11377258_962094940501670_8495553981229787940_nWhat’s up, fright fanatics?! It’s time for another entry into our FICTIONAL FRIGHTS short story series. This time, writer/horror aficionado Danni Winn brings you horror lovers a story called “Counting Backwards,” which is a really refreshing and original tale that I for one, was incredibly impressed with, which could be a bad thing, because now I want to read MORE from Winn!

So, get your scrolling finger ready, because it’s time to jump right into Danni Winn’s “Counting Backwards“.  -Jerry Smith

Artwork by Stephanie Malone


By Danni Winn

It was raining outside in the streets of the city, but only lightly. The kind where you can actually venture outdoors, and even with no umbrella, you would not become soaked. The usual tune of traffic, jackhammers, and jackasses played in the background as Dr. Jacob Lawson was nervously tiding up his office. He looked at the clock sitting next to the massive brown leather couch that adorned his professional space. It read 1:47 P.M. He momentarily stopped his chore. Lawson’s mouth was very dry, his anxiousness about today, in approximately 45 minutes actually, was beginning to become obvious. Jacob knew he could not afford any questionable behavior right now. He had a very close call a few weeks ago, causing him to become a recluse for almost two months. Lawson shook his head to get the thoughts out. They only prove to be troublesome, the thoughts of his. Always have.

