Welcome to my very first short horror story in this blog: The Itch! I’ve been writing horror stories for a long time, since 9 years old (if my memory serves me well). Most of these are also dreams I had throughout my life (edited and tweaked as stories). Hope you like them!
In my first story (published on Amazon previously), it’s about something all of us experience on a daily basis – ITCH. How would you handle itching? Just by scratching them of course, or if it’s more serious you’ll need anti-histamines. But what if the itching is right underneath the skull of your head, unreachable by hand and no amount of drugs would stop it from festering… How far would you go to stop the itch?
Dr. Lee was extremely nervous about meeting the patient. It’s not that he’s not experienced, it’s just the very first psychiatric homicidal case for him.
Being referred to this case was a major stepping-stone for Dr. Lee who always strives to make a name for himself in the psychiatric field. The more complicated the case, the better the chance to show off his capabilities.
Being a young genius was never easy for Dr. Lee, who was always negatively scrutinized for his age despite the fact that he aced his doctoral exams with the highest honours. Finally, he thought, it’s time to show everyone I can do it, perhaps even better than those arrogant geezers.
Stepping into the room, he met Lana Hoyt for the first time. Lana’s hands were cuffed on the desk for good reasons – she bit off the previous interviewer’s nose.
Looking back at an old picture of Lana attached in the patient’s file, Dr. Lee felt sorry for her deterioration.
Lana had a bubbly and cheerful smile with round rosy cheeks. Her lustrous dark hair was beautifully perfect for shampoo ads. Raised in a rich suburban family, her only job was to party with her rich friends, alongside celebrities.
Lana was the epitome of an “it girl” who has it all… but now she’s a convicted killer, locked up in a loony bin. Unfathomable.
Dr. Lee gazed up at the present Lana who’s sitting before him; she’s now a sullen looking, emaciated creature.
Her lips were thin and dark, and her cheekbones sharply protruding as her face’s fullness had transformed into sunken hollowness with paper-thin skin merely hanging on to the sides of her bony face. Even more disturbing – her beautiful hair was gone, shaved to nothingness, leaving her with a bald scalp filled with spots of uneven flaking skin and lines of scars.
“Good morning, Ms. Hoyt. May I call you Lana?”
“By all means, doctor.” Lana’s voice was sweet and pleasing to hear – the only pleasantness about her current state.
Trying to build a rapport with his patient for the first time, Dr. Lee gave his most charming smile, “I’ve heard of you, Lana. Your blog is quite popular, I hope…”
“Cut the crap, doctor. Don’t try too hard, it makes you look bad…” Lana sneered, a smile appeared from the corners of her thin dark lips.
Dr. Lee flushed with embarrassment for a moment, as deep down he knew he was indeed trying hard to make this work.
He raised his chin higher and with a fake smile, he began the session, “Very well then! Let’s cut to the chase… Please tell me what happened on 5th December, 2018.”
Lana stared straight into Dr. Lee’s eyes and began the story in her sweet soothing voice…
“Five of us… Damon, Helen, Ariff, Jane and I went for a vacation at Blackwood Mountain.
We decided to spend the weekend in a secluded cabin, belonged to Ariff’s great grandparents. The cabin was beautiful, but very secluded… we had to drive for days and then park our car outside a forest. Then, we had to trek through the snowy forest. It’s so damn secluded… that there’s no phone or internet connection at all. Why would a bunch of kids like us go up there? Well, you could say it’s because… no one would catch us doing anything recreationally ‘illegal’. Plus it’s relaxing too, getting away from all the attention in the city.
Anyway, just an hour or two after we arrived, Damon became weird. He’s screwed up; he kept scraa… scratching, scratchiiiing… his head…”
Dr. Lee noticed that Lana’s voice was shrill and unstable when she mentioned the word scratch. It’s as though the word itself bothered her.
She then sank low in her chair and made a low guttural moan. Then she began shaking her head side to side as if there were invisible flies circling around her.
“Calm down, Lana. You alright? Can you…. continue the session?” Dr. Lee asked, hoping that she won’t stop the session. He’s counting on her to make it happen.
She stopped moaning and sat straight up suddenly. Her eyes widened as she said, “I’m g… good. I’ll continue.”
“Apart from the itch… Damon said he was hearing noises too, even though none of us heard a thing. We know it’s nothing to do with the ‘junks’ we brought because we haven’t even got the party started yet! All he took was weed, and let me tell you… weed doesn’t do shit like this to anyone.
Weirdest shit of all… Damon also said there were drops of blood following us in the paths wherever we went. Again, none of us seen shit like that except for him.
It was in the middle of drinking when Damon excused himself to the toilet. And he was not seen again! His annoying girlfriend Helen, began to panic and made us look for him. We went round and round looking for him, but that bastard’s nowhere to be seen.
About two hours later, he came back to the cabin himself! We were so mad and Helen pulled him into the corner for a confrontation. Instead of listening or answering her, Damon just kept scratching, scratchiiing!”
Lana was obviously disturbed by the word ‘scratch‘ again, grinding her teeth as she said those words.
Lana began to shake her head violently for a moment, before continuing…
“Then… hell broke loose, doctor. He just snapped in a second! He pushed Helen to the wall and grabbed her head with both his hands… then BAM BAM BAAM! He kept smashing her head on the wall repeatedly! All the while, he was grinning from ear to ear… like this.”
Lana then spread a grin so wide, her gums were all exposed. Still grinning, she continued, “We ran out the cabin and away from him. There’s nowhere we can run or hide without a compass and map, we’ll die before we made it out of the forest. So, we kept running and running… until a little something caught my attention…
I stopped in my tracks when I saw little droplets of blood on the snowy paths! Then, a peculiar noise started pounding inside my ears. It went TOCK TOCK TOCK TOCK. They sounded like the tapping of knuckles on a piece of wood, in a gradual steady rhythm like a clock’s dial.
It was then… I felt tingles running through my veins, like unseen bugs crawling underneath my skin. Soon, my skull starts to itch little. It’s only me, no one else heard or saw what I did, it was awful!
Doctor. You do know how it feels like right? To have no one understand the struggle you’re going through… at the same time afraid of being judged and scrutinized?”
The final words seemed so personal to Dr. Lee’s life; he’s always been judged and scrutinized in his studies, family, and also his job. He can’t help but wonder if Lana had the ability to read minds, or it might be that she’s just a very manipulative speaker.
Shaking his head, he began to feel annoyed with himself for being intimidated by a patient. He quickly diverted the session back to its original aim, “Let’s focus on you, this is your session Lana. Go on…”
She chuckled a little, and rolled her head aside like a doll. She stayed this way while continuing her story.
“That’s tragic to hear. Do continue please, Lana.” Dr. Lee asked in his most monotonous tone, trying to appear unperturbed.
“I… pre… pretended not to notice but the itch in my skull kept coming back. I had a mysterious urge – an insatiable urge to leash something inside me, but I don’t know what or how to. I chewed on my lips so hard they bled, I scratched until my scalp sore and my nails break. By night, we came back to the cabin and found Harry gone, leaving Helen’s dead body in the cabin. We dragged her body out and left her in the snow because we couldn’t care less; she’s not our friend anyway… she’s only tagging along with Damon for the trip… hehe…” Lana stopped to let out a giggle.
Dr. Lee can’t help but shuddered, revisiting the gory pictures of Helen at the crime scene in his mind. It was nothing funny or amusing at all.
“Well… We decided to spend the night in the cabin with all doors and windows locked and planned to seek help once the morning comes. That night, I was almost asleep when suddenly I jolted up with cold sweat. I realize it’s gone. The tock-ing noises, it’s completely gone from my head! As much as I should be glad, I actually lost my mind. Little did I know, I became so accustomed to the noise that the absence of it drives me to insanity, making my inner mysterious urge more painful to bear. I found that the noise actually helped the incurable itch under my skull to fade. With the noise completely gone, I suffered an inner itch in my brain that I can’t reach or scratch at all. It’s like vermin crawling underneath my skull, dancing in my brain… Then there was a knock on my room’s door. It’s Ariff.”
Lana stopped and took a deep breathe before she continued, “ Ariff, Ariff… He’s a great guy. He had a thing for me for as long as I can remember, always there for me when I needed someone…”
“I’m sorry to hear about what happened to him. But please, i want to hear you version of the story as well, Lana.” Dr. Lee continued the sentence silently to himself, Because YOU murdered him with your cold bare hands, Lana.
