The 24th Installment

The old woman hurried down the corridor. It was easier with everyone passed out. Leaping over a guard, ideas of revenge tempted her, but she kept going. The front doors hung open. George the doorman rested limp in the corner. She rounded the building, stopping only once to check one of her fellow patients. The girl was fine, and the old woman patted her shoulder before moving on.

She paused briefly over the man in pajamas, but she had no time for mysteries. The mask pinched. The night sky sparkled. Surely it was close to dawn? Things had to be in place before sunrise and the arrival of the daytime staff.

It was easy to guess where Nurse Stillmark had gone. The old woman could’ve followed her scent anywhere.
She reached the storage room. She paused and listened.

The nurse clattered around. The old woman assumed she was pulling things from the bag she must’ve taken from the girl. The old woman tried to remember what could in the bag so immediately useful.


There was that patient, a girl, who’d been brought to the Asylum close to death, her most prized possession a box of matches. 

The old woman pushed opened the storage room door. “This is our home,” she said. “You don’t get to destroy it.”

Nurse Stillmark looked up. “I decide what happens here.”

Then came the noise from outside, like a storm beating across the sky.

“The birds,” the two women said in unison.

Closest to the door, the old woman turned to look out.

A cloud of black wings settled on the Asylum roof. Caws filled the air and then a scream. And the old woman knew where Hannah was. 

The 25th Installment