by Eduardo Modiano


There was a sudden rush of adrenaline all through my body, burning me, making my mind jolt in all directions. My eyes turned white from desperation as I lay on the ground shouting, ripping my hair straight out from its roots. I couldn't take it, there was nothing I could do to ease this pain, and it would only soften with intravenous sedatives. The IV was helping numbing of my senses, making the suffering come to a faster expiration. I got up from the floor with the help of my bed, trying to contain myself from further damage. The ache deprived me from reality as my mind went blank and I could feel warm drool slide down my chin, hearing the distant echo of the saliva breaking against my lap. I could feel my whole body tremble, gasping quickly for air, my hands holding the cold and rusted steel bars at the end of the bed, struggling to keep my body still. My mouth opened, ready to scream, but the only sound was an inaudible squeal. My eyes tightened, forcing tears to roll through my sweaty skin. My nails dug into my face as an unbearable headache originated in the center of my head expanding towards the outside. In desperation I ran towards to wall, my body crashing into softly padded cushions, sending me back just to ram my head over and over into the soft surroundings.

I could hear the rapid footsteps approaching in my direction, along with words that I could not make out from such distance. Seconds after three nurses rampaged into my room, the two in the front grabbed my arms separating the wall and I. And using a driving force they held me against the floor. The third nurse, Gerald, was the name I could read from what had been sewn into his uniform, gave me a shot in the top part of my right arm. As the cold needle entered my arm and the liquid mixed with my blood I could feel a sense of mild relaxation, with the chemicals spreading throughout me rapidly, I could feel the grip on my arms soften. Gerald nodded slowly to the other nurses, who immediately responded to him by placing me in a straightjacket, I showed no resistance to this all I could do was lay still and roll my eyes in all directions. They placed me on the bed and slowly walked out; as they opened the doors I could hear the wails being emitted by the other patients followed by someone closing the locks carefully. I stared out the window in my room, we had one window very high above so that we couldn't reach it, and outside I could see the stars, shining in a lonesome night, outside it showed freedom.

I began the process of awakening, slower than the other times, my body just getting used to working alone again. The sedatives came on pretty strong this time I wasn't expecting them to use so much on me, it took two days for me to awaken. I never knew exactly why I was here; I really just sort of woke up here. ST. MARKS INSTITUTION FOR THE CLINICALLY INSANE, I personally believe they could have come up with a better name it doesn't really sound a place where you would like to send one for your family members. I had no other choice; I have no one to speak up for me, so I could never really fight my way out.

Gerald greeted me once more.

- "Hello Peter, I see you are awake, that's wonderful, now please follow me for your checkup," Gerald said

- "Certainly Gerald," I answered.

I passed the darkened corners following Gerald a step behind him, still unaccustomed to this place; I still didn't feel quite comfortable in this place. After a few turns and doors we arrived at the lab, after using the sedatives they needed to run some blood tests; standard procedure.

The tests didn't end here though, I still had to go and talk with Walter, the shrink, I have to go with him once a week, he's a nice fellow, but he asks way too many questions, he really does get on my nerves when he does that.

His office was very bright; the way his face was illuminated gave off an eerie feeling. His smile spreading as the hinges creaked. Gerald walked in ahead of me. He asked me to step outside while they talked. The muffled voices were unclear; I could make out Gerald was describing past actions, and giving some of my behaviors this week. When Gerald finished speaking he came and got me, took me to Walter's couch and left.

-"So Peter how have you been?" He asked

-"Cant get any better than ok in this hell hole doc."

-"I see. This week been ok? I remember you told me last visit about a girl, have you seen her again?"

-"No, I don't know much about her, except that I love her. She was brought in last week Tuesday to be exact, 3:15 p.m. actually. I remember being with Bill in the patio, and I just saw her stand there lost, not quite understanding her surroundings."

-"Did you talk to her?"

-"She's Alice."

-"Did you ask anyone for her name?" Walter didn't stop writing on his pad.


-"How did you know then?"

-"I knew her from outside."

-"All right Peter, let me check the folders on the new patients and I'll tell you what I can on her next week, does that sound good to you?"

-"Yes, thank you doc."

