Jayce Walker sat in the passenger seat of Ashley’s truck. The big red Dodge rumbled as they headed for the next stop in Jayce’s journey. In the distance a large multi-level Victorian house stood betwixt a combination of red oak, spruce, and cedar trees. The dogwoods were in bloom. The house once served as a plantation until the War of Northern Aggression.
A large white sign stood outside of the property and welcomed them to the Stan Wilkerson Center for Mental Analysis. Jayce shuddered as they drew closer.
“I don’t want to be here, Ashley.”
“I know, Jayce.”
“They’re not nice people. They…”
“…only want to help you. Jayce, you know what is going to happen next if you can’t control your mind. Your delusions…”
Two white clad nurses stood by the circle driveway with a wheelchair between them. One was an older woman; her gray hair and slack jaw gave Jayce the impression that she had served here during the Civil War. Her eyes showed no emotion. She appeared to be an empty husk.
The other nurse was a tall black man. A tiny mustache adorned his upper lip. It was neatly maintained, but his eyes were like the old woman’s. Ashley pulled up next to them.
She got out and walked to them. In hushed tones they conversed, with an occasional nod going in Jayce’s direction. The two nurses gave tight-lipped smiles to Ashley. Then, they walked over to the truck. Ashley opened the door.
“Good morning, Jayce. I’m the administrator here,” the black man began in his deep voice. His voice had a melodious sing-song lilt to it. “I am Herman Whitmore, and I bid you welcome to our center.”
Jayce said nothing. He stared at the dash of the truck. The old woman pushed the wheelchair close to them.
“Hello, Jayce. I remember you; do you remember me?”
Jayce nodded. “You’re the devil.”
Ashley gasped and turned to Jayce. “You can’t say that,” she whispered. Jayce met Ashley’s eyes; the old woman cackled like a mad hen.
“It’s okay, ma’am. I have been called everything. They only think I’m the devil because I medicate them.”
Ashley nodded. Herman and the old woman seemed like normal people. Jayce knew better. The Center for Mental Analysis seemed like a place to help those who suffered from an over-active mind, but it really was a portal to the deepest reaches of Hell. Christians thought of hell as the lake of fire, but in this instance, hell was his mind. “If the medicine is not working, what good is more medication?”
With encouragement from Ashley, Jayce got out of the truck. He got into the wheelchair. The old woman pushed him toward the building. To reach the Center for Mental Analysis, they had to cross a small garden.
“Jayce, I am Helga. I’ll be your nurse. This center is dedicated to helping people like you.”
“No, it isn’t. You’re going to turn me into a zombie.”
“Only if you don’t comply with our instruction.”
“I don’t want to be here.”
“Shh. Wait until your friend is gone. Then, we will get to know one another better.”
Ashley signed Jayce into the center. She knelt down beside his wheelchair and stared into his eyes. Jayce looked at the wall.
“I know you’re angry, Jayce. This is for the best.”
“It’s what’s best for you, Ashley. I did not make up the waitress or the thumb drive.”
“The dancing idiot on the thumb drive is right. I should kill myself.”
“No, Jayce. That is not the answer.”
Helga pushed Jayce to his room after he bid Ashley goodbye. It was at the end of a long white hallway. Screams echoed through the building. Some frantic soul beat on their door as Jayce passed by.
“Welcome to the funhouse!”
Jayce closed his eyes and tried to drown out the screams with his thoughts. “Think positive thoughts…think of sunshine and Mountain Dew…think of home…” He tried to focus on home. It didn’t work. When he opened his eyes, he was in a small white room, the sleeve on his right arm was rolled up.
Helga gave him an evil grin and plunged the syringe into his vein. He fell into darkness.