Chapter 19 He remembered being in the boys' restroom, talking to Al. He remembered the mental exercise which had held Aaron at bay. And, Sam remembered the mistake which had allowed the arrogant alternate personality to breach his defenses and seize control: the realization dawning in his mind when he had put all the bits together about Perry's mother. He hadn't even been able to gasp a warning to Al, so quickly did Aaron seize control of his body. Now, trapped again in the seamless blackness, he was being smothered as the most aggressive alternate personality of an abused young man confronted him. "Hey Sam. How's tricks?" Realizing that he was literally in a "meeting of minds", something he would have been fascinated by, even relished in any other situation, the Nobel prize winning time traveler knew who had the upper hand at the moment. And it wasn't him. Feeling uneasiness pressing in on him, Sam called upon the Beckett stubbornness, and pushed back with his silence. Aaron's growing anger filled the blackness. In all the years since his first appearance, he had only been pushed out occasionally, and then only by "Evalynn". Never had any of the other personalities exhibited the mental strength and toughness of the one sharing the blackness with him now. This one was going to pay for pushing him around. "Let's get the names out of the way. I'm Aaron." "Who are you?" Sam asked. "Who am I? I thought a smart man like you would have figured that out by now. I'm Perry." Aaron sensed his adversary's troubledness at his answer and was pleased. "Yeah, you heard right, I'm Perry Kirkwood. Only he doesn't know it, and you're not going to tell." "Yes, I am," Sam said stubbornly. "You're not in a position to tell anybody anything." "Someone already knows," Sam said. "You mean his old man? Old Howard?" Aaron's cruel laughter echoed, ricocheting in the blackness. "He ain't gonna do nuthin'," he gloated. "He's too dammed scared of me." "But I'm not," Sam responded. "I know who..and what you are, and I will stop you." Feeling Aaron's anger deepen, Sam shaded his innermost thoughts, resolutely ignoring the uneasiness beginning to nibble at the edges of his concentration. Aaron pushed his 'face' close to that of his captive. "Let me put this in terms you can understand ... Doctor Beckett." He noted Sam's startled reaction, and drew power from it. "You're tied directly into Perry's mind, and that's my territory. You barged into my territory, now you play by my rules." Sam was finding it harder to guard his thoughts. He was sure that if he were in control of his body that he would be in a cold sweat. He fought back. "Bullies don't have rules." Aaron took a 'breath', catching a faint whiff of fear. He pressed closer, crowding his adversary. "Oh, I know what you're thinking. Why should a smart man like you do what I say? That's easy. I'm the strong part of Perry. And when you came in...however you got here..., you opened the door and invited me in. And I go where and do whatever I want. So, Doctor Beckett, just like Perry, you WILL go where I want...when I want, and do what I want you do." Sam continued to fight back. "No I won't," he said, striving to remain calm. "Because you're just an aberration of Perry's normal personality. You only exist as a protective barrier between him and his father." He tried to 'maneuver", to get a few inches of space between him and Aaron. Aaron crowded closer, feeding off the increasing smell of fear emanating from his most resistive prey. "Call me what you want, Sam. It doesn't matter, 'cause I'm getting ready to take over." "You..can't," Sam said, a note of uncertainty in his voice. "Oh, but I can," Aaron spat back. "I'm tired of being cooped up in here. There's a whole world out there and why should a smart, quick-thinking guy like me have to spend my whole existence in the shadows? I know how to go out and live and enjoy life. I'm not afraid of it...like old Howard's made Perry afraid of it. I don't care what others think of me. I'm the important one here." "What about Perry?" "What about him?" "You..need him...," Sam began. "For what? All I have to do is "knock, knock". Then he's in the shadows, and I can live life the way it's supposed to be. But now, with your body and your smarts too... Well, the world just doesn't have any idea how much they'll be getting out of Aaron Kirkwood. He's gonna be smarter and move so much faster than anybody ever dreamed of." Reaching down deeper inside than he ever realized existed, Sam drew on the core of strength and convictions that had been instilled in him since his birth. "I won't let you," he said firmly. "Oh?" Aaron said, his tone saying he didn't believe a word Sam said. "How you gonna stop me?" "I'll..think of something." "Whatever it is, I'll know it the instant you do," Aaron sneered. "What?!" Sam couldn't hide his surprise. "I know what you're thinking, Sam...almost as soon as you do." Feeling the anger and the rage building, the same anger and rage that had protected Perry from numerous episodes of his father's darkest emotions, Aaron now used them to bring his quarry closer to surrender. "You...can't," Sam whispered, feeling the first sticky tentacles of fear slithering over 'him'. He fought panic as his throat tightened. *Oh God!...Al!...Where are you? Help me!