Dr. Bad News’s Study on Claustrophobia

Here I am, back with book changes like I said I’d be. ❤ (New/uneducated people, we’re talking about draft 2 of my villain with amnesia book. Draft 1 can be found here.)

Actually, this isn’t a huge change to the original Blank Mastermind. Mostly a deleted/extra scene based on a smaller change.

We all know Wolfgang hates elevators. So let’s have fun with that today.

sorry, buddy

So in part 28, when he’s escaping from the hospital, there’s sort of the moment of “Oh, great, I have to go in an elevator and my claustrophobia is worse now so that won’t be fun.”

“Heading into the final lap,” Roy announced gleefully as I hit the button for the ground floor.


“Shut up, Tucker.” The doors slid closed and I swallowed, feeling my heartbeat accelerate. My eyes stayed fixed on the metal of the doors. Shiny . . . closing me in like the shell around the bomb . . . My hands shook and I closed my eyes. I forced myself to breathe against the pressure in my chest.


I’d always had mild claustrophobia before, but I’d never had a problem with everyday things like elevators. This was much more intense. I guess going somewhere small and nearly getting blown to bits will do that to you.


I’m taking the stairs next time. I don’t care if I’m on crutches. I pushed the sunglasses up on my head and rubbed at my eyes.


Whereas in this new draft, that elevator ride was the first time he really realized how much worse he’d gotten since the whole bomb thing and determines to avoid elevators after that.

“Heading into the final lap,” Roy announced gleefully as I hit the button for the ground floor.


The doors slid closed and I swallowed, feeling my heartbeat accelerate. What was wrong with me? I was in an elevator. Not a T-Rex’s mouth.


My eyes stayed fixed on the metal of the doors. Shiny . . . closing me in and sucking out the oxygen . . . just like the shell around the bomb . . .


My hands were shaking hard and I closed my eyes. I forced myself to breathe against the pressure squeezing in my chest.


This is ridiculous. I’m being stupid. I don’t have this bad of claustrophobia. I never have.


Despite my reasoning, I remained unable to get a good breath.


Obviously, going into a small space and nearly getting blown to bits had intensified things a bit.


I’m taking the stairs next time. I don’t care if I’m on crutches. I swallowed hard, gripping my crutch handles.


And then, continuing on to write a new scene in part 29, replacing the playground scene with a court trial, an interesting line came up.

I swung through and out into the hall, turning towards the stairs. I’d actually gotten pretty good on the crutches in the past week. Especially at the task of going down stairs. I’d tried an elevator exactly one more time since finding I had a problem with them, just to satisfy the curiosity of Bad News regarding claustrophobia.


Never again, thank you.

So, of course, when I finished up the draft, I had a fun deleted scene opportunity from Bad News’s POV to write.

Because he loves elevators and would not understand at all if his best friend suddenly decided he hated them.

Hope you guys enjoy!



I sat in Wolfgang’s empty hospital room, rubbing my knuckles against the coffee table and humming to myself.


I checked my watch, lifting my sunglasses.


Drive time and everything counted in, he should be back pretty soon. Plus, I mean, the hospital crew was pretty worked up about his leaving . . . that Abby-girl especially.


It was funny, though. I chuckled and messed with my tie a little. Rufus Xavier Sasparilla was still stuck in my head.


There was a door-slam sound out in the hall. Footsteps, crutches thumping and somebody getting chewed out. I couldn’t help but grin at the voice of the second person trying to break in and defend himself.


Yup, I guessed the time about right.


A few more seconds and Wolfgang came around the corner, half swinging on his crutches, half being pushed by Abby. Man, his face was pretty pale. Had he started bleeding again or something?


And he was kind of breathing hard. But they both were, actually. Elevator rides weren’t that exhausting, were they?


“ . . .and you were lucky how well you came out of that explosion in the first place,” Abby snapped. “The more you push it, the longer you’ll have to stay, Mr. Dankworth. Don’t you ever think about your own health?”


Wolfgang gestured a little as she herded him towards his bed. “W-well, I . . .”


“Nope,” I cut in, pushing my hat back on my head and stretching my legs out. “He doesn’t. Almost died with the flu one year because he wouldn’t admit he was sick and just lie down. And if you think he doesn’t shut up now, you should hear him with a fever, whoo . . .” I shook my head.


“You know,” Wolfgang fumbled his crutches out from under his arms and propped them by the side of the bed. He raised an eyebrow at me. “I don’t think she needs to hear that story.”


Abby gave me a withering look. “Thank you, Mr. News. I believe you’ve done quite enough for today. And Mr. Dankworth needs quite a bit of medical attention after his . . . adventure.” She was on eye level with me now that I was sitting down.


