One of the goals of SPFBO is to give a chance to self-published authors to get more exposure. This year I’m taking part in the competition with my own team. You can keep updated on our progress and all of our content on my SPFBO 5 page!
Tales from the Asylum is a new feature I came up with for SPFBO. I wanted to create a unique opportunity for the authors to show off their story telling skills by taking their characters and putting them in an asylum room to see how they would deal with the situation. A lot can happen in a closed space…
Joel Spriggs (1982-?) was born and raised in Frankfort, IN. He graduated from Franklin College of Indiana in 2004 with a Bachelors of the Fine Arts in Computer Science and Broadcast Journalism. Joel’s first novel, “Over A God’s Dead Body” was published on the Kindle platform in June 2018 and is the first in a planned series surrounding the same characters and fantasy world. Joel has successfully defended his beard from being stolen 1873 times out of 1877 attempts by his elder brother. On the five occasions he failed, Joel immediately set about growing a new beard and refining his defenses. Joel lives with his wife and three children in scenic Lebanon, IN. He maintains a website and blog at joelspriggs.com. He is also active on Twitter, @joelspriggs.
Esmy awoke groggily and sat up feeling her head. She sat on the edge of the bed and shook her fingers through the light curl of her brown hair. She took a deep breath and flung the hair from her face. When Esmy opened her eyes, they went wide.
She had expected to wake up in her own dimly lit room to see the usual buckets of laundry, stacks of computer parts, and strewn about notebooks. Instead, she faced a very clean, well lit, clinical room with two beds and a desk. The steel bars on the window and thin security glass window on the steel door weren’t helping her sudden shock.
“How much did I drink at Billy’s kegger? What the fuck, man?” She asked herself aloud in the room. She looked down and realized she was no longer wearing a Dead Kennedy’s t-shirt or her blue jeans anymore, but a pair of pale canary yellow scrubs. “They took my clothes? That’s creepy as hell.”
Almost like an instant answer to her question, old hinges groaned and the door opened. An older man stepped into the room holding a file folder and clipboard. He wore a white lab coat over a blue button-up shirt with a green tie and a pair of khakis. He had a pair of thick wide-rimmed glasses and wisps of white hair encircled his mostly bald head.
“Fantastic, you’re awake,” he said taking a seat at the desk and opening the file. “I’m Dr. Pendershlosh. Can you tell me your name?”
“Where the fuck am I?” Esmy asked, anger seeping through her dry, tired voice.
“You are in a mental health facility. Can you tell me your name?”
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Esmy opened her eyes, and very calmly said, “my name is Esmeralda Hansen, I live with my brother Jake in Baldur, Indiana. I work at Baldur college in IT Services. What I don’t know is where the hell am I and what the bleeding two-fucks I’m doing here.”
The doctor set his pen down and turned on the chair to her. “You are in a mental health facility. Do you remember being picked up by a police officer?”
Esmy looked down at the ground, her hair flopped over into her face. She looked up again, blowing the hair out of her face. “Last thing I remember was being at my neighbor Billy’s house for a kegger. I drank something and it all blurs from there until I woke up here to find I don’t know where I am and someone had stolen my clothes. Also, I’d like the name of whoever changed me into the Tweety bird outfit so I can collect their fingers on my way out.”
Doctor Pendershlosh picked up his pen again and made a small note on an open page on the desk, muttering aloud, “tendency towards violent pre-meditated behavior.”
She scoffed, “yeah, thanks doc, way to get to know your patient.”
He smiled at her, but it looked like a half grimace and forced. “You are here because they found you wandering the streets near Michigan Street north of the river in downtown Chicago. You were belligerent and had already loudly accosted at least three street performers. You had no identification, and the police had to taze you to get you into the back of a car.”
“I’m in Chicago?” Esmy asked she crossed to the window to try to look out. It was frosted glass though and she couldn’t make out anything beyond the bars and glass.
“Well, a suburb of Chicago, closer to Schaumburg,” the doctor responded. The police officer felt you were better suited here than lockup, considering when you came around from the tazing, you threatened them saying your family included Norse gods, novice necromancers, and a demon on a private contract. You seemed to believe this wholeheartedly. You had even yelled it at a number of our staff when we first accepted you into the ward. Which is why they had to give you a pretty big dose of Haldol to calm you down.”
“You mean knock me out for a few days?” Esmy said through gritted teeth.
Doctor Pendershlosh just smiled at her and continued to take notes. “Do you still believe that you are descended from, quote, ‘Norse gods, a necromancer and a demon’?”
Esmy smirked, “indulge me for a moment Doc? Do you have a marker and a blank sheet of paper?”
The doctor cocked an eyebrow, but he tore a sheet off from a notepad on his clipboard. He set it on the desk next to his own paperwork, along with a sharpie he pulled from the breast pocket of his shirt under his white coat. He held out a hand as if to say, “be my guest” to her.
