The Bloomingdale Asylum by TalesOfTorment
My name is Julius Raspers, a reporter for the New York Times, and today I am admitting myself to the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum. Many reports of abuse toward patients have surfaced, and in order to once and for all prove whether these are true or not, I have decided that I will falsely claim to be a victim of insanity. As of now, I am walking down the hallway with a few of my colleagues, who will claim to be concerned friends of mine.
It is already apparent that the condition of this building is below what should be considered tolerable. The halls smell of something rotting, and the dim lighting simulates something that could only belong to a horror film. I fully intend to report all of this, though I am not yet able to write all of this down in my journal. In order to get the full treatment of a patient of the hospital, and not be treated any better because of my reporter status, I intend to keep this fact a secret from the staff.
The admissions office, once we reach it, is atrocious. The graying paint of the walls is peeling off in layers, exposing the similar-colored gray cement barriers that protect the outside from these people. Sitting at the desk is a woman that could only be described as the same color of this room; gray. Her glasses sit forward a bit on her nose, and I am unable to clearly see what color her eyes should have been. A thin film covered her pupils, defying all light that tried to enter the dreary shell of a person.
“Hello. Is everything going alright?” She didn't even try to make it sound like she cared. Her voice sounded like that of a broken record player; one that spun the same scratch over, and over, and over, so much that it eventually became monotonous. As we began, one of my colleagues picked up on our perfectly rehearsed lines. If she had paid even a sliver of attention, she would have caught on to the fact that this was staged, but she just got to typing on her typewriter, her long gray nails making slight clicking noises upon the keys.
“No, we don't believe so. My friend here, Julius Raspers, is suffering from a severe case of insanity. There are times where he forgets his own name, he hallucinates, he hears things that only he can hear. There are even times where he believes he is someone he is not.” My friend did an excellent job describing the conditions of the insanity I was going for, as this particular type only kicked in at times. So I could be my perfectly intelligent self the entire time, and no one would become suspicious.
“Oh, we are so sorry to hear that. Are you hear to check him in?” Her voice, once again, passed as completely monotonous, as if she had said the exact same line hundreds, no, thousands, of times. Her voice was nasally, and her face was entirely made up of sharp angles. The only dull things about her was her expression. My friend nodded his head once, and she typed a few more things on the typewriter.
“Okay, we'll just need two of you to sign him in.” Two of my colleagues stepped forward, while the last one backed up a step. He seemed to be frightened of the woman, and I couldn't blame him. If all of the staff behaved in this way, then there was a serious problem with the hospital. My hands began to sweat, and I flicked my eyes across the room. I had always been skeptical about the torture stories of this place. That's one of the reasons I volunteered to do this. But as my two friends finished their signatures and turned to leave, I felt the eerie urge to tell them goodbye. For good.
“Alright, Mr. Raspers, I'll show you to your room.” The lady stood after my friends were gone, and I could already tell that her demeanor had changed. Instead of seeming nonchalant either way, I could see downright hatred in her eyes. It shocked me how much she had changed, but I didn't let it affect me. I had to see this through, no matter how much it terrified me.
She led me down the hallway at a brisk pace, and I had to almost jog to keep up. Ten days is all I had to stay here, and then I would be checked out. If there was an obscene amount of things wrong with the place, then I would report it both to the media and the police, and Bloomingdale would be shut down for good. If not, then I would have proven that I was right, and would feel secure that everything was right at last.
“Here you are.” She spat, nodding to what looked like a cell door. It raised a brow, as it looked almost exactly like a prison door would look like. And once I got past that fact, I looked to the inside of the room.
There was a bed, if you could call it that. The mattress was torn apart and rotting, sitting upon a twisted metal bed frame. It was stained with red splotches, and it was all I could do to hope that it wasn't blood. There was no toilet. Instead, there was a gray bucket sitting against yet another gray wall that was the back of my “room”. I could tell that no one used the bucket, however.
Fecal matter was smeared all across the walls and floors, and the scent of urine reigned like a fog across the room. The place was worse than a prison cell, and I looked to the woman with a look of shock. “You really expect me to stay in a place like thi-”
“Shut up!” With more strength than I thought she had, she threw open the door, grabbed me by the hair, and threw me to the floor inside. My clothes became soaked with the liquid on the floor I knew was urine, and I hit my nose hard enough against the cement to make it bleed. “You're lucky you get a room at all. Now stay! We'll take you out to eat in twenty minutes.” With that, the devil of a human slammed the door shut and locked it with a medieval looking key.
I could not believe the atrocity of the place. I stood slowly as my wet clothes stuck to my body, and the scent of fecal matter and urine together was enough to make me gag. My head swam as I looked around the room once more, trying to find some means of escape. I could find none, amongst the gray metal and cement of my prison.
The twenty minutes I spent in that cell alone was enough information for me to shut this place down for good, and it passed more slowly that any amount of time I had ever waited. When someone finally came to get me, it was not the same woman as before. This time it was a burly man with the same gray palor that the rest of the place seemed to have, and behind him was a chain of people.
Literally, a chain. They were all chained together with cuffs around their hands and feet, just as prisoners were kept together. The man took me roughly by the arm and, before I could react, chained me to the last person in line. It was a young blonde girl, one of barely fifteen, and she was the first person I had seen in the place to not have gray skin and an emotionless face.
She was scared. She was scared out of her mind, and I was too. But she seemed almost as glad as I was that there was another person that was halfway sane in this place. I nodded to her once, before we were both almost dragged across the floor. The chain of people began to move again, and she had to turn around to look forward.
“My name is Julius.” I whispered into her ear, barely making a sound. It seemed almost wrong to give this place my words. It was worse than any prison I had seen, and its air seemed almost to foul to speak. But with a whisper of a sound, I heard her name in return. “Jaime.”
She didn't seem mentally ill at all. I thought of asking her why she was here, but that was an incredibly rude question to ask of someone. So I remained quiet until the line stopped once more, and another patient was chained to me. During the commotion of clinking chains, I asked, “Where are we going?”
As we started moving again, I thought that she wouldn't respond. But a few moments later, in that same whisper tone, she stated, “To eat.” It was very simple, and I wondered if her condition was something to do with her brain. But then she turned to look at me, and I could see intelligence in her eyes. They told me, “We can't talk here.” And I nodded my head. So the monotonous train continued, along the path, down the hall, and we picked up six more people. Some were scared, and some just seemed lifeless. But they all had that same gray color.
We finally reached a door, where the man in front pulled out a row of keys and unlocked it. Inside was a grouping of twenty or so cement tables, and only one of them was open.
The man sat us all down and chained us to a table, and then brought gray trays full of some mush that must have been our food. As he set mine down in front of me, I looked at it with disgust. But as soon as it was sat down in front of the others, they began devouring it.
I took this opportunity to look at Jaime. She was looking at the food with the same face I was, and she turned her head to me. Her eyes held a kind glint to them, and her mouth was only slightly turned down in a frown. She was the most human person I had seen since I had arrived.
“Hi.” Now that we actually had time to talk, I didn't have much to say. I realized that this place over ten days would become quite awful. I think she knew it as well, as agony shown in her eyes. But her mouth turned up in the hint of a smile, and she said the word “Hi,” as well.
The man showed up not five minutes later and began collecting the trays. I realized that I had not eaten anything that day, while Jaime had at least eaten half of the gray putrid glop. The man picked up my tray, looked at the food once, and grabbed me by the hair. He threw me to the floor, and kicked me once, hard in the stomach. It knocked the wind out of me, and I couldn't breath for a good couple minutes. Once I regained my composure, I shouted, “What the hell is wrong with you?” and a hush grew across the room.
I looked at Jaime, who stared at both me and the man with complete and utter horror. He grabbed me by the ear and almost dragged me back to my cell. Once I got there, he threw me inside, and stamped a large red mark on the wall next to my cell. I could only barely see it, but I deciphered it; “PFL” in all caps.
When Jaime walked by my cell and saw the letter, she burst into tears.
Four days passed. Four horrible, painstaking days. I could not sleep in that bed, and I ended up curling into a ball in the corner and crying myself to sleep. When I woke up, I stayed in the cell the entire day, living with the scent of the fecal matter and urine of a man that was quite possibly dead.
The only light in my day was seeing Jaime, that young girl who still had so much life ahead of her.
I got her to laugh, once. I don't remember what I said, but it was the most beautiful laugh I had heard in a long time. It was also the most joyous noise that was ever made in that place. The sounds of screams and bangs and utter torture sounded across the place by night, making my spine crawl with horror. That red stamp remained on my wall, and it was torture in itself not knowing what it was.
On that fourth day, a new person came to take me from my cell.
It was a doctor, that much I could tell. His white coat was stained with dark splotches of varying reds, browns and yellows, but his face was the same gray pallor as all the rest. He took me by the arm and dragged me to his lab, where he strapped me down in a chair.
The next thing I knew, he strapped a gas mask across my face. I tried to struggle, but whatever gas was in that thing knocked me out in an instant.
When I finally awoke, the sheer pain of opening my eyes was almost enough to knock me out again. The pain behind them was greater than anything I had ever felt, and I screamed a horrid scream of agony and regret.
“What did you do to me! Why have you done this!” My incoherent screeches were met by a very calm and very controlled, “We performed a pre-frontal lobotomy.”
I tried to dig into my brain for the information on what that was, but even that made me scream louder. I couldn't hold back tears, and they burned as they slid past my eyelids, and it took me a couple minutes to find the information I needed. And as soon as I did, I wished I hadn't.
A pre-frontal lobotomy is where they take an ice pick, insert it above your eyes into your eyes socket, hit it with a hammer and scrape away connections in your brain.
I thought they were myths. I thought, “There's no way anyone would do something that cruel.” But apparently they were not fake. They were real. And now I had some of my brain connection scraped away, and I had no idea where I would end up.
It took another two days before I could finally open my eyes. I waited, waited for the man to come and get me from my cell, and I finally saw Jaime again. But her features were... Twisted. I couldn't tell what it was, but something was off.
We finally got to the room with the cement tables, and as I entered, I felt something... Odd. My brain wouldn't work right. I saw shadows in the room, and they turned to people. It was that woman from before, the one I had seen on my first day in here. She looked at me with a look that could only be described as pity. It was with that look that I cracked.
“That's it! I can't take it anymore! I'm not crazy. I'm a reporter, Julius Raspers, you can look me up. I'm getting this place shut down! Once the media hears about the things you do here, they'll be shocked! You won't stay open any longer when this information is released...” As I got to the end of my spiel, I felt... Quieter. Like nothing I was saying made sense, even to me.
But it did... I... I was going to report this place...
“Poor little one... We knew your condition was serious, but we thought you could make it...”
Little one... I was not... Little... I was forty-seven years old, a reporter for the New York Times... Wasn't I...?
“I... I'm a reporter... Aren't I?” My voice sounded small, and higher than I remembered. She shook her head with a sad look, and I tried to find Jaime. But all I could find was... Another me. A me that was looking at me with Jaime's eyes. How was I over there? But... I was here... Who was that?
“Young one... You're confused... We need to bring you to a special room, so you can get a special shot.”
“But... I have to report... This place...”
“Young Jaime, you aren't a reporter. You're just a young girl of merely fifteen. Now you want to come with us to get your special shot. Don't you?” She held her hand out to me.
I nodded my head and took it.