“Potions [said he] have a great efficacy in confounding right and wrong, but are not able to invert the condition of human nature; I will persecute you with curses; and execrating detestation is not to be expiated by any victim. Moreover, when doomed to death I shall have expired, I will attend you as a nocturnal fury; and, a ghost, I will attack your faces with my hooked talons (for such is the power of those divinities, the Manes), and, brooding upon your restless breasts, I will deprive you of repose by terror. The mob, from village to village, assaulting you on every side with stones, shall demolish you filthy hags. Finally, the wolves and Esquiline vultures shall scatter abroad your unburied limbs. Nor shall this spectacle escape the observation of my parents, who, alas! must survive me.”[1]

-Horace, 1st Century BC.

 


 

Prologue

 

“You’re right,” Tameer responds. “It took me a while to see that. The doctor said I can come home tomorrow.” He covets the corded phone. Who determines sanity anyway? Abbey was real. We had a daughter. We had a daughter. Why doesn’t anyone remember them? Why can’t I remember my daughter’s name? Tameer pretends to listen, calculating his response. “That’s right, three months, six days and nine hours—Nine hours when I leave, I mean. Well I—I—you know…” He sighs, and presses himself closer to the wall. “Yeah, promethazine— Really? —Yea, Seroquel, Lithium and Xanax.” Tameer glances over his shoulder.

Ramos sits with his knees pressed to his chest. His bulging eyes, small pupils and disheveled. Ramos’ upper lip is partially chewed off. God only knows what his life was like, or what lead him to the asylum. Whatever the case maybe, Ramos is where he belongs.

Tameer smiles. The last two months taught him not to anger men incapable of speech. “Ramos? What’s going on, buddy?”

His apron and fuzzy slippers are drenched in sweat. “Bla-Ha-heh-ha-ha!” Ramos squeals. “Ate. She ate. Face. Face. Face!” He rocks violently, then clasps his hands together. Ramos’ grin gives Tameer goosebumps.

Tameer breaks eye contact. He examines his laminated bracelet. There’s a shadow lurking in the room. “Yeah, Sabine. Thanks,” Tameer responds into the phone. He clears his throat. “So what. It’s a courtesy to me. I don’t want to tell him— Wha—What do you mean why? —Why? Because I can’t lose my jo—I’m telling you, I don’t be— Yeah, so the fu—”

“Hey,” Chester, a formidable guard, interrupts. He rolls his newspaper, waiting for an opportunity to express his dominance without repercussions. “Calm down, Mr. Odev. Tomorrow afternoon, right?” Chester smirks. “You don’t want to extend your stay.”

“Look, Sabine, I gotta go. Just be here before 9 am, please—Yeah. Ok. Ok—Thank you.” He places the rotary phone on its carriage. Tameer fingers through a bookshelf. There’s gotta be something here to pass the time. He pulls a white book with a man painted on the cover. “Forrest Gump. I can’t wait to see the movie when I get out of here,” he mutters. Tameer shuffles back to his bed: an old, worn mattress on metal frame with frayed sheets. He tries to push Abigail from his mind. The lights in his room flicker. Rotten eggs and burning rubber attack Tameer’s nostrils. His body stiffens. “Hey!” he tries to scream, but he’s paralyzed. It’s happening again. The shadows are coming.

 


 

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