CLASSIFICATION: A S
SUMMARY: As he awaits his victim, a gunman is driven towards
insanity by "memories" that don't appear to be his own.
DISCLAIMER: The X-Files and its characters are the property of
Chris Carter, 1013 Productions and Fox, and I torture them without
permission but with no mercenary intent.
FEEDBACK: Yes please.
And to all those people who now think I'm evil incarnate for my
refusal to write a sequel to "Cry in the dark" (no, this isn't one)
- this time, while _I_ think this story stands by itself, I _can_
see a way to a sequel, if people want one.
The visions were strong that night - pictures clawing at his mind,
searing his vision, choking his breath, his thoughts, his life.
He couldn't speak aloud, although all his being wanted to scream
his protest at the treacherous images that refused to leave him a
minute free from their lies.
"Leave me alone!"
A silent hiss through gritted teeth, one hand clamped to his
temple, fingers and thumb digging into the sides of his head until
the muscles trembled and the pain lanced from his fingertips.
Whisper, whisper.... Never speak. Mustn't speak, mustn't scream,
mustn't shout. Silence, although every second of silence is a
Dark room, dark night, dark life. The shiny feel of a gun in his
hand, damp now with the sweat of his aching fingers. A gun. A
bullet, ripping out of the dark, tearing a life away in a welter of
red, a face twisting in pain. And _he_ would be the one...
My fault. Death. Blood. Death.... My fault.
Why was that feeling so familiar?
But it _had_ to be. A life for a life. A death for a life. That was
the price. Someone would die, but he would be free. Free....
Hiding in the shadows, silently waiting. Soon....
Blood. Death. Pain.
No! Don't think of that. Quick. Say it quickly. Don't think of....
of _that_. Say it quickly, so the words don't have time to reach
the mind. Say it....
Hiding in the shadows, silently waiting. Soon.... Soon the door
would open and they would come in and he would point his gun at
their head and pull the trigger and the person would fall to the
ground dead and he'd be free.
But the visions were blinding now, filling his world like the flash
of a camera, a series of dazzling photographs.
Crouching in another dark room, alone and terrified, blood on his
hands. Someone was dead - a man - an older man - someone close and
yet not close. Blood on his hands as he held the phone, as he
dialled the number, his fingers pressing the buttons as if that
number was the most familiar thing in his life. He was scared,
grief-stricken, sick, but there was still hope. _She_ would answer
the phone. _She_ would know what to do. _She_ would help him.
"Go away! Leave me alone! I don't know you!"
He was rocking to and fro in the dark now - _this_ dark, not the
treacherous dark of the visions. The gun had slipped from his hand,
and his arms were wrapped around his knees, holding himself
together as the pictures assailed him.
"Go away! It's not...."
An empty room full of people. Camera flashes, red lights pulsing on
the street, men asking questions, taking samples, doing....
nothing. Empty, empty room. She was gone. Blood on the glass of the
coffee table, a battered phone on the floor, her message ringing in
his ears. And blood on his hands again. Always blood on his hands.
He ran his trembling hands across his face, half-expecting to feel
the moist stickiness of blood, but they were clean. But soon....
Sitting in the dark, a gun in his hands, despair and hatred in his
heart. The hands of the clock crawled round - a minute, a second,
an eternity. The gun on the table, his eyes on the door,
waiting.... Soon _they_ would come, the people who'd killed her.
They would come, but he'd be waiting and then they'd pay for what
they'd done. And then....? He was as much to blame as....
He leant back hard, letting the pain jolt through his skull as it
hit the wall again and again, trying to force the lies from his
"It's not true! It's not true! It's not me!"
But who are you?
He frowned, tears of concentration running down his cheeks. Why did
he have to fight so hard to get the true memories when the lies
came so readily?
Who am I?
"Your name is George Davies."
He sighed, feeling the relief wash through him as that voice, the
true voice of his memory, spoke to him across the weeks, taking him
back to that day the nightmare had started.
"Your name is George Davies." Her voice had trembled and her eyes
had been red-rimmed with crying. "You don't remember?"
