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Authors: Bryan James

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LZR-1143: Infection

BOOK: LZR-1143: Infection
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BRYAN JAMES

LZR-1143: INFECTION

Prologue

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a cloth. Jesus saith unto them, loose him, and let him go unto the world.

-
The Gospel of John 11:41-44

Thus did Jesus prove unto us his power and righteousness, but to what end? Lazarus walked, but with the walk of the damned. His eyes possessed no light of the living, but stared as if dead. And his body moved, but he did not speak. Dumb, he struck about him so that those who came to see must restrain him lest they suffer pain as he did cast about, seeking to devour those with whom he had previously loved.

When Jesus did depart, was he again subdued. And the tomb was again sealed, and his sisters did wail upon the sand of the earth. Those of whom he had touched with his mark did die, and their rising was like unto death, the touch of God not upon them.

-
Unknown author, believed to be a resident of Bethany. Written approximately 35 A.D.

And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

-
Revelation 14:11

Chapter 1

I’m used to people telling me I’m crazy. But until today, I wasn’t used to agreeing with them.

I had been watching events unfold on the television for the past hour, and as I sat there, remote control in one hand, empty soda bottle in the other, I became a believer.

In the best of times here, television had been a closely guarded and carefully monitored luxury. It was an award system that I had shunned since my first day of residency, realizing quickly that the only programs awarded to my special class of society were reruns of Saved by the Bell and whatever channel constantly replayed “Homeward Bound”. Until today, I thought that those were the only channels the damn thing received.

I had found the remote control lying haphazardly on the counter that was normally staffed by a candy striper with an infuriatingly jolly smile and hundreds of vials of various sedatives and anti-psychotics. The drugs, normally in neat, orderly stacks behind the counter, were strewn on the floor. A half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich lay on a piece of wax paper next to a full bottle of soda, which I had quickly confiscated. We weren’t allowed caffeine.

A fellow incarcerate, not appreciative of, or more likely incapable of appreciating, our new found liberty, crouched behind an outdated sofa near the hallway, rocking on his heels and incessantly humming the theme song from what sounded suspiciously like the A-team.

From the East wing, a loud, constant hammering noise filtered through the cement walls. At first, I had naively attributed the thumping to renovations. They were always fixing this place, this bed and breakfast for the insane. Always making room for more of our kind.

My freedom was a serious breach in psycho-jail house protocol. I wasn’t supposed to be privy to the remote control, and I sure as hell wasn’t supposed to be wandering about unsupervised. Don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t exactly unappreciative of the liberty; it just concerned me. But when I figured out that the television “channels” we were allowed to watch were actually looped reruns on a CCTV network, and I switched over to the cable news networks, my curiosity proved to be well founded.

I watched, spellbound. Unbelieving.

Gone were the talking heads discussing the travails and indiscretions of minor celebrities and absent were the inane debates on whatever scandal had slithered its way to the forefront of the morning media. In their place was live coverage-actual raw footage-that identified my liberator. No sir, no celebrity brouhaha or overblown vanity trial here.

This was, apparently, quite real.

My own celebrity trial had been surprisingly short, although the build up to it-and the media circus that surrounded it-had not. I would say that it had been blessedly short, but in hindsight I doubt my seemingly hastily made decisions with the same level of circumspection that, for the last few months, I have now been doubting my sanity. I’m not absolutely convinced that I’m crazy, but the events of the last hour have been making a compelling case for it.

My current home is King’s Park in Long Island, New York. More specifically, I’m a ward of the state. In line with my title, my accommodations are top of the line: three square a day, galvanized steel cot, and all the sedatives you can choke down.

Seriously, my digs on their own are enough to give you nightmares. My lawyer gave me the history of the place before I landed, and its story matches its appearance step for step. Appropriate to its name, King’s Park was built in 1890, originally to house lepers and the mentally deranged. It’s a vast campus of dilapidated buildings in various states of disrepair, some of which are reportedly connected by a series of underground tunnels.

In the early 1900’s, it was a hot spot for the cutting edge of psychiatry: frontal lobotomies and electro-shock therapy. The reputation has gone downhill from there. It was closed for about a decade, but reopened 6 years ago. During the years it was inactive as a hotel for the crazy, it was a refuge for transients, sexually exploratory teens (and adults), and a destination royale of sorts for ghost hunters and paranormal investigators. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of its past residents have expired behind these walls; some of them of natural causes. That kind of history just begs to be exploited and investigated. It also stinks of fear.

What a logical place to send convicted killers for rehabilitation.

Did you know that when you plead insanity, you’re not telling the jury that you’re innocent? Nope. What you’re really saying, in legalese, is not what you appear to be saying in human talk. You’re not saying “I’m innocent because I’m crazy.”

