“My life is already ruined, so I should keep calm.”
Day ? Month ? Year ?
GM: Amelie groggily comes to. Her surroundings are dark. There’s something soft against her hands.
Amelie: She doesn’t move as she slowly wakes, just opens her eyes and slowly passing them around the darkness. She tries to suss out where her arms and legs are without moving them too much.
GM: A film of partial darkness still covers her sight, but sunlight still seems to illuminate her surroundings. She hears the familiar metallic clink of handcuffs as she moves her limbs.
Amelie: There’s one familiar sound. She listens for the other. If she’s still in the hospital, she should be hearing the beep.
GM: It is audible to her ears.
Amelie: Then she’s still here. Fine. She slowly squeezes against whatever is on her hands, seeing if she can surmise what’s happening. Maybe they’re mittens to keep her from scratching inbred dolls.
GM: Her fingers only partly bend against the soft surface.
Amelie: If there was any strength in her little form this would be a moment to chuckle. But Amelie has no physical strength. She has barely enough to flex her right side to check.
There is one place she can escape to, but she wonders about its safety. She tries to shift her head and confirm if anything is her vision. Nothing is certain for her. Not yet.
GM: Amelie notes that her surroundings are darker, yet the sunlight is just as present as before, even casting clear rays through her window. It’s as if she is examining her room through a darkened filter.
Amelie: Maybe a bag over her head. She slowly sticks her tongue out of her mouth to see if it makes contact with anything.
GM: It makes contact with a tasteless, soft, and solid material.
Amelie: Amelie just sighs at the overreaction to not only put her under, but to put a bag over her head. She can picture it now, being rolled into court with a cage over her mouth to protect the jury from the five pounds of jaw force her weak body can muster.
She clears her throat and makes grunts out at at the brightly lit room, testing to see if anyone is in the room with her. Maybe there’s a posted orderly.
GM: Amelie looks as if she is alone in the room.
Time crawls by at a snail’s pace. She familiar stench of fecal matter eventually re-fills her nose. The moist sensation along her buttocks grows partly.
Time continues to crawl.
Eventually, the door to her room opens. A nurse comes in and wordlessly changes Amelie’s diaper.
Amelie: Amelie prepares to swallow her pride and finds almost nothing to put aside. Her weak little body does its best to help with the process, doubly used to try and tell the nurse that she’s awake now. But not for long. Laying here, nothing happening, just waiting day in and day out. Escaping into the other world seems like always a no-brainer, but she waits just a little longer before trying anything, just to see how the nurse reacts to her movements.
GM: The nurse evinces no response. She changes the diaper, leaves, and locks the door behind her.
More time crawls.
At some indeterminate point when the sun is still up, but Amelie is feeling hungrier, the door to her room re-opens. Two men stride in.
Amelie: Amelie can hear them. Their steps are heavier, she can’t tell what kind of shoe, but she just waits. Hopes that this is some kind of progress. Physical therapy, a courtroom, whatever it is, as long as she can leave this place, for even a little while.
GM: Both are dark-skinned, bearded, and wearing suits and ties. The first is bald, the second is not. The first wears an overcoat, the second does not. The first wears his crescent NOPD badge on his hip, the second wears it over his necktie on a cord around neck.
“Afternoon, Amelie. I’m Detective Moore, NOPD,” says the first man as he sits down.
“Detective Hill,” says the second man as he does the same.
“We’re here to ask you some questions about that night in the Royal Street house, and your more recent assault on Yvette Devillers,” says Detective Moore.
Amelie: Amelie swallows hard, trying to speak. “Bag. Off?”
GM: The two men look at each other and shrug. The room gets lighter again as Detective Hill pulls it off.
Amelie: Amelie blinks slowly as light returns to her life, looking down at her hands first thing.
Afterwards, she looks to the IV bag, to check if there’s a date.
GM: Both are covered in thick white finger-less mittens.
Amelie: “What is. Yvette. Alleging happened?”
GM: She cannot make out the date past the two detectives’ seated presences.
“We’d like to ask you that first, Amelie,” says Detective Moore. “Why do you think they decided to upgrade you to mitts and a spit hood?”
Amelie: Amelie swallows again, pained. The absence of the tube is felt as she shakes her head.
“Hard to. Talk. No water for… five months. Where’s. My aunt.”
GM: “Ah, I can imagine that.” Detective Hill picks up the call button and presses the speaker. “Nurse, glass of water for this room, please.”
“Your aunt has been by the hospital, but she hasn’t been allowed in to your room,” answers Detective Moore. “Right now you’re considered a jail inmate and your visitation privileges were suspended following the alleged assault on Yvette Devillers.”
Amelie: “Not aunt. But Yvette?”
GM: “I’m sorry?” asks Detective Hill.
Amelie: Amelie swallows, visible discomfort on her face. This hurts, it’s starting to get worse.
“Sorry. I was. Handcuffed. Before Yvette. Why could she. Visit. But not. My aunt?”
She’s swallowing between words now, having to take breaks just to be able to rattle out the words. The water can’t come fast enough.
GM: “Maybe she heard you were in here first, but to be honest I’m guessing there,” says Detective Moore.
“We understand you were a legal adult when you were living with your aunt,” says Detective Hill. “That changes a few things, compared to if you were a minor. For one, the hospital doesn’t have to notify your aunt of anything. So my guess would be they just didn’t bother.”
“They normally call up parents, spouses, and adult kids, but not more distant relatives,” adds Detective Moore.
Amelie: Amelie looks to the door, hoping for water soon as she swallows to reply to the men.
“Only family. Legal counsel. Water first?”
She looks between the detectives, as if asking permission to wait on her answers.
GM: The two nod. Water eventually arrives with a nurse. Detective Hill holds the cup to her mouth.
“If it’s been five months, take it slow for now.”
Amelie: Amelie tries her best to crane her head up, very slowly swallowing it down until the cup is empty and closing her mouth to cough and clear her throat. It’s like heaven, like a fish out of water being tossed back into the pond as she swallows her phlegm and takes a long breath. The broken young woman swallows again, smiling to the detectives when she feels so much less discomfort.
“Thank you, Detective Hill. Detective Moore.”
GM: “You’re welcome, Amelie. Had enough?”
Amelie: “I could drink Lake Pontchartrain dry. But for now we can talk.”
She swallows again, starting to feel her throat working out the mess five months did to her.
“Do you mind if I ask a dumb question first?”
GM: “Go on,” says Detective Moore.
Amelie: “If a Devillers brings charges against someone in New Orleans, do they have any hope of fighting them? I’m a nobody.”
GM: “Understand that the Devillers wouldn’t technically be bringing charges against you,” explains Detective Hill. “They’d report you to the authorities, which they’ve done, and the DA’s office handles it from there.”
“Though they could sue you in a civil case,” says Detective Moore.
“That’s outside our department, though,” Hill goes on. “There’s not a lot most people can do to fight a family like the Devillers-”
“Maybe another one like the Malveauxes,” adds Moore.
“-though you can get a lighter sentence by giving them less ammunition to go after you with,” explains Hill.
“That’s what we’re here for, to find out how much truth there is to the Devillers’ ammunition,” says Moore. “Whether it’s value grade or match grade.”
“Taking the metaphor a little far, pal,” remarks Hill.
