Jack In The Box

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Chapter 21


I’d taken ample amount of rest that evening and when I woke up it was already dinner time. I was served white rice, boiled veggies and some gravy on the side.

Any motivation I had about life had already left the building. I couldn’t imagine how during the time I worked here, fed this particular dinner to patients and thought nothing of it. I felt sympathy for all those people I’d forced to eat it, day in and day out.

I’d forced most of the food down my throat when Aaron entered the room. He had a worried expression on his face as he took a seat next to the bed. “How are you feeling now?” He asked.

“Better.” I lied.

He nodded. “The antibiotics will make you drowsy but it will help you with the pain.”

What about the pain stabbing in my heart? Will the antibiotics make that pain go away too?

“I hope so.” I said, pushing the carrots back and forth in my plate.

I wasn’t liking the look that Aaron was giving me, it was filled with so much pity. I didn’t want anyone’s pity. All I wanted was for everyone to leave me alone and not act like I was a broken porcelain doll.

Suddenly he left his seat, closed the door of the room and was back in his seat. “Riley,” Aaron said in low voice. “I’ve noticed that you’ve been very closed off since morning when you woke up. This is unlike you...”

If anyone could read me well, it was Aaron. Before I could open my mouth and answer, he went on, “During the one week that you were with him. Whatever happened there, if he’d kept you captive and put you in...” he shrugged. “Well...in a compromising position, we understand. You are not to blame yourself for that. Often the victims of rape and abuse blame themselves for the situations that they were...”

Aaron blabbered more of his philosophical bullshit which I’d already tuned out. It’s like no one was trying to understand me. No one had bothered to ask me what actually happened in that cabin, and had let their imaginations run wild. Granted, Jack had a criminal record, he had the reputation of being the most notorious patient locked in the asylum, but if he’d wanted to hurt me, if he really was the person behind those killings, I would have already been dead.

Everyone suspected Jack without a shadow of a doubt, and they weren’t wrong to assume it. I’d been in a similar mindset before I went to his cabin. After staying with him for over a week, I’d known in my heart that Jack couldn’t be the killer.

“Riley, are you even listening to me?” Aaron asked. He seemed concerned.

“I’m sorry, what were you saying?”

He shut his eyes and sighed, closing his hand over mine. “If Jackson assaulted you, and that’s the reason you’ve been so depressed then you need to talk to me. I will help you, Riles.”

“He did not assault me, or hurt me, Aaron. I already told you this before.”

Aaron didn’t believe me. He ran his thumb over my closed fist. “He threatened you, didn’t he?”

I stared at him incredulously. How was he even coming to these conclusions when I hadn’t even said a word?

“He threatened to kill you if you told us anything. But you need to rest assured, you’re in safe territory now, Jack can’t hurt you here. There’s a twenty four seven police surveillance outside. No one can come inside without passing the officers first.” He assured me. “You can tell us the truth. What happened after that night when Jack kidnapped you?”

“Nothing.” I said calmly. “He gave me a room, there were plenty of clothes in the wardrobe, there was a flat screen, food and everything one needs for a short vacation.”

It was Aaron’s turn to stare at me like I’d spoken in Chinese and he was in need of an urgent translator. “I’m not in a mood for jokes right now and the sarcasm is not appreciated.”

I laughed. “I’m not being sarcastic. What did you expect me to say? That he bound me to a chair in a shabby underground basement? Or that he used my body to satisfy his carnal urges by keeping me locked away in said basement?”

When Aaron didn’t answer, I went on. “Clearly you’re aware Jack doesn’t need classes when it comes to seduction. He could have any woman he wanted, he doesn’t need to resort to tying them up in a dungeon.”

“Are you defending him again?” Aaron asked, and this time fury was clear in his eyes.

“I was speaking the truth. Nothing that you guys have been assuming happened. I lived with him in the cabin for a week and...” my throat clogged up with the memories. “And I’m not ashamed to say that it may have been some of the best days of my life.”