No sir. What you’re really saying is “I’ll concede that I’m guilty as hell. But I don’t deserve to go to jail because I’m crazy.” Big difference there. Trust me.

I was admitted six months ago after pleading insanity to a charge of first-degree murder. I suppose it’s also relevant to mention that the victim was my wife.

In my previous life, I was an actor. And I was famous. A certified celebrity action hero. Right before it happened, I had been on a location shoot in Vancouver, a popular spot for American filmmaking. I used to know why, back when it mattered.

We had just finished a film involving aliens and some sort of government conspiracy. Typical stuff. I think there may have been a talking dog, but consider the source before taking my word for it. My role, as always, was the delivery of bullets and pithy cliches, all while walking that delicate line between fantastic egoism and endearing self-deprecation.

I returned on a Sunday night. The airline had tried to bump me from First to Business on the four o’clock flight. The gall! I still remember being appalled at the nerve of the desk clerk, who told me to my face that I’d have to ride with the cattle, and to whom my celebrity seemed to mean very little. Oh, she recognized me, but acted as if I was just another passenger and seemed to think that, as a normal person, I would have to accept my situation and deal with it. Talk about foreshadowing. Nevertheless, with nothing left do but renting a private jet (don’t think I didn’t consider it), I elected to drink myself into a stupor in the lounge, and wait for the eight fifteen.

The flight was early, and I got home just after 4 in the morning. I actually expected to cross paths with Maria on my way in; she worked at a biological research facility outside the city, and commuted from our place in Manhattan four days a week. She only worked four days a week, but the drawback was an early start and a late finish. I still don’t understand the drive to work those long hours. She absolutely hated getting up in the morning, and God knows we didn’t need the money.

I should rephrase. I understood her drive; she loved the job, was always telling me about the stuff she did and how it was going to be the next big thing in medical advancement. The next penicillin. She couldn’t get into too much detail, not because my eyes started to glaze when she got into the technical stuff, which they did, but because it was government stuff. Classified, apparently.

But she was allowed to share the enthusiasm. God, how her eyes lit up when she was talking about the implications of her work. Even when she kept the talk to vagaries, you could tell that this was something important. To her, if not to the person she was talking to.

So it was odd when I got in that morning, and the light was on but there was no movement in the kitchen. She should have been boiling water for tea, listening to the news, carrying on the normal early morning routine. That should have been my first clue. But the alcohol and the exhaustion numbed my senses just enough to keep me oblivious to the little anomalies.

I remember as much now as I remembered at trial: the blood on the covers and on the walls; the noises coming from the bathroom; the police breaking down the front door. Then sitting at the kitchen counter, reeking of alcohol, covered in her blood, and holding the “murder weapon”: a Titlist putter that I kept behind the bedroom door and used to practice my putting down the hallway. I don’t even remember seeing her face.

But I remember the pictures at trial. Her face, grossly distorted and gray, the wounds on the left side of her head from the repeated impacts of the club, and the shots that ultimately convicted me-yours truly, covered in the blood of his wife, holding a bloody club in a limp hand, a vacant, lost expression, staring at the camera. These are the memories I wake with every morning. These are the memories I woke up with this morning.

But when I opened my eyes and looked around my room, I noticed immediately that today was different. First of all, it was mid-afternoon. They usually had us up pretty early, and by the light coming through the window set high in the exterior wall, I could tell we were off schedule.

Mentally, I felt drastically different. I didn’t remember much from before I went to sleep, which was also unusual. What I could recall was a struggle, which was easily confirmed by a bruise I noticed on my left arm. I was normally drugged up, which most of the time put me into a trance-like daze that put a fuzzy corner on everything I saw and heard. But I could usually remember the previous day; vaguely at least. The only memories I had now were confusing images and sounds, along with the memory of having something pumped into my arm. I checked my right arm, locating and brushing my finger lightly over a pinprick bruise near my vein.

Yep, that was real.

I tried to concentrate on the sounds and images that I only vaguely recalled, but all that was left was the impression of anxious voices and loud noises. No cognizable words or sentences. Nevertheless, I felt like I had gotten a good, long sleep. Despite that foggy delirium that comes with oversleeping, my mind felt… lighter. It wasn’t as hard to formulate my thoughts, to piece together my surroundings.

Looking around the room, I took in the depressingly familiar surroundings: whitewashed walls marred by brackish-colored water damage and slight cracks in the cheap paint; a heavy metal door with a small integrated window; a bolted down bed frame covered in dirty white sheets and a limp pillow; and a bedside table-also bolted to the floor. I noticed that the cup next to my bed still held pills, and that the glass of water was full. Yet another oddity.

I was usually nuzzled gently awake by a Conanesque orderly who held me close and tender as he force fed me my continental breakfast of neuroleptics and water. Whoever complained of bread and water as a prison meal was clearly never on this diet.

BOOK: LZR-1143: Infection
12.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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