“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would.” I read the words to myself, over and over and over again. I willed them to be true. A world of my own… without pain, without sorrow. Without the troubles of this world. How very beautiful that world would be. Why, how very close to perfection I would become.
“Mister Whitlock, the doctor would like to speak with you.” I dropped Alice into my lap, turning to look at the orderly. Her smile was meant to be inviting, I knew, but it only made me wary. That meant something was up. Something bad.
“It’s Friday,” I reminded. “I don’t see the doctor till Monday.”
She shook her head a little. “You misunderstand. Not the counselor. The psychologist.” She could have lied. She could have made up some bullshit about him being busy on Monday. But she didn’t. She told me the flat out truth. As if the twisted bitch wanted me to be scared. Because, let’s be realistic. When living within a madhouse, there is nothing as terrifying as a psychologist. They were the judge, jury, and executioner of the whole show. They were the ones with the final verdicts, and they seldom brought good news.
“I don’t need to see him,” I said firmly. “There is nothing wrong with me.”
“I’ll going to ask you to come willingly,” she said harsher. I gritted my teeth, trying very hard to swallow everything I was feeling, every dark emotion and biting comment. But I could feel anger welling up. I could feel blackness moving through me. Rising to the surface. And I thought I might just break. I might just snap on them all. Perfect Jasper, with the smile and the innocent denial. Show them how crazy I could really be.
“Jasper,” she tried once more.
I stood, following her to the door.
The doctor’s office was a grand room seemingly on the other side of the world. Behind the ornate wooden door rested a sea of wealth, books and desks and windows to the ocean. The nameplate reading Carlisle Cullen gleamed in gold. The man himself displayed none of these things, though. He was dressed in a simple suit and tie, his smooth hands roughly disheveling his blonde hair as he eyed the papers covering the desk surface messily. And I thought disorganization was a sign of insanity.
The nurse left me in there, closing the door. For many minutes, I could only stare. He knew I was there; I knew he knew. But interrupting him seemed much, much ruder than his leaving me waiting.
“Jasper Whitlock,” he said at last. His head snapped up to meet my gaze, his eyes cold and pale.
“You wanted to see me,” I murmured in response. I kept my face blank to hide the fear and rage mounting within me.
He didn’t say anything then, but he beckoned for me to come closer, gesturing to the extra chair across from the desk. My feet moved without much thought; I never broke his gaze. My heart was pounding as a million thoughts rushed through my mind. Then, I sat.
Dr. Cullen smiled at me. “I have been paying special attention to you,” he told me. That caught me off guard. Why would he be watching me? There was certainly nothing special about me, and I wasn’t a troublemaker or anything. I was practically an angel, trying to prove to them that I was fine. That I was normal, whatever that may be. That I deserved to be free of their medical chains.
“Jasper, I would like to invite you to be a part of a sort of… study I’m conducting.” Dr. Cullen spoke these words much slower, letting them take full effect.
“Like a lab rat?” I spat. “Your little science experiment?”
An easy laugh fell from his lips, but it was edged with a nervousness that did not get past me. “Of course not,” he replied. “It would be all voluntary, But I believe you would be the perfect candidate for it.”
I narrowed my golden gaze at him. “What kind of study, exactly?” I demanded. Perhaps I was being more defensive than really necessary, but the last thing I needed was for some untested medicine to be pumped into my veins. I wanted to be fully aware as to what I was signing onto.
“Behavioral, mostly. How you react in certain circumstances. If you test at a high-enough level, well, I question the doctor that put you in here.”
My heart was racing. Joking. He had to be joking. If what he was saying was true, then if I played his little game, I could possibly earn my freedom. I could get out of here. I could be free.
My face was still expressionless. But slowly, tentatively, I gave a nod. “Alright,” I said. “I’ll try it. But the minute I don’t like it, I’m done.”
Dr. Cullen nodded quickly. “Yes, of course,” he replied, like it was his life he was screwing around with. “But I don’t believe it will come to that, and I don’t think you truly do either.”
To be honest, at that moment I wasn’t sure what I believed. But there was one thing I knew to be fact: the future had never looked so hopeful.