MHI: THE LAST STAND OF MR. NOBODY by Dale Fletcher
Trigger Warning: This piece addresses mental health
The HWA is pleased to launch its Mental Health Initiative, a coordinated roll-out of events, resources, and activities intended to promote positive mental health, foster the concept of hope, and challenge the stigma of mental illness in the horror genre. The initiative, run by the organization’s Wellness Committee, launches in June, and includes the following blog posts from Of Horror and Hope, a downloadable anthology of poems, flash fiction, and personal reflections on mental health by HWA members.
THE LAST STAND OF MR. NOBODY
Years spent in darkness led to this moment of reckoning. The journey was long and filled with horrors, but worth each bloody step. Seemingly endless striving brought us to silence a voice that could never be redeemed.
Daggers gleam in Meg’s hands and Scott grips his hammers. Amelia conjures her bear. I gather my words, feeling their power growing in my chest. After years wasted battling each other, we are united against the one who molded us from the clay of his self-indulgence: Mr. Nobody. In his mirrored suit, he stands defensive before the door.
“Don’t go inside,” he begs. “There lies only pain. Let me protect you.”
“You have no power over us,” I say, knowing his protection to be nothing but avoidance of terrible truths.
Knuckles crack, and a bass rumble emanates from the grizzly. As one, we charge, shrieking wordless battle cries. Mirrored glass shatters as we avenge ourselves against his deflections—those words no longer effective against us. When nothing remains but glittering powder, Meg kicks in the final door.
Within, there is only a lump of rock salt the size of twin fists. I cradle it in arms coated with sparkling dust and we turn to leave. Our quest requires one final act to seal victory.
Crumbling stone stairs, damp with moss, lead us down to the Alchemist. The formula is complex and requires something from each of us. There is loss and the promised pain.
In the end, we hold our heart, freed from its cage of hardened tears. There is agony in returning it to the void between our ribs. The others lend me strength, holding me tenderly within the cavern of my mind, weeping with me for the years lost and lessons learned.
Now we stand: a tiny army, bonded forever.