Chapter 2 – Nox

Dr. Nicodemus Liok leaned back in his swivel chair, lips pressed together in blatant consternation. His fingers arched and pressed against the pads of the opposite hand, making a triangle indicative of grim thought. He brought his hands to rest under his chin, the tips of his fingers poking the underside of his cream-colored and graying jaw line.

He was shaped like a wolf, a shaggy, almost mane-like cape of fur around his neck and up the back of his skull making him look almost like an old lion. The fur was ticked, a mixture of cream, gray and white. It was evident from the ice blue of his aged and clever eyes that he was an old man, and judging by the peculiar amalgamation of color in his fur, he may have bore a pelt that contained hues far more cream and tan in his younger years than the silver and white it was now.

Dr. Liok had a good reputation in the facility, and indeed, in the general medical community for his well-published research and observations. He was a renowned MD with his board of certification in psychiatry, and he enjoyed his job immensely. When he was a more youthful man, he had regarded his fame in the community with a small degree of arrogance and pride. However, he supposed that was could have been anyone’s hubris; he was not sorry that it was his, as he had learned much from those experiences. Nevertheless, his character had changed over the years as gracefully as his fur had grayed and his eyes had developed sharp wisdom.

His desk was arranged with an almost compulsive neatness with a packet of confidential files placed directly in front of him. From the place in which the file was opened, it was clear that the psychiatrist had been examining the patient’s records only a moment before, which was doubtlessly why his fingers were pressed together in a diamond shape under his chin.

Although the patient’s profile stated an Axis II diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, Dr. Liok did not concur with this formulation, and he intended to bring it up to the team that had been assigned to that particular case. Dr. Liok thought it more likely that he had paranoid schizophrenia, which would have required a dramatically different treatment approach than a personality disorder. Dr. Liok frowned in disapproval; how could someone have made such a dramatic error?

The only thing left to do would be to ask the patient himself the questions that still begged to be answered. Dr. Liok gathered the file and tapped it neatly against the surface of his desk so that the papers fell in a straight, neat pile. He proceeded to stand up, causing his leather swivel chair to drift several inches behind him.

He was a tall, thin man, and when he walked, his shoes made a click on linoleum floors that made him sound sapient and distinguished. As he loped steadily out of his office and down the hall, walking with an ever-present limp, he passed two security guards who shifted their weight boredly, one yawning with a sigh. Nicodemus gave them a clipped nod, and they each nodded back politely in turn.

When he had reached the ward that housed the patient, his ice blue eyes passed over the number on each uniformly white door, finally reaching 1031. With keys that he collected from the inside pocket of a crisp navy suit, the psychiatrist began the task of unlocking the three bolts on the door of interest.

When each lock had clicked open, he turned the knob and opened the door, surveying the patient inside. “May I come in?” Dr. Liok’s voice thrummed deeply, a gravelly but pleasant sound. The question was such a farce that many psychiatrists chose to dispense with it entirely; after all, it was not in the authority of the patients, particularly the lower-functioning ones, to dictate when an assessment was convenient. However, something in the patient’s files had made Nicodemus ask it, and he rarely questioned such intuitive wisdom.

Being on drugs was almost like being in a coma–the mental state of being not quite awake and not quite asleep. The mind was jammed at the peak of a rollercoaster while the engineer went on lunch break. The ride was over… done… dead… he was dead. But despite everything that had happened, contentment. Loosing all hope was freedom.

The padded room was almost comfy; its small electric lights embedded in the ceiling added a soft peachy glow to the Charmin toilet paper textured walls. There was no furniture, (for such accessories could easily damage the soft fabric) but a small mattress dressed with a soft pillow and sheets. This is where Nox sat, with his long legs folded over its side, elbows on knees, and long tail drooping limp, his face nearly pressed to the page of a paperback book.

Within the short time span since he arrived, the feline had aged horribly. Already he had lost most of the muscle mass that had previously filled out his scandalously tall frame, its absence making him look more or less like an emaciated skeleton. His once lambent, neon green fur seemed to have lost its luster, and his black hair had exploded like a wild garden with to no immediate access to a barber shop, or anything else associated with sharp objects (other than the medicated needles that where shoved into his arm each morning and evening).

