Asylum (Finished Story) Parts 1-3

dogboy

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Asylum (Finished Story) Part 1

dogboy​

This story started out as a prompt from a creative writing course. The prompt is as follows.

Write about two people who grow up together, eventually part ways, move to different sides of the country, but live the exact same life, do the same thing at the exact same time, including eating and going to the bathroom, marry people with the same name, but live on opposite sides of the country. They have the same name, look identical to one another, have identical looking kids who they give the same name, etc. One day they meet. What happens?​

I thought it could become a good Halloween story for ADISC so here it is.

There was screaming coming from the small enclosed room, screaming and swearing. It was a woman and what she was saying would make a sailor blush. The light from the overhead fixture was torturing her, just as everything was torture. All she could do was scream and hope to hell that whatever had crawled up inside her would soon get the hell on out. She could hear the woman in the next room doing the same thing: screaming in agony.

She pleaded for mercy, anything to stop the pain and all she got in response was, “Push honey. Take deep breaths and push.”

Between the breaths and the agony, she managed to get out, “Get me some bitch who can help!”

The nurse turned on her heal and muttered, “Okay sister, just remember you asked for this.”

The same thing was happening in the next room, only a corrugated divider away; no real privacy at all. There was nothing personal in this, except for her husband who didn’t know what to do other than to continue making ridiculous breathing noises, encouraging his wife.

“Oh Tad,” she implored her husband. I’ve got to have something for this pain.” Her eyes said it all, pleading, desperately seeking help. He went out into the hall, frantic, looking for: who? And then he saw her, the straight backed nurse who looked like she was all business. She was carrying an IV bag and that’s what really caught his attention. It seemed to be glowing fluorescent lime green.

“Oh nurse,” but she walked right past him and abruptly turned into the adjoining cubicle, the other expectant mother.

“Here, this will help,” is all she said, but it was how she said it, so cold. As soon as the green liquid passed through the IV line and into the accepting vein, the screaming stopped replaced by a sudden look of surprise.

“Ah miss, I mean nurse, can you help my wife,” was all Tad could stammer out.

“Oh this is a good day, two in one, right next to each other, bed A and bed B, Abigail and Betty, like it was meant to be. Yes, I can help,” and with that she left, soon to return with another fluorescent lime green bag.

“Abby, this nurse can help,” he started to say but by then, the bag was in place, the green liquid running through the line and relief well on its way.

“Well this is your lucky day,” she said. “It’s both your lucky day. We’ll have to do some follow up procedures as this is something new we’re trying.”

“You mean the green stuff?” Tad suddenly wasn’t as sure of himself. A few minutes ago he would have done anything to help his wife, but what was in the IV bag? It occurred to him that maybe he should have asked but all questions were going to wait because the baby was coming now. The same thing was happening on the other side of the curtain.

There was a lot of scurrying. Pans were clanking from the instruments being thrown into them and then suddenly, the sound of the sharp crack followed by infant crying. Whatever had crawled in had escaped into the light. Two new lives had arrived, pink flesh covered in blood and glowing green. At least that’s what each mother thought. Panicked they tried to get someone’s attention but as soon as they spoke, said, “Look at my son,” the green luminescence was gone just like the empty IV bag. They thought they must have imagined it, pain playing games with reality. Both mothers looked into their child’s face, holding them for the first time, pain replaced with joy, each baby beginning to laugh, both rooms, both beds, both babies laughing in time with each other, laughing and laughing.

“Is that normal,” asked Betty? She could hear the child in the next cubicle. “Where is that nurse?”

“Right here honey. I’m nurse Florence.” She was still standing tall and rigid, but she seemed warmer, friendlier. “Let me take that child and we’ll get him and you cleaned up. Then we’ll have a little chat.”

Once outside the room, nurse Florence abruptly handed the child to another staff member and ducked into cubicle A where she had a similar conversation with Abigail. She noted that Abigail asked more questions as did her husband. For now she would be evasive. Being calm and reassuring redirected the questions to something more manageable, but soon she would have to draw them into the study where she and her superiors could study both the parents and their unusual offspring for a long, long time. There would be papers to be signed and meetings to attend, and both children would be enrolled into a special school for the very gifted.

“So my kid’s going to be a genius?” asked Betty. “What do you think about that, Nelson? Our kid’s going to be smart,” but Nelson just grunted. He wanted to go home and watch a game accompanied by several beers. Abby and Tad were a lot more inquisitive.

“I thought you were just giving me something for the pain. You didn’t say anything about changing my child?”

“Oh honey,” Florence cajoled. “You were in too much pain to go into a lot of detail, and being a little smarter is just a nice side affect.

“I guess,” said Tad, but he shared the same concerns as his wife.

There had been some strife between the two couples, not because they were so different from each other, but because they each wanted to give their child a family name, Bartholomew. It came to a head during one of the required hospital meetings, both couples storming out right after they both wrote Bartholomew on their respective birth certificates. It would be the first of many dualities.

The two Barts found themselves in classes with other similarly named children, pair after pair. They looked alike, often dressed alike, especially when they got old enough to pick their own clothes. They were all musical, playing instruments. Bartholomew played piano while Bart played cello, the two of them often performing together which meant their parents had to tolerate each other, spending time as pairs. This arrangement was harder on Tad and Abigail. Betty and Nelson just weren’t their kind of people. Tad and Abigail enjoyed the theater followed by an expensive restaurant. Betty and Nelson spent what little money they had traveling to as many NASCAR races as possible, sleeping in their rusted RV. It was their remarkable children that brought them together.

The school expected much from its protégés. There were a lot of overnight field trips, many opportunities where the children were separated from their parents, the parents left in a state of confusion. Abigail and Tad had questions as did many of the other parents though Betty and Nelson enjoyed the time alone, time spent at the race track. Over the years the children outpaced their parents, bringing home texts books that only confused their parents, especially the science and math. Tad was an engineer but he was seeing things in his son’s homework that eluded his understanding.

There were parent/teacher meetings. All was affirming as the parents were assured that their children were healthy and happy and it did seem that way. Bartholomew did genuinely seem content, if not happy spending hours on his studies. When he wasn’t doing homework, he was practicing piano, Abigail and Tad enjoying Chopin and Liszt from the expensive grand piano which they had to purchase. The same was true for Bart and when both children had some down time, they were texting each other, texting and occasionally laughing. Abigail wondered what they found so funny. Was it she and Tad? She hoped it was Betty and Nelson. She guessed they could be laughed at more than she and Tad. Either way, the children were much smarter and that disturbed her.



Abigail noticed how alike the boys were, doing almost the same things at the same time. Stranger still was how similar they looked right down to their green eyes, something that neither parents shared. She once mentioned it to Betty, but Betty didn’t seem to notice or care and so life went on until the end of the boys’ senior year. Graduation should have been the biggest event in their life at this point, but it was the meeting that followed that took precedence. It was a nice gathering, finger food and punch, jubilant teachers and parents socializing, but all of that soon ended when an old familiar face entered the room. It was nurse Florence in full white uniform.

“I wonder if I could have all the parents’ attention. Please have a seat and we’ll get started.”

The teachers left the room leaving only the parents. Curiously, there were chairs lined in a row facing a table. The parents were directed to the chairs as Nurse Florence stood on the opposite side of the table, a white stack of papers in front of her.

“Here are the college applications for your children where they will be spending the next four years in an accelerated program, receiving their doctorate degrees.

“Don’t we have some say in where our children will attend college? I mean, shouldn’t our children make this decision?” Abigail corrected herself.

“We’ve already decided mom.” Abigail looked at her son, wondering what had just happened.

“I’m going to Stanford and I’m excited about it.”

“Well where are you going Bart?”

“I’m going to MIT Betty.” Bart had been calling his mother by her given name for years and why not. Betty hadn’t felt like his mother for a long time. She didn’t know him at all. She suspected the other parents felt the same way.

“Your sons and daughters will stay in touch with you of course,” Nurse Florence intoned. They’ll be home for holidays and part of the summers just like any other ordinary student.

“Ordinary,” Abigail thought?

The years flowed like an unstoppable river. The children were children no more, but adults who were directed to specific high tech jobs from the career service associated both with their universities and the hospital. They married, had children and filled the niches of society left by those who passed into yesterday, life replaced again and again by something new, the old passing into obscurity. Their world was changing in subtle ways. They didn’t notice it because they were part of it, but their parents noticed. The world Abigail and Tad knew was changing in ways that were alarming, at least to them. Betty and Nelson were either oblivious or happy with the world, but to many of the parents involved with the experiment, there were shared feelings of anxiety. The things they accepted as normal when they were young had been replaced by what could only be seen as irrational.

Social media had crept up on them like a cat entering a room, quiet and almost unseen but suddenly there, owning the room and its occupants, to be served and then to be ignored. Polite discourse had turned into obscene accusations whether it was led by celebrities or politicians. There was no escaping the constant barrage of talk shows, movies with fallen heroes and television shows that bordered on the insane: obscenities and extreme violence the norm. Cell phones and tablets carried a constant barrage of advertisements. Everyone was dependant on their home digital assistants, small cylindrical devises that glowed charming colors, cameras for eyes and microphones for ears, almost human and making thousands of decisions for their lucky owners.

