Chris is having the worst day ever. Not only did his girlfriend dump him but when he went for therapy to get over it he unknowingly signed himself into the mental ward, and now they won't let him out. In fact, they won't let him do anything. The staff seem crazier than the patients, and Chris is forced to rise up from his depression and lead the other patients in a battle against the system. The stakes are high and the war is for survival and sanity.
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Silently, Chris stands up. He is shell shocked by his surroundings. He doesn’t know what to make of it. Hearing the wheelchair move behind him, he realizes that David is leaving and the handle-less doors are about to close. He spins around quickly. “Wait!” he calls out, but the orderly doesn’t stop. He backs out of the room, and the doors close slowly in front of him with a soft clicking sound.
“You must be Chris baby,” the black woman behind the counter says to him.
“I think there’s been some kind of mistake,” he says nervously. The words almost get caught in his chest. He has to force them out. The woman walks out from behind the counter and smiles at him.
“Why do you say that baby?”
“I’m not supposed to be here,” is all he can think to say.
“Well sure you are sweetie. They called up here and told us. You signed the paper right?”
Chris swallows hard. He finds himself shaking, and breathing in short quick bursts. “The doctor downstairs…he said…he told me…I was staying the night so I could talk to someone. He couldn’t make me an appointment…not for weeks…I’ve been….he said…what is going on?”
“Alright honey. It’s alright,” she says rubbing his back. He can smell the lotion on her hands. It’s Cucumber Melon. He loves that stuff, but it doesn’t calm him down any.
“Please tell me what’s going on,” he says, tears rising in his eyes again.
“The doctor will be over to talk to you in just a minute baby.”
“Oh really?” he says, catching his breath. “Then I don’t have to stay here tonight. I can call my aunt and go home.”
The big woman smiles at him, but it’s not an ordinary smile. It’s the kind of smile you make when you’re watching something pitiful trying to succeed, like a wounded animal limping up a hill or something. He doesn’t like it. He wants to tell her not to look at him like that but for the first time in his life, the wise ass has been taken out of him. The English language seems foreign all of the sudden.
A woman, dressed similar to the doctor he saw downstairs, minus the pens in her pocket, approaches him. “Hi Chris. How are you?” she says.
He just looks at her, baffled. He can’t grasp how she already knows his name. He’s sure the answer is simple but it seems beyond his comprehension right now.
“If you’ll come with me, I’ve got a few things to talk to you about, and then we’ll get you all set up, okay?” Set up? Set up for what?
She rubs his right arm gently and then turns and walks towards the cafeteria looking room, expecting him to follow. He walks behind her, but his eyes move around the room again. To the left of the cafeteria looking room is a door he couldn’t see before. It leads to a room with a big color television on a stand. There is a group of people inside, dressed like him, watching intently.
To his right, a hallway goes down past the front of the big white counter/desk. It is lined with closed doors. One door is open but Chris can’t see inside of it from this angle. A security guard sits on a wooden chair just outside the room. Chris notices everyone looking at him now. It makes him feel uncomfortable. He feels lost, like he’s wandered into a strange village after his plane crashed on an unknown island.
He watches the doctor unlock the door in front of him and reach in to flick on a light. She enters and ushers him into the room behind her. Once he’s in, she shuts the door, and takes a seat at one of the tables. “Please sit down Chris,” she says.
He does as he’s asked and looks at her with wide eyes. “Tell me what’s going on here?” he says. The words seem to just come from his mouth. He didn’t even know he was going to say them. They never entered his mind first like most things he says. They just came out.
“We’re here to help you,” she says with a smile.
“When I first got here, minutes seemed like hours, time dragged on and lasted forever, and now I’ve been here over a week and it all blurs together. Hours seem like minutes and days seem like hours. I just go through the motions. How did it get to be like this? All the medication they give us…you know? The only thing that stands out in my mind is on Wednesday when my brother showed up by my aunt’s request to supply me with quarters. I haven’t called anyone. Who am I gonna call? I don’t know what’s real anymore. The only way I know it’s light or dark is by the change in staff. The only reason I don’t wanna die, is because I feel like I’m already dead.”