Over and over, Gloria had read the scarlet words scrawled on the wall. They had stopped making sense long ago, yet they clung to her mind, echoing over and over like an irritating song she'd rather forget.
Gloria didn't know whether she'd been in the cell for five days or five weeks. Five months... ? She had given up on trying to keep track of time altogether.
She slept. When she couldn't sleep anymore, she stared at the white walls. Her sweatshirt. Her feet. Her cracked skin and her chipped nails. Anywhere but at the dreaded writing.
She suspected the the nurse brought meals at irregular intervals on purpose, when she brought them at all. Gloria's world had shrunk to consist of nothing but hunger, sleepless exhaustion and white walls. And...
Gloria didn't know how much longer she'd be able to endure this.
When the nurse finally came for her, Gloria followed meekly.
"I'm pleased," the nurse said and her wide smile confirmed it. "It seems you have finally come to your senses. Patience, that's what it takes, and even the toughest cases can be treated, that's what I've always said. Patience and a firm hand."
The nurse's own firm hand dug cruelly into Gloria's flesh. Gloria did not resist, clenching her teeth to keep herself from yelping in pain. Five Days, she thought. Five Days...
Finally, the grip loosened. "Here we are," the nurse chirped. "You're ready to continue your therapy at last. The doctor will be with you shortly, so be a good girl and don't go wandering again, you hear?"
Gloria stood still, just where the nurse had left her, in the middle of the wood paneled therapy room.
The array of stimuli that assaulted her senses was almost overwhelming; the smell of old leather, the pattern on the worn carpet beneath her, the view from the windows.
After a while, Gloria could not have said how long, she took a few tentative steps toward them.
A sky the color of a sickly peach drizzled rain over the distant mountaintops. The trees were bare, their skeletal limbs swaying in the wind.
Was this autumn or spring? Just how long had Gloria been in the padded cell?
This question dismayed Gloria more than she cared to think about. She turned her back on the windows and examined the large bookshelf instead.
Gloria vaguely remembered a past where she had dreamed of escape, but now her plans seemed more unlikely than ever. There was no point in resisting the nurse, no point at all. If Gloria was meant to wait in this room for a doctor who would never show up, she would wait. She could not bear the thought of being thrown back into that cell.
Five Days... the words resurfaced in her mind and Gloria shook her head to rid herself of them again.
In an effort to distract herself, Gloria idly ran her index finger over the spines of the dusty books, reading the titles as she went. There was The Historical Development of Simlish Psychiatry and The Neurotic Trait of Our Time and The Interpretation of Dreams - Reading the Bubbles with Simming Freud. Gloria sighed. Judging by the layer of dust, it had been a long time since anyone last decided to read any of these, and no wonder. They all sounded very antiquated.
Suddenly, Gloria's heart lurched as something caught her eye.
"Not again," she thought. Like a piece of gum on the sole of a shoe, the words would not leave her. It was only getting worse--letters now rearranging themselves before her eyes. Hallucinations. Had she really gone mad?
Gloria squeezed her eyelids shut, opened them again and forced herself to focus on what was actually in front of her. She read the title carefully, word by word.
Five Days In the Mind of a Llama
Gloria stood frozen. Could it be? She read the title again, but the words remained the same. After a moment's hesitation, she hooked two fingers over the book's spine and pulled. It didn't budge. She pulled again, more forcibly this time.
With a low rumble, the heavy wooden shelves began to shift backwards, then to the side, revealing a narrow passage.
Before Gloria knew what was happening, her legs had carried her through the hidden doorway and up a spiraling staircase.
She emerged into a large, bright room, much like the therapy room below. There was a strong musky odor and the rhythmic sound of raindrops hitting the large windows. Little clouds of dust billowed up wherever Gloria's feet fell.
At first glance the pale bones had almost blended into the bleached carpet, but now Gloria gasped and staggered backwards. Her eyes had not deceived her; a sim's remains lay on the floor in the middle of the room.
Gloria's first instinct was to turn back, but her curiosity would not let her. She approached the middle of the room slowly, taking care to keep as far away from the skeleton as possible as she extended her hand. When she had a grip on the leather-bound book, she quickly seized it and shuffled away backwards.
She released the breath she'd been holding with a sigh, then read the label on the cover.
Concerning the patient Eliza Thorne
Attending psychiatrist: Dr. Wayne Burroughs
Gloria began to flip through the pages, a look of horror growing on her face.
I have made a terrible mistake in my therapy of Eliza Thorne. In an attempt to challenge her delusions, I have tried one too many times to confront her with reality. Her words and actions suggest that she has begun to see me as an enemy and I’m afraid I’ve ruined my chances of ever breaking through to her.
Even acquiescence of her delusions makes her aggressive now. She doesn’t believe anything I tell her. I’ve lost her trust, which is the basis for therapy. I am at a loss. I will have to consult with some colleagues and ask for their opinions on this matter.
She attacked me in the hallway today, completely unprovoked. I managed to subdue her with the help of two nurses, but what worries me is that I believe she has been plotting this assault for a while.
The nurses are getting tired of this. They are unable to cope with Eliza Thorne, and I cannot blame them. She attacks them on a daily basis, scratches and bites, tells them they’re ‘fakes’ or treats them as 'her patients'. Most of them have quit or requested transferals to other facilities. We’re terribly understaffed now. Even the head nurse is threatening to leave--and we’ve been working together for twenty years!
