The Asylum Wall

There is nothing here, I think as I clutch the papers I’m carrying tighter to my chest then force my eyes up from
the walkway to look at the building. Nothing except ghosts and memories.

It has only been a few years since the place closed, but it looks like it has been abandoned for decades. Almost all
of the small windows are broken, giving the building a pot marked appearance in the light of an early twilight. The
doors hang crooked in their frames and weeds have overrun the once smooth lawn. The place is dead and only
the ghosts and memories remain.

I take a breath and push open the arching main gates; their grinding and squeaking echoes in the silence of the
area. "Ghosts can't hurt you," I whisper as the echoes fade.

Broken asphalt shifts and crunches under my feet. Up close, the decay is even more obvious. Deep wrinkles and
creases line the front of the building where the paint is cracked and peeling. Moss hangs from the eaves veiling
and shadowing the broken, empty windows. I reach for the partially open door and step through, back into the
memories I came here to face.

Dust covers everything in the entry hall and I swallow the cough scratching at the back of my throat. As I walk
through the lobby, the dust swirls around me creating mists and vapors that bring memories of the people who
once worked or lived here back into sharp focus. I am reminded of the doctors and nurses--some of whom were
easy to work with and were still fresh enough they hadn't become cynical or callous. There were others who had
worked with our patients far too long and had begun to expect the worse behavior from them or had to have it
proven which ones weren’t BiFFs, or Big Fat Fakers. We did receive a percentage of those as well. Shadowy
forms also became some of the patients I had worked with over the years. There--a young man in his late
twenties physically, but maybe four or five mentally and emotionally. He used to follow everyone around like a
little puppy. We could never get him to keep his shoes on. I smile as I remember how he used to carry a security
blanket with him. Fortunately, one of the other, more stable patients would always seem to adopt him and make
sure he stayed out of trouble.

The ghostly figure shifts and I stepped back as one of the BiFFs jumps toward me--a young woman who had
been ordered here, several times, from one of the county jails, for evaluation. I didn't know her charges, I was
never curious about that sort of thing as I felt it would prejudice my attitude when I dealt with our high security
patients. This one though, she was a classic. She wanted to make you think she was crazy, but you could see the
calculating going on in her head. Some nights she would create as many disturbances as she could; getting all the
other patients on the floor upset and agitated. Then some days she would go into a sweet little girl act, being polite
and helpful and other times, she just become as disgusting as she thought she could away with.

We all knew she was a behavior issue and after a few days, the doctors would release her back to the county jail.
But, she knew the right buttons to push each time she went to court to make the judge think she honestly had
mental health issues and each time he would order her back here for an evaluation. I always suspected the
officers at the jail appreciated the break they got when she was with us. Considering the way we felt after dealing
with her, I couldn't blame them.

As I leave the lobby and enter the patient areas, the dust thickens and I find myself walking in a dense fog that
obscures my vision. Still I know where I am going and only pause to nod a greeting to each of my memories as
we pass.

My hand shakes as I reach for the door to this room. A spark arcs from the knob to my hand, flashing bright blue
and creating a halo of light in the fog. The bluish glow surrounds the door as I step through and back into my