Author’s Note: Welcome back to Transient! If you haven’t read the first Session, please click HERE and check it out before beginning this one. Please remember to Like and Follow this blog for more updates on stories, artwork, and reviews. If you end up liking or hating this installment, leave me a comment and tell me what you think, I’m always open to critique! Enjoy!
CW: This story contains violence, abuse, disturbing imagery, and child death. Read at your own discretion.
The mental floor of the hospital was nine kinds of uncomfortable with the tenth being the sounds of the people it housed. They were mostly lodgers; people declared too maladjusted for decent society transitioning from other cities surrounding Calista to St. Lucia’s Institution of Mental Health just outside the town’s limits. Lucia’s was one of the last true asylums for folks deemed beyond aid.
Dennin couldn’t stand the mental ward of the regular hospital, much less the actual institution itself. Far from a smoothly run operation, the mental ward likened more to a triage tent, a processing area. Future patients were brought in, and after caregivers and families signed a few papers, they were doped to high hell, and up the road they went. Despite warm welcoming faces, there was nothing friendly about the sterile, bureaucratic nature of the whole affair. It honestly wigged him out, his skin crawling when he stepped onto the floor and into the cacophony. The laughter, the sobs, the shouting—disturbing, silent acceptance.
What could he do?
He was here because waiting and having to pay a visit up the road wasn’t at the top of his desired things list. At least with the local hospital ward, the creep factor was kept to a minimum. On the plus side, his partner didn’t seem any more comfortable than he did.
Timothy Cyrus had been his partner since he and his sister moved out to Calista and took on the badge. He was a tough old man, fast approaching his fifties, though few could tell it by how well he could chase people down here and there. Exclusively called Cyrus, the well-weathered officer knew the people of Calista on a personal level, making him a valuable liaison between the young rookie sheriff and the small-town populace. The man could’ve been elected sheriff himself, but when presented with the option his response was “I rather piss glass.” This left Dennin unopposed and later full of regret.
Being a small town made major crimes like this nonexistent. Most people didn’t even work in town. Workers either fed into the plant a few miles outside of town or commuted directly to Clearcrest an hour away for construction, factories, and other labor-intensive jobs. Calista was locked in a time before the modern era where most of the population’s men were absent from the town until after five, thus most of the police workload consisted of barfights, indecent exposure, drunkenness in public, and a few domestic disputes. Dennin prided himself on enjoying an occasional breaking and entering to spice things up. Dennin and Cyrus had grown used to a certain flavor of crime; this business with the schoolgirls rattled them deep in their bones—Cyrus especially. Child victims seem to bend the old man out of shape bad; something about the infamous Winchester Ranch incident nine years ago.
To summarize, Cyrus was shit company right now.
“Could really use somebody brainstormin’ right about now.”
Cyrus lifted his head so it was no longer covered by the brim of his hat. “I dunno what you want, Jim. Already told ya what I thought. That lil girl knows what happened in that bathroom, you shouldn’t have backed down.”
“So what? You wanted me to torture the kid?”
“I wanted ya to follow up without that quack doctor and find out what the hell happened at that school. Don’t make no sense that we involve the bastard in everything. You seen how Laney turned out.”
“I can’t treat a child like a suspect. Especially no lil girl like that. She saw some heavy shit and that’s hard to wrap yer head around no matter what age you are. I’m fuckin’ strugglin’ with it. I mean… Come on, when was the last murder in Calista?”
Cyrus shrugged. “Ain’t had none since Winchester Ranch. Before that, I’d never seen a homicide in the whole of my career. The last one I can even remember was when my daddy was sheriff. Still feel like we both failed that kid.”
“Exactly,” Dennin said softly. “Ayida and this girl are out of their damn minds, Tim. We can’t force them to give somethin’ they can’t and ya know… Dr. Chandler knows what he’s doin’ even if he don’t succeed all the time.”
“So again, whatchu want me to say?”
Dennin slouched in his chair, annoyed at the hard plastic back. “I dunno, man. It’s kinda all wait-and-see at this point. Just reassurance we ain’t gone mess up these girls more than they already are. Ayida more so than Brittany ‘cause who knows what we gone see when we get in there.”
“Wasn’t she s’posed to be catatonic or some shit?”
“Yeah, by definition we shouldn’t even be talking to her, but a lead is a lead. We ain’t gone get shit out of Ayida with her daddy in the way. Chandler thinks speakin’ to Brittany may get us some clues that Ayida can’t right now.”
“I got nothin’ to make you feel better, man.” Cyrus shook his head as the nurse came over to them. “Sounds like a buncha horseshit.”
“That’s ‘cause it is.”
“Officers, Dr. Chandler and the Merricks are ready to see you now.”
