Case, Armitage

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Chapter Thirteen

The train picked up speed as it departed Detroit. Ava hadn’t been on a train for what seemed like an eternity. She made a mental note to express her gratitude to Christine, the daughter of Christine Hampton, for thoughtfully purchasing her train ticket; her seat was comfortable as she stared out the window, watching the world fly past in front of her eyes, like a wind-on camera. Ava read her questions over and over again. She knew how silly it seemed to be nervous about an interview with a complete stranger, but she was so excited to make this project something to be remembered and recognised. The previous night she changed the batteries in her recording devices, and brought spares for backup, these along with her notepad and pen in her jacket pocket. Before Ava boarded the train she saw the time it would take to travel to Lansing; over three and a half hours, which gave her plenty of time to think and prepare. The journalist leaned her head against the window and felt the vibrations of the train through her body. The rhythm of the engine was calming, allowing Ava to clear her thoughts. She thought about her visions, how frequently they came and how astonishingly clear they were. Initially she told herself, it’s just a symptom of post head-trauma, but now, how could this be the case if she experienced them before her concussion also? Why was Lillian in all of them? Why did she wake up feeling the same emotions as in her dreams? Ava reached into her handbag and retrieved her diary, thumbing through the pages until she found today’s date: 9/13, the top of the page read. Ava wrote down in the small box provided, Phone Doctor! Underlining the words three times with thick ink. When there were ten minutes of the trip left to go, Ava took out the sheet of paper Kate had given to her on Tuesday which contained the details of Ms Christine Hampton, the woman who Ava was about to meet and interview. The page contained precious few words and an even smaller amount of information about the woman. It listed her name, date of birth, and some career highlights, and her address. Surely there must be more on a person, Ava thought.

The train came to a halt at Lansing station and Ava alighted, looking for a taxi. As she got into the back seat of the first cab that stopped for her, she was almost overwhelmed by the stale smell of cigarettes.

“Where are you heading?” the driver put his arm around the passenger seat as he turned his head to face Ava. The young woman quickly fiddled around in her pockets, searching for the piece of paper with the Hampton’s address. “Uh… number twenty-five… Baird Street,” Ava responded, trying to flatten the scrunched paper. The driver started their journey; Ava could tell he wasn’t one for conversation, but that didn’t bother her as she was preoccupied with her thoughts as she looked out the window. Lansing was an attractive town and Ava enjoyed the tour through the streets on the way to her destination. The twenty-five-minute journey came to an end as the driver pulled up in front of a beautiful, quaint house. “That will be fifty dollars please,” the old man put his hand out to Ava. “I’m sorry, fifty dollars?” she questioned in shock at the price. “Fifty bucks,” the man repeated. Ava tried to contain her shock and handed the man three ten-dollar bills and one twenty, thanking him quickly as she left the vehicle.

Ava gazed at the building, appreciating its vintage beauty; painted white, with a rocking chair on the front verandah and a perfectly mown lawn and, to top it off, a white picket fence. The young woman took a deep breath before she let herself in through the gate. A stone pathway lead up to the front door. Knock, knock, knock. Ava took a step back and admired the beautiful stained-glass windows on either side of the door, framed by light green curtains tied up at the corners. “Hello! You must be Ms Hayes,” a young woman opened the door. “Hi, yes, please, call me Ava,” said the journalist. “I’m Christine.” The two women shook hands. “Please come in.” Ava walked in and looked around, the interior smelled of candles and soothing essential oils. “Your house is so beautiful,” Ava said. “Oh, thank you so much. It’s actually my mom’s, but I stay here most nights.” Ava followed Christine down the long central hallway which opened at the end into a large living room. To the right of this room was another corridor which led on to the kitchen. “I’m terribly sorry, I’m a bit behind time today,” Christine explained as she put on dangly earrings. Ava continued to walk slowly down the corridor, taking in the ornate heritage features of the house, and noticing that the rooms were perfectly clean. Very appropriate for a senior woman, Ava thought.

