Spencer can't shake the feeling that he's forgotten something. It's an ache, almost a desperation like when he was grasping for fragments of memories about Riley Jenkins, but instead of chasing after answers, every fiber of his being screams at him to shy away, even though this thing is deeper and more ingrained. More important. Forgetting to return a library book or pay his electric bill doesn't even compare. There's a constant curl of discomfort low in his gut that tightens his throat and makes his stomach churn. Sometimes he wakes from dreams full of impossible technology and an orange sky and a man with too many faces, his body drenched with sweat and feeling so incredibly tiny and insignificant that he nearly chokes on his own sobs.
Those aren't the worst dreams though. In the worst ones--the ones that make him want to curl up in the middle of his mattress with his covers pulled up over his head like a child hiding from the boogeyman--he watches while everything around him burns. The face he wears isn't the one he sees in the mirror, his speech patterns and mannerisms are different , but at his very core he knows it's him. There's terror that settles deep in his bones, a complete loss of control that makes him run and run as far as he can. And there's fire and destruction and screaming. Such horrible screaming that tears through him as easily as a hot poker through tissue paper. And he could stop it, could have kept it from happening. Yes, he could have, because it was his will that made it happen, but instead he stands and watches. Resolute.
The dreams are coming more frequently, sometimes not even waiting until he's asleep. He'll be on the jet or giving a profile or fixing a cup of coffee and suddenly he'll be somewhere else completely, staring down a talking trashcan with a toilet plunger and an egg beater for arms or laughing with someone in a language he knows he's never heard before, but somehow understands perfectly. He dreads even the happiest of the dreams--visions of friendship and stimulating challenges and endless possibilities--in a way he can't explain with any of the words that spring so easily to his tongue when he's awake.
He takes to carrying around the old pocket watch he found in a pawn shop when he was a teenager. It's beat up and tarnished with a shiny spot on the front from where his thumb's worked over the metal, worrying at it like a talisman. It feels heavier than a normal pocket watch should, though when he'd weighed it against one his dad had left behind, they had come out as the same. Still, there's a weight to it when he holds it in his palm that's grounding and comforting, and sometimes the waking dreams abate when he curls his fingers around it, like it's sucking them inside until he's ready to deal with them.
And he's not ready. He's gone through the motions, submitting to tests and doctors, but everything always comes back normal, so that's how he plays it. He pretends that everything is fine and that he isn't slowly slipping into the same madness that's claimed his mother. Pretends the greedy, bottomless hunger he feels all the time is simple unease and does his best to drown out the sound that niggles uncomfortably at the very cusp of his hearing with music, television, even his own voice.
That sound. That constant, lingering beat that's even worse than the dreams.
Can't you hear it? Inside my head. I thought it would stop. But it never does. It never, ever stops. Inside my head. The drumming, Doctor, the constant drumming. It's everywhere. Listen. Listen. Listen. Here come the drums... here come... the drums... ~ The Master