Author's Note~~!: …yes, folks, I'm BACK! ;D I'm sorry it took so long—I have no excuse. I'm just terrible at updating, and my muse is very fleeting and fickle sometimes~! I hope you will forgive me and enjoy this chapter. :'3 I have a headache, so let's just get this show on the road!
On the whole, there was nothing really interesting about the most recent patient admitted to Ultima. He hadn't ever really had a name of his own, and if he had, he'd forgotten it by now; he'd mostly been in and out of prisons for most of his existence. Before prisons there were juvenile delinquent facilities, and before those there were endless child psychologists. Home was marked by the sight of bars or locks, countless restraints, sometimes medication. He barely remembered his mother, and didn't remember his father at all, and always remembered voices. He knew how to write, but he didn't know how to write properly, and the only books or pamphlets he really enjoyed were Playboy magazines. He didn't like to talk much, since the voices did the talking for him.
These were the facts, and to the average human being they might have sounded strange and foreign, but to the typical criminal justice major they were just a track on the same old broken record. It was very rare indeed that you'd find a criminal who's got no reason to be one, no shady past to his name. Even the nickname "Jackknife" didn't earn him a special spot in the system; after all, many criminals had nicknames like that, titles they clung to when they found they had no others. Most people would take a look at his tattoos and crooked smiles and wave him away.
But there was something that made him different. Jackknife really liked rabbits.
He liked the feel of their soft fur against his skin; he liked the look of their floppy ears and their cotton tails. He liked the way they squirmed in his arms; he liked the way they squirmed in his pants. He liked the feel of desperate paws clawing at the air for salvation as he stuck 'em where the sun didn't shine. All things fuzzy and cuddly, really, were very good companions, but something about those bunnies, the way they put the Energizer Bunny to shame when he had his way with 'em, something about that was extra nice. The psychologists called it a "fixation," the good people of the world called it "perverse," the voices called it a "hunger." It was a compulsion, a need, a sin.
So how could anyone blame him for waltzing into that pet store and doing with them what he liked to do best? He hadn't even noticed the sweet auburn-haired girl at the counter using the phone. One minute he was walking around feeling as happy as a clam with the thing clawing for its life down there, the chattering in his head silenced for the day, the next minute he was going through the same song and dance he'd been through ever since he was old enough to learn the lyrics and the choreography. This time, though, it was slightly different—they deemed him "incompetent to stand trial." They said that clearly his actions were a result of a psychotic break, that he couldn't control his impulses and urges, that his mind was so fragile he couldn't possibly assist in his own defense.
They might've just been calling him "stupid." He didn't really know.
What he did know, somewhere in the murky haze of his mind, was that being stupid wasn't a crime that warranted this. Being sent to this place. It wasn't even a drab place, not grey and filled to the brim with sweat and racial slurs like the places he was accustomed to. No, it was all bright lights and white that made the eyes water. It almost reminded him of childhood, the bits of childhood that he could remember, anyway. And he didn't like that, didn't like feeling small. Feeling stupid was okay, even to be expected, but feeling small was terrible. He tried to get used to the sound of his soul shriveling up and enjoy making the ladies he could find in this strange place turn five different shades of red.
By noon, he found, he was getting into a sort of rhythm. He'd had a relatively full breakfast, complete with the daily dose of pills (taste wasn't great, but who really cared), no one had tried to stab him to death just yet, and now he was layin' around on a bed that was all his own, relaxed and ready to take a nap. He could get used to this. Sure, he'd seen others with wild eyes, he'd heard some tall tales already, and the voices were gnawing in the back of his mind, telling him to get out while he still could. But it wasn't too bad here, from what he could tell. He was bound to escape eventually, but at least he could scarf free food down until then, loosen up a little.
He was just about to doze off when a rapping at the door interrupted him.
It couldn't have been the bulky redheaded woman who'd visited him earlier; her knocks were firm, more like a pounding. This was almost a polite, brief sort of knocking, and a voice followed it. "Hello, Mister Jackknife! Don't be shy—I know you're in there!" Lilting, high-pitched, strange. Definitely not the woman who'd visited him earlier. Jackknife just blinked at the door, clinging at bed sheets, wondering whether he should open the door himself or not. The way he saw it, it didn't matter-they'd find their way in no matter what he did. Some part of his brain told him that a key was turning in the lock, but the rest of his brain was too fried to try to figure out what this meant. He watched as light spilled into the room, light from the halogen bulbs on the outside.
Please be a sexy lady, some part of him was pleading, though the other part of him knew the voice he'd heard was male.
