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Hysteria

by lemonayyde


Valerie believed that everything could be explained by science. From the eclipse to the eruption of volcanoes; science had provided answers to nearly every phenomenon that had left early humanity shaking in their skin, crying out for mercy from angered false gods.

Yes, science can explain everything…

But Valerie could not fathom how it could explain this.

She had never been one to question the validity of explanations her coworkers provided her. They had said it was mass hysteria, and so she researched and treated it as mass hysteria. A corruption of the mind eating away at the brains of people all over the world, ripping through the population like a deadly plague. A plague that brought not death, but insanity.

Mass hysteria…

Valerie didn’t feel crazy.

“What the hell do you mean you don’t see it, James?” Valerie exclaimed as she exasperatedly pointed towards the giant hole suspended only a few feet away from her finger, the low and monotonous buzz it was emitting causing her skin to prickle with unease. “It’s right there!”

“I mean that I don’t see it, Val! I really don’t know what else you want me to say,” James retorted back, obviously unsettled by the way his friend was acting. “There is nothing there- you’re just pointing at air!”

Val turned to look at him, hands bunching her tangled mess of brunette hair together as she ran them over her face and then back, entire body shaking with exhaustion and fear. “How...how can you not see it?” she sputtered after a moment, eyes wide and wild as she looked from her friend to the gaping hole. “There’s a hole in reality right there, eating away at the world, and you’re telling me you see nothing? I’m not crazy! I can’t be the only one who sees this!”

James expression grew more and more concerned as Valerie spoke; he looked around the room before starting to move towards her, slowly, as if each step was a risk. He spoke in a gentle, coaxing voice. “Listen, Val...I know the promotion you got has been putting a lot of extra work on you, but I think...I think maybe these overnights at the lab are really getting to you. You look like you haven’t slept in a week, and you’re acting…”

“No, no, no…” Valerie muttered to herself, backing away from James as he approached her, shaking her head wildly. She knew that tone. She had used that tone so often to patients that came in, terrified of an end of the world that only they could see. It was a tone she used for crazy people. “No, no I’m not crazy. It’s right…”

She jumped suddenly as a sudden shock flooded through her body, turning to see that she was only inches away from stumbling into the abysmal emptiness that was growing, eating away at the room around her. It was spreading, no...devouring all that was around it. She couldn’t pull her eyes away from it, the hypnotizing dark and droning sound calling her. It was hungry, and it wanted her. It wanted them all.

God save the human race.

“You’re sick, Valerie.” James' voice came again, sounding far off despite him being right behind her mere seconds before. “You need help. There’s nothing there, Val, it’s all just…”

The next words came easily to her, slipping past her own lips at the same time they left his, finishing the familiar phrase that she too had once offered.

“In your head.”

Her body relaxed, and the blank space swallowed her whole.


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Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:34 am
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ScarlettFire wrote a review...



Hi there, Lemonayyde! My name is Scarlett and I'm here to review your short story today. ^^

Okay, let's see what you've got here...

First up, you have an interesting concept here. I like it. I like that it gives me the slight feeling of being unbalanced when I read it. You did a good job with that part. And that ending. Eek! But I can see how it would be scary to know the world was ending, to see it ending, and not have anyone else see it or believe you. And to have them call you crazy. *shudders* That would be terrifying to me.

“I mean that I don’t see it, Val! I really don’t know what else you want me to say.” James retorted back, obviously unsettled by the way his friend was acting. “There is nothing there- you’re just pointing at air!”

Here, you need a comma before "James retorted", not a full stop. Here's a bunch of articles on dialogue!

[quote] “How...How can you not see it?” She sputtered after a moment, eyes wide and wild as she looked from her friend to the gaping hole.[/she]
That first "She" should be a lower-case S, not a capital.

Other than what I pointed out above, this is actually a pretty interesting read. You could probably expand on it a little bit, but yeah. I enjoyed reading this! The title was very fitting and I hope you write more stuff in line with these kinds of concepts. They're fascinating!

Keep it up and never stop writing!

~Scarlett.




lemonayyde says...


Thank you so much for the critique! I fixed what you pointed out :)



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Mon Jan 07, 2019 5:03 pm
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Bookorama wrote a review...



I really enjoyed this! It seems like a dramatic set up with an ambiguous ending. The two characters, even with very little introduction, are given clear personalities and can be identified with. I especially liked how Valerie's choice at the end matches what we see of her ideals at the beginning- that of a logical and scientific person. I just really wish this was longer (unless you're planning on continuing it, it which case it's the perfect length as a form of teaser). It seems that there's a lot of potential for a longer story.
Overall though, it works really well for what it's meant to be, and I'm definitely going to be keeping a lookout for more like this in the future!




lemonayyde says...


I'm so glad that you like it! Perhaps I will develop it into a longer story!



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Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:42 am
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hiraeth wrote a review...



Hi lemonayyde!

Hiraeth here to review this amazing short story that you've written.

First, I love the plot. I like how in just a few, short lines, you've managed to makes us care for the characters; you've portrayed both Valerie's and James' personality quite beautifully. And if your other short story (Infamous, I believe) is anything to go by, I'd say you have a gift for these things.

Madness. Hysteria. I am thoroughly intrigued by these topics; I love people who've gone bonkers (just an 'Alice in Wonderland' fan talking here, don't mind me), so I absolutely love Valerie (the present Valerie, not the old one who though mad people weren't telling the truth); however, James reminds me a bit of that doctor in Alice Through The looking Glass (this time I'm talking about the movie) who thought that Alice had the common case of Women's Hysteria. Pfft. Talk about ignorance.

I was rambling again. Back to the review!

Critique:

"Valerie exclaimed as she exasperatedly pointed towards the giant hole in reality suspended only feet away from her finger," So, this sentence has two issues: number one, (and the most obvious one) you're missing a word or two between 'only' and 'feet'. I'm guessing it was supposed to be 'only a few feet away' (someone's been a careless proofreader! ;) ). Next, number two: you say 'giant hole in reality.' Now, we already know that whatever Valerie is seeing is real to her. Saying 'reality' again in that sentence feels like the author is trying to put too much emphasis on that particular point; it's really unnecessary, if you know what I mean. It's not what a confident author would write, you know?

“How...How can you not see" How...How= How...how (there's a capitalization error)

"James expression grew more and more concerned as Valerie spoke, looking around the room before starting to move towards her slowly as if each step was a risk." James= James'
Also, there's some punctuation missing in that sentence. The construction could've been better too. something like, "James' expression grew more and more concerned as Valerie spoke; he looked around the room before starting to move towards her, slowly, as if each step was a risk."


"Valerie muttered to herself, backing away from her close friend as he approached her, " when you say 'close friend' it doesn't really add much to the story, you know? And it doesn't sound very good either; maybe 'closest friend' would sound better. I say just remove it entirely and say 'James.' It won't make a difference to the story.

"of the world’s end that only they could see." this sounds a bit off too. Try: "of an end of the world that only they could see."

"The next words came easy to her," this sounds better if you write: "The next words came easily to her."

Of course, you may or may not disagree with me; it's totally up to you to heed my advice :)

Keep writing, I really liked your story.




lemonayyde says...


Thank you so much for the critique! Now that you point those errors out I totally see what you mean- being your own proofreader is a dangerous thing. You read it over so much that it becomes hard to distinguish simple issues. I'll fix it up, and I'm so glad you enjoyed it!




I would rather die of passion than of boredom.
— Émile Zola