Chapter 14 in No Escape

  • June 9, 2022, 2:13 a.m.
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The following evening, Shania had regained enough of her sense of awareness and strength to attend her session with Lauren in her office.

“They say,” Shania began, “that there’s a reason for everything. That God has a plan for all of us.”

Lauren nodded gently.

“But how can this be part of His plan for me, unless He actually wants me to suffer?” Shania finished desperately.

Lauren sighed. As much as she wished she had some answers, all she could do was shrug, for life was just as much of a mystery to her as it was for most others. “I think that someday we’ll have all the answers. It just might not be in this life.”

“Do you believe that? Or do you think that’s a big case of pure wishful thinking?”

Again all Lauren could do was shrug. She felt helpless to Shania like never before. She was well aware of the fact that the girl’s sorrow was turning more and more to rage and she worried about that. If pushed over the edge too many more times by some of the sickos she was realizing she worked with, Shania just may kill one of them. She was worried for her. If she was provoked into killing someone, she may end up in prison for the rest of her life without the slightest hope of escape.

But what was one to do when they were viciously slapped across the face? When others had so much power over you while you had nothing whatsoever?

Shania rose suddenly, surprising Lauren. Then she stepped over to where she sat and threw her arms around her.

Lauren wrapped her own arms around her as well.

“I know we’re not supposed to do this,” said Shania, “but with so many things that aren’t supposed to happen around here as it is, what’s one more?”

Lauren held Shania tighter, gently nuzzling the side of her cheek with hers, softly caressing her back.

Shania pulled away almost as abruptly as she’d embraced her. “I suppose we better not get carried away.”

Lauren smiled and gently nodded with understanding.

“The last thing we need is for you to get fired.”

Shania sat back down in her own chair as Lauren said, “We all need a hug every now and then.”

Shania nodded. “Have you learned anything?”

“Not a whole lot, but it does appear that the good doctor is having an affair with Quinn.”

Shania took a moment to absorb this revelation, then said, “I suppose I shouldn’t be too shocked. I’ve known long before I came here that the bastard had it in him to stray. As for her? She’s totally the type to fall for a guy like Hoffritz. I mean, doesn’t she strike you as the type to want to be pampered by a rich man like a doctor?”

Lauren nodded again. “Yes, I suppose she does.”

“She seems to have so much of Maureen in her. She’s just a spoiled, selfish little brat. The kind who will spite herself to spite others to get what she wants in the end, regardless of who gets burned along the way.”

“Some people are like that, unfortunately.”

The two sat in silence a moment, then Lauren said, “They moved you into a regular room this afternoon, correct?”

Shania nodded.

“Do you have a roommate?”

“No.”

“That must be nice.”

“Yes, I like my solitude. Especially in this godforsaken place.”

Lauren smiled. “I hear you on that one.”

They talked about their pasts. Sometimes it was good for Shania to take a break from focusing on the crisis she was in any way. Everyone needed to come up for air every now and then during a time of madness.

Shania learned that Lauren was originally from Oklahoma and had come to southern California for the same reasons many others had – the pleasant climate. She didn’t like the crowds, the congested freeways or the smog, though she was willing to put up with it, understanding that that was simply the price you paid when you wanted to live where so many others did as well.

Lauren had had her share of dates and short romances, though they never turned serious. She did not wish to have any children, though perhaps she may one day like to adopt an older child, or maybe even provide temporary care and housing to foster kids in need of a place to stay until their futures looked more certain as to whether or not they’d be placed for adoption, or return to their biological families.

They discussed things they liked, as well as things that annoyed them.

“Snoring drives me crazy,” said Lauren. “How ‘bout you? What do you find really annoying?”

Shania thought about it a moment, then said, “Noisy eaters.”

“Noisy eaters?”

She nodded. “The kind that makes these sickening slurping sounds when they eat. They disgust me.”

Lauren chuckled.

“Is your friend Courtney gay or does she just not like men?” asked Shania.

Lauren chuckled again. “Well, I can assure you she isn’t always happy with men, though she is quite straight.”

“Oh, I see. I’m just trying to keep your friends straight in my mind, pardon the pun,” Shania said before the two roared with laughter. It was hard to contain themselves, though Lauren gestured with her hand for them to lower their voices. Finally, they had to clamp a hand over their mouths until they’d gained control once again.

“So you’ve never fallen for a patient before?” Shania asked, still somewhat giggly.

“Nope. Courtney thinks I’m crazy as it is.”

“You told her about me?”

Lauren nodded. “I can understand her concern. If I were in her shoes I’d worry myself, never having met you, and I just may think I was losing it, too.”

“Are you sure she won’t cause problems if I can ever escape and get to you?”

