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Insanity by Cameron Jace

Chapter 3

Copyright©by Cameron Jace

December 27 2018

Underground Ward, the Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum, Oxford

“Tell me I'm going to be all right,” I say to my flower. She doesn't reply. She doesn't nod or flap her petals, or think I am another huge moving flower myself. Good signs. I'm not hallucinating. This is real. I am actually escaping the asylum.
When I am back in the hallway, the patients are screaming my name on both sides. They are pounding on the bars of their cells, trying to stick out their heads.
“Alice. Alice. Alice!” they shout, and clap their hands. They are enthusiastic. I could be the first ever to escape the asylum. But they're ruining my plan at the same time, by making all this noise. The emergency siren blares all of a sudden. The guards definitely heard the shouts.
“Get out of here. Prove to them Wonderland exists,” a patient in striped pajamas and bunny slippers wails. No wonder she believes in Wonderland. Dr. Tom Truckle told me once that I had great influence on patients, telling them about Wonderland. I don't remember any of that.
“Don't go out, Alice,” a woman, holding a pillow as if it were her cat, pleads. “I think the world outside is even crazier than in here.”
I keep on running.
The asylum is turning into a madhouse. I hear the heavy footsteps of the guards approaching. All I can think of is hiding in the bathroom. I hate bathrooms because they have mirrors, but I have no other choice.
Another patient reaches between the bars and grabs me by my gown. He pulls me closer to the bars. He is unlike the rest. He doesn't believe escaping is possible. He has bad teeth, and smells of turtle soup. “Where do you think you're going, Alice?” he whispers in my ear. “You're insane. You belong here.”
“Let go of me.” I hit him with my elbow and run to the bathroom.
Inside, I shield my eyes with my hands as I dash into one of the stalls, avoiding the mirror. I sit on the stool, holding my pot tight to my chest. Those damn lunatics messed up my plan.
Breathe, Alice. Breathe.
I tap my feet on the floor, contemplating my next move. Then I hear someone singing outside my stall. It's a familiar voice. It has this unexplainably sinister mockery in it. I hate it, but I can't stop it:
When she was good, she was very, very good.
And when she was bad, she was horrid.
“Shut up.” I cup my ears with my hands. “I'm not insane.” I know the voice comes from the mirror. That's why mirrors scare me. But in order to leave the bathroom, I will have to face it. With a drumming heart, I pull the stall's door open. What I see in the mirror paralyzes me, like always. There is a man-sized rabbit inside the mirror. It's white, with floppy pink ears. I can't see its features because its white hair is dangling down in its face. It taps a pocket watch with its fingers, still singing the nursery rhyme. This time it alters a few words:
When she was good, she was very, very good.
And when she was mad, she was Alice.”
“Tell me I am going to be all right,” I plead to my Tiger Lily.
“You're not all right,” the flower says. “You're insane, Alice. Insane!” It spreads its petals and spits in my face. I am hallucinating again.
The guards bang into the bathroom, and one of them buzzes me with his prod. I shiver and drop the pot, losing my Tiger Lily to the wet floor. When I glance back at the mirror, the rabbit is gone. They will throw me back into my claustrophobic room and probably send me to shock therapy.
As the guards pull me back down the hallway, the turtle-smelling patient sticks his head closer to the bars, shouting at me. “You're not sane, Alice!” He laughs and grabs the bars. “You're not. We're all mad here!”

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