[For the record: I am Doctor Larry Steiner of the ▓▒▓▓▒▓ State Behavioral Health Clinic. This was my fifth interview with Patient 120497, name ▓▓▓ Davis. Mr. Davis' condition had improved admirably since his transfer from his previous facility, and had requested this interview outside of his standard rotation of care.]
Thank you for arranging this, Doc. I know this is a weird request, but…
It's perfectly normal to feel that you need additional time voicing your feelings. Now, I understand that you wanted to discuss some sleeping problems you've been having lately?
Yeah, mostly nightmares. It's been rough, since the other place.
You mentioned that nightmares were common for you in your previous facility as well. Do you feel like you've been having more since you transferred here?
No, no. It was getting better, actually, until recently. I've been remembering some stuff, and uh… well I think I should talk about it.
Of course. If I recall correctly, we were talking about your last year at your previous facility?
Yeah, that's right. I'd been meeting with Doc Phelps and my new group had been working together for about six months by then. It was fine for a month or so, and then things uh, got worse.
He showed up.
It was a Tuesday, right? Russ and Mikey were playing chess and gossiping about how the nurses had to put a guy under after he'd started tearing up his sheets or something. Pinch was glued to the TV, as per fuckin' usual – err, sorry about the language.
Yeah. So anyways, Pinch is at the TV and I'm reading the dusty old mags that they never replaced for the hundredth time. Doc Phelps comes in with a couple nurses and just has this look in his eye. I knew the Doc, he'd been working with me ever since I was… y'know. But the look in his eyes right then were something else. You know the TV back there got NatGeo? They used to have feature segments on wildlife experts that got too close to the animals, and I'm telling you that Doc had the same look to him as those guys.
I don't think I even saw him at first, trailing behind Doc like he was. Blonde hair, blue-eyed, the kid looked like he'd stepped out of a salon. He had this little smile on too, sure didn't look like he belonged in there with us. Doc talked with me for a bit about how my new meds were working out, and then just left with the nurses. New guy stayed put with us, and I figured he was gonna be joining our next group session, right? He seemed harmless too, y'know? Just walked over to Russ and Mikey and watched them play, didn't interrupt or nothing. When we packed up before the nurses could start pulling that baby talk shit on us, he just trailed behind me at the back on the way to the group session.
Did he join you for that session?
Yeah, but I don't know man… sometimes it feels like I was the only one paying attention to what he was saying. I'm probably getting ahead of myself – we were getting pretty used to each other by this point so a new guy was probably just nerves, right?
Wish I'd been more fuckin' suspicious, that's for damn sure. Session starts, Doc Martin has us going through the usual right? She was a good one, too – didn't ever feel like she was just doing whatever, always felt like she actually gave a shit – and we're doing the same warmups we always do. Russ always said it reminded him of AA, but I'm not sure about that. Alcoholics probably don't ever talk about how their dads used to beat them, or how much they want to stop existing. Sorry, that was kinda dark, huh?
Please, Davis, don't worry about it. Use whatever language you feel is most comfortable for you to speak about this. This is one-hundred percent confidential.
Right, thanks. So uh, yeah – Pinch liked to lead off since he always clammed up having to piggy-back on someone else's stuff. It was the usual for him, less nightmares and flashbacks were a good sign though. He was starting to do better in the now, you know? He wouldn't lapse as much, didn't spend as much time 'there' or whatever, and I gotta tell you for a big guy like him it was a lot less scary hearing him suddenly shout or flinch at things. Either way, he kept shooting these glances at me and the new guy, so I figure he wants me to go next and maybe help the new guy go after me.
So I go next, and it's all the regular stuff for me, right? Just a couple of episodes, no real change for better or worse. New guy didn't go after me though, even after I shot him a look. So Russ picks up and goes next, so now we get to sit there for twenty goddamn minutes for a five minute icebreaker.
Squirrely bastard loved to go on and on about how every day was a new hell, and everyone just didn't get how hard it was for him. It was a lot of that with Russ, you had to pick out the useful stuff from between all the crap he'd spew. A couple new developments – he'd been having withdrawal symptoms since switching meds and it was making him cranky, he was having trouble eating again – nothing fancy or life-changing. Mikey was the one we all felt badly for, the poor kid.
And Mikey was just a kid, honestly. He was six years my junior and he'd been in the care center for almost twice as long as I had. By the time he might've gotten into a place specifically for kids, he wasn't one anymore, but he sure seemed like one. He was working with us since we had some similar symptoms but you hear about the horror stories of what happened to kids like him on the news. Not sure what happened to the poor excuse of a father that did that to him, but I sincerely hope he's in hell by now.
