Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Peril's Beginnings

Some of you might remember that SWC post featuring Peril's younger years in an asylum.,

I wrote this three years ago. I almost want to roll my eyes at it. Or edit it, but there isn't time for that.  Anyhow, some friends and I had challenged each other to write a piece that began with "The asylum would never be his home." Or something like that. But in a way, this is a continuation of that SWC post/story. You know, how some authors write the prequel after they've written the series?

Here's to all you who like Peril. 

     The asylum was never her home. She turned somersaults down the dim hallway as she heard two staffers whisper that she truly belonged here. It didn’t matter how many times they said it.  But they were determined to think her mad. So let them. They’d never suspect what she had planned.

     She passed a guard placed in front of the medical storeroom. She stopped and looked back.The man was unblinking. She turned to stand before him. She waved her hands in his face, jumped up and down, even stuck her tongue out. But the guard stood expressionless. 

     Being born on the run, she had no birth certificate. According to the government she didn’t exist. Some staffers took it so far as to only acknowledge her presence when necessary. 

     She kicked the guard in the shin and took off. 

     “Get back here, you weasel!” the guard yelled. 

     His footsteps echoed through the windowless hall. A nurse, heading in the opposite direction, pushed a food cart. 


     She shoved the cart, and kept running. Dishes clattered. 

     While she rounded the corner and peeled back the ventilation cover that she had loosened earlier that morning, she heard the guard and nurse collide.

     “Catch that kid,” the guard sputtered. 

     After they left, she climbed out and strolled to the storeroom. She punched the code into the keyboard. She had learned a lot by just watching and listening, including what drugs were used to sedate out-of-control patients. She spotted the open bottle of orlin on the messy shelves. But where was the cosmay? She pushed back a box of syringes. There it was. The stuff they used on her. She had once overheard two staffers talking about an accident. When the two drugs were mixed they counteracted each other’s unconscious effects and both became useless. The cosmay was about a fourth full, so she filled it halfway with the orlin. She replaced everything and slipped out unnoticed.

     She aimed the knife. Drew it back, and threw it. The thack of the knife penetrating wood resounded in the small gathering of trees at the edge of the asylum. She looked to Joedin. The old man nodded. Her roommate's hands were in socks and bound at the wrists. Joedin’s hands were free only when he was in his room without a staffer’s presence. Maybe if she existed, the government might care if a ten year old girl was roomed with an old man in an asylum for insane criminals. Luckly, Joedin was only a threat to her when he was angry. He had a nasty habit of throwing things, preferably sharp things, which he always managed to find. At first she avoided him, like everyone else. He was criminal and insane. When he found her handling one of his knives, she’d thought he’d be angry. But instead, he taught her what he knew and proved somewhat of a friend.

     She wondered if she would miss him.

     The wind whistled through the trees. “Did you hear that?” Joedin asked.

     She pulled the crude-cut metal from the tree trunk.

     “The mems are talking,” he said. “I hear them in the wind.”

     She didn’t answer. She never did. It helped convince the staffers that she was as crazy as they suspected.

     “Mems always talk in the wind,” Joedin muttered. The wind gusted stronger. He shuddered and hunched in his coat.

    She dropped the knife and buttoned his coat. She had been here half her life and had just recently made the connection that Joedin’s ‘mems’ were all in his head.

     “Them’s close,” he said low. Only one thing could put fear in his eyes.

     Though she knew he didn’t shiver from the cold, she tiptoed to turn up his collar anyways. The ice wind encircled its fingers around her neck. She had little idea what it was like out there. The coming winter would make it harder. But at least she wouldn’t be in here. Having to pretend all the time.

     “I’m going inside,” Joedin said.

     She picked the knife off the hard, bare ground.

     “You staying?”

     She threw the knife. It stuck in the trunk, but not where she wanted it.

     “Be careful,” Joedin said as he left.

     She retrieved the knife. The woods became quiet again. It always seemed so loud in the asylum. Even if no one said anything. Like the people’s pasts spoke for them through their presence alone.
     She focused on the notch in the tree trunk. She had to get this right at least once today. Normally she did better. Too nervous, maybe.

     Focus now. The knife. The notch.

     She threw it. The satisfying thack filled the trees.


     But what if when the time came excellence melted to sloppy awkwardness? She wanted this to be smooth- and clean. She needed it to be. If she messed up, she’d never leave. She might even deserve to be here.

     She ran her fingers through the long side of her hair. She reached around to feel if the other side had grown since she cut it off last month. Just another fake antic of mindlessness. But she had to know if it was true, and she couldn’t here.

     A crow cried out, eerie and almost sad. The sun sank slowly beneath the trees.

     It was time.

A scream pierced the twilight silence of the asylum cemetery. This time it had actually come from herself. Five years of not a sound had made her wonder if she could do it.

     She shrieked again and shoved her weight against a headstone.

