Authors: Lisa Morton
Digital Edition published by Crossroad Press
First Edition published by Bad Moon Books
This Edition Â© 2011 by Lisa Morton
Cover Â© 2010 by Jill Bauman
This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.
This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people.
If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with.
If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return the vendor of your choice and purchase your own copy.
Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
As Fate Would Have It by Michael Louis
My first thanks on this go to Tom Piccirilli, who wanted to buy it when it was a mere sprite of a story, and who gave me some much-valued early encouragement. The Dark Delicacies writing group was smart enough to tell me to let this child grow up (I love you guys). Roberta
(whose shoes I am not fit to kiss) was helpful with some of my techie stuff. The amazing Gene O'Neill took me by the elbow and led me to Bad Moon. John R. Little (whom I am honored to call friend) provided advice and insight. Hank
all graciously offered time and
. Ricky Grove of course keeps me fed, writing, and well loved. Cesar
layout and Zach McCain's art made my words look far more beautiful than they had any right to. And of course a Texas-sized hug for Liz Scott and especially Roy Robbins, who make all their authors feel like royalty.
My biggest thanks are reserved for you, the readers. Especially the ones who make it all the way to the end.
The ropes aren't too tight, are they?
I've never tied anyone up before, I swear, so I'm really not sure if I did it right or not.
I'm sorryâI probably should have introduced myself by now, shouldn't I? I mean, we already know who you are (at least I think we do), so I should tell you who the fuck I am. I was born an Ashley, and I wasn't very happy about it. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for sticking me with the same retarded name every other dipshit girl in the '80s was born with.
. By the time I was twelve everybody just called me Spike, because of the way my hair always stood straight up on its own. So that's what you can call me. Spike.
You know, I've come a long way to be here. And I mean that in every senseâphysical and mental. Emotional. Like the hippies say, “What a long strange trip it's been”, to get here. I was going to say, it was a long way to come to see you, but that's not really true. I came becauseâ¦well, I guess because there's really nowhere else to go. But it was hard getting here, really, really hard, and I never gave up. Isn't that what you always told us, that we should never give up, stay the course?
Oh well, I guess you're in no position to care anymore, are you? Now, if you don't mindâor even if some carefully concealed little part of you doesâI'm going to tell you a story. My story. I'm telling you because...no, I'll tell you why at the end.`
I think I know what you were before, but know what I was? A violent paranoid schizophrenic. They also said I was “delusional” just because I said “Sure” when they asked me if I wanted to be President of the United States. “Sure,” I said, “who doesn't?”
They asked me shit like that while I was an inmate in this dilapidated, overcrowded state facility, out in Oxnard. You've probably never heard of Oxnard. Stupid nameâsounds like it should be in the Midwest, right? Except it's in California, maybe an hour west of Los Angeles. I was there because they said I had attacked a man with a knife, for no reason. I knew the reason: I'd forgotten to get my prescription re-filled. I'd been taking
for a couple of years, and everything had been fine, but then I got busy and forgot and you know how all that goes. Obviously the insanity plea wasn't a tough one for the judge to buy. So I wound up in place where they just
me up instead of treating me. Doped to the fucking gills, stuck in a day ward with a bunch of fat middle-aged nutcases who drooled a lot and talked to themselves. Yippee, let's hear it for the fucking system.
I was twenty-three. Don't get me wrong, I knew I was sick. I never heard voices telling me to do weird shit, or thought bugs were crawling on me, or anything, but without medication pictures would flash in my head and I'd find myself doing whatever I saw. Without even knowing it. Like when I got in an argument with my mom, I saw myself pounding this meatloaf she was making, pounding it with my fists over and over and over until the kitchen was covered with raw ground round. I didn't mean to do it, it just happened. Or another time, I think I was like fourteen, I saw myself walking up to this girl at school I didn't like, pulling up my shirt and using a black felt-tip to scrawl obscenities across my bare skin. Took months to get that crap off, too.
For ten years I listened to the psych's gabble about “biochemical imbalances” and “nutritional therapy.” The
helped, as long as I took it. I couldn't get into a college, and mom pretty much kicked me out at nineteen, but I actually held a job as a salesgirl in a record store for four years, Final Vinyl in Hollywood. Ever heard of it? No, sorry, that was a dumb questionâof course you've never heard of it, any more than you would have heard of any of the bands we stocked. I had a best friend named Tommy, who was a computer geek, and I had my own tiny studio apartment. I owned a refrigerator and a television I got at a garage sale and an old computer Tommy gave me. I stole internet access from a neighbor's Wi-Fi. I played my stereo too loud sometimes, and other times I was happy to just be quiet and read. I had my little life, like everybody else.
Then I missed one trip to the drugstore and it all fell apart.
It was late at night. I had to take the trash out. It wasn't the greatest area of town, especially not when you were a fucked-up paranoid schizophrenic off her meds. I had a knife with me when I went outside. He was a drunken homeless guy digging through our trash bin.
You know the rest. The good news is that he survived. I like to think maybe it woke him up, got him to clean up and get a life.
I got a life out of it. At the California State Facility at Oxnard.
I'd been at the hospital for about three months, I thinkâ it's hard to reckon time when you can barely fucking lift your headâwhen it all started. Even
noticed there were a lot more people showing up in the day room, new faces and not typical loons eitherâsome were younger than me, some obviously had money or prestige. But you couldn't ask them what was going on; they were a lot more doped than I was.
Next thing I remember, though this part's kind of vague, was seeing a report on TV about a huge upswing of unexplained violent crimes. They implied it was happening everywhere. Some sociologist displayed a lot of impressive statistics.
Then we didn't get to go to the dayroom at all. Ms. Conroy, the one matron I liked, told me something was going on and they had to turn the dayroom into a temporary ward to accommodate new patients. Even at the far end of the hall, where my room was, I could hear screaming, lots of it. It never stopped. That was the one time I was thankful for my sedatives. My roommate was luckyâshe was a catatonic.
Then a long time went by when nobody came. Two, maybe three days. No one came to let us out, to give us food or medication. Without bathroom visits the room began to stink. Lumpâ my affectionate name for the catatonicâdidn't notice, of course. Just lay on her bed like always, staring and drooling.
I could feel my own medication wearing off. I hoped I wouldn't hurt Lump. The pictures in my head weren't pretty, and they were starting to come on strong.
Then on about the third day, Ms. Conroy unlocked our door. She looked strange. Her usually spotless uniform had stains, blood stains, on it, and I could see it had come from her left arm, which was a roadmap of fresh cuts.
She looked at me with a half-lidded smile and mumbled, “You're free, little lamb. Go graze with the kangaroos.”
Then she raised her right arm. There was a scalpel in that hand. As I watched, she slowly drew the blade across her left arm, adding a new gash. Fresh crimson spattered her white tennis shoes. Some hit Lump. Lump drooled some more.
I liked Ms. Conroy, but I wasn't going to wait to see what she'd do next with that scalpel, so I got the fuck outta there.
It was a nightmare in the corridor, like something out of a horror movie. As I ran, doors popped open and hands thrust out at me. I of course wasn't totally sure whether it was real or not, but it felt real to me. Once I passed a door that was closed and suddenly it banged open, and a middle-aged woman with wild hair and truly crazy eyes hurled herself at me, making little grunting noises. She clawed at my shapeless blouse, until I got hold of both her wrists, threw her away and ran. I looked back once, to see if she was following, but she'd just kind of collapsed on the floor and was pounding aimlessly at the wall.