“Where’s the popcorn when you need it?“, Bladder mumbled. René took a seat on the unoccupied chair and smirked at Bladder.
“Well, you could call Tamara and ask her if she could get you some”, the lanky man commented, making the overweight man look at him.
“Nah, she’s at the movies with her friends – late night showings, ya know? And she hates it when she gets a call in the middle of a movies”, Bladder responded, shaking his head. “Besides, she usually switches her phone off.”
“How about I go to the break room and see if I can find any snacks?“, René offered.
“You’re too kind, René“, Bladder replied before turning back to the monitors. René rose to his feet and left the room. He meandered along the corridors to the empty break room. The first thing he noticed was that everything was still clean. He supposed the patients only limited themselves to the hallways or they planned to decorate the room later. His eyes behind his glasses fell right on the cupboard on the wall. He traversed the room and opened the cupboard, spotting Babbitt’s cornflakes, stale bread, and some marmalade from Hulgor’s grandmother that no one was sure if it was safe to eat it and a cookie jar. René reached for the last item and opened it, seeing it was filled with what the name indicated. He closed it and, after a detour to the lockers to grab his tablet, returned to the surveillance room where he gave the jar to Bladder. The large man mumbled thanks and happily munched the cookies while enjoying the show. René played a game on his tablet, eating now and then a cookie too.
Amy, Anika, Ben and Sebastian had left the workshop not long after the youngest of them demonstrated what the rag doll rabbits were capable of saying. Everyone was thinking the same thing; should they leave now and report to the police? Or should they wait for Edna and the others and then report to the police? It would not be easy for all of them to leave together, unless they would have a truck available, which they did not. The only vehicle where the large group could probably fit in, if they sat very close together, was the limousine.
“I think we should dare using it. I mean, they even left the key in! How thick can you be to do that?“, Sebastian voiced his opinion and reached out to open the vehicle. However, the moment his fingers touched the car door, a loud and shrill alarm went off.
“You idiot! Now everyone knows we’re out here!“, Anika snapped as she and the other three run to the asylum’s backdoor. Ben stayed at the corner, just out of sight, and peeked around it to the limousine. At least they knew it would be a bad idea to choose this car as their getaway vehicle, unless they wanted to draw too much attention to themselves. The girls glared at Sebastian, who mumbled his apology in a feeble voice. Fortunately, he did not have to endure their looks for too long for Ben rejoined them a minute later.
“He’s gone, it’s safe now”, he said. The others gave him a bewildered look.
“Who?“, Anika asked what they were wondering.
“Doctor Marcel’s driver, dunno his name though”, Ben replied. Comprehension dawned on Amy’s face; she knew that guy but had never spoken to him and thus did not know his name either. What the couple did know, however, was that he was very loyal to Doctor Marcel and Ben, on his way home after a party late into the night at a friend’s house, had once seen him entering the doctor’s house in his pajamas. It was no breaking and entering, he had a key and when Ben walked past the house, he heard his voice drifting from an open window, asking Doctor Marcel how he could be of assistance. Ben had his own thoughts why Doctor Marcel had his driver come over in the middle of the night... It gave him nightmares.
“Well, we can use my car for the four of us and possibly one of Edna’s group”, Ben sighed. “Besides, that way, I don’t have to return here or walk to work to get my car.”
“Well, better than nothing”, Anika commented with a shrug. “By the way, Amy, how did you manage to open the main gate?”
“Simple, the guy in charge of the main gate at this hour is incredibly stupid, so I talked him into come with me and led him to the lockers. I pushed him into one and locked him in. Then I hurried to the control panel and pushed the button”, Amy explained smugly grinning.
The first thing Edna saw upon entering her former cell was Tina being tied to the wall by blue thread and her looking horrified at a spot on the young woman’s right-hand side. Tina glanced at her and the other two before her eyes flickered back to where they were looking at before. Edna first looked to her left, where she saw a table full of darts and some kind of chemical. Next to the piece of furniture stood Hulgor and a man she assumed was Anes. They, too, looked at something on Edna’s right. However, unlike Tina, they had a malevolent grin on their faces. Wondering what they were looking at, she turned her head to her right and saw a horrible sight; the Key Master stood there, his arms hanging limply to his sides and his eyes empty and expressionless. If he had not been standing on his two feet and breathing, Edna would have thought he was dead. Still, his current state was not any better; his face was kind of a mix between the psychotic look he wore after killing the reverend and the trance-like face Peter and Tiger Head had. Behind him was Doctor Marcel in his wheelchair, looking even more evil than usual and more satisfied than usual. On his lap lay a copy of Harvey, albeit with small red eyes instead of the big white ones with black spots as pupils. The version Doctor Marcel had was, admittedly, frightening.
“Ah Edna, what a pleasant surprise to see”, the old man said when he saw her, feigning pleasure. He rolled past the Key Master to the middle of the room to get a better look at her. He chuckled. “And I see you brought company.”
Behind Edna, Lilli and Miranya glared at the old man. However, he ignored them and rolled leisurely around as though he was pacing.
“Funny thing, mind control, isn’t it? You can create behavioral blocks in a person’s mind”, Edna notice Lilli tense up next to her, “or make them do things they would never do otherwise. Like your friend here.”
He beckoned at the Key Master, who was as still at a statue. It was only now that Edna realized he held a long, sharp knife in his hand. Where did he get it? She looked back at Doctor Marcel, her eyes full of hatred.
“What are you talking about?“, she snarled. “And where did he get the knife?”
