No Matter the Cost, Part 1
No Matter the Cost
By Camospam, editing by Wendy K. and Xtrim
A Non-Canon Whateley Academy Tale.
Sunday March 8, 2008.
Lynn took a few steps back to distance herself from her group of friends as they decided upon which restaurant to pick, the choice was between Chinese or Italian.
She had resorted lately to clenching her fists as an involuntary reaction to the battle being waged inside her. Precognition made watching those without foresight frustrating, as they bumbled about until arriving at a decision. It was like following a toddler around as it learned to walk.
A silly grin formed on the Were girl’s face as she remembered her fathers advice, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Her Dad was a rancher thru and thru, and he carried an earthy sort of wisdom. His perspective was based on farm life - still, he made a good point.
Shortly after manifesting, Lynn and her brother Allan had gotten into a terrible fight. Allan accused her of being a control freak, always telling him what to do and dictating to him everything about his life - she just wanted to steer him clear of trouble!
But … Allan took off after a screaming match, he said he was fed up with her meddling in his life. He got himself embroiled into a losing battle against the dark; he was consumed by the black death and was lost to Lynn and her family forever - since the dead never return, at least that’s what everyone thought until Cameron showed up.
Lynn couldn’t fathom Cameron’s relationship with energy, but she was grateful for it, he gave the Were a future.
When the letter arrived at the farm saying Allan had been overcome by the blackness, the whole family took the news hard. Lynn blamed herself for the harm her brother encountered, maybe if she had tried harder to prevent him from leaving the farm! Found a better way of convincing Allan! It was a mistake that haunted her, one she vowed to never make again.
Still, Lynn had been confused by her visions for a long while afterwards. In the future, she and her brother Allan fought the darkness together, so she couldn’t reconcile his death at the hand of the darkness with him being alive in the future she foresaw. She only had a tiny snippet without benefit of the entire story to work with, that is until Cameron gave the Were those little black balls. She unconsciously rubbed the one she wore in her necklace.
Basing tough choices on so very little information had made her a nervous wreck, until - until her vision about Cameron. After that everything began to fall into place. Random events began to align, unexpected people and resources arriving at just the right time.
At first, precognition scared Lynn witless, but now? Now it was becoming a matter of faith.
So here she was, her trust in something she didn’t fully understand had brought her to this tiny New England town called Dunwich. Casting her view around at the collection of brick motif buildings, it looked like a pleasant enough place with a railroad station at the end of the street. The dress shop across the street from her warranted a visit. But when she looked back at the group she noticed that Cameron was watching her, her conscience hit her like a ton of bricks.
Lynn’s weighted sigh attracted Cameron’s attention, he came close earnestly asking, “You don’t like Italian?”
“It’ll be fine,” she said while putting on a smile. However the smile didn’t reach her eyes and Cameron noticed. Cameron held the door for her as they entered the restaurant. ‘Just how is it that such a decent person got involved into such a dreadful mess?’ pondered Lynn. ‘Oh - wait! I did that … Damn-it!’
The waitress sat them at tables situated almost in the middle of the restaurant. The restaurant wasn’t busy since it was an off hour, their group being the only customers. Lynn sat beside Cameron facing the entrance, and opposite them across the table was Flambé and Roche. Ken Tallman pulled up a chair at the table’s end in order to stay near Cameron, ever protective of the youth. At the next table sat Marcus and his three foster kids, Rachel, Tim and Charlotte.
Lynn had to steel herself for another drawn out session of indecision as her companions perused the menu. ‘Come on people! Life and death didn’t hang in the balance between ravioli or lasagna … normally’.
Lynn’s mom Terry had often cautioned Lynn about revealing too much about the future. Too often Pre-Cog’s got trapped into becoming fortune tellers whenever people wanted assurances in life: Is this a good investment? Is this the right person to marry? Chicken or fish?
It grated on Lynn’s nerves waiting for people to make choices, but the alternative, making decisions for them, that never turned out well. In fact it would make her into nothing more than a slave, because people would demand knowing the future from her all the time. No! She had to let them lead their own lives regardless of the consequences, she couldn’t take free will from them, and definitely not at the cost of her own.
However she hated what that meant. The annoyed looks she got when someone didn’t win the lottery, or whatever it was they expected from her. It didn’t mean she didn’t care. Of course she wanted the best for her family and friends, it was just getting to be so difficult to figure out what truly was the best for them; too many paths.
