It was a cold Saturday morning and unlike normal kids my age, I had to be up early to visit the scary ass asylum. That’s not the official name. I think it’s really called Shady Brook Mental Institute or something like that. My parents make me go with them once a month to visit my grandfather, who is bat shit insane. Ever since his wife died, he has been hearing voices and speaking in bizarre languages. I blame the fact that he turned to God.
I hate the asylum. It’s beyond creepy and sad. The most disturbing part is seeing all those patients that stand in corners, alone. No one to talk to. No one to care about. For the past several visits, one inmate particularly strikes an emotional chord with me- this teen boy in a cheap Halloween mask who stands in a corner, staring off into the distance. He just waits. What is he waiting for? Sometimes I swear he is staring right at me, looking into my soul. I feel bad for him but can’t help but think that somehow he brought this on himself.
On this particular visit, I was tired of hearing my grandfather’s paranoid theories about nurses stealing his bed pans, and decided to talk to this boy. He wasn’t really a boy. He was actually my height and probably around my age. I approached him and introduced myself, wishing him a Happy Halloween. He’s got to love this holiday, right? Nothing. Silence. Just a hand signaling me to follow him. I proceeded to do so. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? Wait, maybe I don’t want to know that.
The boy took me along the hallway and past many rooms. We reached his room which was a single cell. The bed was torn up and coloring books were scattered around the floor. He snatched up some crayons and vigorously began writing.
He then held up a key and motioned to the lock on the outside of his first floor window. How the hell he got the key is a mystery to this day, but I’d like to thank he was smart about it. I proceeded to tell him that I can’t do that but I could talk to his parents about trying to get him out, if I found out who they were. He kept writing me notes about how his parents put him here because they hate him. He claimed that they asylum nurses abuse him. Make him eat his own shit. Clean up his own vomit. Really sick stuff. My greatest weakness is my empathy. Everything in my being told me to walk away from this. But I couldn’t sleep with myself at night if I didn’t do SOMETHING to help him. I grabbed the key and informed him that I would try tonight. It’s Halloween. What a fitting activity to celebrate horror – break a potentially dangerous inmate out of an asylum. But my life was boring. I needed some excitement. And this felt right.
It was nearing the time. Trick or treaters were home. Pranksters were smart enough to not do pranks tonight. And the parents were in bed. That last part was very important. Being fifteen means only having a permit and no way in hell would they let me drive their car, even if the asylum is only five minutes away.
As I pulled into the asylum, my mind went wild with the horrors behind those walls. If what the clown boy said was true, actions need to be taken. But first, I have to help him. Luckily his room was on the first floor and on the side of the asylum. Being an extremely old building, security was light. I guess the guards assume none of these patients are good enough to get out themselves…which is why I’m going to help him escape. I crawled through the thick of the branches scraping up against clown boy’s window and tapped a few times on his window. He looked back at me. I would assume he smiled under that clown mask. Maybe I’ll find out what’s beneath it tonight. I proceeded to unlock the window and he quickly fled out of the window. He seems more scared than I was. I directed him back to the car and we were off - a flawless escape!
There was not a word said on the way home. He didn’t take off his mask. Didn’t try to get my attention at all. I assume he’s a mute or deaf or something…but this was downright unappreciative. I pulled home to my house and got out of the car. I told him to leave. There was no way in hell I was going to let an escaped inmate inside my parent’s house. Like a sad dog, he realized our ‘friendship’ was over, and walked off. I headed inside and straight up to my room. I double checked to make sure all windows were locked and watched outside from my bedroom window. As I lay in my bed I thought to myself, ‘what the hell have I’ve done?’ I didn’t even take into account that there could’ve been security cameras and I could be off to jail tomorrow. I had let this odd connection with a stranger coupled with my adrenaline rush cause me to make a serious mistake. He could be a killer and if anyone dies at his hands, the blood is on mine. Shit!
I woke up to murderous screams. Running to the source, my heart dropped when I realized it was coming from my parent’s room. I busted in the door to see both my mother and father on the bed – their heads beaten to a pulp. Blood was everywhere. All over the walls. Covering mom’s night gown. Their faces were unrecognizable. I was in shock. I immediately threw up and rushed out of the room. I ran downstairs to call 911 and on the couch I saw him. It was me.
I didn’t think it was possible to be even more shocked but there I stood, staring at a reflection of me.
“Hello Jake”, said the clown boy - now no longer wearing the clown mask and asylum pajamas. He was wearing my clothes.
What. The. Fuck.
“Sorry I didn’t thank you earlier. IF you realized who I was, who we are, my plan would be ruined. But now that it’s worked out perfectly, I wanted to say thank you. I knew one day you’d return to save your twin. As you stand in shock I will briefly explain. There’s not much time as I’ve already called the cops. Your parents – our parents – were terrible people. They wanted one child. Not two. And when they found out they were going to have twins, they couldn’t take it. They gave raising both of us a shot but it was just too much for dear ole mommy. So, she convinced herself and others that one twin was good and one was evil. Around four, she had me put in an asylum – fabricating stories of me killing animals, trying to kill YOU! I never even found out my genesis until our wonderful grandfather entered. Everyone thought he was crazy, and he is, but he was right about this. And here you are – my identical twin brother. You are the good twin. I am the bad twin. But I’m tired of these roles and I think it’s time for a role reversal.”
This was too much for me. I had no idea what to do. So I ran. Like a pussy. But before I could get to the door, I felt a surge of pain rush up through my abdomen. Falling flat on my face, I knew what had happened. I heard the gun shot after I had felt the pain. Looking over me, my newly discovered twin brother continued to explain.
“I don’t want to have to kill you. But it really is the only way. I’ve been planning this for a while and the only way for me to assume the role of good twin is to make you the bad twin. And you’ve been a very bad twin. Killing mom and dad. How could you do that?”
He proceeded to undress me and put me in his asylum pajamas and shoes. Before donning the clown mask he said “You had a good life. Now it’s my turn.” The clown mask was slipped over my head. And then, I was killed. Just like that.
Six months later, and I’m still dead. But here I am, narrating this tale. I live with my grandma now and she spoils me so life is alright. As I write this tale, I can’t help but think how lucky I am to have been given a second chance at life – to be the good twin. We all have secrets. And this is mine.