“Of course you don’t know, you were locked in here when it occurred”, Doctor Marcel chuckled. “You see, when he first came into the asylum, he was with the other patients. Shared a dormitory with them, had free access to the available bathroom facilities, ate with them in the cafeteria and could spend his free time in the recreation room. However, he lost those privileges after a series of murders that were traced back to him. Funnily enough, his victims were always patients who had tried several times to escape. Actually, if you hadn’t escaped the guy who was digging a tunnel would have been his next victim.”
Edna’s eyes widened when she realized what Doctor Marcel was implying. She always knew he was a despicable man but that he would stoop so low? Even she would have never thought this.
“And why did you lock him in a solitary cell? Did you have a reason for that? Or none, as always?“, Edna asked in a low voice full of hatred, tightening her grip on her polo mallet and Harvey so much that the latter let out a piteous whimper of pain.
“Oh, I always have a reason. You do know how much I hate children, so I worked on a way to eliminate childishness forever; and you know how much I hate it when my patients try to break out, even more so when they actually succeed.”
Doctor Marcel glared at Edna at the last part. It was because of her, after all, he had lost a total of five patients in one day. While the number itself seemed to be small, it was nonetheless a lot if one considered that no one ever managed to get farther than the front door or the property at most.
“How come I’m still alive, though? Seeing that I tried to escape quite often, I should be dead a few times over”, Edna retorted. She did not like the smirk the doctor gave her at all.
“That’s because I have something special planned for you”, he said. Edna thought of something that would give her nightmare even in the far future. “But you always managed to resist, always managed to remember your past. But I will try it again and remove your childishness. If I am successful, then my therapy method will surely work on my oldest son.”
Anes and Hulgor exchanged confused looks at this. Apparently, even they did not know their boss had a still living son.
“Should I not succeed, he’s going to be my plan B.”
He beckoned at the Key Master before moving closer to her.
“Now then, there are two ways we can go about this. Either, you throw your Harvey away and let me correct your character willingly”, Doctor Marcel brandished the fake Harvey, “or I have the man known as Key Master kill your little friend on the wall.”
Tina, who had started to look bored, gaped open-mouthed at the mad doctor.
“Have you lost it!? Get your head examined, gramps!“, she shouted furiously, struggling in her binds. Anes walked over and slapped her before returning to Hulgor but it did not stop her from struggling. Even Miranya and Lilli were mad at the doctor for what he demanded.
“You monster!“, the Medium shouted, clenching her fists.
“You’re sick!” Lilli yelled. Edna never thought she could hate a person as much as Doctor Marcel. With each minute she was in his company, her hatred for him grew more and more. Why did people like him get the chance to be free and do whatever they like while decent people, like Mattis, had to suffer horrible fates? Oh, she would just love to run over and pummel him with her mallet but before she could even more a millimeter, she heard her two companions shouting “hey!” and next second, she lost her grip on Harvey and her mallet. Her arms were held back by two sets of arms that were just too strong for her. Edna turned her head to the left and then to the right to see that, of course, Anes and Hulgor were holding her back.
“Hold still”, Doctor Marcel smirked, slowly approaching her. However, Edna had no intention of holding still. No, she struggled with all her might, trying to kick those two who were holding her. Their grips remained strong but she noticed they nevertheless had trouble keeping it that way.
“Can’t that green guy stun this epitome of annoyance?“, Anes cried, almost in desperation.
“Key Master, get one of the darts over there!“, Doctor Marcel demanded. As though he was being pulled by a set of strings like a marionette, the Key Master scuffed to the table at a wall. Edna was scared out of her mind by this; when Peter and Tiger Head were hypnotized earlier, they walked normally. So, why did he move like this? But before he was even halfway at the table, he was knocked down by something small – Lilli had flung herself on him and knocked him down on the floor. Next moment, Anes cried out in pain and let go off Edna, who stepped on Hulgor’s foot. He loosened his grip and Edna managed to free herself. She whirled swiftly around and kicked him where it hurt the most. He gave a high-pitched yelp and went down on his knees. Now Edna saw what or, rather, who attacked Anes; Miranya had taken her mallet and hit him with it. Edna nodded in thanks and took the bottles of ketchup and mustard from her inventory. She squirted the mustard all over Hulgor and the ketchup over Anes. Both tried to shield themselves but the large man in blue was still whimpering because of the pain in his lower area and the other was knocked unconscious by Miranya. Edna turned around but before she had the chance to do anything more than that, Doctor Marcel roared in rage, starting everyone who was not incapacitated by unconsciousness, pain or hypnosis. The Key Master managed to throw Lilli off and was about to go on to the table but Doctor Marcel had other plans:
“Key Master, kill this insufferable, insubordinate girl!”
He pointed at Edna, who did not notice since she was too busy frowning at the Key Master. The doctor’s face was red in his fury when he gave the order. The Key Master stopped in his tracks and turned towards Edna, slowly walking towards her. For a moment, she wondered how he knew the doctor meant her but the question fled from her mind when the Key Master raised the knife in his hand. Tina cried “stop” over and over again and Lilli and Miranya tried to hold him back but were shaken off and thrown to the floor. Edna recounted every single piece of item in her inventory but found nothing could help her in this situation. There had to be another way to stop him but how? Before she even had the chance to think of something, Edna was pressed against the wall by the Key Master. She tried to fight him but his grip on her was just too strong, despite it being the arm he had broken not too long ago. In his other hand, he had the knife. He raised his weapon, ready to strike.