-"Is there anything else that you wish to share with me Peter?" The spasms I thought, but then again I didn't really want him to know that I've had more spasms than before. I'm sure Gerald already told him, but I wont admit it.

-"Well I have been having fewer spasms and I think I'm feeling pretty normal now, maybe you'll let me go soon?"

-"Hahahahaha oh god Peter, you know that process releasing you isn't that simple."

-"Oh com on doctor you know I'm fine, I'm not crazy, I don't even know why I'm here."

-"Just let me run a few tests on you analyze you and give the doctors a little report on you and maybe help you on leaving sooner, sounds fair to you?

-"Yeah I'll do anything to leave."

-"Ok Peter, well this was only procedure to check on you after one of your attacks, but 'ill see you again on Thursday as usual.

-"All right then, take care doctor and I'll see you on Thursday

-"Gerald" Walter yelled

-"Yes sir?" Gerald came in immediately

-"Take Peter to the patio please, so he can be with the others."

-"Yes sir, right away." Gerald said.

I was escorted to the patio, where I met with Bill; he wasn't a patient, he was just here voluntarily, said he liked being here better than at home. He was thinking of going back soon, said it was time to face reality and stop hiding. I was actually building up a very good relationship with him; I didn't want him to leave, or at least not yet.

I saw Alice again standing alone in the far corner of the patio, just waiting, waiting for something to happen, you could see her blank eyes staring into the vast horizon.

- "I'll be right back Bill"

Before he could answer I was already gone, I was headed for her, I still knew nothing about her but I decided I was going to figure her out right now.

-"Hi." I said eagerly. She didn't respond she was still looking for nothing, her face reflecting the sun, her entire body shining like a ghost in the fog. "Hello" I said again.

She slowly turned around, her eyes meeting mine. Suddenly my body felt as if a bucket of ice water was poured down my back. Everything feeling cold, my hands shaking my palms sweating, suddenly I didn't feel so strong, suddenly I wanted to be back with Bill.

-"Hello" her voice sounded like a choir of angels, so soft yet it could make me tremble in awe.

-"Hello, Alice." I sounded like a little kid.

-"Hello Peter." Her eyes penetrated into mine without moving.

-"I saw when they brought you in, what are you here for?"

-"My mother sent me here, she said I should try being here some time, she said it might help me, but I'm not sure what I'm doing here."

-"Just like me," I giggled nervously, "I have no idea why I'm here."

-"It doesn't seem so bad though, the people and staff seem nice."

-"Yeah." I pointed towards Bill, "That's Bill, he's my best friend in here." She didn't turn around; she just kept looking at me, her eyes strongly fixed on mine. "I'm also like Walter, the psychologist you probably met him already and Gerald the nurse."

-"No I have only met you, I don't recall any of those people, but I'm so glad that you came to talk to me, I was feeling a little bit lonely now."

-"Oh, it's my pleasure; I'm always up for a new friend."

Gerald was announcing that we had to go back to our rooms now, recreation was over, and I wouldn't see her again until dinnertime. I walked over to Gerald and walked by his side.

-"How come you weren't with Bill now?" Gerald asked me

-"I was talking to Alice."


-"Alice, she just came in last week."

-"Oh." He seemed puzzled when I said this, as if not knowing what I was talking about.

-"Well Gerald I guess I'll see you at dinner?"

-"Sure thing."

We approached my room and I entered slowly, not wanting to be there, I wanted to be with Alice. When I was in my room I just laid there in my bed, waiting for time to pass by, I couldn't get her face out of my head, god, she truly was beautiful. Alice, Alice, Alice, I could here her voice echoing in my head, she had me dumbfounded, completely stupefied. I wanted to see her again, to talk to her again. As her name echoed in my inside me, and her face flashed in my eyes as I slowly fell asleep. When my dreams reached its climax and I was reaching for my goal, the sound of opening locks awoke me. I slowly escaped my sleep and entered reality, still confusing what's real, and what isn't. I recognized Gerald right away; I could see him standing in the door.

-"Come on." He moved his head signaling for me to follow him.

I followed him through the lit corridors watching the other patients exiting their rooms as they walked in unison to the dining hall. It was everyday routine, and I hate it, I hate for my life to be a routine I liked it outside where it was different every day, where nothing was expected, I loved the life I lived outside. But it's just a memory now, I'm not sure ill ever leave this god forsaken place.

