“CLAWS” • by LB Thomas

“I had a dream last night.”

“That’s good. It means you were sleeping.”

“I had a childhood toy, a stuffed tiger in a suit with a purple top-hat. I called him Fuzz. He was in my dream.”

“Childhood can be a traumatic time.”

“Mine was pretty normal, I think. I didn’t remember having problems until high school.”

“I’d like to get into this more, but our time is up for today.”

“But I’ve only been here for a moment.”

“You’ve been here for over an hour.”

“I’m really disoriented.”

“I’ll write you a prescription for more Seroquel.”

***

Did you have another dream last night?”

“Yes. Fuzz again, but he was more real than a stuffed doll, human-sized, seemed really alive.”

“Did he say anything disturbing this time?”

“Disturbing? What do you mean?”

 “Last time you were here, you said Fuzz told you in a dream that the only way to save your soul from hellfire was to pray for forgiveness.”

“Hellfire? Pray? I don’t remember saying that. I’m not religious.”

“It’s what you told me.”

“I remember telling you that I dreamed about Fuzz, and I did, but he was very friendly and comforting.”

“I’m positive about what you told me. I can show you the notes I took during the session.”

“No need, I guess. I just don’t remember telling you that. But you know how I’ve been. I forget where I am half the time.”

***

“Let’s start with your dreams.”

“Fuzz is still there. It’s a recurring dream, every night.”

“Did he make any threatening remarks last night?”

“Threatening?”

“You often say Fuzz threatens you in your dreams.”

“I do? I can’t recall a single time he’s done anything other than just stand there.”

“Let me get out my notes. Here we are… You told me that Fuzz said you killed him. He was going to torture you. You don’t remember any of this?”

“I honestly don’t.”

Do you know what Fuzz means when he says you killed him?”

“I might have an idea. When I was a child I set him on fire. I was playing with matches in the backyard… playing with matches as a child, that probably sets off all kinds of red flags for you, right?”

“It’s actually very normal.”

“Anyhow, I set Fuzz on fire. I just wanted to see what would happen. After he burnt into a little pile of ash, I felt like I’d really murdered someone. My mom found me crying my eyes out in my room. She was upset when I told her I’d been playing with fire, but she explained that only I thought Fuzz was alive. No one else would think of it as murder. I understood what she was saying, but I still felt guilty.”

“Do you think this guilt has manifested itself now in your dreams?”

“Maybe, but I don’t know why it would have. I haven’t thought about any of this in years.”

“I’m concerned about your apparent memory loss. I would suggest it’s due to lack of sleep, but you don’t seem to have that problem anymore. Be sure to take the Seroquel.”

***

“How did you sleep last night?”

“Slept like a baby.”

“I’m surprised to hear that after what you told me last time.”

“What did I tell you?”

“You told me about a horrific nightmare. You were very traumatized.”

“I was? What did I say?”

“You spent the entire session talking about it. You said the tiger tortured you for what seemed like forever. You were very afraid to go to sleep again.”

“What… what did I say he did to me?”

“It was very graphic. Razor blades and hooks. Some of it was sexual. I’m not sure we should revisit it unless you feel comfortable.”

“Jesus! Are you sure I said that? I don’t remember having a single nightmare for months. Every night I dream of Fuzz, but he just stands there. That’s all I remember.”

“Is it possible you repressed the memories of the nightmares? The descriptions you gave were… horrific.”

“Did I repress it? I have no idea! You’re the doctor, you tell me. Jesus. Is there any way you could have misunderstood what I said?”

“You were very specific.”

“What should I do? I can’t avoid sleep.”

“No, I wouldn’t recommend it.”

***

“How are you holding up?”

“I’m feeling fine.”

“Are you still seeing Fuzz?”

“Every night in my dreams.”

“Last time you were here you said you were seeing him everywhere: in your room when you wake up, standing in doorways, on the street. You were feeling very unsafe.”

“I… I don’t know what to say. I know I’m losing large chunks of time, but I just don’t remember the things you tell me I said.”