Amelie: Amelie listens and nods. “I don’t know the law very well. Only been in this country half a year. As a hypothetical, would we be able to subpoena her cellphone records?”
GM: Hill frowns. “Er, sorry?”
Amelie: “She took pictures. Sent them to people. Took a video as well. All on her phone.”
GM: “What did she take pictures and a video of? That isn’t illegal by itself,” says Moore.
“Wish it was,” Hill remarks dryly. “Get my daughter to do it less.”
Amelie: “Not illegal, no. But it might show the intent of her visit. Pictures of my body and my diaper. Both against my will. I think the video caught how she was speaking.”
GM: Moore shakes his head. “That might be mean, but it isn’t illegal. A judge would laugh out the idea of subpoenaing that.”
“At least by itself,” says Hill. “Is there some other crime she committed that the stuff on her phone might be relevant evidence towards?”
Amelie: Amelie looks between the detectives, concerned. “Like I said, I don’t know the law. Maybe I would have to speak with legal counsel before I made any direct statements.”
Looking between the detectives, she feels sorry to have brought them here for nothing.
“Yvette was not my friend, she had no reason to visit. I can imagine after I tried to escape that house they panicked and got caught breaking the rules laid out for them by the Whitney patriarch. She could have come here angry, using her name to get told I was here before even the police were.”
GM: “You were trying to escape the house?” Moore asks, surprised. “Did you believe Yvette or any of those other girls were a danger to you?”
“That could be an assault charge,” says Hill. “Battery is if they hit you, assault is if they made you feel like you were going to get hit.”
Amelie: “I know it’s your jobs to get as much as you can out of me, but please understand. I’m scared to say the wrong thing. My life is already over, I can’t defy the Whitneys and Devillers. All I can do is minimize the damage, right?”
GM: The two detectives look at each other.
“Well, even that depends, Amelie,” says Moore. “From what we do know about the case, yes, things don’t look very good for you.”
“You’ve been out for five months, and a lot of stuff has moved ahead,” adds Hill.
“But from what we’ve heard here, it sounds as if you felt threatened by the other girls in some way,” explains Moore. “And that they continued to nurse a grudge even five months later. Which certainly goes a way in establishing their feelings and motivations towards you in the house.”
“That could be a significant mitigating factor,” Hill continues. “Could, because it really depends on the circumstances and your side of the story.”
“Right now nothing you’ve said is likely to be of any interest to the DA, because it’s bits and pieces,” says Moore. “It’s our job to sort those out into a full story, and see that the truth gets told.”
Amelie: “Thank you for your kindnesses. I’ve needed it. But could you please do me just one more? I just… I want to speak to my aunt. Even just a short phone call on speaker phone. If that’s possible. I just want to hear her voice. She’s all I have left. Detective Hill, your daughter… you’d want to speak with her the moment she wakes up, right?”
Amelie looks up at the detective with tired and broken eyes. “If she’s just going to tell me I’m on my own, I’ll tell you everything. Write it down. Give you a timeline. Everything.”
GM: “Amelie,” Detective Hill says slowly, “I think there’s a couple things here you could use explained.”
“Right now, you’re a jail inmate. Obviously, not physically, but legally that’s what you are considered. Jail inmates are allowed a couple visitors, who your aunt could be among. But after your alleged assault on Yvette Devillers, you had your visitation privileges suspended. So right now she can’t see you.”
Amelie: Amelie nods, remembering when they’d said this. “I was just told, in the U.S.A., not to talk to the police without a lawyer. But I guess people have been talking for me for five months.”
GM: Hill nods.
“That’s actually another thing pretty relevant to you,” says Moore. He looks towards his partner and smiles faintly. “I’ll leave Hill to explain it, though. He’s the one studying for a law degree.”
Amelie: “Oh, congratulations.” Amelie smiles to Hill as well.
GM: “Yeah, thanks. I’ve been taking night classes for a while. I’m hoping to pass the bar next year.”
“Anyways,” Hill goes on, “phones aren’t allowed to jail inmates, or to inmate visitors. So Yvette recording you on her phone was against visitation regulations, but those don’t exist on any law books. The worst consequence for breaking them—if you don’t do anything else illegal, like assaulting someone—is getting your visitation privileges suspended. But that’s probably not gonna bother her.”
“Amelie, do you know who it is you want for your lawyer?” Moore asks. “Were you hoping to have your aunt hire someone to represent you?”
Amelie: Amelie nods slowly. “Yes. That is what I was hoping.”
GM: Hill nods. “We figured. You probably don’t have much money of your own, and you definitely don’t want a public defender. But here’s the thing. For your aunt to hire someone to represent you… that’s a lot trickier if she can’t talk with you. Since you’re an adult, and she’s not your legal guardian, she doesn’t have an automatic right to do that. As far as the law is concerned, she’s any other adult. Which means that if you don’t talk with her, you’re stuck with the public defender. Legally, this assault charge really screwed you over, as it’s not only another charge on top of everything else, but it’s stopping you from getting access to private counsel.”
Amelie: Despite the mounting bad news, Amelie keeps a straight face, watching the face of the detective and chewing on his words.
“Further motivation for her to come here to cause trouble. I doubt either of you would be willing to risk calling my aunt on my behalf either.”
GM: Hill shakes his head. “It may not be illegal, but we don’t make a habit of breaking jail regulations.”
“Now, your visitation privileges can be reinstated,” says Moore. “If it turns out that your assault on Yvette Devillers really is baseless.”
“But we can’t honestly tell that to anyone, unless you’re willing to share your side of the story with us,” finishes Hill.
Amelie: “Check and mate,” Amelie says, slowly resting her head back into her pillow.
“Didn’t you already say that there’s not a lot people can do to fight a family like the Devillers? Does that mean this is hopeless?”
GM: “As we said, your options really depend on what happened there,” repeats Moore.
“Hopeless is relative,” says Hill. “Depends what you’re hoping for. You might be able to get by with a lighter sentence. But my partner’s right. It really depends.”
Amelie: Amelie stares at her feet for a long minute, fighting with herself and wishing she could trust these two men. But ratting on Yvette might be in her plan, and she remembers her aunt’s words.
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to abstain until I get my lawyer involved. I’m sorry, detectives.”
GM: “Amelie, do you know what sort of lawyer a public defender is?” Hill asks. “They’re incredibly overworked. Some of them have less than an hour to spend with clients. Their main job is to write up plea bargains that the prosecuting DAs and judges are satisfied with.”
“They don’t find their clients innocent,” Moore says. “Just slightly less guilty.”
“We understand that you don’t want to talk to any police,” says Hill. “That’s normally very good advice for anyone in your position to follow. Talking to police without a lawyer present does not help you. But in your case, thanks to Yvette getting your visitation privileges suspended, staying silent is what will get you a public defender instead of your aunt’s private lawyer. Believe me that the latter will get you a better deal.”
“We also can’t guarantee we’ll be the same detectives to re-interview you, if you want to put this off,” Moore says. “We have other cases and our bosses decide which ones we pursue.”
Amelie: Amelie feels like she’s being crushed under thumb again. She calmly looks between the detectives.
“It’s a long shot, but how about the Canadian consulate? I’m a dual citizen, only have been for six months, maybe there’s a way I can appeal for a consular visit?”
