20 Years Ago
The screams are what pulled Jack out of the darkness. At first, he was sure that they were just inside his head, just like the darkness was. The cacophony of chaos continued and as his eyes fluttered open, he found that it was indeed real. Jack's head rolled to the head to the side as the wails around him became clearer and consciousness made its self known. The cries and bellows of his fellow patients had once struck terror into his heart. It was an unholy symphony that had stolen many hours of sleep from him. It was a soundtrack to uneasy nights of sobs and sorrow.
Except for Thursdays, however. On Thursday, the noise was more than welcome. It meant that he was still in possession of some sliver of his mind. He could hear and process all the sounds around him. He was still alive for another day.
It was Thursday and in his drowsy state, he relished the screams. The world around him seemed blurred and grey as if shrouded in fog. Logically, he knew that the mist wasn't real. It was just a distortion of reality caused by the drugs in his system and the procedure he had just been subjected to. Logic told him that the noise wasn't the only tether he had to this world.
Unfortunately, Thursdays weren't a good day for logic. It was a day full of contradictions that always ended in him believing in the grey nothingness around him. He wanted to walk into it and disappear. It was just too bad that Thursdays were also bad for walking. Thursdays were the days of the Rolling Mornings and Dragging Afternoons that led into the Immobile Nights.
Due to his inability to walk himself back to his cage, the teen was dragged back by two men of considerable size. The tips of his toes dragged across the concrete yet he barely felt it. He barely felt the grasp of the ape-like men on either side of him He would feel their hands later though when the drugs left and the bruises came. It was then he would feel everything again and in extra doses. That was when the weeping started.
After a minute, he noticed that the stone under his feet had stopped moving. He was at his home. There was the muted creak of a steel door being opened before he was moved and thrown forward. His brain perceived the act of falling but offered no alternatives aside from colliding with the floor with a thump. The door closed behind him and he was left alone, sprawled upon the floor like a broken doll.
He didn't know how long he spent on the floor but it felt like hours. Time seemed to pass slower in the grey. He lay with his eyes open, his breath heavy, trying to muster enough strength to move. His body felt leaden. It was as if his muscle fibers were replaced by steel and his blood with mercury. Just one more reason to hate Thursdays. By the time that he found the ability to move, the asylum was much quieter. The noise had found an end for the time being.
Jack pushed himself up and managed to crawl without the use of his legs to his bed. With a deep breath, he managed to pull himself up and onto the uncomfortable mattress and find a relatively comfy position on his side. Panting a bit from the exertion, the teen let his eyes roll around room. It was a medium sized room but barely furnished. There was the bed that he occupied, a sink that didn't work and a wooden chair. The key furnishing of the entire room was the full length mirror that sat in the corner. While a few other rooms may have had a small mirror over a sink, his room was the only one to have the six-foot-one masterpiece.
The Mirror was a "gift" from his mother. She ran the institution. She told him that the mirror was a present for being a good boy but he knew the truth. She wanted to torture him with his own reflection. It hadn't worked at first. But after days of being alone with it, it crawled deep into his skull. It made its way under his skin the way most things did here.
Jack's eyes lingered on the mirror for a second, thankful that it was angled at a way that he couldn't see himself. Slowly, his eyes drifted shut and he found himself trying to sleep. But thanks to his treatment earlier, his body was rejecting the activity. After a long while of trying, the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He felt like he was being watched. He could feel the eyes staring holes into him. While most would chalk it up to an orderly or a doctor peering in, Jack knew better. He wasn't alone in his room. He never was.
"How'd it go today, Jackie Boy?" a voice said.
Jack's eyes snapped open. He didn't respond to the question. Instead, he just stayed motionless and peered into his empty room. A part of him prayed that the owner of the voice wouldn't speak again. The rest of him knew better. He knew the owner of the voice. They had spoken before and each time it had been thoroughly unpleasant. It always ended with tears and laughter. Jack's tears and the cruel, unforgiving cackling of his tormenter.
"Oh, tryin' to be silent again, eh?" the voice said. "You know better than that, don't ya, Jackie? You know that that doesn't work on me. Now tell me, how was your treatment?"
"You know how it went," Jack moaned as he pulled himself to the edge of the bed. He pulled himself over and crashed down to the thick solid ground beneath him. There was a loud slap of his flesh upon the concrete that reverberated around the room. The sound was almost as painful as the collision.
He mustered his strength again and pulled himself to and into the chair that was positioned well enough to face the person that was talking. It was the mirror. Or rather, it was the person within the mirror. His own reflection. Except, there was something very different and very wrong with the alternate version of himself.
Overall, they could appear to be the same individual. They were both teenagers of about sixteen with unwashed black hair, albeit with Mirror's being longer, and the pale, almost too pale, flesh. They had the same round, grey eyes and the aquiline nose. They had the long face with the pointed chin. That was where the similarities stopped. Mirror Jack, or Mirror as Jack called him, was not dressed in the same gray sweats and t-shirt combination that Jack was. Instead, he was clad in a slate grey three piece suit complete with a crimson necktie. There was also a top hat perched upon Mirror's skull to hide the messy mop of hair. A hat that Jack recognized from Doctor O'Hare's office. The final difference was that Mirror was smiling. The smile was an act Jack had long relinquished. Not since his mother made his favorite give him up as a patient.