He was in his morning’s best, which was to say starch white long sleeves and pants. They were not very flattering, but it was much better than the straightjacket. On good behavior, Nox no longer wore the loathsome garment, and he’d taken advantage of his new freedom by turning the pages of books. Although the staffers had only allowed him to check out one story at a time, within the span of only a month, he had read through whole volumes of literary works he had, at one time, never had time for. Today he was puzzling over Hamlet, but in his state of semi consciousness (thanks to some nameless narcotic he received earlier that morning), he could barely read through the soliloquy in the first act.

To be, or not to be–that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep–
No more–and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to…

Hamlet’s on crack, he commented mentally to himself, although the notion could more correctly be applied to himself. His angled eyes, inky black and pupiless in nature, were comparable only to a shark’s. They narrowed at the archaic dialogue that continued to elude him, chasing the words all over the paper as they rearranged themselves in different positions… but oh, he was too tired to understand…

It was an unexpected voice that delivered him from this madness.

Peering over the edge of his book to the doctor standing in the doorway, he took a serious moment to take in the good doctor’s features, trying to decide whether or not to act surprised. Was today evaluation day? If so he’d missed the memo, or he might’ve even bothered to run his fingers through his hair.

Tossing Hamlet on the pillow somewhat carelessly, Nox proffered a hand to welcome the doctor into the ‘abode’; tapping the mattress beside him with all good intentions.

“What’s up Doc?” he asked, with his unexercised voice crackling.

Nicodemus surveyed the wild-haired charge with bemusement and more than a little pleasure for his casual, cartoonish greeting. After a moment’s brief hesitation, the doctor turned and nodded to someone else behind the door; as Dr. Liok opened the door wider, a security guard brought a chair into the room and placed it near the door.

The psychiatrist knew that the patient had received a heavy sedative that morning, and based on Nox’s previous history with this particular dose, it would likely be enough to prevent any major damage to the doctor should Nox turn violent. The guard, a burly and nervous looking man with squinty eyes, glanced anxiously at Dr. Liok, but the wolf gave him an inscrutable smile and nodded—his signal to leave him alone with the patient. The man did not shut the door completely on the way out, but left it at a crack so that he could quickly intervene if things went badly.

Dr. Liok turned his small, enigmatic smile onto Nox and sat gracefully on the chair that had been placed near the entrance. He knew enough to never let a patient get between him and the door, although it would not have mattered as much in this case, given the fact that the guard was directly outside the door and could have easily shouted for a doctor if Dr. Liok gave him the signal.

“So sorry to intrude upon your reading time,” he began pleasantly, his voice hiding no ill will towards the unkempt patient. “I hope you will not mind if I ask a few brief questions.” His eyes traveled down to the cover of the upside-down book that Nox had been reading. He wondered idly how much that the patient was absorbing at that dose of sedative.

But he remembered that Nox had already eloquently asked him ‘what’s up,’ so Dr. Liok thought that it would not be violating his sense of civility if he began. Shifting out a blank pad of yellow, lined paper and a pen, which he held in his left hand, the psychiatrist tilted his head and scribbled at the top of the page the date, time, circumstances of the visit, and the particular dose of medications he knew Nox to be on.

“How are you finding your stay here so far?” he asked curiously, turning his sharp eyes on the younger man.

Nox seemed quite content to watch the whole awkward ritual of setting up the interview, relaxing his chin on the palms of his hands in quiet interest, like someone enthralled with a TV special. His gaze trailed the flighty looking security guard that had brought the chair before asserting his full attention to the much more interesting looking character placed before him. He instantly enthralled himself in the demiurgic tones of doctors voice, and the sweep of the ballpoint pen as they wrote down things he would never know or care to learn. He didn’t respond at first to the statement, although he heard them quite well and sucked on the words like candy. Generally, this was how Nox functioned through most of the asylum procedures; he was always too distracted by depressants to take them very seriously. So, when he was finally asked the first question, he it took a little time before his mind came around to the answer.

