Religion is forbidden and those who have it are considered insane and sent to the Asylum. The only thing you are allowed to believe is what your government tells you. Brinley Larson was only 8 when they took her away to the Asylum. It had been a cold day in the Western region of the Russian Empire and she had just been looking for something to eat, while her parents worked at their minimum wage jobs. It had been sitting in the bottom of the dumpster she'd been digging through, the cold metal container protecting it from the elements. It's worn leather cover was soft under her cold fingers and the gold letters shown like stars in the white winter. It only took one page for them to take her away to the Asylum. Just one page of her book and she was sent away for a mental illness she doesn't have. Ten years later Brinley still refuses to give into her treatment and holds onto her faith.


4. Chapter 3

Thud. Thud. Thud.

My heart pounds in my chest as I wait patiently for Chloe and Karey to go to sleep. My feet create a zigzag pattern across the floor as I pace the room. My breaths are quick and I can't sit still to save my life.

"What's wrong with crazy?" Chloe snidely asks her sister.

Karey snickers, "She's probably on so many narcotics she can't even see straight."

They both break into a fit of laughter, they sound like pigs, all snorts and heavy breathing. Ugh, I'm so glad I don't have to wait 23 more days to get rid of them. It feels like it's been years when Karey finally puts her book down, pads over to the light switch, and flicks it off. It takes another twenty minutes until I hear their breathing slow down and I know their asleep.

I do my best to get my stuff quickly and quietly, though; there is not much I need to take, just my Bible and a flashlight, which I toss into a backpack. I slip on the tennis shoes we're given for our daily exercise and walk towards the door. As promised it's unlocked and I'm easily able to slip quietly into the hall way. Looking first to my left, I check to make sure the hallway is clear, when I turn to the right I freeze like a deer caught in the headlights. At the end of the hall stands one of the guards on his patrol. I try to slowly back down the hallway, but he sees me so I run.

The tile is slippery, but I manage to stay on my feet. The guard chases me down the hall and suddenly I'm not in the Asylum anymore, I'm back in Newbury and it's winter. The guard is no longer chasing me because in his place is the woman who put me in the Asylum in the first place. The tiles have turned to snow under my feet, but I don't stop to think how this has happened, I just keep running. I feel something hit me from my behind and I think to myself, 'This isn't how it happens.'

When I hit the ground I'm back in hell and the guard has tackled me to the ground. I scramble to my feet, but the guard gets up first. He reaches for something in his back pocket, guards can't carry guns, so it will either be a taser or some sort of knock out drug. I know it's a knock out drug when I see the syringe. He walks towards me like I'm a wounded animal he needs to put out of its misery. I know I can't run again because if I do he'll call for back up and I will never get out.

"It's okay," he promises me, but I know he's lying.

When I don't move the guard thinks I'm going to come willingly and starts to put the syringe away. To late does he realize that this is not my plan. My hand shoots out and reaches for the syringe, but he jerks his hand away and it goes flying down the hall. My legs carry me as fast as they can go towards the syringe and I reach it first. My hands have just wrapped around it when I'm once again hit from behind. I land on my stomach, but manage to roll to my back before he pins me down with my backpack underneath me. He grabs my wrist and starts to squeeze it so that I'll let go of the syring, but I refuse to give up that easily. All his focus is on my right wrist and he doesn't notice me wriggling my left hand free. When I pull it out of his grasp I punch him as hard as I can in the jaw. I can feel the skin on my knuckles split open as my fist makes contact with his face.

He lurches to the right and I'm able to free my right hand, though; I'm still pinned down. The only thing I can do now is use the drug to knock him out. He lunges for the syringe and I move to push it into his arms. As my arm moves he moves to follow the syringe and in the blink of an eye it's over. His movement changed where the syringe was going and there is nothing I can do to change the fact that this innocent man now has a syringe sticking out of his throat. His eyes are wide with fear as he too realizes what has happened, though; I don't think either of us understand the full extent of it until he wheezes and coughs blood on to me. That's the moment reality hits me, I've just killed this man. His eyes roll back into his head and he collapses on top of me.

I can't breathe, not because there is dead weight on top of me, but because I'm so consumed with what I've just done.This time I'm not some innocent, starving child who let curiosity get the best of her, no, this time I'm a murderer. I think back to this man's last moments as I wriggle my way out from under the body, the last thing he said was, 'It's okay.' It almost seems like some sort of cosmic joke that those would be his last words, especially since he said them to his killer. It's not okay and I'm not so sure it ever will be.

