This story is by ZANNU and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Where in Heaven’s name can you be hiding in a room so small? Don’t be afraid of me. I’m here to help you. But I do need to see you. Come. Don’t let me believe that I’m wasting my time.”
The Worthy Fetcher’s words were met with silence from the young man she came to help, but she tried to assure him. “You’re in awe of your surroundings and panicked by what you see, but you have nothing to fear from me. I’m not God, but I am your salvation right now.”
He didn’t make a sound, but she knew he was there. She sensed the restless spirit of the desperate man who suffered from mental pain. She, too, was desperate—to get through to him.
“You want to make it through that door and out of here,” she said, “but that door is just beyond your reach. I plan to get you out of this room, but I feel your resistance and antagonism toward me. I expected it, though.”
She thought that by now his curiosity would motivate him to make a move. He remained defiant, and she upped the ante. “You’re wondering how I got in here, but this isn’t about me. Your anguish is as physical as it is mental because things didn’t change. The thing you tried to escape followed you.”
The sudden appearance of the handsome young man who stood before her gladdened her heart. But the inner turmoil expressed on his face, and his fretful swaying back and forth in the cheerless room saddened her. She listened attentively at the back-to-back questions he fired at her.
“So, where’d you come from, Miss Lady? This is about me? Are you here about me? Can you help me?”
Her compassion for him was contained but still crushing. “If only,” she thought as she considered the distressed young man’s situation. Then she answered his last two questions, “Yes and yes, dear.”
“That’s not an answer, Miss Lady. Where’d you come from, and how’d you get here?”
“I came from there,” she said pointing backwards with her thumb. “Impossible, but easy one would think.”
He had to shake off her ambiguous response. He thought those same words right before his big decision.
She looked around this dwelling that became his home and noted everything—a windowless room with a distorted-looking exit sign, a small sink and an open-door toilet, a wooden bench against the wall, an eating table and one chair, a twin bed, a pillow, a blanket, a stand with a pack of cigarettes, a non-working radio and a lamp with all the light that a 15-watt bulb could manage. Her mind drifted, “Except for one or two items, there’s not much difference from other places I’ve journeyed into.”
He responded to the look on her face by expressing his unhappiness and his bewilderment out loud. “I hate this damned place. Why am I here if I don’t want to be? I need to sit down.” He took a seat and offered her to sit down on the bench beside him.
Never taking her eyes away from the troubled young man she said, “I’ll stand for the both of us.” She wondered if he knew why she was there. “Do you know where you are, Andy?”
“I don’t remember telling you my name, Miss Lady. And I don’t remember you asking for it. Just get me out of here already. I need another chance. Just tell me what I need to do to make it happen. I’m going crazy in here.”
She asked again, “Where is here, Andy?”
“What the hell difference does it make? Why can’t I go through that damned door? Why is that pile of stuff there and not there, too? Can you answer that?”
“Don’t ask what you already know, Andy. I’ll be honest with you. This is a great task. Getting out won’t be easy. I’ll have to lead you, but a Worthy Fetcher should never give it a go alone. There should always be three of us—never just one.”
Believing that he might not understand, she didn’t explain what she was about to do. She just did it. She divided herself into three distinct bodies of her one being and then attempted to form a triangle around him. He jumped back and away—just like she thought he would.
“Let’s try this again, dear,” she said not wanting to waste any more time. “My dreams and nightmares about you brought me here. While it’s true that what’s easy for three Worthy Fetchers is difficult for one, this is a risk worth taking. When I reached out and touched your torment, I knew I had no choice. That’s why I divided myself into three components. I hoped to compensate for the absence of my two supporters—all for the sake of the Disrupted One.”
“I’M NOT DISRUPTED,” he shouted at the Worthy Fetcher who came to salvage him. He wanted out of the room, but he also wanted to get away from her because he was afraid of her. At the same time he confessed, “I’m scared of what’s in here, and I’m scared of what’s out there, too, but I’d rather be out there because at least I could run.”
To assist a Disrupted One who dare not admit reality into his space, she had to maintain perfect balance no matter what. And he was perfectly torn between stubbornness and tolerance about what he might see if he made his exit from this room.
A Worthy Fetcher is well-trained in the art of retrieving lost souls, and she or he sees more than most, and this Worthy Fetcher might have to admit that this battle will be a tough one because in most cases the Disrupted One’s fear of facing his own truth can be a bitter pill to swallow. Therefore, she’ll have to resort to begging him to participate in his own redemption.
“Andy, my friend, if only I could persuade you to step into the triangle that my three selves have created for you. You would see it as the first step. Secondly, my friend, if only I could persuade you to not veer to the left nor stray to the right, keeping it forward and only behind me, for I am your guide to the light. Thirdly, Andy, my friend, if only I could convince you that owning responsibility for your grievous judgement is half the hassle. Lastly, Andy, my friend, if only I could prevail upon you that to resist is futile and to skirmish is pointless.”
It finally came across to Andy that he didn’t even know the name of the lady who oddly calls herself a Worthy Fetcher and who had the ostentation to declare herself demigod enough to make that immovable pile of junk that was crawling with spiders as big as rats and blocking that oh-so-narrow door disappear and let him squeeze himself out.
“I’ve been here too long, Miss Lady, and I want out like mad. With all due respect, I think you speak a language called Hogwash. I won’t step into your Devil’s triangle unless you tell me your name.”
“That’s a start,” she thought before she said, “I’m Audrey Alice Ivey. Pleased to meet you, Andy. Your turn.”
He saw his dilemma as a rock and a hard place. He wanted out of this room, but he didn’t trust the Worthy Fetcher, but he also thought that he had nothing to lose. Then again, she might even lead him into a place worse than this, but then he thought there was no place worse than this. But if he made it through that door which, to him, seemed to grow smaller by the moment, he’d be free to run and hide. He pressed her for answers and assurances.
“So, how do I get past those big-ass spiders, Miss Lady? What if your plan doesn’t work? What’s your back-up idea that doesn’t seem so impossible? Will you think of another way to help me? This is just plain wrong. I’m going crazier by the minute.”
She had enough of his double-thinking and talking. She had a mind to force him into the triangle, but she knew that he would waste her energy and his by throwing useless punches at her which could cause her to abandon him, and he’d still be stuck. She couldn’t bare that. With love and devotion, she poured her heart out to the Universe and him.
“Oh, why is my child so obstinate and so far gone that he doesn’t even remember his own mother? Oh, why wouldn’t he accept the help he needed before he made his big decision to end his life? I love you, Andrew Allen Ivey, my son. I will wait with you forever if I must.”