By: Dexter Alex
Being locked away was the best part of being alive these days, I was kept sedated and restrained so I wouldn’t take my own life. I had tried, fractured my skull in the process but somehow they had brought me back from the darkness. The white walls of my containment room made for a very calming environment. It was quiet, with only the light buzzing of the white bulb above. There were no windows, a single vent for air high on the north wall, the door was made of reinforced steel with a single sliding section from which my meals were served. There was a section of the wall that had a small toilet seat built into the wall.
Some would think that my living conditions were harsh and less than humane. But as I said before, being locked away from the rest of the world was the best possible option I had. My meals were served twice a day on a plastic tray and cup and I ate while being watched by an orderly from the other side of the door. I never made eye contact with him, not after the first few days here. He had introduced himself as John on my first night in the asylum. I thought he was a nice person, I believed he would be the one person who I could look up to here.
After my first session with the shrink, I was drugged once again and sent back to my cell where he served me dinner. I looked up at him through the plexiglass that let people stare into the cell and what I saw terrified me. His eyes had caught on fire, with his eyebrows burning clear off. Blood ran down like tears while he watched me with a smile on his face, his voice contorting into something otherworldly, croaking deeply as though he were a frog sounding off a large speaker.
I screamed, backing away from the orderly. He laughed, amused by how easily I had been scared. I never looked John in the face again after that, I couldn’t. The memories were burned into my mind, bearing on the edge of my soul. There was no one to talk to about what I had seen, no one that believed me for that matter. The shrink who I would occasionally see had diagnosed me with a form of psychosis which I believed was utter bullshit. I came home from work on the night of ‘the arrival’, to see my boyfriend on all fours walking like an animal.
I thought it was some sort of prank, but he kept at it for the entire night. When I confronted him about it, he said he was walking fine; ‘as he normally does.’. I didn’t really notice if he had stopped by morning because I got up to work before him, but I never did get to the office. That was the reason the shrink had come over, when he heard my story of what had occurred that morning. Nobody believed me, and honestly I guess I could understand that, but truly I knew what had happened, what I had seen and I knew I wasn’t wrong.
The trash truck moved by in the early hours of the morning. I saw the guy jump off the truck and throw black bags of waste into the truck which rolled by the street slowly and quietly. I waited for the Uber which was a few minutes behind schedule, the man picking up the trash reached the front of my driveway where the trashcan waited. He said something to me, which, in the cold air of that winter morning sounded like a squeal.
I mouthed off a greeting in return as the Uber took a turning into my street. My brain quickly snapped at me, beckoning me to look back at the trash man as something didn’t feel right. I shouldn’t have looked, but I did. I started, for some reason, from his feet, staring at his work boots which were chaffed and scratched from extended usage, to his overalls which was partly stained from grime and had lost most of its color to a dull blue. Everything looked normal until I got to his neck, for some reason I started getting teary-eyed as I looked.
His neck was a thick black mass that gently shone in the dim morning sun blocked by thick clouds. I held my gaze, as my eyes strayed further up to his face. There was no jaw, no nose or ears. Nothing similar to a human’s facial features. Just more of the black hairy substance. His eyes turned out on the side of his face as huge black bulges, his mouth, a long beak. It was incredibly difficult to hold my gaze as the tears flowed from my eyes now. His head wasn’t human, it resembled that of a crow.
It’s not everyday you see a thing like that, and I guess the human mind has a certain level to which it can manage what it sees and tries to comprehend. So, I expressed my fear and shock in the one way that was understood by many. I screamed. The man responded by walking over, speaking to me, but his voice only coming in the maddening caws of a crow. I backed away as he approached, getting closer and closer, with his arms outstretched to stop me.
I tripped over something behind me. I turned to see my boyfriend, still walking on all fours staring at me with a puzzled look. I could not get the words together in a coherent string for him to understand, so I pointed at the man who was only a few feet away, his head, or the bird’s head, bent sideways as he stared. My boyfriend looked over at the man with a questioning eyebrow before looking back at me. The Uber had arrived and was waiting, so was the individual driving the trash truck. Everyone stared on at the scene.
I canceled my ride after going back inside to grab a painkiller and explain to my boyfriend what I had seen, but I couldn’t talk to him, not with the way he was walking around the house like a damn dog. I needed a break, I needed to rest, so I did. That was one of the last times I could truly relax in my own home, at least until these white walls became my home. They held nothing that would betray my mind except their single simple nature, their state of being constantly white.
“How are you feeling today, Ms. Anne?”
“You know just how fucking good I’m feeling, Doc.”
The shrink looked at me with pity, like I was some pet project to him, a project he would take care of in his spare time. I occasionally imagined leaping across the table and smashing his skill, just so he would understand me. His PhD didn’t do much to make him see the obvious things around him. I think somehow they had gotten the idea and knew I might have felt a bit of hostility towards the doctor, so I was put in a straitjacket.
“Have you been eating well?” he asked, in a condescending tone that belonged to a man tired of his job.
“Yes, I have been getting all the nourishment I can, doctor. They kept my diet extra well. They treat me like a queen.”
“Now there’s no need for sarcasm now, Miss Anne.”
“Well you started it. Stop fucking with me, Doc. Tell me you’re not seeing it too!”
“I’m not sure what you mean. Have you been taking your drugs?”
