literature

I Call Him Compulsion

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Daily Deviation
Daily Deviation
July 6, 2013
As the suggester says, This fantastic glimpse into the mind of a narrator with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is extremely creepy in the most relate-able way - what if you did leave the stove on? I Call Him Compulsion is by ~ninjababy
Featured by Nichrysalis
Suggested by SilverInkblot
ninjababy's avatar
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Literature Text

Three. Four. Five. I like five; it feels complete. Okay, one more time. Six…

Seven. Done.

"How long does it take to get a glass of water?" my husband calls from the living room.

"Sorry, I'm coming." I resist the urge to rinse the glass a few more times. Cleanliness is not a factor—it's the numbers. The completion. The habit. I take a sip of my water and force myself to stop asking if I should just run the water one more time.

I join Sam in the living room and sit in my usual spot: the center recliner. He always lies on the couch to watch TV. It works.

He hits the play button, and we watch ten minutes of reality before the demon sneaks into my mind again. This time I see fire. It sparks from the dryer, blisters the walls, and rushes tsunami-like towards my son's room. It licks at my daughter's curtains.

I see them lying in their beds, unaware of the destruction. I see walls of flame keeping me from them.

"I have to go to the bathroom," I say. Sam pauses the show. The beast in my head laughs with intense pleasure.

I disappear down the hallway, relieved I smell no smoke. I walk back to my son's room first and peek in the door: he lies peacefully on the bed.

The demon points at him, and I follow his bat-like finger: My son lies with his hand against the wall. I know there's an outlet there.

Fear roars in my face; it grips my brain. I tiptoe forward, holding my breath, washed in terror.

I see him, turned over, face blue, finger in the outlet.

I get down on one knee and look across his body. I squint in the darkness. His chest rises and falls underneath the blanket that acts like a barometer I use to track the rhythm of his breaths.

Stepping back, I shut the door with a quiet click and breathe. I go to the bathroom and flush the toilet. I run the water. I count to three. Three is a complete number.

Back down the hallway, I check my daughter. She turns over when the light hits her face and sighs in her sleep. I summon a smile for her and close her door.

"That was a long bathroom break."

"Yeah, I checked on the kids while I was back there."

"Ah. All right, let's finish the show."

Fifteen minutes later, I hear a noise. "Did you hear that?"

"No."

"It was a click or something." Like a window opening, my companion suggests. I see my daughter, asleep in her room, and a man climbing in the window. A shadow creeps to her little body, grabs her, stifles her and slips back out. Later I'll find the room empty, the window open.

I try fighting the urge. I spew logic at myself. I would hear her, no one could get in here that quietly. Just as quickly, the demon takes over: If you don't check...

Sam sighs. "Do you want to go check?"

"Yes."

I check the forecast in my son's room: barometer's steady. I check my daughter's room: she fidgets.

"They're fine, you know."

"I know." I don't know. I never know. All day the demon sits on my shoulder; crawls around in my brain; whispers in my ears. He spans all media: pictures, sounds, and videos play on loops in my head. Each different, but forever ending the same way:

Me, alive, my arms empty as I swing from the last shred of sanity I have left, carried away by a balloon of fear.

"Well, it's only got five minutes. Let's watch it and go to bed."

"Okay." The demon looks at me from the surface of my glass. The ice in my water has melted, and I don't drink water without ice. I tuck my hands into my lap and watch the screen.

Reality ends. We chat about the drama, the successes, and the failures. We go to the bathroom. Sam goes to bed.

The shadow on my shoulder and I check on my son's barometer and my daughter's fitful sleep.

I go back to the living room windows. They're sealed. I place my first two fingers around the door lock. It's vertical, but it's not complete. I do it again. Two. Three. Four. Five. I need to feel the metal between them. Eventually I force myself away, tapping my finger on my forehead. It gives me a focus.

I check the stove. The coffee pot. The toaster. I check the stove again.

My daughter keeps turning; my son keeps breathing.

I climb into bed, and my husband's already asleep. My demon swings on my ear lobe like a kid on monkey bars. Did you check the stove?

Yes.

You could have missed it. You could have missed the light on. I see fire again. Walls of flame. Beds turned to ash.

If you don't check…

The rest is always implied: he doesn't say it and neither do I, but we both know how it ends.

…it will be your fault.
HOLY CRAP! Thank you for the DD, guys! This is such a personal piece for me, I'm so glad it resonated with others, too. Thank you so much! :blush: :boogie:

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For *Flash-Fic-Month

I had a hard time coming up with an idea, so I wrote what I know. Or what I knew.