* Sam pleaded in the small corner of his thoughts that he continued to defend from the ruthless personality intent on his destruction. The arrogant, angry personality continued to bully the time traveler. "Oh, but I do, Sam. See, when you haven't been looking...hell, even when you are...I've been poking around your gray cells. Very impressive. No wonder you accomplished what you did, and at such a young age." "No!" Sam whispered, not wanting to believe what Aaron was saying. "News flash, Sam. I know things about you that you've forgotten. Why, just a little while ago, I found a little something of yours that you had put off in a corner of your mind years ago. How did I find it? Well, it's like this. Existing in the shadows all these years, I've learned to find my way around. Anyway, last night while you were sleeping, I went exploring. Wandering up and down those dim corridors of forgotten thoughts and poking into those dark, dusty corners in your mind that you haven't thought about in years. Found a lot of stuff. You know... the stuff you don't need or use any more. Like believing in the tooth fairy. And then guess what I found? A little thing you stuffed way, way back into a tiny little dark corner. Guess you didn't want to see it any more, huh?" Aaron continued to draw out the "little something". "Remember your friend, Eddie from fourth grade?" Sam suddenly felt icecold, choking as fear flooded over him, knowing instantly what Aaron had found. "Oh no," he pleaded. "Please, no..." "You know, it really wasn't nice thing what he did to you. Locking you in that closet. Especially after him and his brother collected all those spiders and turned 'em loose in there. See, you do remember! So what if Eddie and his big brother took your clothes off before putting you in the closet? Can't you feel all those tiny legs crawling up your arms...your legs...in your ears and hair? What's the matter Sam?" Intelligence almost beyond measure was useless against a carefully forgotten terrifying memory now freed of the dark corner in which it had been buried nearly forty years past. Reason and logic couldn't pierce the terror soaking into Sam as the memory of the most horrifying fifteen minutes of his childhood grabbed him and dragged him back...back... Back...to a summer evening when he was eight years old and excited about spending the night with his new friend, Eddie Pruitt, and only Eddie's older brother, Curtis to keep an eye on them while their folks went a movie. That is until Eddie suggested they go up in the attic... Sam 'tasted' the panic and tried to swallow...but couldn't as he watched an uncertain but game little boy slowly follow his friend up into a dim, musty smelling attic. None of the achievements..the degrees..the doctorates...the Nobel Prize...could stop the man Samuel Beckett from stepping back into that little boy. They couldn't help him as he struggled to breathe as he was forced to look backward. To watch Eddie and Curtis wrestle him down and strip off every stitch he had on...and then drag him to the tiny closet in a cramped, dark corner of that attic. The light from the flashlight Curtis held darting about the tiny enclosed space, it's yellowish beam sliding over the walls covered with what looked like hundreds of spiders..and... Nothing could stop the screams that had erupted out of little Sam Beckett as two sets of hands landed hard against his bare back, shoving him into the tiny closet and then slamming the door shut. "EDDIE..LET ME OUT!! GET THEM OFF ME! GET THEM OFF ME! PLEASE LET ME OUT! SOMEBODY HELP ME...PLEASE!" ...Forty years evaporated as Samuel Beckett, adult time traveler felt again the numbness in his eight year old hands and feet from beating and kicking at the locked door. Felt the raw hoarseness of his throat from ceaseless screams for release from the bondage of a cruel prank... "NOOO!" Sam screamed as he again 'felt' the spiders on his skin... crawling delicately up his arms..his legs..the back of his neck... dropping down on his head...in his hair...in his ears....on his face... Aaron began to laugh. Softly at first, then louder and more harshly, watching the would-be usurper slapping at himself, frantically trying to escape the horror of the resurrected memory. The terrified screams were the music of imminent surrender in his ears. "Who woulda thought," he mocked, "that a man with your intelligence, all those degrees and stuff...would be afraid of spiders?" He watched for a moment longer then, paused...listening. Someone was approaching. Recognizing the 'someone', the arrogant personality suddenly retreated, his harsh, mocking laughter echoing as he traded places in the darkness with a terror-besieged time traveler.