The Kill

Chapter one: Going to Hell

SYNOPSIS: Florence Mental Hospital is thought of as an insane asylum by Tessa Hanson, a manic-depressive forced into the institution by her parents. Daniel is a schizophrenic without many connections to his family, and a best friend named Emily, who is a suicidal insomniac. David has a deadly secret - he killed three people. Follow them on their journeys as they meet each other, reconnect with estranged family members, spiral down into their illnesses, and learn to forgive and forget. *Cover photo left to right: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Keegan Allen* (Rated T for frightening/mature material).

I rocked back and forth on my toes. I sat in a crouch with my elbows on my knees and my head in my hands. My heart raced, and the pounding echoed in my ears. With each passing moment, my heart beat faster, heavier against my rib cage and the hammering in my ears grew louder. I longed to get out of this gray, concrete cage. I lowered his hands and scraped my fingertips against the rough floor repeatedly until they began to bleed. I stared at my bloody hands, telling myself why I couldn't escape; why I had to stay locked up.

I couldn't take it anymore. I leapt to my feet and staggered, but I caught myself before falling. My pulse screamed in my ears and my blood rushed through my veins. I felt along the dark wall for the door, for a way out, but never reached it. I was trapped. I howled; a sound that was neither human nor animal. I gave up on escaping and sank to my knees, my heart still pounding. Closing my eyes, I reminded myself why I had to stay imprisoned.

Because you killed three people, I told myself.

That's why.

I began to feel disoriented and I lowered myself onto my back, my eyes still closed. My head throbbed and my pulse continued to race. I sensed that I was going to pass out, and I willed myself to. My last thoughts before I slipped into oblivion were:

Because you're a monster,

That's why.

David Eaton awoke with a start, covered in a cold sweat, and his heart racing. Another nightmare, he thought to himself as he rolled over onto his back. He stared at the ceiling, wondering what was happening to him. He reached over and flicked on his lamp. It illuminated the dark room with a dim orange light. He grabbed a pill bottle from the nightstand and popped it opened. He put three pills into his mouth and swallowed them with some water.

David threw back the covers and made his way to the bathroom. He stared at his reflection for what felt like hours. The image before him began to shift, and suddenly, he was his brother. The shaggy dark hair. The blue eyes. The dimpled chin. The voices.

David turned away from the mirror and shook his head. After taking three deep breaths, he slowly turned back to it and found his reflection his own. He sighed and nodded, pushing off of the sink. He climbed back into bed and closed his eyes. He must've fallen asleep, because when he opened them again, morning light shone into his room from the open windows and his lamp was still burning bright.

Tessa Hanson rested her head against the cool car window. She gazed out at the grey Oregon coast, and silently cursed her parents for the eighteen-hundredth time. She exhaled heavily and lifted her head.

"I'm not crazy," Tessa informed her parents for the thirty-thousandth time. She was sure it was thirty-thousand times; she'd kept count.

"We never said you were," Her mother replied cheerily.

"Then why are you taking me to this…prison?" Tessa demanded, brushing her unruly hair from her eyes.

"It isn't a prison," Her father corrected her. "It's a mental health institution,"

"Potato-potahto," She muttered, turning her attention back to the scenery outside her window. She absentmindedly scratched at the bandages around her wrist and her mother swiveled in her seat so that she was facing Tessa.

"Don't pick at it. Your…" Her mother hesitated. Tessa looked at her and willed her to say the word. She didn't. "Wounds. The stitches need to set in and heal,"

"They're not wounds," Tessa mimicked the way her mother enunciated the word. "They're cuts, mom. Just accept them."

"'Potato-potahto'," Her mother spat at her. "I don't need to accept them, but you need to not pick at them. Don't pick at it." She turned back around and that was it. The conversation was over.

Tessa sighed again, and pushed her ear buds into her ears. She flicked through the songs, finally stopping on Going to Hell by the Pretty Reckless. She tapped her foot along to the song and leaned her head back against the window, closing her eyes. Taylor Momsen's voice filled her mind and she began to hum the lyrics. Her humming must've been too loud, because the next thing she knew, her mother was tapping her leg.


