The Mist, The Asylum, and The Visitor

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

The fog is real, Carla knows it. But why can't anyone else see it?


The fog came first.
I wasn’t sure what it meant then, but after the Visitor came to me, I understood the dangers of the Mist. It came abruptly. I remember walking out the door to check the garden with my little brother, but the fog was so thick that all I could see was a curtain of gray. 
“Henry!” I called. My seven-year-old brother. I squinted through the smog. “Henry!” I shrieked again. I heard his little footsteps on the damp earth and then he was right in front of me. I embraced him.
“What’s wrong, Carla?” he said to me, rubbing his little nose across my cheek. “Can I have cocoa now?”
I rolled my eyes, but I figured that this was the only way to get the kid back into the house. I grabbed his hand and led him to the door. I heard a weird moan, but it probably was just the door. 
I made Henry his cocoa (with exactly four marshmallows, as always) and retired to my room, hearing the door creak and moan again. 
I looked out my window, surveying Ortega Street. All I saw was a bunch of silhouettes of old houses, like smudges of charcoal on a piece of gray paper. This fog is so cool! I thought, But dangerous, too. I hope mom and dad come back soon. My parents had been gone for the weekend for a brief holiday, but they were supposed to return soon. I picked up the book that I had been reading, but I suddenly had no interest in whatever Pam and Penny were doing.
I decided that there wasn’t anything else for me to do, so I trudged down the stairs. I walked into the living room and sat down next to Henry, who was trying to figure out how to operate the television set. I silently worked out the simple sequence of the buttons. 
“I wanna watch ABC” he whined.
“I wanna watch NBC!” I whined back at him. 
He growled, a high-pitched rumble (if that’s possible), and went back to spooning hot chocolate into his mouth. I turned up the volume on the television and watched as the weatherman gestured to the the dull orange splotches on the fancy map. I immediately sought out the nearby city, Lawston. I was surprised to see the illustrations portray zero fog or precipitation. 
“Isn’t that weird?” I said to Henry.
“The weatherman says that there isn’t any fog or rain. Look out the window! Their machines are all messed up.”
“No they’re not,” Henry replied simply. 
“Of course they are. Look out the window, and tell me what you see.” I said incredulously as I rolled my eyes. 
He sighed and stood up. He placed his chin on the windowsill, “See? It’s a nice day. Look at that cute little bird on the power line. Ha. Just imagine how cute it would be if it got electrocuted.”
I elbowed him and stood to peek out the window. All I saw was the fog. A million possibilities raced through my head, but before I could say anything to Henry, my parents burst through the door.
Henry and I jumped up. “Daddy!” Henry exclaimed, “Mommy, guess what? Carla made me cocoa!”
Mom smiled at me and gathered us in her arms. “We missed you two. Did you get the dishes done?”
I squirmed out of her embrace. “How did you guys get here so fast? Through this weather, I wouldn’t expect you back for another couple of hours.”
“This weather?” Dad said, “It’s gorgeous!” He laughed lightly as he walked into the kitchen, probably looking for something to eat. 
I considered what my family was saying. What was wrong with them? 
What’s wrong with me?
I’ve never had a nervous breakdown before. 
I don’t remember much, just me beginning to sob and laugh at the same time, and Dad trying to hug me, but I punched him hard in the nose. Henry and Mom looked terrified as she rung up the police and tried to see if Dad was going to be alright. The police came. I had my first ride in a police car. 
And then they took me to the asylum. 
Well, not straight to the place, but I honestly didn’t pay much attention to what was in-between. 
It was all quite a rush. They showed me my room that I’d be sharing with this other girl, whom they claimed wasn’t extremely violent either. I smiled and nodded to everything they said, and finally they let me go downstairs to meet all of the other insane teenagers. 
The main hall was a jumble of nurses and doctors and teenagers, but the teens looked different. Each had a slightly dazed look on their face. Mine probably looked the same. I wandered over to where a group of mostly guys were huddled, but there was one girl that looked like my roomie. (They showed me a picture of her and a brief bio.) 
I walked up to the huddle. “Hi,” I said. 
They turned and looked at me. They didn’t look insane. Just a bunch of normal teenagers. 
“Hello,” the girl said, “I’m Courtney. And you are . . ?”
“Carla,” I answered, taken aback by her ‘normalness,’ “Carla Clarke.”
I heard someone from across the room say, “Carla Clark. Carla Clarke. Carla Clarke.” I must have made a weird face, because one of the boys started to talk to me.
“Don’t pay mind to Terrence. He likes alliteration,” he said, “What are you here for, Carla? I’m Marcus by the way.”
I looked at my toes as the other people walked away, “Well, I, umm . . . they think I’m seeing things that aren’t there. But I swear, I can feel it!”
The boy, Marcus, looked confused, “That’s weird, that’s what happened to me, too. And Courtney. And George. Doug, too, though he’s gone now. He convinced them that he didn’t see the fog anymore. George almost has them convinced, too.”
Courtney made a disgusted face, “They say it’s mass hysteria. Stupid adults, always coming up with some excuse. We didn’t even know each other until a week ago. And now we’re meeting Carla.”
Marcus sighed and muttered, “Here we go again . . .” 
“What I think is happening, is that they are the ones with hysteria, not us! The fog is actually there, but they’re too insane to see it!” she growled.
Marcus sounded like he was reciting a book, “It’s okay, Courtney. I’m sure they’ll let us out soon as long as we act like nothing ever happened.”
I looked at Courtney and Marcus. Then Marcus and Courtney. “You two have only known each other for a week?”
They looked at each other, “Yes,” they both said at the same time.
In that moment, a very quiet bell rang, and everyone began to make their ways towards the door that said, FOOD. I laughed.
“Usually they call these cafeterias,” I said, “I like this better.”
We fell into the line and were given green plastic plates. I looked around for silverware, but I realized that they would never give forks or knives to a bunch of crazies. Everyone got a spoon. 
“Yuck,” Marcus suddenly said.
“Slime and leather, my favorite,” Courtney said sarcastically, “The classic cabbage and meat.”
I peeked over the line groaning kids and saw what they had been talking about. Sitting atop a metal countertop, a bowl of shiny green worms grinned at whoever held their plate high enough for the women behind the lunch counter to reach. Judging from the actions of everyone, you had to take the food, or you would be sentenced to eating alone in the corner. I smiled and said thank you as I passed the counter, holding my breath as a cloud of cabbage-steam blew right in front of my face. I followed Marcus and Courtney as they sat down at the table in the darker half of the room. I shivered. The dark corner in the insane asylum. 
I stared at the green worms for a moment, then looked up at Marcus and Courtney. They were shoveling the cabbage into little plastic baggies. 
“We’re saving it . . . for later,” Marcus explained, then dropped his voice, “Actually, we’re keeping it so that Courtney has some “evidence” when she goes and complains to a judge.”
Courtney elbowed Marcus, “I want justice, that’s all. Is that too much to ask? It’s 1954, people!”
“Yes,” said Marcus, but quickly followed the retort with an explanation, “All they see is a few kids with failing brains, or overactive imaginations.”
“Stupid adults,” Courtney muttered. 
I continued to hold back and watch the conversation, noting how it all felt like a day at school, minus the jocks waltzing about tugging at girls’ ponytails or kicking dirt at their dresses. I was beginning to maybe just like it here. 

Submitted: February 04, 2018

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