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Cognizance

A Story

"This just in," a newscaster says over the television. "Police have found the body of 25 year old Foster Newman, a resident of Joplin, Missouri, on Saturday evening. The young man was found in a brutal state. Along with the body was a printed note seemingly written by Foster himself. If you have any information regarding this case, please contact the Joplin Police Department."

Josh Andrews pulls his seat forward, placing his face in his hands. The palms of his hands are sweaty. He's been assigned to the Foster Newman case in an attempt to figure out what—or who—killed him. Opening the evidence box and putting on a pair of blue rubber gloves, Josh begins looking over the evidence. Just as the newscaster said, there is a note printed out that was found sitting in the printer at Foster Newman's house.

Being the first to read it, Josh is stunned. The paper reads:

"It's 2:20 AM and I can feel its eyes on me. Cold, calculating, brooding with utmost hatred, its stark yellow eyes follow every move I make. It doesn't seem to react to my movements... at least not physical ones. But each second that my mind is not on it—whatever 'it' is—it moves closer, bringing my attention back to it.

I wish I had an explanation. I wish I knew how it got here, how it attached to me, but I don't. So now I am here, writing this out, hoping that 'it' will lose its focus on me and move on, even if I know it won't.

For the past week, I've had nightmares of this thing. This massive, dark shadow, tall and lanky, with eyes of the brightest yellow I have ever seen. I've woken up in cold sweats, screaming until my voice is completely shot. The constant thoughts of this monster have forced me into a very, very dark place. I have never considered suicide in my life until this beast started plaguing me. I know I sound crazy explaining all of this to a computer screen, but it's as real as it will ever be - at least from my perspective.

I can feel the tension in the room, thick and vile, growing tougher and tougher as my chest grows tighter and tighter. Living alone used to be a dream when I was a child, but now I wish I had listened to my parents when they told me that it wasn't safe to live alone. I wish I had a roommate that was here so this... this thing would go away.

It's now 3:30. I took my mind off of it for a split second and it moved closer. It's talking to me now.

"Foster," it says. "Foster, Foster, Foster, Foster."

It's taunting me. I don't know how much longer I can hold out. I'm exhausted and all I want to do right now is go to sleep, but I know without a doubt it is a fruitless idea because 'it' would never let me. I've decided to call this thing Cognizance. The reasoning behind that should be obvious for various reasons.

Cognizance hasn't left me. It's still here, at 9:13 AM, sulking in the corner of my room. Fear is no longer a good enough word to explain how I feel. The only reason I'm still writing here is because I don't want Cognizance to know I'm trying to forget about it. It's still saying my name, staring at me with those bright yellow eyes which I've been consumed in for hours. The sun is up but my room is still dark, as if it's still night. The windows are fogged up so badly that hardly any light has come through.

I don't know why it's after me.

I took my mind off of Cognizance for five seconds. Five seconds and this thing has its tendrils wrapped around me, watching over my shoulder as I type this. I'm beginning to think he wants to help me, but I'm not sure with what. There has to be a reason he's here. He's told me that he doesn't have a gender, a name, a face, or a reason, but I'm beginning to disagree with that. He is something...

It's been five days. I haven't slept, I haven't eaten, and I haven't showered. None of that seems to matter to Cognizance. He's becoming my friend. We spend so much time together and he speaks to me like no one else has before. He reads me stories, or maybe even implants them into my brain.

He is in me. I am Cognizance. Cognizance is Foster. We've joined each other. He tells me I am his special being, that I am the only one who can join him. I believe him. I really do. I'm going to be with him. He's taking all of me - all of my organs save for bone and skin. He says I can join him. This is my time. Tell my parents I love them."

Josh exhales, closing his eyes. "This poor guy," he says to himself. "How did people miss his mental condition for so many years?"

After looking at the evidence, Josh jots down a few possibilities: possible starvation, self-mutilation, suicide, natural factors. Taking a sip of his coffee, he exhales a sigh of dread and continues flipping through possibilities in his head.

Five o'clock rolls around and soon enough Josh is on his way home. He calls his wife, telling her about his day but not being specific. "Hey honey... Yeah, I've had a shitty day," he says. "I got assigned to the Foster Newman case. I don't know what to make of it quite yet."

Just days after reading the reports from family, friends, and neighbors of Foster, Josh finds himself at a loss. The autopsy reports verify that all of Foster's organs except for his skin had been removed. Strangely enough, it revealed that all of his blood had been drained, but there was no cut marks or signs of foul play.

Another frustrating day leads to another and Josh is growing more impatient than ever.

"This kid had no record of mental illness, no signs of wanting to harm himself," Josh says to his coworker Daniel Warner. "He was a straight-A student in high school and maintained a 4.0 in college. Who would want to hurt him? Moreover, who would have the power to make him write that crazy note and steal all of his internal organs?"

"I don't know," Daniel replies softly, sighing. "I think we'll never know. I just worry how all of this is going to be explained to his family, his friends... the whole community."

"That's the hardest part," Josh confirms. "I just wish I could give them answers. They deserve that."

Josh and Daniel part ways after saying their goodbyes and Josh heads back home. As he's driving, he sees something flash before him. A dark, slender shadow figure darts across the road just in front of his car, forcing him to slam on the brakes. Heart racing, Josh jumps out of the car and looks around. "Huh," he says, finding it hard to believe he'd seen anything.

Just as he arrives home, Josh immediately goes to lay down. After a long, rough day at work, he feels he deserves that much. Flipping on the television, he surfs through the channels, finally deciding to watch National Geographic. It isn't like he's going to actually watch the program, but the background noise soothes his muscles.

Closing his eyes, Josh begins to drift off into sleep when he hears something from the other room. Lifting his head off of the arm of the couch, he peers around, looking for the source. "Hello?" he asks to the air, trying to gain a response.

In the corner of the room is a shadow, similar to the one he saw before crossing the road. Shaking his head in disbelief, he begins wondering if the Foster Newman case is getting to him. Shrugging it off and instead paying attention only to the back of his eyelids when he closes his eyes again, Josh hears another sound coming from the kitchen.

Looking up, he sees a dark and brooding creature just above him. "Holy fuck," he yells, jumping. Frozen, he stares into the stark-yellow eyes that seem to look right through him.

A whispered voice emits from the shadow. "I have you, too."

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