Tales from the Asylum is a feature in which authors put their characters (an already existing one or a completely new one) in an asylum room of their choosing, with a task/duty of their choosing to see how they would deal with the situation. A lot can happen in a magically warded building…
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Tales from the Asylum was originally created for SPFBO 5, then sadly it got the backseat, but I decided to bring it back for the 5th Anniversary Bonanza with an updated version! Maxime Jaz, an M/M romance author gladly jumped on board with it.
In the new version, authors are asked to choose a room and a duty for their characters from a round of options and are asked to think outside of the usual escape-room-type stories, as we’d love to see different interpretations of our cozy little home. We’ll note which room and duty an author chooses on the character sheet below.
Maxime is a queer author who writes about guys falling in love in various places and times. Although the books could be labelled as queer romance laced with erotica, they do not fit a single genre, and are filled with drama, and sometimes darkness. Maxime likes to explore complex emotions, the journey to self-discovery, and living a life true to oneself, and their characters often struggle before finding happiness. Maxime has an MA in language and literature, and a long international teaching career as teacher of English language and literature. Being multilingual, they also love incorporating various languages in their works. On top of being an avid reader, Maxime loves horse riding, hiking with their dog and spending time with their family.
Connect with Maxime Jaz
There was a grey wolf rolling in the grass in that lush clearing surrounded by trees, a fat ray of sun bathing his belly in a soft glow. Tongue lolling, he was rubbing his back in the grass, his teeth sharp, the sun filling his amber eyes as he jumped on all fours, shaking his fur out. Stretching, it seemed content, playful, a light breeze carrying those tufts of loose fur up into the sun.
A calm voice filled the air, smooth. “Inmates arriving. Report to your duty.”
The wolf cocked its head with a low growl and jumped behind a tree. A few seconds later, the time it took for that breeze to clear the flying fur, a man appeared from behind the tree, dressed in black leather pants, and knee-high boots, a black vest on his naked torso, black body hair lining his arms and chest, soft, his black hair swaying in the wind, short at the back, but a bit longer on top, an unruly mop of hair, amber eyes playing in the sun as he readjusted his clothes, those insolent lips into a smirk. A man in his thirties, maybe, and where the fuck did the wolf go? Whistling softly, he pushed past the trees, a cleverly hidden wooden door appearing between them. Pushing it open, he walked down a large corridor, nodding to other humans and beings ambling there, unconcerned, almost daring them to say a word. Crossing a huge garden, soaking in a bit more of that sun, walking to a vast lobby with a domed ceiling, that circular room lined with counters. Crossing his arms, he waited for the main door to open, giving that approaching large nurse a smirk.
“You’re on duty today?”
“And who else, pray tell, Peter?”
He checked his clipboard. “Hansel should be here, and Gretel.”
“The fuck do I care. Chase them up.” His eyes drifted back to that large double door. A small anxiety in him because who the fuck knew how the newbies would be. Watching as they opened and Peter and other nurses hurried there to usher a few beings and humans in. Humans… or so it seemed, you could never be sure. Sighing, he eyed the newbies, an older woman, making the hair rise on his back, a young troll, maybe, it was hard to tell, and a young man, his eyes a bit wide, his brown hair in light waves around his delicate face. He was holding a small basket tight, a red cloak on his shoulders. Oh, fun, fun… He had crossed the room as Peter took that young man to a register desk, and leant against it, shamelessly looking the newcomer over, watching him sign his name with that black ink flowing from the quill. Red. What the fuck is that name?
Cocking his head, he made that young man look at him. “Why hello, hello… Red… I’ll be your tour guide today.”
The young man turned to him, clutching that ridiculous basket. “Hi…” His eyes darted around, golden brown. “Tour guide? Isn’t this an asylum?”
“Tsk… what a bland word. It’s great here, you’ll see.”
The young man swallowed, worried. “I don’t want to be here. This is a mistake.”
He laced his arm in Red’s, pulling him away. Putting his most reassuring smile on. “We all say this, but you’ll see, it’s not a mistake. Why are you here?”
“I keep going to the woods to pluck flowers and I always get lost… I want to find my grandma’s house, but it seems not to exist.”
