The next morning, the dazed and bewildered teens of Westin Hills gathered in the common room for their usual recreation time, but thanks to their long night, none of them really felt like doing anything. Calvin came by with breakfast around 9 a.m. on schedule and found every one of them awake, which was definitely not like them. Usually, he’d have to wake them up by tapping on their tray or jabbing their shoulder, but not today. This time, they all stared blankly at him from behind the same red, sagging eyes that were a dead giveaway of insomnia. Not one of them had much to say other than a monotonous “hey ” or “thanks Cal”.

After taking their daily medication and downing the usual bland breakfast of cereal, bran muffins, and orange juice, the teens met in the common room, hoping to make heads or tails of their whole ordeal. Just what was it they had witnessed in their sleep? Was Manny really gutted like a fish, or did Ty commit the unthinkable act of murder? There had to be some explanation. Some reasoning as to why it all occurred.

Spread out across the room, the group was once again decked out in the same old plain white sweatshirts and pants, handed down by order of Dr. Graham. Punishing them for their outbursts the night before, the rules were tightened in an attempt to quiet their mouths and regain control of the institution. Dr. Graham made it very clear that if their wild behavior continued, more privileges would be taken away.

Sitting at the game table, Simon and Tex were engaged in a very boring battle of checkers. Yawning with each move, neither player seemed too determined to win, just to take their mind off of things. Taking his turn, Simon jumped his round black checker over Tex’s red, collecting another one for his growing pile. “So, what do you think is going to happen to us?” Simon asked dully, attempting to break up the monotony of the situation.

“I don’t know,” Tex mumbled depressingly, resting his elbows on the table. “But that was some crazy shit last night. I still can’t believe he’s gone. Nothing makes sense. Ty would never do anything like that. Not in a million years. But I’ll tell ya one thing. I bet she knows why,” (nodding toward Lexi, who was nearly catatonic sitting on the couch next to Gwen) . “Think about it. Why else would Ty call her like that if she didn’t?”

Adjacent to them was the pool table, where a fresh new rack of billiards sat untouched on the green felt interior with two cue sticks and a blue square of chalk lying alongside it. Billiards was normally Manny and Ty’s game, but that was obviously about to change. Every morning for the past few months, the duo played a competitive and sometimes intense series of pool, each winning their fair share of games. But that streak came to a screeching halt on this day. There would be no pool today or any other day for that matter, and no one else was even remotely interested in picking up the slack.

On the far side of the room, perched on a pair of beanbag chairs, were Maria and Suzette, just as groggy and equally mystified about the circumstances of their situation.

“Man, this sucks,” Maria whined miserably, leaning her head back in disgust. “I never thought we’d see these clothes again. I wonder what crawled up his ass and died?”

“Probably Dr. Halverson,” Suzette joked glumly, crunching a funion between her teeth. “Look, Maria, we’re institutionalized. I guess Dr. Graham wanted to remind us of that after that last night.”

“Yeah, but that was real, wasn’t it?” Maria questioned, reaching over to grab a funion of her own. “What we saw. That was really Manny right?”

“Well he’s dead, isn’t he?” Suzette responded sarcastically. Then, pausing briefly, she continued. “Look, I don’t know what I saw. But I could really use a group session right about now. My nerves are shot.”

“Me too,” was Maria’s depressingly soft reply as she noticed a small spider crawling on the ground nearby. “Ewww! Ewww! Ewww!!!”

Wasting little time, she stomped on it, spreading its legs in multiple directions and coating her shoes with a green, gooey substance that could have only been the arachnid’s guts.

“Geez, Maria, give a bug a break,” Suzette suggested, glancing at the goop on her shoe. “It’s not like he was crawling on you or anything.”

“I don’t care,” Maria stated, wiping the sweat off of her forehead. “I can’t stand spiders, especially when I’m eating. It just makes me want to hurl.”

Back across the room, a dumbfounded Lexi sat curled up in a ball on the couch, just staring out the window as Gwen tried to get her attention. “Lexi…” she whispered, flashing her hand in front of Lexi’s face.

“Huh?” was her surprised reply as she turned her attention toward Gwen.

“Can I ask you something?”


“Last night, back in the room, you said ‘he’s got him’ and ‘it’s all happening again’. Who’s got him? What were you talking about?”

Tilting her head down into her arms, Lexi didn’t immediately answer her. She just sighed in disgust before picking her head back up and making direct eye contact with her roommate.

“I can’t explain here,” she quietly murmured so none of the guards would hear her. “The Nazis will be all over me if I do.”

“Then, what do you suggest?”

“Do you think we can have an emergency group session? That way I can explain it to all of you at the same time.”

“Yeah, I’m sure Dr. Graham would--”

“No, I don’t want it with Dr. Graham, or Halverson for that matter. It’s pretty obvious they have no clue what’s really going on, or they are doing a damn good job of hiding it.”

“Well then, how are we going to do it?”

“Calvin,” Lexi smirked.

“Why him?” Gwen asked curiously.

“Come on, Gwen,” Lexi responded. “You saw how he was with Ty last night. He’s the only one who even remotely believes us. He’s the key to all of this happening. The key to our survival.”

“What do you mean survival?” Gwen questioned, shocked at what she was hearing.

“I’ll explain later. Do you think Calvin can hook us up?”

“Cal will come through,” Gwen answered, suddenly realizing the gravity of the situation. “He has to.”

Proceed To Chapter 11
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