They knew what they would find when they got there. The stale, off-white walls of the mental institution drained the color from the place. Someone had tried to make up for it by buying yellow couches, but all that did was disturb the patients further. And nothing could mask the smell of body odor, blood, and urine. The closer the wardens came to Andrea’s cell, the worse the smell became. The head warden knocked on Andrea’s door.

She didn’t answer. He knocked again, and she knocked back. Then a horrible scratching noise started on the other side of her door. The head warden pulled a key from his pocket and let himself in. The door swung open, hitting Andrea though she didn’t seem to notice. She was too busy drawing eyes on the floor with a black crayon stolen from the coloring center.

Black symbols darkened her white walls. Eyes overlapped pentagrams, covering almost every inch of white. Swirling symbols decorated her nightstand and headboard. She’d even started to color her bedspread.

The head warden took a step into her room and her head snapped up. Her eyes were narrow and there was a disconnect. This person sitting on Andrea’s floor wasn’t Andrea.

The warden held out his hand. “The crayon, please.”

She hissed and drew faster, still staring unblinkingly. The warden cleared his throat. “Andrea, you are not a witch. You have psychosis. It’s very treatable as long as you follow our procedures. We can help you.”

Words poured from her mouth in a language unspoken for centuries. Fear bristled in the warden’s heart, and he shifted his weight to run. Then he felt it. It was as if his body had been penetrated by a ghostly hand. Cold discomfort went through him. It latched onto his stomach and forced him to his knees. Eye to eye with Andrea, he saw a primal darkness there and for a brief moment he felt one with something greater than himself.

The head warden died at 12:01 a.m. on an average Tuesday morning. Andrea vanished from her room at 12:02 a.m. No one bothered looking for her.

Fiction

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