ESTABLISHED PROCEDURE

Up at seven on the dot. Hop into the shower, towel dry, throw on my uniform.

Pop a slice of bread in the toaster, spoon on some jam (no clean knives again!), browse the morning headlines.

Bag packed, ready to leave at eight on the button.

Door opens, out I go, along the corridor and into my usual seat. Textbook out – algebra again today.

Mrs. Davis walks past, hands me my pill.

The voices stir, interrupting me. That constant buzzing. I can feel that anger rising.

Don’t listen to them. Stick to my routine and it will all be okay. Smile.


jhc-asylum
Copyright J Hardy Carroll

Written as part of the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (more details HERE). The idea is to write a short story of 100 words based on the photo prompt (above).

To read stories of 100 words based on this week’s prompt, visit HERE.

103 responses to “ESTABLISHED PROCEDURE”

  1. Great voice, Iain. The careful and systematic routine

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reading these lines – I feel, I am also living the same routine – as it is so vivid.
    I agree with Neil, it sure is a careful and systematic routine!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Kislaya. I hope you can break from your routine sometime 🙂

      Like

      1. That is very important…for happy survival!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Iain,

    The pill intrigues me. Could this be Ritalin or some other drug to keep the student in line? The regimen sets the tone. Very well done.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And consistency with the mystery, the teacher slips the pill to him. That seems to fit the Era of decades ago, when ” Medicate” every child for no reason, began.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Without that pill, what might happen?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Best not to find out perhaps.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved this! Great voice and so thought provoking (and interesting how many stories this week feature the unhinged)!

    Susan A Eames at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Susan. Something about that building must be suggesting it to us!

      Like

  6. You’ve portrayed a grim scene of enforced conformity. To make it even more chilling, your narrator seems to believe that this is a good thing.
    If he is suffering from a mental illness, this may be true, but it’s still a terrifying vision.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Penny, I’m glad you saw the terror in it

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Excellent window into the eternal life of “managed care.” I like how you show this.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It made me sympathize with him, and what the pill keeps at bay – whether good or bad. But if it is mental illness sometimes routine is the only thing that helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, but that in itself can be a prison. Thanks Gisselle

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sinister tale Iain. For me, it works in a lot of ways: as dystopia, as madness, or just as someone struggling with conformity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perhaps a combination of all 3. Thank you 🙂

      Like

  10. Grim stuff, Iain, well portrayed

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Intriguing, there is a sense of knowing what you are conveying but a sense of mystery too. And the answer to the mystery is ?? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I leave that for you to decide – I have my own theories 😉

      Like

      1. LOL!
        Who knows maybe this guy’s story could be continued in a book?? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  12. It feels as though he’s teetering precariously on the edge of control… it’s not looking good

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is not indeed. Thanks Sandra

      Like

  13. I guess it would take but a small change to the routine to send him wildly off course. Nice one Iain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And then I would dread to see what happened. Thanks Keith

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Ah, the voices and buzzing kept at bay by medication but still trying to make their presence felt. Chilling in its reality Iain.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. You twisted that humdrum beginning brilliantly.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I think the pill keeps the voices at bay and the routine helps him to focus. Interesting and intriguing story!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Wow, this is good. Disturbing and good! 🙂 Blessings to you, Iain. I enjoy reading your writing, thanks. ~Debbie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Debbie, so kind 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. This was spooky on another level, Iain. More so because it is so real…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. The only thing that helps are pills and routines… wonder how the algebra helps (again)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Something to keep the mind occupied perhaps – although it wouldn’t be my first choice!

      Like

  20. Sad, sad tale. This poor guy, sounds like paranoid schizophrenia—the pills are just barely keeping him calm. What an awful way to live.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had something like that in mind. It’s not much of a life.

      Like

  21. There’s that edge in the narration. Not sure even the pill is enough. If it wears off…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you caught that edge.

      Like

  22. Algebra’s perfect because it’s balance. The whole point of an algebraic equation is to make the two sides balance. I imagine it would help more than medication in this over-medicated society of ours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An interesting thought, thanks for reading

      Liked by 1 person

  23. a pill a day can surely make his day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At least get him through each day 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Something wrong with him? Why become angry when offered a pill? Is he in some institution?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was my idea, yes.

