She entered the west wing of Ambrose Mental Institution sleepily and nervously. The strong smell of antiseptic rushed to her nose making her hold her breath for an instant. She passed the shiny white walls, the barred windows, and the green colored sofas, hiding the stains of smeared vomit. She stopped at the door of the nurse’s office and turned her brand new key into the lock and signed in at 9:45pm under her new title of Nurse Paige Elliot and wrote Andrew Brace - her 48-year-old patient, under the next column. Looking at the rows on the chart above, she noticed the nurses previously assigned to her new patient had changed rapidly. A tingle circulated through her, looking at the various names and the stack of ‘quits’ next to them. She stood there, not knowing what to think when a loud burst of thunder pierced her ears and she jerked. The pen dropped with a clang against the tile floor. She picked it up and exited the room.
With her eyes wide and alert she walked towards room 403W as instructed in her newcomer’s file. Just before she entered the room, she took a good look at Andrew Brace’s picture in the file. Her mother always said you could tell a lot about the person just by looking at their expression in a picture. But this particular man had no expression on his face of any kind, it was neither happy nor sad, there was no smile or a frown. He had a long, thin nose, an oval face, blue eyes, light brown hair, and that was it; like a mannequin, it was almost as if he didn’t know who he was. What his identity was. Just the body of a man.
This ordinary lady in this unusual place did not know what to expect. She knew nothing of her patient’s condition, as the director of the institution seemed hesitant to reveal anything about him, except for his supposedly improving mental illness he has had for the past 5 years. She unlocked the door and peeped through and found Mr. Brace peacefully lying down on the inadequately sized bed. It was a simple, gloomy room, an arched barred window above the bed, a turn-in table with a water pitcher and a half-filled cup on top, and a black armchair on the right side of the bed, and a door leading to the bathroom on the opposite wall. The new nurse guardedly walked towards the bed, when she hit something cold and gasped. The cuffs. The thick, silver metal cuffs were attached to the bed – open. Ready to snap at whatever touched it. Mr. Brace’s hand lay just a centimeter away from one of the cuffs. Nurse Elliot decided she would have to get used to these uncommon sights if she was to work here, so she ignored the cuffs and refilled her patient’s cup and put the blanket properly over him. When she looked carefully there were stains of blood on the tattered blue blanket - a little spatter here and there. He made a slight jerk of the head. Then he frowned and began to groan. It was soft at first, and soon became a persistent, loud groan along with an expression of discomfort. The patient’s face contorted, the louder the groan. His expression became more that of a cry for help than mere discomfort. His lips moved and his slightly crooked teeth appeared and he seemed as though about to squeal in pain. The nurse watched and listened to her patient unwillingly, unable to escape from the small, dark, lifeless room. It went on, and as it did, the nurse felt sparks of the pain in herself. She began to feel dizzy, the whole room spinning and blurred, she sat down on the black chair beside the bed and closed her eyes. And slowly the moaning and groaning quieted and eventually her fear disintegrated into the darkness…
What may have been a half hour later Nurse Elliot woke at the slight cry of an “I…” It was pitch black and the poor nurse was unable to figure out where the cry came from for it took her a minute or two to realize where she was. She then stood up and turned on a single light and saw Mr. Brace on his bed, lying in a different position. The man looked like he wanted to shrink back from something, but his face was expressionless. The inexperienced nurse did not know what to make of it and sat back down on the other side of the bed, trying to keep herself awake. As she was just beginning to unconsciously doze off, her eyes half open, she saw the man’s head suddenly turn straight at her. Nurse Elliot opened her eyes wide instantly, finding it to be only a trivial change of position yet again. His upper lip parted from his lower lip and the nurse passed that by, however his lips stayed parted and she could hear him breathing. It was heavy and uneven, as though someone was trying to use all his strength to kill him. Yet, it was almost as if the patient was allowing it, even desiring it. Then amidst the heavy breathing, he maliciously spoke the words, “No shame… None…” His face squirmed in hatred at the words. Nurse Elliot’s legs began to shake, the bare parts of her skin tingling with the night chill. Moments later, his deep, husky, evil voice became a scream of desperation and a plea that seemed so many times asked for but always ignored, “No! There is… always shame… because of you. Me.” Mr. Brace’s mouth closed, but his expression was still that of agony in his million unanswered prayers.
Nurse Elliot was still. His expression had finally faded, but a vivid picture of his pained look had imprinted in her mind. It was eating her up with fear of something she did not even know. But she knew the fear came from a single man who was in sprit two. One of which was so uncontrollable and destructive, it could overpower any other, even the body it took refuge in.
She stared at the doorknob. Her everlasting fear the food of her growing temptation to walk the 3-second distance. She looked at her patient’s now expressionless face and unmoving. Her mind and body were numb and all she knew was fear at this moment, and so she got to her feet, clutched her tiny bag shakily and walked cautiously towards the door as she did when she had first entered this dolor chamber. A few inches just past the bed her heel slipped and hit the floor. At that instant the man’s arm flew right across, his forearm hanging directly in front her. She made a high-pitched shriek of terror for less than a second and backed away in instinct.
Her heart racing, her absolute horror in the situation causing her to lose coordination, her purse at her fingertips slipped onto the cold floor, and as she neared the black chair she heard, “I won’t! I won’t fight. No, no more…” and she fell, feeling faint, sweat running down her face like the rain against the window pane. She stood up regaining her balance. She wiped the sweat off her forehead, avoiding looking at the source of her panic in front of her and reached down for her bag. Just as she was about to lift her head up, two strong, firm hands clutched it. She tried to scream, scream with the might of all her fear that had been bottled up inside of her but no sound left her body. Strands of brown hair came out of place and she looked up to see the horror that laid just a nail’s length away from her face. He was in an upright position, his eyes rolling back into his head, moving from side to side irrepressibly, he breathed from his mouth gasping every few seconds. As he tried to keep control, the fearful nurse made a failed attempt to cuff his ankles. He then became wild and shouted in terror of what he was doing, but he did not stop. He could not stop. He gently moved his hand down her face and onto her cheek and then to her neck like a snake slithering. She dropped to the floor in exhaustion of the battle against her own fear. He leaned over, and tightened his grip around her neck; she tried to pull apart the two hands that covered every inch of her neck away, but his uncontainable acts of abomination gave no way of allowing it – it was the beast within him that gave him his strength. He gave her a squeeze. She couldn’t breathe for only a second and then he gave a harder, longer one. She gasped for air and shook her head around as violently as she could. He abated the strength of his grasp and paused. She took in a deep breath of relief, but she knew another hideous squeeze would occur yet again. And so it did. This time the hands squeezed so hard, it crushed her neck. He breathed so heavily, as if he were breathing her part as well; trying to keep her alive. But she could feel her wind pipe close, her heart beat slower and slower, and the life drained out of her hazel eyes. Then he lay his right hand on her wrist gently checking her pulse, but there was no movement. The body was limp and life was absent. And then he lay there. His eyelids slowly veiling the misery of his soul.