- "Who did you say you were with during recreation Peter?"

- "Alice she's new."

- "I don't recall her being a patient here."

-"She just came in."


We didn't say anything else on the way to the dining hall, I saw Alice sitting alone at the en of the table I grabbed my food and joined her.

-"Hello Alice."

-"Hi Peter." She seemed much more alive now, very vivid and focused.

-"How are you?"

-"I'm ok, I'm feeling quite energetic now, I was really down in the morning and mid afternoon. But I'm great now."

-"That's great, why are you in here for anyway?"

-"They say I'm crazy." She raised her eyebrows at me and smiled.

-"They say that a lot huh?" We both laughed shortly.

When we laughed I could see both Gerard and Bill talking at the door and looking at Alice and me. I paid no attention to them I just turned around and returned to Alice.

-"What was your life like before you came in here Peter?" She asked

-"It was great, I worked at a new and used record store, and it was truly amazing I had a great job, great friends, but one day I just got here and I lost everything."

-"That's awful."

-"How about your life?"

-"It wasn't that great, I still lived with my mother, I had just left college and I was looking for a job, my mother decided to send me here, I never knew why but she said I needed this, that it would do me good. I wish she would've told me why I'm here, what made her do this, but she never did, she just said one day you'll understand one day you'll thank me, and all of a sudden I'm here."

-"I'm sorry it happened that way, but you'll find that in the end it isn't that bad here, you have me to talk to if you need anything." I smiled like a teenage boy talking to his crush. "You'll make friends in no time."

-"Thanks for the offer, I appreciate you opening up so freely for me. And about the friends I've always been more of a loner than a social type ill just stick to your first idea." She said smiling back.

We sat in silence as we ate our cold diner, just looking at her, as she ate, as she breathed as she lived. I couldn't take my eyes off her I was mesmerized by her beauty, compelled by this magnificent being. I was her slave.

I didn't want to leave the dinning hall, but that's the way it was, at eight everyone had to head back to their rooms, and of course, men and women were separated which made it even harder. I walked at the end of the men's group she walked by my side, looking at each other until the walls separated our bodies. When I opened the door to my palace I allowed the darkness to devour me and I easily gave into its strength. It didn't take long before I entered dreamland.

From when I awoke until I was at the dinner table I felt like complete and total shit, I guess it was just one of those days nothing turns out right and to top it all off I didn't see Alice. I asked around but nobody knew her, no body had heard of her, I was the only friend she had I was the only one she ever talked to. I stopped looking for her and joined Bill during dinner. I haven't been with him for these last two days and I felt bad for deserting him. But I think Alice Bill and I would make an incredible trio. It would be truly amazing.

-"Hey Bill, what up?"

-"Not much Peter, usual stuff."

-"Hey man you got to meet this Alice chick, she's amazing!"


-"Alice man, the girl I've been with for the last couple of days" I can't believe nobody noticed her but me!

-"I don't recall her man, I've seen you around lately, but it seemed as if you were trying to avoid me."

-"This is ridiculous man!" I couldn't believe it, Bill was the one who had been with me since I got here, and I would never abandon him. "Bill, come on, I would never do that to you, I have no reason to be mad at you, or to be avoiding you."

-"I don't know Peter, I'm just saying what I've been seeing."

-"Damn it Bill." I got up and looked for Gerald, I asked him to take me to my room that I wanted to be alone.

I woke up a to a nice Thursday morning, the sun peered through my window and warmed the floor. I sat on my bed waiting, waiting for "God" (the bell) to ring so we could head to the showers and for some breakfast. I needed to see Walter today, and I didn't get to see him until eleven. The day was going by pretty quickly, everything going my way, I still hadn't seen Alice yet, and I missed her a lot.

Gerald came and got me from the lounge and took me to Walters's office. I entered his office, and threw myself onto the couch without saying a word, just like I did at home, just pretending for that moment that I was home.

-"What's up doc?" I laughed at my own joke, but I didn't see him smile. "Man am I glad to see you."

-"How come? You been having a bad day?"

-"It was ok today, but I felt like shit yesterday. Its just as if the whole world was against me for that day, then just left me alone today, one of those days you know?"

