I walk down the long dark hallway. A sense of paranoia begins to creep through my body. As my shoes click on the tiles, I begin to imagine entities lurking within the shadows. I imagine gruesome monstrosities sulking inside the abandoned rooms. I try to force myself to relax. Even if there were demons in the rooms, they could not escape the confines of the room. You see...
...This is an asylum.
And whom might I be? A mental patient, doomed to wander these corridors with my delusions to drive me to madness? No. I'm actually the "tough as nails" warden, the only one responsible for this job. I'm also the only one willing for this task of delivery. I'm carrying a tray of food. It smells delicious, but knowing who it's going to spoils my appetite.
I finally arrive at the soundproof door at the end of the hall. I grip the metal food tray in my left hand, and fumble for my keys in my pocket with my right hand. I finally feel the familiar metal of the key, and slowly insert it inside the lock. It makes a low clicking noise as I twist it. I place my palm on the cold metal of the door, and push.
Instantly, I'm greeted with echoing giggles. This inmate is different. He's not like the others. The others moan, and groan, and talk to themselves, or scream. All this one does is laugh. There are others who laugh, but they soon break down and cry. This one is always giggling, or occasionally breaks into fits of hysterical laughter.
He doesn't wear a straitjacket, for the last man to attempt to force one on him ended up in intensive care. For the other inmate's sake, we abandoned this wing of the institution, and put him alone here. Surprisingly, he went in rather willingly. I can't begin to imagine willingly going into this small, white room, with no windows behind thick iron bars, behind a soundproof door.
Once he had gone in there, he sat in a little corner. Just sat there, so he could laugh in peace. I begin to try to hum and whistle to tune out the dreadful laughter, but to no avail. I don't believe I was even humming a tune. If I'm not mistaken, he laughed a bit harder at this. Was he laughing at me? Did he think of this as a joke?
I gripped the tray a little tighter.
"Here, dinner," I say, placing the tray inside a small drawer.
He gets to his hands and knees and crawls over to the bars, still giggling.
"Heh heh, what’s for dinner? Ha ha ha..."
I close the drawer, while at the same time he opens another drawer where the tray is waiting. He pulls out the food tray and places it on the ground. He then pulls off the cover.
"Meatloaf, potatoes, and water," I reply.
"Yum, heh heh, so tell me, hee hee, why am I treated to such gourmet delicacies in this prison?"
“This isn’t a prison, it’s a mental institution with unorthodox methods.”
“Ha, I should say so.”
And with that, he begins to eat. I step back, repulsed. Along with that horrid laughter, he sports a wide smile on his face. His grin never falters, never vanishes. It seems to stand out today.
“Tell me, why do you always smile in that manner?”
He stops eating and glances at me, still grinning that hideous smile.
“Isn’t it nice to smile?” His question sounded more like a statement.
“Why, I ask, why must you continue to smile day and night? Something must be going well for you!”
At those words, his broad grin appeared to expand over his pale face.
“As a matter of fact, something is.”
“B-b-but wh-what could-”
He raises his hand, silencing my stutters.
“At this point, Warden, you must believe I have a devious plan in mind to escape…well, I don’t. I’m happily content here.”
I'm completely confused. Nobody really talked to him, so had he somehow lost his ability to communicate normally?
“You’re not answering my question!” I exclaim.
He seems unfazed by my sudden outburst.
“You wouldn’t want to know the answer,” he replied.
Was this some kind of sick mind game?
“Please, tell me…” I begged. In my desperation, I hadn’t realized that I, the warden, was begging this mental patient for information.
He sighs. “I suppose you should know, but I warn you, this information will cost you your very SANITY.”
I thought he was speaking crazy talk, I thought he was pulling my leg, I thought this was nothing.
…I was wrong…
He beckons me closer to the rusty iron bars. I obey his summons without fear of him grabbing my ear or head through the bars, but he did nothing. Nothing except simply cupping his hands over my ear and whispering in it.
I couldn’t believe what I had heard. He had told me the meaning of life, the place of origin, and he told me the fate of this world.
All the signs he has pointed out are true… He’s right about it all…like me paying the price with my sanity.
I was dragged in here last night. I refused to wear a straitjacket, and they won’t make me.
Now that I know the truth, the voices talk to me. They feed me information that makes me laugh. I laugh and giggle day and night, never resting…
…Knowing the fate of this world is disastrous, but knowing what will happen to me, and those like me…makes me smile.