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The air is cold as you run through the town.
You duck behind a building to try and catch your breath.
You've been running for hours.
[[look around the corner]]
[[keep running]]You decide to peek around the corner of the building...
just to see if he's still chasing you.
A sharp pain radiates from the top of your skull as you realize it's too late.
He's caught you. It's a shame, you were so close to solving his condition.
[[Rethink ->Starting Passage]] You consider looking around the corner, but dismiss that thought very
quickly. It could only end in a swift death. You pick yourself up off
the ground and begin running again.
The crisp air enters your lungs in quick gasps.
Even with resting for a moment your stamina is shot to hell.
It's harder to think while running.
The body pumps chemicals into the brain to help it avoid danger.
Adrenaline is wonderful for running, but terrible for [[diagnosis]].
Regardless, you had to figure out what to do.
You can't [[run forever]]. Psychology was always your passion. You were a prodigy while studying in
college, and wrote many papers on the more extreme disorders of the mind. You constantly researched new methods of treatment for these diseases and after many long years of work settle on a number of cures.
Your most famous cure was for a man who had disociative identity disorder.
He had many differing personalities, all of which had seperate memories, names, and even friends. The disease itself was very hard to treat, and most physicians and psychologists could not agree on a method of treatment.
Your treatment, however, was a rousing success. Within two short weeks of tests, it seemed as though he had been completely cured. It was a medical miracle.
But that was months ago and something had gone [[wrong ->keep running]]. You jump into a large patch of brush to try and slow your breathing.
breathe in through your nose...
breathe out through your mouth...
breathe in through your nose...
breathe out through your mouth...
It's too late
You can feel yourself slipping into a panic attack.
The symptoms are all there:
shortness of breath
feeling detached from your surroundings
[[ride it out]]
[[just calm down]]
This will pass, you've been through it enough times already to know that
trying to speed it up only ends up making it worse.
After about three minutes, you've regained your bearings and have stopped
You go to get up and feel a hand on your shoulder.
Spinning around you can see the true nature of your attacker.
It is the patient you treated for disociative identity disorder, that much is
true. But he looked completely different. His body looked the same, but the way that he carried himself was wholly changed. The only new defining feature was the mask that he wore on his face. It was in the shape of a jackalope and looked to be very heavy from the way that he had to tilt his head back to support it. You recognize the mask as the [[single tool]] that had cured him all those months ago.
He does not speak to you, and the only thing he has done is grab your shoulder.
He is not visibly armed from what you can see. You do know that he is dangerous and has killed before.
[[Punch him in his mask and run for your life]]
[[Talk to him]]
[[Take the mask away from him]]You keep telling yourself to calm down. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over AND OVER AND OVER.
WHY WON'T I CALM DOWN?!?!?!
The symptoms get the better of you and you begin to breathe very loudly.
So loud in fact, that your patient hears you.
You see the dim outline of a mask covering his face as he kills you.
[[Rethink ->run forever]] The cure for his disociative identity disorder was found in an experiment
that dealt with the concept of identity cancellation. Identity cancellation dealt with the idea that when a person was behind a mask, they were not themselves. The person's identity would be concealed and they would act differently because of it. Some patients even remarked that the mask therapy had managed to make them feel more calm and level-headed as their true nature was essentially withheld from society behind the guise of the mask that they wore.
You of course, wanted to take this research one step further. So you decided to
test your new theory on your newly acquired patient. His name was David and he happily accepted your offer if it could help him control his other personalities a little better.
In your first few sessions together you make note of each of his multiple personalities and their traits, likes, dislikes, behavior, and so on. By the fourth session you asked him to construct a mask for the purpose of the experiment. You also asked that he pick an animal's face instead of one with more human characteristics. He was uneasy at the mention of this stipulation, but you assured him that it was all a part of the experiment. He chose a jackalope, for reasons you still do not entirely know. The only bit of information that you get from him is that the mythical animal has a calming effect on his psyche.
He makes the mask and you begin the treatment.
Typical identity cancellation works with the patient on a level where they feel out different parts of their personality and shut certain parts of it off. The goal of your treatment was to gradually wean David away from slipping into his other personalities. This would be accomplished by using the mask to cancel all of his multiple identities and keep David intact.
