Asylum… Home to the Criminally Insane.
A Fan Fiction by CS Fox
He was a squat little man, not all too different from a dwarf… he wore a fine purple and blue suit with a giant top hat. I’d seen his face on the news a dozen times before. Him, and the other two riding on the bus.
He turned to the person sitting on his right, a tall man in a business suit, with his face split down the middle, one side a gentlemen, the other a demon.
“You know I’ve been thinking,” said the mad hatter to him. “Since the right side of your brain controls your left, and the left side of your brain controls your right… your good and bad faces are in the wrong places, and try as you might… you’ll always be contrawise, a flipside backwards ass. Since these two Harvey Dents don’t make two cents and…”
“Shut up…” rasped
“Young maiden so fair, with short yellow hair, no reason should you be with us… you look scared to death and might I address…”
“Riddles and rhymes all in good time,” interrupted the man sitting to my left. He was dressed completely in green, with a forest colored question mark on the front of his suit.
I used the balls of my feet to turn myself away from all of them, tucking my knees up to my chest, hugging them close, barely keeping them there as the chains attached to the floor of the bus held taunt at its limit on my ankles. This was a bad dream.
“Our little friend in the tall hat does pose an interesting riddle sweet lady… villain or nut, why would you be speeding with us to our castle psychotic?”
I kept mum’s silence.
The man in green smirked. His eyes met mine and I quickly turned away. There was a rattle of chains as the shackles on my ankles and hands recoiled with my movement.
“There’s no need to answer if you don’t like sweet lady… But please don’t mind if I play a little guessing game.”
I looked up and found his eyes again, he had one leg crossed over the other and his hands resting on his knee. He looked rather comfortable, and if not for the shackles, no different then any man riding the bus to work in the morning.
“Short blonde hair, green eyes, average build. Not too
tall, not too small. You live alone, and have for a while. You work hard, barely
make ends meet. You’re unlucky in love , but not completely foreign to it.
You’ve been crying the last two days straight and were probably picked up by
My knees slipped off the bench in surprise, and I scrambled to hug them back to my chest. He described me better then I’d probably be able to describe myself; and he was right, I didn’t belong on this bus.
“Looks like you’re on the highway to hell doll,”
I did my best to ignore them and not piss myself in fear. I turned and looked out my own window and read the words on the stone pillars flanking the gates as we passed through. “Arkham Asylum, home for the Criminally Insane.” The pit of my stomach dropped to the floor somewhere amongst the chains.
I didn’t see where they came from or really what they looked like as men hurried onto the bus. All I saw were electro sticks and shotguns. A few more in riot gear and even some huge orderlies in white coats were waiting outside.
“Welcome to summer camp,” said a brawny black guard. There was a small gap between his teeth and he had a nightstick which he rapped into an open hand as he walked the length of the bus. “Looks like we have some returning campers. Harvey Dent, Jervis Tetch, and Edward Nigma… nice to see you boys again. We sure did miss you.” The guard spied me and his eyebrow raised as high as the question mark on the Riddler’s green spandex. “A little mouse stow away on the bus?”
“The cat has her tongue I’m afraid,” said the riddler. The guard shrugged and motioned outside. The other three were pushed and shoved off the bus, but a female orderly came and got me. One look told her that I wouldn’t need to be shoved. I walked out in a slump, head down not wanting to look at the black castle we were walking into.
My guard didn’t say a word. She brought me into a white room, searched me, and had me strip. I left in a new orange jumpsuit. She passed me onto another guard. This one was black, and had her hair tied up in a neat poof behind her hat. “Follow me to the women’s ward,” she said. She wasn’t as emotionless as the guard who’d searched me, maybe she even felt a little sorry for me.
We passed through two gates, two check-ins, innumerable guards, a courtyard and finally… the first cell block. We had to walk through the low profile men’s corridor to get to the women’s. No sooner had I taken one step into the stone hallway, than inmates crowded the big glass panes of the cells, eyeing me and giving an approving whistle.
“I smell a bitch in heat!” “I want me a piece of that!” “Hey Trisha, why don’t you bring your new tail over to my cell?”
The guard noticed my pained expression and shrugged. “Don’t listen to them honey… They wouldn’t know a real woman if one came and sat on their face… besides the boys whistling aren’t the ones you want to worry about.”
As she said it, I could see what she meant. The men not whistling were much… much worse… They just looked at me with hungry eyes. Eyes that undressed me, eyes that assaulted me… eyes that did things to me I couldn’t describe. It made my skin crawl.
We went through another security lock and I found myself in an identical hallway which was the women’s ward. I didn’t get cat calls here, the girls seemed not too find me as attractive. They were two to a cell, and some I recognized, some I didn’t.
A beautiful red head was tending to a few potted herbs, while her cellmate was curled up on the top bunk of their bed… I can’t really tell what her cell mate was, all I saw were two eyes in the darkness… inhuman eyes.
The next cell had a blonde with her hair in pigtails and a big smile on her face. She was hanging off the top bunk upside down, so that her pigtails were falling away from her towards the floor.
“Awww little mouse get lost and end up with the killers?” asked her roommate, another red head. The girl behind her back flipped off the bed and joined her at the glass.
“New inmate, haven’t read her file yet. I’m sure you can ask later Roxanne.”
“Who’s she staying with?” red asked again.
“She’s going to be with Mary.”
Both girl’s looked at each other and then suddenly burst out laughing. As we walked past, I found the courage to speak for the first time since I’d heard my sentencing.
“What’s wrong with Mary?” I asked in soft voice.
She looked at me over her shoulder and gave a shrug. “Not as much wrong as with the last two. She’s the model inmate on the block… for the most part. For someone like you, we thought it best for her sake and yours that we pair you up.”
“What’s wrong with me?” I asked in the same soft voice.
”You got sent to Arkham. That’s what’s wrong.”
We arrived at the last cell on the block. The room was just like the others, except that instead of the drab dark bed covers the other rooms had, the bottom bunk of this room was bright pink and a little girl sat on it in an overly elaborate party dress, combing the hair on a little dolly.
The guard noticed my surprised expression. “We allow comfort items for good behavior, and sometimes as part of therapy. Mary here is a model inmate and she’s been allowed a few things.”
The little girl looked up from her doll and gave a sweet smile as I was let into the cell. As innocent as she looked, I knew she was here for a reason.
“Hi, what’s your name?” she asked in a childish voice.
The guard left us, and I stood uncomfortably in the middle of the room. “April,” I said.
“Ooo tat’s pretty. I’m Mary Louise Dahl!”
Her name rang a bell, but I couldn’t figure out why. The young girl patted a spot on the pink covers next to her. I slowly and cautiously took a seat. She went back to combing the dolls hair.
“What’dja do?” she asked.
“Nothing… I mean… I didn’t mean to do anything,” I said feeling a small tear well up in my eye. I forced myself to say what I’d been told I’d done. “I… I killed a cop.”
“Only one?” she giggled.
I looked at her horrified.
“I was only kidding…”
I folded my hands nervously in my lap. “What… what did you do?” I asked.
“Oh I killed three people,” she said nonchalantly. I gasped and inched away from her.
“But… but… you’re just a child.”
Mary sighed aloud and stopped combing the doll’s hair. Her shoulders slumped a little and she stared at the wall. “I look six, but I’m actually 28. I suffer from a disease called systemic hypoplasia. I stopped ageing when I turned six.”
“…Baby doll…” I said recalling the headline.
“Oh so you’ve heard of me?” she said turning my way. Her voice was different, the innocent wonder in her tone had disappeared so that I knew I was talking to an adult. I slowly nodded my head.
The innocence returned and she started combing the doll’s hair once again. “Yup, that’s me!”
We sat in silence for a moment. I got up and did my best to climb onto the top bunk. There’s wasn’t a ladder and I had to try and hop up there using Mary’s bed as a footing.
“Nap time?” she asked from below. I didn’t reply, I just sank my head into the pillow. I hadn’t slept for more then a day. “You’ll feel better after a nap April.”
Sleep must have taken me, for the next thing I knew, the door to our cell was open and an orderly had wheeled in a stretcher. Mary was laid out with her dress pulled up as the orderly was busy getting things from the undercarriage.
