March 28, 2020

The Institution

The anguished screams of the committed lashed out over the dull drone of the ventilation fans, only to become entwined with the muted murmurs of the currently sane. The entire cacophony washed over Rebecca like a violent wave causing her to shiver with dread. God, she hated this place.

At three in the morning King’s Peak Psychiatric Institution or as its patients referred to it, the Institution, resembled nothing so much as a fetid corpse teeming with disease and decay. The dilapidated building creaked from the strain of suppressing the irrational behaviour of its tenants, while the flickering lights did little to illuminate the dark recesses of their crumbling minds. The handful of nurses, orderlies and security guards still on duty skulked in the hallways in the faint hope of escaping the hospital unscathed by their experience. For Rebecca, the morning couldn’t come fast enough.

The groan of the elevator doors opening tore Rebecca from her exhausted stupor, reminding her that she was only halfway through the night. Peering into the cavernous interior, she was startled by the inhospitable voice of the elevator’s lone occupant.

“Dr. Brandt?”

“Dr. McFaul,” she replied “wonderful evening.”

“My, such banality at this hour Dr. Brandt, I can hardly contain my enthusiasm. However, perhaps we might discuss your failure to turn in Mr. Giroday’s assessment?”

Rebecca slipped past his gnarled and decrepit form to stand in the corner of the elevator. Self-righteous and bombastic, Dr. Charles McFaul was a depraved and wretched man who lacked any sense of compassion. His penchant for sarcasm and sadism led many to speculate that he was the devil incarnate, placed on earth for the sole purpose of tormenting the other psychiatrists of the Institution.

“Well?” The word dripped from his lips like acid.

“Do we need to do this right now Charles?”

“I’m so sorry Dr. Brandt. Rather insensitive of me to ask such questions during working hours. Shall I wait until your shift is over to discuss this further?”

“That won’t be necessary Charles. I just came from leaving the assessment in your office.”

“Indeed. How fortunate. Are we prepared to have him committed then?”

“I haven’t formed any conclusions yet Charles, I’ve only had one session with him.”

“Surely Dr. Brandt, even you can see that Mr. Giroday suffers from NPD with strong violent tendencies. Is there any doubt that he should be institutionalized?”

“That might be a bit premature Charles. Appearances can be deceiving.”

“Perhaps. It’s been my experience, however, that diagnosing psychotics doesn’t require much scrutiny. Good day, Dr. Brandt.”

Not bothering to wait for her reply, he abandoned the conversation and the elevator with the same abruptness with which he had started.

Silently seething as she watched him vanish down the hall, Rebecca considered, once again, the insanity of working for such a loathsome character. Venting her anger by madly hitting the 4th-floor button, she considered screaming at the intractable machine for its refusal to stir. Just as its doors began the arduous task of shutting, someone called out: “Hold the elevator.”

Tensing at the sound of the disembodied voice and in no mood to ride with someone else, Rebecca frantically pounded the buttons trying to get the cursed machine to move faster, to no avail. Out of the gloom, a pudgy hand wedged itself between the doors causing them to reverse direction with a begrudging screech.

“Didn’t you hear me calling?”

Standing in the hallway eyeing her sternly was Martin Klepper, one of the Institution’s security guards and all round pain in the ass.

A very early attempt to write suspense. It is overwritten with poor character motivation…

Joseph

“You could’ve lost your hand” she replied.

“The doors have a safety mechanism to stop them from crushing someone.” Looking over his shoulder he called out “pick up the pace Carver, this ain’t no vacation.”

“Maybe you should wait for the elevator to come back I’m only going down to the 4th floor.”

Leering lasciviously at her, Klepper replied, “don’t worry sweetheart, Carver won’t be performing any of his usual tricks, if you take my meaning.”

“It’s Dr. Brandt, Mr. Klepper, and I was not referring to Mr. Carver’s disposition. Either get on or get off the elevator. You decide.”

Ignoring her tone, Klepper continued yelling, “let’s go Carver. Stop dragging your ass.”

Hobbled by leg irons, Edmund Laurence Carver shuffled into the elevator. “You will have to excuse Officer Klepper, his lack of courtesy is second only to his propensity to think with his head rather than his brain.”

“Shut your yammering Carver. Need I remind you what happened during our last discussion?”

“While my recollection is hazy Officer Klepper, I don’t believe there was much discussion. I do recall, however, that you earned some ‘holiday’ time afterwards, isn’t that right?”

Twisting like a rattlesnake, Klepper drove his hand into Carver’s head, knocking the chained man down. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Stepping over Carver, Klepper reached out to push the 1st floor button. “Excuse me Doc.”

Rebecca considered helping Carver up but restrained herself. The man was a psycho. Not a clinical diagnosis to be sure but not far off the mark. Instead she pressed herself into the corner, hoping to avoid any further conversation.

“Get your ass off the floor Carver.” Klepper reached down and hauled the patient roughly to his feet. “Can’t you see you’re frightening the little lady?”

“Naturally Officer Klepper, your shrewd assessment confuses abhorrence for fright. To your eye, no doubt, the good Dr. Brandt is struggling to resist your charms.”

In a fit of rage, Klepper smashed Carver against the wall, kneed him in the stomach and pummeled him with his fists. Overtaken by the vicious attack, Carver curled up on the floor to shield himself from the blows.  As she watched Klepper deliver his savage beating, the elevator started to lurch, and then plunged them all into darkness.

Suspended precariously in the dark with a psychopath and his sadistic jailor, Rebecca prayed for the elevator to stir back to life.

“Goddamn Carver, you’re one lucky son of a bitch. Here you are trapped and bleeding with a licensed doctor to tend to your wounds. What’d ya say Doc, think he’ll live?”

From the ominous tone in his voice, Rebecca knew her nightmare was just beginning.

“Let’s just everyone stay calm, Mr. Klepper.”

“Geez Doc, under the circumstances, I think it’d be okay if you call me Martin. Don’t you.” His words came with a hard edge that left no uncertainty as to what was implied.

“Please Martin, don’t do this.”

“Ah Doc, give me a chance. I am no superhero but you can count on me to hold you close and protect you until help arrives.”

His words came as a raspy whisper as he pressed himself against her.

To be continued…

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