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Return of the Prodigals
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Return of the Prodigals
by Twig

Bwizville Center for Mental and Emotional Welfare

"Thank god we made it," Elizabeth breathed as she slid out of the hearse, the torn leather scratching against her jeans.
"I know. I hope the police found that Lucius guy," Miguel shuddered.
"And how do you suppose they were going to do that?" Elizabeth asked pointedly, "Since you never bothered to stop at the pay phone like I asked and CALL them."
"We had to get to Charity."
"I'm sure that will be a wonderful reassurance to the family of that guy's next victim."
"Look," Miguel shrugged, "We're here, all right? Let's just go in, see what we have to do to bust Charity out, and then leave."
He headed towards the entrance. Elizabeth paused for a moment, watching him go.
"I really hope that this is worth all the trouble," she said to herself, "Because if just went through all this for you to get her back and then break up with her down the road, I will personally kill you both."
Then, with a smug smile, she followed after Miguel.

She caught up to him as he trotted up a set of grand marble stairs, reaching for a shiny handle to a huge wooden door.
"Ready?" she asked with a big grin, helping him pull open the door.
They were greeted inside by stark white surroundings: a white tile floor, a white ceiling, white padded walls. The florescent lights burned brightly overhead as they crossed the floor to where a woman sat in a small glass-encased cubicle.
"Can I help you?" she asked as soon as they stood before her.
"We're here to visit a patient," Elizabeth said smoothly, "A friend of ours."
"Name?"
"Charity," Miguel sighed, "Charity Standish."
The woman typed something into her computer and then nodded, "Yes, she's here. Room 666, to be exact. I'll have Lenny take you down…but you can't go in yet."
"Why not?"
"She's already got a visitor, and we don't allow more than one at a time."
Elizabeth and Miguel exchanged questioning glances.
"Who would be visiting her?" Elizabeth whispered, confused.
Miguel shook his head, "I don't know."

The secretary picked up the phone and said something into the receiver before hanging it up. "All right," she said to them, "You two can go on in. LENNY! Escort these two young people to room 666."
The white-coat clad orderly shuddered, "Aw, not again. That freak scares the crap out of me!"
The secretary glared at him sternly, "Lenny, you are a two-hundred and fifty pound man. You carry a stun gun. How on earth could a skinny little girl like that poor soul in room 666 possibly scare you?!"
With a reluctant sigh, Lenny gestured for Elizabeth and Miguel to follow him.




"Here we are," Lenny said with a sigh, pointing to a heavy metal door with a thick plexi-glass window on the top. Elizabeth and Miguel peered inside, only to see Charity, wearing a straitjacket, sitting forlornly on a small cot. Perched across from her, in a metal folding chair, was the old lady, Tabitha Lennox.
"What is SHE doing here?!" Elizabeth exclaimed in surprise.
Miguel looked equally baffled, "I have no idea. I guess she was concerned about Charity…"
"You two know this woman?" Lenny asked them.
Miguel nodded, "Yeah…she lives next door to Charity."
Lenny shook his head slowly, "That lady sure is strange. She's holding that weird little doll as if it were a person."
"Can't you just let us in?" Elizabeth pleaded, "We're Charity's friends…"
Lenny shifted his weight from one foot to the other, "It's against policy…"
"Please?" Miguel and Elizabeth gave him their best hopeful faces.
Lenny sighed, "Oh, all right." He slowly unlocked the door, "If there are any problems, hit that panic button right there. I'll be right outside."
He slowly pushed the door open.

"…you have no choice now but to come to the dark side. Only then will your powers be strong enough to—" Tabitha glanced up, shocked, as Elizabeth and Miguel came strolling into the padded cell.
"Tabitha?" Miguel sounded confused, "What were you just talking about?"
"Nothing dears!" Tabitha said hastily, standing up in a flurry of skirts, "Nothing at all."
"You were saying something about…powers?" Elizabeth pressed.
Tabitha froze for a moment before laughing nervously, "Powers? Oh, good heavens no. I was merely telling Charity about…about…a movie I had gone to see the other day. Yes, that's it."
Miguel seemed to accept that as he crossed the room and crouched down in front of Charity. She stared blankly past him to the wall.
"Charity?" he whispered, touching her face, "Charity, can you hear me?"
Elizabeth stood back, arms crossed, noting with some curiosity the pendant that hung loosely around Charity's neck. As she watched, the pendant began to flicker with some internal light.
"Miguel?" Charity's voice was cracked and hoarse, "Miguel, is that you?"
Miguel resisted the urge to hug her; there was something in her tone that was somewhat odd.

Elizabeth glanced over at the strangely attired Tabitha Lennox, blinking in surprise when she saw the doll in the woman's arms wriggle in an attempt to get a better view of what was going on.
"I don't believe this," she muttered under her breath, "Stephanie wasn't going crazy when she said that doll was alive…"
"Charity?" Miguel attempted again.
The light in the pendant abruptly went out, and Charity blinked her eyes back into focus.
"Miguel, I'm so sorry," she sobbed.
Confused, he hugged her, "Sorry? For what?"
"I'm insane," she whispered brokenly, "There's no other explanation. I'm insane and I did all those horrible things to Kay and Jessica…"
"You're not insane, Charity," Elizabeth sighed from the back of the room, "I think you were set up."
Charity shook her head firmly, "No, I'm insane."
Tabitha clapped her hands together, "If you insist, dear child. Ah…Elizabeth, Miguel…why don't you two come back another time? I'd hate for her to get all riled up."

