This time, when I awoke, I wasn't in my room. I was in a cold, pitch-black place, all by myself. I was strapped to a bed, but I was in a slanted, nearly standing position. I could hear machines humming nearby. My breathing was loud and haggard. A machine whirred to life, the sound building and swelling in volume and strength. Shock.
Alice in the asylum, struggling with the blackness of her own personal confinement. There's an art piece that goes with this - The Asylum's Garden. It can be found on my page. :) Enjoy!
1. Black Confinement
Rating 5/5 Word Count 3853 Review this Chapter
Mother and Father left me at the asylum when I was nine years old.
I remember sitting on the gray cot, watching them leave my windowless room with dark, silent eyes. Mother was tearful, but Father was resolute. He'd had enough of my supposed ‘nonsense,' and wished for Cynthia and Mother to lead normal lives without my constant, frightening interference. I was a freak.
Cynthia had cried, of course. She looked up to me. But I simply kissed her cheek goodbye, and climbed silently into the car. She would forget me soon enough.
Mother and Father never replied to any of my letters, and refused to visit. The hospital staff begged them, saying I was showing marked improvement, but to them, I was dead. I guess they knew, despite my ability to act normal, I would never truly be normal.
"Come along dearie, you're growing into a woman now, you need to eat your food," the nurse scolded me, "we shan't have you die of starvation. Come now, eat up."
Sometimes I humored her and ate, but mostly I stared out my window listlessly, thinking. Occasionally I saw things, visions, but my Father had told me never to speak a word of these forbidden flashes of the future. Besides, the nurse didn't need to know. She was unaware of my condition.
And mostly, I enjoyed keeping these visions to myself. My blonde, golden-eyed prince frequently appeared, smiling crookedly at me. Occasionally I would catch glimpses of events in the hospital. Vindictively, I never told the nurse when she would spill the soup and burn her hand, or the doctor when he would accidentally slam his index finger in the door. I figured they deserved it.
My room became more like a cell. It was small, and painted a dull gray. There was nothing but the cot, a plain wooden side-table, and a flickering light bulb to keep me company.
Perhaps the point of an asylum was to put healthy people in, and then watch them slowly go insane from boredom and confinement. It was certainly working for me.
My visions began coming more and more frequently, causing me to slip into mindless dazes. The nurse would scream, believing me to be possessed, but I never heard
her. My mind was always with my prince. Besides, what did it matter to me if she thought I was crazy? I was in an asylum.
On my twelfth birthday - exactly three, mind-numbingly dull years of my life having been wasted in the asylum - the nurse asked me what I ‘saw.'
I ignored her. My visions were mine, and not meant for nosy nurses with strange obsessions for the mentally impaired.
For my birthday I got a cupcake in the small, low-ceilinged dining hall. The nurses and fellow patients ‘stable' enough to leave their rooms sang to me. I smiled and tried to share my cupcake, but the nurses ushered me back to my table.
Mother and Father still refused to acknowledge my existence.
Six months later, a new doctor arrived at the institution. He was handsome enough, I supposed, and seemed to like me. But he was assigned to deal with mentally retarded and handicapped patients, not the psycho healthy ones. Once I had a vivid dream of him drinking my blood. From then on, I considered the possibility that I might not be totally mentally stable. After all, doctors don't drink blood. They wipe it away, disinfect it, and try and bandage it into submission.
He visited me a few times, and began referring to me as his Pixie. He patted my black hair and talked to me. He told me I was classified as a patient with mental acuity, but fantasies that occasionally got out of hand. Fantasies like imagining I could see the future. When I told him I could, he laughed and patted my head again.
My regular doctor - Dr. Fitzgerald - began speaking with me for an hour once a week. He asked me how I was doing, what I was feeling, what I was seeing. I told him, quite plainly, that I was bored, physically ill, and my visions did not concern him. All of which were true.
Soon enough, when I was nearly thirteen, my file changed. I was now said to have mental acuity with a vivid, out-of-control imagination, and an eating problem. Apparently I was underweight.
Then, one day, I had a frightening vision.
A patient downstairs, Billy, was known for his violent mood swings. One minute he'd be happy, the next he'd be in a vicious rage. When his nurse refused to fetch him some milk he screamed and kicked at his door, furious at his nurse, his doctor, the world, everything. When nobody responded to his temper- tantrum he began banging his head against the steel door.
He hit once too hard, and he slumped to the floor, blood pooling around him.
When the vision faded, I screamed.
