Asylum

Tattoos. That was the first thing I ever noticed about him. So many tattoos, running up and down his strong arms. Then, his pale skin underneath, illuminated by the flickering lights overhead, scars and deep bruises almost completely obscuring the available white that was left on his body. I moved up to the crown of chestnut curls resting upon his head, their long length stopping almost at his broad shoulders, their appearance messy and uncared for. Finally, I found his eyes. Deep emerald green, framed by chocolate brown lashes that curled all on their own. They seemed to hold me in my place, the air within me stopping momentarily, my focus unable to find anything else. It was behind the beauty of his eyes that I had to force myself to look at, my gaze staring into the one thing that should have kept me away from him. Insanity.

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1. New Arrival

It was the summer of 1962 when he came to Ashwood Manor. The sun pelting it's harsh rays down upon us as we awaited his arrival in the courtyard.  The lot of us  lined up, our required "uniforms" freshly washed and pressed. Everyone to be on their best behavior, news reporters and their new cameras crowding the front steps of the manor. 

There seemed to be quite a buzz pertaining to the new arrival. I guess it makes sense, the kid being the most dangerous serial killer to ever plague this town. Some say he killed his family in their sleep as a child while others infer that he raped eight women, chopping their bodies up to pieces when he was done with them. Many say he did both, plus other countless crimes. Whatever the case, the court deemed him criminally insane. 

That's why he's coming here. You see, Ashwood Manor is an asylum, the place where they send all the mentally ill human beings who are incapable of providing care for themselves. They're either a threat to themselves or others. Or both. It's doesn't matter. Everyone who ends up here gets treated the same, some of the people  grower madder the longer they stay here.

That is also why I am here. I'm insane, or at least the judge thought I was, sentencing me to life in Ashwood Manor, home of the crazies. I've been here for most of my life, being admitted into the care of Ashwood at the age of ten. 

That's how it is for most of us here. You get admitted in through the court or you're dropped off on the steps by asshole guardians who can't take the struggle of caring for someone any longer. Most likely, we will all die here. Along with the newest member, the murdering rapist, the insane criminal.  

As the dark car pulled up to the edge of the walk, the lights of the cameras began to flash, words being shouted aloud as men began piling out of the front seats. The driver came jogging around the butt end of the Chevy, the tall man from the passenger seat gripping onto the back door handle. 

Everything happened so fast after that. All at once, the door was ripped open, numerous men squeezing out of the back seat, pulling on someone who was reluctantly stepping out I the vehicle. Cameras were flashing faster, the hoard of reporters attempting to snap a shot of the murderous criminal approaching the ancient manor. 

"Why'd you do it? Why did you rape those women?" One reporter called out, another camera flash going off.

"What made you slaughter you family?" Another called out to the boy, no replies being thrown out as the group of men costume their journey towards the manor.

As the men dragged the newest resident past our lineup of crazies, I tried to catch a glimpse of the mysterious killer, but the "body guards" were far too tall and clustered together for me to see anything. Although, that didn't mean I couldn't be seen, the  feeling of someone watching me as the group of men trudged past me causing goosebumps to form on the back of my neck.  The clinking of the prisoners cuffs and chains filled my ears before the loud slam of the Manor door cut off everything. The bloodthirsty man was finally here.

It's been a week since the new arrival and I have yet to see him, the criminal. I have heard gossip among the crazies, some of them claiming him to have fangs and claws while others are saying he is fat and smelly. Either way, how much could I possibly trust the words of insane people?

"Clair, Dr. Evans would like to see you. In his office," a nurse named Alma promptly states as she approaches me, her white uniform perfectly crisp and bleached. I roll my eyes at the thought of seeing the man, his beady brown eyes and speckled mustache being a normal sight for my eyes.  

"Fine," I groan as I cross my arms across my chest. Alma nods curtly and walks away towards old George, his bald head hitting itself against the brick wall in the common room. 

With a huff of air, I begin my march to Dr. Gerard Evans' office. He is the psychotherapist here at Ashwood. He has been my doctor and the biggest pain in my ass since I began my stay her nine years ago. I'm either depressed or insane. That's all I ever am according to the senile old man even though I'm the sanest person in this damn joint.

