I awoke in my cell. It was well appointed, comfortable enough, though small and rather plain, but it was a cell just the same. It had a bed, recliner, television, a table and chairs, and, thankfully, my own bathroom, a real progressive-type joint. Meals were communal, eaten in shifts and under supervision. I spent most of my day in my cell, but there were groups, yard time, and some board games, puzzles, and the like to help pass the time. It certainly wasn’t the worst place I’d been, but it was a far cry from the best. I was occasionally even allowed visitors, sometimes even family, supervised, of course, and only during visiting hours. They never stayed very long, but seeing a new face was always a welcome reprieve from the monotony of the facility, a distraction from confinement in this strange building.
I was sure now; they were drugging me, or poisoning me, rather. I didn’t know what they were giving me, but it at least explained my symptoms; the fatigue, the aches, the digestive issues, and the onerous, pervasive fog blanketing my brain. What they want hasn’t become clear, but, whatever it is, they’re apparently willing to poison me for it. They’re not shy about it either. Every meal time and before bed, I have to take my “medicine.” It’s that damned Lady in Blue. She waltzes through the corridors, flitting into other captive’s cells, into mine, making idle chit-chat like we’re all as happy to be here as she seems to be. Her smile turns my guts to snakes, full of anger and bitter venom, so amused by my suffering, so pleasant while pouring toxins down my throat, so saccharine sweet as she makes her lights out rounds, lest one of us dare stir from our beds after lights out.
She wore no identification, and I don’t remember ever hearing her name, so Lady in Blue it is. From what I can gather, she seems to be in charge here, or she has at least some measure of power. She’s not infallible, not unquestionable, and I’ve seen a few people from the outside get stern with her, scold her even, though I couldn’t make out what was said. She looked suitably mollified and contrite, doing her best to placate them, judging by her body language, but nobody on the inside dared trifle with her, not that many of my fellows show any real fire. As it stands, their poison has me in a state of perpetual exhaustion, and I haven’t the strength to put up any real fight. If I only had my old, maybe I could do something, but I felt drained in body and spirit, like a hollow shell.
I was trapped in this hell then, this dull, mindless drudgery, fed pills and cheap slop, bewitched and placated by buzzing screens, patronized and appeased by the staff, all simpering smiles and nice, empty words, kept against my will. Under what pretense I was put here I do not know; I have no memory of my arrival, most likely a consequence of my medicine, and I don’t know the length of my sentence. I suppose it’s possible I may die here. I suppose it’s likely I’ll be alone in my room. Or perhaps the Lady in Blue will have a hand in it, and then, at least in a manner of speaking, I won’t be alone. If I can derive her motives, what she wants from me, what she’s after, perhaps I’ll discover why I’ve been put away. And perhaps then, I can negotiate my release. I’ve attempted to elicit information from my few visitors, but I’ve had little success. I suspect a few of them may have been plants, spying for the Lady in Blue.
I only hope I can find the truth through the haze. It grows worse by the day, creeping slowly, like a thief in the night, robbing me of my faculties. It seeps into my bones, stealing my strength, confining me to bed some days, draining my energy and leaving me weary and broken. My hair is falling out too. I noticed it in the mirror this morning, another sideeffect I’m sure.I haven’t found a reliable method to stash the pills they force feed me, but I’ve managed to pocket a few and force up a few more. If I can fake it for a few weeks, I might have a real chance at getting out of here. I’m just so tired, so unbelievably tired, as at the end of a long journey, but I’m missing the accomplished satisfaction. Truthfully, I’m missing a great deal, and I fear the worst.. I always loved the forest, the old trees, tall and mighty, hard and resilient, significant and severe; oak, elm, maple, beech, ash, rowan, cedar. I suppose maybe it’s fitting, then, that my end may come here, be it at the hand of the Lady in Blue, succumbing to their poison, or simply expiring here, hidden away in a concrete sprawl outside the city, through locked doors, the only entrance, to the East Wing, one of four concrete blocks spiraling out, at the end of a hall, alone in the cold darkness of my room, taken by time, under the boughs of Shady Oaks.
I awoke confused, blinded by darkness, and, most terrifyingly, unable to move.
Where was I?
How did I get here?
