He looked at his shoes, darkened with a splatter of blood. Everything was moving in colorful blurs, like cars in the street at night. He couldn't tell where he was or what he was doing, except his shoes had this stain, dark against the shiny red of his shoes, and it was from someone. He wasn't sure if it was from himself or from someone he knew. But he didn't have time to figure that out. The white jacket was coming, and it was coming to take him away. The blurs that looked like smears from the cars at night in a street filled with a thousand moving colorful eyes were moving around, grabbing him with their wicked needle like hands and fingers, and they shoved him into this white jacket that welcomed him so fondly, hugging him tightly with its sleeves that were tucked within itself so that they couldn't escape or move, while he heard screams that pierced his eardrum like metallic needles that were just as sharp as these demons' hands through his brain. His eardrums nearly crackled as he heard the screams etched in his mind, and the only thing in his body that he knew he could move was his mouth, and he screamed back, as the chains locked against him, tightening his lungs that he nearly couldn't breathe, and he wanted to scream out loud to the bitches who were taking him, taking him to the promised land, to heaven, with their reddened sweet lips and their white glossy smiles and their sharp nails that bled and scratched and clawed his body while he wanted to scream how much he wanted them to fuck themselves. But they smiled, sang, and locked him away.
Prick. Everything slowed down; the blurs were coming into focus, the demon's medicine running through his veins. The screams were shortened, smaller, nearly becoming mere whispers. To heaven and away! To a land where the angels only sing their pain and away it goes! Off with it lad! The dancing, the music, the pure melodies that he drank fully with his ears, it pierced through his brain! Just soft tunes that he thought he could dance to while he was inside God's prison, which was for the angels who only committed mild crimes against them. Heaven had a prison? Fuck you, he said, this is my story, and I can say it any way I want. I can't scream anymore, only tell you of the insanity I witnessed, and screaming was such a suitable way to tell you my pain. And away the music went! The trumpets blared, the flutes whistled, the guitars twanged, the drums banged! I can't tell you how wonderful this music sounded! And I smiled and thought to myself, my God, you sent me here, with these angels who are all naked as they brush up to me with their bare breasts, with their lips that taste like honey, to their sweet voices that are just as sweet as cherries on a tree, telling me to sleep a good night, because tonight is a special night, and I was no longer afraid anymore. Oh how I slept so soundly, how warm their bodies felt! How their wings protected me! And I said to them, "I'm here for you, forever and ever, and I will be in God's kingdom, for as long as I rest."
And that was it. He slept. Everything turned black. And the madness no longer rang and sang. The glossy teeth and the red lips no longer smiled, the music was no longer there, and he felt the cold air conditioning again, making his body shiver slightly as he fell to sleep, sleeping in a winter wonderland full of snowman that waved and hot cocoa that always tasted sweet and the pine needles that always reeked of serenity.
He awoke a few hours later, his vision coming into focus. He wanted to rub his eyes of the crust that crept near them, but he couldn't, his hands sealed tight like Saran-wrap. He wasn't sure of why this happened either, as his memory was all a blur, wondering if everything that happened was only a mere fantasy he dreamed up when his head was flying with the wind when he ran everyday at 5 am in the morning. He looked down, away from the white pads that looked like lumpy clouds (or like the crappy mashed potatoes they ate yesterday) seeing the bloody shoes, and a white straitjacket that kept his hands and feet still and locked away. There were people standing outside of the door, their glances looking cold but observant, as they wrote something down in a chart that he knew was about him, while they walked away and began to talk amongst themselves. He couldn't hear them. The door and glass seemed to only make their talk turn into faint mumbles that he couldn't decipher.
So this was it. He was officially considered insane. Here, in this straitjacket, in a padded room, in a mental hospital that didn't even have many crazy people in it (mostly just people who were depressed and stressed). And his response? He threw back his head and laughed.
Not a crazy laugh. Just a kind of playful laugh as he thought the whole situation was humorous. He was in a hospital that wasn't tough on the patients, and people probably thought he was crazy enough to have this happen to him, to scream and flap his hands like a loony bird that forgot to sing. And maybe that was why the patients were deemed as "loonies" by the janitors in this ward. They once knew a song, but somehow forgot to sing. Their minds forbade it now as they grew up.