“Courtney? No, she’s a very trustworthy person.”

“I guess it doesn’t matter anyway since it’s looking more and more unlikely that I’ll ever make it out of here.”

The jovial mood that had been in the air dissipated, allowing a pall to settle in the room once more.

“Shania, you mustn’t think like that. I know it’s hard, really I do, but you can’t give up hope. Not now.”

“How long have I been in this place anyway?”

“Coming up on three weeks.”

Shania looked stunned. “Three weeks?”

Lauren nodded.

“It feels like three months,” Shania said dubiously. “No, three years.”

“Yes, they say that not only does time fly when you’re having fun, but it slows down to a crawl when you’re not.”

“Tell me about it!” Shania said emphatically. “Each minute in here is like an hour, each day is like a week.”

“How is Mindy doing?” Lauren asked, trying to get Shania to talk about positive things, even if she may never see her friend again.

Instead, Shania looked even more downcast at the mention of Mindy’s name and said, “She’s ok. I told her that since it may be a while before I can break free of this hell hole, to go ahead and do whatever it is she needs to do.”

“Like what?”

“Like getting a new roommate to help share the expenses.” Shania sighed heavily.

Lauren eyed Shania with empathy. For a moment, Shania looked as if she were about to cry all over again. Instead, she turned angry.

“I know I shouldn’t be saying this to anyone, not even you, but oh how I’d like to kill Hoffritz and that shit niece of his! If I don’t find a way to break out, I could be here for years!”

Lauren put a finger across her lips. “Shhh. These sessions aren’t always as private as you might think. Especially if someone happens to be just outside in the hall.”

“Ok, I’ll be quieter,” Shania said, glancing at the closed door as if she expected it to open up and for someone to report that they had heard her talking about escaping and killing Hoffritz and Maureen.

“You’ve got to keep your chin up, Shania,” Lauren urged her. “I told you that yes, it could take months before you can get out of here, but you will get out.”

Shania sank even deeper into her depression once her session with Lauren ended. Nonetheless, she rose to return to her room.

She had just rounded the corner to the long part of the I when she spotted Quinn exiting her room and heading away from her, towards the station. Shania quickened her pace and soon broke into a slight trot.

Once inside the room, she visually scanned it from left to right. Everything appeared to be untouched at just a quick glance. The empty bed hadn’t been made up and prepped for a new roommate to come. Instead, the green plastic mattress was still bare.

Had Quinn simply been in the room just out of curiosity? She didn’t think so. She knew deep down that Quinn could only be up to no good.

She moved to open the drawer of her nightstand. Nothing was out of the ordinary. Her kiwi-strawberry lip gloss and cocoa butter lotion were still there, along with the mystery novel she was reading when her nerves would ease up enough to let her focus on it.

She then turned to the small three-drawer dresser that stood against the wall just inside the doorway, a few feet from her bed.

Bingo!

Inside the top drawer next to her underwear, was a crinkled piece of plastic wrapped around a few odd-looking pills which Shania couldn’t even begin to identify.

Then it hit her. Whatever they were, they were meant to be used against her in another set-up. This no doubt meant that Quinn would probably tell other staff members that someone whose identity she promised to protect, had informed her that she had drugs.

Quick! Hurry!

Shania snatched the wrapped pills and sped into the bathroom with them. She flushed them down the toilet. Not even ten seconds later, they stormed into the room.

“Ok, Miss McCarthy,” said Victoria, pulling on a pair of plastic gloves. “Step out into the hall, please.” She let the second glove snap back loudly against her wrist once it was on.

“What’s up?” Shania asked dumbly, noting both Quinn and Shelvin, a young pleasant guy who appeared to be at least part Middle Eastern.

“Just step on out,” Victoria ordered.

Shania did as she was told, though she remained in the doorway where she could see what was happening. Quinn remained silent as she helped Victoria perform their search. Shelvin merely watched, making light of the event for Shania’s sake. “It’s just the usual crap we have to go through around here,” he said with a smile. “Believe me, I’d rather be somewhere else than doing this.”

Shania smiled. She noted Quinn’s eyes darting anxiously towards the top dresser drawer as she sifted through the nightstand drawer.

Finally, Victoria came out of the bathroom. “Nothing there,” she said. “You check the dresser yet?”

Quinn shook her head.

Victoria yanked open the top drawer so hard, Shania was surprised it didn’t fall out.

Although it was obvious to no one else other than herself, Shania could see that while Quinn tried her damnedest to hide it, it was evident that she was both shocked and dismayed when the search turned up empty.

“Well, I guess we wasted our time here after all,” Victoria said, glancing around the room as she peeled off her gloves. Then she turned to the doorway. “Ok, Miss McCarthy, you can come back in now.”