“How uncanny…” Grinning, he held that arm tight, pulling him into the garden. “Here. We’ll start with the garden. Just greet politely everybody we meet, but don’t start conversations. We don’t have time to chat.”
“You work here?”
“In a way. I’m also an inmate, like you. Or… I prefer the name ‘resident’.”
“Ok… what’s your name?”
This time, he stopped and face the young man. He was taller and broader a bit, looking down at him with those amber eyes framed in black. Make-up, maybe…
“Lou… like Louis?”
“No, like Loup. L. O. U. P. It means ‘wolf’ in French?”
“You like wolves?” Red had perked up, thinking he had found a man with the same interest.
“Because you do?” His heart had started beating harder, fuck knew why.
“Yes, I love them. Maybe that’s why I keep getting lost in the woods. Folks said there’s a big bad wolf there…”
“Is there? How uncanny.” Laughing a bit, he walked again, glancing at Red sometimes, his heart lighter somehow.
They were walking down those neat paths in white gravel, the lawn harsh green, flowers and bushes everywhere, benches where inmates were basking in the sun. Turning a corner, they came face to face with a large man dressed in hunter clothes.
Loup froze, a low growl in his throat.
Red looked up at him, puzzled, then back to that man with dark hair and a beard framing his mouth and chin.
Walking closer, he stopped in front of them, blatantly looking Red over. “I see you found a new friend, Loup?”
Loup crossed his arms. “He’s new. And fuck off, will you? Kindly.”
The man laughed, tipping his hunter hat. “I’m delighted to meet you, young man.”
“My name’s Red.” Shutting up at an annoyed smack of Loup’s lips, his blazing eyes.
“Red…” His name dripped from the man’s lips like bitter honey.
Loup smirked and raised his hand. “He’s off limits, toad. Let us walk further.”
“You don’t get to boss anybody around, sack of fleas.”
“I’m still asking nicely, Ambrose…” He had kept that cocky smile, but his eyes had that menacing light coating the edge of his voice. “Step aside.”
The man hesitated, but without his gun, he was no match for Loup, especially if he decided to shift. “Fuck you…” He still stepped aside and walked away.
Red looked after him. “He’s trouble…”
“He sure is. Nasty hunter.” He smiled at him, taking his arm. “You should never be afraid of the big, bad wolf, but of the big, bad human.”
“A lesson to be learnt…”
“The hard way…” Bitter, he shut up, but led Red through the garden, through the vegetable patches and orchards where they were growing fruits and vegetables for the kitchen.
Pointing to a white building. “That’s the dining hall. There’s a bell when we need to go and eat. The food is delicious and tailored to what you like to eat.”
“I like my meat.”
Loup’s eyes sparked up. “I see…” Licking his lips, he had to look away from Red’s full lips, wondering why he was having thoughts now when he had taken lots of newbies around, and none of them had stirred anything.
Turning around the dining hall, a large building loomed ahead, black walls adorned with roses carved in stone, and mythical animals as far as the eyes could see.
“This… is a wonder… the learning and recreational centre…” Pushing a large door open, he let Red step in. Smiling when he froze in place, mouth agape, his eyes wide.
Books. Books spiraling to the ceiling as the sunlight streamed in from a round window at the top of an enormous dome. Ramps lining those shelves spiraling into that fake sky painted on the dome. Golden railings to keep people from falling. Tables on the bottom floor to study and read in silence, a few water fountains trickling on the walls with crystal goblets near them.
Loup whispered. “Like it?”
“I love it…” Turning around, his mind had a hard time grasping what he was seeing. “It’s a wonder…”
“You like to read?”
Loup’s heart raced. “I do.”
“Me too. I have a book in my basket.” He tapped that small basket.
“You can come back here and borrow as many as you’d like.” Taking his elbow gently. “Come, we still have to see many things. The farm…”
“Animals! Oh!” Red followed him outside, feeling a bit better. “This place seems better than I thought.”
“Glad to hear.”
“You’re leaving soon?”
Loup looked down at him, at that worried face. “No… I don’t think so. I feel safe here. Why would I leave?”
“I don’t know. You leave after a while, no?”
“Maybe. Maybe not.” A slight unease had crept up his spine, so he walked faster, reaching the small farm at the end of the orchards. “You can come here and tend to the animals.”
