A faded mist hung across the damp ground, creeping up to the grey walls of a bleak, rectangular building. Small windows lined its sides in a monotonous, tediously neat pattern. The building displayed no sign of emotion, almost empty of life. It was a foreboding place of despair and madness. A large sign beside the well-fortified entrance explained the eeriness of the place: FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD TRAUMA INSTITUTE. "Where FFMC-induced trauma sufferers regain their lives".
A sleek, shiny Audi drew up at the gates of the institute. An arm appeared from the driver's side to press an intercom button.
"FFMC Trauma Institute, how may we help you?" A dreary voice responded through the speaker.
"Hi Steve, Dr. Lyons here," the woman withdrew her arm, and waited absentmindedly for the electric steel gates in front of her car to open. She sighed, as she did every time she drove over the familiar gravel drive leading to the doors of the institute.
She nosed her car into a free parking space, of which were numerous, and reluctantly stopped the engine. How she hated climbing out of that car each day, away from the comforting leather smell and through two heavy doors where new, insulting smells would pervade the nostrils. The smells of medicines and sedatives used to calm the patients. The smell of despair, and the smell of insanity. But her past, similar to those she now treated at the institute, had hardened her.
"Back again?" Steve, the pessimistic 'clerk' of the building, spoke as Dr. Lyons passed the desk.
"The pay's good," she replied dryly. It wasn't just the comfortable salary she earned from the job, though. She knew what her patients had suffered, and what they suffered still. She knew how comforting an understanding, open-minded person could be. After all, she had someone like that to thank for the return of her own sanity.
Steve snorted, and redirected his gaze back to the files on his desk. "Oh, I nearly forgot to mention-we've got a new patient."
"And why wasn't I contacted?" She halted.
"Came in quick. We only just got them settled."
She shook her head. While she toiled at her job to try and rescue severed minds, people were still forcing this trauma on others. Would it ever end?
Dr. Lyons paced along the corridor, past doors imprinted on her memory. Routine.
She passed a row of chairs. Slumped on one of these was the frail, almost skeletal woman, clad in grey. She rocked her head back and forth gently, murmuring incoherently. Her eyes quivered behind their lids.
"Beryl?" Dr. Lyons placed a hand carefully on the disturbed patient's shoulder. "Are you alright?"
"B-b-Bathsheba! Blasted sheep!" The woman cried suddenly.
"Fanny! Troy! Oak!" Beryl blurted out, her eyes wide open. The doctor stared sadly at her. "It's alright. No Troys here."
"Oh! There she is!" A fervent voice shouted. Dr. Lyons looked up to see an exasperated nurse trotting up. She scowled. "Am I right in thinking that you've left Beryl on her own, in this state? Has she had her morning medication yet?
"Uh…I didn't mean to-"
"Do your job properly…" Dr. Lyons peered at the girl's nametag. "…Nurse Abe."
"Yes, doctor. Sorry." The nurse bobbed her head and ushered Beryl from her seat. Dr. Lyons shook her head. The institute was slowly falling away, like sand slipping between the fingers. Funding cuts, inexperienced staff, court cases…she was fighting a losing battle. She took care of each patient at the FFMC Trauma Institute the best she could, yet few others knew how important a place like this was. After all, twelve years ago, Dr. Lyons had been in the same situation as her patients were. Far From the Madding Crowd…of course, back then, no one really knew the immensity of the trauma that was inflicted upon those forced to read the novel. The lucky ones came off with recurring nightmares and normal therapy, but most fell into a black pit of doom, surrounded by the demons of their horrific memories. They would withdraw into a state of severe depression and mental illness, trapped within their minds.
Would it never end?