Note: A tale in honor of A, the successor who never was. After all, everyone knows and loves the ingenious/quirky L, and many know of crazy BB as well. But there's nothin' on A. And according to the Another Note novel, A did exist at one point -- so I shall elaborate on that existence right here.
This is Pre-Wammy's House stuff; it's a prequel for my next story, which will involve all three of the earliest Wammy House generation: L, A, and BB. Also, special thanks to my encouraging beta readers: Kit-Pocket, fireyred, and EllieF! :D
"A Letter Left Unsung"
Chapter 1: Tragic Comedy
The tragic comedy divine
Paints the way to peace of mind,
Leaving shallow lovers far behind.
Past uncertainties combine,
Bringing tears to sleepless eyes.
Memory runs the course of time.
Blood runs cold beyond the violet prison, for violent visions.
And so the broken record plays, as you throw us away.
- Violet, The Birthday Massacre
But it's to be expected, isn't it? In a place where unstable men are locked in the vicinity of unstable women, something's bound to happen. Yet I will say no more of the matter; I know little of what happened, and I don't care to know more than I do. In essence, the contributions of one unstable man and one unstable woman brought forth the offspring of one baby daughter.
Thus, I was born into a psychiatric hospital. An insane asylum.
The administration chose to keep the embarrassing mishap (me) on a low-profile basis, deciding that the best thing to do would be to place me in the juvenile ward and camouflage me among the other children. If one were to consult my file in the hospital records, it would state that I was afflicted by some bizarre neurological disorder, and that was why I was kept here.
As it turned out, I was the only patient with a totally unimpaired mental state. Somehow, I was the single sane element in an unstable chemical equation. Not only that, but my mental capacity far exceeded the expectations of -- no -- exceeded the minds of the psychologists themselves.
But these things meant little, because in the end, I was simply a patient among many other patients. A single grain of sand on the beach.
So Seemingly Inconsequential
Few events of remarkable worth had occurred until this point. I woke up every morning and went about my routine of day-to-day proceedings, expecting nothing out of the ordinary, for there was never any occasion to expect anything. And if something ever did happen, it was never enough to interrupt nor interfere with my flow of daily routine: wake self, clean self, feed self, read to self, and tuck self into bed.
One day, something happened.
It was so small, so seemingly inconsequential, I hardly even noticed at first.
The asylum was a classic Kirkbridge (1) design, carefully preserved since the late 1800's. The juvenile ward was a more recent addition to the property, constructed as a separate entity behind the main building. A short walk across some lawn was all it took to travel from the juvenile ward to the main institution. I was five years old at the time, and I just happened to be strolling along in that relatively small space between the buildings when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed some small object wedged in a patch of grass. It was a mere coin. Casually, I walked over, picked up the dime, and pocketed it. And that was the end of that.
Little did I know, this chance occurrence was to be the kickoff in a chain reaction of events, which would lead up to the single most significant thing in my life.
"625000! Where are you, child?!"
625000. That was the number imprinted on the steel bracelet strapped across my left wrist. All inmates bore one such accessory. These numbers and these bracelets, they were our identities, as well as the markers which linked us irreversibly to this asylum. Names lost meaning here.
Sitting on the windowsill of my dorm, I drew back the curtains and revealed myself. Mr. Seymour Ruvie (2), the head administrator, had just taken the liberty of barging into my room. For what reason, I knew not. I only became painfully aware of the fact that my door did not contain a lock, and, thus, this little intrusion was likely to happen again many times in my life -- much to my chagrin.
"It's the second Sunday of the month. Time for check-ups."
"I don't need check-ups, sir, because I don't need treatment. You said so yourself -- 'you're a waste of time,' you said to me. Remember?"
"Don't you sass me, child! Get up and go to the main building!" He slammed the door.
I pursed my lips and grumbled about the unfairness of it all. I never asked for anything except to be left alone, and he didn't even have the decency to give me that. Ruvie was just so utterly unreasonable. I schemed, secretly, to stick a spider in his morning coffee on some convenient occasion.
Nevertheless, after ten minutes of stalking around the juvenile ward (being excessively slow would spite the old man, I thought), I exited the building and made my way across that familiar stretch of lawn. There was a nice little cobblestone path from one exit to the other, and along the edges of the walk were rows of cheerful blossoms: geraniums, marigolds, chrysanthemums, and other such gaudy decorations. I, however, was more interested in the dainty weeds that grew beyond the path and out among the blades of grass. I particularly favored the soft white ones, the dandelions with the flyaway seeds.
It was here, once again, that something caught my eye.
