The weather outside the asylum was gorgeous and warm as well, though it hardly mattered for the inmates. There was no way anyone who did not work here could go outside and enjoy the sun. There was no point for the patients to marvel at the beautiful weather or complain about rain; all they could do was not to care about the meteorological conditions, unless a hurricane would pick up the building and carry it away to a mystical land. If Lilli thought about this, it would be better and more exciting than being stuck in here. She wandered around the recreation room, looking for something to do. She wondered how many had cabin fever and probably still have because she felt like she was about to get one.
Lilli found the Beeman sitting once again in the arts and crafts room drawing a picture. Tina was in the same room too but she sat at the grated windows, longingly looking out to the beautiful nature, so close yet so far. She did this quite often, no matter what time of the day, when she was not playing with the others or eating or sleeping or taking care of her personal hygiene.
“Hello Lilli”, the Beeman greeted the young girl, looking up from his picture of a beach and the sea. “Are you here to express yourself creatively too?”
“Uh yeah, sure”, she replied, thinking to herself that she at least had something to do with herself. She took an empty sheet of paper and a pencil and took a seat opposite of the Beeman. At first, she glanced around for some inspiration, then she set the pen upon the paper and began to draw lines. Only the scratching sound of her pencil and the Beeman’s crayons making contact with the sheet of paper, as well as Tina’s occasional mournful sigh, prevented the room from being a silent as movie made before 1927. Slowly but surely, Lilli’s drawing took on the form of a butterfly flying above a flower field. At the moment, she wished she was a butterfly – free and far away from this place. She had seen several drawings of winged animals either outside in nature or in a cage, as well as pictures of sad faces in a cages, so it was not unreasonable to assume that most of the other inmates had the same desire as her. Well, who would want to stay here?
“Man, I’m about to get cabin fever”, Tina huffed, finally removing herself from the window. She grabbed an empty sheet of paper and a pencil too, and sat down next to the Beeman. “I mean I wouldn’t complain if it would be like the music number in Muppet Treasure Island. But instead, we can’t get away unless we own one of the three coat hangers and even then, we’re still stuck inside this goddamn building!”
Neither Lilli nor the Beeman gave a reply but it did not seem like Tina was expecting one. Perhaps she only needed to verbally vent out her anger to calm down since she contented herself with drawing something. Once in a while, Lilli surreptitiously glanced at her picture, which consisted of a tower with a single window and a girl with incredibly long hair looking out of it. She knew the fairytale, having read it along other fairytales by the Brothers Grimm after her adoption, and if one character fitted in their situation quite well, it was this one. Hopefully, somebody would come to their rescue too; it did not even have to be a prince.
“Do you think we’ll ever get out of here?“, the young girl questioned.
“Dunno, but I hope so”, Tina replied, looking up from her picture. “I need some fresh air, one big bowl of ice cream and Harry Belafonte music.”
“Who?“, Lilli frowned in confusion. She had never heard of this guy before.
“Calypso King”, were Tina’s quick words of explanation. It did not help Lilli one bit but it did not seem like Tina was very talkative at the moment. Perhaps the older girl was being considerate before she said something offending in her anger. Tina did seem calm but Lilli could see she was about to explode.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get used to this place”, the Beeman commented in a calming voice. He was met with a glare by Tina. Lilli rolled her eyes before rising to her feet and walking to the shelf to get the coloring pencils. She took a light blue color and began with the coloring of the sky, leaving only the fluffy clouds white. Once again, it was quite silent in the room, bar the scratching of the pencils. The Beeman was probably too afraid to say anything else unless he had the desire to be at the receiving end of Tina’s glare. She, in turn, did not seem like she was in the mood for a conversation. Well, Lilli was not the one to force these two to have a conversation with her. Perhaps some silence would do them good... or a good game of Hoth Motigor. Tina, at least, enjoyed it very much as did Lilli, if she was honest with herself. But they could only play when King Adrian announced a new round took place and sometimes, it could happen several times a day or only once and even then, the length of the respective rounds varied. It all depended on the king’s mood. All the other times, the players had to find something to busy themselves with, though Lilli had quickly noticed that no one liked working with clay. When she asked, she received an ominous sounding explanation from the Beeman.
“Because each clump of clay is cursed to become a shapeless ashtray – the curse of occupational therapy”, he had said, to which Tina mentioned she actually enjoyed working with clay, as long as she could make whatever she wanted. But they were lucky so far, no therapist had come to supervise them when they expressed themselves creatively. According to the other patients, one could not even sneeze without a therapist analyzing the way they sneezed. Apparently, Doctor Marcel preferably hired only therapists whose personalities were pretty much like his, though there were exceptions. Lilli could think of one exception, the young woman she met a few days ago. However, she seemed to be a little too friendly to the inmates, like they were her friends and not patients, and Lilli was pretty sure a therapist had to retain a professional relationship with their patients. But Petra did tell her that this woman did not hold her sessions very often in this asylum; most of the time, she was just here to visit her boyfriend, who worked here, as well as the patients. Well, if she was not busy with doing her work miles and miles away. Lilli just pondered to herself if this dark skinned woman had the same kind of relationship with those patients like in this institution or if this was more professional when the Beeman spoke up:
“I could do with a cup of coffee right now...”
“Why don’t you get one from the coffee vending machine?“, Tina asked, looking up from her pencil drawing. “Or is that thing broken?”
“Well no, but I got no money on me”, the man in the bee costume explained. He looked like he was about to say more but Tina did not listen. She dug in her pockets, mumbling that she thought she had some coins in there. With a loud “HA!“, she withdrew her hand from her pocket, holding a one Euro coin in her hand.
“Here for you”, she gave it to the Beeman. He took the coin in his hand but did not move. She tilted her head. “What? Not enough?”
“It is enough, I’m just surprised you’d so readily give me money”, he replied, now getting up and leaving this room. Both girls, meanwhile, went back to their respective drawings to finish them. Lilli surreptitiously glanced at Tina’s picture a few times and quickly realized she knew how to work with a pencil. The simple sketch had turned into a marvelous black and white pencil drawing of Rapunzel in her tower, though it was not quite done yet. Tina actually drew each blade of grass individually. Tedious but great love for detail; Lilli could not wait to see the finished product. The Beeman returned with a plastic cup full of steaming hot coffee and sat back on his chair. He drank his caffeine-containing beverage in one go. Then, Lilli and Tina could swear they heard those strings from Psycho, the horrible and unspeakable happened. The Beeman made a disturbing face and something yellow started to come out of his large ears. More and more came out, which he all caught in the now empty cup until it was filled to the brim. It was like a car accident, no one was able to look away. Except Tina, whose head disappeared under the table. Lilli and the Beeman heard retching and the room smelled like puke a moment later.
“What the hell was that?“, she asked when she reappeared.
“I’m sorry but this is an allergic reaction to hot beverages”, the Beeman apologized. “It’s really n –”
“Don’t you dare to say something food related!“, Tina interrupted spitting.
“Nnnnot pleasant”, the man saved himself. Lilli stared at him, wondering why one would consume something they were allergic against. It made no sense to her.
“Then why did you get coffee?“, she questioned.
“It just so happens that I like a nice hot cup of coffee a little too much”, the bald man in a bee costume replied. Lilli decided not to comment on this. She could not think of anything; the smell of puke was just too distracting. Why could Tina not have run to the men’s room, which was much closer than the ladies’ room?
“Let’s leave the room, I can’t stand the smell”, the Beeman suggested and practically flew out of the room, followed by the two females.