He knew he wasn't crazy. He still knew his song and still knew his brain was still in his head. The only reason he got stuck in here was because he wanted some peace and quiet from life. But today he had it. He was in a soft room where anyone's voice, even his own, was barely audible and he was by himself. He tried to stretch his hands and feet, realizing they were now wrapped together like a cocoon, and he grunted and cursed under his breath, barely moving them with all of his strength. They were wrapped so tightly he couldn't even scratch his ass. Great, he thought. How long do I have to be in here again? For something I did that I'm not completely sure actually happened?
He missed being able to walk and run at this moment, missed it more than anything, to feel the wind and sun hitting his face and awakening him more than any cup of coffee or tea could, or any antidepressant pill, his hands sometimes developing a twitch while he sat alone and thought of the wind caressing his face and neck and of the blue face it beheld. He could waste some time walking along these pads or jump around it like those inflatable castles he remembered bouncing in as a child. Those were the days, back when his mind was pure from disease and filth he mused, and back when his mother wasn't as condescending to him about getting a job and getting good grades. So what of it? Let him bounce around in this little inflatable castle just this once, and let him be free again for a while. The hospital at least granted him freedom in a damn padded cell, where only the looniest of loonies who were too choked up to say a word would go. And it was a damn sad situation to him. If only he knew his song. But it was locked up, just as much as he was.
They would eventually come back and let him free and he could try to explain what happened and apologize for it, whatever had happened for him to be here in the first place. Easy-peasy he thought. And he might as well entertain himself while he was stuck in here. So he sang a few songs, letting himself get as loud as he wanted, even pretending there was an audience who cheered for him. Maybe he could explain there were people in his head who applauded his singing. That would get him to stay here even longer, at least for enough days to get away from his parents and his life and his measly paying job, all that stress bullshit he never wanted in the first place but got because God was a giant stuck-up asshole. This place was like a vacation to him. He wanted to get away for two weeks; to a place his insurance would be able to cover, to eat food that tasted like cardboard and to have people care about him and his feelings. So he laughed, and sang, even if everyone looked at him with disapproving glares.
A half-hour later, a man came in through the door. A blast of cold air from the A/C hit him like a thousand shards of icicles coming from the roughest wind in the Antarctic, and noise. The rest of the staff were discussing about his behavior when he heard the shutting of doors like metal against the walls, loud as an explosion that he thought you would only hear in a war in a war against the Afghans. The man was named Jose. He had jet black hair all over his large thick arms and a beard, with brown coffee-colored skin and brown eyes, and he freed him of the straitjacket. The first thing Sonic did was stretch his body and legs, so relieved that he had the freedom to move around again. He nearly sprained himself from so much stretching, his body no longer caught in threads and threads of thick leather that was so heavy that it nearly choked him. Then Jose spoke to him in a heavily accentuated voice, sounding jagged and rough as Sonic would think of the Afghans he once nearly saw that his father wanted him to see.
"Sonic, come with me. We taking you to Dr. Vredenburg. Very important. Come with me."
The hospital probably didn't have many volunteers, so they actually hired a Mexican immigrant. But he seemed to do his job well. His arms looked rock-solid. He could restrain and put down even the most violent patients, like what happened last night in his dream, if he was violent at all. It was still faint in his mind, and he could barely tell if it was reality or the staff decided to pull a prank on him. Even if he still wasn't sure of what exactly happened, why he had blood on his shoes and why he was covered in white leather, he apologized.
"It's about last night, right? Look, I'm sorry about that. I didn't mean to hurt anyone, or to make anyone hurt anyone else. I…"
But he looked at his face. Sonic could tell he was serious and not really taking his public apology. He pointed to the doctor's office with one hand, while carrying a clipboard in the other, filled with scrawling and a picture of Sonic's tired worn-down face on it (he remembered he tried to show them how depressed he was and how drunk he was, oh how he tricked them that he drank a 12-pack of beer everyday), and walked him through the bright butterscotch colored walls. The janitors, the ones who always called the other patients loony birds, the ones who never knew how to sing, were sweeping and mopping the rooms, the smell of Lysol stinging in his nose as he looked at the pictures, and noticed at once something that was quite out of the ordinary. At least, for a mental hospital.
"Lunatic," they mumbled. Sonic learned to ignore it over time. The janitors were just hired to clean the hospital. They were never taught to respect the patients. They just made their rooms smell lemon-fresh once in a while. Nothing more.