GM: Moore shakes his head. “If you’re an American citizen and you’ve been arrested in the U.S. for crimes allegedly committed in the U.S., no one from Canada has much of a leg to stand on.”
“There’s usually only so much consulates can do during criminal proceedings anyway,” says Hill. “They have lists of lawyers they can put their citizens in touch with, and can give general overviews of the legal system, but they can’t spring people from jail, pay legal bills, or even give legal advice. The most useful thing I’ve seen one do is deliver medication to an arrested woman.”
“Oh, when was that?” asks Moore.
“Back during my probationary period,” answers Hill. “I saw officers arrest a tourist from, I think Sweden? They have an honorary consulate in the city, so wasn’t much they could do.”
“Wonder if there’s a consulate for Canada,” says Moore, pulling up his phone. He scrolls through it for a few seconds.
“Oh, hm. Looks like the closest one is in Dallas anyway.”
Amelie: “I assumed as much, always worth a try. But I’m sorry, I can’t help you both. I don’t see myself able to get visitation whether I come forward or not, so I should try to keep myself out of more trouble.”
GM: “It’s not a question of you providing formal testimony, Amelie, if that’s what you mean by coming forward,” says Hill. “As we’ve said, jail visitation regulations don’t have any legal force. Your visitation privileges were suspended because Yvette Devillers said you attacked her, and you haven’t contested that narrative.”
“Right now you’re playing right into her hands, by not getting your aunt’s lawyer,” says Moore.
Amelie: “But if I do say my side, can you guarantee that I would get that private lawyer?”
GM: “We can guarantee that your visitation privileges would be reinstated, and that your aunt is notified,” Hill amends. “Hiring the attorney is up to your aunt. But if she chooses to, yes, you would get a private lawyer.”
Amelie: Amelie purses her lips and nods slowly.
“I’m sorry, I can’t. I’m going to keep my mouth shut and just pray. Not an admission of guilt, I just… need to hope the right choice is advice I’ve been given before. I have nothing to offer either of you but thanks, however. You’ve both been very kind to me.”
GM: “Well, Amelie, you have a funny way of showing that,” Hill sighs. “Our boss isn’t going to be happy we spent this time interviewing you and came back with nothing.”
Amelie: “I’m sorry, but if I don’t have visitation and I can’t speak with my aunt, I shouldn’t say anything.”
GM: Detective Hill sighs. “All right, Amelie, it’s your call. But when are you expecting that you’ll see her again?”
Amelie: “I don’t know. Hopefully she’s looking out for me. But I plan on asking for a phone call. If I don’t have the chance to consult private counsel, I might ask for an appeal on those grounds. I’ll just have to do my best to reach out.”
GM: “There is no appeal, Amelie,” says Detective Moore. “That’s a court process. Remember what we said? Jail visitation regulations don’t exist on any law books.”
“What my partner means to say,” Hill says, “is that your visitation privileges are up to the jail where you’re being held. They’re just that, non-legal privileges.”
“The ‘guaranteed phone call when you’re arrested’ only exists in Hollywood,” Moore goes on. “You can get to make as few calls as zero, to as many as you like, depending on the severity and location of your crime and how you behave while in custody. And what we have on record for you is an assault on Yvette Devillers.”
Hill gives a concerned frown. “Amelie, how long do you expect you might be in prison? Obviously, you’re not a lawyer, and you haven’t received a copy of your indictment. Just, what do you think your situation is right now?”
Amelie: “I meant to appeal any decision brought against me in court, if I’m only given a public defender. But as for the time, detectives, I don’t care to think about it. I just lost five months of my life, and still have no idea why I am in handcuffs for slamming my head on concrete. If I can’t use a phone call to contact my lawyer, aunt, or anyone, I’m just going to have to stick to my guns. My life is already ruined, so I should keep calm.”
GM: “We’re not ADAs, obviously, and it’s up to them what you’re actually charged with,” says Detective Hill. “But as I understand it, criminal trespass, criminal damage to property, being a minor in possession of alcohol, and possession of a schedule I controlled substance—LSD, in your case—assault, and battery are all on the table. That’s what you were arrested for.”
Amelie: Confusion spreads across Amelie’s face as Hill reads out the charges. Slowly it clicks. The drink. The text. They were looking to drug and terrorize her. Sarah was worried when she arrived, and even more so when she asked Amelie to stay, but it was really a fucking hazing. But there’s a separate smaller panic about the house itself, a New Orleans relic.
“Do you know off the top of your head… what they said the damage was to the property?”
GM: “There was a bunch of separate stuff they were saying about the house,” Hill frowns in thought. “One I remember was… vandalizing a painting, does that ring any bells?”
Amelie: “I worked in antique restoration since I was a child in a family business. Antiques are precious to me, all of them. Architecture especially. It’s one of the reasons I love New Orleans. Knowing my charges, however, I think I should be skipping my aunt and going right to my lawyer.”
GM: Moore frowns. “That is funny, with you doing antiques work. There was more about you damaging ironwork, and I think corroding floors with salt.”
Amelie: “As I said, I worked with antiques and all antiques are precious to me. I know the chemical workings of wood, fake flooring, ceramics, and their interactivity to humidity and alkaline copper quaternary like the back of my heavily scarred hands. I’m not like the girls at McGehee… I wanted to be an engineer of sorts.”
GM: “Oh, wow. The reports definitely didn’t say anything about that,” Hill remarks. “Is ‘corroded’ actually the proper term there? For what salt does to floors, I mean.”
Amelie: “If it’s treated wood, it won’t do anything. You’re a detective, right? Have you ever been to the docks, and seen the wood there? How it looks kinda fuzzy?”
GM: Hill nods. “I heard something once too about Baltimore’s pier system rotting and needing to get replaced, a while back.”
Amelie: “Salt-damaged wood sheds and can slightly hamper the forming of above-water rot. Soft-wood rot is likely what killed the piers, the wood constantly under water. It acts like a bundle of straws, wicking salt water into the wood structure. As the wood’s exposed to heat and drying—as from direct sunlight—the water evaporates and salt crystals form in the wood cells. Over time, the physical forces exerted by the salt crystals push the fibers of the wood apart, causing the ‘fuzzy’ appearance. This is most often seen in extreme environments. Salt damage can accumulate in five years of repeated wetting and drying cycles at the earliest. And much longer in treated wood. Fortunately not at all in oil-based treatments, like you would have in the humid South. Even if the house’s floors were untreated, and they were treated, table salt on its own would do nothing.”
Amelie clears her throat a bit and looks between the detectives.
“Sorry, talking shop is comforting for me. Long story short, salt doesn’t corrode wood, no.”
GM: The cops look a little amused. “Well, I’ll be,” remarks Moore.
“That does clear it up,” chuckles Hill. “Wish we could hire you as a consulting detective for this case. You’d be perfect between the antiques and chemistry backgrounds. What about the sort of ironwork you see on houses in the Quarter, what would it take to deface that?”
Amelie: “It depends if they’re fake or not. I’m also a blacksmith, wrought iron is a notoriously difficult thing to work with so people usually sub it out with modern tool steel. Cheap stuff. But considering my charges insinuate I might have damaged some of it, and I don’t remember anything after I hit the pavement, I’m afraid I’ll have to keep mum about the exact makeup of the materials. I’m sorry. But if you’re honest about me being a consultant, maybe I have hope when I get out after all.”