"I.... " His voice had been hoarse, strangled by the rising panic
he'd felt as he'd groped in his memory and found nothing but a dark
empty room full of terror. "I don't remember anything!"
"It's okay, honey." She'd reached over and stroked his face, a
strand of her long dark hair brushing across his face. "You've had
a nasty accident, but the doctor says you'll probably remember
soon. I'll look after you."
He'd tried to smile then, but inside the terror was holding him by
the throat and squeezing until he felt dizzy.
"It's wrong, it's wrong, it's wrong!" He'd bit his lip until the
blood welled out, desperate to stop the words from escaping, to
stop himself from flinching from his wife's touch.
But it _had_ felt wrong. It _still_ felt wrong, even now he'd seen
the proof, even now he knew that the doubts - everything he'd been
feeling - were the treacherous lies of madness. Opening his eyes in
the hospital bed, looking up at the white ceiling, hearing the
gentle pulsing of the monitors, feeling the needles in his arm,
he'd slowly turned his head to the side, trying to focus, expecting
to see.... who? He hadn't known, he didn't know - but _not_ her.
That woman - his wife - she'd just felt.... wrong.
Her hair on his cheek, dark, curly, smelling of peaches.... Wrong.
Another colour, another smell....
Her hand on his brow, pushing back a lock of hair from falling into
his eyes.... Wrong. Someone else....
Her lips on his lips, a lingering kiss as she prepared to leave....
Wrong. All wrong.
But he hadn't known then what he knew now - hadn't seen the
wrongness for what it was. Then, he'd still clung to the illusion
that he was sane.
And so he'd screwed his eyes tight shut, clenched his fists until
the muscles ached, and hoped, wished, prayed that the nightmare
"I'm George Davies!" he'd shouted, over and over, willing the
unfamiliar syllables to suddenly click into place and seem right,
watching the nurses' faces turn from understanding to irritation to
"I _am_ George Davies?"
And then he'd taken to grabbing the nurses by the hand, feeling
them stiffen with uneasy wariness, pleading with them to set the
doubts at bay.
"I am, I am, I am." The words muttered like a statement of faith,
his constant companion over the past few weeks, repeated day and
night from that first evening to this dark night now. "I _am_
But it had never felt more wrong than it did now.
"Of course you are. Why would we lie to you?" Another voice from
his memory now, taking him back to that second morning in the
hospital when his throat had been raw from a night of terror.
His wife - _Linda_, he reminded himself, although he could never
say the name without it catching in his throat with the
unfamiliarity of it - his wife had returned, but this time had
brought with her a man - a middle-aged man who brought the smell of
smoke in with his clothes and who spoke as if there were untold
volumes of meaning behind his words.
"You're in the best possible hands here," he'd said, his fingers
twitching as if they wanted to hold onto a cigarette. "We were
talking to the doctors and they say you'll be free to go home in a
few days, just as long as you keep taking the medicine." And then
his eyes had flashed a warning, and he'd known that the nurse had
told him what had happened earlier - how he'd screamed and fought,
still more than half lost in a nightmare, and had refused to let
them inject him, insisting that they would make him forget.
"Home?" he'd managed to stammer, wondering why this man made the
sweat come out on his brow in little cold prickles of dread. Was
this man his father?
Cold, distant, the smell of whisky and cigarette smoke. Arms raised
to embrace, but meeting only a formal handshake, their hands
touching briefly but their hearts driven thousands of miles apart
by the weight of over twenty years.
"I'm sorry, Dad." The words from the vision were louder and more
insistent than the words of the people who'd spoken to him, shaken
him, tried to recall him to reality. Tears on his cheeks, his voice
cracking. "I'm sorry...."
And that had been the first - the first of the lying visions that
haunted him with picture of people that had never existed, words
that had never been spoken.
It had been a needle that had stopped it, then. A cold needle,
stabbing into his arm, spreading the drug through his veins,
driving him into a safe sleep of forgetfulness where he'd been
lulled by the urgent whispered words that had hissed around him.
".... remember.... he is...." That had been his wife, her voice
distorted, though whether by tears or by the pulsing waves of
drowsiness that washed over his senses, he couldn't tell.
