DAMNED || LANDEL'S INSTITUTE

A Multifandom Asylum RPG


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Day 51: Breakfast
Ninjas > everybody else.
thatdamnedninja wrote in damned
Yuffie Kisaragi, indomitable bouncing ball of sunshine and unfathomable ebullience, was tired. It'd been a long night full of gibberish and getting nowhere fast.

"Can't I—"

Plucky, who had been busily loading a plate full of French toast and bacon, tittered. "I'm afraid not, Hanna, darling. A chat over a nice, hearty breakfast would do you a world of good, don't you think?"

"Aaaaactually—"

"Come on, let's find you a seat. Plenty to choose from this morning!"

For a long moment, Yuffie seriously considered doing something—anything—to act out. Punch her nurse, rub jam in an orderly's face, climb a wall and hang off the ceiling, jump on a table and parody Loveless… A ruckus like that would definitely jolt her back into gear, right? Sedation aside. And it'd turn Plucky's good day right on its head, which was always a bonus worth shooting for.

But, by the time she'd reached a decision—and it was an epic decision, a really awesome one; everybody'd appreciate the genius, she was sure—she was already alone. Her breakfast tray had been set down neatly by the nurse, who had left with an infuriatingly winsome smile.

"Wow," Yuffie muttered. Shaking her head, she picked a chair at random and threw herself into it. She kicked back, one arm slung across her eyes, to wait. For what, she wasn't totally sure. Some moron to decide that she looked like good company? That was how it usually went.

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The first thing Bella noted when she woke up was that she wasn't in pain. The second thing was that Elizabeth's ring still sat on her finger, and it sparkled even brighter in the light. As the teenager walked down the hallway following her nurse, she kept her eyes on it, causing her to almost bump into a few other patients before she finally reached the cafeteria safe and sound.

After grabbing a plate of french toast that she was going to inhale (she was hungry for once.) Bella picked an empty table and sat down reaching a hand over her shoulder to gently press against her shoulder blade. She could feel fresh bandages over the wound - which started to hurt when she pressed on it, much to her chagrin - but nothing else was amiss.

So Edward hadn't been able to pry her wound open. Needless to say, the teenager let out a sigh of relief.

After glancing around the cafeteria for a second, Bella quickly dug into her food, cutting up the toast before shoving it into her mouth.

( WHERE MY NEW BFF AT. )

[HERE SHE IS. GURL YOU BEST BE READY FOR SOME JUNGLE PARTAY COMING YOUR WAY.]

Claire scrambled awake. She gasped, head rolling on the pillow and frantically beating against the sheets of her bed until her eyes snapped open and she realized that they weren't in the big room anymore. Both of the children and that woman were gone. It was a dream. She should have figured that out. It had been a long time since she'd come up with anything so bizarre as that, but it was all so silly in retrospect. Girls with blue hair and eyeballs floating out of nowhere. Just really weird.

This place, however, was not a delusion. Neither was her charming roommate, whose bed was mussed and and already empty. Claire's lip curled as she straightened to a sit. Where had she gone off to?

The doorknob rattled. Goose flesh broke out all over her skin and she tried to back-pedal into the wall as a nurse entered. Like the one last night, she was a stranger, grim faced and rather burly for a woman, nearly twenty centimeters taller than Claire if she were standing. She approached the bed fearlessly.

"Good morning, Charlotte. Time for breakfast."

"Who?" Claire blurted, blinking up at her with wide eyes. If she grabbed her by the hair, maybe, or snagged her collar, surely she could try dashing her head in on the bed frame. But how many Others were at this station? She could get swarmed the moment she tried anything. Already she could see figures passing outside the door, clad in shirts with those smiley faces or in loose-fitting hospital scrubs.

Her answer was a firm purse of the lips. "Charlotte, we have no time for games. You're here to get better and I won't indulge you by calling you Claire. Come on now. Off the bed."

"Indulge me?" she repeated incredulously. "What are you talking about? I'm not Charlotte! That was the woman from the freighter. With the red hair. My name is Claire."

"Enough." A hand snapped out and gripped her by the arm, dragging her off the bed before she had a chance to protest. Claire stumbled to her feet, stunned by the strength of the hold. She tried to wrestle herself away but the nurse pulled her back in, unimpressed. "You are going to stop fidgeting and come to breakfast, understood? We don't tolerate tantrums here."

"Tantrums?" Claire squawked, but it was too late. The woman pulled her along and out the door, and Claire was too muddled and too scared to fight her. The hall was teeming with people, her wide-eyed stare jumping from one to another as she was carted down the hall. None of them. She knew none of these people. There couldn't be a whole colony of Others she hadn't seen before. That was just...