-"But how are you feeling today?" he asked as if on cue.

-"Great, except I haven't seen Alice, you know that girl I've been telling you about."

-"I looked her up, I couldn't find anything on her, you were the last patient to come in." he said matter-of-factly.

-"I hate this man, nobody knows her, nobody sees her, Bill thinks I'm avoiding him, just because I've been spending some time with Alice and I'm actually falling for her doc." I stopped where I stood and looked at him, he was following my every move watching carefully. I folded my fingers back into a fist and sat down in silence, starring at the floor.

-"Well Peter, the only thing is, we have no record of her, even if she is voluntary we would still have a record her." He sighed heavily and returned to me. "Ill double check for you, maybe someone took the file without signing for it, ill check everything."

-"Gee, thanks." I said unenthusiastically

-"And as for Bill he's leaving this week, said he was ready."

-"Oh." He caught me by surprise with that one, I never thought bill would leave so suddenly, I thought I'd leave before him, and I would be the one waiting for him outside. "Do you know when exactly?"

-"Thursday," he said slowly. "Right after our weekly meeting, he want you to talk to me and make sure your all right before he leaves, he really cares for you Pete."

-"I know we have become pretty good friends, but I just don't think I was ready for him to leave yet."

-"Well apparently he wanted to get back to life and face the world again."

-"Yeah I feel happy for him, but I thought wed leave together or that I'd wait for him." I looked at him directly at his eyes. "Its just odd you know?"

-"Its odd, but I trust you'll leave right behind him Pete, don't you worry about that, you'll have great times outside."

-"Shit doc." I rubbed my eyes to dissolve the tears in my skin. "I really am gonna miss him, I didn't realize at first but Bill's the reason I'm sane. He's my guardian in the end, and I'll always appreciate him for it."

-"I know its hard Peter, but ill be here if you want to talk to me, just ask Gerald to get me."

-"Yo doc. Can we cut the meeting short today? I wanna be outside" I said quivering.

-"Sure." He yelled Gerald's name and waited for him to arrive.

He nodded his head towards him and Gerald motioned for me to go with him.

As I was leaving I could see the notes Walter took, I saw my name at the top and in the end I could read: SHOWS SIGNS OF HALLUCINATIONS, CONFUSSEMENT, MIXED EMOTIONS. NOT READY TO BE RELEASED. KEEP HIM UNDER CLOSE WATCH. ALICE??

I could feel the blood boil under a hot layer of burning flesh.

"She is real," I yelled at Walter as I left his office, "she is real." Walters face showed confusion at first then disapproval.

-"Boo!" I heard someone cry out behind me as I entered the patio.

-"Hey, how are you." It was Alice. "I'm so glad to see you."

-"You don't look so happy," she said with a face of pity.

-"Well I heard that Bill I leaving this Thursday, its just too soon to see him leave, I'm not ready yet."

-"You'll still have me," she said and winced her eye at me.

-I laughed and hugged her. "Thanks."

We began walking to the benches near the elk trees. We talked about everything and nothing until it was dinnertime, she was amazing, and she was everything I had ever dreamed of, she was close yet I couldn't reach her. When dinner came I talked her into joining Bill and me, she hesitated quite a lot but agreed in the end.

-"Hey Bill, I want you to meet, Alice, she's the girl I've been telling you so much about." Bill waved and said hi

-"She is truly amazing man, I told her to join us for dinner, is that cool with you?"

-"Sure, please sit down." He pointed to the two empty chairs beside him.

I let Alice sit between us so she could get more comfortable to Bill as well. I saw Gerald come in, looking at us in the most peculiar way. I saw him getting Bills attention and Pointing to Alice. Bill just shrugged and pointed at me, he had this look on his face, it made me worry, this look of discontent, as if something was wrong, I didn't dare ask what was happening but I sure would like to know. The conversation was mostly between Alice and me; Bill didn't say much he just sat in silence, wary of Alice and me. Maybe jealousy, maybe he was sad he was leaving, it was the firs time that I had seen Bill like this, he had always been the happy type of person.