“Come on! Fight! Fight the hypnosis! I know you can!“, she attempted to get him out of his trance in an encouraging sort of voice. Behind him, she could hear a groan as Anes regained consciousness and she saw Miranya coming closer to the Key Master with the polo mallet. But she was stopped by Anes and Hulgor, who had also recovered. Edna watched for a brief moment how the three and Lilli, who joined the fray, fought before remembering that she was in peril, too. She brought her attention back to the Key Master who still held his knife aloft. She could see in his eyes that he was struggling, as though he knew who he was holding against the wall. But then, he began to strike...
“I know you’re stronger than that! You can fight it! You know better than to listen to Doctor Marcel! You always make up your own mind and don’t let people tell you what to do!“, Edna was almost pleading now. “You’re the man I love!”
He stopped and dropped the knife. His eyes returned back to normal, albeit full of confusion. He looked at her as if he did not understand why he held like her this against a wall. Edna wondered whether or not he had registered her choice of word for even she was astounded about them. Was that what she felt for the Key Master really love? But she did not need to think for too long to come to a conclusion. It had been a crush what she had felt for him at first and it had grow into love over time without her realizing it. She watched the Key Master anxiously, wondering what his reaction would be. He let her go. They looked at each other, though she was unable to read his face but she was unsure whether he put on an unreadable expression or she was too bewildered. It was only when Lilli cried in pain did they turn their eyes the other way.
Anes and Hulgor had overpowered the two while Doctor Marcel was just watching as if this was a wrestling match. He glanced towards Edna and the Key Master and when he saw she was still alive, he shouted:
“What are you waiting for!? Kill that useless girl!”
But he did not listen. No, instead he went over to the two versus two fight, picked up the mallet Miranya just dropped and raised it above his head. When he got the opportunity, he hit first Hulgor, then Anes with the piece of sports equipment, knocking them out.
“Th-thank you”, Lilli said, breathing heavily. He seemed to either ignore her words or he had not heard them, Edna was not sure, but he went back to the knife and picked it up. To everyone’s horror, he went straight to Tina, whose eyes widened in fear.
“Wh-what are you doing?“, she asked fearfully as he raised the knife. Edna saw how she closed her eyes, unable to watch when he slashed her, but all he slashed was the thread. Tina gave a startled yelp when gravity took hold of her and dragged her down on the floor.
“At least I landed softly”, she remarked before getting up. Edna noticed her arm was bleeding but not much. Apparently, the Key Master had accidentally cut her arm when he destroyed the thread holding her.
“Sorry about that”, the Key Master apologized, nodding at her wound.
“No worries, it’s just a scratch”, she dismissed him, looking at her wound. “I’m just more surprised that a certain old man is not complaining.”
Now that Tina mentioned it, Doctor Marcel had been awfully quiet. She, Edna and the Key Master turned around to find him gaping at them all in shock. Apparently, he could not fathom what just happened in the last few minutes.
“Miranya, go ahead to the others and go to the police with them. Tell them what just happened”, Edna instructed her. The Medium nodded and ran off, but not before giving Edna the mallet in case she needed it. The other four stood around Doctor Marcel in a circle, wondering what to do with him.
“I think he’s broken”, Tina commented, poking him.
“So, I guess we can just go”, Edna replied. The others murmured in agreement and they all headed towards the exit after the purple haired woman picked up Harvey since he was still lying on the floor. Suddenly and unexpectedly, a blur rushed past them. Next thing they knew Doctor Marcel blocked the exit, fury in his single eye. It seemed like he rolled towards the exit in his wheelchair in a velocity not unlike a Formula One racer in his racecar. Edna, the Key Master, Lilli and Tina all stopped in their tracks. They were all in awe at how fast the old man recovered from his shock.
“No, you won’t escape! None of you!“, he shouted and his face took on an ugly shade of red. He held the fake Harvey menacingly in front of him like the terry cloth rabbit was a gun or a sword. It was kind of laughable were it not for the fact he could hypnotize them very easily. Out of the corner of her eyes, Edna saw Lilli running back but did not turn around to see why. She was more focused on what was happening in front of her. She tried to think of a way to stop Doctor Marcel from hypnotizing them all and to get past him. Maybe her trusty polo mallet could help, since it did prove to be a useful tool in her last escape. If she would knock him unconscious, they could roll him out of the way and maybe even lock him in here together with Anes and Hulgor. Doctor Marcel, Edna noticed, moved his hand to pull the string but she was quicker. In a swift movement, she raised her mallet high and down on his head, as hard as she could. He was out cold in a split second, looking like he was sleeping peacefully in his wheelchair. Lilli was back at their side almost immediately, holding an anesthetic dart in her hand.
“Oh, and I thought I’d just use a dart on him”, she said as innocently as the little convent girl she once was. She glanced at the dart in her hand, then at Doctor Marcel and back again, shrugged and nonetheless used it on him. “Better safe than sorry.”
The others looked at Doctor Marcel and his two minions, deciding on what they should do to them.
“I say we tie them up”, Edna suggested while putting the polo mallet back into her inventory. “The only question is how –”
She fell silent when Lilli produced needle and stitch from her own inventory. Tina gaped at her.
“Are you always walking around with these in your pocket?”
“You never know when you need them”, Lilli shrugged. Tina made a face as though she was considering what she just said before voicing her thoughts:
“Maybe I should cater for circumstances and carry needle and stitch in my pants.”
Working as a team, and also using the darts to stun Anes and Hulgor who were once again about to wake up, Edna, the Key Master, Lilli and Tina managed to bind their enemies to the wall. Afterwards, they ran off.
