„Her mother had to leave the asylum,“ Ronald Lord Barkley croaks in my ear. “In a plastic bag.”
The doctor gives the signal, and Vivien arches again on the metal table as electroshock courses through her and the news of her mother’s death through me. She screams, and I do as well, unable to move my eyes from her skeletal frame that twists, her restrained fists so tight that they turn white.
Someone shoves me forward and drags me deeper into the asylum, past doors with grated viewers that mad eyes stare at me through. Female voices fill the corridors from the cells, the screams of doomed minds abandoned to their insanity – or whatever it is that got them locked in here, like rich ex-husbands in no mood for custody fights.
I’m pushed inside a small room with dirty cushioned walls – so that I don’t kill myself by banging my head against them for sure – and a small grated window high above. There’s no chance for me to ever reach it, let alone make it through back to freedom. It’s Jeremy Simmons who closes the door with a vindictive frown, while Ronald Lord Barkley’s long gaunt face seems rather scared and powerless behind him. I understand he’s just a tool in more powerful hands, and I wonder what it is that the elite have on him to secure his complicity.
But that’s about all the thinking I’m able to do before I curl on the floor exhausted from the hurt, the emotional drain and the consequences of long-term rainfall on my virtually naked body. Every bit of my flesh hurts as if I’ve been beaten with rods, I’m cold and my eyes sting. I shiver like a chicken plucked of its feathers, yet manage to fall asleep. I keep waking up from the cold though. Eventually a sensation of warmth and then growing heat takes over me, making me claw my corset and try to rip it off until I’m so finished that I give in gratefully to complete and comfortable blackness. I’m strangely disappointed when it turns out it’s not definitive.
I’m sprawled on the floor as the door opens with a loud, sharp metallic sound. I can only see the lower part of it as if through fog, legs in white pants and white shoes coming at me. White arms grab me and drag me out of the room. My nape hurts, I can’t hold up my head and feel mighty humiliated as my hair hangs like rags around my face as they take me God knows where.
It’s a “treatment room,” a special one. It’s small and it has a lot of pipes. Before a clear idea can form in my mind a jet of water hits me and hurtles me to the wall, and once I’m pinned there its pressure decreases enough for me to feel its temperature – cold as ice.
I scream and gasp, my heart threatening to stop from the arctic liquid that makes me stiffen and ache. I’m fully awake and afraid for my life. I’ve sure gotten myself in really deep shit.
But to my great luck the loud whoosh of water stops abruptly, and as my screams die down I hear a female voice – deep, maybe belonging to a middle-aged respect inspiring lady – rising at the male nurses who’ve just put me through the worst torture yet.
“Are you mad? You’ll put her in hypothermia, you’ll kill her!”
My vision is blurred, but I recognize Lord Barkley’s secretary, the “witch” from last night – or God knows how many nights ago – who helped me get inside the pub incognito. Impaired as I am, I know she’s on my side. And Kieran’s, or at least Joyous’.
It’s funny that I only take a good look at her now – by the way I feel and what she just said, she might be the last friendly face I ever see. Beyond the sour expression that seems to be natural to her, she’s rather attractive with her intelligent dark eyes and round, white face. The red lipstick makes a good contrast to her white skin, black bun – clearly dyed – and elegant black blouse, and it must be the main detail that gives her the overall image of a harpy. She’s a sturdy, full-busted version of Morticia Adams.
“Lord Barkley said –” one of the men begins, but “Plump Morticia” interrupts as she tries to help me up. I’m so frozen I don’t even feel her touch.
“I’m sure he didn’t say put her in hypothermia. This woman should’ve gotten a warm blanket and a hot tea as soon as she was brought in, not be kept wet and technically naked all night.”
“It’s only been a few hours.”
The woman turns her face to the speaker. “Are you stupid, or are you just pretending?”
The man looks down. “I’m sorry, Miss Danes.”
“Give me your jacket.” She stretches her arm. The man hesitates. “Come on now!”
He takes off his white uniform jacket and hands it to the woman. She’s now looking at me again. I’ve practically trickled along the tiled wall to the floor, and I’m looking up at her. She covers me and strokes the wet hairs off my forehead.
“I’m Yvette Danes, Saphira. If they ever lay hands on you again and I happen not to be around – which won’t be happening a lot anymore – use my name to stay them.”
A young and ill-wishing female voice intervenes. “Not if my name can set those hands in motion again.”
Both Yvette and I look in the direction of the voice. Pretty Lauren leans on the doorframe in jeans and a red leather jacket, her skinny arms folded across her chest, her hair falling in fiery locks to her shoulders. She grins, and I feel like a stray dog at her mercy, looking at her from the level of her feet.
“Grab your hoses, boys,” she says.
“Wait, you can’t do this!” Yvette gets up and steps in. But the men have already followed Lauren’s command as if spoken by Lord Barkley himself.
“Yes, I can, lady,” Lauren retorts. “Lord Barkley is, say, indisposed, and I’m his Deputy.”
“But this is outrageous! You’re a tart with no studies or experience!” Yvette bursts. Lauren grins her wicked grin.
“We tarts have our methods. Now get out of the way unless you want to join little Miss Lothar in a refreshing bath.”
It’s clear that Lauren is in a position of power. The nurses obey her as the higher in command. I’m completely in her hands, and already half-dead. I close my eyes as the jets of water hit me so hard they seem to break my bones.
To be continued on Friday.