28 Days

A long sharp gasp echoed the small room as Milo’s chest was lifted upwards from the bed. His head was overcome with heaviness and he was heaving for breath, clutching his chest and gasping. His forehead was damp and cold with sweat and fear as his ears filled with high pitched ringing. His heart beat in his ears as he glanced around frantically. The room was small. His bed was on the far left corner and a table sat on the opposite side. Everything was white or a light color at least. A small window about the size of his torso sat above the bed, protected with rusty black iron bars. It streamed in shimmering yellow light and revealed dust particles dancing about in the musty atmosphere.

Milo’s clammy hands shakily pushed off the bed as he leaped for the iron door. His legs nearly collapsed below him as he jiggled the handle with as much force as he could muster. When it didn’t budge, he began to pound the door with his fist.

“Hello?! Is anyone there? Help me! Can anyone hear me??” Milo’s voice cracked and he realized his throat and mouth were very dry. He pounded on the door with dying determination before groaning desperately, dashing for the bed. He climbed on the small frame and peered out the window. The same iron bars surrounded the building like a gate and in the distance Milo could spot a busy road with convenient stores littering the sides. He squinted his eyes in the bright light and focused on a sign he saw above the gate.

A slamming sound burst through his thoughts and he whipped around to see the door swinging on its hinges and several people in white coats and scrubs swarming into the room. There was a buzzing sound as they all made indistinct chatter and one woman with reddish hair grabbed his arm lightly.

“Milo sweetie, come on down from there. You’re okay honey, just come on down we’ll fix you up. There we go, nice and easy” she soothed softly as Milo shakily stepped off the bed. The doctors’ eyes raked up and down his body and examined his every move, scribbling down notes and muttering to each other. He glanced at the woman who helped him down from the bed and opened his mouth in the beginning of a question.

“Honey, sit down right here, we want to ask you a few questions if you don’t mind” the woman interrupted and urged him towards a soft looking chair he hadn’t noticed near the bed. Milo warily sat down and rested his elbows on his thighs, running a hand through his damp hair.

“Okay, now do you remember your name?”

“Milo… uh, M-Milo Harper?”

“Yes, do you know your age?”

“20 I think”

“Where you were born?”

“Wisconsin, maybe”

The nurse nodded and jotted down a few notes. Most of the doctors had left and only a few of them stayed and lurked behind the nurse, jotting down notes along with her. Finally she sighed and asked the last question.

“What day is your birthday?” she questioned quietly, the doctor’s faces suddenly growing very serious. Milo looked curiously at their expressions and the way their heads snapped up at the question.

“April 7th” he responded, almost immediately. The nurse stared with an expression he couldn’t read before she turned and exchanged a glance with the other doctors. The silence slowly engulfed him and squeezed his stomach in raw fear. What was so important about his birthday?

“Uhm, can- can someone tell me where I am?” he asked quietly. The doctors turned to him sadly. They had a look of pity on their faces, almost like they were looking at a little girl who dropped her ice cream.

“Milo, you’re in an Insane Asylum in Raleigh, North Carolina. You were admitted here about a week ago.” One of the male nurses answered behind the woman.

Milo’s breath caught in his throat and made an abrupt sound of shock as harsh claws of terror gripped his stomach. His eyes widened and locked with the nurse who’d questioned him. He was clamping his hands in tight fists harsh enough to turn his knuckles a pasty white. The nurse gently took his hands in hers and pulled his fingers from his palm.

“Wh-but… how did… why?” Milo asked helplessly, his small voice cracking. “Did I do something?”

“No, no honey you didn’t do anything. It’s not your fault that you’re here. Sometimes people just… break. And our job is to fix them. You didn’t do anything wrong, sweetie.” The nurse replied sweetly.

“But, like… I mean… what happened?” Milo asked helplessly. He rubbed the heel of his hand across his swollen eyes, chafing the skin around them. He clasped his hands together and squeezed, secretly sinking his short fingernails into his flesh to see if he was dreaming or not. A sharp stinging feeling sparked under his nail. He wasn’t dreaming.

“Well, that’s what we’re trying to figure out. You were sent here with… severe hallucinations, but they seem to now be accompanied with some kind of amnesia. It’s new; it only started a few nights ago. We’re doing the best we can” she said. Milo nodded and tried to take in all of this new information.

“And my birthday? Does it have anything to do with this?” Milo asked hesitantly. The nurses were silent. They looked uneasily at each other before one spoke up from behind the question nurse.

“We can’t give out the complete analysis to the patients; we can only tell them their condition or diagnosis. I’m afraid it’s confidential.” She said sadly.

Milo stared somewhat angrily at the nurse before letting his head drop to stare at his shoes. They were soft slip on shoes and they were white like the rest of his outfit. He curled his lip up in anger and dug his nails into his palm again. He sighed, puffing his cheeks out in exasperation.

