The large building of the main hospital comes into view. Tall in the center, four stories, the wings on either side are two story brick. Windows abound, reflecting the afternoon sun. I guess to give the place a less than creepy feel.
St. Elizabeth’s opened in 1855 and was the first Federally-operated psychiatric hospital in the U.S. Most people think the place is closed down. But the criminally insane prisoners too dangerous for the public to know of, need a place to stay too and St. Elizabeth’s became the perfect dwelling.
It’s just far enough away from the population to remain secret and away from prying eyes but close enough to shuffle them back and forth to court. The United States works hard to maintain its image of a free democracy and due process, most of the time.
We stop at the guard gate, a young black man walks out the little hut. He’s dressed as a security guard, Cringler Security. But the way he walks and looks around, lets me know he’s Bureau.
Smith rolls down his window.
“Special Agent Andrew Smith and FBI Consultant Desmona Thompson here to see a resident.”
“Are they expecting you?”
The guy turns away and goes back to the guard house, I’m sure to verify.
“How did you do that?” I whisper in a sing-song voice.
“I have my ways.”
The guard hits the button to lift the little gate arm and ushers us forward.
“You’ll only have fifteen minutes.”
“Me?” I almost shriek.
He nods, “I told them I’m here to visit another prisoner, someone with ties to the Taliban.”
“Dropped the ‘T’ word?” Saying terrorist or Taliban pretty much gives an agent free reign these days.
“After we get into the interview room, sniff a little of this.” He pulls a small clear jar from his pocket, there’s liquid inside, blueish tint.
I take it from him.
“It will make you sick to your stomach, violently so. You’ll throw up they will direct you to a bathroom. Greenwich’s room is three doors east across the hall from the restroom. Here’s a key to his room. Don’t worry, if you get caught, I’ll get you out of this. But you may have to sit for a minute, keep your mouth closed…” He pauses. “Just try to not get caught.”
“Jesus Christ.” What kind of shit is he getting me in to?
“Fifteen minutes Thompson that’s it. From the moment you leave my sight.”
I nod, “got it.” I tuck the vial and the key into my front pocket.
Smith pulls the SUV in front of the building and we get out. There’s a few stairs up to the door, the door itself solid steel.
He hits the buzzer looking down at me. “Could’ve dressed professionally.”
“Yeah well you didn’t really tell me what I’d be doing today.”
“I thought you could see into the future.”
The door clicks unlocking and in we go.
The inside is dim, the lights kept low. Another gate sits in front of us. The door clicks loudly behind us closing.
A guard asks for our IDs. We pass them through a slot to him and he walks across the entrance to the security room. The front is a large window, I can see a multitude of screens there. It seems like they have every angle covered. How am I supposed to get to Greenwich unseen?
“Fifteen minutes from the moment you leave me.”
I nod. Smith must’ve made arrangements. I have to trust that he has. I should’ve asked more questions, or maybe he shouldn’t have waited to tell me the damn plan until we got here. Hell he probably did it this way just so I couldn’t really ask any questions. God I hate him.
The guard returns, and opens the door, I guess we checked out.
“Officer Anderson will escort you, you must check your weapons.”
Smith pulls his gun, removing the clip and places it in the metal case the guard holds. The guard locks the case and hands Smith a small key.
“This is the only copy, you will be able to retrieve your sidearm when you leave.”
Smith only nods tucking the key in his pocket.
Officer Anderson steps forward. Middle aged, white male, he’s tired, just going through the motions. But if he’s here, he’s Bureau.
“This way Sir, Ma’am.”
He guides us towards the east wing. The walls and floors starch white. The only sound our shoes on the floors. My chest tightens in this place. My body picking up on the energy that’s here. It feels as if the walls are closing in on me. I’ve trained and worked at ignoring embedded echoes, I’m more sensitive to the memories of this place because I’m a female Druid, bully for me.
If I were to open myself to this place I’m sure I would here the ghostly screams of the insane, caught in their frightful madness. This place is soul wrenching and aching, smelling of despair.
This portion of the building seems to be offices mostly, frosted glass doors, simple name placards on them. Midway down the wing is another gate that spans the hallway, closing it off, keeping the criminally insane away from the general public.
I’ve helped put some of these people here. People capable of such horrifying acts, most of the details were withheld from the public.
