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A Midnight Friend

by Audrey Fuller 4 months ago in Young Adult

My Journey to Find a Family After Being Admitted to a Psychiatric Hospital

A Midnight Friend
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

It’s been about a year since I was deemed insane and shipped off to this stupid place. Granted, I rarely ever considered myself sane by any stretch of the imagination, but to be stuck in this hell hole is a bit much. Before I go too far I should probably introduce myself, I currently go by Dean Chreistler, I'm nine years old, have short, white hair, blue eyes and I'm a certified murderer. That last statement sounds kind of harsh, I'm actually a legalized child assassin, and I work under a man known as Zurui, who owns a legal bounty collections business. Though the existence of child assassins is widely kept quiet, they still house the exams every few years, and I happened to pass six years ago.

My birth family wasn’t that great, my father hated me, my mother died giving birth, seven of my nine older brothers hated me, one somewhat liked me and one actually cared about me. I spent my first few years being tormented by my father, I had a great relationship with the basement that resembled an anime dungeon and was tested on to see if anything would kill me. Through this, I ended up developing strength that rivals full-grown assassins, speeds faster than the eye can see, an insane tolerance for physical and emotional pain, the ability to stay awake for about ten to fourteen days, and this fun ability to extend my fingernails and K-9 teeth. This basically happened through the tests combined with the fact that I was put through rigorous training, which caused my small muscles to become immensely dense and powerful. In this time I was also whipped, stabbed, beaten, electrocuted, and practically any other torture methods my father could come up with. As you can imagine, I wasn’t all that upset when the man met his end after making more enemies than his youngest son. Honestly, I was sad to see my only good brother go, but the rest can go to hell for all I care. I guess I’m saying that three years later, I was more upset shortly after the incident.

Three Years Earlier:

After the deaths of my entire family, I roamed the woods, a few years prior I had become friendly with a local wolf pack (when my father decided it was best to toss me out in the snow and freeze me), so I moved in with them and hunted with the alphas. We only hunted vigorously every week or so, this made it so I could spend the rest of the nights exploring the new town I was in. This is where I met Zurui, after taking down a target he had noticed me watching him from the rooftops and confronted me. He snagged me by the right ankle and held me upside down.

“What do you think you’re doing, kid?” He held on tight so that I couldn’t easily slip out of his grasp. “Do you know who I am or were you just curious?” I stayed hanging there for a bit to get a feel of this man. He was about five foot six, had black hair to his neck, a tucked-in black shirt with a black coat with fur accents, and black jeans. “Speak!” The word shot through me, he was getting pissed. I punched him in the gut just hard enough to leave a decent bruise, this made him shift down just far enough for me to grip the ground with my extended nails and spin my whole body. This caused my ankle to get burned but also burned his hand with the friction of me spinning so quickly. He released me so I bounced to the far side of the roof and ran off before he could get his bearings. I spent the next few nights watching his men, I followed three of them and noted their abilities before I was caught again by Zurui. This time he had me by the arm and lifted me straight out so I couldn’t kick him. “That was a clever trick last time, it probably hurt, how’s your ankle?” He purposefully used a mocking tone to show his frustration. “So, what’s your plan now, kid?” I swung my body up just far enough to kick off his head, I used my other arm to break his so he would release me and took off before he could recover again. A week or so later I ran into him again, this time it was after I had gotten a good idea of all of his employees. He caught me by the arm again, but this time he had it behind my back and his other forearm against my upper back. “You just don’t quit, do you?” This time he was mad, I could feel the air around us get heavier with his bloodlust. “This time, I’m killing you. I can’t have you know about my business like this.”

The thick air made it hard to breathe, my instincts kicked in and I jumped suddenly and spun my body behind his, effectively breaking my arm but also giving me leverage to slam him into the ground. He coughed with the wind being forced out of him but recovered faster this time and caught my ankle as I ran. I spun quickly and kicked him in the arm, getting him to release me, and ran off. About a week later I saw him once again, this time when he appeared before me, he was calm and kept his distance. I stepped back to make sure he wasn’t about to lunge and stood my ground.

