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Chapter Two:
From the Handwritten Account of Eddie Farris

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The doctors keep telling me I’m only eighteen, they keep saying the young are better at healing and I will recover fully, but right now I feel like I’m eighty and my body is full of concrete.

My eyelids are heavy.

I can barely lift my head.

My right hand is bandaged where the pieces of glass sliced me open.

I shouldn’t even be here. I should be in some boring class at school, not in a hospital.

I should be with Rachel.

But instead I’m in this place, probably still bleeding internally for all I know.

The doctors don’t tell me much, or if they do, the next day I can’t remember what they said.

Other than: I’m eighteen and young people can heal and recover from this sort of thing.

But what sort of thing do they mean?

The painkillers mess with my head.

Here I am, secluded from the real world, all alone in the hospital.

Where will I be in five years?

In seven?

Ten?

Doesn’t matter. Not today.

Today I have to get started on this little project of mine.

My goal is simple: to figure out what went wrong.

I can’t remember much of what happened and the doctors refuse to tell me.

They say those details will return eventually.

I think writing down what I can recall might jog my memory.

Where’s the best place to start?

Well, where did every day of my life for the last eighteen years start?

The town of Black Hills, of course.

Our valley is a hodgepodge of farms and isolated homes scattered along Rural Route #324.

To the west is the Black Rock State Penitentiary, which is more than a hundred years old.

There are dozens of buildings inside the thirty-eight foot high stone wall: cellblocks, a workshop, a laundry, a chapel, and even a garage for doing maintenance work on the prison’s vehicles.

Orange NO TRESPASSING signs are posted on the trees near the prison.

There are guard towers every forty yards along the wall.

This is where my father went to work after he dropped out of high school.

A few miles down the road, there is another gloomy complex at the end of a windy road most people outside of the valley don’t even know exists.

Originally there were ten separate buildings constructed in the 1880s, but additions over the years connected every section to another, creating a single, giant, slithering structure.

This was once a state run hospital for the criminally insane, true story, no shit, but President Reagan closed all of them in the 1980s and now it’s a privately owned mental health facility with some long, fancy name.

Everyone just calls it the Asylum.

The Asylum is one of the hidden worlds along RR #324.

There are many others, many more I probably don’t even know about and I’ve lived here all my life.

You’d have to ask the old gossips who spend their mornings in the Black Hills Diner drinking too much coffee and their afternoons smoking too many cigarettes on the front porch of the Nolan’s General Store if you really want the dirty details.

Every now and then a gravel or dirt driveway cuts through the fields or the woods to meet with RR #324.

Some of the driveways are no wider than a small path.

They lead to the homes and shacks of outcasts and isolationists alike, for whom Black Hills is a place to visit as little as possible.

Everyone has their reasons for avoiding civilization.

Some of those reasons are a little more off the wall than others.

At the top of one particular gravel driveway is a ranch style house in a small clearing.

This is where my story begins.

Kurt Farris, my grandfather, built the house. My father’s father.

He had a long history of problems.

I learned some details from my mother, the rest from people in town. They enjoy talking.

Every now and then, in the halls at school, I still hear someone whispering my sister’s name.

Mary.

Poor, sweet Mary.

She died when she was four.

Her arrival in our lives had been a miracle, the doctors said.

My birth had complications. They said my mother would never have another child.

And then, seven years later, her belly grew large and our family grew closer.

My father couldn’t express his happiness. He and my mother had always wanted another child.

We loved Mary.

But something happened a week after her fourth birthday.

I was eleven when the accident tore our family apart.

If it really was an accident.

Mary will be four years old until the end of eternity.

But I’ve grown up.
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