APEIROPHOBIA – PATIENT RECORD AD738075

Name: Ansel, Donya

Age: 20

Sex: Female

Diagnosis: Thanatophobia; fear of death Apeirophobia; fear of eternity


What follows are Dr. Blackwood’s incomplete files concerning Patient AD738075: patient journal, treatment logs, physician remarks and series of events that ultimately led to the patient’s current status.

As per patient’s request, her diagnosis has been updated to reflect her current state.

These files were received from [LOCATION: REDACTED] Agent 77 and uploaded to Foundation servers.

Treatment Journal of Ansel, Donya

20 June, 2018

Entry

I would say things got out of hand after my mother died. It was out of hand before that, but that’s the event I can pinpoint as the catalyst that made me decide to come to The Skinner Foundation for treatment. They’ve asked me to keep this journal of my thoughts during the process.

Before arriving here, I had gotten treatment from Dr. Roman for my fear of dying … ”thanatophobia” it’s called, but after so many therapies and drugs with little result, this seemed like the next best course of treatment. I’m told the treatment is aggressive, but the facility has a 98% success rate.

I know lots of people are afraid of dying, but after my sister, Jenna, and mom both died of the same “inexplicably random” cause, I became so paranoid that I wouldn’t leave the house, rain or shine. Thankfully, because of mom’s insurance, I don’t need to work for a while, but I don’t want to live the rest of my life as a shut-in.

They say lightning doesn’t strike the same branch twice, but after both of them died, I’ve come to realize that obviously doesn’t apply to family trees. Probably God hates us. I don’t know how or why we caused that. It’s hard to think I’m not next on the smite-list … no amount of Klonopin, Lorazepam, or Xanax has been able to convince me otherwise. And even if that were not the case, becoming a pharmaceutical zombie trapped within a husk of my own skin is practically the same way I’ve been living these past few months, already … except the house has more room to move around in. I can’t keep living this way. I needed to be free from this, so I guess that’s why I’ve come here.

It would have taken a lot of doing to get me to the facility on my own. Luckily, I was able to get a referral from Dr. Roman and the facility arranged the transport.

I met my new doctor, Dr. Blackwood, in his office upon arrival. I say “upon arrival”, but I suppose my meaning is more precisely “when the anesthesia wore off…” in order get me out of the house they had to put me under.

“Ah, welcome back, Ms. Ansel.” A grinning face greeted me from the other side of an ornate mahogany desk. I was seated in a plush, aubergine colored wingback chair with additional eggplant purple pillows on either side of me.

“Hello,” I replied. I rubbed my eyes groggily and the room slowly swam into view.

“Glad to see you’ve made the trip safe and sound,” the man said. He stood and circled around the desk. I tried to stand to meet him, but the numbness in my legs prevented me, and before I realized what was happening he had closed the distance between us. I found myself toppling clumsily into his arms.

“Please, don’t stand yet, Ms. Ansel. The anesthesia hasn’t completely worn off.” He situated me back in the chair, repositioning the pillows as they were before to hold me upright. He extended his hand to shake, finally introducing himself. “I am Dr. Blackwood.”

“Please,” I began, “call me Donya.”

“Certainly, Donya” he said, making his way back around the desk and absently straightening his mustard yellow suit. When he sat, it was with complete, meticulous precision so as not to cause any creases in the fabric. “Your Psychiatrist, Dr. Roman, has emailed me your file, but while I have read through it, I’m more interested in hearing from you why you’re here.”

I nodded slowly. “Well, four months ago my mom died. I’d say that’s when things really got bad for me. She was grocery shopping at the time … wheeling her cart out to her suburban when she was hit lightning. It was a clear day. Not a cloud in the sky. When the call came in I almost didn’t answer. It’s hard to explain, but it was like I knew it was going to be bad news.”

“They say things like that are completely random,” he mused, “but…”

“But, when we were seventeen my twin sister died the exact same way.” I continued. “I even felt it happen from miles away, like we were connected. Basically, I know, with certainty that I’m next. It’s just a matter of time … it’s like I can feel it in my bones. A sort of instinct.”

He pursed his lips in thought. Finally, after a pause, he said, “I can understand your logic, and it seems you’re intelligent enough to know it’s flawed.”

“Yes and no.” I sighed. “I can tell myself up and down that it’s next to impossible for it to happen a third time, but I don’t really believe it. It’s like those people who win the lottery over and over and over again. Have you seen those articles?”

He nodded, “I have.”