“Relax kid, I’m done trying to kill you.” I looked at him in distrust. “Seriously, you obviously have the skills, so I’d guess that you are a licensed assassin. In that case, it’s likely that I can’t defeat you even if I tried.” He stepped forward but I met it by stepping back. He sighed loudly and put his hands up. “I promise, I’m not here to attack you, I just want to talk.” I stood my ground, which showed him how little I believed his story. He sighed again and sat on the ground crisscrossed. “See? Even if I wanted to attack you, I wouldn’t be able to. Please, just come here and chat.” I stepped closer but still kept my distance. “Listen, kid, you’ve piqued my interest. Come work for me and you'll have all the money you could ever ask for.” I shook my head to tell him that I wasn’t interested. “Why not? It’s not like you have good parents, you’ve been walking the streets for over a month now. I’ll give you food, protection, training, and plenty of money. It’s a win-win right?” I stepped forward again, putting myself just out of arms' reach. “You thinking about it?” I shook my head again. I needed him to be interested in me, and I needed this offer, but I couldn’t seem too eager either. “What’s keeping you from saying yes?” Not to his knowledge, but it was that the alpha female in my pack was still alive, though she was going to die soon, I still had a place there as long as she was there. “You can spar me as much as you want.” He mocked, though fighting with him has been fun, I couldn’t say yes yet. In the distance, I heard a howl, it was my call back home. I shook my head again and ran off without a word.

When I returned to the pack, the alpha female wasn’t doing well, and she passed away the following morning. I walked her body one town over where I had buried the rest of my family, or at least the pieces I got my hands on and laid her to rest with them. As I walked back to the den, knowing full well that I was going to be outcasted, as the surviving alpha male had wanted me gone for quite some time, Zurui called out from a nearby tree.

“Yo kid, what was that all about?” I looked up to find him leaning against a large tree. “What was that mutt to you?” I appeared in front of him and stuck out my fingernails to his chest.

“She’s the alpha of my pack! Don’t you dare call her a ‘mutt’!” He smiled and laughed lightly as he placed his hand gently on my hand.

“Wow, you got quite the bark there, kid. I thought you were mute.” I lowered my hand and turned my head away from him. He knelt down and placed his hand on my shoulder. “You okay, kid?” His tone was different from every other time I had heard him speak, this was genuine concern instead of a mocking tone. It was all I needed to break down.

“No.” That one word came out and my eyes started to water. He spun me around, placed my head by his heart, and sat there, not daring to move.

“It’s okay, you can cry.” Only a few tears landed on his shirt, but it was more than I had cried since my family died. His heartbeat was calming, something I had only known with the alpha female. I pushed up against him and wiped my eyes with a sniffle. “You done?” I nodded through my arm. “My offer still stands.” I looked up and he was serious, there wasn’t a fake smile anywhere in his look. “Come live with me, I could use a kid as skilled as you on my team.” What choice did I have? I was about to be kicked out anyway. I nodded slightly as I appeared on the ground and started walking away. “Was that a yes?” He called out after me.

“I’ll meet you at the gate in six hours, got it?” With that, I walked back to the den, gathered my things, and started my life living with Zurui.

One Year Earlier:

We’ll get back to my time here, and why I got placed in here instead of an orphanage. I was adjusting fine with my new school, one that Zurui had requested that I go to. It had been about two years since my family died and I had moved in with Zurui and the rest of his crew. One thing that was different, was that I was developing a severe case of PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and another problem arose, every time my brain would shift into a memory, my body would open the wounds related to that memory, whether they were current scars or not. I had had a few attacks already, but they centered around larger events, my birthday, the date of my family's demise, etc. but it stayed dormant the rest of the year. It was mid-April, nothing to worry about date-wise. We were covering some basic math and doing some timed tests when a whisper hit my ear.

“What do you think you’re doing?” It was an ominous voice that I knew too well, my father’s. I tried to ignore it but the fever that always hit was coming up fast and my body started to shake. By then I couldn’t concentrate on my work, and couldn’t even hold a pencil properly. “Get up.” The word was strong, which made me stand on instinct.

“Dean, are you okay?” My teacher innocently asked as I panted from the effort of staying even remotely calm. “Dean?”

“I’m fine, I just need to use the restroom.” I said louder than I had wanted, which turned every eye in my direction.

“Do you think you can run away from me, boy?” In reality, it wasn’t him I was scared of, it was the beating I was about to experience that I didn’t want. I grabbed my backpack and walked out as low as I could so I wouldn’t simply disappear, but once I got out of eyesight, I sprinted to the bathroom. I ran into the last stall and sat on the toilet. ‘I need to contact Zurui.’ Was my only thought, he could get me out of school, hopefully before this continued too far. “Noone can help you now, demon.” I felt a sharp pain from my back left shoulder to my right side, then another starting from my right shoulder to my left side. Each strike made me flinch slightly, as I couldn’t tell where I would be hit until it happened. I pulled out my phone and called Zurui as electricity was sent through all four limbs.

“Hey Little Shiro, what’s going on? Aren’t you in scho-” He calls me Little Shiro, as everyone has a nickname, even though I've told him a million times that it annoys me.

“Help Zurui!” I yelled into the phone that was now on the ground. “It came out of nowhere!”

“An attack or something else?”

“Do I ever freaking call you if I find a target?” As I finished the statement a large object struck me in the chest, breaking multiple ribs and successfully knocking the wind out of me. I struggled for breath but it wasn’t coming back.