Amelie smiles at the detectives. She knows that’s not a possibility without degrees and backgrounds and… well, established history.
GM: “Oh. Sorry. I didn’t mean to make it sound like we were asking about the house,” says Hill. “Would it be all right if I asked you about architecture outside of New Orleans?”
Moore looks down at his watch. “I’m not sure I need to stick around for this if you’re gonna talk about metal.”
Amelie: “Do you mind if I ask a question first? A quick one?”
GM: “Go on,” says Hill.
Moore looks back up.
Amelie: “I was informed by Yvette that the Devillers signed an agreement to pay for any damages done to the property while me and Yvette stayed overnight. Am I being charged for damages despite this, or has it been taken into consideration?”
GM: “Yeah, we heard about that. There was a story about the Whitneys and Devillers blowing up at each other at the station,” says Moore.
“I don’t know their agreement’s exact terms, but it would have been a civil one,” says Hill. “So it doesn’t have any bearing on your case.”
“If you wanna use another example, say someone punches a guy. If someone else pays for his medical bills, the first guy still gets charged for battery,” Moore adds.
“Though again, we don’t actually know what you’re being charged with,” says Hill. “That’s up to the DA. But does that answer your question?”
Amelie: Amelie nods, understanding what he’s saying. “I understand. Thank you very kindly, detective. As for architecture outside of New Orleans, you can ask me what you like. If it can be built, I can explain how.”
GM: “I had another question too, if that’s okay,” says Hill. “I’m thinking of sending my daughter to McGehee, once she’s old enough.”
“I thought tuition there was too expensive,” says Moore.
“It is,” Hill answers. “So I’d only send her there for three years in high school. Senior year doesn’t matter after she’s accepted into college.”
“Would be pretty rough transferring to another high school then,” Moore remarks. “Lose all her friends.”
“Money doesn’t grow on trees,” Hill shrugs. “It’s 20k a year. But there’s financial aid options, and I think she’s a lot more likely to get noticed and qualify for good scholarships if she goes to McGehee.”
“Anyway,” he goes on, “I am concerned about… what it’d be like for her, socially, after being on this case. Our family isn’t rich. How do you think she’s likely to get treated by the other girls?”
Amelie: Amelie knows this is likely another ploy to get information out of her. Still, she answers.
“It depends on the strength of your daughter. They judge heavily. But even if your girl fits in it’ll be hard for her when they find out what family she comes from, if she attracts their attention. Though to be fair to them, everyone seems to think I’m either a boy or a lesbian, especially with how muscular I used to be,” she chuckles. “The short hair is just a consequence of a molten steel accident, as well. You can check my back.”
“As for you being on the case, keep it low profile. Sarah and Yvette have graduated, but the Devillers have lots of daughters.”
GM: Hill frowns. “For my daughter’s sake, you mean?”
Amelie: “If she goes to the school, yes. But if she can keep her head down, the classes are college-level.”
GM: “You’re right about the Devillers,” Moore adds. “Crazy how many of them there are. And they all look alike. Actually kinda creepy.”
Amelie: “Biology isn’t my forte, but my theory is they reproduce by mitosis. One day one of them eats too much French food and splits into two Devillers.”
GM: “Makes sense enough,” Hill chuckles. “There didn’t seem to be any dad in the picture.”
Amelie: “Sorry to change the subject, but do either of you have a smartphone?”
GM: Hill holds up one.
Amelie: “While I was alone at lunch one day I stumbled onto Yvette’s Twitter, trying to find out more about the Devillers. If you want we can look at it. I promise I won’t try and call my lawyer with my mitten hands.”
GM: Hill smiles at that. “I can look it up with my non-mittened ones, if you want. What’s her handle?”
Amelie: Amelie slowly recites it for the detective. “It’s been five months since I visited it. Maybe she’s a gloater.”
GM: “Maybe. What’s it we want to find there?” Hill asks as his fingers tap against the touchscreen.
Amelie: “I don’t know. She posted a lot, and this happened yesterday. Maybe she posted the pictures or can reveal what happened with the alleged assault?”
GM: Hill glances back down at his phone. “Hm, some of this is in French. I only took Spanish back in high school.”
Moore looks over his shoulder. “Pictures speak every language.”
Amelie: “I speak seven languages, French being my native. I can translate, if you like.”
GM: “You do? That’s impressive,” smiles Hill. He holds over the phone so Amelie can get a look.
Amelie: “I won’t ask you to un-cuff me, but I’ll apologize if your arm gets tired,” she teases. She starts to read posts out loud, translating Yvette’s French to English seamlessly.
GM: Some of the more recent tweets with attached images read:
The last one draws numerous comments from familiar names.
One from Sarah Whitney reads, Happy birthday Mr. Shah!
Another from Noëlle Devillers: Boooooooon mignon (Soooooooo cute)
Susannah Kelly: Lol!!!! I thought he was named Clovis tho?
Yvonne Devillers: Clovis is mine… we have six
Yvette Devillers says: Yes all from the same litter… we all have one each… all alike, just like us Maman said! :)
Mackenna Gallagher: Nice! Happy birthday to all six?
Yvette Devillers says: Yes and thanks! Simmone & Noëlle are going to be buried in cats next fall… they will need company, when Yvonne & me start college!
Sarah Whitney: Oh is Mr. Shah not coming with you? :(
Yvonne Devillers: Nope! Cécilia left behind Frollo when she left home… she thought his brothers & sisters would miss him. Adeline did too with Clotilda… so tradition now. They get to stay together! :)
A collection of similar tweets and comments follows. Among the content is the following:
Yvette and her sisters, friends, or both going shopping and dining at various stores and restaurants throughout the city, with close-ups of their meals and clothes.
Yvette’s family, which includes five sisters and a dark-haired older woman, sitting down to a sumptuous-looking Thanksgiving meal of turkey, stuffing, pie, and all the usual staples. There’s an added comment about how it “isn’t a holiday back home, but we’ve gotten to like it here!”
Yvette going horseback riding in Audubon Park.
Repeated pictures of the family’s white-furred persian cats.
Yvette and Yvonne in Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors, skiing across a snowy tundra, posing on a beach in the French Riveria (“way less tourists in winter!” adds one of her comments), and various other shots from an apparent vacation in Europe.
“Noël” pictures of a brightly-lit Christmas tree, a sumptuous lobster dinner (“Réveillon”), girls’ shoes around a fireplace filled with the usual stocking stuffers, and a barely-visible living room heaped high with more presents than Amelie has received in all her life.
Yvette taking selfies of herself posing in different outfits before a wall-length mirror.
Yvette dressed up for her winter formal, in a pale blue gown with matching gloves, on the arm of a handsome boy in a tuxedo.
Simmone munching on a basket of chocolates, sweets, and other goodies in a hospital.
The family on a yacht in the Gulf of Mexico as fireworks light up the night sky.
Simmone wearing a mermaid tail blanket and ‘swimming’ through a sea of torn-up Christmas wrapping paper.
More selfies of Yvette shopping and dining.
Yvette and some other girls playing tennis.