Society was being remade to look younger or more virile. Everyone started to look alike wearing the same designer clothes, the same hair styles, consuming hundreds of supplements to enhance one’s libido. The language was changing, the richness of words being replaced by simpler words, a single simple word carelessly spoken to represent a multitude of meanings or feelings. Awesome. Eventually a second rate talk show host would be elected president.

Abigail was swiping through on her Ipad. Ads were popping up, each suggesting something she needed. It was persuasive. All she had to do was touch it and the item would be purchased, the amount automatically deducted from her bank account. Absentmindedly she touched and then wondered why she needed pills for erectile dysfunction? She was jarred when a picture filled her screen, a picture of the private school that Bartholomew had attended. The image was followed by an announcement. She and her husband were invited to a twentieth year graduation reunion, a last and final meeting at their children’s school. There would be a dinner in the cafeteria, crab legs and an open bar followed by a brief meeting where their offspring would be recognized for their career achievements.

“Tad, did you see this?” but her husband had it up on his laptop. “What do you suppose it means? Bartholomew didn’t mention this the last time he called.”

“I guess we’ll find out. Besides, the dinner might be nice and you won’t have to cook.”

“I’ve never felt good about that school. Too controlling. We don’t see much of Bartholomew or our grandchildren. He never talks about his work, even when I ask. Everything is, I don’t know, cloak and dagger? They seem happy but a mother’s intuition.” She trailed off. “I guess we have to go.” Abigail was surprised to hear the Amazon Echo chirp, “I’ll put it on your event calendar,” and just like clockwork, Echo flawlessly reminded them when the day arrived.

Tad pulled into the parking lot and both he and his wife were surprised to see how old and worn the outside of the school was. A letter was missing from the school sign: Welcome to St. Thaddeus, Where young minds are molded to do the Imp ssible! Once inside, they noticed similar deterioration. Though there were new cardboard signs with arrows pointing the way to the cafeteria, the walls themselves were dingy from old dirt and grime: hand prints from twenty years ago. They ducked into a classroom just to look. Most of the desks had been removed. There was a broken window and leaves had gotten in, only to decay and darken the paint. There was the smell of mold.

“Something doesn’t feel right,” but Tad interrupted his wife, took her hand and tried to assure her.

“The school hasn’t been used for a while. If there’s mold in the cafeteria, we’ll leave, but right now, I’m hungry. Let’s go eat. Besides Bartholomew and family should be meeting us if their plane was on time. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen them. Anyway, in a couple of hours we’ll all return home.”

“Oh I can’t wait to see them and the children. I’ll bet Mike and Monica have grown.”

They were surprised to see the condition of the cafeteria. Apparently not much time was spent cleaning but there was no smell of mold, just that of crab legs.

“Do you want a drink?”

“Oh God yes,” said Abigail and she looked furtively through the mulling parents, looking for Bartholomew, but it was Betty and Nelson that she unwittingly made eye contact with and now they were moving toward her, contact returned. To say they were walking toward her would be generous because they were staggering more than walking having hit the open bar more than several times.

“Abigail, long time no see,” Betty slurred. “Have you tried one of these green mint juleps or whatever the hell it is? It’s the only thing the bar’s serving, cheap skates, but it’s free and I’m taking advantage of that!”

“If it’s free booze, I’m all over it,” and Nelson let out a gigantic belch in his exuberance, the smell resembling something like an industrial chemical spill rather than alcohol.

Abigail desperately looked for an out when she felt a hand on her shoulder. It was Bartholomew along with his wife Alicia and their two children.

“Oh thank God,” she blurted out and then looked apologetic. She didn’t want to offend Betty or Nelson but she soon realized they were too drunk to be offended by anything.

“Let’s find a table and get caught up. Tad’s getting drinks. He’ll get you a couple, no worries.” She realized remotely that she was hooked on the new abbreviated language.

“No worries. Shit,” she thought. She was further distressed when Betty and Nelson sat down next to them along with their son Bart, his wife and two children.

Fortunately, the dinner made up for the company. It was great: tremendous. They all thought that. So were the drinks. They thought that too. After the first drink they stopped seeing the school as old and deserted. It looked just like it had years ago except for the added screens which adorned all four walls, a larger screen at the back. There were pictures scrolling, memorializing the past events of the very special children in their very special school, their lives as scripted as the order of the pictures. Between the pictures were dazzling colors, geometric shapes flashing and changing, the colors and images reflecting off the walls, illuminating and filling the room with something almost psychedelic. The background music which had been barely perceptible was changing, becoming louder, the drum beat matching the biorhythmic pulse of every heart, blood and green drinks being rhythmically pushed through every body and more so, every receptive brain.

Abigail was feeling lightheaded. She blamed it on the drinks, but she only had two. She looked around, tried to see how others were responding. They all seemed absorbed in conversations, catching up with other parents, the noise level increasing and increasing, making her feel dizzy when suddenly she was jolted.

“I said finish your damn crab legs Mike. And you too Monica! Do you know what that would cost us at the Red Lobster?”

“Did you say Mike and Monica?” Abigail looked at Betty, uttered “What the hell!”

“Of course Mike and Monica.” Betty was still slurring her speech. “That’s their damn names. I wanted Dale and Danika but Bart and Alicia insisted on Mike and Monica.”

“Yeah, Dale and Danika,” and Nelson reached for more crab legs from the bowls which were constantly being brought out, the old replaced by the new. “Time our people took control,” but this thought was interrupted by another huge belch followed by some expectorated crab which now was escaping down his stubbled chin.

“Wait! You named your kids the same as ours?” but Bartholomew wasn’t prepared for his mom’s response.

“Well isn’t that just great! First you steal my grandfather’s name, Bartholomew for your kid’s name and now you’ve stolen our grandchildren’s names.”

“I haven’t stolen anyone’s name little missy and besides, my dumb son named them, not me.”

“Hey, let’s settle down here. Alicia and I liked the names. We didn’t know you named them that.”

“Hey Bart. How is it that we both married Alicia’s? What’s going on here?”

“Just luck I guess.” He laughed uncomfortably. I named the kids because of my work. I’m a programmer working at BioCorp. Mike and Monica kept coming up on my screen. It was an incentive I guess, Mike and Monica approve of your good work. It was like I had to name them Mike and Monica.”

Bartholomew was suddenly quiet, as still as a dead crab in a pot of boiling water. The room had turned into a disco, the large screens emitting colors and shapes which were now dancing around the room, its effect dizzying.

“I work for BioCorp. I got those same messages. I’d take my ten o’clock bathroom break, coffee going through, I guess. I’d come back and it would be up on my screen: Mike and Monica approve.”

“You take a ten o’clock bathroom break? So do I.” Their table got quiet.

The screens were dancing with color after color, shape followed by shape.

Bart was feeling queasy, light headed, but he was able to finally speak. “Do those shapes and signs look familiar?”

“It looks like one of the modules I was working on,” Bartholomew answered, also lightheaded.

“Yeah, mine too. I’ve been programming a series of modules but I’ve never seen the bigger program, what it connects to. We were supposed to program marketing tools, influence buying and related trends. We were told to be creative. Subliminal suggestion and even hypnosis was on the table, anything that could influence perception.” He trailed off in thought.

The tables were getting quieter just as the screens were changing, now flowing a dark rhythmic blue. The music stopped, soon to be followed by an announcement and a familiar voice.

“I hope you all enjoyed the drinks and meal. I’m sure it was fun catching up, but now I’d like you all to join me in the back of the room.”

Once again there were chairs set up in several rows, chairs facing a long table where a number of people were seated between the table and in front of a one hundred and ten inch screen. There was a large black computer, so oversized that it couldn’t be ignored. The graduated prodigies all guessed that the computer was running all the screens. They began to suspect what was happening as it all looked familiar. All of this was interrupted by a matching familiar face. Nurse Florence began to address the gathering.

“Some of your old teachers will take your children to the gym while we come together for our last and final meeting. Don’t worry. They’ll be fine.”

The parents watched as their children were ushered out of the room, parents and grandparents once again separated from their children, this time not feeling so comforted. Abigail and Tad drifted toward the chairs as did all the adults, drifting to the soft music and undulating blue light pulsing from the mounted screens. There was something soothing about it. It said everything would be alright. Do as we ask.

There were new faces seated at the table, several men in suits, two who had clipboards with attached papers. With them sat a four star general, but it was nurse Florence who was standing, positioned in the center of the table, standing straight as an iron rod and cold: again so cold.

“I hope you enjoyed your dinner and especially the drinks.”

“Why the hell did you just have that green shit? You said there’d be an open bar. Where was the Maker’s Mark for Christ’s sake!”

“You will sit down and be quiet Betty!” Nurse Florence looked taller, menacing but there was something else. The four star general looked diminutive compared to nurse Florence.

“Why are we here?”

“Well, I’m going to tell you Abby. Oh you prefer Abigail, don’t you? I remember, just like we were old friends. And in a way, we are: you and your extraordinary children.”

“What about our children?” another mother asked but she was soon silenced.

“I birthed every one of your children, attended to all you expectant mothers, wide eyed and frightened, each of you wanting some relief, relief from pain, from anxiety, even from the natural order of birth and I was only too happy to supply that relief.”

