Short Stories

Room 19

These walls. These familiar walls. Names and dates scrawled over every inch. Geometric patterns scratched anxiously into the light blue paint, mathematical equations he couldn’t understand. This graffiti meant nothing to Allen. It was the work of his colourful roommate. 

“Will you please get down Jude? We’ll never get social privileges back if you keep acting so… crazy.” Allen said.

“Crazy?” Jude turned bright blue eyes, wild eyes, toward him. “The only thing crazy is what they expect us to ignore. I know they’re watching.” he gasped, hands and arms spread along the walls in an awkward embrace, ear to the concrete, “the eyes are watching, see? You can hear them blink.” He spun away, body clenched, tendons out, “I CAN HEAR YOU FUCKERS BLINK!”

Jude assumed a fighting stance, leaping off the bed toward the heavy metal door, bracing for a fight that would never come. Allan watched as Jude’s muscles finally went lax, his face softened, and he sunk back onto his cot. 

“Feel better?” Allan asked his friend. Jude just stared at him, nodding slowly. 

Allan and Jude were roommates in college, and now they were roommates at the Riverside Psychiatric Hospital. It was a misunderstanding, a mistake. They were drinking and accidentally took a few too many pills. No big deal, right? The psychiatrist on call at the hospital that night didn’t seem to think so. They were admitted here into room 19 who knows how long ago now. Allan stopped counting when he reached 50 days.

Jude stood, pacing back and forth. He kissed the door in a grand romantic gesture, then crossed the room, blew air at the opposite wall from his pinched mouth. Back and forth he went. He could be at it for hours at a time. 

The side effects of the pills were different for each of them. Allan got dizzy. Jude was losing his grip on reality one little yellow pill at a time. 

“They’re going to kill me, Allan old buddy.” Jude stopped in the middle of the room and swung his arms from side to side. 

“No they won’t” Allan said, “If we can act normal for long enough they’ll let us go. We can get off these fucking pills and go back to regular life” another bout of dizziness washed over him. Jude blurred, doubled, then fell back together. I need some sleep, Allan thought.

“Normal, normal, Norman? Nor-mell, Ner-mole, nickel-bo” Jude played with the words, making exaggerated movements with his mouth.

“Jude, stop. Look. Maybe if you ask to talk to the therapist it could do us both some good. They’ve been asking me a lot of questions about you. Why won’t you talk to them?”

“Night night Al. Pal. Grand Mal.” Jude giggled, falling into bed and under the covers.

Allan fell back on his own cot, pulling itchy gray wool covers up to his chin. One good thing about the little yellow pills was that they sure did help a guy get a good night’s sleep…

Allan woke with a start. He looked over to his friend’s cot. It was perfectly made and empty. Where the fuck is Jude?

Jude?” He asked aloud. Fuck. They’ve taken him. “JUDE! JUDE!” He stood, but fell back. Dizzy. 

A man in a white coat entered the room. The doctor. A nurse in pink scrubs followed after. They knew where Jude was. They had to. 

“Allan, how are you feeling today?”

“Dizzy. Where’s Jude? What have you done with him?” Allan could hear the tears in his voice, felt them sting his cheeks.

“Oh. He isn’t here?” The doctor and nurse exchanged glances. The nurse scribbled something on his chart. 


The doctor turned away from Allan, as if he hadn’t heard a word he said. 

“The higher Clozaril seems to be working. Auditory and visual delusions have subsided. Please check his BP and get a blood sample to the lab.” The doctor said to the nurse.

“Hey! Down here!” A voice from under Allan’s cot. It was Jude. “They tried, but they couldn’t kill me. I can still hear the fuckers blinking.”

“JUDE!” Allan exploded into wild bursts of laughter. He rolled off his bed, slipping under to be with his friend.

The doctor exchanged another glance with the nurse. 

“Scratch that. I’ll put in an order for a higher dose of Clozaril. I think we’re almost there.”

Photo by NeONBRAND from Unsplash

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