It was so cute when little half-pints like her got mad.


I grinned back at her, standing up and adjusting my tie. “Anytime.”


She’d already focused back on checking over Wolfgang, poking at him and feeling his forehead with one hand and grabbing a few pill bottles with the other hand.


“Lie down,” she ordered him.


He obeyed, surprisingly. He actually did look pretty beat. And . . . yeah, not in the best shape. I closed his eyes, taking a deep, shaky breath and wincing.


I tilted my head as I went for the door. “Seems a little out of breath for an elevator ride . . .”


Abby pulled the IV tube down, looping it towards Wolfgang’s arm. “That’s because we took the stairs, Mr. News. Goodbye.”


The stairs? On crutches? I frowned, but stepped out into the hall anyway.


Wolf probably wasn’t gonna answer much right now anyway. I’d ask him about it later.


I shrugged, pulled on my hat brim and started back down the hall to find Roy.




Wolfgang had a closer watch on him for the next day or so. But thankfully, he still got some exercise time allowed for heading over to see Liza. Even if they made him go in a wheelchair instead of crutches for the first time.


I can be pretty convincing when I want to. I got permission to be part of the supervision for him, so I got to escort the visits to Liza and Dallas’s rooms. (Though honestly, Dallas was the most mobile of anyone at this point, so he was visiting Wolfgang more than Wolfgang was visiting him.)


It was late at night and we’d been in Liza’s room for a while before she’d finally gotten tired and kicked us out.


Wolfgang moved along the hall slowly on his crutches. “Well . . . she’s recovering pretty well at least.”


His voice sounded small in the clean emptiness of the hall.


I nodded. “Liza’s a tough nut.”


It was quiet as we walked. I lifted my sunglasses briefly, looking down the hall towards the elevators. They were partly what I liked about the hospital, honestly. I loved riding in elevators. Sometimes I’d just pretend I was the elevator operator and ride around in it for an hour or so. Though most people seemed to decide they wanted to use the stairs when I did that.


I put my sunglasses back down and glanced over at Wolf as I remembered what Abby had said about them taking the stairs the other day. What was that about, even? Depriving patients of the elevator . . .


Wolfgang was still pretty awake and doing well. Maybe we could take a good elevator ride before bed to make up for his lost time.


I elbowed him gently, coming to a stop by the shiny metal doors. “Hey. Wanna go on the elevator?”


Wolfgang stopped and raised an eyebrow. “We’re . . . on the floor we need to be on, News.”


“I know. Just a ride for fun. Since you didn’t get to the other day when you got back.” I smacked the button for “up” since there were more floors above us. “Tell you what, we can each pick three buttons to hit.”


“Um . . .” Wolfgang looked between me and the elevator doors, opening and closing his mouth. “You know, I-I think I’m good. Really.”


I furrowed my brow, tipping my head down at him. “You okay?”


“I just . . .” he gestured a little, not meeting my gaze. “It’s . . .. after the bomb thing. It was just really small in the bomb housing. Small and metal and closed in . . . and I kind of . . . couldn’t breathe in that and almost got blown to bits. And the elevator reminds me of that so I’m not really . . . a huge elevator fan right now.”


I blinked, scratching the side of my head. “But it’s not a bomb. It’s an elevator.”


“I know,” Wolfgang fidgeted with his crutch handles.


“There’s nothing to be scared of in there. I mean it’s just carpet and glow-buttons.”


“Yeah, I know. But I just . . . it’s really small and trapped. I went on it the day I busted out and it’s not my favorite thing. Can we just go back t- . . .?”


“Wait, wait, wait.” I looked up at the ceiling and tapped on my hat, biting my lip. “There’s a word for that. I know it. It’s right on the tip of my tongue.”


The elevator dinged and Wolfgang winced. “News . . .”


I snapped my fingers, “Claustrophobia, that’s the word.”


Huh. I’d always wondered how that worked. I mean, there was literally nothing to be scared of. And some people would just freak out about it. Couldn’t go in small spots to save their lives.


Why? I mean, they knew there was nothing to be scared of actually, right? What did it look like?


Well . . .


I narrowed my eyes thoughtfully at Wolfgang as the elevator doors slid open.


I had a test case of claustrophobia right in front of me.


His wince deepened as he looked towards the open elevator. “Okay, let’s head back to the room.” He swung out his crutches and started in the other direction.


“Hey, hey now,” I grabbed the back of his jacket and pulled him back. “C’mon man. One ride. We’ve got nothing else to do.”


Wolfgang snorted. “I can come up with plenty. Want to play cards back in my room?”


