“Bullshit!” Zayne exclaimed, rolling himself in to a tight ball almost as soon as the expletive had left his lips and whispering his protests of forgiveness from the god that he worshipped. And I almost felt sorry for the peculiar little prison that Zayne found himself within here. A prison within a prison it seemed. A voice that demanded to be heard from somewhere deep within him and one part of his mind that continually resisted it. And let the voice be heard old Zayney-poo I reckoned. Let the voice be heard and be done with it once and for all.
“Sorry, sorry Mandy.” Zayne said, shaking his head from left to right and his eyes that were wide with regret and recrimination as though his mouth and his words continued to betray him and the god that he prayed to.
“No need to apologise to that psycho-bitch.” Eminem piped up, so that I turned to him and noticed the cruel smile that had lifted upon the boy’s lips as he turned his face from Zayne and studied me. Those cool eyes of Eminem’s and the anger that boiled away behind them so that sometimes I wondered whether he held his own goblin, back there within his skull.
Eminem’s pulse that was quickening against his neck so that the skeletal tattoo that was inked against his skin appeared to throb and have been animated back to life somehow. The boy’s dark eyes still studying mine. Challenging me it seemed. “Mandy’s a fruitcake and full of shit. Everyone knows that.” Eminem said and his fingers that had balled into fists as he studied me. The muscles that bulged against his arms where he’d cut the sleeves away from the white overalls.
I lowered my gaze briefly to the metal clasps that encircled my ankles and the steel chains that imprisoned me. I tugged against the coiled metal rope a little with my left foot to see whether it might give a little. So that I could free myself of these chains and lunge towards Eminem and rip him limb from limb. And Eminem sensed the danger and backed away a little from me.
“See.” He said, motioning to my chains and then turning his face from one child in the courtyard to the others.
“She’s a nutcase. A killer! That’s why she’s chained up like a dog in here.” He snapped, turning to me and lifting his feeble hands before him into fists. “I wouldn’t believe a god damned thing the psycho bitch says!”
“Leave Mandy alone.” Rag ‘n’ Bone piped up, flakes of pastry creasing from the corners of his mouth where he gorged upon a fifth donut he had brought with him outside. The chubby boy turned his face from Eminem and peered out across the courtyard towards where I remained seated alone upon a bench on the opposite side of the square to the other children that were gathered. A sheen of sweat to his cheeks as though they were ripe grapes and ready to burst. The crumbs that were falling from the corners of her mouth. “I believe what you saw Mandy?” He said and nodding his fat head up and down towards me as he spoke. His lips that were like slugs and his cheeks that looked as though they were made of dough and bulging with spiders. And I loved the boy at that moment, I realised. I loved him more than I had ever loved a boy before, I reckoned.
“Yeah, I’ve been down that corridor with that witch too……..” Bieber said, that wild anxious look that seemed to be permanently ironed to his face so that his eyes danced from left to right as he studied each corner of the courtyard. The crumbling red brick walls that reared up on every side of us and were topped with shards of broken glass. “……. ..and I’m telling you there’s something off with Deadwood Hospital.” He said. “It’s true. I’ve heard things in the night. Howling and shit. And I saw something creeping about on the roof and I reckoned it might have been ……”
And at that point Bieber suddenly stopped his ramblings and craned his neck so that he peered up towards the ocean blue sky that hung above us. His eyes that narrowed a little as his gaze fixed upon the silver fuselage of a jet liner that was streaming across the sky and a white plume of clouds that churned out from behind the plane.
“………………heh!” Bieber called, waving his arms towards the sky and clapping his hands together urgently. “…heh, help, up there.” He screamed towards the jet liner so that his words echoed about the confines of the courtyard and carrying over the walls to where the endless bank of trees leaned in.
I turned away from Bieber so that my gaze fell upon Taylor where she remained seated on a bench on the other side of the courtyard and I noticed how she continued to claw again and again at the electronic tag that remained shackled against her ankle. The blood beginning to stream from the wound where Taylor scratched away at her skin. Her gaze that lifted briefly towards me as though she had realised I was studying her and so I shook my head and pursed my lips together.