As the journalist reached the main living area, a woman appeared, dressed in blue jeans and a blue nurse’s shirt. “Ava, this is Maria, my mother’s nurse,” Christine introduced the pair. “Hi, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” said Ava as the pair shook hands. “Now, I’m so sorry, but I’m going to be so late if I don’t leave in the next nine seconds. Thank you so much for coming all this way, Ava. I’ll leave you in the very capable hands of Maria.” Christine glanced at her watch. “Oh dear, I must fly … have a really great day!” “So, you’re obviously here to see Ms Hampton?” Maria said. “I am, yes. I’m a journalist from Detroit, I’m interviewing her about her experiences at a -” Ava cut herself off as she tried to think of a better phrase than mental hospital. “… hospital, where she was once a resident” the young woman explained. “Right, she mentioned that. She’s just out on the deck getting some fresh air, come with me.” Maria led Ava through the living room to the back door, a floor to ceiling sliding glass panel. “I assume she knows you’re coming?” Maria asked. “Oh, yes to my knowledge,” Ava said, surprised at the question. “It’s just that sometimes Christine, her daughter, makes decisions without consulting the people who are involved,” Maria explained. “Right, I understand,” Ava responded. Maria stood to one side and allowed Ava to step past her onto the back verandah. Ava took in the beautiful back garden, with its perfectly mown grass and garden beds filled with flowers and fruit trees. “Hello?” a voice interrupted Ava’s reverie. She turned her head to greet an elderly woman. “Hello, Ms Hampton. I’m Ava Hayes. I hope you’re expecting me today,” Ava said smiling. “Yes of course. I’ve been looking forward to it. Please, have a seat. May I call you Ava?” The old woman, already sitting herself, gestured to the seat at her left. “Thank you. Yes, please call me Ava, Ms Hampton. You have a truly beautiful home!” Ava said looking once more around the stunning garden. “Thank you very much. I pay people a lot of money to maintain it so I can hear people say that. And you must call me Christine,” the elderly woman said as Ava laughed, already feeling at ease in the old lady’s company. “Thank you Ms … I mean, Christine. If it’s okay with you, I would like to get started with the questions immediately,” Ava suggested. “Of course, why else are you here?” Christine said, kindly.

“So, you were a patient at the Armitage Mental Asylum,” Ava looked at the woman’s face to gauge her reaction to the words mental asylum, but Christine didn’t flinch. “Between what years were you a patient there?” Ava turned on her recording device and balanced her pad of paper on her lap, her pen in her hand, ready to write. “I was admitted to the Armitage Mental Asylum in 1972. I was eighteen at the time, and I was discharged in 1979 when I was twenty-five.” Ava wrote down notes as the woman explained. “Okay, and why were you initially admitted to the hospital?” Ava asked, her full attention on Christine. “I got married on my eighteenth birthday to a twenty-four-year-old man. I was young and naive, and believed myself to be in love. After a few months of marriage, we started fighting. He was sick of me, but he didn’t want the hassle of divorce. He didn’t want to jeopardize his reputation. So, one day, he dragged me into his car. He drove to the hospital and forced me into the building.” Ava wrote quickly, trying to show no emotional reaction to the woman’s story, trying to remain as unbiased as possible. “Where were you living at the time?” the journalist asked. “I was living in East Tawas. It’s a very quintessential town, a few hours from the hospital,” Christine went on. “I wasn’t an educated girl, my mother and father were factory workers, so when I came home and told them I was going to marry a rich man, they were thrilled,” the woman laughed sadly. Ava’s pen moved rapidly, making notes. “What was this man like?” Ava asked. “I now know that he was what is called a narcissist. He was his own hero who thought only of his own pleasure. The only reason he was rich was because he inherited wealth from his father. I should never have married him, but of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing,” she sighed. Ava looked up at Christine, imagining how difficult it must have been for her as a young woman in the prime of her life, discovering the mistake she had made in marrying the wrong type of man. Ava took a breath and continued. “So, you were trapped in that building for seven years. Can you describe the things that you saw? Or that you went through yourself?” Ava tried to make her tone as calm and neutral as possible. Christine’s expression had become sad and downcast as she recalled those days. “My first day, the day my own husband dragged me in a straitjacket into the building was terrible,” the old woman closed her eyes as she remembered. “Two large men, nurses, picked me up, while I was yelling at my husband. They carried me upstairs to the second floor, into a cold, dark, damp room. They stripped me of my clothes. I remember I was wearing a beautiful dress; it was purple. Those men stripped me naked. I was terrified, I thought they were going to rape me, but they threw me against a metal cage.” Ava realised she knew exactly what this poor woman was talking about. “One of them picked up a large hose and aimed it at me, while the other turned the water on. I never knew how something that was so delicate, and peaceful, like water, could bruise one’s flesh. If it hit my head, it would have been like being hit in the face with a hammer. That’s what it felt like on the rest of my body.” Ava was transfixed by Christine’s story, and thankful that she had the tape recording her words. “They put me in a gown and threw me in a room on my own. I was in there for nine days, with very basic food and water. This was my introduction, they said. This was to calm me down before I was put with the rest of the inmates. The patients terrified me; there were men who would grab me, some of the people would scream, hit their heads against the walls. I saw a man rip his own teeth out, I saw young children cowering.” Christine’s eyes gazed out over the soothing green of the garden, but Ava could tell she was not seeing the flowers and trees in front of her. She was reliving and viewing those terrifying days at the Asylum. “Did the staff do anything about that behaviour? About the patients hurting themselves?” Ava asked. “They said that ignoring the cries for attention was part of their therapy.” Ava wrote that down in her pad. “In reality, they had no idea what to do. The only qualified people in the building were doctors, and they were violent, evil and few in number. They were more insane than the serial-killers that they claimed to be helping. All they were doing was injecting them with drugs and feeding them pills like it was cereal, to tranquilize them.” Ava looked up at Christine, wanting to focus on the words she was saying. “Can you describe the treatment that the patients received from staff?” Ava asked. “Treatment isn’t a word I would use. Brutality describes it better. Patients were beaten, abused. They were used as test subjects. When they misbehaved, they were chained to their beds and injected with so much morphine some of them choked on their own vomit.”

