I needed to get out! I needed to get out!
I took a breath, gulping down the thick bile and sick in my throat, crouching beside an open doorway - tears rolling down my face. The roughness of the wall beneath my palms was muted by the agony, the pure unadultered agony of the gaps. I tried not to look, but the pain was enough to see it without looking.
What had he done to my hands?
I took another gulp and looked at them, and was unable to tear my gaze away - the horror and fascination holding me in an iron grip. One of my fingers missing on each hand - the flesh sliced cut clean from the protruding bone, blood sluicing down my palms, into my sleeves and drying there or dripping onto the floor - joining the collection of human fluid that had never been cleaned up. I gagged, and looked away quickly.
My head pricked up, my senses spiking at once, when I heard the sharp shing of Trager's shears.
He can't be here, he can't be here.
Why is he here?
I don't believe it, I'm hearing things.
Shit! Shit! Shit!
I peeked past the wall and squinted, terrified of what I might see. There was nothing across the hallway but darkness for a moment. A tortured patient moaned for Death's embrace from a filthy, gore-splattered bed - not even bothering to fight against his restraints anymore. And there it was again. That loud snipping, like two giant swords sharpening against each other. My eyes adjusted to the gloom and I could hear him, taunting me.
“Come on out, buddy,” Trager called, his voice so calm: he could have been calling his cat to drink from a saucer of milk. He snipped his shears, the sound sending a cold tremor down my spine, “Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose here, I don't make the rules.”
I could see his shadow emerge like a ghost through some dim lighting and I flew back, grasping the wall for dear life and shook my head wildly - using all my energies on holding back a scream.
Never the fuck again.
I could hear his naked feet slap against the bare wooden floorboards as he walked and even squelch where he'd stepped on blood.
“I should have cut his feet first,” Trager muttered, “Amateur move.”
He was getting closer. I could hear it, the sounds drumming in my ears, carrying over the thumping veins in my temples. I dared another peek, my breathing becoming erratic and my teeth chattering.
My eyes bulged as I watched him snip his sheers and check the room across from me, his body completely naked except for a surgical apron he wore around his hips. I waited for his bare buttocks to disappear into the blackness of the room before willing myself to creep out into the darkness away from him, cursing every step I made on the floor.
There had to be a way out.
There had to be,
I had seen it for a few short seconds before Trager had brought me here - semi-conscious and strapped to a wheelchair.
Salvation was there,
somewhere out there,
out of reach -
passed two large double-doors.
Two floors up.
Let's not get ambitious, Miles, I told myself, we all know where that's got you, you idiot. Focus on getting the fuck away from Trager.
I went on. Crouching and moving. Crouching and moving - through a seemingly endless darkness, listening to the moans and sighs and screams of all of Trager's victims. I hoped that none of them would give me away, that they would see me as an equal and they would let me leave.
I hoped for mercy from condemned men, forgotten lunatics that nobody cared about - who had had to endure torture beyond human imagination.
What kind of idiot am I?
A man whose skin had been torn back and feet twisted inwards howled at the top of his lungs, drumming his fists and legs against the restraints on his bed, the mattress squeaking with his weight, “He'll find you! He'll kill you! You can't escape him!” I stared at him, like a schoolboy getting grassed by his best mate - only a hundred times more terrified, “Trager!” the tortured man screamed, “ Tr-a-ger!”
For a second, I thought maybe Trager was to far off.
For a second, I believed that he hadn't heard.
For a second, I let the silence give me hope.
Hope? Hope is a bitch!
I could already feel those sheers slicing through my fingers as Trager spoke, a light chuckle in his voice, “Nobody likes a quitter, son.”
I stood, a whimper escaping me, and backed away slowly as the psychotic doctor made his way towards me, each step shooting fear through me like nothing before. I stared at him, shivering back into a wall, wanting but unable to look away from him.
Trager was fear.
