Despite his surroundings, Crescent Bridge Asylum never really made Flynn feel, well, crazy. No matter how many times he was enclosed by lies and deceptive phrases, it didn’t break his composure— much less did it break his mentality. When it came to where he stood, when it came down to his desire to be good, over the evil that he witnessed in his dreams.. That was another story. The group sessions never made him question his sanity, or lose his mind. Where would he be capable of standing straight, if not on his own two feet? Knowing all too well what it was to make the most of any situation he was in from the erudition his ‘mother’ had brought him up with, Flynn’s ability to adapt had expanded since even the youngest years of his childhood. Not that he often had trouble fitting in before a couple years previous. It wasn’t until the nightmares begun that he’d started to subconsciously isolate himself from those around him.
It wasn’t intentional. Most people would do anything to avoid being entirely alone. Flynn was one of those ‘human’ beings, just the same. He loved company, the presence of another that he could make smile, make happy— he loved the idea of giving another living thing a beneficial piece of who he was. Even if they didn’t realize it in the moment, he was more than capable of doing so for most people he came across. An inevitable charm, his smile worked as a latent lure, the working enticement of his straight teeth, curled lips, sweet-swelling breath… a package that was fit for a monster on the hunt. That much hadn’t hit him until his night terrors had embarked in his head.
The insanity part hadn’t been ‘rubbed in’ by the fact that he was living in an asylum. Instead, the young boy was ailed by he who alerted him of future sins in those troublesome dreams. Rather than the thing that put him in the mental institution in the first place, Flynn’s confidence in his own cognitive stability reflected all that took place in the middle of the night. Whatever had stolen root in his psyche seemed more permanent than he would’ve liked to admit, but letting it get to him would do him no good. Of that much, he could’ve been certain. Either way, there was no changing it.
Trying to push away the vicious emotions and pangs of guilt seemed to make them worsen. He didn’t want them to worsen, anymore. In fact, he would’ve very much appreciated if they went away, entirely. But while he hadn’t lost hope, Flynn did know that making wishes did absolutely nothing in a place like this. As a matter of fact, the last time he’d made a wish was his first group session. He hoped— he wished to make some sort of acquaintance, considering his luck before then had been absolutely zip. While his wish had been granted for the most part, everything since then had gone downhill. Still, even though the entire place seemed like a trip down the stairs. If that wasn’t bad enough, it might as well have been one where there was no control of one’s direction, either.
His eyes lit up at the sound of her voice, head tilting to face her mien with a clumsy grin. “Lauren!” Beaming, he scooted slightly (though entirely unnecessary) before catching drift of her idea and opening to where she’d left the pages separate. Tilting his head, he tongued the corner of his mouth in a moment’s thought. “How’d you sleep?” A little quieter, then, as he marked the circle in the center of the chart she’d drawn for the two of them. Typical, perhaps, but any strategist would take a general path to make it seem anything but evident. Sealing the notepad as a few began to be seated, some completely blank, others exhausted, Flynn handed it back to her before resting his cheek in his palm, elbow stilling atop the armrest.
“Not so bad…” She smiled, watching as he opened the book to where she’d left the marker and took his turn. Nights without nightmares were as good as it got for any of them. While she hadn’t had any, she wasn’t entirely sure if he would’ve said the same. But he had asked first, so it didn’t much seem like a topic that should have been avoided completely. Besides, it wasn’t as though she’d judged him for it before… what little he’d shared with her on past occasions, that is. He was the closest thing she had to a friend — the closest she probably would. She wasn’t going to do anything to ruin it. They were all crazy, anyway. “Did you?” Well, that’d come out wrong. She was trying to be considerate, but the words had escaped all jumbled anyhow. “…How did you, I mean. Yeah, that’s what I meant!” She laughed quietly, hoping she’d corrected herself in time for it to not be awkward, or for him to think she’d meant anything by it.
