"What are you doing here, Jenny?" Dr. Nadow, an old man with a long grey beard and his right eye covered by an eye patch, asks the young nurse standing in front of a patient's room. "I told you not to stare at the boy."
"I'm sorry... he just frightens me is all. I was supposed to give him his meds but he is playing with that stuffed bunny again. I swear, sometimes I think it's actually alive." Jenny responds as she straightens out her skirt with an uncomfortable shift of her weight.
"You are scared of a stuffed bunny? Huh, well truth be told, I actually find his Fang to be rather cute. Plus, whenever he has Fang with him I find he is far more talkative. It is why I have allowed him to keep that attachment, much to the annoyance of Dr. Fis." With a slow nod of his head, Dr. Nadow places a hand on Jenny's shoulder. "Look dear, why don't you give me his meds and I'll give them to him. Go see to Dorina and make sure she hasn't cut off chunks of her hair again, alright?"
Jenny nods and hands Dr. Nadow the medication for Marvin before turning to take her leave, happy to do so. Waiting for Jenny to enter the next room, which belonged to a troubled young girl who survived the murderous rage of her mother, Dr. Nadow opens Marvin's door and steps inside with a smile. Marvin holds on to his black stuffed bunny named Fang, due to his vampire like teeth, while sitting on the floor next to his bed with his back against the wall. He scratches behind Fang's ears before tracing a finger around a small set of horns adorning the stuffed bunny's head. Taking in a deep breath, the presence of Dr. Nadow an unwanted intrusion, Marvin lifts his gaze to meet the Dr.'s. "E-Evening."
"Good evening to you as well, my young one. I have some medication I'd like you to take for me." Marvin shakes his head no in refusal and holds Fang tightly to his chest, burying his face into the top of Fang's head. Dr. Nadow nods slowly with a gentle smile, taking a seat on Marvin's bed and leaning forward. He takes a quick glance at the door before motioning with his finger for Marvin to scoot closer. "Could I tell you a secret?"
Interested in what Dr. Nadow could have to say, Marvin scoots closer with inquisitive eyes. "Secret?"
"Yes, I haven't told anyone yet, but these pills are special. I made them myself in fact. I know your nightmares haven't subsided, so I designed these pills here in this little paper cup specifically for you. Their imbued with magic, you see, and will make your nightmares crawl back into the darkness from which they came. Now, I'm going to place these on your nightstand, alright? Promise me that if the night becomes too dark, that you will take these. Do you promise?"
Marvin readily nods his head and watches the paper cup with a hint of awe as Dr. Nadow places them on the small metal nightstand that rests next to the head of Marvin's bed. With a wink of his one eye, Dr. Nadow reaches out and ruffles Marvin's hair before rising back to his feet. He bids Marvin farewell and reminds him that he should get into bed before the nurses grow upset with him. Nodding in compliance, Marvin hops up onto his bed with Fang nestled in his arms and Dr. Nadow gently closes the door behind him.
"YEESH! I thought he'd never leave!" Fang's ears perk up as he wiggles himself free of Marvin's grasp, walking himself over to the nightstand to peer at the magic pills. Reaching out, Fang pokes at them and then hops back as he puts up his arms in a defensive position. "Watch out! They might explode!"
"Fang, stop being silly, they're just pills. Dr. Nadow wouldn't give me anything harmful." Marvin sighs as he contemplates taking the pills. "Maybe I should take them."
"Huh? Why!? You don't know what could be in those things! He said herbs so there's prolly like, oregano or something!" Fang nods matter-of-factly and crosses his arms over his chest as he turns to face Marvin. "You don't wanna become a pizza do ya?"
"If I was going to become a pizza I'm sure it would have come from eating it every day for lunch." Marvin rolls his eyes with a sigh.
"Yeah, and you didn't save any for me ya bastard." Fang huffs at Marvin as he turns his head to look away like a child throwing a tantrum.
