Years ago when I wrote PSMF, I wanted to do an asylum story, but there were so few such stories I thought it was because they just weren't done. Initially the campers weren't even going to be there, but I ended up shifting it from entirely pre-camp to partially during camp because I thought I ought to. Honestly, I like the asylum much better than the camp. Better ambiance, thicker part of the story... On my first play-through I breezed through the first, what, five levels? At the Milkman Conspiracy I wasn't even in level 30 because I ran through the camp so fast so I could get to the asylum part I was so excited about. I didn't even realize the campers had names, let alone interesting stories. It's another reason I'm not so excited about the possibility of a Psychonauts 2... it probably wouldn't have a creepy insane asylum, and I just LOVE creepy asylum aesthetic.
Hey, that's enough outta you. Get to the story part already!
Whatever you say, bold text. Here comes the gray line:
Dear Mr. Bonaparte
Fred put the letter on his kitchen table. No way was he ready to read this letter. No way in the world.
He got up and went to the cabinet for a glass. Then he went to the fridge and fumbled around inside it until he found the jug of milk. Instead of pouring it, though, he put the glass and milk jug on the counter and went back to the letter.
Dear Mr. Bonaparte,
Mr. Edgar Teglee would like to invite you-
I can't do it, thought Fred. He noticed the fridge was open and closed it. Then he opened it again to put the milk back, and closed it again. Then he opened it, took the milk out, poured himself a glass, and put the milk away. Fred set the glass of milk on the table next to the letter, and then he picked the letter up again.
Mr. Edgar Teglee would like to invite you to the opening of his art exhibit entitled Madness and Mentalists, a reflection of his time at-
No. No, no, no, no. Fred went into the next room where his pinewood derby cars were. He liked to build them and race them against each other. He only raced himself, because that was the only way he could win. Not that winning meant too much to Fred.
Yes, it did. It meant everything. That's why he never competed. Because then he might come back.
Fred picked up one of the cars, but it fell out of his hand and onto the carpet. The puke ugly, light yellow carpet that had sixteen years worth of fuzz and filth. The previous owner of this townhouse didn't vacuum, and after his eviction, Fred picked up where he left off and kept on the tradition.
Because his legs were so long and his arms so short, Fred had to kneel down on the ground before he could reach the car. Then he just put it back.
Fred went back into the kitchen and emptied his glass of milk in one go. Then he picked up the letter again.
-Madness and Mentalists, a reflection of his time at the now defunct Thorney Towers Home for the Disturbed. As your presence has influence in the art, we would be honored if you could attend in person. Please RSVP using the attached information. We look forward to your attendance.
Fred put the letter back down. Answer them. Répondez, s'il vous plaît. Answer them how? No way in the world. No way on Earth would he be going. For the past year, he'd been trying to forget, trying to get the memory of his horrifying time at Thorney Towers out of his mind. It all ran together now, the screaming madness, the complete loss of self in his own mind, and, worst of all, the inexplicable isolation from everybody and everything- everything save for the jeering taunts of Crispin Whytehead, the man who drove him insane to begin with!
Well, maybe you can't really blame Crispin for that bit. The taunting, sure, but maybe it was unfair to blame everything on Crispin. He had beaten Fred at his game, that was true, but Fred was the one who set it up twenty-six subsequent times and had been unable to accept the fact that a drooling mental patient had come out from years of stupor just to beat him at his own game. It's a dig, certainly, but nothing to lose your mind over.
But Fred was never very competitive. Sure, Waterloo-O was one of his favorite games, but it's not like he'd never lost at it before. But... somehow losing to Crispin, a man who was unresponsive to all stimuli and locked in his own mind until Fred brought him the game, was too much. To lose to someone who wasn't even functional, and at something you were supposed to be inherently good at... well, it did things to your mind.
No, that wasn't it. The Psychonauts had told him, after he'd gotten off the island (he was very surprised to find that it was an island, as he'd remembered it being on a hill) that it was because of something called "psitanium" in the ground. He'd spent so much time around psitanium that it increased the activity in his brain, but his brain couldn't handle it. He went crazy. If it hadn't been for Crispin drawing out his Napoleon personality, it would have been something else.
