Ray’s car breaks down in a deserted section of a highway. There is nobody in sight. His cell phone is dead. He walks a few minutes looking for help and finds a building which appears to be an old hospital.Ray walks in and feels something is very wrong. The place is called “Vicent Asylum”. The manager calls him Rachael and treats him as if he was a woman. So does the nurse. Ray is stuck in Vincent Asylum.

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Forbidden Asylum

Feminized in Insanity

Chapter 1.

I was on cloud nine. Driving my carmine blue Alto car along the highway made me feel on top of the world. Nothing—not even sex—could give me the rush that having my foot on the clutch pedal, hand on the steering wheel, accelerator and on the gear knob could give me. And driving my beloved blue Alto was a particular pleasure. With my sizeable inheritance, I could buy even a Parisian limousine, but still preferred my humble conveyance. Alto was the first automobile I had purchased with my own money, and I wouldn’t trade it for all the limousines or SUVs in the world.

Not that the scenery was much to speak of. I had veered a long way off the house and was presently glissading along the NH4 Highway of Karnataka. The vegetation was sparse, with an isolated tree or so standing about fifty meters apart for one another. The tar and concrete roads reflected the sun and radiated the heat of the morning. However, I found great pleasure in being far from the madding crowd, the traffic congestions and the fumes of the main city and speeding away in merry solitude.

Suddenly, the car came to a jerking halt. Weird. My right foot was still on the accelerator and I hadn’t pressed on the brake pedal either. My gear shift was still in first gear, not in neutral.

I don’t know what was wrong. Since I hailed from immensely well-to-do family with chauffeurs to drive me around, I had actually never bothered about the mechanics of cars. The mechanical complexity of a car seemed boring and unnecessary. It seemed totally superfluous.

It didn’t seem so superfluous presently. With not a soul in sight for many meters, I was at a loss as to what to do. There were no rickshaws or cabs in the vicinity that I could hail and request for a ride home or, at least, beg to be taken to the nearest mechanic. Thankfully, I had my new Samsung cell phone. I could call my wife Dimple and ask her to come and take me back home. Darling Dimple: she of the dark hair, long chiseled face and a dimpled chin (which had, incidentally, earned her the moniker). Dimple had always been an expert at rescuing lads in distress. Or to be more specific, this particular lad in distress. Dimple darling… she was the one who wore pants in the house. She was a real brick, my wife.

I tried to switch on the phone only to realize that it was out of battery. Drat! I wish I had paid more attention when it had been flashing the “Low Battery” warning. Of course, there was a plug point in my car where I could recharge my phone. However, recharging would take some time. And if there ever was an impatient soul on earth, it was me.

I was stranded in a hot deserted road with an old broken down car, virtually no cash in my pocket and a phone that was as dead as a dodo.

And at 25, I was too young and restless to sit around and wait for a goddamn phone to get charged or for a passerby to come my way.

Abandoning my carmine blue Alto on the spot, I started walking ahead of the seemingly blank, hot, thorny road. I had walked for three-fourths of a kilometer or so when the air cooled down a little. I speculated that there must be a water body nearby. Not long afterward, a big banyan tree came into view. And lo! Behind the big banyan tree stood a building.

Yippee! I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my life on the highway after all. I made a dash for the building with the enthusiasm of a child. As I approached the big banyan tree, I got a clearer view of the building behind it.

The building was stark white and sterile-looking. Its architecture was rather conventional and there was nothing distinguishing about it. Probably a hundred other buildings in Bangalore looked the same way. I guess “non-descript” is the word I am looking for to describe it.

The building might have been anything: a factory, a government office or an infirmary. As I approached the rather high iron gates, the sign “Vincent Hospital” came into view. So, one of my surmises had been right after all.

Nothing about Vincent Hospital struck me as particularly strange. Except for the sign that read “Caution: Electrified Walls”. Now why would any self-respecting hospital electrify its walls? Were the patients inside some sort of dangerous wild animals that needed to be curtailed by barbaric means? Another thought counteracted the one that I had previously had. Probably the hospital authorities were wary of anti-social elements sneaking in and playing mischief. Off late, there had been more than one case of miscreants kidnapping new born babies from maternity wards of hospitals.

With the aforesaid explanation that I provided myself, I got closer to the gate. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t guarded by security personnel. I opened the latch of the gate and found that it opened rather easily. A small court yard comprising of a few potted plants led to a small, office-like chamber.

I peeked into the office through a window. A man was seated at an old-fashioned desk. He seemed to be in his mid 40s. Speaking objectively, the guy wasn’t bad-looking. He had a nice complexion, curly pepper and salt hair and a fit-enough physique. Yet, something about his cheap polyester shirt, the tasteless gold-plated chain hanging around his neck and the grossness of the matted chest hair creeping from over his shirt cheesed me off.

But this was no time to act squeamish. Besides, I was not a girl to act finicky about such things. And at the moment, I was in a real bad spot and could use the man’s help.

I knocked on the door. “Yes?” the bloke questioned “How many I help you? I am Ashok, the owner cum manger of the hospital”. The man’s voice was flat and non-descript just like the hospital he ran.

I introduced myself and explained the situation to Ashok. “My phone was out of battery, otherwise I would have phoned my wife” I elaborated “So, I’d truly appreciate it if you let me use your cell phone to make a call”.

“Sorry, Mr. RayRay, but I don’t use a cell phone” the man replied much to my stupefaction “In fact, none of our staff does. This is a hospital that….well, caters to patients who are mentally ill. We can’t afford to have them disturbed or distracted”.

