The thing I missed most while living in Asylumland was probably the chance to just lay in bed on a Saturday or Sunday morning and sleep in late. Such things never happened in Asylumland as bright and early, seven days a week even before the roosters crowed the institution staff started rolling their noisy carts up and down the halls as they got ready for another day beginning with breakfast at 7:00 sharp every morning.
And you know what else I missed? Real coffee containing real caffeine. You see, caffeine can be a trigger for those of us who suffer from anxiety so rather than deal with it, Asylumland didn't bother to serve it at all. Believe you me, even after years of being caffeine free there were mornings I would have been tempted to trade Irene and Sabrina both for a pot of fresh hot coffee, cream and sugar.
Tempted, I said. That doesn't mean I would have actually done it. Then again, nobody ever offered.
The day finally came when visitors arrived in Asylumland. Two men and three women dressed in business attire and three nurses, one male and two female. While the five in business attire walked around inspecting the building and poking their noses in patients rooms, the nurses took blood pressure readings, pulse rates and other vital signs from each and every one of us, with every single word spoken in a language than none of us living in Asylumland could speak.
Everyone tried to talk with them. They laughed, smiled and even talked back to us but none of us understood a word they said. Then the regular hospital staff would tell us to be quiet and allow them to do their jobs. Even most of the staff was unable to communicate with them with only Dr Stoner and a couple more actually seen carrying on conversations with them.
The general consensus was that these visitors were speaking more than one language. While those in business attire appeared to mostly speak French, the nurses spoke what appeared to us to be something like Polynesian, at least according to GI Joe who said he'd been stationed on some island somewhere and heard people talking like that.
We searched through a few of the old books we had lying around and learned that one of the very few places where French and Austronesian peoples are commonplace is Madagascar, a giant island off the southeast coast of Africa. I had always thought of Madagascar as being entirely tropical but Joe insisted that the central highlands were temperate and even had occasional snowfalls from time to time.
"Could it really be that a bunch of Americans are running an asylum half way around the world in Madagascar?" Janice asked. "Would they go to that extreme to get us out of the picture? Why not just kill us and get it over with?"
"Because the need might arise for them to bring us back," Joe answered.
"But what about the college students that teach here?" Sara asked. "Surely they're not in on it too."
"I doubt they're in on it," I answered, "but that would explain why Jessica told me she had so few options in finding places to get her college credits."
"You're right," Janice said, "back home she could teach in hospitals and clinics all over any city in the country."
"So do you really think we're in Madagascar?" Sara asked.
"That's my best guess," Joe answered. "I know the stars haven't looked right since I got here but as to where we really are..."
"You're right," I interrupted, "as to where we really are, we could be on another planet and right now it wouldn't make any difference, we'd still be just as lost."
"That," Janice said, "would explain why we don't have holidays and they won't tell us the date. If Christmas and new Years were to roll 'round in the middle of summer that would be a dead giveaway we're no longer in the Northern Hemisphere.
"Wow," Sara exclaimed, "and I just thought it was so we wouldn't know how long we've been here."