That Sanity of Ours

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CHAPTER FOUR

THROUGHOUT HER CHESS game with Luna, Violet could feel the new patient’s eyes searing a hole through the back of her head. He was rather insistent and obvious with his fervent staring, not bothering to hide it one bit. Even when Violet had turned to look over her shoulder, he hadn’t looked away. Instead, the man simply smiled, his eyebrows darting up and down just once to show that he had noticed she was looking back at him.

“Is there something going on, Violet?” Luna asked, the chess piece in her hand clicking against the board when she made her move.

The crisp sound was what brought Violet back to the present. She quickly turned back, her eyes widening a little before she regained her composure. Shaking her head, she picked up her own black piece, pondering through her turn. Rubbing it between her fingers, she gave the board a good glance before landing it neatly in the square.

“With?” She asked, raising an eyebrow.

“You know what I mean.” Luna frowned, nodding towards the man that had been watching them since he had entered the room at the start of the hour. “Him. The new patient has been watching us since just now. Watching you.”

Silently, Violet’s tongue darted out just a little to wet her bottom lip. Her throat felt dry, scratchy, and even a little itchy. Deep down, her first instinct was to lie and deny everything. She wanted to laugh it off, to say that Luna had been hallucinating it all. However, her mind still flitted back to the events of last night where he had crept to her room in the middle of the dark with the moon as the only witness. He had even given her a key with no lock, not specifying what the use of that pendant was for.

“Well, whatever it is, it wouldn’t be good to mingle with him,” Luna said. She pursed her lips, pausing for a second before continuing in a voice a little softer than before. “Maddox Haster. I asked around. You were right, Violet. He was in the news a while ago due to the murder of his sister. A gory case, they said.”

The dangerous glint in his eyes certainly was enough to brand the new patient as someone Violet should be cautious of. Murder, however, she wasn’t sure if he was truly capable of committing. There was something about him that made her falter when plastering labels on the strange man. Even before she knew his name, Violet felt that there just wasn’t enough bloodlust in him to take a life.

Then again, Violet had never been a good judge of character. After all, she hadn’t met many people in her life. Since young, she had always been locked away at home before eventually getting sent into Steinfield Asylum. To the world, she was a mere naive little lamb.

“He… doesn’t seem that savage,” Violet commented, careful to watch Luna’s reaction.

Just like she had guessed, Luna’s face scrunched up in aghast, as if appalled by the words that had spilled from Violet’s lips.

“No one here in Steinfield is someone society would accept. He’s in here for a reason or another and all of which are not things we should drop our guard against.” The chess game in front of them had been long forgotten, the topic long shifted to a deadly killer instead of a peaceful board game. “Rumors say that Haster had been moved from at least three different places beforehand. He was in two different prisons since he was convicted and one other asylum across the country. All three locations wouldn’t keep him due to various reasons and he was then sent here. If I were to guess, he would be out in less than a month. The warden would definitely not want a troublemaker like him around.”

The new tidbit of information that Luna had shared made Violet’s stomach drop. All of a sudden, the chain around her neck seemed to grow heavier, burning through her skin without leaving a visible mark. She still hadn’t a clue why she was given such a thing nor why he had visited her but her curiosity had run dry.

Violet didn’t want to know any longer. All she wanted was to stay as far away from him as possible.

“I don’t wish to pry into your private life but…” Luna hesitated, eyebrows furrowed as she sighed under her breath. “Be careful of him. Danger hangs over his figure like a cloak of black smoke over death. Nothing good will come out of knowing him.”

“I don’t wish to go looking for trouble, Luna,” Violet confessed. Her fingers hovered over their chessboard, collecting all the pieces. She had been on the road to victory but she no longer felt like playing. Life already seemed to be big enough of a game.

“You don’t have to.” Reaching out, Luna helped to arrange the pieces back into their original positions. “Sometimes, trouble is the one that finds you. You just have to know how to hide from its prying eyes.”


That night, Luna did not join Violet for dinner.