“See, that wasn’t so bad,” Shelvin said with a smile as he passed Shania, followed by Victoria and then by Quinn, who eyed Shania with red-hot animosity.

Shania gave Quinn a slight yet obvious smile of triumph.

In the dream, his breath stunk. It reeked of alcohol. He was touching her, making her stomach churn with disgust.

“Come on, girl, wake up. It’s time for a little fun, and God knows we need a whole lot more of that going on around here.”

Wait a minute. This was no dream. The familiar voice was real!

Shania’s eyes snapped open to find Bruce hovering above her.

“No madmen in the hallway threatening to commit suicide tonight. No, all’s nice and quiet if I do say so myself. The whole ward’s sound asleep. It’s just you and me, babe.”

Shania quickly sat upright. “No way! Get the hell out of here, Bruce!” she screamed.

He clamped a hand over her mouth. She pried it away and began to cuss him out. Again he clamped a hand over her mouth. “Shut up, you bitch!” he hissed.

She wrenched his hand away a second time. “Get the fuck out of here now!”

“Who the fuck do you think you’re bossing around, you split chick! I give the orders around here, not you.” He smacked her across the mouth.

She smacked him back, drawing blood. This fueled his fury. He began tearing at her nightgown while she continued to fight him. “What, do you want to go to jail?” she said. “How in the world do you expect to get away with this? You know they can do DNA tests from your semen.”

“I’m not going to be dumb enough to let myself get off,” Bruce said.

“Then what’s the point? Why build yourself up for nothing? Wouldn’t that be as dumb as making yourself thirsty when there’s no water around to drink?” she asked as he continued to struggle with her gown and she with him.

“I said shut up, bitch.”

Ignoring him she said, “Your fingerprints are still going to be traceable. They’re all over me now. No doubt some hairs, too. Maybe even bits of skin under my nails from clawing at you.”

Bruce froze. A moment later he slowly pulled himself back. Shania could sense he was beginning to worry about the possible consequences of what he’d done.

Shania grinned, grabbed hold of her gown in her fists and tore it some more. Bruce’s eyes widened in horror as she leaped from her bed and ran out of the room. At first, Bruce gave chase as she raced up the corridor towards the nurses’ station.

“Help! Help me! He tried to rape me!” she screamed.

She pumped her legs as fast as she could, dreading the possibility that the other staff member on duty might be on break and unable to help her. No, there had to be at least two staff members present. Even she knew that. If the other guy was on break, someone would be filling in for him. Even if they didn’t believe Bruce had attempted to rape her, he’d at least be off her ass for the night, since she couldn’t imagine there being any way he’d be dumb enough to risk another attempt after tonight. At least not on her.

She was hoping a female staff member was available, but to her dismay, Malcolm rounded the corner at the sound of her shouts. Still, he was better than nobody.

“What’s going on?” he demanded, brows set in that permanent mean-looking scowl.

Shania stopped short in front of him, panting. When she could catch her breath she said, “He-he tried to rape me.”

“Huh?” Malcolm said incredulously, frowning even more, making his ugly face uglier.

“Look at me,” Shania said, motioning to the torn gown. “He tried to rape me a few minutes ago.”

“She’s lying!” Bruce screamed so loud that she and Malcolm both jumped. His voice roared thunderously as he continued to defend himself. “That is a hundred percent total bull fucking shit!”

“The hell it is!” Shania screamed.

By now there were patients peering out of their doorways, including Larisa.

“I didn’t do shit to you! I simply went in to do a routine check when you started coming on to me.”

“And tore my gown while I was at it? Oh, go kill yourself, you crazy fool!” Shania spat.

“I believe her,” Larisa chimed in. “After all, you put the moves on me too, in the courtyard, Bruce, and you know damn well that’s true. You’re nothing but a slut. A desperate whore wanting me to give it to you so bad that you were willing to let me have a late-night cigarette just for doing so until Shania interfered.”

“Please, you’re all crazy!” Bruce yelled though Shania could see his defense was weakening by the minute. Especially with Larisa’s accusations to go along with her own.

Clearly, Malcolm wasn’t sure who to believe, though it was obvious enough that he wasn’t about to write off the possibility that what the patients were saying about his coworker just might be true. “Ok, buddy,” he said, putting a hand on Bruce’s shoulder. “Let’s go chill out with a smoke or something. Get away from this shit for a while. Connie and Dwight can take over.”

Bruce seemed to be a mixed concoction of emotions. He was embarrassed, frustrated, keyed up and angry. Nonetheless, he allowed himself to be led towards the nurses’ station where Malcolm, who ordered everyone back inside their rooms, could call for relief.


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