"You don't eat!" Marvin groans as he falls back on his bed, bringing his hands up to rub his face. "You can be a real pest sometimes, you know that?"
"Hey! I could, uh, eat?" Removing his hands when he feels Fang crawl up on top of him, Marvin stares at his little bunny as Fang plops down on his chest and points at him. "Maybe if you fed me I'd be stronger than any pills mister fancy pants could come up with! I'll fight off those monsters with my own bare hands!"
"You don't have hands, just, like, stubby little arms." Marvin smirks as he takes a hold of Fang's left arm and wiggles it back and forth. "See, these aren't technically hands."
"HEY! They have stitching to show where my paws would be!" Fang protests as he wrenches his arm free and points it at Marvin again.
"See, you agree with me, you have paws and not hands." Snickering at Fang throwing his arms in the air, Marvin pokes Fang in the tummy.
"Technicality! And, and, and, stop that!" Fang bats at Marvin's finger before leaning forward and trying to bite it instead. Marvin quickly snaps his hand back and then bops Fang on the head between his ears. With a bob of his head, Fang falls back and lays limp on top of Marvin's chest."Hey, what are you doing?" Marvin asks as he pinches Fang's left foot and wiggles it.
"Sshhh... I'm on snooze."
"Well, snooze somewher-" Marvin looks around his room with a sigh as the lights go out. "Never mind, I guess we'll both be on snooze here in a minute."
"Think you'll be able to sleep normally tonight?" Fang asks with a hint of concern, flipping over onto his stomach and crawling around so his head is nestled under Marvin's chin.
"I... I hope so." With a sigh, Marvin scratches between Fang's ears. "Y-You'll be there if I don't, right?"
"Always, Marvin, you know that." Nuzzling into Marvin's chest, Fang squeezes his boy with his little arms. With a nod and a light sigh, Marvin closes his eyes in an attempt to fall asleep.
"Marvin... Marvin, wake up." Fang whispers quietly into Marvin's ear. With a groan, Marvin tries to shoo Fang away but his eyes pop open when there is a loud scratching from beneath his bed.
"Tell me that was you." Marvin whispers to the frightened black bunny and Fang shakes his head no. The room is black as pitch, save for a single shard of moonlight piercing the darkness through the window, and Marvin sits up in bed when he hears the scratching again. The noise is slow and loud, reverberating off the stark room walls as Fang climbs up to drape himself over Marvin's shoulder. "W-What do we do?"
"Run?" Fang shrugs as his ears perk when they both hear a faint moaning and gurgling, now accompanying the scratches.
"How do you think we'd manage that!? They lock the doors at night, remember?" Marvin argues excitedly, but manages to still maintain a whisper.
"I don't know! Maybe we could-" Fang stops in mid-sentence as the door creaks open several inches. Staring at the door, unsteadily, Fang shakes his head in disbelief. "Now that's just unsettling."
"Should we go for it?" Marvin asks.
"I don't want to now."
"Would you rather stay in here with whatever is under the bed?" Glancing at Fang, Marvin motions to beneath the bed.
"Maybe. How do we know it doesn't just want to play name that moan?"
"I'm going for it." Marvin gets ready to lunge from his bed, but stops when Fang waves his arms in protest. "What?"
"What if that's what it wants us to do?" Fang asks and Marvin looks down in thought, contemplating the notion, when a black skeletal hand darts up from underneath the bed and grabs at the sheets. It has three inch claws and leaves a trail of dark ooze as it searches for Marvin and Fang. Marvin cries in surprise as Fang frantically motions to the door. "Door looks good! Door looks good! Must be leaving!"
Marvin hurriedly agrees, leaping off the bed and scurrying to, and through, the door. He pulls it shut behind him, falling to his knees in the hallway, and takes in several deep, panicked breaths. Marvin and Fang's heads jerk up, glancing over their shoulders, when they hear the creature scratching and banging at the door. A black mist encompasses the viewing window and two piercing blue eyes stare through the shadows at them.
