In Part One, we met Bartleby Anduszky, a detective who operated out of two worlds – our world of rainbows and puppy dogs, and another, the OtherWorld, a much darker place where nightmares roam the streets and the sun never rises.
Of course, he wasn’t in the greatest of shape. He was badly injured, bleeding out, and flashing between visions of horrible creatures with razor sharp teeth, and a hospital where the orderlies want nothing to do with him, and keep calling him a murderer. Who did he kill though? What’s going on?
Answers await in Chapter Two, after the jump!
Bartleby hated going to Blackthorne Asylum. Even though it was always night in Otherworld, the roads on the way to it seemed to be draped in even more darkness, as if the asylum scared away the light. The road was uneven and worn, not from frequency of use, but from years and years of disrepair – no one wanted to come out to these roads to fix them. They’d rather these roads didn’t exist – this place was cursed and they’d rather see it wiped from the face of the Otherworld that actually make it easier to get in or worse, out.
He hummed along to the jazz song playing loud from the car speakers, trying to drown out the booming thunder, the screams that could be heard well past the walls of the asylum, and, mostly, the rain beating down on his windshield like a rapid fire stopwatch counting down to despair.
There was a tall stone wall along the outer perimeter of the Asylum’s property, but the main gate was always open. There was no need to lock it. No one wanted in, and there was no way to get out. The stone wall itself merely stood as a reminder to unknowing fools that the asylum was there.
As Bartleby drove his black Volkswagen Beetle he felt a sensation crawl up his back – not so much a shiver up his spine as fingers through his nervous system, sprinkling unease throughout his body. Tall grass surrounded the car and he already felt eyes on him. The ScareCrows.
He wasn’t sure if they were actually made of straw or not, but, like the famous one from the yellow brick road, they never slept. Their black button eyes never blinked, never closed. They weren’t scrawny (if they were filled with straw, it was a heck of a lot of straw), but instead were large, bulky creatures more than imposing enough. He’d never seen them in action … heck, the tall grass was so tall, he’d never seen one up close to begin with, but he’d heard that they ran on all fours, hopping from their stationery posts and galloping through the field to take down anyone unlucky enough to try to escape this place. They were the reason no one has ever escaped Blackthorn. Until now, at least.
Three men in long black trench coats and top hats, holding black umbrellas, waited for him as he pulled his car to a stop. They walked over to his car and opened his door as he took the key from the ignition. He nodded to them, but didn’t bother thanking them aloud. Silent Men didn’t speak, which was kind of obvious given the name. They did what they were told to do – peaceful men, they would have seemed out of place in the Asylum if they weren’t just so darned creepy.
One of them led Bartleby into the front doors of Blackthorn – large iron doors the slammed shut loudly behind them as they entered.
The main lobby of Blackthorne was as much an exercise in insanity as its patrons, between the stained glass window and the reception desk that looked more like a giant wooden hand reaching out from the floor beneath, rather than something actually useful. Behind the desk, a group of thin women in white uniforms, their faces covered in shadow, murmured to each other as a whisper, pacing back and forth quickly, a flurry of paperwork and telephone calls.
He followed the Silent Man past the main desk to a set of wooden doors, painted red, with a plaque that read “The most dangerous demons lie within,” in desperate need of shining, hanging on the wall above them.
“That’s pleasant,” Bartleby said aloud, to no one in particular. The Silent Man didn’t acknowledge him. Probably better, Bartleby thought. The jokes were much funnier in his head, anyway.
When the door closed behind him, he instinctively checked his back pocket. Everyone had a nervous twitch or two – pushing up their glasses, pulling down the back of their shirt. Bartleby’s was making sure no one stole his wallet. No one was walking behind him, but you never know. The Silent Guys can be tricky. Just because they can’t speak doesn’t mean they can’t pick your pocket, he told himself. Of course the wallet was still there, it always was. But at least he could breathe easier knowing that no one was trying to buy a computer with his maxed out credit cards.
Thomas Blackthorne, a short, pale man who wore dirty glasses too large for his head, stood outside his door nervously, wearing a white coat and tapping his brown loafers on the ground impatiently. His khaki-colored pants were too long for his short legs, and dipped under the heels of his shoes, muting his foot tapping.
He hadn’t noticed Bartleby yet and checked his watch. Bartleby knew he was late – he did it intentionally. He loved getting under Blackthorne’s skin – if anything, the man was one of the most insane individuals he’d ever met. But he guessed you had to be a little kooky to run a crazy house.
Blackthorne looked up angrily behind his dusty, thick-rimmed glasses at the approaching detective. “You’re late,” he said sternly.
Bartleby smiled. “No I’m not!” he defended himself.
“I told you 6:30,” the head of the asylum said matter-of-factly.
“Oh,” Bartleby responded. “I thought you said 7:25. My mistake.”
“This is a matter of life and death!”
“Aren’t they all?” Bartleby tipped his hat and walked into Blackthorne’s office. What was the old saying? A clean desk is a sign of a sick mind? If that were true, Blackthorne’s office would surely send even the most skilled psychiatrist crying into a corner, because the office was spotless. Not a single item out of place – no wall art, no decorative pieces whatsoever. There was a row of file cabinets along the left side of the room, and a desk placed almost in the exact center of the room, two straight-edged wooden chairs in front for visitors in perfectly parallel to each other.
Bartleby sat down in one chair, spun it around, and kicked his feet onto the other. Blackthorn clenched his teeth so loudly that it sounded like they were breaking as he sat down in his chair.
“………………….. has broken loose.” The first words of Blackthorne’s sentence were muffled, as if someone pressed the mute button on his remote.
“I’m sorry. What?”
“…………………... . He’s escaped. I wouldn’t have called you – lords know I didn’t want to, but I need someone who can handle this with a certain level of…discretion.” The name of whoever he was saying either didn’t make sense, or wasn’t English, or Bartleby had had way too much to drink, all of which were likely possibilities. Still, something seemed off here. He just simply couldn’t comprehend the name of whoever had escaped that Blackthorn was so upset about.
“Why don’t you just show me?”