Fred put his glass in the dishwasher. So maybe not everything was Crispin's fault. That's why Fred didn't kill him. Well, probably he was too meek to ever kill anybody, but still. He just roughed him up, scared him a little. Okay, a lot. Well, he'd been at the guy's mercy for who knows how long? It was long past due, really.
Since then, they'd all gotten off the island. Fred had gotten his life back on track. He had a house, a job at a tax office (a far cry from working in an insane asylum) and there was this cute girl at the local coffee shop he was thinking of asking out sometime. He wanted absolutely nothing to do with Thorney Towers ever again.
Because... sometimes, at night... he could hear him. Napoleon. Wanting to know why he wasn't trying harder. Why he gives up so easily. The truth was, Fred hadn't been really passionate about anything in a while, he was just taking it easy. And he was afraid that if he didn't do something, Napoleon would come back to beat the love of victory into him. But Fred was also afraid that if he did try something, he would fail.
Fred was beginning to worry that maybe he was still insane.
He picked up the letter and checked the phone number. Then he went over to the phone and dialed. It rang once. Then a second time. And then it rang a third time.
"Yeah, hi, it's Fred Bonaparte," said Fred when someone answered. "I'm calling about my invitation to that art show thing... yeah. Yeah, I'll be there. Okay. Super. See you then." And he hung up.
'Fred, you are such a wimp,' he thought to himself.
Edgar Teglee's favorite medium was painting on black velvet. He liked how you use bright, vivid colors to contrast the dark of the velvet. He loved the texture of the fabric and how it gave something exquisite to his pieces. But most of all, he just loved painting. At one time he had been a prisoner of art. Now he used art to set himself free.
His gallery show had attracted a lot of media attention. It had made headlines last year when he and several other people had been rescued from the long-abandoned insane asylum following a plot to take over the world with psychic brain tanks. Since then, everyone but he and Gloria von Gouton had managed to slip into anonymity. Actually, Edgar had been almost completely sequestered this past year, constantly working on these pieces that he felt had to be made, had to be shared with the world. The people had to know how they had felt, there, in that asylum, long forgotten and isolated. It was only now that he, too took a place in the spotlight. Ever since he broke the isolation, he had gotten an enormous amount of press.
Edgar had tracked down all the others, the ones who had influenced his art. All of them had given him the go-ahead to depict them in his pieces. Now it was time for them to see what he had done with that permission. He'd had his assistant locate where they had gotten to and forwarded invitations, hopefully with enough time for them to make arrangements to come. However, he hoped the ones that weren't able to come chose not to because they had so many things going on in their recovered lives.
Gloria von Gouton, for example, had called right away to turn down his invitation. She apologized over and over again, but even if her understudy could come in to cover her role for the weekend, she couldn't be away from the Roberta von Gouton Memorial Suicide Prevention Center at this time. She used the money from her performing to start the center, named after her mother, to reach out to troubled people. She specialized in people who's lives were supposedly charmed, (like actresses and their mothers) or at least well adjusted, because often people assumed that if you were making money and had everything you needed, you shouldn't be suicidal. This put a huge stigma on an already very taboo subject, and they needed to know it was okay to feel this way, and that help was available. Already they had helped almost a hundred young people get their lives back on track, and they were in the middle of a huge fundraiser drive.
Boyd Cooper said couldn't get Friday off to drive down, but Edgar had a feeling that he just didn't want to go to an art show. Boyd wasn't really much of an 'art' guy.
Actually, so far, the only person who had returned his invitation in the affirmative was Fred Bonaparte. Edgar was glad of that. Fred was a friendly guy, Edgar had always thought.
The night of the show, Edgar was walking around his gallery, looking over all his pieces. Initially he was mingling with the crowd, the guests, potential buyers, art critics, and other journalists. While it was true that Edgar was a bit nervous about the whole thing, he was enjoying himself too much to let that bother him. He had never gotten a show all his own. True, he probably wouldn't have warranted it if the subject of the show wasn't such a curiosity, but Edgar knew how things worked, and he was grateful to have this chance at all.
