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.
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.