The largest isolated research zone
of the United World since 2030
“Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it hard to tell the difference between what is real and what is not.” Doctor Kristensen’s condemning voice reverberated through Tori’s mind. “I’m afraid that this illness has returned with alarming force Ms. Gray. Even with our technology, it appears we were not able to stop it. You could do harm to others and not realize it.”
She closed her eyes, wanting that voice to go away. The word schizophrenia make her pulse pound, memories of being locked up tormented her. Tori smiled cruelly; she wanted all of the voices to go away, not just the doctors. It felt like at times her mind whispered to her, her conscious taunting her good sense.
God, how could she describe five years of insanity? She wouldn’t admit this to anyone, for she didn’t perceive it as insanity. It was more of the fear of the unknown. Tori peered back at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. The brown of her eyes seemed dull and her black hair was in disarray. The deep circles and her pale complexion were barely an indication of what she was suffering on the inside. She gritted her teeth, hoping that the doctor’s diagnosis was wrong. It had to be. She was normal just like everyone else. Tori was cured from this illness years ago; this was, for lack of better words bullshit. Her early morning appointment with the doctor was damning. The doctor wanted to hospitalize her again, to take her away from her life she had just become comfortable with. They could not do that to her, not now!
Tori had pleaded with the doctor not to do so if she took her medication religiously this time. She’d stop altering her looks! Yes, she would even take out her colored contacts! She could try and stop this constant paranoia that the world was after her, seeing everyone as a suspect of some master conspiracy.
It was easy to be suspicious when her whole life had vanished from her memories. It was almost impossible not to believe that she was brain washed for medical testing. She was an experiment that went wrong.
Tears trickled down her cheeks hating herself for telling the doctor what she had done. But, she needed tell somebody! There was no way she could tell her celebrity boyfriend, Samson Lee Willis. No, he was her only grip on normality. He would dump her in a heartbeat if he knew what dark secrets she was harboring inside. Her sister Jo was the only one who knew of her battle with schizophrenia. It would kill Jo to know that it was back, and that the doctor wanted her hospitalized. That hospital was evil, never wanting to relive what they put her though.
“Ms. Gray, tell me about this book you wrote? If you can, that is,” her voice held mockery, making Tori cringe in embarrassment.
Why did she have to tell?! It was like she couldn’t hold the words in her mouth.
Tori remembered what she had said. It was like she almost sentenced herself to asylum once again. “I wrote a story about my amnesia, in a fantasy world I suppose. It was like they were my forgotten memories… I connected with them as if they really happened to me. It was weird. I was even the main character in my story and I didn’t realize it. Sometimes I feel like I’m not even human…”
The doctor had stared at her, almost as if Tori were a lost cause. “I see. And when did you write this story?”
Tori winced, wishing she had lied to the doctor. Why didn’t she lie?! “After my medication ran out. These images came rushing into my mind’s eye and I wrote them down as if I were in a trance. I do not remember writing the story until I was finished.”
The doctor then described how she was suffering again from extreme delusions from her trauma. The schizophrenia was said to be the cause of her memory loss five years ago, for in extreme cases this can occur. Of course Tori didn’t believe that, knowing deep down something else had transpired. After her amnesia, her troubled mind had tried to create an alternate past to connect to, confusing reality, the doctor had unemotionally added.
That couldn’t be it… could it?
Was she crazy?
Tori closed her eyes and glanced back into the mirror, not knowing who gazed back, wishing she could remember something from her real past. Realization suddenly occurred to her. God, she was sick wasn’t she?
A hard knock came on the bathroom door making her gasp. “Tori! You okay? You’ve been in there for an hour. I was wondering how the doctor’s appointment went. Did they fix your migraines?” he continued, “I can’t wait to get off this island; it gives me the damned creeps. All these crazy people running about seems highly unsafe. And you know I have to be in New York tomorrow morning.” He waited for her reply. The sound of Samson’s soft breathing on the door let her know he wouldn’t leave without an answer. “And don’t forget your promise Tori,” he said softly.