The rain was continuing its pattern on the window as he sat down in his chair behind his desk. Lawson was breathing a bit heavier now as he was shuffling through his bottom drawer of the massive oak desk which sat in front of him. His hand finally grasped what it was searching for, a small smile appearing on his face. Lawson placed the bottle of Jameson Irish Whisky on the desk after unscrewing the cap and taking a large gulp of it’s contents. A satisfactory sigh emerging after the soothing effects of the elixir settle. He turned, now facing the window, looking at the rain sliding down the pane of glass. Another, larger swallow of Jameson was taken. Lawson wasn’t so rigid in the seat now, relaxing a bit, breathing returning to normal pace. The raindrops reminded him of something ghastly. Usually this common, natural occurrence, doesn’t cause people to recollect violent images. Dr. Jacob Lawson was nothing BUT common though. He was perhaps just as cunning, resourceful, and detached as the individuals that sat on his brown leather sofa. Jacob, lightly rubbing his neatly groomed beard, stared out the window of his office. His mind, drifting off to the uploaded video on he saw months ago. Sheer terror and visceral violence were emitted from the video. Most other sites, even the others that catered to the macabre, would not post the video supposedly made by twenty year old Brian Hagen. But even Lawson could understand why. The video, which initially uploaded 9 months prior, was a study of the depravity some humans engage in. Most couldn’t even finish the video, let alone get past the 3 minute 33 second mark. The scene depicted a naked woman bound and gagged, her hands tied above her, hanging from the ceiling. The young, fit woman is terrified looking as her mascara is running down her face. All of a sudden a song is heard playing and you see the woman almost snap to attention, her focus beyond the camera at whoever is there. The song ‘This Corrosion’ by Sisters of Mercy becomes a bit louder, but only because the killer is testing various power tools, and obviously wants to jam out over the noise they make. Lawson recalls the muffled screams of the victim, her trying to wiggle out of the restraints, and the helplessness she must have been experiencing. Jacob often searched these types of sites, and others that boasted similar content. He has done so, very discreetly, since being a teen. Jacob had never in his life seen images such as what were on Brian Hagen’s video. Swaying melodically to the tunes, the killer taunted his victim for a few moments and obviously enjoyed it. You can notice the killers partial erection through his boxer briefs he was wearing. The woman is now absolutely hysterical as an electric sander is turned off and on, off and on, off and on………..Then run up the side of her face quite suddenly and viciously. The camera’s focus is impeccable, framing the girl, occasionally engaging in a close up. The sander is put to use for about 2 minutes, but not before it claims a large chunk of her ear and cheek. She is no longer attempting escape from her restraints. She just hangs limply, dripping blood, sobbing. The killer turns towards the camera and does a little dance on the catwalk almost, then proceeds out of frame. He returns shortly, with a power drill equipped with a massive drill bit. He holds it up for the camera to see, fingering the trigger a few times to test the tool. The woman must’ve just realized what was in her very near future, because suddenly her fright became overwhelming. Crying, pleading, trying to move out of harms way in any possible way she could. None proved successful, and the killer bitch slapped her till next week. You could actually see blood fly from her mouth as she is backhanded with such force and precision. This does what was intended, to make her stop fighting as much. The killer stares at her for a long moment, cocks his ski mask covered head to the side, as if he was studying her, then holds the drill up. It is here that the murderer says something inaudible much to Lawson’s dismay. He tried on several occasions to decipher his remark, but couldn’t. Lawson wasn’t even sure it was English. But immediately after whatever was said, the drill is then put to use in the most grotesque way. The bit tears away any trace of her eyeball and surrounding flesh. The screams that were coming from the young woman were unlike anything Lawson has ever experienced and left a lasting impact upon him. Once the killer was satisfied with the damage he and the drill caused to the one eye, he grabbed the camera and walked over to the mutilated victim. Close up shots of what was once an attractive face, now showed something that could’ve come from a meat grinder. Blood was pouring from the wounds, and muscle, and puss, and nerves spewed out like a Jackson Pollock painting. The camera was held there, in focus of all this for a long while. Eventually the camera is retuned to the tripod, killer moving out of frame once again. Silence is heard for the first time on the tape, but not for long. Another song begins, and Lawson remembers being amused about the track selected when he first witnessed this snuff film. ‘Cruel Summer’ by the 80’s band Bananarama was now playing in the killers playground. He emerges back on screen with a machete dragging on the floor behind him, creating the awful sound of metal vs. concrete. The woman hangs there helpless, in pain, in fear, barely alive and limp. The killer stands before the woman, but mindful to not block the money shot. With one hand he grabs her hair, forcing her head up and with the other delivers a swift and final blow with the machete, taking her head right the fuck off. It rolls out of frame, blood squirting from the severed arteries, decorating the walls and floor. The level of absolute evil is kicked up a few notches when the killer walks over, picks up the decapitated head, and proceeds to violate the ocular cavity with increasing force as his orgasm was becoming closer. When he reached his climax, the killer leaned back and let out a blood curdling howl, not unlike a werewolf. He tossed the head aside like a piece of garbage, licked his hand which was obviously covered with his man gravy and blood, and walked over to the camera to pick it up. This is the only shot where the murderer is in clear, close focus, and despite that he is masked, his eyes were piercing and memorable. A hue of blue grey that normally, ladies would swoon over. He takes the camera over to the still hanging body of the deceased and begins dismembering the corpse which causes blood to be flung everywhere, running down the walls like raindrops on a window pane. It was most definitely a cruel summer for the young lady that had her demise documented in such a drastic way.

The video undoubtedly caused a worldwide stir, and it stirred up something within Jacob as well. He was fascinated with the ferociousness of the attack, the precise mutilation, and obvious lack of any human emotion from the perpetrator. It was thought of as a hoax at first, because no one in their right mind could actually do that to another human, right? Exactly, no one in their RIGHT mind. This is what Dr. Jacob Lawson specialized in, abnormal criminal psychology and hypnosis. But his choice of profession was not one of altruistic nature. It was derived from the need to hide in plain sight. To observe others handiwork because, unlike his counterparts, Jacob could maintain self control. He could satisfy his dark desires and socially unacceptable fetishes deeply and secretly with the well constructed facade he had created. He could vicariously live through his patients crimes, and feed his inner demons the scraps from the deranged individuals that walked in his office to “begin to heal.”

Dr. Lawson’s carefully made exterior was rapidly fading though before the advent of this uploaded tape of terror. The brutality and senselessness intrigued and delighted Jacob. It was similar to when someone discovers a new band they can’t get enough of. They would listen to the record over and over, and Lawson would watch this tape over and over, studying every detail and making notes. Brian Hagen, rock star status to Lawson, was going to be in his office, discussing the crimes he committed.