Marvin presses his back against the opposite wall from his door, the creature pounding and clawing in a vain effort to reach him. The two watch as the creature continues its violent assault before finally giving up and slinking from view, a pained hiss emanating from it as it fades. Fang stares at Marvin, still slung over his shoulder, and pokes him in the cheek. "So, another nightmare..."
"Yes, another nightmare." Marvin responds, taking in a long deep breath.
"So, quick question?"
"Why am I here? I mean, I love you and all, but this is freaky. I've never been in one of your nightmares before."
"I was lonely?" Marvin halfheartedly smirks.
"Couldn't you have brought me in spirit instead?" Fang asks with a nervous laugh, trying to hide the fear beginning to grip him.
"Maybe that's why you're here, to be my guide, my rock." In an attempt to ease Fang's mind, Marvin passes him a warm smile and a scratch between the ears.
"Well, there'll be a rock but it won't be me."
"Yeah, I'm just the messenger boy. I'll be dropping it off on your shoulder in a minute if we don't find a way out of this hell." Fang examines the hallway and his ears droop. Instead of the pristine white, that he is used to, the paint is faded and moldy. The usually clean laminate flooring is cracked and stained a rusted brown, drag marks scarring down its length toward the dining hall.
Slowly rising back to his feet, Marvin turns around to gaze out the hallway's dirty cracked windows at the sanitarium's central courtyard. The flowers are dried husks and the metal benches are twisted, mangled, piles of rust. There are no stars in the black sky, only the moon, and the air seems still outside. "I... I'm glad you're here, Fang."
"Marvin..." Fang's ears perk to the sound of crying coming from Dorina's room, the one next to Marvin's, and he glances over at the closed door. "Is... is she here too?"
Shaking his head, unsure, Marvin carefully approaches Dorina's room and peers through the viewing window. What they find inside is Dorina quietly sobbing on the floor as a naked and blood stained woman cuts at the little girl's hair with a rusted butcher's knife. Lock after lock of blond hair hits the floor while Dorina whimpers, her head buried in her knees as she rocks back and forth. The woman's head jerks and contorts as it turns toward the door. Gasping at the sight, the woman's eyes and mouth are sewn shut as she seemingly stares at them. Marvin carefully backs away as the woman continues to sever those golden strands, her head twitching as she returns her nonexistent stare to her task.
"What the..." Marvin takes in a jagged breath as he passes a glance at Fang.
"I want to wake up." Fang whines and Marvin nods in agreement. "How... how do we wake up?"
"I don't know."
A loud, slow, scraping sound echoes throughout the hallway. It sounds like something heavy, and metal, is being dragged along the floor, breaking it. Fang frantically looks around for the source but when he cannot figure it out, he stares to Marvin in a panic. Marvin, searching for the source as well, feels his heart pound hard in his chest. Without anymore thought, Marvin runs down the hallway toward the dining hall. He checks every door for one that is unlocked but shies away at each time when in every room there is a new horror. Some contained patients being vivisected, naked men with porcelain skin and bleeding scars were cannibalizing others, and some rooms were simply pure black with screams of anguish and cries to end the pain.
Marvin finds the restroom and darts inside, closing the door behind him and pressing his back up against it. The restroom is dark, almost no light filtering through the small rectangular window on the back wall, and Fang nudges Marvin. "Is there a light switch?"
"I... I think so, yes." Timidly sliding his hand along the wall, Marvin flips the switch. The fluorescent light struggles to life, flickering on and off.
"Marvin, I think I preferred the scary hallway." The restroom is in disrepair, much like the rest of the sanitarium around them. The stall doors are either broken or completely missing, the urinals are cracked and filled with filth, and there is a giant hole, a meter wide, in the center of the room. Snaking from the bottom of the restroom's walls are several blood rusted strands of barbwire that lead to the hole in the floor, disappearing into its depths.
