It started as a drawing. An unconscious scribble that turned into a malevolent face. I didn’t think anything of it at first, it was a stupid doodle. I was in a Psychology lecture, listening to someone explain Milgram’s obedience experiment, when my hand wandered the page aimlessly. It was a surprise at first, to see such a simple, creepy face emerge from quick scribbling. It was scraggy and stupid, just a pair of rough eyes and a joker-like grin that was far too wide.

But it was only a drawing.

He was quiet at first. I would notice every few days, that I’d be drawing the same horrid face in the corner of a page. I wasn’t worried of course, it was just ink. I’d barely think about it, just notice every so often that the same image would emerge and then that was it. I wouldn’t draw Him again for ages.

I like to draw. I can’t say I’m especially talented but I have the basic skills. I did Art for GCSE and had a few good marks but I always needed inspiration from other people’s work. My parents tried convincing me to take art at university, but I never listened. Psychology was my main interest, art was just a stupid hobby with no hope for the future. Shading was my strongest point, I loved using a black pen or pencil to shade a simple still life. It was therapeutic and I enjoyed it. But I was so surprised to see something I created from my own mind. It was nothing special, barely a doodle. It was two circles and a smile, nothing at all.

After a while, it became…creepy. My friends would comment whenever they saw it. It unnerved them. Its blank stare would watch them from the page, following them as they moved. For a stupid scribble, it carried a terrifying atmosphere; staring straight at you as if it was trying to communicate. But it only ever appeared a couple times a week. It would just pop up in my head and I’d get this overwhelming feeling that I had to draw it. But as soon as I added the last tooth that was it. I barely registered drawing it at all. Every time my friends would complain I’d just laugh. It sounded so stupid to be frightened by a sketch.

It was during the sixth or seventh week that I sensed something was wrong. The face slowly grew, it began to consume the margins of my books as if fighting for attention. Each time I finished class, I’d realise just how little I had focused. That wasn’t like me. I was organised, studious. But for a few hours I’d be unconsciously devoting my time to drawing this odd face. It never altered. Each doodle looked exactly alike. The pen strokes were precise; the faces held the same jagged features. Why did I draw Him? Where had I seen Him before? I began wondering if I had actually made Him up; there was something oddly real about Him.

But it was only a drawing of course.

Weeks began to melt into each other as the obsession grew. My hand felt dead without the weight of the pen. I had to draw. I filled so many notebooks with just His face. The pages looked black with His features. I began feeling paranoid when I was deprived from Him. I couldn’t think straight, it was like the thoughts didn’t belong to me. That was when I realised He was something more. He was whispering to me. This thing I craved was actually alive and inside my head. We’d speak to each other whenever I was alone. In public, He’d speak and I’d listen instead of talking to someone real. My mind was clouded, I knew the rational response was to question it but I couldn’t. His voice was eerie but comforting. I’d only realise the insanity of the situation when He was quiet. When I was alone, I panicked. So many questions ran through my head but they’d disappear every time He returned.

Every day I began to see His face everywhere I went. Logos, smudges, other people’s doodles, everything moulded into the shape of that strange face. I felt panicked at first but there was a relief in seeing Him. I felt so much pleasure whenever I finished a page and stared at the many faces. It felt like an achievement, creating colonies of Him in my books. It scared but excited me. This unnerving figure haunted me daily. He was everywhere, He was in my head completely.

Drawing became my life. It was a need, an obsession. I would hide inside my room, not for myself but for everyone else. When I started to hear Him constantly, I hid. If I drew Him in front of people, they’d become hypnotised. It was only for a minute. Their face would contort into a surprised but curious expression. My friends would ask about Him, they wanted to know where He came from, if I had created Him for a purpose. The concern they originally felt dissolved into curiosity and I was afraid they’d start drawing too. I could see the interest rise in the people I loved and so I stayed away. I couldn’t let Him take them. I couldn’t let Him consume anyone else.

My parents rang so many times but I had to ignore them. As soon as I noticed their faces drift towards His, I knew I had to be alone. I had to cut myself off from the world to keep control. It was so difficult! I could feel His rage, I could feel His need to grow. Whenever I needed food, I ordered online. I needed to limit my interactions with others and lock Him in. Sometimes, when I was tired from fighting, He would move a hand or jerk my chest. It was terrifying. But I stayed in control, I couldn’t let Him out.

Even whilst outside my hand would twitch. The absent pen was like a missing limb, a phantom addiction that would never cease. I had to leave my room on occasions for Him to stretch his legs. I’d try to take Him to secluded places, I didn’t think He’d appreciate it but He did. Our trips would strengthen Him but they also meant that He’d loosen his grip of me, for a few days, out of gratitude. A strange relationship began to grow between us.

After a few months, I understood why He gave me those few days to breathe. He was just getting started; there was so much more to His plan. The impulse to draw would turn into an excruciating pain. It was impossible to be empty handed, I needed the pen. There were days when I’d black out, waking from unconsciousness still holding a pen of some sort. I could feel tendrils of darkness squirm inside my arms, taking control of my tendons, forcing me to draw. Very quickly, ink became useless. We experimented with so many things: paint, chalk, wood, charcoal, anything I could obtain. But He was never happy. He wanted more. He wanted a tool with more life.

When the voices began, that’s when I knew I was trapped. This…thing had captured me, entranced me into His world. I would draw until my fingers bled and the pages ran out. He planted His image into my mind and tortured me until I could capture it in reality. He wanted to be seen. He wanted to be a part of our world. But who or what was He? I never knew what He wanted and I’m not sure that I ever truly found out.

The black outs went from days to weeks. Instead of pages of ink, there were pages of blood. My hands would be scratched and sliced, bleeding constantly. They never healed. Each time they scabbed over, they’d be ripped again. He loved working with blood. My nails had somehow grown into claw-like razors covered in my shrivelled flesh.

I never remembered the moments He took over, I just remember waking up in intense pain. The first time I awoke from a blackout, I screamed in horror. The room was covered in my blood, in His face. Blood-spattered knives lay about the floor, each one dulled from the night He spent with them. Each time, He never went on or above the wrists; never hurt anything other my hands. He couldn’t risk hitting an artery. I’d spend so many hours crying, pleading Him to leave. He would only reply with, “Show me.” Show Him what? His self? I never understood what that meant until one of our last trips together.

One night, sitting on an empty train, I stared through the window wishing for it to end. As the conductor made his round, He would suddenly yell, “Show me!” inside my head. It grew louder as the conductor moved closer. Then I realised…He wanted me to show Him off again. He wanted me to draw Him in public like I had during my lectures. He wanted to grow. The horror of that sudden realisation gripped my chest with iron claws. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t speak.

As the conductor found his way to my seat, he asked if I was okay. Clearly the horror was plain on my face. I clenched my hands, feeling the woollen gloves scrape my fresh wounds. Luckily, I had thought ahead and my monthly ticket lay beside me. The conductor looked between me and the ticket for some minutes. The face materialised in front of my eyes, contorting the stranger’s head into the scribbled features. I pointed at my ticket and laid my head against the window as a sign to be left alone. The conductor sensed my anxiety and left the carriage after scrutinising the ticket a final time. I heard him speaking to the driver soon after. He was concerned for me and was told to keep an eye out. They even considered asking for the police at the next stop, but I’d already be gone by then.

As soon as the train doors slid open, I ran. I ran as far away from people as I could. I ran until my legs couldn’t carry me. All the while, He whispered inside. There was no pause, no silence just a never-ending scream for Him to be shown. I sobbed for hours listening to Him shout and demand the drawings. I was in some sort of field behind the town. I travelled as far as I could and stopped through sheer exhaustion. There was never a chance for me to rest with Him there. Even after the blackouts, I felt like I hadn’t slept in months.

The crying had weakened me and He suddenly took control. My legs began walking towards the houses but it wasn’t long before the obsession took over and He gave up. He would’ve preferred to have been drawn in town, but the field would have to do until then. I screamed internally demanding control of my body. I felt the pain as He ripped off my gloves, breaking any fresh scabs that had formed. Taking a rock, He sliced my hands. Cutting across fingers and grazing the skin until there was nothing left; He reduced my hands to a bloody mess. Everything was a canvas to Him. The grass, trees, even the remnants of an old fence. He drew His face over and over again, ripping off the skin whenever the blood flow weakened. Anything was a weapon: cans, rocks, wire, everything He found He used to re-open my wounds.

I screamed in agony but no one would have ever been able to hear it.

We stayed like that for about an hour. Him guiding my body around the field whilst I silently cried. I was thankful that He was too absorbed to think about moving towards civilisation. Every time He’d think about a public place, He’d be distracted by another possible canvas. He, too, was obsessed. It was too late and too dark for anyone to have noticed us. I daren’t think what He would’ve done if a stranger had offered help. He had shown me, before that night, images of Him gutting my family and creating faces with their intestines. It was one of the reasons I decided to isolate myself. Because of Him, I had a desire to kill that I battled with every day.

For most of the night, I was unaware of what He was doing. But every so often, He’d allow me to watch, to feel the pain He was inflicting onto my body. But He made sure I was awake for the main event. The masterpiece was me. Sitting on the grass, He lifted my shirt and cut. My chest became a canvas as He scraped His image into me. He was carving Himself into my flesh, branding me as His. Blood flood constantly, covering the ground below. Muscle began to protrude as He sliced deeper, finishing the final details. My body ached all over, the pain radiated through every nerve. I cried and screamed and begged for Him to kill me but mercy never came. I just writhed in pain, hearing Him laughing manically.

Once my body grew weak from the blood loss, He let me go. He gave control back to me. He drifted to the back of my mind, allowing me to rest. I lay on the grass for hours covered in a pool of my own blood. I was so tired. I was scared to sleep but I couldn’t help but drift off every so often. I was so weak. He laughed at me, proud of His masterpiece. But He wasn’t finished, I knew that. It had to be stopped somehow. I had to be stopped.

In the silence, I heard a faint rushing sound in the distance. Water. Raising my head, I could see the tall banks of a river’s edge. Without thinking, I carried myself off the ground. I had hardly any strength but I was determined to walk. There was no reasoning, no thought process, I just walked. The voices halted out of confusion, waiting to see what I’d do. But I didn’t know, I just had to reach the water.

Scared, He started moaning, asking me to stop. I’d trip as He’d try manipulating my legs but I couldn’t rest. I was compelled forward, I had to stop Him somehow. It felt like hours until I reached the high edge of the river, but it must’ve only taken minutes. He screamed sensing my plan but I was too tired. I just wanted it to stop; wanted Him to leave.

Looking over, I smiled with relief at the rushing water. Exhausted, I fell. My whole body became limp as I relaxed and allowed myself to become enveloped by the waves. He screamed continuously until I was under. Then…silence.

It was so peaceful. The current guided me under but I didn’t care. I accepted it. I accepted its plan for me. I relaxed and sank deeper. The moonlight became distant and distorted under the water’s surface. It was beautiful. Closing my eyes, I sank further and further. I became numb with cold and became content the further under I went. I felt weightless, yet heavy. Alive, yet dying. There was no twitch, no need to draw. There was no Him. Concerned for a moment, I opened my eyes.

Above me, was a black cloud dancing in the water. A dust so fine, it looked like charcoal powder. We spent so many nights capturing his image in charcoal. It swayed slowly, forming a larger silhouette. It was Him. Rising to the surface, the formation distorted itself into His face. He smiled and waved with a non-existent hand. As I fell, He fought the water and rose. He finally left. I was alone for the first time in…I don’t even know how long. Satisfied, I closed my eyes and let go.

  • Patrick Lavoie

    Good job on this story.

    • Zenyx Griffiths

      Just wanted to say thanks 🙂 it was written for a module on my university course

  • Crystal LaShae Broadnax

    Haunting and exceptionally well written!!!

  • Westdog01 Games

    I think we have the next Stephen King right here!

  • thirteenlilsykos

    I love it when I find a well written, thought out story. This was excellent. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Zenyx Griffiths

    I’m the author and I just wanted to say thank you for the comments. It means a lot 🙂

  • TanzDerProblems

    Wow! This is great!! 5/5

  • Zenyx Griffiths

    Don’t want to pin mental health to one experience but I’ve definitely used my writing to aid my own battles with it. Thank you for noticing.

  • Liam Jacklin

    This is the 1st story ive seen on this app and i love it! Please write more like this, you did a great job! <3

  • teresa robinson

    Really great story! Kept me engaged the whole time! Loved it, keep it up:)

  • Jed

    4/5 An exhausting story in the best way, ‘Him’ brings to mind a cool image and concept, and is executed well in its abstract mystery.