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The air was deathly still. In the cold no tree shook. Ahead, a molding sign hung haphazardly on rusted hinges. Inside a large building, residents lay asleep, waiting patiently for the new day’s sun to rise. An old truck slowly pulled up to the gloomy gates of the asylum and hesitantly stopped.
“This’ll be your stop,” the driver looked through his rear view mirror. There, in the back seat sat a young man, no more than thirty years of age. His dark locks were slicked back, his thin spectacles resting on the bridge of his nose. He was clad in a dark formal suit with no tie and black shiny shoes. On his lap rested a small suitcase which he gripped so tightly his hands appeared a ghostly white.
“Sir, this is your stop,” the driver repeated.
“I heard you the first time, “the man replied. “I was just expecting… more,” he finished, his voice trailing off.
“Nope. No more than this sir. It’s a home for crazy people, not a resort.” The driver amused himself with his little joke.
With that said the man opened his door and climbed out into the brisk winter air. The instant he closed the door the driver sped off, as if in fear of his present location.
He approached the gate and pushed. To his surprise, it creaked open slowly, revealing a wide rock pathway to the double-door entrance. He walked up until he stood on the doorstep. The clouds above seemed darker than when he had arrived.
Before he was able to knock, the door swung open. There, in the frame, stood a man twice the size of a normal man with broad shoulders and a stern face.
“Mr. Jackson?” The butler questioned.
“Uhm, yes, I, uh,” Mr. Jackson stumbled over his words, still in shock of the man before him.
“Right this way sir.” The butler turned and began to walk down a dim hallway, toward a flight of stairs. Mr. Jackson stayed still, not knowing exactly what to do. When his guide continued on without looking back, he quickly ran after him, his suitcase scraping loudly against the marble floor.
They climbed the stairs in silence. Raymond, the butler, not caring to talk and Mr. Jackson not knowing what to say.
Once they reached the top of the stairway they went down a well lit hallway. On each side were closed doors, each with a name printed on them in thin gold lettering.
Jake Rudolph, Lindsey Blocker, Scott Walters, the names went on in no specific order. All the women’s rooms were on the left, all the men’s on the right.
They came to the end of the hallway to a pair of rather large red oak doors.
Raymond paused momentarily, then raised his hand and began to knock. The sound was hollow and deafening at the same time. He continued to knock in this fashion until the door swung open with a surprising amount of force.
“What in the Sam Adam’s do you think you are doing?!?” yelled a smaller man. He looked up to find himself face to face with a new visitor.
“Oh. I didn’t see you standing there. Well… Welcome! Come in, come in. We have plenty to discuss.” The shorter man took on a new attitude of pure joy.
“Don’t just stand there with your mouth agape. The day is never as long as we wish it to be. Now, come in.”
Mr. Jackson shut his mouth at those words, took one more glance at the large man standing next to him, whose face had gone a very peculiar shade of red, and walked into the foyer.
“This is a, uhm, lovely place you have here, “Mr. Jackson spoke up, his only intentions to fill the silence between them.
“Nonsense,” Huffed the shorter man. “There is no need for pleasantries. This place is falling apart as we speak. It is old. The only things I can take care of anymore are the patients. They are important. They are in need of help. Help that only I can provide them. Anyway, do sit. We can discuss what I need you here for.”
Mr. Jackson sat across from a red oak desk. On it lay many trinkets from various locations/ Currency from around the world were stuck together tightly in a small glass jar. On the left side of the desk picture frames were propped up. In the middle a gold plate with the name J.P. Bogart etched in fine gold letters showed who owned the desk and its contents.
“I see you’ve met many really important people.” Mr. Jackson gestured towards the pictures.
“Yes. Well, I myself am a very important person.” Dr. Bogart replied, his eyebrows slightly raised.
“I didn’t…” Jackson stammered, “Is that the emperor?”
“Indeed, it is. He visited here with us at EverCare Manor for a few weeks. As did General Cook, and the President’s Chief of Staff.”
“Wow, I never realized how many people are crazy.” Jackson said at a barely audible level.
Dr. Bogart’s complexion changed to one of mild anger. “They are not crazy! Everyone has a condition that needs to be attended to, only few choose to be brave enough and ask for any form of help. Crazy is a word used by the slum of our society.” He spoke quickly and with a sharp tone. “I had only assumed that you, being a doctor yourself, would have understood that many years ago. Oh well, I suppose that this is only out of your field of knowledge.” His voice had taken on its normal calmness. His face its normal looks of contentment. Mr. Jackson still wore a mask of confusion on his face, not knowing how he should react to what he believed to be an insult.
