Home > Asylum (Asylum #1)(2)

Asylum (Asylum #1)(2)
Madeleine Roux

Dan started up the stairs with his suitcases. Three long flights later, he arrived at his room, number 3808. Dan put down his bags and opened the door, only to discover that his assigned roommate had already moved in. Or maybe filed in would be more accurate. Books, manga magazines, almanacs of all shapes and sizes (most tending toward biology) lay in neat, color-coordinated order on the provided bookshelves. His roommate had taken up exactly half of the space in the room, with his suitcases zipped up and tucked neatly under the closer bed. Half of the closet was already filled with shirts, slacks, and coats on hangers—white hangers for shirts and jackets, blue for pants.

It looked like the guy had been living here for weeks.

Dan hauled his suitcases onto the unclaimed bed, then checked over the furniture that was his for the summer. The bed, bedside table, and desk all seemed to be in good condition. He opened the top desk drawer out of idle curiosity, wondering if he would find a Gideons Bible or maybe a welcome letter. Instead, he discovered a small slip of what looked like film paper. It was old, faded to the point of being almost completely bleached out. Faintly, he could see a man staring up at him, an older, bespectacled gentleman in a doctor’s coat and dark shirt. Nothing about the photo was all that remarkable, except for the eyes—or to be more accurate, where the eyes had been. Messily—or perhaps angrily—someone had scratched them out.

“Daniel Crawford?”

Dan spun around with the photo still in hand. A lanky teenager stood just inside the doorway, dressed like a door-to-door missionary in a starched white shirt, dark tie, and pleated trousers.

“Hey,” Dan greeted him, waving a little. “You my roommate?”

“It looks that way, yes.” The sentence came out more earnest than sarcastic. “Felix Sheridan,” the boy added. “Did I startle you?”

“No, no, I just—I found this photo. . . . At least I think it’s a photo, could be a postcard or something, I guess. Anyway, someone went to town on it. It’s pretty freaky.” Dan held up the picture and shrugged. It didn’t seem like an ideal icebreaker, but then he never was very good at first impressions. “Did you get one of these? Maybe it’s part of a scavenger hunt or something.”

“Nothing like that, no.” Felix blinked his milky-blue eyes. “I got my new student pamphlet, dorm safety information, and the course catalog. But that all came in the mail a few weeks ago.”

“Yeah, I got all that, too.” Dan shrugged again awkwardly. “Just wondering. No big deal.”

Dan put the photograph back in the drawer and shut it. Surely he could get by this summer without ever opening it again.

“I could scan the picture and research it for you. Easy enough, really, just a reverse image search. Although actually, now that I think about it, it sort of reminds me of—”

“Thanks, but never mind,” Dan interrupted, wishing he hadn’t brought it up in the first place. “Hey, isn’t there some welcome party or something we’re supposed to be going to?”

“If you’d allow me to finish . . . ,” Felix said calmly, then waited an extra-uncomfortable beat. “I was going to say that it reminds me of some photos I found downstairs.”

“Wait, seriously? What do you mean?” Dan couldn’t help it; his curiosity was piqued.

“There’s this abandoned office on the first floor,” Felix explained. “I think it belonged to the old asylum’s warden or something. There were papers and pictures and things just sitting out for anyone to see. The sign down there said it’s supposed to be off-limits, but the lock on the door was busted.”

“You actually went inside?” Dan wasn’t a rule breaker, but then, based on the little he knew about his roommate so far, he wouldn’t have guessed that Felix was either.

Felix nodded. “I was just there, in fact. And I didn’t look too closely, but I’m pretty sure there were some photographs like yours.”

Not mine, Dan thought with a shudder. I’m just the unlucky guy who found it.

“Maybe you should check it out for yourself, but I have to warn you, the place was pretty unsettling, to put it mildly.”

Felix didn’t seem unsettled, though. If anything, standing there blocking the doorway, he looked like he was offering Dan a challenge. But Dan had other things on his mind.

“So, about that party?” he said.

Felix stepped inside and went over to the closet, his hand going right to a navy blue blazer. “Indeed.” He joined Dan at the door. “Have you run into many girls yet? Our floor only seems to have a handful. But I’m betting there will be more at this party, eh, Daniel?”

Dan stared at his roommate, trying to add up all the things he’d just learned about him into one coherent person. He wondered if everyone at this program would be so full of contradictions. In theory it would make for a refreshing change of pace from high school, where everyone Dan knew was so predictable. In theory.

“I’m sure there will be girls, yeah, but . . .”

Felix watched him expectantly.

“Listen, I’m not much of a wingman. You might have better luck chasing girls on your own.” It made him feel a little jerky, brushing Felix off like this when he was just trying to be friendly, but Dan found himself wanting to keep his roommate at arm’s length. Especially when it came to girls.

“Fair enough. Probably better if we’re not fighting over the same ones anyway, am I right?”

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