If fear had a form, Trager's was it. He made Death look like the host of a frilly tea-party, with his ribs protruding from his bared torso like the skin was stretched and pulled over it, the veins sticking out of his steady arms like the wires on a machine and those eyes... those mad, senile eyes laughing behind his foggied round spectacles - undeterminable in colour and removed of any human affection.
He wasn't human. He wasn't animal.
Trager was entirely apart from anything I've known, anything I've feared.
He laughed as if to a joke beneath his dirty surgical mask and spread his arms wide, “We can make this work, buddy. You don't need to be afraid,” he said, in a strange friendly tone, “All you have to do is believe.”
The thing he said before he snipped my fingers off. I looked at that tool of dismemberment now - the shears in his hand, the gleam muted by the rust and dried gore along the blades.
I whimpered as he edged closer.
There was silence as he did so, as if every patient, every tortured soul was watching this, waiting for the expected outcome.
Damn it, why can't I move?
I stood up a little straighter, every ounce of me shivering to some non-existent cold.
Trager noticed and stopped moving, “Now, son, you don't want to do anything stupid,” he said with a warning tone, shaking his shears in the air.
The fear shot me forward, pushing past him in blur of desperation. I felt the shears slam into my shoulder and I shouted in pain and misery but kept going, kept going, kept going. I slammed into walls and doorways, shut doors on myself - so blindly running in circles, through rooms, the patients chanting Trager's name like a chorus.
He was gaining on me, I could feel it.
I stumbled into a room and shut the door behind me, looking frantically for a hiding place. I sniffed mucus back into my nose and tossed my head from side to side, desperate to find somewhere. Then I saw a row of full-size lockers and took my chance, running into one and hiding.
I panted, but kept my breaths shallow, watching through the slits in the locker door. It smelt of raw meat in here.
Ah, that silence again.
That bitchy, hopeful silence.
The door rattled like something had rammed into it. And again, the wood shaking under the full force of the pressure. And then finally - bang - the door cracked to pieces and plinked onto the floor, Trager standing in its place.
I watched him observe the room, not daring to breath as he ran his inspection. He fixed his glasses and went from one end to the other.
He observed the line of lockers, a curious look on his psychotic face.
Shit, shit, shit!
He approached them, and I swear I could feel my bladder loosening. He opened the locker r-i-ght next to mine and the un-oiled screech made warm liquid run down my legs. I closed my eyes, praying to every god from every religion I knew that he wouldn't check mine, he wouldn't check mine, he wouldn't check mine, oh please, oh please, oh please!
Trager turned his back to me for a moment, and I let out a small sigh.
Trager spun around immediately, but I didn't give him the chance. I slammed the door of the locker into him and ran out of the room.
“Get back here!” Trager growled.
I searched and searched for a way out, but the place seemed to be the same everywhere, playing cruel tricks on me.
And then I saw it.
Blood on an empty bed, dripping from a broken vent.
I leapt onto the bed and clawed at the vent with my mangled hands and tried to haul myself in. Tears leaked from my eyes and I yelped as the strain got to my wounds.
But I had done it, I had managed to pull my torso in.
Just when a hand grabbed my leg like a vice.
I screamed, the vent echoing my fear. I could here that madman's sheers, shinging as they snipped.
He was going to cut my foot, he was going to cut my foot, my foot, oh, my foot!
I kicked out wildly, catching something and then pulled myself into the inviting darkness. Trager cursed behind me, but I shuffled along as fast and as far as I could.
This was home.
This was heaven.
I could live here.
The silence came again as I turned to lie flat on my back, and just panted slowly, concentrating on the rise and fall of my chest. My heart slowed slightly. My mind calmed. I touched the side of the vent and the sight of my own hand scared the shit out of me.
I laughed at my own folly.
I don't know at what point my manic laughter turned into miserable sobbing.
Miles, you idiot.
Who investigates a lunatic asylum? Who?
Couldn't just sit with the old cat-stuck-in-a-tree stories, could I?
Stupid, stupid, stupid!
And what now?
Dying here just keeps getting lower and lower on the list of the worst things that could happen to me.