New guy never said a word. When I looked over for his turn, he just glared at everyone and everything. No more smile, I guess – he looked like he hated every single person in that room.
I found out later I was right about that, he told me himself.
When did you first start talking to him?
That night. Apparently he didn't have a bunk yet, and I was still solo in my room, so he crashed there while they sorted him out. Think I was calling him random names to piss him off at the time, I remember being real ticked off that he kept blowing us off. Weren't in the room alone for more than five minutes before he spoke all dry and harsh.
He sounded like he hadn't spoken in years, just said 'call me Billy' and got that smile on his face again. Then he went to bed, and I swear I could hear him giggling in the middle of the night.
And how did that make you feel? Those first encounters?
Honestly? At the time I mostly felt annoyed. If that place had stuck me with a total nutter instead of putting him in solitary I'd probably be throwing remarks at the nurses for weeks. That faded fast though, because the next day I couldn't shut Billy the hell up. Every time we had a moment alone he was rambling into my ear about everything and nothing.
He used to talk about the doctors and nurses, and his face would do this thing. It was like all the youth in him would vanish, and he'd be all creases and wrinkles, snarling about how stupid they all were. I figured he was borderline, but… the hatred, Doc. You gotta understand, he hated them, he hated everyone in that building enough that he confessed that he had self-admitted himself.
Even the patients?
Especially the patients, Doc. He used to tell me: 'Davie', God I hated how he called me that, would've been better to just use my first name. He'd say, 'Davie, I'm going to eat you up' with that same damn smile. Day in, day out he'd remind me once or twice a day. It was always 'I'm going to eat you alive, I'm going to swallow you whole', over and over. Barely a week went by before I was begging for a room transfer, but I didn't dare tell them why. It felt like if I said it out loud, he'd hear. He'd know, and then he'd make good on his promise.
He was worse to the others, though. Pinch wouldn't stay in the same room as him, and Billy followed me like a shadow, so I didn't see a lot of Pinch after a couple months. He'd just sit ramrod straight in his chair during group sessions. Barely looked away from me or Billy, especially when Billy started sitting next to me.
Is that when your episodes became more frequent?
I mean, sure, but I think I was just getting freaked out by Billy. He just wouldn't stop, y'know? Our room was next to Russ and Mikey – Pinch roomed with another vet since that kept him calm – and Billy would end up screaming through the walls on bad days. He knew, too, somehow. He'd shout the most outrageous shit, and he just knew that Russ was going through withdrawals or Mikey was self-harming again. 'I can hear your old man coming down the hall, Mikey', or 'See if you still bleed red, Russell boy'! I don't know how the nurses never came barging the door down after lights-out.
It went on like that for the whole Spring. I'd bury my head in my pillow and hide under the sheets while he shook the whole bunk and hollered. I imagine the look in my eyes was probably the same as Doc Phelp's when he walked Billy into our rec room for the first time.
Ah, shit… Phelps though. The summer is when it all started going downhill. Doctors were starting to quit, funding had dried up for the whole center after the budget cuts in the spring. Doc Phelps was getting jumpy around us all, Billy kept eyeing him like a piece of meat. We should've known it was going to go wrong sooner or later… I still hear that first shout in my sleep, Doc.
If you're not comfortable…
No, Doc. I gotta get this out now, I don't have a choice. It was a dry-ass summer, windows open twenty-four-seven. I don't know how Billy got out but he woke me and everyone else in the patient dorms when he started laughing. I figured he was hollering at Mikey and Russ again, except he wasn't in the room and I could hear the laughing coming from outside.
When Doc Phelps started screaming I figured it was another nightmare. Maybe that says something about how fucked I was by then, but it was like one of those moments where you're awake but you swear you're still asleep and… God, he just wouldn't stop screaming! It just kept going on and on, the Doc screaming and Billy laughing, and then they both just kinda stopped all at once.
I went to Russ and Mikey's room, nearly knocked the damn door down begging them to let me in before whatever that thing was came back. When they let me in they were both white as a sheet, I must've looked the same. We were all stuck to that window, listening to Doc Phelps whimper and... fuck…
Just beg, I guess. Beg for God, or mercy, or something. I don't think he was saying words, but the tone was enough to know.
