The Pariah

The Pariah

A Chapter by Matthew Perry
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Version 1.0. As usual, detail and grammar aren't my strong suit and i'm not too concerned about them until i edit. Clarity, dialogue, construction, characters, and plot are my goals before editing.

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I’m sick. Not the contagious kind, or at least I’m lead to believe that to be the case. The professionals don’t think my illness to be terminal, though I could very well be afflicted by it until the day I die. These people don’t have medication to make me better, either instantly or eventually. That doesn’t prevent them from giving me a cocktail of pills, however. Pills that seem to change every day. Though my memory isn’t that great so don’t take my word on it.

 

In fact, one of the symptoms of my illness is poor memory. My mind itself is sick.

Some of the doctors simply call me eccentric, some think I’m faking it, some see me as a puzzle that needs to be solved, and others still would rather avoid me. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few that genuinely care about me actually getting better, although they generally consist of naïve interns who have yet to see one of my episodes.

 

My escort and I stopped at the interview room closest to the corner, much to my dismay. I had hoped we would continue around the corner to the first room on the left, one of the few rooms I have been inside at the clinic that actually had windows. While the window didn’t boast much of a view, it offered better scenery than the wall that I will be spending my time staring at in the corner room.

 

All that could be seen through the window is a lone willow tree close to the edge of a cliff, and past the grass that leads to the edge, the horizon crushed between the sky and the sea. The drop was impressive, or at least it seemed as such as far as I could tell. The few occasions that the windows were opened the sound of the ocean crashing against the rocks below sounded miles away.

 

I stepped through the doorway and my escort stood outside to make sure I wasn’t disturbed, and also possibly so that I didn’t escape. After he closed the door I chose to walk towards the wooden chair next to the radiator. It was positioned facing the door and chair opposite, and I preferred it against having my back to the door. The close proximity to the radiator allowed the gentle hum of the radiator to break the silence easier. While not the most comforting sound, it was more pleasing than the few other sounds that emanated down the halls occasionally that sent chills down my spine.

 

I watched the lines of the cream linoleum flooring pass me by as my body floated towards the chair in a haze. The beige blinds were drawn closed and the fluorescent lighting shone weakly on the tan painted walls. I sat on the light brown cushion on the laquerless oak chair and stared at it’s identical twin just four feet away, separated by the only break in color in the small room. A small, dark brown walnut dining tray. I’ve only ever seen books, folders, papers, and cups stacked on the tray, but being the darkest furniture in the room, it offered a break from the monotony.

 

I knew the world outside my interrogation room boasted more color, however, all I could ever picture outside the building was the blue ocean, the gray sky, or the green leaves. I could never remember anything from before the clinic.

At least nothing real.

 

I tried to adjust the padding, or lack there of, in my chair so that it didn’t feel as if I was sitting on a wooden chair and tried to exercise my mind as one of my therapists recommended. I stared at the dining tray and tried to picture it in another color. I imagined it yellow, as bright as a flower.

 

My mind was blank.

 

What color is yellow?

 

I stared at the tray a few minutes before breaking the silence by muttering to myself, “What color IS yellow?” I decided to try again. This time red. Red is easy, it’s the color of…

 

What is something red that I’ve seen before?

 

I started to feel uneasy, like I was being watched. Like I was doing something wrong, and someone was going to jump out of the cream colored floor in their light brown interrogation room camouflage and yell how insane I was. You don’t even remember what colors are!

 

The ocean. I know what color that is. The ocean is blue.

 

I stared at the tray. I felt slightly more at ease, but anxiety did not give up it‘s grip entirely. I remember what blue is. If you were blue, I know what you would look like I thought to myself as I stared down the tray.

 

I closed my eyes, I pictured the same tray, but instead as if it were standing there blue.

 

I opened my eyes. A wolf was staring me down where the tray once was. Long ivory teeth revealed themselves from behind curling white lips. It had a beige pelt was the same color as the blinds and the dark brown markings around his ears were the same color as the tray. He probably was standing in the corner the whole time, blended in, waiting for his perfect chance to attack.

