You walk through the overwhelmingly massive rod iron gates leading to Sister Mary’s Shelter for Mentally Ill Children. The bushes out front are overgrown with weeds and brambles and the windows are foggy and stained with unidentifiable brown substances.
You walk down the cracked cement sidewalk and your supposed boss, an old lady by the name of Pat, stands under the archway of the front entrance ready to greet you. The soles of your black sneakers make a horrible scratching sound on the sidewalk. You introduce yourself, but Pat says she already knows who you are with a cheery smile and a grandmotherly hug. You can tell she’s definitely a grandmother by her tight death grip. All grandmothers have them.
She welcomes you to the staff of Sister Mary’s Shelter for Mentally Ill Children.
The tiled hallway is dirty and grimy, lined with doors and the occasional wooden bench. Each cold, metal door was decorated with the children’s artwork and a large padlock with an securing mechanism. There is everything from puffy paint pictures to Crayola scribbles. You name it, one of the kids had done it.
“All of our patients here are very peculiar kids, they all range from many different illnesses and disabilities. Some is just as simple as Down's Syndrome, others as complicated as borderline Personality Disorder with Psychotic Tendencies. You must be kind with them despite what they have done. It is difficult, but I’m sure you can manage that.”
She walks you down a long hallway lined with many, many doors. You reach the end of the hallway. “This is where we begin. Be careful with what you see, it may scare you,” She warned, “But nevertheless, do not hesitate to give them a smile or pass up the opportunity to hear their stories. They all tell great stories, regardless if they are true or not, just take them with a grain of salt. Except for Ursula Guthrie. Her stories are horrid, violent, and utterly disturbing. Avoid her’s at all costs. The last person to listen to one of Ursula’s stories was sent to our parent asylum for adults.” You nod.
“The first door on the left down there is Mac Peckly. He thinks he has bugs in his skin and he tries to itch them out. When I first worked here, I had to put ointment on them. He called it ‘Bug-B-Gone’. It was just Neosporin.”
His door is covered in little doodles of green and red and yellow bugs with pinchers and manacles. Pat points at another metal door three down from Mac’s.
“That is Agitha Waters. She never comes out of her room. Not even during meals or free time or ever. She thinks she’s stuck. she’s locked in there but she’s the one locking herself in there. Sad isn’t it?” You nod.
She leads you right down the hallway and the doors continue. You look up at the ceiling and notice the spider webs and dirt hiding in the corners and creeping down the walls.
“This is the west ward,” You nod, “Do not smile at the boys here, they are pigs.” You interject but she dismisses you and continues, “Yes, I know you are, but it is not of matter to them. They are all pigs. The girls here are kind and true angels, though. Be extra kind with them. Maybe slip one of them an extra cookie during snack time. They like cookies.”
You walk with her a little farther down the hall. She stops you at a door.
“This is Amy Webbing. She had a mental break after her twin brother died when they were ten. She keeps hearing his voice and she says it tells her to kill people. But she is kind, so don’t judge her, or her dead brother, too hard.” Her door is covered in various stick figure drawings of a boy and a girl holding hands. And playing in the park. And eating dinner with their parents. Any situation imaginable. You continue on.
She leads you down the hall. Every sound echoes and bounces off the dirty walls. The dull chitter chatter of the wards can be heard from every room, making the web of hallways sound like a huge birthday party for a small child. Except these children are murmuring and whispering to themselves as opposed to laughing at ice cream moustaches and farts.
“That is Jethro Montgomery,” Pat sneers, “Stay away from Jethro Montgomery.” A bald head with wild eyes pops up through the bar windows. he bares his teeth and snarls at you. A mouthful of yellowish grey teeth stare back through the bars.
“ Back! Back!” Pat yells at him. Jethro returns to cowering in the corner. “He believes himself to be a rabid dog,” She explains. She turns you down the next hallway, not bothering to introduce you to any more of the children in this ward.
“This is the east ward. These children are a bit younger than the rest.”
“Over here is Emily Calloway. She sees rainbows everywhere so much so that is obstructs her vision. She is actually blind and delusional, but no one has the heart to tell an eleven year old that.” Her door is covered in various mixed media splats of color that you guess is supposed to resemble rainbows.
“Her neighbor, Andrew Clarkson, is a pyromaniac. He burned his house down and killed his whole family at age 10. He survived without a single burn mark or scrape. Peculiar, is it not?” You have reached the end of the web hallways.
“We have about fifty children in our care, you may find that you get attached so some of them. Do not get attached.”
Something feels wrong here. This isn't a proper asylum. Where are the psychologists and therapeutic exercises for the children. You think that it's nearly impossible for these kids to be as damaged as Pat claims. What is really going on here? And why are they bolted in cellars. They're just children. Something is wrong here.