen door, which she had closed behind her, and yes, while most kitchens didn’t have wood doors separating them from the rest of the house, her mother had insisted on setting one the moment they moved to this house. Something about aesthetic and how a disastrous kitchen wasn’t good for an image, or something like that. Melody had tuned her mother out that time. She was turning the knob when the creepy, creaking sound made itself known again.

 

“Great,” Melody groaned sarcastically. “The weird, creepy, and absolutely not terrifying at all sound is back.” One look at the living room let her know that the gray-like atmosphere she had noted before had changed to a full on get-the-the-hell-outta-that-house-like-RIGHT-NOW atmosphere. If Melody wasn’t freaked before, she was for sure now. Chills ran up her spine, goosebumps up her arms, and cold sweat was going down her back and forehead. Yeah, freaked for sure. The creaking sounded once again, still coming from the front door. It was practically calling out at her.

 

“Mom?” Melody called against the better judgement she had obtained via seeing horror movies. It was a fact that you never called out to a creepy sound. It always got you killed in the movies, but Melody told herself this was reality, not a horror movie, and she kept telling her mind that when she called again. “Mom, is that you? I didn’t hear your car.” There was no answer, save for that horrible creaking of the floor. It was seriously getting on her nerves. “Seriously, if that’s you, Emily Parker, I swear to God!” She expected that by saying her mother’s name she would stop trying to scare her, but again there was no response, or at least not a human articulated response. This time instead of creaking, it was heavy breathing, something like an animal would do if they had run after their prey. “This is getting better and better.” Melody breathed out, and taking all her courage, finished walking to the front door. The creepy living room at her back did nothing to soothe her fraying nerves.

 

The sounds came from outside the door. Cautiously, Melody leaned her ear against the door, held her breath, and listened. Just listened and listened. The sounds had stopped, but that didn’t mean the fear finally creeping on her mind had. It was moving tenfold now with the sudden stillness and silence of the environment. She almost wished that the sounds were back. Almost, because the very second she was about to think that wish, someone, better yet, something, slammed against the door pushing her back a few steps. She admired, surprised. There was a small fracture in the same place on the door she had leaned her ear, and it was no small fracture. If she concentrated enough, she could see the green grass outside and the empty gray street. Whatever had been out there was gone.

 

A door on the other side of the house slammed shut. Yes, indeed whatever had been out there wasn’t out anymore. It was inside the house with her.

 

“Melody, Melody, Melody…” she heard coming from the hallway of her room, but the voice wasn’t from a monster. It was from someone she knew very well, someone that could not have been the one calling her name. It was impossible, that voice was her own.

 

“The hell is going on?” Melody, the real Melody, and not a humanless voice wandering in the back of her house, muttered while staring at the hallway directing to her bedroom. “This… This is not real, right?” she questioned herself. Her breathing was getting faster and so was her heartbeat. She was panicking, and she didn’t like that. She never panicked. Her friends called her The Ice Princess because she was always cool headed, and this voice resonating towards her must have had a logical explanation, but this could not be real. “The psychosis must have settled in… yeah, that’s it,” Melody said to herself. “Yeah, lack of sleep and too much coffee initiated a psychotic episode.” While trying to control her breathing, Melody forced herself to remember what psychosis meant.

 

Psychosis is a severe mental disorder in which thoughts and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality, and this is just a psychotic episode induced by sleep deprivation and too much caffeine in my system. Damn, Stephanie told me to have more sleep. Should have listened to her!! Melody forced this thought over and over on her mind, and the fact that she had saw the vision of Philip, the friendly dragon, not too long ago in her bedroom helped this mantra settle, but still something compelled her to follow her own voice through the hallway. Maybe it was her need to cement that this wasn’t real, maybe it was her own curiosity, or maybe it was something else, but now it didn’t matter because she was walking through the hallway, and she knew something was more than wrong. Everything felt out of place. The shadows were stronger than they were before, and it felt like they were trying to reach her and swallow her in eternal darkness. It gave her the chills.

 

“No way…” It came out loud, but Melody intended for it to only be on her mind.

 

Her body stopped abruptly. She knew she didn’t stop it. It stopped on its own, like it had a mind. She was in the middle of the hallway, looking directly in front of her to her bedroom with the door closed. She had let the door open when she had gone on the search for food that had turned to this situation, perfect for a horror movie. Could this mean that the door that had slammed close was her bedroom? It surely had a reason for happening.

 

“It… It was the wind. It had to have been the wind, that was it,” she said with a little voice that no one would have been able to hear, but apparently someone did, because a loud and evil laugh came from her left, and it sounded like her own laugh, just colder and darker.

 

Are you sure, Melody?” the same dark laugh followed, and Melody’s body turned towards it without her consent. She was pretty sure she didn’t want to see what was beside her, but the moment her brown eyes settled on it, she couldn’t look away. It was a mirror, a big ass mirror her mother had bought somewhere at some moment of her 22 years long life. However, the mirror wasn’t that interesting. What was being reflected kept her looking that way.

 

The reflection was hers, but it wasn’t at the same time. That thing wasn’t Melody Parker. That was Madness personified. Her long brown hair was cut short in the reflection and messy, like she had just woke up. The skin was paler as if she hadn’t gone outside in a long time. Instead of the purple sleeveless undershirt the real Melody was wearing, the reflection wore a long sleeve black shirt. There was a black choker around its neck, something the real Melody didn’t have. But the biggest difference between the real and the reflection were their eyes. The mirror Melody had bright, golden eyes. They looked as if they were glowing, and the pupils were pinpoint sized. There was something in those eyes that sent chills and a growing panic to Melody when she recognized it as a maniac glint. That thing was gone for sure.

