I quietly struggled for a while with a sad dilemma. One possibility was that these things were not real, except to me. It wasn’t unlikely that a damaged person might partially recover but be left with serious flaws. If these things existed only in my mind, then I was insane. The thought scared and shamed me, but, worse, drew away all sense of hope.
The other possibility was even more terrifying.
It seemed that the more I recovered physically, the more I discovered about the way I had changed. I kept quiet about the things I heard and saw, watching the other people, the doctors, nurses, and orderlies. For the most part, they seemed completely unaware of the things around them, but then I began to notice the little things that were happening.
Occasionally, one of the nurses might stop and listen carefully, for just a moment. Or an orderly might take a second glance down a hall that was (to him) empty. But by far the most obvious reaction was to turn away from a thing supposedly unseen, and focus one’s attention on a trivial task. I was forced to conclude that most people can sense them, or strangely, somehow sense them but not perceive them.
That the common reaction was to turn away from them, to ignore them, may be very well to the point.
As for “them”, there were many kinds. The old man, who became scarce one I knew what he was, appeared to be a living person. I call his kind the bright ones. He was as aware of me as I was of him. Maybe some of them are like the psychics among us. Not all of them seem to care about us.
There is a kind I think of as the dim or blurry ones. These seem stuck in a loop, walking down the same halls, disappearing through the same doorways. I’m not even sure they know what they’re doing. I saw one pass through a doctor and continue on its way. The doctor shivered and wiped at his eyes, but also kept going. The blurry ones seem very lifeless, and look like bloodless corpses when a good look at one is possible. This isn’t easy as they are always in motion and are no more solid seeming than a reflection on water.
I have an idea in my mind that the appearance of these things is a reflection of their humanity. The more “human” they were in life, that is to say compassion, kindness, caring, etc. seem to be qualities possessed by the bright ones.
There is another kind, the dark ones, who are vicious and cruel. They lash out at all they perceive, as through trying to drag others down to their wretched state. Often they appear like shadows, sometimes incomplete in the human form. They somehow seem sustained by the fear, anger, and pain they cause, but, thankfully, most are relatively weak and not capable of causing much harm.
The worst of these, the most powerful, sometimes project a clean image, much like a bright one. But their true image, the one they reveal when they drop the facade and attack, is the horrid vision of a corpse or skeleton. Like their lesser kin, they seek nothing but to cause madness and death.
There was so much I learned about them, I really wished I could talk to anyone. Having to stay silent was a dreadful pressure directly against my desire to put this place behind me. And these visions were not the only changes. I also started dreaming of things before they happened. At first, these were just little things, though it made me ponder deja vu in a very different light.
Then there was the night I woke up and found myself floating in the air above my bed and my body.
story by Joe Stanley