Estimated reading time — 42 minutes
((The following passage was found on an abandoned jump-drive two miles outside of Philadelphia. Though a somewhat longer passage, it has been passed on to, edited, and submitted by K.B. Miller. Original sources refused to disclose the exact location where such jump-drive was found. Therefore, certain names and events have been changed or redacted.))
I can’t believe I’m doing this.
Let me begin by saying I’m not sure how much time I have. I’ll try keep it short, to be as detailed as possible. The cowardice inside screams for me to get away, to not just sit here. But the author… she wants this written down, almost like a final verse in this sick play. All I just know is that the world needs to understand. They need to know the secret behind Spring Grove. I’m not good at writing this kind of thing. The more I speak of it, the more ridiculous it’s going to seem. But please. Just listen to me…
… I guess I should start where it counts: are you a fan of children? I was. I was never really fond of newborns, but any child beyond the state of toddler held a certain weakness of mine. Their deep, vibrant eyes, constantly sweeping the world; but nothing fascinated me more than their mind. Their minds are the image of purity, blank as a white canvas until our vile black paint stains it like poisonous ink. I witnessed that tainting. Right before my very eyes.
My whole reason for getting myself mixed up in this crap was for a project, one that would assure my graduation from Art Institutes. It was simple enough: a short, meaningful documentary on a subject of our choosing. I was a film student, you see, and was no stranger in approaching random people and asking for a moment of their time in front of the camera. But I wanted to branch out. I wanted to be different, to be brave. I wanted to do something that no one else thought about looking into.
My brother had recently picked up his Play Station 4. All the better, since he hadn’t shut up about it since it was announced. A few weeks in, and he discovered that Red Barrels had posted a free download of Outlast, a horror game whose gameplay I couldn’t get enough of on YouTube. As I sat quietly in a corner after begging to observe his reactions like it was a staged comedy, I turned my attention to the game itself. Man, places like Mount Massive Asylums got a bad reputation through media like this. I had never truly entered an asylum myself. What could be the harm? Things like this were victim to Hollywood bull.
That’s it. I can expose an asylum for what it is. I could do more than present this as a project; I could pull a Steven Spielberg and publish this baby straight to Netflix.
Being the spastic, excited fool I was, I immediately began research for my first blockbuster. It had to be someplace close, since my car had a tendency to chew out my savings every tire rotation. They would also have to be comfortable in front of the camera. Avoiding lawsuits and invading privacy wasn’t exactly my forte. Any psychiatric facility would do. I didn’t ask for much.
Of course, all asylums in the immediate area refused any and all requests to even an interview. I never asked questions, and it never crossed my mind any of them had anything to hide. They probably figured I was still a student, and places like that could be dangerous for those without proper training. Yet, so were prisons, and I’ve seen plenty of cameras in places like those. I just flowed with whatever rolled my way, and one day… it paid off.
The First Day
Spring Grove Hospital Center was what they called it. I could care less of what it’s called, now. To me, it was Hell on Earth. But not then. Then, I was ecstatic that they even considered me, and I grabbed the first opportunity I had to begin my trek to suburban Baltimore. The drive was unpleasant, but the views were astonishing. I had only before experienced the great city, but Spring Grove’s campus was a breath of fresh air.
I swore at first I was driving to have a meet with a queen before pulling in. The buildings were spread and massive, almost medieval with a touch of modern technology. In fact, it almost resembled a few college campus’ that I had previously visited. But I knew better. This asylum was going to provide more experience than any education would. Speaking of which, I was quickly put in my place for even mentioning the word ‘asylum’. Apparently, I had to use the term ‘psychiatric hospital’ at all times during my stay, but whatever. Being politically correct is irritating as it is. A woman stood waiting for me at the door, as though my arrival was that of some kind of celebrity.
“You are Jacobson, yes?” She addressed me formally, with a broken accent I couldn’t exactly put my finger on. “Come. We show you around. You film camera whenever you like.”
She took me into the bowels of the building. Well, I can’t call it the ‘bowels’, exactly. It seemed quite pleasant at first, with plenty of light and fresh air amongst the living space. I was already having my doubts on this whole assignment. I was expecting medieval torture and massacres. This place was downright comfortable. Maybe it was just bias getting in the way. Filming this place as it was, whether it’s insane or a sanctum, was my mission. The truth. I took out my camera and already began getting some footage. The thought nagging at the back of my mind was that this was going to be a bit of a letdown back at the Institutes. Maybe I should just film a horror attraction instead, if that’s what they expected.
“Spring Grove was established in 1797. Is second oldest operating psychiatric facility in the nation.” The woman explained to me. “Is known for its research in schizophrenia.”
It wasn’t far into the asylum before she wanted to turn back. I knew in my gut we hadn’t seen the whole facility, and I hadn’t gotten nearly enough information for my documentary. She disregarded any attempts to go further, stating that was all she had to show me. I researched for days, drove for hours, for only ten minutes worth of material? It was NOT going to end like this. My college education (and my portfolio) were at stake.
So, I devised the ultimate plan: before we journeyed back to the entrance, I excused myself to the restroom. There, I waited patiently, faking whatever bowel movements I could, before I could slip out undetected.
I was feeling pretty good about myself, until it slowly began to dawn on me that the patients were becoming more and more scarce. I knew I was in the woman’s wing. About where we started, patients were pretty common, aimlessly roaming the halls or simply lounging outside their quarters. Save the occasional nurse or assistant, these halls were barren. It was somewhat unsettling, but not nearly as so when I came to a sign that read “Violent Patients” above an archway in the middle of the corridor. I had the distinct feeling in my gut that I had gone too far. I turned to begin my walk of shame back to the entrance…
“NO, NO, NO! MY GAME! PLAY THE GAME! PLAY THE GAME!”
At least, that’s what I thought she said. It was unholy shrieking like I’ve never heard before. It sounded much closer than it really was, as though the bloody wails were right next to my hear, blasting my eardrums to dust. I whipped about frantically, and found something not so dissimilar to a gremlin sprinting toward me. My first instinct was to take flight, but something rooted me to the ground. The creature stumbled and scrambled on the slick linoleum, foaming at the mouth and clutching something in the claws of her left fingers. As it slipped, it left a trail of blackish mucus behind it, like aged blood. It didn’t take long in my panic to notice that this was a young, hairless girl, no more than 5 years old, dressed in only a slim robe. I felt my heart pound in my chest, the blood pulsating in my skull. Oh god! Keep this creature away from me!
Though I swore she was mere feet from my face, employees tackled her a good ten yards down the hall. She fought, raking her razor sharp nails across the faces of her assailants and dropping the little device on the ground. It flipped open, revealing the duel screens that I recognized belonged to a Nintendo DS. She screamed at the top of her lungs, and I finally mustered enough strength to take a step back. One of the employees scooped the thing up, and pressed the others to return the patient to her quarters. I took the moment to wrench myself away from that place. I whipped around, turning the corner and trying to wipe the terrible images from my-
“What are you doing?!” I almost jumped from my socks. I had nearly forgotten about my escort. “You must leave! NOW!”
