Insanity by Cameron Jace
Copyright©by Cameron Jace
December 27 2018
ENTRANCE, THE RADCLIFFE LUNATIC ASYLUM
A black limousine halted abruptly before the Radcliffe Asylum's entrance. The recklessness of its driver alerted security at the main gate. They held their guns and squinted against the framed windows of the unusually long limo. A series of uninterrupted laughter crackled from the inside, while the Beatles were playing somewhere in the back. The passengers sang “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” except that in their version, it was “Alice.”
A chauffeur got out and hurried to open the door for his partying passengers in the back. He was so devoted to his job that he hadn't even noticed the security guards with their guns aimed at the limousine. The chauffeur was short. He wore a tuxedo that was too long as if he'd borrowed it. His face was funny in the strangest ways. It was full of freckles, scattered around a small and pointy nose. A chortle almost escaped one of the security guards upon noticing the chauffeur's thin mustache. It looked more like a rat's whiskers.
The chauffeur cleared his throat, adjusted his necktie, and bent over as he opened the passenger door. Many girls were laughing from inside.
A huge amount of smoke blew into the faces of the guards upon opening the door. It was as if someone had trapped a cloud inside the limo and now it was floating out onto them, like a blob from one of the old scary movies. It was gray, thick, and smelled funny. The guards got a little dizzy.
“Suspicious activity at the main gate,” one of the guards radioed. “Probably tear gas by an intruder. Need backup.”
The rest of the guards stood paralyzed inside the big circle of gasses and waited until it began clearing away. The girls never stopped laughing and cheering for a moment. A few of the guards began coughing, though. The first thing the guards saw when the gasses subsided was a girl's leg stepping out of the limousine. It was a slender leg with a tattoo of a caterpillar on it. For guards who'd been handling insane people all their lives, drooling was the least they could do.
Girl after girl got out of the limousine. They wore the tightest outfits, the longest boots, and the shortest skirts. They were either coughing or giggling. Some of them did both. Most of them were so happy that the guards in the back couldn't help but giggle back. Some of the girls smoked rolled cigars, smiling with kaleidoscope eyes.
It was like a prelude to madness, where the highly respected gangster was about to show up last.
Finally, a short leg showed from the car, followed by the egg-shaped head of a man with a pipe tucked between his full lips. The man's fedora slipped over his eyes as he got out with a hookah in his hand. When he coughed, he vanished like a magician behind spirals of thick smoke. When the smoke cleared, the guards saw he wore a tuxedo with light cream horizontal stripes. His hands were covered in white gloves. His fedora had two spikes that were shaped like mushrooms. Although a bit funny looking from afar, the man had an eerie presence that filled the heart with worry and anxiety. The guards straightened up and aimed at him. They knew the man. It was Pillar the Killer.
Nudging his hat up, the Pillar looked at them with beady eyes. He looked easily content with himself, tremendously annoyed by the presence of others.
“T-turn around. Hands on y-y-your h-head!” one of the guards demanded, his anxiety showing in his scattered syllables.
The Pillar, with a hookah in one hand and a pipe in his mouth, looked puzzled. It seemed as if he didn't know what to do with them while surrendering to the asylum's guards. It looked as if someone had awakened him from a drowsy tangerine dream.
“I said turn around. Hands on your head, Professor Pillar,” the guard repeated. “You're a fugitive of the Radcliffe Asylum. If you don't comply, I will shoot.” It didn't look like the guard was going to shoot. He was bluffing and scared of the Pillar.
“I was out shopping,” the Pillar said. “Needed a purge valve for my hooka-a-a-ah.” Smoke spiraled from his mouth, hitting the guard in the face. The guard sank to his knees from the power of the smoke, and Pillar lowered his head, squinting behind the smoke. “May I ask: whoo are yooh?”
