Discussion in 'Blank Cards' started by Zin, Sep 30, 2016.
( Placeholder - character info, background, etc will go here as it develops. )
When Sheridan opens his eyes, the first thing he notices is that it is a very quiet morning, and he relishes that. Outside he can hear the soft patter of rain, but inside, the loud patter of feet is almost completely absent. Of course - It's Saturday, and the other patients are sleeping in. But he's inclined to rise now, when he can enjoy these small hours in solitude before the daily schedule of psychiatrists and blood draws. Slowly, he gets to his feet, and walks to the window. He can see out into the courtyard, where the gazebo where they may smoke stands empty. Good. More space for him. He will paint today, without the sunlight attacking his eyes as it often does. Stretching from finger to toe he sits down in front of the plastic mirror mounted on the wall and pulls on his socks and slippers, then a shirt, covering up his scarred torso, and slicks his hair into place. Good.
He's not too far from home - Inasmuch as he has a home. At any rate, the colour of the sky and the grass are familiar to him, and the rustle of trees familiar and welcome. If he must be in one place, this is not where he would choose, but there are worse places he could be indeed. For one thing, they feed him here.
As if on cue, his stomach interrupts his musings with a pointed growl, and he pulls a sweatshirt over his head to prepare to venture out into the chilly, sterile hall and down to the dining room. He expects he will likely meet staff on the way, who will probably want to poke and prod and take his pulse - Minor annoyances he's grown used to at this point.
This morning, Increase admits to himself, he is somewhat distracted. There isn't much distracting going on, exactly- that whole nonsense with the flies notwithstanding- and yet he still finds himself aimlessly pacing the hall.
He notices that Sheridan Hayes is out of his room. It's early, but that comes as no surprise.
The very small part of Increase's brain that deals in things just as "interpreting nonverbal cues" and "leaving people alone," is quickly squashed by the "trained psychiatrist but also socially blindfolded" part.
He contrives it so that he "runs into" (not literally of course) Hayes as he approaches the dining hall. "Hello," he says, not bothering with a smile. Those tend to show too much teeth this early in the day. "Is there any particular reason you're up before you- ahem, patients tend to be?"
Sheridan feels, overall, indifferent, on the subject of doctors. Some of them are irritating - They pry out little details that he can't fathom why they would care to know, like his strange childhood. Some of them are helpful, giving him little orange pills that make his world more firm and quiet, his head more grounded. Increase, he doesn't know well enough to have an opinion.
He looks up at him, avoiding direct eye contact - though if Increase were to catch his eyes regardless he would find them to be, somehow, animalistic.
He doesn't smile either, and for the same reason. 'It's quiet today,' he answers, rocking from left to right foot, running his fingers through his hair. 'I wanted to eat, then paint, without interruptions. So many paintings want for recording, all the things in my mind that wish to escape onto canvas...'
Increase doesn't hyperfocus on the word "escape." Or at least, if he does, he doesn't do so out loud. He is getting better, no matter what Ebenezer may mutter sometimes.
Instead, he says, "May I join you?" Again, there are signals of "this person wants to be left alone," and again, Increase ignores them. He is half-certain that he will be meeting with Hayes in a more official capacity- this facility is understaffed, as always, and some of the more senior psychiatrists have a habit of taking too many days off, and also most doctors need sleep- and would like to know something about him beyond his name.
Sheridan immediately assumes that this will be a usual session with this doctor and while he groans internally, in the interest of avoiding conflict and not appearing to be a difficult patient, he nods, a milky smile on his lips.
'Of course... but the ghosts might frighten you. Sometimes they frighten me.' His fingers seem to fly of their own accord, excising the things that lived in his skull... The animals morphing into monsters, the monsters morphing into men - Things he's not certain are real, or not real, or real somewhere but not somewhere he's ever been. '... I wish to eat first.'
Sheridan met Increase's eyes this time. 'Yes. I've always painted. As long as I could hold a brush. But the art is worthless. Not pretty to look at. Not something to hang in the living room.' Though Increase likely didn't know this, he was describing his subject matter - Not, by far, his skill.
Increase drops Hayes' gaze. He does not like eyes- strange, for a doctor, he knows, but eyes are dangerous. His are, certainly.
"I've known some ghosts," Increase says, being deliberately obtuse. "Only some have tried to eat me. Yes, of course, food, this is why I offer to dine with you. I am only mostly a doctor in this moment."
