Authors: Michael Laimo
Digital Edition published by Crossroad Press
Â© 2012 / Michael
Copy-edited by: Darren
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novels include ATMOSPHERE, (nominated for the Bram Stoker Award in the category of âfirst novel'), DEEP IN THE DARKNESS (nominated for the Stoker in the ânovel' category), THE DEMONOLOGIST, DEAD SOULS, FIRES RISING, SLEEPWALKER, and RETURN TO DARKNESS. His short fiction has been collected in the books DEMONS FREAKS AND OTHER ABNORMALITIES, DREGS OF SOCIETY, and DARK RIDE.
Deep in the Darkness
Demons Freaks and Other Abnormalities
Dregs of Society
Return to Darkness
Michael can be contacted at
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August 24th, 2005
he man takes his break.
He is permitted outside once a day, at least for now, while it is summer, while the weather is cooperative. In the winter, it's a different story altogether. He never gets to go outside. It's much too cold.
And todayâwhat a nice day it is! The man can feel the sun's warmth against his face as he is ushered into the open-unit courtyard. Alongside him is a nurse. She leads him gently by the arm. Smiling warmly. Walking slowly in thoughtful consideration of the man who has a lame leg, a portion of his skull missing, and only one eye.
He looks around at the manicured courtyard. It is penned in by four three-story buildings that make up the Pine Oak Institute for the Mentally Insane. There are many trees here. Some of them have pretty flowers. Their leaves bustle lightly amid the gentle breeze. Beneath the trees are park benches where many of the patients sit and talk to themselves.
The nurse leads him to one of the benches. He sits down. She smiles again, says, "Lunch in forty-five minutes, David."
The man, David, smiles. He likes her. She is pretty.
The nurse leaves David. But he is not alone. There are guards here in the courtyard. Large men that wear white pants and white shirts with ID cards on them. They watch all the patients, some more than others. They barely pay any attention to David because he has been here for seventeen years, and has never caused any trouble.
After some time, a voice calls to him: "David." It is soft. Whispery.
He looks around, but sees no one.
"David," the voice says again. He realizes that it is coming from inside his head. He's scared because he's never had this problem before. Some of the other patients have, but not him.
David looks down. There's a large blackbird on the walkway, a few feet away. It is looking up at him. David squints his one eye at the bird. The bird hops closer. Again the whispering voice fills his head: "It is time, David."
"Time for what?" he asks out loud, brow furrowed.
"The man who killed your parents," the voice in his head says. "The man who made you like thisâ¦his blood is returning to
â¦to the house."
Although David feels frightened, he also feels a surge of excitement, ofâ¦sudden strength, and power. He's been waiting for this moment since his first days in Pine Oak's crisis stabilization unit, seventeen years ago.
"Go to the house, David."
David twists his head; the bones in his neck crack. He eyes the bird curiously. Then, nods. "When?" His voice cracks.
David rips his gaze away from the bird. He looks up. The nurse is there, staring down at him. She looks concerned.
"Are you okay?" she asks.
"I thought I heard you talking to someone," she says.
He points to the walkway. "I was looking at the pretty bird." He looks back down. The bird is still there. Only now it is dead. Maggots writhe in its eyes, and on its head. Its feathers are thin and ragged.
The nurse shakes her head. She smiles insincerely. "Come, David. Let's go inside. It's lunchtime."
here you are, Mr. Mackey," another nurse says. This one is a man. He is younger than David, who believes himself to be 100, but is really only 31. David looks up at the nurse with his one eye. The nurse smiles at him. All the nurses smile. The guards don't, though. They never do. They are very serious.
The nurse places a tray down on the lunch table. There are other patients nearby, but none of them talk to David. They don't talk to anyone but themselves. Unless, of course, they get angry. Then they yell at everyone.
On the tray is his lunch, a tuna fish sandwich, a plastic cup of Jell-o, and some tea biscuits with pats of butter. Usually, David eats everything. But today he isn't hungry. He is thinking of the bird, and the voice it brought, telling him to go to the house. To wait for the man's blood to arrive.
So while no one is lookingâthey don't pay much attention to David because he has never caused any troubleâhe removes the plastic butter knife from his tray, and tucks it into his pants.
avid is allowed restroom breaks at any time. There is a bathroom in his room. He shares it with an old man who groans all night, and swats invisible mosquitoes all day.
After lights out, he gets out of bed. He goes into the bathroom and shuts the door. He removes the plastic butter knife from his underwear (he'd hid it in his mattress during shower time), and begins to gently rub it against the steel bolt connecting the drainpipe to the sink. The rigid plastic begins to whittle. He makes certain to collect all the shavings.
He continues this activity for two days, never staying in the bathroom for more than a few minutes at a time. Eventually, he files the plastic knife down until the point is razor sharp. He then works on the edges, whittling both sides so they too are keen enough to slice.
He hides the knife back inside his underwear.
e hasn't slept at all. He's waiting for the night nurse to make her rounds. At night, there's only one nurse and two guards on duty on each floor of the open unit ward. They spend most of their time watching television, or reading books.
He pretends to sleep. Finally, he hears the nurse come into his room. He hears her adjusting the groaner's sheets. She then scribbles something down in his chart. Soon thereafter, he hears her leave the room.
He removes the knife from beneath his mattress. He touches the point and pricks his finger. Sharp as hell, he thinks.
He gets out of bed, tiptoes across the room. He peeks out into the dim hall. Sees no one. The nurse, she must be in one of the other rooms. He limps down the hall as fast as he can, all the way to the guard's station. The night guard, a muscular man with black hair and glasses, is seated at a desk. He is reading a magazine with pictures of pretty women inside. His back is facing David.
He suddenly turns, eyes wide as he spots David.
David leaps forward and plunges the knife into the guard's right eye. The guard staggers to his feet. His arms raise. He tries to scream, but can only wheeze. He falls to the floor with a heavy thump. David reaches down, yanks the knife out. Blood gouts out onto the floor, black and oily. He removes the security card clipped to the man's belt.
Limping, he races to the Plexiglas security door. Swipes the keycard. The door clicks open and he moves into the reception area.
From behind, the nurse screams. He looks back. She is at the far end of the hallway. She has a hand over her mouth. Her eyes are bulging.
David runs to the front doors. They are locked. He swipes the keycard. They make a buzzing noise before granting him access to the outside world.
He races outside, across the dark and empty parking lot, his limp no match for the hurrying footsteps pursuing him.
The voice returns to his head: "Go to the houseâ¦"
Halogen lights on the outside of the building ignite the parking lot. Now it's as bright as a baseball game at night. An alarm tolls. He can hear sirens in the distance. A white security vehicle appears from around the side of the building. It speeds across the parking lot, toward David.
A man cries out; there is a loud, horrible cracking noise.
David turns. Under the bright security lights, he sees a guard rolling across the blacktop. When he comes to a stop, David can see that his legs are twisted into 'L' shapes.
The security vehicle stops; there's a splotch of blood on the hood. Its front bumper is dented. The man, only a few feet away, is writhing on the blacktop in agony.
"Go to the house," the voice repeats in his head. He looks up and sees a lone blackbird flying overhead, seemingly guiding the way. A feather drifts lazily down toward him. He catches it in mid air.
David Mackey looks at the feather, smiles, then gazes up at the circling bird one last time before fleeing into the dark woods surrounding the Pine Oak Institute for the Mentally Insane.
Now, upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the
â¦and they found the stone rolled away, and they entered in and found not the body of the Lord Jesus Christ...