Here's the second draft of chapter one. The 420-page book (105,000+ words) will be available on Kindle by the weekend (1st April) and available to Apple readers the following weekend.
The Facebook Killer: Part 3
Seven years they kept Albert and I in that asylum. Seven whole fucking years. Can you believe it? Eighty-four months of listening to Twinkle, twinkle, little star. Two thousand, three hundred and fifty-five days and nights with nothing to do except taunt our next-door neighbour. Over sixty-one thousand hours to sit and think about what we'd done, think about Laura and Anna waiting for me in our house in the clouds. Seven years being called Norman, or Mr. Johnson, all because I had that damned passport in my pocket.
The lines had become so blurred and Albert had become the biggest pain in the arse imaginable. I didn't know who I was any more. Like when you constantly tell a child they're worthless. They inevitably grow up believing it, and that's how I felt. I had grown up to be Norman. Only our neighbour knew the truth. Only that bastard knew the real me.
But do you know the worst part? Well, I'll tell you. It was the day they inserted that big old iron key into the lock of Abdul Hamid's cell door.
Albert and I listened in silence. It wasn’t mealtime and it certainly wasn’t evaluation day. That was always the last Sunday of each month. We could hear the mechanism creaking as it turned, the rattle of cogs engaging. What was going on? Why were they opening his door?
We should have realised earlier. The clues had been there. He'd been receiving more frequent treatment. His reaction to Albert’s singing had decreased gradually over the recent months, the screams and head banging giving way to mere whimpers, then silence, and then the worst of all. The laughter. The bastard started laughing when we sang. Fucking laughing! At us!
That was the day they declared that little bastard Abdul Hamid no longer a danger to himself or others. That was the day the birds stopped singing in the trees, the day our long lost friend returned. Mr. Rage.
It wasn’t supposed to be like that. It was supposed to be forever. Jesus Christ, we'd failed all those evaluations on purpose just to stay in that god-forsaken place, next to him. And then one day they decide to just let the bastard out. Where was the justice in that?
Eventually, we got a new neighbour but he wasn’t half as much fun. Ronald he was called, Ronald Hughes. They locked him up after he tried to commit suicide by lying on a disused railway line for two days. Apparently a woman walking her dog found him suffering from hypothermia. Now that is one mental bastard.
No, it wasn’t the same when they set Hamid free. It felt like Albert and I were being punished instead. I'll never forget the day they let him out. It was a Monday in January. As he walked past our cell door he stopped, tapping lightly on the steel. Albert and I put our ears to the cold metal. “Dermott,” he whispered, “It’s been a pleasure, Dermott, but your daughter was much better company. I hope they keep you in here forever, you fucking maniac.”
Our evaluating psychiatrist was a chap by the name of Wilson. An anorexic-looking man with jam jar spectacles, framed by a mop of sandy hair and a ginger beard. He reminded Albert of a meerkat, but I just hated his fucking guts.
We'd met with this man eighty-four times before. Each session lasted two hours and it was almost always the same damned questions. But this time would be different. It had to be. We no longer belonged in that place. We had to get out.
Wilson thumbed through our brown manila file as we sat, arms strapped to the chair. The room had once been painted white, but was grubby now and the paint peeled from the damp corners. Bright fluorescent strip lights buzzed and occasionally flickered overhead. The meerkat sat behind a large metal desk, which was bolted to the floor.
“So, Norman,” he began, “ we're now entering your eighth year of incarceration.” Like we didn’t bloody realise. “So, tell me, are you still having thoughts of murder, self-harm or suicide?”
“No. Nothing whatsoever. In fact we've been... I mean, I've been considering doing the Lord’s work when I get out of here.”
“The Lord’s work? Interesting. Tell me, how is Albert?”
“Albert. Your friend.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Wilson, but I don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talking about.”
More paper shuffling.
“According to our records, Norman, since your arrival here it appears you've been suffering a distinct case of split-personality disorder. In fact, looking at some of your previous evaluations, you have clearly stated that you are not in fact Norman Johnson but Dermott Madison, or, on occasion, Albert Wallis. Do you recollect these sessions?”
“I have no recollection of them whatsoever, Mr. Wilson. It sounds like the ranting of a madman if you ask me.”
“We prefer to avoid using that phrase in this hospital, Mr.... Johnson. Now, I'm going to ask you a series of questions...”
And so, we went through it all again. The only difference being, this time we had to get out of there. We had to lie.
“Is your name Dermott Madison?”
"Would you be so kind as to tell me your full name?"
"Norman, Norman Johnson. That's with one Norman, not two."
“Do you know where you are, Mr. Johnson?”
“Yes I do.”
“Would you like to tell me?”
“Oakland psychiatric hospital.”
“And do you know why you're here?”
“And why's that?”
“I'm told I suffered some sort of breakdown.”
“Can I speak with Albert?”
Shut up Albert. Just shut the fuck up or you’re going to mess things up here. We agreed, I’m going to do it this time.
“Never heard of him!”
