White Rooms

May 18, 2011
By , Park City, UT
I awoke to the muddled sound of sirens creeping through my eardrums. Slowly, I regained my consciousness and felt the chills of the river. The faint tug of the current at my lower body was soon interrupted by a strong pull at my arms. I was dragged onto land, gasping and sputtering. A searing pain went through my head as I lifted it, and the sticky, red liquid blocked out my vision.
When my eyes opened once more, I was in a completely different world. The entire room was white and although my mind was extremely blurry, I could make out people with masks waddling around checking tiny beeping objects in other rooms next to me. There wasn’t a soul in my room besides me.

I was confused on my location and I opened my eyes wider to find out more. I sat up slowly. A sharp, intense stab throbbed through my head and I gasped. I sunk back down and shut my eyes. The pain disappeared but the damage was done; a pack of the masked people rushed through the door and started checking more confusing instruments.
“Do you feel alright?” I was asked by a middle-aged, african-american nurse. I tried to form the words but I couldn’t. I struggled until I finally pushed out the fragment I could.
“I....I don’t know...,” I replied with the voice of an old woman. I wanted to ask so much but I couldn’t. My mind just wouldn’t create speech for me. I looked up at the nurse, using my eyes to beg for an explanation.
“You are going to be alright kiddo,” she stated, trying to comfort me. “You are in the hospital now, and we can take care of you. Don’t try to sit up just yet hun, your head is still healing up.”
The nurse had a calming effect on me and I smiled, pushing out two last words. “Thank..you,” I strained in my raspy voice.
“Just go back to sleep darling, relax. You are gonna be ok.” I believed her and felt so serene that I just drifted off. Before I realized it, I was in sleep land again.
No dreams came to me in that quiet world. When I came around again I was in the same room. I felt loads better then I did during my last excursion into reality but I remembered the advice of the nurse and did not sit up. I was still in my jumbled state and had no idea of my purpose in the hospital. I tried to recall anything from before being there but was brought up close to short. The last thing I remember was vacationing with my friend, Penny, and then being in that river.
I shut my eyes and tried for more. I remembered my name, Sawyer Robson and my life as a junior. I remembered my High School, Burlington High, and my age, 16. I remembered my parents, Mark and Rosie and my dog, Lulu. I remembered most everything about my life. But nothing from that led me to why I was there-in the hospital.
I decided to sit up a bit. My arms were noodle-ish and barely moved. I turned my head up, waiting for the blow of pain, but all that came was a slight throbbing. I sat up more and saw a doctor brush into my room.
“Hello there sleepyhead!” He smiled. “You had us worried!” I let out a heavy breath I had been holding and smiled a bit. He did not seem like the enemy.
“Oh. Sorry,” I was surprised I could speak again. My voice was unwavering. “What is going on?” In my new found strength, I wanted answers.
“It seems you hit your head on your camping trip.” I observed that he was being a bit too nice. “We found you in the river near Milton. Your head was a bit bashed up and you were a tad dizzy.” He was smiling too often. “You blacked out soon after that. Do you remember anything?”
“Not really,” I was suspicious now, “Just camping with Pen.” Suddenly, a train of realization hit my side. I knew exactly why he was acting weird. I took a deep breath and asked the question I knew he had been trying to avoid. “Where is she? Where is Penny?” My voice was quiet but panicked. My mind was frantic.
The doctor shifted in his seat. He looked down, the back up. He was uncomfortable. “She has not been found,” he said in low, shaking voice.
I couldn’t register it. It would not sink in. It seem so casual, like it wasn’t my best friend who had died, it was somebody else’s. I looked up and whispered, “oh.” I didn’t feel anything at that point. My face stayed completely calm and no tears ran down my face.
“We are going to keep you here for four more days and then you may go home. You can return to school in two to three weeks but no lacrosse until next spring. You can watch TV here or.....” He droned on as I thought.
Penny. Was she gone? How long had I been in the hospital? No lacrosse was easy enough, I usually didn’t do extracurriculars anyway but my mom forced me to try for a team this year. I didn’t want to go to school without Pen so I was hoping for the three weeks at home. I slowly gathered my thoughts together. My emotions where still absent so I focused on fact. I ran through my life, remembering things that I had to do when the doctors words shook me back to the hospital room.
“The detectives will be here tomorrow to question you about your friend. Just tell them what you remember.” His monotone was bothersome but his words just confused me.
