The pills sat on the desk, where they had been sitting for the past week. Dan eyed the bottle from across his bedroom.
Not tonight. We can get through tonight.
A scream from down the hall.
Dan winced, turned back to the TV in the corner of the room. Not tonight.
On his desk, alongside the unopened bottle of mystery pills, was a laptop and a broken pair of headphones. High-quality, noise-cancelling headphones. Dan had broken them, on accident, a few weeks ago. They had been a birthday gift from his sister, along with the TV and PlayStation that were now struggling so desperately to keep his mind off of the screams. And the pills.
If we get through tonight, things will be better in the morning.
They usually were. This sort of thing happened every few weeks. The screaming that is. Not mysterious pills given by a mysterious middle aged woman. That was new.
More than anything, Dan wished his headphones weren’t broken.
In the past, whenever the screaming and shouting started he could retreat to his sister’s room. After she moved out last year her room was converted into an oversized storage closet. The last time Dan was in there he thought he saw a spider eating a stray cat.
The TV screen displayed GAME OVER for the umpteenth time. The pill bottle was in Dan’s hand without him knowing exactly how it got there.
He hadn’t left his chair, had he?
The pills have that effect sometimes. They can work retroactively, messing with a person’s mind before they take them.
Dan tossed the bottle behind him in the general direction of the desk. The sound of plastic on wood told him he hit his target, and a few moments later the softer sound of plastic on carpet told him he would have to find the bottle before morning.
Three events finally broke Dan down. Three events all happening within a few seconds of each other. First, Dan lost once again in the game he was playing. Second, the song he was listening to through shitty earbuds ended. Both of these things resulted in a moment of silence. Third, a shriek from down the hall, followed closely by the slamming of a door and the breaking of glass.
Without thinking, Dan strode calmly to the corner of his room. After a moment of groping under the desk he found the bottle. In seconds it was open and pills were in the palm of his trembling hand. A brief moment of lucidity reminded Dan that the woman had also given him dosage information. She had been very clear that he follow the directions. Those directions were still in Dan’s backpack, which was in the kitchen, which, as luck would have it, was down the hall. He thought for a moment about going out there.
Another scream made up Dan’s mind for him.
If anyone had decided to enter Dan’s room in the next half hour they would have found him twitching on the floor in a puddle of his own urine. If they had entered in the half hour after that they would have found him cowering on the bed, determined to not let the things on the floor touch him.
Approximately ten minutes after this phase Dan would get up, go calmly to the bathroom that was adjacent to his room, and begin writing letters on the mirror with his own blood. He was of course only following the directions of the dark thing on the other side of the mirror.
Before passing out on his bed, Dan opened five different music applications on his laptop, set them to all play different songs, and turned up the volume till his speakers began to crackle. If Dan had the ability or desire to speak to anyone at the time, he would have said it was the most beautiful sound in the world.