“Y-yes, I will be out in a second,” her voice cracked, betraying her calm resolve. She promised that they would finally be intimate if he took her here, which she had been holding off on. She was scared of physical contact and didn’t know why.
“Hold on! I just washing my face,” she snapped then regretted it. “I’m sorry, I will be out in a second okay?” she pleaded meekly, trying to hold her teetering feelings together.
He took a moment then grunted. “OK baby, I will be waiting out here. Just so you know our flight is in two hours.”
A gush of tears instantly streamed down her face as small sobs erupted from out of her throat. Overwhelming pain washed over, reminding her that she will never have a normal life again. It was silly. Samson thought they were here for her constant migraines. Not because she was ordered to this place as a follow up to see if the medication was working. God above, why did she have to open her big mouth about her story? “They’re coming for me,” she whispered as tears streamed down her face, numbing her. The last words the doctor had said to her disturbed her to the core, heightening her paranoia.
Kristensen gave her that knowing look, her icy gaze piercing straight through to Tori’s soul. “Well, that concludes our discussion for now. Good day Ms. Gray,” she said strangely then smiled.
That smile is what sent alarms off in Tori’s mind.
The doctor grinned at her like she was a small child, not an adult. Someone who was insane and needed treatment. Someone who they wouldn’t let her leave this island.
Smashing those horrific thoughts she dried her face quickly and opened the door. She plastered a smile on her face and walked into the living room to see Samson gazing out the window with a whiskey in hand.
Samson Lee Willis. Yes, she supposed he was terribly attractive, worshiped by women everywhere. His sun-bleached hair was perfectly brushed back like he only used the forces of the wind to style with. Tori eyed him as he posed with his electronic cigarette, slowly blowing blue vapors between his lips and arching one distinguished brow. He always looked so immaculate, so relaxed all the time. Today he wore white slacks and a black leather T-shirt that showcased his tanned, muscled torso.
Tori took a deep breath, and shook her head. Maybe she was letting her mind run away with her again, letting her paranoia get the best of her. Everything was fine, and she should be thankful for Samson’s support. She would tell him of her illness after she let him kiss her, for the first time. He had been so good about waiting until she was ready. Tori took a deep breath and approached him. “Samson,” she whispered seductively.
I can do this.
He turned at the sound of her sultry voice and instantly his coffee colored eyes lit from within. Samson smiled and tilted his head, eyeing her heatedly. “Say it again,” he asked and licked his lips.
She blushed, then issued a breathy “Samson” at him.
“I have waited too long to hear you say my name like that. You have the lips of an angel,” he said as he came up to her and wrapped an arm around her small waist, modeling her body to his. The hem of her black lace dress rose as his arm pulled tighter. “You are so beautiful, like my fragile flower. Sometimes… I think you not real.” He laughed at that, staring deeply into her eyes.
“I think the same thing,” she admitted softly.
She took a rushed breath in when his lips touched her neck. The heat of his tongue swirling over her skin made her bite her lip. Wasn’t she supposed to like this? He groaned into her neck as his hips started a slow grind against hers. Samson’s movements grew more demanding, his mouth devouring her throat. Tori squeezed her eyes shut when she felt his lips trail up her jaw line, trying not to be so repulsed.
“What’s wrong?” he breathed into her cheek.
Tori couldn’t find the words, knowing it must be her secrets holding her back. It had to be that. Samson was extremely good-looking and she should not be having these unwanted feelings to get away. She had to confide before they went any further. “I-I need to tell you something Samson.”
He pulled back with a frown marring his handsome features. “You don’t want to do this?”
She shook her head. “No it’s not that…”
A loud knock pounded on the door making them both jump. Tori’s heart took flight as she stared, tunnel vision setting in. Samson cursed and let go of her, walking to the door. “This better be fucking good.”