Miranya considered herself lucky that she was not noticed by any of the employees she came across in this mental institution since the other patients still kept them on their feet. One would think the guards would have given up by now. However, they either seemed to be too determined to catch them or too stupid to know when to quit. On her way downstairs, she had accidentally entered the surveillance room, where she found Bladder watching a movie on television and René absorbed in his tablet, both of them munching cookies. Fortunately, they had not noticed her and she had quickly left the room. These were the only two employees she encountered who did not seem to want to do anything to stop the mayhem. All the better for her and everyone else who planned to escape. Hopefully those who attempted to do something would continue to fail to notice her. But suddenly, one guard blocked her way down to the ground floor.
“Where do you think you’re going, miss?“, he inquired advancing towards her. Miranya took several steps backwards. Oh, how she wished she had Edna’s polo mallet with her! The employee grabbed her by her wrist but before she had time to react he got a milk shower. And a moment later, Max ran away from them holding a milk carton in his arms. The guard wiped the white substance from cows from his face, let go off Miranya and chased after Max. The Medium silently thanked the patient for getting her out of trouble and then continued to run all the way down to the backdoor until she found Ben and the others waiting by the garages.
“Miranya!“, Amy exclaimed, being the first who saw her. “Are Edna and the others about to come too?”
The Medium shook her head and proceeded to tell them about what she heard Doctor Marcel delineate and what Edna asked her to do. Her audience was shocked about what they heard; Amy even grabbed Ben’s arm and Sebastian muttered “holy shit”. After she was finished, they in turn told her about their findings with Anika even demonstrating one rabbit and Miranya mentioning that Doctor Marcel had one on his lap. Not liking any of the tales one bit, the five got into Ben’s car and drove off, taking the rabbit Anika took with them. They all felt they had to hurry up, lest something horrible would happen. Help was needed in shape of the police. Hopefully the authorities would believe them...
There was no sign of Gregor’s vehicle or of him and Bianca as they traveled down the hill. Everyone, except Miranya, who did not know about the flat tire, assumed the towing service had arrived and that they were now waiting for their friends at their unofficial headquarters.
“You know, I think it’s enough if only one of us goes with Miranya to the police station”, Ben suggested. “It makes no sense if a large mob comes into the police station.”
“And it would be kinda overfilled with all of us there”, Amy remarked. “I would suggest you go.”
“Why me?“, Ben asked, staring at her.
“You’re the one who suggested it. And keep your eyes on the street, we don’t want an accident to happen, do we?“, she replied. He looked back to the street while she turned to the back and addressed Miranya: “You don’t mind repeating what you told us to the police, do you?”
“Of course not! If this means Doctor Marcel will get his just reward! I mean, he had me locked up for many years!“, the Medium exclaimed, clenching her fists. How she wished she could ask the ghosts she used to converse with when she was still free to haunt Doctor Marcel for all eternity! Or to drag him to hell, where he belonged! But prison was okay with her too. If it meant he was not out enjoying his liberty, she was happy.
The group reached Amy and Ben’s house, where Gregor and Bianca were waiting anxiously for them. They approached the parked car the moment it was on the property and opened the passengers’ door. Only Amy, Anika and Sebastian got out with Amy explaining that Ben and Miranya were going to the police at Bianca’s unspoken question. They drove off during the explanation and the rest of the group went inside the house. The two who had missed all the action listened attentively, with Bianca clapping her hand over her mouth and Gregor falling out of the chair he was sitting on when Amy came to the part about what Miranya told her and the others about Doctor Marcel’s confession.
“He... he hypnotized a patient to... to kill other patients?“, Bianca said weakly and disbelievingly. Amy nodded grimly.
“He did and who knows if he had done it even before”, she remarked, looking darkly out of the window. The streets were deserted; hardly anyone liked to venture outside because they were afraid of some loonies escaping, even though it had not happened since the big breakout as few years ago. But still, the fear remained and it seemed unlikely it was going to change any time soon. Bianca looked distraught at the information. Sebastian took her hand and squeezed it to calm her.
“Let’s just hope Doctor Marcel will get in jail for this”, he voiced what every one of them was thinking.
Meanwhile, Ben and Miranya were at the local police station, telling the officer about Doctor Marcel’s evil deeds. The officer’s eyes nervously moved around and he was shaking as though he was in Antarctica despite it being a warm summer’s night. He was shaking so much he could barely make any notes.
“Now, that’s some heavy accusation you make there”, he said in an oddly calm voice. “We can’t do anything if you don’t have any evidence.”
“What about this?“, Ben asked, pushing the blue rag doll rabbit into the officer’s face. “And every patient and employee can confirm that two patients were no patients at all but kidnapped. Hell, one is the little girl who disappeared from a parking lot not too long ago! You know, the little girl who was on the news just a few days ago!”
The police officer raised an eyebrow.
“And you know that because...?”
“I overheard some colleagues talking about it on the same day they kidnapped her and I saw her! The little girl in the news and the little girl in the asylum are one and the same!“, Ben explained, his voice rising steadily. The officer put his head in his hands and rubbed his temples. A door opened behind Ben and Miranya and a pale young man with dark hair entered the police station. The officer looked up at the newcomer.
“Ah Gerret, can you take over?“, he asked and before Gerret had a chance to answer, he was gone. Gerret snorted and rolled his eyes but nonetheless took a seat behind the desk.
