June 1st 1996.
I met John for the first time in the summer I did my residence at St Marrow’s Institute. He was a patient and I was the young exuberant psychiatrist, fresh out of graduate school. I was full of hope and ego. I was going to cure the world of mental illness. John was the first case study I was assigned.
He was my age and I immediately believed I could cure him. His file said he was delusional and heavily medicated. The first step was taking him off the medication. My mentoring doctor and the nurses did not agree, but I was insistent. I was determined to help this poor man and I needed to be able to talk to him, If not I wouldn’t be able to find the root cause of his delusions.
His file was extremely sketchy. It appeared as though John had not been assessed before being put on the meds. I made a note to discuss this after my first assessment. It took 2 days for John to get the drugs out of his system. I had him brought to my office, restrained, just in case. I was excited to finally talk to this patient.
I walked into my office and was greeted by a lucid and friendly man.
“Hello,” he said to me immediately.
“Hello john, how are we today?” I replied.
“My name isn’t John,” he said smiling.
“Really, what is it then?”
He grinned wider and said, “George.”
“Funny I have John,” I stated.
“John Doe, I never gave my real name.”
I was already looking at his admittance report and saw that the name entered was John Smith. There was no mention of it being a given name, but I saw in the lower part of the form a single sentence, No identification on patient.
“Well then, George, what is your last name?” I was already writing this all down.
“Washington," he laughed at his joke.
I was surprised by his humor; after all you do not expect a joke like that from a delusional patient. I was starting to wonder if this man should be a patient at all.
“Good one,” I said laughing myself, “so what is your real name?”
“Salem,” John said, the humor and smiles gone from his face, “but don’t ask me my last name…I don’t remember.”
“What do you remember?”
Salem looked into my eyes; “I remember this place and not much else.”
His eyes were so clear crystal blue with flakes of gold. They took me, it was almost hypnotic.
“Doc?” Salem interrupted and broke the spell.
“Sorry Salem,” I stuttered, “tell me anything you remember that isn’t this place.”
He was quiet for a bit. He was obviously sizing me up. When he spoke it was a soft voice, but very clear and concise.
“I remember darkness and screams. I remember how much I hated it there in the dark. I am aware, surrounded by things that are not. It’s like being lost in a dense sea of black leeches. The others attach themselves to me, trying to feed. They do not understand me and I do not understand them, but I remember that I once was like them. I wait, waiting is excruciating. Time passes slowly in the dark. All I want is the chance to escape…”
Salem paused and stared blankly. I try and coax out a bit more. “Where is this place?”
“It just is. I grew and I am here. This body is just one of many I have had. This one is strong and I have been here for a long time. It holds me in this world without decaying.”
Now it was getting interesting. His delusions were finally coming to the surface. I was getting through and my stupidly thought it was a sign of my brilliance.
“Salem, what world do you live in?”
“You are amusing Doc. I live in this world, but not permanently. I like it here though, it’s satisfying.”
I was a bit confused by the last statement, but chose to ignore it. I wanted to establish the cause of his delusional state.
“Do you remember your parents?” I asked.
“Any pleasant memories?”
I looked up from my pad. John was smiling wider than a Cheshire cat. It felt like he was daring me to ask my next question.
“What are they?”
My screams are what brought the orderlies, though I don’t remember screaming. I blocked out most of that day. Salem told me things, showed me things, horrible things. I never believed in God until that day. You see if there is that kind of evil, there must be a God. Otherwise I would have slit my throat long ago. I left my post and began my work for the government.
I had forgotten my past and my experience with him. Even now as I watch the boy, memories flood back. I realize this is all part of what started so long ago. How could I have blocked it from my memory so completely? I never would have believed any of it, but with all that I saw and learned I have become a believer…I must save the boy; the boy is my salvation. Whether it is to help him or to kill him, I will succeed.
Last journal entry from the desk of Dr William Ladd.
Head of Psychiatry
I.F.H.A. (Institute for Human Anomalies)
This is a different character related to a story I did called Salem. This story seems to be coming to me by way of people involve. There is still 3 more characters to be introduced…then the larger story. Weird…but who am I to argue with my imagination…lol.