     Hopefully the staffers would come for her. She kicked a monument and pushed another with all her might. Of course, it wouldn’t move. She screamed but ended it like an anguished wail.

     They had to come. They couldn’t just leave her out here shrieking all night.

     There was movement at the bottom of the hill. She dropped to her knees and tore at the ground. Another cry split the air. It still didn’t seem like her own.

     When the staffers finally came into sight, she had already cleared the ground of dead grass and was scooping dirt away.

     “Thirty-two, what are you doing?” Mrs. Parker’s voice almost sounded scared.

     Mr. Kam was with Parker. Good.The two most superstitious of the staffers. She continued digging at the grave.

     “Thirty-two, stop that,” Kam said.

     It was always Number Thirty-two. Not only did she lack a birth certificate, but also an official name. A little detail Daddy overlooked.

     “It’s time to go inside,” Parker said more gently.

     She curled her lip at them and resumed digging.

     Parker grabbed her shoulder. “Enough!”

     She threw a handful of dirt at them. Parker’s grip tightened.

     “Get her other arm.”

     She screamed.

     Kam shook her. “You stop that.”

     They tried to lift her, but she refused to stand.

     “Just drag her,” Kam said.

     They pulled her arms and her feet trailed behind her. But once they reached the misshapen, cobbled path at the bottom of the hill, she stood and pulled back. Somehow they had anticipated it though and hauled her along with her heels dug in before her.

     The air had grown darker. The headstones jumbled as indistinguishable shadows and shapes. Except one.

     Her dad’s. He was the reason she was here.

     She ran ahead of the staffers and spat on his gravestone. The most cunning villain ever thought to live had lost his sanity after his wife died.

     “Cut that out!” Kam jerked her back.

     She growled at him.

     “Did you just. . .”

     She grinned as wickedly as she thought she could, and bit his arm.

     Kam released her. “The witch just bit me!”

     Yes, dear mother’s influence.

     She swung her free arm at Parker, clawing for the staffer’s face. Parker dodged her nails and spun her around so the staffer could pin her arms to her side. 
     But all she knew about ‘dear mother’ came from crazy dad. . . or the rest of the world. The most wonderful woman ever. Or sorceress of Shamdram.

     “Get the sedative,” Parker said.

     Kam ran to the asylum.

     She squirmed and stomped on Parker’s feet a dozen times, but the staffer was used to worse behavior. When they reached the asylum gate, Kam returned with a syringe. But it wasn’t what he thought. Kam stuck the needle under her skin. She let her body go limp and her eyes roll back. Parker had to catch her from falling.

     The rusty gate creaked. The grass tickled her bare feet as they dragged her, out of the asylum, into the open. Toward the isolation cages.

     “Have one for you,” Kam said to the guard who would be at the controls.

     “I was kinda hoping she wouldn’t have to come back,” the man said.

     “She was the one screaming a minute ago.”


     She felt the cold cement as they laid her on her stomach.

     “She’s unmanageable,” Parker said.

     The staffers departed. She heard the grind of the bars rising from the ground. The buzz of electricity enlivening the metal poles.

     She waited, then finally cracked an eye. The guard had his back turned, as normal. She felt for her knife. Smooth and clean, then straight for the forest. Cautiously she lifted her head, then the knife. Right through the bars.

     The guard stepped in front of the controls just when she was about to let the knife fly.
     No! Move, man! Before someone saw her. Move.

     The man dropped something. He sidestepped and bent over.

     Now. The knife sailed through the bars and buried itself into the control panel, right on the ‘off’ button.


     She turned toward the woods and jumped the bars as they slowly descended into the ground. The guard called for help. His footfalls were heavy behind her. She kept her eyes on the shadowy trees and the pop of the controls grew fainter. The man’s  puffing disappeared as trees enveloped her. 
     She had never done anything to deserve living in the asylum. Her parents’ crimes had put her there. The government thought that it all would be- what was that big word the staffers used? Hereditary? The insanity, the sorcery, the criminal mind. She had acted nuts most of her life so she could leave this place. Now she could finally find out if it was true.

     She fingered her hair. She wished she had something to cut it to equal lengths.

     Who was she?

Switchfoot(I Dare You To Move):



  1. Amazing, I love her fierce determination to escape. Her acting crazy, so that she could escape, it's awesome. I loved all of it basically, it also broke my heart. Poor Peril, 'A little detail Daddy overlooked.' Wow, just wow.
    I also love how you wrote it, the style, and the quickness of it. I felt like I was experiencing this with her.

    1. Thank you so much! I know. Peril always breaks my heart. She's kind of bitter. And I promised her to make it better in the end, but she doesn't make that easy. *cries*

      Thank you! I'm glad the writing wasn't too bad. XD I think I wrote this around when I was really beginning to develop my style.

  2. OOOOhhh! Atmosphere! I love the little details: her hair, her roommate, the lack of birth certificate. Her father was a villain?! Tell me more!


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