 

“What are you?” she asked to her reflection, and a psychopathic smile was given to her for bothering with the question.

 

“Not what, who,” it said, still giving Melody that smile. “And to answer you question, I am you, dear Melody.” There was palpable satisfaction when the reflection said those words, as if it had been waiting for this moment all its life.

 

“That’s not possible, there is not…” she trailed off, taking a good look at the mirror. “It’s… just not possible.” It sounded insecure even to her own ears, let alone for that thing, but with a courage she didn’t know she possessed, Melody said, “This,” pointing around with her hand and then signaling to the reflection. “It’s not real.  I’m just having a psychotic episode and nothing more. All this will disappear in a moment or two and… ” The reflections laugh interrupted her, and now that she listened closely, that was not a normal laugh. Those were crackles, horrible, psychotic, and creepy crackles. Melody shuddered at the sound.

 

“How can you be so sure, Melody? For all you know, all this could be real, just like I am you, and just like we both know we are crazy.”

 

“Don’t talk like we are the same, we aren’t, and you don’t exist.” Melody took a hesitant breath. Unconsciously, she started muttering to herself, “I’m not crazy, I’m not, this is my imagination, and I’m not crazy. I know that I’m not, and that is the truth because I know and I’m not… ”

 

“Why do you lie to yourself like that? To ourselves?” Melody looked directly to those glowing gold eyes. “The truth is that you don’t know anymore. You are not sure what is real and what is not. WE ARE CRAZY, Melody, and you know it!!!”

 

“SHUT UP!!!” Melody screamed with a rage not her own. It felt like it was from someone else and Melody, the real Melody, because that reflection wasn’t real. It wasn’t, right? All this was just a psychotic episode, and it wasn’t real. And going back to the situation at hand, the real Melody raised her fist and punched the mirror in the same place that Madness’ face was with all her strength, breaking the mirror and cutting her knuckles badly.

 

Melody felt the pain go all the way up to her shoulder, and she had to grit her teeth to stop herself from screaming. This wasn’t real, so why did it hurt like hell?

 

The crackles were back and louder this time. She looked at the broken and bloodied mirror, Madness was still there, this time smiling wider than before, its eyes with a savage glint.

 

“That’s it, Melody! Punch the mirror again, the same mirror where you are seeing your talking reflection, and you say you are not crazy!!! Girl! You are INSANE!!!”

 

“This… ” Melody tried to control her breath. Was she hyperventilating? “This isn’t real, it’s not real, it’s not… ” She jumped back when something slammed against her bedroom door from the inside. She could hear creaking and heavy breathing from behind that. She swallowed nervously.

 

“Come on, Melody, why don’t you go and check your room? This is not real after all, or are you scared?” Madness asked from the mirror. “Are you scared because you know this is real?!” the reflection asked with maniacal crackling. And in that moment, Melody’s bedroom door opened, crashing hard against the wall, and a dark shadow rushed to Melody. It slammed against her body, throwing her to the floor, but surprisingly that thing went through her, like it was an illusion.

 

“What do you say now, Melody?! Real or not?! Maybe you need more convincing?” Madness commented, a screeching sound came at its words. Without bothering to look up, Melody ran out the hallway, not knowing what was following her and not wanting to find out. She ran to the kitchen, the only place that could be locked. Reality or not be damned, she was terrified and running on instinct. But still, she managed to catch Madness’ last words to her before fleeing.

 

“Run, Melody, RUN!!” Insane crackle following those words, a door being slammed, shut the reflection up.

 

Melody’s eyes were locked on the door, so she didn’t see her forgotten sandwich, the reason why she was suffering this hell now, stand up, smile horrendously at her back and reach for the knife in the sink, everything without making a sound. Melody only turned when the sandwich crackled up just like Madness did in the hallway. She turned at a speed that would make Flash proud, but it was already too late, the sandwich or Madness, whichever, had the knife and it was looking at her like if she were its food, its prey and intended to get her, not matter what.

 

Remember, you tried to eat me first, so you get what’s coming to you…” Her lunch crouched low, like a preying lion, still smiling, still with the knife, still with those hungry, black eyes that for a moment she thought were beans. And from where had that come from? The beans I mean? And why was she thinking about that in this moment from all things? Please, let’s go back to sandwich trying to kill her. “… When I eat you instead!!!” The sandwich jumped at her, somehow getting her, grabbing her hair, making her fall to the ground and biting her shoulder. Melody finally, finally, blacked out.

 

Melody woke up in the kitchen floor startled, looking around her terrified, but there wasn’t any killing sandwich attacking her, nothing psychotic or weird. Had she fainted and dreamed all that? Yeah, that had been a dream, a nightmare. Nothing more, not real. Just her imagination. Standing up, Melody gave up preparing lunch. She wasn’t hungry anymore, so she walked back to her bedroom. She didn’t look at the mirror. She was scared about what she could see there. It didn’t matter if it was her imagination. She would never see herself in a mirror ever again. Her bedroom door was closed, but she didn’t mind. She just wanted to sleep. She opened the caoba door and entered her room, just to stop suddenly at what she saw.

 

“Hello there, sweet Melody,” Madness said as it looked up from reading a book from Melody’s bookshelf, while lying on Melody’s bed, like they had always been there since the bening. Completely and absolutely real.

 

Remember to never push the line between reality or imagination. There is no turning back. Now… I am asking you. Where do you stand in this line? You can call me Madness. I am within the shadows of your mind, waiting for your answer.

 

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