At the start of every session, you would ask David to focus on his personality and what made him act like David before putting on the mask. This was extremely important as he needed to remember the identity of David between sessions of wearing the mask. At the start of the session, you talked to David as though he was not David or any of his other personalities. To avoid having David latch onto the mask as another personality entirely you asked that David didn't give the masked identity a name or any type of defining traits during the treatment sessions.
In the beginning, it seemed as though he was still slipping into the other personalities during the time he put on the mask. However, after four sessions with the mask and the lack of an identity with the mask on, it began to look as though it was working. David relasped less and less and by the better part of two weeks he seemed all but cured of his disorder. He never lasped into his other personalities anymore and his mannerisms stayed consistent. He couldn't stop thanking you as he left on his final session day.
You left the hospital to work at a university and rested on your laurels for about a month.
Then one day, a call came through that terrified you.
It was a police officer that reported to you that David had killed one of your
old assistants at the hospital. His wherabouts were currently [[unknown->ride it out]]. Your gut reaction is to punch him in the face. Hopefully that will daze him long enough for you to escape. You wheel back your left arm and put all your weight into punching him.
He moves his head effortlessly out of the way. You notice how slow and deliberate this movement is. He does not seem scared or angry at your attack.
You try to pull away from his arm and he puts his other arm on you.
Your struggling becomes frantic.
He is still calm and unmoved.
You go to scream for help, but before you can he brings the mask violently forward into your temple.
You fall [[unconscious]]. You muster the courage to speak to him and try to bring him out of his psychosis.
"David, this isn't you. You need to get help. I can try and help the best I can at fixing what I have done to you. But you need to be willing to face the punishment for what you have done." you plead.
David raises his head forward and meets your eyes. There is no expression or sense of life behind them. Staring into them is extremely uncomfortable. Almost as if you were staring into the eyes of Death himself.
He replies "You do not need to fix me Doctor. I am perfectly well."
His tone of voice is sharp and even. It is devoid of any sort of feeling, but it is not monotone in its delivery. You find that when he speaks the trees around you seem to blow with an eerie wind through them.
"Your treatment was a success, remember?" he states.
His grip on your shoulder tightens.
"I am finally free. I no longer have any of the differing personalities. Mark, Alonso, Tim, Sam, Margaret, Bill, Garrett, Liam, Mike, Paulo, and even David.They are all gone from me."
A sudden chilling realization hits you square in the gut.
"Then that means..." you stutter.
"Yes, Doctor. I simply am. I have no identity. I simply exist."
This was very bad, in fact it was the worst possible scenario. David had apparently taken to the treatment too well and lost his sense of self in the process. In erasing his other personalities, you also accidentally erased the core of his mental being, David. Who knows what this could mean? This has never happened before and the puzzling question of how he could stand before you with no personality or sense of being was even more worrysome.
The creature interupted your thoughts with "Now, it is my turn to return the favor. You killed 11 people in my head, Doctor. I feel it is only fair to repay in kind."
[[You are thrown violently out of the bush.]]You go to grab the mask away from him and manage to get a hand on it.
In one swift motion you throw it to the ground.
You expect that this will somehow adversely affect his psyche. After all, the only logical explanation for David's new behavior is that he did give a new identity to the mask and thus by removing it, it would snap David back into his own conciousness again.
This was not the case.
He lets go of you very calmly and gets up to retrieve his mask.
You take off like a gunshot in the exact opposite direction.
Miraculously, you make it to the other side of a large river and keep traveling until you reach a hotel. You believe that you have lost him and decide to [[spend the night]]. David is standing over you as you wake up. Your arms and legs are bound fast to a chair by strong rope. Your mouth is not gagged, which allows you the luxury of screaming.
You take full advantage of this luxury and scream.
Then you scream some more
and some more
and some more
and some more
and some more...
finally you stop after your throat is parched and raw.
David moves closer to you after you stop screaming. The room you are in is very well lit and you can see the mask and David completely now. Somehow, the mask is attached to his face, but you can't quite make out how. There are no apparent strings, latches, or marks that show that the mask should be staying on his face.
"Welcome, good Doctor. It is nice seeing you again. Face to face. " David says.
You manage to rasp out, "Why David? Why are you doing this?"
"I want to thank you. For freeing me. From myself."
"What are you talking about?" you yell at him.
"I am no longer David, or any of my past selves. I am..."
"The Mask?" you inquire.
"No, I simply am."
Before you can contemplate what this means you are aware that you become acutely aware of the fact that you have been losing blood for the duration of this conversation. You don't remember being injured but that is little solace as in moments you pass out onto the floor.
