Part 5: Come to Their Senses
and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:26
Maggie waited for the guards at the A entrance to buzz her into the wing where Alex Barnes and other criminals in similar conditions resided. There were only two entrances to this wing, but the security was minimal within. Even though the area housed hardened criminals, it wasn’t heavily guarded because the patients there were all severely incapacitated by mental infirmity—most of them were vegetative or comatose.
Maggie didn’t know exactly what she was going to do yet. She just knew she had to see that patient, the woman she now knew was called Alex Barnes. She didn’t want to arouse anyone’s suspicions, so she visited several other patients in the order she would normally see them. Maggie itched to get to Alex’s room, but she managed to walk slowly and calmly down the hall. She was about to turn the corner when a rough voice caught her attention. He was talking about Alex. Maggie stayed where she was and listened to the conversation.
“Alex Barnes? Yeah, she’s still in her coma. But I hear that won’t be for long.”
Another man spoke. “’Bout time. We’ve been waitin’ almost two years now for that big pay-off.”
“Yeah. I’m not gonna be an orderly all my life. I got plans. For that ya need money.”
“Ya think those guys that gave us the money to keep an extra eye on her were really Feds?”
“You can tell by the suits and ties, man. And even if they weren’t, who cares? They kept the money comin’. Now they’re gonna give us the bonus for lettin’ ‘em know when she wakes up.”
“Whaddya think they want her for?”
“Who knows? I hear weird stuff about her, though. They say she’s special or somethin’, that she can hear and see people from far away.”
“Yeah, right. Like Superman, huh?”
The other man snorted. “Only lucky for us she can’t fly or we’d probably be out our extra cash.”
“So you think she’s really got super powers, man?”
“Yeah, right. But if those Feds pay me enough, I’ll swear she’s anything they say she is.”
Both men’s voices trailed off as they walked down the hall. Maggie peeked around the corner, watching them head in the opposite direction. Quickening her pace, she hurried to Alex’s room at the end of the hall. She walked in and stood next to the young woman’s bed with more than a little trepidation. The things those men said about Alex were ridiculous. Super powers? But the Feds… That was another story. Even if they weren’t from the government, she doubted anyone willing to covertly bankroll those two thuggish orderlies had Alex’s best interests at heart.
She looked down at the sleeping woman. Her face was so relaxed, making her appear so innocent. But the nun had done some checking on her. This sweet looking person was a dangerous killer. Maggie believed in God’s mercy and second chances—she had generously been given both herself. But she couldn’t see what purpose it served for her to have visited that day. Was she supposed to protect Alex? Take her away from this place? What would be accomplished by that? She was a nun, for Heaven’s sake. She couldn’t go around breaking the law. The dream had been so strong, so insistent, but now that she was here… Without thinking, Sister Maggie put her hand on Alex’s forehead, brushing a few stray strands of hair out of her face. Maggie almost fell over in her chair when two bright blue eyes popped open, staring at her.
“Hi! I’m Lexie! The funny jungle man sent you, didn’t he? You don’t look like a bear, though. Did you bring him with you? Oh, there he is.”
Maggie’s eyes drifted to the area of the room where “Lexie” was looking. Sure enough, the black bear stood in the corner, his paw wrapped protectively around the bobcat from her dream. If the bear was hers, then the cat must be…
“Your bear is nice. He likes to play with my kitty even though he’s lots bigger an’ stronger an’…”
Maggie’s mind was made up. The bear and the cat appearing to Alex confirmed things for her. She quickly shook off her surprise and put a hand up to the woman’s mouth. “Shhh. You’ll let everyone know your awake.”
“Don’t they wanna know I’m awake? I think I’ve been sick for a really long time, but I don’t remember. I’m ok now. Won’t they be happy I’m all better?”
Sister Maggie wondered if Alex had suffered brain damage. She sounded like a little girl instead of a grown woman. “Not all the people here are our friends. Some of them don’t like you and want to take you away.”
Alex’s eyes were wide with terror. “Away…from you?”
“Away from everyone, I fear.”
Alex’s bottom lip quivered. “I don’t wanna go! You’re my first new friend who’s not a ghosty-thing. I’m supposed to go with you. Don’t let them take me!”