I slowly rose in bed and noticed that I had a pacifier in mouth. I quickly spit it out and Mary and the orderly looked up at me in surprise as it hit the ground.
“Hey sleepy head!” Mary said. She looked at the pacifier on the ground and at my surprised expression. “I thought it would help you sleep better,” she said. “It always helps me.”
The orderly gave her a gentle slap on the wrist. “Stop that Mary, don’t be putting things that have been in your mouth in hers.”
I started gagging slightly and Mary giggled. The orderly stood up with a bundle of things in her arm. She set them down and I noticed for the first time that my cellmate was in a diaper. The orderly didn’t seem to mind. She untapped Mary’s wet diaper, wiped her clean, powdered her and put another diaper on.
“Okay, all clean Mary. You both want lunch?” she asked. Mary nodded enthusiastically. I was too dumbstruck to answer. The orderly looked my way. “April Bennette is it?”
I slowly nodded.
“Would you like to take your meal in the cafeteria?”
“Yes she would!” replied Mary who hopped off the stretcher and crinkle walked up to the bed. She reached her little hand up, hoping for me to hop down. In something of a daze, I turned and put my feet over the side, landing a little unsteadily and a little heavy with sleep.
“Okay, follow me,” said the orderly. She led us out into the hallway where a guard with a baton was waiting. Mary grabbed my hand and started to skip down the hallway, I tugged my hand away nervously and she looked at me questioningly, but shrugged and skipped ahead. I noticed the motion made her dress fly up and reveal to anyone who cared to look that she was indeed diapered.
The other cells on the block were empty. I guess everyone got to meet together for lunch. Our walk didn’t last long, we turned a corner, went through another security gate and came into the cafeteria. It was dank and a bit dismal, but somehow brightened by the colorful people who filled it. The men and the women of Arkham were joined, sitting here and their or in their own little clichés. Right here in one room were the scariest people ever to walk god’s green earth.
The women were outnumbered 10/1 by the men. I could only count about 6 women, but plenty of ‘hungry’ men.
“Don’t get too scared girly. Wouldn’t want you wetting yourself like your roommate.”
I turned to see the girl with the short red hair who’d laughed at me earlier.
“You don’t look coocoo in the coconuts. Why’ya here?”
I looked down nervously at my feet and tried to shuffle past to get food. They hadn’t fed me since before trial yesterday. Red grabbed my arm.
“Bit of friendly advice girly. That innocent and scared routine isn’t going to help you. It’s only going to invite more trouble, especially from some of the worst sort on the men’s side. They prey on people like you, in ways you don’t want to imagine.”
I wasn’t sure what to say. I wretched my arm away and gave red a little shove. She smirked “That’s a start.”
We got in line to get our food. “My name’s Roxanne Sutton,” she said taking a trey.
“And those boys will make you March May June and July if you don’t get a back bone,” Roxanne reached for silverware but a guard at the line slapped her hand when she did.
“Nice try Roxy, you know you’re not allowed.”
Roxanne stuck her tongue out at the guard as he handed her a plastic spork. “Idiot,” she said as they’d passed him. “Not like I can’t steal a real fork and knife from other inmates at the table.”
I looked at her and raised an eyebrow.
She smiled. “Suicide watch,” she said with a laugh. One of the big inmates with the sleeves ripped off his uniform spooned some slop on her tray with an ice cream scooper. “They think I’ll try to kill myself with a fork and knife. Gak… what a boring way to go.” She left the line, and I followed when I had my portion.
Roxanne headed to the table that Mary was already sitting at along with long haired red and… and a cheetah?
“Ladies, I’d like you too meet April.”
“She’s my new roommate!” Mary said happily, motioning for me to sit next to her. I cautiously sat down, keeping my eyes on the tray and not wanting to look at any of them in the eyes.
“So Mary, what’s her story? She hasn’t said much,” Roxanne said sitting down opposite me.
“Cop killer,” she said with a mouth full of food.
“That’s not very interesting… where’s the twist? Where’s the Arkham ticket? Did you seduce cops and kill them with a spork?” Roxanne asked holding up the spork so I could see it. I shuddered and looked back at my tray.
Mary shook her head and giggled. “I don’t think she’s that bad.”
“Then why is she here?” Asked the lady with long red hair.
“Oh let me introduce everyone else!” Mary exclaimed, tipping my chin up with her finger. “This is Pamela but she’s best known as ‘Poison Ivy’,” she said poking at the lady with long red hair. She gave me a forced smile and tried to look pleasant. Mary pointed to the cheetah, or rather… the cheetah woman… because while she had the head of a cheetah and her body was covered in fur, but she was still human shaped. “This is Dr. Barbara Minerva, but everyone just calls her ‘Cheetah’.”
“Or pussy,” Roxanne said quietly. Dr. Minerva let out a low feline growl and raised her paw, letting out four claws about an inch and a half long.
“And I think you’ve already met ‘Roxy Rocket’,” Mary said completing the introductions.
“Hey kiddos!” came a happy voice somewhere behind me. I turned and suddenly felt my blood run cold. I even noticed Mary and Pamela start to tense up.
A long gaunt man in his asylum orange walked up to our table with a girl on his arm. He was smiling like the cat who had a canary behind its teeth. It was an unnatural smile… a hideous smile… one that was centered on a face with skin as white as snow and hair as green as pine.
“Another songbird for the cage!” he said. “I wonder what tune you sang to land in here hahaha.”
describe what it felt like to be sitting before him. His laugh tickled your
danger centers, the same way the cocking of a gun would. It felt like being in
the presence of the devil himself,
“Awfully quiet bird isn’t she?” he said to his girl.
“Well Mr. J, if this mocking bird don’t sing…” she began in sing song voice. I flinched and started to brace for whatever implement of death she was planning.
“Stop it Harley, you silly girl, you’re scaring the poor thing,” he said with a waving finger. He leaned down to my level and used my spoon to sample some of the food I had on my tray. “Yuck… tastes like bird food,” he made a comical face, the way bugs bunny would look if he was trying to eat mudd. The joker smiled and handed the spoon to me, patting me on the head. “There you go birdy. Keep the spoon. I licked it, so you can sell it on ebay and make a fortune.”
He walked away with his girl in tow.
“That man scares the bejesus out of me,” Roxanne said when he’d gone.
“Harley’s your roommate, I’d be more scared of her,” said Pamela.
The cheetah laughed in a soft purr. “Dr. Harleen Quinzel… heh wonder if it even matters about who’s a doctor and who’s not. Three of the inmates here are doctors. Two having worked here before being committed.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Oh so she can speak?” Pamela said with another smirk.
The cheetah purred again and craned her head with a feline expression of curiosity. “I hold a doctorate from MIT in Biology. Harley has a doctorate from Gotham U in psychology and Jonathan Crane has the same from Carnegie Melon,” she motioned to a man sitting at a table with a few other guys. He didn’t look all that different from any other average joe, just stick thin. “Dr. Quinzel and Dr. Crane used to be psychoanalysts here. Look where that got them.”
I wasn’t sure what to say… I just nodded slowly and tried eating a little bit with my fork. The food wasn’t unbearable, but maybe I was just really hungry. The cheetah smirked, but that suddenly faltered and her nostrils flared a little. She glared at Mary.
Mary caught her stare and bit her lip innocently. “Sorry,” she said. I was confused what was happening, but I could smell what the problem was a moment later. Mary needed a change… bad.
“I’m still waiting on a story,” Roxanne said. She had finished most of her food and was reclining un-lady like in her chair with her legs wide apart.
I swallowed hard. “I… killed a cop.”
“Yes yes, we already know that… but how?” Pam asked.
“I ran him over… in my car.”
“Not very original.” Dr. Minerva chimed in. “That just makes you mean… what makes you crazy?”
“I don’t remember doing it.”
The ladies looked thoughtful for a moment. I did my best to recall everything.
“I was pulled over for speeding… and I was a little bit drunk… and the cop started hitting on me…” I shuffled a little uneasily in my seat. “And I remember trying to tell him I’d be good… that I wouldn’t do it again… and that maybe some type of arrangement could be made… and then… I woke up being screamed at by a jailor.”
Mary put a reassuring hand on my shoulder, I continued on.