“Mr. Johnson, during our last interview together, you said if you were ever released from this facility you would, and I quote, kill the first person I see and eat them for breakfast.” The meerkat just stared at us.
“That was Albert.”
“But you just told me...”
Jesus, I couldn’t stop him. He flew across that table like a fucking maniac, and after everything we’d discussed. I tried to stop him, as God is my witness I tried, but it had him. I was helpless. Our old friend was too powerful. I felt physically sick when Albert sunk his teeth into that poor man’s ear. His screams almost deafened me. I tried to pull Albert off him but the rage was too powerful. It was feeding him like a drug he'd craved for these past seven years. He was like a wild dog, a wolf, a bloody rabid wolf.
Well, that wolf cost us another three years of our freedom.
We were transferred to Rampton high-security hospital, near Nottingham. Manacled like some piece-of-shit murderer on death row, they threw me into a cage for the long journey north. I was forced to wear my burns mask for the first time in years. Albert and I didn’t speak throughout the whole trip. To tell you the truth I slept most of the way, missing my chance to see the real world again. I still couldn’t believe what he’d done. We were so close, so bloody close.
My parents took me to Dartmoor once when I was a little boy. We drove up onto the moors. My father wanted to see the prison. I remember there was a misty rain and it was windy. Jesus Christ, I'd never seen such a frightening looking place before. It was like a gigantic haunted house stuck out in the middle of nowhere. Its chimneys stretched skywards like huge stone fingers. When I thought about the sort of people who were living in there, I got really scared and started to cry. I remember my mother picking me up in her arms and telling me not to be afraid. “They can't get out,” she said, reassuringly.
As we drove through the security points and passed beyond the high metal fences into Rampton, my mother's words echoed in my ears.
Albert breathed a sigh of relief when he realised this was no Dartmoor. Quite the opposite in fact, the brick built property looked like a small stately home. It maybe had been at one time, but we never asked.
As we approached the entrance, Albert and I glanced around at our new surroundings. Nothing but car parks and high fences, topped with razor wire. “They can’t get out,” said Mother.
A Dr. Harvey, head of psychiatry, met us at the entrance. He was probably about Dermott’s age and had obviously been a child of the revolution. He had a grey beard and matching curly hair, he wore spectacles that were probably purchased back in the seventies and dressed like he was about to do a spot of gardening. No white coat and no waiting straitjacket.
Our ankles had to remain manacled during the “induction process and evaluation,” but they took off the handcuffs. It was procedure, the gardener told us.
He had our file from Oakland open on the table. We sat in silence for fifteen minutes. The gardener read. The male nurse, built like a brick shit house, stood guard at the door. Albert and I just waited.
Finally he closed the file, pushed his antique spectacles up on his nose and clasped his hands as though in prayer.
“Well, gentlemen," he began. Gentlemen? Albert and I looked at each other. What the fuck? “Which one of you is in charge?” he asked. Silence. “Mr. Johnson, please raise your hand,” I raised my right hand in the air. “Now, Mr. Wallis, please raise your hand.”
Jesus Christ Almighty, I had to hold my left arm by my side, it was shaking, I clasped it with my free hand.
“Just as I thought,” said the gardener; “Your file says you suffered a traumatic period in your life several years ago, Mr. Johnson. Would you like to talk about it?”
Don't tell him shit, whispered Albert.
“Not really,” I replied.
“Mr. Johnson, there are two ways of life in this hospital, the easy way and the indefinite way. Let me make myself clearer, we have patients in here who range from murderers to members of the public with severe learning disabilities. You, sir, are midrange. You obviously have a classic split-personality disorder. Now, you can cooperate with us, you can take the medications we provide and include yourself in our therapy classes, or you can deny the fact and remain in here until you're deemed, if ever, to be fit for release. The choice is yours.”
Take it, said Albert.
Take the easy one. Let’s just get the fuck out of here.
“If you think discussing my past will help, then I think that’s the course of action we should follow, Dr. Gardener,” I said.
“It’s Doctor Harvey.”
“It’s all right, you’re new here. Before we talk about that, I need you to answer some questions, so as we can ascertain whether to remove your ankle restraints.”
Looking good, whispered Albert.
“Firstly, do you feel that you're here as a prisoner or a patient?”
B, B, B, said the whisper.
“As a patient.”
“How would you describe your emotional state at this moment? Angry, frightened or hopeful?”
The last one. Tell him hopeful.
“I feel hopeful.”
“Very good. Now, tell me, Mr. Johnson, are you currently hearing any voices or whispers, which you cannot explain. Perhaps telling you to do things?”
“Currently? No, nothing.”
“Okay, moving along. The reason you were transferred to this hospital is because you attacked a doctor in Oakland. Do you remember that, Mr. Johnson?”
Oh Oh. What are we gonna say now?
It was at that moment my left hand raised into the air, “It wasn’t him doctor, it was me.”
SHUT THE FUCK UP!
“And you are?”
“Albert Wallis, sir, at your service.”