Ella Parker awoke to the rattling of the moving vehicle. The twisted path of the road throws her around like a rag doll. She looks around at her surroundings only to find herself covered in the dull darkness of night. The only light she can see is the occasional flash of light through the small window above her. She can only assume it's coming from street lights as they drive by. She shivers against the cold metal floor of the vehicle, and pulls herself up into a sitting position. In an attempt to further her exploration of the small space something stops her abruptly. Metal shackles bind her hands and legs to the floor, making it almost impossible to stand or move.
Where am I? Oh God, how did I get here?
Crazy thoughts dance around her head as she tries to remember what happened before she woke up, but the only thing she can remember is the slamming sound of her door after a fight with her mother. Every moment after that is a hazy blur locked in an unbreakable safe.
“Hello?” She quietly croaks out. Her throat is sore and dry from the stale air. It reminds her of the pain in her throat after a day at an amusement park. It reminds her of screaming...
After a moment or two of no response, Ella calls out once again.
“Hello? Can anyone hear me? Please. Someone please tell me what is going on.” Her pleas become more urgent, as the continuous silence echoes through her ears. She is alone. As the car continues its drive down the twisty dirt road, Ella eventually loses track of time. What once felt like quick adrenaline filled minutes turns into slow painful hours. When the vehicle finally comes to its abrupt stop, Ella would do anything to escape her cold, metal prison cell. It is only when Ella hears the heavy footsteps walking towards the door that she regrets her previous thoughts. Her heart hammers and a bead of sweat drips from her forehead. There is nothing she can use to defend herself, there is no way to escape. She is trapped.
The large metal door opens to reveal an older man, with a crooked smile. His identity, hidden by the bleached lab coat and the glaring blindness from his glasses makes Ella uneasy.
“Welcome Miss Parker.” He says. Upon closer inspection Ella can see that where his eyes should be are black emotionless holes.
“Where...Where am I?” She asks timidly.
“Well my dear, you have just arrived at Beldon. The asylum for the mentally insane. I’m Doctor Roberts” His tone is cheery and confident. It makes Ella’s stomach churn.
“Asylum? But..But I’m not crazy.” She says.
“The typical answer for those who are crazy. Trust me.” He smiles, and turns to his left. “Bring her inside, and place her in her cell. We have a lot of work to do.” The doctor disappears, and then suddenly a dark figure appears in the doorway in his place. Like the doctor, his eyes are black empty craters in his head. Ella stares with fear as the figure unlocks her shackles from the floor. She can walk now, but not fast because her limbs are still bound together.
“Move. Now.” The man orders, as he pushes her towards the large mansion in front of her. The windows are dark, and barred. The man notices the fearful, but interested look on Ella’s face. “They are barred to keep people out, and the crazies in.” He explains. Ella shudders at his words.
“I am not crazy…” She spits.
“Tell that to the one who sent you here.” He forcefully pushes her up the steps to the large door with many locks.
“Who? Who sent me here?” She asks, but the man does not answer. He continues to stare straight ahead as the locks begin to click open. Doctor Roberts opens the door, and smiles.
“Come on in my dear.” He welcomes Ella in with a bow, and places a hand on the small of her back. He sharply turns to his comrade and whispers something in his ear. Ella can't tell what he says, but the quiet chuckle of the doctor sends shivers down her spine. “Come along my dear.” He leads her into a room with two chairs facing each other. Between the two chairs is a table with a tea set on it. Ella stares at the tea set and its familiarity, but she can't quite place where she had seen it before. In the far back corner of the room there is a cott and a desk. On the other side of the room there are two doors. One leading to the facilities, and the other a closet.
“Welcome to your new home Miss Parker. I hope you find this comfortable.” He smiles again, and leads her towards the chairs. Forcefully he pushes her into one, and she watches as he takes the seat in front of her. “Alright my dear let’s get started. We have a lot of work to do.”
“And what exactly is that? If I may ask.” She peers at him as he pours himself some tea.
“Why, curing you of course. Trust me.” He says confidently.
