Saturday, 23 November 2019

Slight of Mind: A Psychological Thriller (Part One) - Lore Publication

Written by M. Sigurd Hall



Part One




She isn’t late. Stop being impatient. There’s nothing wrong with me. She just needs to know that. Then I’ll leave. It’s going to be fine. I’ll just say what I must then leave. 

I stare at the clock. Each second’s tick feels like forever. I don’t want to be here. But this isn’t my choice. I take a few, deep breaths and look around the room. The three people attempt to hide their stares. They must know who I am. But after what happened, I’m not surprised no one wants my autograph. That’s fine though. I don’t want to be here. It’s mandated. I tan, but not good enough to make faded orange work. The judge ordered this, and I guess it’s better than the alternative. Does anyone like confined spaces? 

Footsteps click against the wooden floor five minutes after the hour. At least this is better than a doctor’s office, unless these footsteps belong to someone else. Maybe they aren’t here for me. 

A woman appears from around the corner. She looks upset and passes us for the exit, her cheeks spotted a strawberry red. The door slams behind her. 

More footsteps force me to turn my head. I almost dig for my phone; I’m sure that this time, it’s someone else who had an appointment. The next woman who comes out looks studious with thick glasses magnifying her eyes and her hair pulled back into a ponytail. She reminds me of those cartoons when they try to make bugs look human and attractive. It doesn’t work. She might as well be Jeff Goldblum in that old movie.

“Antonio Ramos?” she says, more at the other man then me. She doesn’t know who I am? Seriously? I was on three different news stations last week alone. Then there are my specials and the two books I’ve written. Even though I’m not thirty yet, I’m accomplished. My Mom is proud. So, the fact that I’m sitting here is surprising. But I am. He isn’t even Hispanic. This gotta be a joke. 

“Yeah?” I say, gripping my chair’s armrests. 

“Are you ready?” 

“Sure.” I stand. 

“Follow me.” We walk down the hall into an office this woman designed to make people feel more comfortable. The walls are wooden, and my eyes search for what to do next. She gestures the thick, leather chairs that look older than mi abuela. There’s even a couch. You want me to lie there? This is a joke, but who’s playing it on me. I’m not supposed to be here. “Sit wherever you like,” she says. I take a seat in the closest chair and don’t say anything. Not like I’m gonna be here that long. She sits across from me on the couch, kicking off her shoes and tucking her legs under her. “I’m Kim. It’s good to meet you.” My silence continues. What do I say here? I’m not here because I want to be. “Do you want to start with why you’re here?” Don’t play games with me. 

“You know why I’m here. And call me Tony. I fucking hate when people call me Antonio.” 

“Well, at least you’re willing to talk to me. And I’m happy to call you Tony. But why are you here?” 

“You don’t know about the accident?” 

“I do.” 

“Then why are you asking?” It’s all I can do to stay here. I wanna leave. That tiny voice in my head tells me to stay. It sounds like Carla. If she wants me here, I stay. I’ll do anything for her. 

“I want to hear it in your words. Please. Tell me why you’re here.” 

“I got in a car accident.” 

“That’s what you’d call it?” 

“That’s what happened.” 

“So, you wouldn’t say you endangered anyone?” My face is hot. Choose your words. Don’t just start yelling. Don’t be like that asshole. 

“Not intentionally.” 

“But people were injured.” I shake my head and let my fingers rub my forehead hard. 

“Sure. Whatever you say, doc.” 

“I’m not a doctor.” When I look back at her, Kim’s hair is different, and her glasses are gone. That’s weird. I try to look for where her glasses are. I know I shut my eyes when I shook my head. Yeah, I was that disgusted, but did she have that long?

“Whatever,” I say. 

“What caused the accident?” 

“I was following someone too fast in my car. Why do you think it happened?” She ignores my question. 

“How fast were you driving?” she says. 

“I don’t know, maybe eighty?” 

“Downtown.” 

“Yeah. I had somewhere to be,” I needed to be in his grill. He begged me for it. 

“Where?” 

“I needed to catch up to someone before it was too late.” 