Chicken, rabbits, and ducks were ambling around on that lush grass. Pigs lounging in small groups, squeaky clean, their pink skin softly shining in the sun. Beehives buzzing under the trees, some cows and horses grazing further.
Red sighed. “I know how to tend to animals.”
“Wonderful!” Loup almost laughed, swallowing that chuckle, but it had lit his heart up. “Come. We’ll look at the main building now and find your room.”
“Why yes, where you’ll sleep and spend some private time. We also have common rooms, and some sports facilities, as well as some sessions, either in group or in private.”
Red clutched his basket tighter. “I’m scared a bit… this is all new.”
Loup laced his arm around his shoulder. “I know… but I’ll help you.”
Walking to a main building, this one in white stone, same carvings on it. Pushing a grey door in, Loup led Red down the main corridor. “What did they tell you?”
“How fortunate! I’m next door. 46.”
Their eyes met, that relief plain in Red’s. “Can I visit you?”
“Of course. This is not a prison. You are free to roam and visit. 45. Here.”
Somehow, the door knew they had arrived because the lock clacked, and it swung in. Loup pushed it open and gestured Red in. The room was large, and looked like a log cabin, with a small fire burning in a fireplace made of thick stones, a white shaggy rug in front of it. A bed with red covers, bookshelves, a wooden table and chairs, cabinets, and a rocking chair.
Red put the basket on the table. “It’s beautiful… and cozy.”
Loup smiled, less impressed. “Ah, you could say that, I guess…” Looking down at Red. “You like it? That’s all that matters.”
Red stifled a yawn, his shoulders slouching under his red cape. “I’m so tired. I’m sorry. It’s been a long day.”
“Just go and sleep. I’ll see you tomorrow. If you wish.”
Red looked up into those amber eyes, mesmerized a bit. “Yes, I’d wish it very much. Thank you, Loup… for the tour.”
“Any time.” He held back from stroking his fingers down that pale face, feel his skin. “I’ll see you, Red. Sleep well.”
He waved and left swiftly, before his galloping heart would give him away. Fuck… He decided to shift as soon as he was out the door, running down the corridor, bounding out into that huge park to run all those feelings out, let his wolf mind take over, growling and snapping at some of the inmates, drinking in their fear as they rushed from him, screaming. Fun. Fun. Sniffing the ground, he trotted along that tall wall lining the perimeter of the complex. A few rounds and he would be fine, he knew. Big bad wolf. Grinning at his thoughts, his mind on those golden brown eyes, those lush lips. Red. Red. His blood burning.
Next morning, he had shifted back, waiting for Red in front of his door. The young man emerged, holding his basked, the red cape on his shoulders.
“Good morning, Loup.”
“Had a good sleep?” Matching his steps, walking with him to the dining hall.
Avoiding the others, they sat near a window looking out on the farm. Red had piled some ham and eggs on his plate, bread and golden butter, a large jug of warm coffee with milk on the table, a jar of golden honey glinting in the sun.
“The weather is always this nice?”
Loup had to swallow that large piece of ham he had stuffed in his mouth. “Uhum… always.” Cursing that human mouth a bit with its useless teeth, he tore another piece off. “We have rain sometimes, and a nice rainbow. Splendid.”
“How is your room? Could I have a look?”
Loup shot him a look. “Sure.” He gestured at the basket. “What’s so precious in that, that you couldn’t leave it in your room?” Mocking a bit as he ate ravenously.
“It’s the gifts for my grandmother.”
“The one you’ve never found?” Regretting his question a bit because Red’s face had clouded with shadows.
“Yes… I haven’t found her, and I haven’t found the wolf either…” Tears shimmering in those large eyes as he clutched that miserable basket.
Loup patted his hand. “Now, now… all is not lost.”
“There’s no forest here.” Bitter, he had lost his appetite, letting that golden honey trickle down his bread to his plate.
Loup scooped that honey up with his finger and smeared it back on the slice. Meeting Red’s eyes. “Maybe there is…”
“I haven’t shown you everything.” He stood, reaching his hand out. “Come?”
Red took his hand, his heart flying a bit. Following him back to the building, puzzled a bit when they stopped in front of room 46.
“Uh… your room?”