Something old and brass, I could tell. I marched over and retrieved the item. It looked like a small wind-up key, like something that would be found on the back of a child's toy. I turned it over in my hands, and then dropped it out of disinterest.
I was about to resume walking when an idea struck me. I took the wind-up key in one hand and used the other hand to clear a small area of grass. Brushing the soil flat, I made a little happy face in the dirt with the key, then stuck the key itself in the middle of the face, like a nose. I smiled at my whimsical drawing -- then frowned, because logic told me that I had just done a stupid and pointless thing. Plus, the face was drawn all oblong and ugly.
I clapped the dirt off my hands and proceeded toward the main building without further distraction.
"Ah, hello dear," Dr. Taylor greeted. Then he leaned in and whispered, "And how are you today, my little Amy?"
It wasn't proper protocol for the hospital staff to address patients by their names. However, Dr. Taylor was a strange one; he wouldn't deign to call someone by a number, if he knew their name. Ironically, the only name he knew was mine. This is because, five years ago, he was the teenage apprentice to the doctor who delivered me from my mother. She was a schizophrenic poet, he once informed me, and she had wanted to name me after a legendary flower of Greek myth.
"I'm not little. I'm almost six years old."
The young doctor smiled and patted me amiably on the head -- condescendingly, I thought. I swatted at his hand irritably.
"Right, right. You're getting so big now. So, Miss Amaranthine, what brings you here?"
I pouted. Stop mocking me, you.
"Isn't today check-up day? Mr. Ruvie said so."
"Ah, check-ups are on the second Sundays of each month, dear."
"...Isn't that today?"
"Today is Thursday."
A pox on you, old man.
Walking back to the juvenile ward, along the cobblestone path, I wondered briefly if Mr. Ruvie had finally gone senile. Well, at least now I could go back to my room and continue reading on the windowsill in peace.
It was then that I heard the distant thud of a window closing shut. Turning around, I scanned the many rows of windows lining the back wall of the institution and saw nothing of interest. However, dropping my gaze, I watched a paper of some sort flutter slowly toward the ground. I made my way towards it. Coincidentally, it had fallen in the same exact spot where I had drawn the happy face in the dirt.
As I reached to grab it, I realized that it was not a piece of paper, but a photograph, and it looked like...
Why, it was a photograph of me.
I looked at a close-up of myself walking along the cobblestone path, not two minutes ago. Someone, apparently, had been watching me. The thought was rather creepy. I looked up at the rows and rows of indistinct windows again, backing away cautiously. I didn't know what to think.
"625000! Why are you still dilly-dallying here?"
Instinctively, I hid the photograph in the pocket of my grey institution dress.
"Hi, Mr. Ruvie."
"Don't you 'hi' me! I thought I told you to get to the doctor's office, young lady!"
I had considered showing the old administrator the photograph I had found, but he was beginning to annoy me, so I did not. Instead, I said demurely, "Sir, I went already. Dr. Taylor told me to go back to my room because today's not check-up day; today's not even Sunday, sir."
Ruvie rubbed his forehead and said, "Not Sunday? Ah, I'm getting too old for this..." He stopped to look at me and commanded, "Well?! Go to your room, then!"
I made a noise of irritation and mumbled, "I was going to until you interrupted me..."
"What was that?!"
A Turn of the Tide
Every day thereafter I made some excuse to travel from the juvenile ward to the institution. Not every day, but sometimes, I found a new object lying in the dirt, where I had drawn the now-faded impression of a smiley face. I kept the objects beneath my bed, where the threat of their discovery was minimal. I had the dime, the photograph, a purple ribbon, a children's picture book, and a lace handkerchief. These small things, though insignificant, were all a part of a greater mystery.
Who was watching me?
I couldn't be sure that this person would do me no harm; I had a vague knowledge of what stalkers and rapists were, so I tried to be careful. Yet I was curious, and every day I returned to the cobblestone path to look for a new "gift." I had no way of seeking out the gift-giver, though, and so I would have to wait until he/she presented him/herself to me.
That's what I called this person: the Gift-Giver.
It was many weeks after I had found the photograph now, and I was again checking the area between the two buildings. The constant searching had integrated as another part of my daily routine. It was during one of these searches that a staff person approached me, tapping my shoulder from behind.
"Are you 625000?"
I looked up.
She may have been one of the secretaries from the administration's office.
"Have you seen 828241 or 092293 anywhere?"
They were two of my fellow inmates, a ten-year-old autistic boy and a fourteen-year-old girl plagued by chronic paranoia. I had memorized the numbers and profiles of every juvenile in the juvenile ward. The hospital staff were well aware of my exceptional mental capacity, and they knew that if there was something they needed to find out about the kids, they had only to ask little 625000.