“I’d run him over they said… Repeatedly... A cop... An officer of the law. I didn’t remember doing it… but witnesses said I’d been laughing as I’d done it. The police had my prints in the car, I remember him pulling me over… I was a little drunk… the evidence was stacked against me… My lawyer told me it would mean the death sentence if I was found guilty… so we pleaded insanity.”
Dr. Minerva nodded. “How else could you explain not remembering the murder.”
I nodded. “Here I am.”
Roxanne smiled. “So you are. But this makes you unique.”
I looked at her confused.
“You’re the only one here who might actually be innocent! Wow, wouldn’t that be a first.”
The girls at the table all shared a laugh. I nervously tried to gulp down some more food. I noticed guards were starting to take inmates back to their cells. It wasn’t long before one took Dr. Minerva and Pamela back to their cell.
“Please, somebody let Liz know that Mary needs to be changed,” Dr. Minerva said scrunching her feline nose. Mary blew a raspberry her.
“Mean ol’ putty tat,” she taunted. She stood up and stretched a little. I noticed that Mary was one of the only inmates wearing something other then the orange jumpsuit. Her party dress made her stand out quite a bit from the other inmates. The only other person I could see wearing something out of uniform was the mad hatter and his ridiculous top hat. For some reason they’d let him keep it. A few guys had managed to modify their uniform as well. I could see Harvey Dent had splashed some type of ink to add a color contrast to his ‘bad’ side.
“Come on ladies, let’s go back… I think I can smell someone who needs a change,” the orderly who brought us in said. She came up and motioned for us to follow. Mary giggled and walked crinkling behind her, I noticed a look of distaste on some of the male inmates as she passed them, but that look changed as they saw me.
I was almost happy to be in the long quiet hallway, with nothing more then the noise of us walking. Mary had skipped on ahead, and I noted the same stretcher waiting outside our cell.
“Okay, up you go,” the orderly said lifting Mary under the arms. She wheeled the stretched into the cell and a guard stood nearby motioning for me to follow. I worked my way up to my bunk and sat watching Mary as she got her diaper changed again.
When she was done, she hugged the orderly on the leg. “Thanks Liz,” she chirped.
“No problem. I’ll be back to check on you before dinner.”
The door locked and a buzzer out in the hallway signaled that all the inmates were back in their cells. I laid back against the wall, my legs dangling over the side of the bed. I couldn’t see Mary, but assumed she was playing with her dolly. The silence stretched on for a little bit.
“What’s there to do?” I asked quietly.
“You can read,” Mary said. I sat up and looked down at her. She hopped off the bed and reached under it to pull out a few books. They were all children’s books. Go dog go, the big red ball, that sort of thing.
“Uh.. no thanks,” I said politely. Even though she looked 6 years old, I was still very afraid of her.
“You could play with my dolly,” she said holding it up my way. I shook my head no. “I could comb your hair?”
I shrugged a little nervously. I didn’t really want a convicted killer combing my hair… even if she did look sweet and innocent.
Mary started patting the bed beside her and smiling up at me. I hesitantly lowered myself down and she quickly scooched behind me, sitting on her legs as she ran her hands through my hair. I shuddered momentarily… but she put a hand reassuringly on my shoulder.
“It’s okay April. I know what you must be going through,” she said in her suddenly adult voice. It took me by surprise, as if someone else had entered the room. Mary could almost be two different people. I calmed down a little and Mary took her brush to my hair. Putting aside the thoughts of how scary this was, I did feel a little relaxed. It always feels good to have someone else gently caring for you… especially in a place where it was the last thing you’d expected. I began to cry softly.
“Awww… poor April,” she said in her innocent voice once more. “It’s otay… just let it all out. The world’s unfair… I know,” she paused while combing my hair. “Would you like my paci again? It’ll calm you down.” I shook my head no, and she shrugged and continued combing my hair.
It didn’t take long for her to comb out the right half and she moved over to the left. She giggled a little saying “You have such nice hair… nicer then my dolly.”
I wasn’t sure what to think of that… so I just swallowed back a few tears and said “Thanks.”
“You look beautiful!” Mary exclaimed as she finished tying the second ribbon. She stood me up and pulled me over to the sink in the corner. A broken mirror was on the wall above it and in the reflection I could see a distorted version of myself with two childish pigtails.
“Umm… they’re lovely,” I said none too convincingly. If my lack of enthusiasm upset Mary, she didn’t show it. Cheery as ever she grabbed my hand and brought me back over to the bed.
“Now you do mine!” She said undoing two clips and shaking out her hair. Her hair was golden yellow and naturally curly. I tentatively touched it, not sure I should play this game, but before I refused she climbed into my lap and smiled up at me, waiting for me to begin. I reached for the brush and calmly started to comb out her hair as she’d done for me.
“It’s soo nice to have a roommate!”
“What happened to your former roommate?” I asked nervously.
“I haven’t had one,” she said reaching for her dolly. “I’ve had my own room since I got caught...” she started counting on her fingers as she tucked the dolly under an arm. “1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8… 8 months ago,” she said holding up her fingers as she’d counted them to me. I nodded and continued running the brush through her hair.
As normal and childish as this activity was, my hands were still a bit shaky. It could have been from the stress of my ordeal, or the genuine fear I’d felt since entering the black castle.
I finished Mary’s hair and she bounced around happily, having me lift her up so she could see into the mirror and admire my work. It wasn’t the best job, but it was passable. I let her down and eased myself back up to the top bunk to lay down. I was a little glad to put some space between myself and my roommate. She sat back on her bed and began to hum quietly as she went about playing with her toys.
Sleep must have found me because the next thing I knew, the door was opening to our room once more. I groggily sat up and saw the same black guard with the poof ball of hair tied back standing at the door.
“Common room, you girls like to visit or stay here.”
“We’ll go!” Mary practically sang. She tried to jump up and grab the side of my top bunk, but couldn’t make it, nearly falling over. She settled for jumping up and pushing underneath my mattress above her bed.
“I’m awake…” I replied groggily. I slid my feet over the side of the bed and slid myself down once more. “What time is it?” I asked no one in particular as I rubbed at the side of my head with my hand.
“About 3 in the afternoon. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we allow our female inmates the use of the common room. Men have Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.”
“Sunday is vespers!” Mary said looking up at me. She grabbed my hand and tried to sit me down on her bed, fussing over the mess my hair had become from sleep. The guard looked at me a little strangely, but I was too tired to care.
“What’s vespers?” I asked.
The guard shrugged. “Church… close enough anyways. It’s an hour service of salvation. It’s optional, only about 4 or 5 inmates go to it every Sunday.”
I shrugged, and Mary jumped out from behind me, grabbing my hand again to bring me out of the room. We set off down the hallway once more. I noted a few inmates not in their rooms, as well as a few were still in their rooms. Pam and Dr. Minerva were still in their room, and even though I knew what the blackish figure was with the feline eyes on the top bunk, it still give me a chill to look at her as the green eyes followed my movement. Just as I was about to scurry away in fear, one of those two eyes winked at me and the hint of a white fanged smile glinted in the darkness. I did my best not too look scared in return.
The common room was sort of like a YMCA rec room. It had couches, a tv, a ping pong table and some board games stacked in a corner.
“TV!!!” Mary exclaimed. She quickly ran over and plopped herself down, sitting cross-legged on the floor right in front of the old box on a rolling cart. A few of the other female inmates had gathered chairs and made a loose semi-circle around it. It didn’t look like anything interesting, just some midday soap opera.
“Mary’s a TV addict…” Roxanne said to me. She was leaning on the arm of a couch looking bored at the group watching TV. I noticed her roommate Harley was among the TV viewers. I didn’t make a move to join them. “You not interested in ‘Days of different wives’?” She asked me with a coy smile.
I shook my head no. “I’ve never really been into TV, didn’t have much time for it between jobs.”
“Ah, too holy then.”
“I didn’t say that… I just said…”
Roxanne rolled her eyes. “Sit. We need to talk… You’re too innocent for your own good, you know that?”
I sat and brushed a few stray hairs out of my face. “I wasn’t trying to…”
“Stop apologizing, toughen up! Don’t offer excuses… Offer challenges!”
“Challenges? Against people like you?”
A smile crept across Roxanne’s face. “And what about people like me?” She asked threateningly.
I felt a tear well up in the corner of my eyes. “I… I’m not like you all… I’m a nobody, just, just leave me alone.”