I turn to go to Mack's office, but something catches my eye, a pair of dark blue eyes show behind one of the door's windows and when I peer into the microscopic window I see the boy I met earlier, Luke I think. My heart sinks, he saw me kill the guard. I already know what I have to do. I walk back to the dead body of the guard and pull of a key card before going back to Luke's door and opening it.

He steps back and says shakily, "You just killed him."

I'm already on the verge of tears from the guilt I feel inside, but I need to keep moving so I simply say, "It was an accident. I didn't mean to. Now are you coming or not."

He still looks afraid, but I've clearly caught his interest, "To where?"

"I'm leaving the Asylum. Are you coming?" I ask impatiently.

He glances once more at the dead guard before answering, "Yes."

"Then let's go,' I say and he follows me.

It was too late at night for anyone to hear my fight, especially since there was no screaming, and we run into no other guards, so I'm pretty sure we're safe. I open the door to Mack's office and as promised she's in there.

"What's he doing?" she asks while studying Luke.

"He's coming with me," I tell her simply.

Mack trusts me and decides not to say anything else on the matter, "Well, I have clothes for you, but I don't have any for him, so you'll have to get some when you get to Fremont. There is some food and water in here as well as some money for bus fare. I can get you out of the building, but after that you're on your own until I can meet you at this address."

She hands me a piece of paper that reads, '1265 Rivers st. Newbury, Russian Empire'. My heart skips a beat when I see Newbury, I didn't think I'd be going home this soon. I do my best to hide my surprise.

"Alright. Can I have those clothes so I can change?" I ask and she gives me a pile of clothes.

"There's a closet over there you can change in," she tells me and points to a door on the other side of the room.

The clothes consist of wool tights and dress, a pair of winter boots with a lining of wool, and a leather jacket that is also lined with wool. The sleeves of the dress go all the way to my hands so I decide to give the jacket to Luke.

"Really a dress?" I ask upon walking out.

Mack shrugs, "It's all I could get a hold of and besides it will help you blend in."

I roll my eyes and turn to Luke, "Here put this on, it's going to be cold."

He takes the jacket a shrugs it over his shoulders, it was clearly meant from someone smaller but it will do. I toss the new backpack to Luke and too soon it's time to leave. Mack embraces me and I can feel a tear fall from her cheeks to my neck, soon my own tears are falling.

"Four years apart and now you have to leave so soon," she whimpers.

"I'll see you in three days," I tell her.


"I promise."

Mack leads us to the front of the Asylum carefully watching for guards along the way. I really hope she never finds out about the guard I killed, but by tomorrow morning everyone will know. She swipes her card at a number of doors and uses a sort of handprint scan at a few until one of the doors releases a gust of snow and wind when it's opened.

Mack turns to give me last minute instructions, "If you follow that road," she points to the road leading to the Asylum, "you'll reach Fremont in 3 miles and from there you can take a bus to Newbury. The walk will be cold, so you should move as fast as you can."

I nod, "Thank you."

She smiles, "Anything for you, Brinley."

 We embrace in one last hug before Luke and I leave. I wave to her as we travel down the road and through the blinding snow I see her wave back. I turn back to the treacherous road and pick up the pace to keep up with Luke. I almost wish I hadn't given the jacket, but he needs it since he only has a t-shirt underneath.

"Are you going to tell me why you killed that guard?" he asks.

My heart squeezes and I feel like I'm going to puke when I say, "I really don't want to talk about it. I don't need to be reminded that I'm a murder."

"Woah, no need to get feisty," he says and puts his hands up.

"I am not getting feisty," I snap.

He raises his eyebrows, "Yes, you are."

"Maybe I should have just left you," I say cruelly.

"You didn't," he points out.

"But, I should have," I scowl.

"That doesn't change the fact that I'm here now."

"Whatever," I mumble.

I think the conversation's over when Luke says, "Look, we want the same thing and we need to work together to get it, so why don't we just get along."

It's my turn to raise my eyebrows, "And what is it that we want?"


No, I had just wanted freedom, change is something out of reach. The hatred for religion and anyone who has it is too deeply implanted into people's brains to ever be removed, change is not an option, hiding is. I don't want to rain on his parade so I decide to just go with it.

"Fine. Let's start by reintroducing ourselves. I'm Brinley Larson and according to the records I'm a psychotic Christian."

Luke smiles at this and goes along with it, "I'm Luke Sutherland and according to the records I'm a Darwinist who has gone so far off the deep end that I'm drowning in crazy."

I laugh at this and decide to get to know him better, "So Mr.Sutherland, where are you from?"

