Just need a sentence here to avoid directly following that greeting with ‘My name is’. Alright. My name is Ryan, and I concern myself with the story, characters, and overall universe of our current project. Simply stated, I’m the writer. As such, I’m naturally excited to present the first part of a brief tale (a short story, if you will) that takes us into the mind of a man on the edge of sanity. What, not hooked? Here’s the kicker: he’s attempting to prove he’s in good mental health.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Ryan, I’m in, but how will this tie into the game when it’s released?” Good question. While this is a precursor to the events of the game, it plays upon many of the same themes. Think of it as a companion piece. Also, I’d like to take this moment to clarify that I’m not nearly as upset as this picture implies. Good? Good. Without further ado, I give you part one of…
It made sense for a lot of these people when you thought about it. Withering and useless, most of them. That middle-aged one they call Bamber, for instance, who walks around aimlessly, stopping every once in a while to sniff the ether. Three times today she’d followed him into his room, as if his privacy weren’t already invaded by the two others they made him share with. It was a madness he’d never witnessed or believed until this place, where even the caretakers travelled along the trail of broken ambition. It’s one thing to get locked up here, but to come of your own accord says something about your mental health.
“And they think I’m the one, I’m the one going crazy,” he explained to his visitors.
In recent years his senses had dulled, as did the filters that protected his senses, so the threshold of the words hurt almost as much as their meaning when his son delivered them into the pit of his ear,
“Well Dad, we’ve gotta get going, but next time we’ll bring some of those grain cakes you like.”
He saw the rest of their eyes widen, as if they could finally release the angst they had been storing up for the past hour. Even the youngest, another name lost, had twitched about the entire time, clutching on to whatever device they hoped to distract him with this week.
He started to respond, but they were already talking about something else he couldn’t hear. Must be the smell that makes them want to run, he thought. His nose had acclimated to it, but they were probably breathing lightly. No one to blame but themselves; should’ve paid more if they wanted “clean.” He would try to talk again. Mistaking the premature movement of his lips for words already attempted, his son encouraged,
“What dad, what did you say?”
“When?” He mustered.
“When what dad?” he could hear the woman’s impatience through her ridiculous pepped up tone.
“When?” He tried again.
As the silence came upon them he wanted to clarify. Just a few more seconds to form his words in a coherent manner that would prove his sanity. His lips started to move, but transitioned to a quiver as he witnessed the gradual, upward curvature of their mouths. What he must look like; old, over-emotional man babbling to the ether. What a dense and shameful lot he’d produced.
“When are you coming back you fools?” he wished he’d asked quick enough.
Synapsis Strata they called his condition, where the inner workings of your head start to separate and make you lose your longest thoughts. But what good are memories if you can’t hold anyone’s attention? There they all were, self-proclaimed in their wisdom, all colluding to enjoy what they saw as his mental demise. He couldn’t tell if they thought they were being secretive about it, or were just cruel.
His sight trailed hazily to the floor, on to a black mark made by someone’s roller. Unlikely thing to want to look at, but it’s funny the things you focus on in absence of hope. It reminded him of the time people adored him. The floors were made of wood back then, more prone to scuffs by footwear and prop furniture. Our Ville, he remembered, featuring the likes of Lizzy Nelson, Roger Young, and later on himself, Albert Wallace. As the script told it, Martin Newsby was a bit character with a limited role. Early in the tour, however, audiences found themselves charmed with his portrayal of the town’s naively precocious scroll boy. The night they came back to Nuasus to conclude the season, his whole family sat in the front row with an expression of pride. Even his—
“—Dad!” someone shook. “Huh!?” he startled.
One of them laughed out loud this time, unashamed and giddy to leave, he imagined. They’d only been there twenty minutes. Or an hour, he meant an hour.
“Well we’re going to get going, but when we come back we’ll”
The voice shriveled as he looked beyond them at one of his fellow captives, who idly dozed in front of the corner window. It had the good view of the trees, right where they descended down the hill. He would’ve sat there too, if there weren’t such a concentration of that smell. He noticed the caretaker also, strutting in from behind. Big man with a lot of developed flesh, and hair that looked to stand up by force. His fluffy fingers gently gripped the handles of the man’s roller without detection. No one seemed to pay any mind as he turned to grin at the young woman behind the pharmacy counter, or as he jerked the man’s roller so hard it nearly came out from under him.
“hate to see you miss out on all the activiti” he heard as he glanced peripherally at his son, then back to the scene in the common area.
The roller was sailing across the room, destined for the step in front of the pharmacy, the passenger with frightful expression.
“Meds for Mr. Maver!” the caretaker called after him.
“and that’s all we want for you, Dad,” someone concluded.
He thought to put some energy toward telling them, but something stopped him. Nothing would change from here on out, no matter what.
“We all love you,” she said with a smile not as genuine as the one she shared earlier.
Once they’d risen and headed for the door, their pace was unapologetically brisk, only faltering to acknowledge and chuckle at the caretaker as he ruffled Mr. Maver’s hair and explained to the pharmacist,
“Nah, he loves it.”