“How can I help you?“, he asked in his hoarse voice. The smell of cigarettes wafted to Ben and Miranya, letting them know what he had been doing outside. They proceeded to tell him the same things they told his colleague earlier, including showing the rabbit to him. Something flickered in Gerret’s eyes, something like recognition when he saw the toy. After Ben and Miranya were done telling him what they learned over the course of a few hours in the asylum, he crossed his arms and closed his eyes. Ben and Miranya exchanged uncertain looks. Would he try to dismiss them like his colleague? However, when Gerret opened his eyes and leaned forward, he said something they had not dared to hope:
“I believe you. I know Lilli and this rabbit you have there with you, I have seen it once before a few years ago. Doctor Marcel had used it to create behavioral blockades in Lilli’s mind. We had Doctor Marcel in jail after the whole incident but his son bailed him out while I wasn’t on duty. My colleague – the guy who attended you – let him go.”
“Do you think there’s a chance he’ll get to jail without being bailed out?“, Miranya asked. Gerret heaved a sigh.
“I can’t say or guarantee it. Doctor Marcel has unfortunately too much influence around here. That is why he could get away with so much; he has many important figures around his little finger, especially the mayor. But I guess he would not let him do anything and everything anymore if he knew what Doctor Marcel’s been doing. That is, if the mayor is unaware; if he’s not... well, we got the shit end of the stick...”
Miranya frowned. Was there perhaps no chance the old man would ever get his just rewards? Was this village condemned to have him walking around freely until the day he died? She did not like the sound of it at all. Gerret stood up and walked around the desk.
“But how should we know if he can count on the mayor’s help? Just ask him?“, the Medium inquired while watching the police officer.
“I guess that’s all we can do. However, if we have enough witnesses, we might have a chance”, he said, taking a gummi bear from a nearby bowl and chucked it into his mouth. Ben and Miranya looked at each other. Did their judiciary really work like this? They did not know, neither of them worked closely with the law. Adam was just a guard in Doctor Marcel’s asylum and Miranya used to work in the fire fighter museum when she was not busy communicating with the dead, but she doubted she still had her employment there.
“Well, we do have some witnesses, I’m sure we have enough”, Ben responded. “Four of them are currently escaping the asylum... I think, dunno if they managed to find a vehicle yet.”
“Shortly before I left, the doctor had just ordered some green-skinned guy called ‘the Key Master’ to kill Edna”, Miranya informed them, receiving surprised looks from both of them.
“Edna?“, Gerret repeated. “As in Edna Konrad?”
“Don’t know if that’s her last name”, Miranya shrugged. “But her hair and eyes are purple and she carries a blue rag doll rabbit around.”
“Yep, that’s her”, Gerret confirmed the same time Ben asked:
“Why would the Key Master kill Edna? He is friends with her.”
“I told you Doctor Marcel used to hypnotize him to kill other patients”, the Medium began but there was no need to go on. Ben understood what she was insinuating, as indicated by his widened eyes. Worried about the friends they left behind, Ben and Miranya kept glancing at the door or out of the window, as though they hoped they would stroll in any minute now...
“Well, it makes no sense to sit here and twiddle our thumbs”, Gerret commented after a few minutes. He took his keys and headed for the door, stopping as he laid his hand on the handle and turned to look at the other two:
“I go to the asylum now. Do you want to come along too?”
“Yes”, Miranya replied at once, rising to her feet.
“And me too”, Ben added, also standing up. Gerret nodded and opened the door, beckoning them to follow him. The police officer led the two to a small garage Miranya had not notice before when she and Ben arrived here. She could not remember having seen it before her imprisonment. Gerret opened the garage and went in, driving a police car out of the garage a minute later.
“Since when does this village have a police car?“, Miranya questioned. Before she was isolated from everything and everyone, all the local police had was a single bicycle. She still did not know how that ever worked out. Even when the mass breakout happened, they had to call for help from the police station in the next town – like always when something bigger was occurring here.
“About two years”, Gerret replied. “Come, get in.”
Neither Ben nor Miranya needed to be told twice; the Medium took a seat in the passenger’s seat while Doctor Marcel’s employee sat in the backseat. And onwards to the asylum!
The four friends they were so worried about managed to get through the backdoor on the ground floor to the garages. At the moment, they split up to find a getaway car. Like Amy, Anika, Ben and Sebastian before them, they found plenty of vehicles. The question, however, was which one should they pick? Unlike the other four, they did not have to worry about anyone coming to join them, so they could choose whichever they wanted. All they had to do was to agree on one, which was not easy since each vehicle belonged to someone inside this building. But they also found the little workshop of horrors... or rather, Tina did.
“Uh guys? I think you should see this”, she called. Edna, the Key Master and Lilli. Without saying a word, Tina pointed at the workshop full of red-eyed Harveys. Edna and Lilli exchanged concerned looks, remembering the trouble the little blond girl had because of Harvey when he had those red eyes. Hesitantly, they stepped into the workshop with the Key Master and Tina closely following them. Edna cautiously approached the shelves with the countless rabbits. She noticed the Key Master kept close to her. A part of her felt a little uneasy because of what occurred in her former cell but another part of her did not mind it. Besides, they had to talk about her confession sooner or later... if he remembered what she said. Still, she hoped he did not want to talk to her about this now at this rather inconvenient time.
She reached the shelves and walked along them before taking one in her free hand and examining it.
“Woah, look at all those Harvey copies”, she muttered. “Now we know where Doctor Marcel got the one he had with him from. But...” Her eyes traveled over the many toys. “Why are there so many?”
“Dunno but those are some handsome fellas!“, Harvey said joyously.
“If they’re like the one Doctor Marcel used to hypnotize me, I doubt he intended to use them for anything good”, the Key Master remarked, while pulling the string of one. Immediately, its red eyes flashed and it ordered to not play with fire and to not lie. The original Harvey made a noise of disgust. Edna frowned at the red-eyed Harvey in her hand and at the one the Key Master just pulled the string. This was kind of familiar and next second she remembered why.
