“Drive safe, Carolyn.” She’d been seeing Dr. L for a couple months now. She just seemed so different and I worried about her.
“I will, Henry,” she stared into my eyes. “I promise.”
“Okay,” I paused and she started out the door. “I love you.” She looked back at me from the front step, her bright blue necklace shining in the light of the resting moon.
“Don’t wait for me tonight. You need your rest.”
I woke up with the same question I had been asking since the night she disappeared 8 months ago. Why didn’t she say “I love you too”? Everything about that night was so odd. I decided to give my therapist a call, although it was 5:00 am I knew he’d be awake. He always was. The phone didn’t even ring once when he picked up.
“Hello, Mr. Richardson.” Dr. L’s quiet voice came on the line and I felt calm and reassured automatically.
“Dr. L? Sorry if I woke-”
“You didn’t.” I’ve always thought it was odd, it was like he always knew what I was going to say.
“Oh, that’s good.” I paused for a second, hearing his low steady breathing as I became silent. “I called because I had that dream again, you know,”
“Yes, I know. Your wife, the last time you saw her. Etcetera.”
“And? No and, Mr. Richardson, you can come see me tomorrow.”
“When tomorrow, Doctor?”
“Anytime you like. Good night, Mr. Richardson.” He hung up right after he said my name. He was such an odd person, but maybe he has a reason for that. I wonder if I will ever know…
I woke up again, not remembering when I fell asleep. I looked at the clock, 9:30 am. So, I decided to get dressed and go to Dr. L’s office as soon as I could. The drive there was never easy, but it was worth it. He was the only person that listened to me anymore, everyone else just seemed to have given up a long time ago. I walked into the round building and was welcomed by a beautiful office women whose hair was always down, and her eyes blue and makeup all done up as if she was going to a party. I cleared my throat, and she looked up from the book she was reading.
“Henry Richardson.” I stated. She smiled, her teeth were extremely white.
“The Doctor is waiting for you, Mr. Richardson. You can go on up.” She smiled again and returned to her book.
I knocked on Dr. L’s office door and heard his quiet voice say.
“Come in, Mr. Richardson.” I walked in and automatically saw his summer green eyes look up at me from the top of his spectacles.
“Have a seat,” he said, not taking his eyes off me.
“Thank you for having me, Doctor.” He half smiled.
“Of course, Mr. Richardson. So, you’re here to discuss your recurring dream once again?”
“Yes, Doctor. And please, call me Henry. I’ve been seeing you long enough that formalities aren't as important anymore.”
“Okay, Henry. Go ahead and empty your mind. Put all your trust in me.” He always does this randomly. He looked into my eyes and continued. “I am your guide in this life, Henry. Never question me. For I am all knowing.” He stared at me for a long time. After a while he frowned, disappointed about something. When he frowned his forehead creased and brought out the pale scar on his forehead. I’ve always wondered where it came from, but thought it would be rude to ask. “So, Henry,” I looked back at him, coming out of my thoughts. “This dream is just your mind’s way of telling you what, exactly?”
“Well, I’m thinking something’s wrong. Maybe she’s trying to tell me something. I’ve been wondering for so long about one specific thing though. Why was she acting so odd that night? I mean, she didn’t even say “goodbye.” or “I love you.” Why would she do that?”
“Henry, your wife was a,” He looked down thinking. “Special women.” He decided. “She chose to let her emotions overcome her thoughts and actions. You know she wasn’t happy, Mr. Richardson, and I tried to help her. She just didn’t accept it.”
“She’s out there though Doctor!” I couldn’t help myself. Dr. L looked at me and I realized I had stood up. As I sat down, I continued. “I just know she is, and even if something did happen to her-” I stopped, not being able to imagine it. Dr. L stood up and sat down by me on the couch. He put his hand on my shoulder, he had strong and gruff looking hands.
“Mr. Richardson, you have to consider the facts.” He paused and saw the look I was giving him. “I know you loved Carolyn, she was a great person…” I zoned out, noticing something on a picture frame hanging on his desk.
“Is that her necklace?” He looked at me, confused and as if I interrupted something.
“Is that Carolyn’s necklace?” He looked behind him, following the spot to where I was looking at.
“Ah, yes. She left that here her last appointment, I was hoping to return it to her,” He stopped and looked at me. “But you know, maybe if you’re right I will be able to someday.” He looked me up and down waiting for me to respond. All I could come up with was, “I miss her.”
“I know, Henry. Like I said, she was a wonderful person.” I couldn’t take my eyes off of her necklace, something about his story was off, but I let it pass through my thoughts. He’s a good man.