Being farsighted was a mental labyrinth, each choice made took another turn down life's path. Knowing which turn to take might prevent dead ends - but, and this was the toughest part for Lynn to grasp, sometimes the dead ends are the most important part of the journey. More is learned in life from mistakes than from following an easy path, growth comes from enduring a struggle.
Lynn glanced around the group she sat with; the conversation between them was about what to eat. Lynn was amazed by these … friends she supposed, she didn’t have many of those, that thought twinged her heart with guilt. This assortment of humans and mutants having different skills and abilities, each of them had put trust and faith in her, put their lives into her hands. ‘She didn’t deserve it,’ that’s what Lynn’s inner voice told herself. Her emotional introspection caused her to choke while sipping from her glass of water.
A hand gently patted her back, and a tender voice deep with concern asked, “Are you okay?”
‘Cameron, how can he even stand to be around me? I’m to blame for all his woes, I’m the one who put him in harm’s way. Why doesn’t he hate me?’
After sputtering for a moment and taking a deep breath Lynn composed herself saying, “I’m fine, you’d think I’d have figured out how to drink by now.”
Her table-mates chuckled, with Cameron adding, “It’s the simple things that sneak up on us.”
Lynn was stunned, ‘Could he read her mind?’
“I’m getting a heaping plate of spaghetti with meatballs,” informed Cameron. “What are you going to have Lynn?”
“I’m not feeling hungry, I’ll just nurse my water and try not to make another scene.”
“I saw they have a nice looking fish fillet dinner,” suggested Cameron.
“Nah! Not today, why don’t you order an extra slice of garlic toast, I might nibble on that.”
“Okay,” responded Cameron, uncertainty playing across his face over her answer.
When the waitress took their orders, Lynn marvelled at the freedom exercised in making those unburdened selections. She was envious of the simple pleasure achieved from making a choice, not having to worry about the outcome; the only risk being if you’d enjoy the food or not, even if it seemed to take them forever to decide.
Taking a chance and enjoying the moment; it had been years since her life had been that simple and carefree, the adventure of the moment was lost to her. As it was, Lynn now had to wait for everyone to catch-up to her, she tried not to ruin a surprise, or give undue warning … she was learning that events needed to play out in the proper sequence and at the correct time.
Honestly, it was painful at times only giving gentle nudges to move people away from serious trouble. Except for yesterday! Her intervention into the Were battle of independence had saved many lives. Lynn liked how it felt to help - to be a hero, but the wall of responsibility that sprang up around her in the Were village made her bolt. Cameron was her escape, her excuse, and he needed her; that is if everything played out as she foresaw.
“I wonder if the pizza is any good?” questioned Charlotte loud enough to be heard from the next table.
“You’ll enjoy it Charlotte,” advised Lynn.
“Have you eaten here before?” quizzed Rachel.
“No,” responded Lynn, earning her a look of consternation from several of her table-mates. Lynn bowed her head; she’d slipped up - again.
“I hope the extra large will be big enough for us to share,” wondered Timothy to his siblings.
“Mmm, I love Hawaiian!” enthused Charlotte. “Did we remembered to ask for extra cheese?”
“Pineapple! On a pizza - that’s just plain barbaric!” claimed a disturbed R.E.D.
Charlotte responded with, “What’s wrong with it?”
“You don’t put fruit on a pizza, tis a culinary disaster, it ruins the balance of flavours,” chided R.E.D.
“So, isn’t pizza sauce made from Tomatoes? Tomatoes are a fruit too!” countered Charlotte.
R.E.D tutted, “Non! A vegetable!”
“Tomatoes are a fruit that eats like a vegetable,” confirmed Roche.
Conversation turned to everyone’s travel plans, and how everyone would be returning to their respective homes. Roche would be dropped off at Flambé’s house where he would continue to help with her training; he had been welcomed into her family like an extra uncle. Marcus and the ‘Trifecta of Trouble’ would catch a flight to Prince George out of Montreal. Ken recommended that he and Cameron head to Ottawa to report in with the RCMP and get a debriefing.
Lynn sat quietly, adding nothing regarding her plans. Cameron noted her lack of participation and asked, “Something wrong?”
“I’ll need to catch up with Allan, he and Ella will be along soon enough,” Lynn informed them with her hands held fast together clenched into an overlapping fist, her head resting on her tense hands. Her face was pointing down to the table, not daring to meet anyone’s eyes.
The food couldn’t come soon enough for Cameron, who was famished. The smell of the large pizza that came out first for Rachel, Tim and Charlotte was enticing. Cameron’s stomach rumbled loudly in anticipation as the plates came out. Everyone dug in with vigour which subdued the conversation in favour of stuffing faces. When delivering the meals, the waitress set down a complimentary salad for Lynn saying it was on the house.