“I thought he had stopped the production of those after he went to jail. I should have known he wouldn’t cease making them just because Lilli could fight against the hypnosis...“, Edna muttered while throwing the rabbit with the small eyes back to the others. She had flashbacks of being tied to the wall of her cell, like Tina earlier, and her cell being stuffed with those red-eyed Harveys and an insane Mother Superior sitting among them, knitting more and more. The Key Master frowned at her:
“What are you talking about, Princess?”
“Well, Doctor Marcel had Lilli hypnotized with my Harvey but he had the same eyes as those rabbits and there was a brief time he had me back in his clutches... But I think I told you that part already, didn’t I?“, she looked at him questioningly and he nodded. “Anyway, while I was tied in my old cell the same way Tina was, Mother Superior was forced to knit those. Bladder and this lanky guy tied me to the wall and they spoke about what he planned to do with them”, Edna snorted and glared at the rag doll rabbits as though they had offended her. “Let’s just say children won’t be children anymore.”
She felt the Key Master taking her hand and she looked up at him. The expression on his face was not easy to read for her. Was it sympathy? He did know about her past from what she told him and her experiences with Doctor Marcel’s correction of character. She reckoned he could imagine how she felt at the thought of other children experiencing the same things she had to. She leaned her head against his shoulder, wanting nothing more than to get out of here and having to greater desire than to put an end to Doctor Marcel’s evil schemes. As if he read her thoughts, he moved his arm to around her shoulders and steered her away from the shelves to Tina and Lilli, who were both waiting outside of the workshop for them. Tina raised an eyebrow and smirked knowingly at them when she saw how close they were. Edna glared at her, daring her to make any kind of comment. But Tina simply stuck her tongue out before putting on a more serious face.
“Well, the main gate’s open and we have more than enough cars to choose from. Which one should we take?“, she remarked.
“Let’s just take Doctor Marcel’s limousine, like last time”, Edna decided. Suddenly, she gave the Key Master a strange look, which was not lost to him, Tina and Lilli. Her ocular organs were narrowed and when she spoke, each word was punctuated by her poking the Key Master in his chest. “Let’s just hope the driver doesn’t crash it like you did.”
The Key Master opened his mouth, most likely to retort, but never go the chance to. A guard Edna only knew from seeing once or twice but knew nothing of turned the corner and bellowed:
“Who goes there?”
“Oh shit!“, the four exclaimed and ran off to around the other corner, where the limousine stood, with the guard on their heels. The Key Master went for the driver’s seat but Tina pulled him away.
“You caused a car crash last time! I drive!”
The car alarm went off the moment they touched the vehicle but they ignored it. Edna with Harvey on her lap sat in front on the passenger’s seat, the Key Master and Lilli in the back, and Tina on the driver’s seat. The car key was still in the ignition. Edna scoffed.
“Honestly, you’d think the driver would have learned from last time.”
“Well, the better for us”, Tina commented and started the car, telling everyone to put their seatbelts on. They heeded her words. Doctor Marcel’s driver came running to the parking space the limousine stood on but was too late. The vehicle was already halfway to the main gates. Edna could see him in the rearview window running frantically around and the guard trying to calm him down. Another one appeared on the scene just as Tina drove through the main gate.
“Lady Liberty, you have us back now”, she commented and chuckled maniacally. She accelerated and raced down the hill. Edna began fearing another crash would happen. There was no way her housemate would be able to go all the way down with this velocity; she had never driven above the speed limit before. And indeed, just as Tina took a turn, she lost control of the limousine. Everything was only a blur for Edna as they had a speedy and bumpy ride down the slope. If she were to be asked to recount every single step of the accident, she would be unable to. All she could see and remember later on were blurs of colors with a bluish black tint. The car stopped when it crashed against a tree, leaving a large dent in the front.
“Well, at least we’re out”, Tina commented sheepishly. Edna, the Key Master and Lilli glared at her. She shrugged and got out of the car, walking to its front to check the damage. Edna turned around to look at the Key Master and Lilli. Edna was glad she put the seatbelt on this time. Last time, the crash caused her to fly out of the limousine and losing her consciousness before the little of her life she could remember flashed before her eyes – it did not take long. From outside, they could hear Tina making comments about the damage but neither listened to her.
“Everything’s okay with you two?“, Edna asked worriedly. Lilli nodded wordlessly while the Key Master said “I’m fine.”
Tina reappeared but did not get inside again.
“Seems like we have to walk the rest of the way to the village”, she said. “Better get going now.”
They did not need to be told twice. They unbuckled the seatbelt and got out of the car. But before they had the chance to return to the street, they spotted a single car driving down the hill only to reappear a moment later and stopping. Next moment, Doctor Marcel’s driver and a guard got out of the vehicle, their eyes set on the limousine that was crashed against a tree. Luckily, they did not seem to have noticed the group of four. Tina silently beckoned her partners to hide among the trees and wait until it was save to sneak past the two. Doctor Marcel’s minions went down the slope and to the vehicle, examining it. Seizing their chance, the escapees commenced wandering towards the village by first ascending the slope and then walking down the hill with no hesitation.
As they descended the hill on the street, they saw headlights coming their way. In fear of being rolled over, the four friends jumped to the side. However, the car, which revealed itself to be a police car, slowed down and came to a full stop when it reached them. The car doors opened and out came three familiar faces for Edna and Lilli, two for the Key Master and Tina.
