"In a mad world, only the mad are sane."
Never before had John killed a man.
The Stranger's blood was still fresh on his fists. It gently rolled down his sleeves like red tears. John's own tears were still gushing forth from his sunken eyes, accompanied by his pitiful crying. The corpse of The Stranger was unrecognizable, the face virtually caved in. The all-consuming anger that had gripped John's mind the previous night had subsided for now. Now he had no idea where he was, or what exactly had happened last night. He'd ended up in what seemed to be a modest trailer in the middle of the desert. The man's corpse was on the floor in a tiny lounge area, with a single armchair facing a small t.v set. John sat slumped in the chair, head in his bloodied hands. Pure shock was all John felt, all that he could feel. He figured that maybe, just maybe, he was deluding himself. If he went about his daily routine, he'd wake up in a motel or his truck, and he could just continue on his trip. John struggled to stand, he was shaking all over. Stepping gingerly over his innocent victim, he made his way into the petite bathroom. Luckily, he still had his pills on him, so he downed a couple, splashed his face with water, then he borrowed a shower. The blood wouldn't come off. When he got back into his clothes and walked back into the loungespace, he froze.
The Stranger was there. Sitting in the armchair. His corpse was still on the floor, but he was also there, in the armchair, at the same time. John rubbed his eyes. Nothing changed. The Stranger just sat and looked at him, smoking a cigarette. The smoke coiled around his undamaged face, his eyes staring at John through the haze. It was akin to that of The Stranger's car. John couldn't think of much else to say, so he just asked: 'Are you angry?'
The Stranger just shook his head, and flicked some ash off into it's tray beside him. He shifted his eyes to his own corpse, eyeing himself up. After a long silence, he chuckled. A deep, booming sound that put John at an unease.
'Heh, heh, heh. You sure did a number on me, boy.'
'Sorry? You did... that to my face and you're saying that you're sorry?'
John just awkwardly looked at his feet. He didn't have time for this. The Stranger silently puffed some more, his eyes slowly turning more and more evil. 'Boy, you aint got no respect for human life,' The Stranger stood as he continued his lecture. 'what in gods name, made you do something like this to me? Huh? What did I do to you?'
John was overcome with that familiar sense of guilt. He didn't know why he killed The Stranger. It was something deep inside him, something very dark, and very dangerous. Something old and secret. John knew it was there before. He could feel it ever since the first days. Gnawing at his brain. Whispering dark, murderous thoughts at him. But it had been kept at bay, waiting for when he was most vulnerable. And last night, it had unleashed itself upon the world. John gazed at the damage done. A red, dripping, bruised cave, were a face used to be. Rested in a giant red stain.
'God,' John whispered.
'...Won't save you now.' The Stranger whispered back, with a voice deeper and darker than night.
The caravan was situated at the end of a long turn-off that hadn't shown up on the map. It was just like a long driveway that turned into a gulch were the caravan sat, alone. No witnesses at least. None that John remembered, anyway. The sunlight burnt his eyes as he stepped outside. John guessed that he'd been inside for a long time. The red pickup was nowhere to be seen. Looks like walking was the only option. He set off up the drive, following the faint road. He soon noticed something along the side of the road, marks in the ground. Drag marks. And bloodstains. Leading all the way to the caravan. A voice whispered inside his mind, 'How discreet.'
After a long and tiring walk, John reached the end of the long driveway, and thankfully his truck was parked there. When he was back in the familiar seat, he took a long, drawn-out breath. And once more looked at his hands. His hands... they seemed to shake violently, a massive headache throbbed in John's mind, the world peeled away before him, like a dream, except he was awake. There was a deafening noise, he could not hear himself scream. Everything was fading into a green smokey substance that rippled and swirled around him, the very ground was twisting and turning, murmuring his own thoughts to him.
John had been here once before. In the early days. It was exactly the same as he remembered it. A world equally twisted as it was beautiful. The very air around him was like liquid. Flowing seamlessly. This was the furthest reaches of John's mind. He wondered why he had come back here, after all this time. As if in answer to his inner question, he saw a vision of his past. Of the last visit to the doctors. He was an outside observer in his own memory.
'So, John. How have you been feeling lately?' The doctor's expression was stern. John struggled to remember the name...
'I've been fine doc, really. The pills you gave me help a bunch.'
'TAKE TWO EVERYDAY WITH A DASH OF... I find that rather hard to believe, John.' His voice was distorting, mixing.
'Trust me... I should be fine.'
'Should be Isn't good enough,' He reached into his desk to grab what John remembered to be details and business cards. 'I know that you're really uncomfortable with YOURRR GUILT change, but this is a far better institution than what I have here in this small dingy town.' John's memory stood, angry.
'So what, you're sending me to the crazy house???? Is that it?'
'John, it's not quite like that. I've been treating you for a long time now and if you don't get some proper help and isolate the problem, then PATIENT MAY EXPERIENCE MORE FREQUENT AND LIFELIKE DELUSIONS, SMALL CHANCE PATIENT WILL DEVELOP POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS PSYCHOTIC TENDENCIES, PATIENT WILL RELIZE HOW LITTLE PATIENT IS REALLY WORTH IN THIS WORLD, PATIENT WILL SEE THAT NOTHING IS WORTH LIVING FOR!' The doctor's face was beginning to liquify like the green, swirly air around him. He seemed barely human. John's memory sighed deeply.
'I guess it may be worth a shot, doc. Sometime later. Where is this place anyway?' The inhuman doctor screamed in a shrill, distorted voice.
'PATIENT MAY EXPERIENCE CERTAIN SIDE-EFFECTS, SUCH AS LOSS OF LIFE, AND THE GROWING OF Roses Asylum For The Mentally Ill. They have a phenomenal cure rate. 3rd highest in the country. It's many a mile away though... but what isn't far away from this town?' He chuckled at his little small-town joke. John's distant memory shook his head, thinking that things couldn't possibly get any worse.
That's when her hand rested on his shoulder.