“Why?” 

“He-” I don’t know how to say it without making myself sound like an asshole or I’m crazy. 

“What?” 

“He’s destroying people’s lives.” 

“How?” 

“His business was built on the pain and suffering of people who didn’t deserve it.” 

“Would you give me details?” I don’t care if she’s feigning interest. It’s not like people want to hear what I gotta say. I tried that before. That’s why I’m here. Memories of Ricky Andrews smiling in front of his bank make me sneer. I’m not violent. But his face needs to feel the wood of a baseball bat against it. 

“It’s hard.” 

“Why?” 

“If you knew what I did-” 

“Tell me,” she says. Fine. She wants to know. I’ll tell her every little thing. I been living a lie too long anyway. Someone’s gotta know. Maybe she is special too. 

“He’s mystiker,” I say, revealing his secret to a stranger. That was stupid. But not like I can go back or nothing now. 

“So, he’s contemplative? You called him a mystic, right? It was just in another language.” I shake my head and say, 

“No. Mystiker are insidious.” 

“How?” 

“They can control you.” 

“What do you mean?” she’s concerned. Good. You should be, bug lady. These people are animals. Kill you without a second thought. Usually it’s worse though. Death is nice compared to what they do. 

“You know about mind control, right?” I say, not waiting for her to answer. 

“These people can put thoughts in your head, make you do things you don’t wanna. Some people would call it magic. It isn’t. There’s no fairies or pixie dust here. Just dickheads who want to have what isn’t theirs.” 

“And you know about it?” she doesn’t believe me.

“How? If people could do this, wouldn’t everyone know? What makes you so special?” 

“I am fucking special. I’m famous. Isn’t that the definition of the word?” 

“How are you famous, Tony?” 

“Don’t you have a TV?” I say. “I’ve had my own show and so many specials I don’t even know how many anymore.” I know she’s confused. I can see it in her eyes. “Almost ten years ago, I got famous for making some guy look stupid. Now, I do that for a living, making people look stupid.” 

“You are famous for making people look stupid?” she says, using my words like she thinks they’re a weapon. 

“I got famous being able to debunk magicians and other mysteries?”  

“You’re not famous, Antonio.” 

“Tony,” I say, a little pissed that she refuses to call me what I want to be called. I hate my full name.

“Call me Tony.” 

“Tony.” Her smile looks as fake as ever, but it looks strange. The way her face contorts makes her look like a different person than the woman who brought me into the office from the waiting room. 

“So, what do you call famous?” 

“Have you been on TV?” 

“You know I have. I just said I got my own show.”

“When?” 

“Three days ago, was the last time, I think? Sometime last week. Another interview is coming up. I don’t keep track anymore. You think I’m egotistical?” she shakes her head. “I gotta stay out of view right now. That’s what Melinda tells me. Wait for people to forget about the accident, you know?” 

“Who is Melinda?” she says. 

“My publicist.”  

“You’re eighteen, Antonio. You don’t have a publicist. What accident?” 

“What are you talking about? I’m not eighteen.” She’s nuts, not me. 

“How old do you think you are?” she says.

“Twenty-eight. I don’t think I am. I know I am twenty-eight.” 

“We can talk about that during our next session, but I’m not sure that is something that would be constructive to discuss today. We are almost out of time anyway.” 

“I just got here.” 

“You just got here almost an hour ago.” I shake my head again and refuse to shut my eyes in case something happens. Her office feels different. Yes, it’s older than when I entered, but even then, its design feels more updated. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention. What is wrong with me? And the pictures of a family on her desk, they weren’t there when I entered. She doesn’t seem the type who would have them, those cute ones with kittens falling from a branch and sayings like ‘Hang in there.’ What’s going on with my head?

“Then, I guess I’ll see you soon,” I say. Ten more of these stupid things. That’s what I gotta do before everything gets cleared up with the lawyers. 

“Yes,” she says, standing. “Good seeing you again, Tony.” Again? What’s she talking about.

“You too, Kim.” It’s hard to stop the sarcasm in my voice. I just met her. What’s this ‘again’ she’s talking about? 