      Like

  25. I see you noticed the word “asylum” in the photo’s filename! A rigid routine can be essential for many people with certain mental health issues. I could really feel this person’s tenuous grip on sanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, yes asylum was where I saw them.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Great inner voice, Lain. The reader is left wondering whether he’s in a psych unit or school. Great pacing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Dawn, I agree, it could be either

      Liked by 1 person

  27. A regular Monday morning…
    Great inner voice, Iain.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Do the pills help, or fuel the anger?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A good question, are they helping or only making the long term situation worse?

      Like

  29. You set this up so nicely. Very systematic. Then you show us why. Brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Voiced aren’t funny. A victim’s routine well illustrated here.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Oooo this is fabulous. Stick to the plan. Stay the course. Routine.
    Ignore the voices. Well done

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Laurie – sometimes those voices are hard to ignore!

      Liked by 1 person

  32. I really like the build up – from an ordinary bloke, morning routine, til the he gets his pill. The strong sense of routine rings so true to living in a institution- implied not stated. Good writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, glad you saw the implication.

      Like

  33. I am worried for the pupil and the school, tensions building in this story,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It feels like they may be close to a snap of some kind, I agree.

      Like

  34. What is this person going through? Is the pill making him hear the voices or is the pill meant to silence them? This is really intriguing and you need to write more on this, its twisting me out; i’m off to do some trigonometry

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope the trigonometry helps! 🙂

      Like

  35. This building has the feel of a college building, which is where I thought you were heading,at first, thoough the uniform suggested a military school…then, I thought, more of an “alternative” school, or disciplinary institution where they send kids –the Algebra class makes me think he’s in high school or college–who have behavior issues or mental health challenges.

    As the story progresses, it deteriorates, that is, your image, as a reader, of how well his life will turn out, deteriorates, until you realize that he is not here by choice (unless voluntary commitment is truly a choice), and that he is is probably locked in his room until the doors are opened, and is probably a bit brainwashed with positivity. Good stuff, Iain!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have picked up on most of the hints in the story 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  36. I think most persistent illnesses feel like prison, but a mental illness must be even more so since it seems to rob you of all control. The routine, and the pill, barely manage a minimum of control, and it makes the story terrifying and hopeless. Excellent writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Greatly vivid. Very intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. I like that you’ve crafted this story with just enough detail to leave the reader to draw their own conclusions, good or bad. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sascha, always appreciated 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  39. A great interpretation of the photo prompt, lain. The pill sets a tone of ‘why’ which I love. Sounds a little OCD. Great story 👍😊
    Isadora 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Great build up of tension in this.Powerful ending – taking all that’s gone before to another level entirely.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. I can sympathize. If I had to go back and take algebra again, I’d probably get mad too!

    Liked by 1 person

  42. I wonder if the place is saving his life or robbing him of his life. Perhaps the truth is somewhere in between. Very thought provoking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re right, they certainly mean well, but are they actually doing more harm in trying to help?

      Liked by 1 person

  43. I like the change of atmosphere in this Iain. A nice jaunty start to the daily routine but then we find out the dark truth about the routine and the battle behind it. Very well told.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, much appreciated

      Like

  44. Sounds like the start of a great story.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. This indeed sounds the start of a great story. Superb scene setting, kelly

    Liked by 1 person

  46. The pill intrigues me as well. I read this three times but I am still confused. He seems very together until the pill and then he seems to be losing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dawn. I think the togetherness before the pill is very shaky and he is always close to ‘losing it.’

      Like

      1. Perhaps, it is simply that I was expecting something else and you caught me off guard, which is a good thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  47. Oh, dear, I feel a bad time is on the horizon. Everything will fall apart if he misses one of those little special pills or if his routine is somehow messed up. You’ve somehow managed to establish a dystopian, state controlled feel to this in very few words. Would make a great opening for something longer and I can see it fitting into sci-fi too. Great writing Iain

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lynn, I hadn’t thought of it in a dystopian way, but I can see your thinking and it could absolutely work that way.

      Liked by 1 person

  48. Like others I wonder what happens without the pill. everything is so ordered I wonder if that’s imposed on him or if he’s extremely OCD.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think a mixture of both, imposed and resented but grudgingly accepted that it is needed.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: