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Author's note: This is basically everything I think about at night turned into a creepy story.
“No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness.” – Aristotle
(Insanity and Insight)
An institution… I’m still not sure if this was the best idea for a work environment considering my personality, but I’ve always been drawn to its peculiarities.
In movies, geniuses are always German scientists who invent teleporters, or really classy and attractive girls who wear glasses and say fake chemical names.
I don’t know, but that doesn’t seem right.
I’ve thought about it a lot, and I think intellect is more of a variable than people seem to think.
It’s more of a state-of-mind or point-of-view than anything else.
An idea, under the right circumstances and being observed by the right people, can herald in a new age of advances and create gods among men; but say it at the wrong time and to the wrong people, you get scorned, hospitalized, imprisoned, killed by the fictional complacency of medications and consultations.
Some humans have been just slightly incorrectly wired, and they see the world differently, possibly correctly. The masses cannot tolerate their cries of the end, they’d rather drown in more comfortable… more familiar scenarios. Unless the strange mind’s new thing happens to benefit them without upheaving them, they stifle them, classify them, and categorize their problems.
The line between brilliance and madness is thin and wobbly at best.
I do not know if I am either, both, or neither...
But I have seen it. I do not fear it. I am beginning to understand what has driven many a man to death.
I see men walk the line every day. Dark and light, dark and light, back and forth like some cerebral tango. I’m drawn to it. They fascinate me. I cannot fathom them, but I try to sympathize and always listen. They know things: secrets, mysteries, horrors. They’ve changed me.
I, the councilor, have been changed by the inmates at this, the asylum.
(Sound and Secrets)
The patients that I work with are basically considered incurable, so what I actually just do is close to interviewing as opposed to actually trying to help or fix them. They talk; I take notes; we do it again the next day.
The final three “inmates” are illogically intriguing to me. Honestly, I could pretty much care less about the others, but those three whom I save for last, keep me coming here. They always say something new, something odd and incorrect, something incredible. I’ll probably end up joining them, and then they’ll sterilize my mind and burn my reputation. Then I’ll relax on the same sinking ship as the other three do, watching the world fall to hell and torment, and I’ll know that in the end, we were better off.
It’s kind of hilarious, there’s something I hate about the little, sterile, stark-white rooms they sleep in - this one for example has a thin crack running the whole length of the left wall. It’s so close to perfect, so close to blank, but that slight irregularity throws it all off. I think it sort of fits the whole idea of this place. It’s a sterile environment, but each person is like a little smudge on the mirror, a little chip in the paint, the tiniest warping in the framework of the door. What a beautiful parallel…
He’s a black man, but I’ve never seen someone who was paler. His cheeks are sunken. On the rare occasions that he reveals his eyes, they are seen to be watery, listless orbs. His skin is papery and dried out. His complexion is blotchy and uneven; around his eyes are dark circles and around his hands is mottled whiteness. Today, his knees are up against his chest; his hands are on his knees, and his eyes are closed while his body faces the grimy mirror.
So begins the interview.
“Oh, the sounds! Oh, the information!”
They’ll all talk to me, but only to me. I think that’s because I’m almost like them. Almost.
“I’ve spent my life dedicated to learning. People like music. People love music. People fall in love with the world to music. That’s one of the great secrets. Why though? Why do subtle differences in tone, pitch, frequency, and rhythm affect us so greatly? Music is the fuel of the mind! I hear it in everything. You breathing, the generator humming, the doors creaking… They’re all singing to me!
“Oh, can’t you hear it? People would kill for music, to stop it! To become it! To create it… nothing happens now that hasn’t been around since long ago. There’s nothing new under the sun, yet, we try.
“There’s another secret: our drive to succeed, to create.
“I have traded everything for certain stories, and I know the darkest tale of them all, but the greatest mystery cannot be told, it must be discovered.
“I know who we are. I know why we are. It’s killing me. Please listen! It’s killing me.
“I know I scare people. Our intolerance, the one thing I know I’ll never understand. Einstein said, ‘Two things are infinite: The universe, and human stupidity. Though, I’m not certain about the universe.’
“How right he was. I don’t belong here. I hear the songs of creation. I know a glimmer of a fraction of the mysteries of God. I have too much power, too much knowledge. So they attempt to block it out with chemicals and pills and stunted logic. They are the fools. Their music stops and starts, and drives me to real madness. How can they live in such deafness and chaos? I’d be pushed over the brink. I am over the brink.”
He is a heavy-weight soap-boxer who holds the champion’s belt, but he is right.
Occasionally I catch it. The melody of birds is no warble; it’s a message, but only for a fraction of a second. Then I lose it in the white noise we purposefully drown ourselves in to escape this man’s fate. No one really wants to know the true secrets. I hate it more and more every second. Is there no flight other than to join these madmen?
The hallways have always reminded me of a throat…
The throat of some all-consuming monster which will not be denied…
The maw of a creature that will let leave no man who enters his realm.
(Light and Color)
Her hair is stringy and matted with his blood. This hospital is clean and modern, but some patients will not be mocked with the “comfort” and the “care” that we attempt to provide.
Her eyes, so light brown that they almost appear orange, are quite odd, like the eyes of a woman who’s seen very wrong things. They are always wide open… wide open, and deeply set into her slightly chubby face, as if they are trying to hide, trying to escape things that are not meant to be witnessed. She can’t help it.
She never looks at your eyes. She studies everything, anything else. She hates eyes, our eyes which do not see what she sees. She says we see nothing.
Yes, me again.
“This mirror, do you see the redness? I think it’s upset. Mirrors are about vision; you all don’t seem to see. Why can’t you see? I guess since you can’t see, you’d have no reason to notice the anger of the unseen.
“These walls, made in a feeble attempt to stop my vision, but how can you obscure what you don’t know in the first place? How did you miss the pictures, the art, the beautiful subtle colors in every shadow, every line and crevice of this gallery?
“Les arbres! Les taches! Je dois les dessiner. Sens, clair et merveilleux, est affiché dans toute la création, et il détruit l'humanité. Nous prétendons aimer la beauté, mais la vraie beauté est incompréhensible!”
She does that occasionally.
We try to go with it.
No one she likes knows French. Well, she doesn’t like anyone, but she tolerates me.
“Mankind hates the incomprehensible. Still, I try! I am without honor among my people. A bearer of bad news receives no payment in this society, but I do my duty. I draw. I paint. I see! Pouvez-vous ne voyez pas?”
I looked at her work, sprawled along the entire length of his cell, it was horrifying, not because of the blood and dirt, but because I almost understood it. She saw something that I nearly had once.
I suffer from insomnia. I say suffer, not because of a lack of rest, but because I almost see; I almost hear, and there’s darkness.
“Light blocks out our mind. We truly see best in dark. Night is the day for a human with eyes. There is silence; there is contrast; there is real power and vitality flowing through the stilled air. Grillons connais le mieux, and I must remember the stories that are told.”
Can’t you see why I’m inclined towards this horror? It makes so much sense. I wonder how many have snatched a glimmer of vision while they lay sick and feverish, confined to bed but unable to sleep away the realness. Then they forget. Of course, we don’t want to remember, so we forget.
I’m not sure if I want to remember either. I don’t know if I do remember. I’m not even certain that it happened.
(Justice and Words)
The final man I “chat with” scares me.
He’s very tall, very white, and very, very thin. He’s much too thin.
Like the other two, he’s nuts.
Like the other two, he’s right.
Like the other two, I have a leaning towards his way of thinking.
That’s what scares me.
The other two do no harm, they just can’t see why we don’t see; they can’t comprehend how we don’t hear.
This man does something about injustice.
He told me that his sister got brutalized and killed by her boyfriend.
He tells me that’s how he began, how he ended.
“I hated him. Who wouldn’t? The monster deserved everything I did to him. I returned the favor. I removed a real madman from the world. There wasn’t enough evidence, so they let him go. By the words of our just and equal nation, a villain walked the streets unharmed. An animal mauled my sister. Would I have been right not to carve it up?
“I was and am in the right. After I’d finished him, I realized that he’s not alone. Depravity and evil pollute our cities, and people do care, but not enough.
“How dare we let them be! We are weak; we are fools, but I stopped my folly. I put childish ways behind me. I cleaned the blood of the innocent with the blood of demons, and society punished my because of my work. I was the only one doing right, but they would not accept me.
