After delving into one of the patient’s accounts, I’ve become more aware of the bizarre array of afflictions we contain here… I’ll be honest, I never really thought of the patients as people before. Crazy is a label that immediately dehumanizes someone, cutting them off from any sympathy or understanding.
There’s one girl, for instance, who refuses to talk to anyone unless she’s allowed to feel their temples for ‘nerve fibers’ first, whatever that means. Other than that, and some mild paranoia, she seems completely aware and normal - but, before, it was easy to write her off as just another crazy patient. I wonder what she’s thinking… she refused to give any explanation for her behavior.
The more I read their accounts, the more I realize that these are real people afflicted by tortures beyond mundane imagination.
Last night, reading while on break, one man’s words caught my attention. I know him. He’s consistently depressed, resigned, and drained - but now I think that, underneath all that, he may be like any of us. He’s just… pained by this thing that grips him.
Fine, I’ll tell you! Just no more shocks. You promised no more shocks if I tell you!
It doesn’t make a difference anyway.
I know how it started. It’s obvious now, when I think back.
I was on the street, walking with friends. We were drinking, and heading to the next bar, when some weird, disgusting, guy with desperate eyes bumped into me. He smelled like sweat and something else… but he spilled something on me. It got on my hand - on my fingernails, specifically.
It was blood. He’d spilled blood on me.
He froze, seemed horrified and sad. “I’m sorry,” he said. I believed him, but I didn’t know what he was sorry for. He ran.
Disgusted, I cleaned it off and tried to forget about it. Nothing happened… for awhile.
Oh God, I remember every detail of that night. Lying by myself in my crappy little apartment - oh how I miss it, a palace compared to your ‘care’ - I woke up just before it happened. I gazed at my dark ceiling, feeling strange.
And then I was curled up in pain, too shocked even to scream. I remember staring at it, not yet understanding how screwed I was. This long, bloody, blade-thing was sticking out from my shin.
Where’d it come from? Did someone stab me? I didn’t understand… I reached for the phone, but seized with pain again as the blade moved. Another long, white, razor-like thing shot out, and the two separated, slicing an open line in my shin. I had sudden visions of the razors continuing, slicing me into sections from the inside out… now, I almost wish it had.
I didn’t have much time to panic. The slicing stopped. I stared, clutching my leg. Four more bloody protrusions joined the first two, and then - it slid out.
Shaking, numb from shock and panic, I felt a small relief that I wasn’t about to be carved up - and then that consolation vanished, as I realized something living had just crawled out of my shin bone.
Dripping with my blood, it scanned the room with six pearly eyes. Seemingly carved from bone, it stood on six razor-like legs - the blades that had eviscerated my shin. About two feet high, it was much like a spider…
Unexpected, it said. It had no mouth. How did it speak?
“…Unexpected?” I asked, numb and terrified.
Who are you?
Trembling and on the verge of tears, I just wanted it to go away. “Nobody important…”
That was the wrong answer.
It jabbed a leg back into my exposed shin bone, neatly avoiding the separated flesh and streaming blood. I felt a sharp jab in my chest - I understood implicitly, horrified, that this creature’s razor leg entered my tibia, but emerged from one of my ribs. A bladed point pressed against my heart from the inside…
“Please, please,” I begged, sweat running into my eyes. “I’ll do anything you say, I’ll do it, I’ll do it, just don’t kill me…”
Acceptable, it replied.
It withdrew its leg, and the pain in my chest went with it.
You will do as instructed or die in utmost pain.
“Yes, yes, that’s fine,” I choked out, sobbing.
It climbed back into my exposed bone… and then it was gone, having given me no instructions. I went to the hospital, got my leg sewn up, claimed it was an accident… and it seemed I had my life back.
I was wrong.
It slid out between my stitches a few nights later. Dismayed, but ready, I made sure to memorize everything I could about it. Spindly, deadly, it was strangely beautiful, in an ivory and insect sort of way. Somebody had to know about this thing.
It gave me orders. It made me do things.
It started with small crimes. It wanted them done in a specific manner, with contrived evidence left behind for reasons I wasn’t told. It directed me to dangerous criminal locales, though other people were the least of my concerns by then. One of its other slaves gave me a long animal bone treated with that special blood, and it often made me bring this bone to shady locations.
It would emerge from that bone and converse with someone - someone aware of it, able to defend from it? Someone it needed to make a deal with for its purposes? I never saw him. I doubted he would help me, even if I found him…
I gave up hope after many failed nights of searching for an answer or help. I’d beaten people. Mugged them. Held up a convenience store at knifepoint. It even made me get that cursed blood on this guy’s fingernails, and I had to watch as he was slowly separated into sections by protruding razor legs… his hand, falling to the floor… his leg, popping off at the knee by a rotating slice… screaming, begging, pleading… it tortured him to death for information I didn’t understand… and it made me pick up his pieces and dispose of them… oh God…
Whenever I wasn’t on assignment, I turned to… other ways to distract myself from the black pit of despair welling up inside me.
My brother found me on the street after a few months of this. I remember every detail of that, too.
“You have to come home,” he insisted. “We’ll get you off the drugs, clean you up. Dad’ll get you a job.”
“The drugs aren’t the problem,” I remember shouting at him. “They’re the only thing that keep me from losing my mind. It’s the bonewalker -”
As I said those words, a sharp jab hit me underneath my left shoulder blade. The next scratched the side of my right lung. I realized it was watching me… the message was clear. If I told anyone, it would carve me up from the inside out.
“Get out of here!” I screamed at him, feeling every bit the same now as that disgusting and desperate man who’d bumped into me. “You can’t help me! Go away!”
I hit the hard drugs even harder, then. At some point, I was drained of everything even resembling my old self, and I decided not do it anymore - even if it meant my death. At its behest, I’d bought a rifle, and trained in its use. It wanted me to kill somebody, somebody important… but when it came with the name and plan, I would refuse.
I wondered how it would do it. Would it stab inward from my skull, killing me instantly? Or would it slice out from each of my bones, carving me up slowly, like that poor, poor man?
I stared at the gun, wondering if it would go after my family if I refused. Did I really have a choice? Could I sacrifice my brother, too? And my parents? I had to make the bonewalker think it wasn’t my fault…
I called and left an anonymous tip. I sat there, filled with relief and calm, as they surrounded me and put on the handcuffs. I sat in custody, ostensibly caught by the police; when the bonewalker came, it would have no reason to punish my family. It would just kill me, and that was that.
But… it never came.
I mean, I know why it didn’t return, now… but I’m broken, and stuck here in any case. And I keep thinking… what if there are more? What if they come for me someday, because I know?
There’ll be no warning… it could come at any time… just a sharp, sliding sensation, and then I’ll be dead…
The thing that captivates me about his account is that it’s very similar to some ravings left by a man who died horribly awhile back. He was mutilated in ways unimaginable - as if his face had been torn off from the inside, among other things. His story made the news, and they figured he was the serial killer responsible for several similar horrific deaths…
But that man claimed that, as his last act, he’d managed to destroy the creature.
I suppose this man must have read about the prior man’s issues, and formed an obsession or delusion about it.
I find it curious how contagious crazy seems to be… and seemingly more so these days. I’m starting to wonder if this place is truly run to help these people - or whether it’s really just here to contain them… like quarantine for a plague.
Update: And now I'm convinced something more is going on: