Chapter 4: "...You're the talk of the institution,"
My door was unlocked and I noticed Derek standing in the doorway. He looked at me with a shocked expression as he took in my appearance. “You look exhausted. Did you get any sleep last night?”
I slowly began to shake my head no as I rubbed my eyes. I was tired to the point where it was too much effort to even move my mouth. My body was drained from energy and I wasn’t up to putting up with everyone in this institution.
I stood up and stumbled a bit in the process. I stretched myself out in attempt to wake myself up. “I had a really sketchy dream last night and it was impossible to sleep. Every time I tried to fall back asleep, the dream would pick up exactly where I left off. I gave up on sleep at around three in the morning.”
Derek and I exited the room. Derek locked the door behind him and led me down the dirty halls of the institution to whatever was planned for the long day ahead.
“You have a solo therapy session today so you can explain your dream to the doctor,” Derek informed.
I mentally rolled my eyes. Another therapy session? The group session wasn’t much of a rush; we sat in a circle and were forced to give our life story. At least today I wouldn’t have to be with other patients and it would only be one on one with the doctor and I. I wouldn’t have to deal with other patients around me continuously bothering me for stupid things. I was too tired to deal with people this morning.
We entered a room where a man was sat behind a desk, looking fairly young. He seemed to be in his late 20’s/early 30’s and had a full head of dirty blonde hair. He noticed us shuffling into the room. A welcoming smile grew on his face as he stood from the desk. “Ryder Bends, correct? I’m Dr. Michaels. I’ll be your therapist during your time here in Mills Mental Institution.” He reached out his hand to me. I awkwardly shook his hand before taking a seat in front of the desk.
Derek exited the room to give the therapist and I some privacy. I played with the ends of my hair as the doctor wrote a couple of notes on a clipboard. “Okay Ryder,” he began. “In these therapy sessions, we will be going over your mental state and how mentally stable you are. You will tell me what you’ve recently experienced here in the institution so far, how other part of your day go, and so on. I see on your papers you were filed into the institution due to schizophrenia.”
“I’m not schizophrenic,” I mumbled.
Dr. Michaels gave me a questioning look. He grabbed a stick note and wrote a side note, probably that I truly wasn’t schizophrenic. I find it ridiculous how it was clear I wasn’t schizophrenic and no one noticed.
“Have you had any strange happenings lately since you were sent here?” he asked, looking back up to me. I shrugged and slowly began to nod. This wouldn’t be a bad time to mention the insane nightmare I had last night.
I sat up straight and began explaining. “I had a crazy dream last night. I was tied to a chair and there was this blonde boy with hair that reached just above his eyebrows. He was asking me all kinds of strange questions. Then out of nowhere he began slicing my skin with a knife and stabbing little holes in my arms and legs. He then stabbed me with a needle and then I woke up screaming.”
Dr. Michaels wrote bullet points of what I was explaining to him. I tried to peek over to see what exactly he was writing, but he covered the papers before I could see anything. “Do you remember exactly what the boy in your dream said?” he asked. I began to think back to what the boy in my dream said.
“He asked me if I was naturally scared and then said something about my nightmare beginning.” I recalled.
Dr. Michaels only hummed in response and continued writing notes. I looked to the left of me to see a window that revealed the world outside this cage. It was a rainy, foggy day. The wind was softly blowing the trees and scattered leaves on the ground. Rainy days were always my favorite; I loved walking through the rain after my mother and I had an argument.
I was snapped out of my daydream when I heard the therapist clear his throat. “Well Ryder,” he began. “It seems like the boy in your dream is going to trigger certain changes in your mind. By that, I mean other patients have had nightmares where they were severely injured or, in your case, tortured. This dream sounds a lot like the dreams my other patients talk to be about.
“If I were you, I’d begin to worry about my mental state. I’m sure you’ve been told the same story a million times before, but I’ve worked here since I was your age and the direction your mind is going in is the exact direction everyone else’s mind had gone through. Don’t take this as me trying to scare you. I’m dead serious when I say to worry about your mental state.”
