Jared Peterson

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        Finally, the door lock clicked so that I could leave my room. I was the first person that had "woken up", but if they only knew I never went to sleep. I sat on my new favorite, lump filled couch at the back of the room. “Well, good morning, sleepy head.” said one of the nurses that had the morning shift. I flashed a smile and grabbed one of the card games from the table.

        Susan made her way around the corner rubbing her eyes, and stopped dead in her tracks when she saw me. "Good morning, Susan." I said, showing a smile. “How did you sleep?" Apparently what they say about kids bouncing back was true, because she grinned and ran to sit beside me.

        "My name is Susan.” she said as she took a seat at the wooden table. “Want to play cards with me?” I let out a childish laugh and ran my hand through my blonde hair. "My name is Kylie. It's nice to meet you.” I exclaimed. “Yes, I would love to play cards with you!" I got up from the lumpy couch, and made my way to join her.

        I was startled by Rose moving the chair back so she could sit at the table. "Deal me in, girls.” she said in a joyful tone. Rose kicked out my chair for me with her foot. "Thanks! Are those Converses I see?” I asked. Her blue eyes slid up to my eyes, and she let her mouth seep into a grin. She raised her foot up where everyone could see it and sighed. "Well, of course, dear child!” Rose said with excitement, "You like?”.

        I let out a laugh that sounded like a geeky nerd that just got new school supplies. I grabbed the cards up off the table and began to shuffle them. “Actually, I very much do." I pulled the cards up into a bridge, and started passing them out. She lifted her head and nodded at me as if I just signified our friendship. Susan stood up from the table and walked over to the watch center.

        She tapped continuously on the counter until an irritated nurse came up to speak with her. They spoke for a few moments, and then her head slumped down as if she was sad. I could tell Susan was faking a smile as she made her way back to the game table. “Any news about your family sugar?” Rose asked Susan as she sat down. Susan just shook her head, shrugged her shoulders, and grabbed up a hand full of cards.

        Rose took her right hand, which was decorated in beautiful rings, and flipped her long hair out of her face. "You’re up next, Madame Craycray." she said, pointing right at me. I played a few rounds of cards with the two of them until Austin and Laura came into the Calm Room. Laura looked like she hadn't gotten enough sleep last night and her attitude confirmed that! She slammed herself onto the seat and took my cards out of my hands.

        "Laura?! What are you doing?!” Rose said with anger in her voice. I just put my hand up to quiet her and walked away. Austin was standing at the watch center flirting with the youngest nurse, even though she was still about twenty-four. I sat down in a floral print chair beside the windowsill, and looked down at the people on the street.

        There was an old couple walking down the road holding each other's hand. The old woman looked as if she was very sick, but she was still keeping up with the man. He, on the other hand, looked like he could run a marathon. "That's the Peterson couple. They visit their son, Jared, every Tuesday." said Tamara, who was rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She kind of frightened me, but I didn't let it show. "He's in the lock down ward." she continued, “You know…the killers and stuff".

I was truly shocked they held murderers here with kids, but then again who locks their kid up in a mental institution, anyway? "What did he do?" I asked not really caring about the answer. Her face was strange at first then normal again. I guess she needed to strain her mind to remember. "He burned some kids alive in some church in Wisconsin." she answered weakly. My heart began to beat quickly, and my head started pounding. I felt like I was about to fall into the floor, but I grabbed the wall to save myself from the embarrassment. Everything started

to spin around, and darkness filled my vision. I couldn’t see anything, I could hear people screaming, and the air was suffocating me. My breath was slowly slipping away, and I was fading in and out. All of a sudden a blinding light flared up in my eyes making me double over. There was an older man standing right in front of me holding a lighter in his left hand.

“Not yet, kiddo” the stranger whispered, “You can’t die yet”. He turned his back to me, and then started snatching blindfolds off of other kids. My eyes followed him as he walked over to a big, beautifully designed cabinet, and pulled out a container of something. “This, my lovelies, is what the pastor uses to light the candles every service”, the man explained, “Today we aren’t lighting candles. Today we’re lighting the service” The overwhelming feeling of fear took over my body. I shook my bound hands trying desperately to free myself from my horrible upcoming future. Thoughts burst into my mind causing a horrific pain in my temples. “How am I even here?” I thought, “What the hell is going on here?”

The man walked over to a little girl, who was still knocked out, and grabbed her up by her arms. He dragged her over to a big pile of chorus papers and candles. Then he was walking in my direction, I try to wiggle backwards to escape him, but I bumped into something. I turned my head to see what was jamming my way, and in that moment I was truly speechless. It was a mirror that was blocking my path to freedom, and in that mirror was the reflection of a horrified child with broken glasses. There was blood all over her clothes, and her hair was half pulled up and the other half was ripped down. I couldn’t understand what was happening, but somehow I was inside this little girl’s body. This little girl’s body was my body, her life was my life, and her death was about to become mine.

The stranger had reached out for my head, grabbing me by my hair, and he drug me across the room. I was yanked up, and thrown into the side of what must have been a sound booth. He poured the strange liquid from the container, which smelled horrid, onto my tiny body. “May god forgive the sin of the world.” he prayed, “Please accept my sacrifice”? Lifting his hand above his head the lighter was all I could focus on. With a flick of his wrist the lighter was flying through the air. Tears rolled down my flushed cheeks and I slammed my eyes shut waiting for the pain.

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