Morning broke; the Key Master had once again slept with Edna in her bed in case she had another nightmare. Fortunately, she had none, so they could sleep through the night. At the moment, they sat at the dinner table in the living room, eating breakfast they just made and going over the plan again. Edna knew there was no way she would leave her friends behind. Who knew what might have happened to Edna if it had not been for Lilli and Tina? It was only thanks to the former that life in the convent school was bearable while the latter helped Edna getting acquainted with a world she had not been outside to since she was eight years old. Saving them from whatever Doctor Marcel was going to do with them was the least Edna could do. But she knew it would be difficult to do this alone, which was why the Key Master and Harvey willingly helped her.
“I think we should struck at night”, the Key Master suggested. “If Doctor Marcel still has no cameras for the property, except the single one at the watchtower, we might have better chances in getting in without being seen.”
“Maybe, if all the factors are working in our favor. But what about the inside of the building?“, Edna retorted. “I mean, I didn’t care about security cameras when I broke out but I’d rather if no one working there knew we’re there.” She turned to Harvey. “Can you remember which rooms had cams?”
“No, I can’t”, he shook his head after thinking for a moment.
“Me neither”, she admitted, heaving a sigh.
“And we don’t even know if they added more cams throughout the asylum!“, Harvey added in a hysteric cry, stretching his arms towards the ceiling.
“Calm down, Harv, although you do have a good point there. He could have tightened security since the last time we were there.”
Edna was aware of the puzzled look she and her lagomorph received from the Key Master. No one could hear what Harvey had to say, except her since she watched her mother getting murdered. Mattis reckoned it was her way to come to terms with Vivian’s death. Edna just started to ponder if she was ever diagnosed with something in regards to this when the Key Master spoke up:
“Would you mind telling me what you two are talking about?”
“We were discussing about the probability of Doctor Marcel having added more cameras in his asylum”, Edna explained. “What do you think?”
“Hm...“, the Key Master looked at the maps of the asylum as if he was going through the plan in his mind again. Edna and Harvey looked at each other before setting their ocular organs on the green-skinned man again. Neither the young woman nor the blue rabbit knew what to make of the Key Master’s hesitation from answering her question.
“Well, a lot of rooms did not have any security cameras, like this one or that one”, he eventually started to reply, indicating at the break room and the laundry room in the basement. “But five patients... and a rabbit –” He said it like an afterthought “– escaped the asylum in one night and who knows how many more have escaped since then, if any at all.”
“It would be much easier if we could turn invisible”, Edna commented while glancing at the map in an attempt to recall where the security cameras were at the time of her escape. She remembered how she turned the lights in some rooms on and off in other room so that the letters “WC” were formed by the monitors in the surveillance room. This was how she finally got Bladder to rush to the men’s room after her failed attempts of talking about water, although she was pretty sure she almost got him there just by speaking about it. It was just that she could not think of any more water related topics to converse about. But should she get the opportunity to send Bladder to the toilet again, she could also talk about Finding Nemo. Perhaps she should also try to think up other water related topics...
“Well, if you have a way for us to turn invisible, I would like to hear it”, the Key Master remarked. “If not, we have to be really careful, none of your decorative adornments. Hm, maybe when we’re getting out. But not when it’s immensely important that no one sees us.”
“Okay, okay. No redecorating, even then when the asylum needs one and we all know it’s going to need one”, Edna retorted and Harvey rolled his eyes.
“If you care so much about it, you should become an interior designer”, the green-skinned man commented. “Anyway, you go look for your friends in the dorms, I will see if I can find them in the solitary cells.”
“Or I redecorate when we’re leaving. Oh, and let’s not forget to check the archives”, Edna reminded him, pointing at the aforementioned room. “Normally, I hate these things but browsing through other people’s file is so delightfully prohibited.”
“Only other people’s? Or would you think your own medical file would be interesting too?“, the Key Master inquired, raising an eyebrow. “I can imagine yours would have a couple of interesting information too.”
Edna thought about it. There was some truth to it. Who knew how often Doctor Marcel had erased her memories and what else he had done? These things could have been written down in her medical file. Perhaps it was so much that there was a shelf just for her files. After all, Doctor Marcel did have ten years worth of time to do so much.
“Do you think we could steal these files about me? And yours as well?“, she carefully asked.
“Mine too? Why would you think mine was interesting?“, the Key Master asked, finishing up his breakfast.
“Oh, I dunno”, Edna faked stupidity. “Mayhap the reason you ended up in the asylum? And what so-called ‘therapy’ that old man has used on you? Or how about your real name?”
“Well, if you think so”, the Key Master shrugged. “I don’t particularly care, except my name, but I guess it would nonetheless be good for me to be able to recall my past.”
“Exactly!“, Edna agreed. “And even if you don’t like the truth, it’s better than to live in oblivion.”
She, too, finished her breakfast and brought the plates into the kitchen, putting them in the sink. She was, admittedly, a little nervous about what they were going to do. This was the first time she broke into the asylum. Usually, she attempted to break out, succeeding a few years ago at last. If it were not for the Key Master’s plan, she would probably still be there, rotting in her cell. Well, there was still this guy who dug a tunnel to freedom. His name was Almo and Edna had her doubts his plan would succeed. Did he ever manage to get out? Or was he caught and the tunnel was filled with dirt and rubble? She genuinely wondered about this as well as of the fates of the other patients. They all helped her, more or less, in one way or another, so it was natural for her to be thinking about them. In her opinion, they should all be released.
Breakfast time was already over in the asylum as the patients could confirm. Those stuck in solitary cells only got bread and water, the others could at least choose between bread, croissants, rolls, eggs and spreads as well as their beverages. Not many choices but better than only bread and water. After their food intake, the inmates were brought to the recreation room, as always. Professor Nock found a documentary about dinosaurs on television and Lilli, Max and Maestro Frank joined him. Tina, Petra and the Beeman played a board game; King Adrian retired back into his cushion castle with Drogglejug vigilantly standing guard. In short, the day seemed to be like a usual day but seeing it was still early in the morning, one could not possibly know what might happen. Especially if one considered the plans of two small groups for later the same day, when it was already dark. But since none of the patients were aware of this, it was an ordinary warm day, which they rather wanted to spend outside. But since Doctor Marcel did not want them to get a possible chance to flee, so they were condemned to be stuck inside these four walls.
“I won! I won!“, Petra exclaimed happily to the point of ecstasy. Tina raised her eyebrows and then glanced at the Beeman:
“Is she always on high sugar?”
“Pretty much”, he replied while the blond woman with pigtails kept on celebrating. Tina rolled her eyes and shook her head before she and the Beeman put the game back into the box. She brought the board game back to the shelf and took another one out. By the time she was back at the table, Petra had somewhat calmed down, though it looked like she was trying to sit on nails considering the way she was bouncing on her seat. Compared to her, the Beeman might as well be a wax figure. Tina was actually astounded that Petra managed to play a board game without running ten rounds around the recreation room between turns. However, the chubby blond sometimes wondered if there was perhaps more to Petra’s cheerfulness, if this was just a mask. Tina was not sure though, which was why she did not say anything; she wanted to watch Petra a little longer before speaking up. Perhaps it would also be a good idea to talk to Amy about her, she might know some answers.
“Here, I just grabbed this one”, Tina said as she sat up the game. “When do you think we return to Hoth Motigor? We did leave at an exciting cliffhanger, after all.”
Their characters were about to confront the big bad of their game when they were forced to stop playing because it was bedtime. Tina hated the curfew; it was too early for her. Besides, she was an adult; she could decide when she would go to sleep on her own. She and Lilli therefore held small whispered conversations in their dormitory when it was time to go to bed but they did not feel sleepy. Normally, Lilli was out like a light much sooner than Tina. Thus the older girl contented herself with longingly looking out of the window into the night sky until she felt tired. She hated life in the asylum, particularly the way many guards treated patients but she could not deny that she had taken a liking to her inmates. Sure, they were crazy but they were also likeable. If she ever got out of here and if someone else would be the head of this institution, she would surely come to visit them often; Edna would most likely come along too, she was sure of it. Unless the purple haired woman hated them all, then Tina would reckon she would rather eat broccoli. But Tina did not think about this yet, she had a board game against Petra and the Beeman to win.