Cameron offered some of his spaghetti to Lynn, but she refused the offer again saying she wasn’t hungry, so Cameron set to the task of consuming the hot meal with zest. It was so long since he’d last eaten he couldn’t even remember when or what it had been. Cameron had maybe gotten a third of the way into the food on his plate when he looked up at Lynn who hadn’t touched her’s; she had been watching him intently.
Lynn sat with her hands down on her lap, she was in tears as she leaned against Cameron and whispered, “I’m sorry.”
Cameron wavered unsteadily before dropping face down into his pasta.
Lynn reached over to raise him up and gently leaned him back in his chair so she could clean the red sauce off his face by dipping a napkin in her water. Once satisfied, she placed both of her hands upon her head and looked around at her companions who had all succumbed before calling out loudly:
“I surrender peacefully, they’re all incapacitated - there’s no need for violence!”
Two groups of armed men approached cautiously, one coming through the kitchen while the other breached the restaurant’s main entrance. The men deployed into smaller teams and strategically positioned themselves within the restaurant to provide cover.
All of the heavily armed men wore face masks and bullet proof riot gear, their guns levelled threateningly. As the comatose eaters were encircled Lynn remained still.
Scanning the task force Lynn focused upon the commander, “Had you even considered that we might surrender peacefully?” she asked, giving her head a disapproving shake.
“Not what we trained for,” replied the leader of the masked man, who dropped two fingers on his raised right hand, the sign pointing toward Lynn.
One of the masked men off to the leader’s side fired his weapon, a tranquilizer gun.
The tranquilizer dart hit the breadboard with a resounding thunk, Lynn had raised the board to intercept the dart, it had come up so fast it was a blur. The space inside the restaurant went still, the only movement was the loaf of bread that had been on the board. When the bread landed on the floor it then slowly rolled to a stop at the feet of the newcomers’ commander.
“Then I suggest reconsidering your tactics!” advised Lynn.
“We can handle it,” was said with reassured cockiness from the commander.
Looking at him for the briefest of moments, Lynn stated, “No! You can’t!”
“Is that a threat?” scoffed the commander, as he direct two of his men to encircle the raven haired spitfire.
“Only stating a fact!” advised Lynn. “I’m offering to submit peacefully, to minimize damage and prevent risk to life and limb.”
“How kind of you!” was snarked in reply.
“I’m asking politely. Let me help you!”
“Captain! The redhead is coming too!” warned the nervous solder who had taken position on Lynn, but stood near R.E.D.’s right side. He watched her closely as she rolled her head as the drugs loosened their grip.
“Impossible! She was given enough sedative to knock out a horse,” exclaimed a worried soldier.
“She has a very high metabolism, any drug will get burned out of her system quickly,” instructed Lynn. “Allow me to try keeping her calm.”
Flambé was starting to make jerky movements as the drugs wore off further. Lynn spoke soothingly saying, “Stay calm, you’re safe, nobody’s going to hurt you.”
R.E.D snapped awake, her body tensing as the situation unfolded around her. The gun barrel held near her was caught in her peripheral vision and it raised alarms, thereby raising her temperature.
In a blink Flambés ungloved right hand grabbed the gun barrel which was now pointed at her head, the metal began to drip as it melted, the gun’s wood stock burst into flames in the man’s hands, his gloves igniting like gasoline soaked torches. A quick thinking soldier grabbed pitchers of water dousing the flames.
Lynn reached across the table and grabbed R.E.D.’s left hand, squeezing it firmly, “I’m here! Don’t panic!” Lynn grimaced from the immense pain.
R.E.D’s attention turned from the threat beside her to then see the hurt evident on the face sitting in front of her. “Your hand!” stated the energizer girl as realization hit, looking with shock at the physical contact shared between them.
“I’ll heal,” confided the Were. “But if this escalates - you won’t!”
“We! We will be fine!” assured Lynn. “What do you need to cool down?”
“A minute or two to meditate, that helps me calm down.” supplied R.E.D with trepidation.
“Captain. May I take Flambé outside to give her some room to breath?” called out Lynn.
“Do it,” directed the leader. “Team two, follow and maintain control … at a distance. I’ll get a medic to look at your hand.”
Lynn cradled her severely burnt hand, but offered a sincere, “Thank you.”
March 10, 2008.
