Case, Armitage

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Chapter Fifteen

Ava found it hard to sleep over the following two nights. There was too much to think about, and she was too worried about having a vision with Lillian in it. Monday finally arrived and Ava left home twenty minutes earlier than usual, anxious to reach the asylum, while also not allowing herself enough time to back out. The minute she hit the highway, there was no turning back. Low clouds covered the entire sky, no sunshine peaked through. It was as though the world was frozen in time. What do I say to her? Ava thought. How on earth does someone approach this? In all honesty, she had no plan. How does one say to someone, I know that you’ve been dead for forty-five years? Another pressing question dawned on Ava as drove down the endless highway, how will she react? Will she run and hide? Will she deny it? The young woman glanced to the passenger seat to her right. Inside her handbag was Ava’s only piece of evidence.

So many things added up in Ava’s head; all those visions, those dreams she had of Lillian, they must have been real. What’s to say that they weren’t? Everything that Lillian had told Ava were true, everything that she knew about her checked out. The fact that she didn’t want to be recorded, she acted strangely when asked about her family and her home life, and why she was roaming through a mental hospital in the middle of the night. The excuse of walking her dog simply wasn’t enough. Further terrible thoughts ran through Ava’s mind - was Lillian admitted to the hospital by a family member who didn’t want her? Was she dragged into the building, kicking and screaming like Casey Lehin? Ava realized something else. Lillian had been there; she was friends with Casey, and all the names that she gave, the ones that Ava thought were just made up, they were real people. Ava turned left off the freeway and drove along the mazes of empty, dirt roads. The closer she got to the Asylum, the worse the butterflies grew in Ava’s belly. A sense of danger was growing inside her, what was this girl capable of? Scenes from ghost movies flooded back from Ava’s memory, but she shook herself out of it. This young girl, Lillian, seemed so harmless, so gentle. How could Ava be afraid of someone like that? Someone who had been nothing but kind and helpful to her. Perhaps it was time to return that favor. Ava took a deep breath as she approached the large arched gateway. It scared her more than usual as her car passed through it, as though she was passing into a realm of desolation. The looming dead trees lined the road, guiding Ava’s car to the towering Armitage Mental Asylum.

Ava parked her car in such a position that would make for a quick getaway if she needed it. She stepped out of the car; her handbag was clutched to her chest as she stared up at the building. It looked just as sad, as trapped and as angry as it was the first time she set eyes on it. The thought of turning around and driving away appealed to Ava, but she forced her feet to propel her towards the front door. Ava’s footsteps make a soft sound on the concrete steps of the entrance; she took the old-fashioned key from her coat pocket, slowly twisting it as the door clicked and groaned open. Once again, Ava found herself looking into the large empty space, more fearful than usual. She could feel herself sweating and her hands were shaking. “Lillian?” her voice echoed through the space. “Lillian!” she raised her voice slightly, looking around as if worried she would disturb someone.

No answer.

Ava turned right and walked down to the dining hall, all her senses on high alert for the slightest movement. The desk she had set up was in the same position as she’s left it, a chair on each side. She sat down, her back straight and her feet firmly planted on the floor, uncomfortable and ready to react to anything at any time. Silence. Nothing. Ava looked over to the far back corner, where she saw Lillian standing and staring through the window, watching the wind blow the tree branches in all directions. She stood up and approached the window; her car was in view, the line of trees stretched behind the vehicle and the dirt road lead off to the left. Ava sighed, imagining all the patients that would have stared out of this window, wondering if they would ever be let out into the real world again. “Weird isn’t it?” After the silence, Lillian’s words gave Ava a jolt and she jumped in fright. Composing herself, and making every effort to conceal her nerves, Ava tried to act as naturally as possible. “Lillian, hello,” she said. “How have you been?” Ava tried to come across as unafraid, like everything was normal. “I’m fine, I guess. I’m glad you came back.” Lillian walked over and sat down on her chair by the table. “Of course, I would. Why are you glad I came back?” the journalist made her way over to the table. “You made a promise. I like it when people make promises, only when they keep them though,” Lillian smiled somewhat sadly. Ava stared at the young girl. Now that Lillian was here in front of her, she considered backing out, pretending as though nothing ever happened. I can’t do this, she said to herself as nerves set in and Ava started to question her decision. But then she remembered; what if she was Lillian’s last hope? But how could she possibly be able to set her free? “Ava, are you okay?” Lillian grabbed her friend’s attention. Ava looked into her eyes, hazel eyes, upturned, angelic, innocent eyes. “I-I’m fine,” she stammered, knowing how unconvincing she sounded. “What did I tell you? I know when someone is feeling down. You have many talents, but you’re not a good liar,” Lillian reached out and tapped the other side of the table, gesturing to Ava to come and sit with her. The young journalist took a deep breath. This is it.