She’d never trusted anybody with her journal. Normally, people only got their hands on it when they took it from her forcefully. Though there were probably dozens of things written about him within its pages, for some reason, she trusted him enough not to look through it. Definitely nothing bad. About him, at least. Just silly, little things. Things she wrote down to make sure she remembered them. The medicines and treatments messed with the mind, and she wanted to make sure she had a way to keep track of what was real and what wasn’t. It was the only way to hang on to whatever sanity was left. She took the book back as he offered it, opening it back to their game and chewing on her bottom lip.
“Flynn and Lenore, sitting in a tree! K - I - S - S - N - I - G!” Lauren lifted her eyes to the disruption scanning the room for the culprit, though with the wrong attempt at her name and lack of spelling, she already knew who it was. He was sitting next to Sebastian, grin big-as-could-be on his face, innocently enough. Lauren couldn’t help but smile back, however embarrassing the outburst had been. She didn’t know much about him, other than his name, and that after an accident that had left his brain scrambled, his parents hadn’t wanted him anymore. Back to the pad in her lap, she giggled, marking her next box before sliding it back across the seat to him.
One Headlight ✘ The Wallflowers
They were pretty.
The monsters, anyway. Or the dreams, more or less. He’d always managed to think that there was something beautiful about everything he saw in the nightmares. Flynn had been raised like any average boy— one that should have been afraid, instinctively, of all that went bump in the night. Instead, he was attracted to the cryptid creatures from bad television shows, infatuated with spectral images and verses of light that made him wonder. Still, wondering had been much simpler a few years previous to his admittance to the institution.
Before he knew it, thinking well of the beasts plaguing his dreams had become a crime. Even his own mother couldn’t bear her son’s strange, nighttime hallucinations. They were graphic, vivid, yes, but Flynn wasn’t frightened until he opened his eyes, come morning. The blood didn’t faze him until he awoke. Nothing mattered until reality set in, and to be frank, the more that fact crossed his mind, the more Flynn had begun to ‘wonder’ which reality belonged to him, in the first place. Often, he sank into his sheets as the bright blue in his eyes turned to a fading gray. Still, not even that was an escape from the cage with a name. He knew better than to wake up with intentions of releasing such tones in flights of sounds, for it was no use. Flynn couldn’t muster the thought of making someone frown with the intent to do so, much less could he go through with a massacre that made out to him in the dimly lit evenings.
Only sometimes, when he woke up… He wasn’t alone, anymore.
“Man, you’re predictable.” His voice. How could his own voice speak to him? The sinister tinge was like a mirror, but when Flynn moved, the other did not. Between them was no wall of glass, no shift to an alternate dimension. Sometimes, it was late. In the middle of the night, even, where this man, this creature would face him, make Flynn stare into his own eyes that held such difference. They were deep with hatred, filled with anger. And often, Flynn wished that there was something he could to, so he could make it stop.
Just one night, just make it stop for one night.
It never did, though. Instead, it worsened. On the worst nights, Flynn would succeed in shouting out, burning his throat. “Who are you?” They should have been sensible words, they should have come out reasonably— when he asked a question, an answer was supposed to come to him that made sense of absolutely everything. Strange, really, how even when Flynn reached out to grab ‘his own’ shoulder, to push it away, it was concrete. Existent. Once or twice, the doppelganger had thrown its knuckles into Flynn’s teeth. Another night, he’d simply disappeared. Either way, the unfortunate patient always wound up in solitary for breaking the rules when they had been so explicitly clarified. They hadn’t bothered to keep him alone long enough for him to crack. So in that, he could manage to keep his lips parted, white teeth a threat to his own emotional privacy. Avoiding the visitor had proven futile when Flynn asked for someone to watch his room as he slept; it had only led them to consider his Transorbital Lobotomy with a spreading prospect. With a punishment so immense lingering in the back of his mind, it was much easier to pretend that nothing was happening, rather than spitting it up, like bile.
