I jolted awake, bolting upright into a sitting position in bed. I scanned the room, my eyes darting frantically back and forth. I saw nothing but a misty blur, illuminated by a dull yellow beacon, swaying on a wire strung down from a pale ceiling panel. My hands flew to my eyes in search for my glasses, but my hand found only a piece of gauze and medical tape latched onto the left side of my face. I quickly pulled my hand away when a short wave of pain shot throughout the muscles of my left cheek. I hesitantly slid off of the hard, rock-like mattress I woke up on and slowly crept across the floor on my knees, patting the cold cement beneath me in a strained attempt to find my glasses. I must have slithered along the floor for a half hour, just looking for them. The only thing I could manage to find was a small wooden bureau which kept a single book safe and protected in the clutches of its drawer.
“I might as well tear out my own eyes. They aren’t of much use if I can’t see with them anyway,” I muttered to myself.
“Oh, go ahead, I want to see!” came a voice that reverberated throughout the room.
I whipped around and gazed in confusion and slight terror at the miniscule window that was positioned at the top of what I believed to be the door.
“Yeah, come on, let’s see it!” came new voice quickly after.
“W...Who’s there?” I stuttered.
“Whatcha’ mean? It’s ya’ best pal, Tony, o’ course!”
“And Jenny and old Bill, too!” Every second or so, the silence was broken by a brand new voice.
I ambled in trepidation toward their source, wobbling as I tried to hold myself up with my jelly legs. I extended my arm, and my palm was greeted by the cold feeling of a large iron door, the kind you see in science labs. I’m nearsighted, so when I got close enough to the door, I could then see it clearly. I suddenly held my breath, the air lodged in my throat as I noticed the steel bars filed in a row of vertical lines across the tiny window.
“Well?” came the first voice.
I jumped in surprise, my heart leaping in my chest. There was someone’s grubby face pressed up against the bars of the window.
“Well?” they repeated. “Are you gonna do it or not? I can do it for you, if you’d like. It would be my pleasure.”
I immediately bounced back from the window.
He had a malicious look in his milky white eyes, and the corners of his mouth curved up into a twisted grin. His hair was left in only small patches, as if he had been digging at his scalp with his fingernails in an attempt to extract each follicle. As a result, his scalp was a mosaic of infected, blotchy abstract art. The top of his head was so infected that it was inflamed; everything above his forehead was nearly twice the size it should’ve been. His witch nose was long and very crooked, as if it had been broken and misaligned multiple times, to the point of no return. He had chameleon eyes; one stared forward, while the other was scouting out passersby on his right side. His entire face was red and scarred, a crimson mask that inflated his cheeks.
“Stay away from me!” I screamed.
The balloon-faced-man simply pouted. “You don’t want to play today, Charles?” he asked innocently.
“How do you know my name?!” I demanded.
He smirked lightly. All of a sudden, his tone changed. His voice sounded different. More gruff. And more intense.
“We know aaall about you, Charles Dinwiddle.”
I froze in place; it felt like the cement floor had transitioned back into a thick liquidy substance and then hardened over again, trapping my feet inside its cold embrace.
In a flash, however, the man’s face morphed back to a cheery yet disturbing expression, and his voice fluctuated once again. “So, I’m assumin’ ya’ don’t remember whatcha’ did to your pretty little face, huh?”
I lifted my hand and gingerly touched the bandages lining my cheekbone.
“Yeah, it was pretty funny!” the balloon-faced-man beamed, the second voice arising from his throat. “You shattered the lenses of your glasses and used a shard of it to slice open your face. I was having a helluva time watching.” He chuckled. “That’s why you’re stuck in the solitary confinement chamber.”
I slunk away further in disbelief, shaking my head almost violently. “No, no, no...I wouldn’t do that! That’s crazy!”
He snickered in amusement and shook his head. “That’s why you’re in a mental hospital, bud.”
I gawked at him as I tried to comprehend.
“Oh, aye, that’s right, buddy ol’ pal. You’re in an asylum.”
“T...That can’t be! Just yesterday, I was with my wife on our honeymoon!”
“Tsk tsk tsk. That wasn’t yesterday, Charlie Boy. That was months ago. About a year, actually. Don’t you remember?”
That summoned a loud fit of laughter out of his vocal chords, which pooled in the air around him like a thick, foreboding fog. “You really don’t remember, do you?”
“Ya killed her, Charlie Boy! You slit her throat with a butcher knife. You can’t tell me you don’t remember that. You made it apparent just how much you enjoyed it.”
My heart sunk in my chest, and I staggered backward, falling onto the bed of rock. My lungs ached, and my ribs felt like they would burst at any moment. “Vanessa...No...I...I wouldn’t…”
“Eh, it’s okay. The shock therapy’s probably gettin’ to ya’. They use that ‘cure’ a lot on the patients who are really psycho-bonkers-crazy.”
“I’M NOT CRAZY!” I boomed, propelling my fists into the air.
He laughed hard for a long while, his lazy eye twitching. “Welcome to Blackwood Pines Insane Asylum, pal.”