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The Man in Room 202

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There was no cure for evil.

People were held here, kept inside this awful prison, with the idea that the doctors could find a cure for their broken minds, but there was no cure for evil.

It took Sally a week to prepare.

When he did what he did, the Bad Man showed her a truth she'd been hiding from herself: some people are just better off dead.

He'd had a wife.

It was in his file, the one she wasn't supposed to read because she wasn't a doctor, she didn't even have a formal education.

The Bad Man had a wife, until he beat her so badly the body was unrecognizable. He wore his wedding ring still, but that wasn't the keepsake he treasured, no. He kept one of her teeth close to his heart, a memento of the death he had caused.

Sally made sure the orderlies, big, strong men that they were, confiscated his weapon.

He'd used it on her, a metal spoon with the tip filed to a point and one edge honed so it cut. He hadn't needed to – he was big and strong, himself – but he'd learned from his wife. If he beat her, hurt her too badly, he'd lose her, and he didn't want that, because he liked her, liked how she flinched and whimpered but didn't scream.

She never screamed.

Sally was a good girl, a quiet girl.

It would start with him.

She took her time planning it out, because she would only get one chance.

She didn't really want another.

Confiding in Father Campbell had been a hopeless venture, but she tried to talk it out. She'd thought he might have some insight; after all, a priest should know the nature of good and evil.

Father Campbell believed that there was good in everyone, that everyone could be saved, but Sally knew better now.

She started with the Bad Man, because he was evil, and if she was caught or stopped, she wanted to know he was dead and gone, that he would never hurt anyone else, ever again.

She wasn't brave, she wasn't strong – she did it while he lay in a drugged sleep, strapped in to his bed to prevent a struggle.

It was still harder than she expected. Her hands were too small to fully circle his neck, and it took a long time to be sure he was dead. In the end, she had to check to see if he'd started breathing again.

She was scared to think what she would do if he had.

But he didn't.

He was dead.

She didn't stop there.

She stole Father Campbell's breath because if he found out the Bad Man was dead, he'd know she did it – he'd know why – and he'd try to stop her.

She couldn't allow that.

The boy was easy, the one who'd frozen, stiff, locked inside his own head except for small, repetitive movements.

He'd broken down because of a bad man.

Not the Bad Man, not the man who had hurt Sally, but one so very alike, and Sally understood what she had to do.

She saved the little boy from the monster in his head, the monster who visited every other weekend.

The anxious girl was special – she'd been so surprised, and she didn't, couldn't, understand. Sally couldn't explain why she had to die, but she thought of the girl as a daughter, like the child she could never have. When she was done here, they could be together, because Sally knew what she had to do.

It took all of her strength to kill Warden Spencer, but he had to go, too.

He was the one who kept them all locked away, playing at the pretense of curing the sickness inside of them, but Sally knew his secret: there was no cure.

And, he had the keys.

Every lock in the Asylum could be opened with his key ring. She needed those keys – they represented her freedom.

 


 

 

When the lawmen finally came, they found Sally clutching a bonesaw, rocking back and forth, because in the end, she couldn't do it.

Her hands were lily-white, but forever stained with death.

She'd meant to end her own life, but it was impossible – she couldn't bring herself to cut through her own skin.

She'd tried.

The lawmen hanged her for her crimes.

They understood.

There was only one cure for evil.