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Acid Rain

R.D Rhodes



When a young girl is sentenced to a high security mental institution for a crime she has committed, she is thrown into a decaying building with staff struggling under tight budget cuts, and heavily sedated patients who spend most of their time in front of the giant-screen TV. On guard against the cruelty of some of the staff, she must survive while coming to terms with her own mental health problems and spiritual and existential crisis.

An exploration of spirituality and sense of self in an urbanising world, this story involves themes of nature, philosophy, and mental health through one girl’s journey and the people she meets.


Chapter 1

I stood in the tiny bathroom and searched into the eyes of the face that stared back at me. They were heavy-lidded and red-raw from lack of sleep, and the bright, artificial light illuminated every scratch, freckle and spot on the worn-out, ghostly-pale skin.

I looked closer. Searching deep into the pupils I tried to find it. A similarity. A connection. Any little glimpse of who I was. But the face just stared back at me, perplexed and lost.

I wondered if it was normal not to recognize your own reflection.

The queasy feeling shot up my stomach and I spun around again to the toilet, throwing both hands around the rim and gripping hard, thick vile sounds propelling from my throat. But nothing came out. The water in the bowl was still. Hollow. Empty. Just like me.

I had felt like this for some time, that I was detached from all reality. Sometimes, when it was at its worst I could clearly watch myself- my soul, the real me, separated from my body and I looked on in alarm as the body waded its way through the shit. At other times it felt as if my skin had separated from my bones. Sometimes my arms and legs had the sensation that they were crawling with insects- but when I looked there was nothing there.

My hair scraped the floor as I clung onto the bowl. I could feel strands of it getting wet in the piss puddle of that bathroom. I thought if something came out of me I’d feel better, but I retched and choked and spat and nothing came. Eventually I gave up. I let myself sink down into the floor and curled into a ball. It was there again, the great blackness, pushing down on me with all its weight, its presence seeping into my brain and polluting my thoughts. I was hyper-conscious, paranoid. I was scared. I felt my hands clasp together, I was so used to this by now that it had become the standard thing to do in these situations. I raised my eyes up the beige walls to the white ceiling and I prayed. I prayed truly and hard with a solid, desperate conviction in the words…


“Aisha? Are you okay in there?”

“…Thank you. Love you. Amen.”

“I’m fine.” I shouted back to the door. “Just a minute.”

The prayer had made me feel a bit better. I flushed the empty toilet, went back to the sink and ran the tap, cupped the cold water in my hands and splashed it to my face. My eyes returned to the mirror. Clear droplets ran down from the forehead to the chin and dripped off the face before me.

“Well?” I asked it. “Are you coming?”

I turned around, flicked the light off and went out.

My social worker, Mrs. Mack, stood back abruptly from behind the door.

“I heard you gagging. Were you sick?”

“Nuthin came up.” I said. “I feel better now though.”

She looked up at me with honest concern. She smiled that same reassuring smile that you get a thousand times from a thousand different people when you are like this. The smile that says it’s ok, all will be fine, cheer up cause brighter things are around the corner. I fixed a fake smile back to tell her I was alright.

“Thought you had done a runner there!” she said cheerfully, as we headed back down the stairs and through the corridor. I forced a meager laugh.

We came out the corridor and headed back through the dining area where the businessmen, tradesmen and locals sat at the tables with their greasy, heaped platefuls of fried food. It had gotten busier in the space of time I had been in the toilet. I followed Mack as she steered through the space between the tables towards the door, dodging past the waitress who was flying across the room and was now flurrying her arms with a pile of empty plates. “Thanks!” Mack smiled at her as she passed, but the waitress never responded. Mack reached the door and held it open for me, and I stepped out into the street.

The October chill bit me hard. I zipped my jacket right up and joined into the crowds along Regent Street and I held in front as Mrs. Mack kept right behind. I kept at a good pace, trying to get out of it as quick as I could. They were all at it in the street- scurrying about in and out of their shops- women clutching their beloved handbags and hordes of clothes, clacking about in high heels with their orange painted faces, and hot-shot men juggling cardboard coffee cups to their mouths and phones to their ears in their three-hundred-pound designer suits. The cars screeched and screamed and raced each other on the road while they all went in and out of the stores spending their sold time on those phones made by Chinese peasants and those diamond watches courtesy of African slave children. I dodged and squeezed my way in and out of the human traffic. The tourists were blocking half the pavement,

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