Chapter 1 - Asher

Some in this place call these walls a prison. Some call them a haven from the outside world. Some can’t even see the walls for they are too shut into their own mind that the walls cease to exist. For me though I call this place home, a fish bowl of life where I can sit and watch the best and worst this world has to offer. I watch them. Observe them. And document their stories in my journals. Call me the David Attenborough of life in an Asylum. Actually I quite like that, has a better ring to it then Asher Petterson. I can actually hear David doing the voice over for my chronicles. That’s what I call them, these journals, my chronicles. It has been just over 2 years since I first came here. I barely can remember what life was like outside or remember why I am here; the meds ensure that. I tried not to take them once. My god the headaches that followed and still no clearer thoughts of the past. I couldn’t even tell you my diagnosis exactly except it had something to do with my anti-social skills. I find that hard to believe as I am quite social. Just ask any of the other guests here. I say hello and goodbye and ask how their day was. But I need my own space and so I decided to withdraw for a while and concentrate on my work, on my chronicles. That was until today at group.

The room was large, far too large for such a small group. It felt hollow, like most of the people sitting in the circle. Double glazed windows lined one side of the room giving an insight to the world beyond the walls. A large maple tree was the centre piece of the courtyard the windows gave view of. Our ward was situated on the second floor of the east wing. The west wing was barely visible which suited me fine. That was a part of this community of crazy I never wish to write about in my work. If these walls could talk I wonder if their tales would push a sane man over the edge to insanity. They seemed as though aged blank pages to me, a toned white with paint peeling like the small tears in a book. On these walls stories are written in invisible ink. If given the chance I don’t think even I would have the courage to read them.

Doctor Lopes sat across from me, he was closest to the door. His bodyguard, or assistant as he introduces them to his right near the only doorway that lead into the room. I once asked him why he was the closest to the door.

“Is it because you want to be the first out in case of a riot?” I questioned, interested in his response. He simply smiled closing his dark brown eyes obviously preparing for his response. He showed the palm of his hands gesturing before he spoke, his palms a slightly less Olive complexion to skin on his forearm. He always spoke with his hands.

“No Asher, it is so that I can focus the group. You all always seem to stare at the door, so if I sit there maybe you may focus on me and what we are trying gain in these sessions.” His Spanish accent was still there though it had faded in the time that he had been here. He smiled. I smiled. Topic of discussion had ended.

He was flicking through his notes as the last of the residents had entered. They all took their seat. There was one still empty. Someone would be in trouble. These sessions are required. At least 2 group sessions per week was the requirement on this wing. I scanned the room, all the usual suspects were here. It must be someone new. Then she entered the room. Her head was bowed slightly, long blonde hair flowed down her shoulders, the fringe tucked behind her ear keeping the strands from falling into her eyes. She wasn’t new. The rest of the room occupants didn’t pay much attention to her, they were too lost in their own world or wishing that there were anywhere here but here. I knew who exactly who she was. This session just got a whole lot more interesting.

Her name was Clara. Her reputation had somewhat preceded her, well for those of us who pay attention anyways. She arrived earlier in the week from one of the other wings. One of the less hospitable wings within this medicated community. I had to admit she was gorgeous. She would have been in late teens, probably 18 years old give or take a year. She walked into the room, her escort followed her before turning to the left and waited by the left side of the door. He was more well-built than the doctor’s assistant yet still dressed head to toe in white. White pants. White shoes. White shirt. The only difference between them was silver handcuffs that dangled from his belt, mostly hidden by his overhanging shirt but I could see it. The bulge in his side pocket could only be one thing, a sedative injection. The guy was a obviously ‘special’ assistant, which was code for the a correctional officer. These guys were usually assigned one of two types is patients. Ones who were constantly acting out in violently, they were very rarely allowed on this wing. They were kept under lock and key on the second floor of the west wing. The other type was for those who had committed violent acts in the outside world and had been convicted to serve some or all of the sentence in rehabilitation. I had only ever seen them on this ward if the patient had shown good behavior and were being considered for release into the general population of the facility. IE my ward.

“Welcome Clara, glad you could join us” The doctor welcomed her, gesturing to the empty seat near. She paused looking at him, her eyes darted briefly behind her to her ‘Special Assistant’ then back at the doctor. Strands of her golden hair swept from their position behind her ear brushing her face. She didn’t bother to return them to their place. As she took her seat she looked up, her crystal blue eyes caught my gaze, she held it for moment. It was if they were calling out to me. What was mere seconds felt like minutes before they darted to the doctor as he stood up.

“Everyone, can I have your attention please” Some of the group turned their attention towards his voice. I wasn’t one of them. “We have a new member in the group today. Clara” This time everyone turned to the new girl. My attention was already there. For the first time since starting my chronicles, I actually felt as though they had gotten this one wrong. I had seen so many people in halls of this place, all of them had something, their diagnosis in most cases fitted them like a well-tailored suit and with time they either got a new tailor and left this place or they joined the ranks of the forsaken and remained here. Clara’s suit was three sizes too big and falling off the shoulders. Even her very appearance portrayed an innocence not seen in this place. Her skin had a luxurious cream tone to it, even in the standard residency issued clothing she didn’t belong here. I’m not saying she didn’t have her own demons but I found it hard to come to grips with the idea that she murdered her parents.