‘Tom. Tom Hanniger. That’s my name. That’s who I am. That’s all I am.’
‘You sure about that, kid?’
Tom stared at his reflection. He didn’t know what he was looking for, but he didn’t like what he found. Breathing hard through his nose, Tom brought back his fist and shattered the mirror; causing thousands of little Toms to stare back at him. Nursing his bloody fist, Tom turned away, grabbing his packed bag and almost running out of the motel room door.
‘You can’t turn your back on me, boy. I’ll still be right here, not matter how far you try to run.’
Clay Miller sighed heavily as he watched the sleeping form of his sister. She looked so pale and helpless against the hospital sheets. Taking a deep breath, Clay stood up and left the room. He needed some air.
It’s your fault, y’know,’ A quiet voice taunted him. ‘If you’d stayed with them, she’d be fine. It’s all your fault.’ Clay quickened his steps; needing desperately to feel the cool night air on his skin. He was so caught up that he didn’t notice the man walking towards him until it was too late. Their bodies collided, and immediately both started mumbling their apologies. Clay looked down at the man. He seemed distracted, and was nursing an injured hand.
“Hey, are you ok?” The man looked up at this question and nodded slowly. Carefully, Clay reached for his hand. “This doesn’t look good. You need to get inside.”
“I think I broke it,” The man mumbled, and Clay smiled lightly at hearing the voice.
“I’m Clay, by the way.” The man almost smiled.
“Tom.” It took Clay a few second to realise he was still cradling Tom’s hand in his, and he carefully let go.
“Good to meet you, Tom.” The smile on Tom’s face turned genuine, as they looked at each other for just a little too long.
‘Leave now. You’ll just get him hurt; like you have with everyone else.’
“So… Why are you here?” Tom looked carefully at Clay. He could tell the taller man wasn’t injured. Clay sighed heavily.
“My sister,” His voice was barely a whisper. “She, uh… We sorta went through something recently… Doctors say she has Post Traumatic Stress. She sleeps a lot, but when she’s awake…” Clay closed his eyes and shook his head. Tom put his hand carefully on Clay’s shoulder, causing Clay to look up and smile weakly.
“It’s like he’s still haunting her, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
‘Well, doesn’t this sound familiar…’
Tom pulled his hand quickly away from Clay, who looked at him worriedly.
“Yeah… everything’s fine. I just…” Tom stood up slowly. “I’m sorry, I gotta go.” Clay didn’t have time to open his mouth before Tom turned and hurried out of the hospital.
Tom sighed heavily and waved the barman over. A shot of hard liquor was placed in front of him and he downed it immediately. Shaking off the grimace it brought, he indicated for another. After the fourth shot, the barman simply placed the bottle in front of Tom and left to serve another customer.
‘This is your great solution? You gonna kill me with Bourbon? They gave you drugs that didn’t work, but you think a little Jim Beam’s gonna make me go away?’
“Shut up,” Tom whispered under his breath before downing another shot.
‘You know what to do to shut me up. It doesn’t have to be this hard. I can make your life so much better.’
“Hey.” Tom looked up to see Clay at the other end of the bar.
“Hey,” Tom smiled as best he could. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“Me either,” Clay said, sitting next to Tom. After a moment of silence, Clay sighed. “How’s the hand?”
“Fine,” Tom mumbled. “You want a drink?”
“Sure.” Tom waved over the barman, who placed a glass in front of Clay.
“How’s your sister?”
‘Just listen to all that pain. You could make it go away. We could end his pain. I can end yours too. All you have to do is give in.’
Tom’s hand tightened around his shot glass as he closed his eyes against the voice.
“Tom?” Clay’s voice was laced with concern. Tom opened his eyes slowly and looked at Clay. He forced a smile to his lips.
“Too much, too fast,” He mumbled, indicating to the bottle on the bar. “I’d better get myself home.” Clay got to his feet quickly as Tom started to stand.
“I’ll walk you.” Tom looked up; his excuse dying on his lips as Clay smiled at him. Slowly, he nodded, offering back his own weak smile. Clay placed a hand on Tom’s shoulder as the shorter man threw some notes on the bar.
Tom stopped outside his room at the motel. Clay stopped too; shifting on his feet nervously.
“Thanks,” Tom mumbled, looking at the room door.
“No problem,” Clay replied just as quietly. Tom took a stunted step towards Clay, not really sure what he was trying to do.
“Oh, this is just precious…”
Tom shook his head, trying to stop the voice he knew wasn’t really there. Clay reached out to touch his arm.
