“Devan, you are the dumbest idiot ever to live,” I huff, crossing my pale arms. Devan turns to me and I feel the envy that I had always felt. He was just so perfect it was annoying. His brown hair was whipping around in the wind, and it looked like a photoshoot with him in front of the ash colored hospital. “An old asylum. I can’t believe this. This has to set some record for stupidity.”
He rolls his eyes and flipps my messy red hair over my face and says, “I’m doing this for you, you’re so boring all the time that I thought you needed some fun therapy.” He nudges me in that annoying way he has done since we were five years old.
“So you’re ‘fun’ therapy is basically going to force me to have ‘fun’ but end up sending me to traumatic therapy instead?” I ask sarcastically. He just smirks and throws my hair around again. I stare hard at the ash colored building, not wanting anything to do with it. “Let’s just go,” I hiss at him.
But just as Devan has uncovered a loose board that seems to have been nailed on in a hurry, I heard it. It was so small and so far away, that no one should have been able to hear it. But I did, and I know that it came from the inside. “This gap is too small for me. Can you go in and unlock the door for me?” Devan asks.
I turn my head, crumpling at the idea of me being in there alone. “Are you being serious right now?” I ask in disbelief. But I knew that he was, and that I couldn’t change his mind to let me go another way. But I also knew that he would take me back home, but if he did that, he would never, ever, let me hear the end of this.
“Good luck Cassandra,” he whispers as he flips my hair again. I push his face away and take the board into my own hands. I wouldn’t be able to rip it off, but I could lift it and smush through. I shove my arm in, find an anchor, and heave the rest of my body in. It was only now that I remembered the noise that I had heard, and I hoped it was paranoia, but I could hear it again. It sounded almost like footsteps, and I knew that I had to be going crazy already.
I quickly make my way to the door on the other side of the room, and search for the lock. I find it after maybe five minutes of searching in only dim cracks of fading daylight coming in from the windows. The lock is a large bar going across the iron doors, and pulled it up as hard as I could – which was far too hard.
Chunks of dust and cobwebs went airborne, and I coughed and swatted them away. Devan comes through the door, and a warm pool of evening light pours in. He smiles like this was what he was waiting to see all his life, and drops the door. It swings back with so much force that it shakes the entire building, making more chunks of dust fall. “That was weird, the door wasn’t even that heavy,” Devan remarks, as I stand in dark, longing for that pool of light to return. “Whatever, lets just go look for a flashlight or something.”
“Did they even have flashlights back when this was a thing?” I ask, covering my nose and mouth with my shirt. “I mean, wasn’t this from like the eighteen hundreds?”
“Found one,” Devan says matter of factly. “It seems to be in pretty good shape too. It looks almost new.”
“Maybe someone came in here before us? I mean, let’s not be crazy?” My voice goes high and my last statement becomes a question. I shake my head at the thought that I really might be going crazy and dying of the dust bunny disease in here.
“Well, asylums are for the crazy people anyway right?” Devan jokes, but I don’t laugh. I don’t even smile, because just an idea of living here for my whole life made me want to scream and cry. I can’t imagine how miserable the people here had been, and I didn’t want to anyway.
“I want to go home,” I blurt out accidently. But I’ve already said something so might as well keep going. “I want to go home and never come back here again because this is a legal murder house and I’m so mad at you for making me come in here!”
Devan looks at me for a long fifteen seconds, his eyes taking on a strange shade. “Alright, we can go home,” he agrees. I look at him, wondering if he was being sarcastic, but it didn’t look like he was. “Let’s go home”
I don’t turn to look back at him, but I am thankful that he had agreed. I make my way to the door, almost running now, and lift my arms out to push it back open. But when I push the door, I reflect off and fall to the ground. The door hadn’t opened.
“Devan. Devan Devan. The door didn’t open. WHY DID THE DOOR NOT OPEN?!” I scream into his face.
“I… I don’t… Maybe something fell in front of it. We just need to find another way out. Calm down Cassandra,” he tells me, but uncertainty drips in his voice. “Let’s look upstairs.”
“What? No! That’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard!” I shout
“Well if you have a better one…” He whispers.
I sigh at his remark. “I thought you were more original than that, Devan. I didn’t like that,” I huff, but I knew that he was right. We make our way up the stairs, and onto the second floor. We had decided that if we were going to have to jump out of a window that the second floor was best because it had a lot of windows that weren’t boarded up. I guess they thought that even a crazy person would know better than jump out of a window thirty feet above the ground.
But I knew they just didn’t care. If someone jumped, they wouldn’t die, but they wouldn’t be able to get away, and they would just be left in the yard until someone found them, and if no one ever did… I shudder at the thought. “I can’t find a safe way down, if we jump then we’ll just break our legs and no one would ever think to look for us here. So we need to go up another floor. I think that I saw some vines while we were outside,” Devan’s voice makes me jump.
“Well, what if we went back downstairs. You could probably punch out that loose board if you wanted to,” I recommend. Devan had always had a stocky build, always dwarfing me when we stood next to each other.
“Looks like you did have a better idea,” he smiles, but his eyes are full with regret. I never knew what made me think this way, but I knew that Devan had been something else. Maybe on a mental level too, but it was clear that he had an advantage over anybody with his size.
We meander back to the stairs, and I’ve just places my hand on the railing when it happens. The elevator dings and opens up, causing me to scream and Devan to jump back, which then caused some electronic device to tip over, causing half the stairs to crumble under it’s weight. “NO!” I scream, running down the good stars, ignoring the cracking under my feet. But I barely make it down five stairs before Devan extends his arm and takes a firm hold on my wrist.
“Stop,’’ was all he said. He pulls me back over the first step, on to what I’m not so sure is solid ground anymore. Only then do I notice how much his grasp hurts, I wrangle my wrist out, and try to ignore the confusion on his face. His grip was much firmer than this morning. And so was his stare. “We have to go upstairs now, doesn’t look like that’s going to get us anywhere.”
“Wait,” I whisper, Devan looks up, but I’m in to much horror to even speak. “Oh my God. Devan oh my God.”
“What?” His question is there, but like he already knows what I’m about to say.
“Down there. It’s a basement,” I stammer away like that’s going to change what I’m seeing.
“And?” Devan looks almost impatient now, and it annoys me that he could be taking something so lightly.
“There… There’s something in the basement,” he doesn’t say anything this time, and I’m forced to continue. “Children. There are so many children down there,” I nearly choke on the words and die myself. The sight of so many young lives lost just because they were different made me sick. “Let’s just go. Right now.”
We search and search, but we can’t find the window with the vines on the third or fourth floor. At this point, things were looking very grim for us, and I was almost ready to give up when I heard it again. The sound that I’d been trying to tune out for the whole time we’d been here. I can’t take it anymore, and I scream as loud as I can.
“SHHHH!” Devan whisper-yells at me.
“NO! This whole time I’ve been trying to pretend that it’s not there, but it IS, Devan! It’s right here and it’s watching us through everything and it won’t go away and we can’t leave because then it will just follow us forever!” I scream and cry. “I don’t want to be crazy.”
Devan’s eyes change, into so many things and emotions that I don’t even bother to look. “Okay, first of all, if you were going crazy, you wouldn’t know. Crazy people can’t know they’re crazy, because they’re crazy,” Devan points out, but nothing makes me feel better. If I was going crazy, at least I was in an appropriate place to do so. “Also, nothing is following us, nothing came in here other than you and me. I’m sure of it.”
“But I hear it Devan. I hear its footsteps, it’s been here for so long, just waiting to escape,” I hear myself, and realize that I really do sound insane. I sound like I’ve lost it a long time ago and this was just something normal for me to rant about.
“All the more reason to get out of here, super fast and never ever come back. Never be locked in again,” Devan says the last sentence quietly, almost like I wasn’t meant to hear it. His eyes flashed with what seemed like longing and madness, like he hadn’t seen sunlight in fifty years.
“You’re starting to sound a bit crazy yourself,” I whisper to him, and he recoils and wrinkles his nose. He never made a sarcastic remark. That was strange for someone like him.
“I don’t want to hear you say that again,” he spits. I turn my head at the sudden outburst. Even in this situation, he would be trying to make light of the situation, and as far as I was concerned, no one he had knows dearly had been effected by a case of the crazies.
“Why. What are you going to do?” once I had said it, I knew that I had pushed it too far. I don’t even know why I had said it, because I knew that there was a lot that he could do to me, but I guess I just didn’t think that he would ever try to hurt me anyway.I shrink away before he can say anything, and thankfully he ignores me.
We spend more time wandering around, then we get to a window on the fourth floor, the one that we’ve been looking for. “It has the vines!” I shout with excitement.
“Yes, we know,” I quiet myself at Devan’s remark. What was his problem? “Get out of the way.”
Normally, I wouldn’t have listened, but this time I had, and I’m glad I did. He hurled an old mug at the window, shattering it – and the mug, in the process. “You go first,’’ he tells me. It was good to know that somewhere, under this weird attitude problem, Devan was there. I walk over, and Devan seems so happily impatient, like a child on Christmas morning, waiting to open his presents. Then, I realize what was wrong.
I almost scream, but catch myself, and hurry myself out the window. When I look up, I’m shocked, but less afraid and torn than I should be. There was glass where the window had once been broken. I gasp and pull up a hand from the green brush to place it on the window glass. Devan was not as gentle as I had been, he was screaming and banging on the glass as hard as he could, but I couldn’t hear him. I knew that nothing here was ever going to open again, and I wanted to scream with him. But if I screamed, then someone was going to see me.
Instead, I just started to cry, without sound. Only my eyes leaking with had to be more salt than all the oceans, and more tears flowing out than a hurricane. Devan had finally calmed down, and was staring at me through the glass, and I knew what he wanted me to do. I hated it that he was right.
I slowly climbed back down the vines, and took my sweet time walking back around the building and to the front gates. I stopped to investigate every sound that had been made, every notch in the rocks. But at the end, very, very late at night, I made my way to the front gate. These gates had never looked so solemn and intimidating, I never thought that I would be so afraid of walking outside their boundaries. I knew this was going to leave a hole in me, and I was so afraid. But I knew the respect this building deserved from me, and the town.
Asylums were meant to let the crazy people in, but never let them out.