Back to the Asylum

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Spring is here. Sort of. In some places. More importantly, Story-A-Day isn’t far away!

A year ago I got my cancer diagnosis, had several surgeries, lots of doctor visits, and six months of chemo. I’m officially showing No Evidence of Disease (NED!). So, I’m looking forward to a saner year.

I’m waiting for someone to read and give me feedback on novel number two. (Always a nerve-challenging time.) So, meanwhile, I’m going to back over the stories I wrote last year, and I’m going to see what I can do with and where the characters ought to go next.

I think the story may get more intense. I’ve spent a bit more time this last year contemplating mortality, and it is coming out in my work.

We’ll see what happens.

May 28th! Taking a step back.

As I figure out what’s happening inside, there are still things happening outside.

Hasher Mansfield had seen the lights from the Asylum long before he exited the highway. He never liked delivering there, but he’d always made his drop offs in the semi-darkness. Apprehension and excitement rolled in his chest.

Once before he’d seen a bright light coming from the Asylum. When Hasher had pulled up, he’d seen an ambulance and armed guards. He thought he’d heard a scream before all went suddenly silent.

Now the Asylum lights lit up the sky like never before. He turned up the dirt drive and stopped at the gate. The guard moved more slowly than normal. Hasher’s unease grew.

The guard stepped out of his shed. He had a phone to his ear. After a glance at Hasher, he waved him on through.

Hasher took a moment to put his truck into gear. He’d never been waved through without a complete and thorough check of his papers and his cargo. Years of this same gig, seeing the same guards, and they still insisted on following every last procedure. Their obsessive checklists irritated him, but this laxness unnerved him. If there was a reason for them to forget procedure, it had to be reason enough to stay away.

The guard was shouting into the phone. Hasher shook his head, crossed himself, and drove the truck onto the grounds.

At the curve in the road, he slowed down. He was glad he did. A young man ran across the road, directly in front of the truck where he threw himself in the dirt.

Hasher slammed on the brakes. Bruises and cuts covered the young man. His clothes were torn. He made no further move. Hasher looked up at the Asylum lights unsure of what to do. Wait? Get out and check on the boy? Back up?

He rolled down his window to shout for the boy to get out of the way. Maybe this was some kind of prank, though he knew it wasn’t. The night air entered the truck and so did the sounds of shouts. Glass broke somewhere, the sound perfectly carried on the breeze. A scream followed.

All the lights of the Asylum wavered. They flickered. And everything was thrown into darkness. The only light left came from the truck’s headlights, which spilled over the boy stretched out across the drive as if dead.

May 25th. Did not miss it!

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Well, I missed yesterday, but I wrote something today. Thank goodness.

Hannah let herself be led out of the basement and into the hall. She didn’t trust this nurse, but she had no place to run.

Your heart is bent on chaos, the nurse had said. Holding the nurse’s hand Hannah knew it was true. Like her grandmother. Her grandmother caused trouble. Hannah knew that much. She slipped the metal pick-pocketing tool into her hand. If the nurse wanted trouble, she’d give it to her.

Nurse Meredith knew the Asylum and she knew how Security thought and acted. She also knew they’d checked this corridor already. They wouldn’t be back for a while yet. “You want to unlock everything. Is that right?”

“And what if I do?” Hannah answered.

“Then start with that door over there. I assume you’ve a key or something. I’m going to start on this side of the hall. You start over there.”

“Seriously? You. But you work here. Why are you telling me to—”

“Get to work, you little fool. Before Security starts thinking. Just unlock the door and move on to the next.” Meredith pointed. “Face what you wanted.”

Hannah hesitated, but she took the lock-pick and knelt at the door.