“Hmm… he brought me drinks. Then, he accidentally cut his finger while trying to pop the bottle cap with his penknife. The sight of blood got my heart racing, and there’s the look of pain in his face. The split-second look of agony in his face was accompanied by a distant tock-ing noise. It’s coming back. I felt relieved immediately… but when Ariff’s painful grimace was replaced by a smile, the noise ceased. The itch underneath my skull came back! I can’t take it anymore… I must stop the itch that very moment. I look at his wounded finger and held it up to my face. Ariff actually beamed with a silly smile. Foolish boy… he thought I was concerned about his injury! I pressed on his wound lightly to see some blood appeared again. Seeing the blood oozed out, the beautiful noise came back. It’s so soothing and calming to my nerves, I can’t help but dig my fingernails into the wound, just to see more blood. This time, he jerked away and yelled at me. The noise immediately ceased, and the itching came back. I asked Ariff, Can you hear it? He looked puzzled and answered, I hear nothing, what the Hell Lana?! I began scratching my head, Me neither… I lost it. I picked up the penknife
and shoved it up right under his jaw. Red gurgling blood escaped through the large gape; his neck and chest reddened with blood. TOCK TOCK TOCK… it’s loud and clear as ever. My itch vanished! It was the most relieving and satisfying feeling ever. Then, I understood why Damon kills. He needs to kill. He MUST kill.”
“What do you think caused such… condition?” It’s always important to understand things from the patient’s point of view, and Dr. Lee was professional enough to know that.
“Isn’t obvious, doctor? It’s a plague… and the only cure is blood.”
Perturbed, Dr. Lee jotted down important elements of the story in his notes. He analyzed the whole situation in his head: Lana Hoyt – the patient should be suffering from schizophrenia psychosis or major hallucination with a personality disorder. Helen and Ariff were found dead like her story, but Damon and Jane were nowhere to be found. Lana’s words could not be trusted, thus, no one can prove Damon’s the killer especially when he’s also missing alongside Jane. The main priority of my role was to gain clues of Damon and Jane’s whereabouts through Lana. Why was I so distracted, that I let her take over the session…?
Hoping to drive the session back to its original motive, Dr. Lee asked, “Where did Damon go? What do you think happened to Jane?”
“Why don’t you tell me… you’re the smart one here…” Lana replied, looking straight into the doctor’s eyes.
Dr. Lee clicked his tongue in response, thinking of a way to go about her response, when… some noise caught him off guard.
It went for less than a minute, but he’s damn sure that he heard knocking in the distant. He turned to the door, no one’s there. He shifted his gaze back to Lana, who was grinning from ear to ear, “Beautiful sound, isn’t?”
Her words stirred Dr. Lee so much that he accidentally dropped his pen; he’s never that clumsy. His mind began to think, What if I’ll become mad like her? Or what if, the cause of her madness is indeed a contagious plague as she claimed?
Dr. Lee snapped back to reality and cursed himself for being gullible enough to believe her even the slightest. Feeling the sudden need to escape Lana, Dr. Lee requested to cut the session short. He drove straight home and for the first time he missed his wife and his little girl so much, he wished that he could magically transport himself back home in the blink of an eye.
Once home, he was horrified to to see drops of blood on the floor. Dr. Lee stood frozen in fear when fits of giggles startled him. It’s just his little girl playing with a red water paint from her art class, making a mess on the floor!
Heaving a sigh of relief, Dr. Lee hugged his little girl and called out to his wife. His wife peered out from the kitchen and waved cheerfully. Her cheerfulness though, was replaced with a frown, “Are you alright, baby? Got an itch?”
Unbeknown to him, he was actually scratching his scalp so hard, pieces of flaked reddish skin stuck between his nails. Before he could comprehend the scratching, there’s someone knocking at the door.
“Gosh, who visits at such hour? Hold on, I’m coming!” Dr. Lee walked to the door, as the knocking became louder.
Midway to the door, his wife stopped him. She blinked and looked at him for a moment before saying, “Honey, no one’s knocking. I hear nothing.”
The itch begins.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back soon with my 2nd short horror story!
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