After three days in isolation, Shania was moved out, though not back to the room she had shared with Bianca. Bianca had gotten a new roommate during her stay in isolation yet they still saw each other at Group, meals, and in the courtyard.
This time around she would be roommates with a thirty-year-old woman named Barbie. With her blue eyes and pale blond hair, Shania could see how she’d gotten her name. All she needed to complete the image was a giant pair of boobs and legs a mile long.
The room they were in was towards the middle of the long corridor, about four doors down from the room she’d shared with Bianca, and closer to Lauren’s office.
She and Barbie were in bed one evening reading when a strange vibration rippled throughout the room.
Shania glanced up from her book. “Did you feel that tremor?” she asked.
“Yeah, it was just a little mini earthquake. No big deal.”
“Think this place could stand up to a major earthquake?”
“Unfortunately,” answered Barbie, who had been committed after two botched suicide attempts which Shania could not understand. The girl seemed so happy and perky that she couldn’t even begin to guess as to why she would want to die. Also, since she hadn’t come out and told her why she had attempted suicide, Shania wasn’t about to ask. “This place is pretty much built to withstand an earthquake as places in Florida are built to hurricane standards.”
Shania almost wished an earthquake or a big gust of wind would take the place apart. Her heart began to race at the prospect of never escaping, so to ease her anxiety she brought images of Lauren to mind instead and tried to hide the smile that formed on her face. As much as she longed to share her growing fondness for the tall dark beauty, she knew it wouldn’t be in her best interest to do so. She also felt more sure that Lauren liked her as well and that her interest in her was more of a personal one than a professional one.
Now that she was on second shift, Lauren no longer headed the morning group therapy sessions. Shania was glad she’d switched shifts. She’d always been more of a late afternoon/night person anyway.
She lay awake that night long after Barbie and most of the other patients had fallen asleep. As was always the case, the staff made their hourly checks, shining flashlights into the rooms. After one such check, Shania rose and shuffled over to the window, careful not to wake Barbie, whose bed was closest to the window.
She reached through the bars and raised the Plexiglas window a few inches to let the cool breeze wash over her. The pleasant night air caressed her face as she gazed out towards the parking lot. Sodium vapor lights illuminated the rows of parked cars.
If she could only squeeze herself through the bars and find an unlocked car with its keys in the ignition…
Stop dreaming! she chided herself. Find a more realistic solution to the problem.
But what could that possibly be?
She threw a robe over her nightgown and yawned. Next, she stepped out into the corridor. Looking both ways, she saw no one in sight. The large clock on the wall at the end of the corridor by the nurses’ station said it was well past midnight.
She headed left, away from the station. Wearing only socks on her feet, she stole silently down the polished tiled corridor. Once she got to the bottom of the I where the isolation rooms were located, she glanced toward Lauren and the clinical evaluator’s office.
All was clear.
Then she looked longingly at the door across from the offices. Lauren had warned her against any foolhardy escape attempts that were doomed to fail from the get-go and jeopardize her chances of future attempts. Therefore, she would not lie in wait for the door to open. Instead, she tried the knob to Lauren’s office. It was locked.
She moved over to the evaluator’s door and placed her hand on the knob.
She stepped into the darkened room and shut the door behind her. She hated to turn on a light, knowing it could be seen from the courtyard, but there was no other way to see through the darkness that enveloped her, not that she really expected to find anything of much interest or value to her. Anything like that would be much more securely hidden.
She fumbled alongside the wall just inside the door until her hand hit the light switch. The room came awash in fluorescent light. In her present state of anxiety, the light seemed almost as bright as the sun itself.
Not finding anything of interest on the cluttered desk, she stood up straight and eyed a metal filing cabinet. If there was any information on her in this room, it was probably in the cabinet as well as on the computer. Not wanting to take the time to start the computer, which she feared may make noise and draw attention, she headed over to the cabinet. To her dismay, it was locked.
She studied the room some more, then, realizing she truly wasn’t going to find anything that might be useful for her escape, she turned out the light. That’s when she heard the woman’s cries.
“No! Please don’t make me do this. Not tonight!”
Shania was confused at first. Then she realized the voice had come from the courtyard, not from inside the building. She scurried over to the window, knocking a pile of papers off the corner of the desk along the way. Gently parting the slats in the blinds, she peered out into the courtyard.
A woman was being shoved up against a wall by a young tall, wiry man Shania recognized to be Bruce, one of the night staff. She couldn’t see the woman at first because Bruce was blocking her from view.
Bruce had always given Shania at least a mild case of the creeps, undressing her with his eyes, and asking her personal questions. She’d only seen him twice when returning from the lounge with a late-night cup of blueberry tea, though she didn’t like him or Malcolm, the mean-looking African-American guy he usually worked with.
Bruce now stepped aside so that Shania could see the woman’s identity with which he was trying to have his way. It was Larisa.
“Why not?” Bruce asked her. “You’re an admitted whore, you can’t sleep, you want a cigarette, so why not a little trade-off here? Sometimes you gotta give a little to get a little, girl.”
“It’s after smoking hours,” Larisa said shakily.
“Oh, and you’re a real stickler for rules now, aren’t you?” Bruce said sarcastically.
“Just let me go to bed, Bruce. I’m tired and I’m tired of you. So much so that in another minute I’m going to punch you so hard, you’ll be unconscious for weeks.”
“Oh, I’m so scared,” Bruce said in a high-pitched, shrilly voice.
“You should be.”
Shania turned and left the room. Relieved to find the hall empty, she ran down towards the door to the courtyard and burst through it.
Bruce jumped back away from Larisa, both startled and annoyed.
“There you are,” Shania said out of breath.
“What do you want?” he snapped.
“Some guy’s running up and down the hallway threatening to kill himself.”
Bruce eyed her skeptically, then flashed Larisa a look of warning before entering the building.
Larisa looked shook up, yet relieved. Unseen by Bruce, Shania gave her a wink.
“Where is he and who the hell is it anyway?” asked Bruce.
Shania turned to face him and said, “Don’t know. I’ve never seen him before. He’s big and mean-looking is all I know,” she added, making up the false description on the spot.
Bruce stood gazing down the long corridor just as Malcolm came up behind him. “Everything alright here?” he asked.
“Shania here said a big, mean-looking dude was running up and down the hall threatening to kill himself, but I don’t see anyone.”
“He was here a minute ago,” Shania insisted, hoping she sounded convincing.
Bruce looked down the long corridor again and said, “Ok, both of you are to go to bed now and we’ll check it out.”
Shania was never more than glad to head for her room as was Larisa.