Yvette and her thick-furred cat lying splaid-out on the floor, the cat’s expression wild, with a caption that reads, Doing cocaine with Mr. Shah! but a follow-up comment that clarifies, lol just catnip.
Yvette and Yvonne hugging each other in a hospital bed, their surroundings considerably cheerier than Amelie’s between the balloons, scented candles, gift baskets, get-well cards, and scattered laptops and tablets.
A similar photo, but with the entire family, and Yvonne in the center.
More hospital photos, including a few with Caroline Malveaux.
Another one of the full family eating out at Commander’s Palace, along with Sarah Whitney, several men Amelie doesn’t recognize, and Caroline again. Comments exclaim how glad Yvette is that everyone is finally recovered and out from the hospital.
There are lots of pictures of that dinner. Many of them show a woman who looks like an older version of Yvette showing off a diamond ring, her sisters screaming with excitement over (as the comments indicate) Cécilia’s engagement to a one Luke Malveaux.
More pictures follow of Simmone playing dress-up with her sisters. As the youngest of six, she is clearly the baby of the family.
One picture of Yvette and Yvonne standing outside an office building with confident expressions.
J’espère que ce soit notre dernière visite depuis un moment… ayant encore des flashbacks parfois :( mais nous pouvons admettre et passer à travers! Avec le reste de nos vies! :)
(Hope this to be our last visit for a while… still having flashbacks sometimes :( but we can admit and get through! On with the rest of our lives! :)
A shot of the family eating galette des rois with green, yellow, and purple frosting—the king cake common to both New Orleans and France.
An album of selfies showing Yvette and Yvonne wearing domino masks, Mardi Gras beads, and partying at the 2016 Carnival celebrations. Apparently Amelie has missed the city’s best-known festival.
Assorted selfies at McGehee and the school dances.
Hill doesn’t look at any of these for long, however. He eventually pulls the phone away so that he can scroll through the feed faster and find wherever the pictures of Amelie are.
Amelie: Amelie stops reading the comments after a while and mutters to the detectives it’s just “rich girl stuff.” But there are several confusing things that pop out at her. Caroline’s involvement however she tries not to register to the police.
“Hospitals and therapists? What—were they hurt at the house?”
GM: “Yes, they were,” Moore answers. “Their families held you responsible.”
Amelie: “How were they hurt?” Amelie asks. She’s concerned, but less confused than she was a moment ago.
Thoughts about what assaulted her at the house flash through her head. Did it go after the girls after it got her? Did Tantsy send someone?
GM: “A former co-worker of ours went crazy. He shot Yvonne Devillers and Sarah Whitney,” Hill explains.
Amelie: The answer comes out of left field, Amelie looks to the men horrified. The handcuff on her right hand rattles as she reflexively goes to cover her mouth and is restrained.
“Jesus! Thank god they’re okay. Do we know why he went crazy?”
GM: “Not for sure, and we probably never will,” says Moore. “He was killed in a shootout with SWAT not too much later.”
Amelie: Amelie takes a moment, coughing with her head turned away from the detectives and panting slightly. Even this bit of news has winded her. Her new body reminds her of how weak it is now.
“And they—damn. They’re taking it out on me. That’s bad. Yvette loves her sisters like nothing else, if she blames me for Yvonne being hurt, her wrath would probably seem very justified to her. And I’m sorry to hear about your co-worker. That has to have been stressful.”
GM: “It was. He’d been on the force for a while. He was a hardass with no life outside the job, but a lot of officers still respected him,” says Hill.
“The girls’ families were pretty mad at us, needless to say,” says Hill.
Amelie: “I’m sorry. That’s attention no one would want. How many people did they want fired?”
GM: Hill looks confused. “Sorry?”
Amelie: “Oh, no, that’s my mouth out-pacing my mind, sorry. It’s been a long day. I should get back on track. Does visitation include my legal counsel?”
GM: “Your legal counsel is considered a visitor, if that’s what you mean,” Hill answers.
Amelie: “Not to sound pithy, but then how do I exercise my right to legal counsel?”
GM: “We explained that, Amelie,” says Moore. “You’ve had your jail visitation privileges suspended as a result of your alleged assault on Yvette Devillers. A public defender could still visit you, or a lawyer you’ve hired yourself. But not a lawyer hired by a third party.”
Amelie: “Was more wondering if that would supersede the visitation ban,” she muses, looking over the two men. “I wish I could give you more than I have, to keep your boss happy, but without that phone call I should really stop talking.”
GM: Moore seems to think. “Hmm. I’d like to come up with a way that could help us all out.”
Amelie: “I’d like to, as well. All this horrible news, I could use some good.”
GM: Hill frowns and looks up from his phone. “Think I might be about to rain on that parade. I found Yvette’s photos of you.”
Amelie: Amelie frowns in kind. “Can I see them?”
GM: Hill extends his phone back towards Amelie.
The pictures are, in a word, extremely unflattering. Her skin is pallid and greasy. He cheeks are hollow, and there are deep bags and circles around her eyes. Her short hair looks greasy and unkempt. Her limbs are stick-thin, but the low angle of the shot makes her already thick diaper look huge, as if she’s just fouled herself. Amelie’s half-lidded eyes provide the finishing touch on her haggard appearance.
Amelie: Amelie sneers lightly, checking if they’re on Yvette’s Twitter account or if he found them elsewhere.
GM: They appear to be on the same Twitter account. Hill scrolls down to reveal several others:
One is of Amelie getting stuck with a needle by the nurses. Her half-lidded expression looks even woozier, akin to the sort of glazed look one sees on people with Down Syndrome.
The next photo shows Yvette pulling up Amelie’s eyelids to reveal the whites of the clearly unconscious woman’s motionless eyes. Yvette is sticking out her tongue and making a silly, partly grossed out face while nurses bustle in the background. The contrast between Yvette’s pale but health complexion and Amelie’s sickly and sun-starved one is all the more apparent.
There are several more pictures of nurses fitting the thumb-less, finger-less white mittens around Amelie’s hands while Yvette flashes a thumbs up.
The next picture shows Yvette sitting on Amelie’s bed, with one of her shoes removed. She’s holding Amelie’s mouth open as she runs the knee-length boot’s sole against her ex-classmate’s tongue, literally making Amelie lick her boots (or at least one of them).
The next shot is of Amelie being made to lick the other boot.
Amelie: Amelie just looks at them, her face hard as marble even as the boots come up. She licks her teeth and sighs, “Detectives, I’d like to kindly ask for my right arm to be uncuffed. I just became very aware that a lump I can’t reach behind a molar may just be a rock.”
GM: Hill gives her a somewhat grim if understanding smile and scrolls down to the bottom of the post. There are further pictures, the second to last of which shows the nurses fitting a thick black spit hood over Amelie’s head. It gives her a look rather like a Guantanamo Bay detainee.
The last one is of Yvette smiling as she rubs hand sanitizer along her palms, with the caption, Washing off the dyke slobber I got on me!
The tweet as a whole is captioned with, Catching up with an old friend… :D and has a number of comments.
Mackenna Gallagher: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Sarah Whitney: Right where he belongs!
Susannah Kelly: Yes! Is he going to prison?
