Behind an unmarked door, a young woman rocks back and forth, back and forth. London bridge is falling down... Part six in the Afterlife series - Mary Alice Brandon.
A little darker than my other stories, only because Alice's story is among the darker ones. My writing style here is deliberately simpler than usual. This is the voice I consciously choose to give Alice.
Rating 5/5 Word Count 1877 Review this Chapter
by Marauder by Midnight
London bridge is falling down
I do not remember the rest.
Something scurries across the floor. Something with paws. I turn my head, but everything is still dark. It’s as if I never moved at all.
I continue to rock back and forth, back and forth. The repetitive motion, I had learned early on, soothes me. It reminds me of another time, another place, where I was rocked back and forth, back and forth by someone. A woman. A woman who wiped my tears away. A woman who ran her fingers through my long ebony hair. A woman who loved me.
I do not feel pain when I think of her. Her features are blurred now by tears long wept and time long spent. In my corner, I don’t believe anything else has ever existed. Besides, I don’t feel much of anything anymore.
London bridge is falling down.
Something at the tip of fingers tingle. My heart pounds faster, and I rock more quickly. My humming gets louder. “Make it stop!” I want to scream, but words do not come to me as they used to. The sensation creeps up my arms like the slime that drips from the ceiling, and shakily try to brush them away with grubby fingers. I feel the filth on my finger rubbing off onto my exposed arms, and they offer only some relief.
The thing ascends higher and higher up my body. It’s to my chest and neck now. My breathing becomes slower, more labored, and I struggle to gasp for air. Something heavy sits on my chest, and I cannot expel it. I try once more to cry out, but it comes out only as a quiet gurgle for the rats to hear.
Oh, it’s on my face now! It’s pouring into my nostrils, my gaping mouth, my eye sockets! I lift my hands and claw at the thing climbing all along my countenance. I do not smell the stink of my waste on my fingers – all I want is to get it off!
Suddenly I gasp. The thing is so powerful, it throws my head back and thrust my eyelids open as far back as they will go. Now I do not see the dankness of my surroundings nor the blackness I’ve come to accept. No, both are much preferable to what the thing makes me see.
I see a familiar man, dressed in the white clothing I know too well, the uniform of a warden. He tells me what his name is every time he comes in: Franz. He talks to me when he visits. He tells me of things like flowers and oceans. I do not understand him sometimes, and I never talk back. But the softness of his voice envelopes me in something warmer and different from the coldness of my cell. And he never brings a clipboard.
However, now, his pale, plump lips are not curved upwards. They are instead set in a very thin line and severe. I am afraid of him and the blackness in his eyes. I follow him down a strange corridor lined with bright white light until he stops at an unremarkable door.
He opens the door. The light of the hallway seems to shy away from the abyss of the room. He enters and disappears into the shadows.
The thing leaves me, throwing my body backward. I lose my balance and hit my head on the wall behind me. A strange emotion flows through me: pain. I reach up and rub the bump now rising on the back of my head. I can feel it through the thin layer of hair I have left. The rest, sheared off when I first came here, lay in the corner next to the door.
I am back in my cell. Everything is as it was before. I do not see anything. I whimper, glad for the return of my blindness, and rock back and forth, back and forth again.
Take the key and lock him up.
Lock him up.
Lock him up.
I hear the screech of the door before I see the light. I wail when the terrors of the other world flood the cell and wash away my comfort. Blinded, I throw myself to the other side and instead hit the wall. I do not feel that sensation again, that pain, in my need to escape the light.
I flinch from the roughness of the voice. I claw desperately at the wall, and I hear animalistic grunts and sobs.
“Mary Alice. It’s time for your pills, Mary Alice.”
This time, the name registers in my mind. It makes me turn around, fearfully, and peer over my shoulder.
Someone is blocking the light. He’s saving me. I freeze, but my breaths still come in short gasps. The man steps nearer, nearer, the light surrounding him. When he gets close enough, I see a white clipboard in his hand.
I scream long and hard, lashing out with my legs. He is startled and backs away too late. I hear small things scatter to the stone floor. In my flurry of movement, I make out tiny white capsules.
The man says something under his breath, but he nor I can hear what it is he said. When I run out of breath, I gulp down more air and cry out again. Now two more dark figures come in. Tentacle-like things grab me by my arms, and I begin to sob. The same happens to my legs. I find myself immobile, helpless.