The halls were familiar. Her dream. She had walked this exact same way in her dream. It had been pitch dark and illuminated only briefly by passerby with their torches on, but she was sure of it. A slow sense of dread rose within her. That was impossible. She couldn't have dreamed of something she's never seen before. Not in this great of detail, this accuracy. Even further down and they were marching through a grand set of doors into that common room from last night.

Without warning, Claire dug her heels into the carpet. Her free hand clawed at the nurse's sleeve with animal panic. "Wait - that woman! That woman with the eyes, in the purple dress - she was here! Where are the kids?!"

"Charlotte!" The shout was a warning. Both of her wrists were snatched by hands much stronger than hers and the nurse leaned down to chastise her face to face. Their difference in size no doubt made it seem as if it was a mother scolding a particularly squirmy child. "Stop that. You are going to upset the other patients with that ruckus. You need to act your age. Do you understand?"

There were so many things Claire wanted to say to that. Wanted to do. Spitting in her face seemed like a good idea. But the windows caught her attention, and suddenly she couldn't think about the nurse anymore. She gaped, jaw dropping wide.

An impatient sigh. "What is it now?"

"The trees..." Claire whispered.

"Yes. They're pine trees. Can we move along now?"

"How is that -"

But they were moving again. Claire struggled, straining her neck to continue staring at the window while keening gasps of terror escaped her throat. The nurse moved them into something like a high school cafeteria, nodding pointedly at another nurse as she steered Claire into a seat. She fought the whole way.

"The trees - what happened to the trees? What the hell is this?!"

"Quiet!" the nurse barked. She turned to the girl sitting across from Claire and fixed her with a stern gaze. "Keep an eye on her. She's new."

The other nurse bustled in with a tray full of food. French toast like the other girl was nibbling on, orange juice, bacon and hashbrowns. The two left, and Claire was left shaking wildly in her seat. Her eyes grew wet, breathing manic as she turned her attention to her table-mate.

Pretty. Brunette. Young. Another total stranger.

"W-where...where are we?" She searched her eyes frantically for an answer. "What happened to the trees?"

It was too hot for Christmas trees on the island. This wasn't right.

( WE'RE ALWAYS READY FOR JUNGLE PARTY BB )

And at once, Bella's peaceful breakfast was canceled when suddenly not one, but two nurses helped bring a pretty blonde girl to a seat across from her and made her sit down. Instantly freezing in her seat, she couldn't help but wonder if this was another one of those actually crazy patients.

Hello, my name is Bella and I am a danger magnet.

However, the nurse quickly told her that she was new, and Bella nodded her head quickly, not wanting to get on her bad side. Once they were gone, the teenager turned her head and looked towards the other girl. ... And at once she was confused.

"We're ... um," Bella bit her lip, poking at a piece of toast. "No one really knows, but everyone thinks we're in the United States because of the trees and ... what do you mean what happened to the trees?"

Uh oh.

"Um," she began again, placing her fork down. "What's the last thing you remember before waking up here? I'm Bella, by the way. I've been here a few days so I can try and help you."

"...You mean...United States?"

The name ricocheted in her head. Everything else drained from her mind: the children, the strangeness of last night, the nurse calling her Charlotte. All that remained was an idea she couldn't understand, winding itself around her lungs and twisting her stomach into knots.

Dizziness settled in. Claire had to run the girl's words through her head a second and third time before the meanings became clear. She had given her a name, Bella, and an offer to help. All she could do in return was shake her head.

"No. No no, that's not true. You're lying. It's impossible, okay, I was on an island. There's no way off - the last sub just left, I saw it leave, I was there on the dock - they were leaving without me and I saw them all go. I was there!" Her lip quivered as the the scent of sweet syrup reached her nose, wafting off the hot french toast. Toast that couldn't be there, because there was no way to cook it except over fire and no ingredients to begin with. Even if there had been another food drop, nobody could cook it. The houses had been largely decimated, and the stations were built for studies and experiments. Not cooking. "I was on the dock and then I was here..."

She couldn't have slept through a trip like that. She couldn't have slept at all. Claire had been wide awake and it was daytime. How was any of this possible? One blink and suddenly she was in a new Dharma station with a hundred strangers, calling her another name and feeding her french toast on a tray.

Claire withered in her seat, her panic exchanged for a quiet, trembling fear. "...There's no pine trees on the island."

"Yeah," Bella nodded, twirling her fork around with her fingers. "There's been a discussion, I believe, about it being on the east coast ... I think it was?" She couldn't actually recall - after all, it wasn't her that had heart the talk. It had been Edward, and then he had told her about it afterward.

However, the girl was speaking again, telling her she was lying. Biting her lip, it was Bella's turn to shake her head. She remained quiet, however, listening to the girl talk about the last place she had been. ... An island? And there was something about a sub ... submarine? So the girl had been ... left behind.

