Kit's Horror Hospital Of Horror
rating: +14+x

Things were so wrong here.

His clothes felt starchy, and well-worn. Not dirty – Kit could smell the spice of orchid and patchouli oil wafting from the knitted jumper that came up short on his arms, the sleeves concluding just above the raised scars present on each wrist.

But it had been previously worn; second-hand. Wearing at the elbows and fraying at the hem. Kit swallowed as he peered down at himself. This wasn't right. This wasn't him. He could feel the spirit of the man who had lived in these clothes; died in these clothes. He was a gardener – nettles prickled at each elbow and it chaffed in his armpits. One night, he just fell asleep in his comfy chair and never woke up. In these clothes. Not even in pyjamas.

Kit's whole spirit ached from the high emotions as the old bloke was found by his son. Felt the emotions dry out like raindrops on his skin as the clothes were dumped in a box for charity. As they travelled in a van to the hospital, as they span in machines, the memories dried like the laundry water as the dryer ran through the sweater's memory. And now they were on his back, the emotions lingering like cigarette smoke. You could never truly make second hand clothes clean.

Dismayed, Kit checked each pocket of the jogging pants he wore that dangled around his shins – too short. The pants weren't haemorrhaging emotions, but Kit was the second he realised his knife was no-where to be found. He was, in short, defenceless.

And the final indignity?

They had stuck a needle full of anti-psychotic in his ass and now it had a bruise the size of his palm gracing it.

He folded his arms across his chest, protectively, scowling at the room he was in. It was all very controlled – bright, white flat sheets on the bed, arranged with precise hospital corners; a bedside table that was subtly bolted onto the floor; curtains with strong, metal hooks; a window that opened enough to maybe sneak a hand out and nothing more.

The chirpy nurse - who had also had the joy of seeing his bare backside, alongside a doctor and two huge orderlies – had told him that he had '"arrived at a perfect time,"' because it was long before lights out, and the patients were free to roam. A brusque tour had shown him the TV room, a games room, a carefully designed smoking area, an equally carefully designed outside area with a pond, and a room that she said was '"space to calm down"'.

Only the TV room had been occupied, with a few of people of different ages staring blankly at the TV as it screened a gameshow. Sometimes, one individual clapped in reaction to the middle-aged couple getting the question right, but otherwise it was silent. Kit wondered if they all had identical bruises on their backside, making them like zombies, silent and malleable. He decided that, as long as he was able to fight against the drug, he wouldn't become like that.

The tour ended at the nurse's station, with the woman showing him the book he had to sign in and out of if he decided to go outside, instructed him of the time to come and queue for his medication, and told him to come here if he needed anything. Well, not anything, she gabbed, but some things.

As light-hearted as the rest of the tour had been, her tone became very serious when she spoke of '"med time"' - '"You have to come here. If you don't come here and queue up within five minutes, we'll have to send our orderlies come to find you. It would be a shame to have to force you to take your anti-psychotic again."'

Kit felt like he had been incredibly patient, and equally receptive whenever the nurse had expected him to answer some inconsequential question. So when he rolled his eyes and got a stern look, he decided he couldn't care less and asked if he was finally free – well, as free as an inpatient at a mental health facility was. The nurse tutted and nodded, calling one last warning after him about the all-important drug enforcement time.

First, he had gone back to his room to see if any of his belongings were there. He checked the drawers, the wardrobe, and even under the bed, but found nothing. No knife – which wasn't a huge surprise – but also, no cigarettes. He was sure there was some trading situation in place where a Valium would get him a cigarette or two, and he had become an expert in tonguing his meds some time ago. But for now, he had nothing to call his own, and nothing to occupy his still racing mind.

He wandered out into the hallway, pausing by the TV room. Sitting down didn't feel very inviting right now – how did they expect you to relax after a prick up the arse, if you couldn't even sit?

So, he wandered the corridors. Patients came in, and out – some had thick bandages around their wrists, some walked with their heads bowed, arms crossed protectively, never making eye contact. Some still were wilder, louder, drawing attention to themselves from other patients and nurses alike.

He paused in one corridor, finding himself suddenly lost in the area, which was a bit of a rat run; a rabbits' warren – whatever the saying was. Here, there was just one patient – an elderly lady sitting in a wheelchair, looking for the life of her as if her carers had literally dumped her here, hoping for the best. Kit couldn't say such things didn't happen. What drew his attention to her, however, was what she was doing.

The old woman was singing a song -

"The faces we imagine
They're twisted inside
Their mouths aren't on straight
We can see their skulls
And their black hair will strangle us
We all see them here."

Okay, so it wasn't a particularly good song, but it was a curious one. We all see them here? See what; how did she know? Kit shrugged it off and shuffled past her, contenting himself when he found a bookshelf full of donated books, and pulling 'Lord of the Flies' off the shelf. He had read it in school and imagined himself on the island – and imagined himself dead like Simon, or Piggy. Starting it again sent a certain chill of nostalgia and fear up his spine, as he dreaded the part with Piggy the most. Luckily, before he got too far, a bell rang that he recognised as the sound for lunch, and he stowed the books under some cookery ones in the hopes no-one else would find it and read it before he got back.

