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Tales From The Oddside(10)

By:Al Bruno III



 

TALES FROM THEODDSIDEPrecious MachinebyAl Bruno III<I>for Ray Garton</I>A rusted electric fencesurrounds the walled facility and the facility itself is a series ofsquat single story buildings connected by hallways. Every window isbarred, every door is bolted, every surface is gray or blue. In thisway the Kaydeross Asylum keeps the murderous nightmares of itsprisoners tucked away from the world of ordinary madness.Orderlies move throughthe hallways and buildings like ants, jaded boredom has rendered themfaceless and emotionless. They go through their routines but havelong ago stopped seeing their charges as human beings. The physiciansand psychiatrists assigned to this place are no better, any thoughtsof rehabilitating their patients have long been ground away by thenever-ending crush of State-required paperwork.</ol>

 

Only Dr. AnnabelleMasters truly cared about what went on here. Despite being thedirector of the facility she still made it a point to oversee theprogress of the women remanded to the Kaydeross Asylum. There is aframed photograph she kept on the wall of her office, it shows herstanding within the center of a crowd of women wearing faded hospitalgowns and slippers; she is smiling despite the fact she is standingwith a group of convicted murderers.As I went through Dr.Masters's office my gaze returned to the picture again and again.There was something about the patients that haunted me- despite theirsmiling faces their eyes seemed to be screaming.I was just a temporaryadministrator sent in to replace Dr. Masters while the investigationinto her disappearance moved forward. It was my job to restore somesemblance of order to the facility but I already knew it would be noeasy task.A tall bookcaseoccupied one side of the room, some of the texts shelved there werethe standards of our profession but others had fallen out of printafter being dismissed as bald faced quackery.After this I turned myattention to her desk. It was ugly, gray and metallic. It reminded meof the sort of desk a schoolteacher might have. I searched throughthe drawer and found one had been locked. It took some effort but Iwas able to break the lock and found seven files that were thick withhandwritten notes and EEG readouts.</ol>

 

Dr. Masters's noteswere written on cheap onionskin paper, her handwriting script wascramped and strange, reading it was hard going. There was one folderfor each of the Kaydeross Asylum's more infamous charges. She hadbeen interviewing and treating these murderesses secretly.No it was more thanthat, she had been experimenting on them.Even now I can recallsome of her notes almost perfectly-<I>...the PreciousMachine continues to perform better than expected on Leslie Knapp butshe resists treatment. She claws at the air and calls the names ofher children. The modified styluses titter and scratch at the paper,there is something beautiful about the patterns they make. When Iplayback the audio tapes it almost sounds like an animal isskittering in the background like a rat gone wild with the urge tognaw...</I>A search of Dr.Masters's office revealed no audio tapes or electroencephalogram, andher notes were maddeningly vague as to what exactly she was trying toaccomplish.</ol>

 

Exhaustion, confusionand the murky February afternoon conspired to make me drowsy. I satdown in Dr. Masters' leather-backed chair and leaned back. I meantonly to rest my eyes but I was soon asleep.The dream that came wasat first very literal, I was sitting in the office with the crypticfiles spread out before me. There was a hollow rapping at the doorand I called for the visitor to enter not looking up from my work.Once the visitor stood on the opposite side of the desk I becamegripped with a childlike terror. I did not want to look up but myhead moved of its own volition and I found myself staring at a figurefrom my long-abandoned faith. I knew that frail, beatific gaze andthose stigmatic hands. But the crown of thorns he wore was metallicand it sparked. My breath caught in my throat as the figure openedhis mouth to speak but all that came out was a faint scraping soundlike a record that had reached the end of its song.I awoke then, chokingand gasping like a nearly drowned man, but the scratching soundcontinued. Once the dream had faded away and I was calm, I realizedwhere the strange noise was coming from.Initially the orderliesbalked at my request insisting that the moving of furniture was a jobfor maintenance but I insisted. Once the heavy mahogany bookcase hadbeen moved a doorway was revealed.</ol>

 

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