"Don't worry....." The man with the smoke-hardened voice. "....
drugs.... remember.... everything.... right."
Everything would be all right.
Everything would be okay.
And so he'd been able to relax, to take a deep breath and let the
darkness claim him.
It would all be okay.....
But it hadn't been.
"Oh God!" he groaned, resting his head on his bent knees, feeling
the darkness wrap itself around him. He was curled in a corner,
hiding in the dark, hiding from himself as much as from the person
he had to.... to....
Blood on the doorstep, a torrent of red around the dying face. She
lay on her back, on her front, on her side.... Flash, flash, flash
- changing images, flickering in ever more terrifying imaginings,
as if this was a scene he'd never seen but had heard about, had
visualised in a thousand painful ways. Dying on the threshold, a
bullet in the brain, killed by someone who'd hidden in the
darkness, waiting for....
"She died for me."
That voice again - the voice which haunted all his visions. Eyes
red with crying, hair shining in the sterile room as she stared at
an empty bed, her body fragile yet determined as he pulled her
close and comforted her.
Blood on the threshold, blood on his hands....
It took all his strength not to cry out, not to shatter the silence
with the force of his torment. He _had_ to let it out, but not by
shouting - not that. Instead he let his fingernails shout his
anguish, digging into his palms until the blood trickled down to
his wrists, warm and sticky.
Blood on his hands....
He'd dreamed of blood that night in the hospital, the painful
vision slicing through the soothing sleep that the drugs and the
man's words had enveloped him in. Blood in his sleep, blood in his
waking visions.... Blood.... and that aching terrifying feeling
that everything was wrong.
"Were you dreaming?" The man again, his lined face a mask of
concern although his eyes had been unreadable.
"I... I...." But he'd been without words to express the horror that
had still clung to him from the dream.
"Everything will be all right." The man's mouth had curled upwards
in a ghost of a smile. "We'll take care of you."
But the man's words had faded in and out of his hearing, his face
flickering and changing and becoming the same but different - a
face calmly smoking as someone pointed a gun at it, smiling with
the knowledge that the gunman was too weak to kill him.
"You gave us quite a fright," the man had continued, his voice
velvety, his eyes like flint. "We won't let you.... slip away like
that again. We'll keep you safe."
And then the man had smiled, his smile shattering the image of the
gun into a thousand pieces, leaving him wondering why he was so
ungrateful as to imagine someone trying to kill this man, why he
was so treacherous as to shudder at his proximity.
"Who.... who are you?" he'd stammered, desperate to hear the true
facts of his life, hoping they would drive away the visions.
"I'm a friend of the family," the man had smiled. "And," he
continued after a pause, "your boss."
"My boss?" _That_ hadn't seemed right. "What.... what do I do?"
Talk to me, tell me, explain.... His mind had been reeling in
panic, suddenly desperate to know everything. Learn the facts, know
the truth and something - _something_ - would seem familiar, would
prompt his memory and end this nightmare.
"National Security." The man had straightened his back, raised his
head, his face etched with pride and certainty. "You work for me,
and _we_ work for the country."
"When can I go back?" He'd felt suddenly desperate to go to work,
desperate to do something - _anything_ - that would make him feel
useful. Lying in bed, dependent on others for life, sustenance,
even his name, was a nightmare of impotence.
The man had tilted his head to one side, considering. "Well, until
your memory's back, there's little you can do. But there are a few
things - one thing in particular...." And then he'd smiled a smile
that had sent chills running up and down his spine, although he'd
known it was wrong to fear this man - his boss, his old friend.
But _this_ is wrong!
He was back in the dark room again, back in the present, the gun on
the floor beside him as he screwed his eyes shut against the
visions, tried to shut his ears to the little voice whispering in
Fresh blood trickled on the drying blood on his hands, but this
time it was not enough and he spoke aloud, hearing his voice as a
clamour in the silence of the apartment - a silence that would soon
be a pall for the dead.
"This is right_!"
He banged his head on the wall again, trying to drive out the
voices - voices which shouted and nagged and cajoled, telling him
that this was wrong, that the man was wrong, that his promise was
not to be trusted.
