Chinderly Smiling

Chapter 1 Room 24B

I stared out the window as the nurse jabbed the metal into my arm. Scared to move, I studied the clouds. So free. Like a great big blanket, they suddenly covered the sun, and my eyes adjusted to the darkness, only to be stabbed again by the sharp rays of sunlight pulling their way from underneath the whiteness. I glanced back to see the syringe on a metal plate sitting on the nurse’s trolley. She smiled at me, but she looked scared. She must have been new, because none of the others ever even made eye contact with the patients.
My skin grew cold as another glimpse out of the window reassured me my warmth was gone. It became apparent to me after the calmness passed, as my headache decided to devour what little energy I had left. I think I was concentrating too much on the sun, as I was able to ignore the voices and images in my head.
“How long?” the nurse mumbled, not sure whether to talk or not. I shot her a confused look, thinking it best not to scare her too. I pretended not to know what she was talking about. “How long, have you been here?” she asked again quickly. I could feel them in the next room; “Play nice,” they thought over and over.
“Six months,” I replied to the nurse. She kept about her work and monitored my heart rate using her watch. I listened to her count to thirty. “Perfectly fine,” she called over her shoulder to the assistant. He marked something down on a clipboard. He stood tall, dark skinned -a coloured man, with huge broad shoulders. His name was Charlie Giles – to all the patients, but I knew him differently. His name was really Paul, Paul Chinderly. He never smiled. I’d asked him why once, but he didn’t reply, at least not out aloud.
Every image I ever saw from him was of a grave. One day he’d held me down, probably during the middle of the night actually. It was most likely after a nightmare, when I had to be pumped full of drugs. As soon as he touched me and I couldn’t move, the dream stopped but another one began. There was the grave; “Beloved Brother and Son – Jim Henry Chinderly.” My guess was that it was his brother. At first that was all I could see but then it was like there was a story to be told. Something else, something not in that picture. It shook me for a while, when I saw the figure, running to the edge of a skyscraper. I heard voices that night too. Mostly screaming and shouting, but the figure looked calm. Then he said: “Live for me,” just before his final step over the edge.
I looked down as his eyes caught mine, starring at him. He wrote a bit more on the clipboard, and then listened for more instructions from the nurse. She was still busy looking at the monitor and her watch, as if waiting for something to happen…
And she was. She was waiting for me to react. I had to have so many blood tests and virus’ put through me that I didn’t keep track of them anymore. She stopped counting for exactly eight seconds and looked at the bands around my wrists examining them. Then at the ones across my chest and the ones that kept my legs glued to the operating table. As if I was going to hurt anyone. Then she placed her hand to my head to check my temperature. The last thing she should have done. I had to close my eyes, with all her thoughts going through my head; I couldn’t let her see them, so I shut them tight. She saw me squint. “How are you feeling?” she asked. I opened my eyes to concentrate on what she had just said.
“Yes, I’m fine,” I said. Damn it! I kept thinking it over in my head. They were experimenting again. Probably why I wasn’t aloud to eat for the last twenty-four hours. Conspicuous, no. They were nothing of the kind. Every patient is always classed as a two-year old in a homicidal maniac’s body, to them. We weren’t seen as actual people with even the least amount of brain-matter.
Yes, experimenting. I was the prime candidate. My visitors were few. She (the nurse) didn’t like the idea, but I could tell she had no choice really. Either mentally traumatise and already mentally traumatised eighteen year old girl or loose your job. The choice is easy, even I would go with a). So she was still on my side, at least she wasn’t on theirs. They never directly attended to me, but all the decisions made around here were by them.
“Alright Keira,” she said, having difficulty even remembering my name, “I’ll see you in a few hours, just for a check-up.” More like to see if I was tied down kicking and screaming again, waiting for the next hit. I’ll probably be a drug addict, by the time I make it out of this terrible place. There’s just one problem. I don’t think I ever will.
She collected her things and headed for the door, Paul following her with the keys. He shot me a “Please behave,” sort of look, then clicked the lock into place. Alone. Not really. Their eyes were still on me, through the tinted frame, but I could pretend. I tried to guess which room they had me in, then I remembered 24B written on the door as the nurse and Chinderly left the room. There were so many and they all looked the same; white, cushioned walls, for the patients like Sammy.
I couldn’t even remember the correct terms for anyone’s conditions, but his had something to do with memory loss. It stuck with me, when I found him one day, before the nurses actually. He was sitting in a corner talking to himself, shaking and his eyes were drowned in tears. He lurched at me, I thought he had every intention of killing me, but it turns out all he wanted was a hug. As much as it hurt to see his mind, I held on to him. All the pain that I felt from those few seconds could have taken my life, because that day I learned Sammy’s secret. Memory loss wasn’t the half of it! He had suffered so much.
I tried to recall the details. There would have been headlines from here to the other side of Greenwich. Car crash, five passengers, 4 fatalities and a sole survivor. He was hospitalised and later diagnosed with four-hour memory loss. I think I would rather die if I was Sammy. Poor guy. Every minute of his life will be remembering his family strewn across a road in the outskirts of the city, mangled between pieces of metal and rubber in the middle of a highway. Yes, he deserved so much better than these dark white cages.
But for now, I had to concentrate on my own fate. Damn it! Another experiment! Again I tried to find the sun, through my cold barred window, from my strapped prison. There it was. I basked in the warmth as I drifted off to sleep. It made no difference whether or not I was scared to sleep. I woke-up here tied to the table. I might as well get over it. Conspicuous, no. Sneaky, yes, incredibly sneaky.