“Wait, wait!” Dennin stood. “Thought they gave us permission to interview Brittany alone?”
“Dr. Chandler wants them present to provide a safe environment for the patient,” she explained, politely. “We’re hoping she’ll be more inclined to answer your questions.”
Cyrus scoffed. “What’d I say? If she’s anywhere near her right mind or fakin’, she sure as shit ain’t gone tell the truth in front of her folks.”
“Let’s just get this over with,” Dennin sighed.
“Follow me and try to refrain from the sort of language in front of the patient. She’s still a child.”
The nurse walked at a quick pace with the two officers in tow.
They entered Brittany’s hospital room and waited by the door while the nurse had a word with her parents. Brittany was turned away from them. Her legs were drawn up and back hunched, and her snow-white hair was wild from fighting and pulling. This was the calmest Dennin had seen her since they took her from the bathroom—mostly due to being sedated.
All this damage within mere hours of murder… so uncanny.
Approaching the girl, Dennin leaned over to get a good look at her eyes, her torpid stare focused on the window before her. Her eyes were encompassed entirely by a thick, milky membrane that reflected the dying light from the window. Her irises were completely obstructed by it and the shape of her pupil could just barely be seen. The medical doctors couldn’t explain its formation nor ascertain if she still could see due to her current state. Her petite lips moved rapidly over hushed words that Dennin couldn’t quite hear. He leaned a bit closer to catch what she was saying.
“She killed her. Dead, dead, dead!” A childish giggle made Dennin pull back immediately.
He stared at the girl as her shoulders shook from laughter that soon rolled into soft crying. Tears rolled down Brittany’s cheeks as she continued her bouts of murmurs.
“I’m lost…” she whispered brokenly. “I don’t know this place…”
“Brittany?” Dennin called gently. “Hey hun, you know where you are?”
“I don’t know how to get out!” she replied becoming louder. “I want my mommy. Help me! I hear it coming! Please! Before it gets me again!”
Dennin didn’t know how to respond to the frightening plea. Brittany broke into loud sobs.
“Please! It’s coming!”
“What the hell did you do to her, Jim?” Paula Merrick shoved him aside to wrap her arms around her daughter.
“Now, now. No need to get up in arms. I assured you the good sheriff didn’t mean no harm, did you, boy?”
Dennin visibly twitched and he didn’t answer the man as he strode into the room. Dr. Robert E. Chandler was a bit winded when he shut the door and wiped a bit of perspiration from his forehead just beneath his brown combover. A man well into his fifties, Chandler possessed a toddling walk from the burden of a rounded gut; too much fine booze and rich food had caused an early spread in his body. He’d often boasted about being a hell of a college linebacker, but somehow transitioned to this academic garb of gold-trimmed suspenders and brown blazer. His wrinkled brown eyes were covered by a set of gold-rimmed bifocal glasses; the old-fashioned circular frames made him appear almost comically stereotypical. Maybe even a bit senile.
Dennin knew there was nothing senile about this man.
Chandler had come to Calista by way of Mississippi to head St. Lucia up the road a year before Dennin showed up with his sister. The people took to his charm damn near the instant he arrived and started offering solutions to all their worries. Like a medicine man selling tonics, he wormed his way into being one of the most trusted people through child psychology and counseling. Your kid wasn’t acting right? Send ‘em to Chandler. He was always successful; had him rolling in a good percentage of Calista’s money. He’d even had a hand in major decisions politically, including Dennin getting elected as sheriff despite his young age. Since then, Chandler acted as though Dennin owed him something and always tried to appear as though they were good friends. Dennin couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the man, but he was smart enough to stay on the good doctor’s more cordial side. In a small town, you didn’t test power like Chandler’s… especially not with what he had his hands in.
“How you been, Jimmy? How’s that pretty sister of yours? Saw your niece earlier for her session, pretty shook up.”
“Yeah, well who wouldn’t be. And she’s fine.” Dennin kept his tone polite, but final. “I rather focus on the task at hand if ya don’t mind. Ya sure it’s okay for them to sit in on this?”
“Legally, yes.” Dr. Chandler gave a condescending chuckle. “But, if you’re debating morals… I think it’s not quite ideal to question her at all.”
Dennin narrowed his eyes, unamused.
“Relax Jimmy.” Dr. Chandler loaded a needle with an amber liquid and injected it into Brittany’s arm. “The presence of Mr. and Mrs. Merrick should register on a subconscious level and make it easier for her to reach out to us during the questioning. Sound enough for you boy?”
A derisive snort came from Cyrus.
“Fine, Doc,” Dennin conceded. “Let’s just do this so the girl can rest. I’ve had enough child torture for the day.”
“Remember, stick to yes or no questions. Nothing complicated.”
