's 2014 Horror Write-off:

"  Contagion "

Submitted by   Rahkshasarani


In. Out. One. Two.

If I haven't missed my mark, you'll be breathing at least once a second. This rate is best for ambulatory activity. You won't hyperventilate. That's good, nobody wants that.

The term folie ŕ deux directly translates to “madness for two.” In essence, it means a shared psychosis between two people. It's never more, say, three or four. At that point it's just one influential madman and a bunch of sheep. But folie ŕ deux is its own special little category. Sometimes it's both equal in their degree of madness. Sometimes it's just one very convincing partner and someone with Stockholm Syndrome. Or maybe not. Caril Fugate always claimed that Starkweather held her hostage, but in the end they convicted her just the same.

Some things are hard to be definite on. Can someone really be so convincing, so charming, that they can spread malaise like a cold? What makes two spree killers any different from a man who convinces his flock to off themselves?

But I digress.

Humans by nature are empathetic. While psychosis can't be spread like a cold, it can be imitated, willingly or not, by the right host.

Take a breath. Get comfortable.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is another hard one to pin down. Mostly an anxiety disorder, they treat it with depression meds. And there's no curing it. Ever. They might teach you exercises to help reign in the symptoms, because they know you'll never be able to stop. The compulsions are stronger. Is your wrist itching? Scratch it anyway.

One of the worst is “pure o.” Obsessive to the max. Purely internal. Why, no on might ever know there's anything wrong with you. You don't wash your hands every time you see a dog, you won't organize your cereal by size and shape before you eat, you might not even twitch. They can't see you picturing everything on fire, violence, death, all these horrible things you can't control. And if you tell them, they might not believe you.

Readjust your posture, you've been sitting in the same place for too long.

A common problem with psychiatric illness is that people treat them as aberrations. If you have no outward symptoms, it might as well not be real. Oh, if only depression made cysts. If only psychotics had lumpy heads that made them easily identifiable.

Don't forget to take a breath. Do you have water? Take a sip.

The funny thing people get wrong about OCD is that the compulsions aren't merely symptoms. They're coping mechanisms. If a man is stacking matchsticks on every available surface, at least he's keeping it together. Purely obsessive thought brings no such release. No matter how you tell yourself to stop, you can't halt the invasion of images, thoughts, sensations. Your brain attacking itself, convincing your body it's feeling things that aren't there.

If it sounds like a hell, that's because it is. And if it sounds like I'm a little more open now, it's because I'm no longer alone.