“Question me? About Penny? Why?” I questioned in a daze.
“They, well they believe she has been murdered,” He spit the words out. I started breathing hard. I felt it now. I felt my lungs struggling for more air and I felt the first tear slip down my cheek. I felt terrified. I felt sad.
“What?” I sputtered, my eyes now blurred. “What?” I asked again.
“No body has been found yet but her hair was found in a puddle of her blood at your campsite. They can not confirm it yet but they are pretty sure. I am sorry Sawyer. Try to stay calm. We are going to give you some Xanax soon to help you calm down enough to sleep. It...”
Once again, he kept talking but I was stuck in my own mind. Penny. Dead. Gone forever. I made up ways that it could all be a mistake. I tried to distract my brain from the thought that I would never see her again. It was impossible to ignore it’s gnawing, its complete takeover. I couldn’t see anything anymore because my tears filled up my eyes to the brim. I tried to blink them out but they were just replaces. I could taste the salt water drip onto my lips. I was not sobbing. My eyes were just tearing uncontrollably.
I cried in complete silence when the doctor left me alone to get the pills. I asked for them. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to forget. I didn’t want to know. I looked out the window, it was a long way down. I decided against the idea of jumping. I went to the restroom and saw a stranger through the mirror. Her face was blotchy and her dark brown hair was tossed around and tangled. Part of the front was shaved off, revealing a long line of stitches going back. Her tearstained blue eyes were bloodshot and squinted. She looked like a mess. I looked like a mess. I kept my eyes there. Looking at myself. I was about to rip my gaze away when I saw a misty glimmer behind me.
I spun around and saw Penny standing there, plain and clear. I gasped, not believing my eyes.
“They......said...they told me you were dead.” My eyes were wide. She said nothing at all but walked backward then nodded no. I blinked, then offered me a hug. I could’t contain the waterworks of my eyes and my face turned into a fountain. I let out a sob and ran to her. I opened my arms. I hugged her and cried for what seemed like hours.
When I heard noise outside the bathroom, I turned to her. “We can show them you aren’t dead now,” I whispered, “We can get you some help now.” Her lips did not move, her voice did not answer. She just nodded no again. She motioned for me to be quiet and to leave. I refused but she was stubborn and pushed me out. I turned back, only to see here hair whipping through the open window of the third story room.
“No!” I sprinted to the window, but saw no trace of her. She was gone. The doctor appeared in the restroom panting.
“Oh dear,” he monotoned, “Did you drop something?” My mouth started up at a mile a minute, running words without any input from my brain.
“Its Penny! She was in my room! She hugged me and comforted me and I was crying and she’s alive! She is fine! Just a little scraped up! She went out the window and we need to get some help down there now!” The doctor looked out, and back at me.
“I don’t see anybody down there. Penny has not been found yet. Even if she is uninjured enough to be walking, she could never get up here. She wouldn’t even know where you are,” he responded, “Now shut that window. We don’t want you falling out.”
I was speechless. “You don’t believe me,” I growled, “but I know what I saw.” I boiled over, completely lived.
“Penny is most likely no longer with us. A large puddle of her blood was found-large enough that she would die without it. She would never be able to get here.” He put his hand on my shoulder. I pushed it off with force. I took a step toward him. He stepped back.
“I know what I saw and it was real. I saw her and she was here.” My authority was clear. He was scared.
“Sawyer. Calm down. Its going to be ok. We have some pills to help you sleep now.” He held the white dots to me as he spoke. I knocked them down and narrowed my eyes.
“I don’t want your pills.” Suddenly, I did not trust the doctor at all. His tone was all wrong, he was lying to me about Penny. Penny seemed scared when she came to see me. I should be scared too. She did not want their help. She came to rescue me. A voice in my head whispered to me. It told me the hospital was bad. It told me the doctor was bad.
I took a few steps toward him. He backed away faster. He reached the door and turned to open it as fast as he could. He spun the doorknob and burst out of the room. I jumped into a sprint after him. He would pay for lying. I popped through the doorway and saw the flash of metal as a needle punctured my arm.
I took one final lunge and heard the doctor murmur something to himself, “She knows.” I barely heard it, because after that, the darkness set in and I blacked out
I opened my eyes to see that it was still dark, everything still seemed ominous. I found myself tucked into the high-tech hospital bed and my room clean of any sort of pointy tools. the floor looked whiter and the walls looked closer to me than they were last night.