I stuck my foot in the elevator to keep it from closing. “It’s for science. I know like zilch about claustrophobia and I wanna see how it works. Just a short ride. Up to the top and back here again, okay?”


Wolfgang looked between my face and the elevator, a pained expression on his face. He swallowed hard.


I raised an eyebrow. A half-grin pulled at the side of my mouth. “You’re not actually scared of an elevator are you?”


He stiffened. “No. I just . . . dislike them.”


“You can deal with disliking it for a little bit,” I encouraged. “Let’s get in.” I stepped into the elevator myself, holding out an arm to keep the door open.


Wolfgang pressed his lips together tightly. He took in a deep breath, let it out again, then put his crutches out and swung in after me.


“See, if we talk it out and stuff, maybe you’ll get over it,” I pointed out, pressing the button for the tippy-top floor. “And I can ask questions to see how it works.”


“Mmhmm.” Wolfgang flinched as the elevator doors slid shut.


The smooth, gliding noise started up and my stomach dropped a little as we started going up. The red number above the door stayed the same for another few seconds before shifting to the next.


I looked over at Wolfgang. He was paler, definitely, and his hands were shaking. His gaze was glued to the elevator doors.


I poked his arm and he jumped.


“Would you stop it?” he snapped, his words strained.


“So what’s it like?” I asked, putting my sunglasses up on my hat brim. “The whole claustrophobia, I mean.”


“It’s like I’m-not-enjoying-this.” Wolfgang’s words came out through clenched teeth. He kept watching the floor numbers.


So . . . grumpy was definitely a side effect. And shaky hands. Though shaky hands were usually a thing for Wolfgang anyway.


I rubbed my thumb over a couple of buttons, humming.


The elevator was quiet and I listened to the sound of his breathing. Weird. He sounded sort of like . . . someone was choking him. His breathing was all short and strained.


I looked back. “What’s up with your breathing?”


Wolfgang closed his eyes for a second, forcing a long, slow breath. “Th-there’s just . . . not a lot of . . . air in h-here,” he forced a small laugh. It sounded like he was trying to just blow it off. But by the way his voice cracked . . .


I raised my eyebrows, leaning in closer to him and pushing my hat back.


He was scared. He was actually scared of an elevator.


“You’re legit freaked out right now, aren’t you?” I asked incredulously.


Wolfgang’s eyes snapped open to glare at me. “N-no, I’m . . . I just don’t like . . .” his words trailed off and he swallowed, struggling to get in another breath.


Drama queen.


There was a dinging sound and the elevator doors slid open behind me.


Wolfgang sucked in a gulp of air and started to move his crutches forward.


“Wait a second, you didn’t answer any of my questions, bucko.” I stuck a foot in front of him to keep him from going any further, pressing our button to go back down. The doors closed again and the elevator started going down.


Wolfgang swore at me, swinging one crutch to whack my leg away, going towards the button panel.


I stood in front of the buttons, propping my hands on my hips. “Seriously, you know this isn’t a bomb, right? It’s not gonna blow up. It’s just an elevator.”


He got half a curse out before stopping again, gasping like he couldn’t get a proper breath. He stopped trying to hit at me and put his trembling hands over his face. His fingers curled into his hair as he raked them upwards and tugged at his cowlick. He clenched his teeth, curling inwards and dropping one crutch.


Wolfgang seriously sounded like he couldn’t breathe.


I was starting to get concerned.


I leaned over, putting my hands on my knees and frowning. “You know there’s plenty of air in here, right? Seriously, there’s plenty to breathe. Look.” I took in a deep breath, then let it out.


“Sh-shut it,” he rasped. His face was pale as paper.


I moved closer, trying to get a better look at his face. Curiosity and concern played tug-of-war inside my mind. “Why can’t you breathe? Is this the claustrophobia? What does it feel like?”


“It feels like I’m being suffocated to death and like I’m going to get blown up at any second, Baden,” he shot back, snapping his head up to look at me. His words came in a rush, despite the fact that they had almost no air behind them. “It feels like I’m dying. It feels like I’m scared as **** and . . . and . . .”


Wolfgang lost his air again and went back to gaping like a fish, trying to get a breath in.


“J-just . . . l-let me off. Please . . .” he whispered. His knees wobbled under him.


I had just been staring at him for the whole explosion of words, but I jumped into action.


“Yup, you got it. Off it is.” I knew enough about claustrophobia now. And I really didn’t want to see in person if Wolfgang could die from it.


I spun around to open the doors just as the elevator dinged cheerily again, telling us we were back to our floor. The doors slid open. The light from the hall glowed back into the elevator.