"It's _right_! And then I can be free!"
When had it started, the road that had led him to this dark place?
That first time in the hospital, when they'd drugged him, the first
of many times, trying to help him drive away the visions?
No, not then - for after that, for days after that, the man had
still spoken as if he was sane, as if he'd get better, as if
everything would be all right.... as if there was still hope.
No, it was after that, days after that, that their manner had
changed when they'd looked at him, when they'd stopped talking
about "when" he got his memory back and had talked about "if".
He'd been home by then. Home - soft carpets, warm walls, a wife, a
cat.... no children. Pictures on the mantelpiece - himself, her....
separate but never together. Warm house, but.... empty....
cold..... a terrifying empty cavern devoid of memory and life.
The day he'd been discharged from the hospital had been the last
time his wife had smiled.
"Come on, honey." His wife's unfamiliar presence at his side,
supporting him as he climbed from the car. She'd still felt wrong -
taller than she should be, smelling wrong. "I've asked some friends
round to welcome you home."
Leaning heavily on her arm, he'd taken a step forward, then another
- slowly, shakily. Someone opened the door and he'd stepped inside,
feeling his heart pound, feeling the terror course through his
veins, feeling as if he was stepping into a prison rather than his
"Welcome home!" A chorus of dark voices, a ring of faces,
Dark suits, eyes of steel, voices harsh with the chill of death.
Alone at the end of a long long table, his eyes still itching, his
throat raw from.... what? "You've gone too far this time. We're
closing you down." A smile of pity from the man who spoke, but the
other men, staring from the shadows, had smiled, and their faces
were the same as.....
"No! You can't! Leave me alone!"
He hadn't known that he'd shouted aloud until he felt his wife's
hands on his shoulders, shaking him back to reality.
"It's okay, honey. It's just our friends coming to welcome you
home. I'm sorry." These last words had been addressed to the room
at large. "It's too soon. He's still very sick. I'm sorry. I
shouldn't have invited you." And she'd tried to smile her
apologies, and the men had tried to smile their acceptance, strange
smiles on their lips as their eyes had looked at him as sharp as
But after they'd gone she'd sighed sadly, wearily, and had seemed
reluctant to touch him.
"I must remember. I must!" he'd said to himself over and over,
seeing her face turned away, hearing the impatience in her voice.
But he hadn't.
Instead, the nightmare had started to engulf his every waking
Hours, days, weeks.... Sinking further and further into.... what?
Insanity? He hadn't dared to voice that thought, but slowly,
relentlessly, the visions had overwhelmed him until at last there
was no other option.
Opening the refrigerator, reaching for an iced tea....
A dark street. A car. And _her_ - the woman, her hair burning like
a brand in the darkness, her eyes full of sincerity, friendship
"I don't know you!" he'd shouted, dropping the bottle, feeling the
glass cut into his bare foot but not caring. "Go away! I don't know
That had been the first time he'd seen her. Since then the woman -
the devil with the fiery hair - had tormented him, forever in his
visions, trying to drag him into the quagmire of insanity. Smiling,
crying, shouting, frowning - he'd seen her in every form, use every
wile to drag him down.
And he'd been powerless to resist.
Waking up, wincing from the pain which had taken weeks to go
Her face bending over him, her lips moving in words he couldn't
quite focus on, not just yet. His shoulder hurt, his mouth was dry
- but she was offering him water, she would make everything better.
Always there for him, looking after him, even though he didn't
Looking after him. Making everything better. That's what she wanted
him to think, but he hadn't been taken in - he'd known it was just
the voice of a deceiver trying to distract him from the truth.
Oh, he'd asked his wife, described the woman and asked if this was
some memory trying to emerge, but she'd frowned, her face full of
hurt. "You married me at 20, while we were still students," she'd
said, showing him the documentation to prove it, "and you haven't
spent a night away from home in all our married life, apart from
those few days in the hospital. There's no way all those so-called
"memories" could be true."
But that hadn't kept them away.
