In a cold and misty night in Bacolod, a young family is having dinner. The couple had only one child, and his name is Joey. The couple cannot bear another child anymore, the mother had a risky delivery when she was carrying baby Joey. The doctors said if she gets pregnant again, the couple will have to decide who will live, the mother or the baby. With this unsavoury future, the couple poured all their love to Joey instead.
Back to the dinner, the family is eating Kansi – a native dish of soup-based beef and marrow boiled together with young jackfruit, annatto seeds, and batwan fruit – a native souring agent in Ilonggo cuisine. The mother and father were having a good conversation about the things happened earlier that day. Nine-year-old Joey was eating jovially while listening to his parents.
A guy in a jet-black suit standing beside the mother came out of nowhere. Joey was terribly frightened, he could not explain where the man came from. The unknown assailant’s face was pale and sharply outlined but it slowly melts into a bumpy and rough grotesque image. The man then got a knife from his side pocket, ready to stab the mother while laughing in a menacing voice and with striking eyes; all in all, he exposed an iniquitous look. Poor young Joey was now scared to death, but his emotion turned into bravery. He picked up his fork and throws it towards the man, it darted straight to him, but like a heavy shadow he disappeared. The mother was shocked; she was just about an inch away from being stabbed with a fork.
Dr. Hansen is the best psychiatrist in the city during these times. He is even called internationally for opinions on rare cases of mental disability. Tonight, he was still working in his office at one hospital. It was already eight o’ clock in the evening, and he thought of going home already but stayed for another half an hour to read a medical article on a recent study on multiple personality disorder. When he finally decided to leave the office, a couple and child by the door caught his eyes. The child was seating in the waiting area while the couple were walking back and forth, seems like unsure of what they are about to do. When the doctor stepped out the office, he went up to them.
“Hello, good evening.” Dr. Hansen greeted.
“Doctor, are you leaving already?” The mother asked.
“No, no, no. My work is my passion, I can work all night. What seems to be the problem?”
The parents told them about what happened earlier when they were dining. Dr. Hansen told them to fill up a medical record data sheet while waiting for him while he therapise their son. Dr. Hansen guided Joey inside his therapy room. The parents waited for an hour and Dr. Hansen was finished with the psychoanalysis. He told the couple that Joey must have a ten-session pyscho-therapy with him in the duration of three months because Joey has schizophrenia. The next sessions were being followed up, until the last session where Dr. Hansen said he could help Joey. The last session would be a hypnosis session. Dr. Hansen started counting “three, you close your eyes…two, your eyes are getting heavier…one, you fall asleep”. The hypnosis was about ten minutes but in Joey’s mind, it felt an hour, and with a snap of a finger, Joey woke up.
After 10 years, Joey was at Manila and was in college. For three years already, he did not come home because his parents would visit him during holidays instead. He was studying psychology in the university because he looked up to Dr. Hansen since the day he was cured. He was living a normal life; beer, sex, and freedom. He was at a party and took a girl at his place. They were at his condominium kissing and caressing when suddenly Joey saw a small girl in a school-uniform, smiling unrealistically wide. Joey was scared then he got more terrified when he saw he saw the reflection of the girl’s back in the window glass. Her hands were holding a deep red coloured knife dripping with blood. Joey jolted and dropped the girl he was kissing on the floor, and then the small girl vanished like shadow. He was not in the mood and drove the girl home instead, the girl was obviously mad. When he went back to his condominium the guard at the lobby told him he had a mail earlier. He checked his mail box, a professional-looking envelope was inside but there was no return address. He opened the envelope and read the letter, it was a cut-out of an article from a local newspaper. Joey tears began to fall involuntary then he cried hard dropping to the floor. It was an article of a car accident and the victims were his parents.
Joey got a plane ticket immediately and went back to Bacolod first thing in the morning and went immediately to his parents’ wake. At the funeral Joey was accompanied by his relatives. He wept and wailed when the coffin was being rolled down beneath the ground. After the funeral he was supposedly going to return to Manila, but he decided to stay for a week in Bacolod to sort things and himself too. Since the time he went back in Bacolod he had, for six consecutive days, insomnia and minor hallucinations. Joey’s world now began to be dark and vague. First his mental disability is back and then his parents died. He realized he cannot do anything with his parents’ death but he can do something about his mental disability. He finally decided to go to Dr. Hansen’s office without delay. At the doctor’s office he was signed by Dr. Hansen’s secretary, Hanna, for appointment scheduled the next day. As he was returning home, he bumped to a friend and they had conversation in the park for about an hour, catching up the lost times. When Joey arrived home, he checked Facebook in his phone and the news feed was flooded of the death of Joe, the friend who he met into earlier. Joe died about an hour after parted ways.