The smile vanished. “Ah jesus, quit it will you? Look… where are you right now?”
“Heh, fair enough… and you know what… so is everyone else around you. And because of that, we are no longer a them, instead, you are an us… does that make sense? You’re on the inside, and your with the big girls… you may be a nobody in your own head, but I’ll tell you right now, you better become a somebody or you’re going to end up not making it out of here.”
I looked up at Roxy; I couldn’t really read her expression. She seemed to be angry, concerned, matronly and even crazy all in one look. Still I could feel she had my best interest at heart. I did my best to force a nod and dam the tears.
“Have you ever hurt any body?” I asked her. I knew that some of the others in the room, namely my roommate and hers, had definitely hurt and even killed people.
“Nobody but myself… It’s what sets me apart.”
“I don’t understand… Is that why you’re on suicide watch?”
Roxy nodded. “They called me Roxy Rocket… greatest thrill
seeker to ever live,” she gave a sidelong glance to the TV and my roommate. “I
used to work in
“What did you do there?” I asked sitting up. I didn’t know Roxy was another TV star. “Actress?”
I smiled. “Cool.”
“Yah well it was never enough. The explosion was never big enough, the fall was never far enough… You only really live when you’re a second away from death… Make every day count like it’s your last, carpe diem and all that jazz.”
“How’d you end up here?”
“Oh Batman brought me in, same as 75% of the other inmates,” she smiled. “You wouldn’t believe how he got me… nearly cream my pants whenever I think back on it.”
“I withdraw the question.”
She laughed and gave me a soft punch to the arm. “Heh, you really are an innocent…”
“You don’t really seem like someone who needs to be on suicide watch,” I said sullenly.
“I’m on suicide watch because I’ve been told I’m a danger to myself…” she smiled softly. “I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever find the thrill I’m looking for except in death.”
I remembered the words of Peter Pan at that moment. “To die would be a great adventure.”
Roxy nodded. “Indeed.” We sat in silence a little longer. The show on TV was at one of its typical tense moments... the girl had just confessed her feelings… the guy was deciding whether to take her, or her sister into his bed. “Nice hair by the way…” Roxy said to me with a sly smile.
I realized I still had the childish hair that Mary had styled. I quickly started to untie the ribbons and let it out. “Oh, yah, umm… Mary wanted to comb my hair earlier… and I didn’t see any harm in it.”
Roxy raised an eyebrow. “Didn’t see any harm in it? Or didn’t see a way to stop her from doing it?”
“Be careful April, remember, you play the innocent game too long, you’ll find you’re getting walked on or worse.”
I nodded softly. “So you keep saying…”
“TURN IT OFF!!!” came a high pitched scream. Roxy and I turned our heads to see someone had changed the channel. Where the soap opera had been, the opening sequence to the old sitcom “That’s Our Baby” was now playing. My mouth hung open as I saw my new roommate running around happily on the TV, but the actual girl now standing in front of it looked completely different. She had grabbed a chair a startled inmate had not had time to vacate and was doing her best to spin like she was making a hammer toss with it. The weight of the chair and her fairly small body caused her to fall over at the release.
The front legs of the chair connected with the old TV and an electrifying buzz accompanied the shatter of glass as the screen disintegrated. Babydoll (because as I could see in the rage written on her face, she was no longer Mary) spun around wildly to the girls gathered around her.
“WHO CHANGED THE CHANNLE?!” she demanded. Her voice was definitely adult now, almost equal to that of Harvy Dent.
“Security, I’ve got a situation developing in the women’s common room,” a lady guard said into her walkie talkie as she started to circle around towards the TV.
“This should be interesting,” Roxy said with a smile as she got up. I tentatively stood up on the couch to look over the heads of other inmates who were gathering to watch whatever was about to happen.
“TELL ME!!” Babydoll demanded once more. She stomped her foot in childish impudence.
“Aww baby not like what’s on TV?” asked a cooing Harley. From my angle, I could see she had the remote control behind her back.
Babydoll couldn’t tell who had made the remark, so she just attacked the girl nearest too her. She dived into her and started pulling her hair like an angry monkey. The chair fell backward into another inmate who angrily tried to get out of the way and nudged into another inmate and things just went chaotic from there.
“I need more guard’s down here, NOW, code orange, get me? Code orange, brawl in the common room,” yelled the guard now as she tried to scoop Babydoll up with one arm, but couldn’t get her free of the inmate who’s hair she was ravaging.
In the middle of it all, I saw Harley gracefully get up and do a slow walk-over-back-hand-spring that ended with a kick to another inmate’s face. She stood up with a theatric bow before a rather butch woman with a shaved head put her foot on her ass and shoved her over one of the chairs. Harley angrily got up again, rolled up her orange sleeves, and boxed the woman’s tits like they were punching bags.
A moment later, whistles were being blasted all around the room as guards poured in to break up the melee. Roxy grabbed me by the back of the head and drove me down into the couch.
“If you don’t want to take a baton to the head, you will curl up in a ball, got it?”
I did my best to nod my head with her hand on the back of it. I don’t know what happened next. I only heard some muffled sounds like it was batting practice at gotham park, mixed in with some laughter from Harley, curses from Babydoll and a few nasty threats from inmates I’d yet to meet.
After 5 minutes, the room was quiet. I was still curled up in a ball on the couch and I could feel Roxy nearby. “All right, show’s over. Everyone back to their cell,” the black guard said.
I slowly got up with Roxy. My roommate and most of the girls who’d been around the TV weren’t in the common room any more. A few random inmates were scattered about, just starting to stand up as I was. We were herded like noisy cattle out of the common room and back to our cells. Everyone was eager to tell their version of what had just happened, even though we’d all been there for the same thing.
“Careful around Mary when you get back to your room… She’s not going to be happy,” Roxy said with a smirk.
I shivered a little and nodded.
The guard dropped me off at my cell. My roommate was seated on the bed, no longer in her poofy party dress, but in the same orange jumper as me. She was sitting cross legged with a frown on her face. I didn’t see her dolly either.
I tried not to make eye contact. I simply climbed up onto my bunk.
“Did you see who changed the channel?” she asked in her adult voice.
“No, I was talking to Roxy on the other side of the room,” which was true enough. I had a good guess who changed the channel, but I didn’t actually see her do it.
“You look down on me because I’m in diapers… don’t you?” Mary asked. Her voice was a cross-breed of her adult self and her youth self. I couldn’t tell if she was asking me girl to girl or bating a trap.
“I uh… no… I’ll admit it was a little odd at first, but I don’t have a problem with it. It’s your thing right?”
Mary didn’t answer, she just sat quietly on the bottom bunk. I was afraid to speak further so I laid down and did my best to go to sleep and try to escape, if only in my dreams, from this scary place.
Maybe prisoners and inmates have different dreams then most people. My last nap, the one I’d had this morning, was the type of nap that just happens thanks to exhaustion. It was like a complete sleep where your body is too tired to even dream.
I think I dreamt of the accident. I can’t be sure, it was all mashed together… scenes, sounds, the sudden thump as my car hit what I think was the police officer. It was more a nightmare then a dream, and it was dark and confused, I couldn’t make out why I was trying to run, why I stomped on the gas.
My hand felt warm… and suddenly things felt a little bit better. They felt a little… wet… but they did feel better.
Home to the Criminally Insane
By: CS Fox
Pam was fuming, “You didn’t give me those flowers, I had to make them myself! Do you know how hard it is to grow flowers with what I could find in a looney bin? They’re a hybrid of mushrooms, molds, mildews, spider’s webs, rust and spores!”
“What, no sugar and spice? The thought had been to give you nothing, we were being lenient to let you keep them as it was. Flowers were you weapons in the past.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong! I wasn’t even in the common room when it happened.”
“It’s out of my hands.”
Pamela Isely tapped her fingers on her chin and smirked. She brought her elbows a little closer to try and push up her chest through her orange jumpsuit. “If I give you a kiss can I have them back?”
Dr. Gorai was not impressed. “Oh ho ho… Very crafty young lady but we know all about your poison lips. So don’t talk like that.”
“But wouldn’t a kiss be worth it Doctor? One sexy little kiss of death. A taste of euphoria before you slip away from your nothing life to the bigger nothing to follow?”