When Violet had gone to ask the nurse that was in charge of Luna’s floor, he had said that she was feeling under the weather and had opted out of dinner. How much of that was true Violet did not know. For as long as Violet had known the girl, she was sure of one thing and one thing only: there was nothing Luna Monetz loved more than food.

Setting down her tray, Violet began to eat alone. The food for the night was bland. Perhaps it was because on other nights, Violet had someone to keep her company and thus made dinnertime more tolerable than most. However, now that she was alone, the blanched potatoes and carrots seemed just as lifeless as the unseasoned chicken breast they were served.

It was good enough that they were well fed, at least. Nonetheless, Violet couldn’t help wish for something a little more colorful in her life. That was human nature, nothing locked doors and tightly-secured windows could keep out.

“A good girl eats her greens,” a voice chimed from behind, startling Violet. She jolted a little in her seat, the fork nearly slipping from her fingers had it not been for her quick reaction.

Turning around, she searched for the face of the person that had spoken. When she found the looks to match the voice, she couldn’t help but scowl.

Maddox Haster smiled brilliantly at her, ever so cocky like the world was just a pearl in the palm of his hand. He had a tray of food in his hands. On it, a plate of chicken just like hers, an apple, a mug of plain water, and some cutleries. Setting it down on the table beside Violet, he slipped into the bench, a little too close to Violet than what was comfortable.

“Why are you here?” She asked, nearly hissing if it weren’t for the fact that she was desperately trying to contain herself.

Haster merely barked out in laughter, his shoulders quaking as he flashed his pearly teeth.

“Oh, look at you,” he cooed. “Fur all raised like a threatened kitten.” Then, he leaned in, whispering directly into her ear, “Did what your friend tell you in the afternoon scare you, darling?”

At once, Violet jolted away. Her eyes widened like saucers, staring hard in disbelief at what she had just heard. There was no possible way Maddox Haster could’ve heard the conversation between her and Luna. He was seated too far away and they spoke too softly. How could he have known that they were talking about him of all things?

Haster watched as Violet shuffled further back, her cheeks puffed up and red like a chipmunk with overstuffed cheeks. He chuckled, dimples forming as he leaned his elbow against the table surface, his chin resting in his palm.

“How did I know?” He asked, echoing Violet’s thoughts perfectly.

The fact that he could read her thoughts like it was clearly written across her face made Violet’s skin crawl in fear. Luna was right. Maddox Haster was dangerous. She wasn’t sure how she had agitated this wild animal but she needed a way out and fast.

“How could I not know?” Clicking his tongue, Haster answered Violet’s unspoken question. The longer she stayed silent, the more he took it as consent for him to prattle on. “It’s written all over your faces, contrary to what you might think. You girls are easier to read than you wish, probably because you have been stuck in cages for your entire life.”

“Don’t assume,” Violet snapped. Even though Haster had been right and she had been stuck behind bars for the last decade and a half approximately, she didn’t wish to give him the luxury of feeling victorious.

“Do you not consider this a cage?” Haster questioned. He raised his hands, gesturing to the four walls of the mess hall and the numerous nurses that patrolled the doors and windows that led out. “I’ve been in prisons that were less secure. You people, those who society deems as the insane, are nothing more than criminals in their eyes.”

He reached out, index finger combing a section of Violet’s hair backward to reveal the chain that wrapped around her neck. Gently, he lifted it up, pulling slowly at the necklace until the pendant slipped out of the neckline of Violet’s shirt. The key gleamed under the soft glow of the lights, gently sparkling as Haster dropped the necklace back down, allowing it to fall against Violet’s chest in full view.

“You have the key and I know which lock it unlocks. If you feel up for it, I’ll gladly bring you out of this wonderland.” Slipping out of his seat, Haster grabbed his tray once he stood back to his full height. One corner of his lips turned up in a smile, cocking his head towards the door as he began to walk. “If you feel up for it!” He reminded before sauntering away, leaving Violet alone basking in his words.

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