“Right.” I said quietly, only half listening. He looked at his watch.
“How about this, Mr. Richardson. You can come see me on Friday whenever you like.”
“Okay.” I got up and headed out of his office.
“Oh, and Mr. Richardson?”
“I’m sure you’ll see her soon.” I walked out, feeling his eyes on me.
Mr. Richardson, hmm, that necklace has been there for 8 months now and he just noticed it. Funny, he’s observant but slow. I’ll have to write that down. Also, he continued to stare at my scar, just as Carolyn did. That was the last question she ever asked me actually. If I recall correctly.
“Yes, Mrs. Richardson?” I answered looking into her now cloudy eyes.
“What makes you want to do this?”
“Well, Carolyn, it was the night my mother almost killed me when I decided who I wanted to be. She made me who I am, and I quite enjoy it too.”
She was such a trusting person. I quite enjoyed her company. It was just her time, it seemed. I looked at the wall clock.
“3 AM. Time to continue my project,” I said aloud. I headed downstairs into the basement where the remains of my last experiment seemed to call my name.
“It’s almost time.” I said quietly to myself.
I remembered all the little things about Carolyn. Her huge smile, the way she laughed, and the way her eyes turned red when she cried. She was the apple of my eye. I always dreamed of her, maybe she was gone. But I can’t give up yet. Even if she was gone I had to know what happened, she deserves that much. I sat up in bed, not able to sleep. I picked up one of our old picture albums and decided to look through it again. The sides were starting to wear because of how many times I’ve looked through it. Her dark brown eyes looked up at me from a picture I took on our honeymoon. Even with her blonde hair all messy from sleeping in late, she still looked perfect. It made me glad to see her smile again, but sad remembering when that beautiful smile faded. It was when we found out she couldn’t have children when she became depressed. She wanted a family, but she couldn’t have one. She didn’t smile much after that, but I never gave up on her. So I won’t now, not until I know what happens, not until Carolyn is safe. I found myself dozing off and woke up at about 8 the next morning. I don’t remember dreaming last night, maybe that’s progress. It’s been 2 days now, so I guess I’m seeing Dr. L today anyways. We can discuss it when I arrive.
“Good morning, Henry.” Dr. L stood to give me a handshake. He was a very stocky man, but still stood about an inch above me. He sat in a loveseat across from the couch I usually sat in and waited for me to sit. He began after I sat down.
“How have you been, Mr. Richardson?”
“Actually, I think I’m making progress Doctor.”
“Oh? Explain why, Mr. Richardson.”
“Well, Doctor, I looked through the old albums again then found myself falling asleep.” He stared at me waiting for me to continue. “I know I’ve done that many times, but this time, it was different. I didn’t dream of her last night.” He continued to stare at me, deep in thought.
“Do you feel any different?” I thought about it for a moment before answering.
“Actually, yes. I just feel like I’m getting closer to feeling normal again.”
“Moving on then?” He asked waiting for my reply.
“Not yet.” Dr. L smiled at my response.
“I didn’t think so,” He paused and was going to continue but I interrupted him.
“Doctor, you’ve been been helping me so much in these past eight months. And I appreciate it so much, thank you.”
“I do have a question though.” He looked up from his notepad.
“And what would that be?”
“What do you think happened to Carolyn?” He stared at me, deep in thought again.
“I think she loved you, Henry. She just didn’t love herself.” His answer hit something inside me and I started tearing up.
“What do you mean, Doctor?”
“During our sessions, I could get Carolyn to open up about her emotions more than any patient I’ve ever had. With her it was easier because she was using all the power she had on trying to stay strong for you. So here, she became weak. She didn’t want you to even imagine the feeling of hate she had for herself.” He paused noticing my tears. “She loved you, but couldn’t help but feel like she was taking something away from you.”
“How could she hate herself?” I cried and screamed at the same time. “She’s so perfect. Of course I wanted a family with the woman I love, but if that means no children, then that means she and I are each other’s family. How could she not see that?” I could feel Dr. L’s eyes on me as I cried, but I didn’t care. I continued crying and calmed down a little, then just sniffled.
“I guess she just couldn’t see what we could, Mr. Richardson.” As he said that, I noticed the necklace again, and couldn’t keep my eyes off it. Then it clicked.
“You know something strange, Doctor?”
“And what’s that, Mr. Richardson?”
“I just recalled that Carolyn was wearing that necklace the last night I saw her.” He didn’t answer for a while.
