Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

Asylum By Mark Miller

I noticed him crouching in the alcove outside the station, his beastly hands outstretched and his head bowed. In my British way, I patted my pockets, shrugged, and mouthed, “Sorry mate.” I wasn’t sorry, and I wasn’t his mate, but I have manners – it’s the only thing that separates us from the animals.

But he must have had some gullible takers, because he was there the next day and the next, cowering yet demanding, hidden but an eyesore. I assumed that this was the same man at least. One never can tell. I won’t make one of those awful comments about everyone looking the same, but even my newspaper says they are swarming into our country like insects. You may think me harsh, but we can’t have them coming here and taking our jobs. Not that this one had taken a job.

The cockroach never left. He taunted me, his constant presence infecting me like a foreign disease, and I had to confront him. In the darkness of the alcove, I could see he held a sign: ‘Refugee no home’. Refugee? Ha! He obviously came to this country for a cushy life and he had a home that he willingly left. I had voted to leave this kind of nonsense behind and I told him so. “You should go back where you came from.” I jabbed an outstretch finger, careful not to touch his filthy rags. “Go home.”

His claw clamped my wrist. “No home,” he croaked. His eyes never left mine, and I found it difficult to move. At once, a wave of numbing nausea soaked me. You will fancy me mad but I cannot easily recall the next moments.

Somehow I arrived home, the haze of disgust lingering, and I struggled through it. I couldn’t make the key fit the lock so had to ring to alert my wife. I knew she was home; the curtain flickered a touch. I needed a shower and a lie down to get the fuzz off, but to my frustration she denied this. Yes, in my anxious state I may have lost my temper, but why did she have to call the police?

I was crouching on the step, head bowed, when they arrived, merely an hour having passed since my encounter with the creature. As I checked my watch, I noticed a dirty mark where he had gripped me, as if a part of him still held me. They took me away despite my protests and my shouts. “This is my home. How dare you?” But somehow the woman in the window was not my wife.

The creeping feeling of dread held me now; I glimpsed myself in the mirror but just like the woman in the window, this man was not me. “Take me home,” I said. “Take me home.”

I know this is all a mistake. They don’t need to lock me up or look at me like I’m an animal. They just need to take me home.


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