I wanted to throw myself over the table at him. My feet were anchored to the floor through the cuffs that locked me in place to a steel arm built into the concrete floor. We had discussed the matter countless times, I had told him of what I had seen of the others here in the first week when I arrived at the asylum. But somehow he felt that a few drugs would just make me forget, but nothing on God’s green earth could possibly make me forget. When I woke up, it was after my first fight with my boyfriend. Two days later and he was still walking like that, I walked over to him and tried to get him to stand up straight, but he shoved me away, telling me that I was crazy. I might have resorted to physically assaulting him, which I ultimately came to regret as he called Dr. Keith Young.
I was on a bed with a steel frame, not unlike the one you would see in a hospital, strapped to it by large leather restraints. I was kept in a public area; a small room separated from the lobby but from which I could see everyone walking by and they could see me. A nurse walked by, careless to not throw a glance my way. I tried to call out to her, but I had been drugged and couldn’t muster the strength to scream.
The next person that passed seemed to be a lot older. Dressed in a hospital gown and walking with a cane. An old lady, from her stature. She took her time with each step, as time seemed to have gotten to her. She paused and stared into the room where I lay, driving me mad. Her grey hair wasn’t exactly hair, it looked and acted like mercury, occasionally dropping off her head and into her clothes. As we made eye contact, it was as though I saw into her soul and could see what she had in her mind.
A thousand needles, each as long as five inches, were held above her, while she was stretched out on a table by a contraption that stopped her from moving entirely. Another smaller tool, clamped her eye lids wide open as the needles were lowered into her eyes again and again. I felt the pain of the experience, as though it happened to me. The older woman blinked, pulling me away from the trance and continuing in her journey.
My body broke out into a sweat, my temperature rising steadily. I didn’t know what I had seen or why I had seen it, I didn’t know who that old lady was or what she had been through, but I felt pain. Deep in my chest, as though my heart had been scarred by what I had seen. I heard a bleating sound coming from the door, and I looked again. A Billy goat stood there, staring at me. Its eyes as red as a demon’s and its horns a deep black, three of the—two pointing forwards and another up. It made its bleating sound again and again, each time it stung my ears as though it were a high-pitched sound.
The nurse walked by again, looking into the room as she did. The words were at the tip of my mouth when she stuck her tongue out. I caught my breath as my mind nearly collapsed in fear. Her tongue was so long that it dipped way beyond her jaw, and right before I could react to its absurd length, it split in two, as a snake’s formed tongue would. I screamed and the goat made its sound again and again, causing me to bleed from my ears.
“Anne? Are you still with us?” Dr. Keith snapped his fingers in my face trying to draw my attention as my mind wandered.
“Look, I know you’re not a lost cause or something. And I believe you, you’re not crazy, but if you want to get back to your boyfriend and back to your normal life, then you have to stop acting crazy.” An orderly handed him a sheet of paper which he took with a nod “Thanks.”
“You think I’m acting?”
“You tell me.”
“No, you tell me why the fuck would I be acting since obviously, this is the shit which this fucking act has put me into. Why didn’t I just stop the act? My boyfriend is walking like a fucking dog and you see that and tell me I’m having illusions? Is that normal?” I was screaming now, somehow the meds had worn off and I was a lot more restless.
“Your boyfriend was walking fine.”
“Fuck you. Don’t you see them? These people in this asylum, they’re all some sort of monsters. There’s something very fucked up going on and you’re not noticing it!”
“Miss Anne, have you tried considering that maybe, you’re actually seeing things?”
I took a deep breath. I actually had, for the longest time in that room I had considered that perhaps, I was going crazy and my mind was going berserk. I took the meds, I ate the food and I listened to the lady they sent over once a week who tried to clear my mind. I did all of that in the hopes that somehow I would be sent back to a normal life where my trash picker wasn’t some crow-man hybrid, and goats couldn’t make my ears bleed.
“I have…” my voice broke, I was weak, I couldn’t fight anymore. I had no idea what was happening to me, and these people were trying to help me. I was simply losing my mind, and I needed medical help. “I’m sorry for all of this. I know you mean well, I just never imagined I’d be in this situation.”
“That’s really great. If you just let us work with you, then perhaps we can have you cured and back home in no time. I’ll leave your prescription again with the nurse, please do try to take it without too much of a hassle? The gentleman will escort you back to your room.”
Right before I turned around, I noticed Dr. Keith fiddle with his pen a little bit as it refused to make the markings which he had put on the paper. Apparently the ink had dried. He shook it a little, trying to get it to work for a little bit but to no avail. Arms wrapped around me as I was guided out of the room. I couldn’t take my eyes off of Dr. Keith as I felt an incredible sense of dread come over me. I watched as the doctor stare at the pen, extend his arm with the device in it, grabbed in a fist with the writing end, smiled, and drove it straight at the hollow of his neck.
Blood spurted out violently, as he did it again and again. I screamed and he smiled. The pen creating new holes in his neck as the orderly dragged me away. I wasn’t insane, I couldn’t be. I looked up at the man taking me away to recognize him as John, with the flaming, bleeding eyes. I screamed again, as I realized that there would be no getting out of this asylum, not ever.
Dexter Alex is an African storyteller, freelance writer who enjoys plotting schemes alongside his writing. His works of fiction are mostly aimed at exposing new ideas to the minds of his readers. He is passionate about music, literature and bread.