A Spirit of Discord at Harmony Hall

1 Conversation

The Orderly's Statement: To The Tribunal

It was about time for our tea break, me and Darren. We were just standing over by the nurses' station, waiting for Sister to get back from her break, when it happened. What first got our attention was the sudden hush that fell over the patients' lounge. There'd been a low buzz of conversation, then everybody stopped talking, all at once. It's hard to describe the feeling. We stopped talking too. It was as though the temperature in the room had dropped and the tension had risen. A sense of anxiety seemed to pop into my head from nowhere. Afterwards, Darren said he'd felt the same thing exactly. It was very weird.

We looked over to the west end of the room, where most of the residents were sitting around in small groups. Everyone was staring across the lounge at Mary. Mary had her eyes fixed on a space near the floor as far as we could see. She looked terrified, poor woman. We couldn't see exactly where she was looking because there were a couple of arm chairs between us and the focus of her gaze. We looked at each other, me and the boy and, it's funny - it's as though we could both sense a sort of reluctance to move in each other, but knew we had to. We went over together.

This is where our accounts differ. Darren said he didn't see nothing. I did. We got up to those chairs and we saw that Mary was looking at the space under one of the tables. I could see something where she was looking, but it wasn't clear. That worried me straight away, because I could see everything around it clear enough. The thing under the table looked kind of fuzzy and transparent - but gradually getting more substantial as I squinted at it. I couldn't say why at that stage, but it was more than the fact that it didn't seem solid - it turned my innards to ice. That was before it even looked at me. It turned its head slowly towards us and .... well! No description I could give would do justice to the horror of the thing. It looked like Death. Its eyes were almost completely white. The irises were too small and a strange, watery yellow colour. The pupils were black at least, but they were tiny, like pin-pricks. And such an expression of malice in them! I don't mind admitting, it made me feel queer. The thing looked as though it was snarling, though I heard no sound. The teeth were too sharp as well, like some kind of cat.

I grabbed Darren's arm for support - and he punched me! I was so surprised! It shook me out of my stupor better than any supporting arm could've. I felt so angry. The change of mood was just unbelievable. I was suddenly in this towering rage and before we knew where we were, Darren and me, we were knocking lumps out of each other. I don't know what came over us. We usually get on so well together.

We hadn't noticed it, but some of the male patients were drifting over to see what all the ruckus was about. And this is the puzzle that none of us can fathom: as they got closer, all those blokes started taking swings at each other. It's normally a calm ward. There are no particularly violent patients on it - but within a few minutes it was like bedlam in there. And it must have gone on for almost three quarters of an hour. As you know, two men died and others were seriously injured. They were picking up furniture to hit each other. I've never seen or experienced anything like it. Orderlies from other wards came pouring in after a few minutes, to break up the fighting - but when they got close to the worst of the fighting, they joined in! It was just astonishing. Things only really started to calm down when men stopped pouring in to break it up and everyone was either badly injured or completely exhausted.

I wouldn't have had the nerve to mention that thing under the table if a couple of others hadn't seen it too - including Sister Barnes. There's no-one more down-to-earth than Sister Barnes.

As you know, me and Darren were taken off to hospital with thirteen others. When we woke up, we remembered everything that had happened to us, but could give no reasonable explanation for our uncontrolled aggression. It's very embarrassing.

Mary's Account: To Her Psychiatrist

I was just walking over to the book case to find something to read when I felt the chill. He broadcasts this atmosphere of cold terror all around himself. It's unmistakable. I always know when he's close and in which direction to look for him, because of this heart-stopping blast of dread that emanates from him. I looked towards the dining area but couldn't see him at first. Then I caught a movement under one of the tables. He was just crouching there, glowering at me. He's never hurt me and I don't believe he ever will, because there's an ancient pact. I'm one of his conduits and there aren't very many of us, apparently - fewer with each generation. He uses, but he also protects us from the havoc he creates. The wave of malevolence he generates isn't aimed at me but I can feel it. The difference is, it doesn't make me feel angry and aggressive. He's a wicked thing and quite ruthless when he's starved. After all this time, it still shocks and terrifies me every time he turns up.

You know, of course, that he's the reason I'm in psychiatric care. It all started when I was 13. I was playing on the beach with my friends. That first time was the worst one of the lot. There must have been 500 or more Rockers, that suddenly descended onto the beach. They all came charging down several flights of steps from the esplanade above the sea-front. It worried us so we were just making our way through the crowd of them, trying to get away, when a great mob of Mods appeared along Marine Parade, leaning over the railings and hurling missiles and abuse at their enemies below. Violence erupted immediately. It all happened so suddenly that I didn't have time to notice the real cause until I started shuddering with cold and fear, brought on by something besides the fighting. There he was, only a couple of yards away, grinning at me and, seemingly, inflating. I know now that he was soaking up all the energy generated by the rage and violence. He was channelling his power out to the 'war' through me and absorbing the flow of energy back through me. Once the flow became a torrent, I couldn't move. Three of my friends got hurt, but the fight never got within ten feet of me. It was as though I was protected by a bubble of calm. I could see the fighters bouncing off its edges whenever they got near.

It was years later and after the third of these brutal incidents that the author of the chaos - that evil looking apparition - actually communicated with me.

A God of War Communicates: To A Descendant of His Followers

I am desolate. This is a Godless age and it grieves and offends me. In ages past, I was adored and feared. The reverence and sacrifices of my followers made me strong and, in return, I made them invincible warriors. Now, in this age, I am less than nothing - worse than dead. I cannot die but only fade.

There is a thread of identity: an essence, that runs through the descendants of my faithful followers. In a very few it is still strong, but in most it is barely perceptible. It is the pact that was made and remade over many generations and continues to be passed on in the blood-line of those who worshipped me. While it yet lasts, I cannot die, though my existence is a hideous torment to me.

I will not destroy the descendants of the faithful in order to end my own misery, because I am not treacherous. The ancient pact binds me to protect the progeny of my followers - though they do not abide by the sacred code. They do not remember me. They do not recognise me. Many worship another God - a foreign God - that does not know them. I am enraged, but I am bound.

So I, the God of your fathers, am but flotsam on the tide of time and fate. You will not worship me and I must not kill you. You and your generation are soft and weak - a disgrace to your noble ancestors! Even so, while you and others like you continue the blood-line undiminished, I must persist with this unsatisfactory existence - and I must feed. Willingly or unwillingly, you must provide my sustenance. I am a God of War and only violent conflict can satisfy my hunger.

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