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The Demon Within
A warm breeze blew past Regina picking up her short brown hair. The sun peaked out through the fluffy white clouds in the sky and kissed her skin. The air tasted sweet with a hint of salt from the ocean’s coast. Regina was heading to her senior year of high school at Blackridge High. As she crossed the road, the cement felt like fire burning through her sneakers. The air became heavy like a blanket of despair that swaddled Regina. She stopped in her tracks as an out of control bus barreled towards her. She was frozen, paralized from fear. Her feet were cemented in place, she couldn’t bring herself to move. Regina’s heart pounded as if it was trying to jump out of her chest. The bus crashed into her, overwhelming her body with pain. Regina laid in a pool of her own blood, her hair now tinted red as tears streamed from her eyes. Her eyelids had become heavy and the once beautiful sky was now a horrific shade of red.
“Regina… Regina…” a velvety voice echoed.
Regina’s eyes fluttered open, white lights on the ceiling flickered, blinding her. She leapt from her metal cot, panting and shaking. She stumbled backwards leaning against the cold brick wall. Regina slid down to the floor burying her face in her knees. Her eyes began to burn as salty tears filled them. A disembodied voice crackled over the speakers, “Regina, did you have another dream?” No answer. “Did you have another dream?” the voice repeated. Regina didn’t acknowledge it, she didn’t move, her baggy white sleeves becoming drenched from tears.
The room was made of concrete, no natural light ever came in. The dim ceiling lights reflected off of the tile floor revealing small scratch marks. The thick walls created an eerie silence, suffocating every sound. In the corner next to the large metal door glistened a small glass shard from a smashed light. The silver metal door was at the front of the room, it had no handle on the inside creating no way out.
The metal door clicked and began to open creating more drag marks from its weight. A young woman with jet black hair and green framed glasses came through. She wore all white with a small name tag on her chest that said “Blackridge Asylum, Nurse Annie.”
“Regina, it’s time for your medicine,” Annie’s voice was gentle and quiet.
Regina still didn’t move. A deep voice rattled in her head, “Get Up!” Regina’s head shot up, her eyes glowed a bright orange, until they faded to a natural emerald green. She shakily pushed herself to her feet.
“I’ll need you to sit on the bed, Regina,” Annie calmly stated.
Regina staggered to the bed mumbling, “He doesn’t like this.”
A small metal cart was next to Annie. Different pills, shots, and sedatives were neatly arranged on top. Annie grabbed a pair of latex gloves and slipped them on. She picked up three pills and a small cup of water. Regina swallowed the pills. They left a pasty taste in her mouth. Annie flipped through her notebook and began to ask questions.
“How are you feeling today,” Annie asked.
“Tired, and my muscles ache,” Regina replied.
“What, you don’t want to tell her you’re scared?” Ambros jabbed. Regina flinched as his voice echoed in her head. Annie jotted down her answer and noted her reaction.
Annie’s eyes softened as she asked, “Has the voice said anything today?”
“No,” Regina quickly answered. Annie tensed as she stood up. Without a word she packed up her equipment and headed for the exit. Her feet were silent as she swiftly moved across the tile. A high pitch sound beeped and the heavy door popped open. The nurse left without acknowledging Regina and her response.
“Wow didn’t know you had it in you to lie,” Ambros mocked. His low voice sent a sharp pain to Regina’s temple.
“Please… Stop,” Regina whimpered. Regina curled up in a small ball in the corner of her room. She clung to a tattered stuffed bear that she received her first week in the asylum. She blankly stared at the impenetrable wall, scared to close her eyes. She was losing sense of time, minutes felt like hours, months felt like days. It was all the same. The same brick cell that felt colder every second. The same metallic door that opened only five times a day. The same routine everyday, same nurse, same mysterious voice, same psychologist. Everyday.
A hoarse voice rumbled,“Hey, kid. Snap out of it. It’s time. Our shrink’s coming.”