“But there is nothing wrong with me.” She refutes. “This has to be a mistake. I'm fine.”
“Oh really” He laughs. “You may think that, but that doesn't mean you are.”
“Who sent me here?”
“Many many questions you have. How about I ask a few now?” Ella stays silent. “Oh! I almost forgot my manners. Would you like some tea? It's quite delicious. Trust me. Old family secret.” The Doctor picks up the teapot, and swiftly pours the brown liquid in the cup. He hands it to Ella, and she nods grabbing the warm cup between her hands.
“Uh, thank you.” She lifts the drink towards her mouth, but the rancid smell of raw iron and dirt stops her abruptly. Her eyes slowly move from the Doctor to the cup. What once was brown tea is now deep red blood almost pooling over the top of the tea cup. She quickly drops the cup sending it shattering across the floor. Warm blood pools at her feet, and she lifts her angry gaze back towards the doctor who seems to be unaffected by the incident that just occurred.
“What a shame. A perfectly good cup of tea gone to waste.” He shakes his head.
“It wasn't tea! It was blood! Look!” She looks down, and her eyes goes wide. There is no longer blood splattered across the floor, it is the brown tea liquid from before. “Wait. No. It was blood. It was…I swear.” She continues to stare at the floor baffled.
“Look Miss Parker, I do not appreciate you disrespecting my kindness. I am here to make you better, and you go around telling lies. You should be ashamed.”
“But-” she tries to explain but he quickly interrupts her.
“I don't want to hear it. I will return when you are ready to be truthful about your condition.” He stands, and quickly walks towards the door.
“I'm not crazy!” Ella yells as the doctor quickly slams the door. “I'm not crazy…” She says again quietly. She isn't trying to prove it to him anymore. She is trying to reassure herself. A tear falls from her eye, as silence once again falls upon her.
It was blood. I swear.
After a few minutes alone Ella stands and replaces her tea stained shoes with new ones from the closet. Flashbacks of the blood filled tea cup fill her head. It had seemed so real. The red color. The thick consistency. The putrid iron smell. It had to be real.
An unlocking sound comes from the doorway, and knocks Ella out of her trance. She walks slowly walks towards the door to inspect the sound.
“Hello? Who’s there-” She is cut off by the quick whoosh sound of a small window opening. She jumps back startled, as a silver tray is pushed through the tiny opening. On the tray is a glass of water, a note, and a plate of pills… She timidly bends down and grabs the folded note.
The pills will help. I suggest you take them if you want to feel better. They will work. Trust me. -The Doctor.
Ella scowls at the note, and she throws it to the ground in annoyance. All of a sudden a strange feeling comes over her. Her hands begin to shake, and an invisible force drives her hands towards the pills. She struggles to fight the urges, but she no longer has control of herself. She quickly picks up the tiny gray pills, and the glass of water.
Don't take them. What are you doing? Stop. What is going on?
Ella takes the pills and some water, and throws her head back to swallow. The pills catch in her throat and she coughs, but they eventually go down. After the invisible force is released Ella falls to her knees. Her hands continue to shake, and her mind swirls.
What the hell was that?
She looks up to the see the small window open again. Another small note is pushed through the small opening. She slowly picks up the new folded note, and reads the passage in front of her.
Well done Miss Parker. I promise you that these pills will guarantee your better health. They will help you see the problems inside you. Best of luck. You’ll need it. Trust me. -The Doctor.
Confusion fills Ella’s mind. What could the Doctor possibly have meant by “Best of luck. You’ll need it. Trust me” The thoughts make her sick to the stomach.
Ella shivered at the words. That twisted man had trapped, and drugged her. What else could he possibly throw at her? All of a sudden a ferocious pain takes over Ella’s head. She screams in pain, and she grips her head so tight her fingers throb.
“Make it stop!” She yells. “Make it stop!” Tears fall from her eyes as she falls on her back in pain. After what feels like an eternity, the pain finally disperses, but a pounding sensation is left in the back of her head.
“Worthless.” Voices echo in the back of her mind.
