I love Story-A-Day May. Much has happened in my life since last year (as no doubt for most folks). There are always reasons not to write at all, much less a story every single day. Last year I was getting though finals week at work and moving into our first house. This year I’m recovering from surgery and going through chemotherapy. That’s an unexpected turn of events.
Usually I have a theme. One year it was fairy tales. The next year it was the Princess Detective. Right? I can hardly remember. This year I don’t have a theme. I’m going to bounce around to projects. Some pieces might be stories, others might be more like chapters. I’d like to go back to my princess detective. I’ve got a vampire story as well.
But to start I’m going back to The Fairy Tale Asylum, which gave this blog its name. Things are amiss in the Asylum–as ever. Here is a portion of the story.
Meredith unlocked the door to the medicine cabinet. The vial’s original label had been scratched off. Someone had written “quiet” on where bits of the label had been. She held the vial up to the light. The liquid was clear and bright. She picked up the syringe, and shut the cabinet door.
The patients had to be asleep by midnight. No exceptions. Meredith missed a patient once. She didn’t want to make that mistake again.
She checked the time. She kept things to the minute and she went in order. She never varied her path. Any change risked getting off the schedule, and the patients appreciated predictability.
The old woman in the first room was already asleep. She slept all the time, but Meredith gave her the nightly injection anyway. The liquid kept the woman’s nightmares at bay. She dreamed of wolves coming in the windows. Meredith never dreamed of wolves. She refused to dream of animals at all.
The second room was dark. The boy liked it dark. He kept the curtains drawn all day, which management encouraged. Townspeople, especially the teenagers, often tried to climb the asylum walls and peer in the windows. No one had ever succeeded, as far as Meredith knew, but you couldn’t be too careful.
She knew her way around the room. She could walk the entire building blindfolded. She stepped over to the bed and reached for the boy’s arm.
He wasn’t there.
Meredith turned around and around, but the boy wasn’t in the room. It was impossible. The door was locked from the outside. She had the only key and she kept it with her throughout her shift.
She flipped on the light. The boy really wasn’t there.
The procedure, which she’d not had to ever follow before, was to set off the alarm and lock down the asylum. But then the head nurse would know who had lost the boy. They’d pull her off her shift and into the office.
Meredith didn’t want to go into the office. Everyone knew they didn’t fire people, nor did they allow anyone to quit. She’d find the boy on her own. She’d finish her rounds. Then she’d look for him. No one notice. Everyone else was asleep or busy. The boy couldn’t have left the grounds. She’d have heard. Everyone would know. She would already be in the office.
The asylum was quiet. No sound gave away the boy. Meredith took a deep breath and walked out of the room as she did every night. The other patients were waiting. And she was now several minutes behind schedule, but her heart was racing ahead.