Lunch was an entertaining affair if purely for the fact only a handful of staff had to control a great number of patients with different needs. Those with eating disorders had their own kitchen and eating area (Kit had only been shown this to be warned never to go in it) but there were still patients who took offence to food, who needed pills with their meals, who couldn't sit with the opposite gender, and still those patients who just wanted to draw attention for no reason Kit could find.

When it came to his turn, he slowly chose something he knew that he could eat – soup and a roll. He managed to find a bench on his own and sat huddled over his food, suddenly understanding why many patients didn't want to make eye contact and invite more craziness into their lives. The food was fine, but with it getting busier and busier, he decided to leave with his bread roll – granted by a bored-looking orderly just waiting for a fight to bust out – and headed outside, still lacking cigarettes to enjoy in the smoking area.

Standing at the edge of the chicken-wire covered pond at the centre of the hospital, Kit took a moment to watch the giant koi swim in their tiny world.

Just looking at the fish reminded him of working at the pet store, doing the grunt work. He used to scoop up the dead fish with a net. They lay so bonelessly, cold and damp.

"I hope," Kit thought, breaking parts off his bread roll and tossing them into the water, "that my nephew never has to see them do that."

Something about dead fish ruined the magic of childhood.

He finished feeding the fish, and brushed the crumbs off his hands. If he had his direction right, one of the doors would lead to the TV room – maybe it would be quieter with people eating lunch and he could watch something mind-numbing. He headed back inside, but was surprised to find that the hospital was plunged into darkness.

Kit frowned, trying the switch -

Click

The lights flickered and hummed for a moment, then strobbed on, off, on, off, on…. off.

When that happened, Kit's lucid mind – aided by a maximum strength anti-psychotic – concluded a fuse must have blown, and that the staff, if they could be trusted to, would fix it.

He couldn't see anyone, but figured with it being lunchtime, staff might have had their hands full in the canteen. As instructed earlier, he wandered through the dark towards the nurses' station.

That was when he began to see it. Him? Her? The gender was certainly indistinct and unimaginable. Later, he would figure that pronouns didn't matter. As he walked past the 'calm down' room with its large windows, he caught sight of it for the first time.

A skull; long, black hair.

Just like the old woman had been singing about earlier.

Seeing this, he thought maybe it was his imagination; a brain glitch. After all, his mobile phone – some years' out of date model he purchased in a pawn shop – had been sending him photos, right before he came here. And this… thing looked a lot similar to what had been revealed in the photos. It was always in the distance, it was always looking on at him, mainly in his flat but also sometimes the coffee shop where he got his morning gingerbread latte, the park where he smoked joints by the river so his flat didn't stink of it.

It was unnerving, when his phone blipped at him for the first time. Kit wasn't known to get text messages. Maybe if his brother was feeling particularly guilty, or angry, he would take his time to key a message in and chide Kit. But that was a rarity in itself. So, when he saw that the text message contained well, no text, but instead a photo, he was more than a little bemused.

'Never settle for those awkward feelings of being alone ever again.'

If he had friends, he probably would have chalked it up to a bizarre joke. '"Ha ha ha guys, good costume."' All that jazz. But friends weren't exactly something Kit had in abundance. He turned the phone this way and that, trying to figure out what was going on, before he recognised the location of the local A&E Department, with the curious creature placed near the reception desk, where he had been standing only a month ago, bleeding copiously from his arm.

Kit spent a while after that just sitting in the semi-dark of his bedroom, his thoughts spiralling. He was used to insane shit. But he was mainly used to dealing with that insane shit in person. Mobile Madness was a new thing, in his vast experience of butterfly girls and men with flashlights for eyes.

The text messages kept coming. Even for Kit, it was an unnerving experience. But, after a while, he came to look forward to these photos. It was like getting photos of a friend, enjoying themselves in places familiar to him – it was like someone sharing their life with him.

'…you will soon forget all about those painful emotions of disappointment.'

He became practically addicted to the experience, quick to grasp his phone as soon as it made a noise, finding them frequent but not overwhelming. Occasionally, he visited the places seen in the photos, mere minutes after he received a text, shoes not a matching pair and with his fly undone in his haste to leave the flat and go to these public places. But he had never seen his photo friend in person, not until now.

Although, to be fair, the thing wasn't here right now. It was a reflection. Kit looked behind himself, into the darkness of the corridor, and saw no-one; nothing. He moved forward towards the window, and gently placed a hand upon it. His friend lifted a hand too, as if it stood on the other side of the glass. The skull tilted sideways, as bemused about the lack of contact as Kit was. He expected to feel a cold hand, feel a pulse in the wrist, but instead, it was just the smooth glass.

Kit took a breath. This was all in his brain. It had to be. His brain faulting was part of the reason why he had ended up in here, and the anti-psychotic was helping putting things in perspective. The darkness may be real but the being wasn't real. He had to accept that the text messages were never real, either, and they were just preying on a life that was far too insular.

'The anxiety of social situations can be nerve-racking…'

He licked his lips and spun on his heel. No. Keep walking.