“Thank goodness we found you”, Gerret said in a relieved voice. “We were afraid you didn’t make it or were caught.”
“Nope, we’re alright”, Edna assured him as well as Ben and Miranya, who were looking worriedly at them.
“Did you guys walk all the way?“, Ben asked his ocular organs flickering from the group up the street and back again. Immediately, Edna, the Key Master and Lilli turned their eyes to Tina. She groaned and rolled her eyes.
“Nah, we were driving until I caused an accident”, she explained. “But we’re alright. A bit shaken but fine. By the way, two of Doctor Marcel’s minions are back there where I caused the crash.”
“Is that so? I don’t think I can do anything right now, it’s more important to get you all back to safety. But I’m confident we can catch them and everyone who is involved in this with Doctor Marcel. Well then, we should get back to the police station and you can tell me everything that’s happened”, Gerret said, gesticulating to the police car. Everybody got in with him on the driver’s seat, Tina was on the passenger’s seat in front. Gerret turned his upper body to look at the back: “You guys okay back there?”
Edna, the Key Master, Lilli, Ben and Miranya sat much closer together than they would have liked.
“It’s not my idea of a group hug but we’ll manage”, Edna replied in a strained voice. She felt uncomfortable but if it meant she would get as far away from the asylum as possible she was not going to complain. Gerret turned back to the front and made a turn, driving off to the village.
The group was inside the tiny police station after a short drive and Edna, Tina and Lilli reported about what transpired in Edna’s former cell. The Key Master kept his silence during this part since he could hardly remember anything, which he stated when asked. However, Edna had a feeling he was not entirely truthful. But he could contribute to the report when they got to the part of fleeing the building.
“Well, let’s hope we can keep Doctor Marcel behind bars this time”, Gerret commented after they told him about the car crash Tina caused. He skimmed over the notes he made before closing his folder. “That’ll be all, you can all go now.”
Thus, the group left the police station, glad for some elbow room. Ben made the suggestion to give them a lift to his and Amy’s house. Lilli, who looked like she was about to fall asleep any minute now, was the only one who agreed. Miranya preferred to walk and stretch her legs after being cooped up for so long while Edna, the Key Master and Tina stated they wanted to enjoy their elbow room a bit more. With a “see you later”, Ben and Lilli departed in one direction while Edna headed for another direction – towards the cemetery. She quickly realized that the other three were following her and considered for a moment to stop and question them but opted not to. If she thought about it, she did not mind it that they kept her company. Maybe it was even better.
The moment they were gone, Gerret took the receiver of the telephone and dialed the number of the police station in the next town. While he waited and hoped for someone to pick up, his colleague returned from wherever he was. The anxious, mustachioed man opened his mouth, most likely to pose a question, but Gerret silenced him by holding up a hand. Somebody had picked up on the other end of the line.
“Hello, it’s me – Gerret”, the pale man with the hoarse voice said.
“Oh Gerret! It’s good to hear from you again! To what do I own this pleasant surprise at this late hour?“, the police woman on the other end of line asked. Gerret was sure she had a smile on her face.
“Well, Maya, I need some assistance from you and your colleagues.”
“What!? Now!?“, Maya sounded incredulous.
“Yes, it’s about Doctor Marcel”, Gerret explained.
“Ugh, what kind of trouble did he cause this time?“, Maya groaned.
“Look, I don’t have time to explain everything. Just send some help over here, I’ll tell you everything later”, the police man urged his friend. He heard her groan again.
“Alright, but you owe me one”, she relented at last. Gerret thanked her and hung up before turning to his colleague:
“What did you want to say, Karl?”
“I just wanted to know if you believe those two who were here earlier but I guess I don’t need to. But why were you so willing to believe them? What if they just wanted to discredit Doctor Marcel? He did say he was not going to do anything foul anymore.”
Gerret shook his head in exasperation.
“Karl, just because a convict tells you they won’t do it again doesn’t mean you can trust their words. Remember when you let out Edmund The Slasher!?”
“Yes... I remember...“, Karl replied meekly and pouted. Gerret heaved a sigh.
“Look, just don’t let anyone out until we all are a hundred percent sure we can let them out, okay?“, he asked of his colleague. “And can you please stay here in case we get incoming calls?”
“Will do”, Karl agreed with a quick nod. Gerret waved good bye and left the building, getting into the car again and driving off towards the asylum.
Edna crouched at Mattis’s grave, Harvey lying next to her. She tenderly moved her left hand along the letters of her father’s name. Ever since Doctor Marcel’s revelations, when she wondered why people like him got to run around freely and decent people not, she had the desire to visit Mattis’s final resting place, to find comfort there. A sad sigh left her mouth. If only she could actually talk to him... But of course! Why had she not thought about it sooner? Edna’s eyes widened when she recalled why she let Miranya escape with her and her friends. So quickly that she lost her balance, she wheeled around to talk to the red head, only to see she was not there as was Tina. Edna blinked.
“Uh, where’re Miranya and Tina?“, she asked the Key Master, who was still with her.
“Looking for firewood”, he replied, giving her a hand to help her up. “How about we take a walk? There’s something I want to talk to you about.”
“Um, sure”, Edna answered. She pondered what he wanted to talk about while she bent down and picked Harvey up.
“Edna, are you sure you can trust him?“, the lagomorph questioned. Edna’s only way to respond was to narrow her eyes at him and then to arch an eyebrow. “Never mind.”