My most recent memory was peaceful, sitting on a rock somewhere, gazing into the trees, looking for...looking for, definitely looking for something...beyond that, context eluded me. I didn’t know where I was, and I could see nothing that hinted at a location. I had no memory of arriving, nor of anyone, or anything, bringing me here. I wracked my brain, trying desperately to surmise my location, piece together my journey, but I found nothing, no scrap of memory, no hint of an idea, nothing. I knew who I was, what I did for a living, where I lived, my family, where I grew up, but a haze lay about the recent past. I was looking...searching for answers...but I couldn’t remember the question, couldn’t think what I’d been working on. I waited for my eyes to adjust, hoping for a glimpse of a landmark, a sign, anything at all.
I could hear no sound but my own breathing, see nothing past my eyelids. The darkness and silence were complete, seeming to swallow me.
I was suddenly blinded, no longer by darkness but by light, as powerful bulbs erupted into radiance above and around me. Flashing circles danced across my vision, obscuring my surroundings. As they faded, I saw only stark white. I lay flat on my back, and I found myself completely unable to move. I had no reckoning of how I might be restrained, why I seemed capable of nothing more than breathing and blinking, how I might have arrived here or for what purpose, for what reason. For a time, there were only the blazing lights and featureless white.
He entered, I could not see from where, but he entered, wearing a surgeon's garb, face obscured by mask, wearing glasses and a head covering. In one hand was an object, narrow, glinting, compact. In the other was a second object, small, dull, blunt. He approached, silently, unspeaking, and I incapable of speaking.
His face, near entirely covered and unrecognizable, was nearly level with my own as he drew near, stopping aside my supine form. I realized I must be on some sort of raised platform, but that was all I could deduce. The features I could make out, his eyes, mainly, sparked no burst of recognition, drew forth no memory. His eyes were blue, cold and steely, focused.
He brought the object up, near my face, out of clear sight beneath my chin.
I felt, vaguely, the sensation of the object aside my nose, forcing my eyes to focus, seeing nothing but gleaming metal. Its tip rested at my eye's corner, steady, unflinching.
He raised his other hand, lifting the second object to the first, not quite touching. He said nothing and made no expression.
He tapped one object against the other, once.
He taeppd oen ojcbet agannsit the ohetr tiwce;
He tp 1 oj agin t owher 3,,
Je qoij wpoka awoijo2qhng23-0
and i thought no more
There Was a Man Dwelt by a Churchyard
There was a man dwelt by a churchyard,
His task it was the church to guard,
Night air caught with every breath,
Grip of cold as strong as death.
Gravestones topped with caps of white,
Muffled all sounds made that night,
Few souls stirred among the stones,
The man hummed, mindless of the tones.
Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the yard,
Was the whisper of strangeness,
Soft light of the stars.
The man who dwelt there,
In two rooms by the church,
Stood broad like a bear,
And each leg like a birch.
He traced the same course e’ry night,
And found his way by lantern light,
His path worn just inside the fence,
From treading here, to, fore, and whence.
Most nights were long, lonely, looming,
This night witnessed full moon blooming,
Diffuse through clouds, not dim but glowing,
Twenty eight days it had been growing.
Blue flashes through the swirling white,
An awesome beauty, fearsome night,
Bleakest beauty, brightest moon,
Spelled nature’s twisted perfect doom.
The churchyard stretches, long and vast,
In the fore the few trees stood as masts,
In the back though, deeper in the yard,
Woods stood, older, denser, scarred.
Lantern light amongst the stones,
Each a life, reduced to bones,
Deeper in the yard the wind,
Hushed its deafening din.
The trees among the stones were havens,0
For woodland creatures, unkindness of ravens,
Sleeping at the witching hour, beaks in wings,
Pines guarding ‘gainst what winter brings.
From further in, within the trees,
Steps were carried on the breeze,
He stopped at once and bent his knees,
This night had put him ill at ease.
His face eases; his shoulders slump,
A figure emerges, round and plump,
Familiar furs, all red and white,
Of course, this Eve is Santa’s night.
A few steps, a show of greeting,
His relaxation, though, was fleeting,
Clouds parted, then, moon shown through,
Its face was bright, his horror grew.
A merry werewolf in Santa’s clothing,
Sprays of crimson over white were showing,
In a moment, in the dark of morning,
The man’s soul was adjourning.