 

Upon seeing him I jumped in my seat and pushed myself as far back in my chair as I could. The wolf started to advance on me. His low growl rose in pitch as I tried pushing my chair back further, I felt it hit the wall. The wolf crept closer. I could feel his breath against my hands. I felt his coarse fur start to push my pants against my knees.

 

The wolf’s eyes never left mine. He took his time. There was nothing I could do against him, and he knew I was powerless. He was the hunter, and I was the prey. Cavorting, the wolf stopped pressing forward. I could feel his muscles tense against my knees. He started to draw back. My lungs refused to draw breath in, or exhale it back out. The wolf was going to show me mercy, he was drawing back. Hopefully, he was just being territorial, telling me to sit in my chair and not to move.

 

Panic raced through me as I realized he wasn’t drawing back. He was coiling up. Readying himself for a strike. The instant he took to ready himself to attack went almost unseen. Him lunging for my throat did go unseen, because as soon as he leapt, I closed my eyes and flinched.

 

I waited what felt like an eternity. In less than a second I was going to be mauled by a wolf that was camouflaged not to hunt in the woods, but to hunt in a mental institution’s interview room. How the hell did a wolf get into the room anyways? There wasn‘t even a window in this room. It would have been barred if there were one, but that would of made more sense.

 

The instant it would take the wolf to reach me stretched into seconds, and then to minutes. When was it going to reach me? I probably wasn’t going to taste very good. The food they served in the cafeteria didn’t ever really appeal to me, it kept me alive, but did nothing for my taste buds. Maybe wolves like bland food? I mean, dogs eat their own droppings, so maybe it isn’t all about the taste.

 

Would I have good texture? Is that what wolves like? I wondered when my escort would open the door. If I would scream when the pain hit me, or if the wolf would crunch on my bones and the sound would alert him. The escort would have his charge dead under his watch, but at least I didn’t leave the room when I wasn’t supposed to. Hopefully he wouldn’t get fired, it’s not his fault I got eaten. Unless he put the wolf in here. Then I hope the jerk gets fired.

 

Would I be a squirter? If my blood got all over the walls the janitor probably wouldn’t be very happy to clean it up. I know I would quit if I had to clean a dead guy off the walls, floor, and a very uncomfortable chair. Unless the camouflaged wolf would eat me if I were the janitor trying to clean up my remains.

I don’t think I have very good luck when it comes to wolves.

 

The fear and anxiety soon melted into incredulity. Why wasn’t I dead yet, why was the wolf keeping me waiting, did he want me to open my eyes, to watch as he sank his teeth into me? I guess I could give him that decency, I would feel pretty bad if the guy that was to be my dinner was terrified by the idea.

 

I opened my eyes slowly and glanced up. I saw my white knuckles gripping the seat, my legs stretched out in front of me, and a dark brown dining tray past my knees in the center of the room.

 

I quickly glanced around the small room.

 

I couldn’t see the wolf! But what if he had camouflaged himself again?

 

It took a glimpse to the left, then the right, then to the left again before I realized what had happened. There was no wolf to begin with. I had imagined it. I raised my trembling hand to my face and covered my eyes.

 

It had felt so real. The breath of the wolf, it’s pressure on my knees, it’s unrelenting stare.

 

It’s eyes. It’s piercing eyes. It was as if the wolf was staring into my soul.

 

It’s eyes.

 

The wolf had blue eyes. I had imagined the wolf, and I had also imagined that it had blue eyes, a color that wasn’t in the room. I don’t know if I should feel traumatized that I was imagining a wolf that was trying to eat me, or excited that I was able to remember something. Even if that something simply was a color.

 

I inched my chair forwards, back to it’s original resting place and sat straight upwards in my chair proud of myself. My shaking hands gave away my otherwise calm composure. I would have to tell the therapist who wanted me to work on my memory that I remembered a color when next I saw her. If only I could remember her name.