Ava sat wide-eyed, shocked at what she was hearing. “Some of the women were assaulted by the male staff,” Christine continued, becoming particularly upset at the memory of those abuses. “Many patients died, and the hospital was so very good at covering everything up.” This surprised Ava. “What did they do with the bodies?” she asked. “There were rumors amongst the patients that there was a cemetery in the woods that surrounded the grounds,” Christine whispered, as though she was afraid someone would hear her. “But wouldn’t someone see? Did nobody report the deaths?” Ava gently asked, leaning in. “There were also rumors that there was a tunnel, a hidden one. Many other mental hospitals around the world had them, they’re known as the death tunnels, through which bodies could be transported from the facility to a cemetery.” Ava gasped as something clicked in her brain.

“When I went for a walk around the building, there was a trap door at the back. It wouldn’t open.” Ava said with excitement. “It could be it. Of course, they were just rumors. Patients needed something to talk about,” Christine’s tone turned melancholy. “I made friends with a few people there. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the inmates were truly insane. There were murderers, pedophiles and people with all kinds of mental problems. There were also people who were simply unwanted, discarded by society. I met one man in fact who had admitted himself because he was homeless. He had no wife, no children, no family, he had no-one.” Ava’s eyes were full of concern as she looked at Christine. “I asked him why would you want to be in a place like this? He looked at me, and with a tear falling down his face, he said I have nowhere. This is the worst place in the world, but I get food, and I have a roof over my head.” Ava was shocked by such a pitiful story. “What was the food like, Christine?” she asked. “Disgusting. And not enough. There were times there was not enough food to go around. There was a lot of porridge and bread, soup sometimes, food that could be purchased cheaply and in large quantities. A lot of the people were too sick, too weak to eat. There were too many patients, and the staff lacked any empathy to really care about their charges.” Christine waved her hand around, dismissive of the staff. “Were there any good nurses? Anyone that treated you well, made sure you were okay?” Ava asked, hoping to hear a positive memory. “Of course. Very few of course, they came and went. Most of the nurses only stayed for a few months. Some lasted a couple of years before moving onto bigger, more advanced hospitals, in Detroit for example.” Ava took note of this. “One nurse, I will never forget, Rosie, was so kind to me. We had many great conversations. She brought me food from her own kitchen and reminded me that I was a person with a soul, and I was important. You see, when you’re trapped in a place like the Armitage, you lose yourself. You lose the notion that you’re a human being with rights, even though they were stripped of you the second you walked through the front door,” the woman snapped her fingers. “So, they did in fact know that you weren’t mentally ill?” Ava questioned. “Of course, they knew! Half the people in there were fine, they were simply unwanted. The thing is, for women, it was very different back in those days. I’m not sure what it’s like now,” Christine looked at Ava. “We women were men’s property, we were trophies, at our husband’s beck and call. On paper, we did technically have some rights, but in the eyes of men, we were simply a lesser person, if we were considered at all.” Ava took a deep breath, imagining how terrible that feeling of entrapment must have been.

