DAMNED || LANDEL'S INSTITUTE

A Multifandom Asylum RPG


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DAY 52: BREAKFAST
➳  that you can't squeeze around
nobleobliged wrote in damned
How one's body could maintain a waking schedule when sleep came unnaturally and in a room without windows, must surely be a mystery. Yet, as if working on cue, Natalia stirred well before her nurse arrived. That was normal. Less so, the weight that sought to press her eyelids closed again, the heaviness of her limbs that made lifting her hands to her face an effort. She put her wrist to her forehead with a frown, then attempted a jolt of energy – to swiftly dig her hands into the mattress and shove herself into a seated position, and from there, to her feet.

Not to overexert herself once again, but to refuse that it could be possible after sleeping. Happily, though all still felt leaden, her head did not swim. Encouraged, Natalia put on her slippers, rearranged the bedding, and waited. There came the announcement (reminding her, suddenly, of what she had last heard, and the guilt that had twisted in her gut, Jill--), and her face wrinkled with disgust at the hacking sound. Therapy and breakfast. Food would surely help.

Natalia did not wait long before her nurse opened the door, and after exchanging cursory “Good Morning”s (with rather more enthusiasm on the other woman's part), they began the walk to the Cafeteria. With, of course, the essential rest room stop, where water was splashed and scrubbed over her face, and her hair toyed with to no great satisfaction. At least the shower had renewed its body.

Separating in the Cafeteria, Natalia took her place in line and loaded her plate: eggs, fruit salad, fried “tater tots” (potatoes?), and curious meat wrapped in cooked dough. Some of everything, with juice and water. She thanked her servers, collected utensils and napkins, and found a seat at an empty table. It was early yet.

Sparing a brief look around to be sure no one she recognized had arrived – though she remained eager to greet every patient, at the moment she chose to focus on the possible strength gained from the meal – Natalia began to cut up the items and eat with a refined gusto. Entirely possible!

[Claude!]

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Mele woke up, fumbled under the covers for the knife, then swung her legs to the floor, chucking the knife onto her clothes in the closet and grabbing a pen from her desk.

She was standing in front of the door, tapping her foot when the nurse opened the door. "I'm going to look at the bulletin." She breezed past the nurse, tuning out whatever objections the nurse might have made, walking quickly—speeding up when it felt like the nurse was nearing.

At the bulletin, she scribbled on it before the nurse could stop her, and headed into the cafeteria without being prompted. There, she stopped, looking over the room.

A hand on her shoulder announced the nurse, who pulled, not gently, at Mele, saying something all the while—Mele didn't know what, she wasn't paying attention. Then both the nurse's hands landed on her shoulder, pushing Mele down into a seat with a faint thump. "Behave," the nurse said irritably. "Or else."

Or else what? Mele would have replied, but she already knew what they could do. It was the reason she had needed to get to the bulletin this morning before the nurse could stop her. The nurse moved away before Mele could think of something else to say, and returned shortly with a tray of food, which landed before Mele with a clack that sounded faintly of disapproval. Mele would have said something nasty after the nurse's back, but—Or else.—the nurse wasn't worth her time, anyway. Mele looked at the tray and then picked up the fork instead, tapping it against the table in frustration.

[freee]

[Why hello there, little lady~]

"I've got to say that you don't look very well at all today," the Scarecrow observed as he took the seat opposite of Mele. Perhaps the night hadn't gone well for her- when he thought about it, it hadn't gone so well for him either, but at least he'd not been stricken blind without warning. The former strawman had hoped to spot Scar in the cafeteria and see if his sight had returned; he'd started writing a note for the lion on the bulletin board, only the realize halfway through that he'd not be able to see it in the first place.

Judging by the look Mele had given her nurse not a minute before, she was not in the mood to deal with the staff. And who could blame her? They were all being held captive in an asylum by an undoubtedly wicked wizard, and some were tortured nightly for reasons unknown. It had happened to Scar, as well as the Scarecrow himself. He hoped the same hadn't befallen Mele.

