Submitted by: http://mladyelle.tumblr.com/
“I’m not crazy, you know?”
Billie’s hands trembled slightly around the crinkled paper cup they held. It was startlingly white against the quiet pink of her palm, and the three pills within were vibrant, like jeweled beetles under the overhead fluorescents.
“I promise you, I’m not crazy.”
“I know that, Billie.” It could have passed for a man if one didn’t look too closely. Two eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth, only one head…nothing that shrieked “monster” or “demon” right away. But she paid attention, oh yes. Had to. They could be tricky. Sometimes IT didn’t pay attention, didn’t think she was looking, but she saw. She always saw it change, like liquid gears beneath the flesh. “Now take your pills, please.”
She knew it wouldn’t do her any good to protest. She’d tried that at first, but they had taught her better. Resistance just called more of them out of the walls, pulling away from the paint like warm taffy. Their touch burned when they grabbed her, hot grease handprints as they dragged her out of line and into The Room.
The Room was dark, the only light coming from a squareish eye some two-thirds the way up the wall. It bulged out of its frame sometimes; there wasn’t a corner of the room that anyone could hide in. She’d tried, at first, but wherever she went, she could see that round, straining pupil. Always staring.
The Room itself was bad enough. What happened in The Room…she shuddered to think of her singular experience there, and couldn’t bring herself to imagine the lives of those who seemed to take hours-long vacations behind the iron door. While They held her down, a single figure appeared in the doorway, backlit until all Billie could make out was the dark blot that was generally shaped like a person, except where the edges bulged and blurred, and the heartbreakingly clear outline of a long, cruel needle. It was barbed on the end, and oozed not only some nasty liquid, but tiny insects, small enough to march through veins and make camp in her skull. She could see them, tiny as they were, marching down the nurse’s wrist and arm, and knew that they would travel along the folds of her clothing until they reached the floor. They would be there, later, when the door had shut. They would come from the corners, and from under the mattress. Their compatriots in her bloodstream, deposited there by injection from the barbed needle, sang to their fellows. Called them to feed.
Billie tipped the paper cup back and obediently swallowed the three pills inside. She’d forgotten their names, but knew that in short order, her mind would start to haze over and the rest of the evening would pass in a kind of sluggish fugue. Occasionally, bright pops of color, screeches of unexpected sound or the burning hiss of a touch on her shoulder would break through the fog, and when she could make out the Their shapes, she could see them shaking their heads and scribbling on clipboards. She would hear snatches of conversation sometimes, catch them following her with eyes that seemed to lean forward out of their sockets as if on stalks, watching her every move. “Ineffective dosing,” they would say, or “paranoid side effect.” Billie knew she wasn’t paranoid. She knew she was sane.
There was one other person she could talk to, and she always tried to make it to his room before the medication kicked in. They weren’t allowed to go into each other’s rooms, of course, but over time they had worked out a system where Billie would sit on the floor near the doorway and use the wall as a prop for her back, pretending to draw or read, and Darian would sit behind his partially closed door, talking to her through the gap in the hinge. His favorite place was behind the door, and though she had never really understood it, They seemed to not notice him so much if he was hidden behind the thick wood. It kept him under the radar, and she wished something would do the same for her.
“Three pills today?” he asked as she took her usual seat on the carpet.
“Yeah.” She pulled a folded piece of scrap paper from the pocket of her robe and began to fold it along its old, tired lines again, building the swan back into existence again. She did this slowly, most of her focus on keeping the dark corners from closing in on her vision entirely. “I think one was different through. Stronger. I think that’s the experimental one.”
“Probably. They can’t give you a different number, you’re too smart for that. They have to change one of the old ones so they think you don’t notice.” Darien paused for a minute, and she could hear him tapping absently on the linoleum floor. “What do you think it is this month?”
Billie shrugged. It was a typical question, one he had asked many times, but one that she hated to think about. Every month or so, her medication would change. In the beginning, she thought They were trying to help her, as They claimed. She would start to feel a little better, but before long she’d feel horrible again, and the pills would change. Always the same three pills, but every time the dose changed, one of them would seem different…the problem was, she could never tell which one it was until it was in her stomach and she felt the drug begin to flood her system. After the first few months, she realized that They weren’t trying to help her at all, but They were experimenting with her.
“Could be mind control, could always be mind control,” Darien said. He hadn’t seen her shrug, but knew she had. She always did. “Could also be seeing how much it takes to knock you out. Maybe they’re trying to find a cheaper anesthetic for when they do the surgeries.”