“Actually, you’re right. There’s something I need to speak to you about,” Ava started, reluctantly. “You see, I saw Christine the other day, and she told me some things about life here. At first I took everything with a grain of salt, keeping in mind how long ago it was that she was here -” “I know, she can get a little bit confused sometimes, but once you get to know her, she’s a darling person,” Lillian sat up in her seat, excited to speak to Ava. This only made things more difficult. “I-I don’t know how to break this to you, okay? After I spoke to Christine, I also met up with Linda, the new owner of the property. And … she told me some things, that again, at first I thought were… crazy,” Ava said. Lillian was becoming uncomfortable but tried to hide her emotions. “What do you mean? What exactly did she say?” the young child asked. Ava opened her mouth, but no words came out, she felt at a loss as to how to continue. Lillian’s eyes began to turn red and she started to tear up. “Ava … what exactly did she tell you?” the young girl whispered, a tear falling down her cheek. Ava couldn’t answer. She felt that Lillian knew, but it did not make it any easier to say the words. Ava slowly reached into her handbag. She felt for the thick paper of the manilla folder, and slowly and gently pulled it out. As soon as Lillian’s eyes saw the faded yellowed color of the pages, she knew what was coming. She squeezed her eyes shut, as more tears fell and rolled down her cheeks. Ava placed the folder on the table, sliding it into the centre. Lillian stared at it for a moment, she was trembling and sniffled back her tears before looking up at Ava. The young woman felt a lump in her throat and her own tears began to form as she looked back into Lillian’s eyes. “It’s-” Ava tried to find the right thing to say. But she didn’t need to, it was too difficult to get any words out to explain herself. “It’s okay,” the journalist whispered instead. Lillian’s shoulders slumped in a combination of relief and despair. She slowly reached over to the folder and traced her hand across its surface, as if absorbing it. Ava sat as still and quiet as she could, allowing Lillian to take her time. She slowly opened the cover and turned the first page. She sobbed out loud, as her tears fell freely down her face as she read. The young girl pointed to it. “It’s me,” she said. “Yes, sweetheart, it’s you,” Ava whispered gently.

Lillian closed the folder, unwilling at the moment to read the remaining pages. She sat in her chair, numbed, gazing into the distance but unfocussed. Ava searched for something to say. “Lillian, w-why didn’t you tell me?” she asked quietly. The young girl looked up, her eyes red and swollen. “How on earth could I have told you? I wanted to, I really did,” she whispered. “Lillian, when I have visions of this place, dreams with you in them, is that really you?” Lillian wiped her nose and nodded her head. “A while ago you said something to me in Latin. What was it? What did you tell me?” Ava asked, unable to recall the exact details. “Esse quam videri,” Lillian responded, fewer tears running down her face. “Lillian, what does that mean?” Ava asked. “To be, rather than to appear,” Lillian said. Ava tried to solve this riddle in her head. “Phillip taught me Latin,” Lillian said, recalling her past. “You told me about Phillip, and how he died but…” Ava tried to get the young girl’s full attention. “Linda told me something. She said that you asked him to help you; what did you need his help for?” Lillian didn’t respond. Silence stretched between the two, while Lillian struggled with herself. “Lillian,” Ava said. “You can tell me. I promise, I’m here for you, and I’m going to do whatever I can to help you,” tears fell down her face, as she realised the amount of pain this young girl was going through. “I needed him,” Lillian began to sob again. “I needed him to set me free. I needed him to let me move on. But I asked the wrong person. And now he’s dead because of me,” Lillian said, remorsefully. “It is not your fault; do you understand me?” Ava said firmly but gently. She watched the young girl, unsure how to help her. “Why can’t you let go? Why can’t you move on?” Ava asked. “I don’t know. I’m tied down to this place,” Lillian gestured around the room. “I’ve been stuck here, in pain for years,” she said. “Reliving the same thing, night after night, after night. When I was little, I read ghost books, about spirits that harmed people, that could manipulate people and move objects around,” Lillian said. “But I have no power. I died, and I have control over nothing,” she said sadly. “Lillian, I know that you had a baby,” Ava said. “What happened to your baby?” Lillian’s manner changed, from sad and distraught to distraught and angry. “They took him from me!” she whispered with a growl. Ava leant back, worried about the young girl. “It says here,” Ava pointed at the folder, “that your baby died shortly after you gave birth,” she said. “No,” Lillian shook her head, adamant. “They came in, and they took him from me. They ripped my baby boy from my arms, and they sent him away.” Ava was confused, why would the file lie? “The other folders that you’ve read, that you’ve written down for your project,” Lillian tilted her head slightly down but raised her eyes up to Ava. “They’re not real,” she said. “What do you mean?” she asked. “Those files. They’re all fake. This place wasn’t a hospital. It was a place of pain and torture. The files are locked away, along with everything else,” the young girl said. Ava sat up attentively. “Where are they? You must know where they are, right?” Ava leant closer across the table. “I can’t tell you,” Lillian shook her head. “Why not, Lillian?” the journalist questioned her. “I just can’t. I have no control. I have no control over myself and I can’t say anything,” the young girl looked down and squeezed her eyes shut. “I was trapped in this place for three years. I thought that if I died, I could either belong to me again or not exist at all. Forty-five years later, I’m still the possession of something that I can’t explain. For forty-five years I haven’t eaten, and I can’t take a deep breath. All I can do now, is wait for something but I don’t know what I’m waiting for,” the young girl started to choke up again.