"What?" She pulled a bud from her ear.

"Please stop. You know I don't like you listening to that music,"

"Mom-" Tessa began.

"No. I don't wanna hear that music,"

"Then turn the radio up louder."

"Tessa Samantha Hanson-" Her mom scolded.

"Fine." Tessa shrugged, popping the ear bud back into her ear.

David rinsed the blood from his hands slowly, careful not to touch his raw fingertips. His nails had been rubbed off all the way down to the quick and he grimaced every time they hit something. After he shut off the water and dried his hands, he bandaged his fingertips cautiously with gauze and tape. He lifted his head and stared at his reflection in the mirror. He looked different than he did before he had, well, killed three people. He looked…older. More exhausted. More…crazy. David turned away from his reflection, disgusted with himself. He sank down into a crouch and put his head in his hands, trying to slow his breathing. Not again, he thought. I can't do this again.

David stood and he took five pain-killers. They began to knock out the pain after a half-hour. As he made himself breakfast in the kitchen, he thought about his brother for the first time in years. He thought about his "mental illness" (as his doctors called it), and the creepy-ass mental hospital he was in. David wondered if his little brother had gone completely insane, or if he was still somewhat him.

After he finished his breakfast and set his plate in the sink, he decided to call the institution Danny was in and see what time visiting hours were. He reached for the phone, but hesitated. He and his brother hadn't spoken in years, and they didn't exactly part ways on the best terms. With a heavy sigh, he grabbed his phone and punched in the number for Florence Mental Institution.

"This is the Florence Mental Institution in Oregon. How may I help you?" A female secretary said lightly.

"Yeah, hi. What are your visiting hours?" David rubbed his forehead; he had a headache already.

"Visiting hours are nine AM to four PM, Monday through-" She tried to go on, but David cut her off.

"Great, thanks." He pressed the 'off' button on his phone and dropped it onto the counter. He opened the ibuprofen bottle and popped four more pills into his mouth, forcing them down with a swig of beer. He grabbed his trench coat from the hall closet, along with a suitcase. He went to the bed where he threw the trunk onto it and began to put clothes into the bag. He shoved his phone, keys and wallet into his pockets and closed the suitcase. He moved to the hallway, opened the front door, and stepped outside. David locked the door behind him and in four swift strides, was unlocking the passenger-side door to his black 1967 Chevy Impala. He threw his things into the seat. Moving around to the driver-side, his jeans snagged on the bent edge on the license plate. He sighed at them and kept walking. He climbed into the seat and put the key in the ignition. Throwing the car into drive, he sped off in the direction of Florence, Oregon.

Tessa stared at the white-wash room, the wire frame bed and twin mattress. A small, barred window stared back at her from above the bed. There was a fading red spot on the once-white-but-now-yellow tile floor where someone had obviously tried to kill themselves. She put her case of clothes onto the bed and it hardly moved. Her brow furrowed and she sat on the mattress. It was rock-hard and she grimaced. With a sigh, she stood and began to unpack. Without the aid of her parents, this would take forever. They had sped off right after they were shown to her room at the mental institution, clearly glad to be rid of the little "emo" girl.

After she finished unpacking, she went out to wander around the premises. The grounds were kept clean and fresh, including cropped grass and many pots of many different colored flowers. The church on the grounds was small and white with stained-glass windows and a towering spire. Unlike the main building, which was rotting and grey, this church was noticeably washed everyday with soap and water. There was not one dirt stain on the walls of the structure, not one little spot of mold. She went up to it and cracked the door open. People were on their knees praying in the dimly lit room. She cocked an eyebrow at them and shut the door, turning back to the broken stone pathway she had been following earlier.

As she rotated, Tessa bumped into someone. She looked up into the face of a young, smiling man. Clearly he was a visitor; no one who was forced to be at the institution could smile like that.

"I'm so sorry, I didn't see you there," She apologized.

"No, it was my fault. I don't really pay attention when I'm walking," His grin widened.

