And now, an interlude from your friends the Grim Babies.
When I got to Sleepy Hollow last night, it was raining. Neither of my loves were on, and I felt no particular compulsion to seek out friends. Besides, I'd had a long day, and I had something more on my agenda--going through the Grim Orphanage again.
The entryway was the way I remembered, the last time I went through. Sagging wallpaper, peeling paint, the grim nurse in the bloodstained uniform behind the desk, the begging, slightly distant look on the faces of the children...
I quietly walked through the childrens' ward, shivering again at the paintings behind the headboards of all the cots.
In the center, there were cages--mercifully empty, or so I thought--and another nurse, close enough to be near twinned of the one at the front desk. She watched over a shivering child playing in a dark dollhouse. The dollhouse had no dolls. It did have a working fire.
I wondered if that was safe....
I noticed a set of rules, the paper curling from age, posted to the opposite wall:
My thoughts took a darker turn. All the children were heavily medicated. Why?
I got part of my answer when I walked into the chamber beyond. It was difficult to move, and both the bloodstains and the sounds of maddened laughter disoriented. It seemed to take several minutes longer than it should have, to find my way to the opposite door.
More bloodstains awaited me, and a set of equipment I couldn't begin to make heads or tails of. I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and walked across the room.
She just...stood there, not even watching me, a familiar coppery scent growing stronger with each step forward I took. She stood beside an open tub of old blood, and my eyes were drawn to the walls behind her, and to the side, where letters were scripted in a similar red:
You must always take your pills,
Though you resist in every way.
You must always take your pills
Take them, take them every day
This wasn't an orphanage. This was a madhouse, and I was now trapped in it.
The cafeteria was...a shambles. Food long gone off, and yet evidence of having been consumed, and extremely lively cockroaches--I ran quickly to the next room, shuddering.
Reprieve! I bypassed the overlarge table and the glowing vial marked Drink Me, and ran for the door.
(Silly, silly Emilly. Don't you know better by now? Never trust the insane for good advice!)
After what seemed like an eternity of falling through nothingness, followed by a starfield maze of dark walls, populated only by squalling, rugose deformities floating in midair...I found a room with shovels stuck into the starfield soil.
"Dig", the voices said, so I dug. I dug and dug and soon, inexplicably, began to rise. I found myself among the living again....in a sense.
I staggered from the graveyard, shaking my head. It was a mistake coming back alone. I knew that now.
The voices told me so.
Can't you hear them? They're telling you to stay away, too...along with the ones laughing, and the ones sobbing, and the ones inviting you to come...and stay...and play....forever...