At once the teenager felt bad for this new girl, and she got up and moved to the other side of the table so she could sit next to her. "I know it's kind of a crazy thing to process," she told her in a quiet voice, not wanting to draw the attention of the nurses who had first pushed the new girl upon her. "But you need to stay calm. I was taken from my home, too ... and so was everyone else here. Some people say they weren't even from this planet, much less the United States, so ..."

Bella had to be careful with this girl. She didn't want to freak her out and end up being stabbed with a fork. Edward would quite possibly have a mental breakdown if such a thing happened to her so soon after being stabbed with a shard of glass.

"It's okay," she whispered to the girl, lifting a shaking have to slowly place against the girl's shoulder. "None of us know what happened and how we ended up in this crazy place, but we're all in it together when it means getting out."

Bella was throwing it all out so casually. The United States, on the east coast. Fiddling with her fork and rolling the words off her tongue without so much as a blink.

She wasn't lying.

Claire choked. Hands drifted up to press against her face and her eyes squeezed shut. She could see the foreign trees, almost as if their image was painted on the back of her eyelids. She hadn't imagined them. She wasn't imagining any of this. They were - she was in America.

The seat next to her creaked. The girl had moved beside her, whispering soothing words as hot tears escaped her and rolled into her hands and down her wrists. Claire couldn't respond to her, her throat had grown too thick. The only sounds she could make were wordless, wracking sobs and hiccups as the revelation cracked her clean in two. She was free - this wasn't the right place, but she was free. She was on the same land Aaron was. Her little boy. She had to find him, and fuck it all if anything was going to stand in her way. She'd walk for years if she had to.

She really could see him again. Three years of waiting...

It took some time, but the sobbing turned to sniffles and Claire scrubbed the tears away with the back of her arm. She wordlessly grasped the hand from her shoulder and squeezed it with both of her own, beaming at Bella with a shaky smile. Another tear or two slid down her cheeks.

"Thank you. I'm...it's been ages since I've..." She couldn't say it enough. Claire squeezed her hand again and gave an unsteady laugh. "Thank you."

She let go to wipe her face one more time, and took a deep breath. Time to collect herself now. She had to figure out a way out of this place to get to her son, and she could only do that if she listened. It didn't sound like Bella knew how she'd been brought here, but she would surely know other things.

Her voice had yet to recover, so there was a distinct meekness to the question no matter how she tried to mask it. "So what is this place? Is it really a hospital?"

When the girl started sobbing tears of joy Bella couldn't help but become ... well, confused was an understatement. What kind of place did this girl come from to think that Landel's, of all places, was like some kind of vacation?

However, when the girl grabbed her hand, the teenager calmed down. She didn't know where this girl was, but by the sounds of what she had said before, it sounded as if she had been abandoned ... and something about a submarine, most likely. She couldn't forget about that part. "It's ... I ... You're welcome," Bella finally said, just going with it. "What's your name, by the way?"

At the girl's next question, she leaned back in her chair, turning to look at the nurses who were still escorting patients into the cafeteria. "It looks like a mental asylum - tells you they are. They tell you that the life you lived before entering is all just a dream made up by your mind to fabricate something else," unconsciously, Bella's hand moved to her ring, spinning it around on her finger, as if making sure that it was still there. "They say they're going to heal us, whatever that's supposed to mean."

"But," at this point, her voice dropped low, and she leaned towards Claire. "At night ... everything changes, like in a horror movie. We're allowed to walk around the hallways, but they've ... changed. Everything is dark and scary, and there are monsters wandering around some of the hallways just waiting to attack you."

She hated being the one to tell a newbie about what happened at night, sometimes. She didn't want to freak them out, like she had her roommate.

"Oh, and there are monsters in the mirror. Most definitely stay away from any mirrors."

"Claire. I'm Claire," she replied breathlessly. Her lips pressed together for a moment, as if she had forgotten something important. "...Littleton."

She contained herself for Bella's sake and to better hear the explanation, forcing her breathing to slow and grasping her reeling mind to hold still for a second and just listen.

What ensued...well, frankly, it sounded crazy. She was already balking at 'mental institution', but then Bella when on to mention monsters. What did she mean? Strange animals, or monsters like in Halloween? Frankenstein and mummies, that kind of thing. Claire's thoughts fluttered back to the woman who had walked out of a rip in the air, and the floating eyeballs before her. In the fresh light of day she was more than willing to cast that off as a dream, even if the halls and the rooms they had passed looked eerily similar between night and day. (It wouldn't be the first time something had gone wrong with her memories. She'd totally blocked out Ethan, hadn't she?)

Yet Bella's explanation fit the dream perfectly. And it had been really vivid, hadn't it? And she definitely didn't dream the part about being in her room before that, because she'd woken up in the exact same place this morning, hadn't she?

