Emma Chase"Emma Chase?" Dr. Reed says dully as she enters the room. I turn toward the voice and grimace. While Grace had been a cheerful, encouraging woman, the doctor now making her way across the room is the female version of Attila the Hun. One of the Diplomas on the wall introduces her as Helen Reed. I mentally nickname her "Helga." She is the size of a football player with a huge Grecian nose and large beady, un-waxed eyes. It isn't pretty. “So, how are we today, Emma?” Helga asks as she steps in front of us, her gaze peering unobtrusively over a pair of horn-rimmed glasses. I shrug. Helga glances from me to my mother. "Can I see Emma alone a moment?" This startles us both. Mom knows I'm not good at conversing with people I'm not familiar with. I am, quite simply, terrified of anything I don't have control over. My fears are part of the reason I'm here. Another symptom, the doctors say. Extreme paranoia. I have developed what they like to call a hyper-phobic disability. Which means, and I digress, that I am literally terrified of everything. Literally. Everything. Spiders, the dark, fire, heights, closed spaces, snakes, . . . everything. "I'm not sure that's such a good idea . . ." Mom says as Helga starts urging her toward the door. I don't even have time to argue before the door clicks shut in my mother's stunned face. Helga turns to me. "I have reviewed your records, Ms. Chase, and I am not entirely convinced you are as sick as you would have people believe." I am at a loss for words, my heart beginning to pound as I wipe my sweating palms down the side of my dark blue jeans. The long sleeve green cardigan I have on suddenly feels too hot. I know my temperature is rising. "M-m'am?" I stutter. Helga's eyes narrow. "The fever I can't figure out, but according to my charts, your physical tests have all been outstanding. Maybe some sort of neurological disease then? And yet, even with the fever, your mental facilities seem fine. "D-doc. . ." She ignores me. "As for the paranoia . . ." I am instantly aware of her intentions, and I squeal as she reaches for the light switch on the wall next to the door. There are no windows in the room. If this is a test, it is a bad one. "No!" The room goes pitch black. What comes next is not my fault. The screams that fill the room no longer just my own. Helga pulls at me. I am wrapped around her. How I got there is beyond me, but I can't let go. I won't let go. Distantly, I hear banging on the door. Helga struggles against me, yelling for help, and shoves me backward so the people in the hall can enter without any resistance. Lights suddenly flood the room. Helga shouldn't have turned off the lights! Otherwise, they never would have found me there, bear hugging Dr. Reed while frantically screaming and shedding tears of pure unadulterated blood.
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