Upstairs, in a solitary cell in which Edna once wasted ten years of her life, were Peter, Bruce, the Washing Maniac and Tiger Head busy with the task they had been assigned to a life time ago. The four already reached the point where they might as well be robots with their repeated movements all day long. Only their secret occasional small talks with Ben and Amy prevented them from losing their minds. Miranya, the neurotic guy and everyone else who was forced to make copies of Harvey did not fare any better. In general, morale was low for everyone stuck in solitary and it was getting lower and lower by each day. It was particularly noticeable in the execution of their tasks, which was slow and sluggish to the point that they made far less of their respective items than usual, much to Doctor Marcel and Anes’s anger. These two did not understand what was wrong with them all. It could hardly be too hot in their cells, seeing they were generous enough to turn the air conditioning on. But if they would consult a therapist like Amy, they would only get some nonsensical answer. Probably something like they needed a change of scenery. No, Doctor Marcel did not need a diagnosis like this from someone who sympathizes with the loonies. Maybe it would be a good idea to utilize his hypnosis technique. It might have its flaws and a few of his victims might have freed themselves from it – like Edna and Lilli – but he saw no reason why it should not work in this case. None of those who were forced to do labor work seemed to have a strong will. If anything, they seemed to be weak-minded, especially this depressive guy Peter and this girl with the stuffed tiger on her head. Yes, hypnosis might just be the way, the old man thought as he retrieved his old pocket watch from his drawers. He rarely went anywhere without this round little chronometer, at least not when he had the intention to hypnotize someone. But if he did not need it, he usually kept it safely in his drawers, although he should really consider keeping it with himself at all times. Edna did once manage to steal the key to his Alfred Shrine Room, despite the drawers being stuck. Doctor Marcel was lucky he had his pocket watch on him while he was out in the village; otherwise she would probably have stolen it too. She took about everything she could get her hands on, causing him to buy the disappeared objects, like a small pot or pinking shears, again. Some of the stolen items were actually found not too far from the asylum but they could hardly be used anymore, after being damaged from a car crash, which had damaged his limousine. He suffered financially because of that day, a day he still cursed even after all these years and when he had his worst mood. His employees avoided him on such a particular day whenever possible. If they were unable to... well, tough luck for them. Doctor Marcel was just about to roll out of his office when he heard a knock on his door. It opened after he gave whoever it was his permission to enter, revealing it to be Ruben.
“Yes, what is it?“, the old man asked in annoyance.
“Father, when do you expect Edna to appear? It’s been a few days since you let her friends be kidnapped and still nothing”, the young man with the paper bag over his head spoke up. Doctor Marcel rolled his eye at his son’s question. He was as bad as a child in kindergarten age.
“Ruben, we don’t even know if she had seen the DVD yet”, the old man said in a voice as though he was explaining to a kid that two and two equals four. “We have to be patient and wait. But if you’re so eager to meet your brother’s murderer, then go ahead and look for her.”
At least I would be rid of your for a few hours, Doctor Marcel added in his head. His son left his office and without further ado, the doctor did the same. His way was not very far from his office, just down the hall and around the corner. There was a single cell door with one of his employees standing guard. He did not know him well or even at all; this man was not among his most trusted minions.
“Good morning, sir”, the guard greeted his employer in a polite voice.
“Morning”, Doctor Marcel grumbled back. “Do you know the room with the yellow warning sign?”
“Eh yes. What about it?“, the young man sounded and looked confused.
“I want you to bring Peter and this girl with the stuffed tiger on her head to this room”, the doctor instructed. His employee still had confusion written all over his face but he nonetheless nodded his head.
“Alright, I expect you in ten minutes and no second later”, the old man said before he rolled two floors down. Upon reaching his floor, he glanced at the shrine room for a short moment, deciding he would be spending an hour there when he was done with Peter and Tiger Head. Doctor Marcel turned his wheelchair around to face the only other door that was not behind grates, approached it and opened it, entering the room behind it. He might plan to hypnotize them but an electroshock therapy was also just what they needed.
Meanwhile, in another town, Edna and the Key Master had finished their breakfast. Right now, they gathered items they could possibly need together. Edna even went so far to buy a polo mallet in a sports store. When he asked her what this was about, she replied she lost her old one ages ago and needed something to defend herself with. Perhaps it was her imagination but she saw a flicker of fear in the Key Master’s eyes for a split second. Other items they took along were the maps, hairpins, cutlery, potholders, a small pot, a ballpoint pen, a flashlight, ketchup and mustard, scissors and, of course, Harvey; in short, about the same items she had with her when she broke out of the institution. Whether or not everything would prove themselves to be useful had yet to be seen but Edna and Harvey wanted to make sure they could cause mayhem. Edna might not cause mayhem in public places or in her own home but she was always ready to let out her destructive side when Doctor Marcel’s asylum was involved. This horrible place would most likely need a redecoration, from what little she saw during the few hours she was back there before Lilli saved her. Edna owed her freedom to her; now it was her turn to save her friends and she swore to herself she would not fail. There was no way Tina and Lilli would rot in this horrible place and the Borg would not want to assimilate about every species they encounter that would bring them closer to perfection before Edna voluntarily returned there. In her opinion, the asylum could be closed down or it could get a new head; someone who was more likeable and cared that his or her patients would become clinically sane.
“Hm, I think this is all we need”, Edna decided after going through the items again. “Oh yes, before I forget!” She quickly grabbed her wallet. “Would be kinda hard to use public transportation without being able to pay.”
And then we ran into Tina’s room to get her cell phone, commenting her housemate might need it.
“So, we’re ready to go then? It’ll be hours until night falls, what do you intent to do? Break in when it’s still bright outside?“, the Key Master pointed out.
“Bah, details, details!“, Harvey scoffed.
“Well, we don’t have to leave immediately”, Edna shrugged. “It’s just that I don’t really know what to do with myself.”
“Hm, I’m sure you’ll find something. Perhaps a video game or something to read”, the Key Master suggested. Edna, who sat in tailor-fashion on the floor of the living room, let herself fall backwards and stared at the ceiling, contemplating whether to play the video game Tina had lent her or continuing reading her father’s diary. In the end, she decided for the latter but no matter which option she would have chosen, it would have come down to the same. She would have to get up and walk to her room and get the object. In this case, it was Mattis’s leather-bound diary on her bedside table. Edna grabbed the old book and returned to the living room, where she made herself comfortable on the couch. The Key Master sat next to her with a book he had taken from one of the shelves in his hands. Edna did not look what he was reading; she was more focused on reading about two more years of her life – from when she was almost five years old to when she was six going on seven. Time passed as though the clocks ran twice as fast. In those hours, Edna learned more about the pranks she played on Alfred and her unexpected displays of friendliness now and then. She got closer and closer to the entry about Mattis taking her to the asylum, the whole reason she actually began reading the diaries. At first, she contemplated to only read this entry but her curiosity about her parents’ lives was just too big and she did not regret having read everything so far. There might have been things she was not happy about or that made her sad but she found she was better off knowing. The truth could hurt but in the end, she preferred the truth to living a lie. The corners of her mouth moved upwards when she pictured her antics, like making Alfred’s closet messy after he tidied it up or when she painted the French doors with finger paint – until Doctor Marcel complained to Mattis about one of him as devil. Since then, no more finger painting for her. But she noticed she always liked doing creative stuff. This probably explained why she refused to ruin other patients’ drawings and why Tina could easily convince her to take up art as hobby, even with clay. Harvey might be destructive but Edna liked creating things that would end up as decorative articles. There was some fun in conveying one’s own emotion in a picture or sculpture. The possibilities were endless, only limited by a person’s imagination.