 

I heard the door handle start to turn and turned my head to see who was entering.

What if that was the wolf? Panic coursed through my body, what if it grew opposable thumbs and was trying to open the door, trying to enter again and finish the job? Or what if my escort was opening the door for the wolf. Jerk. He is trying to kill me with a wolf. I hope he gets fired.

 

I paused a moment as the door started to open. Something wasn’t right, I tried to concentrate and theorize what was wrong about imagining a wolf that was trying to eat me.

 

The wolf wasn’t real!

 

In stepped a man wearing a blue polo shirt and khaki pants. I was right! I do know what blue looks like! In his left hand he held a small suitcase. As he turned and closed the door with his right hand he told my would-be-assassin to go ahead and have a lunch break. He turned back to me, and I recognized the man who stood before me with buzz cut black hair and thin silver glasses. The clean-shaven man was named Codie Alethe, and happened to be one of my most common visitors. He was something of a specialist from what I’ve gathered, as long as I remember correctly.

 

My memory isn’t exactly the greatest.

 

I wish the wolf was real.

 

He was polite, and well respected among the staff as far as I could tell, but there was something that I did not like about the man, he had a condescending way about him, and it always seems as if sessions with him set me backwards instead of forwards.

 

“Hello Vincent.” The Codie said casually as he sat down across from me. He set his suitcase down on the tray and opened the two clasps that held it shut. Before lifting the cover he looked at me over his glasses and added, “Well?”

 

I paused before responding, I didn’t like the guy. Why should I fake pleasure at seeing him? “Why do you come see me?” I asked instead. I was having difficulty remembering simple things, the complicated things this man always asked me seemed leaps and bounds ahead of where I was. I would like to remember more, but repeating a task and expecting different results doesn‘t seem the best way to make progress.

 

Codie frowned at me and lifted his suitcase lid. He stared into it a moment before lifting his head and peering at me through his glasses. He did not hide his contempt for how I responded, however, instead of remarking on it, instead masked his face with a blank stare. His eyes glittered behind his glasses, the intelligence in them unable to be concealed.

 

“I am here to help you regain your memories,” he started flatly. “I wish to try to help you understand why you lost them, and eventually recover what you lost.” Codie hefted a sigh, “Though we have yet to make progress, our goal is still as simple as the first week I met with you. To get you to remember just one thing each week. Eventually making enough progress and find what we wish to know.” His tone, though mostly flat, did little to mask the conceited condescension in it.

 

I felt trapped, a creature in a cage being stared at, poked and prodded. It was always like this with him, it always felt as if he were looking down on me. I couldn’t take it anymore. Just to prove him wrong, and against my better judgment, I blurted, “I remembered something today.”

 

His mouth twitched and he sat slightly more upright in his chair. If his face reflected any emotion, then surprise was it, but it vanished as soon as it flitted across his otherwise stoic face. “What did you remember about your past?” He said keeping his voice even.

 

I instantly felt foolish, my previous victory, which was at the cost of a mild mental break down, was not a memory from my past, which was the goal of my weekly meetings with Codie. Instead, the only thought I could recollect wasn’t even a personal memory. It was a child doesn’t have to work to retain. “It was a color,” I started weakly. “I remembered what blue looks like.”

 

This time it was his brow’s turn to twitch. “You remember what a color is?” He took a deep breath and looked down into his briefcase. He closed it slowly and set it down next to his leg. He motioned to his shirt, “This, this is blue. This is what you spent the past week remembering?” He chuckled to himself as he looked up at me over his glasses, his eyes darkly fixated on me. I couldn’t help but think of the wolf, staring at me as if I were nothing but lunch.

 

He stared at me in silence that followed his comment. The gentle hum of the radiator the only sound in the room. I felt as if I were paralyzed, my body refused to move, to even adjust the padding on the chair. My brain refused to think of anything to say to break the silence. The silence was uncomfortable, but I could not think of what to say, I did know however that I didn’t want to apologize to him.

