They drove me to the clinic less than an hour and a half later… no time to waste when someone was as crazy as I was, obviously. My mom stood in my room as I packed, hovering nervously, and I knew why- they were making sure I didn't pack anything harmful, like razors or something. Plus, they didn't want to leave me alone…
This had not been the first time my parents had suspected I was insane… I'd had a few periods of depression before, had even seen a therapist for a brief period of time, but this- this was so much worse than that. This- for god's sake, I was being COMMITTED!
The pain and frustration- the hurt, the incredulity and despair- swept over me in strong waves that brought me actual physical pain. There was no use trying to explain to them again, for I knew they didn't understand. I knew nothing, short of seeing the characters themselves, would make them believe me. And really, I could hardly blame them. Without seeing them, the proof was so slight it was easy to discount me.
My parents were very quiet as they prodded me along, making sure I prepared for my sentence, as I was beginning to think of it as. Grim and solemn, anxious, they barely looked at each other, let alone me. Even Gray was unusually quiet and serious when he came in, giving me these looks that told me he too was afraid for me- or was it afraid of me?
All I could think of was, why did this have to happen when I was 17? Why couldn't they just wait until I was 18, where none of this had to happen? You couldn't commit people involuntarily when they were 18.
And yet, part of me still wondered if maybe they were in the right to do this… part of me still wondered if I was, despite the evidence I'd seen to the contrary, completely insane. After all, if most evidence was noticed only be my- did that make it untrue?
The drive over was pretty tense and uncomfortable, nerve wracking… it's not exactly a bonding experience to drive with your parents to be taken to a mental clinic. Not to mention the fact that I still had some companions tagging along- Meghan Rafferty and River Sterling from "Girls' Night Out" were in the backseat with me the whole time, to only add to the irony. At least they were quiet- they both had hangovers, and mostly slept on each others' shoulders or stared ahead, looking ill. I know how they felt- I suspected I share several of their physical discomforts at the moment, even sober…
I tried to tell myself there was still a chance I wouldn't be committed. They'd said I'd receive an evaluation first… maybe if I lied my head off, the doctor would believe me. Maybe I could convince her I was okay…
Yeah, right, Lyn. And then a character will pop up and start yelling at you or something and you'll flinch, if not be attacked by them, and she'll think the same as everyone else…
I had an awful sense of de ja vu when we arrived, my father going the front desk, my mother leading me over to sit on the lobby couch. (Gray was staying home alone- at least one person was spared this experience, but unfortunately that person wasn't me.) It was the same clinic we'd taken my older brother Walker's girlfriend Kaycee two years ago… and also, the same clinic I had based several of the clinics in my stories on. It felt like I was stepping inside one of my own stories, becoming one of my characters. As though I was becoming more unreal, as they became more real…
My mom was trying to talk to me, her voice too anxious and upset to be any comfort- she never could deal with stress very well. My dad seemed gruff, almost angry, but that was his way of dealing with stress too. And me- I was numb…
Especially when I looked up and saw Genesis, a loner, hostile Goth girl from "Scratching past surface level." She eyed me flatly through a shield of long black hair, eyes emotionless.
"You know you're fucked now, right? Once you start this cycle, you can't go back," she said emotionlessly. "You think I started out like this?"
She dug into one of her many trench coat pockets, taking out a few white pills and popping them all into her mouth at once, swallowing them dry. All that time, she never took her eyes off me…
I think I knew then, even before the doctor called me in for my evaluation, even before I gave my best shot at lying my ass off. As Genesis had so eloquently and tactfully put it, I was fucked…
When Dr. Teague began to walk me down through the hallways to my ward, and then to my room, explaining to me quickly some of the clinic's rules and expectations for its patients, I was barely listening. I was not in shock, so much as depression- I had been expecting this. I remember my most upsetting thought was the realization that should I see any characters in the clinic, I could not kill them, even if I was alone. I would not be able to- there was nothing in the entire place I could use as a weapon.
Drugs, I remember thinking wearily, please just drug me up, I don't care, just do something to get these people away. I don't care if they're real or not, get them away from me…
Finally we reached my room- by then it was nearly 9:30, and, as Dr. Teague had explained, all patients had to be back in their rooms by 10. There was a good chance my roommate was in.
She was- and as I looked at her carefully, with more than a little worry, I was relieved to see she did not appear to be one of my characters. She was probably 16 or 17, with long brown hair, and upturned nose, and an average build.
"This is your roommate Hayley," Dr. Teague told me as she motioned me inside. "Hayley, this is Lyn."
"Hi, Lyn," Hayley said, smiling in a gentle, friendly manner. She seemed okay… not crazy or overtly weird, as I would have thought. I wondered vaguely as I smiled weakly what she was in for- was she, like me, not crazy at all? Were half the people in here in by mistake?
"Well, Lyn, I'll leave you to get settled in," Dr. Teague told me. "If you have any questions, ask Hayley, or else one of the staff."
She left then, as I let my bags drop to the ground, sitting on the bed nearest the door heavily. Hayley looked over at me from the other bed, her face sympathetic.
"It sucks, I know, the first night especially. But it's not so bad after a while."
"How long is a while?" I asked hoarsely, not meeting her eyes.
Hayley shrugged. "I've been here two months… it depends. I'm probably going home this week though."
"Lucky you," I said, making no attempt to hide the bitterness in my voice.
"Well, mania isn't exactly something you get cured from," Hayley said in a perfectly normal tone. "I'll always have to be on medication and all. Do you know what you're in here for?"