Not even a moment later and he had a cup full of pills in his hand. He blinked down at it almost warily, looking puzzled—medication, again?—before downing them all in one gulp, without any water. They didn't look like the pills he'd taken earlier; his were yellow, these were blue, but that hadn't really registered until after he started feeling a little woozy. He was pretty sure his pills weren't supposed to make him feel like he was burning alive, either, and he was positive they weren't supposed to make him feel like he couldn't move an inch.
Jackknife tried to cast a panicked glance up at the person who had practically thrown the cup at him, but everything was beginning to blur. He wasn't sure if it was the exhaustion or the terrible burning, but he could feel tears streaming down his cheeks, and the whole room seemed to be spinning, the white walls, the linoleum floor and the ceiling all blurring together to form one confusing mess. It was hard to make out what the figure standing above him looked like exactly, but he looked official. He was dressed like the doctors before him had been, and he might've been waving, but Jackknife couldn't be sure. The pain, the pain, he wanted to scream, he could take this dick down, he had to!
But then he got a glimpse into those eyes. Those weren't doctor's eyes. They were far away, distant and dreaming, concocting nightmares. Those were eyes that had seen things that made Jackknife want to piss in his pants. They smiled at him, smiled at him in the way that a crocodile smiles, in a way that made him want to throw up (or maybe that was the medicine). It was a hungry stare, and it gave him a thought, a new one, one that had never entered his mind before.
This guy's fucking crazy.
Seemed like a funny thing to think of, in a place that was supposedly crawling with people who were "mentally ill" or stupid. But he'd seen a lot of weirdoes in his day, and say what you want about the guy who'd killed a family of five in their own house, the man who'd robbed a bank, the guy who'd had his way with little children. At least all of them were there. He could tell that when they went about their day, they were at least somewhat aware of the prison walls surrounding them. They knew who they were, they knew what they had done, and they were all right there, right then, to a degree that Jackknife could at least understand. These eyes weren't here, there, or anywhere else, and if they were, "here, there or anywhere else" were probably places he didn't want to visit anytime soon.
He was being fitted into some sort of confining jacket, now, and all he could do was thrash about as not only one sick someone but several someones attempted to grab a hold of him and rip him from his bed. He listened as the voice instructed the other someones to be quick, very quick, before anyone caught onto their operation. It was becoming more difficult to keep his eyes open than it had ever been, and though everything in his body was protesting, his eyelids were drooping. The voices in his head were screaming, now: Jackknife, Jackknife, he's going to KILL you, Jackknife; he's going to KILL you. RUN.
For once, he didn't feel the need to silence them, and he was pretty sure he couldn't give them what they wanted.
It was hard to say whether it was the medicine or pure fear that caused him to pass out, but nothing but blackness greeted him after that.
His nameplate declared him to be "Dr. Warren, MD." It was shiny and white and the title was printed in neat black letters all in a row. Whenever he got into certain moods, he would polish it using his white jacket, making sure it was pristine and perfect, smiling at it with a pride that almost didn't belong to him. Whenever he got into other moods, blacker moods, gloomier moods, he would glower at everyone who dared to stare, torn between ripping the thing off of his jacket and throwing it to the ground and polishing it 'til the letters faded away. But that was what the nameplate said he was, regardless of what he would have liked to do with it. A few pills a day keep the crazies at bay!
His eyes declared him to be something else entirely. They were dark brown eyes, wide and filled with mania and hunger. Dark bags underneath them indicated chronic sleep-deprivation. On good days, his gaze was friendly, if not overly so, and you could see some sort of warped wonder behind his eyes. On trying days, his gaze was smoldering, and if you strained yourself you could almost see a demon pulling the strings behind his stare, licking its lips and looking hungry as it grinned from ear to ear. Either way, the look in his eyes was so bright it almost hurt just to look at him, so sunny it was almost sickening. The more observant worker bees could single him out based on the look of his thirsty eyes alone, but it was surprising how many of them merely glanced to the shiny nameplate and allowed him to continue on his way...
Still, though he suspected the majority of people in this place were just humoring him and watching for twitches and glitches in a doctor's clothing, he knew they wouldn't let him walk through the walls of this place without a title of his own. That was one of the nifty perks that came with having a following of his own and enlightening the masses-he had people, people who could assist him in conjuring up neat titles like "Dr. Warren" and putting them to good use. The good Doctor knew a thing or two about titles like that, which was always useful whenever he had to don outrageous medical outfits, medication was always easy to obtain and the inmates—ahem, other patients—were always more than happy to assist him in transferring new prisoners from place to place. Of course, it wasn't the ideal arrangement at all, and he would have much preferred to bring about justice in the usual manner, but you make due with what you have, don't you? He could get by for now.
