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RANDTS will last a thousand years.

- Albert

The Cradle

The city is used to strangeness. The bizarre is the mortar that binds it together. Its people are a hardy sort. In a world where the dead don’t stay buried, they need to be. It hardly counts as superstition when you know what‘s out there, in the darkness, just waiting for a chance to make you join it.

Even in the city, no one loiters to long in the shadow of one particular building, which hangs of the old blocks like some facial canker. The Cradle. If there is one way of cramming more misery into one building’s history, I can’t think of it.

The Cradle’s history is a scream, stretched out through time.

They say that it used to be that sad institute for lost children, an orphanage. It’s also said that it was that sad institute for lost adults, an asylum. What they didn’t say is that during its latter days it was both at once. While safer inmates were kept in the paupers ward towards the front of the building, the murderously insane – of which, at the Cradle’s demise, there were nine – were kept in the White Hall ward, towards the rear, with heavy lockdown doors between them and the rest of civilization. Near them, the orphans, in the Nursery tower. At the buildings heart, looking over all was the Staff tower, the stronghold of the lawmakers. Children and the insane, under lock and key of nurses and doctors. Authority and oppression bound together, existing as one.

The tale of the Cradle rests on two children – a boy and a girl. The boy, ran away, grew up, found redemption, on the streets, and there became known as the fanatical hunter of shadows. The girl never got a chance to grow up at all.

The doctors had strict rules, which the matrons were to follow. Obvious rules, such as homicidal patients and the children weren’t to mix. However, rules in a madhouse tend to err, so it came to pass that the girl found herself sitting while having her portrait painted by the patient in Cell 5, known as The Watcher. He was brought to the asylum after slaughtering his previous sitters because “they moved”. He then smeared his victim’s blood over each portrait’s face, in frustration at the lack of life in the final work. The girl was a good girl. She didn’t move at all. So she lived and The Watcher made the one perfect picture of his life.

No one is that lucky twice.

The Gray Lady of myth and nightmare came to the Cradle to find a body to use for her devilish schemes. Someone discarded already. Someone no one would miss. That is, an orphan. If the boy and the girl weren’t playing in the attic that day, maybe the Gray Lady would have chosen a different victim. Would the Cradle’s cry have been stifled early? Perhaps, perhaps not. We can only speculate as to the reasons why The Watcher was close enough to the murder scene to take the girls bloody tattered dress as a keepsake before anyone else arrived. Perhaps the murder he would eventually carry the blame for would have occurred anyway. The Cradle’s birth is rife with such sick irony.

Despite the boy’s testimony that some hag-like creature butchered his little friend, the material evidence pointed to the man locked in Cell 5. Extreme measures were called for, lobotomy. Or rather, all to common measures. The staff – when not experimenting with their weirder theories such as applying red-hot bars to bare skin or testing the outer limits of electrocution – turned to the doctors’ custom silver knives that could transmute a pest into a vegetable. The ‘result’ of which could be stored cheaply with the other trash in the pauper’s ward rather than the expensive White Hall. News spread that whatever made The Watcher himself would be sliced away in Treatment Room 2.

These words eventually reached the man who hid his shattered features behind a wax mask, Patient 1 – or ‘King No One’ as he was known among the inmates thanks to the script on his door. The fact that he was contained in the isolation chamber, at the top of an elevator shaft in the White Hall, wasn’t enough to separate him from the other patients. His poisonous whispers leaked out, fanning the flames of dissatisfaction. The Watcher was a popular madman. His fraternity owed him an attempt to stop this. After all, they could be next. Dissent sparked into a fiery riot. In an instant, the keys were with the patients. They were all free the gates were sealed, but most of the children and staff were inside, trapped and barricaded in their towers. At least the lucky ones were – those on the ground floor proved wet and scarlet sport for the rampaging White Hall inmates.

The midwife to the cradles true birth was the patient in Cell 9, The Moth. A pyromaniac, she was allowed to keep her tinderbox as part of her therapy. Now free, she had all the fuel she could wish for. She lit the matches, which reduced the Cradle to a skeleton of a building. First in her room. Then under the cover of riot urged on by King No One, the fires at the base of the Staff tower.

While the king discarded his wax mask, finally revealing his molten face, and led the dismemberment of the remaining staff, The Moth pulled up her chair at the foot of the staircase and stared into the inferno as men and women were reduced to soot and screams.

The flames swept up. The Nursery tower joined its sister in misery. The voices of boys and girls merged in an unholy choir, a shriek to empty skies. God was not there that day. The smoke rose to the havens blacking them out, forming a cloud of the remains of authority. Anything elevated was destroyed. All that remained was the base material.

The tortured voices were the Cradle’s birthing cry. The rising smoke its first breath. Born out of torture, oppression, murder and a history of weeping, this place was ‘alive’.

It pressed down upon the remaining inmates, who ruled the remains of the asylum under King No One’s malevolence. His kingdom couldn’t last, at least, in earthly terms. The doors were shut. There was no way out. The inmates sickened, withered and died.

This wasn’t the end.

The inmates rose from death, becoming puppets of the Cradle’s will and twitching in meaningless echoes of their past existence. Their bodies animated in a closed spasmodic loop for eternity, waiting for someone else to enter, to catch the Cradle’s attention, and so join its macabre dance.

They say its doors will open before you. They’ll seal behind you and as long as you live, it will never let you leave.

Even in the city, no one loiters to long in the shadow of one particular building, which hangs of the old blocks like some facial canker. The Cradle. If there is one way of cramming more misery into one building’s history, I can’t think of it.

5 mad rant(s):

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  1. Arbitary Juggernaut said...

    This is actually a response to Jared who said i should write more stories. This is actually an older story that i wrote. Enjoy!  

  2. Comrade Cripple said...

    I remember that Jaspreet tried to get this story in my former school's magazine. The problem was that Miss D the editor rejected it outright. What a pity that was, The Cradle is well written unlike many magazine stories. Anyway, she's a much hated teacher in my school because she's obnoxious.  

  3. Arbitary Juggernaut said...

    She was a whore...
    No wonder shes divorced ...  

  4. Maverick said...

    @arbitrary juggernaut,

    It's another great story. It captures the dark atmosphere very vividly, worthy of a film plot. Hell, I can already imagine turning this into a PC game ala F.E.A.R. or Silent Hill!

    Of course, then you'll want to claim some $$ if that does happen. *wink*

    As for the editor... well, one man's meat is another (wo)man's poison. But I shan't speculate. =)

    ~verus rara avis~  

  5. Arbitary Juggernaut said...

    Thanks! Just keep the compliments coming! LOL!

    And whats all of this womanly poison all ah?


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