Just what was it about Wednesdays anyway? And, shut away and doped to the eyeballs as we all were, how on Earth did we even know what day of the week it was?
I wonder if it’s a collective consciousness. Ants have that, don’t they? When one is threatened they all are? When one sneezes, they all say Gesundheit? How they know how to speak German is beyond me.
But a collective consciousness. A ‘hive mind’. We’re – or rather THEY’RE -almost there anyway. When one panics or throws a wobbler, there’s a domino effect that has them all toppling over in one form or another. If one starts screaming uncontrollably for no other reason that the sun hit them in the eye through the window or the person next to them farted, the noise levels in the recreation room suddenly increase to levels only surpassed by standing next to an erupting volcano or under the Niagara Falls.
With the shiny walls, ceilings and floors glaring enough to make the air itself sometimes appear to be white, the room has the acoustic resonance of the Albert Hall. You’d never find the Proms being performed here, but there are certainly enough who feel the need to make their own music. Not that moaning and crying is actually anything close to being melodic, but the tune is often picked up and carried by the rest of the residents.
I prefer a little Snow Patrol or Eurythmics, myself.
Wednesdays. Bump day. The hike from Monday morning becomes the slippery slope to the weekend. In the outside world at least. Out there, where the sun shines and the grass grows and you can happily turn MTV over to Coronation Street or X-Factor – should you wish to -without fear of someone trying to rip your face off or, in the case of the orderlies, taser you.
In here, where the sun apparently shines and the grass probably grows and MTV is the only channel that the television has learned how to play, the weekend doesn’t exist. Nor does the week. Or the month, year, hour or minute. Seconds and days are interchangeable. An hour and a heartbeat set to sea in a beautiful puke-green boat. A week and a day walk hand in hand along Tedious Terrace, pausing to look in the window of the old pawn shop where patients can swap their souls for an unhealthy dose of needles and neglect before continuing on the way to lunch at the Comatose Cafe.
Not a great menu there. They don’t even do a decent bacon butty. And the coffee doesn’t just taste like gnat’s piss…
But Wednesdays. Once upon each Wednesday when the sun is high, whether or not it hits someone in the eye, one or another resident steps up to the mark and makes the Battle of Brian look like a walk in the park.
The Battle of Brian was a skirmish in the frozen foods aisle at Tesco one Saturday afternoon. There was only one tub of Cookie Dough Ben & Jerry’s left and two men put their hands on it at the same time, with neither being willing to give it up. Both, by pure coincidence, were called Brian, though they didn’t know it until the police informed them. It got very nasty. A bag of frozen peas can do a lot of damage, more, in fact, than an 8 serving cheesecake. The frozen chicken, however, is the weapon of choice, it has to be said.
That’s going to leave a scar…
Oh yes, Wednesdays. Around ten-thirty in the morning, someone picks up a carelessly discarded wobbler and throws it. Or, to put it another way, they kick off. Randomly and for nothing evident to the pseudo-rational mind. I might have said at some point that I’m the only sane one in here. Granted there’s Jeremy, so perhaps not the only one, but I assume you get my point. The door to chaos is unlocked and left ajar, and, like the cupboard under the stairs where all the junk goes, it all spills out.
Like clockwork, when the clock has been wound so tight it’s almost ready to snap and poke you in the eye. Then it does. But not quite like the sun.
But, how do they know it’s a Wednesday? Ask me another.
How do I know? That’s when I have my weekly – or weakly – consultation with Dr. Connors. Although it seems to be getting more frequent for some reason. He wants to see me more and more.
And every day can’t be Wednesday, can it?
When I close my eyes and want to go to sleep, I think of death, instead of sheep.
When the world closes its eyes, and can no longer see, what does it think of? Is it sheep? Is it me? When the sun sets and day becomes night and the demons come out and sanity takes flight, does the world’s slumber become a nightmare causing a rumbling, grumbling quake of the earth?
Ask me another because I just don’t know. I dream of death.
So. Last night I had a dream.
I dreamt of Joy and joy and smiles and laughter. Things that I remembered, but then… after… Her face became molten. It seeped and it cracked and it melted and dripped down onto her lap. Her eyes still had their sparkle, she couldn’t lose that, even though one was sitting with the drips in her lap. But her voice was a bubble, the velvet was gone. It sounded like gargling glue had gone wrong.
I awoke with a start – or was it a stop? Either way, I sat upright. I was sweating and hot. My mind was spinning away with the wind and more than the others, I thought Sin had sinned.
But it had nothing to do with me, I am sure. Joy simply couldn’t deal any more. I couldn’t blame her really, I had been there too – all the deaths and the screams and the horrors down to me, and the ghosts that haunt in the dark I can’t see – so why did I dream of her face becoming goo?
For a while I just laid there, staring up in the dark. My mind drifted like a leaf on a breeze whirlpooling in the park.