But I held my ground. I pleaded. Why did I plead? Perhaps the simple change in direction had knocked my brain stem loose. My mind was now hellbent on finishing this documentary. “W-What about her?! Can I see her?! Please?!”
“You leave! NOW!”
I was pressed out the door before I had a chance to take a second breath. The woman barred the entrance. I never even got her name. All the better, I didn’t care. I was angry. I was promised more than information, I was promised truth. This crap I picked up on my camera was nothing; I didn’t even get footage of the hairless girl. When I reviewed my results, any and all footage of her was obstructed and replaced with static. I figured in my panic I must have hit a button or some kind of bull. Everything I had traveled here for: gone.
I didn’t take my leave right away. In a fit of rage, I placed another dent in my otherwise ramshackle car. How could I have been so damn stupid?! There was a reason no one tread these kinds of waters: it was a complete waste of time and money! I took up my camera and shoved it back into its case. To hell with it! I wasn’t going to waste another moment in this fucking ‘mental hospital.’ I’m just going to go home and avoid trashing my cash on some gross hotel room. I got behind the wheel, nearly tearing my door handle off its hinges as I slammed it shut. Ugh, come ON! My keys fell to the carpet floor. I twisted myself in the most awkward of positions before hooking it on my finger.
As I rose, there was a loud KNOCK KNOCK of glass on boney knuckles. I startled, once more letting my keys escape my grasp. I sat there a moment with an exasperated sigh, before giving in and rolling down my window slightly.
“Ms. Nicole Jacobson, am I right?” The woman extended her hand in greeting through the window. It took a moment before I acknowledged and shook it. “I couldn’t help but notice what keen interest you have in our little asylum away from home.”
I perked up somewhat. “You use the word ‘asylum.’ Why?”
“It doesn’t much matter what we call it. It’ll always be home to the insane.” As ridiculous as I found it to keep the right terminology, her nonchalant attitude put me on edge. “How’s about you step out of the car and we talk about getting you the footage you want.”
I didn’t budge. “And just who are you?”
She smirked. It wasn’t a playful or devilish smirk. I couldn’t tell what it was. “The name’s Doctor Denise Waters, Clinical Director and Chief of Staff. So. Do you want that footage or not?”
The Second Day
It was a rock and a hard place. That night, Dr. Waters directed me to stay on campus in dorms normally reserved for medical students in training. It wasn’t very inviting, I must say. The dorms were poorly kept, and cobwebs dominated the corners of every room. I swore I caught a whiff of mold or mildew. Considering my other options, however, staying on campus was the only one that didn’t reek of failure, or rather, burn a hole in my wallet. The night was rough, nonetheless. As I lay with my gaze piercing the singular window, I could not shake from the back of my mind the creature that bed not a mile from me. The creature that I would have to face again come dawn.
The blood red sun had barely begun to peek over the horizon by the time I met Dr. Waters once more by the same building. I wasn’t fond of mornings, but then again, you can’t wake up early if you never slept. I shut my driver’s side door before I turned to get my equipment from the back. Waters held up a finger, halting me.
“Not today.” She bluntly stated. “She must get to know you first.”
“’Not today?’” I repeated in disbelief. “How long do you think this is going to take?! I only need an hour’s worth of film!”
“Six.” She said. “Days. No more. No less. You must prove to us, to her, that you are who you say you are.”
This woman was crazy. What do I have to prove?! They’re the ones who need to prove something to me! And there was no way that I was going to stay here for another five days! I turned around, ready to hop in my rusted Nissan for the long journey back home. No documentary was worth this.
“Remember, Ms. Jacobson!” Dr. Waters yelled after me. I wasn’t sure why her words had me freeze the way I did. It was though I was silently desperate for there to be a reason to stay. A reason… that would make the difference in everything I stood for. “If you run now, the world will never truly know what lay beyond these doors! You’re the final hope for this girl!”
“Or else what?” I glanced over my shoulder.
She needn’t answer me. I could tell by the mere dullness of her soulless eyes what fate await that young, innocent girl. Were these people really willing to stoop that low? Was the girl truly that dangerous? And… how was I being here going to change that? I had too many questions to ask at once. I did my usual thing, kept my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open, as she once more took me past that forbidden sign that read “Violent Patients”. Into the jaws of the beast. What have I to lose at this point? She was lucky that I had a week to spare during spring break.
I followed closely behind, head down, as I began to stride lightly. Pleasant wooden doors were slowly replaced by iron behemoths that could take a nuclear strike. Whatever the stoic guardians kept at bay did nothing to shield the sound that came from within: quite often we passed patients in the middle of their tantrums or inconsistent muttering. Some doors were solid; others held heavy viewing glass or barred windows. It was almost like prison in my eyes, and every step felt more and more like the corridors of Mount Massive Asylum. I took my eyes off my surroundings for one second to see the lonely door at the end of the hall… the one that held my destination.
My heart leaped into my throat. My collar had been grabbed onto, and wrenched to the side. My head met cold hard metal, the metallic noise echoing through my skull. Untrimmed nails raked into my neck. The woman’s warm breath seeping into my mouth and nose like smog. By the time my vision leveled, Dr. Waters had taken a hold of my shoulders, dragging me back in the opposite direction. It all happened so fast, I stumbled before regaining balance and looking my assailant dead in the eye. I didn’t even have a moment’s notice to scream.
“Don’t GO!” The patient shrieked, clawing the metal through the iron bars. Dr. Waters helped me to my feet, giving me a moment to compose myself. She began to walk me to the door, though my ears staggered behind. “The cursed child lives! She lives beyond that door! That cursed child! That CURSED child!”
Her voice gradually muted as we passed through the door, leading into a small transition room with yet another door. Dr. Waters fussed over me, checking my head for any signs of injury. “I’m terribly sorry about that. She’s one of our advanced cases of schizophrenia. Patients like her are the reason we don’t often let guests back here.” She gestured to the door. “Come, through here. This is the transition into the nursery.”
Nursery? I never thought of an asylum housing a nursery before. It was like any other, only with a little more padding. Nurses were constantly on watch in every corner of the room. Every toy, play thing, or activity was completely impact resistant, with little to no blunt edges whatsoever. Even the wallpaper was designed with air pockets, like entire sheets of bubble wrap were plastered to the walls. It was pretty spacious, and gave the children plenty of stimulus. The children themselves were all around the age of 10, though didn’t seem to have the mental capacity of a child over 8. Even with a scant amount of observation, I could tell that they were getting the best care possible here.
“Why is this room in the Violent Woman’s Wing?” I asked as the thought struck me. “I see both boys and girls here.”