"I know I'm insane," Charity continued from where she sat, "Because Tabitha's doll talks to me. Dolls only talk to the insane."
Elizabeth thought briefly of Stephanie, "If you only knew…"
Tabitha glanced down at Timmy, who looked like a perfectly ordinary doll for the moment, "Timmy talks to you? Oh, nonsense, dear!"
Charity's voice was low and dreamy, "Timmy tells me that he loves me, and that we'll live happily forever."
Miguel raised his eyebrows.
Charity turned helplessly to face Miguel and Elizabeth, "If that's not insane, I don't know what is. I deserve to be in here."
"The poor dear has a point," Tabitha said desperately, shoving them towards the door, "You should just let her be."
Miguel pushed away from Tabitha, "I didn't come all this way just to 'let her be'. I want to find out what's wrong with her so she can come home!"
Elizabeth narrowed her eyes as Tabitha sighed and plopped the still-limp doll on the cot.
"Dears, Charity is very ill—"
Elizabeth inched over towards the doll.
"She may have to be here for a while—"
Elizabeth very slowly picked up Timmy.
"The best thing for all concerned is for you to just step back and make sure that she has a loving home to come back to when she's well—"
"Cut the act," Elizabeth said bitterly, holding Timmy over her head, "Or the doll gets it."
Miguel stared at her as if she were crazy, "Elizabeth…it's just a doll."
Tabitha, on the other hand, appeared quite flustered, "Just…put Timmy down."
"Who are you, really?" Elizabeth pressed further, shaking Timmy for good measure.
"I assure you, I'm nothing more than a charming old lady—" Tabitha said nervously.

Elizabeth glanced down at Timmy, "If you won't tell me, maybe your doll will."
Miguel stepped away from her, "Elizabeth, you're scaring me."
Elizabeth ignored him and wrapped her hands around the doll's plastic neck, "Speak up, or you die."
"Elizabeth," Miguel attempted, "You're acting crazy—"
"ALL RIGHT ALL RIGHT! JUST DON'T HURT TIMMY!" the doll suddenly screamed, kicking franticly to escape Elizabeth's grip.
Shocked, Elizabeth put him down on the ground, where he scampered over to Tabitha, hiding amongst her skirts like a small child.
"Timmy thanks his princess for sticking up for him," he muttered sarcastically.
Tabitha shushed him with a wave of her hand.
Miguel's face was significantly paler, "Who…are…you?"
"Oh shut up you brat," Tabitha scowled, "You've foiled my plans time and time again, so don't think you're getting anything out of me."
Miguel looked shocked.
"You see? This is why you shouldn't trust sweet old ladies," Elizabeth sighed, "If old men driving hearses can't be trusted, who's to say that old ladies with weird dolls are any easier to get along with?"
"I assure you, I am anything BUT sweet," Tabitha scoffed, waving her hands in the air, plastic bracelets clinking against each other.

"You are ALL driving me crazy!" Charity suddenly wailed.
Timmy shuffled nervously towards her, keeping a wary eye on the pendant to make sure it didn't start glowing again.
"I am never going to get sane if this doll keeps coming to life!" she whimpered.
"Doesn't Charity think that Timmy is cute?" Timmy asked hopefully.
Charity paused, "Yes, Timmy, you are cute, but that doesn't help matters!"
"Charity," Miguel sighed, "You're not crazy, I can see the doll too."
"You can?"
"Yes, we both can," Elizabeth assured her.
Charity seemed to be calming down, "I'm not crazy?"
"No."
"Then…how did all of that stuff happen to Kay and Jessica? I had to have been crazy to—"
"It was Kay," Elizabeth sighed.
"Kay?" Miguel sounded shocked.
"Kay?" Charity echoed, "Oh, no, she would never do anything like that—"
"I've had my suspicions about her," Elizabeth shrugged, "But trust me, Charity, you're not crazy, and there is no reason for you to be locked up in here."
"We're going to get you out of here," Miguel added.
"Oh go on then," Tabitha hissed in annoyance, "Make pests of yourselves."

"DID THAT DOLL JUST COME TO LIFE?!" Lenny was standing in the doorway, his face pale.
Timmy turned to face him and waved sheepishly.
Lenny gaped at the crowd standing in Charity's padded cell, "That's it, I'm calling security—"
"You ARE security, Lenny," Charity sighed from where she sat.
"ALL OF YOU GET OUT!" Lenny suddenly exploded, "RIGHT NOW!"
Elizabeth, Miguel and Tabitha reluctantly headed towards the doorway. Timmy moved to follow.
"No way," Lenny shook his head, "YOU are staying right where you are."
And then he slammed the door and locked it behind them, leaving Timmy and Charity in the cell.
"NOOOOOOOOOO!" Timmy wailed, "Princess, help Timmy!"
"Now what?" Miguel whispered.
"We come back later and stage a daring escape," Elizabeth suggested, "As long as we can ditch that old creep."
Miguel nodded, and they allowed Lenny to lead them back to the waiting room.

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