I thought I could help Eliza Thorne, but it is time for me to admit defeat. I have arranged for her transferal to a more secure institution for the criminally insane. Today will be my last therapy session with her. I hope to end things on a good note, at least. I want to wish her the best of luck in her future residence. The poor woman deserves that much, despite my having failed her.
The final entry was a jarring contrast to the ones before. Dark blotches stained the yellowed paper, partially obscuring the words underneath. Sentences were left incomplete and the handwriting, which had been so precise on the previous pages, slowly trailed off into an almost illegible scrawl.
She caught me off-guard... I don't know how... all I remember is...
When I woke up... my head... nausea, bleeding. She left me in a cell, but I got out. The door wasn't locked... maybe she thought I couldn't... in this state, I don't know how I...
I could only think of one place to go. I left a clue in the cell, in case help comes... just wanted to hide... I must not have been thinking clearly... don't know if I'm thinking clearly now... concussion.
... don't know how long... but I feel my strength failing...
As I lay here, dying... only hope... someone finds this diary and learns from my mistakes. Help her.
Gloria was sickened. Eliza Thorne had killed the doctor. Help either hadn't come or hadn't been able to figure out his vague clue. Hell, even Gloria didn't know whether she’d been able to figure it out. Five Days... It had been sheer luck.
Hot tears had been streaking Gloria's cheeks as she was reading. Now she wiped them away furiously. Eliza had killed the doctor, yet his last wish had been only to get her help. Doctor Wayne Burroughs had been a good sim and hadn't deserved to die like this.
“I’m sorry,” Gloria whispered as she wiped away tears that wouldn't stop flowing.
“You better be,” the nurse's piercing voice answered.
Gloria spun around, terrified.
“You’ve been a bad girl,” Eliza Thorne chided. “Again and again I’ve tried to chastise you, to help you. I’ve been so good to you, but you just won’t listen…” As she spoke, the nurse walked slowly towards Gloria, who squirmed away desperately. "This is a major transgression and you must be disciplined."
"Please," Gloria whimpered. Her earlier fear of the skeleton was forgotten as she shuffled past it, eyes fixed on the nurse. "Please don't--"
Eliza Thorne didn't spare the doctor's remains a single glance, too fixated on her prey to notice anything else. Then suddenly, she halted. It took Gloria a moment before she realized what had diverted the nurse's attention away from her.
A tall figure hovered in front of the large windows, the bare trees outside visible through its eerily translucent body. Rain still pattered against the windows, but the blood-red specter made no sound.
"YOU," Eliza shrieked. For a split second her tone was horrified, before returning to its usual false sweetness. “I knew were hiding around here somewhere. I'd been hearing sounds... I knew you had a place to hide here... I just couldn't see how to get inside."
The specter floated silently in mid-air, his face placid.
Eliza continued, unperturbed. "Oh, I tried," she laughed. The sound was just a little too shrill, her teeth a little too bared. "I tried. But you sneaky little scoundrel went and hid behind such thick walls, didn't you?"
Gloria gasped. Of course, the broken wall in the south wing! It had to be just on the other side. The nurse had been so close to finding this room...
"But now I've got you. I've finally got you, and this time--" she let out another sharp laugh. "This time it's solitary confinement for good, young man! You will stop interfering with my work. You will stop questioning my authority. Now... I've got you!"
With those last words, the nurse lunged forward, launching her entire body at her target.
There was a split second where realization dawned on her, her expression changing from rage into one of incredulity, as her extended hand found nothing to grasp and simply passed through the spectral figure. But it was too late for her to stop.
With a shrill scream the nurse burst through the window, a thousand little shards of glass falling with her.
The other patients had been lured into the therapy room by the loud noises from upstairs. Now they rushed to the window as they saw something whizzing by.
Eliza Thorne's body lay motionless amidst the sharp rocks. Raindrops fell, staining her immaculate white dress and mingling with the slowly spreading red stain.
"W-what do you want? P-please don't hurt me," Gloria whimpered, backing away in fear.
The spectral figure's gaze turned to Gloria. His eyes looked sad, full of pity, but there was a benevolent smile on his face.
His voice was like a whisper, yet so loud that it shook Gloria to the bone.
... FREE ...
The specter spread his arms wide as his entire body began to glow so brightly that Gloria had to shield her eyes.
When she dared to look again, the he was gone.
Gloria clambered to her feet. She didn't need to approach the window to look down and see for herself. She knew.
On wobbly knees, she crossed the room towards the spiraling staircase.
Downstairs, she found the front door wide open.
As the other patients would tell her later, the doors had simply sprung open by themselves. Deep down Gloria knew that it had been the doctor's doing, though she never told anyone about this.
Still unsteady and shaken, Gloria took a few tentative steps. Wet gravel crunched satisfyingly beneath her feet.
Gloria closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, raindrops joining with the tears on her cheeks. It was a strange sensation, seeing the wide open sky above her again. Almost overwhelming.
But Gloria embraced it.
It was time for a fresh start.
How long does a sim's body take to decompose and turn into a skeleton? Why did none of the patients ever break through the windows on the front side of the building, when there is clearly safe ground to step on? What kind of telephone network requires a three digit prefix to dial an external number? A secret office??! These and many more questions are all perfectly valid, yet will never be answered. I hope you enjoyed this story despite its many plot holes. :)
Gloria fulfilled her therapy goal and has finally escaped the asylum, but her story isn't over yet! After a visit home, it's time for her to start living life on her own terms, in her very own Wishacy! You can check out Gloria's silly adventures over at My Way - A Sims 3 Wishacy.
Thank you so much for reading!