Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mere Acquaintances- Epilogue

It had been like flicking a switch. Becca couldn’t believe it, but the evidence was there in front of her. Whatever had happened between the five Sonsedhor patients and their alternate personalities, everything had come to an end. At least, it seemed to be at an end.

Things had seemed so calm for so long. For months, Emery’s violent streak had seemed contained, easily averted by restraints, but the events of the night of November fifth had come as a surprise.

Fortunately, his unprovoked attack on Ryan had been thwarted. But then, as he was being restrained, he managed to overpower the nurses and turned his attentions to Lydia. He had been much harder to hold back then.

No one was sure how he managed to get out of his room after being locked in and bound in a straitjacket, but the former policeman had somehow done it. By the time his escape had been discovered and they found where he’d disappeared to, Vale was already dead. His body was removed the next morning. There was no question– he had been beaten to death by the big ex-cop.

Thanksgiving saw Becca in Dr. Anderson’s office, seated in a corner and simply observing as Dr. Anderson spoke to Jo Bailey, whose recovery had come as a surprise.
It had been like flicking a switch, she thought again as she studied her former patient. Jo wasn’t even in her wheelchair; walking was difficult in her physical state, but it wasn’t completely impossible. Once she had come to her senses, she had insisted on doing away with the chair and walking under her own power, even though it took her a long time to move across a room. She had spirit, a desire to live in her chocolate-brown eyes.

“I’m ready to go home,” Jo said softly, looking at her hands in her lap. “I believe I’m done here.”

With a nod, Dr. Anderson replied, “I will gladly support that statement. You will be missed around here, Joanna, but it is time you went back to the real world.”

Jo’s head snapped up at that– as quickly as her head could snap, anyway, which was still fairly slow– but she didn’t say anything.

“We will, of course, keep observing you for a few months while you readjust to life outside the Institute,” Dr. Anderson continues, smiling. Becca knew the smile was for the recent bill that had finally passed judgement by the board of directors, renaming the place Ighosia Falls Mental Institution. Jo simply nodded. “And we have, of course, contacted your family. Your parents are ready for you back at their home, since your apartment was rented back out some time ago.”

Jo nodded again.

“You look like you want to say something. Please, go ahead Joanna. Feel free.”

Something familiar to Becca flashed in Jo’s eyes. “I want to see the others.” Dr. Anderson and Becca exchanged looks. Joanna kept her gaze level on Dr. Anderson’s face. “I know there were others. Please, can I see them?” There was no pleading in her voice, just simple need.

Dr. Anderson nodded.

Jo walked with the intern, Becca, down a hallway lined with doors. Dr. Anderson hadn’t come with them, but Jo didn’t care much for the doctor anyway. There was something familiar and warm about the young intern, and she was a welcome guide to her companions. Something told Jo that Becca... understood. She didn’t know what it was about the young woman, but she knew she could trust her, deep in her core.

“This is Lydia,” Becca said, opening a door. The intern entered first, speaking softly and soothingly to the room’s occupant.

In the woman before her, Jo recognized Weslyn, but there was something wrong with her. The woman, Lydia, refused to lift her head. She made no move, gave no inclination that she might speak. Jo didn’t press her; she simply nodded to Becca and slowly made her way out of the room.

“She’s become much more functional since... that night,” Becca explained, “but Lydia’s emotional condition has fallen drastically. She’s battling deep depression suddenly. She won’t speak to anyone.

That’s because she’s dead, Jo thought, but she said nothing. That Weslyn had died was a certainty to her, but she didn’t know how she knew it. She hadn’t seen Weslyn die, but there was no doubt it had happened.

She was introduced to Ryan next, and in him she knew the bard Draegon. But Ryan eyed her askance, darted as far away from her as he could, and cowered in a corner behind a desk chair. Like Lydia, he had regained the better part of his sanity since November fifth, but his temperament was now marked with constant fear and paranoia. Constantly looking over his shoulder, Ryan jumped at the slightest sound or voice. Throughout her short visit, he muttered about constant nightmares, each one of the same thing: murder. Over and over, murder.

Jo remembered seeing Draegon’s body in the chamber... bloody and battered, beaten until he had hardly looked like himself anymore. She didn’t blame Ryan for having nightmares about that.

Becca hesitated over taking her to the last of the others. Emery had killed another patient, she was told. His victim had been Vale Stapleton, who had also been one of the others involved with her, Lydia, and Ryan. At the name Emery, Jo’s heart skipped a beat. Her recognition came as no surprise to Becca.

“You two knew each other as kids,” the intern said.

“More than just kids,” Jo whispered back.

Nodding as if she already knew that, Becca led her to the last door. This was no simple hallway door with a small viewing window like Ryan and Lydia had. Emery’s door was reinforced metal, and instead of a window, there was a barred panel. They kept him like a prisoner.

Flashes of Kemeny’s and Senne’s memories flooded her mind as she peered through the bars at Emery. The big man sat on the floor unmoving. As if sensing he was being watched, he lifted his head, and a pair of stoney blue eyes met Jo’s. His mouth didn’t move; he didn’t blink or even seem to breathe. But those eyes pierced her to the core. Somewhere deep in the depths of her mind, the parts of her that were Senne and Kemeny trembled.

“I loved you too, once,” she whispered. Turning to Becca, she took the intern’s arm. It helped her walk more steadily to have support. “Now I’m ready to go home.”

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