Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 9: Miracle Cure

This week, the prompt was to write a story about having to face your greatest fear. The genre was horror. To me, horror does not necessarily have to include the supernatural. There are plenty of experiences that do not involve things that go bump in the night that would fill me with terror. Here is one.

Miracle Cure

What was in that drink? My head feels like it’s going to explode. Who knew an herbal cocktail from a shrink would be that potent? I don’t remember the rest of the session, much less leaving his office and driving home. How did I end up in my own be…

Wait a minute. What the Hell is going on here? Why can’t I sit up? Oh my God. I’m in some sort of a box. It’s dark and damp. That jerk is going to pay. By the time I get through with him in court, he won’t be able to practice anywhere on Earth.

Calm down, Jeannie Holcomb. Close your eyes and just reach up and push off the lid. Once you get out of this contraption, you’ll be able to take a deep breath of fresh air. When you open your eyes, you’ll see sunshine and blue skies. Okay. Push.

I can’t get the lid off. He’s probably got something on top of it. Screw the courts. I’m going to knock that bastard out and stuff him in this box. I need to get out of here. I can’t breathe right. I can’t think straight. I can’t…  Please…  Don’t let me…


“Miss Holcomb. I’m so glad you’ve come to see me. My views on therapy are considered controversial by some, but I’ve helped many conquer their fears. My recommendations may seem unusual, but I assure you, with your cooperation, it won’t be long before you will be free of the demons that haunt you.”

“Dr. Sullivan, I appreciate your seeing me on such short notice, but I can’t take this anymore. My friend at work, Susie, recommended you a few months ago. You were helping her with her fear of drowning. She must have moved because she doesn’t work there anymore, but when I last saw her, she seemed to be better at dealing with her fear. I didn’t think I needed therapy until I met this fella, and he was really terrific. I could see our relationship going somewhere; that is, until the other night. All was well until it was time for us to fall asleep. He turned out the lights and kissed me gently. Everything was fine until he started to move on top of me. I freaked. I could feel myself literally being smothered.

“He couldn’t take me home fast enough and I’m sure he’ll never call me again. I acted like a lunatic - crying and begging. I tried to tell myself I was being ridiculous, but I was so scared. It happens all the time when I’m covered with something and the lights are off.”

“Why don’t you sit back and try to relax. So, what you’re telling me is that you are claustrophobic – afraid of tight spaces?”

“Oh, no, doctor. You don’t understand. What I’m afraid of is that I’ll be buried alive.”

“I don’t see how…”

“Let me tell you how this all started. When I was little, my brother came in my room when I was sleeping. He took this huge Teddy Bear my dad had given me and pushed it on top of me and woke me up telling me that’s how it felt to be buried alive. He kept pushing it on my face over and over and I couldn’t breathe. He laughed and laughed, and told me that happened all the time. People were just sleeping very soundly or they weren’t well, but doctors thought they were dead and buried them. When they woke up in their coffins, they clawed and clawed, but they were underground so no one could hear them and they died.

“I told him no one was going to bury me alive, and he’d better get that bear off me because I was going to tell Mom and Daddy on him. Good luck going to the Skate Park next Saturday once they find out what he did to me. He told me if I told, next time they went out and left us at home, he would hit me on the head and then bury me in the back yard for real. I never told. But it didn’t end there. Every now and then, he would pull the same stunt, and not just with the bear. Sometimes he would use a pillow, but he would always put something on me or sit on me himself so I couldn’t move.”

“My, my, how terrible. Surely you realize that was just a cruel joke played by a sibling? Tell me how this has affected you.”

“Well, first, my Mom died a few years later. She had been very ill and died in the hospital. At her funeral, they wouldn’t open the coffin for me because they said that shouldn’t be my last memory of her. But I told them I had to make sure she was really dead. What if she woke up and clawed and clawed and no one could hear her? They said I was being disrespectful and no way were they going to violate her that way.

“When my father died, they wouldn’t open his either since he had been in an accident. My brother kept telling me neither of them were really dead and I would hear them clawing late at night. I do, you know, even with all the sleeping pills. When my brother died last month though, alcohol poisoning, I never asked for his coffin to be opened. I hoped he clawed his fingers raw.

“Now, I can’t stand to be in the dark even with blankets on me. You have to help me doctor. I need to get over this somehow.”

“I can help you, Miss Holcomb. As I’ve said, my suggestions may seem odd, but the only way to conquer a fear is to face it head on. When you go home tonight, I want you to turn out all the lights and sleep under your bed. This will simulate a kind of burial, and when you awake in the morning, you will see there was nothing to fear.”

“What? I’m not going to sleep under my bed. That’s not odd, that’s crazy. There must be some other way.”

“Alright, what about spending the night in the trunk of your car safely locked in your garage? Make sure before you close it that you know where the release lever is.”

“That’s even more insane. What kind of therapy is that? I understand trying to face my fear, but setting myself up for a nervous breakdown isn’t what I was looking for.”

“Miss Holcomb, you need to trust me. These are unconventional to be sure, but they do work. Your co-worker Susie, for example. She faced her fear and is now very comfortable being in the water. My methods do work. Perhaps with you, we need to take a different approach. I’m going to give you an herbal drink. This will help you to relax, and we’ll talk further.”


A different approach? Sure was. He drugged me, then sealed me in a box and buried me. I have to try to calm down. Need to keep my eyes closed, and not get agitated. I can do this. It is getting harder to breathe though. Why would he…

“Miss Holcomb? This is Dr. Sullivan. I hear you breathing very heavily so I assume you are awake and have realized your setting. Let me explain. You are locked inside a coffin 12 feet underground below a building on one of the properties I own. I have many, and I use them for what I like to call extreme therapy. I could see this was necessary for you, as it was for your friend Susie and a few others. When a patient refuses to follow my recommendations, I must use the ‘tough love’ method. If you won’t do it on your own, I will do it for you.

“I placed Susie in the cistern on my property used for water phobias and after a few days, she no longer felt fear of any kind. I arranged for her final resting place to be Halpern Lake. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It is lovely there, and so peaceful. Quite fitting for her, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

“I’ll be back in a week for you. You’ll be surprised how smoothly and quickly the time will pass for you. If you breathe slowly and don’t panic, it will be much easier and you’ll have more time to realize how silly your fear really was. I’ll try to arrange a plot for you close to your family. Try not to worry. I cure my patients no matter what.”

Doctor, listen. I’m okay now. Really. Can you hear me? Oh God. Doctor? Please…


  1. Well, that's one way to cure a phobia, I suppose! Great story - very creepy.

    1. After all, she did refuse to take his advice...