“I can’t complain.” Everyone here made sure that his life went smoothly and without mishaps; the white coated ladies kept him fed; they provided warm, cotton blankets when the air conditioning shut off; they spoke words of encouragement and success. There was no more trouble of eluding a cruel fate, no more pain that came from waging wars that he would never win when there were benefits to surrendering to the enemy. All of his problems were flushed away in a warm and fuzzy atmosphere of white where one popped pills for lunch.

But even in this nirvana there where still some minor annoyances…

“Sir did you know that your head is quite small compared to the rest of your body index?” he commented after a moment of collective silence. He raised his brows under his mass of hair, observing how the doctor’s wolfish figure slowly distorted about like a lava lamp… after about a moment musing he gave up trying to focus on it and closed his heavy eyes.

The doctor’s pen swept like a stage hand across the paper, noting his observations with the trained eye of a professional. Motor retardation, he wrote. Monotone, flat affect. Patient notes ‘can’t complain.’

“Well, that’s positive at least,” Nicodemus noted with a small smile. Truth be told, he had not been sure what to expect with this particular patient. As he listened, he took another note. Perceptual disturbances—visual, he scrawled in the messy penmanship particular to doctors. He would have been interested to note what Nox would have been like if he had not been so intoxicated on barbiturates. Perhaps he would require that the next interview be conducted sober under physical restraint, but Dr. Liok did not particularly like binding patients up like Christmas presents, even if it was for their own safety.

“No… that must have been something that I had missed this morning, looking in the mirror,” he replied with a friendly tone. “I shall be sure to go back and check on that. Thank you for kindly informing me.”

The wolf tilted his head, anticipating his next question carefully. Patients were usually freshest at the beginning of the interview, before the excitement tired them out. He needed to be cautious and efficient. “What is it like for you, being in this room alone?” he asked. “Do you miss being around other people? Do you have friends or family outside of the institution?”

Wasn’t he already asked that?

He swept the room with his dark eyes in search for a probable answer. The soft walls provided a comforting sense of security. It never occurred to him that the room was built to keep him inside, but to keep the unseen dangers of the outside world out. He let out a contented sigh while returning his gaze to the doctor, whose wolfish figure wouldn’t remain stationary in his vision.

“This place is nice.” He said “I shoulda moved in years ago.” He considered the next question more carefully, as it would require him to remember bits and fragments of his so called “normal life.” He didn’t feel like expending the energy to dredge up individual names… or faces… or anything about it really.

“I have a number of acquaintances, and an immediate family on the outside.” And when he stated this, his tone indicated that he was stating an uninteresting fact that he and the doctor both knew. He mused at his tongue that was flopping senselessly around in his mouth for a minute before realizing that he didn’t quite answer the doctor’s question adequately.

“I don’t care about missing people these days…” he assured. “If I do miss a person on occasion; I simply look at the last spot I left him.”

The doctor’s frown became deeper and more disconcerted as the patient’s answers grew progressively more disorganized, pen resting briefly against Dr. Liok’s fuzzy, graying chin. It occurred to him that perhaps the doses of medications that Nox were currently on were too high for him. Although the patient did not seem dissatisfied with the way things were going, Dr. Liok disliked the idea of medicating a patient more than was absolutely required. He made a concise note to check the date of the patient’s last aggressive or violent episode, and to consider lowering his dose of barbiturates. Nox seemed excessively sedated, to the point of perceptual distortions, and Dr. Liok was loathe to think that the patient had been so disorganized and deadened for so long while there was a smaller dose they could use safely. He also made a mental note to check which doctor had prescribed him that particular dose. In any case, Nicodemus would prefer to talk to Nox while he was slightly more sober.

Dr. Liok frowned again, for it seemed that he was in a serious predicament. Barbituates were highly addictive, and thus, withdrawal could be severe to the point of fatal. Withdrawal also caused hallucinations, confounding the evaluation of schizophrenia. He made a brief note to wean the patient off of barbiturates and onto another, less potent sedative so that Nox’s perceptual distortions could be assessed without the possibility of being side effects of the drug or withdrawal from the drug.