***

“I saw him today. When I awoke, he was there next to my bed. Please… Please help me…. I don’t know if I can go on like this.”

“Who did you see?”

“Fuzz. I keep seeing Fuzz.”

“Are these delusions frightening in any way?”

“Yes, of course! Don’t you remember about the nightmares?”

“This is the first time I remember you mentioning Fuzz in a negative light.”

“What… What’s going on? Am I going crazy or are you messing with my head? Is this some experiment? What are you writing down there? I want to see your notes!”

“Showing you all of my notes could jeopardize your treatment.”

“Please help me understand what’s happening to me.”

“We’ll work it out together. In the meantime, I’ll write you a prescription for more Seroquel.”


LB Thomas is a writer and musician from a small town in Montana you’ve never heard of. His fiction has appeared in Crimespree Magazine, Theory Magazine, and Opsis Literary Arts Magazine.


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 average 4.4 stars • 10 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • I’m not sure how it works on here but the italics would indicate someone speaking in your mind. This piece left more questions than answers but was incredibly fascinating. I couldn’t give it less than five stars.

  • I’m not sure how it works on here but the italics would indicate someone speaking in your mind. This piece left more questions than answers but was incredibly fascinating. I couldn’t give it less than five stars.

  • Carl Steiger

    Oh now, that was fun! In a morbid sort of way. Plenty of scenarios running through my mind that might explain these dialogs, but as Katie wrote, no clear answers.
    Whatever Seroquel is, I think I’ll pass.

  • Carl Steiger

    Oh now, that was fun! In a morbid sort of way. Plenty of scenarios running through my mind that might explain these dialogs, but as Katie wrote, no clear answers.
    Whatever Seroquel is, I think I’ll pass.

  • MPmcgurty

    I liked this a lot. There are holes and a few moments where I thought the psychiatrist wouldn’t say the things he did (“is it possible you repressed the memories…”?), but then we aren’t really sure of anything anyone said in this, are we? Bottom line, I enjoyed the read this morning.

    The quotation marks around the italics can go.

  • MPmcgurty

    I liked this a lot. There are holes and a few moments where I thought the psychiatrist wouldn’t say the things he did (“is it possible you repressed the memories…”?), but then we aren’t really sure of anything anyone said in this, are we? Bottom line, I enjoyed the read this morning.

    The quotation marks around the italics can go.

    Edit: I went to archives and read LB Thomas’ “Dr. Qwig’s School of Dark Science” and really enjoyed it. Recommend it to all.

  • I’m generally rather serious about “rules”, but in this case, I think the quoted italics work. I (as many other authors) use italics to express what the MC is thinking (generally written in 1st person). But in this case they are actual quotes, so quotation marks should be used. If I were to change anything, it would be the italics, not the quote marks. But for me it works as it gives the psychiatrist a fuzzy, anonymous flavor, and I liked that.

    I’m also impressed by anyone who can write an entire story in dialogue and keep it interesting until the end.

    Great job here. This was a very enjoyable lunch read. Now I’m going to take MPmcgurty’s advice and check out “Dr. Qwig’s School of Dark Science” Thanks for sharing!

    • MPmcgurty

      Italics traditionally have been used to indicate the thoughts of a character. But in horror/psychological thriller stories they can be used for other people’s or creature’s voices – even a voice from a split personality – in a character’s head, more often in third person. I’ve never seen quotation marks in those cases. But they don’t seem to be throwing off many people here, so they worked. 🙂

  • I’m generally rather serious about “rules”, but in this case, I think the quoted italics work. I (as many other authors) use italics to express what the MC is thinking (generally written in 1st person). But in this case they are actual quotes, so quotation marks should be used. If I were to change anything, it would be the italics, not the quote marks. But for me it works as it gives the psychiatrist a fuzzy, anonymous flavor, and I liked that.

    I’m also impressed by anyone who can write an entire story in dialogue and keep it interesting until the end.

