Jack In The Box

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Chapter 6

Riley

The next morning when I woke up, I had a severe headache. Even though I’d managed to throw up all the medicines that I’d consumed last night, I realized some remnants of it must have remained inside my body. I glanced out of my bedroom window and noticed it was still drizzling. The clock read nine a.m so I had about an hour before my shift started. I was working a twelve hours shift today because Aaron had literally pleaded me the other day since they were short staffed. Majority of the nurses preferred to steer clear off Jackson and I couldn’t even blame them.

Due to my unusual shift timings, I was never home and so Ken and I rarely got any time to spend with each other as a family. Scribbled notes, texts and phone calls were the only communication that went on for a few days now and I blamed it on my transfer to the Mental Health Wing.

I pulled myself out of the bed reluctantly, making a beeline for the bathroom. Twenty minutes later, I was dressed in my Nurse uniform, seated at the little dining table, gobbling down bread and Nutella (my go-to breakfast when I was feeling too lazy to cook). I filled the thermos with steaming coffee, picked my car keys and made my way downstairs.

“Good Morning, Mrs. Rossi.” I greeted Mrs. Rossi, the Italian lady living downstairs.

She glanced at her left wrist; I wanted to remind her there was no wrist-watch on it. “It’s lunch time.”

“Good Afternoon, then.” I said.

I usually ignored her smart comments. She was usually grumpily but invited me over for tea during her good days, also baked some delicious Banana bread. The woman had over a dozen cats in her house who lazed around on every possible flat surface. The cats were super fat and cute but hated my guts for some reason.

When I approached the parking, I remembered I’d left my car in the hospital parking lot. Next thing, I was standing by the road with an open umbrella, trying to hail a cab.

I didn’t feel like visiting Jackson’s room that day. I knew it was my job, but he was also unlike other patients that I’d dealt with. Jackson was a high functioning psychopath; he was also manipulative and intelligent. He seemed like a normal person one minute, and you never know when the wheels in his head were turning and he was plotting something life threatening against you. That part of him scared me. It was a given that I couldn’t even read his mind.

The entire day I avoided going to his room and instead decided to tend to other patients. I’d told another nurse to serve Jackson’s breakfast and lunch, warning her about his manipulative and flirtatious tactics. I’d loaned her ear-plugs.

Afternoon arrived and I was seated in the hospital cafeteria with my friend and co-worker Madeline aka Maddy. She was talking about a fight she had with a fellow nurse, further complaining about how she was going to break up with her boyfriend because he wasn’t giving her enough time. I continued to nod my head throughout the conversation, pushing around the salad in my plate.

“You’re not paying attention to what I’m saying!” Maddy pointed.

“What?”

“How are things going with Jackson? You don’t seem quite that happy with the promotion.”

“Not really. You know Maddy, I’ve been good at handling people like Jackson in the past, but somehow I feel like it’s not working this time. He’s just too difficult to figure out.”

Maddy nodded. “I’m surprised you even said yes to Aaron’s offer after all the rumors surrounding him."

“What kind of rumors?”

She moved closer and whispered. Maddy had the blazing gossip eyes on, “People say that he wasn’t always crazy, it was like a switch went off and he killed his own mother. Can you imagine? And then he went on a killing rampage and murdered people in the most brutal way possible. They found severed body parts and do you know the guts and intestines...”

“Maddy, I think I’ll live without the gory details.” I told her although I’d already lost my appetite.

“But...but you didn’t even listen to the best part.” She protested.

I’d seen worse things working in the hospital as a nurse and yet what Maddy said sent a chill down my spine.

“When I work with patients here, I try not to study about their backgrounds because if I do that then it may change my behavior towards them. A mental patient is a mental patient; nothing more than that and that’s exactly how I see Jackson. Isn’t that what they taught us during nursing school?” I said.

“Whoa, you gotta chill Riley, but seriously though, you need to go home tonight and Google that good-looking bastard and you’ll be surprised what you find. There are even stories about him on Creepypasta and fan-fiction. This guy is a motherfu*...” she started saying when I coughed loudly to tell her to keep her voice down. “I mean, he’s a legend.”

“Okay okay, I get it.” I said shoveling down the remaining salad into my mouth. “I really don’t understand your obsession with killers.”

Maddy rolled her eyes. “They are just too interesting, I guess. Not saying that I really like all the horrible things they’ve done to other people but I like to do research.” She gave me the ‘Am-I-really-that-weird’ look. “You don’t think I’m crazy, do you?”

“Don’t worry. You’re not the only one here.”

****

That evening I told Aaron about Jackson asking me if he could get a day off from the asylum if he was to showcase good behavior, and before Aaron could answer that question, I knew what Aaron would say and surely he said a big fat ‘NO’. He asked me how I could even propose the idea of Jackson being out in the open for twenty-four hours. I totally had the walk of shame out of Aaron’s office on that one, like a parent walking out of the teacher’s office holding a very bad academic report.

I was passing by the patient’s recreational area when I heard yelling, I stopped to peek in to find Jackson seated facing the flat screen that was mounted against the wall and two patients yelling and screaming at him. His eyes were dead on the television screen, a deadpan expression on his face and he had the mouth piece on, with his hands shackled together. The TV was showing a rerun of the Friends series that no one seemed to be paying attention to.

I hid behind the door to see what was going on. David, also known as Mad-Dave was screaming in Jackson’s face. Mad-Dave was another trouble maker around here; he was a pest to say the least. He always tried to sexually harass the nurses and his mouth was fouler than a rotten egg. He was saying something about Jackson’s sister who I wasn’t sure if she even existed. He said a word so vile that I wished I was deaf before listening. Dave’s partner in crime, Owen was laughing to whatever Dave was saying while Cody, the Man-Child was seated on the floor right in front of the screen, watching television, but I wasn’t so sure if he understood any of it. He was rocking back and forth, sucking his thumb and completely ignoring the fight going on behind him. Mister Panda, (Cody’s stuffed toy) was right beside him watching TV as well.

Dave was still throwing nasty words at Jackson and nothing seemed to be getting a reaction out of him and that’s what made him scarier. Jackson’s eyes were still glued to the screen, but I knew they were getting darker by the minute.

The minute Mad-Dave said, “Your momma called on the hospital landline yesterday. Oh wait, she can’t cuz she’s dead. All chopped up like meat.”

That’s when all hell broke loose.

There was a roar of laughter, and Jackson’s eyes turned into menacing slits as he literally kicked his chair and pounded his shackled hand into Mad-Dave’s face so hard that his mouth started bleeding. I was too dazed to even react to what was unfolding right in front of my eyes. His hands circled around Dave’s neck as he started strangling him with the same shackles.

“Let go! Let go!” Dave was elbowing him but it wasn’t working. Jackson was so strong and muscular that Dave’s power was nothing in compared of it.

Jackson let go for a moment and I thought he’d calmed down when he shook his arm so hard that the shackles came apart. Literally broke in two, the metal digging into his skin but Jackson wasn’t the one to care about pain. He easily tore off the mask holding his mouth shut and that’s when I snapped out of it.

“Jackson, stop!” I yelled at him but it was like a switch had gone off.

He was violent beyond words. He pushed Dave down on the floor and continued to pound his face until there was blood on his fists. If this went on, I had no doubt that Mad-Dave would be dead.

I needed to stop Jackson.


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