APRIL 24, NIGHT.
A quiet, hollow knock on his door roused Norman Bates from deep, uneasy thought. He had not slept. "Norman! Please, I want to speak with you!"
"Shh," Norman warned, his weary voice strained, and whispered: "You'll wake someone up! Do you have a key?"
There was a brief moment of silence as a key slipped into the lock. Both parties listened intently. There was a click, and a metal scraping noise. The doorknob turned as Norman stepped back. He had known all along whom his visitor was.
Margaret stepped into the moonlight which poured through the shuttered window. Her eyes were red-rimmed with dark circles, indicating a burden she wished she could drop from her shoulders. Her face was flushed, she had indeed been crying. Norman didn't know why, and she now pushed a single dark curl from her eyes. "I need to talk to you, Norman."
"It's awfully late," Norman said, his eyes shifting to the floor. "I… why did you, ah… you wanted to…" Norman cleared his throat. "You wanted to talk to me?"
"Yes- if you remember, I said you could always talk to me, but right now I need to talk to you."
"It's important, isn't it," Norman said. The gaunt way he looked startled Margaret. His face was as white as she'd ever seen it, and he now swayed slightly. His balance was off. She noticed one of his hands was held behind his back by the other arm, and had been all the while. His eyes were wide and empty.
"Norman, are you alright?"
Norman exhaled and fell backwards, collapsing onto the bench which was attached to the far wall, which Norman leaned into, closing his eyes.
"Norman!" Margaret was at his side, and she kneeled by him, looking up into his face. He put his hand to his head, letting it slip down his face to reveal bloody fingerprints. "What happened?"
"I'm sorry," Norman mumbled. The previously hidden arm was soaked in blood, the other hand clutching it fiercely. The patient's breathing was labored and strenuous, through his teeth.
Margaret tried to roll up Norman's sleeve gently as he winced, revealing deep grooves in his arm, bleeding profusely, afflicted there by the fingernails of his own left arm. "What happened?" Margaret looked deeply into his eyes. "Tell me."
"She's…" Norman trailed off, and seemed fainting a moment, closing his eyes and clutching the bench as if to try and steady his spinning head. He made a weak sound as if to clear his throat, but it didn't improve the quality of his voice. "She's trying to kill me."
"Norman, don't move. I'll get you help!" She rose and stepped into the light, her back to him. Her foot struck a pool of blood spreading on the floor. It had gone unnoticed.
"Don't go," Norman pleaded, leaning forward. "What's wrong? Why did you come to speak with me?"
"I can't..." Margaret said, turning away.
"Something's happened," Norman said, raising his voice. "You're shaking!"
Her voice wavered. "A guard was killed. Richman thinks it was you. He has no proof, but he'll have his way. You're to be tried."
"What if it was? What if it was me?" His eye flashed, his voice empty and harsh. Margaret had never seen him angry before. "I feel like Dr. Jekyll! Do you know that? Except he was able to kill himself! What a lucky guy!"
Margaret drew a shaky breath.
"I knew what was happening. After Mother killed the first girl, I knew what was happening. I always knew. In the back of my mind, I watched. I had always been my worst enemy."
"Please don't tell me this!" A tear rolled down Margaret's cheek.
"I tried to stop it. After I knew what I had done, I tried to put a bullet in my head. She wouldn't let me!"
"So she killed the second girl. And then I knew. I had to cooperate. I had to do everything she said. Except now she doesn't need me anymore. Every second she's fighting me. You've seen it, I was so far gone. For five years I thought I'd never live again."
A sob escaped Margaret's lips. She wiped the tears from her face. "Why are you telling me this?"
"Because you're the only one who's ever made me want to fight her."
"I don't understand." Margaret's hand rested on the cool surface of the unlocked door. Her blood pounded in her ears. The choice was hers to stay or to go. "Why me?"
"If I knew, I couldn't say- she would never let me. Please don't go!" He pleaded desperately. "I need someone who understands- someone who won't turn away. I can't fight her without someone's help. I never knew- please look at me!"
The door shuddered when, eyes closed and tears streaming, Margaret Serling locked it behind herself, and when the medics came they had to use their own key. Progress had been made and undone: Norman Bates was once again a divided mind.