01 Feb The Babydoll Experiment
Margaret Kitchall walked into cell 416, her psychologist’s briefcase bumping against her leg with every other step. As the hydraulic-sealed doors locked behind her with a hiss, she took her bearings. The room was the size of an average house’s living room, with white paint peeling off of the gray walls. It smelled of sweat and metal. There was very little in the way of furniture, a simple cot in the far corner, a crude toilet in the other one, and in the center of the room, a solid, steel table.
The occupant of the room was seated at the table. He was a big man in his late twenties, with short, regulation length hair, and a bit more than a five-o’clock-shadow. He was staring at a small dent in the table with a smile on his face. Margaret had been doing this job for six years now, but seeing the faces of her typical patients always did a combination of tugging at her heartstrings and making her stomach drop. When people’s minds were as far gone as to necessitate her line of work, they were beyond unpredictable.
This notion was manifest to her in the instant that her hand touched the chair opposite the man. He began thrashing, pulling at the restraints binding his hands and feet to the table. Margaret paused for only a moment, then continued to pull out the chair and sit down. She ignored his guttural protests and pulled out her briefcase, setting it on the table so that when it was opened, the top would mask his view of the contents.
She pulled out a folder, and selected the top piece of paper. It contained information on the man in front of her. Stapled to the top was a wallet sized photo of him. He was not smiling in the mug shot, but his eyes bore an unsettling twinkle that gave Margaret a moment’s hesitation.
In a calm voice that was her standard upon meeting new patients, Margaret finally addressed him. “Your name is Mark Owens, is that correct?” Upon hearing his name, the man ceased his pulling and tugging and stared Margaret in the eyes. There was no response besides that, and, from what she had read, she wasn’t surprised about his reaction.
“Do you know where you are, Mark?” She asked him.
He chuckled before responding, “Sure I do. They locked me up. I’m in the looney bin! I’m in the looney bin. They locked me up, I’m in the looney, th- th-, the, the looney…”
Oh boy. One phrase and Margaret could tell how far gone this man’s brain was. She felt a sudden stab of sympathy. She silently berated herself for it, she knew that she shouldn’t feel any empathy for him, after what he did. But yet, she had been told many times that her natural capacity to care about another person was one of her biggest strengths. That was the reason that she had steered her career from being a standard, depressed-teen or scarred-childhood psychologist towards being a psychotherapist for people in mental institutions. She was told that her naturally soothing voice and ability to understand people when no one else could would make her ideal for the job. And so, as a recent college graduate, she had begun working at hospitals, and very soon had become a sought-after psychiatrist for people who had been locked away for insanity.
For most patients, she went through a similar process. She would show up, introduce herself, and then lead her patient through a series of exercises that would make her seem like a friend. In some cases, she would be trying to help cure their damaged brain, but in others, such as Mark Owens’ case, she was bleakly aware that she was merely collecting data to hopefully fuel a scientific breakthrough.
This meeting, however, was special. Her higher-ups had instructed Margaret to present a gift to her next patient, and monitor how he acted because of it. After a few more minutes of mindless banter, if you’ll pardon the pun, she reached into the briefcase, and withdrew a package about the size of her torso. Setting the paper bag down on the table, she moved her briefcase and all the files clasped within to the floor.
“I have a gift for you Mark. I think you’ll enjoy it,” she said as she slid the bag over to where his shackled hands could reach it. He grabbed the bag without a word and began tearing at the paper, despite the clear open top part. As shreds of paper cascaded to the floor, he froze when he realized what was in the bag. He lay the doll gently on the table, flat on its back so that it was sideways to him. It was made of a fuzzy pink cloth and filled with a cotton stuffing, with a small plastic head adorned with a cute smile and two beautiful blue eyes. He didn’t move a muscle, just stared at the small baby doll.
Margaret spoke in a very soft voice, almost a whisper. “You had a baby, Mark, didn’t you?” He slowly nodded his big head. Now, Margaret had already known this, it was very clear in his file what had happened to his daughter, but talking about their family was a tried and true way for her to get into her patient’s head and connect with them.