Enjoying the blackness. No thoughts. Just the sun. Or so I thought. They didn’t know I wasn’t asleep, so I let them talk as if I was oblivious. Charlotte Jackson, yes that was her name, the nurse and Chinderly and them.
It scared me; the way they were talking. Miss Jackson sounded reluctant to their plan, whatever it was. I heard her thinking, “This is wrong, they’re human!” Chinderly was as quiet as a mouse. All I heard of him was the slight jingle of keys and the patter his shoes made across the floor as he shuffled to his usual place. About a metre away from me. I imagined Chinderly, overseeing everything that was happening. His eyes were my eyes for a while, big and blue. I watched them from his corner. They were preparing to wake me up. I shivered as a cold pain shot up my arm, then as it started to burn, I flicked open my eyes.
It was bright. White light climbed through my pupils, making their way to my brain to send a jolt of adrenalin screaming through my system. I tried to squirm free of the straps, but they were relentless, as always. Miss Jackson held yet another syringe in her fingertips. I watched the excess serum squirt from the tip of the needle that looked ten times thicker than the normal ones. I braced for the pain.
Whatever was injected raced through my arm, as did the adrenalin. I wasn’t sure why I reacted like I did to it. They found out though, from all of the other experiments, and claimed it was harmless. Not to me it wasn’t! When I slowly calmed down, I realised I had not even noticed the doctors, let alone notice them leave. They were only watching again. I wasn’t sure why they never came near me. They worked with every other patient, but not me. It bothered me, not knowing the reason for their reluctance, considering how they tortured us all so inhumanly. I tried to see through the glass, but as every other time, there was nothing to see. Miss Jackson tapped her watch after three minutes and picked up a clipboard and started monitoring me, writing everything down at the same time. It was humiliating. I felt like an animal, stuck in a zoo. It was so cruel. Yet I couldn’t tell anyone. Who would believe a mentally insane psychopath?
I gritted my teeth. Whatever they were doing, it was wrong. I’d seen some of the things they’d put some of the others through. And Sammy. I have no idea why any being would want to touch even a hair on his head! Suddenly I felt the usual pain hit, followed by the normal blackout, and I was asleep.

Chapter 2 Meeting Chase

I woke to the sound of familiar voices. Sammy sat at the end of my bed in my room. White as the walls that held him, like a ghost. Some of the others sat appreciating my window. It was strange that the asylum only had the one room with a view of the outside world, barred as it was. “Are you hungry?” Sammy asked timidly. He pulled at his sleeves as if he were cold. “No,” I replied. He looked disappointed. “Why?” I asked.
“Just had dinner,” he said, “You missed out.”
“Yer, I probably shouldn’t eat right now though.” He starred at the bandages around my forearm and then without a word, walked out the door. He had perfect timing. It made it amusing when Chinderly walked down the halls to say “Bed time,” and Sammy made impossible timing to bed, ghosting his way out the door before Chinderly even noticed him. Walking to my room Chinderly shut the door and again clicked the latch. Everyone went back to their rooms for the nighttime, some with the ‘help’ of the people in white.

Next morning Sammy escorted me to the cafeteria, after his second lapse since the early hours of the morning. The nurses let me try and calm him, only before 8:00am though, as it was against the rules anyway. But Sammy wouldn’t see anyone else when he got like that. So scared and reckless. It made me feel kind of special. But there was something special about Sammy too, something I hadn’t quite figured out yet. So I took every opportunity to understand him. He was not crazy. I hoped that I wasn’t, and as far as I was concerned – very few people here were. I’d thought about it, especially after something Sammy told me one morning, during his ‘separation’.

