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The silence was unbearable; it seemed like it had been days since she had heard from anyone. She sat curled up on the floor, arms wrapped around knees that were pulled up to her chest. She stared across her room, eyes bloodshot and livid. It had been two days since she was able to get any rest, but she didn’t care. She didn’t feel tired. She didn’t feel anything. Nothing seemed to bother her anymore.
Creak, creak went the floorboards under the generic carpet she rocked back-and-forth on. At least the noise filled the silence, and the motion gave her something to do. She hadn’t been able to think clearly for quite some time now, but that was all because of the medication they regularly injected into her arm, which was purpling nicely from all the bruising.
There was a rap on her door, which startled her and made her jump. The door opened to let in a tall, intimidating-looking man holding a clipboard. His premature frown deepened as he swept the room with his eyes, noting that his patient was on the floor in a ball -- again. He noted the bloody chunks of hair and skin strewn across her pillow and those that lay in a limp pile around her body. There were dark stains on her sheets, which were torn, as well as on the carpet -- caused by urine, if his nose didn’t deceive him.
“How are you feeling today?” he asked in a deep, no-nonsense voice.
She didn’t respond, just kept rocking back and forth.
“Not responding isn’t going to get you out of here any quicker,” there was almost a mocking tone to his voice.
He walked over to her and crouched in front of her, getting as close as he dared to. He had learned his lesson about laying a hand on her -- his wrist still throbbed from where she bit him last time.
“Will you answer my questions today?” he asked, receiving no sign that she even heard him. “Or will we have to give you more treatments?”
Her eyes widened in fear, and she began trembling and rocking even faster.
“So that’s how it’s going to be? We have to scare responses out of you?”
He unhooked a bulky walkie-talkie from his belt. It buzzed and he spoke into it, his words indefinable by the muffle of the static. A second later, another muffled voice responded. He clipped it back on his belt and stared down his nose at his patient, mingled expressions of smugness and contempt on his face.
Heavy steps were heard outside the door. They seemed even heavier to her because she knew what they signaled. A large man arrived at her door, looking more like a wrestler than a nurse. Unlike his supervisor, who had disdainfully entered her room, the nurse walked in swiftly, closing in on her without a trace of fear, but caution still evident in his every step. As he drew nearer, he pulled out the large syringe he was hiding behind his back and held his other hand out, ready to steady the patient.
A piercing scream emitted from her mouth, followed by the usual thrashings. The nurse’s supervisor tried to help hold her down, but as soon as she bit at him, he scurried to the other side of the room, leaving the nurse to fend for himself.
“How are you feeling today?” he repeated once he had regained his composure, pulling out his clipboard once again, a pencil in his hand.
“Kill me!” she screamed, “Just kill me now! Quit torturing me!”
“Same as last time,” the supervisor muttered, scribbling something down. “Are you in any pain?”
“I hate this place! I hate you! I hate him! I hate you all!”
His face was smooth as he scribbled furiously, “So you hate everyone?”
The girl still struggled against the nurse, eager to give any answer the man wanted, as long as she wasn’t stuck with the syringe that she was eyeing warily. “No! She’s my only friend! She’s the only one that understands me, and you’re trying to take her away!”
This was evidently exactly what the man wanted to hear, “Who is â€˜she’?”
“The girl! The girl in my head!” she was crying now, chest heaving as she struggled to speak through the sobs. “She isn’t a bad girl; why won’t you see that!?”
“But she hurts you, doesn’t she?” the man asked, his voice politely curious.
Suddenly, the little girl stopped writhing. She remained perfectly still, head slumped over her lap.
“Are you alright?” he fought to keep his voice level, but his eyebrows furrowed together.
A deep chuckling was her reply. The voice was deep, maniacal, and obviously didn’t belong to the little girl he had just been talking to. The laughter became louder as the small body heaved with the motion; it was almost hysterical.
The nurse was terrified of how close he was to the patient, but a curt shake of his supervisor’s head made him grasp the child even tighter.
“And how are you today?” the supervisor asked, touching the tip of his pencil to his tongue.
“A**hole,” the girl said through her hysterics.
“I do believe that’s the nicest thing you’ve said to me in the past two weeks,” he muttered.
Slowly, she raised her head, staring through her limp and greasy hair, “You’re going to make her kill herself, Warden.”
The supervisor wrote down what she said, word for word, “I wouldn’t be so sure about that. You’re the reason she’s here in the first place.”
“No, I’m not,” she spat.
“Then tell me,” he said, face like a stone, “why is she here?”
“Because she’s weak,” was the answer, “and she lets people walk all over her. She doesn’t stand up for herself.”
“Stand up against people like you?” he asked calmly, well aware of the beads of sweat forming on his forehead.
“People like you,” she hissed.
There was a brief pause, “And her mother?”
“Especially that little b****,” she threw her head back. Her face was contorted in an almost-painful snarl. “You don’t know what kind of shit she put her through.”
“No, I don’t. Why don’t you tell me?” he offered.
“She wouldn’t let her live. Her mother treated her like s***. Beat her. Starved her. Locked her in a closet when she was a â€˜bad girl’. Dragged her around the house by her hair. She was only five!”
“Is that why you killed her?” he asked coolly.
The eyes that stared at the man were those of a woman much older and much more deranged than the body they occupied. She then went rigid, and her livid eyes darted to her bruised arm, where another syringe was being emptied of its contents. The nurse knew he would get an earful from his boss later, but he would rather be yelled at than be attacked by the monster he was holding. The medication leaked through her blood system and her body slowly went limp.
“You idiot!” the supervisor exclaimed as the nurse hefted her into her bed. “I was so close! You ruined it!”
The nurse didn’t seem phased by what the other said. “It’s not like this was the only time we could get information from her. We’ll just do it again in a few days. Like always.”
“This medication isn’t good for a girl her age to have in such a high quantity. We’re doing this three times a week -- the consequences could be fatal,” the doctor said as he and his associate left the cell, locking all three of the door’s deadbolts.
“So? She’s gonna die here, anyway,” the nurse said as they started down the hall. “She pissed on me again.”
The doctor’s anger withered, “Better than getting your arm bitten.”
The nurse shook his head, looking into the small windows of the other rooms, catching glimpses of other patients, “If she does that again, I think I’m going to have to up the dose. By accident, of course.”
The doctor grinned, “Speaking of which, care to help me â€˜check on’ a demented old woman?”
“Like you have to ask.”
He and the doctor shared a good laugh as they walked down the hallway.