“I am glad things are going well for you,” Dr. Liok affirmed. “Do you wish you were getting more interaction with other people than you are currently allowed?” he asked with a tilted head, leaning forward to convey interest. One of his legs was crossed over the other, his clipboard resting upon his more prominent knee. “Can you tell me about your family or your acquaintances? Anything would be helpful, no matter how irrelevant it might seem to you.” Dr. Liok had noticed while observing his file that Nox received very little contact with other people besides the nurses that brought him food or medication.

“I would also be interested to hear about the kinds of things you liked to do for fun before you were hospitalized, if you wouldn’t mind me asking,” the doctor added with evident curiosity. “I see clearly that you enjoy reading,” he continued, gesturing in confirmation towards the books that lay strewn over Nox’s foam bed. “Is there anything else? Sports or games or music?”

He wasn’t sure which question he should try and answer first, but he sensed there was an ever so slight change of atmosphere with the doctor, perhaps it was the way he had frowned like that earlier. It occurred to him that since his introduction into the white room, no one had expressed as much interest in him as this one did. He sucked on his tongue indifferently, digesting this thought as he shuffled his answers into some shape of organized thought.

“I do not wish for things anymore Doc.” He responded somewhat pleasantly “When you say interaction, I suppose that you’re referring to little tea parties such as these,” he gestured wistfully around to the imaginary tea tables and crumpets adorning the room. “I find them rather pointless.” And he said this with no hint of sarcasm.

“My family…” he stated after minute. Now he was required to venture back into the mines of his past, where the path was narrow and the light was dim, and from every shadow there came feeble whispers of discontent.

“I have two parents you see,” He began somewhat dumbly, “My mom is taller than my dad, and she is a sociopath, or a sniper, or something else that starts with the letter ‘S’. I also have a twin sister who looks a lot like her, only she’s more physically appealing, and landed some deal in a modeling industry. My father is big, and he suffers from some sort of brain sickness that makes him irrational at times. I look a lot like him, except that my eyes aren’t red like his and my horns are all backward.” He lifted a hand and sifted his fingers through the forest of hair, finding those cold, awkward formations that jutted from his skull. Ageless, polished steel glinted faintly under the tangled, black boughs that he pulled back, as if to prove to the doctor that they were in fact different from his fathers horns, even though Dr. Liok probably hadn’t encountered or would have the unlucky chance of encountering Nox’s father in his future lifetime.

Whether subconsciously or unconsciously, he skipped ‘acquaintances’ altogether.

“I like to eat chocolate.” He said, and at first, that was the only insignificant thing that came to mind. However, a lengthy moment of silence indicated that it was not quite ripe enough.

“Motorcycles…” he said at last “Fast things. I liked… climbing buildings… but I think that’s illegal in some countries. Once, I was tutored by a chef and I learned to cook for homeless people so I could get a free place for rent… but now I don’t remember any of the recipes…” His monotone voice droned on like a bee flying in a straight line, but somehow, his body language began to shift. “I was obsessed with martial arts for some reason… I took my homemade blades and swords and shit everywhere with me, I even stuck them in my underwear…” he paused, remembering some unfortunate events with that choice of accessory. “Forgot how to do most of the martial training though, my black belt is probably kite string material by now… and I used to be a glass cutter. I guess when I couldn’t be a policeman, I got this ape-shit idea to become an artist. It seemed to come naturally, I repaired church windows and stuff… though I think I forgot how to do that too…” and suddenly he stopped himself, as if realizing something; he was no longer looking at the doctor’s face, but rather at the ceiling, where the lights hummed quietly. Somehow, impossibly, he had gotten sidetracked in his discursiveness.

Nox regarded the Dr. Liok’s wolfish figure for a minute of deep, thoughtful concentration, and when he spoke again his voice was flatter than ever.

“Why are you asking me all these things?”

