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The Asylum Wall
There is nothing here, I think as I clutch the papers I’m carrying tighter to my chest then force my eyes up from the walkway to look at the building. Nothing except ghosts and memories.
It has only been a few years since the place closed, but it looks like it has been abandoned for decades. Almost all of the small windows are broken, giving the building a pot marked appearance in the light of an early twilight. The doors hang crooked in their frames and weeds have overrun the once smooth lawn. The place is dead and only the ghosts and memories remain.
I take a breath and push open the arching main gates; their grinding and squeaking echoes in the silence of the area. “Ghosts can’t hurt you,” I whisper as the echoes fade.
Broken asphalt shifts and crunches under my feet. Up close, the decay is even more obvious. Deep wrinkles and creases line the front of the building where the paint is cracked and peeling. Moss hangs from the eaves veiling and shadowing the broken, empty windows. I reach for the partially open door and step through, back into the memories I came here to face.
Dust covers everything in the entry hall and I swallow the cough scratching at the back of my throat. As I walk through the lobby, the dust swirls around me creating mists and vapors that bring memories of the people who once worked or lived here back into sharp focus. I am reminded of the doctors and nurses—some of whom were easy to work with and were still fresh enough they hadn’t become cynical or callous. There were others who had worked with our patients far too long and had begun to expect the worse behavior from them or had to have it proven which ones weren’t BiFFs, or Big Fat Fakers. We did receive a percentage of those as well. Shadowy forms also became some of the patients I had worked with over the years. There—a young man in his late twenties physically, but maybe four or five mentally and emotionally. He used to follow everyone around like a little puppy. We could never get him to keep his shoes on. I smile as I remember how he used to carry a security blanket with him. Fortunately, one of the other, more stable patients would always seem to adopt him and make sure he stayed out of trouble.
The ghostly figure shifts and I stepped back as one of the BiFFs jumps toward me—a young woman who had been ordered here, several times, from one of the county jails, for evaluation. I didn’t know her charges, I was never curious about that sort of thing as I felt it would prejudice my attitude when I dealt with our high security patients. This one though, she was a classic. She wanted to make you think she was crazy, but you could see the calculating going on in her head. Some nights she would create as many disturbances as she could; getting all the other patients on the floor upset and agitated. Then some days she would go into a sweet little girl act, being polite and helpful and other times, she just become as disgusting as she thought she could away with.
We all knew she was a behavior issue and after a few days, the doctors would release her back to the county jail. But, she knew the right buttons to push each time she went to court to make the judge think she honestly had mental health issues and each time he would order her back here for an evaluation. I always suspected the officers at the jail appreciated the break they got when she was with us. Considering the way we felt after dealing with her, I couldn’t blame them.
As I leave the lobby and enter the patient areas, the dust thickens and I find myself walking in a dense fog that obscures my vision. Still I know where I am going and only pause to nod a greeting to each of my memories as we pass.
My hand shakes as I reach for the door to this room. A spark arcs from the knob to my hand, flashing bright blue and creating a halo of light in the fog. The bluish glow surrounds the door as I step through and back into my past.