This sad story happened to a close friend of mine, his name was Alexander, but his friends and family called him Alex, especially his father who is a huge fan of Alexander The Great, and that is obviously where his name came from, he was a bearded, thirty-six year old man, a little fat, he had short black hair, brown eyes, he was quite introverted, and he suffered from OCD (obsessive compulsive e disorder) and depression.
Alex lived alone in a small studio apartment, which was located on the sixth floor of a small building made of bricks on the fancy side of a city in South America, which was placed on a closed and quite neighborhood. He worked from home as an English and Spanish book editor and proofreader, of different American and Latin-American clients that mostly lived in the USA.
He had attended three or four psychologists in his life, they considered that his depression had been caused by the different types of bullying he was a victim of in his teenage years, both physical and emotional at the 2 schools he had attended in his city, either by ill-intented classmates (if they can be called that way) or companions, who rejected him because of his physical and personality differences, they made him feel worthless at the time and he got very close to commit suicide a couple of times.
Alex had spent 3 months inside his apartment because of the virus lockdown, along with his cat Hera, but every day that passed he felt more and more trapped within the walls of his home, the rooms felt smaller and smaller, and he felt quite confined.
Despite having attended several psychologists in the course of his life, this lockdown was starting to affect his sanity, since he made the same activities every single day, which were: To wake up, go to the bathroom, brush his teeth drink black coffee, cook his breakfast, eat it, work almost all day, read books and Internet articles, watch Netflix, eat again and go to sleep.
During the lockdown, the only way that Alex had contact with other people was using the Internet, his boring and mostly unnecessary work meetings using Zoom, video calls through WhatsApp with his family and friends, he only left his home to go to the supermarket or pharmacy, which made him feel extremely nervous, and when he sometimes went out for a walk in his neighborhood while he listened to music.
The few times Alex decided to leave home, he felt frustrated and a little scared when he saw how many people around him neither cared about getting sick nor did they comply with the rules and regulations admonished by the World Health Organization (WHO).
For example, not complying with social distancing, saying hi to people by using handshakes without gloves, taps on the shoulder on public places, some people used their face masks below their nose, and last but not least, some people did not use gloves at all.
On many ocassions, Alex could see these people had their hands dirty, other people even went out of thir neighborhoods to run or jog, as if nothing was going on, and when Alex saw all these things going on during the first month of lockdown, all this triggered his anxiety and stress in a big way and that is why he did not went out as frequently as before, because he was afraid he would get very sick and die.
That day, it was a Friday like any other from the start of June 2020, it was 5 o’clock in the afternoon at the time, and Alex’s hair and beard were completely unkempt, he was wearing his favorite Star Wars T-shirt and a grey sweatpants, he was drinking a cup of black coffee while he finished that day’s psychology session through Zoom, whom several weeks ago had given the terrible news that besides his OCD, he suffered from schizophrenia, but he did not need to take medication for it.
When he finished his session, he was trying to finish working in his laptop while he sat in his living room’s sofa, he opened the window almost completely in order to let the wind in and thus, relieve the feeling of heat he was experiencing, he was listening to his favorite horror narration podcast in his cellphone, which strangely made him feel entertained, but he was looking everywhere and felt a little anxious.
Alex felt relieved but still stressed, since after 2 months of hard work, he was finally in the last stage of correcting the last page of a horror book coincidentally (his favorite genre), which had 500 pages, and the deadline was scheduled for today at 6 pm.
Suddenly, Alex frowned and turned around because he started to hear some weird voices that seemed to come from a ghost or specter, which was inside his home and they said:
- ¡Aaalex, Alex! You are worthless, you’re not going to finish this book in time, you’re going to get fired and be out of a job in this pandemic!
- What? Who the hell are you guys?
- Well, we are the voices in your head of course!
- Ohhh sure, and why should I believe anything you say, if you’re not real?
The voices laughed in a macabre and terrifying way, it seemed to be 2 and they responded:
- Well, keep telling yourself that hahahaha.
In that moment, Alex felt a little creeped out, since he could not explain how he was listening to these bizarre voices, maybe his schizophrenia was forcing him to imagine things because of his high stress levels?
Then, he started talking to himself:
- Well, the most logical explanation for this was that this lockdown must be making me crazy, so I will concentrate more and finish editing this damned book.
Thus, he decided to keep working with the document in a calm and focused way, which was quite long, and he wanted to avoid making mistakes, in order to send the document on the scheduled deadline he was given.
- Whew! I am finally done with this document! Now, I am going to send this thing and be done with it.
However, Alex started hearing the creepy voices in his head again:
- Are you sure you’re done Alex? Are you completely sure you didn’t have thousand of mistakes and they’re going to send the document back, so you can correct it again and so, it will become a never-ending process?
- Oh my God, you guys again? NO! I am NOT going to listen to you, I’m going to ignore you, pour myself a rum drink to celebrate and that’s it!