She reached the entry about her first visit in the asylum at last. She moved the diary a little closer to her face as if she was afraid the letters would disappear if she did not keep a close eye on them.
July 23rd, 1997
I took Edna to Doctor Marcel’s asylum today; it’s getting harder and harder to raise her each day. I hoped one of Doctor Marcel’s therapy methods could help me but they all seemed so radical, although the one about changing someone’s personality sounded interesting. But I don’t think I want Edna to change her whole personality and that’s why we left without starting a therapy. Maybe there is still hope... But if she doesn’t learn, then I might be forced to have Doctor Marcel correct her character.
So that was why Edna never began a therapy, albeit reluctantly, until after she became a patient in the asylum. Her father had hopes in her and she disappointed him... To say she felt bad about this would be the understatement of the century. But she had learned her lesson and she could only hope her father would forgive her in the afterlife. Even though she was a wild child, she never wanted things to turn out the way they did. But things never turned out the way one wanted them to be, this was a lesson she had learned a long time ago. Still, she liked her current life; it was not perfect but it was much better than it was when she was between eight and eighteen years old. Well, if only Doctor Marcel would leave her and her friends in peace. Could he just not move on? It was not like he could ever change the past. Even if he did change Edna’s personality, it would not bring Alfred back. Edna shook her head to clear her mind, thinking too much about this would be just a waste of time and it would only give her a headache. She looked at the watch only to realize it was late afternoon. No wonder she was starving. She glanced at the Key Master, who still had his nose stuck in the book and from the looks of it; he was almost finished with it.
“How about we take a quick bite to eat and then use public transportation to get to my old hometown?“, Edna suggested, closing the leather-bound diary. The Key Master looked up from the book with an unreadable expression on his face.
“Now that you mention it, I do feel kind of hungry”, he responded as though he was asked if he remembered to pick up the laundry at the Laundromat. Edna put the diary on the coffee table before she got up and headed for the kitchen. She roamed through cupboards and the refrigerator, where she found the ingredients for toast Hawaii. She knew how to make it, having actually made it once. Not wanting to waste too much time with looking for something else, she took the ingredients and prepared the German dish with the exotic name.
Twenty minutes later, Edna returned to the living room carrying two plates with two slices of toast Hawaii on each as well as knives and forks. The Key Master, who was still sitting on the couch and reading, looked over, then he closed the book and stood up. He put the book back onto the shelf before going to the table and taking a seat.
“Don’t you plan to finish the book?“, Edna questioned while putting the plates on the table.
“I actually finished it just when you came back”, he explained. He looked at what she made and nodded in approval. He pulled one of the plates closer to him, took knife and fork, and began eating. Edna sat down as well and did the same as the Key Master. She had to admit, after she had taken the first bite, she did a pretty good job with it. Sometimes when she made something involving toast, she tended to burn but she did it right this time; none of the slices had a black spot upon them, only brown ones. Edna was not much of a cook; it was usually Tina who made lunch and dinner. Still Edna got steadily better and better the more she prepared her own meals. The first time she attempted to cook something, she triggered the smoke detector and whatever she tried to make was burned. It probably did not help that she listened to Harvey and left the stove on the highest temperature... She was not even permitted to enter the kitchen for several weeks and when she could finally enter the kitchen, then only with Tina accompanying her.
“Ready to travel to the asylum, save my friends and redecorate that damn place?“, Edna cheerfully asked almost half an hour later after they finished eating.
“I think I leave the whole interior designing up to you, Princess”, the Key Master replied with a weak smile. “But yes, I am ready to go.”
The young woman nodded in acknowledgement and quickly went over her items one last time. She added her apartment keys to the inventory; they did have to get back in here somehow after accomplishing their mission.
Ready for their mission, standing upright and tall, their hearts filled with courage, they strutted forward to their destination: the train station. Edna paid for two tickets for the next train to her old home, which would arrive in ten minutes. She took her time to watch the other passengers, who were about to board a train as well or who got off one. There were not many people around; about a handful would be her guess. Unknown faces, known faces, some she had never interacted with and even those annoying youths she had encountered recently. But she did not want to walk over to them and cause a stir. After all, she had something more important to do. Besides, they were not worth it. Instead, she started a short conversation with the Key Master about what if the asylum had another head. They quickly agreed with each other that everybody else would be better than Doctor Marcel – unless they were the greatest misanthrope of all times. They both, especially Edna, had to be careful not to get too passionate and too loud during their conversation. Not everyone had to listen to them. But their hatred for the old man was so great, it was easy to get carried away.
Soon, they noticed their train had arrived and rushed off to board the train. A few people got off the transportation vehicle and a total of sixteen, Edna and the Key Master included, were about to board it. These people waited until all of the passengers, for who this station was the end of their line, got off before getting on themselves. Edna and the Key Master found a seat behind a couple of adolescent girls, who were gossiping about various things, like who was dating who or what a boy said about one of his friends behind his back. But Edna paid no attention to them; she did not know them or the people they were gossiping about. So, why should she listen to them? Her thoughts were more directed towards her rescue mission that was about to take place in a few hours. The closer night time came, the more nervous Edna began to feel. Thoughts like the probability of success or what if she led herself and the man she had a crush on back into solitary confinement kept coming to her. The thought about becoming an inmate in this atrocious asylum again was terrifying. Still, she did not let her fear control her; if she did, she might as well hide under a pond for the rest of her life. Besides, she was the kind of girl who climbed the tallest tree to the top or at least on the tool shed just so she could jump in a pile of leaves. A little break-in, getting two people out and breaking out again was not going to be that difficult. At least that was what Edna hoped. Still, she knew the place quite well, so there was no reason for any doubts, and she did not have to do this alone. She had actual help with her, someone who did not sit around in his cell and gave her instructions. There was no way the Key Master would let her do all the hard work, unlike last time.
“Penny for your thoughts?“, he spoke up. Edna, who had watched the passing landscape without actually seeing it, glanced at him and mumbled her response:
“Just thinking about what we’re planning to do.”
“You’re not getting cold feet now, are you?”
Edna shook her head.
“No, but I do feel a little nervous”, she admitted quietly.
“You know your way around that place and you’re intelligent. We will succeed, you don’t have to worry about it”, the Key Master said trying to calm her down.
“He’s right, we can do it!“, Harvey agreed with the green-skinned man, much to Edna’s surprise. She had never thought her blue lagomorph would ever agree on anything with the Key Master. Nevertheless, she gave them both a grateful smile and nodded.
“You’re both right. I shouldn’t worry too much.”
It made no sense to think too much about it, otherwise she might just fail. And the confidence the two most important, still living males in her life had in her meant a lot to her.
Unbeknownst to Edna, her friends Anika, Gregor, Bianca and Sebastian were also on their way to her old home village, though in their case they were driving in Gregor’s car. If only they knew of Edna’s intention, they would help her. But was it still a good idea if so many broke into a mental institution to break two people out? It was most likely they would have thought up of a plan together if somebody just had said something. Since this was not the case, however, two groups were on a rescue mission. Gregor and Anika had picked up Bianca and Sebastian at the young girl’s place. Her parents knew them because Anika’s mother and Bianca’s mother were acquainted with one another, thus Bianca’s parents did not mind it if she spent a day with her. Sebastian’s parents, in turn, trusted Mister and Missus Piumala and thus let their son go with them. However, they did not know what these four were about to do, they were given the excuse that they were going on a short camping trip. Bianca and Sebastian had even packed camping gear to uphold the illusion. They knew they would get in trouble with their parents should they find out about this but in their opinion, it would be worth it. Bianca’s initial thought was to call the police but when she heard about the influence Doctor Marcel had over the village, she agreed on taking matters into their own hands.
