Ten Questions for a Fictional Character: Alyssa of Asylum

Photo by fedegrafo at morguefile.com

Photo by fedegrafo at morguefile.com

***SPOILER ALERT!!!*** This post contains information about my story Asylum. If you haven’t read this story yet, click here before reading on.

Alyssa flies at me when I step out of my car outside of her aunt’s rundown house. I raise my notepad and save my eyes from being clawed out.

“You’ve ruined my life!” she says.

I glance at the structure in no better repair than Saint Gabriel’s Asylum. “Your story had to be told.”

“Dr. Andrews has been suspended from practicing medicine!”

“He was torturing you and other innocent girls. People needed to know about it. Why are you protecting him?”

Alyssa shoves me again and I nearly topple over backward. “He’s doing what he has to do!”
She begins to pace, her shoulders hunching over, her arms wrapping about her core. She flinches as a bird tumbles through the icy winds overhead.

“When was the last time you were outside the asylum?”

“What’s the date?” Her eyes dart back and forth as if following specks in the air.

“Monday, October 26, 2015.”

She stops.

Gingerly, I take her by the arm and lead her to the porch steps. Sitting her down, I wrap a blanket from my car around her.

“Three years,” she says. “I was there three years.” She pulls her knees up under the blanket. “I was eighteen-years-old when I first volunteered.”

“Did you know what you were volunteering for?”

Her eyes are vacant, taking in everything and seeing nothing. “I only wanted to help her.” Her voice is almost lost in the whispers of the breeze.

“To help who?”

She hugs her knees and quietly rocks. After a moment she pulls out a tattered photograph from somewhere in the folds of her clothing. Handing it to me, she taps on the beaming face of a girl, identical to her in every way. “She’s my baby sister. Younger by five minutes.”

“How did the doctor plan to help her?”

“Why should I help you to seal his coffin too?” Her gaze hardens, her body shaking beneath the blanket.

“Is someone going to hurt him if the truth comes out?”

Laughing, she tosses away the blanket. “You’ve read too many novels. He needs his work as much as his family needs him.”

“He’s going to lose his license no matter what you say, but if others know what’s going on, they might be able to help your sister.”

“You only want another story for your stupid blog.”

“You can still use this to help her.”

After taking a moment to consider, she curtly nods her head. “In the middle of the night of our sixteenth birthday we snuck out. We wanted to test out my new driver’s license. She had failed her driver’s test,” Alyssa laughs, “she was so jealous.” Looking off to the side, she nods for me to follow and begins to walk. She leads me down a brick path, over grown with half dead rose bushes. Behind the house she stops in front of a padlocked garage. She fishes a key from her pocket and throws open the doors, the old hinges screaming in protest. Dust fills the air as she pulls away a hole-filled car cover to reveal a tangled mass of red metal and chrome.

“What happened?”

“She begged me to let her drive.” She kneels at the front of the car, her finger tracing the shattered headlight. “We were too young, too excited, to stop and think about what happens to bridges when a light rain freezes. I woke up three weeks later out of a coma, and she didn’t.”

“That still doesn’t tell me what Dr. Andrews was doing.”

“Dr. Andrews married our mom when we three years old, and then adopted us when she died. He couldn’t handle not being able to help her. After a year of being in a coma, the hospital started insisting he pull the plug. He couldn’t bring himself to do it, and so instead he brought her home to care for her himself.”

“How did that morph into torturing you and so many others?”

She balls her fists, her nostrils flaring. “He never tortured any of us, and every one of us was of consenting age when we agreed to take part! He started researching the effects of nightmares, and certain legal drugs, on the brain. He thought he might be able to induce one with the other. He found that by using a combination of completely safe, and completely legal, narcotics he could open up the mind to suggestion. So, he would use the smallest dose possible and then hypnotized us into our worst possible nightmares.”

“Why would he do this?”

“To scare her into waking up! What happens when you’re falling in a dream? You wake up just before you hit the ground. He’s a brilliant man, and he will save my sister.”

“But what if it didn’t work, if what he had killed you or one of the other girls in the process?”

Picking up her sister’s picture, she strokes the grinning face. “It would have been worth it.”

Thank you so much for reading! I truly hope you’ve enjoyed this character interview. Check back this Saturday for our next Ruling Reader! Not sure how to become a Ruling Reader? Click here to find out more.

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6 Responses to Ten Questions for a Fictional Character: Alyssa of Asylum

  1. seraph4377 says:

    Oh, dear. So many terrible, terrible possibilities.

    Even in the best-case scenario – which is to say, if Alyssa is telling the truth and has been told the truth – Dr. Andrews is almost certainly going to jail. Forget about his license to practice medicine. There are some things you just can’t “volunteer” for, and I’m pretty sure that a three-year “clinical trial” run by a single doctor with no clinical oversight and such clearly detrimental effects on the “patients” falls under that heading.

    What seems more likely is that after a certain point, Alyssa was the only girl who was still there of her own free will. Dr. Andrews may have convinced the others that their initial volunteering somehow legally obligated them to stay until the trial was finished, but legally, that’s still kidnapping. And that’s assuming that he didn’t straight-up kidnap them in the first place – it would probably be easy for a man in his position to make a few mental patients “disappear”.

    (Incidentally, Alyssa? The right “combination” of “perfectly safe, perfectly legal” sedatives and “perfectly safe, perfectly legal” alcohol will kill you. Something to consider.)

    And all of this in service of something I can’t see working. I don’t see the hospital “insisting” that Little Sister be unplugged after a year unless her brain was destroyed beyond the bare minimum to keep her breathing. And even if she has enough brain left to awaken, it seems much more likely that she’ll just be trapped in her worst nightmare.

    Assuming she isn’t dead already. It wouldn’t be the first time a mad scientist changed focus from healing the sick to raising the dead, or became obsessed with punishing those they blame for their loved one’s condition.


  2. seraph4377 says:

    Reblogged this on Dreams of the Shining Horizon and commented:
    The follow-up to the piece Justina wrote for my Ruling Reader Request. Even darker than I originally suspected. See the comments for my thoughts at greater length.


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