The National Institute of Mental Health stood like a giant medieval fortress, casting a dismal and imposing figure against the orange sky. Flanking the Institute’s entrance were two battered towers, remnants of the war. And atop each tower, a sniper sat in waiting, laser rifle in hand, his index finger lightly caressing the trigger. On most
days, however, there was no need to use his weapon. On most days, no one visited the Institute.
But this evening, Joe Raymond had the snipers’ trigger fingers at the ready. Joe immediately spotted the shadowy figures atop each tower, and his stomach gave an unsettling lurch. He hastened his pace.
Not that it would have mattered. As soon as Joe stepped within fifty feet of the entrance, red dots appeared on the stone walkway in front of him. They slid up his legs, his torso, his nose—finally coming to rest on his forehead. Their red glare floated just outside his vision.
Though he had never visited the Institute before, Joe knew the drill. Legs quivering, he raised his hands above his head slowly, deliberately.
"You have a question?" The voice boomed out from the forbidding building.
Red dots danced around him again, and Joe realized they came not from the snipers' towers, but from the darkened windows of the institute.
"N-- No... I'm just here to fix the--"
The dots traced his path into the building.
* * *
An hour later, Joe's work was done, the bright halogen lamp replaced. Exhausted, he exited the Institute's Business Management wing and left its residents behind, their laser pointers focused back where they belonged, on the key elements of the PowerPoint slides.
Opening: Ryan Mueller.....Continuation: anon.