“The reason for this little get together is to tell you all that it came at a price. Your brilliant green eyed children, their extraordinary free education, their success as adults, their bright eyed children: it all came with a price tag which you provided tenfold. Look at the screen. Look deeply into the screen. You’ve been looking at your screens for the last twenty years. Cell phones, tablets and computers; even your wide screen TVs. Everywhere you go, there are screens bringing you all sorts of information, information we have been controlling.”

“What the hell are you talking about,” but before Betty could finish, nurse Florence touched a shape on her cell phone and Betty immediately sat down, quiet and contrite, and the same shape appearing on the big screen. One of the parents checked their cell phone. Had it rung?

“That’s right,” nurse Florence continued. “Everything is as it should be, life following whatever order we give it.”

“What do you mean, give it order?”

“Well Abby,” and this time Florence didn’t bother to falsely correct herself. You’ve all been part of a big experiment starting with that green IV bag that relieved you from all that pain. You don’t like pain, do you? No one likes pain and now we’ve taken care of that, taken your pain away, pain from making decisions, from hardships and sorrow, and mostly, from caring.”

“From caring?” another parent asked.

“Of course, caring. Caring only causes pain. You care about your dog and it dies. You care about your child and when he disappoints you, you’re miserable, but we’ve taken all that pain away. The green medicine in the IV bag actually started out as a potent weed killer, but during an industrial accident, it was discovered to have other properties. One was relieving pain and believe me; after the spill and the skin burns, those workers needed a lot of pain relief!” It was the first time the parents had ever heard nurse Florence laugh.

“The other thing it did, and this is the most curious part, it seemed to make their minds very susceptible to suggestion. Of course they were going to sue, but when we talked to the first complainant, he readily accepted a ridiculously low settlement. Once we realized what was going on, we convinced others to embrace the accident with no remuneration. We renamed the weed killer CE X. We tried test subjects, giving them small amounts, what we thought safe, but it didn’t have the same effect. We needed something else and that’s when we tried the power of suggestion, but even then, the subjects needed something that was constant, an uninterrupted stream of visual and auditory stimuli. And that’s where you and your children came into the picture.”

“How dare you!” one parent interrupted, but was soon settled by the changing shapes on the large screen.

“That’s right. You feel better now, don’t you?” Florence continued. “We thought, what if we pass it to the next generation. It may be toxic in its original form, but diluted to one part per one million, what affect would it have on an expectant mother? What happened astounded all of us. The first infant born was different, different in so many ways. It was clear intelligence had been dramatically advanced and there were other anomalies. All the infants that were born were somehow psychically connected, all doing and thinking the same things. We realized we could put CE X, into the public drinking system, dosing not just every American, but every pregnant American citizen. Soon the entire population would be connected, all thinking alike. Half of your special children worked in our biochemical labs, improving CE X. The other half worked in our computer tech labs, programming not just mind exploiting hypnotic programs, but viruses, Trojan horses, and a hundred other ways to infect and invade every computer, every cell phone and media source, the combination of CE X and computer generated control experimental programs. Everything fell into place.”

“Why are you telling us this? What kind of monster are you, are all of you? You’ll never get away with this!”

“Oh but we have, Tad. Just think about it. Think about all of the questionable and stupid things you have done. You’ve accepted all the terrible behavior of television and movie stars: of your politicians. You’ve deliberately shopped for and worn stupid clothes. We made a French haut couture clothing designer put all his models in bird dresses, feathers and prosthetic beaks and all the wealthy couldn’t paraded around in them fast enough. We made a pop singer wear raw meat in her act. Raw meat for God’s sake, and she did it willingly. We even made you elect a president who was unfaithful with a porn star, though I confess that was a bit more challenging. Thank God for the Electoral College.”

Nelson shrunk down in his seat but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered as the big screen came to life, shapes and elevator music keeping control of the crowd. But the children, they were different from their parents. They had created this monstrosity. Bartholomew tried to shield his eyes, and looking down he covered his ears, long enough to say, “The government will never let you get away with this.”

“The government!” Again nurse Florence laughed. “Who do you think has sponsored this? Of course the government, that and wealthy corporate owners. Who else has access to all the big water reservoirs? Who legislates septic systems and wells for purity, and makes well owners put chemicals into their wells to keep them safe?

“But why would the government want an idiot for a president?” but as soon as he said it, Bartholomew knew the answer, because the government was no longer its elected officials. The country was now controlled by big money and the military, the elected officials, now mere puppets controlled like everyone else.

“There’s one more thing as this is the last time I will be talking to you,” continued the nurse. “It’s been fun watching you all do every stupid thing we suggested, but the study is over as is your role. It seems that each offspring, each new generation is smarter than the last so I’m afraid you, the first generation will be replaced by your even more talented children.”

All the screens throughout the room were coming back to life. Scripted music was intensifying. Shapes were dancing around the room, bouncing off the walls, other sounds penetrating the more obvious. There was the sound of a ringing cell phone, and it demanded obedience, listen and respond. It was a great program: awesome.

“I’m afraid your minds and memories are being erased. We can’t have any of this getting out, now can we. In a few minutes you will be like young children but don’t worry, there will be a special school where you all will be going, where you will be taken care of, but marginally I’m afraid. The new federal budget doesn’t cover more than minimum care. It will be a new world, a new order, but you won’t be a part of it I’m afraid. Now your children….,” but they never heard the rest, or if they did, they didn’t have the capacity to understand. They were taken away in several yellow school buses. Maybe they were the lucky ones. They wouldn’t have liked what was coming.
 

kerry

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Asylum (Finished Story) Part 2

dogboy



Moorehaven


The yellow school busses left the disused school for the once gifted, one bus following the other in an orderly scripted procession, much like a funeral procession as each occupant was slowly dying from the inside out, memories disappearing into a jumble of disconnected thoughts. The parents, those who had unwittingly given birth to the remarkable children, were the first to lose any insight as to who they once were. They hadn’t benefited from the intellectual effects of the green fluid. They were just the vessels and so their memories slipped away leaving intact only the infantile instincts of survival. Bus after bus was being serenaded by the wails of crying adult bodies, but now, voices that sounded more like toddlers. Worse yet, at least for the drivers, their busses were beginning to smell like a diaper pail. The lead bus sped up, the driver uncomfortable. The old sanatorium was still miles away.

Abigail searched her mind, what little was left of who she was; now wondering where she was. Where were her mommy and daddy? Why was she in a bus? Was this the first day of school, but she was too young for school. That would be two or three years from now. She wanted her mommy and so she cried, just like all the others on the bus.

Who was sitting next to her, she wondered. That wasn’t daddy but he seemed so familiar, like she had spent her whole life with him. She looked at him and he frightened her. There was so much fear in his eyes.

Bartholomew sat in the seat behind his parents, both he and Alicia, but he wasn’t able to comprehend that. What he did understand was that he had just wet his pants and all he could think was that mommy would come and change his diaper. He wanted his diaper changed and he wanted to be home and that’s when he realized something was terribly wrong. He remembered his home, his mother and father and he remembered living there, being a baby, then a toddler and what came next? Wasn’t it school? That’s where his memories left off and now he just wanted to be taken care of. That would come soon because the busses were turning off the road, slowing down and going up the long circular driveway only to approach a huge dark and forbidding building, the kind that towers over the land it occupies and looks down at any and all things that would have the temerity to approach it.

The once red bricks had darkened over the century where it stood, its interior even darker, but not as dark as its history. There were a thousand stories hidden within the institutional walls as this had been an asylum for the insane, for those who could not live in the real and normal world. This was a place built solely to hide away those who would be forgotten by society, forgotten by embarrassed or frightened families who could no longer protect a family member because the fragile exterior of living had been torn apart by the irrational. Some were wives or husbands who lost their way. Many were children who never found any normalcy and worse, never found love. There was only the screaming of voices inside disturbed minds, telling the respective recipients to do horrible things and when those deeds were acted upon, sometimes repeatedly, they would find themselves locked away forever at Moorehaven.

After the chemical spill and the discovery of the many varied properties of CE X, there was a drawing together of those who worshipped power as if by an invisible force; a force that demanded obedience. One of its acolytes was nurse Florence. Here finally was the opportunity to become something few people could obtain: something godlike. She had assembled a staff not just at Moorehaven, but for other aging and forgotten institutions throughout the country. Forgotten and unseen was the caveat as the forbearers for this brave new world would have to remain hidden for the time being until the monster that was CE X had devoured the world.

The staff had been carefully selected, the need for secrecy sealed on their lips. These too were the hidden, those who society had rejected. They were the desperate, those who were difficult or impossible to employ: the homeless and destitute, the ones with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Moorehaven would be a new start giving housing and shelter along with three meals a day. They would be the mommies and daddies for the human industrial waste products of CE X and what irony. The once successful and brilliant were now the discarded, soon to be the prisoners of a world that had left them behind, left them to being treated as babies and toddlers because that was what they had now become. At least, that is what The Institute believed. They had manipulated their brilliant prodigy into creating a new and lasting society, one finally at peace with the world where there was no war, no crime or violence. There also was no freedom of choice because The Institute supplied that as well.