Dr. Waters strode past me, gesturing for me to follow. “We believe that the presence of children are more soothing for the women here. Sometimes if they show enough good behavior, they can visit this room under heavy supervision. They are much safer here than in the Men’s Wing. Usually maternal instinct kicks in, and the children are quite safe.”
She took me to the far corner of the room. It wasn’t until now that I spotted it-… no, her… huddled by some blankets with her eyes locked on her Nintendo DS. She was pale, like her skin never knew sunlight, and frail like she never knew a good meal. A couple other children were sat immediately behind her, their focus only broken by our arrival. They stood, their intense eyes boring into my flesh, before trotting past to look for something else to do. The girl, almost instantly noticing the absence of her audience, took a glance around before looking up at her new visitors. Her eyes were bloodshot, but sparkled like none others in this godforsaken place.
“Faith…” Dr. Waters addressed her. “This is Ms. Jacobson.”
Faith’s eyes never left me. It was though she was sizing me up, or completely awestruck by what I was. I couldn’t think of anything else to do but smile. Maybe throw in a little finger wave. When she finally broke the searing visual contact, her gaze swept immediately back onto her hand-held. Her fingers didn’t resume their usual pattern over the buttons as I anticipated. Instead, her fragile palms lifted in my direction, presenting me with her greatest treasure.
“Play the game?” She asked, in a sweet, delicate voice.
I halted. Images from the other day swamped my mind. Was this really the same girl? Without so much as a hesitation, I put my hand up, grinning nervously. “Um, not today, dearie.”
She didn’t budge. In fact, she pressed the DS towards me more firmly. Before I had a chance to say anything more, Dr. Waters intercepted. “Ms. Jacobson is going to be your new friend and play with you for the next few days.”
“I am?” I frowned, only to pick the act back up when I saw the heartbreak in Faith’s face. I didn’t sign up for this. “I mean, yes, I am.”
Faith shut her DS and put it to the side. Somehow, this made me more comfortable. She spoke in a voice that sounded much older than it should. “So you’re here to replace Ms. Annabelle?”
“No, no.” Dr. Waters cut in again. “Not replace. No one can replace Ms. Annabelle. She’s just going to keep you company. Now, we’ll be right back.”
She took me back into the transition room, careful not to let any children slip through the cracks. I took a fleeting look back over my shoulder, half expecting Faith to scoop her device back up and resume whatever she was doing. But she didn’t. Her eyes never left me, and even as I saw her smile for the first time, I was not reassured. I could already tell this girl was going to test me in every way she knew I feared. It was not a sinister look. It was merely the look every student gave their substitute teacher. After the door was shut, I let the doctor see clearly my irritation.
“I came to make a documentary, not babysit!” I can’t remember exactly how this conversation went, let alone everything else, but this interpretation comes close.
“This is our deal, Jacobson. Take it or leave it.” Waters grew firm. “She is our youngest schizophrenic case we have ever received. You’re lucky to have even gotten a glance at her, let alone the interaction I’m giving you!… Look at it this way: you document her. You try to understand her. And while you do that, I believe you can help her!”
“How?! What can I do?!”
“That’s for you to figure out!… We’ve done all we can, Jacobson. She’s become a danger to herself. If Faith doesn’t make a breakthrough soon, her suffering may cause her to do something beyond harmful… maybe even fatal.”
“Isn’t it your job to make sure that doesn’t happen?”
Waters shook her head, prepared to put this dispute to rest. “This is different, Ms. Jacobson. You might not understand now, but this child is beyond our control. You either take this chance, or walk away now. Any questions?”
Too many, I thought. None of this made the least bit of sense. How did simply getting a few more minutes of footage plunge me into this? Every argument I had against this woman was null and void with my sense of humanity. I was too kind. I wanted to help Faith more than anything. How I was going to do that, I really had no idea myself. If the professional couldn’t help her, how could a film student? I wasn’t even really sure what my goal was. How was I to know if I had ‘helped’ her or not? Why was I asking myself all these hypothetical questions never to be answered? I don’t know. It was all bullshit.
“Well?” Waters growled. “Questions?”
I scoffed in frustration, grabbing a random thought from the back of my head. “Her DS. What is that for? She’s the only child who has one, it looks like.”
“That game thingy?” The doctor was somewhat confused at first. “I’m not really sure what it is or what she does on it. A nurse brought it in from the lost-and-found. One of the students left it behind.”
“So why does Faith have it now?”
“Well before, Faith was a very cold and spastic child. We figured all she needed was interaction with other children, but they were afraid to approach her, and she wanted nothing to do with them. When the nurse let her see the game, she calmed down, focused on it. She was made approachable by the others. So we figured, what the heck. Let her keep it. Since then, her outbursts have slimmed from constant to once every few days.” Waters turned with a flip of her brunette hair. “Now if you don’t mind, I have more important things to attend to.”
“You’re just going to leave me here?”
“Of course. I was called to a conference in Washington last night. You’ll be fine. There are many trained nurses around to lend a hand if need be. I wish you luck on your documentary, Ms. Jacobson.” She said, opening the door. Before slipping out, she turned back one final time. “You may or may not like what you find…”
… And that’s it. Thus would end as much as I can recall to that point in time. It’s somewhat scant, but so are the memories. It doesn’t help that every word I type builds on my rapid heartbeat. Thankfully, I don’t need to remember every detail. I thought ahead. After the second day drew to a close, I scrambled to grab whatever spare paper I brought along. I may not be a reporter, but I knew how to organize my thoughts like one. I found a small, clean notebook hidden among my knapsacks, and jotted down as much as I could on that every night. A log. I guess at the time I had figured I would use it as a narrative for the documentary-never-to-be. Now it’s just a hellish chronicle of the real horrors that lie beyond their doors.
And I’m about to share every word of it:
– April 14th, 2014. Today was the first day spent with Faith.
– Shortly after being left to my own devices by Doctor Denise Waters, I joined her in the nursery. The first few moments were spent sitting there beside her, silently, observing her play on her Nintendo DS. I recognized it almost immediately, as I am a proficient gamer. It was one of the first games I ever played on DS myself. It was Kirby Super Star Ultra, and I must say she was pretty far into it for someone her age. She was already tackling the consecutive boss battles in the stage known as ‘The Arena.’ That particular stage took me forever to complete myself.
– After watching her get taken down by the boss Wham Bam Rock, she finally turned her attention to me and said, blunt as a stone: “I don’t like you.” I asked why. “You’re here to replace Ms. Annabelle. I liked Ms. Annabelle.”
– I had heard this name a few times now. My curiosity spiked. “Who is Ms. Annabelle? What happened to her?”
– Faith closed her DS and looked away somewhat wistfully. “He got hungry the other night. She fed him.”
– I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant by that. I’m guessing that when Ms. Annabelle took her leave, she mentioned to Faith that a pet of hers at home needed feeding. I settled on that theory, considering the fact that I couldn’t get anything more from her.