“Hey, are you alright?” Tom looked up into Clay’s concerned face; making a snap decision. He pulled Clay down towards him, pressing their lips together, and everything stopped. There was no voice taunting him, and no doubt to pause his actions. As Tom opened the door and pushed an eager Clay through it, he realised he’d finally found something that made Harry Warden go away.
Moonlight fell across Clay’s form; naked except for the sheet that was draped across his waist. The light was blocked by a shadow, as Tom stood over the sleeping man.
‘Did you really think this was a solution? He’s just a guy, Tommy, he’s not a magic potion. You know what you have to do now. There’s only one way out of this.’
Tom wasn’t sure where the pickaxe came from, but he was holding it so tight his knuckles lost their colour. He didn’t have to do this. He could fight. Tom closed his eyes tight. It had been so much easier when he gave in. All the confusion had melted away, and killing had actually felt good. Opening his eyes, Tom realised it wasn’t a question of if he could fight, but if he wanted to.
“Tom?” The groggy voice pulled Tom out of his head, and he looked down at Clay, who was awake and looking at him curiously. “What’re you doing?”
Tom looked down at the weapon in his hands, and back to Clay.
“Come back to bed, Tom. It’s still early.” Clay closed his eyes again, and Tom sighed in relief that Clay hadn’t noticed the pickaxe. The decision seemed to be made for him, and Tom put the pickaxe away, before climbing back into bed and closing his eyes.
Tom was awoken by the feel of Clay stirring next to him. Slowly he opened his eyes and looked over at Clay, who was half way out of bed.
“Where you going?” Tom asked groggily. Clay turned to look at Tom and smiled gently.
“To the hospital. I have to go and check on my sister.” Tom nodded slowly and started to sit up.
“I’ll come with you.” Clay shook his head quickly; a sudden guilt crossing his face.
“No, it’s ok. You go back to sleep. I need to go alone.” Tom was a little disappointed, but he nodded all the same.
“Can I see you later?” Tom asked once Clay was dressed and ready to leave. There was a soft sigh before Clay turned away from Tom.
“We’ll see.” Without another word, Clay left the motel room. Tom closed his eyes with a deep sigh. His head started to swim as the hurt began to bubble through him. Slowly, Tom could feel his grip slipping, as he tumbled into unconsciousness.
Clay’s head snapped up as his sister woke suddenly. She sat bolt upright; eyes unfocused and wild.
“Whitney, what is it?”
“He’s coming!” The words were whispered, but urgent. Clay sat on the bed, holding Whitney’s hand gently.
“He’s gone,” He replied quietly. “Jason can’t get you here. You’re safe.” Slowly, Whitney turned towards Clay; her eyes focusing on her brother.
“Not Jason,” Her hand tightened around Clay’s as her eyes lost their focus again. “Harry. Harry’s coming.”
The lights flickered, and Clay turned to his sister; panicked.
“Whitney, who’s Harry? Who’s coming?” He received no reply, as Whitney began mumbling incoherently to herself. The lights went out, and Clay pulled his sister close. His calming words were cut off by the sounds of screaming down the hall, and Clay closed his eyes to it – his own bad memories surfacing as Whitney rocked into him; fear rattling her breath.
Heavy footsteps approached the closed door of Whitney’s room, and Clay subconsciously held his breath. Whitney began to sob, but her brother quickly covered her mouth.
“Shh,” He said softly, and Whitney slowly nodded her understanding. They looked up as a dark shadow crossed the door. Clay could make out the build of the man, and quickly noticed the shape of a pickaxe in his hands. A flash of a near-memory crossed Clay’s mind, but he quickly shook it off to focus on his sister. Carefully, he ushered Whitney off the bed to hide under it; blocking her body from view with his own. Moments passed in tense silence as the figure stood, unmoving, outside the room. Clay almost sobbed with relief as the figure moved on; stalking further down the hall to other victims. Moving carefully, Clay checked on his sister and helped her back into bed.
“It’s not his life,” Whitney mumbled, so quietly Clay almost missed it.
“Who’s life?” Clay asked, confused.
“Harry. It’s not his life. He stole it. He doesn’t want to give it back.” Clay shook his head a little; not understanding what Whitney was trying to tell him.
“Try not to talk,” Clay whispered eventually. “He might come back.”
“He’s gone,” Whitney whispered in reply. “Left the boy to pick up the pieces. He likes to make him suffer. Likes to scare him.” Clay sighed inaudibly. He couldn’t tell where all this was coming from; and just assumed it was another side effect of the trauma.