That's what we were saying. Right up until Billy came back to his room and heard us, and he started laughing again. Phelps was still outside, and he was probably dead but I could still hear him begging. That night should've been the worst it ever got. I got the same treatment as Russ and Mikey that night, and I don't even know how he knew half the shit he said about me. He kept saying 'Jesus isn't here, but I am' or some shit.
Next morning Billy was gone. Staff said the cops grabbed him an hour after he went back to our room. Hauled him out still laughing and shouting. Apparently he'd broken the mesh on the window and left for the groundskeeper's shed. When he found Doc Phelps on his way to his car, Billy took some gardening equipment to him. Mikey said it was shears, but Russ said it was a lawnmower blade he'd stolen.
I don't think it mattered much to Phelps. Staff were all talking about it whenever they thought we couldn't hear, Billy went and slashed Phelps to shit and scattered him around the parking lot. He didn't even climb back in the window after he was done, he walked right into the dorms. Billy had tracked blood barefoot right up to our room, and I could still see the stains where the nurses hadn't cleaned it thoroughly enough.
Davis, I think that's enough for-
No, Doc! If I don't say this now, I'll never get another chance to, and since these are the only times I get to talk about what happened I'm damn-well gonna take them. You're supposed to listen to us, right?
It sounds like this story is making you upset, Davis.
Of course it makes me upset! But this is what I've been told would help, Doc, and you're right. You gotta understand, this is the only way!
I… okay. If you insist you're alright, we can continue.
Thank you. Really, thank you Doc. I'm sorry if this is upsetting you as well.
It's not a question of upsetting me, Davis. I'm worried about the impact reliving these things will have on you.
I promise, Doc, it's fine. It's going to be okay.
If you're sure.
I am. I have to be. Anyways, Phelps… things got quiet after that, for a bit. Billy was… well Billy was gone, but that wasn't the weird thing. See, he was stuck in our group, and we decided to do some poking around like the curious idiots we were. That's when I find Pinch hunched next to the TV in the rec room one day, clutching a pack of smokes and looking like he'd just come out of an episode.
I fucking wish.
Pinch gave me one look and I knew he'd found some wrong shit about Billy… or at least, he should have. Maybe it would've been better, if he'd found out that the sick fuck had done some really nasty stuff before, but Pinch told me something worse. He sits me down next to him and lights another smoke, rules be damned I guess, and he tells me this:
'Billy ain't fuckin' exist, Davis'.
That's what I said! Ex-fuckin'-scuse me? What do you mean he doesn't exist, Pinch, you were throwing him stares the whole four months we were stuck with the crazy bastard!
And then Pinch goes, 'Davis, the nurses had no record on him'. He tells me that Billy never even had a patient number to him, and that he reportedly never spoke to anyone in the building except us. The higher-ups in staff, the coats and their dumbass cheque-books, they were going after the nurses and the doctors that were there for the Doc Phelps thing, too! They were doing this thing, kept asking and asking until the people were questioning what they already knew…
Yeah, that! So of course, by the time a couple months pass, the place hit a revolving door and staff were leaving in droves. Nobody wanted to be associated with the place, and the ones that replaced the nurses and doctors we knew had all been spoon-fed that same shit. We heard it over and over… Billy never existed, Doc Phelps had a fatal accident… and then… Christ…
Davis, are you absolutely certain that you-
I'm damn certain, Doc. Damn certain. It's just… this part's hard. It's the end of summer, yeah? Pinch's anniversary is coming up, and we're thinking we'll throw him a small little celebration on account of the progress. We'd been putting that whole thing with Billy behind us, though we swore to anyone that would listen that he was as real as you and me.
The day rolls around and I uh, I shit you not… Billy came back. Walked right back into the rec room like he'd never even left, wearing that same small smile, in the middle of Pinch blowing out a cupcake we'd convinced the nurse's to let us light with a candle.
Can you blame us for panicking? Could anyone? A murdering psycho that you know got dragged out covered in blood walks right back into your midst, and they were coming down on us for acting like we did!
[Mr. Davis appeared to grow visibly agitated and left his seat, pacing in the interview room. It took him several minutes to calm himself enough to sit back down and continue talking. I attempted a further four times to assure him that the interview could stop at this point, to which he adamantly refused. When he took his seat again, he was sullen and lethargic.]
We were put on solitary, all four of us. They called it a mass hysteria caused by exposing Pinch to an open flame. Billy laughed the whole damn time. He laughed when Pinch tried to swing at him, he laughed when Mikey tried to run for help, and he laughed when they put every last one of us under and had us jacketed less than three hours later.