“I saw them hurt Chase one time, then they made him forget. Stay away
from the office! Or they’ll make us forget too…”

His words scared me, not only scared – but terrified. Mind you Sammy was heavily sedated at the time. I thought it all the more reason to believe him though. Since that day, I kept a close eye on that office. I needed eyes in there, to know what they were hiding behind those concealing walls. I’d checked with everyone I could, but nobody knew anything, or seemed to know anything. Miss Jackson and Chinderly didn’t know anything either!
After breakfast was finished, we were sent to the free-time workshop room. There was one person I hadn’t listened to. Chase. Sammy took up his usual perch on the old, wooden stool near the window. He starred out of the window every time we visited that room. It must’ve brought him some sort of comfort, I don’t know why, it was as dull as a graveyard. He watched all of the people on the sidewalks. He said he knew some of them. How far that was from the truth, I had no idea. So I encouraged his willingness to take his mind off more complicated subjects. He enjoyed seeing people smile and laugh, so I tried my best to see his view, through his eyes and be as optimistic as possible, under the circumstances.
Today I thought it best to leave him to bury his mind in an adventure outside the walls of the asylum. He was imagining life outside of them. He took me on many journeys through his mind. There are very few people who I think can turn such a situation into something so, so amazingly beautiful – as Sammy’s mind.
I decided to approach Chase. Maybe he could remember something, anything. As I came near him I noticed his fists. They were clenched into tiny little balls. His knuckles were white and yet his face was completely serene. He smiled when he saw me, so I immediately trusted him. He didn’t smile very often from what I knew.
“Hey Keira,” he said, and motioned for me to sit down with him. I took a seat.
“You know my name? You’re Chase right?”
“Yeah, but how’d you know that? No-one here knows me by that name.” Oh crap! Think Keira, think! “Oh, umm, I heard a nurse call you that once.” He grinned.
“Yeah that would probably be it, either that or you’re a mind-reader!” He laughed. I laughed back, trying to be convincing, hoping it didn’t sound as fake as it was.
“So what brings you to this side of the nut-house?” he asked, waiting for me to smile. I sat up slightly, wincing as I did so because of a pain in my back. He looked confused as I did so. “Had a test,” was my excuse. “Umm, well, I was wandering,” I couldn’t just flat ask him… “If you wanted to hang with Sammy and I sometime. You’re always by yourself.” He smiled. He didn’t seem convinced, but I couldn’t know for sure. I couldn’t read his thoughts without touching him, so I went to place my hand on his knee. A normal gesture, or so I would have thought.
To my surprise he slid out of the way, dodging my hand. I shot him a confused look, hoping he wouldn’t become suspicious. Again he surprised me. He grinned from ear-to-ear! “Oh no you don’t!” he snickered. I must’ve almost fallen off my chair because I swiped a tray of pencils all over the floor. “Damn it!” I said, this time out aloud. I started to pick them up when he bent down to help. My cheeks felt 50o. “You dropped them everywhere!” I thought I heard him say.
“I know!” I hissed angrily. He wasn’t co-operating. Maybe he wasn’t the idea of normal. Didn’t ‘normal’ guys just pretend it was no big deal? “What?” he said. Great, yes, play dumb!
“I said I know!” I retorted.
“You know what?”
“That I dropped them everywhere!”
“Well yes, and you did a good job! But why are you so aggravated?”
I retaliated further. “Cause you made-fun of me by pointing out that they went everywhere!”
I stopped gathering the pencils. Move over 50o, here comes 110o! “Oh no, oh no!” I thought to myself. I knew I had to go before things got worse. He knew my secret. Secrets weren’t supposed to be known, at least not this secret! I knew I couldn’t go anywhere where he couldn’t, and, unfortunately so did he. As I got up, he took my arm and pulled me down to my seat, quite forcefully too. Damn it, damn it! It was like a CD had hit a scratch and stuck to 3 seconds of a song, playing it over and over. Damn it!
He grinned his grin again. It was a Bond grin, like he knew everything there was to know! “Got cha,” he finally said, and opening his mouth he tightly shut it again, biting at the air in front of me, showing his perfectly white teeth. He then sat back smugly in his chair and put the palms of his hands together. I felt like I was in Grade 2, and I had stolen a crayon. Now I was paying the ultimate price in front of the headmaster!
Stunned, I sat back in my chair too, deciding not to give him any complete amount of satisfaction. “How’d you know?” I slowly asked him.
“Well you’re not a throw-away.” I gasped.
“A throw-away?” What on earth was he referring to?
“I mean, haven’t you noticed, well you’ve only been here what, six months?” I nodded in response. “Well I’ve been here for a while, about two and a half years. They keep people like us.”
“What do you mean ‘like us’?” I asked flatly.
“Well that gave it away too, that and the way you don’t talk very much, it’s all just listening for you, not to the words either, at least not the ones that are out aloud! Yours is pretty interesting.”
I gave him a nasty look, then smiled, trying to encourage him to keep talking.
“You really have no idea!” he laughed. “Every patient admitted to this ward either goes elsewhere at five months or stays. So far, everyone that’s stayed, is, well ‘special’, and I say that only as an understatement!”
I decided to go along, with his ‘theory’. “So what can you do?” I asked, sounding like a five year old asking her parents where babies came from.
With my question, he waved his hand in front of me, and held it cupped open as if expecting mine in return. I decided to follow along and I gently placed mine into his. It was warm against mine. But as his hand grasped mine I forgot all about the temperature.
He nodded to a small girl, not three metres away.

Chinderly Smiling


Joined September 2008

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