Suddenly, I saw a bright light go on in the hall to the right and heard someone bustling around. A scream pinched my ears and I pulled up the covers, scared and alert. A shadow stretched toward my room. The shape was hobbling to my room. Fast. When the door swung open, I couldn’t contain myself. I let out a yelp that screeched and echoed through the halls. The shadow was unrecognizable, but it seemed to be a man. An old man. He stretched out his hand and pointed at me.
“Murder,” he whispered, “escape.” Then he jumped back and ran down the hall, half cackling and half screaming. Two nurses and the doctor came hurdling after in seconds. A voice told me to act like I was sleeping. I did. I stayed quiet and listened closely.
“Follow him. Sedate him. Get him to stop. Now. We can not have our cover blown at this point” The doctor demanded quietly. I heard steps running down the hall, silence, then steps into my room. “I know you are awake.” Then the footsteps faded away.
The next thing evident in my mind was waking up. I opened my eyes to the room and sat up. There were two people in uniform out the window arguing with the doctor.
There was a woman and a man. It was clear the woman was in charge . She was tall and buff with long black hair pulled up. She reminded me of Lara Croft. The man was short and columbian. He had medium-length black hair and a clean shave. He stood behind the woman and spoke with his hands a lot. The doctor looked at me walked in.
The blurred word of the three were obscured by the wall. I heard bits and pieces, but they were unorganized. They sounded angry. They sounded scary.
“Not ready..... relapse......mental..............violent,” The doctor was ecstatic, yelling and throwing his hands up. “Safety...scared.” I tried to put them together and realized he was telling the police I was insane. He was lying to the police.
The doctor refused to let them in. Probably because he knew I would tell them the truth about what was happening in this hospital. I would have told them everything-but I did not exactly know what was going on either. I sat and stared outside at the yelling trio for twenty seven minutes. I continued guess what they were saying until the officers gave up and walked away.
I came to the decision that I needed to escape this prison and find Penny. I needed to find her and help her. We would go to the police and tell them everything-and the police would help us.
I planned my escape with exact accuracy. I had absolutely everything planned out, with a schedule down to the minute and endless ways to get out of trouble if anything went wrong. I would leave after dinner so I could store away some food. I would tie together all my sheets and lower myself down with ease. When I was down, I would head straight for the police and report everything.
I felt that my plan was foolproof, and that nothing would go wrong. I waited until dinner calmly, thinking of what I would tell the police. I sat back and eve flipped on the TV. I would be rich and famous after exploiting the hospital.
The nurse who brought me dinner was kind, but I knew she was scared. Scared of me and scared of the doctor. She set down the tray and shuffled out. I smiled and got to work tying the sheets together. I put the food in plastic bag, tied the sheets to the bedpost, and opened the window.
I hesitated for just a second before starting my decline. My arms were strong from seven years of defense in lacrosse and I felt the wind whip through my hair and chill the shaved portion of my head. I slid down the makeshift rope slowly, keeping my feet on the knots. I was lucky my room was in the back toward the forest, not next to the highway. I was almost to the bottom and finally feeling free when I heard the yelling from my room above me.
It was the doctors voice. He was angry. He looked out the window and down at me. He yelled. I knew the hospital personal would be rushing down here to stop me.I made a spit second decision and let go of the sheet. The drop was agonizing. The blur of green around me for what seemed like minutes was abruptly stopped when my feet hammered into the ground. My heels killed for a moment before I jumped up and ran into the shadowy forest, leaving the chaos behind me.
My bare feet hit the pine needle covered ground. I did not think, I just ran. One foot after the other. Right. Left. Right. Left. The noise my feet made was calming. I ran until I was out of breath. I told myself to keep the panting quiet. I walked. Right. Left. Right. Left.
Eventually, I sat down. I breathed deeply. I relaxed for only a moment before finding a good place to hideout if they came looking.
I found a nice ditch and set up. I had nothing but a nightgown and a plastic bag. I dumped the food out. There was an orange, a piece of rubbery meat, and something that looked like mashed potatoes but was the color of granny smiths apples. I rested the ‘food’ on a fallen tree and filled the bag with leaves for a pillow. I smeared mud onto my white gown to camouflage it coaxed my beating heart to normal pace.