“Amy’s information about the mental institution is correct, right? Right? I mean, there aren’t any mistakes, right?“, Bianca inquired, leaning forward to the passenger’s seat occupied by Anika. The dark-skinned woman turned her head to the half-Italian, about to answer when Sebastian spoke up:
“Relax, will you? Amy won’t be giving us any outdated information, unless they’re changing something during the next few hours.”
“He’s right. ’Sides, Amy is there almost every day when she doesn’t have to travel to another asylum. She would have told us if something was different”, Anika reassured the younger girl.
“But what if something does change in the next few hours? What do we do then?”
Bianca sounded really worried. Her eyes flickered from Anika to Sebastian and back again, her brows furrowing deeper and deeper.
“Then we have to think of an alternative”, Gregor chimed in from the driver’s seat. “Don’t worry too much, have more faith in yourself and us.”
“I guess you’re right”, the younger girl sighed, sitting back down. She was never the kind of girl who would take risks or do potentially hazardous stuff, not even after having Edna for a friend for a few years. Normally, she was sure whether she or her friends would succeed or not but it was hard to determine in this case. There were just too many factors working for them and against them. But perhaps it was time to stop living on the safe side and take some risks. Besides, they were already on the highway; no chance to turn back now, a least not easily.
“Don’t worry; we’re going through the plan again at Amy’s place anyway. There’s no way we’d fail”, Sebastian assured her, patting her shoulder. “Try to think of something positive, like our trip to France.”
Bianca gazed at him, looking like she was in a much better mood after his words. They would be going in a week; she had even taught herself French. Whether or not her pronunciations were correct were still up in the air. Nonetheless, she wanted to be prepared for the trip. There was, after all, no guarantee that every Frenchman they would come across knew German, English or even Italian. Chances for this were diminishing low. Also, Bianca enjoyed learning a new language. If her school would offer French lessons, she would gladly take them but the only other lesson that was offered, aside from the mandatory English, was Italian and she could speak that since she was little.
“Say, does your boss from the restaurant you work at know about Tina’s whereabouts?“, Gregor asked his girlfriend.
“I don’t know, can’t say for sure. He looked normal last time I saw but he might as well be keeping it to himself. I mean, why should he speak to his employees about his niece’s disappearance, least of all the waiters?“, Anika responded, ending it with a counter-question.
“Oh, I just thought he spoke with you about her since you’re Tina’s friend. He might have wanted to speak with someone close to her”, Gregor retorted.
“Unless he is either not the kind of person to speak about this or he genuinely doesn’t know about it”, Anika pointed out. “But it won’t matter anymore when we get Tina and this little girl who’s Edna’s friend out.”
She added in her mind that they could probably get into trouble with the police but did not dare to say it out loud. Otherwise, she might scare Bianca and she had only just started to calm down. Anika admired her for participating in this rescue mission but she did not appreciate that Bianca was worse than a mother hen. It would do the young girl some good if she and Sebastian would get together; then maybe some of his easy going nature would rub off on her. Bianca was a little too much like a woman twice her age plus an additional ten years. Anika never thought she would ever meet a teenager who acted much older than they actually were. But before she met Edna and became friends with her, she never even thought of interacting with adolescents unless they were patrons in the restaurant she worked at or patients in her mother’s hospital. It was only when she visited Edna while she and Bianca worked on a school project together did Anika meet the young half-Italian and became friends with her soon afterwards. Not long after their first meeting, their parents got acquainted with one another when her younger brother was hospitalized. Since then, their families were friends and Anika was sometimes entrusted to check on them when Bianca and Luca were without supervision. However, this was rarely necessary since Bianca was the most responsible girl she knew. Still, she was grateful for the friendships she made because she decided to treat Edna nicely and become her friend. These last few years had been the most fun in her life and she would do anything for Edna and Tina and the former’s classmates. This was the same for everyone in this vehicle, even if they were afraid. But as the three musketeers said, all for one and one for all.
Meanwhile, life in the asylum was like it always was and describing it with the adjective ‘normal’ would be a lie. If it were, then the inmates would not be forced to serenade to King Adrian, with Maestro Frank as the lead voice, for his throne jubilee. Nobody, except the king himself and Drogglejug were aware that he lost his crown to Edna but since she was gone only a few hours later, he reclaimed his throne. It was almost like his brief time as a subject never happened. Only the lack of his gold medal was a constant reminder of it. But no one had tried to claim the title as King of The Recreation Room since Edna for some reason, though most people reckon it was because Drogglejug did not accept anyone other than Adrian as his king. Chances of Adrian remaining king until he either died, was declared clinically sane or abdicated were skyrocketing. His loyal subjects had accepted it long ago, even those who once competed against him – before Edna tried it herself and won. Besides, it was easier that way and it gave them some stability – more or less – in the recreation room. And thus, to commemorate his anniversary of claiming the throne, Maestro Frank led everyone else in singing God Save The Queen with changed lyrics. Hardly anyone was in rhythm and a few were even off-key. Every musician in the world would be crying if they heard this. But it seemed to be good enough for King Adrian.
“Thank you, my loyal subjects”, he said in his loud, booming voice. “My first years as your ruler have been successful! And my dynasty as a king will go on forevermore! As long as I remain on the throne, there’ll be no hunger, no poverty and nobody will be bored! Furthermore, I ban the ugly ashtrays and the creation of more of these in occupational therapy!”
The last declaration was met with a cheer of deafening volume. It was common knowledge that occupational therapy was universally hated by every patient but neither Lilli nor Tina would have thought it was this much. These two were the only ones who were too busy to cover their ears to be cheering and applauding. Fortunately, the noise level decreased soon when King Adrian held up his hand to silence the crowd.
“And I declare, by royal decree, that we will henceforth have movie nights on Fridays!“, the monarch announced, much to his subjects’ joy.
“And how does he expect to go through with it?“, Tina muttered to Lilli.
“You forget the television room”, she mumbled back. “I’m sure they’ll find something that looks like a movie.”
They turned their attention back to King Adrian just in time to hear him declare that a foosball tournament was to be taken place in the bar. Participants should talk with Professor Nock to sign up. Several people walked up to the dinosaur maniac while those who did not wish to participate made their way to the bar. Chairs from other parts of the recreation room had to be taken to the bar since there were not enough seating accommodations. Never had the Barkeeper seen this many people at once in his establishment, he could usually call himself lucky if he had three patrons at the same time. Tina and Lilli were among the first in the bar, therefore they could secure seats with a great view to the foosball table. More and more people took their seats around them, with their friend Petra sitting down next to Lilli. Professor Nock sat close to the foosball table too, with a clipboard on his lap and a pen in his hand. Then, after everyone had taken their seats, King Adrian strutted into the room, followed closely by Drogglejug, who carried something that looked like a cup on a red pillow. They were soon followed by the ten participants, among them the Beeman, Max, Maestro Frank and the Ticket Inspector. The first two to compete against each other were a brunette woman wearing a potato sack and a bald man who had a bed sheet draped around him like a toga. These two stood on the opposite ends of the foosball table, facing each other. King Adrian stepped forward and placed a tiny ball, which Amy had gotten for them, right in the middle of the table.
“Let the games begin!”
A thrilling match commenced between the two contestants. If one was about to take a shot at the other’s goal, they blocked it. If one scored a goal, the other scored one right afterwards. In the end, the woman in the potato sack was the victor. She took her seat among the contestants, while the man took his chair and moved it over to the spectators. The next match was between the Ticket Inspector against a man who was dressed like a little boy from the Roaring Twenties. Like before, King Adrian announced the start of this round.
