Chase stuttered worse than usual as he spoke. The two men either did not hear Chase over the commotion that filled the bleached color room, or they simply had chosen to ignore him. Chase licked his lips and did his best to speak up. His voice quivered as he spoke. His legs began to wobble and he could feel his hands begin to shake.
“H-h-h-hey, I’m t-t-t-talkin’ to you! Y-y-yeah, that’s right. W-w-w-w-ord’s a’goin’ round that y-y-y-you got a t-t-t-thing for m-m-m-men!”
The two men glanced up at Chase. Neither of them spoke or moved. Both men sat parallel from one another, with the game board separating the two. The man on the left was a tall, slender man, whose hair line was beginning to recede. On the right, the man who sat was a much more menacing figure than that of his gaming partner. The man had a grizzled face with a small scar over his left eye. He had a lazy right eye, and was bald. His arms were well toned and muscular, and his face was covered by an unkempt beard.
“W-w-w-w-what’s the matter? Are y-y-y-y-you d-d-d-d-deaf and r-r-r-r-retarded? M-m-m-maybe you’re too b-b-b-b-busy checking out your b-b-b-b-boyfriend to notice when someone’s insulting you!”
The man sitting to the left gave his friend a questioning glance, but the man on the right did not return it. He instead began to stand from the table, and walked directly in front of Chase. The grizzled man stood a good head above Chase, and both of his arms put together seemed to be that of the width of Chase’s entire body. The grizzled man stared directly into Chase’s eyes. Chase could feel the pounding of his heart within his chest. The sweat was pouring off of him, as he nearly felt his legs give out from underneath him.
“You talkin’ to me, boy?”
The scarred man spoke with a deep southern accent that seemed to bellow throughout the room. Chase was quivering. He glanced back behind him to see if he could spot the man, but he wasn’t able to catch sight of him. A sudden feeling of being very alone came over Chase. His hands were shaking as he began to clench them into a fist. And after several moments of nearly unbearable silence, Chase drew up enough courage to answer the man, his voice cracking as he spoke.
“Y-y-y-y-y-y-yes, I’m talkin’ to y-y-y-y-you, y-y-y-y-you ugly, bald headed, son of a b-b-b-b-bitch. Y-y-y-y-y-you’re n-n-n-n-nothin’ but an overgrown, piece of r-r-r-roast beef that likes it when men stick things up your-“
Chase didn’t get to finish his last few words. The scarred man brought his right hand up and clenched it into a fist; he then stepped forward into it, putting nearly all of his weight into the blow, as the man’s hand met its marked perfectly which happened to be Chase’s open mouth. The man’s hand dug deeply into Chase’s flesh, with one of Chase’s front teeth catching on the man’s knuckle causing it to be knocked freely from his mouth. Blood began to pour from the spot where Chase’s tooth had once rested, and before he could react he was now finding himself in a state of being in mid air. Chase was falling, falling, falling, and for a moment he imagined himself somewhere else. Somewhere in a nice spring field or meadow, or on a beautiful sandy beach. Anywhere was better than where he was now, getting beaten to death by a man that he had purposely enraged.
The grizzled man climbed atop Chase like he was a carnival ride at the fair, and began to pummel him with his hammer like fists as if he were a butcher tenderizing a slab of meat. Left, right, left, right, left, right. Blood now covered the enraged man’s hands as Chase cried out in screams of horror. Cries of panic began to flood the room as the man continued to pound away, but they were quickly drawn out against the hard dull ‘thud’ of flesh pounding flesh. With every punch and every crunching sound Chase’s face became less and less human, and began to resemble something else entirely.
Blood spattered onto the floor around both men. Chase was sobbing tears of sheer agony and pain as each blow began to feel less real than the one before it. His face felt as if it were on fire, and he couldn’t stand to open his eyes. His brain was telling his body to do something, anything, to react in any way, shape, or form so as to thereby stop the torment he was currently enduring. Then when he began to feel his entire body go numb, and he felt as if there was no way he could possibly take another strike, something happened. Three guards armed with wooden batons began striking against the back of the grizzled man. The batons made a hollow ‘thud’ like sound that echoed throughout the pale room. Again and again the guards struck the scarred man, until his screams became entwined with that of Chase’s, both unrecognizable cries of pain and woe. The grizzled man eventually fell to the floor, laying face first and sprawled out parallel to Chase. Eventually the guards let off, and a barely conscious Chase peered through his one good remaining eye to see if he could catch sight of his old friend. But he was nowhere to be found.
