My FⓍⓍlish Nightmare
So maybe I was wrong; there had been white rooms in this place. Surrounded by the looming walls and caressed by the ginger touch of the leather chair, I soon found myself caught between the lack of knowledge and the burrowing paranoia that edged its way into my skull. Nicholas mentioned something of a test- but a test for what? I knew the orphanage was trying to get rid of me, but just where in the hell did they take me, a loony-bin?
"How about we start with the basics?"
Sitting across from me with her elbows propped onto the marble table, was Ms. Bell. A slim lady in her mid twenties it looked like, her youth still carrying strong as her pale finger tips rummaged with a clipboard in hand. A check list?
"What is your name?"
"Well, it is very nice to meet you Jade, surely I've already been introduced by Mr. Steve, but it's rather rude of me to go without introducing myself personally- I'm Ms. Bell," the woman smiled, tilting her head ever so slight as her blonde bangs twitched across her forehead. "Do you have any middle name, maybe nicknames?"
"Uh... Jade Tera. That's about it..." I replied sluggishly, twiddling my thumbs as I tried my best to avoid contact. It wasn't that the woman had horrible features- she was actually quite cute. Her bright emeralds for eyes were like jewels in the rime, and her hair seemed roughly the length to meet her buttocks had it not been in a high ponytail, giving it the look of a horse's tail.Wait... ponytail... horse's tail... that makes sense.
"Ah, well no worries. We just want to make sure that while you are here, we call you by what you want to be called. Do you have any preferred names that you wish you could be called?"
"N-No... Jade is fine," I shrugged. "Uhm... what is this place?"
"Hm? Well, you could say that we're a hospital," Ms. Bell smiled warmly, her lips going crooked into a somewhat sympathetic look. " We are a place for those who are ill to be treated, or at least to make friends with people who understand them better."
"But I'm not sick," my fragile voice argued, brows furrowing into that of an offense, "Why am I here?"
"Oh, no, no, that's not what I meant! Oh silly me!" the nurse chuckled, waving a hand in front of her face as if embarrassed, "It's not your average hospital. We are also a place for children like you who have greater imaginations. While some people are not gifted with such talent to let loose their mind, they can often be scared or jealous of those who can. Think of us like a safety house."
Children like me, huh? I wonder what Nicholas's condition was...
"Oh... I see..." I slumped back into the chair, hazels peering down at my feet.
"How about we finish this up, then you can go explore and make some friends, what do you say?" Ms. Bell offered, stretching one hand across the desk in comfort as the other still gripped onto the clipboard.
"When is your birthday?"
"June 9th, 1996."
"Ooh. So that makes you six, what a neat number!"
Neat if you were the average idiotic youth, maybe. Unfortunately for you, I practically self-taught myself everything I know at this point other than religion and politics. And psychology just happened to be my keen spirit.
"How about your favorite color?"
Nicholas didn't mention anything about the test being a rapid fire game of twenty questions. At this point, I felt like I was being surveyed by one of those annoying door trappers who wouldn't take no for an answer.
"Mmkay... it says here that you have a special friend..." the woman continued, her eyes working hard at what seem to be a second page attached to the clip. Did the previous questions have any relevant purpose, or was it just bait to get to the point?
"Would you mind telling me about him?"
What was there to tell? Not like anyone would believe me. And if it just so happened you were stupid enough to do so, you'd either be terrified or laugh. I could tell as soon as I stepped in this place that I was not fond of what it stood for, but this woman just kept making it more and more obvious.
"A man?" she raised a brow, somewhat interested.
"Yeah... he's tall. And skinny," I explained, my vague answers not just a matter of my youth, but the fact I knew very little of him to begin with. Hell, I wasn't even sure if it was a man... all I know is that it didn't have boobs.
"And how long has he been around, if you don't mind me asking?" Ms. Bell inquired further, leaning back in her chair as she wrote down a few notes upon the board.
"A long time..."
