Author’s Note: This scene takes place four years before the events of the first book in the Unseen Things series, Origins.
* * *
“I don’t understand what the point of this is,” Jarrod said as he slouched down in his chair. This was the third psychologist he’d been sent to and he was sick of telling his story over and over again to people who wouldn’t believe him anyway.
“Why does there have to be a point to it? They sent you here so we could talk, that’s all. If you don’t want to talk about what happened, we could talk about something else?”
Jarrod looked up at the man sitting behind the desk. He’d had a couple of teachers that looked like this guy in school, and he almost smiled to himself when he realized how ridiculous it was that these types of people all seemed to look the same. This particular man, whose name was Stephen Haymer according to the name plate on his desk, was in his early fifties, balding on top and had a bit of extra weight around the middle. The suit he was wearing probably fit him quite well when he first bought it, but now the buttons were visibly tugging at the holes around the stomach and it was clear that it wouldn’t be fitting him much longer if he didn’t start watching his weight. He sat there quietly observing the fourteen year old as though he were waiting for him to reveal the secrets of the universe, but as Jarrod had already said, what was the point? No one believed him anyway, so going over it all again didn’t seem to serve any purpose.
He stared out of the office window in silence for a few moments until the weight of the older man’s gaze started weighing heavily on him. Finally he let out a heavy sigh and began telling his story once again to yet another balding man in a suit who wouldn’t believe it any more than any of the others had.
“I was in my bedroom. It was night, and I could hear my mom chasing my little brother Joseph down the hallway. He’d gotten into something or other and he was laughing about it while he ran.”
“Did you have a good relationship with your brother?” Stephen asked.
“Of course I did! He was my brother for Christ’s sake! I know he was only five, but I’d have done anything in the world for him,” Jarrod said, irritated that he’d even been asked the question.
“All right, go on then…”
“Anyway, Joseph came running into my room, and just as mom came in after him there was this really bright flash in my closet.”
“What kind of a flash? What did it look like?”
“I dunno, just a flash. It damn near blinded me when it happened, but right after it did this thing came out of it…”
“Thing?” Stephen asked.
“I don’t even know what to call it other than to say it was some kind of a monster. It was huge, and it had these really big hands.”
“Big enough to pick you up off the ground single-handed.”
“Ok, go on,” Stephen said as he laid back in his chair and folded his hands over his stomach.
“So before I even knew what was going on, this thing, whatever it was, grabbed Joseph and picked him up. Mom grabbed its arm and she was screaming at it to let him go, but it started moving backward into the light again.”
“So it wasn’t just a flash? The light stayed there in your closet?”
“Yeah, it was behind him. Anyway mom was holding on to his arm, trying to keep him from going back into the light, but it was just too strong. I grabbed a hold of mom and tried to help her, but all of a sudden I smelled something weird and I got really dizzy.”
“What’d you smell?”
“I don’t know. It wasn’t like anything I’ve ever smelled before, but I damn near passed out from it whatever it was. It made me so weak that I lost my grip on mom and fell back against the bed. That’s when it pulled her and Joseph into the light with it and disappeared.”
“Did you try to follow them?” he asked.
“No, the light disappeared right after that. As soon as the room stopped spinning I went to the closet and tried to find something, but there was nothing to find. They were just gone, and that was the last I saw of them,” Jarrod said.
“But there was something, wasn’t there? You showed it to the police. Tell me about it.”
“Oh, that. I found it in the hole of one of the weight plates in my closet. I guess he stepped on it and broke off a claw from his foot. They looked at it and all they said was that it was probably a bear claw or something. Now where in the hell would I get a bear claw? That doesn’t even make any sense!”
“Yet a monster coming into your room and taking your family away does make sense?” Stephen asked.
“Heh…I knew you wouldn’t believe me. I don’t even know why I wasted my breath,” Jarrod said irritably.
“Jarrod, my only interest is in finding the truth. We can’t help your family if you can’t face up to what actually happened.”
“Yeah yeah…I’ve heard it all before. I’ve deluded myself into believing this ridiculous story because I was so messed up about what actually happened to them that I couldn’t deal with it.”
“Do you think any of this could have to do with your father getting killed by that IED?” Stephen asked.
