We had a power cut today.
With a loud click, coming from nowhere in particular but seemingly everywhere in reality, the lights went off.
And the television set went off.
And the blinking light on the CCTV cameras.
Oh, and the security locking on the doors.
Nobody noticed that one straight away. In fact, the only thing that bothered anyone, apart from the orderlies, was the television. When you only have the company of the insane or the indifferent, a TV is your lifeline to the outside world.
Granted ours was stuck on MTV, producing a raucous mix of beat and breasts - sometimes a bit much for a few of the residents - but at least it had a semblance of life. At least you could see people having fun.
Not that it was always a good thing. When you're wallowing in misery, dipping your toes in the pool of pissed-off-ishness, someone ELSE having fun kind of put the boot in to kick you over the edge so you almost drowned in the sea of shitty-attitude.
Today, though, everyone had seemed to put on an up. The mood was light. The orderlies had minimal reason to interfere with the residents and the residents themselves gave the orderlies little to worry about. It was sunny outside and the warmth was filling everyone with an unusually buoyant radiance.
Then moans. Cries. Screams, in places.
NEXT is a popular clothes store. When they have a sale, people queue up outside from around 5am. I imagine, when they open their doors, the scene would be much like it was here. People would be milling around, running, pushing. Clothes would be torn or dropped to the floor. The odd unfortunate would be trampled underfoot.
A sudden lack of television had the same effect, pretty much, the only difference being that there wasn't 70% off ladies skirts.
I wondered if NEXT sold asylum scrubs... Maybe there was a gap in the market...
The orderlies must have been dozing, lulled into a false sense of sanity by the morning's mood. It took them a few precious seconds to react and jump in, attempting to instil some calm with their usual brand of brute force. Head locks and half-nelsons did next to nothing to bring the throng to heel.
In the ensuing pandemonium, someone fell or was pushed against the door.
Now Dr. Connors is all about high-tech. State of the art. Top of the range cameras. Top of the range locks. Why use a key when a four digit number will suffice? You can steal a key, but not something that's committed (no pun intended) to memory. Less chance of the lunatics taking over the asylum.
Yes... Good luck with that.
When Ian, who never listened to the voices in his head no matter how much they screamed at him, fell backwards into the corridor, there was a sudden hush (possibly even from within his head). It was as if someone had taken a 3D photograph of the room and everybody was frozen in place. Then the milling about ceased and a flood of patients very impatiently poured out of the recreation room and into the hallway.
About three minutes later, the power came back on.
About three hours later, order was, once more, restored. Well, apart from dear old Edna Cuthbertson, who'd accidentally found the furnace room and decided to burn her clothes. Unfortunately she'd used her hands to put her scrubs into the incinerator. She wouldn't be putting her hands anywhere after that.
Only two residents had managed to find the door to outside, through the nursery. They were caught picking flowers, just this side of the stump. Eight were back in their cells, curled up on their beds quietly. A further fourteen were found in the laundry room, making tents out of towels and singing around a small fire -the source of which hasn't been discovered. Eddie, all smiles and sunshine - despite the dent in the back of his head from playing catch with a bowling ball - had a broken femur from the rugby tackle used to catch him.
And me. They spent an awful lot of time searching for me. I hadn't actually moved. Whilst everyone else was enjoying the pseudo-freedom and running riot, I didn't move. I stayed in my seat and stared at the blank TV.
The sudden hush from Ian opening the door had been preceded by another one. In my own head. When the electricity went off, the screams - even the dull echo of the screams - stopped also.
I, for the first time in so long, was sitting in silence. Internally and externally. And I relished it.
I wasn't under any illusion that it was the electricity causing this beast to come alive inside of me. That was my own creation. I certainly wasn't Frankenstein's prototype or anything of the sort.
But, when that click was heard...
I wonder if it came from me. Whatever curse I battle with has an off switch, and some sort of electromagnetic pulse was emitted that killed the TV and everything else. I suppose it was better than leaving MTV and killing the patients.
No. It wasn't me - this time.
We had a power cut today. All of us. Including me.