Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I took a bit of a break from my NaNo project for this week's prompt.  I have to play a little catch-up with my novel since I found that I had contradicted myself in a couple of spots.  The details are critical to the plot, so I violated the DO NOT EDIT thing and went back to repair the damage.  Doing so worked very well since that opened the door to the creation of a whole new character that will slide in nicely to further flesh out my main character.  So, please enjoy my story titled Isolation, and I'm heading back to NaNo land!

Now that Halloween is over and all things supernatural have returned to their lairs until it’s time to reemerge and terrorize us again next year, let’s use this week to remember a date in October that brought us an individual who affected, and certainly altered, the course of music, and many other areas of all our lives.  This week’s prompt comes to us from one of our regular contributors, Michael Webb.

*   *   *   *   *

October 9th would have been John Lennon’s 72nd birthday, if his life were not cut short by his 1980 murder.  The former Beatle was not without flaws, but his legacy lives on in art, music, fashion, and politics.
Prompt:  Write a story using one of the following Lennon songs as a title:
  • “Working Class Hero”
  • “Isolation”
  • “Beautiful Boy”
  • “I’m Losing You”
  • “Cold Turkey”
  • “Jealous Guy”
  • “(Just Like) Starting Over”

The genre was open and the word limit was 999 words or less.

Just a reminder that sometimes it's best to let a sleeping dog lie...


“Jack?  You know I’m new to this setting, but let me ask you something.  What’s the story on 12D?  Why the double locks and extender mechanism for sliding in the food trays?”  Tony had worked in maximum security prisons where contact with serial killers was less restrictive.  The residents here were patients, not criminals, and they weren’t evil, they were mentally ill.

“That’s for the safety of all the staff, son.  That one killed the patient he shared a room with when he first arrived so he could have the room to himself, and then after he was put into isolation, he permanently disfigured one of the orderlies who went into his room to retrieve his breakfast tray.  The patient grabbed both of the orderly’s hands and practically twisted his arms off.  That’s why we have those metal rods grasp the meal trays while we slide them through the slot they subsequently added to his door.  None of the staff are permitted anywhere near that room.  Not that they‘d initiate any contact with that one anyway.”  Jack was surprised the Ward Supervisor didn’t clue the kid in on their resident psychotic.

“But, how are his linens changed and the room cleaned?  And, where does he go for his sessions with the psychologists?”  The new orderly had seen lifers treated with more kindness.

“Tony, his evening meds put him out and then six of us go in there to take care of all that, and as quickly as we can, mind you.  You don’t want to be in there when his eyes open.  As far as therapy goes, they gave up on that long ago.  He listens to no one and talks to no one except himself.”

Tony couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  How did this institution get their stellar reputation treating the weak and helpless worse than strays were treated at the pound.  “What did he do to end up like this?”

Jack wished the Supervisors would do some kind of orientation with the new guys.  Then, he wouldn’t have to keep explaining this nightmare.

“He murdered his entire family.  Beat Mom and Dad to death in their bed, then tied his brother to a chair in the basement and chatted with him while he alternated between beating him and choking him.  It went on all night, and by morning, his brother was dead too.  He called the police and confessed.  The State’s shrink recommended they send him here instead of Death Row, and personally, I think that was a mistake because he re-enacts those murders in his room every Friday night.”

Tony wondered how Jack, a man with no compassion for his fellow human beings, had obtained a position here as caretaker to the emotionally infirm.

“You’ll hear odd noises, and if you look through the partition, he’ll be beating his parents, tying his brother up, you’ll hear the conversation, then he’ll do his brother in.  It’s like watching a fucked up game of charades.  By morning, he’s acting out his surrender to the cops.  Once he gets his breakfast, it’s all back to normal; well, normal for him, anyway.  He’ll talk to Mom, chat with Pop, play chess with his brother, then Friday, he kills them all.  Again.  But, don’t worry about it because you won’t have any contact with him so handle the patients you’re assigned to and you’ll be alright.  I’m going to take my break now, so the Ward’s all yours, kid.”

Tony waited until Jack had locked the Ward door on his way to the break room.  He walked down the hallway to 12D and looked inside.  The patient was finishing his breakfast and was engaged in what appeared to be a volatile argument with the empty cot in the corner.  He was gesturing wildly in between bites of scrambled eggs and sips of coffee.  As Tony keyed all the locks, opened the door and entered the room, the patient put the fork down and pushed his chair away from the desk containing his half-eaten meal tray.

Tony knew that all people responded to tenderness, even the chronically psychotic.  Medication shifted their emotions to limbo and completely disconnected them from the real world, where they desperately needed to remain.  As he approached the man in 12D, he held out both his hands.  Surely, the man would response to a hug; physical contact was obviously missing from his tortured existence.

12D rose from the chair and turned to face the intruder.  On his first morning here, they brought in a stranger to share his room.  He thought he had made his position on the subject of human interfacing abundantly clear when he castrated the interloper with his butter knife.  To his delight, the Administrators had arranged for him to be placed in their isolation wing so he could be alone and focus on communication with his family and, on his own timeline, engage in the pleasurable activity of recreating their demise.

Then came that sweaty ogre in the white uniform who barged in and demanded the tray containing the meal he hadn’t quite finished consuming.  Without warning, the vermin had reached out to grab the dishes, and had left him no choice but to shatter the bones in both the creature’s arms.  He would have continued twisting them until he removed the offending limbs, but others came with a needle and medication that made him dizzy for days.  At least, the slug in white never returned, nor did any like him.  That is, until today.  When will they learn?  This time, he’d finish what he started.

Tony moved toward the patient, stretching his arms out to embrace him.  12D smiled…


  1. Wow! Not at all what you expect when you think of John Lennon but quite a good story nonetheless. I couldn't help but think 'don't go in there you idiot!'

    1. Zack, Thanks much. So glad you enjoyed this. Unfortunately, a hug just doesn't quite do it for some.