“God, let him rest in Your hands” Joey uttered a simple prayer
As he was scrolling down the article, he swore, “Shit! Fuck!” He went directly to the toilet and vomited. What he read was: Joe died in an accident at his work at a construction site at Vancouver, Canada.
Joey went back the next day to the Dr. Hansen’s clinic and was surprised the secretary was different from yesterday. He greeted her and signed the appointment sheet before going inside the room of Dr. Hansen.
“Doctor! How are you?” He greeted and the two shook hands.
“No, Joey. Let me ask you, how are you? Does your hallucination become frequent?”
“H-how did you know?”
“Naturally, you had a traumatic event in your life. “
“The accident, your parents” Dr. Hansen gave a searching look.
“Oh-yes, your right but it came back, my hallucinations, before I knew about the accident doctor.”
Dr. Hansen was smiling, “Yes I know.” With a long pause and staring, Dr. Hansen broke the silence.
“I did not cure you Joey. I just kind of paused your schizophrenia.”
“What are you saying doctor?” Joey said with a confusing look.
“Oh Joey, don’t get surprised. I myself have schizophrenia and I’m sorry to tell you, there is no cure for our disease or rather gift.” Dr. Hansen laughed dryly.
“What?!” Joey blurted.
“But there is like a ‘pain-killer’ for this kind of gift but I guess you don’t want to know that. Just continue with your life being haunted by ghastly creatures that your mind manifests.” Dr. Hansen said plainly but with a deep stare and a wide grin.
“What is it doctor, the cure?”
“The ‘pain-killer’ is killing Joey. Once you kill that image of pure imagination, it goes and comes back after years. There is no scientific study to prove this yet, but this is what I do and it is effective.”
“That’s easy; you mean I just kill a hallucination, just like what I did 10 years ago, the first encounter I have. I threw a fork to it and it vanished instantly.”
“Yes, do it Joey.” Dr. Hansen was still smiling.
Joey was still confused about all Dr. Hansen told him. He just thought, the doctor might be tired from work. Tonight, he was on the sofa watching a movie and he got sleepy, he’s eyes were already heavy; it was four o’ clock early in the morning. He turned off the television and in an instant from the television Joey could see a reflection of an old lady wearing a long black robe with blood all over her face. With that same instant the image flashed, Joey can feel his hair at the back of his neck rising, his feet got cold, and his heart throbbing. For three seconds he stared at the reflection on the television. He was scared to death, then he slowly turned his head to his back, slowly he was sweating and holding his breath. At the corner of his eye, he can see the black robe, then he looked back quickly out of adrenaline but there was nothing there. By the time he gave a sigh of relief, and then he turned back his head to the television, at that moment he saw again the old lady in front of him, inclined towards and very close to him. Joey saw a close-up view of the unpleasant face of the old lady filled with scars and dry white cracked skin, those broken teeth grinning to him and uncombed dirty hair. Joey was already shaking, and then he remembered he has a combat knife beneath the coach. At a great speed he took it and stabs right in the neck of the old lady, and then vanished like a mist again. Joey went to sleep that night at the couch. In the morning when he woke up, he saw blood all over his hands and the couch. When he looked down, there was his maid, cold and lifeless.
Treading fast was poor Joey to the clinic of Dr. Hansen. He was so undermined of the situation that he just got to. He slammed open the clinic door, the secretary stopped him, but Joey pushed himself towards the room of Dr. Hansen. The secretary was calling for the security, but Dr. Hansen motioned to the secretary to stay put.
“Doctor, what the fuck just happened. I killed a hallucination but when I woke up it was my maid.” Joey said still catching his breath.
“Joey, it’s either you hurt yourself or you kill someone to overcome your sickness”
“What are you talking about, I can’t just fucking kill someone” Joey said almost shouting.
“Yes, you can, I’ve been there. Actually, by the age of thirty I was a bit cured of my hallucination. I can pretty much tell reality from imagination, but the thing is, killing, it gets addictive.” Dr. Hansen said smiling.
“What are you saying; you mean you’re a serial killer?”
“Yes Joey, I kill to feed my inner hunger and addiction. I KILL TO CURE ME!”
“I can’t doctor, I can’t” Joey was crying now.
“Oh, poor boy. Okay I will cure you for now. Remember the hypnosis procedure that prevented you from hallucinations for the past ten years?”