The sky got darker. It got dark in a very subtle way, so that I could only really see the change after a long period of time. When the sun was gone but its light still hung in the air, I heard a siren in the distance. The blare brought a surge of memory on.
I remembered waking up in the river. Seeing the officers pull me up and take me away. I remembered the pounding in my head and the throbbing in my body. I did not remember the night before.
I went to sleep with uneasy thoughts.
When I came to, I sat up to eat the orange. I picked a spot to start peeling, but when I saw what was inside, I threw it as far a I could. A big, black spider with fuzz covered legs and eight spinning eyes crawled out and slid away.I was petrified. I realized the doctor must have planted it in my dinner back at the hospital. I packed up my things but left the rest of the food alone, not wanting to test my theory that it was all dangerous.
I started walking toward what I thought would be a road or highway and mentally prepared myself for the police’s questions. I walked faster and faster, anticipating the time when I would tell the world. I was running when I found the highway. I walked north along that, trying to get to the nearest town. I found myself in the outskirts of Burlington and continued to the city, looking for all possible police stations.
My heart jumped when I saw the county office and I rushed toward it. I strutted in the door and looked around for the nearest office. The third door on the right was cracked, the rest were closed. I heard talking from inside the open door so I sauntered over there.
“Yes,” A man’s voice said, “We will keep an eye out for her.” He kept talking. I peeked in to see a tall man with a telephone in his hand. I heard a lot of scared mumbling on the other side.
“We have already been informed on her breakout and have kept security cameras running as well as sedatives on the ready if she wants to make a violent visit. We have this under control sir. May I ask what is wrong with her?” His authority was clear. The hair on my neck stood up and I heard a grumble of explanation. I made out one word. Schizophrenia.
I was suddenly sweating and breathing hard. This situation seemed wrong. I knew I shouldn’t have come there. I turned and fell smack on the ground, making a large thump in the process.
“I have to go.” The phone was hung up and the door was opened. I turned over as he lifted a walky-talky and called for some help.
“I found the girl they have been looking for. I am calling for backup.” Those words were the ones that made me see. Her had been talking to the doctor. They had been discussing me. I was being watched for. I was to be captured. I was a criminal.
There was a moment before all hell broke loose. There was police from all sides. I was screaming and trying to run. It was useless. For the second time, a needle jabbed into my arm and I blacked out.
It was blurry for a while when I woke up. There was a lot of noise, and a lot of lights. I stirred and attempted to prop myself up. My hands had been secured with handcuffs. My surroundings appeared to be a police car. I stayed calm and looked for an other being. There was nobody. I sat and I waited. I heard the sounds of traffic and I thought.
When the car stopped, a door to my right was opened and the big police man pulled me out. I stayed quiet and did as I was told. I was led into a large building and into an elevator. Everything I had seen in the building was white. Up, up, up we went until we slowed, then stopped. DING. The doors opened. A white room. We kept walking. Turned. A white hallway. We walked to a room and stopped. The officer opened it.
The doctor was sitting on the bed. I felt my eyes widen and I drew in air fast. I stumbled backward, trying to escape. My mind filled with fear
“Why did you bring me back to him? Why would you stop me from exposing him? He is going to hurt me!” I screamed. “He hurt my Penny and lied to me!”
“Sawyer. Penny’s body was found right before you ran away and her killer has been identified by witnesses and fingerprints.” The doctor stayed calm while he explained this. the police man shut the door and held me still.
“They found your fingerprints?” I asked, “They know that you killed her?”
“No Sawyer, I did not kill her. You did.” He enunciated every syllable.
“No!” I screamed, “You’re lying again! You are lying!” Desperation filled my voice and I started to remember. I remembered the night Penny died.
“She had been bullying you. Stealing your things. She threatened to hurt you, right? Sawyer, try to remember. It is the only way we can help you. Remember.” He was desperate too, his voice trimmed with truth.
“She--she was making fun of me. Cal..calling me ugly. Sh--she was scaring me so I-I-well I pushed her. I kicked her and she fell.” I kept talking. I kept remembering. “She wasn’t breathing. I hid her body. Th--Then I just remember waking up.”
I let it all out in stutters. Crying and scaring myself. The doctor was telling the truth. I remembered everything. I murdered my best friend. He explained that I have something called schizophrenia, and I sometimes can’t tell whats real and fake. I sat and I cried for hours. He said I wouldn’t go to jail. I would go to something called an asylum where they would make me better.

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