Bill just whispered in my ears, the only thing I caught was "bye" then I saw him take his tray and leave. I saw him walk to where Gerald was standing, of course from here I couldn't hear anything, but it didn't look good. I could see them looking at me every once in a while and moving their heads from side to side in disapproval, something was wrong, I didn't like this at all. I was relieved when the bell rang; I walked far away from Gerald and went straight into my room. Crying in the corner, face buried in my knees I just hoped tomorrow wouldn't come.

When the morning came everything happened so quickly I don't quite remember, I knew I had a seizure, but this time it got bad, I attacked a nurse and had to get six stitches on my head. I didn't wake up until Sunday, I didn't quite feel normal, and I was in a hospital bed surrounded by nurses and a few doctors. This was the fist time Walter was there when I awoke and not Gerald.

-"Morning doc." My eyes were still getting used to the light, so I could only see his outline, and yet I could recognize him perfectly.

-"Good morning Peter." He was looking over some files as he spoke. "How are you feeling?"

-"Tired, dizzy, weak, anduh, just not my self, my head hurts like a bitch man."

-"Well you had to get six stitches."

-"Damn, it feels like a huge hangover." I snickered but I had to stop, laughing just increased the pain.

-"I think you'll have to stay like this until tomorrow."

-"What? But I have to see Alice and Bill."

-"You'll see them when you're able to"

-"I am able"

-"Look at you Peter you are in no condition to go anywhere."

That was the end of that discussion; I let my upper body drop back into the bed and closed my eyes. I just wanted to be with Alice and see Bill before he leaves. According to doc. I'll be out of here by Monday, that will give me three days to be with Bill and hopefully some time to get things straight with him, cause lately he's been acting really weird around me.

Things at hospital sucked, I couldn't really do much, I was just there all day drinking apple juice and eating. I dint really felt like walking or moving at all actually I just relaxed and enjoyed what I could, had a lot of time to think about life itself and my own life. I came to realize that I had never really gripped my life, it had always just been there but it had never been mine. Maybe now I understand why I'm here and maybe I should just stay here like bill even though they let me go, I should just stay here until I get things straight go out when I'm ready to face life.

Monday morning I was sitting in Walters's office, talking to him, making sure everything was ok.

-"Peter, this seizure was really bad."

-"I know, but it's over now and I'm ok."

-"Luckily so is Francis, the nurse you assaulted, he only had some scratches and bruises, no big deal."

-"Well can I go now? I want to see Bill and Alice."

-"About Alice Pete, she isn't real, she is just your imagination, and there never was an Alice; you made her up. I don't know why but you did and I want to figure out."

-"I didn't make her up, I met her right before I came here, and now I'm starting to know her better, I didn't really know her outside but I like her a lot now.

-"Peter she isn't real. You're rational, why won't you understand?"

-"I didn't make her up." My eyes were full of rage, my mouth tightening grinding my teeth. I was furious, I couldn't take this I finally find the girl of my dreams and I can't have her. They say I'm crazy.

-"Peter, please calm down."

-"Shut the fuck up Walter, this session is over."


It was too late I was gone; I stormed out of that room faster than I ever thought my self-possible of running. Halfway to the patio Gerald caught up to me, I knew he would sooner or later.

-"Walter told me you had quite a fit in his office, what was that all about?"

-"He's messing with my mind; he's totally fucked up Gerald." I was still angry; I wanted to be with her, to prove them she's real.

-"Whoa Peter, chill out, he's just trying to help you, seriously. What'd he say that got you so angry?"

-"He insists Alice isn't real, he insists I'm making everything up, he thinks I'm hallucinating, he thinks I'm crazy goddamn it."

-"What are you talking about? Who's Alice?" Gerald stopped me right before the door, confused, worried in a way.

-"The girl I've been with for the past week. The reason Bill has been alone, the reason I had that seizure, the reason why everything has gone to hell lately."

-"I haven't seen you with Bill, but I haven't seen you with any girl neither."

-"So you're with Walter, you think I'm crazy too? Damn it Gerald, goddamn it." Unbelievable truly unfuckingbelievable.

-"I know you're ok Peter, but I've only seen you talking to yourself, even Bill's worried about you."

-"He talked with her, he saw her."

-"No he didn't he just pretended because he didn't want to make you feel bad, Peter but there is no Alice."

-"You know what Gerald, fuck off; yeah that's right fuck you." I flicked him off a couple of times and went to the patio."

