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It's All in Your Head, Dear
A black SUV pulled up into the lot in front of the old brick building. Faint words on a sign clearly hung many years before read “Whittingham Psychiatric Hospital” in peeling red paint.
“But mother, I am not ill.” A confused Malory James turned sharply towards her mother, causing the woman to draw back skittishly.
“This is for your own good Malory.” Puzzled and somewhat frightened, Malory stepped out of the vehicle and walked cautiously towards the building. She knocked on the door, and whipped her head around at the sound of screeching wheels, just in time to see her mother veer out of the lot and drive down the street. The door creaked open and a perky face popped out the door.
“Hello, Dear. Are you here to stay?” Malory glanced backwards at the road, longing for the situation to be some kind of antic her mother planned, but she saw no trace of the black car.
“Apparently so.” she sighed.
The perky lady ushered Malory inside.
“Let me show you to your room,” she exclaimed as she grabbed Malory’s elbow and led her down a hallway. She stopped abruptly as they reached a doorway. The lady, whom Malory had figured out was a nurse, shoved the door open and groped the air for a string to turn the room’s lone light bulb on. The room was devoid of any furniture other than the mattress. Malory wandered to the mattress to find it was completely porous with rips, tears, and holes that seemed to come from a very sharp object. She shuddered and hurried back over to where the nurse was standing.
“This is where you’ll be living. I’ll give you a tour of the rest of the hospital if you’d like.” Malory nodded. Anything to get out of her horrid room.
The nurse led her down the eerie hallway, with tattered, faded wallpaper peeling off of the walls. Malory glanced into a room with the door cracked open. Her eyes grew wide, and she looked away, aghast. The nurse turned.
“Are you okay, dear?” Malory nodded, and continued walking.
“This is the main living area, where all of our healthier patients gather to play games and chat,” narrated the nurse as she gestured to a large area where a few people in white clothes talked.
“What about the unhealthy patients?” Malory questioned.
“Most are in their rooms, but a select few are put in a special place. Don’t worry about that though, dear, you’re a healthier patient.” Nodding, Malory followed the nurse past the room. A door with caution tape and a deadbolt caught Malory’s eye as she struggled to keep up with the nurse’s quick pace.
“Wait! What is this?” The nurse followed Malory’s gaze and shuddered.
“Used to be our surgery room. That’s all I am allowed to tell any patient, but under no circumstances are you allowed to enter it.” Malory, confused by the cryptic answer she received, shrugged and moved on.
“Okay, that concludes the tour. You are welcome to hang in your room or in the patients area.” Malory nodded and headed back to her room, retracing the steps of the tour. As she passed by the surgery room, she put her ear to the door. A piercing screech cut through the air, and what was at first a seemingly childish giggle evolved to a malevolent cackle.
“I must purge the evidence.” Malory held back a scream and ran to her room. She peeked out the doorway as the perky nurse walked by.
“Nurse! I heard screams coming from the surgery room!”
“Oh, Malory. Your condition is getting worse. Nobody’s been in that room since 1920. It has been ten years. Don’t obsess over something that isn’t real.” Malory glared as the nurse walked down the hallway, and slammed the door to her room. She fell back onto the mattress, and sat straight back up, hearing a noise coming from her small bag. Jumping to her feet, she grabbed the bag and ravaged through it, searching for anything that would possibly have made a noise. Not finding anything, she placed it back on the ground.
Hey, you. Malory twisted and her face fell, finding nothing. You won’t ever see me. I’m a nonentity. Malory, in a state of panic, huddled in the corner of her room.
The nurse. The perky nurse. She was the evil laugh.
You should feel enmity towards her. She’s out to get you. Watch your back.
“Malory, dear? Dinner’s ready.” Startled, Malory shook out any bad thoughts of the nurse and ran to the dining hall to escape the voices.
Curfew for the patients was right after dinner. Throughout the course of the meal, the patients and nurses had been looking at her suspiciously. The perky nurse never came for dinner. As Malory walked back to her room, she felt uneasy. She was being watched.
It’s her. Go to the room, quick. Malory hurried to her room, frantically looking behind her every few seconds. At her arrival, she sat on the bed, breathing heavily. Feeling a biting pain in her arm, she looked down and shrieked at the sight. Warm, bright red blood plummeting from evenly cut lines on her wrist to the bed. The cuts kept forming, up and down her arms, from out of nowhere. A different nurse, one Malory had never seen before rushed in.
“Stop! Stop, what are you doing!” Sobbing in pain, Malory wallowed in the growing pool of blood on her once white sheets. The new nurse pulled out a radio.
“I need a stretcher, and a guard. A patient needs someone to keep a vigil or she’ll maim herself even more.” A response came back almost instantly. “One on the way.”
After the mysterious blood incident, a guard was placed outside Malory’s room. They didn’t want her to leave in the night.
You must kill her before she kills you. She’s a turncoat; she acted like she was on your side. She isn’t! Malory still cowered in the corner of her room.
Do it now, or it’ll be the end of you. Malory stood and walked to the door, the premonition of the voice in her head taking over her. The guard was absent from his place and Malory took her opportunity to seek out the room where she had first heard the evil laugh of the predatory nurse.
She entered the room, which was no longer dead bolted. Her eyes widened at the view of a rusty surgical table, a large knife resting upon it. The door slammed shut.
“Figured it out, did you?” The perky nurse was suddenly right behind Malory. “You know too much now. I couldn’t let this be spread around.” Then her instincts took over. Malory tackled the woman, slamming her onto the table with such force that the woman’s head began gushing blood. This is it, finish her. Malory grabbed the knife, and before any sanity could pass through her mind she slit the nurse’s neck. And then she was on the ground. Dead, deceased, all the ways to say it.
A mother stands in the graveyard. Tears stream down her face. The epitaph on the tablet she gazes longingly at reads: “Malory Marie James, a beloved young woman. Her suicide was a detriment to us all.” So you see, there never was a perky nurse. The voices in Malory’s mind were real, but they were her subconscious, not a ghostly apparition taking over. The pressure of her mental illness took over. She could not tell real from fake. She could not see that the nurse was a version of herself, a figure her imagination created. Killing the nurse was unintentional suicide. Stress can overload your senses to the point of breaking, and Malory’s story is just one of these tragic cases.
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