“But Sir, I am sure you have a computer with an internet connection” I said “I could perhaps send my wife an email. She may not check it immediately, but might in a couple of hours”.

“No, Mr. Ray” we don’t even have a computer, leave alone wifi” said Ashok rather irritably “there is always a chance that one of the patients might sneak into my office and use it. And as I’ve already told you, we can’t afford to have them distracted. They’re here to be treated, not to be entertained”.

“I understand, Mr. Ashok” I said quickly, kicking myself for having got under the owner’s skin “I think I should leave now. The battery of my phone may be charged. I have left it in the car which is about a kilometer away from here”.

Ashok’s coarse features seemed to soften. “Wait a minute” he said kindly “you need not walk all the way back in the hot sun. We have a land line on the third for of our hospital. You could use it. I’ll escort you to the phone”.

Ashok led the way up three flights of stairs with old-fashioned red-oxide flooring. I was rather taken aback that a hospital of this magnitude didn’t have a lift. As Ashok and I made our way up, I noticed an elderly, slightly disheveled gentleman clutching the rusting railings. As I passed him, the man adjusted his thick brown-framed glasses and exclaimed: “Finally, the universe has been unveiled! Indeed, I have the cosmos in my bubble bath!”

The man had spoken so suddenly that I nearly jumped out of my skin. Ashok laid a placatory hand on my shoulder and said “Don’t mind Mr. Shiva, Ray. He’s delusional. For a destitute man, he sure nurtures fancy delusions of grandeur! Thinks he is a great astrophysicist who has made a groundbreaking discovery!”.

“Oh, I see” I said not liking the mocking tone that Ashok had employed while explaining the patient’s illness. After all, problems of the mind weren’t in one’s control and it was downright unethical to make fun of people who suffered from them. I was so ensconced in ruminating on the Ashok’s insensitivity that I was jerked back to reality when he and I had reached the room in which the telephone was evidently accommodated.

The first thing I noticed when I entered the room was a square rectangular metal panel perched about six and a half feet high on the wall. The panel probably sheltered an important switch or plug point.

The room itself was a small cubbyhole with tight shutters, transparent blinds and a small desk. On the desk stood a small black telephone which took me down the memory lane. It was a replica of the one we used to have way back in the 1990s when I was a little kid. It was mighty astonishing to see the very same model in 2016!

Strange. It was very strange.

Had time stood still in Vincent Hospital?

With trembling fingers, I started dialing the digits of my wife’s cell phone, one by one. Ashok stepped out and discreetly closed the door after him, evidently to give me some privacy. After dialing the digits, I waited impatiently. A few seconds later Dimple’s husky, attractive voice sounded on the other end.

“Hello” my wife said cagily probably since she didn’t recognize the phone number flashing on her cell phone screen “who is this?”

“It’s me, darling!” I said “I’ve got myself into a tight spot!”. I proceeded to explain the disaster the day had turned out to be. Dimple was apparently in a mall, shopping with our close friend, Sanjay.

“Vincent Asylum is on the highway, baby” I said impatiently “It is partially obscured by a huge banyan tree. Please come and get me ASAP!”

“There’s no need to get panicky, Ray” said my wife soothingly “NH 209 is very close to our apartment block and the mall. Sanjay and I will be there in no time!”

“Well, I am not on NH 209” I replied a tad sheepishly “I went off for a long drive and ended up hitting NH4…sorry!”

“Really Ray, did you have to venture that far?” my wife said in the manner of a parent admonishing a child “It will take me and Sanjay at least an hour and a half to get there. With the traffic congestion and all, it may take two!”

“I am so sorry…” I bleated again.

“Never mind” said Dimple “What did you say the name of the hospital was?”

“Vincent…” I said “Vincent Hospital”.

“Vincent Hospital?” repeated my wife, simultaneously skimming through the pages of her memory “it doesn’t ring a bell. Sanjay” I could hear her ask our friend “have you heard of it?”

Sanjay obviously answered in the negative, for Dimple said “No, honey. He hasn’t heard of it either. It must be a fairly new place”.

“Certainly doesn’t seem that way going by the appearance” I said skeptically “I am really sorry for the inconvenience I am putting the two of you through”.

“It’s okay, baby” my wife reassured “don’t worry. Sanjay and I will start out right now. We will also get a mechanic to look at the car”.

“Bless you, dear” I said and hung up. It was mollifying to hear my wife’s comforting voice. Besides, our super-dependable friend Sanjay was with her, so I didn’t have to worry. Sanjay was our savior in many ways. I really don’t know how Dimple and I would manage without him.

So, the mission has been accomplished. Now all I would have to do was go downstairs and wait for my wife and best friend. They’d soon be here with a mechanic and we could go back home once the car was serviced.

As I opened the door, Ashok was standing outside looking rather worried “Did you speak to your friend, Rachael?” he asked.

Rachael. The man addressed me—a tall, dusky, athletic, virile young male–as Rachael. The incongruity of the female moniker with my gender and appearance tickled my funny bone. “Really, Mr. Ashok” I said going into convulsive splits of laughter “I must say you have a wacky sense of humor!”

Ashok didn’t laugh. In fact, looked sober, lugubrious….and concerned. One look at his worried, serious face, and I stopped laughing.

A few seconds passed before Ashok spoke again. “Have you been taking your medicines on time, Rachael?” he asked.

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