Esmy grinned widely as she ran excitedly over to the desk. She began sketching wildly on the page, drawing circles and symbols, runes that puzzled the doctor.
“If this doesn’t do anything, I’ll expect to see you in sessions every day until you’re no longer delusional. Is that fine with you, Ms. Hansen?”
She didn’t break her concentration but kept drawing over the whole page. “Doctor, if I’ve been gone for more than a day, this will easily work and I won’t be here long enough for a single session.” Esmy stopped sketching and looked up at him, “now, I need a drop of my own blood, but I’m not going to be slitting wrists or anything, so don’t fuck me up on anymore Haldol, ok?”
Doctor Pendershlosh chuckled and sat back crossing his arms. “How do you intend to do this, Ms. Hansen?” She smiled. Esmy bit the skin at the edge of her middle finger nailbed on her right hand. She tore away just enough flesh to cause a small trickle of blood to well up on her finger. She dripped a few small drops of blood. Esmy held her breath and extended her will out into the spell work.
The page began to glow a faint pulsating green overlay on the black markings.
The doctor’s eyes widened and he stood up, cupping his hand over his mouth. “How did you do that?”
Esmy shrugged and said with a wink, “magic.”
Doctor Pendershlosh regained his composure. “It’s an interesting trick, Ms. Hansen. But I fail to see how that’s going to get you out of here.”
“Now we wait, but they won’t be long,” Esmy replied. “Especially, if I’ve been gone for a couple of days. They’ll be worried.”
“Who are they?”
As an immediate answer to that query, the air between the two beds rippled in a haze like extreme heat coming off the pavement on a hot summer day. Two figures stepped through, the first a tall man dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, with short black hair combed forward and sharp features. The other following him was shorter and looked in the face a lot like Esmy, but he wore wire-rimmed glasses, much shorter hair parted to the side and a wore a stylish suit with no tie.
“They would be my great-grandfather, Loki, the ancient trickster god of Asgard,” she held a palm towards the taller man. “And my brother Jake, he would be the novice necromancer I had warned about.”
Jake wrinkled his brow, “can’t you just say necromancer? I’d think once you bring back anything from the dead you get to lose the novice.”
“Esmeralda Hansen,” Loki started lecturing, “you had us worried sick when you didn’t come home from that kegger. What happened? Billy just said you vanished in a puff of smoke.”
Esmy rolled her eyes back, “Ohhh, shit, I remember now. Right before I lost track of everything I bet them I could teleport something into the middle of the Magnificent Mile and we could check the news later to see if it happened. I must have stepped into the spell circle instead and teleported myself too.”
Loki tsked at her. Jake sighed, “so you dropped yourself drunk into the middle of the Magnificent Mile and did what? Got yourself arrested?” He looked around and Jake amended, “no, committed?”
“Apparently they tried to arrest me, then had me committed when I was being quote-unquote belligerent. Sheesh.” Esmy rolled her eyes.
Loki tapped his foot, “I can’t believe I’m the one being the responsible one these days. At least we found you, let’s get you home.” He looked over Esmy’s shoulder at the quivering doctor. “Should I thank you or kill you, doctor…?”
“Puh Puh Pendershlosh. Are you really the god Loki?”
“Ugh, this again.” Loki waived Jake and Esmy to head back through the portal. “Yes, Loki, the trickster god of Asgard, the Herald of Ragnarok and yadda yadda yadda. Thank you, doctor, good day.” With a dismissive wave, Loki hopped through the portal behind the twins.
Wind blew through the room as the portal shut and the paper on the disk dimmed to just scribbling on paper once more. Dr. Pendershlosh stared around the room wide-eyed, breathing hard.
Lightning crashed outside and the wind blew around the room once more like a partial bit of the same portal cracked open again. Loki poked his head through, spooking the doctor to jump up from his chair. “Hey doc, almost forgot, here’s a little parting gift. Catch!”
Through the portal flew a duck. It flapped ungracefully onto the desk next to the doctor. Dr. Pendershlosh stared at it, the duck was missing part of its skull and some of the feathers were singed. Dead eyes stared back at the doctor as the duck cocked its head sideways. It attempted to quack, the noise that came from the bill was a strangled, dry sound, more like a lion impersonating sandpaper on glass than a cute duck quack. The doctor fell out of the chair, the duck took flight and began spitting fire across the room. The portal shut once more, three distinct voices laughing darkly among the winds.
If you’d like to get in touch, you can find Joel Spriggs on social media:
Joel Spriggs entered Over a God’s Dead Body, a fantasy comedy into SPFBO, which you can check out by clicking on the cover:
You can keep updated on our progress and all of our content on my SPFBO 5 page!