Weeks earlier, Nurse Flora had the staff lined up, all nice and orderly and she was giving instructions. Everything was going to plan and as always, her demeanor demanded attention.

“Your patients will be arriving in three days and you will be their caretakers. They will seem like young children: infantile. Those of you who have maternal instincts may want to parent them, coddle them even, but don’t. These are adults and not children. They will seem like toddlers or babies and you may want to treat them as such but they deserve no such care. You will do the bare minimum, feeding them and changing their diapers. You’ve been instructed on this and you had better follow that to the letter or you may be joining them.”

Several of the caretakers looked at the person standing next to them. A few shifted on their feet. They knew what they were getting themselves into and it was easy to say yes when they needed a job, but now reality was creeping up on them. Though thoroughly instructed, they still didn’t know what to expect. And there was something else. They had been at Moorehaven for several weeks receiving their training during the day, but it was in the night that they felt the most uncomfortable.

Moorehaven was a big building with five floors and two wings. Though their rooms were in the center of the building, the Central wing, it was both the East Wing and West Wing that they found discomforting. There was the occasional banging, something falling over perhaps, but it was the voices that they couldn’t explain; the occasional man or woman’s voice heard late at night in the West Wing. Worse was the East Wing because it was there they heard the children. There was the solitary scream in the middle of night and more disturbing, a child crying. They were told it was the heating system and to ignore it, but they knew there was something else. They were forever glad that they were only using the central part of the building. That had contained consultation rooms and the business operation of what was once Moorehaven Asylum. Now, the business operation which included computers, servers, audio and video was housed in the basement. There was an all together different staff who ran that and the caretakers seldom saw them. It all was so clandestine.

The caretakers were not allowed in the basement, not that any of them would want to go down there. They all had their living quarters, a solitary room on one of the upper floors in the central building. Their rooms were bare of any amenities except for a small TV, a dorm refrigerator and a sink. They would have to use the restroom on their floor, toilet stalls and showers, but they were used to that, most of them having spent time in public housing. They were the hardened, abused as children and soon out on their own. They were the scarred, the ruined with little ability to love. That had been denied them their entire lives. They were chosen for that reason, the perfect match for Moorehaven. Nurse Florence didn’t want the caretakers to attach to their special clientele. She saw it as a weakness. Caring was a weakness. Her plan would have worked almost anywhere, but Moorehaven had other occupants with other ideas and it was in the night that they stirred.

The caretakers talked among themselves, especially in the morning on their way to the cafeteria because it was in the morning when the memories of their dreams were most present. Mary was the most forthcoming, telling her dreams to almost anyone who would listen. Most weren’t interested or didn’t want to listen because they were dealing with their dreams and those dreams were disturbing. The fact that they all were having the same dream made it worse. How was that possible, they wondered? They were told it was just the building and what it once was. The power of suggestion is strong. Again they were told by the managing staff, how to behave and what it is to be professional though the executive staff lived on the first floor and had rooms that looked like nice apartments. Everything changed on the second floor and the floors above. The caretakers were well aware that their accommodations wouldn’t be much different from their clientele and they talked about that among themselves as well.

They Arrive

Moorehaven had an alarm system. It was old and antiquated, a bell system on each floor operated from the administration office on the first floor and right now it was going off, a metal bell being hammered by a striker, each bell on each floor sounding a deafening alarm that the busses were pulling up to the double front doors. Moorehaven was soon to be in operation once again after all the years of silence. This is what the caretakers had trained for and they were running down the many flights of stairs to finally encounter something that had scared them from the first day of training: adult babies. Even though their training had been detailed and thorough, each one concealed the same thought. What do you do with a crying adult baby, because crying they would be and then what?

The managing staff joined the caretakers, both hurrying to meet the busses, clipboards in hand and names and room numbers neatly printed on sheets of paper attached to the clipboards. That was the easy part because the clientele, those reduced in mind and memory were confused and frightened. They wanted to go home but they couldn’t remember where or what home was, and so they cried and wailed, unwilling to move from their seats.

Each caretaker was directed to a bus, the steel entombment that carried those who had been the first of an extraordinary experiment and now were unceremoniously abandoned by the very people who had created them. At first, the caretakers relied on their training, speaking authoritatively to what were to be called, the children. All that did was cause more confusion and anxiety. The caretakers voices raised, anger heightening the anxiety of the adult children.

The caretakers didn’t know what to do until it was Mary who shouted, “Be quiet,” and then she spoke to her client, “It’s Bartholomew, isn’t it? It’s okay baby. Everything will be fine baby, just wonderful and safe. Can you stand up and walk?”

She didn’t know what to expect. All the caretakers had been told that their clientele were capable of walking, but at the moment, no one was sure. Bartholomew searched his mind. He knew what walk meant but the word was fuzzy, buried somewhere deep in his lost memories. Something came forward through the fog; the word walk and he suddenly knew what that was. He stood up and moved toward the front of the bus. Walking was difficult as he toddled forward, having to think about each step.

The others looked at Bartholomew, their fear being redirected to something different, now standing and following. A caretaker called to a staff member suggesting that the other bus caretakers talk to their clients in a motherly way to what were now essentially toddlers. It wasn’t perfect, but the adult sized babies were taken to their rooms, one toddling behind another, each directed to their assigned room, four toddlers assigned to a caretaker, floors two through five coming to life after so many years of dormancy and neglect. Had Nurse Florence been there, she would have laughed as each adult toddler struggled to negotiate the many steps leading upward to the awaiting rooms but she would have been furious in the way it was accomplished.

Mary looked at her clipboard. She was assigned Bartholomew and his wife Alicia as well as his parents who were down the hall in the next room. She worked with a male caretaker, Mert, who was assigned Bart along with his wife. Bart’s parents were in the following room, one more room down the hall and further into the darkness.

There were two single beds in each room and a night table between the two beds and on that night table was the ubiquitous virtual assistant complete with microphone, speaker and an assortment of colored lights which shone like a miniature lighthouse.

Mary helped her clients into their new home and announced to the virtual assistant, “Lights on” and a floor lamp turned on revealing something that had been part of the preparations to welcome the newcomers. The lightshade was decorated with a childish print of circus animals. There were a few hanging pictures on the walls, pictures of baby animals which seemed fitting as there were also other baby items in the room, items however that were adult sized such as a diaper changing table and piles of diapers neatly stacked on an old mahogany bureau. Mary wasn’t sure if she would be able to get either Bartholomew or his wife to the changing table and so decided to change them out of their wet clothes while they were standing. It wasn’t hard for her to see the confusion in their faces and she thought she could take advantage of their motionless demeanor. Teaching them some basic skills would come tomorrow. Now she had to get them diapered and into their baby clothes, onsies with the reoccurring cute baby animals prints. She was a little uncomfortable disrobing them but her new wards didn’t seem to mind or if they did, they were incapable of showing it which was fine by her. She just needed to get this done.

She guided Bartholomew over to the bed and motioned him to lie down. She took a diaper from the stack and got him to role to the one side. Once the diaper was under him it was relatively easy to lift his legs up and pull the one end of the diaper toward his waist. The caretakers had trained for several weeks and Mary felt relieved when she had Bartholomew diapered. Getting his onesie on was harder but with some instruction, he cooperated and the task was finished.

“I’m going to have to find an easier name for you my little baby. Bartholomew is a big boy’s name. How would you like baby Barty,” she asked?

Bartholomew searched his mind and for some odd reason, baby Barty seemed very nice; comforting even.

Mary turned her attention to Alicia and got her settled into her bed.

“How’s that, baby Alicia,” she asked? “Isn’t this a cute little baby diaper? See all the cute little baby animals printed on your diaper?”

Alicia was swept by the same feelings as her husband, one of acceptance and peace. “I baby,” she thought and closed her eyes. It had been a long day. That she had been in the old school cafeteria a few hours ago never crossed her mind and as she and her once husband drifted to sleep, the virtual assistant was dimming the lights and playing infant lullabies, but it was also playing something else, something running backwards and sideways, something to convince anyone who would listen that they were a baby. The same was happening in every room on floors two through five. The caretakers were unaware that this was happening, but they were retreating to their rooms where their virtual assistants were playing something else.

All was at rest in Moorehaven, each personal assistant softly playing the same set list of children’s lullabies, each song reinforcing the security of care giving, each baby held safe in lullaby and each lullaby singing its sad song, “Hush little baby don’t you cry. Daddy’s going to find you a mocking bird.” But hidden in that song were other lyrics.

“Mommy’s going to keep you safe and sound and when the morning comes around, a baby you will forever be, not to run or be set free, but here in Moorehaven you will be. Wearing diapers you’ll enjoy, whether girl or boy it will not matter for baby thoughts and childish patter is what you are.”

Bartholomew’s eyes opened and for a moment he felt fear. Where was he, he wondered? He heard the soft music, something to lull him to sleep, but he didn’t feel sleepy. Something interrupted that, first in a dream and now? It was a voice: a child’s voice. But baby Barty was a child, wasn’t he? He thought so. Who was this in the room with him?

“Wake up,” it said. “Wake up Barty.”

It knew his name.