– Faith is a classic schizophrenic case. Luckily, I have brought my laptop to conduct research when I can. Unable to sleep last night, I searched up schizophrenia on Google to give myself a quick rundown. Like what I saw, Faith wasn’t exactly the most focused individual I’ve spent time with. Sometimes, it was thought she wasn’t even speaking to me. She was somewhat spastic, and constantly changing the subject to something random, most of the time having to do with that game. I was at least glad I knew what she was talking about; I’m sure anyone else in this hospital who managed to speak with her couldn’t hold a conversation about King Dedede’s hierarchy or the fundamental basis of the Heavy Lobster. She’s a smart kid, given her mental state.
– She began to take more of a liking to me after these conversations on her game started. At first, she was fixated on one thing and one thing only: getting me to play it. I held my ground and refused every time. I wasn’t very familiar with schizophrenic cases, and I was afraid of the consequences for touching her DS too long. Perhaps she may forget she lent it to me, and attack me to get it back. She certainly wasn’t too fond of the nurses taking it away from her the other day. Whatever the case, (as so many scenarios ran through my head), I wasn’t about to take a chance with this child I barely knew. She was persistent, but once she knew I had some kind of knowledge of the game itself, her pleads all but melted away.
– Even though she was through most of the game, she often asked me for tips on how to get further. Her whole world transfixed on this game. It seemed to be the only thing giving her life meaning, connecting her to those around her. The other children were fascinated by this little device that made her a local celebrity. I see why it is so dear to her.
– Once we got comfortable with one another, we began to do more together. A simple game of catch with a plush ball proved entertaining to her; somewhat surprising, considering the kind of stimulation she gets from her game. I suppose it wasn’t the game itself she craved, it was companionship. Maybe this is what Dr. Waters meant when she said I could help her. To be a filmmaker means to keep an open mind. It meant persistence and hard work, with little bias behind it. She might have made the right choice, calling to me. The rest of the day was spent doing random activities about the nursery, and soon, she even forgot to mention the game at all.
– I took it very slow, to the very end. By dusk, Faith was even sad to see me go. I didn’t find out much about her, but at least she is more comfortable with me now. She’s not who I thought she was. Unlike the other patients, she’s smart. She’s level-headed. She appears more and more… human, every second I spend with her. She knows what’s going on. She’s not mad like they say. She’s a child, like many I’ve seen before. Something seems out of place here… and I’m going to get to the bottom of it.
The Third Day
– April 15th, 2014. Two children were missing today when I got to the nursery.
– And that wasn’t the only odd thing to happen right at dawn. Last night about 1 PM, there was a severe power outage that lasted until noon the next morning. The wind hardly blew, and rain has been nonexistent since I arrived. I didn’t bother getting out of bed to ask how it happened; I just wanted to steal a single damn moment of sleep. Despite having made myself more comfortable in Faith’s presence, sleeping in the dorms still waft a feeling of dread. So, I lay there, motionless, until the sun finally sliced through the darkness.
– I decided to walk to the building today. The morning was crisp, and after all the bull I’ve had to put up with in the past few days, I needed some fresh air. The hospital campus is beautiful, after all; nothing like rest of Baltimore. As I strode over the lush green moor, I noticed a construction crew nearby, working around the clock to bring the grids power back online. Even from a distance, I could see they were in the process of hauling away a transformer, to replace it altogether. As the workers moved aside, I saw the extent of the damage like it came straight from a Spielberg film: it was though something had ripped straight through the center, like great claws had taken hold of it and raked through it like butter. Though I walked by without hesitation, it left me dumbfounded. No natural occurrence last night could have done that.
– When I walked through the front doors, I headed straight to the front desk and asked if they knew what caused the outage, taking note that the power was already restored in this building. The man behind the desk merely stated that there was a construction accident that caused one of the grid’s lines to be severed. Lies. All lies. Not only did I see the damage myself, but I ventured all over campus the other day. Not once did I see any construction taking place whatsoever. I turned away without another word. What do I know? It could have been just some fluke incident they were trying to cover up.
– When I made it to the nursery, I instinctively looked over in the same corner Faith was in the other day. There she was, fixated on her DS. Unlike yesterday, however, she perked up the moment I opened the door, as though she was expecting me. I smiled. It made me feel loved to have made a new friend. For her to drop everything and greet me was astounding from what I saw just a few short hours ago.
– It was then a nurse approached me with the grave news. Many cameras were set up along the corridors and positioned in every room, something I took note of but never really felt the need to point out. It WAS an asylum, after all. According to the nurse, the cameras naturally went offline during the outage, and in the short period of time spent getting the auxiliary power online, two children mysteriously disappeared.
– “I don’t understand it.” She said to me. “We kept such a close eye on them while the cameras were out. We don’t know if they slipped out on their own or if someone took them or what.”
– All she told me was to keep an eye out for them at all times, like everyone else was instructed to do. They two boys were brothers, as I could tell from the photos she showed me. Even Faith took a look a the photographs, but didn’t give any indication she knew who they were, at first. It was only until the nurse left that she spoke up.
– “They played the game with me.” She said. “But they didn’t really like it.”
– That was it! Those were the boys that were looking over her shoulder yesterday. Knowing this didn’t do me any good on finding them, but it still felt good to know.
– I finally got the chance to bring in my equipment today. I hadn’t even set up my tripod before Faith began pestering me once more. “Play with Marxie! Play the game! Please?!” She would say. I wasn’t as strongly opposed to it as the other day, but I still rejected. I still didn’t trust Faith enough to touch her DS. She did, however, add Marx to the plea, or ‘Marxie’ as she liked to call him. For those of you not Kirby-savvy, Marx was a prime villain in Kirby Super Star and Kirby Super Star Ultra, the game she had now. I guess she wanted me to play Milky Way Wishes, the stage he was on. By the time the camera was set up, Faith finally gave up once again.
– She was less fixated on the game today, and more interested in spending time and doing things with me. Of course, even though she didn’t focus on it directly, I could tell her thoughts on it were latent. In the midst of having some fun, she grabbed two foam noodles from the toy box. She hand one to me, telling me that I was Kirby and she was Meta Knight. We were basically reenacting a battle from the game. I thought nothing of it, really. It was typical fan-girl hysteria, being a fan-girl myself. Our playtime even attracted the attention of the other children, and it wasn’t long before every child in the room was armed with a foam noodle, much to the dismay of the nurses who had no sense of fun. Our shenanigans lasted about an hour, and it wasn’t long before most of the children were tuckered out to the point of a nap.
– Faith, however, was a never ending wad of energy. She’s quite honestly the most fun I’ve had with any child her age. I even forgot at times that I was neck deep in an asylum. While helping the nurses clean up noodles, I was ambushed by her as she climbed onto my shoulders. She was surprisingly light.
– “You know, Faith…” I said to her then. “You’re a very fun girl. Why didn’t you want to play with the others before you got your Gameboy?” It was around this time I also discovered she liked calling her DS a Gameboy, something I myself do at times.
– Faith grew somewhat down-trodden when I mentioned that. “They thought we were weird. They said I looked weird.”
– I’m pretty sure she said ‘we’. I’m not really sure why. “Why do you think they said you look weird?”
– She began rocking back and forth. She normally does that when she gets nervous or uncomfortable. “Because I got rid of my hair. I used to have really really pretty and long black hair that went down to my butt.”
– I grew even more puzzled. I never thought about her hair before. I initially thought it was somewhat rude to ask about it. “Why’d you get rid of it?”
– She stopped rocking, with the most matter-of-fact tone. “He thought it looked dirty, so he told me to pull it out.”
– I stopped whatever I was doing. I took her off my shoulders delicately to stare her straight in the face. As much as I tried to squeeze out of her, she wouldn’t tell me anything else. Each time, she merely said it was her ‘friend’ that was telling her to do this. I took her to the other children, and asked her to point him out, since at least I know he’s male. She shook her head and refused. She didn’t want him to get in trouble.
– I’m not sure why this made me as furious as it did. I suppose I’m growing attached to Faith, or something like that. The thought that some bully was telling her to put out her own hair while the nurses sat back and did nothing made my blood boil. It was the maternal instinct, I guess. As the day drew to a close, I told one of the nurses about it, and asked her to keep an eye on whichever boy may be the culprit. Faith’s self-esteem was bad enough. She didn’t need this.
– Oh, and I didn’t get ANY footage today, as if my luck couldn’t get any worse. When I went to turn my camera off and stop the recording, I found the entire thing had just shut off. When I took it back to the dorm, the batteries were FRIED. That afternoon was spent running into town for more, along with a couple of other things. On the bright side, I’ve never really spent time in rural Baltimore, and enjoyed finding a strip of window shops. We never really had a lot of those where I lived. After I found my pack of batteries, I took some time to take a look around.
– I wasn’t going to write this down, but I suppose since it’s about the asylum, it’s relevant. I walked into a medium’s shoppe during my small vacation, since I’ve never been in one before. I mainly wanted to check and see if she had any incense; I enjoy the smell. When I walked in, she immediately looked up and greeted me.
– “Everything is half off today.” She informed me. “You looking for a souvenir?”
– It took a moment for me to process it. “How’d you know I’m not from around here?”
– “Normally, people who come in here don’t browse. They either have questions or know what they want. Tourists browse.” She tried to make small talk. “What brings you to Baltimore?”
– I listened as I found the incense I was looking for, and began sniffing the boxes to find the best smell. “I’m doing some work over at Spring Grove Mental Hospital. Filming.” I felt the woman stiffen up, and looked over when I didn’t get a response. “Why?”
– “Hmm…” She looked a bit uncomfortable. “The air about that hospital has grown thick over the past few weeks. I visit my sister there every once in a while.”
– I asked the medium about her sister. Turns out, it was the same woman who gave me a concussion just the other day. Though both sisters were mediums, she explained, only one was unfortunate enough to catch the trait from their schizophrenic grandfather. Her sister has been in the hospital for nearly five years.
– “They treat her well.” She told me. “But the air, I tell you… It’s unlike anything I’ve felt before.”
– “Well,” I suggested, taking care to watch my terminology, since she may be offended if I said her sister was in an ‘asylum’, “it is a mental hospital. Some patients may have died there.”
– She shook her head. “No. This is different. This is VERY different. It’s like something just manifested out of thin air.” She took my incense, bagging it before coming around the front desk and flipping the front sign to ‘CLOSED’. “I wouldn’t spend too much more time there, dear. Don’t spend too much more time.”
– Then I came back to the dorms to begin writing. I’m not sure what the medium meant exactly. I’m an open mind, but I don’t think spirits are the answer to anything happening at the asylum. I’ve heard too much between asylums and hauntings, and I’m not about to let media bias get in the way. She has stroked my curiosity, though. My mom and I used to watch shows on the Discovery Channel about hauntings. I’ll probably watch a few episodes tonight while I work on some artwork on my computer.
The Forth Day
– April 16th, 2014. Maybe I should consider spirits here at the asylum. I saw some creepy-ass stuff today.
– It started when I woke up. When I woke up. I haven’t got a wink of sleep since I got here, and all of a sudden I fall asleep while working on a piece of artwork. I guess I did a bit more in my sleep than just art, because when I woke, my web browser was up. I don’t remember, but apparently I was Googling pictures of Kirby characters. A Google Image search of Marx was up. I closed it out, and got my stuff together. Now that I have new batteries, it was the mission of the day to get more footage.
– When I made it back to the nursery and set up my equipment, Faith didn’t barrage me with pleas to play her game like she normally did. She openly sees me as a friend now, and even apologized for the day she said she didn’t like me. We resumed our usual playtime, only today I tried to make the documentary count. Between our activities, I asked her meaningful questions.
– “Do you like it here?” “It’s okay.”
– “Do they treat you good?” “Yeah.”
– “What about the other children?” “They’re fine now.”
– “What’s your favorite thing to do?” “Play my game.”
– “What do you like most about your game?” “The other kids like it too, sometimes.”
– “How high can you count?” “To twenty.”
– “Can you count for me, please?” “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen… f-f-fourteen! Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen… nineteen, twenty!”
– “That’s really good! Can you read, too?” “I can read stuff on my game a little. He helps me read.”
– “Who helps you read?” “My friend.”
– “One of the boys?” “Yeah.”
– “Can you point to him?”
– That’s when I finally got the gist of what was going on: when she pointed, she pointed at nothing. So that’s it! She had an imaginary friend! This was the friend that was talking to her! That was the friend who told her to pull her hair out! It all made sense! There are plenty of schizophrenic cases that involved imaginary friends, since patients have trouble identifying what’s real and what’s not. I finally worked a goal out in my head. She’s probably to the point where she channels her inner thoughts through her ‘friend’. She uses him as an excuse, to justify things like pulling out her hair. I’ve finally figured it out!
– I asked her to tell me more about her friend. She told me he was very nice to her, even before when the other kids found her weird. He was always coming up with goofy ideas, and was always hungry. He loved her very much. Even when she made friends, he stayed with her. He liked it when she made friends. She even told me that he like ME a lot. That was good news. At least that way, I know that even in her subconscious, she considered me a friend. I’ve gained her trust.
– But then she said: “He thinks you’re useful.”
– I wasn’t sure what that meant. Maybe she knows I’m helping her. With that, I knew I had to push the boundaries. With some persuasion on the nurses behalf, given I was Faith’s current guardian… I took her out.
– Allowing her DS to tag along, I took Faith across campus. I knew this was the first time in so long that she had seen sunlight; she was scared to even step out the front door, as though the asphalt road was going to swallow her. When we got out there, she began covering her eyes and complaining about the sun. I thought fast, and she went the rest of the day wearing my sunglasses.