Billie swallowed and felt her fingers walk across the inside of her arms, and down to her stomach, tracing over the puckered lines of scars in various stages of healing on them. They told her that she’d done it herself, with bits of plastic or screws she’d pulled out of the wall. The one on her stomach had been particularly bad, and she had been in the infirmary for a week, her arms tied down with soft restraints while the bugs did their work on her wounds. Darien, of course, was convinced that they had knocked her out on purpose and performed experimental surgery, so of course she wouldn’t have remembered making the cuts herself.
“They already know how much it takes, Darien,” she snapped. “They do it every night, don’t they?”
“Ye-es.” His voice came, almost snake-like, from behind the door. It lowered and developed an almost songlike cadence that made gooseflesh crop up along her spine. “But maybe you don’t go deep enough. Maybe they want to go further and don’t want you to wake up screaming.”
Billie straightened and looked behind her, breaking one of the many rules she’d discovered applied to this place: Don’t let anything on. She peered through the gap in the hinge and froze. Darien wasn’t there. In his place was a skinny, dark skinned boy that looked more like a spider than a person, his eyeball pressed against the gap and startlingly white against his dark flesh. He was smiling, too, and his teeth glittered.
“Maybe they want to poke through your mind and see if their little buggies are nice and snug.” She realized now that his voice was nothing like her friend’s; it was high and excited, almost breathless. He was so thin, his body seemed to clatter against the floor like a spider’s. He couldn’t be still, he was nearly bursting with some great joke. “Maybe they want to splice your nerves so that fire feels like ice, and ice feels so nice! Maybe they want to look out of your mouth and count your teeth. Count your TEETH! COUNT YOUR TEETH!”
He rocked back on his bony haunches and giggled until it looked like his whole body vibrated, his white eyes squinting as tears of mirth squeezed from beneath the lids, his mouth impossibly wide. Behind his teeth, she could see the bugs swarming, and understood. They were wearing him as a suit. The bugs. The bugs were wearing Damien like a tight skin suit and he was laughing.
Billie couldn’t remember how she got up from the floor, nor did she remember how she made it into her room. She was so unpredictable, They said, that They didn’t trust her with a roommate. They were afraid she might carve them up like she’d done herself. Though the door had no lock, it was heavy, and so was the desk chair they’d allowed her to have. She slammed the former shut and shoved the latter against it, hoping that it would hold against…against whatever was coming behind her. She scrambled over the top of her bed and hid behind it, making herself as small as possible.
Everything was quiet for a few moments…and then the world exploded, and her room was full of Them. Two hauled her up onto her bed and held her, while she felt the familiar sharp sting of the needle in the rounded muscle of her backside. A second sting followed it, and she could feel the darkness falling over her eyes, could feel the itch as the tiny bugs went about their business. After a while, the two holding her on the bed let go, and she did not get up.
“It really is a shame, I thought we were close with that last mix.” Dr. Warten ran his hand over his scalp and pushed his glasses back into place on his nose. He peered through the smoked glass into the small bedroom on the other side of the door, locked now, of course, and watched as Billie slept. If it hadn’t been for the barely noticeable rise and fall of her chest and the occasional twitch of a foot, she could have passed for dead. He turned to his nurse after a moment. “Maggie, make sure to chart the results, and we’ll discuss a new combination during rounds in the morning. She should sleep the night…and most of tomorrow, I should expect.”
Barely able to suppress a nose-wrinkle of disgust – he never cared to get her name right, and the one he used sounded like it belonged to either a six year old or a stripper – Morgan nodded and returned to her desk, seating herself before the cold, clinical glow of the computer monitor. She pulled up Billie’s chart and, after a moment of thought, began to type.
“Patient has shown some improvement the past few days from her psychosis, has been taking medications with less resistance and has spent less time isolating in her room. Patient has been showing some superficial interest in a male peer, but staff has not been able to observe the interaction in its entirety as the peer is in isolation for safety. Patients appear to speak through the hinge of male peer’s door. Today, female patient observed at the door, but quickly exited and ran to her room. Staff observed male peer psychotic, laughing inappropriately and screaming. Patient given IM Geodon and IM Ativan per Dr. Warten’s order, currently isolated for safety and sleeping.
Per Dr. Warten, may approach the possibility of electro-shock therapy for this patient during rounds tomorrow. Benefits may outweigh the risks, as medications by mouth and injection appear to be ineffective for managing patient’s major depressive disorder and paranoid psychosis.”
Credits to: http://mladyelle.tumblr.com/