“Of course Dr. Bellgrave, Whateley Academy welcomes a visit from the Department of Education,” Mrs. Carson assured her caller. “This will be a fine opportunity to demonstrate the changes I’ve implemented to prevent anything like the incident with Mr. Burke from ever happening again.”
“Tomorrow? Certainly! I can make the school available to show your people whatever they might wish to see.” At least this wasn’t going to be a surprise inspection. Whateley didn’t have anything to hide, but spur of the moment red flag days made life difficult for her special needs students.
“Ten AM! That’s fine, I’ll await their arrival.”
Returning the phone to its receiver, Mrs. Carson’s danger sense was pinging her, not that Lady Astarte had a danger sense per se - it was more an awareness that something was not right in the world.
Her moment of contemplation was interrupted by the inter-office intercom, Mrs. Claire’s voice asking, “Mrs. Carson, you have visitors. Shall I show them to the conference room, or have them come to your office?”
“Bring them to my office.”
The gentle rap on the door frame was the telltale rhythm identifying Mrs. Claire.
“Enter!” called out the headmistress, as she quickly straightened up her desk.
Mrs. Claire opened the door to usher in the two guests. Eloise Donner, the Medawihla chieftain was familiar enough, however, with her was a young man, a boy perhaps, and he looked nervous and ill at ease about being brought into a foreign setting.
“Eloise! Good to see you, come in, have a seat,” welcomed the headmistress.
“Elizabeth, permit me to introduce to you Jacob Lakestead.”
“Jacob, can I get you something to drink? A soda? Orange juice?” offered Mrs. Carson.
“Tea, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble?” requested the youth.
“No trouble at all,” smiled the headmistress, clicking on the intercom. “Mrs. Claire, tea for three - Yorkshire Tree?” Looking at her guests she received a nod of approval from Eloise.
Taking the seat behind her desk, Mrs. Carson took up the mantle of host, asking, “I appreciate your coming. I hadn’t meant to be a pest leaving so many messages, but I feel it’s necessary to clear the air over recent events.”
“Yes, you mentioned as much in your messages,” confirmed Chief Donner. “That’s why I brought Jacob along. Jacob, would you mind recounting your story to Mrs. Carson?”
“Ma’am, how much detail should I go into?”
“Everything that you are comfortable telling,” advised the chieftain.
“Yes Ma’am.” After a moment to collect his thoughts, and perhaps settle his nerves Jacob commenced: “I’m from a small tribe in New Mexico, I’ve lived with my grandmother for the past four years, ever since my parents were taken by the black death."
It took Jacob a moment to calm his quivering lips before continuing; "Three months ago our community was attacked again by the death-walkers. During the fight I too was infected. My last clear memory was my grandmother’s screams as she was dragged away to protect her - from me," he said barely holding back a sob.
"I have hazy images from over the three months I spent enslaved within blackness. My mind, heart, and soul being shrouded under that accursed darkness - I was a soldier of darkness - unleashed from any civilized inhibition, stripped of dignity and honour. I was a weapon to be pointed at a victim … or anyone who stood against us," Jacob's grief evident from his downcast face and slumped body.
Jacob chewed upon his bottom lip before continuing: "I don’t know how many lives I’ve ruined, spreading the darkness. I think in this - having no memory is a blessing, but I have flashes of faces that haunt my sleep, nightmares of those I hurt - killed, or worse."
"I was freed and slowly regained sanity while at the bottom of a heap of fellow conscripts. Once the darkness was drained, I was left a mere hand’s-width from death’s door. But I was rescued! I owe much to the Medawihla, the Pantheress, and of course the Golden Eyed Man. It was he who made it possible to reclaim my life,” Jacob's breath was released with him slumping exhuasted into the big chair.
The young Were looked to Eloise for assurance, had he spoken well? He received a nod of approval from the Medawihla chieftain.
“That is quite the tale, what now? Is it your wish to attend school at Whateley? The Medawihla have a few outstanding scholarships remaining,” postulated Mrs. Carson.
“No Ma’am. Arrangements are being made to get me back home, My grandmother eagerly awaits my return.”
“Jacob,” interrupted Eloise, “thank you. Would you please leave us now? I need to speak privately with Mrs. Carson.”
“Of course Ma’am. I’ll be outside.”
As the young Were departed, Elizabeth sought to speak, but Eloise raised a single finger indicating she wait.
With the office door closed, Eloise sighed deeply before saying, “Such a brave young man. I hope you appreciate his story.”
“You brought him here for a reason, but I fail to see how his story relates to your waging a war on the doorstep of this school,” huffed Mrs. Carson.