“Don’t listen to it Barty. Fight it,” it said, and then it faded into the night, again to be replaced by the constant music of the virtual assistant, assisting each and everyone in listening distance. It played lullabies but what it said was, listen and obey. You are a baby, and that played on all the floors, two through five.

The caretakers were being serenaded as well, though theirs said, “babies need to be disciplined. Good caretakers are stern teachers,” and this would have sufficed, nurse Florence’s instructions carried out except for the East Wing.



Life as a Baby

They had fallen into a routine, both the adult babies and their caretakers. Every morning it was the same, caretakers first taking care of themselves, early morning showers and then getting dressed. But there wasn’t much time where they could dote on themselves because their charges were being awoken by the virtual assistants, electronic devices saying, “Time to wake up little one. Time for baby to wakie and have a diaper change. You love your diapers little baby and soon you will be fed. Time to feed the baby,” it repeated. “You’re a sweet little baby” and with that Barty opened his eyes and screamed.

Mary had been running late, wanting to just be able to sleep and escape whatever was coming because she had another bad dream and something was coming, or had someone come into her room? She was confused but there was no time for that now because one of her charges had just screamed. No one was supposed to do that. At least that was what they were all told in their training. She ran into Bartholomew and Alicia’s room and that’s when she realized she was only half dressed but it wouldn’t matter. Babies couldn’t care less.

“What’s the matter baby? Did baby have a bad dream? That’s okay little one, mommy’s here.” Had Nurse Florence heard this she would have a special remedy for a disobedient caregiver but it was just Mary and her special children. Mary had lived a life with little love so she was surprised when Barty grabbed her and pulled her into him, hugging her like she was his mother.

“It’s okay baby. Let’s get you and Alicia changed and dressed. Everything’s fine now,” but in her heart she knew that wasn’t true because she had “the dream”. That’s what the caretakers called it now even though it was a series of dreams that were always the same. The others were coming, and they would take them into the room where they would be diapered and left for hours only to be taken down into the basement where the room of darkness waited. Those dreams were amorphous, but they were beginning to take shape and substance with each passing day, a little more detail and a lot more dread upon waking. And there was something else, something more disturbing because the dreams were slowly becoming part of their day thoughts. At first Mary thought she was daydreaming and she could shake them out of her head, but that was becoming more difficult. She was on a gurney and someone was pushing her. Where they orderlies, she wondered? She thought it was two men dressed in green and then she was suddenly back in the room with Barty and Alicia. Alicia was calling her. “Momma,” she heard and when she turned her head, Alicia had her hands stretched out toward her.

“Mommy,” she heard Alicia say and Mary wondered; where had she been?

Mary coaxed Barty out of bed and took him by the hand. From there she led him down the hall to the large shower room. They had been working together, Mary teaching little Barty how to clean himself. She did this with her other three wards. Barty’s parents, Abigail and Tad were more difficult, slower to learn as their brains had been more thoroughly wiped, but they were slowly catching on. Mary was pleased with herself. After the showers she got them all back in their rooms, diapered and dressed in their clothes which would serve them for all their days at Moorehaven. She thought they looked so cute in their rompers, and the diaper bulges seemed to tell the story. They had been changed into little toddlers.

She addressed Barty and Alicia, now back in their room. She had discovered that being a kind and loving parent worked so much better than acting as she had been trained: cold and callous.

“Okay my sweet and loving babies. It’s time to get our breakfast yum yums. Do my sweet babies want their breakfast?”

“Yeth bweckfast,” Barty replied.

Mary had encouraged all of her little ones to use their words and she was so pleased with herself. She finally was helping others. She had meaning in her life, something that was new to her. She gathered her four little ones and led them down the steps to the cafeteria. Her charges were getting easier and easier to handle. Teaching them had many rewards. She felt good as they left Barty and Alicia’s room; so good that she didn’t notice that the lights on top of the virtual assistant were revolving around and around: faster and faster in the growing darkness. Lights were blinking on the basement servers, everything being documented. The basement was one hub of many hubs, stretching across continents. The world was changing.

Yum-Yums

The cafeteria was on the main floor of the West Wing, and it was the only part of that building that had been restored to its original self. Beyond the cafeteria were stairways that led to the upper rooms, floors two through five. Below was another basement and that was a place no one wanted to explore.

The cafeteria was pleasant, painted an institutional cream color, and there were pictures of baby animals painstakingly stenciled on the walls. The light fixtures revealed its age however, opaque globes casting light that was partially diffused as if it was intentionally holding back warmth. The children didn’t seem to mind or maybe they were incapable of noticing because gathering together always brought with it childish excitement.

Mary led her small group to their assigned table. She and the other caregivers would have to get the food trays because the children were not capable of doing that for themselves, but Mary was going to change that too. Many of the caretakers were doing similar things. Observing Mary’s success made one thing apparent: less work for them. There were the exceptions however.

“Come on! Get in here and don’t give me any trouble.” It was Mert and he was in a foul mood.

“Sit down, damn it.”

Barty looked up just as he had every day because this happened on a regular basis just as everything repeated itself day after day. But it was on this day that he realized there was something different. He saw the fear in their eyes, not just strangers’ eyes but Bart, his wife and his parents Betty and Nelson. Barty would have searched his mind more thoroughly but Mary placed his tray in front of him: eggs, toast and sausage and when she held his spoon and said, “Here baby. Let’s eat our yummy breakfast,” he was little Barty again. He thought how he loved being a baby and he took a bite so willingly, enjoying every mouthful being fed to him.

With breakfast over, the children had to be carefully cleaned up, their mouths and chins wiped and hands cleaned. Bibs needed to be wiped down and put away, and then the children were led out of the cafeteria, down the connecting hall and into the East Wing where there was a large room, again on the first floor. The room had been restored by the construction crew into a playroom. There were toys, blocks, dolls and riding horses that bounced up and down. The children were happy to play with the toys the first few weeks but as the weeks passed and as they were learning new skills from their caregivers, they began to lose interest and there was something else, something that toddlers and caregivers felt. They were not alone.

The laughter or crying from the toddlers were the sounds an adult would make, even if the pitches had risen to accommodate their infantile condition but there were other sounds that would often be heard in the east building and that was of children: real children with real children’s’ voices. Those voices were infrequent but when they made themselves known, it was unsettling. Occasionally it was a laughing child as if he or she was in the playroom with them but there was something else, other voices that came from somewhere else in the building, perhaps on another floor above them, but no one was going to go beyond the playroom because the rest of the East Wing looked just as it did when Moorehaven was abandoned decades ago.

The caregivers tried not to pay attention to the voices but they had a good idea who and what they were because they were also in their dreams. They told themselves that dreams couldn’t hurt them, that the voices weren’t real but there was something else they couldn’t ignore because it was so horrible, and those voices came from below, from the disused basement. Those voices were also in their dreams, not at first, not the first few weeks when they were training, but now that the adult babies were here, so was this new presence and it couldn’t be ignored. No young child screaming for mercy could ever be ignored, and it was the “please no, no, no, not that. I promise I’ll be good. No please don’t hurt me…..” that had every caregiver on edge.

Bartholomew heard it just as every adult baby heard it. At first it was just unsettling, making them anxious, but now…..now that they were learning, there were new feelings.



Bad Dreams

The staff and caregivers were the first to have them because they were the first to inhabit Moorehaven in more than sixty years. The construction crew complained about the voices. They accused one another of misplacing tools but after the first few days, they knew something else was occurring. They were relieved when their job was finished and they were especially glad they would never set foot in Moorehaven again. The staff was not as lucky and though they were told little about what went on at Moorehaven, they had their suspicions because there were the dreams.

Every night the others would come. They would come from the many rooms, some as orderlies but most as patients. It was hard to tell which were more disturbing. In the beginning they were just wisps, fragments of thoughts and ideas: past remembrances but night after night those remnants began to take on shape and form: orderlies dressed in green medical uniforms, green sleeved arms reaching outward, clawing, clutching and dragging each sleeper somewhere into the dark recesses of Moorehaven. Each dreaming sleeper was disappearing deeper and deeper into each succeeding night, falling deeper and deeper into what waited for them in the basement and after the orderlies were done with them, they had been reduced to mindlessness. The electrostatic crackling of the machines in the basement had seen to that and now they were being wheeled on a gurney into another room and this one was terrifying because it was here they were being diapered. After the machine they would have no control and so they would be diapered and they wouldn’t care.

Mary woke with a gasp. “What the fuck!” she would yell just as she had every morning, and like every morning, she would have to tell herself it was just a dream.

The same was happening to the other councilors and staff members. Something different was happening to the adult children because in their dreams they were someone else.

Barty was in the East Wing. He had been there for several years along with many of the others. He lived on the boys level, 5th floor only he didn’t think he was Barty. He was Bobby and he was dressed like a baby, wearing a onesie and a diaper. All the children were. He bit down on his pacifier because he was nervous. He was always nervous. His parents had called it psychosis especially after he tried to set the house on fire. He hated them and now more than ever for sending him to this place with all the other crazy kids. He wanted to be home with his friends, running the streets and getting into the occasional scrape, but stealing wasn’t that bad until you got caught. Beating up another kid wasn’t bad because he had it coming to him. That’s what he told himself late at night upstairs in his room, holding himself tight and crying.