Soon he'd dreaded every waking moment, dreaded every minute of
sleep, knowing that the visions could come at any moment, prompted
by any false trigger. He'd scarcely dared to look, to listen, to
smell, knowing that the slightest thing could lead to a terrifying
descent into the nightmare.
It had come to a head a few days ago now. November 27th.
He'd woken up, looked at the calendar, and then....
He had no idea how often he'd screamed that word, but at last his
voice had given up, all the sound scraped from it by the force of
A girl, her face twisted with screaming, calling out a name....
Why had it filled him with such horror? She wasn't calling for
_him_. This was nothing to do with him.
"Leave her alone! Take me instead!"
Someone had come in, their footsteps like a death knell on the
wooden floor, and he'd run to them, pounding at them, tears flowing
down his face as he'd begged and begged....
And then something had stabbed into his arm and everything had gone
"I can't take this any more." The first thing he'd seen as he'd
drifted towards consciousness was his wife's eyes, red with
"Wha... what?" His own voice had been like a little rustle of
paper, lost in the pounding in his head. "What happened?"
It had always been like that after the drugs. The visions that had
seemed to real, so insistent, faded to a vague shadow of memory. It
was only now, now that he sat in the dark and waited, that the full
memories of those terrifying experiences were coming back to him.
"I can't," his wife had repeated. "God knows that I've tried, but
you need more help than I can give you. I've called.... someone.
They'll take you away to somewhere they can look after you and make
"No!" he'd croaked, all the sound he could muster with his raw
throat. "I'm not crazy!"
But his wife had only shaken her head sadly, tears trickling down
her cheeks, and he'd known that she was right.
"Can I talk to him?" A voice from the shadows, the smell of smoke
in the air.
And that was when it had happened - the deal - the promise - the
chance of freedom. It was then that all the threads were brought
together, drawing him inexorably to this room, this night, this....
"Listen! Think! Remember!" he urged himself, feeling his mind begin
to stray. "Remember why you're here. Remember why this is right."
"She's right, you know." Smoke in his throat, choking him, making
him want to scream. "I was here. I saw everything. And don't forget
everyone who saw what happened when you came home. They'll back her
up as well."
He'd shut his eyes, wishing he could die, wondering if life had
always been this.... nightmare. Had he ever been happy? Maybe this
was nothing - maybe his memory had gone because he'd blanked out an
even greater trauma. Maybe forgetting was best. But if that was so,
then what was there to live for?
"She's taken a lover," the man continued, relentlessly. "She
has.... connections. If she has you committed, she'll make sure you
never get out. You'll be in there for life." Then he'd paused,
taking a deep breath of smoke, surveying him through eyes of steel.
It was only then that he'd realised that the terror he'd felt
earlier had been nothing. Blood had run down his chin and his
palms, but he'd had no voice left to scream with.
The word, hanging like a sword over his head, promising....
The cigarette had twisted firmly in the ash tray - a cruel
movement, like gouging a man's eyes out.
"But... There's something you can do for me." A sudden smile, like
a grinning death's head. "And if you do...."
The tension had pulsed in the room, the blood pounding in his ears.
A long, long silence of terrible suspense as a flame flared briefly
"If you do...." A breath of smoke from the new cigarette. "I will
make sure that doesn't happen. I have.... contacts too. I promise
you, you will be well taken care of, and.... well, perhaps we'll
get what we've always wanted."
"What?" No sounds had come out as he'd mouthed the question through
his bleeding lips. "What do you want me to do?"
Anything. Anything to end this nightmare. Anything....
Anything? To get his memory back, to put a rest to the visions.
"No!" How had it been possible that there was any fresh horror he
The man had raised his hand, urging silence. "Let me explain. This
person is a traitor. They've been working to undermine the country.
They.... If they were arrested they should be sentenced to death
anyway, but it would cost the people hundreds of thousands of
dollars to try them, and if they managed to hire a good lawyer...."
His face had twisted with hatred, letting the sentence hang.
"But.... murder?" He'd not been so desperate yet that his stomach
hadn't churned at the thought of killing someone in cold blood.
"Not murder. Justice." The man had said. "Look at the suffering
people like this have caused."