“Ah, Mr. Richardson. I haven’t been completely honest with you. I feel I should tell you something before you go.” He looked at me to see if I would interrupt. “The night your wife disappeared, she called me, upset. I could hear the engine of her car when she called me. She was on her way and got here not 15 minutes later. She told me she was going to visit her brother and stay there for a while. She gave me the necklace and told me to keep it safe. It was very special to her, you know. After about half an hour of me telling her she should go home and her arguing, she left. I haven’t heard from her since.”
“Why would she do something like that? She just up and left going to her brother’s house but never showed up.” I looked down. “It’s all so confusing.”
“You know, Mr. Richardson, you’re a very smart man. I respect that and enjoy your company.” He half smiled then continued. “Why don’t we discuss more on this topic or another over wine. I would really love if you would join me for dinner after our Thursday session. Would that be alright with you?”
“No, not at all. I would love to.” He grinned.
Wednesday night already. It will be nine months at midnight since she disappeared. The day before Carolyn’s disappearance, she couldn’t stop humming an odd and serene toon. She had the most beautiful voice. But no matter how beautiful the tune was, it seemed like it was doing something to her. She seemed nervous about something.
“Carolyn?” She continued humming. “Carolyn?” I said it a little louder. Still nothing. “Carolyn!” She finally stopped and looked at me.
“I guess your appointment went well today?” She kept staring at me. “Carolyn?”
“I’m going to go lay down.” Her mind seemed to lead her entire body. She walked stiffly to our room, unwanting but yearning at the same time.
“Are you sure?” She looked at me with sadness in her eyes.
“Yes, I’m sure.” She started humming again, went into the bedroom, and shut the door.
“Good morning, Doctor.” I knew Henry would be here early this morning. Although he was different from the rest, he did most things that my past patients did too, and they always came early. He noticed me staring and sat down.
“Good morning, Mr. Richardson. How are you?” Instead of answering, he seemed to focus on my past injury. Since this was his last appointment, due to progress, I might as well say something. “You know, Mr. Richardson,” he returned my gaze, “It’s rude to stare.”
“It’s quite alright, Henry.” I looked him in the eyes. “Your wife wondered the same thing you are.”
“What do you mean?” I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit.
“You and I both know that you know what I’m talking about, Mr. Richardson. You have been staring at my scar since day one.”
“I apologize, Doctor.”
“Don’t be, you can ask me if you like.” He stared at me obviously a little embarrassed.
“It’s fine, Doctor, I’m alright.”
“Well, I am welcoming you into my home tonight. Might as well get to know me better, right?”
“I suppose so.” He waited for me to answer, when I didn’t he continued. “Doctor, I have been wondering. What’s your last name?” This is what sets Henry apart from the rest. No one else has ever wondered or asked this question before. He might as well know.
“It’s Likton, Henry, Dr. Likton.” He didn’t respond. “Would you like to ask anything else before we run out of time?”
“Where did that scar on your forehead come from, Doctor?”
He looked at me for a second, thinking about his answer.
“Henry, when I was 12 years old, my father walked out on my mother and I. After about nine months, she became a drunk and started beating me.” Doctor Likton looked down and continued. “One night, about 38 years ago on my 15th birthday, she attacked me and hit me in the head with her whiskey bottle. A piece went into my head.” He looked up. “Hence the scar. Even after that she kept hitting me, I started bleeding to death. So, out of protection, I grabbed a piece of glass off the floor and stabbed her until she stopped hitting me. She died the next day.”
“I am so, so sorry doctor. What you went through is just unimaginable.” He smiled another half smile.
“Oh, Mr. Richardson, it’s quite alright. All that is in my past. I’m actually glad it happened, it made me who I am today. And I am quite satisfied with what I do.”
“I’m glad it changed you for the better, Doctor.”
“What do you mean by that, Henry?”
“Well, Doctor, if that happened to anyone else they would probably become a shell of a man or insane.”
“People aren’t insane, Henry. Merely differently guided.” He looked at his watch. “Here’s my address, Mr. Richardson. I’ll see you soon.”
When I arrived at the address Dr. Likton had written down for me,the weather was dark and stormy, and the outside of his house was dimly lit. The only lights outside the house were two on opposite sides of the victorian styled door. Any light coming from the house was blocked out from the velvety red curtains hanging from the inside of each window. The house was very large with a creamy white, chipping paint that wasn’t that noticeable, but was just enough to be pointed out. I sat in my truck for a while, dreading the fact that I would get soaked by the pouring rain. After about 15 minutes I saw Doctor Likton peer out of the curtains. I gave him a quick wave and started towards the front door with the wind screaming in my ears.