Unlike Alice's cell, this one was almost as big as a luxurious single room in a five-star hotel. The walls were the color of ripe mushrooms, with all kinds of vintage portraits hung on them. They were mostly portraits of plants and flowers, and they made the room look like a forest. The furniture was modern, mostly curvy, with dominant motifs of green and cream colors. It had a refrigerator, a widescreen TV, and a writing desk the color of ravens. Books were piled up in one corner with a couple of tobacco packs on top. A Cuban cigar, a pipe, and dried mushrooms were scattered on the couch. Two lamp stands, shaped like bending roses and violets, added a sincere, cozy light onto the big creamy couch in the middle, all facing the bars overlooking the hallway where Dr. Tom Truckle stood. A blue hookah stood right before the couch, threads of smoke still spiraling in the air.
There was one thing slightly wrong with Professor Pillar's cell. The professor wasn't there.
“This is a joke, right?” Dr. Truckle growled at the wardens and nurses, who were rarely allowed to leave the underground ward—today was an exception, due to the Pillar's disappearance.
The staff lowered their heads, afraid to meet Dr. Truckle's intimidating eyes. Truckle had fired employees for much lesser issues than an escaping patient in the past. The asylum's reputation meant everything to him.
“I think—” a recently hired nurse began.
“You think?” Truckle grimaced. “You don't get to think in my asylum. I'll tell you what I think: you're fired.”
Immediately, Ogier took her by the arm and showed her out.
“I don't even know how he does it, Dr. Truckle,” Waltraud Wagner said slowly. She'd always been among Dr. Truckle's favorites. “The cell is still locked from the outside. There is no sign of breaking out. And he is the one and only patient in the ward.”
“Professor Carter Pillar is one of the world's most dangerous psychopaths.” Dr. Truckle faced his staff. “He used to teach philosophy at Oxford University, until something happened to him and compromised his sanity.” Truckle's eyes widened under his glasses when he pronounced the word “sanity.” His thinning blonde hair almost prickled, sending goose bumps to his staff's arms. “Pillar the Killer killed twelve innocent people afterward. The fact that he tricked the court by pleading insanity does not deter from the other fact: that he is a cold-blooded serial killer disguising as an insane man.” Truckle enjoyed the fear he saw in his staff's eyes. He'd always liked being feared. Otherwise, he felt he'd fail in controlling the asylum. “The Pillar might fool you with his charms, hypnotizing eyes, and nonsensical sarcasm. But if you think his stay here is for treatment, then you're on the verge of insanity yourself. The asylum is more of a prison for him. He's doing time here because neither Interpol nor the FBI could convict him. We're supposed to keep him locked here, to protect the world outside from him.” He knuckled his fingers as if preparing to punch somebody. “So can anyone explain to me how he managed to escape for the third time this month?” he screamed at the top of his lungs, his veins protruding from his neck like hot hookah hoses. Most of the staff swallowed hard. There was a saying in the asylum: that the only one madder than a hatter was the Truckle.
“With all due respect, Dr. Truckle,” Waltraud said, “I think we should finally inform the authorities.”
“You know I can't do that, nurse Waltraud.” Truckle gritted his teeth. “We're all going to lose our jobs instantly if we tell them that the man they asked us to simply lock away is gone. Besides, everyone is head over heels looking for this Cheshire Cat killer right now. Knowing the Pillar escaped will worsen things for everyone.”
“What really puzzles me, Dr. Truckle, is why Professor Carter Pillar always returns from his escape,” Waltraud said. “I mean, we never report his escape and yet he still returns to his cell, as if it's a walk in the park.”
Truckle's face reddened as he stared back at the empty cell. “He's mocking us, Waltraud.” He tucked his hands in his pockets and was about to pull out one of the pills his psychiatrist prescribed him. He didn't want to expose himself in front of his staff. If they knew their boss needed help just like any other madman in the asylum, it'd be the end of his career. “He is bloody mocking us, and I am dying to know what he has on his mind,” he said, crushing the pill into powder with his fingers. He didn't mind leaving it in the bottom of his pockets. He had a lot of pills, as he took four to six a day to calm down.
“Maybe he really is mad,” Ogier moved from behind. No one even paid attention to him. “Or why would he always come back?”
“I think it's that Alice in Under Ground book he always keeps with him,” Waltraud suggested, pointing at the book that lay on the couch. “I heard he started killing after reading it.”
Silence invaded the room, as everyone wondered where Professor Carter Pillar was at the moment.
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