And the moment he stepped out of his one-patient room, Flynn could smile again. As he took on empty seat (he was typically early— no reason to wait around when there was a monster in the mirror,) it was easy to feel a light contentment with the company of others that would be back before long. It was the only hope that he had, after all. Holding onto anything else might have been entirely capable of leaving him emptier than he already was.
Lauren held the journal pad tightly in her fist. She’d learned, time and time over, that it was easily snatched away. Apparently, it made a good throw toy and was good for a laugh, watching as she scrambled to get it back. She no longer left it in her room, either, as it was too easily found and rummaged through, even hidden from her, once. Instead, she carried it with her, as a majority of the time, the only person she had to talk to was herself. She was the only person she trusted, the only person that cared enough to know her, crazy and all. The paper never judged her, it didn’t stare at her with half-lidded eyes and fake-concern, it never laughed at her, never called her names. The words inside were her own, where nobody else’s could hurt her. As pathetic and sad as it would have been to anybody on the outside, the marker and the book of half-scribbled sheets was as close to a friend as she had. At least it had been, before she’d met him.
So began the internal debate with herself, the very same one she had every Thursday afternoon. Did she sit next to him? Did she sit a few seats over? Though they had become… rather friendly, if that was even the word associated to it, whatever it was, she was still weary around him, careful. Less than she was with the rest, maybe, but none the less. She wasn’t known as Jinx for nothing. Lauren could hardly remember what it was like, having actual friends… trusting someone, wanting to. It’d been such a long time since everything had fallen apart, since she’d lost everyone that’d ever mattered, anyone that had cared about her, and not about the supposed-to-bes and numbers in her patient file.
She went for the seat on his left, much as she always did, her lips curling into a small, sincere smile. She sat down over one of her legs, bringing the notebook over her lap. The thick, ugly scars on either of her wrists, from when she’d slit them in the girl’s bathroom Junior year, the least of her concern, anymore. She’d long stopped trying to hide them. Many of the people that slowly gathered around them displayed similar markings, though some of them had opted for bottles of pills, instead — even one that’d tried a rope around the neck. Their stories may all have started differently, but they were all the same now.
In a place like this, nightmares were nothing out of the ordinary, were as frequent and as expected as anything else they were dealt. Morning medications, cold showers, group therapy sessions. It was only another, unfortunate thing that simply came with the life they were all living, locked away from the world, miles away from anything else. She’d never thought anything of his dreams, what little she knew about him and what haunted him at night. Her nightmares were real, too — to her, stayed with her long after the sun was over the horizon. Their lives were nightmares. No escape. No safety. No mercy. The same shit, day after day, week for week, month for month… eventual years. Time was a blur, passing slower than what seemed possible or real, taunting.
They were trapped, each of them, and they had no right to pass judgement onto one another, though it often happened, anyway. One, just as bad as the next. Locked up long enough, you were capable of anything. “Seeing things” after restless nights and bad dreams didn’t seem terribly worrisome. “Hi…” She greeted, averting her gaze from him and focusing back in her lap, smile lifting slightly. Lauren honestly wasn’t sure why any of them bothered. The sessions were never guided, or that helpful, really. She’d made a habit of coming because there was never much else to do, but she normally sat there, paying attention only to herself and the doodles she sketched into the margins of her book.
What was there to talk about with someone, that likely hadn’t done anything since the last time you’d seen them? Her life hadn’t changed in any significant manner since she’d seen him last. His probably hadn’t, either. As the rest of their age-group settled into the circle, Lauren flipped the journal open to a random, clean page and yanked the cap from the black, fine-tip marker with her teeth. She drew four lines, two horizontal, two vertical, and added an ‘x’ in the bottom left corner. It was silly, but they had all the time in the world — and more, it seemed, to waste. Setting the marker between the pages as a bookmark, she closed the journal and threw it into his lap.