As far as I can remember, really. Even from the time I was born and opened my eyes in the room full of other boxed up children, there was a dark figure that stood in the corner, just watching. Of course, as a baby I thought nothing of it. But growing up- it just seem so natural, the bellowing shadow pacing in my footsteps no matter where I would go. He didn't do any harm, so what was there to complain?
"Can you explain any more of what he looks like? Like his face, or his clothes?"
That was going to be tricky.
"...He... he doesn't have a face. Not that I know of... I've never been close enough to tell. It just seems like a white blur..."
"He has no face at all?"
Now we were getting in familiar territory. Her voice was beginning to thicken, and a small tremble of concern and unlikelihood scratched away at the nurse's throat. Perhaps now she knew why I was here in the first place.
"No. Just a white mask. Kinda like he wears a really big sock over his head," I explained cooly, gesturing my arms in front of me about the size of a balloon. Now thinking about it... he did have quite a big head, and that was just off in the distance. Who knows, his blank face just might be the size of my stomach. "And he wears a suit... with a matching tie."
As innocent as my stare portrayed, it didn't reflect easily from the now squinted emeralds. Her face had been puzzled, and the sound of paper cutting the air was like a swing, moving back and forth with each observation. At least she seem a bit more calm than when the Sister's found out- granted she didn't randomly burst into shrieks of terror in the next five minutes.
"Interesting... does he talk to you?" Ms. Bell asked quietly, still not looking up from her notes as she nibbled the side of her pen.
"He doesn't talk... but he does keep me company," I nodded, "Like... he waves to me in the mornings. Watches over me during the day. And he leaves at night time, but probably just because he needs to rest like everyone else."
"He keeps his distance?"
"Yeah... he likes to stay near the woods," I added.
"Hmm... Jade, would you mind maybe drawing this man? How you see him in your eyes?" Ms. Bell requested, looking up from the board and taking the back of the pen along her lip. I wasn't exactly an artist, but thankfully the man wasn't exactly a snazzy dresser, either. Tux, yeah, but not that detailed like mardi gras beads or seven leather belts with matching combat boots.
Digging through the cabinet behind the desk, the nurse presented to me a notepad, along with a dull point pencil. She was even considerate enough to go a step further by withdrawing crayons for the project. Why hello there, rectangular sun.
"Take all the time you need," she smiled, putting her clipboard to the side as she propped her elbows on the desk. As if being requested to draw wasn't intimidating enough, she was going to watch each and every pencil stroke... how comforting.
Picking up the writing utensil, I immediately start drawing vertical lines, some with very, very few curves. Some lines were darker, some lines were more rigid; all in the matter of a six year old's depth perception in regards of 'art'. When I was satisfied on the creep-tastic look, I moved onto the body... an obtuse triangle leaning from one of the trees, followed by several other small triangles near the top, creating a V-Neck texture. At the top of the first triangle, was a thin rectangle for a neck, and like building blocks, completed with that of an egg-like oval balancing itself on top. Last, but not least, was the noodle-like rectangle that stretched from the right corner of the triangle, wrapping itself around the tree with a brick-like hand. He has very flimsy arms.
"Whoa..." I heard Ms. Bell gasp under her breath. Peering up from my concentrated gaze, I added the several lines along the brick to bring out the fingers before putting the pencil down. Feeling somewhat accomplished, I slumped back into the seat, make shifting my thumbs back into their twiddling fashion as I awaited some form of further acknowledgement.
"He.. is in the tree?"
I guess it did look kinda funny, the body poking around the tree that was the equivalent of a dinosaur's height. Maybe he floats when no one's looking.
"No, he's just that tall."
For a place to simply eat and relax, the cafeteria sure was noisey. After several moments of silence and lesser questions to probe my naive instincts, I had soon found myself back into Mr. Steinfield's care, currently escorting me through the mass of hungry people. Nicholas said he would wait for me back at the waiting room near the front, but from what the doctor lead on, the boy must have been more hungry than proclaimed.