He narrowed his gaze at me. “What did he do to you?”

“I said...”

“Do you know what you sound like, Riley?”

I maintained eye-contact.

“You sound just like one of his fucking victims.”

I flinched when I heard Aaron swear. Aaron, the sweet angelic Aaron never used the F word.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you.” I said. “But I’m not lying.”

“I think you’re suffering from a very bad condition of Stockholm Syndrome.” He said. “And frankly, Riley, I don’t think it’s your fault. It just proves how highly manipulative Jack is. He’s turned one of my best nurses into his ally who is now sitting in the same hospital she’s worked for and talking like his personal attorney.”

“Believe me, Aaron.” I pleaded. “When I first went there, I had the exact same thoughts about everything but he proved me wrong. He kept me safe. There’s someone else who is doing the killings.”

Aaron grinned, his white teeth flashed with impending annoyance. “Have you ever thought that maybe he kidnapped you, fed you some sob story and worked his magic because he wanted this to happen. Think of it, Riles, he knew that once you’re back here you would do a great job defending him. Did you even check the property while you were there?”

“I didn’t.”

“Maybe if you’d looked around, you would have found a few bodies casually sitting there like mannequins.”

“I don’t believe that.”

A room filled with a dreadful silence. I wish I could just go home away from the judgmental eyes. Softly, he said. “Paul will be here in about an hour. Believe it or not, he seemed worried about you too. Tomorrow, I expect you to start sessions with him.”

Flabbergasted, I looked at him. “What sessions?”

“Counselling.” He said. “Paul, although he’s still new, he’s good at exorcising demons. He will bring your mind back to the right frame.”

My hands were balled into tight fists. “I will never have any counselling lessons from anyone, and definitely not from Paul Bennet. I’m perfectly alright, and I don’t need a psychoanalyst.”

“You do.” Aaron said firmly. He was using that no nonsense tone with me again. “If you want to keep this job, you will take these sessions with Paul.”

That afternoon I was discharged from the hospital, however, I still needed to go down to the station the next day and recite the entire story which they likely wouldn’t believe. If they thought I was lying about Jack treating me right, then that was their problem. Ken and I were strode out of the hospital building and into the parking lot towards his Camry. The clouds had began to gather in the sky, the shade of a dark gray. The trees looked greener than usual, the faint smell of soil overpowered every other scent. Instinctively, I looked up towards the window. The window of the room that Jack inhabited while he lived here. Surely there was no one there, what had I expected to see? Jack waving back at me?

He was probably getting the help he needed, or he was probably lying there...

No! I didn’t want to think about that now. He couldn’t die.

Suddenly, I remembered something. My brother juggled a cup of coffee in one hand and a polytene containing my medicines in the other. He was already sitting down in the Camry.

“Ken, I just forgot something inside.” I told him.

He made an irritated face. “What now?”

“Just wait here for me.” I called out and rushed back towards the building.

I went inside the hospital and walked casually down the hallways. Dr. Sam caught my eye, “Hey Riley, good to see you again.”

“Good to see you, too, Doctor.” I smiled politely and passed him.

I waited until he was out of sight and took the turn and walked straight into the room that contained the medicine cabinets. I opened a few glass cabinets, my eyes scanning through the names with speed. Someone had taken the liberty to switch the places for the meds since I’d been gone and they’d even named them in alphabetical order.

I needed these pills.The last thing I needed right now was a pregnancy, there were way too many complications in my life to even consider bringing another life into it. If the situation was different and if Jack had met me in a different scenario, I would have probably taken a risk.

Finally, after much browsing, I found what I was looking for and was about to pocket the strips when an arm seized mine.

I swallowed nervously as I stared into a familiar pair of green eyes and a mass of fiery red hair. Those freckles sprinkled on his nose would have been cute if he didn’t have a scowl plastered on his face for three-sixty-five days.

“What the hell are you doing?” That’s exactly the kind of greeting you would expect from Dr. Paul Bennet.

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