Was I was telling myself that I should do it as well? Take my own life and leap down into hell. Maybe I knew that by just being alive, it all carried on, the beast continuing to thrive. But I couldn’t, I wouldn’t, I didn’t have the strength to draw the final curtain and bring it all to an end.
But perhaps, deep down, I knew that I must, lest the world, due to me, crumbled to dust.
That knowledge I bury under a mountain of guilt which I pull over my head like a thick winter quilt. I’m doing what’s best and what’s right and what’s… easy. And if they give me the drugs, it’s almost lemon squeezy. And I’ll continue to ignore that I know Joy is right. That to kill herself was to win the fight. If I don’t, then I know that I’ll have to stand up and be a man. I’ll have to commit suicide. But I don’t know if I can.
When the world closes its eyes, and can no longer see, I wonder, does it dream of me?
We had a power cut today.
With a loud click, coming from nowhere in particular but seemingly everywhere in reality, the lights went off.
And the television set went off.
And the blinking light on the CCTV cameras.
Oh, and the security locking on the doors.
Nobody noticed that one straight away. In fact, the only thing that bothered anyone, apart from the orderlies, was the television. When you only have the company of the insane or the indifferent, a TV is your lifeline to the outside world.
Granted ours was stuck on MTV, producing a raucous mix of beat and breasts – sometimes a bit much for a few of the residents – but at least it had a semblance of life. At least you could see people having fun.
Not that it was always a good thing. When you’re wallowing in misery, dipping your toes in the pool of pissed-off-ishness, someone ELSE having fun kind of put the boot in to kick you over the edge so you almost drowned in the sea of shitty-attitude.
Today, though, everyone had seemed to put on an up. The mood was light. The orderlies had minimal reason to interfere with the residents and the residents themselves gave the orderlies little to worry about. It was sunny outside and the warmth was filling everyone with an unusually buoyant radiance.
Then moans. Cries. Screams, in places.
NEXT is a popular clothes store. When they have a sale, people queue up outside from around 5am. I imagine, when they open their doors, the scene would be much like it was here. People would be milling around, running, pushing. Clothes would be torn or dropped to the floor. The odd unfortunate would be trampled underfoot.
A sudden lack of television had the same effect, pretty much, the only difference being that there wasn’t 70% off ladies skirts.
I wondered if NEXT sold asylum scrubs… Maybe there was a gap in the market…
The orderlies must have been dozing, lulled into a false sense of sanity by the morning’s mood. It took them a few precious seconds to react and jump in, attempting to instil some calm with their usual brand of brute force. Head locks and half-nelsons did next to nothing to bring the throng to heel.
In the ensuing pandemonium, someone fell or was pushed against the door.
Now Dr. Connors is all about high-tech. State of the art. Top of the range cameras. Top of the range locks. Why use a key when a four digit number will suffice? You can steal a key, but not something that’s committed (no pun intended) to memory. Less chance of the lunatics taking over the asylum.
Yes… Good luck with that.
When Ian, who never listened to the voices in his head no matter how much they screamed at him, fell backwards into the corridor, there was a sudden hush (possibly even from within his head). It was as if someone had taken a 3D photograph of the room and everybody was frozen in place. Then the milling about ceased and a flood of patients very impatiently poured out of the recreation room and into the hallway.
About three minutes later, the power came back on.
About three hours later, order was, once more, restored. Well, apart from dear old Edna Cuthbertson, who’d accidentally found the furnace room and decided to burn her clothes. Unfortunately she’d used her hands to put her scrubs into the incinerator. She wouldn’t be putting her hands anywhere after that.
Only two residents had managed to find the door to outside, through the nursery. They were caught picking flowers, just this side of the stump. Eight were back in their cells, curled up on their beds quietly. A further fourteen were found in the laundry room, making tents out of towels and singing around a small fire -the source of which hasn’t been discovered. Eddie, all smiles and sunshine – despite the dent in the back of his head from playing catch with a bowling ball – had a broken femur from the rugby tackle used to catch him.
And me. They spent an awful lot of time searching for me. I hadn’t actually moved. Whilst everyone else was enjoying the pseudo-freedom and running riot, I didn’t move. I stayed in my seat and stared at the blank TV.
The sudden hush from Ian opening the door had been preceded by another one. In my own head. When the electricity went off, the screams – even the dull echo of the screams – stopped also.
I, for the first time in so long, was sitting in silence. Internally and externally. And I relished it.
I wasn’t under any illusion that it was the electricity causing this beast to come alive inside of me. That was my own creation. I certainly wasn’t Frankenstein’s prototype or anything of the sort.
But, when that click was heard…
I wonder if it came from me. Whatever curse I battle with has an off switch, and some sort of electromagnetic pulse was emitted that killed the TV and everything else. I suppose it was better than leaving MTV and killing the patients.
No. It wasn’t me – this time.
We had a power cut today. All of us. Including me.