"I think I did too." Staring down, Marvin watches as the barbwires begin to sing as they are plucked from the depths. The wires begin to move and shake violently as something begins to ascend them. Marvin's heart sinks and he fumbles with the door handle, desperate to escape before whatever lurks below finishes its ascent. Fang cries out as Marvin opens the door, a strand of barbwire wrapping itself around his right arm. "Fang!"
"HELP!" Marvin grabs a hold of Fang and tries to tug him free, but the barbwire tightens its grip. Fang pleads, the fear in his voice frantic, as he kicks and wiggles his arm in vain.
"I won't let you go!" Struggling with all his might, Marvin feels his feet beginning to slip as the barbwire slowly drags the two of them toward the hole. With a cry of pain, Fang's right arm rips off. Marvin loses his footing and stumbles back, out of the restroom, and into the hallway. His back impacts the opposite wall and he cradles Fang to his chest. "I... I won't let anyone take you."
"My... my arm." Fang stares at the fluffy stuffing where his arm used to be.
"I'll fix you I prom-" Marvin's eyes widen when that heavy dragging sound echoes throughout the sanitarium again. He stares down the direction he came from and a tall lumbering shadow is at its end, dragging what looks like a giant barbed chain behind him. In fear, Marvin scampers to his feet and sprints toward the dining hall. He bursts through the double doors and slides to a halt when the finds the tables arranged in a circle and Nurse Jenny sitting on a chair in the center, her back to him. "Jenny?"
"You did this." Jenny whispers. "He only wants you."
"He?" Marvin makes his way to the center, climbing over the tables, and slowly circles around to her front. "Who is he?"
"You entered his world... you tampered with it, with them. That's why she no longer visits, she can't." When Marvin comes to Jenny's front, he falls onto his butt. Kicking at the ground to push himself away, Marvin and Fang both gasp. Jenny's eyes have been hollowed out and blood tears stain her cheeks. She stands, her nose twitching with anger, and begins to shout at him. "You brought this! You!"
A giant hand, porcelain white, grabs Jenny's head and lifts her off the ground. Marvin cries in horror as he watches her head slowly crush as she screams at him in agony, blaming him until her head caves in. Flipping onto his hands and knees, Marvin crawls under one of the tables with Fang still clutched to his chest. Marvin covers his mouth to hide his breathing as best he can, startling when Jenny's limp body hits the floor.
The large man stands in the center of the room with the chain lying on the floor at his feet, hidden by debris that it tilled while being dragged. Marvin quietly crawls along the floor, moving as slow as possible in an attempt to not make noise. Watching the man's legs, still and unmoving, Fang whispers as Marvin moves toward the doors they came through. "P-Pills."
"Pills?" Marvin asks.
"To make the nightmares go away. Pills... in your room." Fang's ears droop as he watches the large man's legs turn in their direction. "Run!"
Marvin hurriedly crawls out from the tables, as the one he was under is launched across the room, and sprints for the doors. He runs as fast as his feet can take him, the horrors in the patients' rooms replaying like a movie on rewind, and he slides to a halt at his room's door. Hesitating, Fang cries out to him to hurry when they hear that chain dragging along the floor again. Bursting into his room, Marvin lunges for the pills on his nightstand and swallows them as fast as he can. The black hand reaches out from under his bed and grabs his ankle, wrenching it hard and sending Marvin to the floor. Kicking at the slimy black hand, Marvin manages to free himself and crawl to the middle of his room as his eyes grow heavy. The sound of the chain grows closer and closer as Marvin passes out. The last thing he hears is the chain hitting the floor right outside his room.
Dr. Nadow sighs as he peers through the viewing window of Marvin's door to find him curled up in the middle of the floor. With a shake of his head, he walks toward the dining hall for breakfast, stopping at the restrooms first. When he enters, his brow furls. On the restroom floor is Fang's right arm.