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Shay Sheridan - Reality

Chapter 24 - Shock

"No! Let me up, you moron!"

There was a commotion in the hallway. Mike could hear it as he moved relentlessly toward the front door of the nursing home. Voices were raised, two male voices. He didn't pay them much attention. He had to get to his car, get back to the cold grey house and his inevitable final reckoning with William.

He rounded the corner, and now, up ahead, he could see the source of the noise; a short, muscular orderly had his hands full trying to put a very tall man into a wheelchair. The patient was wearing some sort of straightjacket, but he'd managed to pull himself halfway out of it, and the orderly had resorted to manhandling him. Mike frowned. He hadn't seen the staff get physical with the patients before --it made him worry about what happened to Lisette when he wasn't there. But he didn't stop. He couldn't.

"Take this thing off me! I'm not crazy!"

"Listen, mister --" the orderly had a nasal, whiny voice, "it says here you're schizo, paranoid, bi-polar, alcoholic and a bed-wetter, so I'm not taking any chances! You're gonna put this on, and then we're gonna get a nice shocky-wocky, okay? You'll feel soooo much better after, I promise!" With a final wrench he leveraged the bigger man into the chair by sitting on him, and tied him down with restraints.

The patient struggled, his voice rising in panic. "I am not schizo, and, and you can't give me electric shock! I won't let you! There's nothing wrong with me --" He dropped his voice into a more rational tone. He squinted at the orderly's name tag. "All right, Billy, is that your name? Well, Billy, listen. It's a mistake, that's what happened, I don't know how but I --"

"Oooh, no, no no!" Billy shook his head, bobbing it like a spring-necked dog on a back window. "Right here on your chart it says, 'John Doe, paranoid schizophrenic, alcoholic, wets bed, E.C.T. --'" He stuck the chart under the patient's nose. "Charts don't lie, Mr. Doe!" He reached for the grips and started to swivel the chair away towards a grey door.

"No!" The man in the chair pulled and fought against the restraints, nearly shrieking his protest. Mike, passing them, flinched and glanced their way again. "It's all a mistake! I'm not a John Doe, I have a name, it's Tony Lewis! Call my daughter, she'll tell you, I'll pay you! I'll give you a reward! Call her, please! She'll tell you who I am! I'll give you the number! Her name is Virginia Lewis. Please!"

Mike stopped short.

"Don't worry, mister," the orderly was saying. "Shocky-wocky, then drooly-wooly, then sleepy-weepy! It will all be better soon." He shrugged. "Or not."

"No! Don't do this!" The man sounded desperate, terrified.

"Wait."

The orderly and the patient turned as one as Mike walked towards them. "Sorry, mister, I have to take this patient to --"

"No." Mike looked down at the man in the chair. "You're Virginia Lewis' father?"

The man stared up at him. "Yes. Yes, Tony Lewis. Listen. Listen, make this guy let me --"

"What's your address?"

"What? Two East 81st Street."

"My God." He is her father! Mike stared at Tony Lewis. Maybe Virginia's father was mentally ill. Maybe that's why she'd never let them meet. He looked at the man in front of him. No. She would have said something, especially after she met Lisette.

Hope dawned in the older man's eyes. "Please get me out of here -- are you a doctor?"

"No." Mike started to release the restraints, and Billy put up a hand to push him away. "Back off!" he growled at the orderly, who backed off immediately. "You've made a mistake. I'm releasing him."

""You can't do that!" Billy protested sulkily. "The chart says --"

"Shove the chart." Mike released the last bond. "There you go." Tony stood up shakily, wrestling off the straightjacket and throwing it at the orderly, who fought with the straps, cursing. The other two ignored him.

"I can't thank you enough. They were about to zap me. Case of mistaken identity, or worse. So..." He rubbed his wrist and put out his hand. "Who ARE you?"

"Oh, sorry," Mike said, grasping Tony's hand. "Should've said. I'm Mike Wolf. Virginia's ---"

That was as far as he got before Tony punched him in the jaw.

