I wake in a cold sweat, a sharp gasp escaping my lips and my body shivering violently. My thoughts are a jumbled mess of terrifying sounds and twisted images that flash before my eyes. I groan in pain as a migraine the likes of which I'd never felt before assaults my brain. Thankfully, the event is brief and the pain, the sounds, and the images all pass quickly.
For a short moment I forget where and even who I am, but as I raise my head and take in my stark white surroundings the memory of my circumstances comes rushing back, bringing with it a torrent of negative emotions. I try desperately to cling to those fleeting images, but no matter how I try to remember, the memories of my crime escape my grasp and fade once more into oblivion.
Now, once again, I find myself restrained and locked inside my small white prison, having nothing to show for the agony I'd gone through. The memories are there but had retreated back into the deepest recesses of my mind. It becomes clear to me then that my treatments have most likely only just begun. The mere thought of that awful chair—of having to set hoof in that abominable room again—is enough to make me weep and tremble in terror.
It's then, laying curled up in my bed and between wretched sobs that I hear a voice, but to my bewilderment, it's not that voice. The words—if they can be called such—are vague and incomprehensible. Unlike the mocking tone of before or the artificial platitudes of Doctor Lining, however, there's a genuine sense of kindness and concern I feel therein.
What pulls at me the most is that the unfathomable voice comes not from within my mind, but from somewhere within the room itself. Startled and shaken, I scan the room, and with eyes wide with shock and wet with unshed tears I see it—some small twisted blurry thing there in the corner of the room opposite my bed. Its form is indistinct and unfocused—as if seen through a heavily clouded lens.
I let out a sharp shriek of alarm and press my back to the wall in an absurd attempt to distance myself from the hazy shape in the corner, but it makes no move to approach me. Instead, it speaks again, conveying once more that strange sense of concern through its inscrutable words. A few heart-pounding moments pass before I slowly start to realize the creature has no intention of attacking me.
Tentatively, with cautious eyes focused on the eerie anomaly before me, I push myself away from the wall and begin inching my way toward it. The shape remains where it is, but I hear from it something that sounds like encouragement. Something about the voice starts to ring familiar in my ears, but before I can place it or make it halfway to the hazy creature, I hear the telltale click of a lock.
I turn just in time to see the door to my white prison suddenly swing open. A single stallion dressed in the stark white uniform of an orderly steps into the room. To my surprise, the stallion is accompanied not by Doctor Lining, but another unicorn mare—one of the many nurses on call. Having identified my visitors I turn back to the thing in the corner, only to find that it's completely vanished as if it had never been.
A trick of the mind perhaps? Some dreadful side effect of Doctor Lining's twisted treatment? The answer eludes me and I'm left to try and deal as best I can with my confusion and anxiety as I meet with the nurse. The mare in question has a meek and somewhat earnest air about her, the look of somepony inexperienced but clearly trying their best.
Evidently, the mare was called upon to examine my condition upon waking. It seemed neither she nor the orderly had heard my earlier cries for help and I have no intention of giving them any further reason to think me truly insane. I'm unable to hide the fact that I still can't remember what I've done, but I say nothing about the shapeless creature. Instead, I attempt to tell the nurse of my terrible experience at the hooves of the Doctor.
At my explanation, the mare grows strangely reticent, but I can see clear signs of apprehension hiding beneath her sudden veneer of professionalism. Again I try to explain and to seek some sort of help from the nurse, but she doesn't reply. Her examination grows more urgent and before I'm able to get her to address the issue she takes a step back and informs me that Doctor Lining will be in to see me this evening.
Having done her job for the moment, the nurse quickly turns to leave through the door the orderly has just opened, all before I'm able to get another word in. Just as she reaches the entrance, however, she stops a moment to whisper a brief but heartfelt apology. With that said, both ponies exit the room, closing and locking the door behind them.
I'm again left alone with my turbulent thoughts and unanswered questions, left to do nothing but sit once more upon my bed and shudder in horrible anticipation of what's to come. It isn't long until my mind returns again to the creature I'd seen nestled in the corner. I puzzle at its existence for a time to keep myself occupied if nothing else, and soon enough, the gentle yet unfathomable voice returns.
The creature's appearance is no less indiscernible than before, but its incoherent shape now stands just a few steps from my bedside. I shrink away from it for a moment, surprised by its sudden arrival, but its benign aura causes me to relax somewhat. My wariness gives way to curiosity and slowly, tentatively, I move a bit closer. As I lower myself to get a better look at the creature, it raises something—a tiny limb perhaps—out towards me as if to proffer a helping hoof.
I'm taken aback but I choose not to shy away, or rather, some impulse compels me to respond in kind. I hesitate for only a moment, then, cautiously, I raise a bound hoof to meet the hazy limb. Pain crashes through my head like a lightning bolt, turning my vision white and threatening to render me unconscious. I tear my hoof away with an agonized cry but just as soon as it comes the pain disappears, leaving my thoughts fuzzy and my brain full of static.
It takes a minute before the fog clears I can think and see properly once again. Once I'm fully lucid, I take in my surroundings and see that the creature, just as it had last time, has vanished. Neither the creature's disappearance nor the further lack of any voices from within or without brings me any relief. A pervasive sense of dread looms in their wake, and I'm forced to endure it in silence and solitude.
For the rest of the day, I ruminate on recent events and it feels as though time has scarcely passed when Doctor Lining finally arrives. The terror returns, naturally, but my pleas and supplications once again remain unheeded by both the Doctor and her sentinel-like orderlies. Against my will I'm taken to that vile room, again I'm strapped to that ghastly chair, and again I'm told that this will help me—that this is for my own good.
The switch is thrown, sending thaumic waves shooting through my mind like sparks of raw electricity. I hear it again, the scream, and though it's distant I'm certain this time that it's rising from my own throat, but that's all I'm certain of. Any remaining thoughts are swallowed up by a violent whirlwind of discordant sounds and images that flit by far too quickly for me to comprehend.
I hear the far off but familiar sound of somepony calling out my name, crying it out in consummate terror but I'm helpless to respond or even understand. In the end, it all becomes too much, and my consciousness finally—mercifully—fades into sweet oblivion.