– By the time we reached the dorms where my car was, she was riding on my shoulders. It had been such a long time since she walked so far, stuck in that nursery. I let her down, and opened the trunk of my car. It still had a lot of the supplies I had planned on taking for Spring Break. I took out a soccer ball that I hadn’t messed with for years. Careful not to startle her, I carefully rolled the ball over in her direction. Putting her DS carefully to the side, she picked it up. First thing, she squeezed it.
– “It’s not soft!” She said excitedly. “It’s not puffy!”
– I showed her how to play soccer; how to kick the ball around with the inside for your foot, how to aim where you wanted it to go. We even used the space under my car as a goal, which wasn’t really well thought out considering every time she got it under there, I had to crawl under to fish it out. The excitement of the new game fueled her, and we played until the sky turned gold. I’ve really grown fond of her… I almost can’t believe why she’s here in the first place. Around me, she’s a person; not a number, not a patient, not a case. She’s a child, like all the children I’ve seen before her. I came here to make a documentary… but… I think Waters was right. I’m here for another reason.
– “So.” I said once we were out of breath, laying on the lush campus grass. “What did your friend think of that?”
– Faith smiled. She was enjoying the fact that I was including her friend more. “He had fun watching us. He likes it when I’m happy, and he likes games.”
– She had grabbed her DS and joined me on the ground. She took off my sunglasses and gave them back, claiming it was dark enough now for her eyes. I lay there, drifting off somewhat. She began rocking back and forth again as she looked up at the sky. She had always been so straightforward and pushy about it before, but this time, it was like she was nervous. When I opened my eyes again, she waved her DS above my face.
– “Y-You…” She said tentatively, “You want to play the game?”
– I sat up, not really sure what to do this time. I had rejected her so many times out of fear… but now, I’m not scared anymore. I trust her completely. So, I grabbed my laptop and brought up the DS Capture program I used in my days as a YouTuber, and found among my bag of tricks the USB to hook the DS to my computer. I wasn’t sure why I felt the need to record it… but I’m glad I did. I guess I wanted to find a place for it in the documentary, though I’m not really sure where it would fit. I just wanted to make her happy.
… Looking back on this part of my notes is painful. If only I knew how this simple act was going to turn my world upside down… What the hell was I thinking? I guess it doesn’t matter anymore… All that matters is that I finally played the game.
– When I booted up the system, it immediately went to Milky Way Wishes. It startled me at first; a bit creepy it didn’t even show the title screen. But whatever. The stage already looked near-completed, the planets having already been visited. I guess Faith had done it for me. I started recording, and headed for the Galactic Nova. There, I watched a cutscene I had seen time and time again. The dialogue was a bit different from what I remember. I never completed the entire game myself, (the True Arena stage is brutal), so I couldn’t be sure. It was when the cutscene was over that caught my attention. It skipped across the mission where I had to take out Nova, and went straight to the next cutscene. Odd. It looked like I was fighting Marx straight away. Sadly, I had only the Bomb Ability, which I sucked at. I scrambled around a few minutes, trying to remember all I could, before the game glitched out.
– I sat there, a bit dumbfounded, and listened to the strange noise coming out of the speakers. It sounded a lot like the sounds my old Gameboy Color made when a cartridge was taken out before turning it off. Unlike my Gameboy, the DS wouldn’t turn off for the longest while. It was a full minute before it finally cut off on its own.
– Then it got really strange when I handed it back to Faith. “Sorry, Faith. I think it’s broken.”
– “No it’s not.” She said, before turning it right back on, the system starting up perfectly like it should have in the first place.
– Afterward, I took her back to the nursery. I gave her a ride in my car the short way, since both of our feet ached. She had never ridden in a car before, she told me, and bounced in the seat the whole way. When we walked inside, I immediately noticed that the hall leading to the right (the Men’s Wing) was blocked off with sliding metal bars and police tape. Two security guards belonging to the hospital itself stood on watch. I asked them what happened.
– One shrugged. “Not sure, some incident in the Male Wing. Even if we did know, we don’t have the authority to tell you. And quite honestly, I don’t think I would even WANT to know.”
– But I wanted to know. When I looked down the corridor through the iron bars, I wasn’t sure what emotions were suppose to run by me. A door was ripped off its hinges. Lights were busted and flickering. A winding trail trickled down the linoleum and onto the opposite wall. There, though it was carved into the concrete with a knife, dripping with fresh blood:
“YOU WILL BELIEVE IN ME”.
– I turned Faith away before she could look at it. I could barely look at it. The guard was right. As much as I would like to know what happened in there, I would much rather walk away and never see it again. The metallic stench was already assaulting my sensitive nose. I hurried Faith down to the nursery and dropped her off for the day. Before I left, the woman that once attacked me, the medium’s sister, called out to me.
– “Please…” She cried. “I’m sorry… You need to leave, child… You need to leave now!”
– I let her mutter. When I came back to my dorms, I opened my computer and played back the footage I captured from Faith’s DS. I listened to the sounds toward the end. They were just… too odd. I searched up the dialogue for that particular cutscene as well. I was right in it wasn’t correct. Where Marx should have said: “Well, I want to rule all of Popstar!” Instead it read: “Well, well… I was wondering when you’d show up…” This is some scary stuff right here. The game DOES look a bit screwed up, though. I’m going to go ahead and give it the benefit of the doubt.
– In the meantime, I’m sending the video to a buddy of mine out in California. After playing the recording over and over, I concluding there’s something off about the background noise. It sounds too rhythmic to be static. I’m hoping my friend could help me find out what that’s about. She works the soundboards for big movie deals like Dreamworks and Sony Entertainment. Hopefully, she can play with it and find something out.
The Fifth Day
– Oh god! Jesus Christ, a boy is DEAD!
– Oh god, I can’t write this down. I’m crying. I’m hanging over a wastebasket. Every time it tries to wriggle into my mind, I can’t hold down my guts. I can’t think of it, but I’ll never forget! I can’t write this down, but I have to write it down! Dear god, help me. Dear god, protect me. I went in this morning and a crowd of nurses were blocking the door. I could only open it slightly at first, but the moment I heard that first bloodcurdling scream, I had to get in. I had to see if Faith was alright. I pressed the door open as hard as I could, and knocked a few of the nurses out of the way. I fell on the floor. A few of the children rushed past me and into the transition room, banging on the door. I looked up. Jesus Christ, I looked up. I’ll never forget.
– The boy was just standing there, facing the wall. But god, all the blood! The wallpaper was ripped away. There was nothing left but solid concrete. His face was just digging, just digging into the concrete! You couldn’t see his face! It was all blood! All of it! The skin was ripped away, the nose was gone, it was just nonexistent! It had been smeared across the concrete wall with his blood! The front of his skull just caved! But he just. Kept. Going.