Margaret had done her job. She had introduced the doll to him, now she gathered her belongings and backed up. Mark didn’t react to her movement at all, he was lost in the world that was his own mind.
As she was let out of the door to his cell, she stopped and watched through a small window above the door as a guard unlocked the handcuffs and exited the room. Mark, though free of restraints now, took only a moment before he walked stiffly to his hard bed and sat down on it, his face resting in his hands. Margaret fought a frustrated sigh. She had thought that the doll would have at least captured his interest a little bit more.
She waited to see if he’d do anything for several minutes, and was turning to leave when he stood up and walked toward the doll. He stared sideways at it before circling the table and sitting down in front of it again. Margaret smiled as he took the baby in his big hands and, to her surprise, cradled it in his arms. She watched in fascination as he supported its head and rocked back and forth, just as one would with a real baby.
She headed home that day with a sense of triumph.
Over the next two weeks she had given baby dolls to a total of four of her patients. All of them had been selected for the experiment because of the severe loss of their respective abilities to be a part of society anymore. In other words, they were all so far gone that there was little hope that any of them would ever be able to be let loose into the public again without fear of their damaged minds causing harm. They were the target audience of the experiment.
One of them, an old man by the name of Thomas Frederickson, had narrowly survived a cancer in his brain. The effects of the treatment, and the residual from the cancer itself, had turned him into a blubbering fool. The only woman of the group was chosen because she had brainwashed herself into believing that she was possessed by a demon, and it was forcing her to do things against her will. She had been arrested after attempting to kidnap a group of girls to sacrifice them to some unknown deity. The last was a man barely in his twenties, still just a boy, really, who had been admitted to the insane asylum by his family for his own protection, after failing seven suicide attempts.
And of course, the first person subjected to the experiment, was Mark Owens. His story still made Margaret shiver whenever she thought about it. He was the case that captured her interest the most. The reason for that, she was partially unsure. It could have been a number of things, like the fact that he was her newest patient, having only arrived in the institution days before. She had been meeting with the boy who had tried to kill himself for three months now, and the old man had regular meetings with her. The possessed woman was fairly new still, but she had met with Margaret a few times over the past month. Mark was fresh blood. He was new, he was mysterious. No one had been able to get into his head to find out the why behind what he did. Maybe that was Margaret’s hope. To be able to understand someone that no one else could, and maybe help him.
Margaret had been going over the recordings of her patients’ behaviors for the past week. She paid special attention to how they treated the baby doll. The boy simply held the doll by its foot and tossed it into a corner. Skipping forward, Margaret could see that it remained untouched for several days. No luck in this case.
The old man gave a little more interest in the doll. He played with it, much the same way a toddler would play with an action figure. Taking the legs, he walked it around his cell, making it enact adventures within his imagination. Cute, but not necessarily where the experiment was designed to go. She determined to keep an eye on him.
Turning next to the woman, she could see a certain amount of success. For the first few hours, the woman showed certain care for the baby doll, holding it in her arms and cooing to it in a motherly fashion. Perfect, Margaret had one success! She fast forwarded four hours, hoping for a continuation of the previous actions, but instead gasped in horror. The woman must have been given crayons and a coloring book recently, because there were shards of paper scattered all over the floor and a red crayon, crude Devil’s Star on the floor, with the baby doll lying face down in the middle of it, while the possessed woman danced circles around it. No. Nothing would come from this case either.
Margaret turned last to Mark. The way he had first picked up the doll the first day had stuck with her, and sure enough, when she checked his footage, she found nothing but care for the doll. He would spend hours pacing, holding the doll in his arms and rocking it, the same way a caring parent would calm a fussing baby. He sat it next to him on the table during meal time, and even tried to share some of his mashed potatoes with it. He’d even lay it down on his bed for nap time, staying for hours in a kneeling position, watching it “sleep.” At night, Mark would tuck the baby into the corner of his bed, wrapping his only blanket around it. Even though he shivered all night, Mark still gave the doll his blanket every time he would go to bed. She took note of everything he did, hoping it would be good information. It was touching to Margaret to see him like this. The man, despite popular opinion, had a heart. It was hard to believe that despite all this love and care for an inanimate baby doll, he was still a monster.