Bobby tried to behave but what he really wanted was just to be with his friends and left alone. He wanted to be good but he had trouble doing that because the world was confusing. It scared him, making demands that frightened him so he got angry. Sometimes you just had to hit back, break something, and sometimes, break yourself. His parents sent him to Moorehaven and hoped they’d never see him again. They got their wish.

Moorehaven knew how to make the children behave. Humiliation was such a wonderful technique and what better way than to make a tough boy become a toddler. When Bobby was first admitted and told what he would become, how he would enjoy being a little diaper wearing baby, he went to his room, shut the door and cried for hours. Exhaustion consumed him and when he finally stopped he saw his room clearly, four walls, a bed, chair, chest of drawers and nothing else. There would be little to do but realize what you were becoming because there would be more: so much more and that would happen the very next day.

Barty was with the other boys in the playroom. They were allowed some playtime but the only things in that room were baby toys. Barty wasn’t interested in stacking blocks or anything else there, but he was shocked to see how many of his peers were doing just that, playing with toys, acting like toddlers as if this was normal. Perhaps he wouldn’t have questioned this because back in his room, the virtual assistant was softly reciting a similar scene.

“You are a sweet baby. You love to play with your baby toys. You love to have momma feed you and change your diaper. You are a baby.” Every resident was hearing this night after night but Barty had a visitor and Bobby was trying to get his attention.

Some of the older residents were given small jobs to perform but Bobby was asked to accompany one of the orderlies and he had something different planned for the boy.

Barty was again restless, turning in his sleep, somehow aware that he was accompanying the orderly down the stairs and heading to the basement. There was a doctor waiting for him along with a metal try, syringe and a machine. When it was over, Bobby was wheeled into an old elevator which took him back to his room. Bobby felt at ease wetting his diaper as if this was the way everything should be. He was little again and easy to control. Yes, he would do whatever he was told. The alternative was so much worse.

Barty woke up with a start, feeling panic and trying not to cry out but he did just that when he felt a pale hand on his arm and saw the boy who was standing next to his bed.

“Shhhh,” it said. “I have something to show you.”

Barty was again startled when he realized that he could see through the boy and suddenly all of his confusion began to clear. He wasn’t Bobby but he felt that he had been, had been used and manipulated, forced to believe he was a baby so that he could be controlled. It all started to make sense. People could be manipulated in so many different ways and then he remembered that he had been part of this and yes, he too had been manipulated.

“Come with me Barty, please.”

Barty looked into his face and knew who this was, the Bobby of his dreams and then he saw something else: sadness. The small room took on an atmosphere as if a fog had filled every corner with something that could be only felt as sorrow. This feeling was so strong and overwhelming that Barty knew he would let Bobby take him to wherever it was just so he might find some peace, something that had been a stranger to all the inhabitants of Moorehaven.

The diapered pair would have made an interesting site to an observer had anyone been up at three in the morning, but the rest of the building slept and dreamed their repetitive dreams. Those dreams created in the void of death paralleled those who now walked in the night, one living and one passed, the dead holding the hand of the living, leading him down the dark hall and to a wall except that where the hall seemed to end, it continued as a concealed door opened revealing a continuation of disused rooms, dirty and rusting and then another door, entering the East Wing and the old elevator that led down into an ancient part of the basement, something undiscovered by the construction crew and the current staff.

There was no light down here below the first floor but it mattered little because Barty was seeing through Bobby’s eyes. Together they entered the rooms that contained the electro shock machines and the odd assortments of vials and syringes which would hold the mind altering drugs all designed to control and destroy a child’s sense of self.

“I lost myself here,” was all Bobby said and as they looked on, a line of children passed through the halls led by orderlies. The smell of ozone and fear filled the rooms. “Did this happen every night?” Barty wondered.

“One last thing,” as Bobby gently pulled Barty’s hand and led him back down the hall and through another hidden door, and when that door opened, Barty saw something very familiar: a modern display of computers and screens, all the things he had once used when he was Bartholomew. They were back in the central basement.

“There’s one more thing I have to do and then you have to do it for the others,” and with that, Bobby led Barty up the Central building stairs to his room. The virtual assistant was spinning its tail of baby dreams until Bobby pointed his finger at the devise. So much electrical energy had been arcing through Moorehaven, both in the past and the present and now one more crack hit the personal assistant taking out the speaker.

“Save them,” and with that, Bobby faded away.

Barty assured himself that he was back in his room but now he realized, it wasn’t really his room and he hugged himself and softly cried, if not for himself, then for Bobby.

The morning came and the caregivers seemed to all be in their collective bad moods because the night had not been kind. The dreams were getting worse: more intense. Though their memories were foggy, imprecise, there were the feelings from those dreams that were left behind and those were strongly intact and there was more. Their dreams were connected to their strange clientele, adults who should be adults but weren’t. Where was the separation between the two they wondered because at night, they were being taken from their beds and dragged downward into the dark where the walls were close and oppressive and there was something that always remained unanswered, unresolved. What comes next? They were afraid to speculate because that answer was waiting for them each morning.
 

kerry

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Asylum (Finished Story) Part 3

dogboy



A New Day


Mary looked haggard and for the first time, Barty noticed. In fact, he noticed a lot of things. He was aware his diaper needed changing and then he thought of his wife Alicia. “I have a wife.”

He almost said it out loud but he caught himself. He needed time to figure this out. He remembered last night and that was a start. He was aware of his room and surroundings and he was very aware of how he and Alicia were dressed. For some strange reason he didn’t mind. He kind of liked the idea of being a toddler and for the moment, he laid himself back down and let nature take its course, wetting his diaper. It felt right but there was something off. Why was his wife dressed like a toddler?

He was surprised when she sat up and said, “Babba. Alithy want babba?”

He struggled with his thoughts. There were too many of them; thoughts of being very young, infantile thoughts of eating simple food, drinking from a sippy cup and wearing and using diapers but now there was something else: Bobby. There were the other memories of being an adult and working for a big company where he wrote programs and then he knew everything. Bobby was right. He had to undo all of this and that solution resided down in the basement.

This day was like all the other days ever since he arrived at Moorehaven. They ate, they had playtime but mostly they stayed in their rooms, often unattended as the caregivers were in their rooms watching television. The once parents and their gifted children seemed so complacent and as he thought about it, mindless. He had to change that. He had taken a small plastic knife from the cafeteria and tonight he would be on a speaker poking mission. It was a simple plan and easy to execute. That night as everyone slept, Barty walked the halls. Moorehaven seemed quiet tonight except for one voice that he thought he heard coming from the East Wing.

“That’s it Barty. Fight back.”

It was done. The virtual assistants still had their flashing lights. They still took orders, mostly turning on and off the lights but they could no longer talk. They could no longer sing their lullabies. There was one more thing to do.

Barty remembered the green liquid CE X and he guessed they must be still under its influence, but what about the staff, especially the downstairs staff, the ones with the nice apartments? He needed to pay the cafeteria a visit.

It was dark at three in the morning but there was a little light which shone through the many tall institutional windows. The cafeteria seemed very different at night. He guessed it was because it was empty of people but that wasn’t entirely true. There were the others and he could feel their presence.

“They put something in our food so we wouldn’t act out.” It was Bobby and Barty was glad to see him again. He felt protective of Bobby, like Bobby was his own son and then he remembered his children, Mike and Monica. What were they doing he wondered and he thought he knew. They were the next generation who would reprogram the world. He suddenly missed them and he wondered, did they miss him and their mother? He had to do something, something that would get his wife and parents back into their right minds. And it wasn’t just his family.

The institutional refrigerators and freezers stood like stainless steel coffins in the dark of the night. Their coldness seemed to reach out into the room and all that was Moorehaven. Barty opened the door and wasn’t surprised when he saw the food labeled: Toddlers and Counselors. There was a second refrigerator and that food was labeled Professional Staff.

“Let’s switch Toddlers and Staff,” and he had to laugh. Tomorrow was the beginning of a new day.

Barty felt good and he realized, he hadn’t felt good or happy in a long time. In fact, he hadn’t felt anything since Moorehaven and he guessed the others were still in that state of nothingness but he also guessed that it was about to change. What he couldn’t realize was a lot was about to change because the operation room was no longer hearing the virtual assistant singing it’s lullabies at night. In fact, the v. a. machines weren’t saying anything and so they sent out a report, one that went to Nurse Florence. She was coming to Moorehaven like a late October hurricane.

There was a slow awakening on floors two through five. The adult babies had been without CE X for several days; several days removed from the baby prattle of their virtual assistant, the old and routine slowly changing into a new day. They were slightly aware of their surroundings, slightly aware of language and thought and slightly aware that there was shouting coming from the first floor. Nurse Florence had arrived.

Nurse Florence stomped down the stairs and first addressed the basement staff.

“What is this about the virtual assistants!” She had told herself on the flight that she wouldn’t shout. That would be unprofessional but she wouldn’t be nice or polite either. She sure as hell would raise her voice however.

“Why aren’t they working?” She sized up each and every technology staff member and secretly enjoyed their discomfort.

“Why wasn’t I told immediately?” She was saving her threats for others however and so she turned on her heal and headed back to the first floor. There she questioned the professional staff in much the same way, casting blame back on them for their mismanagement and of course the staff blamed the counselors.