He enters the dining room. He won't eat, but he can pass this off as not being hungry yet.
Sheridan isn't too fond of extended eye contact either. He thinks - perhaps rightly - if one looks for too long, they might start to get ideas, ideas about how Sheridan was more - or less? - than human. He knew what happened when secrets like that were revealed, and it terrified him to inflict such pain on others. Or to risk such pain to himself.
The cart of trays has been brought in, and Sheridan fetches out his tray, marked 'HAYES SHERIDAN, DOUBLE PORTION'. Eggs, sausage, an orange that he might or might not devour, toast, and some milk. He can live with this. He schleps his tray over to a table and sits neatly, waiting for the doctor.
Increase follows Hayes, sitting across from him at the table. Staring at a random point on the wall behind Hayes' head, he asks, "How loud do the ghosts get? Are they still bothering you?"
He wants to know whether these ghosts are real or not. The trouble with such things is that they tend to prey on the minds of those already predisposed towards seeing things.
'They aren't exactly loud,' he says, around a too-big bite of sausage, 'But they take over my mind until they're exorcised on canvas.' He tapped his chin. 'They bother me often. But I can cut them out just as often. If I can paint.'
Sheridan had only had a few hallucinations in his life - and certainly not under such clean, contained, quiet settings as this. But it was a fair question, regardless.
Painting is metaphorical. This is the cue that makes Increase realize that there is a chance Hayes is possibly being metaphorical. He decides to proceed as he would anyway.
"I'll do my best to supply you with the paint and materials you need- exorcism is not just what liars sell on television."
There is a reason Increase is more Quaker than Evangelical.
"Is there anything you have been lacking that is within my power to aid you with?" He has not quite lost his birth era's propensity towards verbosity. "I acknowledge that institutions have changed a good deal since my time in one- there have been many changes since I was on the other side of the desk, so to speak." See, he can do metaphors too. sort of.
Indeed he is - For the most part. He does question where the images come from, what twists their limbs and lengthens their teeth and spines - But it doesn't matter, does it? They come to him, and ask to be painted, and he does just that.
'Is that so?'
Sheridan visibly brightened up at the prospect of more and better supplies. Several aides have fetched him canvases and paint before - on the recommendation of other doctors, who, frustrated with his slow progress, were willing to try any therapeutic method available, even if it seemed a bit... hippy-dippy. Since then, his behaviour, at least, was on a quick upswing, but he always needed more paint, and better paint. He shook his head at question. 'Not for the moment.' He knew what he wouldn't be allowed to have - shoes, a razor blade, that sort of thing - and so he didn't ask. Then he stopped, blinking owlishly. '... you were here too? Locked away?'
"Crazy like us?" January didn't mean to listen in, but it's always too easy to overhear things and just as easy to forget not to respond out loud. He moves over to the cart to get his tray, inwardly cursing himself and hoping they hadn't heard him.
A little smile ghosted Sheridan's face when he heard the third voice, and he turned to look at - Jenna, wasn't it? The boy named Jenna. He recognised him from group therapy (since he couldn't always wiggle out of going). So many people here, it was nothing his little town in Iowa. He'd never met someone like Jenna before, but it made since to him inherently and he didn't question it at all.
'Crazy... I suppose we are.' And his smile widened. He didn't feel like he was crazy. But the way people interacted with him, the things they told him, and the fact that he was here, well - They must think him crazy, and perception is but a hair away from reality. '... do you think you're crazy?'
He glances at the doctor for a moment, considering. "No. But either I'm wrong, or the world is a lot more fucked up than everyone thinks. But I guess I'd prefer it that way. To be crazy, I mean. Because then the world isn't a bad place."
Sheridan raised an eyebrow. What the boy said made sense to him. Perhaps it would be better to be crazy. '... I must be wrong as well.' He tapped his temple. 'Why don't you come eat, here? You're up early too, in these little hours when the sun has not yet decided to show its face all the way...'
Outside, rain continued to patter against the windowpanes.
He nods, gets his tray and sits down with the two of them. "What are you wrong about?" he asks. "If you don't mind."
'Ah... they say I believe things that are not formed from truth, and know things that are not able to be known.' He forked a sausage patty aggressively and all but swallowed it whole. It had never occurred to him that his beliefs were odd. Didn't many people have different beliefs? But -- But they said that he was simply too off kilter for that, and the little pills seemed to help change his mind about some things, so perhaps... 'And you?'
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