The force of the unexpected blow toppled Mike onto the floor, where he stayed, stupefied, his head buzzing. "What what the hell --"

"You son of a bitch!" Tony hissed at him. "Jerking my little girl around! How dare you do that to her, you prick, get her all starry-eyed about you while you're running around on your wife!"

"Wife?" Maybe he had heard wrong. "I don't --" he started to get up off the floor but Tony shoved him back. "Hey! Don't do that!"

"Why? You want a piece of me? Get up then, you low-life, and I'll really teach you a lesson!" Tony balled up his fists. "Not only do you screw around with my daughter, you cheat on that beautiful wife of yours. You don't deserve either one of them!"

"I don't have --"

"What? The balls to be honest?"

"Wife! I don't have a wife!"

"Yeah, sure."

"Will you just let me speak a minute?" Mike stared up at 6'3" of pissed-off parent. Tony stayed silent, but clenched his jaw. "It's the truth. I'm not married!" Mike scooted himself up against the wall and put out his hands placatingly. "I swear to you!"

"Oh, really?" The sarcasm poured from him. "Try again. I met her."

Mike's brow wrinkled in confusion. "Who? Where did you get the idea I was married?"

Tony's stern look wavered. "From...her. Your wife. Regina."

"Regina? No, you're wrong she... Jesus." Regina? She couldn't! He got upright, and Tony didn't try to stop him. "Tony, Regina and I work together. She's pretty intense sometimes, but I can't believe... my God." Thoughts, disturbing thoughts, were beginning to connect in his head. He looked at Tony under a very worried brow. "When did you talk to her?"

"Morning, I don't even know, is it still Sunday?" Mike nodded. "She came to the apartment, told me you were her husband, you were cheating on her -- well, I believed her. You're saying you're not..."

"No. We were involved awhile ago, and I knew she didn't take us breaking up too well, but I've known her all my life and I never thought she would do something like this..." He stopped and looked at Tony again. "Why are you here? How did you get here?"

Tony looked around sheepishly. "I don't really know where 'here' is."

"Russett Nursing Home. North Shore, near Port Jefferson."

"Jeez Louise... I have no idea! Regina was going to give me some things, she said they were Virginia's, and we went down to the car, and I was trying to find them under the seat..." he closed his eyes and screwed up his face. "And then-- " He blinked. "It's her. Regina. She must have hit me or something. Why would she do that?"

"I don't know, Tony. There are a lot of things happening that I really don't understand. But I'm going to find out. What Regina's up to..." He remembered, suddenly, Regina in the office, insulting Virginia while he stood by like a whipped puppy. Regina, just now in the house, elated, breathless... Could she --A shadow passed over his face and he grabbed Tony by the shoulders. "Where's Virginia?"

"I... I don't know. She went to see you and then she came back; she was going to the park... why? What do you, you don't think something's happened to her, too? Do you? Do you?"

"It better not have." Mike looked over Tony's shoulder and let go. The orderly was still there, still clutching the chart. "You."

"Me?" The orderly's eyes opened wide as Mike approached him. "I don't know anything about anything. That's what they pay me for."

"Who admitted him?"

"Who?"

"Me, you idiot!" Tony was at Mike's side.

The orderly smiled nervously, revealing a serious underbite lined with misshapen teeth. "Oh, you mean Mr. Doe?"

Mike was running out of patience. "Who brought him in? Tell me or --"

"Or what? You don't scare me!" The orderly stuck out his lower jaw pugnaciously. Mike and Tony looked at each other, disbelieving the runty fellow's attitude.

"Oh, really?" Mike had had enough, of the day, of liars, of frustration. He moved forward suddenly, slamming the shorter man against the wall. "That. Was. The. Wrong. Answer. Understand me?"

The orderly nodded. "Chart chart it's on the chart. Don't hurt me, okay? I'm fragile!"

Mike grabbed the chart and released him to sag down the wall. Tony read aloud over his shoulder. "'John Doe, admitted'...how? Where does it say?"

"Right there," Mike said grimly. "'Special admittance, R.R.'"

Tony caught a breath. "That's. . ." "Her, Regina. I don't understand this... I don't know what she has to do with this place... wait." The chart had two pages and he flipped to the last one. "'Administer E.C. therapy, restraints... keep isolated from patient in room 122S?" He looked up. Tony's confused gaze met his own.