"You're okay, aren't ya?" he asked, looking her over a second time, leaning over the table to check around her head for any new wounds or bandaging.

[ /o/ ]

"I'm fine," Mele answered. "It's—" Mele looked up, then swallowed the rest of what she was going to say. "You know. The usual." Honestly, who in this entire place looked well? Was it some sort of figure of speech? Had he been speaking relatively? Something like that? Yeah, that must be it. Latching onto innocent comments—she was being irritable and practically spoiling for a fight.

No throwing the fork, she reminded herself, and took a deep breath. She shook her head in an attempt to clear away the feeling, and waved away Scarecrow's look. "Really, I am. How about you? Head still okay?"

Argh, she hated that injury of his. She never could tell at a glance if it was getting better or worse or whatnot. She got up to check for herself.

Despite her insistence, Mele still didn't seem very fine; then again, she seemed the sort who was willing to fight to defend herself (and likely her friends, judging by the way she acted sometimes). Being stuck in a situation where she had little control over what happened to her or said friends had to be frustrating- if it was to him, it had to be for someone with her amount of gumption.

"My head's fine," the Scarecrow said with a shy smile as she looked him over. "Really it is! It doesn't hurt hardly at all these days. My brain still acts peculiar sometimes, but it's up there." Even though he'd been human for some time, it still seemed surreal to have someone be concerned about his condition. It came with the territory of usually being made of only straw and some burlap- one didn't have to worry so much about having the stuffing knocked out of him.

"I was just worried about you," he continued, absentmindedly putting his hand to that rough spot on his head. "I found out just last night that another friend of mine had been taken for the 'sleep studies' not long ago. I don't know exactly what happened to him, but from the looks of it, he had the same sort of experimentation I did, head-cutting and all."

Hm, the injury didn't look any worse, but it wasn't like she was an expert or anything about stuff like that, anyway. "I'll take your word for it," she said, returning to her seat.

Head-cutting?! Maybe she should have risked waking Soma up to check on her this morning, after all. Hopefully, Mele's query on the bulletin would be answered; the wait for the end of the day was going to be a long and anxious one.

But, no, Scarecrow was fine. Relatively. Soma hadn't disappeared, so she had to be fine, right? Mele wasn't unused to the feeling of worry, but so much was happening at around the same time—Scarecrow, Soma—she felt like she was going to choke. But it was already too late to pull out of it. Soma had said she was a super soldier, so Mele had thought it was safe. That Soma could reasonably take care of herself and Mele didn't have to worry, but she should have known that, as with Rio, even the very capable fell down sometimes. Especially since they were all trapped here.

Her hands were shaking. No. No, don't lose it. "Sleep studies are different from special counseling, aren't they?" she said, in an attempt to restore normalcy. "Why do you think there's a difference...?"

The Scarecrow put a hand to his chin as he thought, not catching Mele's own shaking hands. There certainly were strong differences between the Sleep Studies and the Special Counseling- from what he'd gathered, the former involved some sort of medical procedure, while the latter seemed to be more about brainwashing patients and pitting them against one another. Neither made the Wizard Landel seem any less wicked.

Not only were there variations between the procedures, but the patients chosen, as well. "Now, I'm not very good with these sorts of things," he said with a serious look, "But one thing I've noticed is that the people taken for the Special Counseling are more fit for a fight than those taken for the Sleep Studies. There was you, who can conjure fire in the same way a witch can, and just the other day, I met a woman I'd seen guardin' the Horrible Hallway on the second floor. I thought she was a witch too, but then I saw her during the daytime. She was a patient, just like us.

"The ones I've met who were taken for the Sleep Studies like me weren't like that," the Scarecrow continued, the gears in his head turning. "None of them have been capable of magic as far as I know, and most have looked like the sorts who'd pick their fights carefully, if at all." It wasn't that Sangamon or Javert seemed cowardly- they certainly weren't wizards or warriors, though. "Surely this isn't the case for everyone, but maybe there's some sort of a pattern. I can't see them ever trying to bewitch me and set me after you, for example. I'm more of a thinker."