"Rough day, then?" Mirror said in a voice that was much deeper than his own.
"Aww, poor Jackie." Mirror put on a look of sympathy that lasted only seconds before his lips started to creep upwards. His body shook as he fought the urge to laugh. Moments later and Mirror erupted into vicious laughter. The sound was loud and echoing. The pitch rushed into his ears and deep into his brain. It was like nails on a chalkboard. Jack leaned forward and flattened his hands against his ears. With desperation, he tried to block the sound out. It was no use though. The harder that he tried, the louder that Mirror got.
"What's so goddamn funny?" he shouted when the sound became too much. He tried to jump to his feet but he only got an inch above the chair before he fell back into it.
"You are, dear boy. Every Thursday, you are put through hell. You are made an unmoving blob of blubbering and you do nothing to stop it. You just let it happen and then bitch about it after."
"I don't just let it happen," Jack said, leaning forward and resting his arms on his knees. "What am I supposed to do? Tell them no? It won't do any good. They'll just drug me up some more and then do it anyway."
"Nah, that ain't why," Mirror said as a chair appeared allowing him to sit and lean back. "You do it because you know you belong here. You're just one more barking dog in the kennel."
"No, I don't," Jack snapped, leaning forward and falling off of his chair. The fall hurt as much as it usually did but he managed to recover quicker. He looked up and stared into the eyes of his doppelganger. "I'm not crazy."
"Says the kid talking to a mirror. No, my boy, you belong here. You are quite mad. Insanity is defined as doing the same shit and expecting something new to happen. Ain't that what you do on a daily basis? You, kid, are a pure, grade-A, nutter.
"I don't have a choice," Jack shouted, his voice cracking a bit. It seemed his voice wasn't ready for such an exertion. "My mom is the fucking queen of this place. What am I supposed to do?"
"I don't have a choice," Mirror said. His face scrunched up in overly-dramatic sadness. He raised his fists and moved them in front of his eyes to mimic wiping tears. "My mommy is mean to me. Why doesn't she love me? Boo-hoo-hoo."
Jack lowered his gaze and placed his head back on the floor. He covered his face with his hands as tears started to fall. Above him, Mirror burst into another bout of loud, eardrum crushing cackling. This was the way that their conversations usually ended. Mirror would end up mocking Jack about how his mother had seemingly made torturing her son with medical procedures a new pastime. Each time, it brought back memories of how he had been locked up and how he had begged. The look in her eyes had been one of utter contempt.
"Why do you make fun of me?" Jack asked. "Why do you hate me?"
Another loud blast of laughter from Mirror.
"Oh, I don't hate you, Jackie," Mirror said as the laughter died down. I'm just trying to talk some sense into you. You see, you just sit there and let things happen to you when there is always another option. You go through the motions and hope they change. That is madness, my boy. Pure insanity. The only sane thing you did was steal the stuffed cat under your bed."
"I had to have him. He's my only reminder of home. I had to have him. He's mine."
"That's the spirit. Yes. You see it, don't you? You saw what you needed and you took it," Mirror said, excitement brimming in his eyes. "Even if it meant taking a risk. Your mind is yours too. You can take control of it. You can be in total control. There is a way. You can leave here. All you have to do is let go of this realm."
For the first time in ever, he liked what Mirror was saying. Mirror was offering an escape. He pulled himself forward until his fingers were just inches away. That's when he noticed something that he hadn't before. A small, subtle glow emanated from it. The surfaces had an extra layer of shine to them. It was too bright. Too perfect.
"Simple. Join me in here. Step beyond the boundaries of your hell and into a world all your own. You can be in charge for once."
"Just grab your little stuffed cat and come on in."
Jack nodded and pushed himself up. He forced himself up and crawled over to his bed before dropping back to the cement below. Under his bed, tucked against the back wall was the object he sought. A fluffy crimson cat. He had managed to sneak it in after a session with his old doctor. He managed to keep it because his mother made it so that his room was never searched for contraband. He knew no one outside the building and she was sure that he was too cowardly to do anything against the rules. His first smile in years spread across his face as he reached in and fished it out.
The instant he touched it, his strength seemed to return to him. With a grunt, he managed to push himself to his feet. Turning around, he staggered to the mirror. With the stuffed feline pressed tight to his chest with one hand, the other reached out and touched the surface of the mirror. It felt cool and liquid like water. Pressing them forward, he watched as they dipped through the surface of the glass. The rippling solid around his digits felt simultaneously boiling and freezing. Yet it was still not entirely painful. His eyes glanced over his shoulder and studied the door for a moment. He wondered if he should reconsider. No. It was a foolish question. He knew that he couldn't.
Looking once more to Mirror who was leaning against one side, he saw the other version of himself bowing. The black top hat now clutching in one hand.
"Come on in, Jackie Boy. A world of pleasure awaits you."
With a nod, he stepped forward. He stepped past his room and beyond the reflective surface of the glass. It only took a moment. One moment, he was in his room in his proper reality and the next, he had gone from the world that had abused him. He was now free to do whatever he wanted in a world he controlled. He had found a real home. He had found his own personal wonderland.
Gosh, that was gripping Mister Biz. I was drawn more and more into it as it went on.
You certainly have an intense writing style!
Gosh. Horror's not really my number one genre, but this reads really well.
Again, keep it coming. Look forward to seeing where this one goes.