Adult content. Copyrighted material.
The brick exterior of the massive asylum building towered over Vic as he slipped around its contours. He peered into some of the windows as he made his way to the place were the Day Room was on his map. Moonlight shone into the large windows and gave Vic a clear view of each room’s contents. Cheap, broken furniture lay scattered beneath ornate windows and graceful high ceilings. Sweeping oak staircases hovered over checkerboard tile floors warped from water damage.
Vic was overcome by how the decay, erosion, and splendor, all mixed into each other. He also wondered about the total senselessness in erecting enormous buildings and then finally abandoning them altogether. Letting them stand and rot, unwanted and forgotten; while the former residents were put out into the street to fend for them selves, as mentally ill people still are, in many cases. If the ‘system’ was wrong, why couldn’t anybody fix it? Vic shuttered from a chill. The wind blew from the East. Vic knew it was bad weather wind. He hoped any rain would come down later in the night, when he was finished with what he had to do.
The directions on the map lead him to the door that entered the Day Room. The doorway was a tangle of vines. Vic used his pocketknife to cut through the mass before he could open the door. Stepping into the ramshackle building, he felt the crunch of debris under his shoes. He was worried about the beam of his flashlight being seen from the outside, so he wrapped his handkerchief around it to dim the light.
The enormous room was a jumble of peeling paint, shattered glass, and littered objects. A large ornate arched window lay at the far end, but tracing the way to it was a set of cheap florescent light fixtures from the 1960’s. Vic glanced at Trudy’s map and tried to figure out where the Main Hall was. Finally, he found the interior passageway. It was lined with doors and had very few windows, so he could remove his handkerchief from his flashlight and let the beam shine brighter.
Vic’s intended destination was Dr. Max Woodruff’s office. He wanted answers that could only be found in Dr. Max’s files. Maybe he could find copies of the pictures that were in the file box that he had found in Ralph’s trunk, and later lost. With that evidence in hand, he could go to the police and put an end to Doctor Woodruff and Nurse Witenganz’s unethical experiment.
Walking through the Main Hall, Vic wondered how long it would take him to find the right room. There must have been more than a dozen doors along the hall. Most of the rooms were tiny. Were they used for treatments, isolation, or counseling? Vic couldn’t tell. Some doors were partially open and Vic peered into them for just a few seconds. Many of the small rooms held strange equipment and Vic could only guess what the machines were used for. One room held some kind of apparatus with electronic switches and cables running from it. There was a gauge in the shape of an arc, the danger zone marked in red. A table with arm and leg restraints was nearby. Vic guessed that this was the electro-shock room. He stared at the sweat stained leather restraint straps.
At that moment, a creak came from outside the door in the hall. Turning the flashlight off, he stood in the darkness for a few seconds. Thoughts of the three zombies he had encountered the first night he was at Brightbrook came to his mind. Vic’s heart was beating at a rapid pace. He listened and waited. No other sounds came, so slowly he walked back out into the hall and looked around carefully. Another creak came. It was the wind blowing through a broken window pane disturbing the door of another room.
Relieved, Vic progressed down the hall. He saw a door that had the sign ARCHIVES on it. He turned the door knob and cringed at the loud creak it made when he opened it. The room was filled with large, dust covered medical reference books. He stepped into the room and surveyed the shelves that were sagging under the weight of the massive volumes. Wiping the dust off of some of the bindings, he read the long ponderous titles with words like anatomy and psychiatry, blended in the mix. He flipped through pages of a few books sitting on a large table. The musty smell forced him to close the outdated volumes with crumbling pages.
Taking notice of a peculiar set of framed objects on the wall, he moved closer to get a better look. Vic was stunned when he realized they were human brains, thinly sliced and pickled in some preserving solution. He removed one of the framed brain sections from the wall and studied the gray form. Each frame gave a patient’s number, the mental illness they suffered from and, a brief description of what caused their demise. The typewriter imprinted card on the frame he was holding gave an account of patient #303’s slow and painful death. Having some medical knowledge in the Marines as a medic, his eyes scanned the card. Stroke… contractures… sepsis… gangrene… death. Seeing the words contractures, sepsis, and gangrene indicated to Vic that the patient suffered a long, painful, and avoidable death. Basically, a stroke patient was left unattended in a bed, in their own filth, for long periods until their demise finally came.
He stared out the window as the impending storm tossed the tree branches. The moonlight defined the tree branches blowing around outside the window. The shadowy black shapes danced around the floor of the room and around him. Vic was absorbed with the terrifying thought that an absurd end such as this could happen to anyone, including Carter. Unexpectedly, the frame slipped from his grip and crashed to the floor. Within seconds, the smell of formaldehyde filled the room. Afraid that the noise had attracted someone’s attention, Vic swiftly left the archives and crouched behind a desk in the Main Hall. Minutes ticked by, but no one came. With a sigh of relief, he got up slowly and went to the open door of the archives room. The brain section of the anonymous mental patient lay on the floor. It glistened in the moonlight from the window as the shadows of the tree branches moved around it, and seemed to stroke it. Vic wiped the sweat off his hands and slowly closed the creaky door. His heart was pounding in his chest.