"So...last night was real." Claire had sobered up by now, most of the evidence of her fit gone. At the very least she was speaking clearly. "I thought I dreamed it all up, but I met two children. We went to that room over there." She turned and pointed to the common room, visible through the open doors. "There was a flock of...eyes. Eyes that floated. I cut one in half and the rest exploded. Then a woman came out of thin air and scolded me for cutting it. Then I just...woke up." She shook her head. "I thought it was too weird to be real, but it's not really so strange after all, is it?"

Considering what all she had seen on the island, this was only a step in a different direction. Perhaps there would be more of the inexplicable, like John. All right. If that was how it was then there wasn't much she could do about it. She would just leave that all alone. Her main goal would be to get out. Get back to Aaron. She didn't need useless distractions.

That last part was worthy of a little skepticism, though. "What about the mirrors? How...do you mean there's something wrong with the reflections?"

"It's nice to meet you, Claire," Bella said with a smile, laughing to herself. "You know, you're the second Claire I've met in my stay here. Both of you are blonde, too. Good times."

At the mention of last night being real, the teenager's smile faded and was replaced by a frown. "Yes," she began, nodding her head. "So you've been here since yesterday, and no one told you what goes on at night? Thankfully for me, on my first day someone told me about what happens at night, so I was semi prepared ... except now, and I ended up just running down the hallways being terrified out of my mind, alone," a pause, and Bella smiled. "But I was lucky, I guess. I ran into someone I knew, so."

"But," she said, her smiling once again going away, "I don't know about a woman, though ... and cutting ... eyeballs? That's pretty crazy, either way," she said with a shake of her head, a sigh escaping her lips. "And about the mirrors. Well, a few nights ago my friend and I were wandering around looking for weapons, and she punched a mirror so we could get a shard of glass as a weapon, but ... when we did something came out of the mirror. It looked like my friend except it was a zombie of sorts? Anyway, it ran back into the mirror before we could kill it ... but it hurt me pretty bad," she admitted. "I have a stab wound on my back and everything."

She would have continued, but just then the nurses began piling in and pulling patients out and towards their destined rooms. "Looks like they're going to start herding us like sheep again," Bella said with a frown, turning back towards Claire. "But listen, if you have any questions or anything, feel free to hit me up on the bulletin, okay? Maybe we can chat again or something."

Honestly, talking so normally to Claire (despite the topic) made her feel ... somewhat normal. Almost reminded her of home, like she was back in high school and talking to her friends during lunch.

That drew an unexpected smile from Claire. It was brief and came with half a laugh, but it was too strange to stay. "It's good to meet you too, Bella."

Claire had always been a common name back home, but now the idea of sharing it seemed a little jarring. Two Claires. There were so few people around the island that it was something she hadn't had to lend a thought to.

"No, my roommate sort of did. At least about the hospital part. But she was acting stupid and I was so sure that this was another station..." Claire gnawed on the edge of her lip as she drifted into thought. In daylight she could see it was much too big to be hidden on the main island. She'd convinced herself that this was the place Jack and Kate and Sawyer had been kept in when the Other's took them, but they had said they'd stayed in animal cages outside. Not hospital beds. "Anyway, nobody said a word about monsters or fake lives or anything."

As she listened to Bella recount the story about the mirror, Claire was admittedly having a difficult time imagining it. It sounded like something out of a cheap horror film. Yet at the same time, she knew it was possible to take the forms of the dead. John could do it. He had looked like her Dad for a while. Spending so much time with him had made her think it normal, that sort of power. An invincible man who could turn into smoke. What would Bella think if she told her about that?

Her eyes narrowed when she mentioned the wounds. "Did you get it stitched up?" The nurses were bustling about, stern and fussing over the patients all around. If what Bella said was true, then they were pretending to be oblivious to what happened at night. That meant the patients were in it for themselves. No help from the staff. "You could get infected really easy like that. Especially if it was like a dead body. Rotted stuff is the worst for that."

When she looked up again, she realized the nurses weren't just fussing for no reason. They were gathering people up. Breakfast was over. She looked down at her untouched tray and ignored the unhappy burble of her stomach. They could be drugging it. She'd learned from her time with Ethan, after all.

"For sure. If you get hurt again, let me know. I can fix you up." She tried on a smile. "I had to sew myself up a lot. I've gotten pretty good."

She wasn't quite sure what Bella was referring to with the bulletin, but she smiled brighter and nodded. Bella was nice. Genuine. She reminded her a little of the girls she used to be friends with in school.

Her nurse was closing in. Claire swiftly licked her lips and grasped the girl by the arm once more. "Bella - um, thank you. Really." She could feel her throat tightening again, but she fought it down. "You don't know how much this means to me."

An impatient voice sniped in, calling her by that false name. Claire gritted her teeth and let go. She had to follow orders for now.

But she would find Bella again.

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