Dennin pulled up a chair to sit in front of Brittany and took out his pen and pad. Her parents moved to be protectively on either side of their daughter, while Dr. Chandler sat next to him. Cyrus stood by the door, keeping his skepticism to himself.
“Alright, Brittany,” the doctor began. “The sheriff here is going to ask you some questions. Don’t be afraid; you’re in a safe place. Try your best to answer.”
Brittany swayed back and forth, giving no sign that the doctor was heard. Dennin felt as doubtful as Cyrus at this point but decided to start anyway once given the go-ahead.
“Okay, I’ll start simple, Brittany,” he spoke clearly and slowly. “You and Melissa were with Ayida in the hall, right?”
Brittany stopped her rocking, head tilting lightly and lids twitching. “Yes.”
“A-alright. You and Melissa brought Ayida into the bathroom to bully her, yes or no?”
“My girl would never do anything like that!” John interjected. “That girl must’ve provoked her.”
Dennin rolled his eyes. “Cool yer—look, your girl ain’t on trial here. I’m going step by step with what happened so she can answer.”
“John, try to remember, we’re just here to confirm what happened,” Chandler soothed.
John backed down, a hateful curl to his lip.
“Alright, then. Brittany, you and Melissa—”
“Ugly!” Brittany’s milky white eyes glared straight at Dennin and the sheriff’s heart skipped at the volume of Brittany’s voice.
“She was so fucking ugly! Sick! The ugly bitch shoulda stayed in her house! Nobody wanted her there!”
Paula slapped her hand over her mouth, a sob filtering through. She shook her head in denial and shoved John’s outreached hand away from her when he attempted to calm her. John turned his frustration to Dennin once again.
“You can’t be takin’ this seriously, Jim! She’s sick!”
Dennin kept his focus on Brittany while he had hers even though it was unnerving for him. “You remember what happened after that, Brittany?”
“Had it comin’, the ugly bitch. But… but…” The hysterical cackling made Dennin cold and everyone was quiet, even her stricken parents. No little girl should’ve sounded so… unhinged. Brittany looked at Dr. Chandler, her voice becoming small and… needy. “Dr. Chandler… y-you said. Heh, you said I’d never see that place again. But she made it happen. She took us there…”
Dennin frowned and looked Dr. Chandler who shrugged, a confused look on his face. Dennin turned back to Brittany and carefully waved his hand in her face.
“Hey, come on lil girl. It’s okay. What’s going on.”
Brittany shook her head. “S-she got us good, didn’t she? That thing… that thing came for us. It came for Melissa, then it came for me.”
“Who did, hun? You gotta tell me who.”
“SHE DID IT!” Brittany screamed, silencing her father. The laughter had gone, and her rocking increased as her hands slid into her hair to tug. “She made it take Melissa apart piece by piece and she watched. It… it ate her. It ate my best friend! You said we’d never have to go back! She took us there and it ate her!”
Tears welled up against the murkiness of her eyes and streamed down reddening cheeks as Brittany’s face contorted and strained.
“This needs to stop!” Paula stood. “We’re done! She isn’t well and you can’t keep questioning her like this! Look at her!”
Brittany was quiet and very still now, awareness of the people in the room seeming to be completely gone. Her head slowly turned toward the window, lips moving silently over words. Paula reached out and touched her cheek, turning her to face her.
“S-sweetheart? Please? It’s okay. It’s okay, calm down.”
The silence shattered into a blood-curdling wail as Brittany began to frantically rip strands of her hair out between her first. Paula tried to grab her wrists, but Brittany broke free and backhanded her hard enough to knock her back against the wall and bust her lip. Brittany lunged at her while she was stunned, but John grabbed her trying to hold her back and begged for her to stop. Struggling to get free, she bit into his cheek and ripped off a chunk of flesh. Dennin hooked his arms under her and tugged hard, jerking her off her father. Cyrus tried to catch hold of her flailing feet, but she bucked hard and caught Cyrus under the jaw with her heel. His teeth crashed together painfully and he had to back off for a moment, leaving Dennin to fight with her. The sheriff fought to keep hold of her all together, but she nearly jerked him off his feet.
“Why the hell she so strong!” Dennin snarled.
Chandler sat passively as he took notes on the situation. “She lacks inhibition.”
“You don’t have to help or anything!” Cyrus growled.
“I will in a moment, Timothy. Just hold on. This is very much noteworthy, and I have to make sure this behavior gets recorded.” By the end of his sentence, he was done writing and he pulled a needle from his briefcase that held an amber liquid in the cylinder that appeared to glow in the sunlight. “Hold her still boys. Don’t wanna hurt her.”