A high pitch sound buzzed, echoing through the dark room. An older woman walked through the door. She had long blonde hair that was pinned up in a tight braid. Her black high heels clicked on the tile. She carried a small notebook filled with loose papers and colorful sticky notes. The woman sat in a small chair adjacent from Regina’s bed.
“Patient 37052, Regina Rose, day 421,” she bluntly stated as she rummaged through her notebook. Regina had resituated and sat on the edge of her bed. She felt hot and her body was shaking. She hated talking to this woman, all she ever asked about was the accident, flooding Regina’s head with memories.
The woman looked up at Regina and asked, “Do you remember me? I’m Dr. Joanne Knight.” Her voice felt like silk in the air. Regina’s body relaxed as she nodded.
Dr. Knight calmly started,“We’ll start where we left off last week,” she paused, “Can you tell me what you remember from the accident?” A chill rolled down Regina’s spine. She broke eye contact and gripped her stuffed bear tighter.
“I… I don’t want to. It hurts,” her voice was shaky with fear.
“It’s alright, just try your best,” Dr. Knight encouraged.
Regina turned away, her white shirt hung loosely on her small body. On the back across her shoulders read “37052.” This was the number she was assigned the day she arrived. The doctors told her it was so they could easily keep track of her medical records. Ambros always told her it was her prisoner number.
Regina began slowly, “Fine, I’ll go over it again.”
“Don’t do it kid. Don’t fall for it again,” Ambros yelled.
“Stop it!” Regina shouted. “I have to do this. They can help us,” she reassured.
Dr. Knight vigorously wrote the interaction in her notebook. As Regina started talking about the accident, her body stiffened, her hands clenched into fists. Every ounce of pain she had felt engulfed her body like waves. Her hands felt heavy as if drenched in thick blood, her vision blurred and every color around her turned shades of red. Her head spun and her arms went numb. A ringing sound identical to the bus’s horn overpowered her senses. Her body felt like it was breaking, being torn apart. Regina dug her nails deep into her palms. Hot thick blood began to drip, staining the white bedsheets.
Dr. Knight dropped her notebook and frantically insisted, “Regina, you are okay. You’re safe. I need you to stop.”
Dr. Knight looked up at the small security camera in the corner. “I need help now!” she shouted.
“Kid… Hey… Regina! Wake up! Ugh, fine I’ll do it myself.” Ambros snarled.
Regina’s eyes began to glisten a crimson orange. Her hands relaxed and her fingertips were dripping with blood. Two large security guards burst through the door, carrying tasers and guns with rubber bullets. They each had badges on their shoulder with their names in bulky black letters, Carl and Jake. Dr. Knight slipped out of the room to the safety of the hall. The door latched behind her locking everyone in. Regina cracked her knuckles and lunged at the first guard, Carl, throwing him backwards into the wall. Regina gripped Carl’s head and slammed it into the bricks. He began to bleed as he fell to the floor. Out of the corner of her eye Regina noticed the small shard of glass and grabbed it, cutting her palm. She slashed at Carl’s neck, and blood spilled out of him. Regina couldn’t tell where her blood stopped and the guard's started.
The second guard, Jake, was stunned at the patient's strength. He had seen it but never truly experienced it. He pulled his gun out of the holster but when he aimed Regina was gone. Jake felt his legs go out from under him. Regina had kicked the back of his knees knocking him to the floor, his gun slipped from his unsteady hand. Regina placed one hand around his face and the other on his shoulder blade. Jake’s body turned cold and fell to the floor as a crack echoed in the hollow room. She had snapped his neck.
Regina turned to the small camera and eagerly shouted, “Come on! Is that all you’ve got?” She snickered, “Pathetic.”
Regina’s hands began to shake, the blood pooled around her bare feet. Her adrenaline turned to fear as she came back to reality. “No… No… what have you done.” Her lungs burned as she started to choke on the air. The room’s temperature began to rise and Regina’s head became fuzzy.
A monotone voice crackled on the speakers, “A mild level of halothane has begun to enter your room. You will soon lose consciousness. When you awaken, you will be detained in solitary confinement.”
Regina collapsed to the cold tile, her body chilled and her mind soothed as she slowly lost consciousness.