"What does that mean?"

There was a noise and both turned in time to see the orderly slam through the gray doors.

"Let's go see."

There was an inner door behind the gray ones, and the moment they passed through it, they heard the sounds. Crying, sighing, someone wailing. It gave Mike the shivers. He'd heard all this before, in that dark time when he'd locked himself away to try to deal with his demons. The sound of tortured souls was one not easily forgotten. "I didn't know they had a psych ward like this here."

"What are you doing here, anyway?" Tony kept an eye on the door numbers but clearly was checking him out as well.

"My mother is here. Over on the other side. She's not well."

"I'm sorry." Tony bit his lip. Mike remembered Virginia saying my mother tried to drown me in the bathtub. He felt very sorry for Tony.

There was another door at the far end of the corridor, one with a lock, but the orderly had gone through just ahead of them and it hadn't snapped shut yet. Mike sprinted to it and got a grip on it before it locked.

Beyond it was a grey corridor, unadorned by pictures, or colorful paint, or comfortable couches as was the rest of the home. There was a window on the far wall, barred. The noise was no greater here, but the cries were more piteous. Someone wailed at a pitch that made Mike's ears ache.

They moved slowly down the corridor, expecting adversaries to come lurching at them. 122S was near the end on the right side. There was sound coming from inside, a woman's voice, and a metallic sound that reverberated and set his teeth on edge.

He looked at Tony, who nodded to him in some sort of Starsky and Hutch parody as if they were cops who been working together for years, as if it were normal for them to be stalking a nameless prey in this manner. He shook aside the image, fought the inclination to kick down the door and turned the knob easily.

The nurse was there, the one who had brought him to his mother. She turned in alarm, her large mouth dropping open, her hands holding something, caught in the action of reaching it towards the person on the bed before her. His eyes followed her hands.

"Virginia!"

He hadn't said it, Tony had. Virginia was trussed up in restraints, struggling, her eyes flashing, unable to speak because of something in her mouth, the nurse about to put --

wires --

--that machine --

The machine that was it, it was humming a little, and he quite clearly caught electricity in the air, and didn't have time to consider how strange it was that he could smell electricity, because a dark figure launched itself from the corner where it had been lurking, and the force of the compact body blind-siding him took them both down to the floor.

He was aware that Tony was shouting and that some sort of struggle was happening near the bed, but he had his hands full with the orderly, who, though short, was surprisingly muscular. He was being grabbed at, pummeled, in a very haphazard but effective way, and he couldn't get leverage to push him off.

He brought his leg up and smashed his attacker in the back, throwing him sideways. The man squirmed, trying to get out of his grasp. Mike grabbed his lapels, punched him once in the nose and then managed to haul him onto his feet.

"Sis! Heeelllllppp!" The orderly gurgled and squealed, throwing his head back in the direction of the others.

The nurse was his sister?

"I'm coming, Billy!"

Mike looked up to see the fuzzy-haired nurse bring her head down and butt Tony in the stomach. Tony made an "oof" sound and tottered backwards onto the bed. And then the two hospital employees were venting their full rage on him.

They shoved him back against the wall with some force, numbing his spine for a very bad moment. Contorted faces were close to his, and one hand, he didn't know whose, snaked around his neck. The fingers were closing, choking him, and despite his efforts he was no match for two of them.

--and then there was tingling sensation, the hand let go, he heard a scream, and the nurse fell away from him to lie twitching on the floor. He kicked out at her brother, catching him in the upper thigh, and the shorter man fell over, clutching himself and cursing. It had all stopped so suddenly, he couldn't grasp it all.

Until he saw Tony standing there, holding wires out in front of him, wires that led from the humming machine. He blinked. "Tony?"

"I zapped her," Tony said proudly. "Twice."

"Good idea." That's why he'd felt the tingle.

There was a muffled sound from the bed. Virginia still was fuming and struggling against her bonds. Both men stepped over the fallen bodies to tear at the restraints that held her. Mike removed some kind of rubber gag from her mouth. "Don't worry," he said, soothingly, "rescue is at hand."

"--OFF ME!" Virginia shouted as the gag was removed. She stared -- no, glared at him. "What sort of thing is that to say, 'rescue is at hand?'" She smacked him once on the chest, as he gaped, stunned at her reaction. And then her face crumpled and she began to sob with relief.

Mike gathered her up, holding her tightly. He could feel Tony next to him, saw him stroke Virginia's hair and heard him say, "It's all right now, Virginia."

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Virginia was saying. Her arms went around both of them, squeezing tightly, clutching at their clothes.

"Daddy... I was afraid she would..."

"I know, I know, sweetie."

She pulled away suddenly, focusing on Mike's face, studying it and saying with a sense of wonder "You found me! I don't know how you found me!" She pulled him close again. "It was Re-Regina. She tried..."

"I know."

"She's crazy, Mike. And she had, she used, Troll Dust."

"What?" the two men spoke together.

Virginia looked from one face to the other. "Troll..." She sighed. "Never mind." She noticed Mike's jaw and reached up to touch it. "Oh! Look at that bruise! They punched you!"

"Well..." Mike looked slyly at Tony, who looked at the ceiling.

"We need to get out of here," Tony offered, changing the subject.

Virginia looked down at herself. "I need clothes."

They found her things in a drawer and while she dressed, Mike and Tony used the straps from the bed to bind the orderly and the nurse. Looked at next to each other they did bear a family resemblance. And something else. When he looked at their name tags, Mike discovered they shared a last name --

Burleigh.

The discovery was one more unanswered question. "You," he said to the woman, who was coming around. "What did Regina tell you?"

"Who?"

"Look," Mike growled at her, "I've had a hell of a day, and I am in no mood to banter with you. My friend here knows his way around electricity does he need to show you again?"

Tony opened his mouth to protest and Virginia elbowed him.

"Er, no, that won't be necessary!" The nurse shook her rusty hair out of her eyes. "Miss Regina told us to put them somewhere they wouldn't be found." She looked at them slyly. "We've done it before."

"And you agreed to do that???!" Tony was incredulous.

"Sure," Billy interjected. "We always do what Miss Regina says!"

"Why?"

The two looked at each other as if he were mad. "Because we have to. We always have," the nurse said.

"And we always will," Billy offered. "She's our --"

"Ssshhh! Billy! Mustn't tell, mustn't!" The two of them sat back, exaggerating the closing of their mouths.

"They're lunatics! The lunatics are running the asylum!" Tony shouted.

Mike shook his head. There was something much bigger going on, and he didn't want to explore it with these, these --minions. He clenched his jaw. "I have to go. I know where she is. They're all there together..."

Virginia appeared at his side. "I'm coming with you."

He nodded reluctantly, afraid for her but not wanting to let her out of his sight again. "I found out some things, today, Virginia. Terrible things." He turned to her, taking in her worried face, her sweet face. "But I found out you're the only true thing in my life."

"Oh, Mike." She put her arms around his waist and hugged him, burying her face in his sweater.

Tony tapped him on the shoulder. "Am I missing something?"

"Quite a few things. Sorry," Mike said, breaking away from the embrace. "Let's go. I have a car --" The three of them were halfway down the hallway when something struck him. "Tony. I have to ask you a favor."

"Sure."

"I have to go find Regina and there's someone else I have to deal with. But given what's going on around this place, I'm worried about my mother. Could I ask, would you stay and keep an eye on her?"

Clearly Tony was eager to go, be part of Regina's comeuppance. He looked torn and turned to Virginia.

"Please, Daddy?"

"Honey --"

"Dad. She needs someone strong to watch over her."

Tony rolled his eyes. "Okay, okay. Where is she?"

The relief was obvious in Mike's voice. "204. North Wing. Her name is Lisette." He paused, his hand on Tony's shoulder. "Thanks. I owe you."

"Call it even."

"Sure." Mike took Virginia's hand and started towards the door.

"And, hey --" Tony called. "Take care of my little girl, okay?"

Mike grinned, "Always." He turned to Virginia. She smiled, but her eyes were unreadable. Something prickled inside him, but there was no time to consider it. He grabbed her hand and ran with her to the car.

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