Received a strange letter today from a Dr. Stunfnassen. A psychiatric expert from the Institute for the Unwell in nearby Tree-side. I’m unfamiliar with the man himself, and have heard very little about the Institute. In fact, all I know of the Institute is what my predecessor told me. Old Jack Boothall, over an after-hours whiskey in the last days of his tenure as Chief, shooting the breeze and giving me some tips on my upcoming promotion. He seemed so pleased with himself, like he’d made it through a torrential rain shower without getting hit by a single drop. He’d certainly been successful in his reign, why shouldn’t he be satisfied with a job well done? When he slapped me on the shoulder that night, I could tell there was something more he wanted to say. As I helped him in to his cab, he wound the window down, the sour smell of Scotland drifted from his mouth.
“If you come across the Institute, that loony bin in Tree-side, just let them get on with it OK? It just makes it easier for everyone, alright Saddle?”
Waving him off that night, I remember being slightly confused with these last words. Still they meant so little at the time, that I dismissed those thoughts – until now.
Problems with traffic again today, heading into town. Something to do with sheep, as usual. I set a couple of the new boys out to fix the problem. Its been quiet here, nothing out of the ordinary. Just the slow string of minor anti-social behaviours and thefts that get mopped up by our good work force here. Its been so quiet here, in fact, that I’ve had some time to conduct a little research in to the Tree-side place. Turns out this isn’t the first time there’s been an escapee.
Six years or so ago, some guitar player, big name in his home of Portugal; broke loose and went on a wander. He was apparently obsessed with eating scones, locals found him going through bins outside the village bakery. Strange grids of numbers drawn on his skin. Something felt a little familiar about this. A genius, prodigy of his time – a slide into madness, followed by a stint in this Institute and then escape. What is it with these people and scones?
The Institute is privately funded. That’s what the brief on the website says. The official party line: we take in extraordinarily talented individuals who have enough dough to get their wacky brains fixed. Extremely rich crazy people, being treated for unknown mental illnesses, by foreign sounding Doctors from a reclusive privately funded Institute. The ‘foreign sounding’ part probably isn’t very PC of me, but the whole things just smells fishy. I know we’re meant to be accepting and unbiased in the face of different nationalities but I’ve spent time living in continental Europe, as has my wife. I was discussing this case with her last night over dinner, and she said she’s never heard of the name ‘Stunfnassen’.
Last night’s revelation has confirmed what I already felt. There’s something not quite right going on at the Priory Tree-side Institute for the Unwell. Its more than just dodgy names and half-baked coincidences and whilst its quiet here, with the students away for the summer, I’m going to investigate. Old Jack was always good to me, and he seemed a fair man. But there was something about the lightness in his step as he left the office for the last time, not a care in the world – bone-dry after living through the flood. Well I don’t intend on hiding from the showers. This job isn’t always an easy one, sometimes you just can’t stay dry. There was a blue sky when I left the house today, but my wife handed my umbrella on the way out – you never know when a cloud could burst.