Sure we all know that monsters exist, humans capable of horrifying deeds. But to learn just how depraved, just how scary they are? It would rock the average person’s perception of reality. To find out how often it happens would shatter their illusion of safety, and along with it, their faith in the government. It would come with the terrifying knowledge, that although you are not safe from all, you are truly not safe from the worst of mankind.
The gate groans and clangs as Anderson locks it behind us. Glass double doors are in front of us with a long hallway to our right. The large room behind the glass doors is the dayroom, for those patients harmless enough to be allowed contact with other ‘patients’. I see four of them milling about in there, drugged to high heaven. Blue robes that hang open to reveal blue pajama-like clothing.
Anderson leads us down the hall to a stairwell.
“We’ve transferred the prisoner to an interview room. You will have exactly one hour.”
“Understood.” Smith says.
The second floor is a series of resident rooms, small square windows high on the doors. Occasionally I’ll here a moan, a thump. But mostly it’s deathly quiet and something tells me it’s not because these rooms are empty.
Anderson leads us midway down the hall and opens a door. We follow him into the small room.
This is the first indication that this place is more than a psychiatric hospital. At least I don’t know other hospitals to have a fully functional interview room, complete with the typical double glass window.
We can see into another small room, a man seated at a table, hands cuffed to the center of the metal table. Bronze skin, dark curly hair. He seems to be in his early twenties a hint of lucid madness in his gaze. I’m thankful he can’t see me.
Within our room are computer screens stationed on a long table, the feed from surveillance equipment in the other room, playing back on the screens.
Smith looks over at me slightly nodding his head.
“This interview cannot be recorded.” Smith instructs. I turn away walking towards the double glass window, presumably to take a better look at the prisoner.
“That’s against policy.” Anderson argues.
I slip the small vial from my pocket unscrewing the black lid and inhaling deeply the pungent aroma of the blue liquid. It makes my head spin.
“Do you know who you have in there man?!”
“Unless you have a special….”
“Of course I do, I sent it over this morning!”
I hurry to cap the vial and put it back in my pocket just as my stomach leads a full revolt. I turn away to find a trashcan just as the muscles in my stomach contract wildly. I almost groan over the pain. I just make the trashcan, falling to my knees, as everything I’ve eaten or drank starts to come up.
“Fuck Thompson!” Smith yells towards me as I swear my body leads a full assault against me.
What the fuck was in that?
“She’s pregnant. Prime example of the problem with this…. feminist movement. We are here on a matter of National Security! I am here to interview a known terrorist with ties to a real threat to our country but I have to stop and deal with… this.” Smith says with pure disgust.
I stand up again moaning, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. I cast my eyes down, playing along, looking ashamed and curtailed.
“Ma’am there is a restroom down the hall on your right. Sir I will call down and see about the special order for an eyes-off interview.” Anderson says, anger in his voice. I take comfort that everyone isn’t a chauvinist pig.
“Thank you.” I whisper and step out of the room, heart pounding, I can’t believe that worked.
I head further down the hallway, away from the stairs. I pass an elevator that needs a key to operate. The bathrooms are next to it. I look around, the hallway empty. I take out my phone and set the timer for ten minutes, giving myself some cushion.
Okay, Smith said across the hall three doors east. I have excellent directional senses and find the door easily. I have to stand on my tippy-toes a little to get a good view into the room.
Harold Greenwich is strapped to the bed on the right side of the room.
I try the door, locked. I pull out the key Smith gave me, looking around again quickly. I unlock the door, it’s a heavy tumbler and it clicks loudly as I turn the key. I go into the room quickly shutting the door behind me, heart still pounding.
The room is small, windows on the far wall covered in a thick steel chain-linked gate.
There’s a toilet and sink, those stainless steel types, bolted right to the wall to my left. That’s it, nothing else. The walls are some muted brown color, the floors white vinyl.
Greenwich still looks pretty bad, his cheeks gaunt and hollowed out, hair streaked with gray. Yet he still doesn’t look evil… just insane.
He turns his head slowly, looking at me. His eyes are full of pain. He’s remembering every detail of his life, it’s as vivid now as the day it happened. It’s a side effect of me halting his time loop last night. It will wear off, in time.
He begins crying seeing me.
“He won’t ever let me in now!” Greenwich howls.