"No, ma'am. But it's twelve o'clock right now, and they're probably eating lunch in the dining hall."
"I've checked it already, and I've checked their dorm rooms as well. They're nowhere to be found." She looked rather nervous. "When was the last time you saw them, dear?"
I paused in thought. "Last week, when we were all getting our check-ups."
"That long ago?!"
I was taken aback by her anxious shouting and replied quietly, "Well, that was the last time I saw them. The kids don't leave their rooms often, so I don't know exactly..."
The woman frowned and wrung her hands.
"Ma'am? What's wrong?"
She looked at me hesitantly, then knelt down and took me by the shoulders. "It... it's nothing. But I need you to do something for me, okay? It's very important."
I met her anxious gaze with innocent wonder. "Sure. I'll help."
"All right. Go to the administration's office and find Mr. Ruvie. Tell him that it's a code R6KFL58Y situation. Can you remember that?"
"Tell Mr. Ruvie 'code R6KFL58Y.' I've got it."
"Mr. Ruvie?" repeated the inattentive office secretary. "Uhh... let's see... Ruvie..." she tapped one painted fingernail against her chin and then shook her head. "Oh, that's right. Sorry kiddo. He went to the Anesthetics Facility an hour ago. You can probably find him up there, though, if it's important."
"It's important," I affirmed.
"Mhm. Well, to get there, you need to go to the second floor of the men's wing and walk all the way down the ward hallway -- all the way down to Section Four. It'll be the third-to-last room, on the left, and it'll say 'Anesthetics' next to the door. It's not hard to find, hon. Just don't be scared when you get there." The woman leaned back in her chair and continued filing her nails.
I wondered what she meant by that -- "just don't be scared when you get there."
There were four sections in all, and I needed to get to the one on the furthest end. Section One looked exactly like the juvenile ward: same beige carpet, same tacky wallpaper, and similar rooms of common use (dining hall, bathrooms, exercise facility, etc.) as well as dorm rooms. Section Two was much the same, except that there were only dorms, and these had locks on the outside.
I was in Section Three now, entering the large double doors which separated the two halves of the men's wing. It was such a stark contrast to the last hallway, I blinked to reassure myself that I had seen correctly.
The very paint on the walls was chipped, revealing a cold, grey foundation beneath it. There was no carpet on the floor; it was merely cement tiling coupled with grime. The whole atmosphere of this hallway was grey and uninviting, and I wondered briefly as to why the staff would leave this place in such disarray. Even some of the ceiling tiles were missing, including certain fluorescent light panels, casting some areas in irregular darkness.
I proceeded down the hall, convincing myself that I would not be daunted. Yet, I couldn't help but notice that the rooms in this section had much more sophisticated outer locks. There were literally prison bars outside the doors, with number pads beside them, presumably used to engage/disengage the locks. And, being the tiny intellectual that I was, I had to ask the obvious question: why were these precautions necessary?
For some reason, I suppose it had never actually occurred to me that I lived amongst psychopaths. This was an insane asylum, after all. I think that the staff purposely sheltered us, the children, from the reality that we were constantly exposed to serial killers and the mentally unstable. The very idea of it was vague, even now, as I made my way through the second half of the men's wing -- the worst patients were here, furthest out in the wings -- and I could not quite grasp it. Granted, many of the inmates were simply suffering from mental disorders, and some had pathological problems, but...
Wow. I lived among the insane.
Moving on to Section Four, I turned the corner at the end of the Section Three hallway and came upon yet another mussed-looking corridor. It was similar to the previous hall, but here, the rooms had steel doors with large number pads on them, as well as various other apparatuses that I could not identify. It made me wary, but I ridiculed myself for being so anxious.
The Anesthetics Facility. I knocked loudly on the door (a normal wooden one, of course) and waited for someone to open it. Meanwhile, I rocked back and forth on my heels and wondered what time it was. After a few moments, I knocked again, louder, because I thought maybe Ruvie's hearing had diminished along with his sense of time and space. Eventually, I grew impatient and simply pushed the door open.
Without warning, a body fell out of the doorway and into me.
A body. Fell. On me.
A dead body.
I was numb and uncomprehending. This was... what was this thing? Not a body. It... must be... I didn't know what it was. I gently took the "thing" by the shoulders and pushed it away from me. As I did so, the head lolled back with the face turned upward, making my blood run cold.
I knew the old man anywhere.
