“So, let me get this straight. You agreed to be a part of the head doc’s experiment?” Emmett was sitting across the table from me, a perfect spiral of spaghetti dangling from his fork. It was Sunday, the one day they let groups eat together. More bonding and such. I dropped my gaze to my own plate covered in the bloodlike mess. My stomach churned with a mixture of hunger and disgust, but in the end I brought a bite up to my own mouth.
“This could be my chance,” I told him through my mouthful. “This could be my shot to get out of here.”
“Yeah,” Emmett scoffed. “If they don’t inject some shit into you and kill you first.” I rolled my eyes, but of course I could feel the same fear as him. I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into, didn’t know how it would all end. But there was a voice in my head telling me that it wasn’t going to pretty. That was a voice I was desperately trying to ignore.
Emmett opened his mouth, looking like he was about to speak again, but instead he turned his head to the side. “He can handle himself, Rosie. No, you cannot yell at the cooks because there’s no dessert.” I offered him a weak smile. Once he had described her to me, and I knew that she was as real to him as anything else. I also knew that Emmett never really took his pills. “They wanna take her from me,” Emmett had told me one afternoon, his voice filled with terror. “I cant let them get to her.”
Most of the meal went on in silence. I ate, focusing on chewing and swallowing, letting the gentle din of the cafeteria fill me up. It was an easy way to focus on something besides my own tormenting thoughts.
“Jasper.” Emmett’s voice murmuring my name broke through the faux peace I had achieved. My head snapped up to meet his eyes, but I found that he was looking away. I followed his gaze right to the doorway, and immediately my breath caught in my throat. A pair of orderlies were there, and standing between them was an angel. She was looking down, her long tresses of near-black hair framing her pale face perfectly. She wore a knee-length white dress and a loose aqua cardigan.
“Who is she?” I asked of Emmett, hoping he might know her from some other sort of group. But he only shrugged. “She must be new.”
The orderlies led her to a table, and one of them went to bring her a tray of food. She must have been in our group, or they wouldn’t have brought her. Mixture of the various disorders could end terribly ugly. Our group was made up mostly of Schizophrenics and Amnesiacs. And me, whatever I was doing there.
There was an undeniable pull I felt towards the girl. I wanted to know her, to look into her eyes. I wanted to tell her t would be okay, that nothing lasted forever. I wanted to tell her that she was not alone. She was eating now, taking the most delicate bites I’d ever seen. I wanted to brush back her hair and see her smile. I knew that even that was too much to ask.
That night I lay awake, eyes memorizing the cracks in the ceiling, as they did every night. The day I started sleeping again I would truly believe in miracles. Somewhere in the godforsaken place, a woman let out a high pitched scream. I thought it may have been the same one as last time. Still I wanted to go to her. Perhaps it was just in my nature.
I thought that maybe there had been a time when life had been simpler. A time when I had known the warm feeling of happiness as it coursed through my veins. Now all I knew was the unshakable chill of the hospital room. The shivers it sent up and down m spine. The voices that whispered to me when I was all alone.
And I was alone, wasn’t I? There were none who knew me.
I turned over on the pillow and closed my eyes, trying to ignore the flickering images behind. I waited until I felt the first tentative tugs of exhaustion, and then I tumbled down into the rabbit hole.