Jacob had to pull lots of strings and seduce two women to have it guaranteed that Hagen would become his patient via court order. It was easy for him to play his interest off as merely a professional endeavor. Almost too easy. Lawson glanced at the clock and quickly hid the Jameson, and strategically hid a camera and mic, in hopes of obtaining treasured knowledge and reenactments from Hagen. The buzzer downstairs on the city street alerted Lawson someone was here.

“Dr. Lawson’s office.”

“Yes, Dr. Lawson, it’s Officers Ramirez and Henry. We’re here with prisoner number 45632400 to conclude a court order session with yourself, sir.”

Lawson replied, “Yes……yes of course. Letting you in now.” Dr. Lawson reached for the control panel to buzz them in. He hesitated for a moment, surprised by this he laughed a little out of uneasiness. The control panel vibrated signaling the door was opened. Twenty year old Brian Hagen would soon be in his office.

He was shorter than Lawson expected. The confidence that exuded from Hagen during the videotape didn’t seem to diminish any. With one police officer in front of him, securing the premises, and the second behind Hagen, he still seemed to command a presence once he entered. Brian Hagen’s eyes scanned the office. Slowly and methodically he noted details most people would never immediately pick up on. Like no pictures of family anywhere around the Doctor’s office, no nicknacks to help determine interests or beliefs. Nothing sports related or anything to display school pride. It was an extremely tidy, and well organized space. Everything even was color coordinated. Finally after taking a thorough survey of Dr. Lawson’s space, Brian fixed his gaze upon Jacob. He stood motionless, almost never blinking.

Officer Henry spoke to Lawson, “Ok, Doc……….so here is Mr. Popular, and you have gone over all the paperwork I presume?” Lawson shook his head yes.

“Fantastic” Henry replied sarcastically. “Now we will be in the immediate area, we are leaving you with a radio to contact us in case of emergency, and then of course we will call the Calvary.” Henry glared at Brian, making sure he knew he was looking at him in such a manner. But Brian was still sizing up the Doc. The Doc definitely felt Brian’s gaze. Lawson swallowed hard and wished he took one more gulp from that beloved Jameson bottle. A bead a sweat was forming on his brow and Lawson felt himself turn a little red from embarrassment, and that’s when he thought he noticed a slight smirk appear upon Hagen’s lips. But if he did witness a smirk, it disappeared just as quickly. Whatever Officer Henry was saying in the moment or so was lost upon Jacob. He honestly tuned the fucker out, and once noticing he did so, snapped back into professional mode. He realized he was probably supposed to answer something because both police officers were staring at him, as if they were waiting for a reply.

Lawson went with a lucky guess, “Sure, sure……….absolutely. And yeah, in case of a………got the radio.” He motioned towards the Walkie-Talkie and gave a thumbs up.

Henry’s eyebrows formed a point just then upon his brow. He was perplexed by the doctors behavior right now, but really couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was troubling him. He paused before turning around and nodding to Officer Ramirez. Slowly they left shutting the door behind them. Lawson stared at the closed door for some time, rather intimidated by the other presence in the room. Finally Lawson directed his attention to Brian. Brian remained silent, still staring intensely at the Doctor. The two men stood there for quite some time, not saying a word. Jacob was certain that Brian wanted him to make the first gesture, which he did. Lawson motioned for Brian to sit on the sofa behind him, as he himself sat in an executive’s chair across from the sofa. Hagen obliged the Doctor, never averting his gaze from Jacob. A tingle of fear crept up Jacob’s spine.

“This little fucker really is something else” Jacob thought to himself. “Cocky, spiteful, and destructive……pure fucking sociopath. What a rare find,” continued thinking Lawson. He was in awe and the young man hasn’t even spoke yet.

Brian Hagen finally spoke, “Are you gay?”

“Excuse me?” answered Lawson who was absolutely taken back by the inquiry.

Brian sat there for a moment before saying, “Your office, it’s very……….organized.” Emphasis was placed upon the word organized, as he demonstrated with his raising of the eyebrows.

“Straight men can’t be clean and organized?” said Jacob.

