The Message In Room 17

I’m not crazy.

You should know right away that I’m nothing like the others. I’m not crazy like them. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, but this time you’ll just have to take my word for it. I’ll agree that there are some real lunatics in here, but I’m certainly not one of them.

Lunatic. Luna. Tick. From the Latin ‘lunaticus’, meaning ‘moonstruck’. The planet Earth was moonstruck once. It broke off, and spun away into orbit, and became a spinning satellite. Eye in the sky. Sat. Ell. Ite.

They’ll all tell you they’re perfectly normal – that they’re only here because someone made a terrible mistake. But not me. I wouldn’t lie to you like that.

No. I’m here because I’ve embarked upon a special mission.

Actually, it’s a research study. I’m a Doctor of Medicine – graduated top of my class at Johns Hopkins. I specialised in neuro-psychology. I was very highly respected… at least, until my findings became too radical for the establishment.

When I declared my intention to admit myself to a mental institution – going ‘undercover’, if you like – they shut me out. Took my license away. Lied to my family, even told them I was mentally ill.

But I’ll show them, don’t worry. I’m doing ground-breaking work here, the sort of real-life, up-close examination that they couldn’t imagine, locked away in their gilded offices, sweating in their white suits, diseased hands always groping, always reaching…

They’re looking at me funny. Their glass eyes weeping something black onto the floor, and pooling there, flabby and cold. Reginald will have to clean it up. Reginald doesn’t like the mess.

You believe me, don’t you? Of course you do. I’ve never lied to the doctors here – I respect them too much as colleagues.

So I’ll let you in on a little secret… It’s happening tonight. The ritual that they’ve been preparing for so long. The ritual that will make their visions real – send their inner demons flapping out into the wide world. When that happens, they won’t be the crazy ones anymore. They’ll be the laughing ones, laughing until they cry.

I bought the goats for them. It’s happening tonight. Remember, I want them to think I’m on their side. I want them to trust me.

It’s for my research study. The undercover study.

Trust me, I’m a doctor.

Reginald is six feet tall. He is standing in the corner, and he is watching you. Reginald’s fur is white like snow. His ears are floppy, and his eyes droop when he looks at you. His eyes. His eyes weep red, filmy black, cancer-riddled. Dead. Reginald is dead.

You believe me, don’t you? That’s why I’m telling you all this. They’re going to kill the goats, and the eyes in the walls will open up. Filmy, black eyes. It’s going down tonight.

Trust me. I’m not crazy.

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Xander Bennett rearranges words for fun and profit. Read a preview of his new book at

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