“You are offended that the Were didn’t include you in battle?” reasoned Eloise Donner.
“We had been left without defence, completely vulnerable,” stated the indignant headmistress.
“You wanted to expose your people to war?” determined Eloise.
“They could have helped!”
“Do you hear yourself Liz? You should be glad that these children of yours didn’t have to fight! They were spared from the soul destroying ravages of war. You sound like you’re disappointed? It’s as if you were deprived of a great opportunity to engage in battle and prove your worth.”
“We teach these kids to survive in a harsh world. They don’t shrink back from a fight.”
“Or is it that you push them into the fray?” questioned Eloise, with a “Mhmm?” added for good measure. “Tell me Liz, what weapons does Whateley Academy’s possess in its arsenal that could have restored young Jacob?”
“I don’t know what you mean?”
“Jacob was the enemy! He and so many others just like him were voodoo wolves as you call them,” pointed out the Were chief. “Had you brought your blades and bullets onto the field of battle, I doubt very much young Jacob would have been able to join us today.”
“You converted an enemy into a friend?”
“Hardly! We stole an army, and freed our family.”
“Elizabeth! It was a Were matter. It’s our Declaration of Independence. Don’t for a minute try and deprive us of that! It happened on Were lands: our home - our people! We didn’t involve you because it didn’t concern you.”
“The Were prevented the Dark Warlord from achieving his goal; enveloping mutants into his twisted fold. It was the Were who stopped the tide which would have delved this world into another catastrophe,” explained Eloise. “Liz, don’t you see? Mutants have been getting funnelled into becoming players in a game for world domination, an eternally revolving conflict where nobody wins. My people will no longer be part of the schemes, pawns used in an unabashed lust for power. Please!!! Don’t let your hearts be pulled down into the morass like ours were.”
“Tell me Eloise, what part did Cameron Burke have in all this?”
“He made it possible to break the darks’ hold upon the Were, he is a hero to our people.”
“May he come back to the village with me now? There are many celebrations waiting for his return.”
“A few hours ago, I tried to stop him. But don’t worry, he won’t have gotten far.”
“Liz, what have you done?”
“I called some ‘three letter agencies’ to alert them about a dangerous group having fled Whateley.”
“I couldn’t just let some reckless cowboys ride off into the sunset like it was the wild west.”
“Liz, Those people are heroes to the Were! Many of the Were have held off leaving just to be able to meet them … important people. Among those ‘cowboys’ is my niece, who happens to have a stronger claim at being hereditary chieftain of the Medawihla than I do.”
“I don’t see how that has anything to do with me.”
“If the Were find out you pushed them away, you’ll have made yourself an enemy of the people.”
“So. Fix this!”
“Why should I?”
“Because your lease on Medawihla land ends in a few years. There’s already been mounting pressure to terminate our arrangement with Whateley Academy. Imagine what might happen to your school should my niece and her husband take leadership of the Medawihla?”
The quiet was deafening, the complete absence of sound was the first time since camping beside Whateley Academy’s lake that Cameron could remember being alone. It felt so odd he needed to speak to ensure his hearing wasn’t messed up, so asked:
“Is anybody there?”
He received no reply, but did hear his own voice; it echoed off the walls with a reverberation indicating metal and glass nearby. Cameron deduced he was well and truly alone, he wasn’t sure how he felt about that.
Cameron removed his visor to rub the sand from his eyes, it allowed golden light to illuminate the space he occupied. It looked like an observation room, but could be a holding cell. There wasn’t any sort of door knob and the door which receded back into the wall had a containment seal in place … confinement then!
Making an assessment of his surroundings, he was in a cell carved out of solid rock. Only one wall faced outward and it was divided into six one-way glass panels, the rest of his cell was made out of insta-crete bonded to rock with aluminum beams and pillars. The wall with the door in it had a small passageway behind it, but it too was made of insta-crete and bonded to the rock face and roof. Beside the door was a small hatch which Cameron supposed food could be passed through.
The entire space, no more than eight by ten feet, had been hewn out of this black rock. The rock had small streaks of white running through it, and there were no cracks or indications of fragmentation. His cell was just a hollowed out chunk of solid rock. Cameron noted the presence of a small sink and toilet, but without any privacy due to the glass wall looking in on him. Cameron was dismayed at the thought of having to use the facilities. Set into the ceiling was a small diameter air duct, a single dome light, and a speaker.
As jail cells went, this wasn’t necessarily the worst Cameron had been put into.