With the rabbit dangling from her hand, she and the Key Master started to walk around the churchyard. The moon shone brightly overhead, casting long shadows of the church. It was here where Edna learned to truly fear the Key Master but now, she was taking a walk with him about an hour after she confessed her love. The irony was not lost to her.
“You know, maybe I shouldn’t have gone to fetch sheets of papers; you never needed to use in the end”, the Key Master suddenly stated, refusing to look at Edna. “Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been captured...”
The young woman was surprised he would say something like this. Sure, she might not have been kidnapped if he had stayed with her but it was also her own fault. They were on enemy’s territory; she should have kept constant vigilance. So, it was pretty much her own fault and not his.
“Hey, don’t beat yourself up. They might have known we were there sooner or later. And you saved me before Doctor Marcel could do anything to me”, Edna comforted him. Suddenly, he wheeled around to survey her.
“You always wanted to know my birth name, didn’t you? You still wanna know?“, the Key Master spoke up, stopping at the entrance door of the church. Edna was startled by the change of subject but she nonetheless stopped walking to and gazed intently into his green eyes.
“Of course I wanna know! I don’t wanna call you ‘Key Master’ until we’re pushing up the daisies”, she replied like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“It’s Alan. Alan Freeman”, he said “I found you opened the file about me when I came back to fetch Harvey for you. That’s how I found out my real name and why I was brought in the asylum...“, he averted his eyes. “I won’t blame you if you’d hate me.”
Edna did not like the dejected way he said the last part or the sadness in his eyes. She wanted to see it gone, wanted to see him happy. She placed her free hand on his cheek, making him look at her.
“Just tell me, I won’t judge until you come to the end of your back story”, Edna said in a gentle and encouraging voice. Her tone seemed to give him the strength to tell her his back story. She listened without interrupting him at all. Harvey whimpered and mumbled they should run away from him but Edna hushed him. Alan was done telling her about his past about ten minutes later and silence fell over the churchyard. Edna scrutinized him, she did not really like what she had heard but she could not deny she was glad he was being honest with her. He could have kept his silence like he did when he killed the man but he did not. Was it because he did not want her to be so mad at him that she did not want to see him again? Edna thought about why Alan killed the members of a gang. She could kind of understand why he did it, after seeing the corpses of his loved ones, but she was not sure if she would have done the same. Maybe yes, maybe no.
“I still don’t know much about my past, only bits and pieces. I don’t know if I’ve always been the psychotic killer everyone sees me as”, Alan spoke up, pulling the young woman out of her reverie. She bit her bottom lip, thinking back of what Doctor Marcel said...
“While you were in a trance... he... Doctor Marcel... revealed he hypnotized you to k... kill patients who tried to break out”, Edna said, struggling to get the words out. She knew finding out the truth would shock, maybe even depress, Alan but he had to know. And indeed, he did not look like this piece of information cheered him up.
“But that doesn’t explain why I committed murders outside the asylum”, he mumbled dejectedly, once again averting his eyes. Edna took his hand and stepped closer to him.
“I’m sure there’s a reason. You could consult Amy, she could help”, Edna suggested, moving even closer. “And I’ll be there for you.”
Alan looked back at her, smiling slightly.
“You know, there’s one thing I vaguely recall when I was hypnotized”, he admitted. Edna tilted her head, wondering what it was and waiting for him to continue. “I remember hearing your voice from far away... you... you said you love me.”
This time, it was Edna who averted her eyes. She let go of Alan’s hand and stepped away from him, turning her back to him. She had thought he did not recall this either but she was wrong; she should have known she was right when she suspected he did remember something after all. But that of all things he could recall, it had to be that!
Meanwhile, Tina and Miranya, both carrying firewood in their arms, returned to the churchyard. As they got closer to the church, they spotted Edna and the Key Master standing close together.
“Come on”, Tina hissed and disappeared behind a tombstone and peeked over it. Miranya looked quizzically at her before following her. Tina put the firewood she was carrying on the ground and took out her phone.
“What are you doing?“, the Medium asked her warily. Tina hushed her and started filming with her phone.
Edna stared down at her feet, hugging herself. Should she just deny she ever said anything like this? Or should she tell him the truth? This was something she never had to confront before, seeing that she had never been in a relationship before. She was desperate when she said those words to him when he was hypnotized. Still, would she be able to repeat those words and confess her love to him? Edna heaved a sigh and looked up at the starry night sky. Hard to believe it was still night, she felt so much time had passed that it would be daytime again. Was it really only tonight she saw most of her friends from the asylum again? She hardly had any time to speak with them...
“Edna?“, Alan’s voice once again pulled her out of her reverie.
“Yes, I did say I have romantic feelings for you but...“, Edna sighed once more and turned to face him, “I understand if you don’t feel the same. I mean... I’m just a girl who knows nothing of the world out there. A girl who should have a job and a place of her own but instead goes to school with adolescents, people a few years younger than me, who were not even in puberty when I escaped the asylum! I –”
“You know, you never gave me the kiss you promised me”, Alan spoke through her rant. Even though he spoke calmly it was enough to stop her in mid-sentence and to have her gape open-mouthed at him. Before she even had time to say or do anything, Alan took her into his arms and pressed his lips on hers. Edna’s eyes widened momentarily in surprise but then she closed them as she responded to the kiss. She snaked her arms around his neck, deepening the kiss.
“... wasn’t expecting that”, she finished in a much quieter but happier voice after they parted.
“Maybe you shouldn’t just assume but wait for an answer”, Alan responded in a low voice, smirking at her. Edna chuckled. “I feel the same for you.”
One big happy smile spread across Edna’s face; she rested her head on his chest, moving her arms down so that they rested on his waist.