I was fifteen when I was locked away. The State found me mentally unfit to be held accountable for my actions, and placed me in a treatment facility. For seventeen years I was incarcerated for a crime I didn’t commit, but no one believed me. I couldn’t blame them; I wouldn’t have believed me either.
Miraculously in between the drug induced blackouts, solitary confinement, nights spent reliving the moment that got me locked away, and the State’s intensive psychological therapy, I had managed to earn two bachelor’s degrees, a masters, and my freedom.
It was both exciting and horrifying to learn that I going to be released. I looked forward to leaving, but I had no where to go.
My family had stopped visiting me early on during my incarceration. They were convinced I was possessed by demonic spirits and quietly disowned me. There was no going back home.
Staying in town was not an option for me anyway. I wasn’t wanted or welcomed there. Every year on the anniversary of the incident the town came together to remember those who died. Two vigils were held. One at the high school where it all began, and the second at the gates of the facility where I was held.
The second vigil was far less honorable than the first. Signs, chants demanding my blood, burning effigies, and police intervention became a tradition in the annual memorial. My life would always be at risk in that town.
It was no wonder that my release was being kept quiet. I was to be given a new name, a new identity, and a ticket to anywhere the local train station could take me.
“I hear they’re letting you out.” My thoughts were interrupted by the raspy cigarette weathered voice of my mentor and friend, Chu, coming through the wall.
Admitted at the age of twenty, Chu had spent forty years in the treatment facility. When I first arrived he took me under his wing. The man was more of a father to me than mine had ever been, so when he swore that he had belonged to an order of demon hunters, I went with it.
Obviously Chu was crazy, but his stories about the history and lore of his order kept me sane. I even let him teach me the fighting style of his order which resembled something you might see on badly dubbed kung-fu movies. For what it is worth, it had proven effective once when a violent patient got loose and came looking for me.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I was told that it was to be kept quiet. Who told you?” I was ashamed for having kept the news from Chu. He, of all people, deserved to know. I just didn’t know how to tell him.
“Augur told me. Told me that we’ve taught you well, and we must let you travel the road Fate has set out for you.”
Augur, according to Chu, was an old spirit that guided him. I don’t know who Augur really was, but the bastard always seemed to have solid inside information.
“I’m going to miss you, Chu. You were a great friend. I hope you get better someday.”
“I AM WELL!” Chu struck the wall of his cell. There was a long pause before I heard him let out a deep sigh. “You will know soon enough. Do not forget the things I have taught you.”
“I…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…”
“Don’t worry about it.” he chuckled. “You’ll see soon enough. There is more to this world, and to you, than you know. You’ve seen through the veil once. That is why you’ve been here for so long. Just remember what I’ve taught you.”
“Dammit Chu, I’m going to miss you.”
“Corvin. It’s time.”
Footsteps echoing off the cold tile outside the door to my cell drew me out my reflection and reverie. The cold piercing eyes of Dr. Penderling fell upon me through the small barred window in the door.
As per protocol I stood against the wall farthest from the door. The solid lock gave with an audible grind and swung open to reveal Dr. Penderling and a large male orderly at her side.
Dr. Penderling was legendary in age. Her age-white hair was pulled tight in a neat and proper bun. Her wrinkled skin seemed to hang off her slender frame and was gathered and tucked into a tailored made pants-suit complete with a frilly lace neckerchief. Her stern face caked with too much make up.
When I first met Dr. Penderling she was a snarling bitch; harsh in all her ways. She would come armed with four orderlies, order me strapped to my bed, and have me drugged so I would be compliant with therapeutic procedures I can only remember in flashes. When I finally stopped raving about monsters and shadowy tendrils, she became much more pleasant.
“Good morning, Dr. Penderling.” I offered.
“Ah, Corvin. How far we’ve come with you. If not bound by legal obligations, I would write a book about our experience, and how I broke you like a stubborn ass. Reluctantly, my darling, I must send you off to face the world.”
Her smile never wavered as she delighted in her own grandeur.
“Now, Mr. Stenson here is going take you to get cleaned up and ready. You will meet with Mr. Jackobs, our beloved figure head, and a few government types to get your affairs in order before your release.
“Soon, young Corvin, you will be a free bird flying on your own. Do try not fuck it up.”