It all began with the help of the one woman I considered to be the last person to ever become my savior.
With the help of her and the Mother Superior, I was finally freed from the horror that is Briarcliff. Free to finally tell my story.
And did I have a hell of a story to tell….
I'll never forget staring hatefully at Oliver Thredson through the yellow cab's window, reveling in being able to flip him off behind the safety of the window just before it pulled away. I had a mind to confront him about the unimaginable terror he committed, but I knew he would be looking for me and would not stop until he had me within his desperate grasp once more. How I wanted—no, deserved my revenge for he'd done to my beloved Wendy. My life would never be the same after what Oliver did to me… What he did to us.
But Oliver was still on the loose and confronting him at his home would be just like walking willingly back into the very belly of the monster's den that I fought so hard to slip out from between his all too cunning fingers. Instead, I decided against my better judgment to just turn in Dr. Thredson's confession to the authorities and sought out to do what should have been done a long time ago: bury the scattered remains of my one true love.
Oliver went to court for a month straight and I don't know if it was the morning sickness of my pregnancy or just the way he had been always able to strike fear into me so easily, but as I sat in that courtroom, watching him watching me, I would find myself plowing through at least a pack of cigarettes a day. I wanted his ass in that electric chair and it would have been an all too perfect triumph if I could have been the one to pull that switch.
But as I've always said, Head Shrinks are the world's biggest hypocrites because the court may as well have thrown the book at my face when to my absolute horror, the system that Oliver had so despised all his life, actually worked out in his favor for the first time in his tortured existence. The way he turned from the Judge's bench to the back of the courtroom, his dark eyes seeking me out within the crowd and gave me a wide smile at the ridiculous irony of his verdict when the Judge cast his sentence. He had been diagnosed with some form of sane psychosis and was sentenced to live out the rest of his days heavily medicated within Briarcliff Manor.
That's right. The same asylum where the crazy kept the sane locked up. The same god damned Briarcliff that I was also on the hunt to pull down until it was nothing but a pile of stolen lives and broken dreams beneath my feet. And I was determined to bury Oliver Thredson among its corrupted rubble.
I went on to write my story, my legend of the horrors that still haunt me as they replay like a wakeful nightmare, following me even into my dreams. But I guess to say I even have dreams would lead you to believe that I was actually getting some sleep.
I tried to move on, tried to pick up the shattered, broken glass that was once a perfect mirror that contained the once perfect image of my life. But no matter how hard I tried to forget, I knew that Briarcliff would never hold him. If Kit, Grace, and I were able to find a way out, surely Oliver would too.
I could always feel his presence watching me just at the edge of the shadows, long fingertips stretching to one day snatch me back into their dark, evil abyss. The sensation of him lingering over my shoulder, just drifting on the edges of my peripheral, and always disappearing the moment I would spin around to face the darkness that threatens to consume me until there is nothing left.
The darkness that is Bloody Face….
Of course I would never find him there, but my eyes would always find themselves searching around me no matter where I was or where I went. Almost as if you'd seen the flash of a lightning bolt. You weren't quite sure it was there, but your eyes will always search for it as though you'd seen it all the same.
I kept telling myself that it was over, that Oliver was sitting in some dark cell confined and so hopped up on medication that he wouldn't know if he was coming or going, giving me the promise that he would never be able to hurt me or anyone else ever again. But the lies we tell ourselves just to get over the terrors that plague us, just to get through our day always do more harm than they can possibly ever do any good.
Sometimes I think this is why they always say women have such a strong intuition because I should have known better than to think one could be rid of such evil so easily.
It was a late Wednesday night. I had just walked into my studio apartment after a long day at the publisher's office downtown. I had been working hard to finish my new book, Maniac, and I was exhausted, throwing the mail on the kitchen counter top and kicking off my pink heels as I went. For the first time in a long time, I was actually excited because my book would finally be going public and soon, everyone would know the grim and terrifyingly remarkable truth. They were ready to begin printing within the next few months, but I refused to go in the spotlight right now to support my book. At least not yet, not while this thing that Oliver planted was still growing inside me.
It would simply have to wait because there was still one more part of my story that needed happen to happen before it could be told. In my book, I wrote that this baby died during childbirth and honestly, when the dreaded day comes that I am to give this child up, it wouldn't be any farther from the truth.
At least in my eyes.
I threw my coat down as I made my way into the kitchen, grabbing a glass of water. I scanned over the magazine covers on the countertop that were mixed within today's mail, smiling to myself because I knew that soon, I would be gracing those very same covers in support of the unique story that has all but written itself. Taking my water with me, I moved towards the darkened hallway, unbuttoning the front of my short pink dress that was beginning to fit a little too snug around my growing belly.
My mind was abuzz of everything that was finally coming to be and I couldn't help the smile that kept gracing my face. It used to be something I had been seeing less and less these days. I went into the bedroom, walking slowly over the thick plush white carpet, enjoying the feel of it between my toes. I plopped down on the bed with a heavy sigh to rest my aching feet. I reached down to rub the soreness out of them and a slight frown formed on my lips because I knew that the further this pregnancy pursued, the sooner my feet would no longer be able to bear the wear of my favorite heels. But as if her presence was still with me, I glance up to my nightstand and the frown quickly fades in a moment so quick that it's hard to say it even occurred at all.
The moment I saw her.
It was the same picture of her in bed, covered only by a thin white sheet that Oliver stole from our home, the same picture that I used to try to bash his face in.
She was framed in a brand new black picture frame, her printing paper riddled with the smallest wrinkles and creases and the tiniest drop of his dried blood in the corner. Battle scars I called them. I once thought it was lost forever, but even through all of this torment, she still found her way back to me. I still remember when the police officer gave it to me as I stood outside Oliver's home the same night the police came to arrest him. How I'd clutched it desperately to my breast when our eyes met as they brought him handcuffed out of the house.
And since then, it's never left my sight.
"Hello Wendy…" I say quietly, wistfully. I find myself smiling softly as I gave into her brown eyes. My fingers trace along the edges of her frame.
"We're almost there. We've almost made it to the big time… And you've been here with me, every step of the way as I knew you always would."
I take another sip of my water and realize that it's now empty and get up one last time for another glass. On my way back, I turn off all the lights, heading into the warm muted glow of my bedroom when something catches my peripheral, but this time I choose to ignore it because deep down, I know that I can't move forward if I'm constantly taking two steps back.
I close my bedroom door and gingerly reach to place my water next to Wendy's picture on the nightstand but drop it completely to the fluffy carpet under my feet, the cold liquid splashing over my bare toes as the old sensation of an unrivaled terror seeps into my skin as if it were an invisible poison. The frame is still there, but Wendy's picture…
I spin around my bedroom, my eyes searching frantically, the blood in my veins roaring through my ears as my eyes slowly drift back to the door. I stay quiet, listening. But after a long moment, I hear nothing and carefully, cautiously make my way back to the door. I reach for the doorknob, my fingers squeezing the cold round metal for support as I snatch it open only to find myself staring into the blackened hallway past the frame of my bedroom door. I peer out into the darkness, unmoving in hopes that what I've been running from all this time isn't there, but to my horror, the darkness is leering right back.
And it never disappoints.
"Hello Lana…." came the deep smooth baritone of the only voice that could seep down deep to chill me to the very core of my already shattered soul. "Did I ever tell you how nice it always is to have you here… So close to me again?"
I swallow hard. My voice is shaking, my hand unconsciously clutching my swelling stomach peeking shyly out from between the opening of my pink dress as though I could shield it from him. Carefully I take a step back into my bedroom to place the necessary distance between him and myself.
"How did you get out?"
I can scarcely make out his tall looming figure through the thick murky blackness swelling within the hallway outside my bedroom as though it's rolling off him in waves. The soft light behind me glints off his round glasses and my eyes squint as they search him out of the dark.
"Come now Lana… I thought you knew I had a greater determination than that," he says, his voice distant and aloof as always.
I can practically feel the small smile gracing his lips as his eyes roam over me in the dark.
Oliver comes forward into the light and I continue to back away with every step he takes. My eyes grow wide, filing with hot tears and I try my hardest to keep them from spilling, to keep him from seeing me cry. Before I know it, I've backed myself up against my mattress with nowhere else to go.
"Besides, I think we both know just how incompetent the staff at Briarcliff can be. Especially since they let someone like me run freely for the better part of a year among the patients and staff."
"You talk about it as if I wasn't in there myself," I counter cautiously.