Upstairs was the mood less thrilling, less festive, less joyful; it was more of the opposite. It had been several hours since Peter and Tiger Head had been taken away. The Washing Maniac and Bruce kept glancing at the door, pondering what was happening to them. For the first time since the four patients were locked up in this cell and condemned to make these darts, they were separated. Over time, they had gotten to know each other better and became something like friends – although they knew next to nothing about Tiger Head, she was still close to them. Now with her and Peter gone, there was an uncertainty that filled the cell.
“I sure hope they’re alright”, the Washing Maniac commented. “Do you think they’ll be back? Or do you reckon they’re getting another task?”
“I don’t know but I hope Doctor Marcel and Anes won’t force us to work faster. In fact, I hope we’re done with this soon. I can’t see those things anymore”, Bruce complained with gritted teeth. “Why do they need so many anyway? And why don’t they just get those tranquilizers for animals?”
The Washing Maniac shrugged, mumbling “dunno” when the cell door opened and the guard pushed Peter and Tiger Head in. He slammed the door immediately after they passed the threshold. Bruce and the Washing Maniac abandoned their work to check up on them.
“What happened? Are you two okay?“, the blond man with the tanned skin asked worriedly. But he received no response and when he and Bruce looked into their eyes, they saw an empty, blank stare. Peter and Tiger Head walked, like in a trance, to the table and started working with an efficiency neither of them had ever shown before. The other two stared open-mouthed at them, their ocular organs almost popping out. Peter and Tiger Head’s hands were only a flesh-colored blur in the velocity they worked in.
“I suppose we now know what happened to them”, Bruce commented weakly.
“We do?“, the Washing Maniac retorted in a surprised voice. Bruce nodded:
“Look at them, it’s like they’re in a trance, and Doctor Marcel is known for using hypnosis on his patients. Therefore, I reckon he hypnotized them to work more efficiently.”
“Ah, I see”, the Washing Maniac mumbled, watching how the pile of finished darts got more enormous with each passing minute. The two who were still normal stared at each other, completely at a loss as to what they should do. They shrugged and joined the others. Compared to Peter and Tiger Head, Bruce and the Washing Maniac worked in slow motion. But nonetheless, the production of the darts had significantly increased in just half an hour. Neither Bruce nor the Washing Maniac wanted to know how many darts they would produce if they, too, were hypnotized. They would drown in them, perhaps. Still, were Peter and Tiger Head like this forever? Or could they fight the hypnosis off? These two were like machines, distant, cold, and emotionless. Before their brain washing, they were much better companions, even if Peter was sometimes annoying with his depressive nature.
“We need them back to normal”, the Washing Maniac whispered to the only other person who was still as normal as a patient of an asylum could be. “I can’t stand being with machines and we made more than enough darts to last for a life time.”
“I know but how are we going to do that?“, Bruce retorted, throwing the dart he just finished making into a pile. He did not start making another one, there was no need. For one, Peter and Tiger Head made enough for eight of them and for another; he saw no point in it. Bruce often glanced at the door, in case the guard or either Doctor Marcel or Anes checked up on them or worse take him and the Washing Maniac away for a hypnosis treatment. Fortunately, the door remained closed and Bruce and the Washing Maniac would like it to remain so, unless it was Ben or his girlfriend. Actually, they could need their company now...
Alone, in a room that was engulfed in a red tinted light, was Doctor Marcel, staring at the portrait of his son Alfred. If he were still alive, he would be a respectable adult now. He would have fulfilled his dream of either having a well-paid office job or of having become a geologist. Who knew, perhaps his obedient nature might have rubbed off on his older brother, who was nothing but an annoyance to Doctor Marcel. If Alfred were still alive, then the doctor would not be tied to a wheelchair and he would be able to see with both eyes. Why could it not be Edna being stupid and falling down the stairs instead of her pushing Alfred down? Doctor Marcel kept asking himself the question again and again. But this was just another evidence that the world was cruel and unfair. Virtuous people like him or Alfred would get punished while despicable people like Edna would get rewarded by life. In a perfect world, it would be the other way around. In a perfect world, this room would not be an altar filled with Alfred’s toys, pictures, and homework planer but with his achievements. Doctor Marcel sniffed once for the things that could have been and once for the death of his son. But he was going to get his revenge, he vowed to himself, come what may. If his hypnosis did not work again on Edna, though he was sure it was going to be a success, then the time of trying to change her personality to make her more like Alfred was over. But first, her confounded rag doll rabbit had to go. It only did more harm than good, except when he had the special eyes developed by the doctor himself instead of his normal ones. These red eyes actually worked really well, he had only needed to refine them and he would have no reason to abandon the mass production of the hypnosis rabbit. That reminded him, he should perhaps check on those patients who were responsible for sewing these lagomorphs together. Not that they slowed their production down too, otherwise he might be forced to give out a few more of his hypnosis treatment. But not now, Doctor Marcel was here to remember Alfred, the most perfect child who ever existed. Children should be more like him, obedient, tidy and responsible, none of this whole playing games or being messy nonsense. Those traits only showed that kids were not any better than delinquents. Childishness – the most useless thing in existence and the reason why the perfect example of an offspring died. Doctor Marcel looked up at Alfred’s portrait before turning his wheelchair around to gaze at all the other objects in the room. His bicycle and his kite were near the window – the doctor remembered how Edna watched Alfred with envy in her eyes while he was cheering. Toy cars, a yo-yo and marbles were all in the lowest shelf behind the safety glass. Above those was his now eyeless teddy Poozie and on the topmost shelf was his homework planer. Doctor Marcel’s eye traveled to the three small photos hanging left of the big portrait. Originally, he had wanted this room to be a gallery of Alfred’s achievements he was most likely to make if he were alive. Thus he had hung those three photos up on this room but Alfred was pushed down the stairs only one day later and this room became an altar instead of a gallery. To think that there would be framed awards and photos of Alfred receiving those on the walls instead of his useless toys behind safety glass made Doctor Marcel even sadder than he already felt. Sure, he could throw the toys away but he could not bring himself to do this, although it might be a good idea to add more photos on the walls. There was enough space, after all, and he had plenty of pictures at home. Yes, that was what he was going to do the next day. When he returned home tonight, he would be picking out some more of Alfred’s photo and be hanging them up in this room. Doctor Marcel remained in the Alfred Altar Room for another hour before he left it, locking the door. He headed downstairs, all the way down to the basement and down a little ramp to his archives. There were still some files he had to work on and he preferred doing so himself. He only needed assistance when he had to add a file in one of the folders that were out of his reach. But as he turned the computer on he decided he would trouble himself with this little thing later. Work was waiting for him and he was not about to procrastinate. The window with the password requirement popped up a minute later and Doctor Marcel typed it in. A few seconds later, he came face to screen with the desktop. He opened the files of the patients, updating their status before printing these out. It was something he did once every quarter year. He had those for every patient who was still here; he abandoned the files of those who managed to escape, died or were released. Countless folders and even more files had accumulated over the years; the earliest were even handwritten before he could afford a computer. There was a lot Doctor Marcel had to add to update his patients’ information, so he was likely to be busy for the next two hours.
Gregor, Anika, Bianca and Sebastian arrived at the older girl’s sister’s house after having driven on the highway for an hour. It was late afternoon by now, although it still looked like around midday. Amy sat in a beach chair under the shade of a tree, with a glass of lemonade, which was covered up with a lid, on a table. She read a book by Robert Louis Stevenson – The Curious Case of Doctor Jekyll And Mister Hyde – until Gregor honked with his car. Amy looked up from her literature and grinned upon spotting the vehicle. She put her book aside and got up, walking over to the car to greet them all.