“So, how did you eventually get out? You were only twenty-five when you were discharged,” Ava said. “Well, there were a few inmates who had relatives who still cared about them, and we were allowed visitors at times. They were so corrupt and secretive; the visitors weren’t allowed inside the building in case they saw what was really going on in there. We had to stand on the patio, with a male nurse watching us, listening to our conversations. Censoring us.” Ava took more notes. “My beloved husband,” Christine continued sarcastically, “visited no more than twice a month when it suited him. Each time I would beg him to let me see my parents, but he had convinced them that I was so insane, so ill, that it was best not to see me. After the first six months, I knew that I wasn’t going to see my parents. Protesting wasn’t going to help. I had to swallow my pride.” Ava leant closer in, interested to hear this woman’s memories. “Each time he saw me, I would apologize profusely and pretend that I loved him with all of my heart. I had to persuade him, for seven years, that I would obey his every order if he let me out, that I would please him, that I would bear his children, that I would be the best wife in the world.” Ava sighed and frowned, angry at what this poor woman had to go through. “Eventually he let me out. He took me home; I saw my parents for the first time in years; they knew that I wasn’t crazy. They hatched an escape plan to get me to my aunt who lived in Bloomington, Indiana, as I would remain in danger if I stayed with my husband. In the middle of the night, I escaped. I never spoke to that man again. I don’t know what happened to him, but I hope he died, a slow, painful death for what he did to me. I hope he was in constant agony and fear, for seven years.” Ava was spellbound by Christine’s story, almost forgetting that she was there as a journalist. The two sat in silence for a few minutes, and Ava collected her thoughts again. Gently she asked, “So, what about your daughter? When did she come into the picture?” Ava asked, “I moved to Lansing when I was twenty-eight, I met a man, a real man, we got married, we had beautiful Christine. He passed away ten years ago,” Christine explained. “I’m so sorry to hear that,” Ava said. “It’s alright, dear. It was a long time ago. I wonder if I may ask a question of you?” Christine asked. “Of course, please ask me anything.” “When I escaped to Indiana, I had to hide my true identity and change my name. I couldn’t risk being located by my abusive husband. I am curious to know how you managed to find me?” Christine asked. “Well, you see, I’ve been doing a lot of research into the Asylum at the hospital itself, going through the original files that are all still there. I met a young girl there, her name’s Lillian, you met her obviously, and she-” “Wait, wait, what?” Christine’s eyes were wide with surprise and she looked ashen. “Lillian, she said that she knew you, and she gave me your name,” Ava said, confused by the woman’s strange reaction. “No, no, no, that’s not possible,” Christine insisted. “Lillian’s dead. I was her friend at the hospital, but she died 1973. So, who was it that gave you my name?” Ava leant back in her chair, shocked in her turn and not knowing how to respond. “Um, Ms Hampton, I’m not entirely sure what to tell you…” Ava stumbled on her words. She didn’t want to upset this woman, but Christine was visibly distressed. “Perhaps we’re speaking about two different people, Lillian is quite a common name,” the young journalist offered. “I’ve only met one girl named Lillian in my life. After I left Armitage, I purposely led a very closed life and limited socializing as much as I could,” Christine said. “But this girl I’m talking about is just twelve,” Ava said. The intense atmosphere was broken by Maria who came outside with a wooden tray holding a teapot, two china cups and saucers, and a plate of biscuits for the pair sitting out the back. “What does Lillian look like? Describe her to me,” Christine enquired as she leant forward in her chair. Maria tried to diffuse the situation. “Quiet down, dear, it’s alright. I made you your favorite tea. Have a sip, it’s cooled down by now.” The nurse poured the fragrant tea for Christine and handed her a cup and saucer. Christine took a deep breath, closed her eyes and visibly became calmer. When Maria handed Ava’s cup to her, she quietly whispered, “She gets a little bit confused at times.” Ava nodded quietly at the nurse, while secretly thinking that Christine’s memories seemed crystal clear. They drank their tea in companionable silence, each woman deep in her own thoughts. Ava decided to recommence her interview on another topic, hopefully staying away from anything that might upset Christine and cause confusion and pained memories. “I was really surprised to discover that all the patient files were left behind in the hospital, in the basement. I’ve read many of them, but strangely, I haven’t found any records of the nurses or doctors or any other staff member. Would you have any idea as to why that would be the case?” Ava switched on her recording device and readied her pen in her hand again. “I’m not surprised you haven’t found any staff files,” said Christine. “They may have kept records when the Asylum was in its hey-day, but when it wound up they would have all been destroyed.” This puzzled Ava. “Why would they have been destroyed?” she asked. “The Asylum shut down because the public were becoming suspicious. Dreadful stories of mismanagement and abuse were getting out. The truth was there were too many patients and not enough qualified staff, so in the end it was every person for themselves. The best course of action for the staff was to run and hide. I suppose they destroyed their own files to hide any evidence of who worked there, and perhaps they just ran out of time to destroy the patient files.” Ava jotted the information down, underlining it with thick ink. “Up until the day it closed, I was terrified of that place. I was scared that if I tried to speak up about my experiences that ’they’ would catch me and put me back in there. It was very selfish of me, I suppose. My voice, my stories could have shut that hellish Asylum down decades earlier. I could have helped people.” It was clear that Christine felt hugely guilty and sorrowful at what she considered her lack of action. “You see, I had to let go of everything when I left. Now I realize that if I had spoken up or gone to the authorities to expose the place, it might have helped others. But in reality, it probably wouldn’t have. It would have been my word against the professionals in authority. Who does one believe? The doctor or the patient?” Christine spread her hands out to imitate a scale. “I actually managed to find one of the nurses, a male nurse, after the hospital had closed down. It took a lot of research.” Ava looked up in surprise. “Who is he?” she asked, intrigued. “Well, when he was a nurse working at the hospital, he was Hutchison, Joseph Hutchison.” Ava wrote the name down. “After the place closed, he changed his name.” Ava picked up her cup of tea and took a sip. “He changed his whole identity, but he was only a young man at the hospital when I was there, so I presume he is still alive,” Christine said. “What is his new name? I may be able to find him,” Ava said. “His new name is Johnathon Nikita.”