“Yes, they can. It’s just not the normal standard ya know.” Brian began carefully looking over the office again. Maybe he missed something that could be to his advantage. He felt the Doctor become increasingly uncomfortable and was enjoying every second of it. Jacob was not pleased with the corner the little fucker was trying to put him in. He knew all too well why and how psychos play the games they do. How egotistical of Hagen to think he was one up on the Doctor.

“Brian, why did you entitle the video which was uploaded ‘Walking on Sunshine?’ How did you come up with that name?” Dr. Lawson was proud of himself. He knew the little shit wouldn’t have expected such a point blank question right off the bat.

A large smile appeared on the ruthless killers face. It even happened to become larger. He sighed before he spoke, “It’s a lovely title. Don’t you think so Doc?” But before Lawson could even utter a word Brian cut in, “It makes certain…….memories come to mind. Pleasant memories, that I’m very fond of.” Lawson took note of the young mans demeanor, ability to articulate extremely well, and his penchant for condescending others. In some ways Brian Hagen was a text book study of a psychopathic/sociopathic individual with borderline anti-social personality disorder, added with the loving and tender ways of a sadomasochist. Quite simply, Brian Hagen was one bright fucking ray of sunshine. But then there was a menacing underbelly to his persona as well. Something Dr. Jacob Lawson, a trained and seasoned professional, fellow sick fuck, and people reader extraordinaire has never encountered in his eventful life. That strange sensation was back in his spine now. Lawson shifted uncomfortably in his chair. The two men began their staring contest again. Brian still barely blinking, staring it seemed, THROUGH Dr. Lawson.

“Ya know Doc, that isn’t what you really want to talk about, to discuss. Is it?” Hagen said, leaning a little forward as he did so. The chains he wore clanking as he rested his elbows on his knees. Dr. Lawson shifted again uncomfortably in his seat. His mind was reeling. What. The. Fuck. What the hell did he know? Did he assume? Was Lawson that transparent to Brian? Oh God, was Brian aware of Dr. Jacob Lawson’s secret interests? He began to feel himself grow anxious and uneasy, his professional exterior melting away. Hagen was a formidable foe, on his A game to say the least. Lawson was not used to this. Lawson was used to everyday dealings with average to below intelligence paired with dull personalities and shitty life goals. Somedays it was such a task for Jacob to fake the minimum number of interactions with people, daydreaming of filleting that bitch that cut him off on Fourth Street, and barbecuing that nasty mutt from the seventh floor of his apartment building.

“What do you think I would like to discuss Brian?”

“How it felt,” Brian said it so quickly and so coldly. Jacob at first wasn’t positive he heard Brian correctly. “How did I know my time had come to start the inevitable? Because I wasn’t always like this. I resisted my urges too.” An immediate wave of horror electrocuted the insides of Dr. Lawson as he realized Hagen pinned him right from the get go. He sat frozen and unsure. Does he admit their kinship through killing? Brian, knowing he has just pulled the Doctors card, was delighted and savored the moment for all it was worth. He knew he just accomplished something no one else had ever in Jacob’s life. A secret so deep and dark, so repressed and desperately worked upon to hide from others. It seemed so long ago when Brian still kept his demon dormant, living a lie and aimlessly walking around with the rest of the assholes of the world. He leaned back, making himself comfortable, staring at Lawson silently demanding him to answer the question. The air was heavy in Dr. Lawson’s office by then. As if time slowed down to witness an auspicious occasion in the annals of mankind. Brian was growing impatient with the doctor not wanting to answer his question and play along. He wanted to engage the Doctor into a revealing verbal exchange of inner desires and thoughts. He craved a mental equal. He wanted a like minded presence to be free with in conversation and thought process, void of judgement. Obviously he needed to be the first to reach out, and initiate some dialogue.

“Like I mentioned before, I wasn’t always able to embrace who I really am. We are taught from very early on to value human life, to be kind and understanding, empathetic to people and their needs. It was quite difficult for me to exercise all of these. I simply just did not care………..ever. I don’t remember ever caring. I remember having to constantly play a part in a never ending stage play written by some failed, miserable creature.”