“Where are you?” I couldn’t push anything out, only slight wheezing was audible. “Shiro! I need to know your location!”

“Bath-” I coughed up a sizable amount of blood, the impact had caused one of my ribs to puncture my left lung.

“I’m on my way Shiro, just hold on.” He stayed on the line with me as if his words would help what was happening. Out of nowhere something stabbed through my upper back and came out through my chest, though I couldn’t see it since I was still wearing my clothes.

“It’s worse now that I’m dead isn’t it? You can’t see the attack coming and that terrifies you.”

“Shut up!” I yelled which must have scared another kid that was coming into the bathroom. I heard him yell and run off to find a teacher, which meant I only had a few minutes before someone would see this. I had to get out, and fast if I didn’t want someone knowing about this damn disease. I pushed open the door as a bar smacked into the front of my right knee, effectively shattering it. I dropped to the ground, my inner shirt now soaked with blood. Various slices ripped through my chest and back, each one slightly postponing my exit. By the time I reached the door to the bathroom, I was barely able to walk. A teacher came running along with the boy I must have frightened.

“Dean! Are you okay?” The teacher called out to me, I didn’t get the chance to look at him because what felt like an axe kick hit me and I was thrown to the ground. The teacher picked me up and must have noticed the broken bones. “What’s happening Dean?” I didn’t hear the actual words spoken, what I heard was a growl in my ear “Kill me if you can, you damn demon.” I swung out and must have hit someone else, because shortly after, I was restrained by multiple adults. I couldn’t say a word as they carried me to the nurse's office. Once I was placed there I could lie down, but the attacks didn’t subside. More hits, slices, stabbings, electrocutions, and drownings, one after the other. Not long after I was in the nurse's office, Zurui showed up. He ran in, breathing heavily, and ran to my side. I was clutching my gut by then and curled into the fetal position with blood and puke off the side of the bed.

“He won’t tell us what’s happening.” The nurse stated to Zurui. “But he seems like he is in a lot of pain.” Zurui pulled up my shirt to show some of the blood, grit his teeth, and sighed.

“I hate to say this, but can you get everyone that is mobile out of here for a minute?”

“Why?”

“Because the only way to make this stop is to do something that could put me down as a child abuser.”

“What do you mean?” He sighed loudly again.

“This is a PTSD attack, but he has some sort of other disease that makes it so any damage taken in his memories, reappears on his current body. It was triggered by something but the only way to make it stop is to knock him out cold, and the only way to do that is to punch him in the back.” She got everyone out of the room as Zurui turned me on my side. “Sorry, Little Shiro, this is gonna hurt.” He punched me square in the lower back, on a spot that reaches the nerves of my spinal cord and thus causes enough pain to knock me out.

Current Day:

By the time I regained consciousness, I was here, in this damn Asylum. From what Zurui has told me, a counselor at the school saw my beaten state and deemed me insane and violent, when Zurui tried to say that it was mainly under control, they found out that he wasn’t my legal guardian, and thus had no legal authority to have me under his care. It snowballed, and now I am here and Zurui only gets mild visitation. I now spend my days in a secured room, four large bolts ensure that I cannot get out, a barred window allows me to see the courtyard and a few far-off houses, but nothing else. The bed is bolted to the floor, along with any chairs or other metal furniture. Twice a day I am offered some gross food, some sort of porridge or grits to my knowledge, but I haven’t taken a bite of anything that they’ve given me. They offer me water in a styrofoam cup three times a day and do tests for five hours a day along with one therapy session per day. It is very well scheduled, and since I have behaved myself, I am allowed one visitor for an hour a week, and I can go to the yard for up to twenty minutes per day. The people here are not children, they are mainly adults, most of them scream, yell and spit, with the occasional quiet ones.

For the most part, I just take what they do and endure it, shock therapy, interrogation, needle therapy, injection therapy, whatever they feel like doing that day. They have asked me about my scars, to which I never respond. I play chess a few times a week with a woman in my weekly therapy group, she’s seventy-six and killed six people when she thought they were aliens coming to take over Earth. I haven’t seen her be violent thus far, but she invites me for a chess game as if she doesn’t remember the previous time, so I’d assume she has some short-term memory loss from the testing. Every night I escape my bounds and sneak out to the yard, sometimes I go see Zurui, simple walls are nothing to an assassin, or I’ll just sit and enjoy the air and the hooting of a nearby barn owl. He sits atop the roof near my room, after a year of coaxing I’ve trained him to come when called by whistle. When he joins me he just sits on the bench next to me and lets me pet and talk to him until I choose to go in again.