“It’s like that,” I explained, “just the other side of the same coin …. It’s not just lightning, though, I won’t leave the house at all anymore. I don’t need to. The whole world can be conveniently delivered. I’ve cut all the major allergens out of my diet–I’m not allergic to anything, but I have to be extra careful because God’s after me, you see. I don’t do shellfish, dairy, or gluten anymore, just in case. I order everything on Amazon; toilet paper, light bulbs, toothpaste … everything else I get through Shipt or Postmates. Even still, I know I’m safe inside, but eventually something will find its way into the house.

“I don’t want to live like this. I know I can’t hide from death forever–everyone knows they’ll die eventually–I just think most people don’t think as much about it as many times a day as I do.”

“That’s understandable,” he said, folding his hands demurely and placing his elbows on opposite ends of the blotter on his desk. “How are you now? Right now? Can you scale the level of your fear for me from one to five?”

“Seven.” I reply without hesitation.

“Seven?” the look he gave me was one of shock. “What are you afraid might happen?”

“You’re probably planning to kill me.”

He laughed, “I assure you, this facility is completely safe and–”

The intercom on his desk buzzed, interrupting him, and a tinny voice rang out from the speaker “Dr. Blackwood?”

He sighed. “What is it, Nurse Benson? I’m with a patient.”

“I’m sorry sir,” the voice replied, “but Dr. Baker is requesting you urgently on floor seven, G-wing. He says it is of the utmost importance. There’s a situation. Code Azure.”

“Fine,” he sighed at the speaker, clearly irritated. “Tell him I’ll be right up.” Addressing me, he said “I’m very sorry to cut this short; a matter of urgency.” He rifled through a pile of colored notebooks on his desk before choosing a bright blue one. He flipped a switch on the intercom and asked for a nurse to come with a blank journal, to escort me to my room and help get me settled.

I’m not sure what the course of treatment might be, because we did not have time in our conversation to discuss it, but I’m tentatively both fearful and optimistic about the possibility of recovery.


Physician Notes of Dr. A. Blackwood

Treatment: Phases 1 and 2 – Exposure Therapy

23 June, 2018

Entry

After the first day (06/20/18) of prolonged exposure therapy, phase one of treatment, Miss Ansel’s response was less than desirable. My initial plan for the course of treatment was to gradually expose her to varying levels of electrical currents and monitor her reactions. On the evening of her first night in the facility, our initial attempts to expose her to low-level voltage via electrode were met with hostility. In her combative state, she lacerated Holly Seamour, RN, with a broken clipboard, and managed to break the nose of an orderly. It was decided that evening to immediately progress her to phase two in the morning of the following day.

For the past two days, twice daily for two hour spans each time, she has been in room 417. This is one of our more specialized rooms, with variable current running through the floor to attached medical platforms. The current is charged automatically computer algorithm at random intervals. Curiously though, she seemed able to sense, or predict the incoming voltage, and would scream hysterically moments before the current was even activated…Naturally, I wanted to investigate this phenomenon further, but today, during her second session of the day, she produced a fork she’d apparently stolen from the cafeteria, and with it managed to short circuit four of the electrified panels on the platform, causing a massive spike in the computer’s hard drive, which rendered it, and the room itself, inoperable.

She is currently refusing to keep the journal, as requested, and demanding release. Any time she is approached in her room, she becomes combative and attempts to kick or hit anyone who comes near.

In congruence with her plan of treatment, I’ve had orderlies subdue her with cattle prods following her outbursts several times today. Finally I’ve had them restrain her. I promised to remove the straightjacket if she would agree to cooperate with treatment, but she spat in my face and attempted to bite me, instead.

We are going to progress to phase three of her treatment plan in the morning.


Physician Notes of Dr. A. Blackwood

Treatment: Phase 3 – Increased Exposure Therapy

24 June, 2018

Entry

Electroconvulsive therapy was conducted on Patient AD738075 without anesthesia. This was at least partially due to her behavior over the last few days, but also due to my curiosity. So far the therapy has proven ineffective. Recommend an additional six days of continued treatment to elicit desired reaction/results.


Physician Notes of Dr. A. Blackwood

Treatment: Phase 3 – Increased Exposure Therapy

30 June, 2018

Entry

Phase three ineffective. Proceed to phase four.


Physician Notes of Dr. A. Blackwood

Treatment: Phase 4 – Immersion Therapy

1 July, 2018

Entry

Patient has proven resistant to other forms of therapy thus far. Today, we ran 2000 volts of electricity into Patient AD738075 under controlled circumstances. She was clinically dead for approximately fifteen seconds. Attempts to revive her were unnecessary; against all odds, her heart began beating again on its own, and she apparently revived herself. This is an unprecedented result, and more tests will be needed in order to record conclusive findings.