“Yes, yes, yes! Please cure me again. Please, I beg you.” Joey was down on his knees with his hands on his face while sobbing.
“Yes, I will” Dr. Hansen was still smiling.
Joey is now lying on the couch. He was in a hypnosis state, but he was shocked. He could see what was happening; see from the corner of his eye Dr. Hansen holding a paper and pen on his high back leather chair.
“Joey, you are in a semi-hypnosis state. You might not have learned this from your college, but I have developed this kind of technique. Imagine I have the power to control a person’s mind!” Dr. Hansen was laughing hard.
Joey cannot move but he can see, smell, and feel all things around him. He can even taste the sweat dripping from his upper lip. He was trying to say something, but he could not move an inch of his tongue.
“Joey, pick up the knife on the table” Dr. Hansen commanded.
Joey was basically a puppet and follows what the doctor instructs. He gets chills in his whole body.
“Sit up straight and stab slowly your heart” Dr. Hansen was staring at him as if either controlling his mind or studying him like a lab rat.
Joey was now sitting up straight slowly and picked up the knife, aimed it towards his heart. He was cold sweating and shaking in an uncoordinated rhythm.
“Stop.” Dr. Hansen said thunderously followed by a sharp laugh.
“I have a surprise for you, Joey. Hope you will like it.” Dr. Hansen moved towards his big cabinet and opened it. As he opened it a young lady dropped from the floor with a duct tape on her mouth and her hands tied up behind her back. She was squealing endlessly but hardly loud enough to be heard. To Joey’s surprise it was the doctor’s secretary whom he met first.
“Joey, meet Hanna, she is a sacrificial lamb and she had been very bad. She should have let you in my room and not appointed you the next day, the day you came here before.”
“Shut up doctor! You’re a fucking pig” Joey was shocked he can talk but he still cannot move his hands or feet.
“My mind control must be getting weak, I must say, this must be done quickly. Joey, get here and stab Miss Hanna eight times with the knife you’re holding.” Dr. Hansen was serious now.
“You fucking sick bastard. I’m gonna kill you!” Joey was shouting but at the same time moving towards Hanna on the floor watching her eyes, those weeping and nervous eyes.
Joey’s hands were involuntarily intending to stab Hanna. He was fighting his own mind to stop what he was about to do. His hands were shaking. It was just almost a half inch away Hanna. “FUCK!” Joey blurted and stopped his own hands from committing the crime. He was now inhaling and exhaling deeply.
“How, how did you get out my hypnosis?”
“You’re getting old doctor” Joey said while on the floor still catching his breath.
He got up quickly because he saw Dr. Hansen moved towards the table grabbing something from the small drawer, it could be a gun, so Joey ran towards him and wrestled him to the ground. After mounting the doctor, he stabbed him in the abdomen as fast as he could. When the doctor was down Joey went to Hanna and untied her, she was trembling uncontrollably and evidently injured.
Joey told Hanna to stay still; he would call an ambulance as soon he is finished with the mad man. Hanna nodded in affirmation still shaking and crying. Joey was moving towards the doctor where his polo shirt near the stomach area was dripping with blood, but he was shocked when he saw that what the doctor was holding a small item which he took from his drawer. It was not a gun but a necklace, identical to what Joey’s mom would always wear.
“How the fuck did you get that?!” Joey was confused and punched the doctor two times in the head while crying.
“J-Joey, I wanted to have an apprentice, a student and all these years I-I’ve not found the right one to carry on my legacy except you.” The doctor said with a stuttering voice.
“What did you do with my parents? WHAT?!” Joey shouted with tears falling.
“You never went back here in Bacolod, you were stuck in Manila because your parents always visit you there so I killed them, s-so you would come home and visit them yourself..” Dr. Hansen laughed and suddenly he coughed blood but finished what he was saying, “ ..and c-continue my s-shaping you to b-be like m-me”
“YOU FUCKING PIG, I WILL NOT BE LIKE YOU!”
“O-Oh, yes you will, yes you wi—” Before the doctor even finished saying, Joey stabbed him by the neck.
The doctor was dead but had a felicitous smile which intrigued Joey. As Joey stood up, he saw Hanna already standing, feeling all good he guessed but suddenly Hanna’s face melted into a menacing image and going back to being Hanna then again to a horrific persona, it flickers back and forth in Joey’s vision.
He was walking towards her while she was saying “I think that’s the last of him, I can’t believe he was a –” Joey slits the knife straight to her throat before she finished her sentence. Hanna’s throat splashed blood for about three seconds before she went down.
“Fuck you.” Joey said in a low voice, walking away while smiling.