Home > Sanctum (Asylum #2)(5)

Sanctum (Asylum #2)(5)
Madeleine Roux

Why couldn’t Felix do the same?

Right. Normal. Because having nightmares every night and obsessing over your dead great-uncle is completely normal. And bonus! Your best friends are receiving threatening messages.

As he walked up the driveway to the front entrance, Dan glanced at the windows on the first floor. A face peered out at him, stark and white, and for a second he could swear it was Warden Crawford’s, smug smile and all. But another step closer, Dan realized it was only a docile old man.

A nurse in tidy blue scrub pants and a chunky-knit sweater greeted them just inside the door. There was another series of gates here, though smaller, and the nurse asked Dan to empty his pockets and step through a metal detector. He handed over his wallet, his keys, and his water bottle, then gave her his medicine quickly, hoping she wouldn’t ask him about it. The nurse just took his things and put them in a plastic bag, then labeled it.

“You can have these back when you’re all done,” she said.

Another wave of dread overcame him, this one harsher than the last. Without his things, Dan felt that much closer to being a patient instead of a visitor. But the nurse smiled and directed him through the security gate, chatting amiably as she led him down the brightly lit halls.

“I’ll wait here in the lobby,” Mrs. Sheridan told him. “You go on ahead.”

Dan paused. “Are you sure? He probably wants to see you.”

She shrugged her tiny shoulders and looked anywhere but at him. “No. He’s seen enough of me. He only wants to see you, I think.”

“You’re the one Felix keeps asking for?” The nurse furrowed her brow, giving Dan a closer look. Her name tag said “Grace.”

“I am, yeah. We know each other from summer school.”

“He was doing so much better,” she said with a sigh. They rounded a corner, leaving behind the lobby and Mrs. Sheridan. “Nobody really comes to see him except his parents and the occasional teacher. I’m sure he’ll be glad to see a friend. His room is just down this way. You’re Daniel, right? He talks about you all the time.”

“Dan,” he corrected instinctively, “but . . . yeah. He does? That’s . . . really something. What does he say about me?”

The nurse was slightly shorter than him, and had to look up to meet his eyes. She leaned against the doorframe and chuckled. “All good things. That you were always so kind to him, and one of the only real friends he’s ever had.”

Dan’s face burned. Felix rarely entered his mind these days, and when he did, it wasn’t for pleasant reasons. His pace slowed, his hands sweating again as he hid them in his pockets. Maybe he should’ve visited sooner, cared more.

Nurse Grace coughed politely, nodding toward the door.

“Ready to go in?”

“Sure . . .”

“There are a few rules, obviously,” she said, taking out her passkey. “Don’t touch the patient, don’t accept anything from him to take out of here. We’ll be observing, of course, in case he becomes overstimulated or upset. I need verbal confirmation that you understand these rules.”

“I understand,” Dan said.

He swallowed uneasily. The last time he had seen Felix face-to-face, it had been in an operating theater, and there’d been a scalpel flashing between them. The door beeped softly as the nurse used the passkey over the electronic lock. A soft hiss, a click, and the heavy white door swung open. They stepped into a small antechamber with a few plastic chairs and a glass window that looked into the adjoining patient room. There was Felix, sitting behind the observation panel, dressed in crisp white flannels with blue pinstripes. His hands were folded in his lap, resting on a checkered blanket. He was looking out the actual window, the one with bars over it, his eyes far away.

This was not the same tidy, upright Felix Dan remembered—it seemed as though he had shrunk, now just a frail husk of the muscle jock he had become over the summer. All the weight Felix had put on from his strict diet and exercise regimen seemed to weigh him down now, his whole body drooping toward the floor.

The nurse let Dan through another electronically locked door into the room with Felix. Dan heard the door whisper shut behind him and lock into place. It seemed as though all the air rushed out of the room, leaving them in a cool, hermetically sealed box.

Felix didn’t even turn at his entrance, though Dan saw the beginnings of a smile tug at the corner of his thin lips.

“Hello, Daniel Crawford,” Felix said calmly. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

An empty chair waited not far from where Felix sat gazing out the window.

It wasn’t a padded cell, exactly, but Dan would hardly call it a living space. An antiseptic scent permeated the room—it smelled like every high school bathroom Dan had ever been in. The only object with any personality whatsoever was the blanket draped over Felix’s lap; everything else was either white or pale blue.

“Hi,” Dan said, meandering awkwardly to the chair. He sat down, fidgeting. “Your, um . . . your mom sent me a letter. She said you wanted to see me. Or maybe want is a strong word. You were asking for me, is what she said.”

Felix swiveled to observe him. No more glasses, just his mother’s thin, steep nose. Were Felix’s eyes always so huge and staring? Dan saw his own face reflected back at him, glinting in Felix’s stare.

Felix twitched as if to shrug. “No more spectacles. The frames, you see, could be snapped and used for self-harm. I now use contacts instead.”

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