The nurse came running in - I wasn't known for screaming - and hurriedly asked me what was wrong. I was inconsolable though. My shrieking cries and images of Billy in a puddle of his own blood scared me. The hysteria kept building.
Doctors came rushing in. There were multiple pairs of hands on me, and the straps on my bed, rarely put to use, were bound tightly around me. I felt a prick in my arm as somebody gave me a shot.
"Please, please, Billy!" I screamed, "He hit his head! He's bleeding! Somebody, help Billy!"
"Hush, Mary Alice," a doctor said in firm voice.
I just shrieked and cried, fighting as hard as I could against the straps holding me down and the anesthetic seeping into my blood stream. "Billy," I sobbed, "he's going to die."
Nobody listened to me, no matter how loud I screamed. After twenty minutes of hysterics, the drugs took effect and I fell unwillingly into unconsciousness.
When I awoke I was alone. My room was dark.
After three quiet, indolent days, the sympathetic nurse undid my straps and allowed me to feed myself. I was silent. My eyes fashioned pictures of Billy's gruesome head wound on the walls.
That night there was a commotion. I heard people shouting, and some of the patients making noises. A few were cackling, others were yelling. I pressed my ear against the door, trying as hard as I might to hear the reason of the disturbance. My door was heavy metal though, and I could not understand anything except for the various patients' obvious delight at the dramatics.
Two days after that all the ‘stable' patients were permitted to attend Billy's funeral.
"What did Billy's death look like in your mind, Alice?" Dr. Fitzgerald asked me, tapping his pencil against his clipboard.
I tried to describe it the best I could, but I was very upset. All I could get out was that there was blood, and he had been shouting, and the floor turned red.
My doctor didn't believe me.
The new doctor, however, talked to me intently about it. I told him everything I could, and he smiled. "I believe you have a gift, my Pixie," he said, with a hint of pride in his voice, "premonition, if you will."
Premonition. A name for my visions.
A few weeks later I had another episode. In my mind I had seen my nurse, in all her nosy, irritating carelessness, hit by a car on a dark, tree-lined stretch of road. She had been walking, and then . . . she hadn't.
I screamed, they strapped me down, and I was drugged. Again. I sobbed and told them that my nurse, Nurse Lydia, could not walk on the road. She would be killed. And they ignored me.
When I awoke, I had a new nurse.
"Do you ever see good things, my Pixie?" asked the nice doctor, "or do you only ever see death?"
Of course I saw good things. My mind frequently saw my blonde, golden-eyed prince, with his tall frame and charming, southern smile. I knew I loved him.
But I didn't tell the nice doctor about him. I didn't tell anybody about him - he was mine, and mine only. I would not dirty his image by describing his magnetism to other people.
The third incident happened one month after my uncelebrated thirteenth birthday. I saw Janet, a female patient on my floor, being beaten by a faceless doctor. She was pretty and young, but was she was also stubborn and flatly refused to believe that her friend, Mary, was fictional. Her obstinacy frequently caused doctors to lose their tempers and shout at her.
Like a dream it happened again. Hysteric shrieking, sobbing, being bound to my bed, drugged. I begged my new nurse to stay with Janet, to protect her. No one listened.
This time, when I awoke, I wasn't in my room. I was in a cold, pitch-black place, all by myself. I was strapped to a bed, but I was in a slanted, nearly standing position. I could hear machines humming nearby. My breathing was loud and haggard.
A machine whirred to life, the sound building and swelling in volume and strength.
It hurt. I cried.
"Please!" I screamed, "please, no! No!"
And I slipped into unconsciousness once more.
The darkness in the room frightened me, so I shut my eyes and pretended I was still asleep. I couldn't pretend not to feel the cold though. It seeped through my skin, coating my bones in icy discomfort.
I huddled against the wall, drawing my knees up to my chest and hugging myself. I reached up to unpin my hair so that it could fall around me, warming me.
But my hair was missing.
Panicked, I reached up and touched my smooth head, my fingers running over the skin frenziedly, trying to find the familiar touch of my hair. But it was gone. My head felt as bald as an old man's.
I sobbed and cried, wishing for my hair and my family. I wished for the light, and the feel of the sun on my skin. Most of all I wished for my golden-haired prince to come and rescue me.
No one ever came.
The asylum was an ugly brick building, rising up from the trees like a tombstone. A man hesitated, and then opened the door to come inside. He paused at the desk.
"Can I help you?" the woman asked coldly.
"I'm looking for Mary Alice," he explained quietly, "she - she's my daughter."
The woman ruffled through some papers, and then glared at him, "It says here that you signed her off to the asylum. Any rights you had to the girl are now ours."