– I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do anything but just sit there and watch the damn horror again and again! Right when you expect the boy to collapse, to just be done for, to just die already, he pulls back and slams his face into the wall again and again. He wasn’t doing this. He couldn’t have been doing this. He was a lifeless carcass. There’s no way in hell he could have been doing this! He was dead!
– And that’s when I looked beside him. Why did I look?! What possessed me to look in that direction?! Of everything that was going on right in front of me, why did I look away?! It doesn’t matter. The moment my eyes moved in that direction, I saw him. If only for a split second, it was like something in my screwed up nightmares from the days I was a prominent gamer…
– I SWEAR TO GOD, WHOMEVER IS READING THIS, BELIEVE ME! I SAW MARX!
I wrote this while I was in my car, while the memory was still fresh and burned into my mind like a brand. It was the last of my notes. It had all escalated so quickly. I was already set, packed up and on my way out. No way in hell I was going to hang back. Not after that. The description isn’t as thorough as I want it to be. That’s why I’m writing this down to fill in any blanks. With every fiber in my body screaming to let it rest, I can’t let it rest. I need to let the world know. But to be honest… I’m not sure what I saw. My eyes screamed that it was Marx, the jester from her godforsaken game. But I don’t know what it is. Whatever it is, the bastard is using Marx as a veil. It’s using an image we know.
But what it did to that image… it’s just sick. I only saw him for a split second, his smile curling into a toothy sneer. He had been waiting for me. He wanted me to see this. His soulless, black eyes bore into my own. He wanted to watch every moment of my terror. This wasn’t Marx. This was a monster. Claws extended from his signature brown leather shoes, like a hawk. These claws protruding from his left shoe wrapped about the boy’s head, digging into his skin each time his skull was pulled back before plowing once more into the concrete wall like a grater. I watched in utter horror as, in some kind of sick finale, he raised the tip of his wing, placing it on the boy’s throat. Where there were once the images of hearts tipping his wings, there were spires sharp as a knife. I watched it slice through the boy’s neck. I remember every… single… detail.
I can’t remember if I screamed afterward. The next moment, I was rushing down the corridor like a madman. I can’t remember if the medium’s sister said anything. I can’t remember if any of the children ran out after me. I just had to get out. I didn’t even think about Faith. I was blinded. The only second my eyes were open was when I reached the front door. There: that woman. It was that woman from the first day, who escorted me halfway down the hall. She grasped in each hand a suitcase, and had pulled on a coat like she was prepared to leave that place forever. Seeing her like that, at a time like this; it was pure hatred.
I grabbed her scruff before she slid out the door, and pulled her to the side with the demand. “What the hell is going on?!”
“Please! Let me go!” She pleaded. But I didn’t let her go. I screamed in her face like nothing I’ve done before. I can’t remember what I said. I held her there as she cried like a infant, until she gave me all I wanted. “She had a friend! Before she got game thing! SHE HAD A FRIEND!”
My rage grew by the second. “What’s that suppose to mean?! TELL ME!”
“I don’t know!” Tears were actually streaming down this woman’s face. “She always talk about friend! She got game! Things start to happen! That’s all I know!”
It made me stop a moment to think. This was suddenly sounding so familiar. My mother and I were always fascinated with anything paranormal, so we pride ourselves in what we know. I suddenly began to take the medium’s warnings seriously. I shouldn’t have been so close-minded about this. I’m sorry, to the medium AND her sister. I didn’t believe them at first. I should have left. I shouldn’t have provoked this demon to this point. Demons feed of of that! Yes! They feed off of fear, off acknowledgment!
… Acknowledgment… “What was her friend’s name before she got the game?!”
I already knew the answer, I was just praying to god it wasn’t true. “Marx.”
… You idiots! You goddamn idiots! Do you have any idea what you’ve done?!
The day Faith was given that damn game was the day she was convinced Marx was real! It was the day he was given an image! It was the day whatever demon, whether attached to the game or Faith herself, got some kind of acknowledgment! Oh my god… that was what he wanted. That bloodied message from the other day: “YOU WILL BELIEVE IN ME”. It all makes so much sense now! Dear god… and I’ve given him what he wanted. I played the game.
I left the asylum that day. I left straight for the city of Baltimore, and got the first affordable hotel room I came across. I stayed there the entire day, through the night. I didn’t even leave to find some kind of food. I felt as though the moment I opened that door, Marx was there waiting for me. I believed in him. I believe in him now, and there’s no changing that. Seeing is believing, and I cannot unsee something like… that. I spent the day pacing, trying to calm myself down, drowning my thoughts with television, distracting myself with my artwork. But it never went away.
I suddenly got an email from my friend over in California, the one I sent the footage from the DS Capture.
OT: [email protected]
Message: Wtf r u messing with, Nicky?! Is this some kind of prank? Whatever u r doing, its not funny! I found this at the end of ur crazy ass recording!
When I first listened to this, I didn’t believe her. Though it didn’t make any sense, I wanted to believe she was pulling some prank of her own. But she wasn’t. I never once told her about Spring Grove, or what I was doing there. It took me time and time again to make sure what all I was hearing was clear as day.
He spoke to me.
“Such a smart girl.” He/she/it says. “Such a… curious girl. To have come all this way to uncover a secret that’s not… Yours. Curiosity comes with a price, and rewards. So… Is this reward worth it? Are you willing to pay the price, and discover the truth behind Spring Grove Asylum? Because you’ve found it. I hope you’re happy. I hope you enjoy our little game. Because you can span the earth ten times over before you realize… once you play the game… there’s no escaping when the game decides to play with YOU…”
How the hell something like that came from the original recording, I had no idea. My friend was the sound expert, not me. But I swear it: comparing the before and after, there were a couple sounds I KNOW weren’t there before. Nonetheless, the recording didn’t terrify me like I expected it to. If anything, it made me angry. That THING was back at the asylum, right now. That murderous demon was still there, and so was Faith.
But what could I do?
The Sixth Day
I had fallen asleep with my artwork again. Doodling on the GIMP program was a pastime of mine, and I used it to calm down. This night was no exception, only when I woke up… there sat an image in my art style that I had no recollection in drawing whatsoever:
It was him. Marx.
It was noon by the time I decided I had to go back. Whether he was planning to hurt Faith or not, I wasn’t going to take any chances. Both she and the innocents at the asylum were in danger. And I loved Faith. I would do anything to make sure she was safe. I knew in the pit of my gut that she was still there. She had mentioned Marx loved her very much, something I knew was only half true. What he really loved, I know, was the attention she got him. Almost like an incubus. The more people she got to play the game, the more people would know the name Marx, a name he adopted. But I had to hurry. I’m not sure how many of the nurses actually saw his ghastly image. Every one that did was in danger. I wasn’t sure what I was planning to do, but I had to do it fast. Either he had hid himself to this point on purpose, or he had grown in strength since I arrived.
