The Floating Man

The Floating Man

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I wanted to catch up with him; I needed to catch up with him.
Something inside me compelled me to follow him, even though I doubted
the possibility of catching him.

It was dark; the corridors were clear, and after 'lights out'. It was
so dark I could only just about see him. He wore a hat, a formal top
hat; he had a long dark coloured overcoat and carried a large business
suitcase. Weak rays of light penetrated the shutters and caught the
back of his heels. I could see he wore very expensive shoes, heavily
polished.

My mind became contaminated with the thought of catching him. My mind
was completely focused on his body; I was totally oblivious of what
was around me. I could no longer hear the rattling of rain on the old,
breaking windows, which was usually so deafening that it woke me every
night. I became so oblivious of everything but the mysterious man, I
didn't realise I had walked straight into one of the psychologists
working on the fatally, mentally ill patients.

Before I came to my senses, he quickly sent out the message that I was
awake after 'lights out' to The Wardens who came almost instantly. I
had just enough time to see him disappear around the corner, towards
the Institute's main entrance.

Two Wardens grabbed me by the arms to restrain me, their grip was
hurting my arms; I couldn't move. I shouted out, 'He getting away,
he's getting away!' It was useless: they weren't planning to let go. I
struggled and tried to loosen their pincer like grip but the more I
resisted, the harder the grip became: they finally decided to restrain
me in an old straight-jacket that carried the smell of thirty years or
more. As they frogmarched me passed the Warden in charge, I heard him
say to his colleague, 'The git's mad!' I was taken into the nearest
room where I new they would sedate me. I fell unconscious before I
could feel the pain of the four-inch needle piercing my skin.

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I woke up in the 'Mentally Disordered' part of the Institute; I was
disturbed by the groans and screams of the other patients. There was
no light in the room, only from a small crack in the doorway. I turned
my head to see what could be seen from the light. It was the
mysterious man again.

He picked up his suitcase, turned, and left, taking his hat and coat.
He didn't make a sound. The man had obviously waited for me to wake
but as soon as I arose he disappeared. I became coerced by curiosity.
I threw away the stained hospital sheets and got quickly out of bed.
As I walked out of the institute I heard the agonising cries and
screams of the other patients and I was wary that the noise would
attract the Wardens. I stepped quietly but quickly in pursuit of the
mysterious man. I followed him along the musty corridors to a part of
the hospital where there were no patients or doctors. I felt safe as I
knew I would not be seen. I walked increasingly less carefully, moving
much quickly, though still not gaining any closer to him.

The corridors here were clean. I noticed the absence of stains on the
white-washed walls. The place was immaculately clean; it was clearly
maintained. Though noticing these things, I still managed to keep one
eye focused on the man at all times.

His pace became less hurried; he walked more casually but still moved
with the same minimal amount of energy and unnecessary movement. I had
a feeling he was nearing his destination, and luckily enough, he was.

I passed a rounded corner and expected to still be in hot pursuit of
the mysterious man. I stopped dead in my tracks.

The man was standing motionless, side on towards me. He faced a
portrait that contained an authoritative man. I noticed the similarity
between the two people in front of me. They had the same stature and
bodily build, also wearing the exact same clothes.

My attention was suddenly drawn towards the man I had been following.
He began to float upwards very slowly and gradually but increasingly
faster. He slowly became more and more transparent. He drifted towards
the portrait and slowly began to take the pose of the man in the
picture. At the exact moment the mysterious man became transparent he
took the exact same pose as the figure in the portrait.

I could no longer see the floating man, only the figure in the
portrait. He looked exactly the same as the mysterious man I had
followed. My eyes drifted towards the bottom which read:

"The Lyme Regis Mental Institute,

Founded 1673.

William Walsingham 1649 - 1724"
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