In response to Nox’s only slightly discursive stories, Dr. Liok’s certainty that the patient was not a disorganized schizophrenic solidified. Although he wandered slightly from topic to topic, the wanderings were predictable and normal, and Nox had stayed on each topic for an appropriate length of time. Although he could not be sure that this was not a therapeutic effect of the antipsychotic chlorpromazine, which Nox was currently taking, Dr. Liok somehow doubted it; Nox had no history of disorganized cognition or speech. The primary thing that had tipped the doctor towards a suspicion of schizophrenia was the presence of hallucinations.

“Thank you, Nox, for your cooperation. It is helpful for me to hear this. You must miss some of these things—it seemed like you had quite a few passions, such as martial arts and glass cutting. I ask you these questions because, quite honestly, I am wondering if your current diagnosis is accurate. If it is not, it would be important to find out so that we can alter the therapeutic process, including medications, accordingly.” Dr. Liok tilted his head curiously, wondering if Nox would be open to the idea of other types of art that did not involve dangerous materials (such as glass). Drawing, for example, might be useful in both assessment and therapy. The doctor made a little note of the idea on his notebook, underneath the brief bullet points he had recorded during Nox’s summary of his family and his hobbies.

Dr. Liok leaned back in his chair, staring at the scrawled notes he had collected on the patient’s assessment so far. His description of his parents was disturbing, to say the least. The fact that he had chosen to speak of his father’s appearances and how they differed from his own, rather than characteristics of his father’s personality or temperament, might be described as a ‘linguistic slippage,’ which sometimes occurred when focusing on sources of unresolved trauma.

“You speak about your parents as if you have no relationship with them. You describe your mother as a sociopath and your father as irrational. Do you think that any of your parents’ traits have been carried genetically to you? Could that be part of why you are here, in this hospital? Or if not, what is your understanding of what you are here for?” Dr. Liok had leaned forward again, his wolf ears arched forward as his ice-blue eyes stared intently at his patient.

He became lost in those hazy blue eyes for a minute, slightly thrown off topic. If he had been asked the same question only a year or so earlier, he would have promptly instructed the doctor to shove a sock in it.

“It… I…” he mumbled somewhat clumsily; he was so disinclined to answer that his brow had formed a little valley. But he couldn’t lie; that would be admitting to something to himself that he wouldn’t want to know..

“It is possibility I have deeply considered…” And he said this with deliberate care; his muzzle was reserved atop his interlaced fingers. “But I am not like them. Oft-times, it is assumed that I’m some sort of… some sort of, I dunno, a bastard child from the two of them I guess… that ‘praps I’d like to go and beat the shit out of people for kicks.” Indeed, it wouldn’t be too hard to envision Nox strangling a random pedestrian on the street, especially in his current physical arrangement “I never told anyone not to believe it, but, the truth of the matter is… I-” he chased the words ‘I am not a murderer’ around in his head, but decided not to sound them.  “-I’m just a six foot tall pussy… cat.” Idiot, that wasn’t the climatic statement he was going for.

“I came here because it was the last place I could turn to,” he went on. “I was told that I could finally stop running. And I have not, thanks to your… (he fought for an adjective but couldn’t find one) drugs… er-program.” He found that he no longer held the doctor’s intense gaze as he once did; instead he observed the tip of his own tail as it curled, the small set of black rings that coiled near the brushy apex flexing slightly apart.

It was interesting that Nox had stayed on the topic that the doctor had raised for at least a minute without stopping—perhaps it was one of the most coherent narratives that Nox had expounded thus far in the assessment. It was an answer that lightened Dr. Liok’s heart somewhat, but also made him wary, for it was not a reply that someone who was antisocial would not have given. Indeed, sociopaths could be remarkably swift and easy with words, remorse and distancing from past violence. However, the psychiatrist was still relatively certain that antisocial personality disorder was not an adequate diagnosis, and thus, the wariness was shelved for the moment.

“So,” Nicodemus affirmed. “You are not like your parents, then. This is good to hear! But… forgive me if I misunderstood here… you came here as an escape? Has anyone explained a treatment plan to you? Do you have goals to work towards? Or are you here for the pure and simple fact that you need to stop running, but there is really nothing wrong with you at all?”