"I haven't been diagnosed yet," I muttered.
"Oh. Well… Lyn, right?"
I nodded listlessly.
"We have 30 minutes until we have to stay in our room for the night. I'm going to the bathroom, wash up a little, brush my teeth and all. You want me to show you where it is?"
I shook my head mutely, just wanting to be alone, if at all possible.
"Okay… well, I'll be back soon." Hayley stood up, gathering a little vinyl bag of toiletries before going out the door. I lay back on my bed, feeling something cold and strangely crampy spreading slowly though my body… I had an urge to curl up in a ball and just close my eyes, try to block out the world and my surroundings. This was so surreal… never would I have really believed this could happen to me- any of this. Never before had I felt so helpless…
The door to my room opened then, breaking my stream of woeful thoughts. I sat up on my elbows, mumbling, "That was quick, Hayley…"
But when I saw who it was at the door, I felt as though someone had snatched all ability to speak from my throat… my mouth went dry, and painful chills rolled up and down my back. For it was Anya Dardanos standing in the doorway. Anya Dardanos, strolling over to sit carelessly beside me on my bed, her cold eyes sparkling in amusement. Anya, the sociopathic, manipulative girl from Under the Influence- the girl who had resided in a clinic very much like this one…
I was alone in a mental clinic room with Anya- and as her creator, I knew very well what she could do to frightened, confused teenaged girls in these places…
"A newby, huh?" she drawled, putting her face closer to mine than I was comfortable with- not that I was comfortable with this girl at any distance. "You look like a deer caught in headlights- why so scared? Why I'm just another confused little girl, we're really very much alike…"
Her words were mocking, gleeful, and I knew she knew who I was. She leaned closer to me still, her bare shoulder in her trademark low-cut camisole brushing mine. I recoiled back from her, almost scrambling up against the headboard, my heart throbbing frantically in my chest. Shit, oh shit…
"Oh, I know- you're afraid of me because you think you KNOW, you think you UNDERSTAND me," Anya purred, her eyes laughing at me even as her voice seemed exaggeratedly innocent. "Let me assure you, psycho-girl, you don't understand me. I barely understand myself, and I'm a lot fucking smarter than you'll ever be. So what hope does that leave you? I do understand YOU though…"
Psycho-girl… she had called me psycho-girl…. That was her nickname for Nadia, the girl she had completely destroyed. She had completely manipulated Nadia, a fragile, lonely girl who had only wanted someone's acceptance, convincing her she loved her, convincing her to kill- even to commit suicide… and now, she was bestowing the nickname on me, as if I was to be her new Nadia.
"I know you," Anya was saying, her voice dropping huskily, her light blue eyes boring into mine with all the warmth of icepicks, "better than you know yourself. Your name is Lyn- isn't it? And you see things- you see me. You feel me…"
She reached forward with deft quickness, and I cringed away from her, gasping- the first noise I had made since she entered the room. Anya stroked my cheek gently, smiling the twisted little smile I had always only pictured before in my mind.
"Yes, you feel that, don't you?" she murmured, and I closed my eyes briefly, trembling, her face so close I could feel her breath on my cheek. "You're shaking, baby- are you really so afraid of me? Or is it someone else- is it you?"
She smiled slowly, her hand still resting on my face, as gentle as a lover's- and with the same seductive intent. "You thought yourself cured, did you? All your dark little thoughts of death- all those nice little scars where no one would ever see…"
Her eyes trailed down my body meaningfully, lingering on my legs and hips. I tried to speak, tried to push her away, but I couldn't move… it was as though she had hypnotized me, tranced me to the spot.
"Are you so sure you don't miss it?" Anya nearly whispered. "You never think about that nice stinging pain as sharpness sinks into your flesh… you never miss the roughness of freshly scabbed skin against smooth fingers? You don't wish to be so sick again- so needy?"
I breathed in shallowly, my eyes fixed on her cruel grin, the lovely shape as threatening as its malicious words. She was nearly lying on top of me now, her hips and breasts brushing mine. She laughed breathlessly, inching closer still, her hand still cradling my face.
"Come on, Lyn, there's no need to play meek and innocent- I know you're hot for me."
She began to stroke her other hand down my hair, slow, purposefully, as though I were a cat… she was lying next to me now on her stomach, one arm reached over my chest, face still very close to mine… and I still couldn't move, couldn't speak. But what horrified me was the beginning of a lazy ambiguity that told me I might not even want to…
"Don't even try to pretend you're not attracted to me," Anya said throatily. "I know you like girls… I know how you looked at Katherina and Jen, how you came up with excuses to touch them. I'm only doing what you always wanted… you can touch me, Psycho-girl, and I won't mind…"
Finally I was able to force words out of my mouth… and when they came, they were weak, broken, utterly pathetic.
"Please, Anya… don't do this to me. Don't hurt me like- like the others…"
Anya laughed then, her every gesture conveying her amusement at my words.
"I don't have to hurt people, Lyn… I leave that entirely in their own hands. It's not my fault if they're utterly too suggestible…"
"Go away," I whimpered frantically as her hands caressed me. "I made you up, you're not real. None of this is real- I'm just seeing things. I'm crazy- that's why I'm here…"
"Oh no, Psycho-girl," Anya whispered. "You're perfectly sane. That's the beauty of it all…"
She began to kiss me slowly as I lay there, fighting revulsion, terror- and a horrid, perverse enjoyment. As I fought not to cry, to scream, I realized suddenly just how Nadia might have felt in the final moments before she took her life…