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…
Graham Austin-King was born in the south of England and weaned on broken swords and half-forgotten spells. A shortage of these forced him to consume fantasy novels at an ever-increasing rate, turning to computers and tabletop gaming between meals. He experimented with writing at the beginning of an education that meandered through journalism, international relations, and law. To this day he is committed to never allowing those first efforts to reach public eyes.
Probably not the politest first thing to say, but then I’ve never enjoyed waking up in restraints. At least the bed I was strapped to was more comfortable than the last time I woke up like this. A glance to my left and right told me all I really needed to know. I can’t say I’ve never expected to end up in a padded cell, but I can’t say it was all that enjoyable either.
It didn’t take me long to find the door. It’s a padded cell, they’re not exactly packed with interesting features. The fact that it was behind me didn’t help, I had to sort of crane my head up and to the right to make out the top corner of it, but the camera mounted on the ceiling was easy enough to spot. I’ve noticed that the kind of person who kidnaps you and ties you up in their private dungeon generally wants a way to watch you suffer.
“I suppose room service is out of the question?” My voice was hoarse and dry, enough to tell me I’d been in here for a while. The pounding in my head told me I could really use a drink. “I’m not asking for much. A way to scratch my cheek, perhaps some water?”
“I’d be asking for a wee bit more than that, Carver.” I groaned at the voice behind me, at the Scottish accent, at the mere existence of Turner. Apparently groaning wasn’t enough to stop him, though. “I mean, what’s wrong with a nice beer? A good whisky? Maybe even a steak or something? You’ve got to stop limiting yourself, laddie. That’s no way to get ahead.”
“Piss off, Turner.” History has shown me there’s no point in beating around the bush with this man. His being dead doesn’t seem to have changed him all that much either.
The hospital gown they had me dressed in was creased underneath me and was starting to itch. Another annoyance to add to the dead Scott trying to be clever, the inconvenience of being tied up in a padded cell, and the possibility I had actually lost my mind. I was beginning to have doubts about how this day was going to turn out.
“Well that’s bloody lovely talk, that is, isn’t it?” Turner made his way around into my view. The lab coat was probably intended to make him look like a doctor, I’m not sure why he wore them over his combat gear though. The blood that dripped from the hole in his forehead wasn’t helping the look either. I shifted my weight, trying to rub the itch in my back against the bed. The restraints weren’t helping.
“Here I am, trying to keep you company until your shrink shows up, and all I get is abuse.”
I froze as the words sunk in. “What shrink?”
“You’re tied up in a padded cell, Carver. What were you expecting? A hug, and some group therapy?”
I shrugged as best I could, and tilted my head back to try and see more of the door.
“How did you end up here anyway?” Turner asked. He sounded genuinely curious, which for someone I’ve decided is either a ghost haunting me, or a figment of my diseased mind, was a new development.
It was enough to pull my attention away from the door for a moment. “You don’t know?”
“Why would I?” Turner shrugged and moved over to crouch down to his face was level with the edge of the bed. “Would you like to talk about it, Carver? Let’s really break down those walls. Tell me about your mother?”
Turner laughed, an irritating, snorting thing of a noise. “Fine. What do you remember at least?”
I closed my eyes, letting my head rest back against the thin hospital mattress. “I remember London. I remember Paragon. And then something about Bristol.”
“Bristol? Why the hell would you remember Bristol?”
“Mackenzie wanted to go there, something about seeing the bridges.”
Turner grinned. “And where she leads, you’re pretty much going to follow. So Bristol?”
“I remember a bar at the Hilton, a bunch of weird people talking about books, some ridiculously tall guy hanging out with a short Hungarian girl, and then nothing.”
“Nothing? What fucking use is that, Roasties?”
“I’m tied to a bed, Turner. I don’t think you can really ‘therapy’ me out of it.”
Turner snorted and made his way over to the door. “You went to a bar with the crazy Aussie girl, mate. I think you got what you deserve. Besides, if it gets too tough in here, you can always magic your way out of it.”
“I’m not bloody Houdini, Turner.”
“No, more like that one from the wizardy books. The one with the school.”
“Pfft no. You’re no Potter, mate. You’re a second rate Weasley at best.”
“Thanks a bunch. Besides, it doesn’t work like that.”
Turner grunted. He was out of my field of vision and trying to see him was hurting my neck.
“What are you doing over there anyway?”
“Watching some woman in a lab-coat.”
“Wha—” The word cut off in my throat as the lock in the door clanked and the door hissed open. “Ah, Mr Carver, you’re awake.” The voice was accented, strangely familiar, and definitely not an English accent. “I’ve wanted to speak with you for a very long time now. Shall we begin?”
If you’d like to get in touch, you can find Graham Austin-King on social media: