They would lay in wait outside of the shops at the mall in the afternoons. I would catch threatening glimpses of their vivid orange robes as they lingered in shady doorways, waiting for an opportunity to lure me away. I was already on their radar and I’m not sure how I got there. Maybe it was something to do with the weird phone calls; disembodied voices would ask for me using my name, Frank, and then refuse to speak. It felt as though they were trying to bait me, waiting for me to reveal myself to them, through my fear.
I became anxious and stopped enjoying going to the mall, or talking to anyone on the phone, in case they were listening in. I didn’t know what powers they had or what they wanted from me.
My brother had already warned me, “They are dangerous types, who lure people into their weird compound and they never come back out.”
It unnerved me, and each time I spotted one of them it would become a game of stalk the prey. I would hide and, at first, they couldn’t find me. The strangers came up with a new strategy and began to fragment into smaller groups, covering all the exits at the mall, eventually, following me home.
“What do you want from me?” I shouted at their leader, a young fella with a shaven head and piercing, alien type eyes. They all glared back at me in unison, but they didn’t reply.
It was a shame they were following me because I used to enjoy my trips to the mall with all of its shiny, reflective surfaces and multi-coloured sparkly lights, but, over time, I became scared to leave the house unless it was absolutely necessary. I had read many stories about people being kidnapped or such in the newspaper, and when someone disappeared without a trace from around here, the orange people were always blamed.
I came to believe that I had become their target because they could sense my mental infirmity, which can cause me a certain amount of confusion and disorientation, it’s true. I had been “diagnosed” by the white coated people, who gave me lots of pills and said I wasn’t dangerous, only severely paranoid.
I gave this matter some serious thought and I believe that they got it all wrong. What they call paranoia, I call survival instinct. Let me give you an example: if the newspaper warns of an impending alien invasion, I’d be the first to secure a bunker and stock it with a loaded rifle and an army sized supply of canned food. And where would the white coats be then? So busy being “un-paranoid” that they would be taken forcibly and assimilated, I reckon…
The white coats wouldn’t leave me alone, in what they called “the hospital” – although it was actually a prison camp. Yes, it was. They had a go at brainwashing me with their amnesia medicine and electric shock torture, which they use to steal your thoughts. My brother came to visit me once, but I panicked, and shouted as loud as I could before they restrained me,
“You’ve got get out of here! These are real dangerous types with no moral scruples! They fry your brain with electric pads, while telling you everything is going to be ‘Okay!’ But it never is, and you can’t make them stop!” I warned him as best I could, and he didn’t come back. I just hope they didn’t capture him too.
When they eventually let me out, the orange people had already been informed and were waiting for me in cluster outside the hospital-prison gates. I was trapped and I knew it. There was a gang of them and the young fella with the alien eyes stood out front.
Captivity was a troubling experience, I don’t mind telling you…
The orange brainwashing techniques were different from the ones the white coats used. Lots of weird chanting and worshiping things I couldn’t see. They were wasting their time on me though, because you can’t alter faulty wiring like mine with promises of unconditional love, to the jingling of a tired tambourine.
They tried to wear me down with song.
Then they told me to procreate with the orange robed females. I believe they wanted to create their own colony of brainwashed creatures, total dependents, without souls to call their own. But I knew this was pure insanity and I managed to escape their stealthy orange clutches, with my precious “paranoia” still intact.
A couple of years later, my brother and I read in the newspaper that the orange robed people were a dangerous religious cult. The police had raided the compound and shut it down. I wanted to tell them they needed to shut down the hospital-prison too, but I had to do this anonymously, in case they had access to the thoughts that were stolen from me during the electrical torture.
Maybe the white coats had already passed my missing thoughts on to the police or had sold them to the orange cult? I figured this would explain why the orange leader was already waiting for me outside of the hospital-prison, when I was released.
Obviously, I had to be very careful in reporting the white coats as I couldn’t risk them capturing me again. All in all, I think they were much more dangerous than the orange people, who didn’t electrocute anyone with their chanting, only torturing them musically with their tingling tambourines. But when I tried to tell people this and warn them about the fanatical white coats, they were all too confused to take it in, and just keep on saying,
“Don’t listen to Frank – he’s paranoid…”
I tried my best, but I was forced to give up in the end as the police didn’t believe my information about the white coats selling peoples thoughts. I did wonder, mind you, if the police and the white coats were in it together, as how easy would it be to solve crimes if you had access to people’s stolen thoughts.
I am sure they will be very sorry when they realise that their thoughts have been stolen too, but there is nothing I can do about it. You can’t help everyone, especially when they are not willing to listen, and some of them are far too brainwashed to even realise their thoughts have gone missing. – And that’s a real sorry state to be in.
I have a plan to get my own thoughts back, but obviously, it could get stolen and sold to the orange people – so I can’t share it with you…
BIO : Sonia Kilvington is a journalist, short story writer, poet and novelist, living in Cyprus. She is currently published in the international noir collection Exiles, and has written two crime novels, The Main Line Murders and Buried In The Hills.
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9 thoughts on “Paranoid by Sonia Kilvington”
Creepy! Makes you stop and think…
The story pulled me in fast…the first job of a very short fiction piece. I seek a glimpse into insanity….”I came to believe that I had become their target because they could sense my mental infirmity, which can cause me a certain amount of confusion and disorientation, it’s true. I had been “diagnosed” by the white coated people”.
Good throughout, hoped a more powerful ending, but a cute twist (the last line) was good too. Good story.
Thank you for your comments Darin! I’m glad you enjoyed the story, I would be interested to hear what sort of ending you would have found more powerful as I’m always experimenting trying to find what works best… theres always more than one ending to every story 🙂
Best wishes Sonia
Your ending was clever, I admire that. I guess that I am inclined to look for some violence or devastation…..in a way, your ending was devastating. Enjoyed the whole piece.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments Darin! 😊