Conundrum (Chapter 7 – Spirits of the Mannequins (Part 2))

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Cathy was not surprised; she went closer to the isolated room and unlocked it. The room seemed different. The wall was painted in yellow tint with some photographs on it. She had a closer look at them; some of the pictures were of a young woman with a little boy while others were single photographs of the woman. The woman seemed very pretty; the young boy near her looked delighted. He resembled Arthur. Cathy figured out that the little boy could be Arthur, but who was this lady? She turned around and saw someone sitting in the corner of the room. Cathy went closer; the woman lifted her head. The woman resembled the one from the photograph.

“Who are you?” asked Cathy.

The woman was shocked, “I am…. Victoria…” She looked at her doubtfully and continued… “Can you see me? How do you do that?”  

“I am Cathy, a spirit like you, the one who killed you killed my best friend. The other spirits says. you are his first victim. Only you can help me save the ones he killed. They are suffering, they can’t find light just like you.”

“What do you mean by first victim? I don’t understand.” Victoria was surprised. Cathy pointed towards the boy in the photograph and said, “I am talking about him. He murdered these girls and turned them to mannequins. Why is he doing this?”

Victoria stared into the photograph and said, “My little boy! He would never do that. He never… Oh no… No….” For the first time, she stepped outside the room. She stared into the mannequins and gave out a loud cry. “I have failed him. Tommy! My little boy!”

Cathy couldn’t understand what Victoria was saying. From the photograph, she could understand that the young woman was in her mid-20s, and the little boy looked very young. Could he have never done that, or did he? The spirits were growing angry; Cathy couldn’t control them.

“How many times did we knock on the door asking you for explanation? You isolated yourself from us? You only saw what you wanted to see. You saw your young boy and not the devil. Why did he kill you? You are the one we seek answer from.”

Victoria denied again, “My little boy would never do something like this.” Cathy thought that was enough. She took the spirit by her hand and lead to the room where Kiara’s mutilated body was kept. She pulled out the clothe and said, “Do you want to deny it again?” Victoria went speechless.

“Noo…You know nothing. Nothing of my adorable little Tommy.” She wept.

“We were gonna be a family but John…” She said while weeping further… “he let this happen…”  

“What are you talking about? Is he your son?” Cathy questioned.

“I… I first met little Tommy during my replacement job as a child psychiartist at St. Luke’s mental asylum. He was quiet at times. He didn’t speak much. There was something about him that made me notice him. I used to visit him and spend time with him during the rounds. Slowly he became close to me. How could someone really avoid him? I can’t tell. He had no friends and he told me how he felt when other kids in the asylum stopped talking to him… He would often tell me that he never knew his mother or father. It was his wish to be adopted and loved, but someone with a medical history as such had less chance to get adopted. I felt sad for him.”

“One day, while I was at the hospital, I heard some loud noises; it was from Tommy’s cell. When I got there, I saw the security with his shoulder bleeding. Tommy had crawled his shoulder with a fork.

“Tommy why did you do that?” I asked him in shock.

He said with no regrets on his face. ‘I said, I wanted Doctor Victoria to feed me, but the security just laughed at me. I was so angry that I could crawl off his eyes. Lucky that I scratched only his shoulder.’ Tommy stared at the security while groaning in anger.

I asked him to apologize, and to my surprise, he did listen to me. Without any hesitation, his little mouth whispered, ‘I am sorry, Mr. Smith.’ From then, it became a routine for me to feed him the medicines and food every day. He was very peaceful and calm when it came to me. As we got to know each other, we became fond of each other. He was not just a patient anymore; he was more than that. During our conversation, he used to talk about a doctor who used to treat him. Dr. John Drake. Tommy liked him very much. Tommy was pretty upset when he came to know that Dr. John had to leave the hospital for some time to take care of some family matter. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was posted as a Doctor at his place until he was back to the hospital. I was not sure how Tommy would react if he knew I had to leave the hospital when his doctor was back.”

“Finally, the day arrived; it was time for me to leave the asylum. I visited Tommy like I always did, this time when I visited him, there was someone with him. As I called Tommy’s name. he happily turned and said, ‘Dr. Victoria… look who came to visit me. It’s Doctor John.’

‘Oh, you were the replacement. I heard a lot about you from Tommy. Nice to meet you.’ A handsome young man smiled at me. 