Regina’s eyes shot open, her body felt like it was being crushed. She couldn’t move, her arms were tightly wrapped around her. A metal muzzle was strapped across her face infusing her mouth with a metallic taste. She began to hyperventilate. Regina looked around the bright room, there was nothing in it except for her and a small timer counting up. The walls were padded with soft, white, leather from the floor to the ceiling except for a two way mirror directly in front of her. Regina violently shook her body, attempting to break free.
“Now look what they have done to us,” Ambros began.
“No, this was you. You killed those guards. You got us put in here,” Regina barked.
“But they don’t believe that. All they saw was you,” Ambros corrected. His deep voice vibrated through Regina’s head. “They aren’t here to help you. They’re just your wardens. But, you already knew that. Didn’t you?”
Regina didn’t respond. She looked at the mirror, and cried, “Please… Please, let me out. I didn’t do it. I never wanted to hurt anyone. Please just let me go home.” Tears streamed from Regina’s emerald eyes. Her once short golden brown hair was now to her hips. It hung in front of her face covering her eyes. Regina sobbed, “I know you’re there. I know you can see me, so please just let me out!”
The silver mirror revealed Regina, in a pristine white straight jacket. Brown leather straps were placed across her arms, tightly holding them in place.
Ambros hissed, “They’re not going to help you. All they see is a monster. A killer.”
Regina struggled, her bones cracked as she twisted her body attempting to get free. “Ugh… Shut up! You’re wrong! I’m not a monster. I’m not a killer…”
“But you did kill those guards. Their blood is on your hands as much as mine,” Ambros’s hoarse voice cut her off.
A searing pain shot through Regina’s head. The spotless floor turned to a river of blood, the stench surrounded Regina. Her bare feet felt wet as the river began to rise. She looked at the mirror and saw blood smeared across her face. Her eyes glistened like the sun.
“Nooooo. Stop it!” Regina screamed, her voice was weak, filled with despair and fear. She blinked through salty tears as the room faded to its original state. Regina rocked her body back and forth and started humming. The small lump in her throat gradually grew as she wept. The timer’s red numbers clicked as they increased. 10:22:40, 10:22:41.
A short quiet beep vibrated through the thick walls. A speaker clicked and the once disembodied voice was now smooth and clear. A man’s voice filled the room. The sound put Regina at ease, her body loosened and her head hung.
The voice effortlessly asserted, “Regina Rose, I believe it’s time for me to properly introduce myself. I am Doctor Quinn Cirillo. I am the doctor in charge of this facility and your treatment.” He paused. Regina could hear the slight sound of papers crinkling.
Regina struggled, the words felt heavy in her throat as she asked, “How long have I been here?”
“Since your arrival, 422 days have passed. You have been in solitary confinement for 10 hours and 42 minutes”
Regina grabbed her shoulder, digging her nails into her skin. Her hand started to shake as her nails dug deeper and deeper until small drops of blood oozed out.
“Kid, focus. Don’t you want to know your next torture method,” Ambros pestered.
Regina relaxed her hand and slowly lifted her head. Dr. Cirillo’s silky voice created a tranquil atmosphere.
“Ms. Rose, It doesn’t appear that you are experiencing any side effects from the Halothane. Do you have any head pain or nausea?”
Regina shook her head.
“Good, I am now going to review different treatments we have done,” Dr. Cirillo stated.
Regina’s head started to race. Memories of treatments coursed through her mind. Pain, fear, and nerves engulfed her.
“Please don’t. It hurts,” Regina’s voice was shaky.
“What hurts?” Dr. Cirillo questioned.
“Me! I hurt!” Regina shouted. “The memories, the thoughts, everything hurts me. Your treatments hurt me. Over and over again. So I beg you to stop. Just leave me be,” Regina frantically rambled.
Dr. Cirillio’s voice vibrated through the speaker, “I apologize but we are unable to do that. You are ill and we need to help you.”