“Stop it”!” I hissed, noticing how the blood was beginning to flow with some urgency across Taylor’s ankle and over the metal clasp.
Taylor shook her head and smiled in response.
“I can’t.” She said. “I like it.”
Bieber still calling out towards the jet liner overhead as though the pilot up there would be able to hear a god damned thing the nutcase below was shouting up. And even if the pilot could see us. And even if a passenger happened to peer out of their cabin and look down towards the distant hospital down below at the centre of the woods and see five children jumping about down there and pleading to be rescued, I’m pretty sure that they would surely take us all for the bunch of loonies that we were.
“Heh…..Up there.” Bieber called out, shouting up as the jet plane flew by. Bieber clapping his hands together so that the muscles rippled a little against his arms where he had pulled the sleeves against his overalls. The boy’s skin that was tanned and his face that was handsome and his hair that was silky black and his lips that were full. And a strange heat that itched against the insides of my legs so that I had to cross them for a while. An image that popped into my head from who knew where of me laying in the same bed as Bieber and my arms wrapped against him and my lips against his cheek and the smell of him against my nose.
“They can’t hear you up there, dip shit!” Eminem called out to Bieber, a cruel smile that lifted his lips to reveal his teeth that were crooked and broken in places. “You fucking loon.” He said.
“Don’t swear! It’s very rude.” Ariana called out.
I turned to where she had settled herself upon the edges of the courtyard where small tufts of wizened grass had sprouted through the cracks of concrete. The smiling faces of a dozen daisy’s that were lifting their faces towards the sun. To the side of Ariana, she had arranged a posy of flowers and had been quietly lacing them together to form a daisy chain that she held between her fingers. She brought the flowers up and over her head so that the flowers hung beneath her chin and across the white overalls that she wore. And my heart almost breaking at the sight of the sweet girl with flowers around her neck.
And so, I made my mind up there and then, that Ariana would be the last of them to die in here.
Eminem turned his face from Bieber and scowled in the direction of Ariana and a rage upon his face that coloured the skin pink.
“Shut the fuck up!” Eminem hissed in the direction of the girl where she had proceeded to lean a little to her left and gather another bunch of daisies from the floor. Slowly she began to split the little green storks and lattice them together.
“Don’t tell her to shut up!” Zayne chipped in, lifting himself from the tight little ball of recrimination he had curled himself towards and now peering towards Eminem.
“Or what?” Eminem sneered, turning his attention from Ariana and shifting his fearsome gaze upon the Asian boy that had made the comment. “You going to shut me up?” Eminem spat, bringing his hands together in to tight balls of anger and the muscles in his arms that rippled and twitched.
And Zayne pulling at his clothes and tugging at his hair and squirming on the bench where he had remained sitting quietly until then. The sense that a demon was residing within the boy and trying to break free.
“I’ll kill you,” Zayne screamed, the spittle and the venom that was leaking from the corners of his lips. “I’ll fucking kill you Brandon!” He screamed.
And who the heck was Brandon anyway, because everyone knew the little nick names I had given them in here. And who was Zayne to start using his own made up names for these bunch of loonies.
Bieber still waving and clapping and protesting towards the distant jet and the white plumes of smoke that carried out behind it that seemed to split the sky in two. Taylor leaning into her sides and scratching at her ankle so that the blood ran thick. Ariana plaiting her daisy chains again and again. Rag ‘n’ Bone stuffing his face with donuts. Eminem cursing and cussing and clenching his fists.
And just look at the five of us I thought, just look at the five of us.
Locked up in here like the bunch of Loonies that we were and proving Sister Dixon and those gorilla guards right. And Sister Dixon with her twisted words and the syrup and spoon full of sugar that she administered every bedtime and every morning. And here we were carrying on like a bunch of dumb loonies and proving them all right I thought.