Margaret’s second meeting with Mark was interesting. Upon arriving, she noticed that Mark was again chained up in his seat across the table from her, but he had still set up the baby doll to sit next to him on the table, facing Margaret. She hadn’t even sat down yet when he spoke to her, “I named her Margaret, you know. She’s got your eyes.”
Margaret started at the unexpected cordiality from the man. He never spoke to the guards or the doctors out of his own volition. She was told that the few nonsensical phrases she got out of him on her last visit was in rare form for him. She looked at the doll. Blue eyes, just like her. Huh. She had to wonder if naming it after her meant anything deeper than the obvious, but, seeing as his mind was in the gutter, she figured it didn’t. “It’s a very pretty name, Mark.” She responded with a conflicted smile. A strange shiver rolled up her spine. Had she told him her name the last time they met? She didn’t think so. Maybe one of the nurses told him.
Shaking the feeling off, she went through her normal routine, talking about how the doll made him feel, and questioning him on why he took such good care of it. She wasn’t able to get a solid answer for either, but she considered the meeting a success, because he seemed at ease with her. That was a good start.
A week later, she met with him again. This time, when she sat down, she looked up to see the big man with tears streaming down his face. “Mark?” She inquired. He said nothing, but glanced at the baby doll. “I hurt her,” he sobbed.
Margaret looked the doll over, there wasn’t a mark on it. Mark repeated himself, “I hurt her… I hurt them both.” Hurt them both? What did he mean? There was only one doll….
Margaret kicked herself. Of course. He’s remembering. She struggled for a moment on how to respond, “Yes. Yes you did. Does… does the baby help ease the pain?” She figured that he was hurting, the way he was openly sobbing in front of her made that evident. The pictures she had seen…. His wife and daughter…. Even though his mind was gone, she knew that he had some emotions left for them.
“I… they-” He cut himself off. Margaret figured that this was her chance to probe into his brain a little bit.
“Do you know what you did, Mark?”
He nodded and his sobbing increased tenfold. Margaret pushed one more time, hoping that the name of his wife would stir his conscience. “Do you know what you did to Katrina?”
All at once, his loud cries and wrenching sobs stopped. Tears still streamed down his eyes, but he made no other indication of emotion. In a calm voice he replied, “Yes. Yes. They didn’t listen to me. I don’t like to be ignored. They say I’m a bad person. They’re gone. They ignored me.”
This response shocked Margaret. The way that his mind had deciphered his situation, as them ignoring him? They were dead. They couldn’t have responded. They were dead.
Swallowing her sudden onslaught of nervous tension, she gestured over to the baby doll. “I’ve seen how good care you take of her though. Does she remind you of Cassandra?”
His big brown eyes narrowed as he looked sideways at the doll. His tears had stopped, and he seemed unsure for a moment. Suddenly, with a fit of violence, he grabbed for the doll, knocking it across the room. Shouting and cursing, he screamed after it, “Why did you leave me!? Don’t you love me?”
Margaret yelped and barely suppressed an urge to sprint out of the room. Images flashed through her head, pictures from the case file. A shot matched the scene in front of her chillingly well. An infant girl, Mark’s daughter, crumpled in the corner, her skull smashed and blood all over the wall. Images of his wife’s body, bruised and broken. The man in front of her had finally shown her his monster side, after almost two weeks of convincing her through his actions that he was a new person. Now Margaret could see the reason for the high security cell in the lowest basement floor of the complex, the handcuffs, and all of the extra security measures not usually needed for the other people at this mental hospital.