Something sharp jabs into my arm. Almost immediately, I feel my eyelids getting heavier. My head feels lighter. I vaguely feel hay beneath me. I try to scream, but my tongue lolls uselessly in my mouth. Then darkness covers me with her blanket once more.
I do not remember a life before the night, though Franz always says I did. I was born into this life. This cell. I do not want to think otherwise.
I have learned many things during my life. I have learned to avoid the white-coats with their white clipboards and their black tubes that scratch onto the clipboards.
Falling down. Falling down.
The white-coats shake their heads at me and cringe at my filthy face. I have learned that they do not visit me often when I am dirty, so I do not bother moving from the corner where I relieve myself.
I have learned to swallow the white capsules. They keep the visions from coming and protect me from the evil thoughts that live in my head.
I have learned to like the different colored capsule Franz places on my tongue. It is a light brown and is round-shaped. It has a good taste, different from the white ones the white-coats give me and different from the bowl of mush I find every day at my door.
But most importantly, I have learned that the scary things I see, the things that I know will come to pass, will not stop, no matter what I do. Making sounds does not help. Lying down does not help. Hitting my head on the floor does not help. And I have not learned to like the crawling thing that takes over me.
London bridge is falling down.
The door opens again, and the rats stop squeaking. I want to move away before the light comes again, I want my corner, but I still cannot pick myself up. Quickly the door closes before any of the white can land on me.
I have learned only one person closes the door when he enters.
Suddenly, I feel him beside me, touching my pallet. I have learned only one person can move as quietly as he can.
London bridge is...
He strokes my arm, and I feel the dirt and grime being brushed off.
No one touches me.
I feel a coldness get closer and closer to my head.
No one gets so near.Falling...
I begin to tremble when I realize he is not who I think he is.
“Shh,” a different but smooth voice soothes me. “It’s all right. I can make this all go away, Mary Alice.”
Go away? What is there but light and dark? I try to shy away from the voice that seems all wrong.
London bridge is falling down.
Suddenly, the door screeches open again. The man above me hisses and immediately disappears. Someone else growls in response. I see a shadow get thrown against the wall. It whimpers and skates back out the door.
“Mary Alice, you’re not safe here anymore.”
Oh, no. It’s starting again. The thing creeps up on me, and I cannot move. I vaguely hear Franz calling me, but I focus on what the thing wants to show me.
Franz, in his white coat, is leaning over something on a pile of hay. Something is coming from behind. When he swivels around, I see that his eyes are the reddest of red, matching the color of his lips.
The voice that had awoken me before regards the thing on the pallet. “Clever,” he says before launching himself onto Franz. They are clawing at each other, biting at each other. Suddenly, the stranger throws Franz so hard against the wall that it breaks, revealing a black vast space of nothing – no wait. I see things. Lots of little things that twinkle. Something much bigger is also up there, something round that casts a pretty and gentle light on all below it. I am not afraid anymore.
I can see clearly in the darkness now. I can see my hand in front of me, covered in the grime of my cell. I hear the snarls below climax to one high keeling and then silence. I look below and see only the handsome stranger who had taken my Franz away from me.
He looks up at me and meets my gaze steadily. Then he smiles and disappears in a flash.
Something is shaking my shoulder. “Mary Alice. Mary Alice.” It is dear Franz. “I know you do not understand me, Mary Alice. But you must understand what it is I must do.”
I jerk and gasp as the thing leaves me once more in the darkness of the cell. I see a pair of cold black eyes staring down at me, and yet, I am not afraid, just as I was not in my vision.
“I…I do.” I force my lips to make different shapes. My voice is raspy from years of silence and disuse. Franz seems shocked but becomes concerned once more. “But…you…danger…too.”
“I know.” A hand tilts my head to the other side. I feel the cool air of his breath on my exposed neck. “Fly, Mary Alice. Fly away from here. Do not look back.”
Something sharp pierces my flesh, but I do not cry out this time. When he is done, I feel that emotion again, that pain. I cannot shake it away. I cannot move.
Faintly, I hear someone say, “Clever.”
Then the blinding agony takes me under. And I remember. How it ends...
My fair lady.