Nature is a haunted house — but Art — is a house that tries to be haunted.
– Emily Dickinson
At 7 AM, the orderlies at Whistler-Down Center for Personal Growth make their rounds for morning checkup. The day begins with the comforting routine of breakfast in the cafeteria (eggs, orange juice, and cereal again, plus a brownish liquid that some folks have the audacity to call ‘coffee’) and the assurance that no one has committed suicide overnight.
Araceli, or whatever her real name is, has woken up at 7 AM for—well, a number of years. It’s hard to remember an exact number. She’s pretty certain that the number stands at three, at least. Four, maybe. At the last place, it was 6:30.
Whistler-Down isn’t so bad, and by now, Araceli is practically a connoisseur. There have been worse places, drearier ones, other places where it felt as if even the walls were angry: peeling paint, four or more patients crowded into rooms meant for two, nurses who looked at the patients as if calculating the precise dollar amount they were receiving for handling each individual request. One facility was better, the one with free WiFi and a yoga studio. That was years ago— five, or ten. Life in a mental hospital doesn’t have seasons. It is always fluorescent lights and temperature-controlled tile hallways.
Despite the passage of the years, Araceli tries her best to remember the truth: she doesn’t belong here, not really. She just… knows things, sometimes, that haven’t happened yet. She had tried to warn her family, back in the other lifetime when there were things like seasons and the outside. That’s what landed her here in the first place, and all the other psychiatric hospitals, mental health centers, and residential programs. She knew things that she had no right to know and talked to entities she had no right to perceive.
She heard that her family held a funeral for her years ago. She wonders who gave the eulogy and if it was any good. Maybe that’s why these… voices seek her out now: as far as her family is concerned, she’s already dead and buried. She might as well be on the Otherside.
The human mind can break in so many ways—in huge fissures like the scars carved into the earth by earthquakes, or in mosaic-shards of color fanned out like the feathers of mallard ducks.
Araceli is stuck here in the treatment center, with shards of broken minds and snatches of lost souls caught wandering through the worlds with nothing to light their way.
The voices have started whispering about a change. Outwardly, the world of Whistler-Down is the same safe, antiseptic environment: the orderlies still come around at 7 AM. On the Otherside, though, underneath and within the meticulously cleaned tiles, something is coming. Something much bigger than anything Araceli has seen before.
(Part of The Veil Is Tearing. Communal game here: https://storium.com/game/the-veil-is-tearing-communal)
Hosted and narrated by:
Scenes played: 6
License: Community License