Had I not already been in such a numbing state of shock, I would have noticed that I was beginning to lose feeling in the extremities of my limbs. I took a step back and stumbled, landing gracelessly on the tiled floor -- now covered by some viscous fluid. It may have been blood. I don't know. My vision began to turn hazy, and my mind was slowly seeping away from consciousness.
Yet I was awake enough to notice a person standing just within the doorway.
The fumes from the room were overpowering me. Eventually, I saw nothing, heard nothing, and thought nothing. But with the last of my awareness, even as I slid down the wall and into the pool of dark fluid, I strained to see inside the... to see that... if only I could...
I didn't remember falling asleep.
I awoke to the sound of rainfall against my window. It was dark, and, according to the digital clock on my nightstand, it was the early hours of the morning just before daybreak. I fumbled in my blankets, unable to gain my bearings. My mind was still in Section Four, still watching the lifeless... still straining to see... inside...
The door to my bedroom opened, and I screamed.
I panicked. I flailed. I fell off my bed and crawled into a blanketed heap in the corner, howling like there was no tomorrow. It may have been comical, if I had actually intended for it to be comical. But I was horror-stricken.
"Stop making such noise, girl!"
I pried my eyes open (I must have shut them without knowing) and looked up to see Mr. Ruvie himself standing at the door. My heart almost exploded. I had never been so relieved to have the geezer scold me. Ruvie entered my room and sat on my bed, patting the area beside him. I didn't move as directed, so he simply leaned forward to talk to me.
"Miss 625000, please calm down. Just tell me what happened in the garden."
I eyed him strangely. Finding my voice, I said, trembling, "Garden...?"
"The garden with the little stone path, between here and the main building. You ought to know it; you play there every day."
The Gift-Giver's spot.
He sighed, exasperated, and said, "Amnesia, eh? Well, what's the last thing you remember before passing out on the walk?"
I remember you dead.
"I wasn't..." Suddenly, I did remember something. "Someone! Someone told me to tell you 'code R5KFL68Y.' Some lady -- two of the kids were missing -- the office lady said -- I went to find you!" I was half-babbling at this point. Ruvie knitted his brows together, as though confused.
"R5KFL68Y? The toilets are backed up?"
I was speechless.
"N-No... maybe it was... "
"All right, all right. I can see that someone needs time to rest. It's too early in the morning for this." He walked towards me and scooped me up, blanket and all. He placed me in my bed, pulled the covers over me, and said, "Now, no more screaming. Get yourself to sleep." He made his way to the door and left.
I lay back against my pillow and tried to calm my breathing. Now that I thought about it, back when I was in the garden, I had tripped in the grass while coming out of the juvenile ward. It was humiliating, really; I fell on the ground, rolled about two feet, and... did I hit my head? After that, I had gotten up, dusted myself off, and gone on my merry way. Perhaps, after the fall, it had all been a dream. The code, though... the code was a real code. Granted, it translated into "the toilets are backed up," but... No. Maybe I had heard a janitor use it once. That was probably it. Everything had to have been a dream. Ruvie was alive and kicking, after all -- which I was glad for, because when it came down to it, I loved the old man.
But I couldn't shake this feeling. Disregarding Ruvie's orders, I climbed silently out of bed. My foot brushed against something wet as I lighted the ground, but I couldn't see what it was, so I reached down to move it.
A bloody dress.
A black limousine pulled up to the front of the asylum. Two figures, a man and a child, rushed through the rain and into the building. Once inside, the man took off his hat and approached the front office, pushing the child gently along.
"L, are you certain that you would like to come?"
"Yes, Watari. I am interested in meeting your son. After all, we are brothers now."
(1) Search for "Kirkbride layout" on google, and it'll be easier to picture the building structure in this story. Basically, it has two separate patient wings, one for males and one for females, with several different sections in each. The administration's office is at the building's center, and the more benign patients are placed in the areas nearby. Of course, the real crazies are furthest out in the wings.
(2) Lawl. Seymour. xD (For the sake of clarity I will inform you -- Roger Ruvie is the guy at Wammy's House, but Seymour Ruvie is his brother. That I made up. But it is necessary, I promise.)
(x) And in case you didn't notice, A switched up two of the numerals in the "code" during her panic.
From the Author: Well, there you go. We begin the story with a look into A's Pre-Wammy childhood, and needless to say, it's a little... unconventional. (Perhaps even mildly disturbing.) In the next chapter, we'll meet a ten-year-old L, accompanied by good ol' Wammy. Perhaps our favorite detective can slap some justice into this asylum!
But just what is going on...?
Thanks for reading, and drop a review if you've any thoughts/comments, mes chers lecteurs. (my dear readers) :D