Dr. Bogart continued, “Recently one of my patients awoke in the middle of the night with what I assumed was a sprained shoulder. Now, several days later he is still not able to move it. He also had bruise markings on his throat and forehead. Yesterday he attempted at convincing me that he was bleeding internally due to injuries and pain in the midsection. I am not sure whether to believe him or not.”
“Where is your in-house doctor? Surely he should be the one taking care of all your patients’ medical problems.” Mr. Jackson stated blatantly.
“Ah yes. Well, she is currently on a leave of absence; family issues or some unimportant hogwash of the sort. That’s why I called you.” Dr. Bogart smiled. “Now that you know exactly why you are here, are you ready to go see the patient?” Dr. Bogart questioned. Without waiting for any form of a reply he continued on, “Good! One thing that I must say though- this is an extremely unstable man. Use kind words and don’t believe a thing he tells you. Just do a routine check-up to see if there is anything that needs to be attended to. Understood?”
For the third time today Mr. Jackson was left not knowing exactly what to do, a feeling that made him unnaturally uncomfortable. Everything seemed so surreal. He cleared his throat, “Okay…”
Dr. Bogart was already on the move, taking quick steps down the hallway that Jackson had just been led through. He moved with an odd stiffness and constantly looked over his shoulder as if paranoid that something would jump out towards him at any passing moment.
Dr. Bogart stopped abruptly and entered a room on his left. When Mr. Jackson entered the room Dr. Bogart had already situated himself in a plastic chair tucked away in the farthest corner from the door. Mr. Jackson surveyed the room slowly. It was a plain room with peach colored walls. A single window framed the middle of the wall looking out to an abundance of dense trees. Next to the window sat a tall shelf with few books scattered across it. Against the adjoining wall lay a metal framed bed with clean white sheets and under those sheets laid a man. He had the sheets pulled up over his head and was shaking uncontrollably.
Mr. Jackson went to the side of the bed. He placed the palm of his head on the bed frame and leaned in closely, attempting to hear the rumblings protruding from the shaking man.
When he decided that his attempts were unsuccessful Mr. Jackson returned to standing upright. He opened his mouth to speak but instead faked a throaty cough. The man in bed pulled down his covers, just enough to see his visitor. His shaking slowed a little and then finally came to a stop.
His hair was jet black and mangled. His eyes were bloodshot and watering for reasons unknown to Mr. Jackson. He looked skeptical about the mysterious man standing before him but remained composure.
“Hello.” Mr. Jackson spoke softly, as if speaking to a child.
“Who are you?” asked the man in bed, a slight suspicion hid behind his shaking voice.
“I am Dr. Jackson. I’m here to evaluate- look at- your injuries.” Dr. Jackson smiled warmly.
“I know what evaluate means. Just because I’m in this pen doesn’t mean I’m stupid.” The man grunted.
Mr. Jackson frowned slightly, “I never implied that you were stupid by any means. You’ll have to excuse the way I explain things, it is just what I do with all of my patients, stupid or otherwise. Now, if you don’t mind, I have a few questions to ask you.”
The man nodded in cooperation.
“Name?” Mr. Jackson asked.
“Occupation?... Sorry. I seemed to have forgotten where I am. Occupation doesn’t matter.” Mr. Jackson tried to speak calmly as to not get a rise from his new patient, Cody.
“I had a job. I was a teacher at the University of Wisconsin. Head of the science department. Never thought I would’ve ended up in a place like this. Must have been the constant pressure to live up to everyone’s expectations.” Cody spoke slowly, his eyes glistening with fresh tears.
“Wow, that’s amazing.” Dr. Jackson was thoroughly impressed. “Now, do you mind if I take a look at your injuries?”
Cody pushed down his covers revealing a black and blue neck, a left arm that was slightly swollen and a stomach that was red. Probably from being held so tightly when he felt pain presumed Dr. Jackson.
“My arm doesn’t actually hurt that bad,” Cody spoke up. “I just tend to complain, at night though my stomach kills me. So much that I can hardly sleep.”
“How… how did this happen?” Dr. Jackson questioned as he gently lifted Cody’s arm.
