's 2018 Horror Write-off:

The Feelings Game

Submitted by Delcat

All right,

Are you ready?

Are you listening

Are you


I know, it’s not as fun as playing with your real friends. But it’s important, okay?

It’s alright if you don’t know how. This is a special game, remember? You don’t draw how it looks, you draw how it feels...or how it felt. You were good at it last time, remember?

What if I play your song for you?

Good. Now. Why don’t we warm up? Can you draw how this looks for me, please?

Thank you, Renee. Now, can you draw how it feels?

Are you done? Very good, that’s wonderful, Renee. Now, can you give me some words about the picture I showed you? What are some of the emotions that pictures can make us feel?

That’s right, eyes can be scary. But they don’t have to be. We can redraw them with our feelings, and then our feelings fight for us so we don’t have to be scared.

All right. Here’s the first one.

See? Art can feel good, too. Remember that. We’re going to draw it better.

This may make you feel bad. If you need to stop and talk about it, that’s all right.

You’re doing wonderfully, Renee. Now, can you tell me about this one?

I see. I need you to be very brave for this one, all right? I promise you no one will be angry or upset with you, no matter what. You’re safe here.

You’re my little champion, Renee, I can see how hard you’ve been practicing. Thank you. Now, can you tell me anything about this?

You know, I thought that might be them. Now, I want you to listen to me carefully, Renee, because this is the part where you can help a lot of people. One more and we’re donezo, you get to have funzo. Lightning round.

Can you draw this one for me just as hard as you can?

Please, Renee.

Wouldn’t Andrew be proud?

Attagirl. You’ve got this.

All right, kiddo, tell me about it and you’re free to go. Your mom said she was taking you out as long as you two are in town, right? Just tell me what you need to say about this one, okay?

Really? Now why did he go and do that, Renee?

Hah. I can’t argue with that, as long as you look that happy about it. Okay, go ahead and start picking up.

She turns off the playback, runs it back, listens to the last few responses again, and writes each on a sticky note. She thumbs through the file and applies them according to where she’ll cross-reference them tonight in the database.

“This was when he ate him.”

“He’s a monster. That’s what monsters do.”

She underlines “monster” in the first instance, and the “s” in the second.

She stops to drink her coffee. It’s her fourth cup, half cold now, in the trans pride mug from the gift exchange, where she had brought her match coffee--there’s a sort of an in-joke to it now, so it’s at the office instead of at home.

She opens the client folder on her PC under Renee’s name, and she looks at the drawings.

Eight minutes and thirty seconds each, marker and crayon, each drawing stopping short as the song had stopped and she had stopped with it, like clockwork.

She really has been practicing.

She opens a new file and enters the latest data set, scanning and filing each new feeling against the corresponding “game” prompts.

June 28th:
Logo (looks) (Control 5/Warmup)
Logo (feels) (Control 5/Warmup)
Glass (collision) (Externally Sourced)
Glass (assault) (Externally Sourced)
Carpet (assault) (Externally Sourced)
Teeth (A. Keriakedes, deceased) (Replica, Externally Sourced [release forms 7A-9b])

She finishes the rest of the paperwork.

She closes her eyes for a long moment, long enough that she seems she is sleeping, and when she opens them, she notes down in pen that this is the second session in a row that Renee’s mother has succeeded in looking at her daughter in the waiting room.

The file she wants is cross-referenced under several folders. The closest directory is labeled “AKeriakedes>Renee”, under which it is titled reneesong2.mp3. It is carefully set aside from the patient files, so that she will never accidentally play it for Renee when she draws. It’s exactly the same length as Renee’s song, and almost exactly the same, but she has made alterations to it--there is how something looks, and there is how something feels.

She sits.

She breathes deep.

And in the eight minutes and thirty seconds, she listens for the sound of the car crashing like someone trying to hear thunder fast enough to stop lightning.