Chapter 16:

You just had to shoot her

School For The Mediums

“Isn’t it all quite so breathtaking?” Dr. Satori lovingly sighs.Bookmark here

I push my hands into my jacket pockets and turn to stare at her.Bookmark here

A part of me wants to correct her.Bookmark here

Dark. Dreary. Suffocating. Intimating.Bookmark here

Those are the words I’m thinking of.Bookmark here

“It really is.” Mom takes her hands off her hips and settles a soft gaze on me. “What do you think, Hadiza? You’re going to feel comfortable here?”Bookmark here

I see her eyes. She’s got this look. Terrified, anxious, hopeful, wistful. It’s all jumbled together into a mix of scrunched brows, tight lips, and dilated black pupils.Bookmark here

I scared her. I… still scare her. So, now we’re heading on the property of some huge mental hospital for crazy people, where I’m expected to stay until I ‘get better’. She doesn’t know how long that will be, and neither do I. I don’t think anyone knows.Bookmark here

So, she needs me to say yes.Bookmark here

“Hadiza?” Mom tries again. I can hear her trying to hide the begging plead in her voice.Bookmark here

She really needs me to say yes.Bookmark here

But all I can do is grip my fists and turn my back to them. The distant landscape of forest trees and bushes on the other side of the property seems like the perfect view to ignore the stinging look of Mom’s disappointment.Bookmark here

“Hadiza.” Mom sighs.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, Yuna-san. A lot of the kids when they first come here are emotionally tense.”Bookmark here

“Emotionally tense?”Bookmark here

“As in emotionally distraught.”Bookmark here

I let their voices fade into the background as I reach for my phone in my back pocket.Bookmark here

“Huh?” As soon as my hand slips into an empty pocket, confusion settles.Bookmark here

Did I leave my phone in the car?Bookmark here

I turn around and march my way past Dr. Satori and Mom. I do my best to avoid Mom’s gaze.Bookmark here

“Yes, some are just emotional---Something the matter, Dizzy Diza?” Dr. Satori stops mid-sentence distracted by me as I pull open the car doors.Bookmark here

I don’t want to speak or answer that awful name, but I feel Mom’s attentive stare.Bookmark here

‘Don’t be rude, Hadiza, it is just a silly nickname. She said she gives all of her patient's nicknames so they can feel more comfortable around us.’ I can already hear her complaining.Bookmark here

With a grimace, I reply, “I left my phone in the car.”Bookmark here

“Phone? You didn’t tell her?”Bookmark here

“Tell me what?” I slam the car shut and whip around to face Dr. Satori.Bookmark here

“There are no phones, computers, cameras, voice recorders, and really any other electronic devices allowed on the Institute’s premise.” Dr. Satori finishes listing it out on her fingers with a smile. “Any outside devices or technology that interfere with the treatments are not allowed.”Bookmark here

I narrow my eyes. “So, you’re isolating us.”Bookmark here

“I wouldn’t call it that.” Dr. Satori laughs, her fox-cut eyes shrinking.Bookmark here

I’d call it that.” I challenge with a small glare.Bookmark here

“Will you, now?” Dr. Satori is taken aback a bit.Bookmark here

“N-no, no she won’t. Hadiza.” Mom stares at me.Bookmark here

“And you knew about this ‘policy’?” I return her stare.Bookmark here

“… Yes.” Mom locks her throat. I can see the muscles in her neck tightening. “I know how this may make you feel, but, as I understand it, it’s… for you to get better. Dr. Satori says that the outside world may be stressful and could trigger you at any moment.”Bookmark here

“I’m not a ticking bomb,” I snap. My heart rate is starting up again, and I feel a rush of betrayal and anger pulsing in my face.Bookmark here

“No one said you were,” Mom says.Bookmark here

Then why is it I feel like I’m being treated like it? The thought comes, but I don’t have the heart to say it.Bookmark here

“Sure.” I look away and storm to the open car trunk to snatch my luggage.Bookmark here

Of course, Mom packed me with the largest and heaviest luggage, so when I do, I stumbled and almost tripped.Bookmark here

“Hadiza?”Bookmark here

I hear her concern, but I catch myself right before I clumsily topple over.Bookmark here

You’re stupid. You’re stupid. You’re stupid. You’re stupid. You’re stupid. You’re stupid.Bookmark here

A faint voice from somewhere in the abyss of my broken head fades in out and out as usual.Bookmark here

Annoyed and more than ready for this day to end, I haul my suitcase and roll it towards the main building I’ve seen in the informational pamphlets.Bookmark here

Ahem.” Dr. Satori clears her throat. “Well, Yuna-san. She’s ready to go inside, which means it’s time for you to go.”Bookmark here

“Are you sure I can’t come inside?”Bookmark here

Their voices follow me as I roll my bag past them.Bookmark here

“The pictures and the 3d layout and models of the buildings were nice, but it would be better to see it in person. Just so I know, my daughter will be comfortable here. You understand as a parent, I need it.”Bookmark here

Yuna-san,” Dr. Satori singly buzzes. “You know we have strict policies. You read in the contracts that we do not allow outsiders and visitors to disturb the patient’s treatments. When it is a visiting day, you can come to visit.”Bookmark here

“But that is one day out of the year, at the very end of the year. That’s a very long time, and this is my daughter we’re talking about,” Mom emphasizes.Bookmark here

