Everafter: Into NightChapter 1: Land of Nod
At first there was a gentle hum. And then it became a lone instrument, which built until there was a song
born out of it, like waves to wash over and calm the mind. And then the eyes open and the song is more a distant memory, replaced with a sight of an impressive set of teeth with the lips contorted into what might be considered a smile.
“So glad you could join us,” the Doctor said. He gestured around the room with the same expression on his face, making sure to look at everyone in turn. “I’m sure you all know the drill by now.”
And then that song that was just a distant memory was heard ever so faintly in the background of the large, white room. There were small coffee tables and comfortable chairs scattered around the room, giving enough room for a group of people to sit around a table and not feel awkwardly pressured to talk to one another. Nurses were stationed every 10 feet with the standard Everafter Nurse Gear – a first aid pack filled with specific medications and a tranquilizer gun. They seem to be missing the AK-47s that they usually carry while patrolling the halls. There was also a noticeable lack of security guards in the room.
And then the scene, the song, the strange cry for normality within the asylum walls becomes familiar and recognizable. But of course. The Doctor’s smile remains as he continues explaining. “Of course, this is a purely psychic experience. You are safely in your room right now, asleep. This is merely how we gauge your progress towards re-integration.” There are other inmates sitting in chairs. A pretty girl with golden locks and a blue dress is staring intently at a book in her lap. The nice wooden boy who sweeps up the floors is sitting across from her, unashamedly staring at her face. Of course, there is a noticeable lack of those inmates that are frequently seen wheeled past the windowed room of the M-9 ward under heavy sedation and strapped to their gurneys. There were those two girls with the monstrous arms, neither of which was anywhere to be seen. Those inmates who are generally not allowed to interact with others outside of this experience had a specific nurse standing over them the entire time, and pairs who would normally not be let near each other have been rewarded with a nurse watching over each of them individually. Most of the occupants seemed to be from the glass rooms, and mostly from the M-9 ward at that.
“This experience is a privilege we offer to those we feel deserve it. We will not tolerate a patient who disrupts the flow of this room as a peaceful, violence free zone. We encourage conversation, we encourage interaction, we do not approve of tries for violence or intimidation!” The good Doctor took a moment to widen his smile, contorting his face in a terrible way to do so. His crooked teeth stood against each other and his goggles made seeing the man’s eyes impossible, though they must have been small. He stretched out his hands to gesture towards the room. “And, of course, as a purely psychic experience, you will find your powers barely there at all. Your physical aptitude is—excuse me,” he stops himself, his smile faltering for a moment. He drops his hands and beckons a nurse over to him, whispering something. As he does, an explosion of sound comes from the corner of the room, and it becomes obvious a white-haired girl has just leapt across the couch she was sitting on to attack a boy directly opposite her. The boy has been here before with the M-Niner inhabitants, despite being held at a different level of the asylum. His shoes grinned as the girl continued to punch him, clearly enjoying herself.
The nurse Crooked had spoken to looked at the nurses surrounding the fight and gave a sequence of precise hand motions which ended with three tranquilizer guns firing. The girl slumped over, asleep. A nurse walked over to her and the girl slowly faded from view. The boy winced when the nurses touched him and sat up on the couch again, insisting he’s completely fine. Indeed, he had no visible bruises or marks that would suggest the sadistic actions of the girl a moment before.
“You’ve just seen our policy in action,” Dr. Crooked resumed his speech, adding a muttered, “again.” The girl has been here before and was frequently the first to be evicted due to not following the rules. Her brother, Hansel, talked even less after his sister left. Tom, the victim of the girl’s attack, pointedly faced away from the young boy’s seemingly vacant stare. “So, please, learn from Gretel’s mistakes. We are only able to help you as much as you want to receive.” He gestured to the nurses stationed all around the room. “If you have any concerns, please, don’t hesitate to ask. Other than that, welcome to reintegration progress exercise, please make the most of it.”
With that, the good Doctor looked around the room expectantly, as if daring the patients to immediately begin conversations amongst each other. In a peaceful way, of course. The song faded to the barely noticeable background, its waves washing over a calm on the minds of those in the room. The nurses began pacing around the room slowly. The new ones even tended to give some inmates a polite smile while passing.