(Content Warning: includes some reference to murder/violence)
Read by Ryan Gattis
A man gets off a bus, stumbles, looks over and sees a woman smiling. But the woman wasn’t smiling at him. It was a nervous smile. Carmen always started to get nervous as she got closer to the institution, and took this journey once a month for the last ten years. It never got any easier. The mental asylum was a creepy place and often Carmen thought about not going but she couldn’t abandon her friend AJ. The memory of what happened at The Manor was fresh in Carmen’s mind. The police found AJ sitting in the garden of The Manor, covered in blood, and holding a kitchen knife. He was shouting at people passing by.
AJ was found guilty of their friend Joe’s murder. Even though they never found Joe’s body, after countless months searching for him. They couldn’t actually prove either that the blood on AJ was Joe’s blood. After the trial AJ was sent to Knockbrook mental asylum. He was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and remained there since. Even after the conviction Carmen held on to the hope that he might be innocent. Joe’s body was never found.
Carmen reached the gate of the asylum and took a deep breath before finally going in. Why did she still visit AJ? He barely spoke to her. She knew that it was loyalty and somehow, somewhere inside AJ was still the same person.
There were many different buildings in the institution for inmates with different diagnosis. There were rooms for people who felt suicidal, some for people who went into psychosis, and secure units for people with dementia. There was also an area for people who committed murder. The building for murderers had a huge metal gate running around the periphery of the house, and there was a lot more nurses working there and prison guards. Carmen went through the 2nd gate and walked towards the front door. The door opened and one of the nurses came out. She knew him from previous visits. His name was Jesse.
‘You here to see AJ?’ Jesse asked.
‘Yeah it’s that time of the month again,’ Carmen said with a giggle.
Jesse did not smile at her joke, in fact he actually looked annoyed at her.
‘I’m afraid that’s not possible today,’ he said.
‘And why’s that?’
‘Because AJ escaped last night.’
That night Carmen went to bed wondering where AJ went? She woke in the middle of the night by a bizarre noise. She turned her bedside lamp on to investigate and discovered AJ standing at the bottom of her bed. He covered in blood and held a kitchen knife.
That was the last thing Carmen ever saw.