He noticed one of the pictures was a tree with silver birch, that shined on the canvas almost as much as his quills, with the snow blanketing the ground and the sky a deep rich purple, with a rosy pink hue at the bottom, the first few eaves of morning in a winter wonderland. So comforting. He might as well have a nice cup of hot chocolate with this picture. But it wasn't exactly that that made it so strange.
He saw on the tiny signature that the picture was made by Vincent Van Gogh.
What a way to represent the hospital, with paintings from a crazy guy who eventually killed himself, he thought to himself. Sonic rolled his eyes.
Sonic walked in the room, running into a doctor with a white scraggly beard, calm, but seemingly tiny blue eyes, and he sat in a large, black leather seat that looked as comfortable as the white padded room, that paled in comparison to the patient's tiny gray seat, and a large brown wooden desk that nearly filled the entire room. Behind him were Plexiglas windows that showed Sonic how beautiful it was outside. The many fuchsia trees, looking white in the sun, swaying gently in the wind, while there was a group outside of only women, wearing the same cottony baby blue robe he was wearing. He could tell this was the women's side of the ward who were allowed to remember what the sun tasted like. One thing he missed here was being able to go outside whenever he wanted and run as far as he could until his legs became sore and to feel the wind blowing through him as if he became translucent, one with it, becoming brighter in color, becoming the sky itself. There were some windows in his ward, but they were blocked by a chain-link screen so they were all reminded of where they were, in a psychological prison, and that their freedom was stripped away.
And he knew of how much he missed home now. Even if he hated his mother and father right when he came in. Even if he hated their voices. Reprimanding him. Yelling. Telling him what they thought was right and wrong.
The doctor glanced at him with a cruel, stern look, keeping hands balled up together, like a lump of flesh-colored clay, and then he spoke, his voice cold.
"Sonic, do you remember what happened last night? Anything?"
He dodged his question as the sun began to make his quills shimmer brightly, like the ocean on the Caribbean and to feel the sun on his face was very welcome, to see the little particles dance in front of him. Maybe he could convince this doctor to let him go outside once in a while.
"No I don't sir. There's blood on my shoes and I was in a white jacket, not being able to move, and I was in the Safety Room. But…"
"Sonic, you were in there because you jabbed a needle in a nurse's neck. Do you have any recollection of what you thought, what you were going through when this happened? Anything at all?"
He looked down on his shoes. That was why they had blood on them. They looked nearly black when the sun touched it. To him, everything that night was just blears on a canvas, something he couldn't discern. He digested it slowly, and also thought when he had been in heaven in their little prison, with all the angels singing in their sweet cherried voices, with that peacefulness overtaking him. But it has been caused by whatever they injected him with, that serene feeling on those pine needles. They called it Ativan. Just as powerful as Quaaludes. But he heard of people being shot with much worse things, so he knew he should consider himself lucky that that was the medicine of choice here. He heard of Thorazine, a medicine of choice in some hospitals, the demon's green lunch, and how much it made you want to sleep an entire night away. Or made you completely like a zombie.
"No, I don't," he finally said. "Only thought I went to heaven that night. I seriously don't remember much, or what we even did that night, or whatever set me off to do that…"
The doctor nodded his head, that motion that Sonic thought they were telling you that they understood, when really they were probably thinking of some sarcastic statement or some thought that measured how insane you were. On a scale of 1 to 10, Sonic measures 7 on the batshit insane scale at the moment…
"Sonic, on account of your actions here, we don't think you're right for Austin Lakes…"
Sonic abruptly jumped out of his chair, ecstatic. He was free! "Does that mean I can get out of this dump? Maybe I can go outside again! Thank God!"
He was stopped by the doctor's hand. "Sit down, Sonic. I'm not finished."
He sighed in exasperation, then sat back down on his gray chair. So small, not as nice as the padded walls. Or the black leather seat. Whichever. It reminded him of the seats at his favorite burger joint. And now he wished he was truly done with this place so he could grab himself a chili dog.
"Sonic, you're not right for Austin Lakes Hospital. We decided you'll be transferred to Wonderland State Hospital, which deals with cases such as yours. We think you have a severe case, a very severe case of manic-depression that makes you listen to risky impulses and urges rather than the staff here. Wonderland State is the right place for you, and we want you to stay there for at least six months."