Mark was a huge, strong man. In his fits of rage, he thrashed against his restraints, slamming his hands on the table. Blood trickled down his arms as the metal around his wrists began to dig into his skin. Suddenly, with a SNAP, his hands came free from the table and he stood up, throwing the metal chair clear across the room. Soon the room, which had been pristine due to the relative lack of really anything to make a mess with, had been overturned. The mattress had been haphazardly thrown against the opposite wall, and the table with its few adornments had been knocked to the floor. Mark scrambled toward the discarded doll, violently wringing it in his hands before slinging it towards the wall with another enraged scream.
Margaret very quickly realized the danger she was in, and she flew to the door, leaving her belongings behind. Banging her hands on the glass, she screamed at the guards to let her out. The doors hissed, and as they squealed open, she felt Mark’s eyes on her. “It’s all your fault,” he roared, “You brought me the doll. You brought me the memories. You brought it all back!” Margaret turned to see Mark storming towards her. He had picked up the baby doll, whose plastic head was cracked from the trauma of Mark’s sudden outburst. As Margaret slipped out of the door and it started to close, he continued screaming at her, crude and profane things that she cringed away from.
Several crashes ensued from behind her, and Margaret turned in time to see Mark using a leg of the table to wedge inside the door before it could close. He had moved so fast! The hinges groaned as he pushed back on them with enormous force, leveraged with the strong metal of the table. Margaret could see his face through the window on the door, could see the madness in his eyes as his teeth grit with exertion. The two guards on the floor rushed towards the door to stop him, but arrived too late. With the sound of snapping metal, the hydraulic seal cracked, sending steam from the pressurized hinges into the air. Mark emerged from within, looking like the hulking beast that he was, and glared at Margaret. In her fearful state, she swore to herself that his eyes had turned red.
With a single backhand swing, he laid out the first guard to reach him, rendering him unconscious. The other one yelled to Margaret, “Get to the elevator!” before unleashing his taser on the insane man. Mark crumpled to one knee, but, astonishingly, yanked out the electrifying conductors that had been embedded in his chest. Margaret repeatedly slammed her palm on the Up button, praying the elevator would come fast. Looking over her shoulder, she saw that Mark had picked up the remaining guard by his collar and began to slam him over and over into the wall. Past the point where Margaret knew the man was dead, his body was still violently being smashed into the unyielding structure.
Another detail about Mark’s arrest came unbidden to her mind. His wife’s body, found with nearly every inch covered in bruises, not a single bone in her body remaining intact. This was Mark’s way, his calling card – he didn’t stop his abuse when his victim was dead. He continued to ravish the body until not much more than a bloody pulp remained.
The elevator opened with an ironically happy sounding ding. Margaret was inside before the doors were even halfway open, already frantically pressing the main floor button. Mark finished with the dead guard, and turned his fiery glare on Margaret. He ran towards the elevator as the doors started to come together. They shut seconds before she heard his body slam against the metal. As she ascended in the shaft, she could hear his screams of anger echoing throughout the building.
Upon reaching the main floor, she managed to gasp out loud, “Mark’s escaped,” before she collapsed to the ground. She welcomed the enveloping darkness as she passed out on the cold tiled floor.
The hospital staff were friendly enough. But they insisted on running several checkups on her, despite her protests of “I’m fine.” Someone had taken her upstairs to a different wing of the hospital after she had fainted, and she remained unconscious for almost an hour before coming to. But other than a bruise on her jaw from hitting the ground, she was absolutely fine. They let her go after another hours’ surveillance with warnings to contact her doctor if she felt dizzy or had trouble focusing in the next few days.
She walked the quarter mile home- her apartment complex was just opposite the street from the hospital, it made commuting easy- and climbed the three staircases of her apartment building to get to her room. As she walked down the long hallway, she was joined by her neighbor, Ben, who began to talk in hyperspeed about the latest football game. She liked the guy, and usually liked his attention, but she brushed him off as she reached her door. She couldn’t deal with his energy right now. She felt drained. Once inside her room, she kicked off her shoes and slouched on the couch. Turning on the television, she muted the sound and tried to clear the thoughts bouncing around in her head like a jackhammer.
