“Thomas. Come on. Rise and shine.”
I squint at the light from the narrow hallway. Aside from that, I’m engulfed in darkness. My muscles are aching, my body weary. “What time is it?”
“Six fifteen, here’s a change of clothes for today,” the Nurse whispers. “Get dressed and come out into the hallway. Breakfast is in fifteen minutes.”
She flicks on the light switch. It’s almost blinding, my eyes only half open. I’m sleep deprived. By the time I got checked in here last night and assigned a room, it was a little after midnight. And I didn’t get to sleep right away. I drifted in and out and I think, in total, I must’ve gotten around two hours at most. I pull the sheets over my face. I can hear the Nurse sighing. “Thomas, come on.”
“Okay,” I grumble. “I just need a minute.”
“I’ll just leave the daily schedule here for you.” I can hear her heel knocking off the floor and her proceeding back down the lengthy corridor. Under the covers, I slowly open my eyes and take in the light seeping through the sheet. As my eyes slowly adjust to the brightness, I reluctantly pull the covers away and sit upright. I run my hands over my face and throw my legs over the edge of the bed. I take hold of the change of clothes the nurse left down. They’re my clothes. My old navy blue t-shirt and a pair of my slacks. It’s the outfit I wear most often. Mum must’ve picked it out and sent it for me.
I still can’t get over last night. I can’t believe Mum and Dad this to me. Sent me to be locked up here. I’m not crazy. I want to get out of here. I want to go back home. I already hate it here and I haven’t been here twelve hours. I’m scared.
I wipe the tears from my face with my good arm and pick up the t-shirt. With a bit of difficulty, I strip my sweaty clothing from my body and pull on the fresh set. I look down to study the daily schedule.
6.15: Wake Up Call.
8.15: Social Hour.
9.15: Therapy Session and Treatments.
10.30: Group Gathering.
11.30: Recreation Hour.
12.30: Lunch Time.
1.30: Recreational Therapy.
3.15: Administration of Medications.
4.00: Visitation Hour.
6.00: Group Therapy.
7.00: Free Time.
8.30: Night Meds.
9.30: Room Inspection.
10.00: Lights Out.
“All right,” I hear a voice boom. “Everyone line up.”
I step out onto the corridor and stumble into one of the other patients. “Sorry,” I mumble. He nods to dismiss my apology and scrambles towards the queue. I follow. There’s a man at the head, dishing out orders for us. All at the front are cowering to him. “Line up straight. Did you not hear me?”
He’s leaning his face threateningly close to the kid’s. His face pulsing, he hisses at him. “Lenny, I said get into the line.”
Prick, I think. I step out from the line and I’m making my way to Lenny’s aid. This guy should not get away with picking on him like he is. An outstretched hand grabs me by the arm gently. I turn to face the kid who I bumped into. “Don’t,” he whispers. “Trust me, you don’t want to pick a fight with Marc, especially not on your first day. Just get back in the line. And no matter what he says, don’t answer back and do what he tells you.”
I raise my eyebrow at him and he nods fervently. I look back to Marc, who’s making his way down the line, scrutinizing all the patients. I haven’t even interacted with him and I already hate him. He’s a bully. He thinks he’s above everyone else here and has the right to treat them like dirt. Lenny is a prime example. “Name,” he says to a kid in the middle of the queue. I didn’t hear his response. It came out as a bit of a mumble. I don’t think Marc did either. “What is your name?” he demands. I look to the kid, who appears as though he’s on the brink of tears. “Matt,” he says.
Marc nods. “Welcome to Castlerock, Matty,” he sneers. I can feel my muscles tensing. I hate this guy. I want to go up in his face and take him down a peg or two. I think the kid who stopped me is sensing this again. “Don’t do it,” he tells me. “Not only will you get on Marc’s bad side, but everyone will hate you on your first day, when time is taken off our recreational period for your behavior.”
I shake my head and release a sigh. “Fine,” I whisper. But, if Marc does start on me, I won’t hesitate to give back as good as I get. He’s approaching me right now. “Another newbie? What’s your name?”
“Thomas,” I say, directing unwavering eye contact at him. He breaks it and stalks back to the front of the queue. “Right, follow me, Breakfast is almost ready.”
I turn to the kid. “Hey, I’m Thomas,” I say.
“Cole,” he says. “Want to sit with me in the canteen?”
“Sure,” I say as we step inside. Cole takes a seat at one of the rear tables and I sit opposite him.
“So, why’re you here? What’s your tragic sob story?” he asks.
“I’d tell you, but you think I was crazy.” I chuckle. “Ironic, right?”
My smile at the comment drops and is replaced with a hopeless longing to get out of here. It’s making my stomach turn. It churns even more as the canteen workers place two plates of fried breakfast in front of us. I look at it with a frown. Ordinarily, I’d eat it. But, I’m really not feeling all that hungry.
What I do feel is a mixture of inner-sadness, anger and fear. Mum and Dad have sent me away to this prison. The sign outside says it’s a private psychiatric hospital. But, that’s merely to put the public’s mind at rest. If the rest of the staff are in any way like Marc, this is going to be a living hell. And I’m not so sure I’ll be able to continue to shut up and say nothing.