The narrow hallway running past his cell lead to more similar cells beyond. Looking down the corridor outside his cell to the right, he noted that it was perhaps just a little wider than was needed to allow two people to pass each other. Cycling his sight, he determined he wasn’t the only one to be held. There were a dozen cells with five of them occupied, but none of the energy signatures matched his friends.
To his left was a smallish room which looked to be a staff area: it held a small kitchen, table and chairs. A bit further on down the corridor was a door and a shaft behind it which ended at this level, he supposed it was for an elevator. Altering his sight Cameron tried to follow the shaft upward. There was no mechanism or track for an elevator to run upon, rather every fifteen feet the bare rock shaft had insta-crete sections used to keep the water pipes and electrical cables against the wall. However the rock was too dense for Cameron see through after a couple hundred feet. He was unable to determine how deep this pit was that he’d been put into.
Assessing his situation, Cameron noted that as accommodations go, he wasn’t inclined to give this place a favourable recommendation.
Cameron lay back down quietly on the flimsy cot to give himself time for some deep thinking. Movement caught his attention so he watched with interest as an elevator descended into view; it was a metal box that occasionally bounced off the walls as it dangled on a single cable. The lift only held two people with little space for much else. When the little box settled on the floor at the end of the corridor the door opened.
The woman wearing orderly whites lead the man up to the glass wall and quickly got him a chair. The man set down his briefcase, then searched through it and pulled out a small recording device. As he was busy organizing himself the woman had approached a control panel after which Cameron heard a slight whistle coming from the cell’s ceiling mounted speaker.
The man spoke over the loudspeaker, “Hello young man, my name is Doctor Eugene Brentwood. I am a psychiatrist.”
“Alright Dr. Brentwood, is this an interview or an interrogation?”
“My! That’s a rather defensive mentality you’ve got there, I’d say it’s hinging on paranoia.”
“It’s only paranoia when nobody’s trying to kill you.”
“The suspicious sort too! Danger lurking around every corner I suppose?”
“The cautious sort! Circumstances are such that it isn’t smart to just jump in, I’ve found I need to test the water first.”
“Life is what you make of it.”
“Is that your personal philosophy or are you giving me advice?”
“Surely you’ve heard the old adage, If life hands you lemons …”
“You suggest I shouldn’t be sour over this situation and make the best of it?”
“That would be in everyone’s best interests.”
“Why are you here Doctor?”
“I am here to create a profile of your mental condition, everything else is not my concern.”
“To what end?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Why? Why do you need to know what my frame of mind is?”
“I imagine it’s to be used to garner how great a threat you represent to yourself and others.”
“You’re looking for an excuse! And expecting I’ll condemn myself, perhaps reveal some personality flaw that can be twisted to suite your needs … or is that already a foregone conclusion?”
“I am to assess your mental state. I have no motive beyond that.”
“And if I refuse to be subjected to a psychiatric evaluation until a judge declares in open court that such an action is warranted and conducted to the satisfaction of both parties?”
“You’re attempting to justify yourself, thereby preventing due process.”
“Innocent until proven guilty!”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I believe the American legal system is based upon the foundation that a person is innocent until proven guilty.”
“I am only here to conduct a mental assessment.”
“Yes, yes. You’ve made yourself perfectly clear Doctor. What you haven’t done is establish why I should answer your questions. It appears to me that anything I say could be taken as evidence and used against me.”
“So you won’t speak with me?”
“I am being held without charges, nor any trial, unless a trial was held while I was incapacitated.”
The doctor shrugged his shoulders.
“So, no conviction,” gathered Cameron. “To be truthful, isn’t it a little late to be investigating a crime after I’ve been incarcerated?”
“If you want me to believe you’re innocent. Talk to me.”
“What is there to say? I woke up here after being drugged. Somebody spiked my food - which is too bad, I was hungry.”
“Why do you suppose you were drugged?”
“Obviously so I could be locked up.”
“You must be very dangerous to warrant such drastic measures, what have you done?”
“There are likely many people who would resort to a desperate act like kidnapping me. However, what I find interesting is that they bothered to send you.”
“So you have many enemies, and any one of them could have had you incarcerated. Are you a Rager and unable to control your base emotions?”
“Interesting question doctor, of course I have the full range of emotions, but I don’t react without restraint and I’ve never lost self-control, even when sorely provoked.”
“What do you do when you get mad?”
“I remove myself from the situation, I give myself distance and time to prevent myself from doing something regrettable.”
“Have you done something regrettable recently?”
