• Key: *She's starring with glazed eyes out in front of her, the doctor is at her back, hidden in the darkness somewhere* I...I woke up alone. If you've ever seen those old ER episodes. You know, how the guy in a coma wakes up all gentle and gradual like? It's a lie. No one wakes up like that. No one. I woke up screaming. That's what I remember most. The screaming. Even the pain, and there was a great deal of pain, the screaming was so horrible. It was like...it was like I couldn't stop it. That horrible sound was coming from me, and...and I couldn't stop it. *There's a shuddering breath and a long pause*

    Doctor: *Voice from the darkness* Do you want to stop there today? We can pick up at another time...

    Key: ...no. No. I can finish. *she takes a deep breath and steadies herself slightly* The sound...I didn't stop it. Someone else did. Someone slapped me. Slapped me hard. *she smiles slightly* I was so grateful to that person at the time. I almost cried with joy just because of that.

    Doctor: What...Who slapped you?

    Key: *shaking her head* I don't know. When I opened my eyes I was alone. Was weird I guess, but not something I didn't expect. The people can be...strange. No. I should say they aren't more than thought or wisps of wants so they can't exist long enough to matter. *she suddenly brightens and smirks to herself eyes going bright* But that didn't matter. I got to see the World. I mean really really see it. Not glimpses, not little looks hidden amongst our world, but I was actually there. *she stands up and opens her arms up wide towards the ceiling* It's...You can't describe it. It did this weird fish tank think, but the colors! It was almost an acid trip, but it wasn't! The grass was rainbow. One minute blue then green but mostly purple. So many purples and lilacs and lavenders and...and...It was so much. I fell in love at first sight.

    Doctor: What about the animals? The creatures?

    Key: *ignoring the question* I'm not sure what was the best part about the whole experience. Maybe it was the trees. The trees were awesome. There were strange spotted fruits in the trees. They looked like Peaches, but were in bunches like grapes. I picked one and ate it. That was stupid right? It could've been poison, but man...It tasted like a rainy day. It moved something inside me. Made me want to embrace the sunshine around me. I felt so...good.

    Doctor: What did you do after you tasted the fruit?

    Key: *shrugging* I walked. I didn't know where to but I walked.

    Doctor: Where was Jericho during this time? Wasn't he with you when you passed out?

    Key: *A flash of fury passes through her eyes that he can't see, followed by a blank mask* He wasn't with me then. *She chuckles darkly to herself* Didn't have a chance to ask the next time we met. No. I didn't find him, but I did find someone. A different sort of creature. A...It's hard to say. He was...almost human? No. That’s not true, not even close. He tried his very hardest to look human, but he wasn't. He was a dog. Which was good. If I'd have met one of his cousins first, there's no doubt I'd have died.

    Doctor: His cousins?

    Key: *nodding* Yeah. A wolf or wolves, ******** cowards never travel alone, they would've snapped my neck. Got nothing wrong with that. To quote one of them "Why you frekkin' herbs so self-righteous. Wes got to eat too. Got pups. You want 'em to starve to death on grass?" I got no problem with wolves. Just wish they were a bit smarter. Don't get me wrong, they got a brain, just no social skills. Now a Fox, a fox has a good deal of manners, better than dingoes and the wild muttz, but foxes are no better than cats, yeah, big vicious cats. Make you think you have a chance of getting away, or that they're friends, then they'll take their time killing you, make it seem like they're on your side the whole time. Even make you thank them right before the end. A girl who falls for a fox will die with her heart inside his maw. Not a bad way to die.

    Doctor: You didn’t mention this before when you first spoke of these Kitsunes.

    Key: *rolling her eyes* I did. I said there was a difference between a Kitsune and a fox, and there is. There’s a huge difference, and if you ignore that difference it’s likely you’ll pay for it.

    Doctor: And what would the difference be?

    Key: *leaning back in her chair and smiling* Kitsune can be kind. Foxes…Foxes are born predators, and they won’t ever pretend to be anything but.

    Doctor: Tell me more about the dog.

    Key: *closing her eyes and thinking* He was a teenager. One of his eyes was covered with a dark brown patch. I remember he wore a black hoodie, probably stolen from our world. His ears didn’t quite fit his head right. They were floppy. Looked so soft all I wanted to do was reach out and touch them.

    Doctor: Did he have any connection to…

    Key: *glaring at the wall in front of her* No. I already told you. He wasn’t anywhere near me. Had better things to do. *she lowers her head* The dog just happened to be the first one on the scene. The kid had been raised in the Real by someone with the sight. He knew what a human was, and would do anything he could to protect them. Was a bit of a hopeless guy though. Honestly couldn’t understand how he’d manage to live as long as he had. *she smiles wistfully* His name was Caleb. Was the name his “owner” gave him and somehow it fit. Fit perfectly.

    Doctor: So this Caleb…he took the place of the other.

    Key: *gritting her teeth and clenching her hands into fist* I would appreciate if you’d stop talking about him. He’s not important, has nothing to do with anything. You don’t have any reason to keep talking about him.