“It’s ok,” He mumbled absently. “It’s all gonna be ok.”
Tom woke up with a start. It took him a moment to recognise that he was in his motel room, but he quickly noticed the blood on his hands. Pushing himself into a sitting position on the floor, Tom put his head in his hands and let his tears fall. He didn’t remember leaving the room, and quickly surmised that Harry had taken over again.
“Did you really think you could keep me locked down forever?” The harsh voice taunted. "All I need is one moment of weakness from you, Tommy. You wanted this. It made you feel good to hurt all those people. The sooner you admit that, the happier you’ll be."
“No!” Tom almost shouted into the empty room. “I’m not like you. I never will be!”
“You keep telling yourself that, kid. Convince yourself we’re not the same. I’m in your head, Tom. I know all the horrible things you won’t let become real thoughts. I’ve seen your deepest desires, and all I’m trying to do is help you express them.”
“It’s not me,” Tom argued. “I don’t want to hurt people.”
“You wanted to hurt Clay. I could feel it in you. They way he blew you off. You wanted to hurt him. It’s why I took you to the hospital.”
“No!” Tom sobbed; fearing the worst.
“Relax, I didn’t hurt him. I wouldn’t take that chance away from you.”
Tom shook his head harshly; his hand gripping tightly in his hair. The sound of laughter filled his ears and suddenly keeping his eyes open was too much of an effort. Leaning back on the bed, tear stains streaking down his cheeks, Tom closed his eyes with a whisper.
Clay sighed and looked over at his sister. They had been transferred to a different hospital while the police investigated the deaths. He’d heard some whispers of a killer named Harry Warden, and now he was worried. How could Whitney know about Harry? The sound of the door opening pulled his attention, and Clay turned to see Tom standing in the doorway. Clay smiled shortly as Tom walked into the room.
“I heard about the attack. Are you ok?” Clay stood up, looking quickly at his sister, and led Tom out into the hallway.
“How did you find us?” Clay asked in a whisper when they were outside. Tom simply smirked.
“I have my ways.” Clay couldn’t help smiling back. “Everything alright?”
“Yeah, for the most part. Whitney freaked out a little, but they’ve sedated her for now.”
“I’m…” Clay sighed. Tom waited patiently. “Have you ever heard of someone called Harry Warden?” Tom was careful to keep a blank expression as he shook his head. “The police are saying that’s who did this. The thing is, Whitney knew. She told me. She said ‘Harry’s coming.’ How could she know that?” Tom didn’t answer; looking past Clay to the closed door. “Plus, I heard someone say Harry Warden died. I just… I don’t understand.”
“I’m sure the police know what they’re doing,” Tom assured. “Why don’t you go get some coffee? I’ll keep an eye on your sister.” Clay nodded with a grateful smile. He looked around quickly before leaning down and pressing a soft kiss to Tom’s lips. Tom smiled in return as Clay turned down the hall towards the coffee machine. Turning towards the hospital room, a grim smile crossed Tom’s face as his hand fell to the door handle.
Whitney woke with a start to the sound of the door closing. She expected to see her brother, but the sight that greeted her filled the young woman with dread.
“You,” She whispered; her urge to run overridden by the drugs in her system. “It can’t be… Harry.”
“You’re the first person to notice,” Came the taunting reply. “I thought I’d hold this body different when I finally got control. It must be one of those muscle memory things.” Whitney was shuffling up the bed as best she could; shaking her head. She looked close to crying and Harry tutted.
“How do you know about me, little girl?” He asked darkly; stopping at the edge of the bed. “You’ve been touched by something. What happened to you to put you here?” Whitney closed her eyes and Harry sighed dramatically.
“You’re no more fun than Tom. I swear, broken psyches are a pain in the ass.” Harry sat down on the edge of the bed. Whitney let out a sob and curled into herself. Harry sighed again; bored.
“Fine,” He muttered. “I’ll leave. There’s no need to cry about it.” Harry’s head dropped sharply and, a few seconds later, soft green eyes opened to look at Whitney. Sensing the change, Whitney visibly relaxed, although much trepidation still remained.
“What’s going on?” Tom’s voice was rough, but the change was audible. Whitney sat up, her arms still wrapped tightly around her stomach.
“Harry was here,” She whispered softly. Tom’s face grew stricken, and Whitney risked shuffling closer to him. “What happened to you?” Tom shook his head.
