Chapter 1: My Mind is a House with Walls
When she was little, should would always talk about the voices. Her parents assumed it was normal. She had imaginary friends, like every other normal child.
It was only when they would start to tell her things that they got worried. Her father was a police officer, a detective, who would get the difficult cases, the ones no one else could figure out. Sometimes, even Henry himself would get stuck. How did they do it?
"Dad," she would cry, lifting up her arms to be picked up. "Dad, he said it was the manager."
"Who said that?" Henry did not bring his eyes up from the case file. Shawn could wait, he had a killer to catch.
"The voices." Little Shawn replied simply, lowering her arms and looking up at her father.
Henry paused. He slowly scanned through the information once more, for what seemed like the millionth time.
And there it was. The proof. It was the manager.
"Tell me more about the voices, Shawn." Henry turned to the girl, closing the file and looking down at her.
Shawn grinned. The girl was more than happy to have her dad's attention for longer than two minutes. So if she had to talk about the voices, she would.
They scared her sometimes. They would whisper little things in her ears, always something dark and scary. The kind of stuff her dad worked with. Killers and arsonists and felons of all kinds.
She met Gus in 3rd grade. They were best friends. He knew about he voices, and didn't leave her or think she was crazy.
In the 10th grade, her sophomore year, she had her first incident. She went to bed, in her cozy pajamas and under her heavy covers and was warm and happy and full from dinner. She woke up in the park.
Shawn panicked. She sobbed openly and loudly, trying her hardest to dial her father's number with her vision warped with tears.
"Shawn, it's 2:30 in the morning," Henry's sleep-heavy voice floated angrily through the reciever. "Go to sleep. If you need something from the kitchen, get it yourself."
"Dad I need help." She said simply, words full of emotion. She let a sob slip free from her lips, one of fear and anguish. She didn't know how she got here.
Henry fell silent, but Shawn could hear the russling of a jacket and the clink of keys on the other end. "Where are you?"
"I don't know," she cried. "I don't know how I got here. I went to bed last night, and when I opened my eyes I was outside and I-"
"Shawn, I'm going to need you to can down. Deep breaths." Henry said slowly, buckling his seatbelt and startin up the car. "Tell me your surroundings."
"Trees, I guess." Shawn said quietly. "A playground. I think I'm in a park."
Throught the dark, she could make out the outline of a sign. "I'm in Elings Park."
"I'll be there soon. Keep taking deep breaths. It's gonna be okay, Shawn."
The next day, Henry Spencer went to the nearest psychiatrist and booked Shawn an appointment.
Shawn was more than pissed. She wasn't crazy. She was the same as everyone else, her father was a police officer and she could see details in things and remember things perfectly and she could hear voices in her head.
On second thought, maybe she was crazy.
When she ranted to Gus, he had only said "Maybe it's for the best, Shawn. If you get put on medication, maybe you won't wake up in the park again. Meds can word wonders, especially-"
After that, Shawn tuned him out. Medication. Gus was just like everyone else. He thought she was crazy.
For now, she would do what they said. But she would show them. Someday.
Chapter 2: They're all over the place
Shawn has a smoothie and shadow-watches.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
"Listen Gus, all I'm saying is that he may give too many dollars for his change," Shawn said around her straw before taking a large, noisy slurp of her pineapple smoothie. "Can't blame a guy for trying. You are a handsome devil."
"It's too much change for his dollar," Gus replied, raising his eyebrows and leaning back in his chair all sassy-like. "And just because he's gay does not mean I should flirt with him. He's a human being, Shawn. I will not play with his feelings so you can get cheaper smoothies."
"Oh come on! I'm not saying you play with his feelings, do you think me a monster? Gus, for shame! I'm only-"
Shawn cut herself off before she could even utter another word. Her lungs drew in a deep breath, her eyes squeezed shut, and her teeth clenched together. "Is he–"
In the corner of her eye, a shadowy figure made its way across the room. It weaved its way through the tables, leaning over chairs full of people. The room darkened around where it moved. A black hole, swallowing everything it touched with no remorse.
Gus narrowed his eyes and leaned forward onto his elbows. "If you're about to ask me if I think he's ugly, this conversation is over, and I'm leaving. I have work I should be doing, anyway."