I knocked on the door, hearing a familiarly odd and serene tune. He opened the door and welcomed me inside.
“Good evening, Mr. Richardson.” He looked me up and down. “Why don’t you sit down on the sofa?”
“Oh, I really shouldn’t, Doctor. I’m soaked.”
“It’s quite alright, Henry. Would you like a spare change of clothes?” It was a kind, but odd request.
“Oh, no. It’s fine.”
“Well, then where are you going to sit?” I thought for a minute.
“Do you have any seats in the dining room maybe?” He smiled again.
“Of course, Mr. Richardson. Follow me.” I followed him into the dining room and took a seat. “Would you like some tea while we wait on dinner?”
“Yes. Thank you, Doctor.”
“Of course Henry.” He went into the kitchen to prepare tea and dinner, and I sat patiently for a bit before hearing a loud thump. I ran in.
“Doctor?” No response. “Are you okay?” He wasn’t in the kitchen but two doors were open. One cracked and the other wide open. I was guessing he was in the room with the lights on but the cracked door seemed to be opened on accident. No matter how much I tried to stop myself I found myself walking towards the door. My curiosity took over, and I decided to explore. The door led down a flight of stairs but I couldn’t see what was at the bottom. I flipped a switch by the door but nothing happened. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but at the same time it just felt so right. As soon as I made up my mind I headed down the stairs and was at once hit with a smell as bad as death itself. I plugged my nose and continued down. With my other hand I searched for a light switch, when I found it at once I was greeted by a bright, cement, round room. There was something bloody on a table that was placed between me and another door opposite of the room.
“You know, Henry. It’s rude to explore a stranger’s house.”
Behind me was Dr. Likton. Standing on the second to last step, he looked like a giant hovering over his prey.
“Oh, Doctor, I’m really sorry. I just, um, felt the need to explore. I apologize.” He started laughing like a hyena, except lower and gruffer. I’ve actually never heard him laugh before. Why now?
“Why don’t you come upstairs, Henry.” His reaction seemed too odd. Something was off.
“No.” He turned back from heading up and grinned.
“Oh? Would you like to continue exploring?” Why was he acting so strange? “You know, it’s funny really, both you and your wife are as gullible and curious as children.”
“What do you mean?”
“Your wife loved to explore too, she did the exact same thing you’re doing now.”
“She’s been here before?” He chuckled again.
“You seemed to recognize that tune upstairs, yes? Why don’t you look under the cloth?” Then it hit me. He was the reason Carolyn disappeared.
“Carolyn’s song?” I paused. “What did you do to her?”
“What was it you said, Mr. Richardson? Carolyn’s still out there?” He laughed and I ripped off the cloth and saw my wife for the first time in 9 months. Except it wasn’t her anymore. She was bloody and cut open, like a helpless deer hunted for sport. Her eyes were closed, never to open again. And her rosy lips now a faint pink and gray color. Her hair was even lighter than it was and stuck together by her own blood. Her tan skin, now a pale white. The only colors on her body was dark, dry blood and her faint blonde hair. From her breasts down to her belly button she was slit open like a pig. All her insides laid between her legs. And was no longer shaped, but so thin you could see her bones. She was lifeless, helpless, and no longer the women I fell in love with.
“I’m sorry, Carolyn.” I whispered. I couldn’t even look at her. “You’re evil.” I turned around. “You’re insane! You are the most disgusting creature I have ever come across!”
“Oh, Mr. Richardson. I’m not insane, I merely have a different mind than you. You see, I have a project in mind.”
“You killed her!” I felt tears run down, hot on my face. I could feel my head burning up with rage. “What kind of sick project are you planning?!”
“Do you remember our first session Henry? I told you I have hobbies that would be strange to others. Well, now you know.”
“Why would you even want to?”
“The night my mother almost killed me, I killed her. I just loved the sensation it gave me. You just don’t understand the thrill these kind of things give you, Mr. Richardson.”
“What do you get from all this? Revenge?”
“I suppose you could look at it like that, but no.”
“Then why?! Carolyn never did anything wrong!”
“Like I said thrill. I just love it, and the sensation I get from doing this is too great to resist.” He paused. “I also get a reminder, creating the childhood I’ve deserved for so long, but never received.” He walked down a couple steps until he was just one above me. “See that room behind you?” When I didn’t answer he went on. “Would you like to see what’s in it?”