 

Apologizing to him would only make me feel weak, as if there were nothing I could do. There was something about this man that my pride would not bear it if he held an advantage over me. There was nothing I could do but sit in silence, try and steel my emotions and hide the uneasy feeling slowly growing in the pit of my stomach.

 

His eyes continued to bore into me and finally breaking the silence he cleared his throat. He started to speak slowly and calmly as if I were a child, “You know…” A sudden pain shot down my spine from my brain. I winced and continued to stare at him. It wasn’t a coincidence. His mouth kept moving, and he kept speaking, though I could hear no sound coming from his mouth. In fact, all sound disappeared from the world as soon as the sharp pain shot through my brain. Ringing reverberated through my ears and then faded, bringing sound back to the world and allowing me to pick up Codie‘s voice trailing back mid sentence. “…a lot of enjoyment out of this. Did … this on purpose? …give up? … name …. Vincent … amusing?” He droned, not taking his eyes from me once.

 

The ringing continued drilling relentlessly through my head Causing me to wince whenever his sentences were cut out. He smirked and stared at me, “Your defense mechanism giving you trouble again?” He stopped and stared at me, hands folded on the tray. His face suddenly contorted with rage. He raised his fists and smashed them down onto the tray, wooden splinters shooting across the room and stabbing into my arms.

 

I gasped as he shot across the room and gripped the color of my shirt. He slowly started to raise me above my head, my legs hanging lamely on the chair beneath me. My eyes reached his and he spoke, “You think you thought of everything. If you did, then why are you broken? Your mind is fractured. Why have you been in this place? What are they planning?” He continued to lift me higher I know longer felt the chair beneath my legs, and instead felt the wall against my back as he started pressing me into it. He shook me violently and my head cracked back against the wall.

 

Stars filled my vision and a slow throbbing pain emanated through my skull. When my vision came back I was once again sitting on my chair, with my chin on my chest. I rolled my head up and saw Codie sitting in his chair calmly opposite me, with his suitcase once again resting on the tray.

 

The tray.

 

Wasn’t it just shattered? I looked down at my arm and saw blood still on my forearm and gingerly felt the back of my head and felt wetness in my hair. Blood.

If it didn’t happen, then there would be no blood. If it did happen, there would be no tray. My mind reeled and Codie started to speak again, no problems in hearing him this time. “We are making no progress with these interviews, and we are starting to get frustrated. Starting next week, if there is no progress, we will be trying a new tactic.” He snapped the suitcase closed and drummed his fingers on it.

 

“Do you know how long you’ve been in here Vincent?”

 

I thought a moment, I hadn’t noticed a season change, but I know I started seeing the man in the spring. “Six months?” I asked weakly.

 

Codie smirked, “Five years.” He stated, no doubt feeling triumphant. “All this time, and none of them have visited you. I checked the logs, you’ve only ever had medical staff. I don’t know who you’re trying to protect, but they’ve obviously abandoned you. This clinic,” he paused before he continued adding a nod towards me, “your prison, ever since you came here, no one has come to visit or try and rescue you.”

 

He lowered his voice, and leaned towards me, barely sitting in his seat, what he had to say next he wanted to make sure I was paying attention. I had no choice.

 

Codie’s mouth curled into a cruel snarl, again, I couldn’t help but think of the wolf.

 

His piercing grey eyes penetrated mine, “Vincent, you were never The Leader, you were never respected, they have already replaced you and now they fight on without you. You were always The Pariah.”



© 2011 Matthew Perry


Author's Note

Matthew Perry
I really wish tabs or line breaks carried through. Go to town! What do you think?

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Added on May 3, 2011
Last Updated on May 3, 2011
Tags: Wolf, Insane, Asylum, Outcast


Author

Matthew Perry
Matthew Perry

Parkville, MD



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