“You said you weren’t always able to embrace your true self, who exactly is that, Brian?” asked Jacob. “When was it when you knew you had to stop pretending so to speak?”

Brian sat on the couch, still, and in deep thought. He was trying to be selective of his answers, careful to not give too much away, but also enough to entice the Doctor into a grand discussion. Oh, how Brian missed conversations with others that were anywhere near his level. Hesitation suddenly and immensely swept over him. What if he was wrong, what if the Doc here wasn’t a social outcast as he pegged him to be. Was he losing his ability to read people? Read people so well it was sometimes akin to mind reading, a level of clairvoyance, a type of clarity reserved for a select few. Brian didn’t want his inner monologue to spill out via facial expressions. He looked toward the rain on the window again.

“Tell me Dr. Lawson, what exactly is hypnotherapy? What is the ultimate goal of this type of therapy?”

Dr. Lawson was silently so relieved the prisoner shifted the conversation. He was still dumbfounded with the previous statements and questions. Lawson was not prepared for such an intense exchange, as well as this session being recorded unbeknownst to Hagen or officials. How was he supposed to sell these anonymously to or if this session turned into a confession of sorts for himself? Jacob sat straight up and removed the pen from his mouth which he was chewing on in nervousness. He cleared his throat.

“I’m pleased you asked that Brian, and I’ll be more than happy to share the planned method of treatment and rehabilitation….”

“Wait!” interrupted Brian. “Do you actually think I can be rehabilitated? And even if that was a logical goal, why? Simply why the fuck would you or the system attempt this ‘rehabilitation’?” Hagen’s head was cocked to the side, he was amused by this statement. He did not want rehabilitation. He knew he would never ever see the outside world as a free man again. Brian accepted this and knew this the moment he sent the video ‘Walking on Sunshine’ in to the gore site.

“Honestly Brian………no. No, I do not believe you can be rehabilitated. I don’t believe any person with the capacity to commit such atrocities against other humans have the ability to become well, a functioning member of society, gain what is needed to blend and cohabit with others on this planet. You mentioned it yourself earlier, that you never cared, not once in your life. You had to fake it to make it, and you believe wholeheartedly you weren’t free, or yourself, until you abandoned the facade and shed the bullshit, correct?” Jacob knew his statement wouldn’t anger his patient. Hell, Brian admitted it as well. The two men both knew it was the feeble attempt from the state and the US prison system to ensure the safety of Americans from dangerous criminals.

Lawson added, “It’s not myself that requested this form of therapy either Brian. I really would never adopt this method in such a case, you’re not blocking traumatic events from your life, you are not suffering from multiple personalities, you’re not helping solve a case in which memory enhancement is necessary.”

“This is true,” Brian spoke. “My attorney I suppose, asked for this?”

Jacob nodded his head yes and rose from his seat. He walked over to his desk and opened the top drawer retrieving a pack of Camel cigarettes. He instinctively grabbed two out of the pack, placing one in his mouth. Jacob hasn’t had a smoke in weeks, maybe even a month by now. He didn’t even care he was needing one at the moment. Fuck it. As Jacob was returning back to his chair he handed Brian the other, lighting it for him. The two inhaled deeply on their cancer sticks, greatly satisfied, savoring the calming effects. They shared a smoke and silence for some time. Not an awkward silence either. A calm, appreciative silence.

“Thank you for the smoke.”

“No problem, Brian. I know I’m not supposed to do that but………what are you going to do? Burn a hole in my couch?” jokingly said Dr. Lawson. “But to answer your question concerning Hypnotherapy and the methods surrounding it. It is relatively new, definitely new to being accepted as a viable form of treatment and pro active therapy such as seeking assistance in to help stop smoking, weight loss, even learning a new language. The hypnotist is simply a facilitator of the experience, the session. Its aim is to reprogram patterns of negative behavior, or behaviors that are making a persons life difficult. Hypnosis affects the conscious and subconscious parts of the mind, suppressing the always active conscious part while giving the opportunity and means to reveal the subconscious. Fears and phobias usually reside in the subconscious parts of the brain, and can be addressed there.”