"What?" he nearly hissed, shocked. There goes the promise of a chili dog. Fuck this doctor! "Six months? Are you kidding me? Look, I'm not really crazy! I just put myself in here because life was getting me down and I thought I needed a break! You can't make me get locked up somewhere for six months! I have to go back to my job whether I like it or not, get back with my parents…"
"Then you have to tell them where you're going and that you're going to get treated there, because we can't help you here. Wonderland is more suited for cases such as yours. The head doctor there, Dr. Aishwarya Splinter, is a very skilled doctor specializing in severe cases, such as severe manic-depression, sociopathic disorders, schizophrenia…and so on. Here in Austin Lakes, we only deal with mild to moderate cases, such as depression. But Sonic, we think this could cause a big disruption in your life if you go back to it. We want you to be treated with the most appropriate care possible, and I only know that Dr. Splinter is the only one who can help you right now. Go back to your room and pack up your things in this bag." He held up a garbage bag. What a way to tell the staff and this doctor that all his prized possessions were only trash to them.
"One of the officers will drive you up there once you leave. Goodbye Sonic, and good luck."
Sonic's fists were clenched and they shook so much that they became white under his gloves and it nearly hurt him as he walked down the hall, cursing under his breath. He wanted to lash out at everyone in this goddamn hospital. Jose, the patients, especially Dr. Vredenburg for making him stay in an insufferable shit house they dared call a hospital for six months, but he knew doing that would only make his situation worse. He would probably be stuck in the hospital for a year if he ever struck out at anyone with the anger that was simmering inside of him.
He was probably going to be inside that jacket again, and he cringed just thinking of having his arms and legs restrained. He only packed very few things when he came here, a sweatshirt in case the place got as cold as a refrigerator, which he assumed Wonderland would be far worse, like they wanted to freeze all their specimens so that they could study them with a knife. He also had a journal they made him keep. Maybe in the next hospital they wouldn't give him crayons or short pencils to write with when he wrote letters for his girlfriend. She wondered if he was stuck in kindergarten when he had no choice but to scrawl something out with a red crayon, as if he was going to stab himself with a pen for chrissakes.
He waved goodbye to everyone in the hospital, as if they actually were sad about him leaving (they were probably glad that the damn lunatic was leaving now, and now they could go back to how much they were tired and depressed all the time). He noticed that the nurse who was stabbed with a needle wasn't in the hospital, or even there when he said goodbye to everyone. If it wasn't for the blood on his shoes they didn't bother to clean he would've wondered if they made it all up. In the midst of his anger, he still hoped she wasn't dead or severely hurt because of something he could barely remember doing, but they said nothing about her condition as he went through the doors that had black thick vines crisscrossing them. He thought it might've been wrong to bring it back up.
The phosphorescent sun glared in his face, and he thought the 80 degree weather was a welcome change from the cold hospital. He knew he would miss it again as soon as he arrived in this other one that was strangely called Wonderland. He might've asked the officer why they called it such a peculiar name. But he was so infuriated with the whole situation and said nothing to him as he got into his car. It was strange that it was named after a place in a book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but maybe it meant it would be a nice hospital. But as he thought that, he was about to give out a big, manic laugh that was just as manic as him. It was a state hospital. Of course it wasn't going to be nice. He heard from the other patients that the first six months you aren't even allowed to go outside or see your family or friends. You were trapped there. They might as well bury him from the world for six months.
They drove off, Sonic mentally saying "so long" to the pink Japanese trees that stood in front of Austin Lakes. He wasn't sure why, but they were nice to look at, and he thought he would miss seeing this sight, especially if he was being put away for six months and no one, not even the face of nature, was going to see or hear from him until then. So long to these trees. So long to this freedom. So long to my family and friends. So long to Josephine.
As soon as he got to the "Austin Lakes Behavioral Hospital" sign, looking so nice when really it was a place that reminded him of Satan's lounge in Hell, he extended his middle finger while the officer was too busy driving and watching the road. He mouthed "fuck you" as they drove into the highway, the world in which he thought was shrinking, the world that he thought he would get a vacation as nice as Caribbean. It never happened though, did it Sonic? Turns out you're manic-depressive. Oh what are the odds? And severe too? Were they making this all up? Was this also a dream that they concocted? Who knew? He just knew this world was going to make him smaller when he thought he was so large that he could take down this officer in his car and leave him for dead and be free and go back home, his father completely unaware that a murder just happened. They would surely make him take a liquid that would do that. Just like Alice in Wonderland. And that was why it was named that. Wonderland. What a stupid, odd name. And he would soon find out that that world was very odd, and it would make him as small as an ant.