Read Time: 5 mins | Serial Fiction| Crime | Part 1
There was a panicked hush that pervaded the asylum. One could sense the intensity had risen a notch. Usually pleasant and clichéd greetings were now replaced by furtive glances, and dismissive hand gestures. Something was amiss. More security Officers were suddenly present in the hallways, and the more aggressive orderlies were escorting patients back to their rooms. For rookie Hantz Small-Castle, this was all new, and he stood out like a sore thumb.
“Hantz. Come in Hantz.” The voice in his earpiece was angry or scared.
“Go for Hantz.”
“We need you at the front entrance, like yesterday.” The voice was now apoplectic.
“On my way.” Hantz was like a fish out of water.
He started running, following signs that were maddeningly inaccurate. Two minutes later, he was back where he had started, and winded. The nurse at the call station tapped her nails on the desk impatiently, giving him the attitude.
“Excuse me, could you point me in the direction of the front entrance?” Hantz tried to sound calm.
She pointed in the opposite direction. Sure enough, the sign overhead said “Entrance” with a bold red arrow next to it. He started running again, and saw the huddle of officers in the distance, wrestling with two patients. He rushed in, perhaps without thinking, and was greeted by a sturdy, oak-like forearm from the biggest of the two. Her name was Teresa Higgins.
Tiny Teresa Higgins was a towering six foot, three inches, and had been a resident of the asylum for the last four years. She had taken a liking to Hantz, and immediately bent over and apologized. She yanked him off the floor with her left hand, while with the other she was shaking sergeant Wibley like a rag doll.
“I’m sorry Hantz.” She shoved him back toward the other officers and began to walk away with the sergeant. Teresa possessed phenomenal strength. The chaplain had said she was possessed by the devil. Hantz wasn’t particularly religious, so he figured if anyone knew if she had demons occupying the room upstairs, it would be Chaplain Gerard. Her attending psychologist said she had a split personality. At least that’s what she had told Hantz one evening as he escorted her to the basement parking lot. Hantz didn’t know much about psychology either. So, both the chaplain and the shrink could be correct. The only thing Hantz was certain of, was that Tiny had taken a liking to him, which meant he was relatively safe in her presence.
“Teresa dear. Could you set Officer Wibley down?” he asked her gently.
Several security officers were following her, like costumed adults playing red light, green light. Every time she stopped, so did they. She finally decided to walk backward to keep an eye on them, effortlessly dragging officer Wibley by his ankles. When she got back to her room, she set him down at the doorway, and walked inside. Just like that, it was over.
The next day, Officer Hantz was assigned to accompany Teresa for her one on ones with Dr. Sachin. She was in a straitjacket and shackled on a gurney. It seemed inhumane to Hantz, but it was the only way they could safely escort Teresa anywhere.
“Don’t worry Hantz. I’m used to it. It’s quite comfortable unless my butt-crack starts itching.” She smiled at him, and he nodded.
“Might ask you to put your finger to use should it happen.” She squealed at her own joke, and Hantz snickered. He didn’t want to encourage her.
“What did the wife give you for lunch today, Hantz?”
It was the same question Teresa would ask him each shift that he worked on her ward.
“My wife died a year ago Teresa. But I picked up a little something from the deli on my way here. Even got you a treat.”
He flashed her a small bag, with a donut on the inside.
“You’d have to feed it to me, on account of my outfit. Did you watch the Met Gala last night, Hantz.?”
“No, we were a bit short handed as Officer Wibley needed an MRI on his knee.”
“I could’ve walked the red carpet in this doozy. Would fit right in. And they call me crazy.”
She wriggled in the straitjacket and shifted her weight on the Gurney. Officer Hantz waited silently.
“Old Sargent Wibley had an accident, you were saying?” She rejoined the conversation.
“Nothing major. Just a precautionary scan.”
“I can’t tell you the number of times I wrote to the committee, to complain that the floors in this building are an accident waiting to happen.”
Officer Hantz raised one eyebrow at Teresa. There was no committee. Then he remembered what the Psychiatrist had told him.
“Yeah, you’re right. So why have they kept you in here so long, Tiny?”
“No reason. Doc says I was a danger to society, but now they figured out what was wrong with my brain, he says I’d be leaving in a week. I’ve been making fine progress.”
“Which doctor said this?” Hantz indulged the fantasy.
“The one on the sixth floor. He comes to work in a helicopter. Only works the night shift.”
Hantz didn’t have the heart to tell her that this was a small, three-story building, in the middle of the city.
“Teresa, there are no doctors on the night shift.” Dr. Sachin had come to greet them.
“I’ll be waiting right outside for you Teresa.” Hantz nodded nervously to Dr. Sachin. The man always gave him the creeps.
As he sat down to have his lunch while waiting, he heard a helicopter hovering nearby. He’d never noticed it before. Quite frankly, this looney bin didn’t have any windows as it was considered a safety risk. Teresa had jumped three floors once and smashed the car parked below. She barely had a scratch on her. And those were from the police having to take her down nearly a mile away.
Hantz hauled himself up to a small grill that allowed some natural light into the building. That was a helicopter on the adjacent roof. The building looked much like this one from the outside, except it had windows, and colorful offices. This building, the one he was standing in, was all gray; inside and out. Like the inside of a prison.
Three figures could be seen walking along the corridor of the next building, and one was pushing a gurney. It was Dr. Sachin with Tiny, and another Doctor. She hadn’t been lying to him after all.
To be continued…
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