"Yes, but there's nothing like experiencing it firsthand now is there, Lana? I'll admit that in the beginning, the constant doses of Chlorpromazine mixed with the random horse tranquilizers of Sister Jude's own choosing are enough to make anyone go crazy. But there's always an addict in there that wants more of the very substance that would only destroy them given enough time. It was just too easy…. So in the common room, I would pretend to take my medication cocktail and tip the cup to my lips as my new addict friend lingers somewhere close by. And once the nun left the room, I simply spat them into the waiting addict's mouth as I passed them by to coherently continue my search for a way out. Nothing witnessed…. Nothing seen," he says, recollecting his experiences at Briarcliff as though he were merely discussing something random he'd seen in the paper.
His dark eyes return from their travels through the many traumatizing Briarcliff memories that we both now share. His gaze returns to me and he then takes a step in my direction, his hand outstretching to reach for me. Immediately I jerk backward and stumble onto my bed.
"So much fear, Lana… It's intended to be the body's natural survival mechanism, but in actuality, it's nothing more than a hindrance to you isn't it?" he examines coolly.
Now that he's closer, I can see him clearly for the first time in months and I can't help but stare at him as if I'm seeing him for the very first time. He is no longer the perfectly coifed Dr. Thredson that I remember so vividly from my tortured memories. His short dark hair is mussed; his face, that was once always so clean shaven, is now peppered with the darkened specks of freshly growing stubble. Beneath a thin cotton black jacket, he is still wearing the standard blue asylum uniform that all but screams that Briarcliff Manor has come back to haunt me and I begin to tremble as my own brain begins its own unwilling journey back through all the horrible memories that I've worked so hard to forget.
My eyes flit to the thin piece of paper gripped between his thick fingers that dangle loosely out of the sleeve of his jacket.
"Wendy…" I whisper automatically, my eyes glued to his hand and I feel a boiling of hatred rise like bile in the back of my throat at the knowledge that he is touching her once again.
He looks down at the picture in his hand and back to me. His expression appears cold and unfeeling.
"Wendy…" he says, with a slight chuckle. "It's always been about Wendy, hasn't it?"
He walks completely into my bedroom and I scoot backward over the soft white comforter atop my bed, my fingers gripping at the puffy material.
In spite of my earlier promise to myself, my tears begin to pour like thick rivulets down my cheeks. "You don't get to talk about her!"
"You never made time for me… I have to say I was quite disappointed that you didn't come to see me in my new standard issue strait jacket, even if it was only to gloat," he jeers and pulls the picture up to his face to gaze upon my stolen love for a moment.
I stare at him uneasily, my lip trembling. He turns Wendy around to face me and I gaze into her brown eyes once last time just before he reaches up and tears the picture down the middle in one quick rip.
I immediately let out a wail as I begin to sob, my fingers outstretching to her from my position on the bed.
"Oliver!" I shout painfully and he looks to me with that same dark expression while crumbling both halves of the picture in each of his large hands then lets them drop to the carpet next to his shoes.
"I don't know how you got out…" I finally manage to say. "But you're too late. I've left no stone unturned! Everyone's going to know the full details of what you did and you can't stop it."
"Oh, you mean this?" he says in low voice, reaching under his arm and pulling out the folded draft of my book from its tucked position under his arm and I stiffen at what that simple implication means.
He walks slowly towards the bed as he speaks, looking at the cover of the draft he found next to my typewriter in the other room. "Yes, I already know all about what your plans, but even now you still don't see that I'm not here for the book. And it's disappointing to know that this story is worth more time on your busy schedule than our son. And if I recall correctly, this hideous debacle of so called storytelling has told me that our son has already died… when obviously it couldn't be any farther from the truth."
The bite behind the last part of his words is not lost on me and I sit up on all fours atop the bed, my eyes never leaving his as he begins to pace around the edge of it.
"What does it matter? Once I have this thing, you were never going to see him anyway…."
"Thing..." he says quietly, his lips tight as he stares down into my eyes.
Suddenly he throws the rough draft of the book hard in my direction, sending it smacking against the wall behind me and I shake like I've never shook before. I stay perched atop my bed as he angrily paces over to my dresser, swiping his arm across it and shoving everything to the floor. I jump at the clattering sound of shattering glass echoing through the room.
