The Quiet Room
David Owain Hughes
They’re coming. I can hear the soft squeaks of their shoes on the freshly mopped floor; very faintly mind you. It was Phil’s shift on the mop today. I like Phil because he speaks to me through the door, though I have to press my ear tight to the padded entrance to hear him well. And they have that trolley with them, being pushed at a hearty pace by Miss Tudor no doubt; and it would be holding all the usual implements for my morning visit: drugs, a wash cloth and bowl full of lukewarm water, a safety razor and a small snack.
A key rattles in the door, and is then edged open, a male nurse that has to duck down a little is sent in first, along with another to sedate me, just in case I should make a grab for the plastic spoon on the tray, and try to go for their throats or eyes, or heaven forbid my own wrists. They know what I like to try and do to myself when I’m not inside the quiet room. Hell, they have even taken the laces from my shoes.
“Morning, Mr. Stevenson,” coos Miss Tudor, as ever. “Are you going to be a good boy, and let Dexter and Roger clean you today?” Same rigmarole every morning.
Roger sticks the needle full of happy juice deep within my arm, making me buck and coy away in misery; the serum feels thick as it flows through my veins.
“Come now Mr. Stevenson, you wouldn’t want Roger here to hurt you due to your negligence would you?” I’m sure my slight whimper makes her happy. Happy for all the trouble I have caused her over the years. Why does she still insist on calling me Mr. Stevenson? And not by my first name – whatever it is; I did know at one time, a time before that day. They say I have amnesia.
Whatever it is that Roger shoots me full of always has a stealthy effect and the mist comes down for a good thirty minutes. Just long enough for them to manhandle me.
I’m barely awake as I’m placed into a chair somewhere outside of my cell – I never know where it is they take me to clean and shave me. I can hear Roger and the new ape, Dexter, talking about me.
“You need to watch this one, brother. Butchered his entire family in a wood not far from here on a sunny summer’s day. Just like that. I heard he cut his kid sister up with a chainsaw, a fucking chainsaw!” He smiles as he tells the other man this. Roger always likes to tell the new ones about me. Fucking liar. I’ve tried to defend myself in the past, but it always fell on deaf ears. Just like that police officer’s in the interview room.
“But there was nobody found out in those woods apart from you, see, crwt bach, how do you explain that? Your family didn’t just decide to kill themselves, now did they?” Smart arse I could hear myself shout back at him. After that, I decided to keep quiet. Silent. I have not uttered a single word since. I guess that did nothing to prove my innocence either.
By the time I come back round, I’m being fed the stone cold soup they have on the trolley, washed down with drugs and water. Then left until they see fit to give me more pills, morphine or meth.
Whilst all the commotion has been going on, He’s been standing behind Tudor and the other two, mocking me with his warped grin. After the feeding of the soup and drugs he slowly starts to vanish, and will be but a dream when twilight arrives.
Miss Tudor has left in the air a hint of coconut that takes me into a warm fuzzy limbo, between sleep and awake – and I can see my sister and I picking flowers for our mother when we’re kids, in a field behind our house: it being mum’s birthday the following day and us wanting to get her some freshly picked bluebells, her favourite. The smell is intense, and my head is filled with sounds, birds singing in the trees, farmers out collecting hay in nearby fields, drones out of their hives, and a voice I once knew.
“Mummy says you have to hold my hand.” Jeez, I hope none of the guys from school see me.
“Pleeease, hold my hand.” The sight of her crimson cheeks melts me inside, and I cannot resist. Who gives a shit if anyone sees me?
As we walk through knee-high grass, we stop here and there to pick flowers which are then placed into a wicker basket belonging to our mum. My sister’s sun coloured hair that’s blowing wild in the summer breeze finds its way into my mouth, and for some reason my mind fills with the thought of drinking coconut milk.
She normally likes to place her hair in pigtails, and when it’s down I like to brush it through for hours for her. My fingers get into a right fix if I try to plait it for her, and it always invokes her ‘piggy laugh’, as she likes to call it. We’re very close.
“Shall we just get bluebells for mummy, or can we pick her some others too, like those pretty yellow ones?” Her head gesturing toward a patch of daffs growing wild under a big oak. Its branches stretching out its leaves, depriving the flowers of a full on sunbathing session.
“Okay, if you think she’d like them too.” I know full well mum will, because even though bluebells are her favourite, she has a weakness for all types of flowers.
“I just love the way in which they air the house out with their floral aromas,” she’d say.
The field doesn’t just contain wild flowers, but also cows. They belong to our father (I think) and he’ll be taking them to market before long in Carmarthenshire. That’s the closest one to our home in…err…in…in… the name of my town has escaped me, much like my sister’s name…God, I wish I could remember it.
But hers – along with my mum and dad’s – is just a faded memory. And as I try to focus on remembering their names the pleasant dream of my sister and I holding hands in a sun-drenched field turns from gold to black, as it’s twisted into that day long ago, and I’m back there once again…
He burst from the trees with a sickle in one hand, and a hay-hook in the other. The farming implement is plunged deep into my mother’s neck and pulled back sharply – ripping open a main artery, which pops. Bone cracks – blood is sent spraying into the air, sprinkling leaves directly above her – the sound so vivid in my mind – now. My father doesn’t stand much of a chance either, as the sickle comes swinging up (cutting off three of his fingers) toward the chin, and punches its way through his saggy flesh. My dad’s mouth crunches, and a bloody shower erupts out of his mouth, spraying the sandwiches and fairy cakes my mum has made for my sister’s birthday picnic; small flecks find their way onto the blankets we’ve put down.
