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"The Point of No Return"

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Middle School-- Honorary Mention


"The Point of No Return" by Hillel Friedland, 7th grade South Bend Hebrew Day School



     The heels went click-clack against the cool sidewalk cement. She had been down this path many a time, either in despair or relief, depending on the matter of the issue. This time it was for relief. In fact she was so relieved you could say she was happy, even with the slight depression she was currently in. Her back was straight, defined, and there was a broad smile on her face. But her surroundings were quite the opposite. She was in that place. And she was at the door. With a deep heavy sigh, she pushed through the two wide double doors, which were closed in by two magnificent lions, so intricately made. The curl of the bottom lip, in which two grotesquely fangs dipped down, to be topped by the ever so tasseled mane, in which the back turned sharply down in the stance of sitting. She always loved it, the doors, the lions, but what to come was the true horror, in which she learned the lesson not to judge a book by its cover. So she took one step…

            …And for the millionth time, took in her surroundings. It had fine white walls, but if you looked closely, it was slowly chipping off, showing a nasty shade of yellow behind the clean white one. The floor was marble, a green marble, and yet when you walked on the floor, it sounded hollow. Wood double doors sealed the offices of the Dr. and psychiatrist familiar to the outside entrance. But instead of being made from mahogany, it was made from scrap wood. It was an asylum made to deceive, to trick the people into thinking it was good, when really it was sick. The “marble” floor led into the lobby, which was a sight to behold. Covered in red velvet carpeting, the huge spiral staircase led to a ballroom, where twelve crystal chandeliers hung. The ballroom itself was quite spectacular, with white granite and plush cushions on the sides of the room. The library was right next to it, where hundreds of books reached the high ceiling, and the full-length windows faced the twinkling lights of the city. There was over stuffed couches in the middle, surrounded by the hundreds of bookshelves, the rusty smell of books clouding your nostrils. And then there were the sleeping rooms.They were splendid. King-sized beds dominated every room, along with a loveseat made of leather. There was a lion rug in one, while deer hide in the next. And yet those rooms were vacant. She could see that all from the lobby; she memorized the path where her guide took her to see all the luxuries when she first filled in the application that said Jimmy had lost his marbles. But oddly she walked to the end of the room, opposite the grand staircase, and opened up the small door in front of her. And she took a deep breath…

            …And walked in. And now she saw the true horror of the asylum. She walked down a few rickety steps that were moth eaten, and drank it all in. The wall was lined with cell after cell, each having rusty bars that criss-crossed each other. Each cell had a slab of concrete to sleep on, and a small window for sunlight. And of course, person. All of them were mumbling to themselves, faces contorting every time they spoke. As if the devil was inside them. When she walked passed, each ones eyes got big with fright and huddled to the corner of the wall. They were all skin and bone, and she heard the occasional scream from the bathhouse. And the stench was mortifying. The smell of waste was too much to bear. Termites were feasting on the walls; well mites and fleas were feasting on scattered feces. She had one destination only-to go to cell fourteen. But she’d have to witness the cell that gave her nightmares; she would have to pass Michelangelo who got infected by the Chagas disease. And she knew he was close. She heard his mingled cries as the parasitic disease slowly ate at his heart.The doctor had explained to her that his heart was swelling up, and wouldn’t be able to pump blood anymore, and that it was a slow painful death. He wouldn’t have long. So she ran. Until she came to that cell. And she looked in…

            …And blue eyes met her green. “Mrs. Mercado, yet we meet again.” He said it with no emotion at all. He stared her down for the damnable women she was.

            “Mr. Mercado I know you highly dislike me, but they gave me only an hour to talk. Today I am not your wife rather a journalist. I would like to start on how you got to this place.”

            “I believe you already know, sunshine”, he said through gritted teeth. “You put me here! Just because I saw things, you had to put me in here. This is where the devil himself lurks!! But to answer your question, it was on a fall night, and pretty over here decided to go to the bar, after our son died. But he haunts me, I tell you, in my dreams, at night. He’s actually in the cell right now. Would you like to see him, darling?” His body then contorted in agony. He wore a face of mock horror, as if someone was threatening him, and then he tilted his face back and gave a big throaty laugh.

            “Yes, you’d like that wouldn’t you, my sweet rose. You would like to see the gashes I caused to him, in my drunken state. Oh, it was so good hurting him, hearing those delicious cries of ‘daddy, daddy stop!’ and ‘help mommy!’” He laughed again.

            And now his face was solemn, almost serious. “But then you came home and declared me mad! You called the police, but I wasn’t going to give up that easily. I thrashed and clawed, and took three tranq bullets. And then they got me! And I’m sure you loved to see me cry!” His face was contorted again.

            “You are mad Mark!!” Tears were beading in her eyes, rolling down her rosy skin. “But I came here to interview, not to cry. What do they do to help you?”

            “Oh, they do a magnificent job!!!” He snorted, “They really are helping me! They asked me how he looks – and I explained readily. So do you know what they do? They take me upstairs to the ballroom, and they all look like him. Fifty people start the movie the movie of how I killed him, and I see me hitting and hitting him again. But I can’t move, I cant close my eyes. It hurts my eyes and they bleed, fresh blood from my eyelids, and I lick it up, the warm sensation of it hitting my teeth, my tongue. And I scream, and the doctor takes that sword and presses it against my flesh. It stings.” His face is horrified, revisiting the horrible scene.

            “No, they would never do that!” Her face is as pained as his.

            “Oh dearie, you don’t know half of it!” He was feeding off of her discomfort, her pain. “They take us to the bathhouse, where we bathe. They ask, ‘What did you do?’ and I answer, ‘I killed my son’, and they dunk me in the water. I feel my life leave my body, but then they quickly pull me up. They take a spike that is covered head to shaft with needles, and the rake it up your exposed flesh. And you bleed. And bleed. Until the bath is red, and I indulge myself in it. The sweet, warm, salty feeling travels down my throat. And I smile. But then I see him, and my life grays.”

            She felt faint. “I really must be going now! Sorry to bother you, Sir.”

            “Any time, my sweet love. I suppose God can’t save everybody, can he?” And he laughed. And as he laughed, she looked around, and saw everything…

            …And realized for once in her life, her husband was right. The place was pure evil. She saw the bathhouse and the spikes. She saw the mentally ill. The urine was red. Their faces were pale with blood loss. And she saw the Dr.’s smile…

            …And started to cry. And she ran. And all that she could hear was his laugh.



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