The thing on the front of her consciousness was Mark. His story… she couldn’t think of anything but him. The file said that his parents and little brother were killed in a car accident two days before the Incident, which police think to be a big cause as to why he snapped. His wife had just had a baby two months prior, and his friends said that the little girl changed Mark. He stopped his old alcoholism habits, and was generally considered to be a better man after she was born.
While there was no confirmation of it, the police did suspect that Mark was abusive even before the Incident. But the day of… Margaret had never heard of anything so brutal. Due to an unknown argument, Mark lost his temper and threw his daughter into the wall. Much as Margaret herself had seen him throw the baby doll. Being just a fragile newborn, she died instantly. His wife began screaming at him, and the forensics say that he hit her over the head with a vase on the table, knocking her unconscious. Realizing what had transpired, he collected his baby in his hands and tried to make her wake up.
The police believe that this is when the last strands of his humanity snapped. This was when he completely lost his mind. He blamed his daughter’s death on his wife, and when she came to, he began to beat her mercilessly. He threw her body down the stairs and even used some furniture to further brutalize her. It was unclear when she actually died and how much she had to suffer, but the report showed that almost every bone in her body had been fractured in one way or another. This man was a monster, and it was only hours later when his neighbor had gone over to ask for help moving a new refrigerator, that the carnage was finally discovered, and the police called. Mark was arrested and detained in a high security cell at the mental institution.
The first few days of her meetings with him, Margaret couldn’t believe he had done all that. He was young, and though he was big and strong, he had a softness to his posture, one that would suggest a proud father.
Margaret’s thoughts were interrupted when an image on the silent television captured her attention. An aerial view of the mental institution. Looking out her window, she could see the news van still parked in front of the institution. She unmuted the volume to hear, “-where authorities have yet to locate him. The institution claims that there was no outside influence to aid in the escape, that it was all facilitated by himself.” The screen cut to the basement floor where Margaret had stood no more than a day and a half ago, and her stomach sank to her ankles as she saw the door to Mark’s cell still open, and a nearby ventilation shaft grate wrenched off and thrown to the side.
The newscast continued, advising people to “Stay indoors if possible, and lock all your doors and windows. The police are out in full force looking for Owens, if you see or hear anything about him, please notify authorities.” The news moved on to politics, so Margaret shut the TV off. The haunting sounds of Mark’s furious screams echoed inside her mind. And to think that he could be anywhere…. Margaret shuddered. She decided to take a hot shower to clear her head.
As she walked towards her bedroom, however, she paused. The door was halfway ajar, and within the rectangle of light that the hallway cast into the dark room sat an object. A small baby doll lay on its face, dusty and torn, with a large crack in its plastic head. Margaret recognized that doll. She screamed as a forearm the size of her thigh entered the rectangle of light and grabbed the doll around the waist, holding it up. The hand rotated the doll so that it was facing Margaret, and now she could see the scrawl written on its forehead in sharpie, ‘M A R G’. The intention was clear.
The door slowly swung open, and Mark Owens’ massive frame came into view. He looked at the baby, cradling it in two hands now, and, without looking up at her, he slurred, “I watched the light leave her eyes. My poor, poor Cassie. She was so beautiful. I almost had forgotten her. I almost had stopped feeling sad.” His gentle posture stiffened, and his grip on the doll tightened. “But then you showed up. And you brought her back to me. Only it’s so much worse to think about it now. You ruined my peace.” With the last part, his tone turned bitter, and he spat out his words.