“Stop it Pam, it’s not funny. You have a tragical medical condition that we are working on curing.”
Pam rolled her eyes and crossed her arms, looking away.
“The pills you take suppress these dangerous powers of yours. We haven’t been able to counteract the poison on your lips, but at least you’re not giving off your dangerous pheromones to control… well… myself and other men.”
Pam considered Dr. Tom Gorai with cold eyes. The man was unbending and professional, almost too much so… which is probably why he was chosen for the prestigious assignment of playing shrink to the likes of her.
“Dr. Gorai… You know nothing about me. You’ve told me before I’m beautiful, well tell me doctor what is my own beauty if one kiss from my lips can kill? You’re the shrink, what does it mean?”
“It means men should be careful around a girl like you.”
“Plants have to defend themselves doctor, they change and adapt to defend against those that would hurt them. Why do you think roses grow thorns?”
“Is that a veiled threat Pam?”
“You’re taking away the only thing I care about here. What is the beauty of a rose when it’s clipped at the neck and stuck in a vase? That’s what you’re doing to me here in this black castle; you’re cutting me at the neck and sticking me in a vase.”
“You’re not getting the plants back.”
“I’m Poison Ivy, plants are my life!”
“No… your not, and no, they’re not. I see we really haven’t made any progress Pam. Even in your head you still refer to yourself by that name. Here I thought we were going to cure you of that...”
Pam snarled, “CURE ME!? Look around you! Two-Face is really TWO FACED, Cheetah is really a CHEETAH, Babydoll is still in DIAPERS! And I am POISON!!!! Ontologically, biologically, quintessentially, irreducibly, POISON!!”
Dr. Gorai rubbed at his forehead. He was bald and many said he looked more like a shoalin monk then a Harvard grad. “Pam… calm down.”
“NO! It’s not therapeutic to pretend I’m otherwise… it’s delusional. I’m Poison Ivy, and I DEMAND my plants back. I haven’t hurt anyone or done anything wrong… yet.”
Dr. Gorai closed his notebook and pressed an intercom button on his desk. “Guards, please take Pam back to her cell, we’re done here.”
“Oh no we’re not, we’re only just beginning,” Pam warned as the orderlies entered. Dr. Gorai rolled his eyes again and rubbed his bald forehead once more.
Trisha sat outside the psychologist’s office with me. I’d met her yesterday when she’d walked me the length of the black castle to my cell. We both wore the same things we’d had on yesterday, she was in her guard uniform with hair neatly pulled back into a little afro poof, and me in my orange inmate jumper with my hair falling down my back. Amazingly my hair was well brushed and free of tangles, thanks to my ever-happy-to-groom-me roommate.
“Dr. Gorai’s a smart man. He’s a little… off… and a bit of a stiff ass, but damned smart.”
After hearing about the former psychologists here I was a little worried. “He hasn’t been an inmate here has he?”
Trisha let out a good laugh, “No no, the doctors all become inmates after being the resident psychologists, not before. Heh, someone’s been filling you in on local history huh?”
I nodded meekly.
“Dr. Gorai is the 16th resident psychologist since I started working here 9 years ago. It’s hard to keep doctors here. A lot of them come in with big bright eyes imagining they’ll make a name for themselves by reforming the most clinically insane and sick people ever documented, but what they don’t realize is that these people can get into your head… Just look at Harley.”
Two guards came walking down the hallway and went into Dr. Gorai’s office. They returned shortly with a very angry looking Pam.
Trisha looked at her watch. “Hmmm ending the session a little early?”
“I wouldn’t go at all if I’d been given the choice,” she replied coldly. The guards didn’t give her time to linger. I watched them march her down the hall rather forcefully.
“Is that how I’ll be leaving when my session is done?” I asked.
Trisha shrugged, “Depends on how you treat Dr. Gorai. I don’t know what those two were talking about, but Pam is usually a cool customer. Something’s got her pissed.”
Trisha opened the door for me and led me into my psychiatrist’s office. He seemed nice enough, very well dressed, clean shaven on both chin and head, an almost refreshing appearance in this dark castle. Trisha squeezed my shoulder and excused herself from the room.
Dr. Gorai had a file folder in his hands and didn’t take his eyes off it as he addressed me.
“April Bennette… You seem tame enough… How is Arkham treating you so far?”
He looked up expectantly at me and I froze like a deer in head lights. What did he expect me to say to question like that?
“No answer?” he asked.
“I can think of places I’d rather be.”
Dr. Gorai smiled. “Good good, at least you’ve still got a sense of humor. You’ve only been here a day, but I’m worried about the Arkham factor getting to you.”
“The Arkham factor?”
“Yes April, you see… there’s an incredible irony with insane asylums… They tend to drive you insane.”
I frowned, “So far this isn’t very therapeutic.”
“This isn’t supposed to be therapy yet… Right now its psychiatry. Here, please, sit down.”
Dr. Gorai motioned to a large chair well worn. He took out a yellow tablet of paper.
“Today is going to be the first of our many sessions. As part of your incarceration here, we are going to study what you’ve done wrong, as well as try to treat it and make you a productive member of society.”
“But… what about this place making me go insane?”
“Well then I’ll just have to work extra hard, won’t I April?”
“What if I didn’t…” I fidgeted a little. Psychiatry had never made me comfortable. “What if I haven’t done anything wrong? What if I shouldn’t be here?”
Dr. Gorai frowned. “What if a cop should still be alive? It’s not my place to decide who’s guilty or not outside these walls… I’m just supposed to deal with what goes on inside them… and speaking of which, I was informed something this morning.”
I hesitated… this morning I’d… I’d…
“April, I know yesterday was very scary for you. It was your first day in a place full of very scary people, not to mention the incident in the common room. It’s not uncommon for night time accidents to happen.”
My face flushed red. As if this place wasn’t horrible enough, I’d woken up having wet the bed… something I hadn’t done since I was 14. My roommate had thought it was about the cutest thing ever…
“I…i…” I spluttered.
“You don’t need to say anything… your bed is being fitted with a rubber sheet, and should this problem persist, our staff can handle it.”
I wasn’t sure what to say… I was a little too embarrassed to think anything rational… so I just nodded.
“Good, now let’s begin…”
My first session with the Doctor was sort of like my first visit to Gotham PD central booking. He asked a lot of questions on subjects that were kind of fuzzy and I did my best to answer them. It all seemed to stem back to the one night where I’d been drinking too much… the night I’d bought a ticket to Arkham…
There’s a bar on the top floor of
Everything is ritzy and a little more posh then I’m used too. I nearly jumped five feet when a bus boy rushed passed me to take a stool and pull it back a little so I could sit down.
“And what can I get you milady?” the bartender asks me, holding up a frosted
martini glass. I quietly shake my head no… If I’m going to build up the courage
to talk to the billionaire man of
I point my finger a little higher. “Black Label on the rocks please.”
The bartender blinks, but manages a rye smile, “My kind of woman.”
The barman scoops some ice into a glass and pours me a double. I didn’t ask for a double but I’m getting one. He lays a cocktail napkin on the polished mahogany counter and gently rests the drink on top of it, as if he was putting a small child to bed.
“There ya go,” the barman says.
The melting ice in the sweating amber glass clinks softly. I stir the scotch gently with a straw. You have to let whisky soften a bit, at least someone had told me that before. I stare at the liquor bottles arranged neatly behind the bar. They’re lit from underneath, and stand out a bit. I realize I do as well. All the women around have real prada and louie v on their shoulders, I’ve got a fake one.
Fifteen minutes pass and I begin to wonder where my host is. I stir the straw through the glass again. The sweet liquid is gone, just half melted ice remains.
“Waiting for someone?” The barman asks hopefully.
“That’s what I was led to believe…” I say solemnly.
“Want another?” he nods to the drying glass. I shrug and he curls the glass away and pours another double in it.
My acceptance to Mr. Wayne’s offer of a drink was one more out of curiosity than anything else. Usually when men offer things to me, I blush, giggle a little bit and politely turn them down because I’m too scared. I couldn’t refuse Mr. Wayne though, he may be an air headed playboy, but from what I’d heard he was always more then sincere.
“April?” asks a voice behind me. I turn to find Mr. Gotham in the flesh.