"I'm from Opeque, it's a small town in the South region. I was in an institute down there for about a year before being moved to the Asylum yesterday. What about you?" he asks me.

"I spent the first 8 years of my life in Newbury. It's one of the nicest towns you can live in if you're rich, one of the worst if you're poor. I was poor. Then, I've spent the last 10 years in the Asylum," I tell him.

His brow crinkles, "Newbury? Isn't that the town we're meeting that doctor at?"

I nod my head and mumble, "Yes."

"Are you going to be okay with that?" he asks clearly concerned, though; I don't know why since we barely know eachother.

"I'll be fine," I tell him.

He realizes that I don't want to talk about it and changes the subject, "How do you know that doctor?"

I smile, "Mack used to be a patient at the Asylum. When I first arrived she was the one who took care of me. We were like sisters until she was transferred four years ago and she came back to help me get out."

"Wow, you guys were really close," Luke says.

I smile even more, "Yeah, she was the only person I ever had there. But, now I have you too."

Luke smiles at this, "Of course."

We reach Fremont only a few minutes later and head into a clothing store to get Luke clothes. The road had been miserable, but now we are in a heated store and I can finally relax. Luke quickly finds a fleece shirt, jeans, and a coat to buy and then goes into the bathroom to change. He tosses me the leather jacket and I slip it over my freezing arms, It's sightly stretched out from Luke wearing it, but it's incredibly warm. We exit the shop and walk to the bus station to get tickets for Newbury.

We walk up to the ticket counter and I address the man behind it, "Two tickets for Newbury please."

The man looks between Luke and I as he prints the tickets, "Are you two going on you honeymoon."

My cheeks must be tomato red and I can practically feel Luke smirking next to me as I squeak out, "No! We're just friends."

The man doesn't look like he believes me, but he gives me the tickets anyways and Luke and I sit down to wait for the train. My stomach grumbles so I dig through Luke's bag and find two bagels wrapped in plastic. I hand one to him and unwrap the other for myself. My teeth sink into the soft bread and I'm filled with bliss. This is the best thing I may have ever eaten considering most of the food I've eaten came from a dumpster or had cigarette butts in it.

Luke sees the smile on my face and says, "You act like that came from a five star restuant."

I laugh, "This is the closest thing I've ever had to five star."

He frowns, "I know the food at the Asylum was shit, but what about before than."

I shrug and swallow a bite of bagel before answering, "Most of my food came from a dumpster."

Luke doesn't know how to react to this, "Oh, I'm sorry."

"It's okay. For me food was food, it didn't matter kind."

"I guess that's a good way to look at it," he says and scratches the back of his head.

I smile at him as the train arrives. We climb aboard and take our seats in the plush chairs. I suddenly realize just how tired I am and slowly begin to doze off, but my dreams are not peaceful.

I'm back in the Asylum and I panic. They've caughten me and now I'll have to spend another twelve years here! That's when I notice that the door to my room is slightly ajar and when I walk out of it there is no one there to stop me. I turn to find Mack, but suddenly the guard I thought I had killed stands in front of me with the syringe still in his neck.

"You're not leaving ever again," he says and blood sprays my face.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," I cry.

"No! You're not!" he screams and pins me to the wall. His forearm presses against my neck and suddenly I can't breath.

"Let go," I choke out.

The man laughs and more blood sprays my face, "No, it's me or you. You kill me or I'm going to kill you."

My heart picks up speed and I look at the syringe in his neck. I have to do it I tell myself. Before I can think it though I pull the syringe out of his neck and thrust it into his temple. 

He doesn't scream, instead he spits out one more sentence before he dies, "You're a killer just like the rest of your psychotic kid, you all deserve to die."

I breath heavily and run down the hall, but two people shaded by the darkness block me. When they step into the light I'm relieved, it's Mack and Luke.

"We have to go," I urge them.

They just stare at me and say in unison, "We're not going any where with a killer."

I take a step back, "What?"

"You're a cold-blooded killer," they hiss.

I wake up to Luke shaking my shoulder. I lurch back when I see him reminded of what he just accused me of.

"Are you okay?" he asks.

"Yeah, I'm fine," I lie.

"You were screaming in your sleep," he says with concern and I notice that everyone on the train is staring at me.

"It's okay. I'm fine, it was just a bad dream," I assure.

He visibly relaxes and says, "Okay."

Everything seems fine now, but the truth is I'm not okay. I'm a cold-blooded killer and the man that I killed will never be okay. I lean back into my seat and let these thoughts consume me.



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