Read The Secrets You Hide: A Mind-Blowing Thriller (The Psychosis Series) Online

Authors: Alex Crimson

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Crime, #Psychological Thrillers, #Teen & Young Adult, #Crime Fiction, #Noir, #Thrillers, #Psychological

The Secrets You Hide: A Mind-Blowing Thriller (The Psychosis Series) (8 page)

BOOK: The Secrets You Hide: A Mind-Blowing Thriller (The Psychosis Series)
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9: Robert’s Journal – Of Day 9

 

I had just finished reading through the new set of pages when Jack called me again. I picked up the phone and was the first to speak.

“Don’t do this Jack. Please don’t do this.”

“Doctor, you have to stop pretending. Annie deserves to know the truth about who you are. She deserves to know the secret which you have been hiding from her for years.”

I fell silent, uncertain if arguing this out with him was going to serve any purpose at all. I also understood why he had used my father’s name when he had called me at the clinic in the morning. He had dropped me a hint about what was coming.

“How did you find out about this, Jack?”

“Do you really want to know?” he asked before continuing, “It was all very simple, doctor. It only took a little motivation to dig out your past. Most of it is well documented across many old newspapers. Even I was surprised, doctor, to find the secrets that you so love to conceal from your family and from the world. I think that Annie trusted you to tell her everything about yourself. But you did her an injustice by hiding something so critical…something that defines you. Now is your opportunity to end the betrayal, doctor. It’s a fairly low price to pay to keep her alive, don’t you think?”

I heard some disturbance on the phone, like the sound of a struggle and then I heard Annie’s voice.

“Robert? Are you there?” she sounded tired, probably starved.

“Annie, are you okay? Has he hurt you? Is Sarah safe?”

“We are okay, Rob. He has kept us locked in some room. What is he making you do? Please don’t do something that you might regret.”

“Don’t wor…” I said before Jack pulled the phone away from Annie. I heard her struggling in the distance, probably trying to break free of her constraints…

“So, doctor. I have gagged your wife again so she cannot interrupt your performance. But we are all eagerly looking forward to what you will do now. Go on, doctor. Tell her. Follow the script.”

I closed my eyes, gathering my composure, bringing myself to do what I was being forced to do. Jack said nothing, fully aware that I had only one option.

I looked down at the pages which I had taken out of the envelope.

“I have been lying to you, Annie,” I said, choking.

“I have been lying to you about my family. I have been lying to everybody…about them, trying to bury their secret away. But I have known for a very long time that secrets cannot stay hidden forever…they are eventually revealed. I have always known that this would come back to haunt me someday…to destroy me. Today, I have to reveal the truth of my family’s death. I have to accept their fate, and mine.”

I halted, expecting to hear Annie’s voice. But there was no sound. I continued.

“I have always maintained, I have always told the world that my family died in an accident. My parents and my elder brother, who was eleven years old then. But there was no accident, Annie, they were murdered…”

I paused for breath before reading further. “My father had taken a lot of debt from the banks for his business. He was facing foreclosure. They were threatening to take away everything that belonged to us…the house…the farm…and everything that was left of the business. He tried everything he could to avoid it…to stop it all from happening. But he failed…he failed to cobble together a plan to prevent the foreclosure.

“So…” I paused. I could feel my face contorted with discomfort. I did not want to read further. I did not want to remember the details of what had happened.

“Do not stop, doctor” Jack ordered.

“One morning, a few days before the bank’s scheduled auction of our property, my father walked into the living room where I and my elder brother Zach were watching something on the television.

“We were lying down on the floor while our father stood at the door looking at us nervously. He stepped into the room and stood behind us. He called out for our mother who was in the kitchen and waited there for her to arrive. When she finally came into the room a few minutes later, she noticed the handgun he was holding. Without a warning, he shot her dead with two blasts of his gun. Both Zach and I stood up and looked at him. Zach rushed to our mother’s body, crying. My father followed him, shooting him in the head with a single shot. I…I was paralyzed at the sight of everything that had happened. I just stood there…watching.

“My father fell on his knees before me. He pulled me closer and hugged me. He told me that everything would be okay. His cheek was pressed against mine. Then, moments later, he shot himself dead, leaving me alive…and alone.”

I loosened my grip on the pages and they swirled down clumsily onto the floor. I addressed Annie directly, deviating from the script, improvising. “I am sorry, baby. I am sorry for not telling you before. I have always been afraid that I would end up like him. I have always been afraid that I would hurt you and Sarah just like him…I am afraid of becoming just like my father.”

There was an extended silence.

“You’ve finally lost your mask, doctor. I hope you can feel that heavy burden lifted off your shoulders. I can tell you that Annie here is crying tears of pain and shock for you. I believe she forgives you.”

“Why are you doing this, Jack?”

