Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 Part 2.16

Posted by harmony0stars on August 13, 2010

The asylum stood like a castle on the hill, isolated and looming, a medieval sentinel warning off would be attackers with its predatory stance. It was a formidable building, and despite her determination, Glory found herself wishing she’d planned her itinerary differently. She could have gone to Miskatonic first, but caught in a choice between accidentally running into Professor Scott and visiting her father in an asylum, Scott had seemed the more onerous of the two. Guilt also played a large part in it. After so many years of not even remembering her father, making him a secondary priority seemed like a cowardly and petty way to deal with him. Somehow putting off the visit for a side trip to Miskatonic seemed more like something Lori would do.

Of course once she saw the place up close, her resolve began to waver. She’d pulled up pictures on her computer, but they really didn’t do it justice. Even from a distance, it was massive, its architecture Gothic and just enough like a church to make it seem like the Godzilla of all Churches. Whereas she had always liked Gothic architecture for the arboreal strength and airiness it imparted to buildings, Arkham Sanitarium filled her with a sense of foreboding. It was a building that sat and waited like some starved predator. Its fine lines were no more than bones beneath its desiccated facade. There was a central block out from which two wings extended like some cyclopean bat or half stunted fairy ring. For all that the building stood up straight and haughty in the cold autumnal sun, each staggered section of its massive arms seemed to lean back towards the central block as if for support. She had the feeling that the building was only waiting for her to enter of her own accord before it sealed all possible exits.

The guard waved her through without really paying attention. He sat in the guardhouse facing the road like the border guard for reality, but he looked up from his novel with hardly a grunt, giving her a disinterested glance before returning his attention to the dog-eared book he held curled up in one callused hand. It was just a cheap little novel, but Glory cringed inwardly over the covered curled. She supposed she should just be glad he read at all. So few people were interested in the written word when the television gave more instantaneous gratification.

Glory drove up the long road to the parking lot at the front of the building. She was lucky enough to find a spot despite the rusty signs proclaiming it visitor parking only. Given how most people viewed the mentally ill, she doubted very much that many of the cars, if any, were actual visitors. On the other hand, it seemed far too small a lot to provide adequate parking for the staff. She hoped that the road which continued on and around the building led to an employee parking area that was at least as crowded as the front.

You don’t have to do this, Phoenix gave voice to her misgivings. Your grandmother said he tore his own eyes out. Do you really think he’ll have any answers for you? If you don’t like this place, pay to have him put somewhere he’ll have better care, but there’s no reason to consult with a madman. She frowned at Phoenix’s attempt to dissuade her. Slamming the car’s door behind her, Glory strode up the sidewalk with more confidence than she felt.

Everywhere there were little signs of neglect. Outwardly the building and grounds gave a sense of solidity and care, but the grass was just a little too shaggy for autumn and the sidewalk was crumbling in places with well developed weeds coming up in the cracks. The shrubbery was unkempt and no one had bothered to replace the mulch, though there were still a few bits not blown away by the wind, possibly from the previous year. Up close, the paint around the windows and at the entrance was cracked and chipping.

Glory’s skin crawled as she walked through the door, but nothing happened. She’d half expected someone to jump out at her, but the halls were empty as far as she could see, no patients and no nurses or orderlies. It would have been nice if the guard at the gate had called ahead to tell them she was coming up, not that she hadn‘t already called the previous day. Though the floors were clean of debris, the cracked and missing tiles on the floor and gouged and spackled walls certainly didn’t give her a homey feel. The crawling sensation at the back of her neck did not go away, and she looked up, half expecting the ceiling to be covered in cockroaches. Aside from years of water stains however, it could have been the drop ceiling of any institution.

The nurse’s station was empty, though well lit with a little potted plant that had seen better days sitting on the other side of the window. Most of the leaves were dead, but the pothos bravely struggled on. A long shoot hung from the foil wrapped pot, its three bright green leaves sending a message of defiance to whoever had the brown thumb. She looked in every direction as she came to the crossroad just beyond the room, but there was no one about.

We should leave, Phoenix said again. They knew you were coming, even if that oaf at the gate didn’t call ahead. So where is everyone? I don’t like this.

Hush, she replied and went back to the empty room. The place wasn‘t growing on her either, but she wasn’t going to just run away. She owed it to her father to at least check to make sure he had the care he needed. Glory gave the doorknob an experimental twist and heard and felt the lock click open.

She quickly pulled the door shut behind her, relocking it. File cabinets were stacked against the wall, lettered A through Z. For a moment the L drawer seemed to defy her way with locks, but it was only the weight of the files inside weighing it down. Most of the files were massive, held together by rubber bands so old they had long ago lost their elasticity and crumbled like worms the day after a rainstorm. Some of the rubber bands had been replaced with twine.

Glory sat down on a threadbare swivel chair and began examining the documents, not that they made much sense to her. There was seemingly no rhyme or reason in their order. They consisted of ancient physical and mental evaluations and lists of medications and treatments in many different hands. Even so, the oldest document was only about five years old. Considering how massive the file was already, she imagined a box or three shoved in a storage room somewhere and neatly labeled with her father’s name. She paged to the back of the file and found the most recent entry. It was a couple months old, but at least it gave a room number, not that it did her much good in such a huge building.

As she put the file back in its drawer and turned, she snorted humorlessly. On the back of the door was a map of the building and grounds. She carefully peeled the tape from the door and set the paper face down on a nearby copier, tapping her foot irritably as she waited for the ancient machine to warm up. A spirit of perversity moved her to check the potted plant, and she carried the poor withered thing to the water cooler while the copier rattled and groaned. Glory passed her hand over the brown leaves despite Phoenix’s grumbling and restored the plant in all its green splendor. Let whoever owned the poor thing consider it a second chance. Hopefully they’d take better care of it in order to be worthy of the miracle.

Pulling her copy from the machine, she returned the original to the back of the door and grabbed a pen from the desk. She quickly found and marked her father’s room. The hall was still deserted when she pulled the door shut behind her and walked back to the intersection. Turning the map this way and that, she oriented herself before setting off in what she hoped was the right direction.

to Book 6, part 2, page 17

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6 Part 2.16”

  1. Fiona said

    Oh boy. Nothing stops Glory.

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