“Why do you suppose my lawyer requested this?” asked Hagen.

“The only thing I can gather, because I wasn’t told much to my disliking may I add, is that he is trying to determine if you suffered any psychological or physical trauma while in your youth. Something that you managed to block out completely your entire life. A root of evil.”

“Everyone always does that……..I can’t fucking stand it. They try to find the Why. There isn’t always a Why. I understand the notion of cause and effect, I get it. But ya know what? Sometimes, maybe more often than not, there is no goddamn cause. I was simply born this way. Nothing horrible happened in my youth, I had an average upbringing with no abuse of any kind from anyone. I was unusual from the birth and I knew this. I knew I had to hide that part of me, because whenever I would act out those true feelings of mine, I would be punished or ridiculed. There was this little girl named Sasha. I believe I was in fifth grade or so, and she was in the grade below me, but we went to the same school. I liked her very much. She always had on the most adorable outfits with hair bands in her flowing auburn hair that would match these carefully planned outfits perfectly. Always smiling was Sasha, she got along with everyone, she was pure innocence and fuck did I want to corrupt that within her. Even at that young of an age, I knew I wanted to destroy all that was good and pure within her. I wanted what made her perfect to no longer be. Well, one day, out on the playground, another student brought in their pet hamster from home for show n tell. I guess that student was playing kickball or something, ’cause the hamster was in a cage on a bench near the playing field. I happened to walk by and noticed the little fucker in there. I took the cage with the animal in it over to the slide, and sat underneath it. At first I was just playing with it, petting it even. I remember it being soft, and the whiskers tickling my hand and skin, I remember giggling and actually enjoying the opportunity to play with the critter. Next thing I knew I was squeezing the life out of it, and as the little things neck snapped, Sasha came over underneath the slide. She asked what I was doing there, then she noticed the dead hamster in my hands. Some blood stained my hands and dripped on the ground, and once Sasha saw this………she screamed so fucking loud. She actually startled me with her ear piercing siren of a scream. The bitch made sure the entire playground heard her, and fuck they did. A swarm of students and teachers came running over to the slide to see what the commotion was, a teacher saw the dead animal and blood spots, and grabbed my arm to get me out from under the slide. That bitch snatched me up so hard too, lifted me right up off the ground, then drug me to the principals office. This is the first vivid memory I have, that I realized my inner thoughts and feelings were not acceptable by my peers or adults. Sasha of course never spoke with me again, even made it to where she wouldn’t have to be anywhere near me. So my childhood object of affection would never be anything more than me admiring from afar. My behavior which I felt wasn’t peculiar or disturbing as everyone else did, caused me to be classified as a ‘freak’ a ‘psycho’ a ‘troubled young man’. I learned then to hide all those feelings and actions which were always my constant companion. Almost an imaginary friend of sorts. I had to adapt to survive.”

Jacob was a bit surprised at this rather revealing look back into Brian’s childhood. He wondered if anyone else knows this. Was it even ever shared before? The Doctor decided not in inquire about something so trivial in the scheme of things, it ultimately didn’t matter. Just as Jacob was going to reintroduce the questions of who Brian really was, and when did he decide to act upon his dark desires, Brian began to speak again.

