Three years ago my grandfather had asked me to do some pro bono work for a friend of his. This friend had a granddaughter who apparently had a completely unexpected psychotic breakdown. Although she had been something of a bully, what rare physical confrontations she had never resulted in serious injury, and was considered fairly harmless though annoying, even by her peers. The only witness to the catlystic event, reported by others to have been a target of the subject’s bullying, was unable to report. Three individuals entered the area upon hearing screams and saw the witness in an unconscious heap on the floor and the subject covered in bloody scratches, staring into a vacant doorway, screaming uncontrollably. According to the ME’s report, repeated doses of Thorazine were unable to stop the subject’s screams.
She was currently in a catatonic state, completely un medicated except for the IV drip that sustains her according to the family’s wishes. Having no real experience with catatonic patients, I was not sure why Grandfather asked me to speak to the subject until I heard more about her community. My expertise is in the psychology of otherworldly interaction with a focus on daemons, and her town had a very active history.
It’s hard to be involved in para-psychology and not have heard of Circlehallow. Those who freely speak of it in their materialistic warblings claim it was knowingly built upon the sight of one of the greatest sacred burial sites of the ancient Mound Builders, creating a vortex of evil in it’s desecration. Most of us in the more quiet educational community have noticed the symbiotic existence of the spirit world and the physical world in the current inhabitants, and, though we agree that a doorway may be opened, it certainly does not seem to pose any kind of threat.
Grandfather knew that I had been studying this place since my under-classman days. He usually had greater sight than I did, so I assumed he knew something that was still hidden to me. Maybe my accumulation of anecdotes can somehow be of benefit to this subject where other psychologists could not venture. I was excited by the time I arrived for my appointment, and quite sure my unique qualifications could be the answer to her healing.
Then I saw her.
It was not what I saw when I looked through that tiny window in the door, but the transformation I saw when that door opened. From a small tired weakened body grew this beast of abject horror contained within her own terror. Years ago her vocal chords had ceased to work form her constant screaming, so that now a pathetic near squall was all that she could produce. Her body grew rigid with claws of steal straining to escape not the binds, but the abomination in her own mind. Just as always, the shock of it physically impacted me, and I swallowed again the lunch I should not have eaten, but I stepped forward into the room.
This is what I do. Unlike other psychiatrists, I believe in the Spirit World. I know there are daemons, both within our own minds, and without. Many times they are the same. Most people cannot look them in the eye without taking a part of that entity with it. Some never recover. Most of those who have, have seen me.
I grabbed a chair to pull in front of the subject so I could meet her eye to eye for as long as it took. People think facing daemons is the hard part. Facing the terror they leave behind really is. There is a void of humanity, compassion, faith. There is knowledge of things that should not be understood by human minds. Even the faith of evil is easier to face than the void.
But I was born a Spirit Walker, and the void cannot hold me. I step within the veil of terror to find the frightened child inside, cowering in corners forgotten. These daemons cannot harm me: I am greater than their world, and though I feel it’s claws at my back, I feel nothing but love for the being before me. I kneel before the Spirit Child, and wrap it in my arms-the mother protecting it’s babe-and I feel the break of the refreshing flood.
The subject broke into sobs, words falling over themselves in the rush to escape their trap. I was aware of the amazement of the hospital staff around me, but they were not my concern. For the next three days, I did not leave the subject’s side, myself amazed at the stamina of her vocal chords as much as the story she told. Like many of my other patients, she now lives in my neighborhood. For those who have survived the battle, it is not always enough to know how to win. Security comes from having others to go to war with you.
Most of us don’t get to hear more than one side of a story. I have to confess that these past three years have been much easier knowing that I am not the only warrior on my block. Sometimes the knowledge of a thing gives it power. Understanding is believing; believing can create. That’s why faith healing works. That’s why I too am now afraid. I am afraid of what I have drawn out of that darkness.
The welts on my back were not quite healed when I discovered another patient had been there that day.