Tori wanted to call him back but didn’t. Instead she just slowly she sank to the floor, consumed with denial. It was just her paranoia, nothing more.
Doctor Kristensen walked in, or burst in with very intimidating looking men in white coats. Samson looked confused at first then rage overtook him. “What the hell? Can I help you?!”
Doctor Kristensen’s cold blue gaze rested on Tori. Her mousy brown hair was pulled back into a severe bun heightening her boney cheeks. “Forgive the intrusion Mr. Willis. But I’m afraid we must take Ms. Gray for immediate treatment. She is unwell.”
Tori felt tears slide down her cheeks as she stood, her body shaking.
Samson grunted and stood in their way. “The hell you are. Haven’t you heard of calling first? What is wrong with this place! Tori and I are leaving. She can consult other doctors about her migraine condition elsewhere. Now get out.”
The Kristensen laughed and Tori cringed.
“What is funny? I don’t find you barging in here funny, Doctor,” he spat.
“Samson…” Tori pleaded, slowly walking up to him.
He turned towards her and stared with open anger. “Tori, do you know what’s going on?”
“That’s what I was going to tell you,” she whispered as more tears streamed down her face.
Kristensen interrupted, “Mr. Willis, she did not come here for migraines. She is mentally ill, diagnosed with schizophrenia. She is a harm to herself and to others if not properly treated.”
Samson looked like he had bitten into a lemon. “Come again?”
Tori closed her eyes knowing that everything was over. The world viewed mental illness as a disease, wanting to rid the planet of it. The world leader invests billions to California Island to ensure testing, so that everyone can be sane of mind. She opened her eyes and tried to reach for him. “Samson…”
Pain tore through her and she knew it would be the last time she would ever hear his voice.
* * *
Tori felt completely numbed to the core.
She sat across from Kristensen in a dark limo barely able to register what was happening. The feeling of danger was ever present; the tingling in the back of her neck grew as the seconds passed. She glanced out the window to see the orange glow of the disappearing sun. Darkness was only minutes away, alarming her more than it should have.
“I’m sure you have questions; no need to be scared,” the doctor said indifferently.
Tori looked at her, wanting desperately to slap that flat look off her face. “Where are you taking me?”
“To Sector 7.”
Tori stared, waiting for her to expound.
Kristensen exhaled. “Ms. Gray, this will not be easy to digest, what I’m about the tell you. I don’t have time to do this lightly. I am giving you two weeks. Two weeks of treatment to see if you can tell reality from delusion. If you pass you may be free, and if you don’t you must stay here.”
Tori sat up in her seat and scowled. “You’re giving me two weeks to see if I’m crazy or not? How will you do this? Lock me in a white room and see if I start talking to myself?!” she shrieked, not liking this one bit.
She exhaled and regarded her for a moment. “I think you should give us more credit than that Ms. Gray.”
Tori snorted and sat back in her seat.
“You see, this place I am taking you to will have absolutely no white rooms,” Kristensen revealed carefully. “Sector 7 was constructed to appear like it was made in the late 1700s, Europe.”
Tori’s heart was beating fast now, not understanding what Kristensen was trying to get at. “Why are you taking me there?”
The doctor leaned forward. A grave expression marred her features for the shadows in the limo made Kristensen appear quite intense. “You will not like what I will tell you next, and for that I’m sorry.”
Tori stared, feeling dread seep into every bone of her body.
“You were born in Sector 7, Victoria.”
“Excuse me?” Tori couldn’t find air to breath properly, and pushed the button to roll the window down.
She raised her voice over the rushing sound of the wind. “You were a part of an experiment the day you were born, I’m sorry to say that! Your real name is Victoria Orpha Leslie, born on California Island twenty-five years ago!
“No!” Tori rubbed her eyes… she’s lying! “You’re lying!”
Doctor Kristensen smiled. The sadness in her reproving gaze was alarming, like she did actually speak the truth. “Victoria, this is no joke. Everything in your story that you wrote actually did happen to you with the help of some experiments and drugs to get you to hallucinate.”