Regina’s eyes flashed orange, she growled, “HELP. This is what you call help. You locked me in a cold cell alone! You stabbed me with needles constantly, shoved pills down my throat, everyday you pushed me to relive my death.” Her chest felt lighter, like a pound of steel was just lifted off of her.
“There you go kid! You feel that don’t you, the relief, the freeing of your burdened thoughts,” Ambros exhorted.
“Ms. Rose, the pain you feel is not caused by us. We are here to heal you and get you home. This pain you talk about does not exist, just as the one you call Ambros doesn’t either.”
“Now that’s just rude. They diminish all the pain you feel to nothing. They validate your torture as healing,” Ambros paused, “They're wrong. Your suffering and pain is real. So am I. They’re never going to let you go home. You’re just an experiment, another lab rat for them.” His voice vibrated through Regina’s head, but there was no pain. Ambros’s deep voice created peace in Regina’s body. She felt calm.
“How… How can we go home?” Regina asked, her voice was thick.
“Allow me to take control. I can get us free,” Ambros bargained.
Dr. Cirillio’s voice came from the speakers. His once effortless and calming tone changed to strident and gruff.
“Ms. Rose, to answer your question simply… you cannot. In your condition you can’t return home. Your violent tendencies are considered a threat to yourself and others.”
His voice penetrated Regina’s ears, she started to panic, her body was burning up, she started to sweat making her hands clammy. She felt suffocated by the jacket wrapped around her. Tears filled her eyes and she dropped her head.
The words fell out of her mouth, “Ambros, do it.”
Regina’s body cooled as her eyes glowed the crimson orange. She gripped her shoulder and yanked downwards. A pop echoed through the silent room and Regina’s arm fell loose. The snug straight jacket loosened, Regina twisted her body and slipped out of the jacket. It fell to the pristine floor revealing small cuts on her shoulders left from her nails.
A high pitch voice frantically shouted over the speaker, “Sound the alarm! 37052 is no longer restrained!” A high pitch alarm blared as red lights began to flash in the room. Regina gripped her straight jacket and wrapped it around her fists letting the buckles lay across her knuckles. She lunged forward ramming her fists and head into the mirror, creating a large crack in the center. Blood ran down her face dripping onto the tile from a gash in her forehead.
She stumbled backwards into the wall bumping her arm. A searing pain coursed through her dislocated shoulder. Regina leaned her shoulder against the cold wall. She used all her strength and pushed against the wall shoving her shoulder back into its socket. The pop vibrated through her arm and rattled her head.
A raucous voice aggressively blared through the speakers, “Regina… Regina Rose, you must calm down! You are injuring yourself.”
Regina cackled, “Why! What are you going to do, help me.” Her bone chilling laugh bounced around the room, slowly turning hysterical. She abruptly stopped, creating a horrific silence.
Regina flatly stated, “I don’t think so.” She sprinted towards the mirror and burst through, shattering it. Shards of glass hit the floor creating a tinkling sound. Dr. Cirillo cowered in the corner, shaking, fear painting his face. Regina’s body was now covered with cuts, and small shards of glass caught in her wounds. Her head hung low and blood dripped off of her, pooling around her bare feet. The milky white jacket was still wrapped around her hand, now a deadly shade of red.
Regina panted, adrenaline pumping through her veins and her hands shook. She looked into Dr. Cirillo’s dark brown eyes. Her glistening eyes struck fear into him.
Dr. Cirillo's voice was quavering as he cried, “Please… Please, don’t. I don’t want to die.”
Regina slightly tilted her head and smirked, her crimson eyes faded to emerald green. Her voice was dead and she declared, “Dr. Cirillo, WE will be checking out today and going home.” She paused as she stepped towards him. Tears streamed down Dr. Cirillo’s face, his body shaking, and his heart pounding. Regina grabbed his neck with an iron grip and leaned into his ear.
She whispered, “Good bye, doctor.” Her velvety voice burned his ear and his body went cold. Dr. Cirillo’s lifeless body fell to the floor, landing in shattered glass and sweltering blood.
Regina stared at the doctor and smiled, she felt free. She spoke aloud and sighed, “Ambros, let's go home.”