“Simple reason. I am doing this to tell a story to the world. I want to shake it out of its pathetic state of hypnosis and self-obsession. I want to take the drapes off the mirror and make the world stare into its own frightening face. You, doctor, represent the world in this story. You are the medium through which I want this world to see itself.”

“Jack, I understand. Let’s talk about this. You don’t have to hurt Annie and Sarah to do that. You don’t have to hurt yourself to do that.”

“And what makes you think I am hurting anyone?”

“Jack…you probably haven’t slept in days…you have been watching me all this while. You have been skipping food to serve your obsession. You are threatening the lives of my family. You need to see this for what it is, Jack. You need to see that you are obsessed with the idea of doing this.

“You are not a criminal, Jack. You are not what you are pretending to be. Remember your wife. Remember Catherine. You need to stop before things go out of control, Jack.”

“Stop,” he said. “Stop trying to plot your way out of this, doctor. You have only one choice and that is to do as I say. This story is not going to stop before it has reached its conclusion. Now…you better get on with your next task, doctor. There is not much time. You need to write about this conversation we have just had in your journal, doctor…the second part of your journal for today. You have twenty minutes left.”

10: Robert’s Recollection – Of Day 10

 

Talking directly to him wasn’t working. The grip that his obsessions had on him was much stronger than I had presumed. All I could do was to keep trying.

If I had time on my hands, I could have tried to understand the origins of his behavior more closely. I could have dug into his history like an archeologist looking for clues–finding facts where possible, making theories where necessary. I could have deconstructed his mind before trying to fix it. But time was a costly and unpredictable resource. The clock was ticking and I had no idea what it was ticking towards.

It took me seventeen minutes to write the second part of the journal. Once again, seconds after I had sent it across to Jack, my cellphone buzzed.

“Doctor, you managed to send the journal just on time. That’s good. As a favor to you, I want to give you a hint, a clue that might lead you to your wife and daughter. It is something you will find at your clinic. Wouldn’t you want to go look for it?”

I got into my overcoat, put my mobile phone in my pocket, picked up the shoulder bag which was lying next to the table and rushed out of the house. On my way out, I checked my bag to confirm that I had the keys to the clinic’s main door. The only other person with a copy of that key was my receptionist, Alice. She usually locked it on her way out in the evenings.

I got into my car and fired the ignition. The engine coughed to life in the cold night. I pushed the accelerator and soon I was on the long straight road which led to the clinic. The city held an abandoned look, deserted by humanity in every corner. My thoughts circled back to the latest part of the script which Jack had made me read and the journal where I had reproduced most of the words he had written.

However, I soon found myself drifting to the thought of something else, something that I had successfully ignored for a very long time. It was the thought of my father and his last moments when I had been forced to come face-to-face with his worst self.

I reiterated to myself the observation that Jack’s knowledge of my father’s actions was extremely limited at best. All the words that Jack had made me read in his script, all the facts that Jack knew, had been based on news coverage and possibly some police reports that he had managed to get access to. There was no other source of information that could have given him the specifics of what had actually happened. Only one witness had survived that night and it was me. The finer details of that event were locked away in my head, safe from the outside world.

I took refuge in the arbitrage of knowledge that existed between me and Jack. It felt like an advantage I held, however small.
At the least
, I thought to myself,
I can stop him from using that memory against me.

I was seven years old when it had all happened. It was an age when I had hardly made many memories which would stay with me for the rest of my life. But those few minutes did, even though those were also the moments that I desperately wanted to forget. They stayed with me through my teenage years, appearing again and again in nightmares and visions. They kept hurting me, not just once, but repeatedly.

When I finally decided to see a psychiatrist about it, I slowly began to construct a way out of its confines and let it all fade away. The psychiatrist did not bother to find the root cause of my agony. He focused purely on helping me identify things and behaviors which distracted me from it. He liked to call it solution-driven-psychotherapy.

He succeeded, and in the process, I found two things which would define the course of my life after that. First, I found out what I wanted to do for a living. I wanted to be a psychiatrist. I wanted to help people defeat their minds and their memories. And second, I found a mentor in the psychiatrist who had treated me. Many years later, he was the one who gave me that mantra which would define my professional outlook.
Focus on empathy, not sympathy. Focus on perspective, not emotion.

As I drove on, my eyes were fixed on the black tarmac road ahead. I felt like mine was the only car accelerating rapidly on a dark route that led straight to hell. The darkness was finally ready to swallow me…showing no refrain or regret…like I had always been destined to be a part of it. It was pulling me in with gravity unlike I had ever experienced before. It had probably pulled me in beyond the point of no return. The light from the vehicles approaching me on the other side of the road and of vehicles driving in the same direction felt like a strange display of fireworks orchestrated by the devil himself to celebrate my descent into his abode.

