Home > Sanctum (Asylum #2)(6)

Sanctum (Asylum #2)(6)
Madeleine Roux

Dan nodded, clasping his hands together and forcing them down on his leg.

“Personally, I think sawing through the carotid artery with a piece of jagged plastic would be a crude and inefficient way to die, but I’m told it has happened before and so . . .” Felix tapped just under his right eye. “Safety first.”

“I’m sure they know what they’re doing.”

“You don’t look well, Daniel,” Felix observed matter-of-factly. “Sleep proving elusive?”

“Nightmares,” Dan explained. He didn’t see any point in being coy. Felix wasn’t coping with the aftermath of Brookline and neither was Dan, no matter how much he might try to pretend otherwise. “But I bet you know that already.”

Felix nodded, looking out the window again. “I do, I do. . . . The nightmares are what hurt the most. I dream of all the sculptures I had yet to make, and even though when I have control over my mind, I know that wasn’t really me, those failures still haunt me. But I’m sure you understand. You’re special, too, special like me. You see things you shouldn’t be able to see. You know things you shouldn’t be able to know. Things like other people’s memories. . . .” He paused, smoothing the blanket across his legs. “The doctors here do what they can. The violent urges are gone. But the dreams, the burning in my head, that will never go away. A bright burning star . . . It burns when my eyes are open and when they’re shut. It burns right now when I look at your face.”

“I’m sorry? You lost me for a second there. You know what? Never mind. Honestly, man, I don’t know what to tell you. I thought once we left that place the nightmare would be over for good.”

A short burst of laughter almost caused Dan to fall out of his chair. He hadn’t expected Felix to laugh, let alone so suddenly. Then Felix fell silent, pursing his lips.

“That was very naive.”

“I guess so,” Dan admitted. “Still, there are worse things than being naive.”

Felix leaned forward, gesturing for Dan to do the same. When he did, a waft of strong soap smell hit him hard. Felix grinned, his eyes wrinkling at the corners. He laughed again, almost gleefully, as if a secret waited to burst out from behind that toothy grin. “Are there?”

“What do you mean?” Dan whispered. He glanced over Felix’s shoulder at the observation glass. Felix burbled out another high-pitched laugh, then squinted, squeezing his eyes shut tight. “Maybe I shouldn’t have come here,” Dan added.

“It’s . . . It’s all right now. I . . . The star burns but I . . . Yes, I can hold on for just long enough.” Felix leaned in even closer—any closer and his chin would have brushed Dan’s shoulder. Dan was so riveted, he almost didn’t feel the object that fell on his leg.

“Don’t let them see it,” Felix hissed. “Cover it with your hand. There. There, that’s good. Don’t let them take it from you. If they take it, you’ll never find your way, and then it’s trouble for me. So much trouble for me. More burning.”

“What is it?” Dan pressed his hands over . . . a card? A letter?

“Follow them, Daniel. You’ll see. You’ll see!” Felix rocked back into his chair, covering his face with both hands. A half-choked cry escaped. “Forgive me, Dan. What we did to you . . . Awful. Terrible. I don’t know if it can be undone.”

“What? Are you okay? Are you in pain?” Dan looked around frantically, and just as he expected, he heard the lock mechanism on the door click. The nurse was coming. “I think we need help here!”

“Follow them,” Felix sobbed through his fingers. “Follow, Daniel!” Every word sounded as if it were being tortured from his throat. “It’s okay to be afraid!” he cried. “I’m afraid all the time.”

Nurse Grace rushed in behind Dan, pushing on his shoulder. “You’ll need to leave now,” she said, then kneeled down in front of Felix. “Please,” she said as an orderly appeared to escort Dan out. “It’s time for you to go.”

Dan stood, numb, and backed away, watching as Grace tried to sooth the frantic Felix, who clawed at her shoulders, pushing himself up until he could see Dan again.

“Follow, Daniel! Follow! It’s time for me to wake up now. Wake up, Felix! Wake up!”

The sound of Felix’s screaming echoed in his head, following him out into the corridor. A male nurse guided him back out to the main hall and Dan slumped along behind him, carefully palming the note Felix had slipped him. He flicked it into the kangaroo pocket of his hoodie just as they reached the lobby. Mrs. Sheridan stood up from a low, worn couch. Dan didn’t say a word, but the corner of her lips began to tremble.

“Do you think it helped?” she asked softly.

“I don’t know, maybe,” Dan said. His cheeks burned with the lie. “No, I don’t think it did. I’m sorry.”

Mrs. Sheridan nodded, placing a shaking hand on his shoulder. “Thank you for trying.” Without another word, she turned and led him to the security gate. Dan picked up his bag of personal items, lost in a haze.

Nurse Grace appeared just as they reached the doors to the outside. She pulled Mrs. Sheridan aside, speaking to her in hushed tones. That was Dan’s chance to sneak a look at the card Felix had given him.

He turned to face the wall, his nerves buzzing with excitement and fear as he reached into his pocket and drew out the note.

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