They held him up by the arms, his feet were dragging on the ground as they pulled him down the corridor, his crutch nowhere to be seen. He was tossed into a white, padded room and could only stare silently, his eyes wide, confused. He didn’t understand what had just happened.

He had been reading in his living room, minding his own business when people in white suits broke down his door. Without even telling him the reason for their presence, they grabbed him, pulled him to his feet and since he couldn’t follow them well enough this way, they ended up dragging him just about literally. Into a van.

The van went somewhere, there were no windows, he honestly couldn’t tell. Once it stopped, they pulled him out and all he saw was an old sort of manor, a castle maybe. There was a sign on the side but the van blocked it and he couldn’t tell what it was. Now that he was in that white cell however he knew where he was, or at least he assumed, he couldn’t ever recall hearing of Dunkerque having itself a psychiatric hospital. They hadn’t driven that far, they couldn’t have left the city.

He has no idea how long he spent in that room before someone came to see him. Though it wasn’t quite someone coming to see him as again he was dragged out of his cell and taken to a room. He wished they would give him a chance to walk but without his crutch he never would have been able to keep pace, even with it he doubted, they walked by too quickly.

They took him to an office where he was sat in a chair and told not to move, or else. He waited for what seemed like an eternity before a young woman stepped into the room and settled behind the desk. Her face rang no bell for him, he had never seen her before in his life.

“We’ve been expecting you, Armin Everhart. Always sneaking around, trying to not be found. Well now you’re here and you’re not getting out.”

He opened his mouth to ask a question but she snarled and cut him off before he even could make a single small sound.

“Oh don’t you start the pity act with me, Armin. You’re pathetic. I don’t know how you managed to stay out there so long but that’s all in the past now. People with your problem belong behind bars. They can’t be part of the society we have now because they’re sick and sick people make this society crumble, little by little.”

The woman was obviously insane but every time he tried to open his mouth to utter any single sound at all he was snarled at so he learned to keep his mouth shut. It seemed pointless to try to ask anything or point anything out. He still didn’t even know why he was in this place at all.

Suddenly he missed his friends, he missed Eoghan and even Alexis and the twins, their sister he’d only really met once. He didn’t know why they came to mind just then but he latched onto that emotion, it seemed his safest and only outlet in this place.

“Especially people like you. People who hear voices. You are the most dangerous ones. You’re so sick that you can’t even have a normal life. If it was up to me I would lock away every single person who ever showed any sign of illness and I know the world would be a much better place!”

“You’re absolutely insane!” He finally found his voice though it nearly choked on him.

“This is hilarious coming from the man with the voices in his head. Take him back to his room. He’s not coming out. He can have his meals in there for the rest of his life. The only time I want him to come out of there is for his treatments and I suppose once or twice a day for bathroom use.”

This woman was absolutely insane. He hadn’t told anyone about the voices, he couldn’t even hear them now!

He struggled when they were beginning to drag him back towards his cell, his final home. He flailed best as he could but it led him nowhere at all. When he was tossed back into his cell, he merely crawled his way into a corner and tried to settle there. His leg was paining him from all that dragging.

Meals came in at almost regular hours. At first he refused to eat, he didn’t want to be in this place. What if she was the crazy one and they had kidnapped people left and right? It made no sense, how would she have known his name? Maybe they had found his wallet, that had to be it. That didn’t explain her going on about the voices, though maybe it was her affliction and she claimed everyone was like that.

Eventually, hunger won out and he ate his meals. This solitary confinement thing was beginning to wear on him. At this point he did wish the voices were back, wanted to hear something, anything other than the scrape of the slot for his food opening and closing or the door when they took him out to the bathroom.

He couldn’t tell time, other than the fact that he had three meals a day. He couldn’t keep track of passing days. It was hard to tell when they finally pulled him out of his cell to go into a direction opposite of the one he had gone to before. They were still dragging him, not even giving him a chance to walk. Their arms tightly held his own in an almost vice grip, they were hurting him. He was past really caring.

They took him into a room filled with equipment he couldn’t really understand. He was set out on a long table, strapped down and some contraption set over his head. His eyes widened as they put a wooden stick in his mouth. Even if he wanted to flail and struggle now it was hopeless, he could barely even move a muscle he was strapped down so tight.

Screwing his eyes shut, he tried to shut out the pain he knew would come the moment the switch was flipped. He counted down from a hundred in his mind, trying to focus on something other than his situation and he could barely hear his own thoughts.

Distantly, there came the click of the switch being flipped on and-

His doorbell rang.

Waking with a start, Armin stared at his brightly lit room blearily. His heart pumping away painfully in his chest. He tried to breathe in and out, to calm himself. The doorbell rang again and he screwed his eyes shut. A low, choked laugh escaped him as he pulled himself out of his bed carefully. He wrapped himself up in his bathrobe, located his crutch, eased it slowly on his arm and slowly, almost painfully so, he made his way towards his door.

“I’m coming.” He called out softly, his voice hoarse as if from severe disuse.

On the other side of the door, Eoghan stood, worry plain as day on his face and Armin blinked up at him. Eoghan’s worry only worsened at the sight of his friend.

“I knocked at the usual time of our meeting but you weren’t answering. I know you’re usually an early riser and I didn’t just want to barge in and-” Eoghan paused and looked his friend over, “Armin you look like hell, what happened?”

Armin could only laugh again, a low, exhausted sort of sound as he stepped away from the door. “Come in. I was having a nightmare, I guess. I’ll tell you in a bit, if you don’t mind my getting a quick shower, I feel filthy.”

“Go on ahead, take your time. I’ll prepare some tea if you don’t mind?”

“Tea might help, thank you.” And he disappeared into his bathroom, hoping to never again have this dream.


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