It is dark. It is cold. I am scared.
I can’t remember anything but it all seems familiar. The grey stone walls, the weird mossy smell, the chains. The chains on my stomach. Why are they there? I can’t get out. There are no windows. The only light comes from the few cracks in the wall. There is a rectangular outline in the wall. A door? Yes, a door! I get up and walk towards it. I grab the handle. It’s locked. I shake and pull, but still it doesn’t budge. I huff and stomp my feet in frustration.
Clank! There is a noise behind me. I whip around. Nothing is there except for the chains. The chains. They’ve moved. They’re right at my feet. I kick them away and turn back to the door. I am about to drive my foot into it when something drags me from behind into the darkness of the corner of the room.
I wake up. It is dark. It is cold. I am scared.
The chains are there in front of me. I get up and go to the door. I try the handle again. Still nothing. I push and pull. Then I have an idea. I grab the chains of the floor. They are cold. And heavy. Very heavy. I whip them against the door. The sound of the metal against the wood is eerie, like fingernails on a chalkboard.
Cracks are starting to appear in the door. I raise my hands above my head for one last effort. I throw the chains against the door. I miss. Somehow. The chains wrap around me and knock me off my feet. I fall through the stone floor into the darkness.
I wake up. It is dark. It is cold. But I am not scared. I am angry. Angry at the chains. Angry at the door. Angry at myself. I’m going crazy. The chains are not there anymore. But the door is. I stand up and make my way towards it. Then I punch it. I punch and punch until my fists go red and my knuckles bleed. Then I scream. My throat is raw, but I keep on screaming. Then I drop to the floor, out of breath. If the door won’t give way, then I shall start on the wall. I’ll claw my way out through the cracks.
No. That won’t work. Wow. I am going crazy. I laugh. I laugh at how stupid I am. Soon the laughter turns into crying. Crying into screaming. Screaming into anger. Anger into one final push.
I grit my teeth and press my hands up against the door. The cracks in the wood grow, until at last, it shatters, like glass. I lose my balance and fall into the nothingness beyond.
Thud! I land on my feet. There is a slight pain in my legs. I can’t see anything. Everything is pitch black. The only sound that can be heard is my heavy breathing. But then there’s a thump. It comes from behind me. What is it? Whatever it is, I’m not going to wait for it to come get me. I start to edge away, trying my best to be silent. But that thing in the darkness pushes me to the floor. I have no other choice. I run. I run as fast as my legs can carry me. But I’m not fast enough. I feel it dragging me back by the collar. My strain to get away. But my efforts don’t work. It picks me up then throws me to the floor. My whole body throbs with pain. Quietly sobbing, I drag myself across the ground. I am desperate to get away.
The thing hisses threateningly behind me. It sounds demonic, deathly. I just know it wants to kill me. But why? No time to find out.
Crawling, crawling, crawling. Like a worthless little bug. I have never had to crawl for my life before, but I had never imagined it could be so terrifying. Gradually, I slow down. I am running out of breath. This is hopeless. I might as well die. I lie on the floor, waiting for the beast to take me and kill me. But then I see a glint of light. Daylight. A doorway. Hope.
Groaning, I pull myself onto my knees and drag myself closer to the heavenly light. I want to escape, but at the same time, I want to die from the pain. It’s just too much. But no. I can’t give up. Crawl, crawl, crawl. Crawl to safety, I hope. I hope. Just hope.
I am nearly there. Just a little more. But I don’t make it. My legs buckle. I drop to the floor and lie there, sobbing. It hurts so, so much. Soon, the deathly hissing surrounds me. It’s so loud it’s like it’s like is coming from my own mouth. The light fades. My limbs go numb. The hissing grows quieter. Then, emptiness.
I wake up. It is bright. It is warm. I’m in bed.
I look around. Everything seems normal. Just a bad dream. But where am I? How did I get here? I look down at my legs. They’re in thick layers of bandages. Did I have an accident? Am I in some kind of nursing home?
I get out of bed to investigate, but I can’t even walk to the door. My hands are chained to the bed. Those chains look familiar. I know them. I’ve seen them. But where? Then I remember, and a pang of fear hits me. These are the chains that I used to escape that dreary grey room. These are the chains that hunted me down. These are the chains that I dreamed of, but was it even a dream?
It is no longer bright, but grey and insipid. I take a look around the room. My eyes rest on the wooden desk in front of me. Piles upon piles of documents are stacked on top of each other. I read through them. I see my name at the top of one. They’re about me. I read on.
PATIENT SHOWS SIGNS OF SLIGHT DISORIENTATION. UNFOCUSSED, FREQUENTLY FORGETS CURRENT SITUATION. SCHEDULED FOR MORE APPOINTMENTS, WILL RECORD PROGRESS THROUGHOUT THE COURSE OF THE WEEKS.
Strange. I look to the other pieces of paper.
PATIENT IS STILL DISORIENTED, DOES NOT RESPOND WHEN CALLED. EXPRESSIONLESS. MINIMAL SPEECH.
PATIENT CANNOT RECALL BASIC FACTS ABOUT SELF, DOES NOT KNOW CURRENT SITUATION HE IS IN. SEEMS WARY OF OTHER PEOPLE. RECLUSIVE.
DELUSIONAL. CALLS OTHERS BY MADE-UP NAMES. IS UNSURE OF OWN IDENTITY. HALLUCINATIONS OF INTRUDERS. PILLS PRESCRIBED.
PATIENT HAS REFUSED TO TAKE PILLS. FREQUENT MOOD SWINGS. CLAIMS THAT HE IS BEING HUNTED DOWN BY “IT”, AN IMAGINARY BEING WITH CHAINS. ENJOYS VIOLENT ACTIVITY. TALKS ABOUT SUICIDE.
PATIENT MUMBLES INCOHERENT WORDS. REACTS VIOLENTLY WHEN INTERRUPTED. ATTEMPTED ESCAPE. INJURED SEVERAL PEOPLE. HE MUST BE RESTRAINED.
DIAGNOSIS: PATIENT IS SCHIZOPHRENIC – LEVEL: DANGEROUS
I pull away from the desk. My head is spinning. I’m confused. Can I even trust myself? My inner voices become real, and they taunt me, tell me to get out. I’m not the person I know anymore. I don’t think I ever really knew myself before. I look at the chains and think, I’ve done this to myself. I look up to the mirror hanging on the wall, and my heart nearly stops. My reflection doesn’t look like the me I know. It hisses back at me, but this time in despair. The story is clear. I am my own victim. I am the beast.
Written by O. Mukhtar O. Mukhlis
26th October 2018