When I reached the asylum merely an hour later, clouds had rolled in and blocked the sun. I was really hoping that coming this time of day meant more daylight, being the wuss I was. I liked to convince myself it gave me an advantage, when really it gave me a shred of peace of mind.
I entered the asylum. My worst fears were realized right when I stepped through the door, which I noticed was ajar in the first place. There was no man behind the front counter. The bars that once protected the Men’s Wing was ripped from place, and the message still bled at the end of the hall. It was like walking straight into Mount Massive Asylum itself. I wanted to turn back. Every fiber in my being wanted me to turn back, but I couldn’t. I had to get Faith and get out.
The hospital wasn’t in as bad as a condition as you thought it would, with a bloodthirsty entity roaming its halls. It just seemed… barren. It was though the nurses had just abandoned ship. When I made it to the Violent section of the wing, some of the patients weren’t even scathed, just quiet. Before I entered the nursery, I turned to check on the medium’s sister. When I poked my head through the bars, I braced myself in case she made a lunge toward me again. I pulled out for a completely different reason. There she sat, in the corner… her throat slit.
Fearing for Faith’s life, I rushed into the nursery. My eyes immediately went to where they did the day before, and they weren’t disappointed: though the body of the boy was gone, the wall was still dyed a deep crimson red. The children were gone. The nurses were gone. I had to search around frantically before I heard the little voice:
Thank the gods! I turned around as Faith met me, curled around my legs in a hug. I scooped her up in my arms. I hugged her and cried. But it wasn’t over yet. I pulled back and told her we needed to leave, NOW. She asked me if her friend could come. I told her no, he couldn’t. She was upset, as I hobbled down the hall towards the front door. She was confused. She began to threaten that she wouldn’t go with me if her friend couldn’t come. I told her no again. I told her we were going on a little trip, and we would be right back. I told her to leave her friend here until we got back. I stopped. I turned around. I swear to god I heard a light bulb short-circuit down the hall. I began running. Faith looked over my shoulder. Her friend was following us. He wasn’t going to let her leave.
When we got outside, out to the parking lot, I quickly strapped her into the back seat. The moment I clicked her seat belt, however, was the moment my heart stopped. There, grasped in her little claws, was the Nintendo DS. Despite the horror that I knew was at my heels, I hesitated. Marx didn’t manifest out of nowhere. This demon had to be attached to something, I thought. It was 50/50. He could be attached to Faith… or he could be attached-…
“Faith, honey,” I begged, “I need to see your Gameboy.”
As I reached for it, she snatched it away. “No!”
“Faith, please! I need your Gameboy!”
I turned around as I felt a quick gust of wind. The front doors were open. Though I couldn’t see him, I felt his eyes boring into mine. I felt his anger as the air grew thick. I could sense his ghastly image hovering over my shoulder. I only had one shot. Mustering every bit of strength I had left, I relaxed. “Faith, can I play the game again?”
I could see she was prepared to deny me again. But she didn’t. I knew she couldn’t deny me, and she wouldn’t. Because that’s what her friend wanted: to play the game. She slowly handed it to me. When I took it, it only took me two seconds to lock and close the car door. I heard her screaming behind me, banging on the window, but I didn’t listen. I needed to face this. So, in a quick move less than graceful, I flung the DS at the asylum wall. I didn’t stay long to watch it shatter, breaking apart into two separate screens. He hadn’t got to me. Not yet. He was as bewildered as she was, I know. I leaped into the driver’s seat, and tried to start up my car.
“Marxie!” Faith’s voice cracked between tears.
The car sputtered. It roared to life, but not without effort. Before I even had a chance to put it in drive, I heard the deafening screech of scraping metal. I didn’t let it faze me. I punched the gas harder than I ever have before. And so… with Faith squealing in the back seat… I left the campus of Spring Grove Asylum forever.
I wasn’t sure where I was going at first. I decided ten minutes into the drive to just head home. There was really no where else to go. Besides, my family was away this week, on a trip to the Great Wolf Lodge. I’d have a day to rest before taking off again. I remembered Marx’s warning. He wasn’t going to stop. We had to keep running for now.
I tried speaking to Faith on the way. It took minutes for Faith’s voice to grow weak from her wails. It took hours for her to stop crying. She hates me, I thought. After all that’s just come to light, I still felt bad for ripping her away from the one being that gave her love before anyone else dared, even if that love was fake. I tried speaking to her, trying to explain that I couldn’t let her friend hurt anyone else. She wouldn’t listen. I eventually put on some music, and tried to forget. It didn’t feel like it was over, but I was going to pretend it was. It took nearly two hours to get home.
When we made it home, I was unsure whether or not to let her out. She had been so calm up until now; it was a bit unsettling. I got out of the car, first taking note of the huge scrape across my left front wheel, as though something dug into it with his massive claws. I disregarded it. When I reached her window, she didn’t look at me. I opened her door. Thank god, she was still strapped in. I almost expected her to make a charging leap out of the car. We just… stood there a moment. I wasn’t sure what to do at this point, but thankfully, I didn’t need to. She looked up at me, and began crying. I knelt down and unbuckled her for her to throw her arms around me. I carried her inside, and tucked her into my bed.
Then I sat down and began typing. Even though my inner instinct screamed to keep moving, I just sat here, and typed.
As I sit here, pouring out my heart in as much detail as I can, I realize how absurd this all sounds. I mean, wouldn’t something like this make some kind of news? It’s been nearly two days now since Marx killed that boy, and I’ve checked Spring Grove website. Nothing. In big red letters on their front page, it reads: “AS OF APRIL 18th, 2014, SPRING GROVE HOSPITAL CENTER IS CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE”. Bull. I checked the staff roster. There was no Doctor Denise Waters to speak of; looks like someone’s in trouble. The damn hospital didn’t waste a moment’s notice in covering their tracks. I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t the first time they had an incident like this.
But there’s something else… something I didn’t really consider until a few moments ago. If Marx had the freedom he did, then why was I still here? It didn’t take the drop of a pin for him to murder those children, those nurses, those patients. The moment they knew his image, his name, they were as good as dead. What made me so special? Why keep me alive? Why hold back, when I was the one closest to his precious cargo? Why was I, the one who was digging, also the one who was spared? WHY ME?
… Well, maybe it’s because I’m his goddamn puppet. Maybe I heard a sound in the other room. Maybe I went to check on Faith. Maybe she was standing there, her eyes lit up like stars, a smile on her face, as she held a perfectly functional DS in her hands. Maybe, for the past hour, I’ve been forced to type every single word as a knife I cannot see digs into my neck. Maybe, as his claws pierce my bloody shoulder blades, I’ve begged him not to let this document see the light of day. WHY? Maybe it’s becau
mAyBE He waNtS tHeM to bEliEvE. MaYbe He wAntS THem tO plAy tHe gAme.
Credit To – K.B. Miller
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