Before Chase ever said anything to the grizzled man who was now responsible for nearly killing him, the man Chase so desperately longed to see one last time had already started to put his plan into effect. At exactly three forty five P.M., the guard at the front door of the white room left to get his daily paper. As he left, and as Chase began a conversation that would inevitably leave him scarred for life, the man quietly slipped out of his seat and proceeded down the long hallway. Once in the hallway, the man did not make a break for the nearest exit, but rather he began searching for a room.
The man passed one room after another, each door looking identical to the one before it. The doors had been painted a shade of dark grey. As the man pressed on through the long hallway, he felt his heart beat quicken when he noticed a sign up ahead above one of the gray doors. The sign had been painted with black letters on a white border, and in all caps it read, “CONTRABAND”. The man reached forward and felt his hand shake slightly as he grasped for the door knob. The hard, cold metal of the handle sent a shiver through the man’s arm and down the back of his spine. The man gripped the knob and leaned slightly into it, freeing the door from its latch.
The room was filled with hundreds, thousands of small and large lockboxes. Many of them were stacked from floor to ceiling; others were strewn across the floor where it looked as if a careless staff member had simply thrown them into the room and had foregone the entire organization process. The man stood in the center of the room for a moment, and an overwhelming feeling came over him. He then took a step forward to the large stack of boxes on the right side of the room, and began glancing at each one in a downwards order. Each box had been labeled with a five digit number. Time seemed to stand still as the man checked the label of each box. And with every stack of lockboxes that the man ruled out, a sense of urgency and desperation began to sweep over him. The man moved faster. He could feel his body begin to sweat and perspire. In the distance the man could also hear screams, screams of agony and pain. He knew he had little time left. He began to question whether or not it was worth it. Whether or not this was worth risking escaping in time. He was flustered. He felt defeated. The distant screams grew louder and louder. There was no time, he had to leave it behind, but he couldn’t bring himself to let go. A little bit longer he told himself. A few seconds more, he thought to himself. Then as the last of his nerves were about to give way, his eyes spotted it. Box number 69341.
The man reached up for the lockbox and removed it from its hiding place. The smooth, cool steel of the box caused a therapeutic sensation to come over the man as he held it in his hands. The man then reached into his shirt, and revealed a silver chain that had been hidden around his neck, and at the end of the chain laid a single silver key. The man took in a deep breath and held it for a moment. He then took the key and placed it into the hole on the front of the box. The key clicked into place, and the lid of the box slowly opened. The man’s eyes widened as he looked into the small, metal tomb-like case. The man reached into the lockbox and removed the solitary item. He then held it up close and spoke aloud.
“Hello my old friend.”
The gold from that of the object glinted off the man’s head, and for the first time in a long, long time a slight smile crept across the man’s face. Gripping tightly his newly reacquired possession, the man threw open the door, and began a mad dash down the long hallway towards the nearest exit whose guards had conveniently been called away from their post to respond to a disturbance within the white room…
The doctor’s newly shined, black shoes echoed throughout the long hallway as he strutted toward the pale room. The doctor stepped to the side of the doorway as two men were being carried out on stretchers. One of the men squinted up at the doctor with a single opened eye and let out a slight whimper. The doctor gave the injured man a slight glance, and then proceeded into the white room. The doctor removed his right hand from his coat pocket and brought it up to his chin. He then stood quietly, as if to take in the entire event that had just transpired. As the doctor began to speak, he was quickly interrupted by his assistant who nearly barged through the door. The doctor’s assistant opened his mouth to speak, but he was silence by the doctor’s hand gesture. Both men stood in silence for what seemed like ages, but this was finally broken by the doctor.
“The guards tell me the dispute was over an insult. This seems… strange to me. I wonder if this was truly the reason for such a brutal attack.”
The assistant began to speak once again, but he was abruptly cut off by the doctor who shot him a glaring look.
“I’m told that a patient has escaped as a result of this outburst.”
“Yes. That’s correct sir.”
“And if I’m not mistaken the patient that has gotten out was 69341, correct?”
“Yes sir, you’re correct.”
“Ah. Very well then. I suppose we should go and contact the authorities then. You will want to tell them that are patient is considered dangerous, and has had a history of psychosis as well as has shown signs of Pseudologia fantastica.”
“Yes sir, right away sir.”
“Oh, and one last thing. Be sure to call a maintenance worker and have him come up here and clean up these blood stains as soon as possible… Those sort of stains seem to really agitate the patients. Alright then, carry on, carry on.”