His voice sounds like honey over thunder. Blush doesn’t even describe what was happening to my face. I manage a nod.
“Call me Bruce,” he says taking the seat next me.
We sat and made nice for a while. He did a lot of talking… I did a lot of blushing. He asks about me, how my job was going. I work for the district court library and oddly enough I’d seen him in and out of the library a lot lately. I usually kept it open late for him and quietly went about cataloguing books. He’d always joke and tell me that he needed more paper weights and that law books and court precedents usually make the best.
There’s just something about him. He’s boyish and charming in all the ways that would probably make the law library absolutely rotten to him, but at the same time, he made his rounds regularly. It was as if the total was greater then the sum of all his parts.
His phone began to ring. “Sorry, I’ve got to take this,” he apologized. He didn’t say hi or acknowledge who he was, he just listened and his face suddenly betrayed a slight stern twinge.
His smile quickly returned. “That was just one of my vice presidents… looks like I may need to leave and handle some business out of town.”
“Oh, I uh… hope everything’s all right.”
Mr. Wayne got up, “It will be, no worries. I’m really sorry to leave you so early like this… and don’t worry about the drinks… I own the building.” And like that he was off at a quick pace out the door.
My blush finally subsided and I got up from my stool. Getting up I felt a little fuzzy, but not completely drunk, so I made my way back toward the elevator…
“And beyond that… I remember getting in my car, and I remember leaving the building… but the rest is blank. I woke up in my bed as police broke down the door.”
Dr. Gorai nodded, “So you did… but are you sure that’s all you remember?”
I thought for a moment, “Yes, that’s really all I remember.”
Dr. Gorai looked at his watch and flipped back all the
pages where he’d scribbled notes. “Well our time is about up… thank you for
sharing with me. Sometimes it’s refreshing to have a patient who isn’t
threatening to kill you.”
“Umm…” I wasn’t really sure if that was a compliment.
Dr. Gorai pressed a buzzer on his desk and two guards came in with Trisha. One of them started to roll up his sleeves, but Trisha gave his shoulder a pat and motioned with her head for me to follow her.
“How’d your first session go?” she asked when we were outside. She was leading me back through the cell blocks towards the women’s ward.
“Okay I guess… He just wanted to hear how I got here in full.”
Trisha shrugged. “Did he mention anything about what happened this morning?”
I blushed beet red. “Oh… yah he talked about that too. He said not to worry about it… that it was caused by stress.”
“If I had to sleep in the block of cells you do, I’d be peeing my bed every night too.”
We passed a security check point and came back on my block. The girls were all in their cells, and looking a little bored. The problem with any type of captivity is that it leaves the captive very bored.
I waved at the familiar black shadow with feline eyes on the top bunk of one cell and got a wink back. Pam was pacing around that same cell looking just as pissed as she was earlier.
“Sat down and talked with her,” Trisha whispered to me. “They took away her flowers. Practically for no reason… It’s stupid on our part.”
“She wasn’t in the common room when it happened though?” I said thinking back. Her and Cheetah had not left their room.
“I know, but it’s not for me to decide, the warden said to take away all privileges from the women.”
“Hey, how come you never walk me back to my cell?” Harley asked with a big smile as we passed her cell. She had her face pressed to the glass of her cell front wall.
Trisha smiled. “Remember that time I walked you back your first day here as an inmate and you stole my belt and pant’sed me?”
Harley looked quizzical for a moment, tapping her index finger on her lips. “Oh YAH!” she giggled and smiled.
“Learn to behave better and I’ll start walking you back again… That stunt you pulled yesterday isn’t helping.”
Harley frowned. “Behave better? How can I do that? Should I behave like her?” Harley pointed at me and immediately started giggling. She did a ballerina twirl toward her sink, turned it on and splashed water on the crotch of her orange jumper. “Now can I go for a walk?” she said pressing herself against the glass again.
“Yah, a long walk off a short pier,” I managed to splutter out. Harley’s roommate Roxy burst out laughing. Harley gave her a raspberry and did the same to me.
We arrived at my cell and a buzz went off as I was let in.
“Welcome back!” Mary jumped off her bed to hug me. She was wearing the same orange jump suit I was thanks to yesterday. “How was your time with Mr. Clean?”
“Mr. Clean?” I asked after wheezing a little from Mary’s hug. I thought about it, and I guess bald Dr. Gorai does look a little like Mr. Clean.
“Not bad I suppose… we just talked…”
“Did he tell you to wear diapers?”
Mary giggled and shrugged. “Just wondering.”
Home to the Criminally Insane
By: CS Fox
It sits, hiding like a cancer not too far from the city’s heart. Stunted and craggy, it’s a mansion jutting out from beyond the sewage treatment plant. The gothic stonework, the crooked towers, a mixture of rotting Victorian architecture, it’s the infamous Arkham Asylum, home for the criminally insane… home to me.
Come inside the narrow, sloping stairwells and hear the shrieks and grunts of its lunatics, their screams, whispers, maniacal laughter and demoralized sobbing. Choke on the smell of damp mold that will never dry. Hear the incessant echo of a leak that no one can ever find to fix and the scuttle of rodents racing for shelter along mildewed baseboards.
Suppose one were to now to take a tour of the official Arkham, the part that pretends to be modern science. And suppose one were to take the appropriate turns, past the therapy rooms, past the exercise yard, past the guard’s gated lockers. Sooner or later, if one had the appropriate keys, one would enter the wing where Arkham Asylum’s most famous and most lethal criminals reside: the Rogue’s Gallery. I live on the women’s row. Go past the plant lady, the yellow spotted kitty, the smiling sociopath, the daredevil, the little girl… and then you’d find... Timid, scared, out of place… Me.
My Name is April Bennette, and I might have killed a cop. I don’t really know for sure, or really remember, but here I am inside Arkham.
I guess you need to be inside an insane asylum to understand just how bad it can be. Sitting and hugging my legs to my chest, I had a bit too much time to contemplate everything that wandered into my head.
The only thing worse than my own boredom, was that of my roommate. She didn’t know how to handle boredom at all. She was only a little girl (but not really).
“They took away my dolly and pretty clothes,” she said sitting on her bunk below me with her elbows on her small knees. She looked to be five or six years old. She let out an exaggerated sigh, and blew at some of her golden curly hair with a whistling motion from her mouth.
She tugged at her orange jumper with a frown. It wasn’t frilly at all, it would never do.
Her eyes wandered to the lump on the bunk above her. “What’cha doin up there Aprwil?”
“Just thinking,” I said quietly.
“What’cha thinkin’ bout?”
“Whether or not I killed a cop.”
“Dows it matter now? Maybe I use to be on TV? I naught there anymore.”
I hugged my legs a little closer. “It matters to me.”
There was a rustling noise and I saw two little hands at the edge of my bed, reaching and pulling to try and join me.
“Hewp please,” came a cute voice as she bounced on the bed below but couldn’t quite get any higher. I took her little hands in mine and pulled her up to my bed with me. I really didn’t want her up here, but I didn’t want to tell her no either. It’s hard to deny a killer. Even one so small.
She sat down cross legged and stared at me with a smile. I leaned back against the wall and tried to close my eyes. I didn’t know what to do with her, and I didn’t exactly feel comfortable with her staring at me.
I felt a wet finger in my ear.
“Egh!” I jumped a little as Mary was smiling at me again with an extended finger.
“Wet willie!” she said, smiling some more.
I pushed her hand away. “I’m sorry Mary,” I said slowly, “I don’t really want to play right now.”
Mary pouted. “You’re no fun…”
Mary sat on her knees and tapped her little hand against her chin, thinking.
I closed my eyes again, but this time kept my left eye slightly cracked open on wet willie guard.
Dr. Tom Gorai was finishing up his thoughts into a tape recorder after his first session with Arkham’s newest inmate. These tapes were an important part of his work, and were useful in parole hearings, not to mention for his own review to track progress as the months went by.
“She seems to have the lowest level of psychosis I’ve observed while at Arkham. Her responses seemed honest, and truthful, possibly she’s repressing something. She seems scared, which is natural, but I still think there is something beneath the surface that she’s hiding. This will be perfect for my thesis… As I’ve noted before, this Asylum…”
There was a sudden breeze from the window. Dr. Gorai stopped mid-sentence, he hadn’t heard a sound… but this sort of thing had happened before. He was a very smart and observant man, he had to be to work here. He knew he wasn’t alone.