I was beginning to get sick and tired of these stories. I knew Dr. Michaels knew what he was talking about, but in all honesty, the people in this institution sounded like broken records.
The doctor and I began to talk about my life up to this point. I told him when my father walked out of my life to when I failed my sophomore year of high school. I even threw in the night my mother locked me in my bedroom because she thought she was the person who would rule over me for the rest of my life.
There was a knock on the door. Derek popped his head into the room. “Excuse me, but it’s time for the second serving of breakfast.” He informed. The doctor and I stood from our seats. He held his hand out to me and I, once again, awkwardly shook hands with him before exiting the room.
Derek and I headed to the eating hall where patients were swarming the doors to get in. Once entering the eating hall, I was smacked in the face with the fresh smell of pancakes. I looked around to see patients eating one or two pancakes. I looked up to Derek who seemed amused by the confusion on my face. “As a treat, the mental institution serves pancakes every Friday to try and brighten everyone up.”
I was sent off to grab my own place of actual edible food. I snatched a plate for myself and hurried to an empty table to get something in my stomach. I took a small bite of the pancakes to decide if I would enjoy the food or not. To my surprise, the food wasn’t as terrible as the past meals I’ve had here.
As I continued to scarf down my food, I noticed the same older woman from last night approaching my table. We made eye contact once she took a seat at my table. She gave me a soft, warming smile. “I feel like we started off on the wrong foot last night. I’m Cathy Roberts,” she stuck her hand out to me. It’s as if everyone here enjoyed handshakes all of a sudden. I shook her hand and sat back in my seat.
“I’m Ryder Bends,”
“I don’t mean to be rude, but I kind of already knew that -- you’re the talk of the institution,” she half laughed.
Knowing everyone in this institution was talking about me took me aback. Cathy continued, “Everyone’s talking about how you’re in Katrina Williams’ old room. People are making bets on when you’ll go crazy.”
I found it pathetic how other patients around me were beginning to make bets on when I’ll lose my own mind. It’s as if this generation of people, mentally stable or insane, were still cocky enough to place a bet on a terrible subject.
Cathy continued to blab on about the endless bets already made. Needless to say, these bets were pointless. A lot of the bets were varying on who gets who’s fruit cup if their right. It was down right stupid.
I picked at the single pancake on my plate as Cathy continued to talk. I took a quick glance to the clock to see it was already 8:55AM. Breakfast would be over soon.
I felt a small migraine begin in the back of my head. I tried to ignore the hammering feeling against my skull but it only became stronger with every given moment. I heard a voice play over and over in my head.
I dropped my fork and clenched both of my hands into fists. The pain continued to increase and the voice in the back of my head went from a subtle whisper to full on yelling. What was happening to me?
“Ryder?” Cathy’s voice sounded distant. “Are you alright?”
I thought you weren’t afraid of anything!
The boy from my dream. He was the voice. My mind flashed back to the dream I had last night where he tied me to the chair and created wound after wound on my skin. Everything was playing clearly in my mind, especially that one single quote.
“I’m not afraid,” I whispered.
“I’m not afraid,” I repeated louder.
“I can’t understand you..”
“I’m not afraid! Do you hear me? I’m not afraid! I’m not afraid of you or anything in this psycho house? I’m not afraid, alright?” I shouted at the top of my lungs.
I slowly came back into reality realizing where I was. I looked around to see a sea of patients staring at me. Cathy was even shocked at my outburst. Even the guards were taken aback by my tantrum.
Derek didn’t take long to grab my arm and pulled me out of the eating hall. We walked down the dirty halls in silence. We arrived to my room where Derek unlocked the door and allowed me in. I sat myself on my bed and held one of my hands in the other. The overpowering migraine from earlier has now subsided.
“Care to explain what happened in there?” Derek asked.
I let out a short sigh. “I don’t know. It was like someone else was controlling me and my actions.”
Derek only nodded. “I’m sorry to say this, but it’s only the beginning Ryder.”