    Great job here. This was a very enjoyable lunch read. Now I’m going to take MPmcgurty’s advice and check out “Dr. Qwig’s School of Dark Science” Thanks for sharing!

    • MPmcgurty

      Italics traditionally have been used to indicate the thoughts of a character. But in horror/psychological thriller stories they can be used for other people’s or creature’s voices – even a voice from a split personality – in a character’s head, more often in third person. I’ve never seen quotation marks in those cases. But they don’t seem to be throwing off many people here, so they worked. 🙂

  • S Conroy

    I want to see those notes too! This is left unresolved for the reader and I’d love to know if it’s also unresolved for the author. It disturbs me not knowing what’s going on. Is the author trying to mess with the reader’s head? It’s working..
    Think it might be worth checking Wiki for the side-effects of Seroquel. And then I’m going to take MPmcgurty’s advice and check out that Dr Qwig story.
    On the italics and quotes matter, I think the way it is helps the ambiguity. Italics indicates that it’s in the patien’ts mind and quotes that there may be a real person speaking.

  • S Conroy

    I want to see those notes too! This is left unresolved for the reader and I’d love to know if it’s also unresolved for the author. It disturbs me not knowing what’s going on. Is the author trying to mess with the reader’s head? It’s working..
    Think it might be worth checking Wiki for the side-effects of Seroquel. And then I’m going to take MPmcgurty’s advice and check out that Dr Qwig story.
    On the italics and quotes matter, for me the way it is helps the ambiguity. The italics indicate that it’s in the patien’ts mind and the quotes that there may be a real person speaking.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Fuzz and the shrink are in cahoots, I just know it.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Fuzz and the shrink are in cahoots, I just know it.

  • Chinwillow

    WOW!! What was that? What was going on? Was all of this real or imagined? Who was whom and whom was who? WHOOHOO! What a ride! Pass the Seroquel! Loved it. I also thought the italics worked. Rules are meant to be broken sometimes 🙂

    • In my own books, italicized and in quotes is actually a ghost speaking telepathically to the character. That’s what makes me wonder if the psychiatrist is real, a spirit, or a split consciousness. The hard and fast rules become blurry in those instances. We just don’t know who or what the psychiatrist is in this case, and that’s what had me on the edge of my seat. My first thought was, “Very well played, LB Thomas.”

  • Chinwillow

    WOW!! What was that? What was going on? Was all of this real or imagined? Who was whom and whom was who? WHOOHOO! What a ride! Pass the Seroquel! Loved it. I also thought the italics worked. Rules are meant to be broken sometimes 🙂

    • In my own books, italicized and in quotes is actually a ghost speaking telepathically to the character. That’s what makes me wonder if the psychiatrist is real, a spirit, or a split consciousness. The hard and fast rules become blurry in those instances. We just don’t know who or what the psychiatrist is in this case, and that’s what had me on the edge of my seat. My first thought was, “Very well played, LB Thomas.”

  • This is interesting, reminding me of a story I submitted to EDF which may or may not be seen by the readership. The theme is similar, i.e., unwitting reliance on psychotropic medication (the details of course are different). To whomever said “Pass the Seroquel” bite your tongue. What do you think caused the huge memory lapses? A well-written satirical commentary on psychiatry today.

  • This is interesting, reminding me of a story I submitted to EDF which may or may not be seen by the readership. The theme is similar, i.e., unwitting reliance on psychotropic medication (the details of course are different). To whomever said “Pass the Seroquel” bite your tongue. What do you think caused the huge memory lapses? A well-written satirical commentary on psychiatry today.

  • Walter Giersbach

    Loved it. No analysis. It was just fun. (What, you want to analyze my comment?)

  • Walter Giersbach

    Loved it. No analysis. It was just fun. (What, you want to analyze my comment?)

  • I thought this was a really good piece of work. I like the sense of uncertainty. Good stuff

  • I thought this was a really good piece of work. I like the sense of uncertainty. Good stuff

  • manjina

    Hahahaha, that was great. I wonder if there are any real therapists like this. . . I hope not!

    5/5