Cameron sat quietly for a moment before responding. “Yes doctor, I did. I spoke harshly to an antagonist. She pushed me to a breaking point and I voiced not only criticism, but cast an unfavourable judgement upon her as well.”
“You had sharp words with someone, did it escalate to violence?”
“No doctor, I sought to leave … but … would she have resorted to … this?” asked Cameron, looking around and gesturing with a sweeping motion at his cell.
“If that’s the case, then she must be very powerful or well connected, or both!”
“Honestly I don’t have enough information to say with certainty,” confided Cameron. ”Doctor, may I ask you a question?”
“Is it relevant?”
“In a round about way.”
“I’ve discovered that most people are consumed with hate. So why is it Doctor, that a baby’s first years of life are all about love? Perhaps you’ve noticed how a group of young children can play together without incident or concern over race or skin colour. But at some point along comes hate.”
“Your question is?”
“Is hatred a natural progression of the human condition, or is it a learned trait?”
“I believe that as a person grows they accumulate experience; that build up of knowledge shapes who they become.”
“So a blank slate is filled with equations until you’ve built a personality. The sum of a person equals what he learns. If a person does something bad is it the fault of the person who was taught, or the teacher that taught them?”
“Your wondering if society is to blame for creating all evils?”
“I would like to know what drives man to hate his fellow man. What has gone wrong in his thinking that it becomes easier to hate each other instead of getting along?”
“It’s called the loss of innocence.”
“Why would the loss of innocence result in people having no sense?”
“If a child leads a sheltered life, protected by their parents from all the ill’s of the world, they are deemed naive, easily fooled.”
“Dr. Brentwood, do you have children?”
“Do you go home each night and give them a beating to toughen them up in preparation for facing cruelty?”
“Of course not!”
“Do you suppose giving your kids a warm home, food and tender affection will in any way prepare them for the eventual day when innocence is taken from them?”
“I would hope my love has given them the strength to face any situation.”
“So their conscience should help them choose between good and bad, that your love as a father pointed them toward taking the good path.”
“That’s a fair assessment.”
“Then why does hate supersede love?”
“Love comes from spending time with someone, building a close relationship with them, it takes effort. Hate is easy, it’s simple to take offence, find fault in others, lay blame on those different than you.”
“Would you classify a loving person as someone having a strong character?”
“As opposed to someone who hates any and everything, thereby making them weak willed?” Dr. Brentwood inquired.
“A good person must hate what is bad, I’d say that’s integral to them being good.”
“So who gets to decide what is good or bad?”
“Who indeed! I’ve noticed that governments around the world establish laws defining society’s standards; murder and theft seem to be universal norms of bad conduct.”
“So if adequately sanctioned, a person could commit murder - say for the benefit of his country, and justify that,” reasoned Dr. Brentwood.
“Far from it! I believe that each person must be accountable for their own actions. A person may have learned to hate, or might become the instrument to carry out a vendetta, but it is up to everyone to decide how they will act or react in any given situation.” Detailed Cameron.
“Have you been bullied?”
“Yes, it seems to be a common way people use to try and gain mastery over you, have you conform to their will.” Cameron answered.
“I see. And if that tactic fails?”
“You might find yourself at the bottom of a deep hole.”
“I hope you realize, I had nothing to do with putting you here.”
“I would like to know, when they arranged to bring you in to evaluate me, had you been told to just make a quick and dirty assessment thereby providing them an excuse for locking me away?”
“Do you need to see my accreditation?”
“I have no doubt your credentials are impeccable, but I must wonder if it’s because you could be bought, or because you’re blind?
“Maybe I’m blind and can be bought,” said Dr. Brentwood.
“But then the question becomes, why bother coming at all? A quick signature on a piece of paper and no-one’s the wiser.”
“Why leave a paper trail?”
“Why indeed? Perhaps to soothe somebody’s conscience, take away the burden of guilt - relieve my accuser of wrongdoing from condemning an innocent man and all that.”
“So you really don’t know where you are, or why you’re here?”
“No. But you’ve given me some useful insights.”
“Oh? Do tell, I would love to hear what secrets I’ve revealed.”
“You have a private practice, but this isn’t the first time you’ve been called upon to consult for special cases. However, even you doubt that the cover story you’ve been told is true, so you’re unsure of even which government agency has hired you."
"You’re unfazed by being taken to a clandestine location, and had been willing to follow the party line until we actually began speaking. Perhaps you just enjoy a scintillating conversation, or you actually took an honest interest here."