Oh, and thank you to ~austinblan, =Allysmurfy, ~AGMeade, and ~Zadien20 for the word wars that forced this to be written. :D

-----------------

This piece means a lot to me personally, so I want to get it right. I'd like some critiques to make this solid.

--Is there anything that stands out as needing improvement; any sentences that didn't sit well, any serious grammar issues that need to be addressed?
--Is it too dry, or does it keep your attention?
--What do you think of it overall?
--Any other concerns or suggestions?

Link for #theWrittenRevolution:[link]
Comments122
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SilverInkblot's avatar
:star::star::star::star::star: Overall
:star::star::star::star::star: Vision
:star::star::star::star::star: Originality
:star::star::star::star::star: Technique
:star::star::star::star::star: Impact

This is unbelievably creepy in an extremely relate-able way. It's not horror movie creepy: there's the very real sense of fear undermining every action of the main character. The build-up is so extreme that I'm almost disappointed that nothing happened at all in the end - not because I want to see bad things happen to our heroine, but because I'd like to know her paranoia is justified instead of compulsive. There's no release of fear in the end - we're just left feeling even more wound up than before.

There's an undercurrent of insanity to it, but the fears are common enough that you could never discount them in your own life, from the appliances to the fear for your family. It's much more effective than zombie paranoia could ever be.

I think the one thing I might change is the way you've given the compulsion a personality - I don't really think we need it personified as a demon. Somehow it's creepier as a disembodied entity in your mind that as one of Lucifer's agents <img src="e.deviantart.net/emoticons/x/x…" width="15" height="15" alt=":XD:" title="XD"/> Giving it a personality kind of implies that the "demon" is the one leaving the stove on and that sort of thing.

The ending is fantastic. I have nothing to add to that <img src="e.deviantart.net/emoticons/b/b…" width="15" height="15" alt=":D" title=":D (Big Grin)"/>
manuelka's avatar
No, I disagree. I think the personification is not obtrusive and not for 1 second was I under the impression that maybe it was the demon who left the stove on etc. I think the personalisation works great in emphasising how difficult it is to control, how it almost lives its own life, and always tries to take the control of the protagonist.
SilverInkblot's avatar
Fair enough. It was a nitpick on my part.
ninjababy's avatar
I'm glad you said that. Personifying the demon was a last-minute decision--I had written one line with that imagery and decided to use it throughout. I'll take a closer look at what it was before and see if I can make that work better.

Thank you so much; I think you're pretty darn awesome, so a good critique from is you makes my day! :D

I know this is flash fiction, but a lot of this is close to truth--or at least, what my truth used to be. It's cathartic to write about it; to put my finger on it and say "A ha! That's what you are!" if that makes sense. I feel sorry for my character; I've so been there.
SilverInkblot's avatar
I think it works as imagery, just try to avoid giving the metaphor a personality :)

You're pretty good yourself :D

I kinda get it, but with less paranoia. I count things all the time - I hate odd numbers unless it's a multiple of five. I've never been sure why :shrug: I always feel unbalanced if I don't land on an even number of steps for instance.
ninjababy's avatar
Ahh. Five. I love five. Five, three, and ten are great numbers. Sometimes numbers feel right and sometimes they don't, and don't get me started on decimals. :crazy:
ninjababy's avatar
ActsofArt's avatar
Amazing! every word had me reading to the very end wonderfully thought out!! Congrats on the DD this one really deserves it!
<3
crazyDoggy's avatar
Wow, this is so detailed and is something I can fairly relate to. I have this problem with numbers and syllables, where 3 or 5 ice cubes in my water is perfect, but 4 is somehow too many; where if I repeat an odd-syllable word too much, I get agitated. 
I have to know the exact time as often as possible, or else I feel lost. If I hear a small noise, even if I know it was nothing, I will keep looking over to where it came from until I forget that I ever even heard it.

Every detail matters to me. Anywho, this is such an accurate and amazing piece of writing. c:
aliza-em's avatar
Wow very eye opening...... aaand your writing is nothing short of perfection, totally deserved the DD! :D
Patrikia-Bear's avatar
Dude.........
I hope I never become this person.
ninjababy's avatar
Well, as there's only one of me, I think you're probably safe.
amrgalal7's avatar
Outstanding, overwhelming and epic. Congrats :heart:
ninjababy's avatar
amrgalal7's avatar
Rain0o0o's avatar
Awesome piece!
ninjababy's avatar
MorzansElvenDaughter's avatar
Wow. I definitely can see why you got a DD. Congrats.
ninjababy's avatar
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