Ana De Almeida Amaral
It had been two weeks since she had woken up in the musty grey room, with no idea of where she was or any memory of how she got there. Ava soon became accustomed to the unchanging routine in this strange place. She ate at the same time, everyday. She took the small blue pills at the same time, everyday. Dirty, grey floors surrounded her. Dim yellow lights flickered in silence, only broken by a chilling scream that filled the empty hallway.
She was a prisoner in this place, confined in a small, locked room. With an uncomfortable bed that, although layered with thin, grim blankets, abused her back each night. The washed out hue and the stale smell revealed that she was not the first inhabitant of this cot. Ava spent her hours alone in this place. The only time she was released from her quarters was when she went to see the doctor.
“When do you see the shadows?” asked the calm doctor, dressed in a sweater vest with square glasses resting on his face.
“He's here.” Ava said with a blank, still face. Long, black, knotted hair covered her eyes.
“Who is here, Ava?”
“He is. Don’t keep me here please!” Ava crumpled the end of her papery hospital gown.
“You are safe here, Ava. We are only trying to help you. We-”
“No, you don't understand!” Ava intervened, followed with loud sobs. She walked back to her quarters in a daze, and quickly fell asleep by the high dosage of medication.
Ava woke up in a cold sweat, her heart pounding. Images of a dark, tall figure reaching out at her flashed through her head. She sat on her bed under the yellow lights, flinching at every sound.
Ava stayed in the same spot until morning. She got up to brush her teeth when she felt cold wind crawl across her neck- it wasn’t the first time. Feeling like someone was coming after her or watching her from behind at every waking moment was normal. A slow creaking noise came from under the spongy mattress. Her shoulders tensed as she slowly pivoted around. Nothing was out of the ordinary, the same sheets sprawled across the bed. The same grey walls stared at her.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw it. The black figure flashed across her room. She froze, fear paralyzed her. Unable to move a muscle, Ava held her breath.
A loud bang echoed as the door to her quarter was unlocked. She sat on her bed facing the door. She had been awaiting the sound, it was ordinarily very punctual, but this time it came thirteen minutes later than usual. The silence that followed worried Ava. Every hair on her neck stood up as she slowly lifted her head.
A lady in ridiculous floral scrubs came in holding a cup of water. She looked straight into her eyes. The nurse stood before Ava but she knew it wasn’t truly her. Someone- something else was inside her. A chill crawled down Avas spine, spreading throughout her body. Fear overcame her. Her chest burned as she tried to move away.
¨No! No! Please, no!¨ Ava screamed out louder than ever before.
Suddenly the nurse blinked and the creature that was keeping her vanished. The black shadow escaped her. A smile slid across the nurse's face.
“Time for your medication.”
Ava gasped for breath.
“We’ll see you tomorrow Ava,” said the nurse in a monotoned voice.
The meeting with the doctor was especially excruciating today. Dr. Brown had been beating Ava about the dreams she had been having. The dreams were always different, with her running away or bleeding. But every night she saw the same black figure. It was almost like a tall man, but with hideously long, skinny fingers and awfully sharp claws. Ava knew that there was no way she could tell the doctor the truth; he wouldn't believe her.
At that moment, Ava knew exactly where she was, exactly why she was here. The doctors, the nurses, everyone, they all thought she was crazy. That is why she was in this prison. She was in an asylum. Maybe she was crazy, maybe they were right. But the beast in the nurse, it was real, there was no way she could have been imagining it. And the dreams, they had to mean something. Ava knew, she couldn’t stay. She was in danger.
Ava walked into her room and sat on her bed, in her normal spot. It was there again: the sinking feeling in her chest. Her hands feeling incredibly weak. The hairs on her neck stood up. She slowly looked around the room. Everything was in its spot except for one thing, a new crack in her mirror.
She approached it, slowly studying it. What could it be from? She got closer to the mirror until she saw it. Within the darkness under the bed, there was the slightest hint of movement. Ava didn’t dare to move.
She kept her eyes on the unknown darkness beneath the rusty bed frame. A pain in her chest increased, burning, stabbing, as if her heart was being torn out. Her lungs collapsed all the air away. Ava fell to the floor, wrestling with the pain inside. Her nails scratched along the dark concrete. She fell silent as her vision slowly became spotted. Suddenly, two dark hands slowly extended from the darkness under the bed frame. The rough hands caressed her ankle, long sharp claws pierced her leg.