Deep Red, Chapter Twenty-Eight

←Chapter Twenty-Sevenbonsai brain

2 July 1943. At 4:44p.m., Dorothy Cayce died from a brain aneurysm. The cause of the aneurysm has been ruled as the effect of a hereditary condition. No extensive autopsy will be performed. 

death certificate signed by Derek V, 1943

I have suspicions that Dorothy was killed for what she knew and what she could have become. When I found Dorothy’s body, I searched the room for any sign of what could have been her former self, aiming to save both her and Maggie from what might come out after her death. What I found was motive. Under her mattress, she hid a collection of letters and journals dating back to the 1800s that are incriminating and incendiary. I will keep them until I am able to pass them to the next generation of Beth’s Kids. In the meantime, Dorothy’s son-in-law is receiving a promotion, and Maggie has become entirely dependent on him for her emotional well-being.

Unknown author. 

discovered and translated by Bobbi Cayce, 1978 

***

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Your Natural Course

In her office, Zoe felt a natural sense of herself, of her history. Her father had worked in that same office up until the week before he died, on March 10, 1989. He and her mother worked together for decades at Haven, helping the young people find both control and purpose. Now that task fell to Zoe and Katrina. Just like her parents, side-by-side. And Katrina was putting their life together at risk.

Zoe knew what Katrina was doing with Marlo. She told Katrina that Rayne would know, too, as soon as the first imagined brick was placed in Marlo’s mental wall. Rayne would have access to Marlo’s inner child at any time it chose to provide her access. The wall, Zoe told Katrina, might just make the child angrier. Katrina argued, Zoe shut down, and they hadn’t seen each other again until dinner.

After enduring her first real fight with Katrina in thirteen years, however, nothing happened. Nothing overt, at least, which caused Zoe to wonder if Katrina’s over-protectiveness of Marlo was justified. Victoria’s major moves always came at an unexpected time and with no seeming motive. Zoe asked Marlo to her office so she could find out what really happened in that dining hall. Zoe could only guess what Marlo might have learned or experienced during her years under Victoria’s scrutiny. If Zoe had to hide the abuse, odds were that Marlo had to hide it, as well.

Yet Zoe always saw herself as a Counsel woman. She openly protested those who labeled themselves as BK, she was always honest and forthright with Victoria, and she worked 17-hour days to make sure she performed her job as seriously as she took her loyalties, but Zoe was also loyal to her tribe. 3/3 had meaning to all of them. All but Marlo. Her loyalty was not so simple, but it was obtainable, as Katrina was demonstrating. Drew even seemed to gain ground during the last few days. The three entered the dining hall like companions returning, triumphant, from war.

Zoe wasn’t jealous. She was curious. And concerned.

When Marlo knocked on Zoe’s open door, Zoe waved Marlo in and said, “Shut the door.”

Marlo’s face remained blank and she left the door open. She doesn’t trust me, Zoe thought.

“I know Jack took you to see Steve’s room. But you should know there are no cameras in my office. It’s why I asked to meet you here. I need you to lie down on the floor so I can examine you.” Though Zoe’s office contained little by way of examination equipment, she thought this would be the best place to prove or disprove her theories.

“Why should I trust you?” Marlo asked.

“You shouldn’t,” Zoe said. “I’m aware that obtaining your trust will take time and effort, especially given the way we’ve interacted up to this point, both as children and as adults, but I need you to trust now that I have an immediate interest in your welfare, and–given the short amount of time it likely takes for you to heal–I need to do this now.”

Marlo’s impassive facade faltered. “How did you know?” Marlo asked.

“Because she does it to me,” Zoe said. She hadn’t expected to get this far this quickly.

“You make it sound like it’s happened more than once,” Marlo said.

“Of course.” Zoe wondered if Marlo thought she was somehow special under the gaze of Victoria. Of course she did. She had been free.

“How many times?” Marlo asked.

“Twenty-one as of yesterday,” Zoe said.

“Jeezus!”

“How many times has she done it to you?” Zoe asked.

“Twice,” Marlo said. “You must be more stubborn than I am.”

“Or, perhaps, I’m more honest than you are,” Zoe replied.

