Fiction: Quietly Goes the Mix Tape

An essay by Dr. Marie Randall, as provided by Willow Croft
Art by Scarlett O’Hairdye

The quiet is the worst. The silence that is not silence, broken up by jangling keys, someone screaming, the endless stomping of feet up and down the hall. There is no music here. I don’t care what certain avant-garde composers say. Noise cannot be turned into music. Silence is not a composition. It’s merely a dripping faucet that chips away at one’s sanity. Such is my life here at the Twin Oaks Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center. Even the sound of my own voice is like shattered glass dropping on pavement. If I wasn’t mad before I came here, I will be when I leave. But maybe that’s what they call sane.

I wouldn’t even be writing down these thoughts in this static medium, except the doctor made me. It was that, or ECT, and just think of the noise that would be filling up my head then. All this just because I asked if there was a piano. I don’t comprehend how anyone could live without music. But then, that’s how I got in trouble. Simply by bringing more music into the world. Into people. And for that part of the story, I’ll have to start at the beginning. In 1985.


“Hey, Dr. Randall, how’s it going?”

Jimmy, my lab assistant, had asked me the same question every morning for the past six months.

“Headphones off, please.”


I mimicked taking off the headphones. I sometimes wished he would be hit by a bus he couldn’t hear because his Walkman was up so loud. But lab assistants, even annoying ones, were at a premium around here, so I reminded myself that we scientists worked to enhance life, not destroy it.

“Oh, sorry, Doc.”

I set him to work readying the lab station for the day’s genetic experiments. I could hear the abstract thumping of his music as I tried to focus on my report. Nothing is more irritating than music you have to listen to secondhand. But that’s when inspiration struck.

Art for "Quietly Goes the Mix Tape"

It wasn’t until the police showed up in my lab the next day that I realized something was wrong.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2019 collection.

Dr. Marie Randall was a biology teacher at the small, but distinguished, Twin Oaks University, located in Twin Oaks, Missouri. Born on a farm just on the outskirts of Twin Oaks, Dr. Randall breezed through high school, earning her diploma by the time she was thirteen. The brilliant Dr. Randall received numerous scholarships, through which she gained dual PhDs in genetics and cell biology, respectively, with specialty studies in both evolutionary biology and molecular biology. After conducting controversial genetic experiments, which led to her arrest, she was committed to the Twin Oaks Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center. Her mysterious disappearance from the facility remains unexplained to this day.

Willow Croft is a writer and poet currently living in high desert, though she has dreams of moving to green Scotland. She has a BA in writing and literature and a MA in history. She recently published a book of poetry, Quantum Singularity: A Poetic Voyage through Time and Space, and is editing a mystery manuscript for publication.

Scarlett O’Hairdye is a burlesque performer, producer and artist. To learn more, visit her site at

“Quietly Goes the Mix Tape” is Copyright 2019 Willow Croft
Art accompanying story is Copyright 2019 Scarlett O’Hairdye

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