Ava sat still, silent, not knowing what to say. She thought of all of the visions she’d had; of all the things she’d seen. “Can you tell me what happened to you? Who brought you here? Where is your family?” “I can’t,” Lillian said. “Why not? You were able to tell me Casey Lenin’s story.” Lillian shook her head violently in disagreement. “I can’t tell you anything, I don’t know why, but I just can’t,” the young girl responded, becoming upset. A sudden thought occurred to Ava, hitting her with such force. “Wait, wait … on the night I hit my head, the night you found me in the basement, everything I saw after that was real?” Ava asked. A part of her did not want to know the truth she suspected, as it would prove something she didn’t want to be true. “Yes. In the dark, this place’s stories come out. It becomes dangerous,” Lillian said. Oh my god, Ava thought to herself. “Mr Nikita,” she said aloud. “What?” Lillian asked. Ava turned to the young girl, hesitant to tell her what she was thinking in case it triggered further terrible memories. “Lillian, while you were here, was there a male nurse you knew by the name of Joseph Hutchison?” Ava bit her lip, preparing for the young girl’s reaction. Lillian looked up, her face a mask, a blank expression across her face. “You knew him, didn’t you?” Ava pressed her. “How do you know that man?” Lillian asked. “He’s my … boss,” the journalist responded carefully. They stared at each other, not knowing what to say. “Why do you work for a man like that?” Lillian hissed, a disgusted tone in her voice. Ava thought carefully before answering, not wanting to say anything that might make Lillian more upset. “He hired me; I work at his company. He sent me to work here,” she responded. “Lillian, what did he do?” Ava asked. The girl didn’t respond straight away. “What didn’t he do?” Lillian muttered. “There has to be a file on him somewhere, on any staff member, where are they?” Ava asked, urgency in her voice. “No. There aren’t any staff files here, they’re all gone.” Ava sat back in her chair as Lillian said this, staring at the folder on the table between them. A surge of hatred for her boss swept over her. I have no evidence about this man, but I need to find some, she thought. “He’s a criminal Lillian, he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with what happened here,” Ava said.

The pair sat at the table silently, a thousand thoughts swirled through Ava’s head. “Lillian, I’m sorry. I don’t know how to help you,” she said regretfully. “You do. You just don’t know it yet,” Lillian responded. “How do you know?” the young journalist asked. “I know things, okay?” the girl said. “Did you ever find out what happened to your baby?” Ava asked, knowing that the topic was delicate. “He died,” Lillian responded making air quotations. Then it hit Ava; “What if I found him?” she suggested. “How on earth could you find him? The staff did all in their power to cover everything up,” Lillian responded, not an ounce of hope in her voice. “I don’t know how I would do it, but I will try,” said Ava. “As far as the world knows, this baby appeared out of thin air. His story might be that his mother hated him, didn’t love him. I did everything to protect him, I fought for seven hours when they came to take him away; I ran, I hid, I kicked and screamed. Unfortunately, in the end, my energy was no match for a baseball bat,” Lillian said. Ava stared at the young girl, empathy in her eyes. “You and I both know that the likelihood of me finding him is pretty small. But I have to try,” Ava insisted, trying to console Lillian. “Let me ask you, when I have visions and dreams about you, how do you manage to find me then?” she asked. “I didn’t have to try, I was just in your head, because I know who you are,” Lillian replied.