Then he'd opened a briefcase, pulling out sheaves and sheaves of
photographs. A man, body charred so it was scarcely human, lying
next to a bombed train. Another man, seen from a distance, face
unrecognisable, dead on a bridge as someone bent over him. Several
soldiers, hideously burned, lying dead in an emergency room as the
doctor looked at them in despair....
And more.... Lots more....
Deaths, each one more hideous than the last.
"These people were all working for National Security," the man had
continued, although his face had floated in and out of focus as the
dead and pain and blood had flashed in visions before his eyes.
"But this person and their associates caused all this by their
A bridge at night. Cold, tense, breath condensing into little drops
of moisture in the crisp air. And a woman.... who? Not the woman
from his visions, though he sensed she was there somewhere too, but
another woman, with long brown hair and a strange expression on her
face, as if she knew what was going to happen and had accepted it.
But a man was holding death at her throat, his eyes sharp as a
knife. She was going to die. She was going to die, and his grief
filled the whole night, rising up and catching him by the throat,
choking the life from him.
Oh God, oh God! Grief... bereavement. Seeing a loved one ripped
from life. Seeing death.
How many of the people in the photographs had left loved ones
behind? How many lives had been torn apart by these.... monsters?
Oh God, oh God! Make it go away, Make these pictures go away. I
want them to go, and I want to kill the person who's done all this.
"Yes!" Suddenly the visions fell away and he was deadly serious,
clear-minded and earnest. "I'll do it."
And the man had smiled.
"It's right! It's right!" he repeated now, trying to drag those
pictures back into his mind, trying to remember the hatred that had
flowered then, leading him to this room. "I _must_ kill him, then
it will be okay."
But it didn't seem right at all, and the visions crowded in so
close that he couldn't think, couldn't breathe.
Smiling in a hospital bed, a gold cross hanging from her
Taking him in her arms as he cried for someone else, some other
place, his body bruised and his heart full of guilt and despair....
Sitting there, proud and defiant, parrying accusations with lies,
covering for him, saving him....
Footsteps in the hall, clicking of heels...
He reached for the gun, scarcely able to keep his hand steady,
knowing that he _had_ to. Kill the person - kill him and then go
free. Drive a bullet through the visions that had deprived him of
hope, of happiness.... of sanity.
Keep calm, keep calm, keep calm....
"No! Not now! Not ever! Not now!"
His left hand curled into claws, raking down his cheek, drawing
blood, using pain to drive away the vision, to drag him back to the
A key in the lock. Metallic rattle, every noise drawn out into an
eternity of waiting.
Soon. Soon.... A few seconds, and they'd be dead and he'd be free.
Blood. Blood on his cheek. Blood on his chin. Blood on his hands.
Light, slanting across the dark as the door opened a crack, then
further, more and more, until....
Raise the gun, breathe deeply to stop the shaking.... Think! Think!
Aim! Just a few seconds...
A footstep on the floor, echoing in his head. Step.... Step.... .
Soon. Just a step more.... into the light. Silhouette against the
light of the hallway, hand about to reach for the light but cut
down just too soon.
Come on! Come on! Just one step more? Why did he pause? What could
And then he saw him.
Not _him_ after all.
Red hair shining in the light from the hall, shoulders sagging with
defeat and despair, breath catching in her throat as if tears had
been her constant companion for weeks.
The devil from his visions, come to claim him, come to drag from
him the last vestiges of sanity.
The gun fell from his hand with a crash as he shut his eyes against
the sudden light, curling up into a little ball to hide from....
Little. Make myself little. She won't see me. She'll leave me
alone. Then I can be safe.
She spoke - a word, a name? But words meant nothing now - words
only spoke in visions to deceive. Words were nothing. There was
A hand on his shoulder, shaking him. A hand on his forehead,
stroking him. A hand on his body, pulling him....
And all the while warm wetness was falling on his face, dripping,
If I open my eyes she won't be there.... If I open my eyes she
won't be there.... If I open my eyes she won't be there....
Eyes wrenched open, slowly, slowly, blinking in the light.
But her face was still there, and she was smiling, even though the
tears were falling as if they'd never stop.