He continued talking to his tape recorder. “As I’m trying to prove… This asylum is full of tragic men and women who may never let go of anger… people who hold on to wounds that they probably got when they were just small children… people who may never come back to the REAL world.” He paused and turned his chair to the dark spot in his room. “But you of all people understand that… don’t you Batman?”
“Dr.” came the hard voice. A dark figure moved out of the corner of the room.
It was barely sundown, how the hell could he move like a shadow when there was still this much light?
“Please make an appointment when you’re coming to my office,” Dr. Gorai said putting the tape recorder down.
“I want your help in releasing your newest patient.”
He had a gruff voice, and he wasn’t making a request. He was making a demand.
“Oh so you want to take one out? My appointment book is filled with people you put in… This place is practically a revolving door, whenever a shrink writes someone up for recommendation, and they’re released, they get fired the moment their patient comes right back doing something worse than before. Do you think I want to be the next in line for this sort of thing?”
“I’m investigating the circumstances. I’m just asking for a favor when I get to the bottom of it.”
Dr. Gorai frowned and started looking for the security buzzer. It was usually right next to his mouse pad. He opened a drawer, it wasn’t there. He looked up again to frown at the batman, knowing that he probably had it somehow… but he was gone.
His eyes flashed to the window, it was closed… He got up and ran his finger over the latch. It was locked from the inside… and there was the security buzzer, resting on the ledge outside. Fucking magician.
I woke up the next morning with a pacifier in my mouth. I freaked a little at first, but it wasn’t like I didn’t know where it had come from. I think in some weird way, Mary thought it would help me sleep. I got up and put it next to her pillow while she was asleep. Thankfully I hadn’t wet the bed today, although I did need to go and tried my best to use the bathroom in our room without being too embarrassed. I guess its privacy be damned in an asylum. I just hoped no male guards came by.
Trisha came to get me not long after I was up and she tried to wake Mary, but she fussed a bit and rolled back over to sleep more. I was led to breakfast with a few of the other inmates.
Roxy smiled and waved my way as she was let out of her room. I quickly walked to her and tried to stay close. I think a lot of the small time criminals who get incarcerated act the same way I do. My first reaction arriving here had been fear, and my solution, was to cling to whoever helped alleviate it. So, I was following very close behind Roxy, who as far as I could tell was fearless.
Breakfast looked a lot like yesterday’s lunch and dinner. It was a yellow lump that was served with an ice cream scooper. It kind of smelled like eggs, but it had the consistency of a sponge. I took a tray of it anyway, I needed to eat.
Roxy led us to the same table we’d eaten at yesterday.
“Guess Mary’s not coming to breakfast huh?”
I shook my head no.
“She makes breakfast only once or twice a week,” Roxy commented, setting down her tray. “She loves to sleep in.”
Dr. Minerva joined us at the table and nodded, “I prefer it when she’s not here.” Her nose twitched with its feline whiskers, “My senses need the occasional respite from dirty diapers. I don’t know how you deal with it April.”
I shrugged and poked at my food. “It doesn’t bother me I suppose. Mary is Mary.”
“Mary is a baby,” said the last lady to join our table. Pam set down her tray. “Dr. Minerva is a Cheetah, I am Poison, no tip toeing around it twit.”
I dropped my spoon and tried not to look like a child who had just been slapped by their mother.
Roxy laughed, “haha jesus Pam, someone make you eat a salad yesterday? What’s got you grabbing for the throat?”
Pam grumbled and stabbed her scoop of egg with a fork.
Dr. Minerva smiled and practically purred out the answer, “there’s no more flowers in our cell… and no more pretty dresses for Mary.”
“Oh ho? No more therapy items?” She giggled.
I nodded. “Because of the fight in the common room.”
“I guess you don’t notice these things when you don’t have them,” Roxy said smiling at Pam.
Pam frowned and flicked her fork with a little egg at Roxy. It didn’t hit her, but rather just splatted on the table.
“Yah well, plants are kind of my thing if you hadn’t noticed crotch rocket.”
“I’m sure you’ve done plenty with a cucumber. I was just saying that I’ve never gotten the luxury of having therapy items.”
Dr. Minerva was eating her breakfast with a knife and fork, but it looked kind of dumb to be cutting up a mound of crap. She looked at Roxy thoughtfully, “Well, what would you ask for if you were to have something? You think security would let you have your missle?”
Roxy shrugged. “Probably not,” but thinking on her own remark, “I’d settle for a vibrator or a conjical visit once in a while though.”
“You’re on suicide watch, and your roommate is bat-shit insane. I don’t even want to know what she’d do if she got hold of a vibrator,” Pam pushed away her food, suddenly not hungry.
Roxy and Dr. Minerva had a good laugh at that.
I poked at my food a little. It was edible, if that counted for anything, but only just barely. It was probably on the same rung as algae, like an emergency ration or something. Thinking about how terrible it was, did at least get my mind off all the misery it had cycled through yesterday.
“Mind if I join you ladies for a moment?”
I looked up to see a skinny unassuming man who looked like a skeleton shrink wrapped in skin.
Roxy didn’t really look happy to see him, but Pam and Dr. Minerva shrugged. He took a seat right next to me where Mary usually sat.
“Up for a little discussion between doctors, Cheetah?”
Dr. Minerva inclined her head. “Okay, I’m game. What’s today’s topic?”
The skinny man turned to me, his eyes meeting mine.
“It’s my bread and butter… Fear.”
I scooted my butt a little closer to Roxy and away from him.
“Relax newbie, my name is Jonathan Crane. Dr. Crane if you like… I simply wanted to take a moment to talk with a fellow doctor about a study I’m conducting.”
I kept backing up till I was practically pressed to Roxy. I’d heard the name Crane before. He was one of the doctors who worked here and ended up an inmate.
“Fear is kind of a tired topic with you Jonathan.” Dr. Minerva said with a bored expression.
Dr. Crane kept his eyes trained on mine. “Well Cheetah, this is for the newbie then. She’s rather exquisite.”
Roxy held her plastic spork a little tighter. “Jonathan, if you try anything…”
“Nothing, nothing, I simply wish to talk to the young lady, maybe give her some advice,” he said smiling again. He leaned toward me. “You’re afraid… Oh so very afraid… but you’re trying very hard to hide it.”
I lowered my head, shaking it hesitantly, but I knew he could see right through me.
“Embrace it… fear, you must understand, is more than a mere obstacle. Fear is a teacher, the first teacher you ever had. It’s hard wired into your brain, part of your chemical makeup, just like the sensation of pain,” and he looked a little closer at my chest, “or the urge to procreate.”
I shivered and turned away.
He smiled. “It’s foolish to dismiss fear as a mere emotion, or worse yet, as an uncontrollable and transitory reflex,” his smile broadened, bordering the joker’s. “Fear is my religion.”
“Well preacher, take it somewhere else. I’m about to lose my breakfast,” Roxy said holding the edges of her tray, like she was about to throw it.
Dr. Crane nodded and smiled, getting up. He practically whispered to me as he left, “Embrace it, learn from it… and you’ll become one of us.”
Roxy stared him down as he left.
“Well, that was pointless,” Dr. Minerva said.
“Mind the boys and their boners… Freaks like him can’t get off on simple tits and ass, so they’re the ones you have to watch out for,” Pam added.
I looked at them both like they were crazy. How could anyone pass off what has just happened as something close to a bar pick up line?
I tried to eat some more… but found my appetite had fled in fear.
Home to the Criminally Insane
By: Arch Fox
I found my little murdering roommate asleep in our room. Her curly hair was spread out over her pillow as she held the gray asylum blanket close. She looked like one of those children in the four freedoms poster by Norman Rockwell; perfect image of a young angel if I hadn’t of known otherwise. She was snoring slightly, and I didn’t want to wake her.
I put a foot on the metal base of the bunk bed and pulled myself up to the top. Breakfast was over, and I didn’t have to meet with Dr. Gorai until the day after tomorrow… so… I just had time… all the time in the world.
I didn’t feel like sorting through the broken fragments of my memory. I’d done it for the past few days and it wasn’t getting me anywhere, it just made me feel crazier. I laid back and tried my best to pretend I was somewhere else.