“It’s a long story,” Tom replied, before looking at Whitney with fear in his eyes. “Don’t tell Clay.” Whitney looked unsure.
“Please? I’m getting stronger. I can control him. I just need some time.” Carefully, Whitney nodded. Tom smiled tightly. He was about to stand up when Whitney reached out a hand to stop him.
“Don’t… Don’t let Harry come back here.” Slowly, Tom nodded and Whitney released him. The door opened and Clay stepped through it just as Tom was standing.
“Everything ok?” He asked; worry creasing his features. Tom nodded, but Clay only relaxed when his sister smiled in confirmation.
“I gotta get going,” Tom said quietly. Clay nodded slowly, still looking at his sister. Tom was about to pass him at the door when Clay turned to look at him.
“Maybe we can get together later?” Tom looked uncertain for a moment, but the pleading in Clay’s eyes made him nod.
“I’m at the same motel,” Tom answered. “Come by around seven?” Clay smiled and nodded before moving and letting Tom leave.
Tom took a deep breath and closed his eyes tight. Suppressing Harry was turning out to be much harder than he’d thought, and he could feel himself getting a migraine. Running a hand through his hair one more time, Tom turned and left the bathroom.
A soft knocking at the door immediately had Tom’s heart racing. Crossing the room, Tom opened the door and smiled at the sight of Clay. The smile was short lived. The young man seemed tired but, before Tom could ask if he was ok, Clay was pressed against him; pushing the door closed as he took Tom’s lips with his. The kiss went on for a few seconds before Clay pulled back with a smile.
“That’s better,” Clay sighed. “Hey.”
“Hey,” Tom smiled back. “Bad day?” Clay nodded.
“Whitney’s been having more nightmares. She keeps saying we’re in danger.” Tom forced himself not to react.
“She said something like ‘The boy will fail. Harry’s coming back.’ The doctor’s say it’s just a reaction to the incident at the hospital.” Tom was sure he felt his heart stop for a second. Clay’s sigh pulled Tom back.
“She’ll be ok,” He whispered. “My sister’s strong.” Tom nodded distractedly. The feel of Clay rubbing his arms, as if soothing him, made Tom look up at the younger man.
“It’ll be ok,” Tom whispered, as if sensing Clay needed assurance. Clay nodded before leaning back in for a kiss.
“No it won’t.”
“Will you quit shouting in there.” The command was muttered; voice dark. He looked down at the sleeping form on the bed, a smirk playing on his lips.
“You remember when we were here last? He woke up; it was the only thing that saved him.”
“Don’t you dare! I won’t let you!”
“Quiet. You lost your power against me when you let this one in. He made you feel your feelings, and look where that got you.” The pickaxe in his hand was heavy and welcome and, with Tom still screaming in his head, Harry brought it back and buried it in the chest of Clay Miller.
The lights were too bright; noises too loud. There was an emergency somewhere; it was the only reason he hadn’t been seen. The few who had questioned his being there were dispatched quickly; no time to scream. There was no need for the gasmask anymore; the charade long over. Walking briskly, Harry stopped outside Whitney’s door.
Whitney pressed herself into the corner; eyes screwed shut in fear. Her lips moved in a continuous chant as a shadow fell across her slight form.
“He promised. He promised. He promised…” The laugh that emanated was sharp and cruel, and Whitney had to open her eyes.
“You believed Tom?” Harry asked with a smirk. “He’s powerless.” Whitney opened her mouth; ready to argue. “He was powerless to save your brother.” Whitney’s eyes widened in shock. Harry laughed darkly, stepping closer to Whitney. “And now, there’s nobody left to save you.” Whitney closed her eyes tight; preparing for the axe to fall.
Opening her eyes slowly, Whitney saw those green eyes shift, and Tom took a step back.
“Tom?” Whitney moved to approach him, but Tom’s hand shot out to stop her.
“Don’t,” He whispered frantically. “I can’t hold him for long. I can’t beat him.” Whitney was confused. Tom reached into his pocket, pulling out a gun.
“Take this,” He told her urgently. Whitney shook her head; scared. “I can’t hold him. Please Whitney. You have to end it.” Whitney took the gun in shaky hands; looking down at it fearfully.
“Tom, I don’t think I can…” Whitney looked up quickly at a loud thud. She looked right into Harry’s eyes. He smirked, and she knew she hand no choice. Closing her eyes, Whitney squeezed the trigger, and a shot rang out in the silent room; followed slowly by a whispered: