Featuring: Sox, Edgar, and Smirks
Disclaimer: Characters within this story, while inspired by real people, do not follow the events of these people's lives directly.
Warning: This story contains some strong language. If you are uncomfortable with such things, I suggest you close this page and search for a different story.
This story is dedicated to those who feel lonely in a world so empty. Know that there is always a friend to be had, no matter who you may be.
Chpt. 1 - Window
Chpt. 2 - The End of Before
Chpt. 3 - Edgar
Chpt. 4 - Arrival
Chpt. 5 - Smirks
Chpt. 6 - Conversation
Chpt. 7 - A Farewell Missed
Chapter 1 - Window
I never considered myself one who believed in the supernatural, but when men in white coats took to me a secluded room and stuck nodes to my brain, I became a little more open-minded. Paranormal, on the other hand, that's a different thing. I've always believed in the paranormal, I consider myself to be 'paranormal', I mean, how normal can you be when you're born into an asylum, living off nothing but cold porridge, sour orange juice, and the fungus that grows in the corner of your room?
I never thought I would be able to survive outside of the asylum. I didn't even know what clocks were for until Mad Larry taught me how to read one. Not that it matters anymore, they don't allow clocks in the asylum ever since Peterson stabbed his eye out with the minute hand.
Anyway, what was I saying? Uhh, supernatural... men in white coats... Oh, that's right! The experiments! Up until about the age of 10, my life was relatively simple. I'd wake up, greet my friends, collect my usual breakfast - a big bowl of cold porridge, and a carton of sour orange juice, walk back to my room and spend the rest of my day staring out of the window. Well... it wasn't really a window as much as it was a rectangle I had drawn on the wall with chalk, but it was really the only interesting thing to look at, unless you enjoy the sight of grey walls, or fuzzy cartoons. I'd sit there on my bed and stare at the rectangle, imagining what the outside might look like. Some days it was a lovely field of grass, with daisies, and an animal I'd read about called 'bunny rabbits'; other days, it was a fiery volcano erupting onto a small town, while everybody tried to run for their lives, escaping the hellish grasp of the lava; and, you know, sometimes it was just what it was - a cold stone wall. There's not much in my life worth talking about, but there are a few important days, and I'm about to tell you about one of them; I couldn't tell you which day this was, however, they don't let us have calendars here, for some reason.
Chapter 2 - The End of Before
The day started like any other, with a bowl of porridge and a carton of juice, but things changed at around seventeen minutes into my daily window-gazing session. Two men wearing long white coats and surgical masks came and stood in the doorway of my room. One of them mumbled something along the lines of "this is the one" and the other grabbed me by the arm and started pulling me. I asked where we were going but was met by chilling silence. Soon we got to a plain white room, with a surgical bed and medical equipment. On the bed were wrist and ankle constraints, and above it was some kind of large lamp. At this point, my heart felt like it had shrivelled up to the size of a pebble and lodged itself into my throat, but that's probably the best thing I've ever felt in this room. Both of the men grabbed me and forced me onto the surgical bed, tying the constraints. They turned away, to the table of what looks like medical equipment, and mumbled something to eachother. What they said was hard to tell, because of their masks, and due to their backs being turned against me, but it I think I could make out the words "subject"... "long-term"... and, "brain". They stopped speaking for a moment then turned to face me, with tools in their hands. One of them had a surgical scalpel, and the other, some sort of electrical cattle prod-looking thing. As they approached me, I looked at one of them in fear as he made a deep incision into my eyebrow and took a blood sample. To this day, I have no idea why it was the eyebrow. Of all the places to take a blood sample, that prick chose my eyebrow! I always thought that it may have been to 'mark me', so they remember which one I am, or maybe it was just to fuck with me. I felt a needle inject into my arm, as my eyes drifted close. From this moment on, my life was forever split into two parts: before, and after.
Chapter 3 - Edgar
After that day, the next thing I remember is waking up with a sharp pain in either side of my head and a scar on my left eyebrow, from the incision. On top of this, I felt a little queasy, but aside from all that I was pretty fine. I rolled over to the other side of my bunk and sat up, as my eyes adjusted to the dim light.
"Why is this the only one?" whispered a voice I voice - one I didn't recognise, which made me jump, in surprise. I looked ahead of me to see a boy with burn marks all over him. He was dressed in old clothes, which were ripped and scorched. He had circular glasses with one broken lense, and short black hair, which would look quite regal, if not accompanied by a large burn across the upper-right of his face, creeping across his eye and cheek; his left hand was burned all the way to the elbow.
"Wai--what? Who are yo--are you real ?"
He looked at me and sat down where he was, bending his knees, with one leg crossed over the other, the way someone might sit in a chair, except... there was no chair.
"Why does your wall have this rectangle crudely drawn on it? I have seen every single room inside this building, including every patient's cell, but yours seems to be the only one with this mark."
I was confused, tired, and not thinking straight, so, instinctively, I answered him.
"It's a window" I said, "I like to look at it and imagine what the outside looks like".
"Fascinating. Oh, I'm sorry, where are my manners? I'm Edgar - Edgar Abramson, I think".
"You think? You're not sure of your own name?", I asked, in my confusion.
"Well, after a century or two, one's memory does begin to get a little fuzzy. Old age, I guess", he said, before chuckling lightly.
"A century or two--what--who are you--what is this?!" I asked, getting slightly angry.
"I suppose this kind of situation would confuse the mind of mortal. I'm what you would call a 'ghost'. A being from another realm, a realm very different, but very similar to your own. I used to be alive, like you, many years ago, but, like we all do eventually, my time passed, and I moved onto the next stage of life - a place we call 'Purgatory'. Purgatory is swell and everything, but occassionally one feels a little homesick. I began to feel this about a decade ago, and began my journey of wandering the Earth. I was exploring your asylum, when I came across you. Your aura is positively glowing! I'm not sure what it is, but for some reason, you can see and communicate with me, even though your heart is still beating - you're the only mortal I know of who has this ability. It's fascinating.You were asleep when I found you, so I waited, here, for you to wake; that's when I came across the marking on your wall".
Surprisingly, this actually made some sense to me. Being chosen for an experiment and having people use your body and mind as a testing ground changes you. My past disbelief of the supernatural was gone, and the figure sitting before me had just opened up an entirely new window in my life.
"You know, I've heard a lot of crazy shit in this place, why is it that the first person to talk any sense is a ghost?".
Chapter 4 - Arrival
It was already quite late, I could tell because there was significantly less noise, and the lights in the hallway had been turned off. The cells were always extremely dark during the night - management removed everybody's light fixtures after Gabriel electrocuted himself with the ceiling lamp, but my cell always had a faint glimmer of light, from the small, plastic lantern they provided me with, which I kept at the side of my bunk on the small wooden table. We sat on my bed, and talked for a few hours, under the lantern light. He spoke of what life was like in the early 20th century; he told me about the cinema shows he had seen, his trip to Paris, his exotic insects collection, and he spoke largely of the many books he had read in the family library. I told him about the asylum, and about my window, and told him of the very few things which I knew about the outside world. When talking about the asylum, I realised - I hadn't even introduced myself!
"Oh, I almost completely forget, I'm Sox," I said.
"Sox?.. like the footwear one typically wears under their shoes?", he asked, slightly amused.
"Yeah, exactly. I didn't choose it, I always walk round in my socks, without my shoes, so the other inmates just started calling me Sox. It's kindof dumb, I know, but I don't mind it, and besides, we don't tend to use real names here", I explained, before pausing for a moment and continuing with my stories. We spent most of the night like this telling stories beneath the lantern light, until my eyelids got the better of me and I fell asleep during his retelling of "Vampires in the Rain". These were my very first moments with Edgar, and they are some of the finest memories I have. After that day, things kindof 'went back to normal', and by 'normal', I mean I could continue with my regular routine of porridge-fuelled window-gazing, only, I had a ghost to talk to now. Things just stayed like this for a while, except, the lab men kept coming back. Their visits weren't often, but every few months they would take me into a room, and ask me all kinds of questions - ones you might expect to hear from a therapist. They never asked me about Edgar though, or about anything even vaguely related to ghosts, in fact, but they always seemed really interested in my answers, and were never too aggressive, which was quite comforting. I actually started to like them a little bit, despite what they had done; it actually may not have even been the same people who performed the experiments on me, but I always assumed it was, since the thought of there being more than two of these men was rather terrifying to me. Life carried on in its boring and dull fashion, for about three years, when, on the day before Halloween, the mess hall intercom announced that a new inmate was arriving. This happened occasionally - a new inmate arriving was usually nothing interesting, so, like always, I didn't think much of it. I knew that we wouldn't meet them until the next day anyway, as was standard procedure - 'inmate's arrival must be announced atleast twelve hours prior'. Knowing this, I simply went back to my cell and stared at the ceiling until my eyes couldn't stay open any longer, while Edgar waited for the librarian to close up, so he could sneak in and read books all night.
Chapter 5 - Smirks
The next morning, when collecting my porridge and orange juice, I noticed that there was a large area of the bench where nobody was sat, and in the middle, sat cross-legged on the top of the table, was a spikey-haired boy, aggressively eating an apple. This must have been the new inmate, but he looked so young, like, my age... I didn't believe that there was actually another thirteen-year-old boy in the asylum - I had to introduce myself! I put my tray on the bench and climbed onto the table to sit next to him, close enough to talk, but not too close to be overly friendly. He slowly turned his head to me and put the entire apple core in his mouth, and just swallowed. I couldn't believe it - the entire fucking apple. I expected that he would be crazy, I mean, he'd been admitted to Ivywood Asylum, but I was still so amazed. I looked surprised and he began to grin and laugh really loudly, and uncontrollably. I sat there for a minute, kindof nervous, but I wanted to laugh with him, and as I watched him finish his laughing fit, I realised that he, was not a he, but a she. I was glad I realised this before speaking to him, avoiding the awkward conversation, which I don't think she would have liked all that much. After her laughter she looked at me blankly. She was wearing the usual asylum jumpsuit around her legs, with the arms tied around her waist, and above it she wore a white vest with the Ivywood Asylum logo in the middle. Her dirty-blonde hair was cut short and spiked up, directing more attention towards her freckled nose and piercing blue eyes. The thing about this eye colour is, even if you're trying to be friendly, you still look terrifying. She smirked again and spoke in a tone which was a strange combination of high-pitched, but rough and deep.
"Oi mate, 'ow ya doin'?", she said in her strange way. I think she was trying to be friendly, but I was afraid that she was going to swallow me whole like the apple.
"Hi, yeah, I'm good, uh, thanks... So... what brings you here?" I responded, in a friendly but timid way.
"Ah, you know, patricide, first degree murder, second degree murder, arson, disturbing the piece. The usual stuff, besides, I felt like a change of scenery," she said, all while grinning, and as spoke the last sentence, she burst out into a short laugh.
"Well she seems nice," Edgar said to me, sarcastically. I looked sternly in his general direction then chuckled a bit. We all lounged there on the table and chatted for a while, covering all sorts of subjects, until I eventually mentioned Edgar. I didn't know how to explain it, so I started with:
"Edgar is, well, he's a ghost. You can't see him, bu--"
"What, the dude behind you with the glasses?" she interrupted. I looked behind me, to check, knowing fully that there was nobody in the asylum who wore glasses, to see nobody. This was amazing, and very confusing.
"Yo--you can see Edgar? What colour is his hair, what is he wearing" I said in confusion.
"Uhh, black, or dark-brown, I can't exactly tell, and 'e's wearing some fancy-ass old clothes". This made me even more confused, but it meant that she really could see Edgar, there's no way that could have been a lucky guess.
"That's amazing", I said,
"Incredible", Edgar said after me.
"But how is this possible? I thought I was the only one who had this 'ability'. Tell me; what happened when you were admitted here - did you meet the men in white coats?"
"Ah, yeah! One of those pricks put this electrical stick thing near my face, so I bit 'im", she began to smirk, "After that all I remember is waking up in this tiny fucking cell and smashing my fucking face into the wall as hard as I could"
"So they did the same thing to you... Wait, why did you smash your face against the wall? I don't remember doing that."
"Perks of being insane", she said smiling, before breaking out into a burst of psychotic laughter.
The day was getting late, I know because the day-time guards had shifted post and the night-time guards were now looking over us.
"I suppose we should all go and get my some rest now, then" I said, while yawning, and gently rubbing my eyes. My eyes always had large black marks around them, as if I were really exhausted, even when I was actually quite well-rested.
"HA! You actually sleep? Wimp. Sleep is for the wea--" she was interrupted by her yawn.
"Well I'm perfectly awake" Edgar said proudly.
"You're a ghost Edgar, you don't count" I reminded him
"Hey - I still sleep!"
I scoffed, "Yeah, like once every month", and we all laughed a little. "Nah, but seriously, the night guards are eyeing us, we should go. I guess we'll meet you back here tomorrow, uhh.. what was your name?"
She just smirked.
"Smirks. I love it! Well, we'll meet you here tomorrow, Smirks". And then we all went to our cells to sleep, Edgar joining me in mine, due to him being a ghost and not a patient, and the next day we all met at the same bench in the mess hall, again.
Chapter 6 - Conversation
As time passed, me, Edgar, and Smirks began to talk and hang out more and more; it was refreshing to finally have some interesting conversation after an entire childhood of boredom. A few months after meeting Smirks, we were all laying around in my room when I decided to ask her what she knew about the outside world. She had lived in it for thirteen years, she must have known a lot about it, I thought.
"It's shit." she said simply,
I looked at her, confused.
"It's filled with asshats trying to tell you what to do! People think they can control you, like you can't make your own decisions. You can't even burn down a fucking house without somebody being all like 'oh you're a monster', 'how could you?', 'my family is still in there'. Not to mentioned, the 'outside world' is where my dad and the bitch lived."
"Uhh, okay, so, you don't like your dad?" I asked, intrigued.
"Hah! Liked him?", she laughed briefly, "He's the reason I'm in here, mate!"
"Oh, right. So, what, he admitted you here?"
"You could say that. My mum and her fiance died in a fucking boating accident when we were visiting the lakes... I kept thinking that I could have done something - something to stop it." she explained, in a calm, and sad tone, one very much unlike her usual loud and gritty voice.
"After that," she continued, "I moved in with my dad and his bitch. They thought they were being all understanding and supportive, but really they were just being fucking pricks. I got sick of it and lost my shit. I took the nearest fucking sharp object stabbed it right into his fucking eye!", at this point she began to grin, "I dragged his corpse and strung him up in the back garden, gutting him like the fucking animal he was, then, do you now what I did?"
"What?.." Edgar asked nervously, as I remained silent
"I crammed all of his organs into a cake and force fed it to the bitch and their daughter. HAH! I watched them choke as--"
"Okay, okay, alright, I think we've heard enough" Edgar said, waving his ghostly around her mouth, trying to shush her.
She began to laugh loudly, rolling on the floor, tears dropping from her eyes.
"Ah.. ooh. ah-ah.. So, hah... what about your parents then, Sox?"
"Hm? Oh, I have no idea who they were - I never met them", I said while chewing on a piece of fungus that grew in the corner of my cell.
"Ummm, what is that?" Smirks asked, still wiping the tears from her eyes.
"I'm not sure", I replied, "but it's alright", and I held it out, gesturing for her to try a bite.
"I'm good", she said, looking slightly disgusted, "Don't you ever wonder who they were - what they were like?".
"Not particularly. I'm sure they had their reasons for leaving... or, rather, not showing up to begin with".
"Ah, alright, fair enough", she shrugged, "what about you, Eddie, what do you think of your old folk".
"Oh, well, yes, they were great, when they were still alive. They died when our house burned down, in the fire that killed me." he said glumly.
"HAH! Arson, I love it! How'd the fire start, who lighted it?" Smirks asked excitedly.
"I don't know, I was too preoccupied with burning alive to find out..." he replied, in an annoyed tone.
I could sense the tension of the situation and tried to change the subject, while swallowing the last piece of the fungus, I started talking about how crappy the asylum was, even though I didn't truely believe what I was saying. The asylum was not the best of places, I know, but it was - and always had been - my home. Shortly afterwards, the lab men came into my cell and indicated that it was time for one of my randomly-scheduled therapy sessions. I left with them after saying a short goodbye, and could hear Edgar and Smirks' muffled conversation as I walked down the corridor.