Yvette Devillers: Yes he is… mom’s lawyers got a while, but not as long as I’d like… more now tho!!!!! >:)
Sarah Whitney: Cute boots, I want!
Yvette Devillers says: Merci! They are Savin Hill Timberlands… very comfy and sturdy, and the linings + covers are made from recycled materials
Yvonne Devillers: Cost more than he can count up to… might wanna burn them and get another pair though, now that they’ve been contaminated with dyke slobber
Yvette Devillers: Yes definitely will… worth it though. Lick my boots filthy peasant!!!!!!!! >:D
Susannah Kelly: Lol I bet you wore boots so you could say that… genius!
Mackenna_Gallagher: I’ll get these printed for the rest of the school, I’m fing dying here
Amelie: Amelie’s expression doesn’t change as she reads the comments. Every single word. Every name, every insult, every humiliation. Even her stone-like face looks weary when she’s done, finally showing the faintest of cracks in her tempered shield.
“Please make sure you screencap all of these, just in case,” she asks as she rests her head back against the pillow. “What does this mean for you two? Legally, I mean.”
GM: “Well, bear in mind that taking pictures without consent and posting mean comments isn’t against any laws,” Moore answers.
Amelie: “Forgive me if I betray any tones with you both, you don’t deserve it. But the alleged assault. Would this hypothetically be sufficient proof that it was fabricated, coupled with the state of my throat when you first came in? Maybe even enough to say it was a malicious charge? Or how about forcing me to lick a boot while I’m unconscious, that’s assault is it not? At least enough for a phone call?”
GM: Hill rubs his chin. “Yvette’s behavior could be construed as a reaction against you spitting on her, but there’s definitely enough here to cast her own actions in a new light. Taking things one at a time though, what’s this about the state of your throat?”
Amelie: “The difficulty of my speech when you entered, the wheezing and swallowing. Do you think someone who hasn’t had a drink for five months would spit out water? Or have that much trouble speaking after wetting their mouth enough to swallow? Look at my tongue in those pictures, and at it now that I’ve had water.”
GM: “Kind of hard to make out past the boots, though,” Moore says.
Amelie: Amelie just takes a slow breath, slowly collecting herself. “Is this enough? I gave you those tweets, something tangible to bring to your boss. Not my words, hers. Is this… enough? For me to call my lawyer?”
GM: “Oh, this is definitely enough,” Hill says. “Yvette could be looking at a battery charge here.”
He smiles. “Ironic. It’s the same one she’d wanted to pin on you.”
Amelie: “Enough for the lawyer. Should I push my luck and ask to see my aunt as well?”
GM: “Oh, it’s enough that our boss’ boss may be interested in what you’ve found,” says Hill. “Maybe the superintendent. He barely kept his job after this whole mess.”
“Yeah, only ’cause SWAT brought down Gettis so fast,” says Moore.
Amelie: Amelie files away his name. Gettis shot Sarah and Yvonne.
“You should save an offline archived version of those tweets. Before she gets wise.”
GM: Hill nods in agreement. “So before I do start making calls, Amelie,” he continues slowly, “I want to make double sure… is there anything, anything else you can think of, that might make Yvette look innocent or guilty?”
“Where families like the Devillers are involved, we have to be pretty careful,” Moore agrees.
Amelie: Amelie chews on it, looking down over her handcuffs and sighing. “I’d desperately like my visitation first. You can leave your cards with me and I’ll call when I can. About this incident, as well as about what happened in the house. It’s been five months for everyone, but only days for me, after all.”
GM: Moore shakes his head. “We’re not asking about the house at this point, Amelie, just whether there’s anything else we should know about Yvette’s visit to your hospital room.”
“We could lose our jobs if we mishandle this,” Hill says seriously. “If, say, she actually brought you food or balloons or whatever. Anything that might give an impartial party reasonable doubt as to whether Yvette was just here to bully you.”
“Now, you can keep what happened at the house to yourself, if you like, until you’ve been able to speak with a lawyer,” says Moore. “But we need to know if there’s any other pertinent facts to Yvette’s visit before we tell our boss she committed battery.”
Amelie: Amelie keeps chewing, looking over at the window and taking a long slow breath. Her gut says to let this nightmare be over with, but her curiosity is piqued. This feels political in nature, like they want this for a very specific reason.
“You have no intention of getting Yvette in trouble, do you. Sorry to ask something that’s none of my business, detectives, but is this political? You did say the superintendent was almost fired.”
GM: “Amelie, we’ve been answering a lot of your questions,” Detective Hill says patiently.
Amelie: She nods and looks the detective in the eye. “I apologize for that. Curiosity and caution. Who I’m dealing with has already ruined my life, damage mitigation is all I have. So if you can promise me my visitation, I’ll take the plunge and tell you all I can.”
GM: “We promise, Amelie. Your visitation in return for what you can tell us,” says Hill.
Amelie: Amelie knows this is likely the wrong choice, but if gets her and her aunt together, it seems like the only one she can make.
“She came just to tell me all the horrible things that happened as a consequence of our project studying the house. Ms. Perry the New Orleans history teacher being fired. The death of an attorney of the Whitney family, Mitchel Lowenstein, and how he left behind a wife and child. The suicide of Hannah, the only girl at McGehee who had empathy for me. Even outing her as transgender to me, and telling me her mother looked like a zombie without her. Told me my aunt didn’t want to be here, that I was a burden who ruined everything. She came in with a clear glass of water, I refused to drink, and she used it to smudge her makeup and pour it over herself and me after she took her pictures. The last thing she said when the nurses ran in was to enjoy the rest of my life. With the charges I’m facing, it’s quite over.”
GM: “Oh, none of that is too important,” Hill says. “It establishes her character, sure, but none of it’s illegal or provable.”
Amelie: “You could speak with the nurses. She knew I was awake very early, they let her take all those pictures, and if one of you would be so kind as to go and remove the face of the fire detector?”
“They would take their smoke breaks in here. Might be useful to leverage to have them admit to why they let Yvette do these things. Isn’t it provable that she said these things, if I knew about them after being in a coma for five months?”
GM: “Well, Amelie, standards of proof vary by circumstance,” Hill starts to explain. “For just determining your visitation rights, which like I’ve said have no legal basis, no one is going to look into things that thoroughly. Yvette couldn’t be compelled to provide witness testimony. If Yvette’s actions were the subject of an actual police investigation, or trial, then we’d be looking into things that deeply.”
“Ultimately, Yvette saying mean things to you isn’t illegal, and only helps in establishing motive. It’s also very hard to prove. You could have heard those things from someone else, for all anyone can know. Although even if someone could prove what Yvette said… that helps her case, come to think. Yvette said cruel things, so you got angry and spat on her.”
“What’s this bit about the smoke detector?” Moore asks.
Amelie: Amelie is quiet. Almost praying. “It’s stuffed with pantyhose.”
GM: Hill looks up at the ceiling thoughtfully, stands on his chair, and unscrews it. He looks inside.
“Well, I’ll be,” Moore remarks. “How did you know that?”
Amelie: “My eye is sharp. The nurse walking in with the darts in her hand proved me right.”
GM: “Guess you have had a while to sit and notice things,” Hill chuckles, stepping down off the chair.
Moore looks the pantyhose-filled smoke detector over, then snaps several pictures on his phone.
Amelie: Amelie lets him do his thing and looks to Hill.
“I’m getting very tired. You’ll hold your end of the bargain up?”
GM: “A deal’s a deal,” Hill repeats.
“This thing with the smoke detector was a surprise, though. Is there anything else, Amelie, you can think to tell us about your time here in the hospital? Anything at all?”
Amelie: “Mistreatment by nurses, bits and pieces of rumors that might just be dreams, what are you looking for?”
GM: “We actually don’t know,” Hill smiles. “But that’s our job. We sort over all the puzzle pieces and figure out how they go together. What’s this about rumors that might be dreams?”
Amelie: “I’d like to stop talking now, actually. I’d like that call.”
GM: “That’s not fulfilling your end of the deal, Amelie,” Hill says. “Once you do that, you can have your call.”
Amelie: Amelie grimaces and slowly rests her head back.
“There was a criminal executed here this week, and a rumor about a Dr. Brown being inappropriate with unconscious patients.”
GM: “Oh, who was that criminal?” Moore asks.
Amelie: “Delacroix if I remember their last name right.”
GM: “Delacroix, and where did you hear about him? You said in a dream?”
Amelie: “I said I wasn’t sure if it was a dream or not. This was before I ‘woke up’.”
GM: Moore looks up from his phone. “Emmett Delacroix is no dream, Amelie. He was executed by the state of Louisiana only a few days ago. In fact, he was the first man to be executed in some years.”
“Where did you find that out?” Hill asks, eyebrows raised.
Amelie: “Like I said, I wasn’t sure I was dreaming or not. I could have been dreaming and heard smoking nurses talking about it.”
GM: Hill looks down at his phone, then back up. “Coma patients don’t dream, Amelie.”
Amelie: “It was only a few days ago, maybe I was half-away already, I don’t know. I work with steel, not brains.”
GM: “I could tell,” Moore smiles.
Amelie: Amelie actually laughs. It’s the first smile she’s had for awhile.
“Ass. I mean before I opened my eyes and saw this hospital room. Could wiggle my toes and etcetera.”
GM: “So the first thing you did when you woke up was to wiggle your toes, not open your eyes,” Hill says. “You said Delacroix was ‘before you woke up’, though. What did you mean by that?”
Amelie: “I tried things slowly. But I didn’t open my eyes for awhile, no. The room was spinning from just a little effort. I passed out again when they pulled my catheter for instance. I’m only slowly getting my strength back.”
GM: “So you couldn’t make out a whole lot, outside of you,” Moore clarifies. “Moving that toe was all you could do.”
Amelie: “At first. It was like vertigo. I could hear perfectly and think perfectly, but the physical strain of certain actions was harsh. I still can’t wiggle my left side.”
GM: “I’m sure you’ll get better with physical therapy,” says Hill. “What’s the first thing you can remember hearing?”
Amelie: “The heart rate monitor. Do you mind if I ask why we’re on this line of questioning now?”
GM: Moore picks up Amelie’s call button and presses the speaker.
“Detective Moore, NOPD. We could use a nurse in here, please.”
“Someone’ll be over,” says a nurse. The speaker clicks.
“This will make sense in a bit,” says Hill. “Amelie, what’s the first thing you can remember anyone saying?”
Amelie: It takes a moment for Amelie to recall the first thing she heard in the real world. “Uh… a nurse pressed the call button and said something like ’he’s awake and just shat his… something. Your problem now.’”
GM: “Well, that must’ve been the most welcome gender insult you ever heard,” Hill chuckles.
Amelie: “You’ve no idea. They get fucking old.”
GM: A nurse enters the room. She looks at the stocking-stuffed smoke alarm in Moore’s hands and frowns.
“Thanks for coming by so fast. This might seem like an odd question, but do you know who Emmett Delacroix is?” Hill asks.
The nurse frowns deeper. “No. Never heard of him.”
“Amelie, what time of day was it when you woke back up?” asks Moore.
Amelie: “At first? The middle of the night, I think.”
GM: “Who was the nurse who reported Amelie being awake?” Hill asks the nurse.
“Candice,” the nurse answers, her frown undiminished.
“What shift does Candice work?” Moore asks.
“7 AM to 7 PM,” the nurse answers.
“Candice said it was ‘someone else’s problem’ when she saw Amelie awake. What was she doing in this room?” Hill asks.
The nurse looks at the smoke alarm in Moore’s hands. “Probably smoking, if that was out.”
“Right, probably. You didn’t know about this before now,” says Moore. “So she’d have been on her break then? Or maybe having lunch?”
“Yeah, she’d have been smoking on her break. Or the tail end of lunch,” says the nurse.
“What times are breaks and lunches here?” asks Hill.
“12:30 to 1:30, usually,” says the nurse.
“And your after-lunch breaks?” asks Hill.
“We have just one break after lunch. Around 4, usually.” Her frown resumes. “Why are you asking this?”
“I think that was everything we needed,” Moore answers. “Can you do us a favor, though? Check your records to see what time Amelie woke up. And ask if anyone else at the nurse’s station knows Emmett Delacroix.”
“Maybe get some batteries for that smoke alarm too,” Hill adds. “Never know when there could be a fire.”
Amelie: Amelie just watches the detectives, confused, but waits for them to finish with the nurse.
GM: “Uh, sure,” says the nurse. She looks between the two cops and leaves without looking at Amelie.
“So it sounds like your regular nurse hasn’t heard of Emmett Delacroix,” says Moore.
Amelie: “Can I ask why you’re so fixated on this? You jumped the gun a little as well. I was handcuffed and couldn’t press the button right when I woke up,” she muses, looking between them. “I am so confused.”
GM: “Call it a detective’s hunch, Amelie. But nothing you’ve told us here is adding up,” says Moore.
“Hearing ‘rumors in dreams,’ when coma patients don’t dream. Saying you woke up at night, when the nurses say you woke up at day. And knowing about this pretty obscure bit of news when your nurse had no idea who Emmett Delacroix was. I didn’t know who he was.”
Amelie: “I answered your questions. When I first woke up it was night. I passed out when my catheter was pulled. I laid around for long periods of time before I was discovered. Are… are you just attaching to this to try and go back on our deal?”
GM: “We’re ‘attaching to this’ because the details you’re telling us don’t add up. When we can’t trust the things you’re telling us now, that throws everything else you’ve told us into question,” Hill explains. “Which would be you going back on your end of the deal.”
“‘Attaching to things’ is our job, Amelie,” Moore goes on. “Right now, I’m getting attached to the idea that there’s no good explanation for how a five-month coma patient could know about Emmett Delacroix. Or at least none from the details she’s told us so far.”
“We spend a lot of time around dishonest people, Amelie, and right now I don’t think you’re being fully honest with us about everything,” Hill continues. “I’m still prepared to keep our deal and get your visitation privileges reinstated. But to do that, you need to hold up your end and tell us the truth.”
Amelie: Amelie rests her head back on the pillow. She all but wants to bash her skull against the railing.
