Back to the old Ways, at last
The door burst open and I pressed down harder, but he was still moving when they dragged me away. As the pillow was pulled away, he gasped for air, his eyes rolling as he took too much. Ray and Bob dropped to his side and ironically getting in the way of the doctor trying to examine him.
“Let me go!” I screamed as I struggled to break free. “He’s going to kill Mikey!”
Bob and Ray turned to look at me but I couldn’t read their expressions. Damn it! Why couldn’t they see what I could?
“This is Mikey!” Ray replied.
He looked hurt, disappointed even. I just didn’t understand. My shirtsleeve was pushed up and a needle pierced my skin roughly. I turned to see the duty nurse glaring at me as she injected something into me. For the first time, I saw Frank, to my right just staring at me. I turned my gaze towards him as I grew more subdued; I felt as though he understood.
“Frank,” I said quietly. “You know this isn’t right, don’t you?”
He closed his eyes briefly then glanced from me to the impostor on the bed then back to me again.
“I think I know what to do.”
I smiled briefly before I was pulled from the room. I offered no resistance – I couldn’t; whatever she had given me, I was now walking in a daze.
They took me a few doors down and into another room.
“I’m not crazy!” I insisted as they fastened me down to the bed. “It’s not Mikey in there!”
They ignored me, despite my frequent pleas for them to listen to me.
“Let me talk to him.” I heard Frank’s voice in the doorway.
“I’m sorry, he has to be assessed first,” was the reply.
“At least let me talk to the doctor then!”
“Yes, alright but we’ll get him settled, then you can speak to the doctor.”
“Frank!” I yelled as I saw him ushered from the room.
Tears welled in my eyes. I was lost in my own confusion. The sedative they had given me was making me forget things, I felt fuzzy and finally sleepy. The last thing I heard as I closed my eyes was the duty nurse sigh then address Frank as she stepped from the room.
“Come with me.”
It’s now four days later and I’m sitting on the bed in my room thinking. There isn’t really anything else to do, there’s nothing else I want to do. It’s Mikey’s trial date today and I’ve done nothing to help him, in fact, I probably made things worse.
Mikey? You say. Yes, Mikey. My brother; the guy I tried to kill. You see, Brandt’s drugs and programming have worn off and I remember everything. Everything he did to me, but worst of all, everything he made me do. I’d take any amount of his torture if I could just take those actions back. I’ll go to prison and I’ll deserve it. Doctors have been in here almost every couple of hours since I was locked up, taking blood and asking the same questions over and over. Of course, over time, my replies changed from ‘It’s not Mikey’ to ‘Brandt had me under his control and forced me to do it’. Way to go Gerard! Both sound just as crazy as each other! The police have been in a couple of times too. But none of the guys, not even Frank, I really thought if anyone would realise what had happened to me, it would have been him. But I guess I went too far, there’s no forgiveness for what I did. In many ways, not having to see them was actually going to make it a little easier. I really don’t think I could look any of them in the eyes again, not after what I did. Unfortunately as is ever the case, I wasn’t going to be let off that lightly. After about another hour brooding on my own, the door to my cell opened. I had expected it to be a doctor or the police again. I didn’t expect it to be Frank and Mikey.
“Can we come in, Gee?” Frank asked strangely subdued.
I don’t know what he expected me to do or say; I was hardly going to refuse. I took a deep breath – if nothing else, I at least owed them an apology, even if it would never be enough. I nodded – I still couldn’t look at them – and I heard the door close behind them. It struck me as odd immediately that Mikey was here. It was his trial date, but perhaps I had got confused over what day it was. Regardless, it didn’t seem like a good opening question, and with so many other things to say, now didn’t seem to be the time to raise it. If I was going to raise anything, it really should have been my eyes, but I couldn’t do that either. Okay, here goes.
“I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am, guys… Mikey,” I began with my tear filled eyes staring intently at the bed sheets. “I just don’t have enough words to tell you how bad I feel about what I did.” I started to speed up. “I’ve thought about nothing else and the words just sound so lame and pathetic. I know that whatever I say won’t ever be enough and you probably all hate me and…”
I was stunned into silence as Mikey dragged me off the bed and pulled me into a tight, comforting, reassuring embrace. There was something urgent about the energy he invested in it. It felt like he never intended to let go.
“But…” I was lost for words.
Mikey now held me at arms length so that he could look me straight in the eye.
“When all the evidence, including my own words, suggested that I was a murderer, you all stood by me, even months later when it looked as though I was crazy. You knew, without question that it wasn’t me and I know it wasn’t you!”
“I tried to kill you!”
Mikey shook his head. “No, Gee, listen to me! Brandt controlled you, with all his drugs and torture, believe me, I know! You wouldn’t kill anyone, not even him! But he forced you. Besides, it wasn’t even me you were trying to kill.”
I looked at him, puzzled.
“You kept telling me that you knew I wasn’t Mikey. That I was someone trying to kill him. You were trying to protect me.”
I wasn’t convinced, but he was right about one thing. If we expected him to accept that we didn’t blame him for what he did, then it had to work both ways. For the first time, I voluntarily looked him in the eyes and he smiled broadly.
“So what now? How come you’re here? Isn’t it your trial date? I’m sorry I messed things up.”
“It’s cancelled,” Frank replied. “All charges dropped.”
“You’re free?” I pulled him into another hug. “That’s awesome! But how?”
Frank and Mikey both laughed and I pulled back to find out what was so funny.
“Both of you,” Frank clarified.
I was really confused now and I dropped back down on the bed while I took it all in. When I next looked up, Frank and Mikey had pulled chairs over to sit also.
“When you were brought in here,” Frank began, “I spoke to your doctor. I convinced him to review Mikey’s files. It turned out that the results of blood tests he’d had throughout the months he was here didn’t match the medication he was supposed to be getting. Some of the results showed traces of drugs that could be used in combination with hypnosis for mind control. He tested you, same drugs. I contacted Brandt, pretending to be the Hospital Administrator. I told him that Mikey had died and that you, on hearing the news, committed suicide. I asked him not to say anything about it publicly as the family hadn’t been informed. Anything just to keep him away. Anyway, as the drugs wore off and you remembered things that matched what Mikey was saying, despite having no contact, it was enough to convince the police to get a warrant to search his house.”
“That’s why you didn’t come to see me?” I asked hopefully.
“Yeah,” Frank nodded. “I’m sorry about that, but you had to be saying things you couldn’t possibly have been told.”
I smiled my understanding.
“What did they find?”
Frank sighed. “They found the drugs, Mikey’s diary, a sort of cell in the basement and they found another young guy locked up down there being tortured just as you had been.”
“He was actually caught in the act?”
“Yeah,” Frank laughed. “So, you’re free.”
“There was a trigger, a phrase he said that made me do what he wanted. Will it… you know if I hear it again?”
“No,’ Frank shook his head. “Your doctor says that’s all gone with the drugs, nothing to worry about.”
“You did all that?”
“Yeah, but not just me.”
Frank signalled to the door and Ray and Bob entered, smiling broadly. Relief washed over me that it was finally at an end. I pulled everyone in for a group hug. My best friends, through everything.