Home > Asylum (Asylum #1)(11)

Asylum (Asylum #1)(11)
Madeleine Roux

“Amen,” said Jordan.

“Amen too,” said Abby, and she linked arms with Jordan and Dan.

Dan was content with himself for once. He had two new friends and classes he was actually excited to attend. One day in, the summer was looking up.

After registration, the students were split into a few smaller, more manageable groups and funneled into rooms off the main floor of Wilfurd Commons. The director of the program was there to help guide the flow of traffic, waving and joking with a few of the professors who idled out in the hall. Inside their designated room, the friends were greeted by a professor and a red-headed guy who was handing out information on the various services available to them, emergency numbers, and maps of campus. The guy seemed to recognize Jordan, greeting him with a friendly “What’s up” before moving on to the next kid in line.

“Haven’t we heard all this a thousand times already?” Jordan groused as they took their seats. A dozen or so rows of chairs had been set up in front of a pull-down screen. They sat at the end of the third row, backpacks tucked under their feet. “I mean, I know I read this somewhere already. The pamphlets, the website . . .”

“Some of these kids have never been away from home before,” Dan replied. Abby sat between him and Jordan, perusing a neon-green handout.

“Have you?” Abby asked. It was a friendly, conversational question, but Dan froze, not sure how to answer. He didn’t like to talk about the foster homes he’d been in before lucking out with Paul and Sandy.

He was glad when the professor motioned for everyone to be quiet, waiting by the projector until the students had stopped talking.

“That’s Joe,” Jordan said, nodding toward the stocky, red-headed student. “He’s a hall monitor on my floor.”

“Kinda cute.”

“A hall monitor? No way, Abs, that’s forbidden fruit. Ha ha, fruit, get it?”

“Unfortunately, yes,” Abby muttered, rolling her eyes.

“Ahhh, I crack me up,” Jordan added, wiping away a nonexistent tear.

“That makes one of us.”

The dark-haired girl sitting ahead of them turned and glared, silencing Abby and Jordan with a look. Behind her back, Jordan stuck out his tongue as the professor finally started talking.

“This is Joe McMullan, and I’m Professor Reyes. I know you’re all probably very bored with orientation stuff, but this will be quick and painless, I promise.”

Her name sounded familiar. Dan reached quietly into his pocket and pulled out his schedule. Scanning the list, he found that she was his History of Psychiatry professor. He tucked the schedule away, fixing his attention to the front of the room again. She was shorter than Joe by at least a head, and looked approachable enough, with ruddy cheeks and a gap in her teeth. She wore all black accented by a chunky necklace of turquoise stones.

“First, a few words on dorm safety . . .”

Dan let his eyes wander around the room. A few seats down he saw Felix sitting bolt upright in his chair. He sighed, thinking he really ought to include his roommate more, and maybe see if an hour or two kicking back as a group would bring Felix out of his shell. But he genuinely liked what he had going with Abby and Jordan, and if Felix made things weird, Dan would be blamed for forcing him into the dynamic.

“Brookline has a rich and complex past,” Professor Reyes was saying. “So if you have any questions, ask anytime! History is nothing to be afraid of.”

It was wrong, all wrong. Dan was in the wrong place. There must have been some mistake. He didn’t deserve to be here. He wasn’t crazy, he wasn’t. So why was he chained to the wall? He struggled until there was blood on his wrists from where the shackles held him.

“Help!” he screamed, but his voice came out in a whisper.

The room changed. Now Dan was lying on a table in a robe. A key clicked in the door and a waiter wearing glasses and a white serving uniform came in, rolling a tray in front of him. There was a big silver dome on the tray, and Dan could hear something under it tinkling and rattling like silverware. “Your dinner, sir,” the waiter said, removing the dome. Underneath were surgical instruments: a scalpel, a clamp, and a hypodermic needle.

Dan looked up, and the waiter’s face had changed. Now he was wearing a white doctor’s coat and a surgical mask. Worst of all, where his eyes had been there were only black sockets, as if his eyes had been scratched out.

As he reached for the instruments, the doctor said in a gentle voice, “Don’t worry, Daniel Crawford. I’m here to take care of you.”

Dan startled awake. Sweat was pouring down his face, and he had grabbed the sheet so tightly that his fingers were cramping. He was still muttering, “No, no, don’t hurt me!”

Heart pounding, he sat up. His eyes adjusted to the darkness slowly. He was in his room. There was no waiter, no doctor. There was only Felix, stock-still, standing beside the bed watching him.

“Ah!” He sank down into the pillows again and yanked the sheet up to his chin. “What . . . what are you doing?”

“You were speaking in your sleep, Daniel,” Felix replied calmly. He took a tiny step away from the bed. “Are you feeling all right? The noise was . . . Well, it woke me, as you can see. . . .”

“S-sorry,” Dan mumbled. “Just a nightmare. I’m . . . I’m fine, really.”

But I’d be better if you backed the hell away.

“I need some air,” he added, rolling out of bed. The sheets were damp with sweat.

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