The space inside the car would be illuminated by a tall street-light as I approached it, and then the same light would leave me in a deep dark shadow as I drove away. Then the same process would repeat periodically as I passed by one street-light after another. It felt like a constant battle between light and darkness…a never-ending cycle which would keep repeating on and on and on…till there was nothing left of me to salvage.

It was then that the visions came back with supreme clarity. I found myself in my seven-year-old body lying down on my stomach on the floor in the living room of my childhood home. My chin was cushioned by my inverted palms. My brother Zachary was sitting beside me and we were both laughing at a cartoon playing on the color television. It was the 16
th
of March, 1987.

Our mother was in the kitchen and I overheard the sound of vessels rattling as she placed them in the sink. My father walked into my view standing at the door of the bedroom. He was in his vest and a pair of pitch black trousers. His body was lean and muscular like it had always been. His right hand was behind his back concealing something.

He looked at me and offered a smile but I knew that it was fake. His face was sweating profusely with beads of sweat all over his forehead. I ignored him and turned my eyes back to the television as he walked around the two of us–me and Zach–and came to a stop behind us, standing there quietly.

“Martha” he called, his voice betraying him and producing only a whistle. “Martha” he called again, this time louder, more certain.

I heard my mother’s footsteps on the wooden floor over the sound of television as she approached the room from the kitchen. She walked right inside, standing a few feet away from my father.

“What is it darling?” she asked. I could tell from her voice that she had noticed the discomfort on his face.

“I am sorry” my father said. Then, he raised the handgun he had been hiding behind his back. He pointed it at her head and pulled the trigger. The blast of the gun startled us and it put a bullet through my mother’s shoulder. She would probably have survived if in the few seconds that followed my father hadn’t stepped towards her and shot her in the head at close range.

Zach stood up, shocked. My father didn’t wait. He offered no explanation. He pointed his gun at Zach’s forehead and pulled the trigger. Zach struggled backward stumbling over me. He fell onto the ground limp. He was dead before his head hit the floor.

I was still lying paralyzed on the floor. My father looked down at me and took a step forward, getting closer. I slowly managed to stand up on my feet gazing back at him. My father fell on his knees and grabbed me by the shoulders. He pulled me towards himself. I was now crying, unable to process why he was doing what he was doing.

He hugged me, the left side of his face, touching the left side of mine.

“Everything will be okay, Rob” he lied.

I rolled my eyes to a side, managing to see a partial view of his right hand. He raised the gun to his forehead at a slight angle. He intended to put both our faces in the line of the bullet to kill himself and me with a single shot. I turned my head, pivoting over his shoulder to get a better view of what he was doing. That turn of my head was an innocent movement made out of curiosity. I was acting on instinct, hardly able to comprehend what was happening. He pulled the trigger putting a bullet through his head.

In the news coverage that followed, nobody was able to offer a coherent theory for how I had managed to survive. They just ascribed it to luck. But I knew what had happened. I had turned my head at just the right moment to get myself out of the way of the flying bullet which had exited the left side of my father’s forehead. That innocent move had saved me.

After the bullet had passed through him, his body lost control and tilted towards me. Unable to hold his weight I fell onto the ground and his body fell over me, pinning me to the floor. I lay there, under the dead body of my father, for what felt like an entire lifetime till the police arrived, alerted by neighbors who had heard the series of gunshots.

Tears flowed out of my eyes and blood flowed out of the hole in my father’s head, mixing together and scarring me with a psychological injury whose only hope for healing was to be buried in the distant past under a mound of other memories, painful or otherwise. That’s what I had done–locked it away.

On the advice of my mentor and psychiatrist, I had picked up the habit of maintaining a journal where I would write about the memories of my day. I first used a notebook to do that and over time shifted to my personal computer.

The objective behind maintaining the journal was simple. It was a tool for me to eternalize every day of my existence. It was intended to create a wide collection of active memories so that my brain was overwhelmed into hiding away those few moments of pain from my early life. That trick had worked. And it had worked consistently for fifteen years.

But Jack had turned the trick on its head–knowingly or otherwise. He had forced me to bring that memory back and to make those few moments matter again. Those few moments were once again sitting comfortably on the top of the memory mountain which I had created over the years. Now, sitting in that car, the memory of that day stood out, constituting the latest entry into my journal. The healing process would have to start again, I told myself. But this time, I might have bigger wounds to deal with.

I struggled, in my car, trying to extract myself from under my father’s body. His weight was still over me, constraining me from breaking away, from being free. I squirmed before suddenly realizing that it was just the seatbelt holding me to the seat in the car. In that same instant, I screeched to a halt in the parking space opposite my clinic. There was no one within visible distance.

BOOK: The Secrets You Hide: A Mind-Blowing Thriller (The Psychosis Series)
7.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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