The journalist choked on her tea, she dropped the china cup and it shattered on the floor. “I’m sorry, what did you say?” Ava asked in a whisper. “His name now is John Nikita,” Christine repeated. Ava sat frozen in her chair. “No, no, no, that’s not possible. How do you know?” Ava asked. “It took months of tracking, researching. He completely changed his identity when the Armitage closed.” Ava had stopped breathing, trying to absorb what she’d heard. “May I use your bathroom?” Ava asked, standing up. “Of course. Turn right, it’s the last door on the left.” Ava excused herself as she entered the house. She passed Maria carrying folded towels from the laundry. “Are you alright?” asked Maria with concern at seeing Ava’s ashen face. “I’m fine, I’m fine, I need… to go to the bathroom,” she responded awkwardly. Ava followed the corridor to the bathroom, closed the door and locked it. She collapsed onto the toilet seat and leant back with her eyes closed, trying to grasp what she had just been told. This can’t be right, surely, she repeated in her head over and over again. It’s not possible, why wouldn’t he mention it? Why did he change his name? Ava’s head was spinning with a million questions. She reached into her pocket for her mobile phone, found Kate’s contact number and was about to call. Just before tapping her thumb on the screen she stopped; Christine might be confused; she might be lying. The name ‘Hutchison’ was fairly common. If it was true, perhaps it was nobody else’s business.