[[Rethink ->ride it out]] The night passes by uneventfully and you leave in the morning for sanctuary elsewhere.
You decide that going to a country you've never visited is a novel idea given the predicament you are currently in.
Buy the tickets,
board the plane,
arrive in new land,
all without any incident.
You go to unlock your door to your new hotel room and find that David is waiting there. He doesn't have the mask on. Before you can react he pounces on you, saying in the most neutral tone you have ever heard:
"I guess you were right Doctor. I don't need the mask anymore. "
The plane does not carry you back home.
[[Rethink ->ride it out]] The force is enough to cause you to roll a bit when you hit the ground.
He moves slowly towards you. He does not run, there is no urgency in his movements.
You take advantage of this and run for your life.
The familiar feeling of mad panic grips your mind again as you try and formulate a plan. You are sure he plans to kill you now, the only question that remains is how long it will take for him to accomplish it.
You vault over a set of hedges and try to cut across the town square. It is very late and no one is up. You need to come up with a plan.
[[break into someone's house and hide]]
[[hide in the water fountain in the middle of town square]]
[[run back and confront him]]You dart for the nearest house and try the door.
Miraculously, the door is unlocked.
You slip inside unnoticed.
Close the door behind you.
Properly lock it this time.
MOve through the house very quietly.
The laundry room seems like an ideal a place as any for hiding.
Crouch in the closet and wait.
You don't hear anything for a long period of time.
The silence is unbearable.
Every moment feels like another endless eternity.
All of a sudden the doors to the closet are flung open.
It is the resident of the house.
"Go on git out of here! I don't have anything for ya, ya tramp!"
The resident had mistaken you for a hobo, but before you could offer your rebuttal she is knocked out. He is standing behind her.
You sprint into the bathroom and brandish the closest weapon you can find, a hairdryer.
He follows calmly and pushes you into the shower.
Turns on the cold water, holds your head under the tap.
You struggle with him and fight back.
In the process you manage to soak all of your clothes.
You finally bring the hairdryer squarely over the back of his head. The only part of his head not covered by the mask.
He reels back in pain.
You run out of the house.
[[I have to survive]]
Although you would prefer not getting wet because of the cold air, you decide it is worth the chance at a cold and dive headfirst into the water.
Slowly you can feel yourself run out of oxygen. You need to come up for breath soon. You force yourself to wait and make sure he has gone away before you come up for air. The water is not clear though, so you can't see very clearly.
A dark blob passes over the fountain.
You stop moving.
He stares directly at you, then moves away.
You give it another couple of seconds before slowly going up to the surface for air. Poking only your lips up out of the water you draw in breath.
The air is surprisingly warm.
You slowly bring your head out of the water only to quickly dive back below the surface.
He was standing directly over where you surfaced.
You swim to the opposite end of the fountain and jump out.
Running through the entrance to the town.
[[I have to survive]]When vaulting over the hedge you noticed a pair of gardening shears lying next to the hedge.
You are tired of running.
You decide to confront him.
Picking up the gardening shears you whirl around and prepare to fight.
In one quick motion you lose your grip on the gardening shears.
You still cannot see him and you are looking in the exact direction he was coming from.
You find the gardening shears.
Unfortunately, they are now sticking out from your chest.
[[Rethink ->You are thrown violently out of the bush.]] The town had a large gate that was used to keep burgulars out during the night.
The gate was at least ten feet tall and had spikes on the bottom of it to dig into the ground when it was shut.
You were steadily making your way to the guard station for the gate when He began to catch up to you.
You break into the guard station and raise the gate to the outside world.
Before you can get back out though, He crashes through the glass window and begins smashing your face into the console. The gate starts to malfunction and begins to move erratically up and down.
The guard station console has a screwdriver on it.
You quickly grab it and jab it into the back of his head.
He lets go of you to take care of the screwdriver.
You jump out of the window and stand in front of the gate.
It's moving too unpredictably to chance going through.
It could come down on you at any moment.
He slowly moves towards you with a bloody screwdriver in his hand. He does not appear to be in pain.
You take the chance and duck under the gate.
He chases after you but by this point the gate system is fried and shuts off.
Shutting the gate with a clamorous SHINK!!!
Whatever David had become had died.
The mask rolled out from under the carnage, with nary a scratch on it.
[[What happens now?]]Well the way you see it you need to stay here and make sure that the police know what happened. You're just glad that the whole ordeal is over.