"I just want to see her, ma'am," he said.
"I'm sorry sir, but we can't allow that," she shook her head, "in order to receive proper treatment, girls like Mary Alice must not be able to see their families, or recall their past lives. Besides, she's currently undergoing shock treatments. No one is allowed to see her."
She nodded, "Yes, her situation has progressively been deteriorating. We're hoping for a response by using this method."
He stared at her, stunned.
"Sir, I apologize, but your daughter is not doing well," the woman sighed, "she claims to have seen a fellow patient's death, and her nurse's as well. Not a few days after each incident the things she says she seen has actually happened. Coincidence, of course, but unluckily it seems to have encouraged her. She goes into hysterics, screaming and fighting . . . we've had to move her up to the third floor."
"I'm afraid so. She truly is not mentally stable."
When he departed the building he appeared haggard and old, as if the weight of the world had been suddenly thrown at his shoulders.
I told the doctors about my visions again, begging for them to allow my father to see me. They said my father had never visited. When I screamed and wailed, I was strapped down again and shocked into unconsciousness.
After each shock episode I felt more and more lost, foreign almost. My mind became a dark, terrifying place. There were too many blank spaces, too many empty spots for comfort.
I would struggle to remember my name, my face, my family, but each time I would come up empty. I could not recall my mother's name, nor if I had any siblings or not. I even forgot my own age.
The only invariable in my life was my honey-haired prince. He oftentimes appeared to me, and each time I fought to memorize his painfully beautiful features. I loved him.
Time passed. I was sure that I grew older, but I had no idea if I was ten or ninety. I was always in the black room, huddling by myself to try and chase away the nightmares. I felt too thin. Dr. Fitzgerald ordered me to eat, but I couldn't. Food repulsed me, because I could not remember what I liked to eat, or what my family used to feed me. I couldn't remember who or what or where I was - how could he expect me to eat?
The shocks continued regularly. I learned to simply accept it, gazing off into space as the seizures wracked my body. There was no point in fighting. They were stronger than me.
The doctor's and nurses were worried for my physical health. They told me I needed to eat, for my body was lacking nourishment, and not behaving the way it should. I stopped growing far too early, and never began menstruating. I was a skeleton with pale skin, a shaved head, and needle-like limbs.
"Mary Alice, you need to eat," Dr. Fitzgerald commanded, "Your food fast is unhealthy."
The nice doctor kindly smiled at me, "Ah, Pixie. Sixteen years old and forbidden to live. What are we going to do with you?"
I forgot how old I was the next day after my shock therapy.
My mind was like a colander, allowing all of my memories and thoughts to slip away. The only thing I never forgot, perhaps because of my frequent visions, was the prince. I envisioned him doing normal things, like walking and talking, along with less-normal things, like ripping apart a being that sparkled in the sun. In all instances he was beautiful. I wanted him.
"Pixie, you do need to eat," the nice doctor said casually one day from somewhere in the darkness, "we can't have you wasting away to nothing, can we?"
I didn't say anything.
"We should also get you outside at some point," he remarked, "you're far too pale for your own good. A bit of fresh air and sunlight might be just what you need."
I briefly wondered how he could see my pale, famished body in the pitch-darkness. I couldn't see anything.
"How would you feel like a walk in the garden soon?" he asked, "I can get permission from Dr. Fitzgerald."
I tried, as hard as I could, to remember what a garden was.
Life settled into a routine. Blackness. Pain. Fear. Blackness. Pain. Fear.
I was used to it, at some level. I knew not to speak, for I would be shocked. I knew I had to pretend to eat, or the nurses and doctors would be angry. I knew when I was cold, or tired, or miserable. And I knew when I was happy - my mind would be filled with my golden-haired prince.
One day the nice doctor - who routinely reminded me who he was - took my hand and led me outside the door. The lights hurt my eyes. I squeezed them tightly shut, and stumbled after the doctor as if I was blind. The noises hurt my ears, but I couldn't block the noise without the doctor's cold hand releasing mine.
We walked down stairs, past clucking nurses, and finally into a quiet place. The world suddenly felt different. Warmer. Wider.
I tried to open my eyes, but I couldn't. It was too bright. I settled for feeling a strange warmth on my skin, and touching soft, swaying things that rose from the ground. Flowers I was told.
"What do they look like?" I asked.
"The ones you are touching are pink," he replied, "tulips, they're called. Very pretty."
I chose not to tell him that I couldn't remember what pink was.
After far too short a time he told me we had to leave. He took my hand and led me back into the cold rooms, past the busy noises, and finally into the coldest room of all. I opened my eyes, and it didn't hurt.