I thought of past Christmases, my first kiss, the time mom took me to get my learner’s permit… tears were at the corners of my eyes before I knew it. The train had gone off the track so fast that I hadn’t really had time to gauge the repercussions. What was my mom thinking back home? Her quiet country daughter had grown up, moved to the city, and become a killer… although, I didn’t feel like I’d killed anyone… would a killer be crying as much as I did? …would a killer be as scared as I was?
Trisha showed up at our cell door. She had a trolley filled with Mary’s special needs. Psychotic and incontinent made for an odd combo, but I guess that’s what made Mary so endearing to the tabloids back when she went toe to toe with Gotham’s protector.
“Morning, feeling any better since breakfast?” She asked as the door clinked open.
“I’m still here…” I answered.
“That’s more then can be said for a lot of the residents,” Trisha said pushing the cart in. In a matronly way she poked a few times at Mary on the bunk below. Mary didn’t wake up, she just mumbled about still being tired and rolled over. How this girl could sleep so much, I wish I knew.
Trisha sweeped the blanket back and gently lifted Mary onto the trolley so she could change her diaper. I stared at the ceiling and remained on the top bunk. I could hear mild complaints about being woken up and I knew it wouldn’t be long before I had a cranky little roommate to deal with… probably sad that I’m afraid of a toddler.
“Trishaaaa…. I’m tiwerd.”
“You’ve got an appointment with Dr. Gorai today Mary, you need to get up sometime.”
“Will he let me have my dolly and dress back?”
Trisha was quiet a moment. “We’ll see, but it’s only been two days, I wouldn’t get your hopes up.”
Mary groaned and Trisha finished her changing and sat her back on her bed. “All done, I’ll be back in an hour to take you to your appointment.”
Trisha pushed the trolley back out into the hallway. “This afternoon the ladies have the common room… would you like to go April?”
I sat up and nodded. It was either there or here. “I’d like to go.”
Trisha wheeled the cart away. “Back in a hour ladies.”
I went back to having a silent conversation with the ceiling, and I could hear my roommate try to go back to sleep. She tossed and turned a few times, but in the end…
“April..? You awake?”
A part of me didn’t want to answer, but I knew she’d probably climb up and start messing with me if I was asleep or pretending to be. At least she was using her big girl voice.
“I’m up Mary.”
“Could you do my hair before my appointment?”
I rolled my eyes. I didn”t really have a choice… and on top of that, she’d want to do mine after. Guess I’d be going to the common room with another braid.
“Sure Mary,” I said as politely as I could force. I sat up and slowly hopped off the top bunk.
“This has got to be the biggest waste of my abilities ever.” Barbera grumbled. “We could have called a temp agency for this.”
Alfred smiled at the thought. “I’ve been thinking about that for years; some extra help down here and maybe I could try and clean the place. Cave’s are a bit of a challenge to tidy up, guano everywhere.”
“And it’s damn cold down here! I hate it! I want to be out and on the move!”
Alfred walked briskly over to a utility closet where he kept a few things for just these situations. There had been plenty of times where Master Wayne had passed out from exhaustion on the computer console, and rather then try to wake him, he’d just put the blanket over him.
He walked around her wheelchair and carefully laid the blanket over her legs. “I’ll put a pot of tea on,” He said, smiling once more.
Barbera frowned and looked away, but managed a “Thanks,” as she grabbed some more papers from her stack.
Alfred bowed curtly and headed back up the stairs.
Barb went back to scanning. She was married to the cave now, as mobile as a wheelchair allowed her to be. She complained a bit, but it was her only outlet for the unhappiness she felt at her situation.
Sometimes she got to play driver… and more recently pilot… but those were rare occasions or usually rescue missions where Batman was in a situation that he couldn’t say no to her help (or was incapacitated to do so). The rest of the time, she was ‘Oracle,’ the communications and research detail for Batman, Robin, Nightwing and whoever else they might be working with.
Right now she was doing none of the above. She had learned long ago not to question Bruce… but scanning nearly all of Gotham city’s real estate and law records from the archives? How menial could you get? Uptown had 7035 files alone. This wasn’t a task for one person; it was a task for a small army.
“Oracle…” buzzed the main comm.
Barb put her hands together in prayer and said a quiet “thank god” before quickly wheeling herself over to the comms center. She already had on her headset (she’d gotten in the habit of sleeping with it on) and her fingers worked to bring up position, altitude, weather and any other data she could from the call’s origin (standard practice for her).
“Go ahead, this is Oracle.”
Bruce’s voice was gruff and brief. “See what you can find on the Krasnaya Mafiya, they’re all over the harbor.”
“The red mob? Haven’t shown up in numbers since the triad war last year,” she said as her hands flew over the keyboard. “I’m on it. It’ll give me a chance to practice my Russian… Oh and I finished the research on your country bumpkin.”
There was silence on the other end, the call hadn’t disconnected; so she knew she had his attention.
“Clean, both in pretense and practice. April Bennett grew up in the country, moved to the city, and worked as a librarian and clerk at the courthouse. Probably got paid better then I do for doing the same work,” Barbera said with a glare to the mounds of paper by the large scanner.
“You know me better then to question it Bruce. No prior arrests; no documented run-in’s with the rogues gallery, nothing… the best I could dig up was two parking tickets and an asshole ex-boyfriend. I posed as a big city reporter following the trial; the guy was willing to divulge all sorts of her personal info and pillow talk.”
“Family’s clean too.. Interviewed Mom over the phone, she was really eaten up about it.”
The girl was in a lot of the papers for about three days. ‘District clerk loses mind, runs down cop and swears amnesia’. She was railroaded through the judicial system in less then 48 hours, which was suspicious enough on its own.
“It doesn’t add up Bruce. Either this girl was a sleeper agent of some sort with damned good fake credentials… or she was set up… set up good,” Barbera shivered at the thought of having to live in Arkham on trumped up charges. Especially living with… them.
“Let me know what turns up as soon as you find anything.”
“Roger Roger Bruce.”
The call was disconnected. She took a moment to x out the extra windows she’d opened on screen. Whenever she had his position, she always had the area’s local info on hand, case she needed to tap a cell phone call, or provide a sewer map.
“Hope you don’t mind Earl Gray,” Alfred said carrying a complete tea set down the winding stairs to her.
Barbera sighed but laughed softly. “Thanks Alfred.”
“There are three basic types of ‘No’ in this world. I’m a business man, I hear them often. There is the casual ‘No’ you say when you don’t need something. For instance, would you like to donate to charity?... No. Then there is the ‘No’ that is actually an implied yes. For instance, you didn’t kiss my sister last night did you?... Nooooooooo and then smile… And last, there is the hard ‘NO!” which is actually often yelled around Gotham at scary moments. Like… when you’re hanging upside down from a dock crane by your foot.”
“Ah there it is,” said fatty. He smiled, this one had an eastern European accent.
“I know nah-ting! Nah-ting!”
“Of course, of course my friend… but you see, that’s part of the problem. You were supposed to be here with lots of friends, and more importantly lots of money. You come here from the motherland, and want to buy up parts of the otherland… you need money!”
“Niet, I know no-thing.”
“Well, I don’t know how to get you down either… Maybe it’s the release lever here?”
Amidst the screaming, a well muscled man in a snow cap and black gear tapped fatty on the shoulder. “Mr. Cobblepot, we’ve got company.”
Mr. Cobblepot turned around in the crane controls and sneered at him. The cops were paid off and stayed away from the docks, company meant just one thing.
“James and Blake haven’t reported in sir. They were on the roof of the warehouse. He’s gotta be near pier 7.”
“That’s right damn below us you imbecile!” Mr. Cobblepot yelled, hitting the man with the nearest thing available; an umbrella. He wasn’t doing it hard, more out of frustration. “Evacuate the premises, get the bonds out of my safe and…”
“Sir… *whack* SIR! Already done; you did have standing orders.”
Mr. Cobblepot smiled and adjusted the sleeves of his tuxedo. They always seemed to drag whenever he raised his arms too much. Stupid coat was too small for his round frame.
“Good, you do have your uses then. See to it that…”
The cable of the crane was suddenly snapped by an unknown object.