“Glad y’all could make it”, she grinned while the four passengers got out of the car.
“Of course, we can’t abandon our friend and let this doctor continue with this injustice”, Anika replied with a smile. “If we don’t stop him, who will?”
“True, come on, I got some cookies in the kitchen and some freshly made lemonade. We won’t be starting our mission until it gets dark”, Amy said, nodding towards the house. The others nodded in acknowledgement. “Well, I go and tell Ben you guys are here. You go get comfortable... on the lawn...”
She said the last the three words very slowly when she realized that the only garden furniture was the table and the beach chair. Announcing that she was going to get more seating accommodation, she headed for the house and went straight to the stairs leading to the upper floor.
“Hey Ben! Our guests are here! Move your ass down here!“, she shouted at the bottom of the stairs.
“Coming!“, he yelled back while Amy moved from this set of stairs to the one leading to the basement. Ben appeared next to her a minute later and she walked down, signaling him to follow her. They could just barely see the steps down to the basement, with only the small windows providing little light. Still, it was enough to not trip over their own feet and there was also enough illumination from upstairs, so there was no need to flip the light switch. The only trouble was it was not easy to see the garden chairs in the darkness. Thus, Ben took out his phone and used it as a flashlight.
“Really, you should make it a habit to turn on the light when you go down here during the day”, he commented. “What exactly are you looking for anyway?”
“Garden chairs; the weather’s too nice to be stuck inside for my sister and her friends. And the same goes for you”, Amy swiveled around to Ben’s outline, looking pointedly at him. If she could see his face, she would see him rolling his eyes.
“I’ll come out to join y’all, better?”
They found the objects they were searching for not long after. Amy took two and Ben, who pocketed his phone, took three – the additional one for himself. They followed the light from the top of the stairs back upstairs, albeit very slowly to prevent any accidents. The last thing Amy wanted for them was to fall down these steps and break their neck. After all, there was still a lot she wanted to do in her life. But they overcame the obstacle and went back outside to their guests, who were either walking around the front yard or standing under the tree.
“Well, we got some seat for you guys”, Amy said while she and Ben placed the chairs so that they stood around the table. “Anyone want cookies? Or lemonade? Or another beverage?”
“I wouldn’t mind a glass of lemonade but no cookies for me, please”, Bianca was the first to reply. The other three did say yes to the cookies but Anika, however, asked for water instead of lemonade. Being the good hosts they were, Amy and Ben walked back into the house. He got the glasses and beverages on a tray and she took the cookie jar outside. It was placed in the center of the table, so that everyone could easily grab one. Then Amy filled the glasses with lemonade or, in Anika’s case, water after Ben put them in front of the four guests.
“I have to work the night shift in a few hours, so I’m going to take a nap later. After I leave for work, you wait for half an hour, then follow me to the asylum”, Ben went through the plan but his girlfriend, who had also told him about this, silenced him by putting her hand on his shoulder.
“They know the plan, there’s no need to go through it.”
“But it still might be helpful”, Bianca piped up with a grin. This was more or less underlined by loud smacking noises coming from Sebastian, who was busy stuffing his face with cookies. The three females stared at him disapprovingly, though he did not seem to notice.
“I think my Sis is right”, Anika commented, forcing her eyes away from Sebastian. “If we plan every single detail meticulously, we might not be flexible enough to improvise on the spot should the need arise. What do you think?”
She directed the question at the two males who had not yet contributed anything to the conversation. Sebastian, who had stuffed his mouth with another cookie, looked at her like a deer in headlights; Gregor simply shrugged.
“A fine help you two are”, Anika rolled her eyes and gave them a quick review of what they had been talking about for the last five minutes. The two males also decided they did not need to go over the plan and to let it come they way it would come. Realizing she was over-voted, Bianca responded with the word “okay” in a good-natured tone and took a sip from her glass of lemonade. Ben removed himself from the happy round by saying “until later” and walking into the house before Amy could stop him.
“Well, I guess I should let him rest before he dozes off at work”, she shrugged, taking a cookie and munching it.
Unbeknownst to them all, the train with their friend Edna and her crush the Key Master as passengers just arrived at the local train station. The young woman was glad to see her old home again but would be happier if it were not for such a serious reason. She would prefer if it would be to relive something from her childhood, like a cycling tour or selling ice cream in Winter, even if it were only two flavors – lemon and vanilla. Anything would be better than going back to the asylum. Perhaps she would not even do this if the two persons she was about to rescue did not mean so much to her. But Edna could say for sure, nobody should be a patient of Doctor Marcel’s in her opinion. She did not think she could ever get over what he did to her and what he tried to do to her. What was the point in erasing her memories again and again? What if he messed up and she would not have been able to do even the most mundane things? She could have ended up as a newborn inside the body of a young adult. She was lucky it did not happen that way and it really made no sense to think over could have beens. It was not like she could change the past, unless she had a DeLorean.
“Where to now?“, the Key Master asked as they left the train station. “The church? Or your house? You kind of neglected to mention where we would wait until it was time to sneak into the asylum.”
“Huh? I thought I mentioned at least once that we’re hiding in my house”, Edna replied before addressing Harvey: “I did, didn’t I?”
“Don’t know”, he replied. Edna shrugged, thinking that it did not matter whether she mentioned it before or not. The Key Master knew it now and better late than never. She led him through the village to her house, all the while imagining how everything looked like when her age was written in single digit numbers. A lot of things had changed and yet, she still saw the place of her childhood. It was like all those things changed from one moment to the next in her point of view. The bookstore they walked past, for one, used to be a little shop for knickknacks while another bookstore used to be on the other end of the village. Edna kept looking left and right as though she were a visitor in a theme park where she would spot amazing things wherever she turned to. She wondered what else had changed, aside from new stores opening and old ones closing or stores moving their locations. How many people moved away? And how many moved to this village? How many recreational facilities were under new management? Was there already a plan what was going to happen to the abandoned convent school? This question shot through Edna’s head upon spotting her hiding place on a hill opposite the asylum. From the looks of it, nothing had been done since she fled this establishment too. Maybe it would end up as something like a haunted house in a few years’ time. Some rich guy would surely have the same idea too; if Edna had the money, she would certainly do this.
“You hid there for a few years, didn’t you? In the convent school, I mean”, the Key Master commented.
“Yep, not my favorite hiding place but Lilli was a sweet friend”, Edna responded with a nod. She turned away from the view to the convent school, going a different direction than the one that led to the establishment and soon arriving in the part of the village she lived in, all the while the Key Master followed her. They walked past some houses, all of which looked like the owners were not home. If they were all on vacation, then this would be one big coincidence. Hopefully, there was no burglar running around and breaking in.
“There we are”, Edna grinned in satisfaction, standing with her hands in her hips in front of her old house. It had become even more rundown since the last time she was here. She pondered to herself if anybody ever planned to demolish the house and build a new one on the same spot. The thought saddened her but at the same time; she wondered why it had not happened yet. There was enough time, after all. But at least it gave her the opportunity to get her parents’ possessions, which would all have ended up on a landfill if her childhood home had been demolished.
“I doubt staying here for a longer period of time is beneficial for our health”, the Key Master commented. “How long has it been since anybody lived in and took care of this house?”
“Since I ended up in the asylum and Mattis lied to the police and told them he killed Alfred, I guess”, Edna whispered her response, a note of sadness in her voice. One push was all it took to change her life completely and forever. Time again did she wish she could communicate with the deceased just to apologize to Alfred and Mattis. But still, if she was presented with the chance to do all this over again, would she do things differently or would she not change a thing? It was only because of those events she met the Key Master and developed feelings for him. They might not have met if she had never pushed Alfred down the stairs, even if she would never stop regretting this action.
