No Asylum – Chapter 4

August 28, 2010


The two CSA officers stepped into the observation room, the door clicking softly closed behind them. Through the long one-way mirror on the wall, Chris could see the blonde girl arching her back and rolling her shoulders as she resumed her battle with the handcuffs. Beside him, Derek laughed softly.

“Quite the little stunner. Why didn’t you tell me you had your eye on someone? I’d have stopped trying to set you up with Candice and helped you bring her in.”

Momentarily, the urge for Chris to beat his head against the wall was overwhelming. “For fuck’s sake, Derek! You can’t say things like that. She’s only fucking 19!”

“Really?” Derek turned back to the mirror, scrutinising the girl who appeared to be trying to dislocate her shoulder so she could climb through the cuffs. Her eyes were closed, her jaw set in a grimace of pain, but she didn’t seem to be getting very far. Derek turned back to him with a big, shit-eating grin that was just asking to be thumped off his face. “Doesn’t look a day over 17 to me.” Chris’ felt his face flush with rage and Derek must have seen it too, because he punched the older man on the arm. It was light enough to seem playful, but just heavy enough to be a reminder of what would likely happen if they went toe-to-toe. “I’m just shitting you. So, what’d she do to be sitting here at such a ripe young age?”

Gripping his case file to smother the urge to rub his arm, Chris sank into a chair, pushing the file across to Derek. He’d tried his best to keep his partner from knowing about the surveillance but now, somehow, the other enforcer had found out and the gig was up. So might as well tell him everything.

“Phorbes, P. Born 21st of the 6th, 91 in Seven Oaks, Kent, UK. Daughter of Anna and James Phorbes, of Phorbes Pharmaceuticals. Moved to Hillmont, San Paro in 1999. Family home was destroyed in January 2000 in an arson attack in which both parents and one sibling were killed. Our girl was found with gasoline on her clothes, minor burns on her face, legs and hands and a sprained ankle. Paramedic on the scene claimed she was ranting when she was found, repeating the words ‘I killed them, oh god, I killed my sister.’

“After a medical examination, Phorbes was ruled incompetent to stand trial; she was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, full blown schizophrenia and possible multiple personality disorder. She was committed to St Christina’s in San Roseo, but was transferred to the San Paro Secure Facility for the Criminally Insane 3 years later following a number of violent incidents.”

“Violent incidents?” Derek had been skimming through the file and had now unclipped a number of the surveillance photos and was leafing through them. He picked two out and put them in the inside pocket of his jacket.

“She tried to escape from the facility on numerous occassions. Mostly kicking, scratching and biting was the worst it came to, but one night she assaulted a nurse with a broken shard from a bathroom mirror. The nurse, one Peter Fetcalf, sustained multiple lacerations to the face, hands and chest, and she was found sitting astride his chest stabbing him repeatedly. He sustained something like 40 separate wounds.” Chris reached across and slid another picture out of the stack; Derek took one look at it and blanched.

“Fuck, that must have scarred up pretty ugly!”

“He probably got plastic surgery. Those guys got good insurance back then.”

“And this was when she was… what? 12? 13? Christ, sounds like a right little Norman Bates we’ve got on our hands here!”

“More like Michael Myers.” Chris paused for a moment, thinking. “Maybe, anyway. Fetcalf himself made an error in judgement down in Texas and is currently doing time for selling proscribed substances.”

“Dipping his fingers into the happy pills, huh?”

“The sleepy pills, actually. He was working at a junior high school when they arrested him.”

Derek clenched a fist. “Fucking sicko. Think you’d be safe from that sort of thing in a state-run mental institution.”

“Actually, it’s pretty rife. Think about it. Whole buildings full of people who either can’t say anything, won’t say anything, or won’t be believed if they do.”

Chris’ partner nodded, flipping through the file again. “So the way you’ve been looking into this… You think she’s innocent straight down the line? Don’t think you’re getting too close to the case, do you? I mean, I can buy the self-defence thing but really…” He held up a grim picture of another man, his eye socket a bloody ruin. “This isn’t the sort of thing that’s supposed to happen, you know?”

Chris sighed, looking down at his hands as they lay folded on the table in front of him. “Not… innocent… exactly. But… she’s never been proven guilty either… I just… need to know. One way or another.”

“Well,” Derek stood up, dusting his hands as if he could brush the images of those photographs out of his head. “Now’s our chance to get her side of it, anyway. Lead on, MacDuff!”

Walsaw picked up the file again and led the way out of the room. Behind him, Derek sighed in turn, looking back through the one-way mirror at the girl, who had turned to face the door with a wild-eyed, startled look and, he noted, her hands now chained in front of her.

“Why can’t you just get bloody laid, Chris, like everyone else?”

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