“And who trained them,” she countered. “Perhaps you’d like to join them?” and again she reveled in not only their discomfort, but their fear.

“Well, what are you waiting for!” and her exasperated expression made it clear that she thought they were imbeciles.

“Ring the damn bell,” and with that she pushed a staff member aside and pounded the button herself sending off the jarring alarm to signal the caregivers in no uncertain terms that hellfire was about to rain down on them.

In truth, she had been getting daily reports from the tech staff because the virtual assistants heard everything and that included all that was said and done by the caregivers. Most of them had adopted Mary’s technique of treating the adult babies as their own little babies, gently talking to them like they were babies. Nurse Florence had heard all the sweet enticements.

“Oh sweet baby, eat your yummy supper for mommy or daddy,” whoever it was.

She also heard, “Oh, little baby’s wet. Does she need her wittle diapie changed? Here’s a cute little diapie. Roll over baby and help mommy,” or daddy, whoever it was, but it was never Mert. There it was more shut up and lie down. I haven’t got all day and there were several others like Mert. That, according to Nurse Flora, was how this experiment should have been run because it was an experiment on complete control and domination.

The caregivers lined up just as they had the first day but this was not like that day. This was a day that would be about disobedience. They had not followed the rules and they knew so much more now than when they first arrived. They now knew what could happen to them for disobeying those rules because they saw it in their special clientele.

Mary was the first to speak. “Miss Florence, what we were doing, it was working,” but before she could continue Nurse Florence yelled, “Shut up you stupid bitch!” Well she thought: she had just broken her own rule. It looked to her that yelling was back on the table and that’s exactly what she did and again, her eyes told the story. Vengeance was also on the table and it would start with Mary.

Nurse Florence directed the professional staff to increase Mary’s food and drink content. That would get more CE X into her; the same amount the adult babies were receiving. She also directed the tech staff to send the same baby lullabies to Mary’s virtual assistant once all the v. a. machines were replaced with new ones. Nurse Florence felt good inside, her accomplishments growing in her mental resume. This was so much fun and she was going to push the Moorehaven agenda to its limits taking the adult toddlers back to an almost infant state. There would be no playtime as they would be three month olds, at least in their stupid minds. This was her plan but she didn’t know about Barty.

October

It was close to Halloween and the caregivers were planning on having a big party with their charge. It was Mary’s idea and she was excited about planning it and getting the other caregivers to go along with her idea. They had bought some Halloween decorations and had decorated the playroom. The 31st would be coming soon and she wanted everyone to get in the spirit. There were posters and cardboard cutouts of ghosts, bats and all the assorted monsters that are Halloween. Several of the caregivers had carved out pumpkins and put candles in them. They enjoyed it so much that they kept buying pumpkins and candles when they were taken to the store by the professional staff. There must have been over a hundred jack-o-lanterns in the play room and then came the fake spider webs, rubber spiders and cloth sheeted ghosts which hung from the ceiling.

At first the adult babies didn’t know what to make of the decorations and some were scared but Mary made them all feel at ease.

“Oh look my little sweet babies. Look, these can’t hurt you, see,” and she would touch one of the ghosts or spiders and show them that they were just another toy. The toddlers seemed to love their new arrivals, ghosts and goblins, something to amuse and delight a child’s mind.

Nurse Florence had decided to stay for a week and leave the first of November. She took a room from one of the professional staff members, forcing that member to double up with another staff member. Florence guessed that the staff hated her but she didn’t care. They meant nothing to her. She didn’t hesitate to tell the staff to get rid of the Halloween decorations. There would be no fun at Moorehaven: not ever. The staff however was growing weary of the rules. They were growing weary of everything that was Moorehaven and they too were having dreams: very bad dreams. They were all too aware of what happened to the special children and they knew they could be next, but the staff decided on waiting a day or two to take the Halloween decoration down. What could it hurt, they asked themselves.

“You’ve got to do something.” It was Bobby, trying to get Barty’s attention.

“Wake up Barty and help us.”

Barty was suddenly aware of the hand touching him, nudging him to waken.

“Change it. Change the machines.” Bobby didn’t know about coding but he knew the machines in the Central basement were new and that they had something to do with the strange happenings at Moorehaven.

Barty sat up and tried to hold Bobby’s hand and to his surprise, he could.

“Bobby, I can touch you. I can feel you.”

“Yes. We’re becoming real in your world. You’ve got to help us. Free us and free your people. Can you do that?”

Barty wanted to hold him; hold him safe from whatever was coming.

“I’ll do what I can. Do you want to come with me and watch?”

It was three in the morning, just like before. They padded their way down to the basement, both diapered and dressed in footed jammies.

“Look Bobby. Yours zippers in the back like mine,” and they both laughed softly. Funny that we share the same thing, Barty thought to himself.

The door to the server room was locked but Bobby pointed at the door handle and the door opened.

“Well that looked easy, huh Bobby,” and Bobby smiled. Barty could see his smile now and when he looked around, Barty could see a lot more. The others were appearing one after another.

“Who are they Bobby,” but he knew. They were all those who had inhabited Moorehaven so many years ago; patients who had lived and died at Moorehaven and he thought, and Bobby too.

Barty sat at the main console and brought up the main program. They hadn’t changed the password but it had been a short time since he and others like him had been reduced to babies. Barty had been made brilliant by CE X. Programming and coding was child’s play to him, something that he never gave any thought until this moment. Now he understood why he was special. He started changing the programming, infantile thoughts going to one group of people and coping and growing skills to others. Food and drink allocations were changing and more importantly, it was all going out into the world because the world was now one country, The Institution.

The others were growing in numbers, congregating around Barty. “Thank you baby Barty,” they said and Barty liked that. He still liked being baby Barty and he didn’t think that would change, not with what he continued to code. The world had become peaceful and he wasn’t going to change that. In fact, he was going to make it better; so much better and he laughed to himself.

He had time to reflect and as he typed, he turned to Bobby. He could see him so clearly. Bobby’s hair was long and he had bed head, tussled hair from being left in bed for so long: an abandoned and neglected child.

“How did you die, Bobby, if it’s okay for me to ask.”

Bobby thought for a minute. It had been so long ago and he had been in the fog of death until Moorehaven awakened.

“I knew what they were doing to me; to me and the others. They’d do it at three in the morning when no one was awake. The shocking and drugs only lasted so long but being in diapers and being called a little baby lasted forever. They always called us that and the orderlies and staff made fun of us. They said it was our treatment but I think they just got pleasure from it. Sooner or later, we would rebel; tell them to stop treating us like babies. I’d rip my diaper off and pee on the wall. The orderlies would have to clean it up. That was my only revenge.”

“So what would happen after you did that.”

They’d take me down to the basement, you know, where I took you, and they put the thing on my head and inject me and zap, I’d be a dummy, mindless and for a month or two I’d think I was a baby.”

“So what happened?”

“One day I got them really mad when I threw my wet diaper at an orderly. They came for me and down the elevator we went, me screaming and the orderly grabbing me. He hit my head into the elevator wall really hard. They strapped me into the chair and turned the knob all the way up. Then they left. When they came back several hours later, they took me to the morgue. Hey Barty, did I show you the morgue?”

Barty stopped typing and ever so slowly, managed to get his arms around Bobby. He slowly pulled the child toward him and again, so softly hugged him. In a short time he was starting to pass through Bobby and he let go.

“I’m so sorry Bobby. I’m almost done here and then we’ll see what happens. If I’m successful things will change. Bobby, you asked for my help but how will this help you?”

“It’s all about timing, Barty. I told you something’s coming. It’s coming because you guys came and woke up Moorehaven. What happened here was evil but sometimes evil is repaid. You’ll see.”

“What’s coming, Bobby?”

“Justice,” and with that, Bobby and the others faded into the night.

There was one more thing Barty had to do. He had control of the internet and he could communicate with the outside world. Again he thought of his brilliant children. There would be justice, he thought.

The Awakening

It was the 31st and there was hell to pay. Nurse Florence looked in on her staff as the children were having dinner, yum yums as Mary would phrase it, and what she found would not do. It wouldn’t do at all because the decorations where still there. Worse, everyone seemed to be having fun. The staff looked on as caregivers played with their charges, feeding them with such loving attention, saying “Isn’t this wonderful. Open up, here comes your yummy for your tummy.” The babies however were acting a little different, almost as if they were quite aware that they were being treated as babies.

They looked at each other and for a brief moment, thought they were all back in the school cafeteria, eating crab legs and drinking the strange green mixed drinks but here they were eating what appeared to be baby food and drinking from sippy cups. In a way it all seemed to make sense, like they were supposed to be a baby or something resembling babyhood.

Alicia looked at Bartholomew and said, “Hello honey. You’re dressed like a baby.”