“But I wish someone would have taken care of this house”, Edna added, frowning depressively at this once beautiful house. She felt the Key Master snaking his arm around her shoulders, squeezing her lightly to himself, probably to comfort her in his own, non-verbal way. She leaned her head against his shoulder, staying like this for a short fleeting moment. Then she gently disengaged herself from him and took his hand, leading him to the back of the house where she spent countless hours playing or building traps.
“How about a tour through the house to pass the time?“, Edna offered gazing at the house. She pressed Harvey closely to her chest as she turned around to look at the Key Master with a questioning smile.
“I don’t see why not”, he replied. “But there’s one thing I’m wondering about.” He pointed to the general direction to the front of the house. “What’s with these broken garden gnomes? If those were garden gnomes.”
“They were and they’re only broken because I remembered Mattis hid a spare key in one of them but I didn’t know which one, so I kept breaking them with my mallet until I found it... only to break it when I tried to unlock the door”, Edna explained. “Funny that you always find things you’re looking for in the last place you check. Anything else you’d like to know? Questions can be asked and will be answered during the tour, thank you.”
She gestured to the Key Master to enter the house through the backdoor into the kitchen. He walked ahead and she followed, both of them stopping in the center of the room. She forced Harvey into his arms, took a step back and spread her own limbs.
“This is the kitchen”, she said redundantly. “This is where Mattis prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner, where we took turns washing the dishes and where mom met her untimely demise.”
Most of what she just said was said in a joyful tone but the moment she mentioned her mother, it dropped into a low, sad whisper. She took one deep breath to collect herself and put on a cheerful smile, indicating at the big pot on the stove, where green stuff was growing out from.
“And this is the mushroom soup Mattis prepared before he and I left the house forever... or an experiment of his”, she said as though she was a tour guide before pointing at the kitchen sink and telling the Key Master about washing dishes and her trying snip her bogies as far as possible. He made a disgusted face at the latter. The next station was the window and her telling him how she cut her toenails under it or any other room in this house, just as long as it was underneath a window. She also told the Key Master about the different meals her father tried to cook but did not do a very good job at. Still, it was not so bad that Edna did not eat anything and starved. After she was done with the kitchen, she led him through the door and down the stairs to the basement.
“This is where Mattis stored random things and locked me in when I misbehaved, where I learned to chew off my toenails to use them as screwdriver and where the central heating’s located”, Edna rattled off and then indicated at the shelf. The empty boxes seemed to fall apart just by looking at them; the once snowy white towels were now gray. On the lowest shelf were several jars of marmalade, although it seemed like an entirely new species grew out of it. Edna never liked the marmalade and seeing this only increased her dislike. On the very top of the shelf were several buckets of dried paint. Mattis wanted to paint the shed but never got around and before he knew it, it got as dry as a desert. Only the jar full of rusty nails was the same as when she was a child. Cobwebs adorned the corners of the shelf as well as of the room. In fact, she spotted a couple of spiders crawling around here and there. She would not be surprised if there were a lot more throughout the house, as well as small critters like rats. No one had lived here and taken care of the house for over a decade, it was inevitable that insects and small animals had gotten comfortable here. Or that plants and mold would grow everywhere. The house really was in no livable condition anymore; if anyone ever wanted to move in, they would have to demolish and rebuild it.
“On to the next stop”, Edna announced and led the Key Master back upstairs, through the kitchen to the hallway. They walked to the foot of the stairs in here but did not ascend it. Instead, Edna turned on the spot and indicated at about everything on this floor. “And this is the hallway, which leads to every other room in this humble abode. There you can see the front door, with my father’s coat hanging on the clothes rack right next to it as well as a mirror.” Edna, who had nodded towards a door opposite of the one leading to the kitchen, turned around and pointed at a door next to the kitchen. “This leads to the living room.”
She walked towards this door, opened it and walked into the room behind it, with the Key Master in tow. The first thing they noticed were the French doors leading to the porch and a dinner table and a few chairs right in front of it. If they turned to the right, they would see a drawer and two candelabras with candles hanging limply from them standing on it. On the wall hung an enormous portrait of a wide field and a windmill – the picture from a cold cut commercial.
“Nice picture”, the Key Master commented, examining it.
“I don’t even know where Mattis got it from”, Edna shrugged. “But he always needed hours to hang it up evenly. I needed just a second to have it askew.”
Edna grinned mischievously and then turned to the table.
“This is where we usually ate our meals and where I used to draw comics and make sculptures... until Mattis said I should just tell him if I don’t like my mashed potatoes.”
“You do know you’re not supposed to play with your food, don’t you?“, her green-skinned companion smirked. Edna’s response was to cheekily stick out her tongue at him. Then she moved around the dinner table to the other half of the living room. One corner of the carpet in front of the couch was burned away. The wall across from the painting was covered by a wall unit. In the center was an old television set, which was once the newest model on the market some time from the early to mid Nineties. In a shelf underneath it was a video recorder. The closets left and right of the television set and underneath the video recorder were filled several video tapes and the books Edna used to read to improve and enlarge her vocabulary. She approached the closets and opened the doors, coming face to face with motion pictures and literature of various genres, like science fiction or comedy. There were a couple of children’s movies and books, although Edna could hardly remember having watched or read them. Maybe she did but those did not stick in her mind, unlike the others. Those children’s stories had always been too boring and happy for her. The books aimed at older targeting groups were more exciting to her, even if she did have trouble understanding them at first. But it helped her being on the same level as Alfred, at least in language subjects. She never managed to reach his level in science and mathematics, no matter how hard she tried. Although she was slightly better in the former than the latter but it could not be denied that language and art were her talents. But she was not here to reminisce about all this; she was here to give the Key Master a tour to pass time until it was getting dark. Still, it was hard not to think back of her childhood when she saw all those things, like the videos she just spotted in the shelves. There were so many classic movies that were age inappropriate for her back then as well as those that were appropriate.
“Oh, Psycho!“, Edna exclaimed upon spotting the Hitchcock movie from the Sixties. “I watched it once secretly when I was seven. Mattis had been invited to a dinner with his boss and he couldn’t refuse. An old lady from across the street was looking after me but fell asleep. So I seized the opportunity and watched it.”
“You were quite rebellious, weren’t you?“, the Key Master commented with an amused grin. Edna reciprocated the expression and gave a single word reply:
“Any other movie you watched in secret that you shouldn’t have been watching?“, the Key Master asked as he himself took a look at this old collection.
“A few”, Edna admitted. “Usually with low volume in the middle of the night. Well, those rare nights Dad did not work and actually slept. But also sometimes, when he was too absorbed in his work.”
“Is it safe to assume that ‘a few’ actually means ‘a lot’?“, the Key Master smirked, to which Edna grinned. Then he nodded towards the carpet. “What happened to it?”
“Oh that”, Edna chortled. “I set it on fire... somewhat accidentally...”
She added the last two words as though they were an afterthought. The Key Master only nodded in acknowledgement but did not say anything. She turned back to the wall unit and gazed at the videos; she was always incredibly tired then following day after having spent a night watching a motion picture she was not supposed to watch. She had been aware even back then that she would get in trouble if she did it every night, so it only happened rarely and mostly only when she did not have school the following day. Otherwise Mister Hornbush would have noticed if she kept dozing off and she would have spent the whole school day inside the closet and honestly, she had already spent there more times than a criminal in prison. Also, if Alfred had known about this, he would have told her father and she would have been locked in the basement or in her room.
“C’mon, there are a few more rooms in this house”, Edna said, finally turning her gaze away from the videos and the books. She would later come back and take them with her...