I didn't leave my room for two years. I forgot who I was. Where I was. Why it was dark and cold. I even forgot that funny little sensation - pain..
My golden-haired prince comforted me. He smiled, his eyes both understanding and compassionate.
The kind doctor visited me often. Each time it was as if I was meeting him for the first time.
"They'll have to stop shocking you eventually, right Pixie?" he said from the blackness, "one day you'll get to leave. You'll get to experience the world, and remember who you are."
I wanted to speak. But my throat was dry from disuse, and no words could escape.
On my eighteenth birthday I had a vivid vision. I knew it was my eighteenth birthday because the kind doctor had told me so. Hardly seconds after he had disappeared, I was assaulted with an image of a man. He was average looking, with light brown hair. He was drinking blood from a girl. A few droplets spilled onto his nursing uniform.
The screaming faded once the shocks began.
Someone new visited me one day. Or night, I couldn't tell which. He introduced himself as James, and said he was my friend. I believed him. He said I smelled delightful.
"Mary Alice, you smell wonderful," he would drawl, "absolutely luscious."
I would peer into the blackness, but I could not see his face.
The kind doctor seemed frustrated sometime after the new visitor had come. There were no shocks in between these two visits. I remembered the first visitor, and the kind doctor told me I should not allow him in my room.
I asked why. He said, "He wants to hurt you, Mary Alice."
I resolved to scream the next time he came. But when I screamed - for practice - they seized me, and shocked me, and I forgot to scream when he visited me again.
My golden-haired prince appeared to me as a nightmare once. He too, was drinking blood. I was so scared, so traumatized, so distressed that the shocks could not halt my screams. Why would my prince, my light, do what only evil people did?
I did not forget this vision. I shook with fear, and stayed in the corner. I wished he would appear to me as a creature of light, instead of darkness.
I wished he would rescue me.
"You know, the other doctor doesn't want me to see you," a voice smirked from the darkness, "he says I'm not allowed. Says I shouldn't be near you."
I listened, comprehending only half of what he was saying.
"I'm not dangerous, am I?"
I stared into the blackness.
He took a deep breath, and then chuckled, "Ah, you do smell simply delightful dear. So lovely. I am looking forward to the chase."
I heard a nearly inaudible growl come from the outside hallway. He reached over and patted my head, "I'll be back. We'll meet again soon enough, Mary Alice."
He lifted the lock, the screeching noise hurting my ears, and then ghosted into the outside place. I heard shouting.
Shock. Pain. Blackness. Fear. I was reminded of my nineteenth birthday, but forgot it as quickly as the shock treatments ravaged my memory.
The kind doctor rushed agitatedly into my room one night. I was asleep, and he woke me hurriedly. His cold hands shook my fragile shoulders.
"Pixie! Pixie! Wake up, we're leaving."
I was disoriented, "Leaving?"
"Come, there's danger. I need to get you out of here."
I blinked. I was too weak to stand. He seemed to understand, because he lifted me in his icy arms and ripped open the door.
There were no lights on in the outside place. He moved so fast that my short hair blew backwards. We reached what I assumed was the end of the outside place, and I heard a feral snarl rip from where I my room was. The nice doctor ran faster. My head jerked in the wind.
I shivered. He was a very cold doctor. We left the outside place, and entered somewhere new. It was dark. Bright, beautiful dots of light sparkled above my head. They moved quickly by as the doctor ran.
"They're so pretty," I whispered, reaching out to touch them.
The doctor was panicky. He agreed, but he was preoccupied. I settled myself with being happy that there was something that was not black, and I was outside my room.
I could see the faint outlines of his face. He was very pale. He looked worried.
I heard another predatory snarl rip through the air far behind us.
"Pixie," he said some time later, "how would you like to be strong, and never have to feel pain again?"
Pain. Such an abstract concept. I wondered if I was feeling pain now. I couldn't tell pain from numbness anymore.
But I would like to be strong. He was cold, and I did not like being carried in such cold arms. If I could run for myself it would be better.
He bent down, and I felt him do something to my wrist. Then my other wrist. Then my chest. Then my neck.
A new sensation grew within me. I wondered if it was pain, or pleasure. I could not tell.
And then I could not see the pretty dots of light anymore, or the nice doctor's face. It was perfectly dark, and silent.
I did not know who or what I was.
Or where I was.
Or if I truly was anything.
I was nothing, floating in a pitch-black, silent nothing, idly wondering if this was normal.
And then I opened my eyes, and I saw and heard and understood everything.