Halloween Throw Down: Someone Like Me

James’s Note: Last year’s Halloween competition was clown themed. This year we’re doing aliens. You could probably do a Stephen King IT thing and do both, but I’m just not that in love with clowns. As always, you should totally vote for me.

It had been six days since I lost my job at the research lab, and my skin was starting to move on its own.

That probably wasn’t good.

I mean, getting fired was kind of bullshit, because that accident totally wasn’t my fault. If flipping that one switch would cause a containment breach, then they really should have labeled it. I mean, who hooks half the power grid up to one switch anyway?

Okay, after the explosion, I may have failed to mention the black goo I was covered in and how it seeped into my skin. But really, at that point, I was probably already fired.

I would have gotten fired eventually anyway. My ADHD made all my tasks take twice as long, my social awkwardness meant none of my co-workers liked me, and my crippling anxiety made me panic anytime one of my bosses spoke to me.

And yes, I was a ton of fun at parties.

Standing in front of my bathroom mirror, watching what looked like tendrils undulating under my skin, my previous problems didn’t really seem all that bad.

I started running the tap and ducked my head, getting ready for my impending panic attack. Sometimes splashing water on my face helped.

But it never came. I looked up into my reflection quizzically, wondering why I wasn’t hyperventilating yet.

“Because I fixed it.”

I jerked backwards violently, banged my head on the bathroom wall, and almost fell into the bathtub.

“Who was that?” I shouted, looking around for, I don’t know, someone standing behind the shower curtain or something. In my defence, I was really confused.

“Just me. Don’t worry. I’m your friend.”

Several things occurred to me at once.

Thing one, this was not a normal voice I was hearing. This was a voice in my head.

Thing two, what it was saying sounded vaguely ominous in a way that was hard for me to put my finger on.

Thing three, if I had to add schizophrenic hallucinations to my long list of mental symptoms, that just might be one more thing than I could bear.

“You’re not hallucinating. If you were, I could tell.”

Great, either I was having a complicated conversation with my auditory hallucination, or whatever this was could read my mind.

“Of course I can read your mind. I’m in your mind, well, your brain. And all your other major organs.”

At this point, I was almost trying to have that panic attack.

“You won’t have those anymore. As I said, I fixed it. Your brain was a bit of a mess, if you don’t mind my saying so.”

“What do you mean you fixed it? What the hell does that even mean? You can’t just fix a person like a toaster!”

“Of course you can. The toaster’s not even a bad example. It’s usually a problem with the wiring.

“Many of your problems came from inhibited serotonin receptors. Drawing from your knowledge pool, I believe the medical term is undiagnosed bipolar disorder.

“You also had a few issues that human science doesn’t have names for yet. They mostly related to the brain chemicals that promote calm and happiness not being produced or received correctly.

“Much of your anxiety and antisocial personality was a little trickier. Most of that stemmed from early childhood trauma and over judgmental interactions with your mother.

“Luckily, it was simple enough to isolate those memories, and neutralize them.”

My eyes narrowed. “Wait, you took away my memories?”

In panic, I desperately tried to remember my mother. No, it didn’t take those memories away. I could still remember her perfectly, which was a mixed blessing at best.

“Of course not. I just removed the emotional entanglements from them. Gave you some distance. You now remember the traumatic events as though you heard about them happening to someone else.”

Whatever this thing was, it was right. The memory of my mother slapping me because I dropped the milk jug usually made me fight back tears. Now, I could see that it was just a manifestation of her own fear and anxiety, although it was still a really shity thing to do.

I shook my head, trying to get a grip on a situation that didn’t seem to have any handles. “Even though you’re in my brain, I’m still me right?”

“Me being in your brain doesn’t change who you are. The alterations I made are a slightly different matter. You’re still you, or someone like you.”

“So you just waltz into my brain and start fixing things? What are you even?”

“I believe from your perspective I would be an alien life form. We are naturally symbiotic in nature.”

“Okay, I guess you were in the black goo at the research lab, but how did you end up on Earth?”

“I’m having trouble finding the right words in your mind. Out driven, Outcast, Exile. I was sealed in a dense carbon prison and flung through space towards an uncivilized world.”

“You know, I want to be offended by that, but that’s a pretty fair description of Earth.”

“So now, on a planet without our natural host species, I have to do the best I can. I think you and I will be able to help each other.”

Taking a moment to gather my thoughts, I had to admit, I did feel better. My head felt clear and calmer than I could ever remember it.

“So, in exchange for you fixing my brain, I have to ride around with you in my head for the rest of my life?”

“It won’t be so bad. After all, there are certain advantages to being a symbiote.”

The water bottle sitting on my bathroom counter floated gently into the air and did a flip before settling back down.

My eyes narrowed as I thought about the implications of that.

“So you’re saying I get super powers?”

“I’m saying you get super powers.”

Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.


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