The doctor had spontaneously pricked his ears towards Nox and leaned forward in his seat, sensing that now was the moment to bring up his past hallucinations. “Nox, when you were first here, you reported seeing and hearing things that were not there. Do you still find that these things are occurring?”

It was much easier to answer a question when the answer was already spoken in the query.

“Your last sentence just about foots it.” he said, snapping his fingers and thrusting his index finger out. “I suppose you could say that I’ve been running all my life, but had no destination. This, to me, is like a vacation, I feel, untouchable. Though I hardly believe that I’m sick…”  he laughed, a dry humorless laugh. “But then again, isn’t it true that most crazy people believe that nothing is wrong with them?” His rusted gears had finally begun to churn inside of him, despite the stubborn grout of barbiturates.

“But, I dunno how answer your last question Doc.” he said after a minute. “After all, if I am still seeing things that aren’t real, how am I to tell that they aren’t?”

The doctor frowned, but this darkened expression was somehow different than the brief frown that had burgeoned on his face before in response to concentration or thoughtfulness—it was it he had discovered something that displeased him, like a black knot of lies or a noxious odor. “No, I would not necessarily agree with that,” he began in a measured cadence, staring at his charge rather grimly, dour lines carved into his face. “Although some people might have an idea of something wrong that does not conform to clinical opinion on what is actually wrong, most people who come looking for psychotherapeutic services are in some kind of pain—depression, anxiety, emptiness, loneliness, boredom, anger. To meet somebody who truly does not believe that they are disordered, while not necessarily rare, is certainly not usual.” Dr. Liok continued to look unabatedly at Nox, wondering why no one had ever bothered to develop some kind of treatment plan with him.

“The goal of a psychiatric patient is to be released from inpatient treatment, Nox,” he claimed, using the patient’s first name. “We cannot keep you here forever, and we wish for you to have the skills to cope with the world outside these walls. Do you agree that this is a reasonable goal for us? If you were running all your life, you must have been running from something. Won’t you help us help you find the resources to deal with what you are running from? We want to help you, Nox.” The doctor’s brow had become slowly furrowed in his intensity, reaching out to this patient, who had thus far fallen in between the cracks of the system.

He leaned back with his palms on the bed, crossing his legs and eying the doctor’s frown blankly, the words he spoke bouncing around pointlessly in his head. Leaving the facility was something that Nox had honestly never considered after his first attempt of escape. He was aware that he was a wanted man beyond the padded walls, although he wasn’t altogether sure that the staffers here knew that (although he wouldn’t put it past them; they typically knew more about himself than he did). As he weighed his options, he found that he preferred the padded room to a cell, the nullifying drugs that blanked out so much of his emotion without him even trying. He could go back into the racetrack of the real world, but then what? He had been running on it all his life and all it did was lead him in senseless helix that kept repeating itself with no definite end, and he was so… inexplicably… tired of thinking about it. He could sleep here forever under the hum of electric lights while life outside raced around that track.

“I appreciate the offer Doc, but I think I’m doped up enough already.” He flopped backwards on the mattress, careless, staring at the ceiling for a good minute. His answer was just a mask-ish excuse, the quickest thing he could come up with.  Couldn’t the doctor see that he didn’t want to leave? Perhaps he’d endeavor to get his point across.

“It wasn’t the fact that I was running as much as people were chasing me. Chased by the cops, chased by the FBI, chased by the Mexican Mafia, chased by girls who wanted to marry me, chased by men who wanted to marry me, chased by orphans who wanted me to be their father… chased by people I didn’t even know…” he found his tongue rattling around uselessly in his mouth again.

“Point being, all of those things that were chasing me, they’re superficial. I wasn’t afraid of them … in fact, that shit was the only action I was allowed do for fun anymore. What I was really running from was nightmares. But I think you give me… uh.. viagra er… loperderp for that now.”  He would never realize exactly how funny that statement really was.

Dr. Liok seemed to grow reflective, leaning against the hard back of his chair, like melded spines digging into his flesh. It was interesting that Nox immediately associated ‘help’ with the offer of additional medication, which was not what he had meant at all. It told him that every time Nox had asked for aid, someone had merely thrown another prescription at him. Either he stopped asking, or he enjoyed the effect of the drugs for their own sakes.