Barty had to laugh because now, everyone was recognizing old friends and acquaintances. What they also noticed for the first time was the big screen on the far wall with all the lights and shapes only this time, the code had changed just as the food had changed. Babies were turning into adults and the counselors and staff were changing into something else. Nurse Florence stood in the doorway looking aghast. Had her staff lost their mind, she wondered but as she tried to assemble in her mind what she was going to say, the words wouldn’t come. She wanted to be mad. She wanted to tear into them, punish them in some horrible green CE X way, turning them into mindless drooling infants, but that’s not what came out of her mouth. The change in diet and her charming virtual assistant was seeing to that. She was now under the influence of the big LED screen and it was telling Nurse Florence that there would be some changes starting with her. She wanted to scream and yell but what came out was baby talk. She fell to her knees and collapsed.

There was a new song, a different kind of lullaby and with that, everyone was falling asleep; everyone except Barty. All he had to do was wait until it was three in the morning. He guessed that’s when the others would be coming; that and justice though what that would entail he couldn’t imagine.

He got up from where he was sitting and walked around the cafeteria. There was his childhood friend Bart along with his wife. Seated across from them were his parents. Mert was alongside Betty, asleep facedown in his plate, food squishing out the sides and onto the table. “Serves him right,” thought Bart.

He walked to the entrance of the cafeteria and looked down at the slumped Nurse Florence. He guessed his programming was working because she had wet her panties, her dress showing the signs of wetness. He wanted to kick her; kick her in the face again and again but he wasn’t that kind of person and besides, he had changed. There was a sense of childlike wonder that was now a permanent part of him. He guessed it was true for all the others and what he saw in the server room made him aware of how the world had changed all because of CE X.

He didn’t mind waiting because there was so much to explore. He loved the Halloween decorations and now that he could think through the green fog, he remembered past Halloweens spent both at home and at the special school. He felt young; very young in fact and the sensation his wet diaper gave him didn’t escape his attention. Living like this made perfect sense just as it had been making sense to the world.

The old clock on the wall was saying it was almost three. Soon the big LED screen would be accommodating the hour, something Barty had coded into the servers and not just for Moorehaven, but everywhere, the World Wide Web carrying hope and promise. Babies and staff alike were beginning to rouse, all part of the plan. For now, they would be aware of their surroundings and who they were though Barty had made sure that would change when the plan reached completion. Bobby had helped him with a few ideas as Bobby knew Moorehaven and what it could do to a person.

The littles were little no more and they demanded to know what had happened to them. Nelson had Mertz by the neck and he was pounding his head into the table. Others were yelling at their caregivers and caregivers were yelling at the senior staff. Questions turned into shouting, shouting into yelling and yelling into violence. What had been the quiet of the night, the single sound of the furnace and rushing air was now replaced by a tempest of screaming, yelling and shoving and this would have continued accept that it was all overridden by Nurse Florence who also was yelling, demanding complete attention and she turned to the chaotic group and gave them all her horrible icy menacing stare and this might have worked accept that Betty looked at her and shouted, “Looks like missy pissed her knickers” but even that was overshadowed by the most horrible plaintive wail which was coming from somewhere in the building, somewhere down a long and hidden hall, somewhere disused and ancient and it was being joined by a chorus of the suffering, both adults and children, the wailing of anguish.

Betty rushed Nurse Florence and had her by the hair, ready to drag her to who knows where when the lights flickered, flared and then when out plunging the room into darkness except that there was light, light emanating from a hundred grinning jack-o-lanterns and those were moving, rustling and plopping off their shelves and table tops, plopping with a squishing noise and now thumping toward the staff, surrounding all the occupants of the cafeteria.

Something was coming from the distant dark that was Moorehaven, from the undiscovered halls whose singular little rooms housed the mentally ill, the forgotten and tortured souls that was Moorehaven. The adults came from the West Wing and from the East Wing was the approaching laughter of children. It was not a happy laughter but one rooted in terrible mischief. The pumpkin light flared like a hundred burning stars and suddenly they were there, the ragged and tattered souls that were forgotten but here they were and a price would be paid. The sound of opening doors could be heard, doors that had remained hidden to hide the terrible secrets that were also Moorehaven, the misbegotten whose tortured brains were fried and destroyed.

The spirits of the ancient orderlies began to take form and fear was in those vacant and hallow eyes. The present looked on at the past, terrified and unable to move. The LED screen was flashing colors and shapes and the music had changed to something that almost resembled music but not quite. It demanded attention so that the living could witness what had happened at Moorehaven long ago and what they witnessed was terrible. The sound of the electro shock machines was echoing from both the East Wing and West Wing basements. The others were rioting, grabbing the dead; orderlies, nurses and doctors and taking them somewhere deep into the bowls of Moorehaven. They would receive the same treatment that they had given and when it was over, they turned their attention upon the living. Barty had helped them with whatever he did in the server room. Now they shared the common energy having passed through the servers, absorbing its energy and intention. Together the price of justice would be met.

The once babies clung to one another just as the caregivers clung to their own kind but not so the staff. They were falling to their knees. Some were sucking their thumbs. Others were wetting their pants. They were now surrounded by the jack-o-lanterns, a circle of grinning pumpkins to usher in the others. They dead drifted into the circle and descended upon the staff members, searching their sane and rational minds, using them as vessels to cast out all that had been wrong with them when they were alive, cast on and into the living. They were finally free from torment, free from being forever bound to the insane asylum.

Barty looked on and smiled. The change had been complete or almost complete. There were a few more elements to play out and then he remembered: Bobby.

He thought he knew where he would be. From the cafeteria, Barty went down one flight into the basement. He wasn’t surprised to see the hidden door open because that led to the old basement where the dreaded machines were. He could smell the ozone as vengeance and justice had been paid out.

Barty expected to see the others, hundreds of the dispossessed but there were only a few and they were disappearing.

“Bobby,” he tentatively called out, and then there he was. There was a light that surrounded the child, and he somehow looked different.

“Thank you Barty. We can go now. They’re waiting for me.”

“Will you be alright?”

“Better than alright, Barty. They’re waiting to take care of me, like someone should have when I was living. Everything’s a balance scale Barty. Those who suffer shall find peace and those who deny peace shall suffer. Thank you Barty. I never had anyone to love but now I do. I’ll see you later,” and with that, Bobby faded into the light, the light fading into itself until it was no more.

The old basement was quiet except for humming that was coming from one of the rooms with its terrible machine. Barty thought he better go and turn it off. When he entered the room he found something unexpected. There was Nurse Florence strapped in the machine, a rubber tongue suppressor in her mouth, the machine turned up to high. There was smoke drifting upward from her head. Barty quickly turned the machine off and watched the once living head of Nurse Florence flop downward.

“Hey bitch! Did I show you the morgue?” and with that, he left.

A World at Peace

The yellow school busses returned to Moorehaven to take the special children and their parents to their new homes. The world had changed but this time for the better. Barty had seen to that along with his gifted children and all the other children who had been at the final school cafeteria meeting when they had been separated. Barty had messaged the children and asked them to pass along the new coding to the mainframe at The Institute. When “Enter” was hit, there no longer was The Institute. The remarkable children had taken over that role, the same children who were furious that they were separated from their parents. It seems there was a balance scale, one where justice would eventually win.

Planned communities sprung up throughout the world, quaint houses along cul-de-sacs, sidewalks and trees along with clean air. There was a feeling of equality as everything was common and similar. People were as concerned about others as much as they were with themselves. They had a child’s sense of fair play because really, they were children. No one should have more or less than another. It just seemed to make sense. People went to work and came home to their families. They watched TV or played games just like they would have before the change, but there were some remarkable differences.

“So Barty, I made an extra casserole for your parents. Do you want to take it over to them?”

Barty only had to walk next door as this was a planned community, just like all the communities throughout the world. Friends and families lived next to each other, socialized with each other and enjoyed life in the way a child would. They laughed and played and went back to their respective homes when it was time.

“Do you want mommy to change your diaper, Barty?” Alicia asked.

“Only if I can change yours,” and together they laughed.

Barty took a drink from his sippy cup. It was mostly ginger ale but with a little bourbon. He liked being both big and little. There was a gentleness to life, something he made sure of when he changed the coding two years ago. He and Alicia both worked at home from their computers along with their remarkable children. There were still the occasional ads that popped up but now they advertised the most wonderful things like baby clothes for adults, the newest diapers and all that goes with being an adult baby.

After dinner, Barty went to his computer. He like almost everyone else was on a site called ADISC. It had been a little known site before CE X, catering to diaper lovers and adult babies but now, everyone was an adult baby. ADISC had replaced Facebook, Instagram, Twitter….everything.

He went to the forum: Moorehaven to see how Mary was doing. She was the new head administrator. She ran the staff that treated the patients, the mentally ill who two years earlier had been the staff that was so carefully selected by Nurse Florence. ADISC had added this forum as a support for those who dealt with mental illness which was ironic because before CE X and the change, ADISC’s regular membership was made up mostly of crazy people like someone called dogboy. Now those members blended in with everyone else. They didn’t seem to mind.

Barty typed in the same personal message he had typed before, asking Mary if there were any ghostly disturbances. Mary answered as always, “no thank God”.

“And the children?” he asked.

“Let him go, Barty.”

“I know. Thanks Mary.”

He said he’d be alright; more than alright, Barty thought to himself.

Barty walked into the living room and sat down with his wife, holding her hand. He was glad to be a family again even though his children were so much smarter than he and Alicia, as if they were the parents. Still, it was alright. In fact, everything was better than alright.
 
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