They said Pinch swung at a nurse that heard the screaming, and that Mikey had attempted to jump out the window. 'Of course he did', Billy told me, 'it's what got him away from his old man after all'.
Is this when the incident occurred?
A bit after that, yeah. Billy had all the time in the world to visit each of us, and none of us could help each other. Rat bastards in their coats, with their plastic smiles… they could hear Mikey screaming, they could hear Russ puking… how couldn't they? Billy made sure we could all hear each other, every waking second of that two-month nightmare.
He got physical. Nurses always said we were doing it to ourselves, the useless twats. We were all jacketed and put up for one-to-one's or isolated in the old padded cells, so how exactly did Mikey get a tooth knocked out? How did Russ get his cheeks slashed up by a razor? How did Pinch… God, poor Pinch…
That's when we figured out what he wanted, you know. The old rooms were lit by these fluorescents, and they had grates over them that were cast-iron so patients couldn't smash the casings for glass shards. They were eight feet off the ground, and that's how they found Pinch.
Billy hung him by his own jacket and let him go slow. I could already smell the mess he'd made of Pinch before any of the nurses bothered to check, but I didn't need to. Billy made us hear every last second of what he did. He dragged things out of Pinch that I don't think he knew about himself.
It went on for hours, all night. He'd make Pinch cry out for God, or Jesus, or anything… and then we'd hear this awful noise, like a butcher hacking into a cut of meat. Pinch would let out this sound that… I've never heard a person make a sound like that before.
And Billy kept laughing. He laughed and he screamed and he told us everything we'd never wanted to hear. 'I'm comin' to finish what your pappy started, Mikey'! 'We're gonna paint the walls with you, Russ; you're not gonna be worth the effort they make to scrape you off'!
I… what did he say to you?
He said… it doesn't matter anymore. What matters is that's when we figured it out. Four cells, all neighboring. Nurses and doctors gone crazier than us, to let Billy have his way.
It was plain and simple, Billy wanted every person he'd ever come in contact with in that place to suffer and die. As painfully, as agonizingly, and as slowly as he could possibly accommodate.
And then what?
Who fucking knows.
Did Billy leave again after what happened to Mr. Jeffries?
Worse, he kept Pinch.
Billy liked visiting us in the rooms, or at least me anyways. He didn't keep Doc Phelps, but I guess there was something entertaining about Pinch to him, so he kept him. He'd prop him up in the corner of my room and make him scream again. Billy would make him scream and whine and beg and… God, I don't know what he did, but he'd make Pinch talk to me.
What did Mr. Jeffries say to you?
[After being asked this question, Mr. Davis became distraught and insensate for a short period of time. I had to request a nurse assist in calming him before he could continue the interview. Again, I insisted in ending the interview for the sake of Mr. Davis' health and safety, but when this escalated the situation, I consented to continue the interview.]
I'm sorry, Doc.
Don't be sorry, Davis. Just… please, if this is making you upset, we can continue this with the next interview.
I wish I could, Doc… but I can't. If I don't say this now, I won't get another chance.
You… what do you mean by that?
What started has to be finished, Doc. It's the only way this can end. I know you think I sound crazy for that, but the moment I was picked out of the wreckage of that place and put here, I was a loose thread.
Do you mean to say that this 'Billy' character is still involved with you? Davis, you had stated in our prior interviews that your episodes were becoming less frequent.
This isn't about my episodes, Doc. I know how I sound, but you have to believe me. If you don't… I don't know what will happen if you don't.
This… I shouldn't be allowing this, but it's clear that you feel you require some kind of closure on this. If you promise to remain calm, we can continue the interview.
So… you were being tormented during your time in solitary or one-to-one?
It's hard to describe. It felt like the place had forgotten us, like the three of us remaining had been swallowed up by that whole building and left for Billy to play with. I had to start pissing in the corner, the whole place stank like no other.
And of course, Billy was there. He was almost always there – or at least somewhere I could hear him. Mikey relapsed hard. I could hear him in his own room… his padded prison cell. He'd gone from begging Billy to… you know. I barely heard anything from Russ. I think… that's why Billy chose him next. He'd run his course.
Did Billy 'keep' Mr. Kirkridge as well?
You don't have to patronize me, Doc.
Sorry, I didn't mean to.
I said it was fine. I don't quite know what he did to Russ… or maybe I just don't want to know. The noises… the sounds… I… ugh!
[Mr. Davis had to take a moment to collect himself again at this time. He became recognizably nauseous as he continues.]