Ava thought for a minute. She realized. “I had a dream, it must have been the night before I had my first day here, I had a dream that I saw … I saw my dad.” Ava forced the tightness in her throat to disappear. “He was underneath the building somehow, and he was singing a song. He used to sing it to me when I was a kid. Did you do that? Did you know about him?” Ava asked. Lillian shook her head. Perhaps some dreams are merely just dreams.

“Lillian, I need to go. I have a lot of things to think about and plan. But I’m going to be back soon,” Ava stood up and reached for her bag. “Do you promise?” asked Lillian as she stood. “I promise,” Ava looked the girl directly in the eyes. “Is it okay if I take this with me?” she asked, glancing at the file on the table. “Yes, of course,” Lillian said. Ava drove away, glancing back at the building in the rearview mirror, and considering what her course of action would be next. On the drive back to Detroit, Ava replayed in her mind her conversation with Lillian. She realised that, despite her initial anxiety, she hadn’t been afraid.

She felt no fear when she spoke to Lillian, just sadness and compassion. How could one feel anything but sympathy for someone who had been trapped and in pain for forty-eight years? The thought occurred to Ava that she knew nothing about the girl’s life before her admission into the Asylum; for all she knew, she might have been in anguish for fifty-eight years.

As she turned into her street, Ava was surprised but so happy to see her friend Kate’s car in her driveway. She was grateful to Kate for looking out for her. Ava parked her car and walked slowly to the door, physically exhausted and mentally drained, thousands of emotions running through her head. Kate opened the door; “Are you okay?” Kate asked. Ava burst into tears. The pent-up anxiety and emotions of the day spilling out, as she hugged her friend. Ava slept heavily that night, untroubled by any dreams or visions. She awoke in the morning to find breakfast prepared for her – a plate of eggs and bacon on toast, with a glass of orange juice and a steaming cup of strong coffee. “Oh Kate, thank you so much!” Ava exclaimed as she sat up in bed. “Don’t fuss, it’s my pleasure. I knew you would have had a rough day yesterday,” Kate said, sitting on the end of Ava’s bed and crossing her legs. “Speaking of …” she said, “Do you want to tell me what happened?” Ava took a large gulp of coffee before answering. She knew she’d have to give Kate all the details. “This time, you’re seriously going to think that I’m crazy,” Ava laughed as she started on her eggs. “Ava, come on, let’s just skip the part where I convince and beg you to tell me what happened,” Kate lowered her head and raised her eyebrows at her friend. “Okay,” Ava gathered herself. “Ok, you were there when Linda emailed me, she said it was an emergency. I met up with her, and she told me some crazy things,” Ava started. “You know of the girl that I’ve met and become fairly close with, at the Armitage - Lillian. Well … she’s been dead for forty-five years,” Ava looked at her friend, searching for a reaction, but Kate sat there, a blank expression across her face. “What?” she finally said. “Lillian was a patient at the Armitage, but she died a long time ago,” Ava’s heart was racing as she spoke. “You’re telling me you’re talking to a ghost?” Kate questioned in disbelief. “Yes,” A silence fell between the two. Suddenly, Kate burst out laughing, clutching her stomach, and gasping for air. Ava grew increasingly annoyed at her friend. “Okay,” Ava moved her breakfast tray and got out of bed. ’I’ve been laughed at like I’m a fool first thing in the morning. Better go to work now,” Ava said, offended by her friend’s reaction. “Stop, stop, Ava. I’m sorry, okay?” Kate grabbed her friend’s arm. “But come on, you have to admit that this is way too far-fetched. You can’t possibly believe this woman! She lives in a mental hospital for god’s sake!” Kate exclaimed. “There are things that have been going on, things that I can’t even begin to explain. But Lillian died in 1973, and she’s trapped here, and I need to find a way to help her let go, help her to be free,” Ava said, still miffed at her friend’s reaction. “Ava … ghosts? This can’t be real, and you know it,” Kate started. “It would take me twenty years to explain, okay? But look,” Ava grabbed her handbag from the hallway table, retrieving the file from her bag. She handed it to Kate who reads the first page. “Okay, that’s weird. But this could be anyone’s file,” Kate said skeptically. “I know, okay? I know. I know that this is completely crazy! I feel crazy just talking about it, but this is real. And as a matter of fact, I need your help.” Ava snatched the file from Kate’s hands. “Okay, what do you need?” her friend asked. “This girl, Lillian … as it says in her file, which she admitted is fake, she had a baby. At the age of twelve. The file says that the baby died but that’s a lie. Lillian told me that he was taken from her, grabbed right out of her arms,” Ava said. “So, the baby could have died, or been murdered. That’s probably what the file means,” Kate said. “No, you don’t understand. All of the files are fake; the only real things about them are the patient’s names and basic information; it’s a set up.” Kate gave her friend a strange look as she spoke. “Again, I know it’s crazy, but I need you to do whatever you can to find this baby, dead or alive,” Ava said as she put the egg carton and bacon packet back into the refrigerator. “Okay, I’ll give it my best shot. What full-proof information do you have?” Kate asked. “All I know is that the baby was born in the February of 1962,” Ava said, realizing even more that the chances of finding this child were very remote.

Ava and Kate went to work in their separate cars; the traffic was worse than usual, making them fifteen minutes late to work. As Ava entered the building, she kept a sharp lookout for Mr Nikita. As much as she wanted to confront him, tell him she knew he was a liar and a criminal, she knew she had to keep her cool until the time was right. “Why are you so stressed?” Kate asked from her desk. “It’s just that … I’ve confirmed it; Mr Nikita was a male nurse at the Armitage,” Ava said. “Okay, so what?” her friend asked. “He was violent, he beat the patients, he’s a criminal!” Ava exclaimed. “Okay, well don’t get too hot over it, okay? There’s no evidence to support your claims.” Ava gave her friend a disappointing look before turning back to her computer. She continued to write up some long-overdue reports in a desperate attempt to distract herself. But she couldn’t completely stop the thoughts which began to rage in her head; anger towards her boss, the thought of an innocent child like Lillian going through such pain at the hands of male nurses like him, how other patients feared him. Ava came to a decision; at lunchtime, I’m going to confront him. Ava decided not to tell Kate just yet, as she was fairly certain she would advise her against it. She could understand why however, but she was determined to face Mr Nikita.

At twelve thirty Ava’s heart started pounding and pumping adrenaline through her body, the back of her neck prickling at the thought of confronting her boss. She stood up from her desk and strode to her boss’s office. She felt she had all the evidence she needed. Not only did two ex-patients confirm this, but the way the man reacted when Ava said the name Joseph Hutchison was all too obvious. Knock, knock, knock. “Come in!” Ava entered the room, instantly noticing by her boss’s body language that he wasn’t happy to see her, due, she was certain, to their recent conversation. “Ava, I was just about to have my lunch,” the man said. “Don’t worry sir, this won’t take long,” Ava sat down, not waiting to be invited by her boss. “Mr Nikita, I’ll get straight to the point.” The man stared at Ava impatiently. “I know that you worked at the asylum. I know that you hurt a lot of people, and I know that your name was … is Joseph Hutchison.” Ava couldn’t believe her own words, she’d never spoke like this to anyone before, had never been so antagonistic. “Ava,” the man buried his head in his hands briefly before looking back up at his employee. “We’ve had this conversation before. You are accusing me of criminal activity, and that won’t look good on future references,” A sense of confidence, fearlessness washed over the young woman. “And besides, even if it was true, which of course it isn’t, it was over thirty years ago, it doesn’t matter now. I’m a new man - I mean I would be a new man,” Mr Nikita said. “Your words don’t match your mind, Mr Nikita,” Ava was shocked at the words coming out of her own mouth. “Ms Hayes, I believe this project is having a negative effect on you. I have the means to remove you from you station, I…” The man trailed off as his voice faded from Ava’s ears, her focus was redirected to a sight, a vision in her head. It was Lillian, standing by the table in the dining area at the Armitage Asylum. Ava looked at her. Lillian smiled back, and in Ava’s thoughts she spoke. “You hurt many people, Hutchison,” Lillian said. “You hurt many people, Hutchison,” Ava repeated. The man looked up. “What did you say?” he said with disgust. “Ava, my opinion of you has changed greatly in the last while…” Mr Nikita’s voice drifted away again as Lillian again spoke to Ava. “Nurse A221,” Lillian said. “Nurse A221,” Ava repeated, interrupting the man. “Ms Hayes, leave my office, you’re not thinking straight, I will talk to you when you’re capable of sharing in an adult conversation-” “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Lillian said in Ava’s thoughts. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Ava repeated. Fear began to gnaw at her, why are my thoughts scaring him? “Is that a threat?” the man hissed. “I have evidence. You wouldn’t want that dug up would you?” Lillian said. “I have evidence. You wouldn’t want that dug up again, would you?” Ava repeated, smiling. “Proof? What proof?” Mr Nikita’s tone turned to an angry panic. “I have your file.” Ava gasped as she heard this from Lillian. “I have your file,” Ava reiterated, awkwardly. “What file?” the man demanded. “I think you know what I’m talking about,” Lillian responded, “I think you know what I’m talking about.” Mr Nikita’s mood changed from panic and anger to pure fear. His mouth hung open, but no words managed to come out. “That’s not possible,” Mr Nikita loudly whispered. ’Why not, sir? Is there something you want to tell me?” Ava asked with sarcasm. “They destroyed all the files,” he said, shifting uncomfortably in his chair. “No, no, no, they hid them. I have them,” Lillian said in Ava’s thoughts. “No, they hid them. I have them,” Ava repeated.

Silence fell in the office. Mr Nikita was visibly angry, uncomfortable, and confused. “How could you, of all people, manage to find such documents?” Ava gasped, shocked. “So, you did work there? It’s all true?” she said. “You knew that!” he yelled. Ava nearly found herself begging for forgiveness, for him not to fire her. But something came over her, a sense of power, confidence. She had no need to fear this man; on the contrary, he should fear her. “I’m going back to my desk now,” Ava stood up and opened the door. “Have a good day, sir,” she said, without looking back at the man as she exited the room. Ava’s heart dropped the minute the door closed behind her. She clutched her chest with her right hand, chills ran up her down her arms and up her spine as she realised what she had just done; she just threatened her boss. What if he fires me? I’ll never be able to get a job anywhere else. I’ll be working in a dead-end job for the rest of my life. I’m never going to get a good reference; I’m never going to have a career. The young woman bumped into one of her colleagues on the way back to her desk. “Woah are you okay?” the young man kindly asked. “What? What do you mean?” Ava said, feeling foolish at how out of breath she was. “You’re sweating,” the man looked at her forehead, and Ava reached up and felt the perspiration. “I’m fine it’s just um…” she tried to find an explanation. “Ate a weird breakfast,” Ava cringed inwardly as she spoke, instantly regretting her alibi. “Oh,” the young man stepped back, a bit uncomfortable, unaware of how to respond. “I’m just gonna-” Ava pointed in the other direction and continued walking to her desk. She sat down and placed the weight of her head into her hands. She tried to retrieve that thought of Lillian, how real it was, and how it saved her job, what the hell happened? She thought to herself. “Hey!” Ava looked up to see her best friend, calling for her attention. “What’s going on?” she asked. “You look terrible,” Kate said as Ava searched for the right words; how does one explain the previous events without sounding insane? “I just exposed our boss,” she calmly said, her breath getting back to normal. “Ava, for god’s sake, just let it-” “He admitted it,” Ava interrupted. “What do you mean?” Kate asked in disbelief. “I pressured him. Something came over me, something made me say it, but he cracked.” Kate stared at her friend. “I’m such an idiot,” Ava put her face in her palms. “What do you mean?” Kate asked again. “If I’m being honest, I didn’t totally believe you,” she continued. Kate’s admission didn’t upset Ava; on the contrary, she understood Kate’s reasoning. “I just thought that you were hearing things from a crazy little girl or something.” Ava took a deep breath, repeating calming phrases in her head over and over again. “What’s the matter?” her friend asked. “I think I threatened my boss. I think I’m going to lose my job.” She looked up. “No, no, no, don’t stress about that. He won’t, he likes you too much,” Kate walked around to Ava’s desk, putting her arms around her shoulders. Before Ava could respond to her friend’s kind words, Mr Nikita approached her desk. “Ms Hayes,” he said sternly. Ava stared up at him, a look of fear fixed on her face. She wondered if she beg for his forgiveness, but Mr Nikita spoke first. “Keep up the good work,” he said stiffly, before turning abruptly and walking away. Ava slowly looked up at her friend, both of them in shock. “What’s your plan now?” Kate whispered. “I don’t know yet. But I think I have something. I think I have something big, and I need to go and find it,” Ava said, spinning her chair back around to her desk. Kate began to walk away. “Oh wait.” Ava called, getting her friend’s attention. “Have you found anything yet? About you know what?” Ava cupped her hand around her mouth. “No, I’m sorry, there’s nothing. But it’s only day one; give me some time and then we’ll see.” Kate disappeared behind the dividing wall. Ava sighed, but she knew that this wasn’t her last hope. She knew what her next step was.

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