The U.S. Mental Health Hospital is located on United States territory in southeastern China, in Guangdong province. It is surrounded by ten-foot-tall electric fences, and is home to only 24 patients, nick-named the "crazies." It is also a big fat lie.
THIS IS A COLLAB!
"Topher, dear." The nurse's voice was sickly sweet, dripping with over-exaggerated niceness. "It's time for your breakfast."
Topher glanced up briefly, just long enough to confirm that it was his regular nurse, Sylvie. "Go away, Sylvie," he grumbled, as she came at him with a spoonful of oatmeal. "I can f*cking feed myself. I'm a grown man."
Sylvie laughed as if it had been a joke. "Of course you can, dearie." She set the tray down on the bed in front of him, and then left. Topher scowled at her retreating back. In his opinion the nurses were crazier than the patients.
Heh. Patients. Inmates, more like, Topher thought.
As he shoveled oatmeal into his mouth, which sometimes resembled a vacuum, he examined his reflection in the mirror on the far wall.
And conceded that he really did need a haircut.
Topher's light, dust-colored hair had grown nearly to his shoulders, and he hadn't shaved for near a week, leaving a scraggly beard clawing at his face, and down his neck. His dull blue eyes were sunken in their sockets, and underlined by dark purple bags. The dark blue tee shirt that he was wearing did little to hide how terribly pale his skin was, such a light grey that it was almost translucent. He had a feeling that if he had to stay put in the "hospital" much longer, he would actually become sick. It was horribly ironic.
Someone screamed in the hallway outside Topher's room.
"I'm not crazy!" were the shrill words. "I'm not f*cking crazy!"
"Good luck, mate," snorted Topher.
"I'm an Army Major! An Army Major, y'hear!?"
Topher snorted again. "Already tried that," he mumbled to himself, smiling bitterly.
He had been a Lieutenant. Not in the Army, true, but in the Marines, still. Then had come the fatal Belize assignment.
He and seven of his best men had been stationed outside an old, rundown warehouse in Belize City, and told not to allow anyone in or out. Topher had sent three of his men inside to investigate the internal situation. They hadn't come out.
Topher then sent two more men in - he believed that it was never good to be alone, especially in potentially dangerous, unstable situations.
Those men hadn't come back out either. That had been when Topher had started to get worried. He had told his remaining two men to wait outside, together, and then had gone in himself, alone.
Topher didn't really want to think about what he had seen inside. He wasn't really sure he knew what he had seen inside.
But, whatever it was, no one was supposed to know about it, including the weathered, strong Marine Lieutenant Topher Smithson.
And so he had ended up in the U.S. Mental Health Hospital in Guangdong, China.
Because it was much easier for the U.S. to say he was crazy, that he didn't know what he was talking about.
Because, whether they liked it or not, they knew that Topher was telling the truth.
They just didn't want to admit it.
Whoever "they" were.