Physician Notes of Dr. A. Blackwood

Treatment: Phase 4 – Immersion Therapy

2 July, 2018

Entry

Patient once again received 2000 volts and revived herself from clinical death.


Physician Notes of Dr. A. Blackwood

Treatment: Phase 4 – Immersion Therapy

3 July, 2018

Entry

Findings with Patient AD738075 consistent with all previous tests. No quantifiable cause for consistent revival after clinical death. Proceed to phase five.


Physician Notes of Dr. A. Blackwood

Treatment: Phase 5 – Experimental Therapy

4 July, 2018

Entry

Patient AD738075 was identified as a candidate for a very experimental therapy under supervision and approval of CEO, Dr. D. Rendhërte. Patient AD738075 received prolonged exposure to the particle accelerator on floor three. During this period of exposure, we recorded a very curious, and exciting result:. As far as our instruments could tell, patient disappeared from this plane of reality–as was expected–leaving the examination table in 347. However, when she returned, she did so as something else entirely ….

When Patient AD738075 “flickered” back into this plane of existence, she did so glowing in countenance, yet somehow also accompanied dark aura of radiant shadow. The attending orderlies in the room experienced varying levels of unease. Eventually all of them succumbed to something that she induced in them, yet seen neither myself nor Dr. Rendhërte who was observing with me. Two of them even going so far as to cower in the corner attempting to get as far away from her as possible. These four employees have been terminated.

Upon returning to our plane of reality, Patient AD738075 immediately requested to be given the notebook we had assigned her …. As she began to write, she was observed to shift in and out of sight, flitting between light and shadow. I observed her in the treatment room, at times cloaked in a complete void; pure emptiness. During this period, she wrote the following (final) entry:


Treatment Journal of Ansel, Donya

4 July, 2018

Entry

I declare myself cured of thanatophobia. I no longer have any fear for the treachery of this world, or anything it offers; nor have I any want or need for it. I am no longer afraid of death; now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. I do not, however, wish to remain in this fixed and infinite state. I pledge myself in obedient service to the Skinner Foundation until such time as a cure for my current condition is found, or, failing that, a treatment for my new-found apeirophobia is developed and as made available.


Physician Notes of Dr. A. Blackwood

Treatment: Phase 5 – Experimental Therapy

5 July, 2018

Entry

After returning the journal to me, Patient AD738075 requested to be escorted to her quarters… I did not, however, honor that request. Though I believe she was fully aware of my deception, she complied and allowed me to be escort her to room 223. At one point she, having begun to better understand her new ability, attempted to psychically assault me. I could feel some unseen part of her attempting to root around inside of my head, and so, I immediately closed all parts of my subconscious to her.

Glaring at her dark shape as she glided next to me in the hall, I informed her that this newfound preternatural ability to evoke fear would only effective on lower life forms such as the three men she terrorized in the treatment room.

She seemed disappointed at this, but it was hard to be sure. It is nearly impossible to gauge any emotion from her now that she has taken this new form. She seemed to know she would be unable to exit the room, yet she showed no hesitation at being locked into 223. The room is fully lined in lead and will be sufficient to contain her in the event she should decide to change her mind regarding her offer of cooperation.

The four orderlies discharged after her return gave complete interviews prior to being terminated. They have been deposited for disposal in the basement incinerator. One claimed to have found himself in a room full of dark arms offering up the reaching, needy corpses of everyone he’d ever known. The second said Patient AD738075’s reemergence in the room brought on intense bouts of shaming laughter, seemingly from within his head. The third said her reappearance caused the faces of all within the room to begin seeping blood, and the last claimed to have seen legions of enormous spiders walking on legs that were not legs, but curiously were instead, fingers. That last one stated that they had climbed out from Patient AD738075’s body on the table, and completely filled the room.

The patient is no longer visible in her new quarters in room 223, but electronic signatures indicate that her presence remains. I believe she has embraced the dark aura she brought with her. The exterior boundaries of this particular suite are the only part of this apartment that are lined in lead. It appears that her presence has retreated within the darkness of the interior walls of the room; a 500-square-foot living space with toilet and kitchenette. I believe that she has done this in order to wait, that she may fulfill her offer of service to the foundation.

We will begin assigning the cases that have proven most “treatment resistant” to that room immediately, starting tomorrow.

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