“Are you hungry? Can we get you anything?” one of the male nurses asked in the back.

“Water would be nice, thanks” he answered curtly.

“Are you sure? No snacks or anything?”

“Just water. Would be nice.” He snapped, raising his voice a bit and staring holes through the doctor’s eyes. He leaned back a bit in fear then nodded, standing up to leave the room. Most of the doctors followed him, leaving only the question nurse and one more behind her who was shifting uneasily where she stood.

“Well, my name is Nurse Jamie. If you need anything or have any questions, ask for me.” She finished. Milo nodded curtly, signaling with his expression that he wanted to be alone. She pushed off her chair slowly and began to leave with the other nurse when Milo glanced at the door.

Peering slightly around the corner of the threshold was a young man. He had an old black suit on with a thin dark green tie. His sleeves had been rolled up casually and he had shimmering black dress shoes on. His dark brown hair was ruffled slightly and swept upward from his forehead, a few chunks of hair out of place. He had piercing green-hazel eyes that stared at Milo relentlessly. He didn’t move or speak, and no one that passed him in the hall looked at him.

“W-wait wait wait, who’s that guy out there? By the doorway, does he work here or something?” Milo stopped Nurse Jamie before she could leave. She glanced in the direction Milo was looking.

“What guy? Sweetie, there’s no one there.” Jamie responded. Milo gave her a questioning look before casting his gaze back towards the door. But still the man stood, staring silently at Milo. He seemed unfazed that now the nurses were looking in his direction.

“N-no no, the guy right out there in the suit. He’s staring at me, does he know me?” Milo asked, only glancing at Nurse Jamie for a second. But to his astonishment, the man had gone. Within a second’s time he disappeared. There was silence. All three looked at the doorway, dumbfounded. Milo slowly stood up off the chair and started walking towards the door. But Nurse Jamie grabbed his shoulder before he could even peer around the side. He turned to look at her. She only pushed in front of him and searched the halls herself, glancing left and right.

“Is he still out there? Like, walking away maybe?” Milo asked desperately, hoping this wasn’t one of those “severe hallucinations” he supposedly had. Jamie turned back to him and her face was twisted into one filled with slight terror.

“The halls have at least twenty rooms on either side and you would need permission to even enter a room. There’s nowhere he could have gone without us seeing.” She answered.

“W-well are there security cameras? They would have seen him, right?” Milo asked. His head was swimming in frantic desperation as he tried to make the situation seem logical.

“Yes, there are but… I doubt they would be useful. This may just be one of your hallucinations-“

“But it wasn’t! I know if I’m hallucinating or not and I definitely saw him. You have to believe me, I wouldn’t make this up!” Milo pried. The nurses just nodded.

“Just call for me if you need me.” Nurse Jamie finally said before she stepped out of the room. The nurse behind her followed, staring at Milo before leaving too. He stared at the empty void that held the nurse seconds before. His mind was racing as he tried in vain to remember the man and how he could possibly disappear. He tugged his clammy hands out of his pockets and dragged them down his face, rubbing his eyes and sitting back down on the bed.

Milo gripped his hand and squeezed, the skin turning pale. His knuckles turned white and he dug his fingernails into his palm. He scowled at the fact that he wasn’t waking up from a terrible nightmare and squeezed harder, curling his fingers and carving into the soft flesh. Suddenly, a razor sharp stabbing feeling erupted at his fingertips and he yelped, whipping his hand back and staring. The crescent shapes of his fingernails in his palm were slowly oozing bright red blood, the skin torn and broken. Milo hissed, closing his bleeding hand into a fist gently. When he opened his palm, the blood had spread across his fingertips and was smeared along his palm. He let out a shaky breath and closed his fingers over his palm carefully.

“So you’re the kid that yells in his sleep. I gotta say, I wasn’t expecting you to look like this. And is that blood?” a voice sounded at the doorway. Milo jumped and looked over to the threshold.

A skinny girl around his age stood at the doorway. She had a white t-shirt and white sweatpants on, accompanied by no other than those stupid white shoes. She had a white hospital bracelet on her right wrist and vague pink scars along her forearm. Her hair was dark brown and curling loosely like a phone cord, with big dark hazel eyes.

“Excuse me?” Milo asked. He stared into the girl’s eyes and then her wrists.

“You’re ears could use a good cleaning, I was loud and clear is that blood?” the girl replied without hesitation. Milo scrambled for words, looking down at his injured hand.

“Uh… Y-yeah I guess it is” he answered, covering the blood with his other hand. He looked back up at the girl standing at the doorway, and she had leaned up against the wall and crossed her arms.

“Huh…” she said, nodding her head and sniffing. “Well you’d probably wanna get that cleaned up. Those doctors see blood on a guy like you in a place like this, you’ll be in a padded room before you can blink. Come on” she finished, waving in her direction. But Milo didn’t budge. He just kept his eyes locked on the girl in confusion. She sighed and rolled her eyes.