I’ve been here for a full year, so the staff has seen my attacks first hand by now. They restrain me as they observe the cuts and bruises appear from what seems like nowhere. They have tried many methods to trigger it, but the most common is electrotherapy. They’ve been able to trigger it about twenty times in my stay, but they still haven’t found out why it happens. I’ve been asked by every therapist and doctor they have as to what occurs right before or after, or how I feel during the attacks, but I still say nothing. I go through my day silently, then vent my frustrations to the barn owl that has since been named Fukuro. He doesn’t seem to mind, since I bring him mice that I’ve found around as I wander. They are easy prey to someone that is used to killing deer and other small mammals. On the nights that I don’t talk to Fukuro, I run over to Zurui’s place and play games with him or go on a mission or two. I don’t talk about what they do to me in the Asylum because it will only upset him, so I say that I don’t want to chat about that and change the subject. Another few months went by, it was now August and Zurui was visiting me like he did every week.

“What’s new Little Shiro?” He always asked as he walked up to me and placed his arm over my shoulder. I shrugged and walked with him out to the yard. “Making out okay? They aren’t treating you too bad here, right?” I shrugged again as we sat at the concrete chessboard at the edge of the yard. “Still giving them the silent treatment are you?” I nodded as we set up the pieces. He leaned back in his chair casually and snickered. “I’m hoping this will go through before your birthday.” I looked up at him and paused what I was doing. He looked back at me and smiled widely. “Hopefully before you turn ten, you’ll be out of this place. The paperwork is almost done and I have one more court case to appeal the decision. If all goes well, you’ll get out of here and I’ll get my best employee back.” That’s right, the majority of why he’s doing all this is because I’m his best assassin. He can’t go out on certain jobs while I’m stuck here, and because we aren’t to disclose the nature of my licenses, I can’t just bust out and not return. We are in a sticky situation that has to be handled legally unless we want Zurui’s business shut down for good. Zurui leaned forward as we finished our last game. “Little Shiro, I need you to just hang in there okay? I promise I’ll get you out of here, but you need to trust me.” I nodded as I always did and put everything away. “Wow kid, you must be practicing, no matter how many times I try, I still can’t beat you.” I shrugged, walked him back out, and headed to my room. I stayed in there for the next few days, not even venturing out to the yard. In my absence, Fukuro would fly down and sit by my window, just to give me comfort, I guess.

I went through the next two weeks as normal, letting them do what they wanted and just taking the experiments. I was asked the same barrage of questions, “Why do you not react to pain?” “What causes your attacks?” “Why won’t you speak?” “Where are you getting food since you refuse to eat?” “How did you get those scars?” Each one was met with silence. ‘If you don’t want to give anything away, simply don’t speak. They can only get so much by your movements, that’s why interrogators try to coax their targets to talk so they can reveal information unconsciously.’ Something so simple that Zurui drilled into me as if I didn’t know about it beforehand. But Zurui has a master's in psychology, so I guess he’s the best one to rely on for that. Though the man wasn’t perfect by any means, he was the best father figure I could have asked for. He celebrated holidays with me and took me to restaurants, he’s called me his son since the first day I stayed with him, yet I’ve never called him my dad outside of for show at school. I call him by his name or sometimes I’ll refer to him as “old man” as payback for my “little Shiro” nickname that I hate with every fiber of my being. All in all, he’s taught me a lot. He took the time to train me where I was weak, he plays games with me and teaches me languages and musical instruments to keep my mind busy. He definitely did a good job for someone that never wanted kids and was suddenly thrown into a parenting role.

At the end of the last two weeks, and with my birthday approaching, I was called into the common area to see a guest. I rounded the corner to find Zurui and the nurse talking quietly, I overheard that Zurui had finally gotten the paperwork completed, and was taking me out. I stepped forward, to which the nurse turned around and smiled.

“Hello Dean, thanks for joining us. Tell me, who is this man to you?” I stopped, why did that matter? Maybe because of what Zurui had told her since he got the paperwork finished to have custody of me? How do I respond? I looked to Zurui and he had on a sincere smile and a small twinkle in his eye. With that, I knew what I needed to do. I put on the best fake smile I could muster and ran forward.

“Dad!” I yelled, ran past the nurse, and hugged Zurui as if we were really close. “Did something happen?” I asked as if I didn’t already know.

“It’s final, I’m your foster dad.” He picked me up and tossed me gently in the air. “You can come home now.” He had tears in his eyes, and I could tell they weren’t fake. Maybe he didn’t just keep me for interest, maybe he did want me back. He placed me down and put a hand on my shoulder as the nurse looked astounded.

“He… he spoke…?” Zurui smiled devilishly and handed her the paperwork.

“Of course, he spoke, he’s not mute, he just hates you guys.” He then picked me up and placed me on his shoulders. “Come on son, let’s go home.”

“Thanks… dad.”

Young Adult

About the author

Audrey Fuller

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