“So I can see what other disgusting things you’ve done? No thanks.” He came down another step and started walking towards me. “Don’t come near me Likton.” He chuckled again and continued getting closer. I grabbed the closest thing to me and started choking him with it. He clutched my hands and started to stop breathing. Then I realized I was holding one of my wife’s organs and let go, disgusted. Dr. Likton fell to the floor and kneeled on the ground. His hair stuck to his forehead with sweat.
“Tsk, tsk, Henry.” His voice was no longer soft but rough and hoarse. “Why’d you let go? I thought you loved Carolyn.”
“I’m not sick like you.” He stood up and I pushed him back down. Then I ran up the stairs. I slammed the door behind me and searched the kitchen for some sort of weapon, nothing was there there. He’d been planning this. The only thing I saw was a wine bottle, just in time too.
“Henry, stop, before I make this painful,” I smashed the bottle against the counter top and heard a loud shatter. I turned around to see him lunging at me. Next thing I knew he was on top of me and something sharp was plunged into my side. I barely felt it, I was so full of adrenaline. He didn’t have to know that though.
“You know, Mr. Richardson. I know the rules of therapy better than anyone ever will. You had the chance to kill me down there but became weak, just like your wife. That’s just how it goes. And hey, like I said, you’ll see her soo-” I couldn’t wait any longer. I plunged the shattered remains of the wine bottle into his neck. He fell to the floor and clutched his throat. I stood up and he looked up at me, his summer green eyes starting to fade to fall.
“What do the rules of therapy tell you now Likton?” He smiled a huge grin.
“Ooh, using my own words against me? Seems like you learned something from me.” He chuckled.
“Answer the question.”
“The rules of therapy? They tell me that you’ve beat a therapist, Henry.” He started laughing hysterically. “A therapist!” He kept laughing until he coughed out blood, and even after that. His last breath was even a chuckle. I crouched beside him and looked at his face one last time. His blank stare looked back at me with a tear still coming down. Not from sadness, but from a laughing fit you could see just by looking at his hideous grin. He was dead and I would never be the same.
“Did you trust him?”
“What happened in there?”
“Do you know why he did it?” All these interviewers were asking me questions, but I didn’t really hear any of them. All I saw was Carolyn lying there, never to live again. The calm night seemed to mock my sadness. She’d been dead and I was with the man who killed her for nine months. I trusted him, but he was only trying to get inside my head. Only trying to cut me open like he did to Carolyn. He never wanted to help, just kill. I heard her voice in my head. “Don’t wait on me tonight.” I remembered her before she met him, always so sweet and happy. Someone grabbed my arm and I jumped and hit them. I gained back my perception of reality and saw someone fall back. They clutched their now bleeding nose and screamed.
“What the heck!” I started laughing. It wasn’t even funny and I was laughing so hard I had to clutch my sides. Everyone stared at me like I was crazy and it just made me laugh harder. I heard everyone whispering around me and I still couldn’t stop. Two people picked me up by the arms and put me in the back of some sort of truck. I would’ve fought back but I couldn’t stop laughing. They slammed the doors shut and got in front.
We got to the hospital and I got stitched up, the laughing gas didn’t work so they had to do it while I was awake. Then I took some sort of test and sat in a room for a while. After 2 or 3 hours a man in a white jacket and balding hair came in.
“Mr. Richardson, right?” I looked up and smiled.
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“You will have to be staying here for a while.”
“And why is that, Doctor?”
“You’ve been tested and labeled mentally unstable.” I couldn’t help but laugh a little.
“I don’t disagree, Doctor. I feel unstable.” I smiled and he stared at me.
“Why, do you agree?”
“If you saw you wife lying on a table, ripped apart like an animal, you’d feel crazy too.”
“Why do you think he did that?”
“The rules of therapy, Doctor. The rules of therapy.”
“What does that mean?” I zoned out again, not wanting to answer. “Mr. Richardson?” He stared at me. “Sir?” Then other men came in and put me in a straight jacket. They then threw me in a room and I haven’t spoken since. My thoughts still take over my actions and it makes me angry, but all I can do about it is laugh. Today, I’ve chosen to never let my thoughts take over my body ever again. I got out of my straight jacket and attached it to the ceiling. I stood on my bathroom bucket and attached the other sleeve of the jacket to my throat.
“Today, I’ll see you again, Carolyn.” I kicked the bucket from under my feet and saw the world for the very last time.
The investigators only found one thing in the asylum cell: a quote on the wall he faced when he died.
I would rather die than wake up tomorrow feeling the way I feel right now.
Carolyn, here I come.