Psychosis is a 2013 short story written by Matt Dymerski. In it, a young man named John, suffering from severe paranoia, barricades himself inside his basement apartment. He's convinced that some kind of alien presence has taken over the world, but he's not quite sure. As the outside world beckons, he begins to wonder if his delusions are actually justified.
Can be read here.
Psychosis contains examples of:
- All Love Is Unrequited: The last few paragraphs strongly imply that John has deep feelings for Amy, since he thinks her telling him she loves him is simply him being told what he wants to hear.
- And I Must Scream: The stories ending implies that, with the exception of John, this is the fate of the entire human race.
- Apocalypse How: In this case John thinks an entity has taken over the world and is controlling humanity to do its bidding.
- Chekhov's Gun: John's discarded webcam on the floor. If he hadn't realized it was still recording, it's very possible he would've opened the door to the entity.
- Conveniently Interrupted Document: The email John receives from his friend contains a fragment of a sentence, which in context would seem harmless but by itself seems cryptic and sinister.
- Cruel Twist Ending: John was completely right about the invasion. Unable to be possessed due to the fact that he stabbed his own eyes out, doctors taken over by the entity him away and keep him in a holding cell for the foreseeable future, trying to convince him that there is no invasion. Meanwhile, he continues to hold out false hope that Amy is still herself and will come and help him.
- Eye Scream: John stabs his eyes out with a pencil when the doctors come to take him away.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: One interpretation suggests that at the Cruel Twist Ending is actually a result of the reader contracting the same psychosis that John has.
- Go Mad from the Isolation: John's already rapidly deteriorating sanity certainly isn't helped by the fact that he never leaves his apartment and hasn't seen anyone in weeks.
- Hikikomori: If John is to be believed, he hasn't left his apartment in weeks and hasn't had human interaction with anyone for days when the story starts.
- Inscrutable Aliens: Very little is known about exactly what the entity looks like, save for a brief passage in the last chapter that implies the entity is able to control people with long tendrils, as if they were marionettes.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The whole of the story is this. For the most part, it seems like it's just John going insane, and the ending seems to suggest he most likely is... until the final paragraph. Although even that's subject to interpretation.
- Minimalist Cast: If you don't count the unseen doctors that take John away or the small interactions with various people over the internet, there's only three characters in the entire narrative, and one of them doesn't even show up until three paragraphs before the story ends.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Most of the events in the story that terrorize John aren't overtly strange, but unusual enough (such as the half-finished email and his missing neighbors) to make him (and the reader) suspicious.
- Platonic Life-Partners: John and Amy, a friend of his who seems to be the only person he interacts with frequently.
- Properly Paranoid: The story flip-flops between portraying John as this and just plain insane. It turns out he was right in the end, however.
- Sanity Slippage: John is convinced an entity has take over the world outside, but can't be sure. He begins to wonder if he's gone insane and his delusions are the result of severe psychological problems.
- Spot the Imposter: John asks Amy a question about how they met while she's standing outside his apartment to test if it's actually her. It is, but it's not her.
- Scrapbook Story: All but that last few paragraphs are told through a journal John is keeping.
- Scully Syndrome: In order to quell his growing anxiety and paranoia, John comes up with several increasingly bizarre and unlikely situations and factors to explain the strange things happening. This only drives his psychosis further and makes him an even more unreliable narrator than he already was.
- Switching P.O.V.: The whole story is told in first person except for the last three paragraphs, when it abruptly switches to third.
- Unreliable Narrator: John isn't exactly the most sane guy you'll ever read about. Most of the story calls into question if you can trust what he's saying and if his suspicions are reasonable or if he's just insane. In the end, it turns out he is insane, but was completely right about the invasion.
- Unwilling Roboticization: John thinks an entity has taken over the world and turned humanity into mindless cyborgs that do their bidding. The last few paragraphs are told from the perspective of a cyborgified doctor who unwillingly performs tests on John.
- Wham Line: The last few lines of the story:[The doctor] wanted to scream, but the nerve filaments wrapped around his head and into his eyes made him do otherwise. His body walked into the cell like a puppet, and told the patient, once more, that he was wrong, and that there was nobody trying to deceive him.