His art was highly praised. The centerpiece of the whole thing was a large painting of El Odio the bull, locked in battle with Dingo Inflagrante as Lampita Pasionado looked on, hands at her mouth as she feared for the life of the one she loved. But that wasn't all. In the bottom right, the scene phased from a bullfight arena to the hallways of a high school, where Edgar Teglee looked on in anger as a Dingo-looking jock walked off with a woman who looked suspiciously like Lana Panzoni.
Another large piece was a form that looked much like Gloria. Her upper body was hunched over in agony, her face contorted in pain, but another torso and head emerging from her waist stood up straight, her hands spread as she gracefully accepted the cheers from her audience. The symbols around her were mirrored. On the left side, the angle her body hunched to, there were silhouettes of girls lined up in dance practice as a teacher cracked her whip, the image of a woman who looked like Gloria, but much older, falling from a great height, a hideous critic, potted plants with faces painted clumsily on them, and the classic tragedy face. On the other side, a happily cheering audience, a bright spirit, the comedy face, and beautiful trinkets. Edgar had gotten these images from just one meeting with her, where she told him all the strange things she'd imagined the night the tower exploded. After listening to her story, the piece painted itself.
The third painting showed a twisted suburb that turned in on itself and jutted out on angles. If you just glanced at it, you wouldn't notice anything unusual aside from the contortion. But Edgar had used the stark contrasts of his medium to hide in a little subtlety. If you looked closely, you could see he'd painted a camera peeking out of nearly everything: mailboxes, windows, bushes, cars, basically everything bigger than a camera. The color of the cameras was only a little off from the color of the object they were hiding in, an effect he'd never tried in black velvet. This one, Edgar thought, vividly displayed the paranoia that Boyd had described to him.
Edgar turned a corner to where some of his less labor-intensive works were getting a lot of buzz. Once he did, he noticed something you couldn't miss. Fred Bonaparte always drew attention to himself in a crowd, being that he was so ridiculously tall he towered over everyone else.
"Hello, Fred, I'm glad you could make it!" Edgar greeted as he made his way to the increasingly awkward-looking man. Fred seemed to be completely lost, and when he saw Edgar he waved with one of his stubby T-Rex arms and smiled, but it was a forced smile, like you make when you know you ought to but a real one isn't happening on its own.
"Hi, Edgar," said Fred. "I noticed you couldn't make it through the show without at least one painting of a bullfight."
"Yes, but that one was on purpose," said Edgar. They both laughed politely. Fred couldn't really think of anything to say, so Edgar brought up the subject, "I would like to show you the piece inspired by your story. I remember being moved by your circumstances. It is like an old tragedy, the descendant of greatness fated to be locked in the prison where he was once a guard, as it were. Here it is. Please, tell me what you think."
As he spoke, he led Fred around to the far wall, where the piece he spoke of was hanging. Fred looked at it and took it all in silently. It was extremely tall and narrow, like himself; a full-body portrait of a beanpole. Fred stood tall and proud in the portrait, like his great-some-odd-grandfather before him. His clothing was made to look like the general's uniform, but twisted around his body like a straitjacket. The face, though, was not twisted in madness or fear; it was noble and strong. Around his feet were soldiers carved from wood, standing around at the ready, willing to follow their leader to Hell and back.
Fred looked up at the picture for a long time. Edgar watched his face, but could read nothing of his feelings. After a while he went from curiously awaiting criticism to an awkward sort of worry.
"If you don't like it, I will remove it from the show. If it upsets you I understand."
"It, uh- it's not-" Fred was looking for the right words. Unable to find them, he just looked down at Edgar and said, "It's really good. You're, um, a really great artist."
"Thank you," said Edgar. "I'm glad you approve."
"I gotta go," said Fred suddenly, and started heading towards the door.
Edgar followed him. "Is it too personal? Have I offended you?"
"No, it's not that. I just- I gotta go."
For someone as tall as Fred, he could really make himself short when he wanted to. And even though he'd never heard the sound of a gun go off in his life, his whole body recognized it right away and he hit the floor fast. People screamed. Edgar roared with fury.
Fred scrambled on the ground in a panic until he got to the door, regretting his decision to come to the gallery for more reasons than he could have even anticipated.