THE SPIRAL INTO MADNESS • by Cornelius Barbulescu

Something wakes me but I don’t want to leave my warm, stiff bed. A fist pounds the room’s door. “Wake up, medication,” shouts a woman. I wish that I could fall back asleep, that my mind could escape this excruciating reality.

“Wakey, wakey,” says my roommate. His dirty hands pull away my cover, letting the cool air sting my body. “Chris, wake up or I’ll tell on you.”

“Get your hands off me,” I say. He giggles, twitching his face like a rat nibbling cheese.

“Ah, Chris, you been mean to me.” His laughter transforms into slow, deep sobs. He runs out of the room, wailing like a child. I hate him so much. I shouldn’t be here.

“Mr. Gonzaga,” says a nurse, appearing at my door. “Davey told me that you called him inappropriate names. This isn’t the first time, and I’m going to tell Dr. Johansson.” She looks at me, waiting for my response. I turn my back to make my bed. “Mr. Gonzaga.” One last corner and the white sheets will be tight enough for military standards. I’m in the army now, private first-class lunatic. “Mr. Gonzaga.” All done.

“Yes?” I say.

“It’s time for medication,” she says, staring at me with her chubby face.  

“I know,” I say, making sure to leave the room first.

The hallway floor wasn’t cold as it should be, it was warm and sweaty. “Single file, please,” says a nurse. An inflated stomach bumps me in the back. Before I turn around, a putrid smell forces my body to cringe. You fat bastard. I lift my shirt over my nose and breathe through my mouth.

“Next,” says a nurse. My body can’t handle anymore drugs. I grab the Dixie cup with the name, “Chris G,” sloppily marked on it. “Dr. Johansson put you on some new medication, Chris,” she says, “it will help you focus and relax, so you can get better.” Another sedative. I squeeze it between my fingers, holding it like a tick.

“I don’t think the medicine is helping,” I say, “it’s making things worse. I always feel numb.”

“Chris,” she says, “you have to give it a little time, honey. Once we find the exact balance of medication for you-”

I ignore her brainwashing as I chase down the first pill; I’m too tired to fight. She smiles and nods as the other two slither down my throat. My stomach churns, angry that they weren’t food. I don’t exercise anymore. I mope around, watch the news, and smoke two provided cigarettes a day. I feel like a zombie, mindless and hungry.

All four showers in the bathroom are in use. As the steam sticks to my skin, I feel the drugs enter my blood. My thoughts go foggy as my muscles relax. I stand, shoulders drooped, and I loose all of my anxiety. I stand. The rim of my shirt feels wet. I look down to see spit trickle from my mouth. My arms feel too heavy to wipe away the drool, and I stand. “Hey cutie,” pierces a voice through the fog. Ronny. His black, curly hair finds its way into my sight. “I’ll give you a blowjob for a pack of your smokes,” he says. “Come on, how “˜bout I touch your dick for free?”

One surge, one surge of energy is all I need. With it I free my body and raise my hands. The tip of my elbow sinks into his face, sending his head into the mirror. The fog returns as I stare into the cracked, blood spattered mirror. I’ve gained so much weight here. I shouldn’t be in this place. I’m not crazy, they are. Heavy hands lock my head still as a male nurse injects me with a sedative.

The cushioned pink walls seem welcoming, I’m no stranger. Shackled, like a lunatic. Maybe their mission is to turn me into one.  

Cornelius Barbulescu is a creative writing student at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He enjoys speculative fiction most.

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