Cyrus got a hard grip on her legs though she bucked like a bull and together they pinned Brittany as best they could while keeping her from taking a chunk out of Dennin. Dr. Chandler took one of her arms from Dennin, holding it still enough for him to inject her with the chemical. Dennin figured it was a sedative when Brittany went limp the instant the barrel was empty.
“It’s okay, boys let her go. I’ll strap her down.”
Dennin and Cyrus shared dubious expressions before hesitantly laying Brittany down and releasing her. Dr. Chandler strapped her wrists and ankles to the bed. Brittany’s eyes eventually slipped closed, her breaths deepening. Dennin sighed in relief and checked on the Merricks. A nurse was called in to tend to John’s cheek. It was going to leave an ugly scar; the girl had bitten right to the meat of his face. The nurse urged the distraught man to come with her for proper treatment. Paula solemnly followed, gauze pressed to her bloodied lip and body trembling so erratically she mirrored her daughter’s earlier anxiety. John paused and glared at the men through pained eyes.
“Y’all are sick!” he growled, struggling with his injured cheek. “If you was doin’ your goddamn job, you’d be at the lil deformed gal’s house harassin’ her! Or did you forget my daughter is a victim!”
“They’re all victims, John,” Cyrus reminded.
“Not fuckin’ likely!” he spat on his way out of the door.
Cyrus shook his head and eyed Dr. Chandler who casually packed up. “You ain’t got nothin’ to say?”
“Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?” the doctor replied. “She wasn’t ready for questioning.”
“Yeah, no shit!” Dennin growled.
“I apologize gentlemen. It was a mistake in judgment on my part.”
“Mistake in judgment! She almost tore her mother’s face off!” Dennin snapped, gesturing to Brittany. “She fought like a damn banshee, and you just call it a mistake?”
“At the very least she gave you some new ideas, Jimmy. Can you call it a waste of time?”
Dennin scoffed, keeping his opinion to himself. He picked up his notebook, having dropped it during the scuffle, and flipped through them.
“She’s sayin’ it was a man; someone Ayida knew. That’s ‘bout all I caught ‘fore she went straight to hell on us. She thinks Ayida knew who do it and that she somehow made him attack ‘em. If that actually makes any type of sense to ya, then yer more of a quack than thought doctor.”
“You can’t argue with what she said, Jimmy,” Dr. Chandler said with a patient smile. “All hysterics hold truths within them. Perhaps you should question if Ayida knew this ‘monster.’ She may not have wanted this to happen, but perhaps in her hysterics you can find more truths.”
“Complete fuckin’ horseshit,” Cyrus muttered.
“Timothy, please, never doubt a lead when you see one,” Dr. Chandler warned. “Some of the greatest psychological discoveries were made on a simple, easily overlooked strand of evidence or even one episode. It may prove useful for you to examine all the possibilities.” He gripped his suitcase in hand. “Now gentlemen. I will be available all week if you want to try speaking with Ayida in a more… clinical setting. I’ll be glad to smooth things.”
Dennin sighed. “Yeah. Just… we’re done here, right?”
“Good.” Dr. Chandler slapped Dennin’s shoulder. “Don’t work too hard.”
Dennin put on a fake smile and motioned for Cyrus to move out. The sheriff looked back at the bed where Brittany lay sleeping and questioned what the hell he was supposed to do now. A second opinion was needed, and he was low options… or rather he only had one he could hope to count on.
“I hate that senile old bastard! Always lookin’ for some kinda angle,” Cyrus snarled. “You know what that was he gave her! Neither of us is blind!”
“We both know he ain’t senile and we both know what he’s pullin’,” Dennin muttered as he texted on his phone. “He may be on to something though. I think I can get us some more sound advice soon, though for now, this gonna go cold and blow over before we figure out anything useful. Just got a feelin’.”
“And if it doesn’t happen again, we’re fucked,” Cyrus countered. “If it does happen again, we’re still fucked and then double fucked because at some point we’ll have to call for those people.”
“Don’t worry about it. I got that covered. Nobody’ll have to make a call to St. Lucia… at least not until I say so and I ain’t gonna. I refuse to give Chandler the fuckin’ satisfaction. We both knew what this was about when we joined the force.”
Cyrus lowered his head, hat brim obscuring his cowl. “Just cause I know don’t mean it sit right with me! They’re kids Jim…” Dennin paused and looked at Cyrus. “Yeah… they’re all kids. But it don’t change that there ain’t nothin’ we can do.”
A/N: thank you for reading! If you enjoyed or hated it, lemme know what you think in the comments. Don’t forget to like and follow this blog for the next installment. If you guys want to help support what we do here, consider joining our Patreon starting at $2 or donating to our Ko-Fi. You could also patron our Shop to help us keep the doors open. Thank you so much! Please follow all our social media to stay updated! Consider joining our Discord Server as well!