“C’mon, bud.” I hauled Wolfgang towards the door, grabbing his dropped crutch with my free hand and putting it back under his arm.


Wolfgang gulped in a shuddering breath as we stepped back out into the hall, sounding like I’d been holding him underwater. He just stood there for a second, breathing hard. His face turned an odd shade of grey. He swallowed hard, looking around the hall.


“N-News . . . I . . . g-garbage can . . .”


Ignoring his crutches, I scooped my hands under his arms and pulled him over to the little trashcan at the side of the hall. “There.”


He went to his knees and puked up probably everything he’d eaten that day. I went back to grab his crutches while he finished up doing that.


I shot the elevator a glare, trying to ignore the knot in my stomach. Well, I knew I was never going on another elevator joyride with Wolf along. And at least I knew what he was avoiding now.


I turned back around and started towards Wolfgang. He still held his gimpy arm over his stomach and leaned against the wall, breathing heavily, but a little closer to normal. His face was still pale and pained.


I dropped down next to him. “Better?”


Wolfgang shrugged, his eyelids drooping. “S-sort of.”


Right. Well, he wasn’t walking anywhere.


I tucked the crutches under one arm and got my hands in the familiar position to lift him up. I stood up, holding him in my arms like a load of groceries. Funny, usually he wasn’t conscious for that.


“Hey, hey, I can walk . . .” he objected, struggling a little.


“And I can fly.” I made a face at him as I kept striding down the hallway towards his room. I was more than used to lifting things. Wolfgang in particular.


He didn’t object further, but sat a little stiffly in my arms. I could feel that he was shivering.


We got into his room without anybody seeing us and I got him back into his bed, pulling the blankets up and propping the crutches against the wall. Man, if I said he wasn’t tired before, he definitely looked it now. Had a bit of his color back so that was good, at least.


He leaned back, running a hand through his hair and letting out his breath as he closed his eyes.


I peeked out into the hall, checking to make sure Abby wasn’t coming, then looked back at Wolfgang. “Hey, I’m really sorry about that, man. But . . . uh . . . could I ask you a favor?”


Wolfgang opened his eyes again, frowning a little. “What?”


“That you . . . don’t tell anybody about this? I’ll get kicked outta here one of these days.” I crossed my heart. “And I won’t take you on any more elevators. Pinky promise.”


He snickered, shaking his head. “I won’t tell, News.”


I grinned, sitting in one of the corner chairs. “Thanks, man.”


Wolfgang put an arm over his face to cover his eyes and was asleep, just like he should have been, when Abby came in.


Hope you guys enjoyed the story!

I’ll be back with more next time, -salute-


17 thoughts on “Dr. Bad News’s Study on Claustrophobia

    1. It was actually weird making the shift from writing Wolfgang with claustrophobia and painfully getting it to just Bad News who can barely remember what the word means.
      It’s funny in a painful sort of way. XD

  1. ‘ I was more than used to lifting things. Wolfgang in particular.’

    And this sums up like their whole relationship. *geeks out* I. LOVE. IT.
    And I’ve never seen bad claustrophobia in action but the way you describe him going through it sounds really real. POOR GUY.

    1. Basically, yep. XD I love writing those two so much. <33
      -bows- Very glad the descriptions turned out. Idk if you've ever read Josephine Tey? but I drew off some of her claustrophobia descriptions for Wolfgang, plus my own experience.

      1. Never even heard of Josephine Tey. 😛 What does she write?
        How horrible to be claustrophobic. I don’t like small spaces but I don’t get like that, not even really minorly.

  2. Wolfy! I feel your pain! Well, not the same way. It’s hard for me to be in the middle of a large crowd. Like, I had to sit in the second row of the choir loft once, with a ton of kids in front of me, and I nearly had a panic attack right there in church just from claustrophobia. It’s not usually nearly that bad, and small spaces on their own are fine, but small, dusty spaces when I feel like I can’t breathe, or being tightly packed in a crowd–uh. Poor News, too. He must’ve been super freaked out by the end of that.

  3. having a mild form of claustrophobia myself, that was kind of difficult to read. I actually got upset at Bad News for not being sensitive enough to Wolfgang’s fear, but it’s impossible to stay mad at him for long, especially when he truly doesn’t understand the fear. very well done! 👏

    1. Bad News’s thought process is just so weird to write, honestly. XD
      But same on the mild claustrophobia. I’ve had only one time when I was younger where I pretty much couldn’t breathe. Basically for Wolfgang I take mine and crank it up 3 times worse.

  4. I’ve had claustrophobia only once in my life for a horrid twenty seconds, and it’s not fun at all. .-. Poor Wolfy.

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