“We don’t wanna have to do this...” the head of security bellows into his megaphone from across the cafeteria. “...but if you don’t stop this, someone’s gonna get hurt!”
The entire security team has gathered in the cafeteria. The uniformed officers are packed together in a circle, forming a ring around the center of the room. They aim their tranquilizer guns with shaking hands. Underneath the table, the officers have surrounded -- a patient of the asylum is curled up into a ball. His eyes dart frantically in all directions. As he pulls himself towards the open, he looks out at the crowd of guards. They weren’t aiming at him. They were aiming above him. Clank! Splat! A tray of food lands on the floor in front of him. He quickly scrambles back under the table for safety. Footsteps dance across the table over his head.
“This is your last chance!” the head of security growls into his megaphone.
Prancing across the tabletops in the center of the cafeteria is a girl no older than fifteen. Haley May, the hospital’s most infamous patient. Her blonde hair is tied up in two ponytails. She’s dressed in loose-fitting sweatpants and a not-so-loose-fitting straight jacket. Her eyes are an empty, milky white. A wide grin decorates her face as she looks around her at the crowd of armed men. Her soulless gaze lands on the head of security. She chuckles and puffs out her chest.
“King Frederick will yield to no man! Least of all a wee lad such as yourself!” Haley barks in a thick, Scottish accent.
“Haley…” the head of security attempts to respond.
“I’m walkin’ here, pig!” Haley barks, this time with a New Yorker accent.
“You’ve left us no choice!”
The head of security turns around and beckons for an unseen person to enter the room. A large man in a clean, white coat enters the cafeteria carrying a long, metal pole with a loop of rope on the end. The officers step aside to allow the man into their makeshift ring. Haley arches her back and hisses. As the man carefully makes his way toward Haley, he spots the other patient cowering under the table. He calmly gestures for him to come out. As the man once again attempts to crawl into the open, Haley greets him, hanging upside down from the tabletop.
“‘Ello love!” Haley chirps.
The patient lets out a panicked shout before scrambling back under the table yet again. The large man in the white coat shuffles towards Haley. Haley hops down from the table and the two of them begin to circle around each other like a lion and a lion tamer. The man in the coat sees an opportunity and swings out with the metal pole, catching Haley’s neck. He quickly pulls on the rope in the other end of the pole, tightening the loop. Haley hisses and snarls and foams at the mouth as the man uses the pole to keep her as far away from himself as possible. The guards give the two of them a wide berth as the man drags Haley towards the door. There’s a rusty metal cart waiting for them. After several minutes of struggling, they manage to pin Haley down to the cart with thick leather straps. The man removes the rope from Haley’s neck and begins wheeling her towards her room.
Haley squirms incessantly against the straps as the rusted wheels of the cart squeak their way down the musty hallways of the hospital. After what seems like an eternity of passing room after urine-soaked room, the massive steel door of Haley’s room comes into view. On their way there, they pass three other patients being escorted by hospital staff. One is a large, burly bald man with a scar over his left eye. He claws at his ears and sobs softly to himself. The next is a much thinner man who seems very calm and collected. He suddenly and without warning attacks one of the nurses, slamming her into a wall and wrapping his hands around her throat. The third was a man with a bright smile on his face, looking around with a gleeful expression as if unaware of the horrors surrounding him. Once they reach Haley’s room, one of the doctors jams a hypodermic needle into Haley’s neck.The medicine from the needle flows into Haley’s bloodstream and within seconds she’s limp, her tongue hanging loosely from her mouth. The man in the white coat releases Haley from the straps and unceremoniously dumps her into the padded room. The guards rush to shut and lock the large steel door. The whole building feels deafeningly quiet. It wasn’t, of course. It never really is. But for some reason, the usual racket seems like nothing now. There was no sign that the massive struggle mere moments prior had ever happened. The staff dusted themselves off and went about their work.
Business as usual.
Here we go again Dr. Myers thinks to himself as he pulls into the parking lot of the hospital. The painted sign on the front of the building read Princeton Heights Home for the Mentally Ill. It wasn’t a very comforting sight. There was a reason it was so far away from the rest of the town. From where Myers stood, the building felt like a fortress, not in the usual sense of heroic battles usually associated with fortresses. It was more like a monument to struggle than anything else. Myers enters the building and almost walks right by his office. It had become a habit at this point. He never goes into his office anymore. But today was different. Myers walks about five or six feet before changing his mind and doubling back. Myers enters the office and opens his file cabinet. Haley’s file wasn’t difficult to spot. It was the thickest one, filled with more incident reports, interview records, and background information than any of the other patients. He hadn’t read any of it in years. He figured that maybe it was the reason he hadn’t been as successful as he’d hoped. After all, how could he help her if he barely knew who she was?