“You formally accepted and verbally agreed that you understood our treatment policies, and will comply with what the Institutes needs. We are professionals. We have these measures to help the children. Please trust in our judgment.”Bookmark here

“Yes, but---.”Bookmark here

I turn around and quickly interrupt. “Just leave.”Bookmark here

I’m tired of hearing them go back and forth.Bookmark here

I’m stuck here whether or not Mom’s holding my hand through this process.Bookmark here

“Hadiza?” She’s clearly hurt.Bookmark here

“Just go.” I turn away.Bookmark here

“But, Hadiza, I just want to make sure you’re settled in and are truly comfortable.”Bookmark here

“Don’t need it.” I start walking ahead.Bookmark here

“You heard her.” I can still hear Dr. Satori’s calm and certain voice.Bookmark here

“Yes, but---?”Bookmark here

“Off to the car you go, Yuna-san!”Bookmark here

“Oh, b-but Dr. Satori, I need to at least give her another hug and---.”Bookmark here

“—Yuna-san, there will be plenty of hugs and kisses when you come to visit in a few months.”Bookmark here

“Yes, but---Hadiza?”Bookmark here

I keep walking.Bookmark here

“Hadiza!”Bookmark here

“Come on, Yuna-san, it’s time to leave.”Bookmark here

“B-but….”Bookmark here

Just for a moment, I peek back at them. Defeated, Mom stands a little hopelessly by the car door while Dr. Satori eagerly tries to usher her into the seat.Bookmark here

As soon as she manages to get Mom inside, Dr. Satori quickly slams the car door. She then walks over to the driver’s side and lightly knocks on the car window.Bookmark here

Knock! Knock!Bookmark here

After she firmly closes the car door, Dr. SatoriBookmark here

Schrr!Bookmark here

Slowly, it rolls down just partially to where I could see the top of a head and the beginning of eyes. All I can see is pale skin and platinum silver hair, but just before I can make out the full details, Dr. Satori leans in front of the window.Bookmark here

She’s muttering something, and all I can make out are a few simple words. “… can… have… bubble gum?”Bookmark here

Those words weren’t anything notable until I heard a familiar, distinct sound of someone popping and smacking gum.Bookmark here

Pop!Bookmark here

In fact, it sounded just like those weirdo-maybe-reporters who were standing in front of my house a few days ago.Bookmark here

Pop!Bookmark here

I hear it again as Dr. Satori steps away from the car window.Bookmark here

My heart drops.Bookmark here

Pale, milky white skin, and hair the color of white sliver. That man and woman who stood in front of my house before are now in the driver’s seat of the same limousine that drove me here. It’s also the same one that’s about to drive my mom back home.Bookmark here

My suitcase handle slips from my grasp.Bookmark here

Mom.”Bookmark here

I don’t think. I just started running towards the car.Bookmark here

“Mom!” I screech and squawk like a bird and flap my arms around just as wildly. “Mom!”Bookmark here

But my timing is too late. All I’m doing is running towards a car that’s already halfway down the main road.Bookmark here

“Woah, slow down there, Dizzy Diza!” Dr. Satori chuckles.Bookmark here

I’m panting and sweating bullets by the time I stumble to the spot where they’ve just left.Bookmark here

“What’s going, Dizzy Diza?”Bookmark here

The nickname annoys me, but I keep my focus straight. “My… mom….” I stop to pant between breaths. “There were some… I think stalkers… they stalked my house and now they… they’re… they were in the car with my mom.” I finish with a gasp for air.Bookmark here

“Stalkers?” Dr. Satori tilts her head.Bookmark here

“Yes!” I finally have enough breath to exclaim loudly at her.Bookmark here

“In the car with your mom?”Bookmark here

“Yes! They were at my house and I thought were reporters or just some weirdos who wanted to see me because my heart stopped but now---.” I stop and knot my tongue.Bookmark here

The way Dr. Satori is staring at me… it’s almost like she knows.Bookmark here

I feel the blood drain from my face.Bookmark here

“Hadiza-san?”Bookmark here

I take a step back from her.Bookmark here

“Hadiza-san, what’s wrong?” She smiles.Bookmark here

Her smile makes my stomach twist.Bookmark here

She knows.Bookmark here

“Hadiza-san---?” When reaches out for me, I whip around and prepare to burst into a sprint.Bookmark here

What is going on?Bookmark here

What is going on?Bookmark here

The question is hammering in my head as I pump my legs. I don’t know where my panicked adrenaline rush is going to take me but I know I don’t want to stop---.Bookmark here

“—Ah.”Bookmark here

Something sharp pierces my back. The pain is sudden and short, but the shock alone knocks me to my knees.Bookmark here

Thud.Bookmark here

Everything feels weak as my body crumbles to the ground.Bookmark here

Tap. Tap. Crunch.Bookmark here

I hear footsteps approaching, but the rest of my senses are turning numb and my vision fading. All I can see in my spinning world is Dr. Satori and an unfamiliar man in a tie-dye lab coat looking down at me.Bookmark here

Haah.” Dr. Satori tilts her head at me. “You just had to shoot her with a tranquilizer, didn’t you?”Bookmark here

“She just had to run, didn’t she?” I can’t make out the features of the man’s face through my closing eyes.Bookmark here

“You know, Mirani is going to be mad at you.”Bookmark here

“Good. I like that little nose crinkle she gets when she’s mad. It’s ugly, but it gets me every time.”Bookmark here

Miao Miao
Shahi John
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