“You’re sorry.” Missy shifted again and the back of her hospital gown separated in an irritating way. She reached behind to straighten it out, but the cotton gown stuck and tangled with the bed’s cotton sheet. It was hard to tell which was which. She gave up. “Sorry for what?”
“For being so careless.” Jeff said. “You’ve lost so much all because of me.”
“It’s okay, Dad. It doesn’t matter. Well, I guess it matters. But it doesn’t really matter if that makes sense. Because, despite it all, I’m here and you’re here and Raven is here and we’re all okay. I am me. Maybe not the me I was before I got kidnapped. I don’t really know that me. I just know I can’t be her anymore. She was a kid. I’m not. She had her sorrows and hurts, but she was never used for experiments that made her hurt and burn and scream and cry and catch fire.”
The stricken expression on his face stopped her words.
“My baby, what did they do to you?” Jeff asked.
She shifted again and the gown’s back separated even further. “My baby.” she said softly. “He calls me ‘my baby’ and…I am. I was. I am. I still am. But I’m not a baby anymore. I’m all grown up. But I’m still his daughter. I’m still his child, even though I’m not a child. I am not that child, not that Teresa Farsigh.”
She looked down at the hospital blanket.
“You know the routine, XQ.” Antioch said.
She crawled to the furthest corner and sat.
Fire-colors glowed in spots all over her legs. Or maybe they didn’t.
Maybe the flames were in her eyes.
Antioch closed the door and locked it.
“The blankets at The Institute weren’t as nice as this one. They were made out of some sort of material that looked and felt like paper but it couldn’t catch on fire. It was hard to sleep under it. The blanket never laid right on me. It always poofed a little above me. It tore easily. It smelled like chemicals.”
Missy bothered a snag in the blanket – pinching it, pulling it. “I’m glad this blanket isn’t like that one.” She kept pestering it -pulling it, tugging it.
She stopped. “Is The Institute really burned down?”
Jeff hesitated. “I haven’t been in that side of town. So, I’m not sure.”
She looked up at him. “I hope it’s gone. I hope it’s gone for good.”
LM left the cafeteria in disgust.
There were so many people in there. Crowds of people. Loads of people. Oodles and gobs and messes of noisy, friendly, very happy people.
It made him feel ill.
He fumed as he walked down the hall.
How can they even be that happy in a hospital? It doesn’t make sense. It actually violates sense. It’s indecent. It’s sickening.
I just want quiet.
I just want to be alone. Why can’t any of them understand something so simple?
LM stopped outside a room with stained glass doors. He cautiously touched it. The royal blue glass was smooth and cool. The black grout between the individual pieces felt dry and coarse.
Well? What’s this?
He searched the door for any Do Not Enter signs.
There were none.
Just a frosted glass name plate with the word “CHAPEL” written in bold black letters.
He opened the door and went inside.
It was a basic, square room. Rows of folding chairs faced a large simplified cross on the wall straight ahead of him.
It was quiet.
The overhead spotlights were dimmed to a considerate level. The stained glass painted the chairs and carpet royal blue.
LM chose a chair in the back row.
His mind went silent. All of his hurt and anger and frustration went still.
He focused on the cross. It hung there – just two simple planks of wood joined together in the middle. No gold. No silver. No gemstones of any kind. No inscriptions. And he had no clue what it was supposed to represent.
Capernaum would have known.
I have no doubts about it.