"Lana… You've known me for the better part of a year. You can't even keep me away from you…. What makes you think you can keep me away from him too?" he responds, his tone now tapering to a more tolerable calm in contrast to his previous outburst. "I've had nothing but time to think about all of this in that shit hole of a mental institution. At this point, I think it's safe to say that I've practically painted myself all over you to the point that you'll never be able to wash me away. So long as you carry that child, you belong to me… And it is a bond that will never be broken no matter how hard you try."
Quickly, my eyes glance to the phone on my nightstand and back to him, his own eyes following my similar path and back to meet my gaze again too.
"Let's not travel down that same path again… It can become very tiresome very quickly," he comments at my minuscule possibility of reaching the phone, nonetheless making a call. I watch his tall form walk over to it and lean down, snatching the telephone cord from the wall, stripping it completely.
"I thought we weren't going to travel down the same path again? And is that any way to treat the mother of your unborn child anyway?" I say quickly to try to sway him and his rage. "I don't think you could hurt me even if you wanted to in fear of hurting your beloved baby. Isn't that right Oliver?"
I move slowly backward to find my footing on the floor at the opposite end of the bed to hopefully get as far away from him as I can.
His lips spread into a wide, dark smile. "As much as I absolutely hate say it, you are correct…."
To my surprise, his words allow me the rare opportunity to relax a little and I stop before my foot makes contact with the floor.
"But that doesn't mean I can't teach you a lesson in the process, now does it? Don't think for a second that I forgot about your attempts to self abort," he finished darkly and strode around the bed, his stride long and sure.
My heartbeat thunders in my ears at his statement and I stumble backward off the edge, falling hard on my back. He doesn't give me a chance to recover and is on me, pulling me roughly up against him by my arms and it's all I can do to flail and twist about in his strong grasp.
He pushes me down to the white carpet beneath us, straddling my waist. Some of his fingers are twisted in my long hair, his other hand fighting to wrangle up my flailing arms. Something blue catches my peripheral in the midst of our scuffling. My arm outstretches, fingers clasping and raking at the carpet for the stray blue heel I spot just under the edge of my bed, but for the life of me, I can't reach the god damned thing. I buck with all of my strength to throw him off and Oliver topples next to me with a grunt. I snatch the blue heel up and lurch on top of him, this time straddling him before he has a chance to recover and press as much of my weight down on him as I can. My hand presses his face down to the carpet. The blue heel rises above my head and I see Oliver's dark brown eyes widen just as the loud buzzing sound of my doorbell chimes down the hallway as if someone had just rang a bell to signal the end of a boxing match. And against my better judgment, I freeze.
My head whips behind me to the bedroom door and no sooner than I can let out my shriek for aid from whomever has come calling, the sound is muffled behind the tight press of his large hand against my mouth.
Quickly Oliver sits up, ripping the heel turned weapon from my hand and tossing it off to the side with a soft thump, my last hope going with it as his other arm comes around the small of my back and crushes me against him.
"Shhhh…." he whispers harshly, his face next to mine, our eyes trained on the bedroom door behind us.
I make a small sound behind his hand, my breath coming out as hot puffs from my nose, my tears rolling over his thick fingers. The chime is heard again and eventually he maneuvers us up from the floor. He doesn't release his hold on me as we make our way back into the hall where the darkness swallows us up.
He presses me against his side, his hand never leaving my lips and I wince a little from his tightened grip digging into my hip through my disheveled pink dress. We walk slowly into the living room, my hands reaching out randomly into the dark for something to grab onto, and something to strike him with. But Oliver is stealthy and easily wades his way through the murky blackness of my living room and I wonder idly how many times he may have been here and I never the wiser. We finally come to a stop in front of my front door. I feel his cheek press against my head as he whispers next to my ear. "Answer it…"
After a long moment, my hand raises to grasp the doorknob when he jerks me back, his arm at my side shooting up to wrap tightly underneath my breasts and pressing me back into his chest.
"Through the door. And this time, Lana, think wisely about your choice of words."
The doorbell chimes again, much louder now that we're right in front of it and I jump in his arms at the abrupt sound of it. After a moment, I feel his hand at my mouth slowly release its grip only to move lower and wrap snugly around my throat.
"Wh-who's there?" I call out quietly at first and clear my throat then repeat myself a little louder.
"Lana? It's Kit. I've been looking for you everywhere. Can I come in? We need to talk… about Jude."
My eyes bulge and Oliver's grip around my throat becomes just a little tighter to remind me of the horrors still lurking at my back that have absolutely nothing left to lose…. Except me.