Observational update: the walls seem to be a dull rose-red, decorated with light orange waves through the middle of the wall's height. Hanging above were your average tube lights, and through the windows of the kitchen, more white walls. So far, it looked like they kept the pallid color away from those ill.
"Ah, there you are!" the chubby man called out, waving towards the far corner of the room. Along one of the oak-coated tables, was Nicholas and several others; consisting that of a middle-aged woman, a younger man, and that of an elder.
"Jade! Hey, Jade!" the boy waved happily, his other hand occupied by that of a sandwich. Walking over, I stood at the end of the table, my eyes twitching in each direction as I attempted to examine the other subjects without being noticed.
"Go ahead and take a seat, Ms. Jade. I will go and get you a platter," Mr. Steinfield grinned, patting me on the shoulder as he left my side. Other than the elder man to the far end of the table, I was now left with all eyes on me.
"Ah... Nicholas has himself a girlfriend, ehhh?" the woman of the group chuckled, running a finger along her own tray that had been emptied, only the grease remaining as it dug into the styrofoam. Other than looking in her late twenties, possibly either thirties, she was not very attractive. For one, her grin showed that of coffee-stained teeth, her freshly peeled lips were cracked and starved for air, and her mocha twist hair sat messily on top of her head in a bun. She didn't have any tattoos, surprisingly, but she did look like someone you'd expect to be some sort of drug addict.
"She's not my girlfriend!" the boy snapped, his drained cheeks turning a flushed pink. This caused the other boy, looking in his late teens to chuckle his own input. His frame was much in contrast to the, lack of words, trashy woman. He was thin- very thin, and with high, fabulous cheekbones. His hair was dark and just long enough to curve at the bottom of his neck, bangs looming to his eyebrows. Even his eyes held a brief spark when reflected by that of the light.
"Pretty defensive, don't you think, Nick?" the teen cooed, running a hand through his raven shine hair. Had I not known any better, I would have mistaken his handsome charm as someone from the television.
"She's not my girlfriend..." Nicholas repeated weakly, shying his face from the small crowd, "But she is new. So you have to be nice!"
"New?" the teen smiled, "Hey, Jane! Come say hi to the new cutie, would ya?"
The elder man at the end twitched, looking over his shoulder. First thing I noticed from this individual, was his blank gaze. His left eye was weak, and lack of color- a distorted cream of grays and white clouded into the iris. His dark tone skin was chalked, running along his brittle arms that hid along his winter sweater; and his steel-gray hair was nicely trimmed to his scalp.
"New? What new? Ye say an alien?" the man babbled, his personality much different from his fairly clean-cut appearance.
"No Jane, she's not an alien," the woman snarled across from me, still working away into the disposal plate, creating some sort of abstract art between her nails and the food oil.
"Her name's Jade, and she just got here today!" Nicholas introduced. Never had I been in such confusion between emotion; rather to be intimidated by the people, or happy that I'm being noticed. Either way, it was discomforting.
"Names' Tink," the teen boy greeted, stretching one of his lengthy arms across the table in handshake. He must be Nicholas's older brother or something- being so nice. And cute.
"That there is Jane," Tink threw his glance down the table at the man, "And this here is Lattie."
Reaching my considerably shorter arm out, I gave the boy a shake, following his glances as he set upon the artistic female.
"And that there is Nick, but you two obviously already met."
"Mm! Right as she walked in the door!"
"Yeah... he... uhm, the Doctor introduced us," I spoke, unsure of how to really communicate. After all, he didn't talk, and people avoided me for the most part until coming here. Raise a glass to that first-day treatment?
"So, what's wrong with you?" Lattie spat, raising an uneven brow as she glared over. Well, at least the guys were kind.
"Oh don't be such a bitch, Lat. Give the girl a break, she just got here," Tink snarled over, narrowing his own pair of icy daggers in the woman's direction.
"Now you know you're not suppose to use that language around the young ones, Tink," Mr. Steinfield sighed as he approached, tray in hand; containing that of a small milk carton, a bag of... juice?, an arrange of greens and a slab of grilled meat. Of course, all the proportions were settled to my size, but was still a drastic amount of food compared to what the church gave me. If being borderline insane was enough to be treated like a queen, I think I may reconsider my judgement here.