Ava took a deep breath and put her phone away. She splashed her face and neck with water before leaving the bathroom and returning to the back deck. “Excuse me, Christine. I’m so sorry for my reaction,” Ava said as she sat down again. “No, no it’s fine. When you need to go, you need to go,” Christine laughed. “So, I just wanted to pick up on something you said. Could you tell me how your research led to the name John Nikita?” the investigative journalist asked. “Well, I actually hired a private investigator. The man really went off the radar. He did what I did, started over. All I know now, is that he has a company of some sort in Detroit, actually, where you’re from!” Christine said. Ava remained outwardly calm and composed, not wanted to reveal her knowledge of the man. “Right, and um, do you know what company that is?” Ava asked, still quietly hoping there could be some mistake. “I’m not entirely sure, actually. After a while I became frightened, and let it go,” Christine seemed suddenly hesitant to continue with that topic, so Ava changed her questions. “So, this nurse Hutchison, what was he like?” Ava gripped her pen firmly in her hand, bracing herself for what Christine might say. “He was terrible. He was strange. All the patients were frightened of him, mainly because of his tall stature. He was very dominant in the hospital, and he worked there for many years.” Ava wanted to dig deeper. “Did he hit the patients?” she asked, nervous to hear the answer. “Yes. He beat many of the patients, he craved power, the fear of the inmates only exacerbated this.” Ava closed her eyes, trying to calm herself. “If you were to ever see him, or speak to him again, what would you say to him? Do you think you could ever reconcile? If he were to apologize and try to redeem himself after all these years?” Ava realised she was trying to defend John Nikita. She knew him to be a sometimes gruff, old-fashioned kind of man, a bit rough around the edges. But he had always been very supportive of her; Ava couldn’t imagine him hurting anyone. Then it hit her. Ava had a flash of memory from the time she hit her head, just before she fell into unconsciousness, she saw him. He was there, much younger. He hit a patient. No, no, no, it’s not possible. It’s just a coincidence, it’s not reality. Ava tried to gather her thoughts as Christine spoke. “I’m sorry, would you mind repeating that last part?” Ava asked. “I said I don’t know. It has been years since I saw him, and now he has an established business. I think I could only move on without forgiveness,” the old woman explained. “You haven’t moved on, Ms Hampton?” Ava asked. “Nobody, I mean nobody, no matter the amount of strength in their character, moves on from memories like the ones I have. They haunt you; they manage to stick to your everyday life.” Christine sipped her tea, and the two women sat quietly together for a few minutes, each in their own thoughts. “I think that’s enough for today, ma’am,” Ava stood up. “I want to say thank you so much for having me, for telling me your story. You have been very generous.” Ava shook the woman’s hand. “No, thank you dear. I haven’t spoken of that period in my life for such a long time.” Christine rose to accompany Ava to the front door. “If you need anything else from me, you have my daughter’s number. I’ll make sure she prioritizes you,” Christine kindly offered. “Thank you so much. In fact, before I go, can I ask you one last thing?” Christine nodded in response. “The young girl, Lillian; what can you tell me about her?” Ava asked. “Well, she was just ten years old when she was admitted. And also…” Christine gathered herself, as if about to reveal something terrible. “She had a baby in the hospital. She was twelve when this happened.” Ava didn’t know how to respond. She was speechless at the news. “What? Twelve? Who was the father?” Ava gasped. “I don’t know. She trusted nobody, so she told nobody.”

Ava’s journey back to Detroit was spent in a swirl of confused emotions. She barely noticed the rain pelting against the windows of the train or the ominous black clouds scudding across the sky. Her thoughts were on a continuous loop – Christine was adamant that Lillian was dead, indeed had died forty-five years ago. But Maria said Christine was often confused. Ghosts don’t exist, scientifically they can’t exist, they can’t defy the laws of physics. After her father died, young Ava believed in ghosts, she wanted to believe in ghosts. Every night she would walk around the house asking her father to appear to her. Ava pictured the memory in her head; the house was silent, her mother and sister sound asleep in their beds. “Dad? Are you here?” After many months Ava’s mother discovered what she was doing. “Your father is gone, okay? He’s at peace now, and he can’t come back,” she tried to explain to her daughter as the tears streamed down her face. While Ava no longer got out of bed, hunting for her father, she lay awake stretching her mind out, mentally imploring, “Dad?” but the answer was always … nothing. Shaking herself out of her memories, Ava reminded herself that she had to deal with the here and now. She had to focus on what was tangible and the new information she’d gained from her meeting with Christine, that John Nikita, her boss, was a nurse at the Armitage Mental Asylum.

A huge clap of thunder sounded as she closed the front door to her house, but Ava hardly noticed it. Throwing her things on the ground by the coat rack, Ava snatched her laptop from the kitchen bench and sat down on her couch. She searched the entire internet for John Nikita, but only websites and articles came up, all about his newspaper company and his success in local business, all of which Ava already knew. There was nothing of his past. She then searched for Joseph Hutchison. She found nothing, not a single thing. Ava scoured all public records websites that were available, searching up old staff inquiries from the Armitage Mental Asylum, but still, nothing came up. The journalist closed her laptop with disappointment. She knew what she had to do, but the thought of it was all too unnerving. She would never be able to think of her boss the same way again. The next day as she entered his office, hopefully not for the last time, she would have to confront John Nikita. Ava had to think of something to say, she had to figure out the right way to approach her boss.

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