"There are definitely exceptions," Mele muttered, thinking of Soma again. And it wasn't magic, it was a technique— Ah, never mind. Soma could read minds, too; why didn't...? Would it have been better or worse for her roommate? Mele figured special counseling had to have been better. Then again...she'd hurt Scarecrow herself. And there was that: knowing that that power was possible in this place but not being able to access it....

She wanted to say that it was an interesting idea, these difference, but it didn't seem to her to be very likely. Not that knowing the difference really helped them any, but hey, she was the one who brought it up. "Pattern, hm?" she responded without any real interest.

She moved to another tack. "Where's this horrible hallway again?" She was certain he'd mentioned it before, and Mele had noticed one night that there'd been a fight in the Sun Room. She hadn't been sure if the instigator was a patient, but knowing where special counseling patients were likely to turn up seemed a bit more useful to know.

The question left on the Scarecrow's mind now was of what the aforementioned pattern could be. The patients seemed to come from all walks- some were humans, some not, some constructs, some witches and wizards themselves, some from entirely different times and places. Surely the Wizard Landel didn't just choose them at random. As tight an operation as the Institution seemed to be, it wasn't likely he'd take a risk by bringing in just anybody. Was there something that connected all the patients? Or was it that he wanted to study specific attributes, and everyone he'd kidnapped had something unique to offer?

That brought up the question of why Landel had captured him. He didn't have much to offer, aside from his superior brains and a body of straw; from what he'd seen, there were plenty of other intellectual types wandering around, and a body stuff with hay was as impressive as it was frightening (not very, in other words).

His line of thought was interrupted at Mele's question, bringing him back to the conversation. How rude he must have seemed! "The main hallway on the second floor of this place," he answered, pointing upward. "I've seen a lot of strange things going on up there- not just on the night we found you, but most other nights as well. There have been enchantments, a mangled witch who attacked us, something floating above the Sun Room, and just last night, there was the patient set on attacking us, like you had that one time. That hall is nothing but trouble! You'd best just avoid it."

The night that he'd found her— ...But hadn't she been on the first floor that night? She didn't remember finding stairs until later. Oh well, faulty memory. That wasn't new. And since she didn't want to talk about that, she wasn't going to clarify it. It didn't matter, anyway.

"The Sun Room, too," she said instead. Hadn't she said this bef—Ah. She remembered now. He had mentioned the Horrible Hallway before—he mentioned it as being above the Sun Room. "Guess it's just not a good place to be," she added.

Not that anyplace was a good place to be, but she hadn't been attacked again, which made her wonder if she'd just been lucky, or if Scarecrow was particularly unlucky. Nothing she could do about that, though.

Nothing much she could do about anything, it seemed these days. She picked up her fork again, and looked at the food in front of her. "...What were you thinking about?" she asked, referencing the pause, when he'd gone all quiet and thinky.

The Scarecrow fiddled with his fork, missing the feeling of the smooth metal under his fingers- apparently, he'd done a little too much thinking and the clever little thing felt it was necessary to take his senses away again. He'd been avoiding working his broken brain too much for that reason, though now that he thought about it, he didn't have it nearly as badly as some people- Scar, especially. Being without feeling was a familiar state for a former strawman; being completely blind must have been awfully frightening for the lion.

And there he went thinking too much again! "I can't help but wonder why some of us were captured in the first place," he answered, "and if there is some sort of a way to tell who is chosen for the Sleep Studies and Special Counseling. If there was some way to know who might be taken for what and when, maybe we could prevent it from happening altogether. Now wouldn't that be something?"

He wasn't sure what he'd do if someone like Depth Charge or Mele were taken for the Sleep Studies- even with his original body and brain, there was only so much a thinking sort could do without some help. That led him back to his initial question: why had the Wizard Landel deemed him fit for capture? Was it his superior brains? His status as ruler of the Emerald City? If he'd already managed to take Dorothy, were the Tin Man and Lion next?

The Scarecrow shook his head. He wasn't going to let his other friends get captured if he could help it. There had to be a way to keep the friends he'd made at the Institution relatively safe while working to defeat the Wizard Landel.

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