“There’s always that one, that one that will turn your whole fucking world upside down. One that will ruin everything you so carefully created to cover your tracks, your interests which are seriously frowned upon. This person sets in motion your inevitable and swift demise. Your precious control is no longer. More than infatuation, greater than obsession, a pure and true idolatry of what you deeply crave and desire. What you desire though is to swiftly and violently snuff out all that is them and what made them. They will become your end. The sweetness and kind of naivety found in people void of intuition, it lures you. Insatiable is a woman unaware yet not clueless. That’s just no fuckin fun. Resourcefulness and raw survival instincts ready to go at any time. One day, I met my proverbial destruction. I wasn’t aware of it then, not for some time. Something so pure and innocent, they held all these wonderful characteristics that I could never possess. It drove me mad……just thinking of someone else. Someone else playing with my toy. Consciously or not you claimed this individual. Your mind, body and whatever soul you may have…….won’t let you rest until you take what is yours.” Brian sighs deeply, almost exasperated from his verbal release. He looks out the window again and remains silent for several minutes. Jacob wasn’t sure of what to say. Or if to say anything at all for that matter. As Lawson was debating what his next move should be, unexpectedly he heard Brian’s voice say, “I have other tapes.” It was so matter-of-factly stated, the significance of what he said was almost lost upon Lawson. “I have a dozen or so additional tapes, with various delights indulged upon and documented on them.” Dr. Lawson was floored. He knew law enforcement did not have this knowledge, and it was big fuckin news. He was stumbling for the words, but couldn’t agree on anything in his mind. He was trying to contain his shock concerning this revelation, but felt he did not fully succeed. The Doctor had to shut his jaw and lower his eyebrows before he was able to speak. The two were locked in a silent stare. “Why are you telling me this?” Jacob asked very slowly and quietly. He leaned in closer as he set down his notebook and pen. Brian held his gaze with the Doctor, yet remained stoic in expression. Brian leaned in as well, shackles clinking.

“Because I know you, the real you that is.” Brian paused significantly before continuing, “I thought an establishment such as yours, was a mere fairytale for pedophiles, rapists, and other degenerates. A means to ‘survive’ in a way, if you will. Similar I suppose to a vampire consuming fresh blood from a mammal, rather than a human. Surviving, but not flourishing. Living a fucking lie. So these motherfuckers are essentially doing the same with their voyeurism satisfying at least the most basic elements of our condition. They get to witness the victim, in a state of hypnosis, reliving whatever trauma they endured and getting to enjoy it on such a very fucking personal level. And in such legendary stylish and comfortable surroundings. And for a price too may I add! I’ve heard your office described before on more than one occasion, and I give credit to the gentlemen who shared their observations. They did well to help paint a wonderfully accurate mental picture. Bravo to you sir. Bravo!” Brian began clapping, a smile across his face. “I’m assuming this is all done in a space behind that mirror behind you. Is that where you also enjoy perusing the various gore and snuff sites? Your demeanor when I initially entered your office, and quite honestly the entire session, is that of admiration and awe. How did you know I smoked? You have looked into my background in more than a Doctor/Patient capacity. Not what you would expect from a professional in your position. I am flattered though, sir. I really am.” Brian held his hand to his heart, as if to swear by how much it meant to him, smile still across his face. “Now, I can see it through and through Jacob. You’re quickly about to arrive at your time………the time you decide to stop living a lie. Nothing you see anymore on the internet, no more regression therapy boners for you with patients, not a damn story you read……… satisfying it, at all anymore is it Doc? Your last few rendezvous with prostitutes have turned unbearably ugly for those cunts on the concrete haven’t they? Authorities almost notified I’m safe to assume?” Jacob was frozen. A million thoughts were racing through his head, heart was pounding something fierce. A cold sweat was noticeable upon his brow, and he swallowed hard. He was gripping the armrests of his chair so tight his fists were red. Jacob ran his sweaty palm through his thick brown hair. He looked at the ground, envisioning what is was going to be like for himself in prison. “Relax Dr. Lawson. Have another smoke or something. I’m here to unlock your potential.” Brian reached for the pen and paper and began writing something down. He tore off the sheet, folded it four times, and handed it to the trembling Lawson. “No peeking now. You have to wait till I’m gone.” As Brian Hagen spoke these words he winked at Lawson and instinctively rose from the couch in preparation for Officers Henry and Ramirez to return him to prison. The exchange of prisoner 45632400 was in a haze of panic and uncertainty. When Lawson became coherent enough again to focus and somewhat process his thoughts, he noticed the sheet of paper, folded in four, on his desk. Underneath was his professional calendar and planner. He’d be seeing Hagen again next Wednesday. Jacob straightened up in his chair, cleared his throat, rubbed his eyes and cleared his appointments he had for the rest of the day. He had some homework to review.

By Danni Winn



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