Tainted Water Makes for the Perfect Picnic Refreshment This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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I sit here. It’s silent. How one’s mind can be completely thoughtless, completely silent, completely deaf to the outside world is obscure to me but, somehow, mine is. I’m surrounded by white. I see white walls, white uniforms, and white people. I must be dead. And if I’m not, I’d rather be. This place made me the way I am. This place made me, you know…crazy.
Nothing stays still anymore. My thoughts are an endless swirl of blurry colors and faded memories. My mind is a constant headache, my wrists, a human cutting board, and my face, the perfect canvas for the salty raindrops that streak it. Through my eyes, an opaque wall stands between us, hindering curious eyes from peeking at my true face. In reality, it’s but a mental shield trying to block actuality from seeping through its imperfections. A mess of damaged innocence is what I am. I can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not anymore.

Am I real?
This room, a sanctuary for the unwanted, the unnoticed, the crazies, is the only thing real to me. It makes me feel at home. The smell of splattered unfortunates’ blood stains the walls. It’s a sweet aroma. Each one of them getting brutally beaten to a virtuoso’s hymn reminds me of a sweet lullaby, a dance between man and the vulnerable soul, a daydream.
“Everyone up! Shower time!” The nurse yells.
Pugnacious blood flows like water through my veins. I don’t know why I have these sudden urges to kill, to taste the blood of the ignorant, but I do and, oh, how badly I want to drain every ounce of her blood seasoned with extra “annoying”, rip her limb from limb, and roast her tender meat over a toasty fire kindled by her unkempt tresses. She’s one of them. She’s an Outsider. Like bugs, Outsiders must be exterminated.
I get up from my rotting cot and wait by the rusting door for it to be unlocked. Here she comes.
“Thump. Thump.” sounds her thundering footsteps ringing in my ear like a thousand parades.
“Thump. Thump.”

As she tediously unlocks the door, I debate on whether or not I should cooperate or wring her scrawny neck with the handcuffs that bind my bandaged wrists together and make a run for it. The door is opening. Thoughts run like untamed beasts around in my head.
Four seconds.
My hands are sweating rain on ants below me living in the cracks between the unstable cement.
Three seconds.
Each lock slowly turns, unhinging the latches that keep me hidden from society. My hands are shaking. What’s wrong with me?
Two seconds.
I see her foot slowly stepping into the doorway. Some part of me wants to tell her to turn back around and another wants to invite her into my palace of darkness.
One second.
I step out of the doorway and follow her to the showers. This is where she stops and I continue into the wet abyss. I don’t know what thwarted my scheme from taking place but something did.
Maybe something’s changing.
Maybe I’m changing.
My dirtied laundry lies next to me in a motionless heap. Goosebumps blanket my skin, making me feel inhuman-like.
I’m surrounded by the crazies. Shadowy circles underline their eyes, thin hair lies in patches on top of their flaking scalps and mumbled words seep through corners of their blue tinted lips, making it impossible for the human ear to distinguish. They’re all children, their incipient minds, numb to their surroundings, ripping off their clothes whenever they feel like it and laughing uncontrollably. They make me sick. Just looking at them is enough to make me go mad. It’s enough to make any human being go mad. I don’t commiserate towards them. Whatever made them go crazy is no excuse.
I’ve seen worse.
I’ve done worse.
Now that I’ve cleansed my body from the toxins this place has absorbed into me, I hear the ringing of the bell indicating it’s time for lunch.
The line is so slow. Everywhere I look, I see them shoveling food into their mouths like animals… pigs. Finally, it’s my turn.
The lunch lady plops some kind of grinded, green tinted meat onto my tray. I stare at it. It moves in a swirling motion. It looks so pretty.
“Move along.” The mole- face lunch lady says to me.
She looks at me like I’m crazy.
I’m not. Am I?
I sit down at table number thirty three. Old gum clinging to the underside, evil words carved into the rotting wood, and old blood stains adorn it. Just as I start to eat, I hear a noisy racket coming from the side of me. It’s another crazy, only this time, it speaks in a tongue unrecognizable to my ears.
“Hey bitch, shut up!” I yell.
I’ve always been one to vilify.
“Hello, are you deaf? Are you dumb?”
They make me so mad. I look down at my tray again. My fingers glide over the top of the fork’s prongs. It reminds me of a family. They sit there, perched on top of a bench made just for them, attached at the hip. A close- knit family, a happy family.
My fingers have gone free. I can no longer control them. I stab her in the neck. Rich blood trickles down her chest, eventually pooling in her lap. The perfect shade for a water- color painting. And so nicely was the deed done that not even a single drop of blood was spilled onto the floor. I simply laid her to sleep.
Heavy guards tackle me. Impure is the ground that has been touched by the crazies’ feet and that now touches me. If not before, surely now, my skin has been tainted with their diseases. It disgusts me.
Back into my room I go, but not for long. Irate expressions mask the guards’ faces. They take me into a different room now. Shiny equipment lines the brick walls. It’s marvelous. It reminds me of a dream I once had.
Now they strap me into a chair complete with heavy duty straps and wires that contain every color of the rainbow. I try to fight it but the binds holding me down are too strong. It’s hurting me.
White masked and gloved people enter the room. One of them carries a needle containing a purple liquid.
I guess this is it.
Into my flesh, the razor- like tip enters. Mmm, how I love the taste of sweet poison. It, like kryptonite, weakens me, hypnotizes me, and eventually conquers my body, making me feel defenseless.
I guess I never really was compatible for this amateur world I was born into. What hides behind closed doors will remain a secret until those who stay hidden even when the game is done, those who continue to prey upon the helpless even when the white flag has been waved, those who bear prolific minds, break the cycle.
Forever, hatred will lie in between the creases of my blackened heart, for the incorrigible damage this place has done to me is unforgivable.
My bloody soul that rests inside my chest cavity beats like an unsteady drum, my stable platforms below me feel weak, and my glossy spectacles betray me making me see false images before me. I regret to say the crazies got to me. The crazies live inside all of us just waiting to seep through the pores that cover our imperfect skin. For the unfortunate, they can overpower.
Life is nothing but the portrait we paint. I guess mine was streaked with one too many lines of blood that should have never been shed, pain that should have never been caused, and mistakes that should have never been made. No life can be tentative, not even mine, so I won’t be querulous. I’ve lost an unbeatable battle against myself. I don’t know where I’m going and I don’t know what the future holds. I’m scared, but for the first time, I actually feel human.
Nothing but dust is what I’ll soon become. But maybe someday, that dust can come together again to be reborn. For I am but a mere dreamer and I, out of all people, should know dreams are not real. But I tend to steer in the opposite direction, away from reality. After all, a Mad Hatter is what I am. Maybe at a picnic, I’ll have the pleasure of bumping into you.
But one could only dream.





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