“Humanity fears what it does not understand. How don’t we understand justice? God has instilled a conscious in us all, but we stifle it.
“Not me though…”
I’m never sure about this man.
He’s got good intentions, but can he be right to attempt to combat evil by sending it to hell?
God is judge. God decides on what’s just.
Is this man acting on the will of God, or is he playing God?
He is right about the lack of justice in humans though. Why don’t we punish evil quickly and efficiently?
Is it perhaps the very conflict that I feel right now, the fear of playing God?
“I have never sent a man to hell who does not deserve to be there. Animals have no spirit, it’s not murder to kill a cockroach.”
…but Paul was a man who mass murdered Christians, and he became the greatest missionary.
Our race avoids personal conflict as often as possible. We tend to dislike pain, even healthy pain, especially healthy pain. Like I said, I’m still not sure.
This man is also a writer, the best I’ve ever read.
“The one thing they hate more than justice is speech.
“Words are the most potent force we can attempt to bridle. Nothing else is a perfect manifestation of the innermost mind and thoughts of man. Words are realizations of ideas. Ideas are what have taken us anywhere. Words create and destroy empires. They kill infants and bring them into existence. They have been behind all art, all music, and all advances. Books have changed our ways of thinking many times; they have changed our way of living just as often.
“Nothing is more potent than a book.”
Whenever I talk to him, another small piece of the book Fahrenheit 451 leaps into my mind’s eye:
“I want to see everything now. And while none of it will be me when it goes in, after a while it'll all gather together inside and it'll be me. Look at the world out there, my God, my God, look at it out there, outside me, out there beyond my face and the only way to really touch it is to put it where it's finally me, where it's in the blood, where it pumps around a thousand times ten thousand a day. I get hold of it so it'll never run off. I'll hold on to the world tight some day. I've got one finger on it now; that's a beginning.”
It’s a book that speaks of a society that has intentionally stopped living, stopped seeing, stopped hearing, stopped caring, a most importantly, stopped reading. It was a hideously honest and predictive book, and I can bet many people don’t like what it shows them, or they simply pretend not to notice.
It reminds me a lot of these men, these honest, horrible, twisted, and completely right men.
The result of their revelations was being drugged, discredited, and locked away.
I don’t like this.
My job’s done for the day, as useless and scary and thought provoking as ever.
As I head home, I know there is no way that I’ll be sleeping tonight.
(The Sound, The Secret, The Light, Justice, and The Words… The Conclusion)
It’s got to be at least three now.
I did call it, and now, I can’t stop thinking. My God! It’s happening! The secret, I know what he means…
And that noise, it’s unbearable! Please, God, make it stop! I don’t want this! I’ve dabbled in things far too wonderful for me! I can’t take this! I need air. I need that incessant silence to be gone. There’s no escape at this hour.
My bike streaks through the hazy darkness, like an intruder in the mist. I don’t belong. The shapes of the trees, the faces and distinctly shifting colors they form scream a delightfully painful melody to me, the lyrics whisper the workings of my mind into my mind.
I understand. I could never do it.
Then I think of the horrors given to the innocent and helpless by depraved brains.
I happen to know of one in this neighborhood.
The night’s music literally cuts out, and I see the words “You are but a man.” drift across my sight.
His door seems charged with a current, a dry, orange current, a deathly current.
This knife, dare I put my mark on justice? Dare I provoke the hand of God?
Is this right?
Too late, I see him. He’s so fat and stupid and satisfied in his misery.
He shouldn’t be here. I’m not the one who’s out of place.
A tortured little girl’s face hangs in the air.
I plunge the knife into his torso.
“This is for the unfulfilled dreams!
“This is for the corrupted youth!
“This is for innocence lost!
“This is for a murdering monstrous dog!
“This is for new eras that will never be!
“This is for the victim’s parents!”
Whatever may have been, I have decided.
There can be no repentance, no changing of my ways, I chose the path that leads to death, but at least I understand life.
Simon and Garfunkle got it right; I think they saw things in this way; I think they understood.
“Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence…
“And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
“’Fools’, said I, ‘You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you’
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
In the wells of silence
“And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, ‘The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls’
And whispered in the sounds of silence.”