"Well, why not? Aren't you afraid of falling or hurting someone?" Tessa chuckled.

"No," He shook his head.

"Well, all right, then." Tessa offered him a soft smile. After a moment of silence, he spoke up again.

"I'm Daniel, but everybody calls me Danny." He held out his hand.

"Tessa," She shook Daniel's hand. It was rough in some places and smooth in others. She realized it was the first time she'd held a boy's hand since she broke up with her boyfriend back home.

"So are you visiting someone?" He implored.

"Um, no. My parents signed me up here a few days ago. They finally shipped me off today," She ran a hand through her brown hair.

"That would explain why you're a stranger," His smile didn't falter.

"Well, not anymore, right, Danny?" Tessa grinned.

"Right," He chuckled.

"Are you visiting someone?"

The answer she got was not expected.

"Nope. I've been here for about three years."

"God. For what?" Tessa's brow furrowed and she felt sympathy towards him. She could not imagine being stuck in this creepy hell for three years.

Promise me you won't judge?" His smile faded, his expression suddenly grave.

"I'm in no place to judge. I'm here for a reason, too," She assured him.

"True. Well, here goes: I'm what they call a schizophrenic. You might've heard of schizophrenia-"

"I know what schizophrenia is." She nodded. "It's when people…" She trailed off, thinking she might offend him.

As if he could hear her thoughts, he said, "Don't worry. C'mon. I want you to tell me what schizo is," His smiling eyes dared her.

"Okay, fine. Schizophrenia is when a person becomes delusional, they hear things, see things that aren't there. Schizophrenia is commonly classified with people hearing "voices in their heads", but that's not always the case. Many schizophrenics have problems putting together complete sentences and thoughts and often forget what they're saying mid-sentence. Sometimes they just stare off into the distance and watch things that aren't there. Do you do that, Danny?" She taunted him.

"Sometimes," He nodded. "Well, good job. That's somewhat the gist of it,"

"Thank you. Anyway, are you doing better than you were three years ago?"

He rubbed the back of his neck. "Well, see, the thing is, with schizo, you never really 'do better'. You just kinda get worse or stay the same."

"Oh." She lowered her gaze.

"So, I've mostly stayed the same. But if I left this place, I'd get worse. Maybe even dangerous." He paused. "Hopefully unlike what you're in for,"

She shrugged. "I'm a manic-depressive, so somewhat unlike it, I suppose."

"Is that how your parents found out about your depression?" He gestured toward the bandage on her wrist.

"Oh. Yeah. They walked in on me in the bathroom while I was…" She trailed off, making a slashing movement across her wrist.

"The worst is the look on their faces when they see the blood. Like you're some kinda monster or something,"

She shifted her eyes back to Danny's face.

"You…" She hesitated. "Cut yourself, too?"

"Used too," He nodded and showed her his left wrist. It was covered in jagged, white scars. She wanted to reach out and touch them, but restrained herself.

"You don't seem like a manic-depressive," He studied her with another smile.

"You don't seem like a schizophrenic," She retorted, also with a grin.

"Touché," Danny chuckled. "Come with me to the dining hall; I want you to meet someone." Danny led Tessa away from the church and toward the main building.

As Tessa and Danny entered the Dining Hall, Tessa felt a sense of...clean. Everything about the room was clean. Even the air smelled clean; like bleach or Clorox wipes. Or to many patients using the same hand sanitizer. The white walls and tiles were spotless and basically glowing from the outside light that filtered in through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Tessa gazed around the room and kept moving throughout it with Danny. He led her to a table with another teenage girl sitting at it. Tessa felt relieved; all she'd seen here were old people or middle-aged people. She wondered if the three of them were the only young patients at the institution.

As she and Danny approached, the girl at the table barely glanced their way. She said one word as they sat down.

"Hey," She yawned.

"Emily," Danny gestured to the girl. "This is Tessa," He moved his gesture to Tessa, and the girl looked up. Her gray eyes settled on Tessa's face and Emily studied her. Tessa noted the dark circles under her eyes and her pale skin.