“What? Who’s there?” She sits up and looks around the room, but no one can be seen. She stands, and walks towards the mirror on the wall. A dark shadow looms behind her wrapping its hands around her neck. She turns but the shadow is nowhere to be seen. She brings her gaze back to the mirror where the shadow still looms.
“Waste of space.” The voices echo again. “You’ll never be anything. You’re not good enough.
“How could he possibly ever like you? You’re disgusting. You’re annoying.” The voices overlap in her mind like an orchestra of hateful words. They surround her. “You’ll never succeed. Just give up. Girls like you don't go anywhere.”
“No...This isn’t real. This isn't real!” She screams gripping her head once more.
“You might as well not care. You have to push them away. They don't care about you. They never did. They are only pretending. Nobody likes you. How do you expect anyone to even love you?”
“Stop you’re lying!” Ella screams.
“You’re ugly. Have you looked in a mirror lately?” The voice laughs. “Never mind. It's probably to painful even for yourself. You should hate yourself. You shouldn't want to be you. Who would want to be you.”
“Shut up!” Ella covers her ears, but the sounds don't soften. In fact, they become louder.
“There isn't anything special about you. Not one thing. You’ll die one day, and no one will care. No one will remember you.”
“Shut up…” She says quietly. “Shut up...Shut up. Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” She screams louder than she has ever screamed. She picks up the teapot, and throws it with all her might at the mirror. Both the teapot and the mirror shatter leaving pieces of glass all over the floor. Her broken reflection stares back at her, tears streaming down her face.
“Well done.” The doctor’s voice booms behind her. Ella quickly turns to face him.
“What the hell did you do to me?” She can barely whisper.
“I did nothing Ella. I simply showed you what you keep choosing to ignore.” He smiles.
“I’m not crazy.” Her voice shakes. “I’ve heard those things before. People say them to me.”
“No Ella. They don’t. You do.”
“What...What are you talking about?”
“Your shadow follows you. It lies to you. It is you. It is your mind Ella.” He laughs. “These are the things you believe to be true about yourself. Things you feel like no one has the guts to really tell you.”
“You’re lying. That doesn't happen.”
“Oh but it does Ella, but the first step it to admit it.”
“No! I’m not crazy.” She argues.
“Admit it!” He yells getting angry for the first time. His gaze locks to hers, and the room begins to shake.
“What is going on?” She asks. The room continues to shake furiously, and blood begins to spill from the walls. “Make it stop!”
“Admit it!” He screams again. Ella falls to her knees, and tears stream from her eyes.
“I'm crazy! I’m crazy! I’m worthless! I hate myself! I deserve to die!” She screams losing her sanity. “Okay? Are you happy? I admit it! I'm crazy!”
“Well done Miss Parker.” The doctor's smile returns, but it is no longer kind. It is malicious. The room stops shaking. The only sounds are blood dripping, and the cries from Ella.
“Who...Who the hell sent me here?” She asks bringing her gaze back to the doctor’s. The disturbed man throws his head back in laughter.The smell of blood burns her nostrils, and her stomach clenches.
“Why you did Ella. You did.” He continues laughing, and the world begins to spin. Ella locks her eyes tightly closed.
“Ella! What are you doing!” Ella’s mom rushes through her bedroom door to the horrific sight in front of her. “Ella! Baby! Please answer me!” Ella slowly looks down to see the knife in her hand.
“I’m crazy mom. I'm crazy, and worthless. Nobody loves me.” Ella’s mom rips the knife from her daughter's hand, and holds Ella’s body tight against hers.
“No baby you’re not.” Tears stream from both of their eyes. “You’re brain is lying to you baby. It’s lying to you I swear. I’m so sorry. I'm so so sorry.” Ella’s mom kisses the top of her head, and they both sit there in silence rocking back and forth.
“I'm sorry mom.”
“It's okay baby. We’re gonna get you some help. I promise...I promise. Trust me.” Ella looks up to the mirror sitting next to her bed, and sitting there looming above her with hands around her neck is her smiling shadow. Like always.
We will get you some help.