Marlo nodded her head. “Under severe trauma, both mental and physical, a child will learn to either cow-tow or manipulate. My therapist told me that,” Marlo said.

“I can guess which course you took,” Zoe said.

“And I have no need to guess which one you took.” Marlo pursed her lips. “Now that you know….”

“There is no need for an examination. You’ll heal. Once your training begins, I will have an opportunity to see your healing process more immediately and under an official stamp of approval.”

“Saved you from the cloak and dagger,” Marlo said. “Happy to do my part. Wouldn’t want to tarnish that halo of yours…or this cold floor.”

“How can you say something like that to me?” Zoe asked. “We’re the same.”

“We’re not the same,” Marlo said. “You’ve taken Victoria’s ‘punishments’ twenty-one times. You refuse to leave or even care what it means to let her treat you like this. I’m here because I have no choice. You’re here for god-knows-what reason, and you continue to stay for who-the-fuck-cares-why, and you’re content with working for a psychopath in order to what? Get her scientific leftovers?”

Marlo’s accusations knocked the air from Zoe. Until that moment, she hadn’t really thought much about her life, and she realized in that moment the answer to Marlo’s questions. She was afraid. Zoe’s father had been one of the most powerful volemics she’d known. Just after her sixth birthday, he and her mother left Haven to help a friend, and they never came back. Victoria, while occasionally terrifying, was not confrontational, and the real world could not touch Zoe here. The reality of loss were strangers at Haven. She missed her 3/3 brothers and sisters, but they still kept in contact. Accidents happened at Haven, but she could deal with empty shells, even if they looked like people. If she left, anything could happen.

“I don’t want to be like this,” Zoe said. “I just–”

Drew burst through the doorway, cutting Zoe off. He held Katrina’s limp body in his arms.

“Victoria sent me here,” Drew said. “We need to take her to one of the rooms now.”

Zoe grabbed her keys and calmly opened a patient room and allowed Drew through before her.

“What happened?” Zoe asked. She saw Marlo trail into the room and made no move to stop her.

“What do you think happened?” Drew said. “She knew.”

“What did she know?” Marlo asked.

“When you and Katrina were in your room, she texted me and asked what you were doing. I only said you were together. She didn’t know anything when she called you out at dinner. It was a test, and you and Katrina failed.”

“Failed to do what?”

“Come clean about what you were really doing. Victoria spent an hour in her office with Katrina. Victoria knows you two are in here, too. She told me to bring Katrina to you, to let you see.”

“See what?” Zoe said.

“That Marlo isn’t the only one who will suffer for going against her. That’s what she said.”

Zoe’s lip trembled and a tear ran down her cheek. She wiped it away and returned to her composed self. “Hold on, baby,” Zoe said. She bit into Katrina’s hand and drew the blood into her mouth. The blood raced through her system and into her fingers, which became probes. Zoe held her fingers over Katrina’s body, looking for internal bleeding. She found two small areas, one in Katrina’s eye, and another in her ear, where Victoria’s field had ruptured a blood vessel and broken Katrina’s ear drum. She withdrew her hands and let out a deep breath. It could have been much worse. Both would heal in time, but would stay damaged long enough for the message to be drilled into Zoe and Marlo every time they saw Katrina.

“She’s going to be fine,” Zoe said.

Drew sighed. “Good. Why did she pass out?” he asked.

“Have you ever experienced Victoria’s power inside your body before?” Zoe asked.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Drew said.

“Some children don’t need trauma or abuse to cow-tow,” Marlo said. She must have caught the defensive expression on Zoe’s face, because she added, “Drew’s just doing his job.”

“You should both leave,” Zoe said. “I’ll take care of Katrina from here.”

Drew left, but Marlo stayed.

“I told her this would happen,” Zoe said. “She wouldn’t listen. I knew Victoria would find out. What the hell did you think you were doing? Nothing gets past that woman in this place.”

“She was trying to help a friend. Blame me, if you want. It really doesn’t matter. It won’t happen again. I promise.” Zoe kept her eyes on Katrina’s bloodless face as Marlo walked out.

Chapter Twenty-Nine→