“What do you mean? Why would that have anything to do with what happened? That was eight months ago.”
“Well, perhaps the emotional stress of losing him and then witnessing whatever happened to your mom and your little brother pushed your mind past its ability to deal with the loss, so subconsciously you created this story to help you deal with it.”
“Why the fuck would I make up some ridiculous ass story like this if I was trying to deal with something bad that happened to them? Do you really think I’d make up something this horrible just to deal with something else that was horrible? How stupid are you people?” Jarrod shouted as he got to his feet and slammed his hands down on Stephen’s desk, practically in a rage. Stephen just continued to look at him calmly and didn’t say anything for a few moments. Finally he wrote a few notes on a piece of paper he had sitting in front of him, and when he spoke his voice was quiet and almost soothing.
“Jarrod…sit down. Please…,” he said, making a motion toward the chair with his hand. Jarrod gave him a hard look, but coming to the conclusion that there was no point in making things any worse than they already were, he sat down and started staring out of the window once again.
“So what now?” he asked.
“Well, they’ve tried hypnosis on you and you told the exact same story. You also passed both of the polygraph tests they gave you.”
“So you believe me then?” Jarrod asked, looking at him curiously.
“I believe that you believe it. I believe that whatever you saw burned this story into you so indelibly that you believe it to be the truth. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do to change that. We could continue the hypnosis sessions of course, or I could send you to a doctor who could prescribe you some drugs that might help, but I don’t think that’s in anyone’s best interests, especially yours at this point.”
“So what then?” Jarrod asked. Stephen picked up the phone on his desk and pressed the button that connected him to his receptionist.
“Susan, please send them in. Thanks,” he said before hanging up the receiver.
“Send who in?”
“Jarrod, therapy doesn’t seem to be helping you, and they can’t keep you in the system forever, so they’ve arranged for you to live with a foster family in your old neighborhood so that you can continue to attend the same school. It’s hoped that by settling you back into a normal life, eventually you’ll be able to free yourself of your delusions and the real events of that night will finally come back to you,” Stephen explained. Just then the door opened and a nice looking couple in their late thirties stepped into the office. When they saw him sitting there, they both smiled at him warmly.
“Foster parents?” Jarrod asked. No one had even mentioned this to him, so he was a bit taken aback by the sudden turn of events.
“Jarrod, I’d like you to meet Danny and Beth. You’ll be living with them from now on,” Stephen said.
“Hey,” Danny said, still smiling at him.
“Can we take him home now?” Beth asked.
“Yes, by all means. I think we’re done here. Jarrod, I know you’re not entirely thrilled with me right now, but I really do wish you all the best. I hope that having a stable home life with Danny and Beth here will one day allow you to come to terms with what happened.”
“I have come to terms with it, but no one believes me! I’m sorry, it’s really nice to meet you both,” Jarrod said, looking over at Danny and Beth apologetically. “If you don’t mind, can we just go now? I’d really like to get out of here.”
“Sure, no problem. We picked up your things from the social worker and we’ve got your room all ready for you,” Danny said, giving the psychologist a slight nod as the three of them left his office and pulled the door closed behind them.
Once they were gone, Stephen looked down at his notes for a moment and then looked over at the door.
“I don’t know what actually happened to your family that night, but if even half of what you’re saying is true, then God help us all,” he said to himself quietly.
A few moments later he would type up the final psychological report on Jarrod Grant, confirming the conclusions that the other psychologists had come to. His mind created the story about the creature in order to deal with the horrific loss of his family. He wasn’t entirely convinced of that after seeing how sincerely Jarrod had believed his own story, but to conclude that he was telling the truth, and to actually say as much in the report would be tantamount to committing career suicide.
With his file officially closed, that would be the last that Jarrod Grant saw of the social services system aside from the random social worker checking in on him now and then to make sure that he was doing all right in his new foster home. The police had come up completely empty on the disappearance of his family, and as such the case was shelved barring any new leads. Photos of his mother and his little brother were sent out to law enforcement agencies all across the country, but no sign of them was ever found. Jarrod was the only one who knew what really happened that night, but it didn’t matter. Even if they had believed him, there was nothing anyone could do to bring them back, and that was just something that he was going to have to try to live with.