Eventually Russ just stopped making noise, and Billy stopped laughing and making those… other noises. Last thing I heard from Russ' room was the sound of him choking on his own jacket, and then more wet sounds.
The next day Russ was in my room with Billy and Pinch.
Then, next would have been..?
God… Mikey… he didn't spend much more time with us before he got bored of Mikey. He started telling me in my room. 'Davie, you're the only one still worth anything in here', he said. 'I told you I was gonna eat you up, you're the only meal still on the menu'!
By then I knew I was going crazy, or the world was. I got desperate… I started remembering those old escape-artist shows my sis would let me watch with her when we were young. I even caught an episode or two in the rec room before this… personal Hell started.
Point is, I remembered them talking about how Harry Houdini used to get out of straitjackets by dislocating a shoulder.
So you attempted to replicate that?
I didn't have anything to lose. I'd been pissing a damp spot in one of the corners near the door for weeks by then, and I was skin and bones. In hindsight I was probably lucky I didn't permanently damage myself but… maybe that would've ended it sooner either way.
Either way, I got my Houdini moment the same night that Billy decided he'd had enough fun with Mikey. My piss had started fermenting, and I thought if there was anything I could do to get out of there, it would be by setting a fire.
I'd have to smash the light and get a spark from the filament. Mikey was crying and begging while I tore a chunk out of the corner to catch a spark. I used one of the buckles from the jacket to smash the casing open through the grates, and again to smash the bulb.
That's how the fire started?
Doc, you have to try to understand, I wasn't in ▓▓▓▓▓▓ State Reformatory then, not anymore. Wherever I was, had… had been made out of nightmares and my own personal demons by Billy, for the sole purpose of torturing me and the only friends I'd ever made in the last few years!
Either way, Billy didn't like the sound of that first spark. It was just… just ten minutes of listening to him thrash at Mikey and screaming about how it was my fault and he was going to eat me alive and… God! I started throwing myself against the wall, covered in piss and soot. I couldn't hear anything over my own crying and screaming and sobbing by then, I hit the ground running and Billy's yells followed me all the way to the courtyard!
[Mr. Davis was noted to be increasingly agitated at this time, as his explanations of events continued.]
You didn't see any staff?
Of course I fucking didn't! This wasn't the Reformatory, Doc! This was... was some kind of hell-scape! It was a nightmare come alive, like something crawled out of my episodes and bled itself into the world!
I hit the courtyard barefoot and tripped, of course. Barely got my shit together and by the time I looked up I… I saw him-them… it, fuck! I don't know!
Mr. Davis! Please, calm down! What did you see?
[When this question was asked, Mr. Davis slumped into his chair and remained there until the end of the interview.]
Who else? Billy, dressed in Russ' jacket with the hood up. I could see all three of the others… he'd chosen to keep Mikey too.
The courtyard had this nice path we used to walk, you know? A couple of street lamps made the night all soft at the edges, it took the sharpness out of the trees… that's where they were.
Billy had strung all three of them up in the trees, swaying in the breeze by their own straitjackets. He still had the same wheat-scythe he'd stolen from the groundskeeper's shed. He was covered head-to-toe in blood, and I could just see that little smile of his beneath the hood of Russ' jacket.
And then he said those words. That's why I have to do this now, Doc. That's why I don't have a choice.
I don't understand.
That's okay, Doc. I didn't understand at first either. It took me a while… I thought that maybe Billy was a punishment of some kind, or maybe some kind of demon that found us all. I'm still not totally sure what he was, but… I think it finally makes sense, what he said.
What… did he say, Davis?
He told me that all I would be doing by running is leading him to a brand new menu. A buffet that he'd feast and feast on down to the last morsel. That all I'd be doing is robbing him of an entrée to become an appetizer.
And… and what do you think that meant?
That Billy was a predator. An animal, nothing more and nothing less. He left a breeding stock of his favorite prey, and decided to see what pastures it would lead him to.
Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I am. The only thing I can ever really hope for is that I'm not too late. He's been talking to me again lately, with those same words. He didn't seem mad that I was talking to you, so maybe you're fine.
Or maybe you're not, and I've simply seasoned you for Billy. Tenderized the perfect meal for him. Maybe, in the end, he'll say the same words to you, right before he swallows you whole.
[Approximately three hours after this interview ended, Mr. William Davis was found dead in his room. The cause of death was determined to be suicide by asphyxiation, with extensive lacerations and contusions to the abdominal and chest areas.]