As he spoke, a million questions flew through Margaret’s mind. The most prevalent being: ‘How did he find my apartment?’ ‘Has he been in here the whole time?’ And, most chillingly of all, ‘What does he plan on doing next?’ Margaret was especially scared because she was pretty sure what he was going to do, and she was not sure if she could outrun him. Then, a lightbulb went off in her head. She had a Beretta, a small handgun, in her bedside dresser drawer, a gift from her father when she had moved out of the house. It was intended for keeping potential thieves and ill-intentioned men away, and she figured there would be no better time than this. She just needed to keep him distracted. “Mark, your family is gone. There’s nothing I can do about that.” As she spoke, she sidled past his body and into the room. He didn’t move. “But there is something you can do to help feel better.”
He eyed her suspiciously. She was halfway to the drawer. Margaret’s brain tumbled over itself trying to come up with something he could do to help, but the underlying fear that she had yet to completely banish was slowing her thought processes.
“Well?” Mark huffed over his shoulder, impatient to hear how he can fix his situation.
Margaret stuttered, “Uh… well you can, um…” She hadn’t expected him to answer, hadn’t thought that far ahead yet.
Mark turned to face her. He hunched his shoulders over threateningly and growled, “There’s nothing, is there? You think I’m a monster, just like everyone else does. But I’m not! I’m not…. I just want my baby girl back.” Was that a sob? The insane man’s emotions were everywhere. Margaret had reached the drawer and tried to discreetly open it. Mark said, almost passively, “I found your gun. I took it away ‘cause I didn’t think I’d need it.”
With this, Margaret abandoned all pretenses and frantically threw the drawer open. Sure enough, it was devoid of her firearm. Mark stepped towards her menacingly. “You were gonna shoot me?” Margaret’s panicked mind realized something wrong with what Mark had said before. ‘I found your gun. I took it away ‘cause I didn’t think I’d need it.’ He took the gun away because he didn’t think HE’D need it? This thought triggered her fight or flight reflex. She grabbed her slippers, which were tucked under the bed, and flung them into Mark’s face. As he swatted at them, she took her chance to duck past him and run out the door.
He roared from within her bedroom and smashed his way past the door. Margaret screamed and tried to escape into the hall, opening the front door, getting one foot out and crying for help before she felt a huge hand clamp around her arm. She felt her shoulder pop out of place as she was flung backward and back into the room. She landed with a crash and flipped over the back of her couch. She felt a snap in both of her legs as her shins collided with the marble sidetable.She tried to crawl away using her one undamaged appendage as Mark stomped over to her, shoving the toppled couch to the side. He still had the baby doll in one hand, holding it by its head, with the crude ‘M A R G’ written on its forehead. With an inhuman growl, he held the doll out to her, and then crushed its head with one hand like he was breaking an egg. Margaret shrieked and ducked as the doll was thrown at her. It shattered the fallen lamp next to her head, and knocked over the small table it was resting on.
Mark advanced on Margaret and grabbed her again. Swinging her around, her head connected with the wall and she went limp. She was still conscious, but found that she was unable to control her limbs. She looked desperately towards the door as the small shape of a man appeared, holding a firearm of his own. She recognized his face, twisted with worry, as her neighbor Ben. He had probably heard the commotion coming from her room and hopefully had called the cops. She was safe. She smiled as she heard two cracks emanating from his pistol. She smiled as she heard Mark’s animalistic screams of rage and pain increase, and then disappear. And she smiled as she passed out for the second time that day.
Margaret slept for a long time. She came to occasionally, enough to recognize the ICU room she was in, enough to catch snippets of the doctor’s conversations while they thought she wouldn’t be able to hear them. “…She won’t be the same… it’s a miracle she survived… severe brain trauma….” Severe brain trauma, haha, what’s that? Margaret slowly regained use of her broken arms and legs, and after a week or so, felt that it was time she left. She sat up, aware of the weight of the partial – body cast around her neck and upper torso, as well as one on her arm and both her legs. But even despite this, she swung her feet off the bed, about to stand up, when a rude aide shoved her down onto her back. “What… I wanna go home!” She screamed. She instantly started bashing him away with her club-like arms, shrieking unintelligible curses at him. Several more people dressed in sterile white clothing swarmed into the room and held her down. Biting and clawing, she was determined to go free. But as a sharp pain pinched her side, she looked over with glassy eyes to see the syringe, now empty of its sense-dulling drug. The last thought that entered her mind as lethargy overtook her was one of bewilderment. ‘What’s going on with me?’ She then laughed maniacally because she had absolutely no clue. But, oh…. She was so sleepy….