"Dammit..." She sighed, setting her drink down before using her fingertips to rub at her eyes, the coldness from the drink she was holding helping to pull her to attention once more. Maybe if she pressed her eyes into her head hard enough for those little black spots to appear, then the shadow would disappear with them. "Thought it would stop. It's like those fences, the really fancy Victorian ones? The ones they used on the Addams family."
"I'm not even gonna ask." Gus rolled his eyes before pulling his oh-so-very-important work phone out of his pocket.
A gross, finger-like chill creeped down Shawn's spine. She didn't whip all the way around like she wanted to. She didn't want to give into its sick sense of satisfaction, as childish as it may make her seem.
The hallucinations had been pretty bad, lately; Gus had been having longer shifts, spending all day in his office or on the phone or on his route. She didn't have any other friends, and every potential romantic partner ends up deciding any sort of relationship with her is more work than it's worth.
Being alone harbored visceral fears of abandonment. She would never, ever, ever admit this out loud, especially to someone she would see more than once in her life, but her biggest fear was being left alone with no way of knowing who - or what - to trust.
Well, that, and leprechauns.
The thing about black holes is that you can't really see them; you can see everything around them, but it's like there's this space that doesn't exist. You can only tell where it is based on what you can't see. That's how she knew they weren't real, sometimes. Real people don't absorb all light.
Being in public helped, too. If the hallucination was primarily auditory, like they usually were, it was easier to drown out in the noise of bustling crowds. I mean, sure, there were times when she knew they were doing her a favor, but that didn't make the experience of hearing something very real and knowing that no one else could hear it any less terrifying.
Sometimes, she really did feel psychic. Her hallucinations could be beneficial, in some cases, and despite the fact that she felt sick to her stomach every time she had some gross old guy breathing down her neck, she appreciated that.
Her attention was pulled from the black-hole-walking dude when her phone chimed in her pocket. She reached down into the pocket of her old, knee length cut-off jean shorts, pulling her phone out. Reading the screen, she smiled.
"Oh god," Gus said. "Stop smiling all evil. I've got stuff I have to actually do today."
"Whatever boring plans you had can wait, my chocolate sidekick - that was Jules. We have a case."
"No, WE don't have a damn thing. YOU have a case, I have a job." Gus said. He got up and started grabbing his things, anyway.
"Come on, Gus! To the blueberry!" Shawn pocketed her phone again and grabbed her pineapple smoothie in one hand and Gus's keys in the other.
"Shawn! Pay your damn ticket!" Gus yelled at her back as she all but sprinted out of the café.
Well, it's been a while.
Even though I never replied to all of them, I have read every single comment left on the last post. Multiple times. They're actually what prompted me to pick this back up again.
So much of my life is different now than when I wrote down this little idea I had. I never expected anyone to actually read it, let alone like it at all. I wrote it as a 6th grader - imagine my surprise as a now-adult reading new comments on my little self's work.
In other news, I don't really have any sort of plan for a plot - this was never meant to be a full-length fic, so I never really thought about it as I wrote it. I don't have any idea what to do lmao if anyone has any suggestions, comment them below or message me on tumblr @squidaddle. My main priority is my Elder Scrolls fic series right now, mostly because I have the entire thing planned out by chapter and by book. If you like Skyrim, the Elder Scrolls, or even just medieval fantasy in general, I politely ask that you check it out on my ao3. I've worked really hard on it, even though very little of it has actually seen the public eye.
I know this is a super short chapter. It's just been sitting in the files on my computer since 2016, and I wanted to publish something to let anyone who cares know that I do see you and I do appreciate you.
This will sound corny, but I was really struggling with mental health at the time I wrote this, and since then it's had highs and lows and everything in between. When I really considered doing something I'd regret, I'd go and read the comments on this fic, and - if I didn't make myself feel worse for just leaving it sitting here - think about how someday, when things are okay, I'll come back and do something with this.
I have so many things I want to say, but I've already talked for a super long time. Before I go, if anyone actually read this whole thing (I wouldn't blame you if you said no and you were just here for the fic) I ask - would you rather I do lengthy chapters with a longer wait between, or shorter chapters more often? I would love to know your opinion.
This author's note is longer than the chapter akalaksjlksadj I'm so sorry. Have a great rest of your day, and I'm sending the best vibes possible out your way. Thanks <3