As I travel down the brick corridors of the asylum, the pitter patter of my thin shoes echoing off the walls, I am greeted by numerous patients in the facility. Crazy Betty waves at me with her bright orange hair that never seems to fade along with her toothless smile as she is wheeled down the hall by one of the nurses. Bill, a once "closeted" gay man who killed two of his secret male lovers after losing his mind thirty years ago nodded towards me, his thin hair swaying on his head as he passes. Then I see Kit Dean, my best friend.

"Clair! Where you heading?" He questions me as he runs up to me, his dark eyes sparkling. I grin at him as his dimples appear in his cheeks, his smile completely contagious. 

"I'm heading down to see doc Evans. He wants to see me...most likely to question whether or not I've thought about killing myself today yet," I roll my eyes, a chuckle leaving Kit's mouth. He throws his arm around me, his tall, toned body completely shrouding my petite one.

"Just be careful, I hear there's crazy people in here!" Kit exclaims sarcastically, causing me to giggle. He quickly kisses the top of my head as we halt in front of Dr. Evans' office before running off down the hall, one of the older nurses screeching at him to walk.

I shake my head back and forth, grinning like a fool at the stupid actions of my best friend. He was a God send when he showed up here at Ashwood about five years ago. His mother had dumped him on the front steps of the institution, the idiot woman thinking her fourteen year old son was a threat to their new family. In reality, her new husband, Kit's stepfather, had been molesting him for months. Kit finally had had enough of the abuse so he pulled a knife on the creepy man to make sure his point got across hence why his mother left him here at Ashwood.

In order to keep him here, all the government had to do was criminally convict Kit for attempted murder and plaque him as a crazed teen psycho who needed to be institutionalized. That's what they do to us, the "crazies". They label us a psychos or pure idiots who are a threat to society. Yes, there are people here who truly are insane, but not Kit and I. 

I knock lightly on the wooden door, preparing myself for the lecture that I was bound to receive the second I step into the room before me. I am greeted with a "Come in" from the other side, signaling me to open the door. As I step inside, the clean and light exterior of the room overwhelms me, the brick walls painted a ghostly white. My eyes rest upon the only chair available for a visitor in the room except this time, it's not vacant.

"Hello Miss Maxwell. I would like to introduce you to someone." Dr. Evans explains, motioning for the stranger in the folding chair to stand up, their back still facing me. "This is Mr. Styles," the sounds of chains hitting the floor as the man stands up causes my heart to pound. It's the murderer. 

Tattoos. That was the first thing I noticed about him. So many tattoos, running up and down his strong arms.

Then, his pale skin underneath, illuminated by the flickering lights overhead, scars and deep bruises almost completely obscuring the available white that was left on his body.

I moved up to the crown of chestnut curls resting upon his head, their long length stopping almost at his broad shoulders, their appearance messy and uncared for.

Finally, I found his eyes.  Deep emerald green, framed by chocolate brown lashes that curled all on their own.  They seemed to hold me in my place, the air within me stopping momentarily, my focus unable to find anything else.

He truly is a beautiful man. I couldn't look away from him. The crazy thing about the whole thing is that he didn't seem to be able to tear his eyes away either.

"Ahem, Miss Maxwell? Clair?" Dr. Evans chimes in, shattering the trance I has been stuck in. Both mine and Mr. Styles' head swerve towards the old doctor, a confused expression plastered on his wrinkled face as he glances between the two of us "inmates".

"Yes, doc?" I question, awkwardly tucking a strand of my brown hair behind my ear. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see the gaze of Mr. Styles has returned back to me, his eyes seeming to never leave my face.

"I'm gonna need you to show Mr. St-"

"Harry. It's just Harry," a deep, raspy voice cuts off Dr. Evans. I turn towards the murderer, brown eyes wide in shock. I didn't think he spoke, to be honest. His eyes continue to stare into my soul, causing my heart to race.

"I'm going to need you to show Harry around the manor until he gets accustomed," the psychotherapist finishes, handing me the folder that he had been rummaging through. I nod slightly, my eyes still locked on the newest patient of Ashwood Manor. 

As we began to exit Dr. Evans' office, Harry's chains clinking against the floor, I think about the strange man that I am currently showing to his "room". There is a sparkle in his eye that I've only seen around Ashwood. It is the purest, most amazing kind there is.

True insanity.

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