The human mind is equally fascinated and disgusted by certain concepts. Among these are, of course, sex, bodily processes, murder, cannibalism, politics, death, disease, and difference. This is why it is a taboo to speak of any of these in polite company, but among friends, especially after a few drinks, such topics come crawling en masse from the woodwork. This is why wealthy individuals pay to see—from a safe distance—madmen being mad.
To them, we are all animals in a zoo.
Some of them have brought their young, pudgy children. A man in a silken tunic lifts his toddler son from the floor so that the child can get a better view. The boy points at me, giggling, as the Vulture deposits me and Simon in the exhibition area. I glare at the floor.
There are several other inmates in the pen already, some mumbling, others pacing, but none are currently displaying any antics that the customers have paid to see. The audience has obviously grown bored; a few people shout unpleasant comments through the bars. I am sorely tempted to sit down in a corner and go to sleep; if I did perhaps I would never wake up. That would be nice…quick, painless, no time to be afraid…just slip out of consciousness and stop breathing. So easy. So simple. So unlikely to happen, judging by my luck.
I look out into the audience on the other side of the bars. If I were manic, I could give them their money’s worth. But I’m not. Not now, at any rate. When I am, I don’t contemplate dying in my sleep. Actually, when I’m manic, I don’t generally contemplate much at all; everything moves much too quickly for deep, slow, thoughts, and I like it better that way—speeded up, that is. My brain is a much more pleasant world to occupy when my thoughts move too quickly to be thoroughly processed.
I feel like a slug.
I am slow, and dirty, and slimy, and probably rather unsightly. I would say I feel like a snail, save for the fact that I am lacking a shell in either the literal or the metaphorical sense.
I wonder what I look like. I haven’t seen myself in a mirror since a week ago, when they last allowed me to shave my face (under close supervision, of course). I would imagine I appear rather more animal than human—my hair has grown slightly too long and is filthy and tangled, I probably have deep wrings about my eyes, my face is spotty and stubbly, my nails look more like claws than anything else. I hate it all.
As I mope about, mentally bemoaning my appearance, the door opens once more and a guard looses another inpatient into the enclosure. A wolfish snarl jolts me from my self-pitying deliberations and into the present moment. I feel the blood drain from my face as I set eyes upon the newcomer, and I immediately scan the area for a place to hide.
I am trapped in a confined space with the most feared prisoner at WICI: Rabid Jack.