“You conscious? Can you, like, see right now? Cause I’m not gonna help you if you can’t even talk, man” she complained. Milo stuttered and shook his head.

“N-no, yeah, I can talk. I’m just-I don’t know, I’m just not used to the idea that I’m in a freaking Asylum, you know?” Milo laughed darkly.

“Yeah, you’d be surprised at how many people say that. So you coming or what?” she asked, jerking her head in her direction. Milo took in a breath and opened his mouth to say something, but his words caught in his throat. So he just nodded.

“Uh… yeah, yeah” Milo breathed, awkwardly standing up and following the girl outside the room. She smiled and turned to lead the way.

The halls were long and narrow, iron doors spread out in a pattern on either side. Everything was eerily white and there were very few people in the halls besides the nurses and a couple patients. Some nurses wheeled a cart complete with trays of food while others walked with stumbling patients. Milo’s shoulders were tense as he passed the doctor’s judging eyes. He awkwardly glanced at the grainy texture of the wall and the smooth tile under his feet before clearing his throat.

“So, um… I’m Milo.” He told the girl. She glanced behind her shoulder and nodded.

“Cool.” She said and continued to walk with her back to him. He rolled his eyes in slight annoyance before trying again.

“And you are..?” he asked, trying not to sound nervous. They came to a left turn and walked towards what looked like a cluster of doors marking the end of the hall. Some were marked “STORAGE” and some had big red signs that said “Employees Only”. The girl tugged him towards a small unisex bathroom and shoved open the door, kicking the wooden wedge under it to keep it open.

“Paris Young. Now come here, let me see your hand.” She replied hastily, standing by the sink and beckoning with her hand. Milo hesitantly stepped towards her but kept his hand in his pocket.

“Dude, come on it’s not a damn bullet wound. You’ll live and I won’t bite, now chop chop.” Paris complained. Milo scowled and shoved his hand under the faucet.

“I’m not scared it’ll hurt, I just… don’t like people touching me” he said. Stupid, that’s a stupid excuse. Just shut up and stop being a baby he thought. He held back a wince as she ran the cold water over the cuts.

“So you’re a touchy one? That’s cool, I can deal with that.” Paris told him. She turned the cold water down and turned the warm water on, gripping his wrist with one hand and gently wiping the blood out of the cuts. Milo groaned quietly as she caught her finger on one of the deeper wounds.

“You say that like you’re planning on getting to know me” he said, watching as the blood washed away and revealed the four crescent shaped puncture wounds. Paris locked her fingers with his and used the heel of her hand to put pressure on the wound as she turned off the water. Milo held his breath as she squeezed his hand.

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.” She replied, reaching over to rip off a large wad of toilet paper. She brought it up to his hand and pat it gently, soaking up the drops of water. She turned it over and held the dry part of it to his wound, murmuring something like “hold it here”.

“Well when you wake up every morning and forget where you are and everything about yourself, it tends to be hard to make friends.” Milo told her, chuckling softly and looking at the floor. Paris just nodded.

“Wait here a second” she ordered, making her way to a supply closet across from the bathroom. She held the door open with her foot and rummaged around the different boxes and shelves. Milo waited awkwardly in the bathroom, leaning up against the wall and staring at the ground. His mind lazily replayed the “hallucination” scene he had a few minutes ago. How the man stared at Milo, how he had vanished within the time Milo took to glance at Nurse Jamie. A soft shuffling sound tore through his thoughts as Paris walked back in the bathroom with supplies in her hands.

“Okay, so I found some gauze tape and some soft looking pads, but they’re fresh outta Neosporin from what it looks like. These aren’t really gonna do a lot of good without Neosporin so just keep it on for now until we find some.” Paris explained, unraveling some of the white gauze and softly taking away the wad of toilet paper over his cuts.

Placing the cottony pads over the wound, she pulled the gauze over his palm, around the back of his hand, under and around his thumb, and back over his palm. Paris repeated the motions until the gauze was thick and she ripped off the end with her teeth, pressing it to the rest to keep it stuck in place.

“There ya go, that should be good. Just don’t scratch at it or, ya know, dig up your flesh again or anything.” Paris smiled, patting him on the back sarcastically. Milo chuckled, scratching the back of his head.

“Yeah, I won’t… And thanks, by the way. For, ya know…” Milo said, waving his bandaged hand in the air. Paris smiled and nodded.

“Yeah, no problem. By the way, lunch is probably on in the lobby. You wanna go grab something?” she asked. Milo gulped and for a moment his mind went blank. But he managed to stutter a reply, a blush growing red on his cheeks.

“Oh, uh sure. Yeah, I’m starving.” Milo replied. Paris smiled.

“Good. Let’s get goin’, then. Before the pizza gets cold.” She told him, walking out of the bathroom. Milo scoffed and shoved his bandaged hand in his pocket.

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