The children were the saddest of all. Emery's heart ached for them. Rows and rows of sad, empty little faces sat in the cots every night. Some rocked constantly, talking to themselves. Some beat their heads against the walls. Some made strange noises.
But they were children.
And nothing that Pansy said could change that.
One night, after Emery walked down the middle aisle of one room, making sure each child was in the right bed -- the bed with their chart on the end of it -- she couldn't help but stop and look back at them.
And then she began to sing.
"Jesus love you, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves you. Yes, Jesus loves you. Yes, Jesus loves you. For the Bible..."
From the end of the hall came the sound of ferocious banging. It beat against the walls and echoed in Emery's ears. Then feet scuffled outside her door. People were running toward the end of the hall.
The door snatched open and Pansy's livid face appeared. "Was that you, singing like that? Now look what you've done!!! You've set HER off." Pansy jerked her chin toward the end of the hall. "It will be the devil of a time getting her calmed down again."
Emery gulped. She didn't know what was happening, but it must be bad. She turned back to the rows of children, keeping her voice low and calm. "It's alright, little ones. Go to sleep now." Then she hurried out of the room.
People still hurried about in the hallway. Two people knelt in front of Beastly's door. There was a small cap, about the size of a bottle cap, on the door. They unscrewed this and then hooked a hose to the opening. A tank was then connected to the hose.
"What are they doing?" Emery felt a strange fluttery fear, but whether it was for herself or for the creature they called "Beastly" she did not know.
Pansy appeared by elbow, scowling. "Sleeping gas. Flooding her room with it. Won't be able to go into there without it when she's in this state. This is your fault, Emery. Stick with doing what you are told to do."
A series of animal-like cries erupted from the sealed room, getting weaker and weaker. Finally, they were silent.
"Open the door," somebody ordered.
Pansy nodded and hurried away. Emery followed her down the hall into an office-like room. Pansy sat down in a chair in front of a large box, covered in knobs and switches. It looked like a soundman's board.
Pansy ha-rumphed when she caught sight of Emery. But she didn't run her off. Instead, she started explaining. "All the major doors are controlled by this panel. It's battery powered so that we can take it with us in an emergency and still control the doors from the outside. It works the doors separating each ward, it works the elevators, it works all the doors connecting to the outside, and, of course, it controls the inner lock on her door." Pansy turned a knob and flipped a switch. "That should do it."
By the time, Pansy and Emery returned to the hallway, Beastly's door was open and several people had entered. Emery crept closer until she could see the figure lying on the floor in the corner of the room.
It was a child.
[P.S. If you want to read the other posts, click on the label "MentalWard" and it will group all of them for you from last to first.]