Besides, the doctor's jacket didn't look half bad on him.
And so here he was, walking merrily along with the nameplate pinned to him and examining his reflection on the clean, white linoleum floor. Several inmates (patients, he had to use their lingo now, get into character!) trailed along behind him, albeit a bit scattered among the dizzying, dastardly throng of workers, supporting the unconscious Jackknife's weight. He was using the one named Gary, tattoo of a bird on his arm and all, as a lookout, and right about now he was feeling pretty sly, unbearably sharp and undoubtedly super. Halogen bulbs tried in vain to illuminate his intentions, and he let his gap-toothed grin take up very much of his face as he peered up at them and gave a little wave toward the ceiling for spite. Winking didn't hurt, either. There might have been cameras installed up there, after all, and he wanted the clever "head psychiatrist" to see this more than anything. He wanted her to know that this had been almost too easy. He wanted to gloat.
You think you can pull the wool over my eyes, huh? Well, wait until you see this.
Imagine his dismay when he looked back down and saw the outline of a familiar figure up ahead! The man was unquestionably shorter than him, his cranium was unquestionably large, and he was definitely sweating bullets, and yet the sight of him nearly made the confident doctor-in-disguise freeze on the spot. "Jared," he murmured, irritation gracing his features as he tried to remind his legs and feet to keep moving, "damnit." Under normal circumstances the sight of Jared wouldn't have made him bat an eyelash, and even under these circumstances all he normally wanted to do was rip Jared's irksome mustache right off of his face or work him like putty in his hands, but... ...ugh, not now. He didn't have time for that right now.
Maybe if they just moved past him as inconspicuously as possible—
"Warden?" the pathetic man gasped, very nearly walking past them all. He did a double-take once he noticed the unconscious newcomer, almost dropping his hot cup of coffee to the floor, hands already trembling. "W-What are you doing in those clothes? And is that the new p—"
One gigantic twitch pulsated throughout the whole of "Dr. Warren's" body, and then another, ripple after ripple of spasms and pure, unadulterated rage. He wanted nothing more than to pop the infuriating man's head off of his shoulders, twist and turn and pop until he put a stop to that cracking, obnoxious voice. It was too damn loud, that was the problem, and too damn easy to get Jared all fired up to boot. He was constantly driving himself crazier than the Warden himself was supposed to be just by existing, and right now he was making a scene. It came to the pseudo-psychiatrist's attention that he was gripping at the sides of Jared's overly large melon, willing himself to twist and turn it and put a stop to this madness. His own hands were shaking, now, at the thought of another failed attempt to take what was rightfully his.
He couldn't stand to fail again.
"I'm sorry," he began as sweetly as he could, acidic candied words coating his tone as he looked the sweaty man right in the eyes, "do I know you?"
His tone was enough to stop the frantic "psychologist" dead in his tracks, and he smiled as Jared just stared into his eyes like a deer in the headlights, captivated by his gaze. It was true that they were running out of time, but at least he could milk this opportunity for all it was worth in this small timeframe. The thought lifted his spirits considerably. He allowed one of his fingers to start tracing invisible circles on Jared's skin, slowly, making sure that his victim felt every trace, making sure that he understood just how close the Warden was to clawing at his skin.
"Wish I could stay and chat," he continued on, twirling a bit of Jared's thick brown mustache 'round his pasty white finger, almost tugging at it, "but duty calls! No rest for the wicked, you understand!"
Jared could only nod somewhat dumbly in response, eyes wide and body shaking like a maraca. His opponent thought he heard him gulp.
He chuckled lightly, almost wildly and uncontrollably for such relatively soft giggles, as he extended a finger outwards and prodded Jared on the nose. There was something wild in the Warden's eyes now, an outbreak of embers, simmering sadism that his prey realized hadn't been lying dormant, but rather had been so dominant and glaring and obvious that he had been a fool not to recognize it. "Wow, Jared, you're a real idiot sometimes," the Warden stated almost childishly, no doubt echoing Jared's own thoughts. And then, with an eagerness in his voice that rivaled even the most hyperactive young boy's: "…now!"
He relished in the screams of pain and surprise that followed as he shoved Jared backwards and watched him fall sprawling to the floor with the cup of coffee not far behind. Always had to fit just a smidge of sadism into his already terribly busy schedule, to keep that bounce in his step and that glint in his eye! Something about the screams of a man in pain just made him feel as if he could take on the entire world.
Not that he ever thought he couldn't, regardless.