His footsteps echoed in the building as though it was abandoned, although everything looked as it had on his tour. Apart from lack of people, of course, which was increasingly confusing him, and, as he started walking again, it became apparent the lights were out everywhere – in all of the building as far as he could tell.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the thing, trailing behind him like a ghost. His breath quickened as did his steps. At home, his phone rang with a message – another photo sent, this time of Kit in the half-light of the hospital, with his ghost coming closer and closer. Kit closed his eyes so he couldn't see the being, but then he couldn't see anything at all, and he didn't know the layout of the hospital very well.

He managed a few steps, his hands curling into fists, before he walked into a shut door. Grumbling and rubbing his forehead, he opened his eyes and tried to ignore the vision hovering far too out of reach to be conclusive in its design. He pushed at the door and, to his surprise, found it locked. This was supposed to be how to get to the nurses' station, more or less in the middle of the hospital, but there was no way in from here. In his heart, he knew this door wasn't supposed to be locked, and through the glass panels he saw the lights off there, too, and no people there.

He didn't want to turn around. Desperately, he thumped at the door. If there was a mistake, the noise would send the nurses running – hopefully. But nothing happened. Kit caught his breathing increasing and tried to back himself out of a panic attack. Yes, he may have once thought the creature behind him as a friend, but that was before he knew, before he realised he was totally and utterly nuts, and before he was locked in a dark corridor with this figure, and no way of knowing what it wanted.

Kit slowly turned on his heel. He closed his eyes whilst doing it, not wanting to come face to face with the oddity once more. But, when he opened them, the figure was nowhere to be found. Kit blinked, confused. It had been right behind him. Hallucination, friend, creature, whichever – he had been certain of its presence behind him.

He took a few faltering steps. The curiosity in him made him want to check the nearby games room and smoking area, because it was plausible – if not unlikely – that the figure had ducked in there. But what did he hope to gain by searching? The touch they nearly exchanged, hand to hand, could have been a symbol of friendship, or the creature trying to gain some sort of trust to do… something nefarious, Kit was sure.

As he started towards the games room, he saw it again, flickering in the corner of his eye. This time, it presented itself behind the glass that lead to the nurses' station. Whatever impossible way it was getting around – and Kit was, despite his delusions, increasingly sure this was as real as the being with many tongues and no hands – meant it could ignore locked doors. He turned around, again, steps away from the door, and stared at the being.

"…What do you…" His voice croaked, despite himself. "…What do you want?"

"I want nothing."

It said nothing, but its hands moved, placed on the glass once more, its head tilted – almost like a curious puppy, or someone trying to claim innocence in a situation. Kit stepped forward again.

"…Why come here? Why… with me?" Because Kit felt certain now that the hospital hadn't caused this figure to arrive – he had dragged it here with him. In some ways, the being was as trapped as him, if its penchant for following Kit meant anything.

"You're lonely."

Again, silence greeted him. This time, the creature seemed almost frustrated in its body language – head down, hands curling into fists, shaking slightly in a mixture of annoyance and almost sadness. It couldn’t tell Kit what it wanted. Kit, despite his exploration into a world no human should ever grace, just didn't understand it. No human ever did. It was really desperately lonely – often times, moreso than the people it visited upon.

"Free me."

Kit was staring, blankly. The creature bared its teeth, but it came across more as an eerie smile than it was anything threatening, despite its dog-like skull. Kit took a breath. The answer was here, if he wanted it. To free his friend, and to get to the nurses' station. He turned away, but only to duck into the TV room and retrieve one of the cumbersome pleather chairs. Not everything was bolted down, after all.

"Mind out the way," he found himself saying, as if the creature were real, as if it could understand him. It didn't move back, but Kit used the heaviness of the chair, and two of its legs, to bust through the window panel. Glass shattered around him, cutting through the hospital slippers he was wearing and into his feet, cutting his cheeks and just missing his eyes, which he closed tight.

When he opened them again, the lights were on and there was a buzzing in his ears that was somewhat familiar. The being was gone, and Kit looked around quickly when he realised there was no reflection, and no creature in his peripheral vision. Where had it gone?! The dual purpose of freeing the being and getting help in the dark seemed to have gone wrong - 'insanely wrong', Kit thought dully, as he realised the pain.

Everything, then, seemed to burst into action. Patients were looking out of the rooms nearby, and staff were quickly surrounding him. He heard firm voices telling him to put down the chair, and felt someone hold a towel up to one of the worst cuts on his cheek. Numbly, he dropped the chair. Words escaped him. How did he tell them about this without sounding, well, even more crazy than he probably was? He was spared that task, however, when he felt a sharp jab in his arm, and everything went hazy as the sedative ploughed through his system. For now, Kit's horror story was over.

In Kit's home, Blake was somewhat disgusted by what his brother lacked. The water ran cold, and his oven wasn't connected to anything. He found Kit's phone neglected on the kitchen counter, and picked it up, beginning to flick through it. There was a couple of messages which he deleted without viewing – either not wanting to know or not caring what his brother was up to – but otherwise it was as sparse as Kit's house, without a locking mechanism on it, so Blake shrugged, and pocketed it. It would be good to have a spare phone, after all.

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