"I suspect they felt you being blind was a protection against manipulation, I assume the latest theory is that I hypnotize people and have a following of entranced zealots."
"The actions taken against me could have consequences. In that case evidence is needed to corroborate any testimony provided against me with a professional opinion - being yourself, to justify the next step.”
“Then it appears we are at an impasse,” determined Dr. Brentwood.
“That it does Doctor, please inform my captors to have my lawyer present for any future visits.”
March 10, Afternoon.
Arkham Research Centre (ARC)
Rachel awoke with a start and it clicked; this is not where she was supposed to be, so she panicked.
You have to hand it to young kids, they can fall asleep anywhere - and it’s no biggie when they wake up, wherever that might be.
But with more age comes more awareness, the whole ‘this ain’t right!’ instinct kicks in and the body goes into a state of pure adrenaline along with heightened senses. Rachel was on high alert; her psychic ability was casting out everywhere to find her brother and sister, or anyone she knew.
It took her a few breaths to abate the panic, the tension having nearly driven her over the edge. As it was, her sister Charlotte was busy in the room next door, twisting that room’s metal bed frame into a pretzel, her latest coping mechanism.
Meanwhile, Tim was in a room two doors down. Between them was an observation room, and that room’s occupants were humouring themselves watching Tim as he tried to break the restraint fastened around his waist and anchored to a wall. He was running in short bursts to try and snap the chain.
Rachel sent a gentle message to let both Charlotte and Tim know she was awake, and her proximity to them. It was only a second later that her little sister punched her arm through the concrete block wall separating them, then began to enlarge the hole she’d made.
Alerted by the noise coming from Rachel’s side, the attendants turned from watching Tim and triggered an alarm when they saw what was happening. Rachel stepped closer and let Charlotte wrap her arms around her in an awkward hug since the younger sister still had half her body in either room.
A recorded voice could be heard in the hall announcing, “Red Alert, containment breach!”
The message was cycling every few seconds.
Rachel sensed people approaching quickly from both directions, some carrying guns and batons and medical stuff for subduing patients.
Elizabeth Carson found a parking spot after some difficulty getting through the security gate; it hadn’t been so great an issue for her really, just that it was another delay in a day full of hurdles. Besides it wasn’t like she had never been to the institute’s facility before, but this time she felt some trepidation about coming.
Eloise hadn’t pulled her punches. Whateley Academy’s headmistress now found herself in a tight spot … and not just from the stupidly small parking stalls that didn’t let a car door open fully either.
Pulling upon ARC’s main entrance door, it wouldn’t budge. Elizabeth could hear from within the institute a blaring intercom, “Red Alert, containment breach!”
Visibly wincing from the implication, the headmistress vocalized an, “Oh crud!”
Rachel was charged up and ready to go. She sent out a psychic wave to induce dizziness and nausea that forced everyone nearby to drop and clutch their heads or stomachs, or alternate between them. The loud groans of agony in the hall drowned out the broadcast alarm.
Charlotte extricated herself from the hole by making the opening larger, then picked up the bed Rachel had been sleeping on and tossed it through the observation window. Once they entered the room with the occupants, who now cowered on the floor whimpering from the absolute discomfort of the mental assault, Charlotte tore off a piece from the bed frame and smashed the glass into Timothy’s room.
Once the three finished a shared hug with each of them assuring the rest they were okay, Charlotte snapped Timothy’s restraining chain. Tim checked the locked door as a route of escape, saying, “It’s shut tight, I guess the alarm ensured all the doors got locked.”
“Options?” asked Rachel.
“Bust down another wall?” suggested Charlotte as she sized up the brick wall before her.
“I could use Charlotte as a battering ram, added Tim. I’m guessing it would be quicker to make an opening that we could all get through.”
A nod of heads sealed the deal, Charlotte floated off the ground near the back of the room allowing Tim to grab his sister around the waist. Tim rushed at the door with Charlotte stretched out with her right fist held ahead of her.
The metal door buckled and folded outward as the hinges popped. The lock held, but that didn’t prevent the freed youth from tossing the door back into the room to get it out of their way.
With so many people sprawled over the floor, most having passed out from the psychic overload, the teens progress down the corridor was slow as they tried not to step on people, and taking care around those still writhing. Down the corridor there was an open door on the other side of the hallway from the rooms they had been held in.
Charlotte stuck her head in to check it out, and then goggled…
“Oh! Hi guys! You simply must try this pudding,” said a delighted R.E.D.
“The Tapioca is fantastic!” concurred Lynn.
End Part 1