By the time the group had reached what the Warden called his "sanctuary," his giggles hadn't subsided as everyone had been expecting, but instead grew louder and more childlike as time wore on. Despite his desire for Jared to keep quiet and not to make a scene, he seemed rather keen on making one. Tears were welling up in his eyes as he howled, and he tried to wipe them away as he fiddled with the doorknob a little and ushered everyone in, herding them like sheep and keeping a careful eye on his prize.
"Hurry up, hurry up, we don't have all day!"
Once everyone had settled in, he surveyed the room with something almost resembling relief. Everything was just as he'd left it, from the mattress he'd laid out on the floor to the various purple sticky notes to self that were littering the place to Jailbot sitting atop the mahogany desk in the corner. He'd been hiding here for a little while, biding his time.
After a moment of taking it all in, he almost looked to the tired computer with pity, shaking his head. If there was one thing he absolutely could not stand to think about, it was what the "head psychiatrist" had done with his efficient, super machine. How dare she take his robot and do something like this!
But everything would be restored, soon. He was sure of it.
"I'm going to the trouble to help you all wise up to what's really going on," he remarked more to the air or himself than anyone else in the room as he took his seat at the desk, "and they call me a criminal. Oh, maybe some of you are, but I'm just the opposite! Isn't it obvious?" The Warden was even farther away now than he had been even a half hour ago, off in other worlds and other facilities, calling the shots and conjuring up spectrums, a hero, not a rebel but an independent thinker who kept the rebels at bay.
This happened very frequently.
There was an awkward silence as the others considered this, exchanging glances that said more than their frayed and frazzled nerves would allow them to say. It was clear that though most of them enjoyed his stories and hearing his tall tales, watching him weave his own spider's web, not all of them knew what to believe. There were some blind believers in the bunch, bunches of former inmates who had accepted their fate and would follow him to the ends of the Earth and back, and there were the skeptics, who were only tagging along for some excitement in this godforsaken place. Most of them were on the fence, going through the motions because they didn't know what else to do.
You never really messed with a person like the Warden, anyway. You could dream about it, you could fantasize about knocking even more of those teeth out of his mouth or assuming his position as lead of the pack, but most people weren't actually stupid enough to actually act on those urges. No one really wanted to think about what had happened to the last unfortunate fellow who had dared to ask some very impolite questions. That was definitely something best left to the imagination, and only the imagination.
"Well? Isn't anyone going to set him down?" the Warden raised an eyebrow toward the newest member of their group, looking to all of them with questioning eyes. "Do I have to do this all by myself?"
The answer came to him quickly, in the form of quite a few pairs of arms and hands setting Jackknife's limp body down on the mattress and helping to undo the straitjacket around the poor fellow, and he beamed with satisfaction. Their newest prisoner was quite the sight to see; all those tattoos, his matted hair, his red and swollen eyes. They'd fitted him with a clean hospital gown by now, he noted with apparent disgust, but he remembered the man's original clothes had been dirty and wrinkled. Nothing too impressive.
"Now… …to wait."
Waiting was the most difficult part of this whole process. First the inmates got to feeling very jittery and volatile, hearing things or imagining things in all their stress. Whispers would start to float around the room, and they would all look down upon their newest comrade, wondering if the Warden had actually killed them with medicine. Then, the Warden would start to get restless, drumming his fingers on the desk and scribbling notes to himself that often made no sense at all on sticky note after sticky note, sticking them in seemingly random spots using trembling hands.
As usual, there were several false alarms, and one particularly paranoid man somehow managed to convince a few members of the group that he had heard "Miss Tess" outside, and they all descended into a frantic frenzy for a few brief but very significant minutes.
There was an awful lot of blood to be had, yes.
But, just as usual, things had a way of working themselves out. After what seemed like an eternity, the man's red and swollen eyes cracked open, and he squinted and let out a series of unintelligible grunts, looking both befuddled and absolutely petrified as he stared up at the sea of faces up above him. Most of them looked just as puzzled to see him as he looked to see them.
But this was the Warden's time to shine, now, and most of them knew it. The sea of faces parted as he made his way from the desk over to the mattress, grinning in that ravenous way of his and looking so excited it almost made one's insides itch. A full minute was spent just staring at the man from his position up above, and then came the very introduction he'd rehearsed over and over again.
"Oh, good, you're awake! Hello again, Mister Jackknife! You were an elusive one—so glad Jailbot was able to bring you to me! I'm the Warden. You're not in Superjail just yet…"
Drawing it all out for dramatic flourish, he curled his fists into balls. Something undeniably dark about his tone, something sinister and colorful all at once.
"…but you should be."
The demons behind his eyes laughed.
Author's Note~!: …well, that's it for this chapter. ;D Don't worry, I'll try to update more frequently. Remember, any attention at all is encouraged!