"Sorry Doc..." the teen sheltered, turning his embarrassed face back towards the elder man who remained in his own solitude.
"Once Jade has finished her meal, how about you take her to the game center. I'm sure she's still a bit tense from Ms. Bell, and we don't want her to feel unwelcomed now do we?" the plump man recommended, taking his glasses by the frame as he pushed them back upon his flatten nose.
"That's a good idea! We could play ping-pong... or checkers," Nicholas beamed, looking over between the doctor and I. Checkers I was use to, but ping-pong? Didn't that require some sort of table? Did they really have a table? Keep me away from Ms. Bell, and this place has me sold.
"Just be careful, young ones," the doctor smiled. Turning on a heel, he was just about to leave our company before halting in mid step, "Tink, do remember that you have an appointment with Doctor Jonathan this evening."
Glancing just quick enough to find the boy rolling his eyes, I took another mouthful of greens, already having vanished half of my plate between the process of agree to disagree. I wasn't too fond of the milk, having the bitter taste engraved in my taste buds; but the orange juice was like a soda after going several months dry on water- the most refreshing feeling ever. Not to mention how the unique baggy didn't leak all over the place- what sorcery!
Lifting the tray from the table with no consideration whatsoever of the oils, Lattie showcased her final work- chunks of styrofoam missing and curved, visible lines twisting with one another in the plate, all in the form of.... something? Confused, I simply remained attentive to my food, while Nicholas resorted in a praise, as Tink just gave another sneer. What was unexpected, however, was that old man Jane looked over and took the time to appreciate said mess.
"Ah! Latta' drawin' up those damned monkeh's again! I see what you did... I see what you did ther..! One them hangin from that tree, other in the water..." he choked, waving an aggressive finger towards the hidden masterpiece.
"Shut ya trap, old fart! It's just a bundle of flowers, ain't no damn monkey!" Lattie smirked, putting the tray back down as she rested the side of her face against the propped elbow. One seen monkeys, one seen flowers, and I just see a cascade of jibberish. It even made my drawing from earlier look like something from Picaso that would at least get considered into an art museum, compared to the nit-picked tray.
"Well, I'll meet you two in the lounge," Tink spoke, standing from the table as he stretched to his full height. He had to be at least five foot eight, if not nearing six foot.
"Okay Tink," Nicholas smiled, giving a small farewell wave as he turned his attention back onto me. "Don't worry, I know where it's at."
Pausing in mid chew to be somewhat respectful, I gave a small nod in response, swallowing the mouthful of chicken before wiping away any remains from my lips with the napkin. "I'm ready."
"Someone's eager," Tink teased, walking to the end of the table as he leaned his non-existant rear against the edge, waiting for the two of us to follow. Slipping my legs around the bench, I was originally going to await Nicholas to walk through first, being that the table and wall created somewhat of a narrow passage. However, this boy had the standards of a gallant middle-class knight, his right hand angled out to motion me forward, followed by that of a 'ladies first'.
Feeling the blood rush to my cheeks, I nodded quickly, popping to my feet as I met up with the taller boy. Lattie had said nothing more of a farewell than a brief wave, and Jane was still in his own world, staring at the wall cold and hard, as if death itself was staring back.
But in the far corner, way past the other bodies and the opposite side of the room, another farewell caught my eye. A claw-like hand, etching out through the lighting, its' body standing almost as tall as the roof as it's faceless head tilted to the left, almost as if possessed by curiosity.
Shocked- I stood still, the voice in front of me blurring as Tink suggested for me to follow, followed by a question towards Nicholas. I didn't hear what the question was, my audio perception becoming somewhat a haze; but when I looked over my shoulder towards Nick's direction, I noticed something that I had never noticed from any other human being. He, too, was frozen in place- his eyes widen in what look to be fear, his concentration in the same path as mine.
He seen him too.