- Of course Alex! Because getting drunk is always the answer to all your problems! Go ahead and do it!
- That’s not TRUE, I’m not going to get drunk today! I’m just going to drink one or two drinks, those are enough for today.
- Oh, come on Alex! Two drinks are never enough for you! You know that very well, take your drinks just like the alcoholic you are!
- NO! Alex shouted at them and told them: NO, I won’t! And you’re not going to convince to do it!
- Of course you will! You’ll see!
In the midst of this argument, Alex pour himself a drink from his favorite Venezuelan rum on the rocks, he put some music on from his cellphone, to see if he managed to calm down a bit. Sadly, the first song that came up on his shuffle playlist was one called “Isolation” from an eighties band called Joy Division, which honestly was not the best song to listen to in that moment of tension and insanity.
Out of the blue, Max who Alex’s next-door neighbor. In contrast to Alex, he was a 25-year-old man, thin, with long brown hair, that also worked from home, but he was a Languages teacher, and he taught online lessons, Max heard some screams on the other side of his wall and he felt very scared, since he thought this was quite strange.
He knew very little about his neighbor, but he did know that he was a very quiet person and he did not make much noise during his daily activities, but now it sounded like he was having a big argument with someone or something, which was very strange because he knew he lived alone.
Precisely for this reason, Alex had talked with Max one month after he had moved there, he explained his health condition, gave him a copy of his apartment keys, in order to feed his cat when he was not there and in case of an emergency too.
The loud screams continued to interrupt Max’s work, so he decided he was going to ring Alex’s doorbell, to check what was going on and make sure that he was okay. Out of nowhere, Alex jumped from fright because he could some macabre faces coming out from one his living room’s walls.
Strangely enough, these faces started to move slowly in the wall and Alex noticed that these faces had the same tone of voice tan the voices in his head, what he did not know was that everything he was seeing was a hallucination. Nevertheless, at this point his schizophrenia did not allow him to difference what is real from what it’s not real, so Alex obviously felt that he was losing his mind completely.
After that, Alex ran to his room to look for his Victorinox pocket knife, which he had inherited from his deceased stepfather, whom he still remembered fondly, in order to defend himself from this strange faces, but to his horror he saw how four black faces started to come out from his TV’s flat screen, which made them feel a lot scarier than the ones from his living room’s white walls.
Alex grabbed his knife and took out one of its sharp blades, he ran to the living room again, but the faces had disappeared from the wall and his TV, so he told himself:
- Well, maybe now I’m losing my wind with these crazy and demented faces.
The faces responded: - That’s the idea, Alex! Make you lose your mind because your life is worthless and has no meaning at ALL!
Suddenly, the silhoutte of a giant face started to come out from the center of the same wall, from which the other faces came from, and Alex felt so terrified that he fell on his back to the floor, but before he fell, he jammed his knife in the wall and the face went away.
On the other hand, Max thought that this situation could be considered as an emergency, he grabbed his keys from Alex’s apartment, he opened his apartment’s door, took two or three steps forward until he got to his neighbor’s apartment. He could now hear him more clearly, as if he was fighting someone, so he rang the bell several times and he told him: - Hey Alex! Is everything okay in there? I’m going to come in!
The sound of the doorbell made Alex jump, and he told Max: - Yeah right, you can come in! But Alex consciousness warned and told him: - Don’t let him in! Something really bad is going to happen to him if you do!
As soon as Max got inside Alex’s apartment, he could see how Alex was fighting against an “invisible entity”, how he jammed his knife in one of his living room walls and he could not understand anything that was going on. Therefore, he walked quickly to the place Alex was standing, he tried to calm him down, he took his hands and tried to take his pocketknife away from him.
Alex told Max: - I have to kill those faces! They’re driving me insane!
In the middle of the fighting and screaming, Alex accidentally stabbed Max in his abdomen, he got scared, pulled away from him and immediately came out of his trance, and saw how Max started to bleed out, while Max asked him: But why did you hurt me? I was just trying to help you!
Alex ran to the kitchen and grabbed a cloth, he tried put pressure on Max’s wound, but after a few minutes Max bled out completely and died. Now, Alex felt extremely guilty about what had happened, so he said to himself: What the hell have I DONE!? In that momento, Alex opened his window completely and could hear the voices again saying: Do it! Kill yourself! To which he answered: Yeah, you’re right! My life is worthless now and, in my condition, I will probably die in prison or an asylum!
So, he decided to end his life, he made peace with what he did, said goodbye to Hera and said he loved her, and threw himself from his sixth floor window, as he fell he confirmed the cliché where people could see all their life flash before their eyes, since that’s exactly what he saw, good and bad things. He hit the ground with a loud BANG! He died instantly because he broke his neck, after that he started to bleed on the floor.
Thus, the virus took Alex’s life, but exactly in the way that he expected he would die. The Lord works in mysterious ways, right?