"Hey, Doc. Where you going!"
Hastily Dr. James Harvey packed his satchel. A couch was prepared in the office. Everything was ready for his latest charge.
"Doc!" nagged the voice. "What's happening!"
"Don't bother" said another. "He's back to fleshies!"
This was met with roaring cackles.
"For your information I have to pick up a patient" said Harvey. "Be nice to her, okay. I don't want to have to suck you up in the vacuum again."
Fatso, Stretch and Stinky went silent.
"So why is she staying here?" asked one of the specters.
"Because Whipstaff will be alot more stimulating for her than a hospital."
Swinging the satchel over his shoulder, the doctor set off down town.Friendship Psychiatric Hospital loomed over the suburban town like a fortress.
A painful reminder that life was not perfect.
"Ah, Dr. Harvey" smiled an orderly. "I'm Lydia Harper. Sara's nurse."
"How is she?""Not so well" Harper sighed. "I cant watch her all the time. I've got five other patients than need my help. That's where you come in."
With a sweet smile, Nurse Harper handed James a clip board. While he waited for his patient, the doctor flipped through the pages.
Name: Sara Marie Bedford
Birth date: 2/7/88
Mother: Ellen Jameson (divorced)
Stepfather: Arthur Bedford
Siblings: Kirsten Bedford (12 years)
Sara suffers from auditory and visual hallucinations. She hasn't changed her clothes in four months and refuses to bathe.
"Here we are"
Trying to remain as cheerful as possible, Nurse Harper walked the young patient out to the lobby. Harvey's eyes widened.
Sara looked just like a kid from the save-the-children ads.
The girl's hair hung in greasy tendrils. Her face smudged with grime. Enveloped in loose, ill fitting garments, Sara's body was indeterminant. Only her fingertips and toes peaked out from the sweater and grungy overalls.
"Hello, Sara" James smiled. "How are you feeling today?"
Bedford didn't answer. Her eyes lolled upwards toward the halogen lights. Lungs heaving, every movement was blurred and drugged.
"Just go slow with her" said Lydia.
"Her mind is in there" Harvey purred. "Just a matter of bringing it back."
Back at Whipstaff, another ghost was eagerly awaiting Sara's arrival. Casper hovered around the great hall. Its art-neuvo architecture a thing of curious beauty.
"Is it just me, or is bringing home a schitzo not the best plan."
"C'mon, Kat" said the ghost. "I don't think your dad would bring her if she was dangerous."
Kat cast her friend a steely glare.
"This is my dad we're talking about."
Suddenly the chatter stopped. The crackle of tires on a gravel driveway heralded Dr. Harvey's return.
"Here we are. This is the house. What do you think?"
Clutching a backpack, Sara gazed up at the strange manor. Her eyes were clear and lucid.
"I think you'll be quite comfortable here for a while" said Harvey. "I'll see to it you're taken care of."
With halting steps, Sara followed Harvey up the stairs into the house.
"Kat" called James. "This is Sara Bedford. She's going to be staying with us for a while."
But the girl did not respond to Kat's handshake. Eyes glazed, she stared up at the ceiling.
Hey look, its the kid!A macabre howl filled the hall. The ghostly trio was ready to try their own special brand of therapy. Screeching and moaning the three ghosts swirled around Harvey's patient, pulling out all the stops.
But Sara remained undisturbed.
"Wait a second. Hold it!" growled Stinky.
The ghost's ceased their attack.
"Something's wrong with this kid."
"Hey, doc. You bring home a vegetable or something?"
As if snapped back to life, Sara lunged at the specters. Her eyes flaming with dark madness. Quickly James rushed to intervene.
"Okay" he panted. "I think we've had enough stimulation for one day."
Arms locked round her shoulders, Dr. Harvey half-dragged the raging girl to his office.
"Well...I think we got off on the wrong foot. Are you feeling better?"
Sara Bedford lay curled up on Harvey's couch. Her eyes fixed on the mounted animal heads on the wall.
"Since you're not in talkative mood, I thought we'd try something a little different."
Carefully Dr. Harvey placed a silver desk bell next to the divan. Sara only blinked in acknowledgment.
"Here's what we're going to try" James continued. "I'm going to say some things about you. Your life. Your family. Things like that. Ring the bell once for yes. Twice for no."
Sara remained silent.
"Your middle name is Aloisious"
"Good" chuckled Harvey. "Glad you're listening."
Riffling through his folder, James continued on.
"Your parents are pretty high up on the social ladder. Big house. Three cars. Inground pool."
"You never had a good relationship with Kirsten. When your father left, it angered you that she was unhurt by his leaving."
"It made you mad that Kirsten was bonding with your stepfather. You felt he didn't love you or your mom."
"You started experiencing anxiety when you were eleven. Bouts of depression. Your mom didn't pay much attention. It felt like she wasn't listening to you. Like you didn't matter anymore."
No answer. Sara's muscles tensed under her tent-like clothes. Her head bobbing like a lizard's.
Her eyes rolled back into her head.
The lucidity returned. Wrenching at her hair, the girl screamed and cried against an unseen foe.
"Stop it!" she bellowed. "Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!"
As spry as a jackrabbit, Sara leapt from the couch and dashed up the winding staircase.
Her cries echoed from all corners of the mansion.