The child-like fear in her voice and her eyes tore at something inside Maggie. She wanted to protect this “child” any way she could. This wasn’t the criminal who’d been originally sent here. The government was not going to gets its hands on someone who radiated such innocence. They would just destroy her like they always destroyed anyone decent who ever worked for them. “Shhh. Shhh. It’s ok. I won’t let them take you anywhere. They’ll have to go through me first. And our animal friends, too, I expect.” She hugged Alex close until she was still again. “I have an idea, but you’ll have to help me. If you don’t do exactly as I say, this won’t work and the bad people will catch us. Do you understand?”
Alex nodded seriously.
“Good. Now, Alex…”
“Lexie. My name’s Lexie.”
“Lexie. I’m Sister Maggie. I’m going to get something out of my car that will help us.”
“Don’t go! Don’t leave me!”
“I have to. But I’ll only be a few minutes. While I’m gone you need to pretend you’re still asleep. No matter what, you can’t let anyone—not anyone—know you’re awake. Got it?”
Lexie hung her head. “Ok.”
“I’ll be right back. I promise. Now lie back and close your eyes.” Maggie waited until
Lexie had settled down before leaving the room. She departed the wing and the building from different doors than the ones she’d come in through. She opened the trunk of the convent’s car, grateful that Sister Lenore hadn’t had a chance to take Sister Hortensia’s things out of the trunk. The poor old woman’s Alzheimer’s had gotten so bad, she’d had to go to a special nursing home in the city. Lenore had packed her clothes in the trunk to take them to her, but with the serial killer business… Maggie crossed herself. She doubted that Hortensia would mind her borrowing a few items.
Maggie went back in the way she’d just exited, telling the guard that she’d forgotten something. She moved swiftly without trying to draw attention to herself. When no one was looking and the hall camera had turned away, she slipped into Lexie’s room again. Lexie was sitting up watching her.
“We’re going to leave now, but you have to do exactly as I say or we’ll get caught.”
Lexie eyed her with surprise. “You…you came back?”
“I said I would, didn’t I?”
“I was scared that the bad people would catch you or you…you’d change your mind.”
“Now why would I do something like that? And why were you sitting up waiting for me? You were supposed to be pretending you were asleep.”
“I heard you coming down the hall to get me so I knew it was ok. Don’t be mad.”
“I’m not mad. But it could have been anybody coming to your room—a doctor, a nurse...”
“That’s silly. Then they wouldn’t have sounded like you. You’re all swishy. And they smell different, too.”
Maggie stared at her for a minute, not sure what Lexie meant. They’d talk about it later. They didn’t have time now. She pulled out a bundle she’d hidden under her habit. “Come here and put this on. I’ll help you.”
Lexie stared at the weird black outfit that looked like the one Sister Maggie wore. “Are we going to a Halloween party?”
“No. I wear these clothes all the time. It’s like a uniform. You’re going to be wearing it as a disguise so no one will recognize you.”
“Like a game? Like hide and seek?”
“Sort of. But this is a game we can’t lose. If you don’t do everything I tell you, we’ll both be in big trouble and they’ll take you away.”
Lexie sobered at that. “What do you want me to do, Sister Maggie?”
Ten minutes later, the guards at door B waved goodbye to Sister Maggie as she left the building. At the same time, the guards as door A waved goodbye to Sister Maggie as well. The real Maggie, who had left from the A door, hurried around the building to meet up with another nun walking her way.
“That was funny, Sister Maggie! They thought I was you. Why did they think that? I don’t look like you.”
“Because you kept your head down like I told you and didn’t say anything. And also because people, especially those who aren’t Catholic, tend not to really look at a nun’s face, Lexie. It’s like we’re all clones to them—every one the same.” That was one of the reasons Maggie had liked to use a habit for a disguise when she was with the Company in the old days. Even though the outfit stood out in a crowd, people tended to ignore you or dismiss you as harmless.
“But we don’t look like clowns. We’re wearing black and clowns wears lotsa pretty colors and makeup and big noses and...”
“Clones, dear, not clowns.”
“Oh. What’s a clone?”
“I’ll explain later. Get in the car.” Maggie buckled up her new charge and herself before taking off down the street at a nice sensible speed. Didn’t want to draw attention to herself, now did she? It just wouldn’t do to get a speeding ticket right after she’d broken one of Cascade’s most notorious criminals out of the mental institution.