"Hi," Tessa ventured. Emily gave her a nod.

"You better enjoy this, Danny. This is the only time of the week I come out of my room," Emily rubbed her eyes.

"Did you take your meds?" Danny implored softly.

"Of course. But my body's gotten so use to them that I don't think they work anymore." Emily yawned again, deeper this time.

"Tell the orderlies," Danny suggested.

"I do. But seriously, Danny. They don't give a shit about us. All they care about are the C's." Emily threw her mid-waist length hair over her shoulder.

Danny just shook his head in reply.

"'C's'?" Tessa inquired.

"Yeah, the C-Ward patients?" Emily raised an eyebrow at Tessa, who shook her head gently.

"The C-Ward is for the criminally insane patients. It's strictly off-limits to us," Danny explained.

"We call them the C's for short," Emily yawned. "So… What's wrong with you?" She jerked her head toward Tessa.

"What?" Tessa was startled by the sudden change in topics.

"Why are you here?" Emily asked slowly, enunciating every syllable.

"I'm a manic-depressive,"

Emily scoffed. "Yeah, with your parents, I wouldn't blame ya. I'd probable kill myself if they were my parents,"

"You know my parents?" Tessa asked haltingly.

"Not really, but I saw them earlier after they dropped you off. They looked happy to be rid of you. I wanted to punch each of them in the face. No parent, no matter how shitty they are, should be glad about dumping their kid here," She spat the word out as if it were venomous.

"Why are you here?" Tessa inquired.

"I," Emily paused for dramatic effect. "Am an insomniac. I need pills to keep me awake 'cause I don't sleep at night,"

Nightmares, Danny mouthed at Tessa.

"You don't sleep at all?" Tessa implored.

"At all." Emily shook her head.

"Damn. Can the human body survive that way?"

"Hmm, not for very long. That's why my health's going to shit. But I don't care. If I die, I'd rather do it sooner than later,"

"Well, yeah, but here?" Tessa's brow furrowed. "You wanna die here?"

"I don't really care where I die, or how," Emily shrugged. "For instance, I could OD on coke any day. But I don't care." She shrugged again. "This one," She punched Danny lightly on the arm. "Keeps telling me to get off coke, but I can't. It helps me,"

"That's what they all say," Danny sighed, casting a look of pure concern at his friend.

"Boo-hoo." Emily sneered at him.

"Helps with what?"

"It helps to make me the delightful person that I am," She replied sarcastically. "No, but really. If I didn't take it, I'd be much worse. Like, a million times more snarky and bitchy,"

"You're not a bitch," Danny said.

"Never said I was. Just said I was bitch-y," She smiled at him, and he returned the grin.

David stopped at the fourth motel he saw. It was midnight, and he was tired of driving. As he parked and climbed out of the car, he dragged his suitcase with him. He locked his car and headed for the office.

"Hello. Welcome to the Rogue River Travelodge. How long will you be with us?" A sweaty man spoke to David from behind the counter. His name tag read 'Hello, my name is Aaron' and 'manager'.

"Just for the night," David set his bag down and placed his wallet on the counter.

"And I'm assuming one room?"

David nodded.

"Alright. Smoker or nonsmoker?"

"Non," David pulled his card from his wallet.

"Alrighty. That'll be forty-six-fifty." Aaron swiped his card and handed it back to David before giving him the room key. "You'll be staying in room 23. It's on the second floor." Aaron grinned at him as David swept himself from the office. He made his way up to the second floor and found his room. He unlocked the door and strode inside, bolting the door behind him. David chucked his bag onto the floor and went into the bathroom. Filling a clear, plastic cup with water from the tap, he took the pill bottle from his coat jacket and opened it. He dropped four pain-killers into his mouth and swallowed them with a swig of water.

David shook his head as he wandered back into the main room and he sat on the bed. He unlaced his boots and pulled them off. He stripped and then climbed underneath the sheets, where he soon fell asleep.

A/N: Thanks for reading! Please review!