“You know, there are different kinds of help than medication,” he coaxed softly. “Drugs were not exactly what I was offering. But, at least, if you are not yet interested in leaving this place yet, then will you let us try to ease your nightmares? I’m sure that what you’re taking is not… perfect, and I would be very interested in having you be able to sleep and still feel safe… and not be afraid of going to sleep in the first place. Would that be a reasonable goal to work on together?”

Nicodemus knew enough not to press a goal on a patient who was not interested in it. The best thing you could do was make a patient feel invalidated, the worst thing you could do was cause a dangerous break in attunement that would cause the client to fight against you and against their better interest. It was best to focus on the little things to build rapport, the symptoms that caused the patient the most discomfort. If you could give them hope that that could be changed, then you at least had threads that connected them to an optimism that their life could be different someday.

“Perhaps we could start with something small…” he glanced down briefly at his notes. “You mentioned that being an artist comes naturally to you. Would you be interested in art therapy?”

Nox felt a glimmer of contentment from having finally being agreed with (and this was a strange satisfaction, since he usually worked against what others believed). If his mind had been clearer, he might have realized that the doctor had only given him some plastic keys.

Nox should have mentioned that he hadn’t had any nightmares since he arrived, and that the doctor needn’t lavish any more concern on him. With the combined efforts of isolation and drugs, he was now completely fine, and that’s all the mattered. Sure, nothing interesting had happened to him in the past few months, and now he looked like the living essence of a kitchen mop, but now he was more normal now, lying half-stoned on the mattress of the padded room, than he had ever been before in his entire life. And as a matter of fact… he felt closest to ‘happy’ as well.

“Suuuuuree….” He slurred, not really listening anymore. He wasn’t even sure what art therapy was…

“Great!” Dr. Liok said in a brisk voice. “I’ll schedule you in soon; you will probably be one-on-one with a therapist, given…” he trailed off, one corner of his mouth rising ironically. He knew fully well that Nox hadn’t at all known to what he had agreed. Nox was tired of talking, and Nicodemus was sure that he wasn’t paying much attention anymore to the doctor who had suddenly become a bit boring. But that didn’t matter—he had gotten Nox’s agreement, and that was the best he could have done under the circumstances. “I’m also going to alter your prescriptions somewhat, Nox,” the doctor warned, but he didn’t think Nox would care much about that. In fact, he was sure that in the past, when an authority figure told him that his dosages would be changed, that the resulting changes had merely made him feel more sedated and comfortable. But Dr. Liok had no intention of increasing any of his dosages.

“Well then, perhaps I can hope to see each other again soon. I—“ he began, but was abruptly cut off by a beep originating from his waist. He glanced down in surprise at the room number flashing urgently on the pager tucked into the belt of his neatly pressed pants. “Ah, I have to go now. Have a good day, Nox,” Dr. Liok finished hurriedly, standing up and carrying the chair swiftly out of the room as the door sealed shut behind him.

He listened to the doctor leave, the familiar sounds of the locks on the door click, clunk, and slide shut, securing Nox in his little world of white. He didn’t move until he was quite certain that the doctor was gone.

Rolling slowly unto his side he curled himself up, with his knees to his chest, and wrapped his long arms around them. His tail wrapped between his legs and thighs, completing a fetal position. He stared straight ahead, unblinking, unresponsive. His mind milled over the interview gently, musing a little bit on how strange he must have sounded… he decided not to think about it too much.

His eyes, so dark and glazed over, began to close, and the whiteness of the room began to fade into residual darkness. Nox settled into what he was confident would be a dreamless sleep.

“…thus conscience does make cowards of us all, and thus the native hue of resolution, is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought…”

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~ by komicks on February 27, 2011.

2 Responses to “Chapter 2 – Nox”

  1. Nice writing I enjoyed reading this one

  2. It seems like he’d be so much happier without drugs. I agree with the doctor, it’ll be interesting to see him off them

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