“Detective Hill, when I first woke up, it was either me slipping into a dream or a shitty sleep paralysis-induced hallucination. Any other explanation would put me in an asylum, and even calling it a hallucination puts me in jeopardy. If I called it an out of body experience, I would look like a lunatic. That’s where I got the name, where I looked outside and saw New Orleans in pieces, and where I ran from monsters through this hospital. I can’t explain it, and not being able to talk about it or read about it because I’m under intense scrutiny is like being trapped in a lake with a branch of peaches JUST out of reach. If you’re looking for the truth, it’s that I don’t know what happened. I know that I woke up after that whole hallucination, I made it to the sewers and poof! Horrific imagery not related to the hospital, and I woke up. Now I would very much like to call my aunt. I am desperate to have the only family I have left on this earth comfort me before my legs SNAP from the pressure of five months of my life lost, untold months or years of jail looming over me, and the promise that my once bright future is no longer possible.”
GM: The two detectives trade looks with each other.
“Amelie, I’m not sure that I understand your explanation,” Detective Hill says slowly. “Why don’t you focus on the part where you learned Emmett Delacroix’s name. Do you remember how that happened?”
Amelie: Amelie is just staring at them stone faced, angry that they’re pushing her on this. “Whether it was a dream or a hallucination, he was a character in it. That’s your answer. I ran into him in a hallway and we tried to escape together.”
GM: “And he told you what his name was?” Detective Moore asks.
GM: Detective Hill frowns in thought, then asks, “What did he look like?”
Amelie: “He was almost completely covered in shadows, it was hard to make his face out. Male, mid-20s maybe, average height.”
GM: Detective Moore looks down at his phone. “Well, that’s a match. He was born in 1991.”
Hill seems to think further. “Why don’t you tell us about this… experience, Amelie, from the beginning. What’s the first thing in it that you can remember?”
Amelie: “The sound of the machine here beeping. Can we continue this out of handcuffs? I need to scratch when I’m agitated.”
GM: “Sorry,” says Hill. “Hospitalized jail inmates have to stay in restraints.”
“You remember the machine beeping,” Moore repeats. “What came after that?”
Amelie: “Muscle atrophy,” she grunts, continuing. “I was standing over myself, gaunt and thin like I am now. The room was normal and dark, it was the middle of the night. I had something coming from my back, a tether. I had no sensations. I tried to open the door but couldn’t get a grip, it hurt to try and grab the handle.”
GM: The cops question Amelie further as to her ‘hallucinatory’ experience. They’ve barely gotten into it, however, before they find another apparent hole in her story and are dryly asking her, “Are you sure that’s all?”
Amelie: “I thought I’d spare you a dark figure walking into the room and dry-humping my body strapped to the bed, sucking on my neck. It was uncomfortable.”
GM: Moore sticks the spit hood back over Amelie’s head. It’s hot, rough-feeling, and dark enough to make it hard to see.
“That’s the second time you haven’t been honest with us, Amelie,” says Hill. “Last chance. You can uphold your end of the deal, and we’ll uphold ours, or we can leave now with what we have.”
“And you might go a long time before getting to see any aunts or lawyers,” adds Moore.
Amelie: Amelie can’t resist, but she’s sure they can see her expression harden behind the hood. It’s telling how they’re resorting to this, and she’s tired of giving everything for nothing.
“I’m done speaking. You have what will make your boss happy. If that’s not enough, I will just endure what’s to come.”
GM: “You’re right about that,” says Moore.
Hill gets up from his seat. “All right, Amelie. It’s your call. You can tell one of your nurses if you change your mind.”
Amelie: “And you can let your boss know they’re welcome to come and speak with me themselves, if they wish. Whether if they’re the superintendent or not. Oh, and good luck with your bar examination, detective.”
GM: “Pretty talkative, isn’t she?” Moore remarks.
“Mmm, good point,” says Hill. “She did tell all this to us.”
Hill presses the call button, then yells into it, “Nurse! This little bitch tried to BITE me! I want a hood with a bit, NOW!”
The voice over the intercom quickly responds that someone will be right over. A nurse arrives with another spit hood that has a bulky foam helmet and attached plastic block.
The nurse sets down her hypodermic needle when Amelie obeys, then pulls off her spit hood, re-inserts her feeding tube down her throat, and fits the plastic block inside her mouth. The attached dark mesh hood then goes over her head, followed by the foam helmet and a dental dam-like covering that conceals her lower face. It’s hot, heavy, dark, and makes it hard to see. It probably makes it even harder to speak.
Amelie: Amelie can only offer a silent prayer of thanks when the nurse puts the needle back down on the table. There’s no hope in resisting anymore, not physically. These nurses are awful people, but they’re the ones with the power. All she can do is make everything as smooth as possible. The feeding tube, though, is the worst part, as they steal away the gift of speech from her yet again. Twice again with the bit added in.
GM: “There, officers, I hope that’s an improvement,” the nurse declares.
“Detectives,” Moore corrects.
The two leave without further glance or comment.
The nurse stares down at Amelie. “We have a lot more ways we can punish you if you keep misbehaving. Think on that.”
She turns and leaves, locking the door closed with its now-familiar click.
Amelie: The ember of hate in Amelie’s emaciated chest feels wind fanning it at the nurse’s threat. It burns deeper as she mutely stares ahead.
GM: Time crawls.
The sun starts to dim.
More time crawls.
Amelie: Time crawls again. It’s more than enough to consider her mistake in speaking with the detectives, and Yvette’s words.
Things would be better for everyone if she just vanished, wouldn’t they. She idly wonders if that’s what her mother thought when she packed up. Her tweenage self had even wondered if Mom left to fight werewolves on that one TV show, Action Bill & the Danger Squad.
GM: Eventually, night falls. Amelie’s face is uncomfortably hot beneath the layers of thick material, and her eyes all but blind between the ambient dark, her hood’s dark mesh, and her new foam helmet.
But other senses are not so easily held captive. And the fencer’s acute instincts, forged by years of practice behind the blade but honed to their present edge by some altogether alien material, scream at her:
Amelie: Useless idle thoughts are all but swept to the side as she feels it, something close. Something bad. The scar on her left hand throbs and feels like it’s trying to rip apart all over again. Somehow it’s both different from normal and horrifically familiar, a sickening feeling of being forced upon. But there’s no panic in her chest anymore, only leftovers of a grim thought.
Maybe it’ll take me away from here.
Amelie pushes past the tremble and does the only thing she can at the nothing in the room. She snaps her fingers.
GM: The sound is muffled beneath the heavy hospital mitts, and her fingers are so slow and sluggish. The door is so far away. She hopes it’s enough. Enough to lure in the monster on the other side.
The night hangs still.
And then… nothing.
The dark presence is gone as if it were never there.
Amelie: Amelie mentally curses. She swears at the wall and at whatever… thing just passed by. Silence tempers her enough to wonder at her motivations. It was a comforting thought that something would take her away from here.
When people are monsters to you, it’s easy to wonder if monsters might be more human.
She just lays there after the close call, listening for the door, mulling over thought after thought in the dark and quiet. Hoping tomorrow brings another visitor.
GM: The door is silent. The night is silent, save for the intermittent beeping of the adjacent medical equipment. Her mouth and throat hurt from the uncomfortably large feeding tube and plastic bit. The foam helmet and double rows of covering over her sweaty face feel so hot and stifling. She feels trapped.
Left to stew and rot.
Perhaps it was a chance hope for monsters to be human.