Loup just squinted at him. “You’ll see…” Pushing at the door, he ushered Red in.
Red’s eyes went wide at the sight of those tall trees lining that large clearing. It seemed that they stretched further, somehow, flowers growing everywhere, nestled in that lush grass. A slight breeze blowing gently, birds in the trees, invisible.
He turned to Loup, breathless. “A forest…”
“A small one… but it’s here.”
“All we’re missing now is the big, bad wolf.” Laughing a bit.
Loup smiled; his eyes unreadable. “Maybe not. Wait here.”
He had walked among the trees before Red could react and he had to put his basked down, dead worried.
“Loup?” His voice echoed back to him. A chill ran down his spine. It’s a room. And it was madness. Eyes wide when he saw that large wolf emerge from between the trees, he backed to a tree, the door gone, somehow. The big, bad wolf. All his dreams turned into a nightmare, being locked up with the beast.
“Stay away!” His voice sounded hysterical in those silent woods.
He had raised a trembling hand, hoping the beast would get scared, but it just trotted closer. Red had started shivering, his teeth chattering, that mad fright drenching his senses. But above all that fright, a slight curiosity when he saw the wolf stop, just look at him. Not menacing. It should be growling and baring its teeth… Breathing hard, he met the wolf’s eyes, even if he knew it was the only thing not to do. Rooted to the ground when he recognized that gaze. No… no, it can’t be…
Risking that folly, still. “Loup?”
The wolf just walked closer, almost a smile on those lips, and pushed his snout towards Red. Red, whose trembling hand went to that large head, petting the animal. He knew the wolf’s amber eyes, but his brain had a hard time processing what he was seeing.
“But… how?” Stroking that soft fur, realizing the wolf’s back was up to his chest.
The wolf tilted its head and bounded back between the trees.
Loup emerged then, grinning. “Impressed?”
“Tsk… magic? Have you not heard your human tales?” Switching to French. “Le loup garou… l’homme loup…”
“Whatever you want to believe…” His heart, dark a bit, knowing what some humans thought of him.
“I was looking for you… and you were here all along…”
“Well, didn’t you find me after all?” Walking close, he looked down into those rabbit eyes filled with awe.
“I did, didn’t I…” Knowing he should be afraid, that he should have run out, howling. An unknown warmth in him, feeling Loup’s heat. Lost in those amber eyes which had taken a feral light. “The big, bad wolf…” His blood in flames.
Loup’s senses were drenched with him. The heat of his skin, his scent, laced with fright, melting into lust. Lust… He stepped closer, closing whatever gap was left between them. “Yes…” His lips curling into a mocking smile. “Aren’t you scared, Red?”
Those full lips quivered; his eyes framed with those long lashes as he looked up into those amber eyes. “Not anymore…”
He pushed his hands on that soft hair lining Loup’s chest. Parting his lips when he felt Loup’s arms go around his back. He could just shift and tear my neck open… A futile thought, all too late, when their lips met, sending a shockwave down Red’s spine as he pressed himself against that strong body. Mouth opening wide when Loup just pushed his tongue in, Red gave that hard kiss back, rolling his tongue against Loup’s, letting him eat him up, letting his stubble rip at the soft skin of his lips. His hands had gone around Loup’s neck, holding himself tight against him, his feet barely touching the ground in that tall man’s arms, their bodies throbbing. Not a man… a wolf-man. Loup Garou…
Red looked at him, panting. “It’s madness…”
Loup laughed softly. “Is it? Why do you think you’re here?” Smoothing those lush curls back. “We’re all a bit mad here. As it should be in a perfect world.”
“I found you… my wolf…”
“You did… and I was waiting for you…”
“You eat men in tales…”
“I do…” That soft smirk. “In more ways than one.”
“Show me…” Pulling him down on that lush grass, not leaving those puzzled and amused amber eyes.
Loup sank down on his knees to face him, cupping his face. Drinking in his sight, those golden brown eyes filled with light, his lush curls spilling onto his fingers. “I’ll show you alright…”
Pulling Red into a kiss, he leant on his back on that soft grass, taking Red with him. Kissing, wide, in that lush sunshine pouring in the clearing surrounded by trees. Their bodies blended, their hearts beating as one.
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