She later had felt some satisfaction to hear that she’d scratched one of the nurse’s eyes out on their first tussle. She didn’t know why, just a nice sense of justice. They gave her a nice little jacket that held her arms like a tight hug, once they were free of the cast. They also gave her a new home. It was one room, and there wasn’t very much pretty furniture, just a hard bed and a steel table. She met occasionally with a nice old man who talked about her feelings. And, after a week, he gave her a present. “She’s got your eyes.”
Margaret looked down and squealed with pure delight. Nestled neatly into the packaging was a small baby doll with two big blue eyes staring up at her.
Jim Michaelson shuffled his notes back into his briefcase and snapped the metal clasps shut. Before he stood up from the cold metal seat, he looked up at the person across from him. Margaret Kitchall sat in a wheelchair, her legs still covered in casts, a small babydoll sitting dutifully in her lap. A dopey grin was plastered to her face as she looked down at the doll.
He had been working with people like her for most of his forty years in the workforce. People in mental hospitals who were hardly able to recognize the written and unwritten laws of society, and thus by either court mandate or doctor’s orders, had a very long stay planned out for them.
Recently, Jim had acquired several more patients to add to his own due to an accident that had left his town under lockdown for a few hours while it had been sorted out. He had paled when he heard about it, because that morning he had been in the very wing of the hospital that Mark Owens had escaped from. And though he had never met her, it was still shocking to hear that he had attacked and injured several people, including the guards outside his cell, before tracking down his own psychotherapist to her house, and leaving her in critical condition in the ICU.
Jim shivered at that last thought. Since the incident, the prospect had danced across his mind an innumerable amount of times. It could’ve been me. He was still looking at Margaret, but all of a sudden he had a terrible vision of himself sitting in the wheelchair while she left him alone after a session of trying to make sense of his jumbled brain.
They had worked for the same people, It was all dumb, blind luck that she had been assigned to Mark and not he, ignorant to the fact that before the end of the month she would end up with enough head trauma to reduce her to a giggling idiot. The doctors said her body would fully heal eventually, but her mind – it was clear to Jim that despite her youth, and despite her degrees, she would likely never again see life outside the confines of the hospital. It was unnerving to find himself assigned to her in such a short time, especially because he knew that she once sat where he currently was, doing exactly what he was doing.
This prompted his eyes to stray towards the doll in her lap. Jim had never been one for dolls. Thought they were creepy. But he couldn’t argue that the experiment appeared to have some promise. Margaret has seemed to instantly connect to the doll when he gave it to her at the start of this meeting. She had become so much more lucid than before, nearly able to pass for her old self. She spoke in clear, cohesive sentences, spilling her story out in a rush, like she knew that this would be the last time she told it.
Something in her had sparked for a while, and her eyes had seemed to shine while she held it. It didn’t last long, and in recent minutes, she had returned to blabbering nonsense, and her blue eyes had gone dull again.
He didn’t know if the doll had caused her to do that, or if it was simply correlation, but he at least had some results from the experiment to give to his superiors. And the story he’d been told from this poor, crazy woman stuck with him more than any other he’d heard in his long-winded career. He’d hung onto every word, scribbled down each detail, and placed it safely in his case.
Shaking clear from his thoughts, he pushed himself up from the table, thanked his patient, and began to exit the room. While he did so, he stole one more glance at its occupant. Her dopey grin was unchanged, but her wild blue eyes were now staring directly at him. They felt cold and… wrong. Like they didn’t belong to her. She spoke, nearly singing the words, “Margaret likes you. She’d miss you so if you didn’t come back.” Jim shivered as he opened the door, and left the eruption of giggles to echo around the room behind him.