“Shut up!” I screamed at the top of my voice so that the world seemed to pause briefly. The distant sound of birdsong became silent as the five of them turned towards me and calmed their racing minds for a moment. My chest that was lifting and falling urgently beneath my chin as though I were gulping on air that was as thick as chicken broth. A ringing in my ears and a buzzing through my head. The distant sound of laughter that could be heard rattling through my brain. But to heck with the goblin’s voice for now because I wasn’t listening, I wasn’t listening anymore.
“I’m telling you what I saw!” I said, the words that stung like poison against my tongue and the bile that lifted from my gut. The memory of the creature I had seen briefly on the other side of the window and its gaze that had fallen upon mine. And the memory of the vision I had seen and my Mummy’s throat that was cut from ear to ear. The sense that we were lost in here. That we had to get out of. That we had to get out of this place.
The five of them still studying me as I turned my face from left to right and studied them each in turn. And I realised, for the first time it seemed to me, that they were just kids, like me. A bunch of scrawny teenagers the lot of them.
“I know what I saw!” I said, the silence of the courtyard so that my words rattled against the red brick walls that enclosed us on every side. My gaze lifting to the highest reaches of the wall and the shards of broken glass that was set against the concrete so that it appeared as though we had all of us been swallowed by Paul Atreides’s worm. The CCTV camera’s that were flashing in either corner of the courtyard and studying our every move. Listening to our every word I thought.
“It’s not right in here!” I said, the words stinging against my throat and the five of them studying me and their eyes wide. “There’s something not right about Deadwood Hospital!” I said, turning my face from the others briefly and studying the red brick walls all about us. The shards of glass that ran along the top. The trees that leaned in towards us on the other side. The walls on the other side of the courtyard that were punctured with portico windows and grilled with iron bars. The thought of what dark creatures might reside within those cells and hidden from the world. “It’s not safe!” I said.
The five other children studying me and my words hanging on the air.
“No shit sherlock!” Zayne said.
And the five of us turned to Zayne and the boy’s face all crumpled up as though he were ready to reprimand himself and begin his cursing once more. But he couldn’t, because before he had time to curl himself into another tight little ball and plead forgiveness for his sins, he was distracted by the five of us falling to the floor and laughing until the tears began to run freely from our eyes.
“No shit sherlock” Eminem said, repeating Zayne’s exclamation and the laughter rolling from his great barrel chest. “I’m with you there man, we’re shacked up in a fricking nut house with the nurse from hell.” He said, and the others rolling to their sides and laughing. And before I could help myself, I found myself chortling a little too and the laughter beginning to bubble up within my belly and the chains that were fastened to my wrists and my ankles began to shake.
“Yeah, no shit Sherlock!” Rag ‘n’ Bone repeated, and the whole of our curious little group in fits of laughter that rolled across us like warm waters. Rag ‘n’ Bone still talking. “Like, with the guards and their batons and the shackles and the drugs and the wacko’s in here, I reckon you might be right about that Mandy. It’s not too safe in Deadwood Hospital is it!” he said.
And it was all I could do to hold the laughter down then, so that I fell to my knees and howled with laughter like the others, so that the tears began to sprout from the corners of my eyes and an image of my old friends that was revealed behind the salty water. Their faces flickering and dancing behind the ripples. Lucy and Adam and Ben. And the memory of the night of our little sleepover all those months before. And my three friends were dead now. And I was locked up like a caged animal within the walls of Deadwood Psychiatric Hospital.
“Be quiet!” A voice suddenly called out. A man’s voice. And the voice was deep and abrupt and filled with menace.
The five of us turned around towards the sound of the man’s voice and the guard that had roused himself from his bench and newspaper in the corner of the courtyard where he had been watching us the whole time. A curious looking handgun that was held against his hand and pointed towards our little group. Sparks of electricity that danced across the wires that were lashed against the top of the gun that he held before him. His finger that was pressing gently against the trigger.
“You’ll stir the others!” He said, the gun still lifted out before him and pointing in the direction of our little group. The guard’s eyes that were flicking nervously from one grilled window to the next and the darkness that resided beyond the bars.