‘I… Yes… I heard a lot about you too… It’s nice to meet you too.’ I said coyly.” Victoria smiled as she relived those days.

“Tommy was very upset to know that I was leaving. He made me promise that I would visit him everyday and how could I break that promise? He had already became a part of my life. After that it became a habit for me to visit Tommy before I go to work. Dr. John would also be there with him. Slowly me and John became close. We both wanted Tommy to have a home and we knew exactly what we had to do. We decided to move in together with Tommy! Oh Cathy, those were the amazing time of my life. The little Tommy’s smile was something to die for. When he started to call me “Mom,” I became the happiest person in the world. He was one little happy boy.”

Cathy listened to the story curiously.

“One year into our happy family, I realized I was pregnant. I was scared to tell Tommy because I didn’t know how he would take this, but I wanted him to know first. To my surprise, he was excited to know that we were going to have a baby. He told me how he would take care of the baby—what he will do and stuff. I was relieved and happy. I was too excited to break the news to John. Tommy and I waited eagerly for John to come home. I couldn’t wait to tell him. But…” She stopped for some time and took a deep sigh… “His reaction surprised me. He asked Tommy, ‘Tommy, Can you give us a minute?’

‘Sure.’ said Tommy.

I didn’t know what was happening, but then John said, ‘Victoria, we already have Tommy. We don’t want him to get hurt. With his condition we don’t know what he could do to a baby. What if he feels threatened?’

‘I knew you were gonna say that. I already spoke with him. He is just as excited as we are.’ I smiled, showing all my teeth.

John looked troubled, ‘I don’t want a baby now Victoria. You are still young. Your beauty…it will perish as we have this baby.’

‘I don’t care about beauty, John; I want to have our baby.’ This time I was firm with my answer, but he didn’t give up; he tried to convince me again,

‘Baby, listen to me. I want you to be beautiful, always. I love you, and I want your beauty to be preserved; bringing a baby to this world will affect it; I don’t want that. I want you to stay as beautiful as you are now, forever.”

‘What the hell John? I want this baby. In fact, I promised Tommy…’

John was not himself now; he pulled me towards him and tried to choke me, ‘I said, we are not having this baby, and that’s the decision.’

I grew scared of his behavior. I tried to resist him. The more I tried, the tighter his hands held against my throat. Suddenly he saw tears in my eyes, and he stopped, ‘I am sorry, Vic. I didn’t mean to hurt you… I …’ I tried to move away. ‘You like it or not; I am having this baby. Do what you can.’ He raced towards me and pushed me to the ground. I remember seeing Tommy with his curious eyes as I closed my eyes for the very last time.”

“I don’t know what he did to Tommy. I don’t know why he did this to me. John loved me, I know. But, I don’t know why he killed me.” She stopped for a while, then she panicked, “Wait, why did you think I was Tommy’s first victim? Is there a mannequin?”

That’s when everybody thought of it. Cathy didn’t see a mannequin in that room. It was like Arthur preserved her memories rather than her beauty. 

Meanwhile, Cathy heard footsteps from above.

“I think he is here,” said the detective.

“Where else would he go?” Said Cathy.

The sound of footsteps grew stronger, and finally, a man appeared in the basement from the darkness.

His eyes revealed shock when he saw Cathy with the detective.

Detective took the gun out of his gun pouch and directed at Tommy. “Don’t move a muscle.”

Tommy raised his hands, “We know who you are,” said Cathy, “Tommy.”

Tommy’s face reflected fear. He was hearing that name after a long time.

“How do you know that?”

“Does that really matter? Tell me why you are doing this?” Asked Cathy.

“You found out my real name Angelyn. I bet you know that reason too.”

“Oh I found more than what your real name is Tommy. I know about your childhood, St. Luke’s mental asylum, Victoria.”

“Who are you?” asked Tommy with a confused face.

“No one is proud of you Tommy. Do you think your mother would have wanted this?” Cathy asked.

“What are you talking about Angelyn? She would have thanked us if she was here. ‘Preserved’ that’s what she is. She knows how much ‘we’ loved her. So, we preserved her. Now she will be with me forever.” Tommy smiled.

“Who are these ‘we’ Tommy? Is there someone else doing this with you? Is it John?” Cathy was confused.

(To be continued…)

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