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“Michael, you ok? What you doing?” Lincoln’s voice seeped though the drain.

“I’m trying to remember what’s beneath the psych ward.”

“You’re thinking about the wrong thing. You gotta think about how to get outta here.“

There was a tear in his sleeve. A tear. If he could tear it down completely into long stripes, he could retrace the lost pattern. A pen would be best but this was better than nothing. Taking off the clothe, he set to work.

Hours later, he was no closer to remembering the way out. There was no point and he let his frustration get the better of him and wiped the stripes with an angry gesture. Stared vacantly, focused inward.

A tear. Lines. Tattoo, needles and the red droplets they’d drawn. All he’d had to endure, it had all been for nothing. He was just not good enough and what was his brain good for if he couldn’t remember a few simple lines? But the tangle eluded him and there was nothing to be done about it.

“You gotta think about how to get outta here.” His brother’s voice echoed in his mind. But what was the point of that? He needed a map of the maze, needed the tattoo. How could he have been so stupid to overlook the possibility that it could be damaged? Skin torn, burnt, bloodied. His blood, dripping from his skin, from his maimed foot, from his burnt shoulder, oozing from the fresh tattoo. Why couldn’t he remember the tattoo? Why couldn’t he remember the psych ward maze?

A tear. A tear in the despair that was engulfing him. The tattoo, the psych ward, the blood. He stood as if struck by lightning, mumbling.

“Michael! What? What’d you say?”

“I put my blood into this.”

Michael knew how to avoid sensory overload. It took him years to learn but by now he knew his triggers and his limits. Knew that riding the tsunami and letting it unfold was unavoidable sometimes and taught himself how to get out of it after the wave hit.

He let his powerlessness drown his mind, let the tide of inadequacy choke him. Used his frustration to fuel his anger at himself.

He closed his fist and hit.

Incapable to remember. Hit.

Incapable to save Lincoln. Hit.

Worthless. Hit, again and again.

Let the sharp pain dull his senses and obnoxious notes started playing in his mind.

Easy, hit. Let the pain alter his consciousness.

Easy, hit. High pitched keys following an irregular pattern.

Hit. You break the bridle to make losing control,
, hit, hit, hit. Dropped further into subspace.

Hit with both fists, feeling the skin break. Pull out your heart

Hit, letting hot red drops smear the wall. Crush what you’re holding so you can say letting go is

, hit. Let the memory of pain add to the real one, toes and burns, Burn all your things to make the fight to forget,

, hit, hit, HIT!

Michael kept hitting, basking in the dulling pain from his knuckles, following the steady rhythm of blood droplets hitting piano keys and let the numbness smother him.

Slid to the floor, easy.

“Michael? Michael!”


“Badge, check out my brother, he’s not responding!”

Pull out your heart to make the being alone