Haley arrived at the hospital when she was nine years old. She was already a fairly well-known case at that point. She’d been seeing therapists pretty much all her life. Her issues were... bizarre, to say the least. She would claim to see people. People no-one else could see. People who didn’t look right. People who, oftentimes, didn’t like being seen. She’d receive new injuries every few days. The doctors said the only explanation was self-harm. But soon even the most hardened and skeptical of professionals began to question if her issues were founded in any sort of scientific reality. The circumstances of her placement in the hospital are shrouded in confusion. One day, during a routine therapy session, her therapist--Jason, a friend of mine--was stabbed to death. The only reasonable explanation was that Haley had done it. But, then again, this girl seemed to defy all reasonable explanation. Nevertheless, the court ruled that she was a threat to herself and others and shipped her off here. When I heard who she was and why she was here, I had to take the case. Jason and I prided ourselves on never leaving a case until it was resolved. I had to preserve that record for both of our sakes.
That’s when everything got worse.
Something snapped inside Haley that day. Something took over. She no longer spoke like herself, thought like herself, acted like herself. She just... wasn’t herself. New personalities would appear and disappear out of the blue. She’d speak in different accents, recount different memories, call herself by different names. And those eyes. Those soulless, empty eyes. They went completely white the day she arrived and haven’t changed since. As of now, she’s settled at about five personalities: A little British girl named Lily, an angry New Yorker named Nicky, a paranoid conspiracy theorist named Lenny, and a jolly Scottish king that the more light-hearted of staff have taken to affectionately calling Freddy.
And then there’s Toby.
Nobody knows who or what Toby is. The name hasn’t shown up in any significant police cases. The doctors have been investigating for years and nobody can find out anything about him. All they know is that he’s dangerous. Whenever Toby takes over, Haley goes into a silent trance. She doesn’t speak unless spoken to. She doesn’t move unless provoked. The only question she’ll respond to is “What is your name?”And the answer is always. “Toby.” Just that one word and nothing else. As of today, Toby has sent over a dozen staff members to the hospital. All of them were people who attempted to interact with Haley during the trance. The attacks were indescribably vicious: bite marks, broken bones, the whole works.
“Doctor Myers!” Huh? What? Oh. The doctor had spent the last ten minutes idly reading. He gets up from his chair, stashes the file in the file cabinet, and heads off down the hallway towards Haley’s room. There’s work to do.
Myers calmly enters the padded room. The nurses slam the steel door behind him. They’ve always been a bit jumpy when it comes to Haley. The doctor scans the room and finds Haley sitting cross-legged in the corner, rhythmically thumping her head against the wall.
“Who’s there?” Myers calls out into the dark.
Haley becomes completely still. There’s a long, sharp, painful silence. Who will it be this time? Will she even answer? Am I safe in here? All these questions rush through the doctor’s head. Without speaking, without making any sound whatsoever, Haley slowly turns her head and looks Myers in the face with her cold, lifeless eyes. Her face is completely void of any sort of emotion. She doesn’t respond. Oh no. Not now. Not here. Not again.
“What...what is your name?” Myers manages to choke out the question.
Silence. Pure, unadulterated silence. Haley takes a deep breath. Myers braces himself to hear that name again. The name that haunts his nightmares. The last thing he would hear before he blacked out, just like all the other victims. Oh god. Here it comes.
“What’s it to ya?”
Myers breathes a massive sigh of relief. It was Nicky. “Oh. Hi, Nicky. How’s it been?” the doctor replies.
“How do ya think it’s been? I’m stuck in this stupid cell with this stupid jacket, surrounded by stupid people! I’m not doin’ very well, doc!”
“I know, I know. How’s everyone else doing?”
“I don’t friggin’ know! Why should I care? Buncha jackasses.”
“Alright, fair enough. Anyone new?”
Haley’s face scrunches up in contemplation. “Hmm... nope! Can I bum a smoke off ya?”
Myers sighs. Six years of waiting. Six years since the real Haley disappeared. She had to be in there somewhere. This was it. This was the day. Myers wasn’t leaving until he talked to Haley. “Nicky, I need you to look really hard. There has to be someone else in there.”
“I’m lookin’ as hard as I can, doc! Quit hasslin’ me!”
“No more games, Nicky. Concentrate!”
“Wh... why? What are you doing to me?”
Oh great. Now I’ve gotta deal with Lenny. “Lenny, calm down. I need you to focus.”
“No! Stay outta my head! You’re one of them, aren’t you? You’re with the government!”
“I’m not with the government, Lenny. I just need to find someone.”
“Stay outta my head!” Haley lashes out with her foot and knocks Myers to the floor. She gets up and runs over to the door. “Help! Somebody help me!” Haley slams her head into the door repeatedly in an attempt to make noise.
