“Mrs. Wright, there’s someone here to see you.”
Kimberly sighed at the voice on the intercom. It was nearly time for lunch and she had been looking forward to the break before her afternoon appointments, which she knew would be excruciating. But Chase had let the visitor know she was in; he always did, no matter how many times she asked him to be more discrete. She would have to let him go – next week, when her busy season lulled.
“Send them in,” she replied, trying not to sound bothered by the circumstances.
Benny strode through the doorway, confident in a way that bordered on arrogance. He wore a deep blue suit better suited to the 1960s, but somehow, he was pulling it off. Kimberly forced herself to look into his eyes, straighten her spine, and hold a steady voice despite the quiver intent on taking over.
“Make it quick. I have a Nyctophobic at one, and a patient who believes he has found a portal to Jotunheim at three. And I’d like to eat at some point, if that’s not too much to ask for.”
“Why Ms. Wright, such a busy bee.”
“Mrs. It’s Mrs. Now.”
Benny let one side of his upper lip curl, forming a malevolent smirk that made Kimberly even more uncomfortable. He pulled out the chair at her desk and sat facing her, never letting his glare waiver. After a moment of vexatious silence, Kimberly cleared her throat, racking her brain for something clever to say. Before she could speak, Benny interrupted.
“We have another one for you.”
Kimberly’s heart fell into her stomach, nestled itself between her organs, and tugged at her intestines. She averted eye contact, unable to falsify her bravery any longer.
“His name is Avery, Avery Johnson. Thirty-two years old, lives in –“
“No. Please. I’ve been cooperative for longer than necessary and I believe –“
“Lives in New Haven.” He bared his teeth, a reminder that his charm was a mere cover for the depths of his evil.
Her breathing became laborious now as she tried to stop herself short of begging.
The Correctional Program had been such a naïve dream. Back when she first met Benny and the others, they had all been youthful idealists, too intellectually inclined for their own good. The notion was simple, stop cramming people into the violent and deprecating environment of prison, and start addressing the real issues.
The mind was such a finicky thing; it could be manipulated by nature, or by science. The latter, they presumed, could do some real good. So they set out on a mission, one messed-up brain at a time. But over the years, and through the failures, Kimberly grew. And with that growth came the realization that just because a theory is beautiful and beloved by a group of like-minded peers, does not mean it’s worth pursuing. The ramifications had startled Kimberly into a new person. Well, as new as a person could become of their own free will.
“I’ll be sending him in on Monday afternoon. If you don’t want the details, I’ll spare you.” He spat, “so sensitive you’ve become.”
“Please,” Kimberly whispered desperately but it was too late. Benny had risen, and crossed the room towards the door.
Yes, she would indeed have to fire Chase.