I headed straight for Alice hugged her and stood there, crying in her shoulder. Burring my face as hard as I could, proving to my self she was real, and proving love as real. All I needed was to hear her voice, hear her voice of consolidation.

- "What's wrong"?

-"Everything," I said in between tears. "I just want to be here with you, I just want you." She was real, I could embrace her I felt my tears moistening her robe, she was as real as everyone there, she was my love.

-"Peter what's wrong?" her voice was trembling, following the nervous movement of her eyes.

-"Just let me be with you, please." She wiped the tears from my eyes and kissed me, as I felt her soft lips touch against mine, I froze the world, nothing, no one but Alice and me. The softness of the kiss took control of my body, her warm touch on my cheeks, sweet and tender embracing my heart stealing it slowly.

I was brought back to reality by a quick flash of light, followed by Gerald taking a hold of me, dragging me into the facilities. I didn't understand what was happening. I could only see Alice on her knees crying hands reaching for me, surrounded by a crowd, the crowd ignoring her, passing her without notice, just following me and Gerald. I soon lost site of her as I entered the building, I soon lost sight of everything.

  Coldness brought me back, as I lay there shivering, a cold rag on my forehead, I couldn't move. I soon realized I was in a straightjacket laying down on a couch. I recognized the three people in the room right away, even when I could only see their outline, Bill was right in front of me, Walter was to his side and Gerald was the one with the wet rag over my head.  

-"What the hell was that all about?" My voice was raspy, and I couldn't quite understand anything, I was barely conscious.

-"Peter, we need to talk to you, no bullshit, we need you to understand." Bill's voice was hard, his eyes penetrating mine like stabbing needles with no mercy.

-"We can't let this go on any further." Walter and Bill were both focused on my, Gerald was still caring for me.

-"What are you talking about, I still don't understand." I was honestly confused I couldn't figure it out.

-"Alice," Walter said.

-"Please listen to us, its for your own good Peter," Bill spoke fast and strong. I really had nowhere to run.

-"What you brought me in here to tell me Alice is a figment of my imagination?" I had me strength back and I was ready to leave this room, I just couldn't believe them.

-"Just take a look at this please." Walter handed me a folder.

-"I don't know what you're trying to prove here guys, but you're wasting your time."

-"Just open the folder Pete," said Bill.

-"Fine" I sighed heavily and rolled my eyes at them. I opened the folder slowly, staring at both Bill and Walter; I didn't understand what was happening.

As I opened the folder I saw a Polaroid picture of me in the patio. I was hugging nothing, my eyes closed and the tip of my tongue sticking out of my mouth. My body felt cold all of a sudden, weak, alone, the room became empty and my air vast. I barely felt the picture slip out of my hand, my senses were numb and so was my mind, the shock was too much to handle. I recognized everything in the picture perfectly, it was the patio, I was with Alice and we were kissing. But now I see I was alone, I wasn't kissing anything but air I saw the truth, she wasn't real, I was alone, I really did belong here, I was really crazy.

Everything was happening so fast, everything was so sudden; my body was getting hot, my upper lip sweating and my hands trembling. The last thing I felt was my head going to extreme temperatures and then everything went black, everything around me disappeared I was alone, not even Alice was with me anymore.

-"How's he doing Walter? Be honest with me," said Bill.

-"He's gone Bill." Walter spoke with a sense of melancholy in his voice. "I'm so sorry."

-"Can I see him?" Bills voice trailed off, he had tears in his eyes, his teeth penetrating his lower lip slowly breaking the skin.

-"Sure." Walter led Bill through a maze of dimmed hallways. They both walked slowly and in silence. "There." Walter pointed to a door.

Patient 7101 Peter Wregner. Bill could see Peter through a small plastic window, he laid, in the corner of an empty room, it nothing but padding covering the walls. Peter just sat there, middle finger in his mouth and drool falling from his lip, he took his finger out of his mouth, looked at it in amazement and began laughing.

-"Oh my god." Bill turned away and exploded in tears. "What happened to him Walter?"

-"After we showed him the picture, we assume he just collapsed."


-"A mental break down, he just lost it, he's basically in a vegetable state now. He's gone Bill."

Rate this submission


You must be logged in to rate submissions