Cody scanned the room quickly. His eyes fell on the stiff figure of Dr. Bogart momentarily before returning to meet Dr. Jackson’s gaze.
“I was attacked,” he stammered. “Someone came into my room while I was sleeping and grabbed my throat.”
“You were attacked?” Dr. Jackson questioned unbelievingly, remembering Dr. Bogart’s warnings. “By who? Another patient?”
Cody’s face went white. His eyes once again darted to the figure sitting in the corner who had now managed to stiffen even more.
He began to shake, slowly at first then faster and faster until he pulled his covers back over his head and looked exactly as he did when Dr. Jackson had first entered his room.
“Cody?” Dr. Jackson questioned with concern.
“Cody?” He asked again, receiving no reply.
Dr. Bogart raised himself from his seat. “Mr. Jackson,” he stated, “I believe that is enough for today. As you can see, he’s hysterical. Something you said must have set him off.”
Dr. Jackson looked sincerely confused. His brow was furrowed and his smile gone completely. “I didn’t say anything. I only asked what the causes of his injuries were.”
“Either way, you said something and right now he won’t cooperate. We’ll just try again tomorrow.” Dr. Bogart’s voice had a hint of anger. He was not the type of man who enjoyed people arguing with him.
“Tomorrow? But… I didn’t think…” Mr. Jackson was in disbelief. He had only prepared for a day of work. Not that he mind staying the night but he was starting to feel a slight discomfort when around the Doctor. It felt as if his patients lived in fear of him.
“Yes, tomorrow.” Dr. Bogart interrupted Jackson’s thoughts. “You didn’t think you’d be able to go home tonight, did you? Especially not in this weather. No taxi will dare to make the trip. Don’t worry, there is already a room prepared.” The doctor smiled.
Mr. Jackson hadn’t noticed the weather at all. But now, looking out through the window he saw a sky filled with black. Down poured a heavy rain and the wind forced the trees to blow harshly against the old building. He tore his eyes from the window to find only himself and Cody left in the room.
Mr. Jackson ran out of the room and down the hall until he came to Dr. Bogart’s side.
“Who,” Mr. Jackson recovered his breath, “who do you think did that to him? Are any of your patients capable of hurting a man in such a way?”
“Mr. Jackson, I do not know who did this. For all I know, he could’ve injured himself. It’s not unlikely.” Dr. Bogart’s voice had raised and his face was a burning red. The two men walked a few more paces.
“This would be your room for the night. I apologize that we do not offer any better accommodations. The only visitors we ever receive here end up being patients. Anyway, I only hope you have a good night’s rest. Tomorrow is sure to be an eventful day.” With that, Dr. Bogart made his leave.
He left Mr. Jackson staring at the same type of room that he had just left minutes before. A peach room with one window, a bookshelf, and a bed. This time though, there were no books on the shelf. “Shame,” Mr. Jackson muttered to himself.
Quietly he undressed and snuggled into his bed for the night. It was surprisingly comfy with mushy pillows and a warm blanket. Mr. Jackson lay, looking at the ceiling, replaying all the day’s events in his mind. “What a day,” he yawned, “Hard to imagine what tomorrow will bring,” He then drifted into a heavy sleep.
The harsh morning sun streaked across Mr. Jackson’s face. He began to turn in an effort to shield his eyes but realized that he was unable to do so. Opening his eyes, Mr. Jackson found himself laying the same way as the night before except now his wrists and feet were tied to the metal bed frame.
Instinct hit. Mr. Jackson started to squirm, attempting to free himself of his new constrictions.
“Mr. Jackson,” a deep voice hit his ears. He stopped struggling for a moment to scan the surrounding area. His eyes rested on the only shadowed corner of the room. There sat the stiff figured Dr. Bogart.
Again Mr. Jackson tried to break free of his bindings.
“Mr. Jackson, calm yourself. You look like a fool,” Dr. Bogart’s voice was smooth, relaxed. He rose from his seat in a mechanical fashion. “There is no need to fret.” He continued as he walked closer to the bed. “Your condition is now stable. I open my arms in welcome to the newest patient of EverCare Manor.” A huge smile streaked across his face. Dr. Bogart grabbed one of Jackson’s shaking arms and inserted a needle. A light blue liquid was slowly injected into his arm.
Mr. Jackson became slightly dizzy as a wave of nausea swept over him. Everything spun out of control; all the noises in the room were amplified tenfold. Then, without any sign of a warning, his world went black.