The idea of being dragged to a sissy picnic had sounded so shitty to me two days ago, but now I’m somewhat glad to be here, to try and at least protect my sister. I grab her, jolting her from the hysterical state she’s slipping into and we turn to run. But not before seeing him ditch his utility belt from around his waist, that had been holding his weaponry then turn back into the trees, bend, and come back up with a chainsaw. The thing shakes to life in a smoke-filled roar and I can just about see my dad in the haze, collapsing to the floor, trying frenziedly to dislodge the sickle from his throat with one hand, as his other tries to stem the blood. The buzzing cuts off his dense gargles.
Now we’re running through the woods, but no matter how fast we run, we cannot seem to outpace him. His chugging weapon grows closer from behind, and I feel his hot breath, biting at my bare shoulders; I wonder if my sister feels it too?
As we near the verge of the woodland, my sister is dragged to the ground – I halt, naturally, and turn just in time to see her whole bloody crescendo: he whips his saw across her young, delicate throat, and I catch a hot spray of blood across my face, making me flinch; some of the crimson liquid finds its way in between my lips. It has a salty taste to it.
His face is pulled back in sinister folds of skin; his lips exposing yellow soiled teeth that resemble weathered tombstones; his fat, naked body coated in sweat – fusing his chest hair together in clumpy knots. As my sister lies dying in a spasmodic dance that only the departing can perform, I can do nothing for her as I stand frozen to the spot, tears streaming from my eyes. But I have to do something, because when he is finished nuzzling at her open throat it’ll be my turn, and I’m not about to die in vain like my sister and my parents before her. So I take to a thick, fallen branch to my side and hoik it from the leaf scattered ground.
This brings his burning glare my way, and as he gets to his feet, a shot of semen explodes from the tip of his penis, and mixes with blood and leaves. He bucks slightly, recomposes himself, then stalks toward me with his chainsaw in revving tow; strings of saliva mixed with blood and flesh cling from his drooping, lower lip. His penis still stands on end and gleams with satisfaction. I hold the branch out in front of me, and he slashes the timber in half with his cutting implement. I get a face full of smoke and chippings, and the smell of singed wood stuffs my nostrils. My back finds a tree, and he closes in for the kill – but his chainsaw sputters to stillness and his face loses its tightness. No more petrol. He looks down at the weapon in shock, or maybe it’s panic. Then throws it to one side, and runs off, back into the thick trees where he’d first sprung from – giving me a throat slitting sign with his finger as he does so.
My bladder releases. A hot gush of fluid finds its way down my leg, soaking my jeans. My knees buckle, and I slide down the tree. I’m a quivering wreck, but I manage to get back to my feet, pick up the saw and have a mindset to go after him, cut him down. But I fall, and land by my sister’s side. I see her take one final breath. By the time the police show up. I’m found clutching my sister close to my body. My ability to communicate is almost gone. I’m just a gibbering wreck as they take me away.
I’m awake, just like every other morning for the past twenty, thirty or forty years, I’m bathed in sweat and half hysterical with fear; my throat aching and begging to be freed from the screaming. Nobody can hear my wails of terror from inside the quiet room, or, if they do, they just don’t care anymore.
I think I hear the sound of the trolley coming, but then vaguely remember that had happened yesterday. Where has my sister gone? We had just been picking flowers.
The date of that day in the woods is lost in my head forever, along with lots of other information. Now, all that remains in the dark of my brain are his sadistic ways – the slaughter of my family members – and, for some strange reason that escapes me one chunk of a song, sung by a rock star that’s long forgotten in my past, in a time that was fuelled with booze, weed and rock music – innocent days of youth –
They have a place
Where I have been kept
Where I won’t hurt myself
Can’t get the wrists to bleed
Don’t know why, but
Suicide tempts me
Is sterile in white
With just a stained naked light
The nightmare and the lyrics – which are confused – seem to be more vivid the closer I get to the grave; it’s not just the “night terrors” as they like to call them anymore. But daydreams have started to set in. I see him standing over me sometimes waiting to slice me in two with his chainsaw, and do God knows what to my withered twitching corpse. He’s here again in the quiet room, sitting in the corner with his saw by his side. I hope Tudor comes with my morphine and meth before long, to make him go away again. But I don’t think she will come soon enough, because now he is rising from his spot in the dusky padded room, pulling at the cord on his petrol-powered machine, whilst lumbering my way. I pull my knees up to my chin along with my single solitary blanket which I’ve been allowed to keep, and think the lyrics over in my brain to try and drown out the roaring of his chainsaw –
They have a place
Where I have been kept…
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About the author
DAVID OWAIN HUGHES
David Owain Hughes is a horror freak! He grew up on ninja, pirate and horror movies from the age of five, which helped rapidly instil in him a vivid imagination.
When he grows up, he wishes to be a serial killer with a part-time job in women’s lingerie…He’s had multiple short stories published in various online magazines and anthologies, along with articles, reviews and interviews.
He’s written for This Is Horror, Blood Magazine, and Horror Geeks Magazine. He’s the author of the popular novels “Walled In” (2014), “Wind-Up Toy” (2016), “Man-Eating Fucks” (2016), and “The Rack & Cue” (2017) along with his short story collections “White Walls and Straitjackets” (2015) and “Choice Cuts” (2015).
He’s also written three novellas – “Granville” (2016), “Wind-Up Toy: Broken Plaything & Chaos Rising” (2016).
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