“What?!” Tori could not believe what she was hearing; her mind was breaking into tiny shards! Focus, I need to focus! Don’t trust her…
“When you told me about your story I knew that we needed to bring you back for further testing. Your mind is having trouble giving up your past memories that we have installed, then tried to remove successfully.” She continued, “I’m sorry that this happened to you, I really am but we must move forward.”
Tori felt faint, her vision swirled. Rolling up the window she peered intensely at her. “That’s impossible,” she whispered, feeling sick.
“No it’s not Victoria. Impossible is not a scientific term, just that the possibility is very improbable. The possibility that your entire life was a test on the powers of the human brain just became very possible.”
“So… are you telling me… that everything in my book actually happened to me? That they were my real lost memories all along? For some sick test of the mind?!”
“Well, most of everything Victoria. You were given heavy hallucinogens, resulting in your mind creating a world of supernatural power. We just helped you along and your mind did the rest.” Kristensen stared at something over Tori’s shoulder. “It was ground breaking what we did with you, you know? Our other patients were not nearly as successful as you.”
Tori’s eyes watered. “There are others?”
“Yes, you will be tested in the next two weeks with other girls with similar cases close to yours.”
Tori felt tears trickle down her cheek. “What do you mean similar cases?”
She looked away then back to Tori. “Each girl was presented with the same testing scenario as you were. All their stories were not identical to yours, but pretty close. They all feel in love with Ezra, the misunderstood demon. Though I can’t I blame them, he was a perfect fit for the part.”
Something dark and ugly boiled up inside of her. “You crazy witch! You’re the one insane,” she hissed. “You mean to tell me that Ezra is real?! And you let innocent women fall in love with him?! For some silly science project?!”
She laughed coldly. “He is real, yes. But not the way your mind has perceived him. He nothing but an actor, and a very good one. From what I understand, you have a thing for actors.”
Samson. Tori shook her head feeling bile rise in her throat. “Pull over!” She covered her mouth feeling extremely nauseous.
The limo pulled over and Tori opened the door, emptying the contents of her stomach.
“The nausea will cease as soon as you eat something.”
Tori gaped at her, wiping her mouth. “You poisoned me?”
“I gave you a slight sedative, not knowing how you would react to the truth.” She continued, “We are here Victoria, take a look.”
Tori faltered a second then stumbled out of the limo feeling like each limb was a hundred pounds. She looked up at the massive mansion that appeared more like a haunted castle. This place was dark and forbidding, and oddly familiar. Thunder streaked across the sky and rumbled deep in the distance making the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.
Her wide gaze locked onto the round circle entrance and she forgot how to breathe. Images started to flash through her mind’s eye, of her running in the rain. A man on a giant black stallion who stole a kiss... “ This can’t be the same place,” she murmured, refusing to believe this. “This can’t be real! I won’t believe it!”
Doctor Kristensen stood beside her. “That is what you will have to figure out over the next two weeks Victoria. What is real and what delusion. I would advise you to take what I have told you in the limo to heart, for if you are wrong after two weeks you will be forever trapped here by law. The mentally insane can not function in the real world.”
She wanted to slap her desperately but couldn’t lift her arm to do so. Her mind was screaming in denial! Ezra was real!? Dear god, and he was just an actor?! Pain erupted inside of her. What a fool they made her out to be…
“From here on out, everything will be a test and recorded. Do not let your emotions cloud your reasoning,” she warned. “The only way these tests can stop is if we have success with one person.”
“What the hell are you trying to prove?!”
“That the brain can heal itself from extreme trauma. That mental illness can be cured.”
This disgusted her.
God as her witness, she will get off this island! Tori suddenly felt her knees buckle and strong arms were instantly around her. The smell of something wild, something male entered her nose. The aroma was intoxicating… Tori’s body was being lifted right as she went out of consciousness.