Be Afraid

by vegetables [Reviews - 1]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Drama, General, Horror, Hurt/Comfort, Introspection

“I just thought it was strange,” said Chris to her mother in the car. “Can't you see why I would?”

“Of course we can, Chrissy,” said her mum from behind the wheel, “your father and I both can. You've lost two of your friends in a very short time. That's a hard thing for anyone, let alone someone as young as you.”

“They both died in fires,” said Chris levelly. “In their homes, with their families. After saying a skull-headed man would kill them both. Like the man who sits at our table. Who’s here in the car with us now.”

“She won't listen,” said the man with the face of a skull. “None of them will. Better to be like Stacey, and tell no one what you see. Better to seem sane, in the time that you’ve got left.”

“You can tell the Doctor about the skull-faced man,” said Chris’s mum, pronouncing the word with a capital D. “She knows all about other children who’ve seen similar things. It's good of her to see us so soon, and on the NHS. She said your story was unusual enough that it was worth seeing you early. We’re lucky, Chrissy. Don't go forgetting that.”

“Psychiatrist,” said Chris, not agreeing with her mother. “People call her a psychiatrist, not a Doctor.”

You’ll call her a Doctor,” said her mum. “A doctor for your brain, like Doctor Khan is for my lungs. ‘Psychiatrist’ makes people think you’re broken, and I don't want them to go on thinking that.”

Joe had said the world was broken, Chris thought but didn't say. That in the future the stuff they learned in school would all be done by robots, or the world would be blown away by some disagreement between grown-ups. School was a thing adults made you do so they could pretend that there still was a future. He’d pulled the four of them together, and now he was dead in a fire.

In the seat beside her, the skull man continued to grin.