Myers picks himself up and reaches into his coat, pulling out a hypodermic needle. I know she’s in there. I’m not letting Jason die for nothing. Myers grabs and holds Haley with one arm and empties the needle into her neck with the other. He struggles for several minutes to keep her still.
“Let go! Let go! Let…!” Haley begins to trail off and go limp. Once she finally stops struggling, Myers lets her drop to the floor. Myers leans against the wall to catch his breath.
A few minutes later, Myers drags Haley across the floor and props her up against the wall. Myers drops to the floor beside her, sitting cross-legged. It was over.
Once he left this room, his career was finished. No hospital would be insane enough to keep a doctor around after he stole sedatives and assaulted a patient. Myers had to get what he was looking for before he left or he would never get another chance again. Myers looks over at Haley. Her mouth begins moving slightly. Myers leans in to hear what she’s saying.
“I’m Henry the eighth, I am…”
Of course. Myers holds his head in his hands as Haley continues to sleepily whisper the lyrics to Henry the eighth. Just as Myers begins to get up to leave, Haley goes quiet. The doctor pauses for a moment. He waits for a few seconds in the quiet room before giving up again and heading to the door. Myers reaches for the handle.
“Doctor?” It was a voice he didn’t recognize, soft and quiet. He freezes in shock. Never again would a voice so small have such a large impact on him. He turns slowly to face her. Those eyes. They were a glistening green, full of life. It almost brought him to tears.
“Why do you do this?”
Myers was speechless. How does someone answer a question like that at a time like this? “...uh…”
“Why do you keep trying to wake me up?”
“You...you were asleep?”
“What did you expect me to do? You put me in this horrible place! I wanted to hide but I couldn’t! Where was I supposed to go?”
“I...I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do right now.”
“Don’t do anything! Just leave me alone!”
There’s a long, deafening silence. Myers had been waiting years for this moment. All that effort. For what? She’s right there within his reach, going out of her way to slip away forever. He couldn’t screw this up. “Haley...you can’t hide behind the voices forever. People are getting hurt!”
Haley glances down at her feet. The guilt was written all over her face.
“I know the world hasn’t treated you right, but you can’t just run away from it. People miss the real you.”
“Nobody cares about me! My parents abandoned me here! They never came back for me once!” She glances down at her feet again. “People like the voices. Everyone was having fun at lunch earlier. It was you guys who showed up and ruined everything!”
It was Myers’ turn to feel guilty. She was right. The patients were all cheering and laughing once Haley jumped up onto the tables. It was the guards who had scared everyone out. “This is no way to live your life, Haley.”
“It seemed fun for everyone else.”
“But were YOU having fun?”
Haley pauses for a long second. “If everyone else is enjoying themselves... then I think I can stand to be unhappy.”
Haley yawns. “Goodnight, doc.” Her bright green eyes melt away into the familiar emptiness and she dozes off, sleepily whispering another nursery rhyme.
“Haley! Wait! Don’t!” Myers rushes over and grabs Haley by the shoulders, trying in vain to shake her back awake. “What happened to Jason? You have to tell me!” The door behind him shifts and clicks as the nurses unlock it. Myers tries again and again to keep Haley awake. The door swings open and the head of security steps into the room and gestures towards the doctor.
“Get him out of here!” Two uniformed officers grab Myers by the arms and drag him out of the room kicking and screaming. The head of security looks down at Haley, half asleep against the wall. “Time-out’s over. Get her back into the lunchroom.”
The large man in the white coat lifts Haley up off the floor and straps her into the rusted cart again, wheeling her back towards the cafeteria.
Haley is plopped down at her usual spot. Her eyes flutter awake and she looks around at the other patients. The world is very different through her eyes. Shambling throughout the normal crowd are broken, decaying people who wander unseen and unfelt.
The three men from the hallway are present. The bald man with the scar is crowded by young teenagers who appear to have been hacked apart and messily put back together. Some of them weep softly, some stand off to the side smoking cigarettes and joints, and still others crouch down and whisper menacingly into the man’s ears. Just as before, the man claws at his ears and sobs quietly. The thin man is loomed over by an indistinct figure. As he sits and calmly eats his food, the figure reaches a thin, mangled hand through the back of the man’s head. He suddenly flies into another inexplicable rage, flinging food and throwing punches. The cheerful man is surrounded by children. They frolic and play around his table. Standing behind him is a woman with a hand on his shoulder. The man has a warm smile. Haley had never seen a happier smile in her life.
A wide grin crawls across Haley’s face. It slowly turns into a giggle and then into a raucous laugh that fills the whole hospital. Outside, Dr. Myers climbs into his car, holds his face in his hands, and cries. Someone is sitting in the back seat. Someone he couldn’t see.
Someone who didn’t look right.
--Sam T-aka S4mTheM4n99 (talk) 20:06, June 8, 2017 (UTC)