Only it isn't over.
Upon further reflection, you realize that you could be in a sizable amount of legal trouble. Even though you protected yourself when you believed you were in danger, the courts could argue that David did not know what he was doing. With the correct evidence they could convict you and send you to prison. You would lose your medical liscense and be labeled a fraud. Even after serving your sentence you wouldn't have a career when you got out of prison.
So the question then remained,
What did you do?
[[Wait and face the music.]]
[[Run. Forever.]]You know that this is the right thing to do.
But it still hurts.
The police arrive after you call them from a payphone a little ways down the road at a convenience store.
You return and tell your story to the police and they agree that you were within your rights to defend yourself. You turn over the mask and say that it is very dangerous and should be locked up.
A few days later you get a court summons from David's family. They are suing you for malpractice and general manslaughter of your previous patients.
The court case goes poorly, as your description of David in his changed state sounds like the ravings of a madman. They bring the mask in as evidence and you react by shrieking about how it is evil and should be destroyed immediately. Needless to say, you are found guilty and stripped of your medical liscense. Although, because you killed in self-defense of your life your sentence is lessened to about fifteen years.
Prison life passes by pretty uneventfully and you make it out five years early for good behavior.
It was quite the ordeal, but you managed to survive it.
With your sanity intact no less.
<em><strong>Good Job Doctor.</strong></em> You grab the mask and run into the forest. You need to get away from the sight of David. It reminds you of what will happen if the police find out you had a hand in his death.
You're surprised at your ability to run even though you believed you were completely spent before.
The panic sets back in on you and this time you can't shake it off.
You know the consequences and you chose not to face them.
That's not like you.
That's not the Doctor you know.
The trees begin to bend around you.
You're someone different.
Pools of water begin to look purple instead of blue.
But that's impossible, you've always been you. Haven't you?
The mind is so complex, so complicated. Thinking made your brain pulse out in excrutiating pain. The blow to your skull was worse than you thought.
One moment you can't focus and the next you're much too focused. Thoughts rushing in and out like the ebb and flow of the ocean.
It's too much.
MUCH TOO MUCH.....................................................
"MAKE IT STOP!" you scream.
You have to find a way.
Find a way, find a way, find a way, find away, Find A Way, fin un wey, FInd your wAy, find it, find it, find it, find it, FIND IT.
You grasp close to the mask as your heart begins to beat faster.
"NO!", you scream instinctually.
But another wave of pain hits you.
Can't be the Doctor. The Doctor killed a man, Doctors don't kill they heal.
Cab't be him. There is no way to be me anymore. I need to find another way. Be someone else, anyone else. The Doctor is in trouble. Can't be in trouble, will lose everything. They won't take it from me. They Can't Take It From Me. i won klet htem...
If i give it up, then they can't take from me.
That's the solution.
I will give it up freely and then they can't steal it from me.
Yes, I know what I must do.
You slowly put the mask on. And begin to let yourself fade.
In a matter of minutes, the intense pain in your head subsides.
You think more clearly than you have in your entire life.
You are free.
Free from your identity
Free from society
Free from emotion
Free from pain
You stand up slowly.
David was wrong, he thought too small. The Doctor's work needed to be shared.
As the last remnants of your humanity vanished you settled on a name.
Being a nameless presence didn't appeal to you as much as it did David.
<em><strong>And the Jackalope was born again.</strong></em>
You are running much slower by this point.
The cold air on your wet clothes is sapping your remaining strength.
Even adrenaline can't help you anymore.
You know that if you don't confront him now, you won't survive the night anyway.
You pour all the rest of your energy into two tasks: running and thinking
As you put everything you have into your last sprint for the entrance to the town you begin to think of how to deal with your attacker.
He doesn't exhibit the same symptoms of most killers of his kind. His psychosis is so unpredictable because he lacks any sort of emotional investment in anything. From what you know he has not killed anyone for any other reason than they helped him to achieve this state. But even then, it doesn't seem to you that he gets pleasure from killing people. He seems completely disconnected from the emotional feedback from murder. Positive or negative. There are no observable traits of true aggression or anger in him, but he does manage to commit malicious and horrible acts of violence. He moves very slowly and yet manages to be where you least expect him at every turn. This could mean he has an extremely perceptive mind. Unshackled from the distracting emotions that cloud normal thought patterns.
[[And in that moment you find your answer.]]