“Kim?” she says. 

“That’s your name. I’m good with names.” She shakes her head and says, 

“My name is Reiko. You know that.” 
“Oh, right-” I stare at her. What the hell is wrong with me? 

“You just said you were good with names. We haven’t had this problem before. Make sure to contact me if anything else happens, okay?” Raiko says.  

“Fine. Whatever.” 

“Promise me? I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.” 

“Like what?” I say. 

“You aren’t going to harm yourself, right?” 

“I’m fine.” 

“And you’ll contact me if things get worse?” she says. 

“Fine,” I say, done with this conversation. 

“Good. Thank you.” I leave through the door that doesn’t look the same when I entered and see a long hallway that’s different too. But, something feels familiar. Why do I know where I am yet, somehow, I know I wasn’t here today? This is weird. 

The parking lot is no different. Where am I, and what’s going on? Everything is strange. I walk through it, trying to find my sporty sedan that I bought earlier this year. It does exactly what I want, and I’ve poured more money into it so that the four-cylinder engine will do two hundred if I push it hard. It wouldn’t surprise me if my COBB’d WRX is one-of-a-kind. Did someone steal it? 

I pull my keys from my pocket. There’s no FOB or even a Subaru key attached. What is going on? Something is so wrong. These are the keys to the Pontiac that has been sitting without a transmission or engine, just waiting for me to give it some TLC when I can. 

My cell phone rings in my pocket. It shouldn’t ring. My phone’s always on vibrate. That way, I don’t get glares when we’re taping. Why is it so obnoxious? I haven’t used this ring tone since I was a kid. I pull my phone from my pocket and flip it to answer it. Something is so wrong here. This isn’t my phone, not really. 
“Hello?” I say. 

“Tony,” I hear the voice on the other end say.

“Yeah?” 

“Where are you?” 

“I just got out of my appointment. Who is this?” I say. 

“Who do you think it is? Didn’t you look at your caller ID?” 

“No.” 

“This is your mother. You don’t recognize my voice?” It’s not her. There’s no way. We haven’t spoken in weeks. The sound of her voice makes my knees weak. That accident wasn’t supposed to hurt anyone, especially not the woman who raised me for years without any support. 

“Yes-” I say. There’s no way someone would pretend to be her. Why would they? 

“We haven’t spoken in so long. I just didn’t expect a call from you.” 

“What are you talking about?” she asks. Right now, I’m not too sure...





Hello and welcome to Lore Publication; thank you for reading! We want to take a moment to appreciate you for supporting Lore and the writers on our site. Without you at home reading, Lore wouldn't be possible. 


This story was Part One of the Lore Original Series 'Slight of Mind' penned by the wonderful American writer M. Sigurd Hall, check out his socials! Part Two will be out next Saturday (30th November 2019).

LinkedIn: /msigurdhall
Facebook: /HallofSigurdBooks
Twitter: /hall_sig



Author Biography: M. Sigurd Hall


M Sigurd Hall was born on July 27th, 1983 to Alan, a first generation Norwegian, and Connie, a Tar Heel reading teacher and grew up on his great grandfather's farm. Sig's first memory is reading the Wizard of Oz before he understood the similarities between writing and Oz, the great and powerful, a person behind the words.

He starting writing as soon as he could spell. Sig drew editorial cartoons at his university's newspaper until he wrote a scathing review for X-Men: the Last Stand and added editorials to his resume. His first two screenplays were optioned but not produced by independent producers, and Sig started his own New York based production company in 2010.

Multiple hospital stays brought Sig back to Seattle in 2015. He won an award for his short story, Faceless, in 2016 and it was published in an anthology in February 2017.

Sig focuses on character driven stories in the thriller/crime and science fiction/fantasy genres. His favourite authors include Elmore Leonard, James Sallis, Sergei Lukyanenko, Dasheill Hammett, Ian Fleming, Mario Puzo, Michael Crichton, and Alexandre Dumas.

He currently lives in Seattle with his wife Kristine.





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