    *a long silence fills the room*

    Key: *shaking her head* Caleb was different. I didn’t feel the same way towards him that I felt towards…It was just different. Caleb was what I needed during that time.

    Doctor: Okay. What happened when you first met this Caleb person.

    Key: We…I don’t know. We just kind of stared at each other. Up until that point I’d never seen a dog before. I’d definitely seen things like him, but not something that wore our clothes and had that…that…Undeniable WANT to be what I was. Caleb was the closest thing to human I’d ever seen! He must have been shocked too. I mean, not many of us go to their world. The ‘lower animals’ can’t even find a way to stop killing each other, how are they supposed to see something that’s right there in their faces. *she chuckles and continues* After staring each other down we kinda just reach forward at the same time. I don’t know, I guess it was just to try and make sure it wasn’t a hallucination or something. When I pulled on one of his ears, and he pulled on one of mine, we both smiled and just….just…*she shrugs* It was like a feeling of relieve you know? A feeling of knowing that you’re not crazy, that yeah everything you’re seeing right now is real, at least on some level. *looks over her shoulder at the doctor* Of course if I weren’t crazy, I probably wouldn’t be here? Ain’t that right Doc?

    Doctor: *smiling sadly at her* You’re not crazy Key. You just aren’t well right now. You suffered a series of severe shocks that set off these episodes. Your mind is just coping with them the best way it knows how. I’m here to make sure that you realize this, and come to terms with whatever happened during that time.

    Key: *turning to look at him* Okay. I understand that. The question I have though is this. What if I don’t want to remember? What if I’m happier believing that there’s more to this than just me, you, and a few padded rooms for people no one else wants? Is it wrong? As long as I can function in what you figure as the real world, why can’t I just…just go on like this?

    Doctor: *removing his glasses* I…think you should go on with your story Karyla.

    Key: You went back to my full name. That’s a sign of avoidance.

    Doctor: No. It’s a way to get you to change the subject and focus on getting better.

    Key: *going silent for a long moment* I’ll keep going…but you have to answer my question first.

    Doctor: *speaking in a calm yet firm voice* Key…We both know very well why I won’t answer the question.

    Key: *tilting her head and looking at him curiously* No. No we don’t. If I knew why you wouldn’t answer, I wouldn’t have asked.

    Doctor: *lowering his voice* I’m not so sure you wouldn’t. *he sighs and speaks in a clinical and detached tone* The reasons why I would never allow someone who I could help to continue with delusions is because they may hurt themselves. Even if that person were a functioning member of society, it’s not likely that they would remain so in the distant future. It’s a way to prevent them from taking action they may regret at a later time. *he looks pointedly at her* The difference between that person and you Key, as we both know, is that you were not able to function through everyday life. The stress and these delusions broke you, and from what I can tell it took a lot to do that to someone like you. *his voice goes softer* I only want what’s best for you, and allowing you to hurt yourself over things that are not real isn’t something I can just let happen.

    Key: Why not? Not like you knew me before I was dropped off and left for dead.

    Doctor: *wincing at the phrasing* No, but I know you now, and that’s all that really matters.

    Key: *thinking about this for a moment* You know, you remind me of Caleb. I guess deep down you’re a good boy, huh doc? *she gives him a genuine smile* Um…You want me to keep going…with what happened I mean?

    Doctor: Yes. Yes I’d like that.

    Key: Right. *coughing* We, after the touchy feeling moment, we kind of just…became friends I guess. See Caleb he didn’t want to stay in his world anymore. He’d been raised on the human side, that’s where he’d gotten the coat from. He liked it there. It was the place where his mom was. Not his real mom, but the lady who raised him, and he wanted to go back to her, even for a little while. I didn’t understand that. I mean, compared to where I’d just come from this place was like paradise. I couldn’t get why anyone would want to leave, but…I guess we all have our reasons right? He stuck with me and that first day all I did was learn about the world there. Learned about the flowers, what I could eat and what I couldn’t, learned about the different things throughout the woods. It was great. Then the night came…

    Doctor: Did you find somewhere to stay?

    Key: You remember before? When you asked about the animals?

    Doctor: *nodding*

    Key: Well…I didn’t notice until it was finally dark out, didn’t notice it for the longest time after that either, but there weren’t any. As often as I saw the folk walking around during the day in OUR world, there wasn’t ever a sign of them in theirs. It was…If you didn’t pay attention you never noticed it, but if you stood real still and just…listened you could actually almost feel it.
    Doctor: Feel what?

    Key: The quiet, the absolute and total silence that was in that forest in the day. There weren’t any sounds of squirrels are snapping of branches. No chittering and chattering. It was completely lacking what a true forest had. No birds will ever sing in a place like that.

    Doctor: How’d you notice this?

    Key: Because…At night, everything comes out. The ballet of life and death starts and night, and I promise you if you’re breathing you’ll always have a part in it.