XVIII | Someone Leaves

I’ve only run
100 metres

from the asylum gates

but I’m already

out of breath.

Must be because
I haven’t been


for many years.


I need to catch

my breath.

I can’t breathe.

I need to stop.

I can’t feel my legs anymore.

I veer off
the natural forest path

where the branches
send jolts of pain

up my heels.


I’m in the forest.

I’m free.

But everything is burning.

I turn my head.
I shouldn’t have.

The white figures are coming.

I see them

bursting out the front doors of the asylum
towards the tall iron gate

coming towards me
with ease.


Is there any point
in telling you now

how I got here?

There isn’t much to it really.




One night,

I waited for Tammie to leave,
then opened my door

to watch for Mason
and his nurses.

When I heard

their footsteps,

I ran screaming
into their arms,

babbling anxiously,

about cockroaches.

They checked my room,
found nothing

and tucked me back in bed

with soothing words.

I pretended
to be soothed

and closed my eyes.

Then I waited (again)

for them to leave,
rubbing the edges
of my card to freedom.

I did it!

It was easier
than expected.

and watching,

biding my time

paid off.


It was a simple matter after that

to tap the card
on the card reader

and step into the dark space

just beyond
the door to the asylum.

As soon as I took

the first step,

an alarm began to blare.

My use of this door
was not part of the asylum’s usual operations.

I thought

something like this
might happen

but not this soon.


I burst out
into what’s usually the medicine room,


the windowless


then, ran for the door.

Into a familiar corridor,
into a lift.


I couldn’t tell you

because I was

you’d tell on me.

Ever since I
entered the asylum,

I’ve been retracing
this route

in my mind,

over and over,
hoping for this day.

I always do that.

The lift went up
(instead of down),

and I ran along another corridor

similar to the one before,

except this one had rows of doors
lining one side.

At the end of this corridor,
there’s another lift—

going down.

When I’d almost reached it,
some of the doors burst open

and the white ghosts

rushed at me.

The lift doors closed
like in a horror movie,

shutting them out

as they ran with expressionless eyes
their fingers pointing,
their voices calling

my name.



another empty room,

a foyer,
with windows,

nothing else.

I tapped the card

one more time,
above my head on the doorpost,

and the front doors of the mansion



I heard the chime of the lift,
it reached the upper floor.

I was sprinting to the gate,

my throat sore from breathing so hard,
my chest about to burst

with my first real emotion in a long time.

I tapped the card

against the gatepost
and slipped through the gap

as soon as it was wide enough

for me.




Now I’m running

through the forest surrounding the asylum,
branches slowing me down,

tall burly figures
(they’re close enough to make out now)

closing in on me.

I had a head start,

but they run like children during NAPFA,

like they’ve practised this
many times before.

I run anyway,

one hand digging into the edges
of the nurse’s access card,

the other,
clutching my backup plan,

a pen

full of





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