Author's note: This is the same Estes from my Houseguest Series but this is much later, after he has developed a drug addiction. Is the monster in this story the terrifying figure he sees, or is it the addiction which has negatively affected every aspect of his life and led to this terrifying moment?
"Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things."
-Proverbs 23:33 (King James Version)
Pangs of pain flowed through Estes’s sore knees as he changed position from kneeling in front of the toilet bowl to leaning against the opposite wall. He had known going in it wouldn’t be fun. Genie had already explained each step of her treatment process. The first step was aversion therapy using her experimental drug. After that came a lengthy detoxifying process and counseling. There would be a period of time in which he would still be administered the drug in the event he faltered and relapsed, but once he recovered from the psychological addiction he could stop taking it.
Van was evidence that success using Genie’s techniques was possible. He was definitely muscular, fit, and healthy, and though his personality was naturally withdrawn, he was in good spirits. The drug administered to Estes caused three serious side-effects in response to the presence of the poisons Estes had been injecting into his body regularly.
The first effect of the drug, Genie had told him, was vomiting. She wasn’t lying. Within seconds of being injected, Estes felt his stomach turn to water, and the very next second he found himself rushing to the toilet as his stomach’s contents began to erupt through his throat. He had been on his knees vomiting on and off ever since. Every movement, every breath, aggravated his tired stomach and scalded throat, which burned like hot charcoals. Only the cool, creamy nutrition beverages Genie had brought him in her compassion gave any relief. The second effect of the drug was weakness. He had always prided himself in his ability to use his power in service to Gerard Ripley and Basilisk, buffeting opponents like a wave. Now he had to strain his muscles just to pull a tab hard enough to open a can.
The third and final effect was hallucinations. Van had told him that when he was first treated with the drug he had visions of evil spirits as well as visions of his own body falling apart. Yes, Estes knew from the beginning that it would be tough. After all, it was called “aversion therapy”, not “sunshine and lollipops therapy”.
He reflected as he tried to rest. Before beginning the treatment, Genie, Van, and Estes had a lengthy counseling session. At one point Genie turned to Van and asked, “Could you excuse us, please?” Van nodded, arose, and exited the room. Genie turned back to Estes and explained, “While I want you two to share your experiences to help each other, I also want you to know that you can trust me to be confidential. I know this is a difficult question, but it has to be asked. Have you attempted or considered suicide during this ordeal?”
In the minutes that followed, Estes reflected on a number of things. Genie waited patiently. Finally Estes replied, “I haven’t attempted, no.” He took another long pause before admitting, “I have thought about it, though. I can’t drown because of my powers, but there are other ways I could do it. Shoot, the arsenal has a bunch of weapons I could use, not to mention the lab. I could slash my wrists or impale myself. I could shoot myself, or jab myself with so many drugged darts I wouldn’t recover. I could get some cord or chain and hang myself. I could get some gas grenades, or one of the tanks, and turn my room into a gas chamber. For that matter, I could start my car and lie down by the exhaust pipe.” Tears started to trickle down his face.
“Take your time,” Genie told him gently.
Estes wiped his eyes, expelled a trembling sigh, and gathered himself before continuing. “Ripley has been making me do extra work recently, and he’s made it a point to have me accompany him. I see now that it’s not just cracking down on me. It’s also about making sure I’m preoccupied and not… entertaining these thoughts.”
“He wants you to know you’re still useful to him,” noted Genie.
“Yeah,” agreed Estes, ignoring his fresh tears.
Genie had told him that his willpower was the key to his recovery. In that case, he thought, his recovery would be a fast one because he was determined to beat this thing. His addiction had cost him so much, including his friendship with Kim. Time and time again he flashed back to that night that Kim had discovered him using and declared their friendship was over. Shortly afterward he and Kim were receiving orders from Ripley. After receiving his orders, Kim turned to leave. He passed by Estes without a single word or even a glance, as though he didn’t exist. Estes had seen movies and television shows in which characters, to show strong sorrow, had suddenly brought their hands to their chests as though suffering pangs of chest pain. He always thought that was corny. However, after Kim passed him by without acknowledging him, he felt a pang of pain jab through his heart, and he found himself bringing his hand to his chest. He understood Kim’s hurt and anger. He had lied straight to his face that he wasn’t using, and then he was caught in the act of being injected. Estes had blown it big time. Now he was determined to do whatever it took to get clean, to regain everything the drugs had taken from him.
In weariness he closed his eyes and lost all concept of time. When he finally reopened them, he stared into space. Suddenly he saw something that nearly made him bolt upright. The room appeared much larger than he knew it to be, and on the ceiling there was now a woman silently glaring down at him. As Estes watched in shock and fear, the woman transformed into a large fox with nine tails. Immediately he realized what the “woman” was. One night Kim had told him of a creature from Korean folklore, the kumiho. It was, he explained, the Korean version of the Japanese kitsune, a shape-shifting fox spirit which had up to nine tails. Many stories told of the kumiho taking the form of a human woman to lure unsuspecting men to their doom. This was because, according to some stories, the kumiho fed on human livers and hearts. As Estes watched in horror, the kumiho slid off the ceiling and landed in front of him. As terror began to consume him, she slowly reached toward the side of his abdomen.
In response to Estes’s screams of terror, Van bolted out of bed and ran to the guest bathroom. After throwing cups of cold water upon him and giving him a couple slaps, he got Estes to snap out of his hallucination. As Estes sat there dazed and panting, Van simply observed and nodded knowingly.
Genie soon joined them. “What happened? Does he need help?”
“I’ve got this,” Van replied. “When I came in he was screaming and clutching his liver.” He turned back to Estes, who was quivering and holding his head in his hands. “Let us know what you saw when you’re ready, okay? I swear it gets easier.”
Since this is my story, my drawing is staying where it is. However, you artists out there are free to submit your own renditions of the kumiho in this section.
Written by Raidra
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