Trapped between our world and the OtherWorld, Bartleby is trapped in Blackthorn Asylum, with the worst, most insane OtherWorld criminals. Not only that, he doesn’t remember how he got there, or who put him there, though he’s having flashbacks of the head of the asylum bringing him in to investigate a prison break.
After a failed attempt to escape, aided by a man with no eyes, Bartleby has been knocked unconscious by the Asylum orderlies…
A throbbing pain bursting from the front of his head, Bartleby woke up, his vision slowly clearing. He could tell that was back in the interview room he had been in the day before with Doc Waverly, but it was different now. The paint on the walls had long since weathered away, revealing nothing but gray lifelessness beneath. Instead of a metal lamp hanging from the ceiling above the interview table, there was now a twisted iron sculpture with a flickering light bulb hanging on the end like an afterthought. The chair was sitting on was rusted and, as he struggled against the leather straps holding him down, flakes of orange scraped off and fell to the ground like autumn leaves.
He winced in pain from the large bruise that had formed on his shoulder while he was passed out. From behind him, a large metal door creaked open loudly. A hand pressed on his bruised shoulder and, at first, he thought he might cry out from the pain. However, after a second, he realized that the hand was extremely warm, like a hot press, and it almost soothed the pain in his shoulder.
The man behind him let go of his shoulder and walked around to the opposite end of the table. The room was dimly lit, and Bartleby couldn’t see his features until he sat. The man was tall, taller than Bartleby, and was wearing a fancy black suit. A small red handkerchief poked out from the front jacket pocket. As well dressed as this man was, though, it was his visage that had Bartleby curious. His skin was entirely black, like tar, with small cracks in it that looked like cooled lava. His eyes were blood red, and he had no pupils. He smiled at Bartleby, and his teeth were the exact opposite – the purest white.
“And how are we doing today, Mr. Anduzsky?” he asked. His voice was deep, but calming.
“I know you,” Bartleby realized. At the same time though, he couldn’t remember the man’s name. But he knew him – he was sure of that.
“Of course you do. I’m Dr. Waverly.”
Things were starting to become clearer for Bartleby, but at the same time more confusing. This man was clearly responsible for what was happening, but how? And why couldn’t Bartleby remember his name? It wasn’t Waverly, he knew that much. “No you’re not,” he responded.
The man leaned back in his chair, his grin fading. “And why do you say that?”
“Well, because if you are, Doc, you definitely need some skin care lotion.”
The man’s eyes widened in surprise and he looked at Bartleby, speechless. His grin was completely gone now and, even though his skin was black and the room was dark, Bartleby could see that he was worried. Without saying another word, he stood up and left the room, the door creaking loudly and slamming shut behind him.
Bartleby heard yelling from the hallway outside the door and realized he was in the room alone. He struggled at his restraints, scraping off flecks of rust and rubbing his wrists raw. He knew he had to get out – he had hoped for more time to figure out just what was going on, but, whatever it was, the plans were obviously unraveling, and that typically meant bad things for him.
Snap. The leather restraints on his left hand snapped free from the iron chair. He quickly undid the rest of his restraints, stood up, and looked around. There was no way out, save for the one door that Waverly, or whatever the hell his name was, had just left from. The voices outside has stopped and he could hear footsteps coming towards the door.
He grabbed the chair that he had been tied to and lifted it above his head as the stood next to the door. The chair was heavy, and his shoulder felt as ready to give out on him at any second. He heard a loud click, and the door swung open…
…and Bartleby realized he was standing on the wrong side of the door.
Instead of standing behind the door, he hadn’t been paying attention and was now looking directly at a confused looking seven-foot-tall rock creature in a tattered green jumpsuit. Bartleby didn’t hesitate, hammering down the chair onto the creature’s head. It stopped short, bouncing off the creature and reverberating back, the vibrations coursing throughout Bartleby’s entire body. He stepped back clumsily, struggling to keep his footing.
The rock creature, having finally realized what was going on, swung its large arm at Bartleby, just barely missing him. Bartleby, trying to dodge the punch, fell back onto the ground. This was, quite possibly, the worst escape ever, he thought to himself.
“Where do you think you’re going?” the creature yelled at him, pointing a giant, stony finger at him. As he talked, the rocks that made up his lips clacked together loudly. He walked towards Bartleby and reached down to grab him.
Noticing an opening, Bartleby kicked himself forward, lunging himself between the large creature’s legs, crawling out from behind the behemoth and scrambling to his feet. He ran out of the room and started to sprint down the hallway. He didn’t pause to survey his surroundings – he knew where he was the instant he exited the room. He was back in Blackthorn Asylum, or maybe he’d never left. Where the other place was, the place with the bright lights and the friendly doctors…that place either didn’t exist, or was on the other side. Either way, things looked bad.
The inmates had taken over the asylum. There was chaos everywhere. Bodies hung from the ceiling above, dangling like ornaments. Inmates ran around, still in straightjackets, screaming loudly. Creatures crawled along the walls and ceilings. Someone had let everyone out, and, at this point, Bartleby was pretty sure he knew that he was good and screwed.
He could feel the rumbling beneath his feet as the ground trembled from the approaching rock creature. The chase had caught the attention of the other inmates, who were now cheering or trying to tackle Bartleby themselves.
Up ahead, Bartleby noticed a familiar set of double doors – he realized he was near his cell. If the Asylum was anything like whatever hospital he was in before, right past that set of doors, there would be freedom. A couple of feet of walkway, then no more walls, no more hallways, just a long grassy field filled with dead trees and snow. He pressed forward, swinging his arm, shrugging off at the creatures trying to stop him.
He yelled in pain as he shoved open the doors with his bruised shoulder. Without looking, he spun around and locked the doors behind him by turning a metal knob that barred them tight. The rock creature was banging on the other side, but these doors were designed not be broken – he would be safe for now.
He turned around, ready to climb out of the asylum and make a run for it…and paused. In the Otherworld, the asylum didn’t end here. He stood and stared, hopelessly, at an endless dark hallway lined with doors on each side, flickering lights hanging from the ceiling.