Chapter 7 - A Missed Farewell
Life was good up until Smirks and I turned 16, at which point, things got interesting. Not like, 'good interesting', but not 'bad interesting' either. If life is a ladder, with all the good things at the top, and all the bad things at the bottom, at this point, the ladder is laying on its side, and I'm sat on top of it. I woke up to the sound of the intercom - "Patient 427... Patient 427, please report to management... Patient 427...", I was annoyed that it had woken me up so early, but I tried to ignore it, proceeding to get my breakfast, and go to the usual spot where I met Smirks, when I was stopped by Edgar;
"Patient 427... isn't that you, Sox?", he said while pointing to the tag on my sleeve. He was right, my tag did say 427; I used that identity so little that I had completely forgotten about it. I think the last time somebody called me Patient 427 was when the health inspector came, nine years ago... I had no idea why Management wanted to see me, but I presumed it must have been about my therapy sessions. I ate my porridge on the way to the office, and thought about who would be there and what they could possibly have to say to me. When I got to the door labeled 'management', I could see a short, shadowed figure behind the smokey glass. I started to knock, but as I did, the door creaked open to reveal a small man in a worn-down suit, sitting on a chair and looking at a clipboard. He didn't see me at first, but then he glanced toward to doorway and noticed my presence.
"Ahh, you must be Patient 428?" he said in a tired, wheezy voice.
"427" I replied,
"Exactly", he said, in the same wheezy tone. "So, apparently it's your lucky day, kid... I've been instructed that you're free to go",
"Wait, what? You mean, like, leave?"
"Yup, that's what the telegram says. You're a free man, er, boy", he said before coughing into his handkerchief.
"Oh.. right, um, er... do--do I have to leave?"
He spluttered out a short laugh and coughed again.
"You're kidding, right? I usually don't have to say this twice, to most folk. I understand that you've never left this place, kiddo, but the bossman says he wants you out of here. And when the boss wants you gone -- you go."
"I--alright, I see. Well, can--can I say goodbye to everyone and collect my things first?"
"Of course you can, kid, just make your way to the front room when you're ready. There's a taxi waiting outside for you."
I nodded and slowly turned around to leave the room.
"Wow, isn't this just amazing, Sox? You get to finally leave! After all this time! We can explore, you can see the fields, and the bunny rabbits, and the volcanoes, and--oh--just wait until I take you to the cinema", Edgar rambled to me, as we walked down the hall.
"I guess this is good... I mean, I always thought about leaving, but, I didn't expect it to ever actually happen. Not while I was still young, anyway." I replied. I always spoke to Edgar out loud, though nobody could see him except me and Smirks, so it just looked like I was taking to myself. But of course, this wasn't such an unusual thing to see in an asylum. I started packing what very few items I owned, into a small, but suitably-sized suitcase. I filled it with the clothes I always wore - an Ivywood Asylum tee-shirt, over a longsleeved white shirt; complete with grey socks, and the signature Ivywood jumpsuit. The asylum also offered a rag to put around your head, but I never wore it, since I enjoyed my raggy, brown, curly hair. After packing my clothes, I packed the pillow from my bunk, you know, as a souvenir.
I entered the mess hell with my bag to find everybody going about their usual business. I said goodbye to Peterson, who looked at me with encouragement through his one good eye; I said goodbye to Mad Larry, to which he assured me there would be fully-functioning clocks in the outside world; I said goodbye to Gabriel, who was happy to see me, but warned me to stay away from the lights out there. And of course, I said goodbye to Smirks - my best friend and partner in crime, or at least, I wanted to, except, she was nowhere to be seen.
I asked all around the asylum, but nobody had seen her, even Edgar couldn't find her, and he can go through walls! I was sad and disappointed that I wouldn't be able to say my farewells to Smirks, but, there was also a taxi driver waiting, very patiently for me outside, and I didn't want to waste any more of his time, so I set foot towards the front room, armed with my small suitcase. I found the short man from management waiting for me at the front door. When he saw me, he smiled gently before coughing into his handkerchief. As I approached the door, he handed me another suitcase, and explained that it had some things to 'get me on my feet'. I thanked him and took one last look back at the long hallway, and thought about where Smirks could have been, before turning back towards the front door, and taking my first step into the outside world. My eyes squinted in reaction to the natural sunlight, and I waited for them to adjust. I looked around at the grey sky, rough ocean, and the row of tall, trimmed trees, behind the cab. I approached the black car and entered it, after giving the driver my suitcases, which he put in the boot. As the engine whirred, and we began to move, I sat, staring out of the window, wondering what this world had planned for me.