The elevator lurches to a stop on the fifth floor and the orderly leads me out as the doors swish open. It’s always quiet up here. The carpeted floors, potted plants and framed paintings on the walls almost make you forget that you’re in a mental institution.
Dr. Quill’s office is the last door on the left at the far end of the hall. The orderly guides me down, his hand gently gripping my elbow. His name is Harold and he’s always been decent to me since I arrived here over five years ago.
We stop in front of Dr. Quill’s door. They get the nice, wood stained doors up here while we are stuck with steel ones painted in sterilizing grey. Harold checks his watch and at precisely 4:00pm he knocks.
“Come in, please.” Dr. Quill’s voice is faint and gentle.
Harold turns the knob and pushes the door open.
Dr. Quill’s windowless office appears smaller than it actually is thanks to four large book shelves that line the far wall. Each shelf holds complete sets of expensive looking medical encyclopedias and I wonder if he’s even read one of them. There are two fake-looking potted plants in the corners to my left and right. Dr. Quill is standing behind his desk, smiling.
“Good afternoon, Xavier,” he says.
Dr. Quill nods to Harold who turns and leaves, shutting the door behind him.
“Have a seat.” Dr. Quill says gesturing to the single chair in front of his desk. “How are you feeling today, Xavier?” He pulls his chair closer to his desk by the arm rests.
I smile. “Fantastic.”
“And why is that?”
“Today is the day that all of this ends.”
He begins to scrawl his notes on the pad. “All of what ends, Xavier? Our sessions?”
More scrawls. “What time will this occur?”
Dr. Quill stops writing and looks at his watch. His glasses are resting on the end of his nose and he has to tilt his head down to look over them at me. “That’s a precise time… and so soon.”
“He’s waited long enough and sees no point in delaying his arrival any longer.”
“You are referring to…”
“So Sredna is coming at 4:09?”
I nod. “I’ve told you all about him week in and week out for the last five years. I’ve been his conduit and you still don’t believe that he exists, do you?”
“He’s real to you.”
I giggle. “Very soon he will be real to you too, doc.”
“What will happen when he gets here?”
“He will eat our reality. It’s what he does.”
Dr. Quill writes some more in his notes and is about to speak when he hears it. A low hum that’s very faint but we can both hear it. My fillings are beginning to tingle.
He is coming.
A high-pitched shriek cuts through the air and all of the light bulbs explode in showers of sparks. Dr. Quill jumps back, letting out a cry of surprise and the entire room is thrown into blackness.
“Don’t worry, Xavier. The emergency lights will kick in any minute.”
His voice is muffled and seems far away. I cannot see him anymore in this blackness.
The blackness is moving, almost wriggling with no distinct shape.
I notice my skin is burning. The pain is excruciating yet I don’t scream as Sredna fills my mouth, rendering it useless. My skin dissolves, exposing muscle tissue and it too is quickly eaten away. In what I can only guess to be a matter of seconds the burning subsides and then, there is nothing.