Two of a kind/But what kind we don't know/we're two of a kind" Aborted first try at a popular song's lyrics.

Double Soul
by Lizz Shepherd ©2021

Sarah went down, down the elevator, trying not to think about how far underground they were now. When it finally stopped and the doors opened, her trainer was already in front of the doors. Waiting. On either side of her was an armed guard, apparently guarding the elevator.

For an underground facility, it was brightly lit and looked like any other medical facility she had worked for. The floors gleamed and the overhead lights cast no shadows.

"Thank you for coming on such short notice," the trainer said. Sarah quickly read her badge.

"No problem, Cathy. They really wanted someone, and I really wanted to work."

"You did sign your NDA?" Cathy said, her head bent to the side. Sarah nodded. "Great. Then we can get right to work. Just remember that your NDA was binding, and there are HIPPA rules on top of that. Nothing that happens here is spoken of once you leave the floor."

Sarah nodded again. As soon as she'd been hired they went over all of that. She was eager to see who the celebrity was who'd been squirreled away in this subterranean hideaway. Sarah followed the trainer into one room after another until she wondered whether she would be able to find her way out.

Cathy stopped outside one door and took a ring of keys from her pocket. Before putting it into the lock, she looked through a tiny window high up on the door.

"She's down. I'll take you in here first. We'll go over what kind of care our population needs. It's a little different from a regular hospital," Cathy said. Sarah just nodded, afraid to ask the seven questions she immediately wanted answers to.

Cathy opened the door slowly and looked through the tiny window before throwing it all the way open. Inside the room looked like any hospital room- bright lights, lots of machines, and a bed in the center. Sarah glanced around, then looked at the patient, putting a smile on her face to lessen any nerves that she or the patient might have.

The woman was tall and thin with a long face and delicate-looking hands that were handcuffed to posts attached to the bed. Sarah's eyes went to her feet, hoping they were at least free. They weren't. Her legs were cuffed hard by what looked like black handcuffs and attached to more posts at the end of the bed.

"Oh!" Sarah said, and Cathy quickly turned to her. "This is a psychiatric facility? They could have told me that, I'm not afraid of psychiatric work." She was smiling, but Cathy was not.

"He had a good reason to divorce you, you know," said a croaking voice from the bed. "You're useless. He regrets marrying you. You're nothing!" the woman said, hissing at Sarah and gnashing her teeth.

"I'm afraid it's not that simple," Cathy said quietly. "All of our patients are double-souled."

"What? What does that mean? This looks like a psychiatric case!"

"It does look that way when you first start out. I thought that had to be the case, but it really isn't. Double-souled is just one of our euphemisms. We're supposed to stay away from the term 'possessed,' so we have a few other terms we use," Cathy said quietly. The woman on the bed was trying to kick her legs and failing, howling in pain as the cuffs held her in place. The two women stepped out of the room, and Cathy quickly locked the door behind them.

"Look, I know this is a surprise, but surprise! All of these people are possessed. There is no cure, and there is no real treatment. Some of them we keep sedated because they get violent, but mostly we treat any skin problems, ensure they can relieve themselves and talk to them when they're lucid. That's really all we can do. If you see anything that looks like a broken bone, tell the supervisor right away so it can be checked and X-rayed. That's pretty much the whole job, other than records," the trainer said, shaking her head and patting the side of her short brown hair.

"Yeah, this is a surprise. I really want this job, and honestly, I need this job, but I can't stand here and pretend like they're possessed with the devil or something. They need psychiatric care. Have they been assessed and prescribed anything?" Sarah said, her heart beating faster. She couldn't get the patient's cries out of her head.

"Maybe you'll believe me by the end of the shift, and maybe you won't. Either way, these patients need care, and we lost the last girl in your position. We are trying to be as humane as possible here. And, it's not the devil, it's just some minor demons."

Before Sarah could get a question out, Cathy started walking to the left, stopping at the next door and performing the same ritual with the keys and window. They walked in, and Sarah saw an older man in the bed. He was a little chubby and looked to be in perhaps in his 50s. He smiled at them politely.

"Is that you there, David?" Cathy asked.

"Yes. I'm here," the man said.

"That's great! Is there anything you need right now?"

"Not really. Maybe an ice pack for my wrists."

"I can get someone on that," Cathy said with a smile. "It's nice to see you!" she said with a wave before walking out, locking the door and ordered ice packs with a walkie. In the next room was a woman in her 20s who was spitting at them and growling. Then came a middle-aged man with a thick beard who was calling Sarah every name she could imagine and a few more. At the end of that hallway, there was one more room. After the window ritual, Sarah walked in.

With horror, she realized that the only person in this room was a small child of perhaps eight. The little girl was thin and red faced as if she'd been screaming before they walked in. Sarah turned to Cathy immediately.

"You CANNOT keep a child down here! I can't allow this. I seriously can't have this," she said and walked quickly around the bed to stand next to the little girl. Her little wrists were tied with ropes, likely because she was too small for cuffs or shackles, Sarah thought. She immediately started to loosen the ropes, trying to free the girl.

"DON'T DO THAT!" Cathy screamed. Sarah reasoned that Cathy must be one of the patients there. But no matter who was in charge, a child couldn't be roped to a bed and left to scream. Cathy tried to stop her from untying the child, grabbing her arm and trying to pull her back. Sarah pushed her to the ground and went back to untying.

"Sarah! You can't do that! That kid isn't a kid. She'll kill you! Sarah!"

Sarah ignored her and worked one of the knots loose. Cathy pulled the walkie from her pocket and frantically called for security. With one hand free, Sarah bent over her to untie the other one. She leaned over, trying to loosen the rope as quickly as she could and felt a punch to her cheek. She stopped what she was doing in surprise. The little girl growled, sat up and sunk her teeth into Sarah's arm, causing Sarah to scream until her throat hurt. Cathy was still on the ground but had moved away, close to the door.

As Sarah tried to pull her arm away from the girl, she saw movement in the tiny window before hearing a key in the lock. Two large, muscular men stormed in and saw what was happening. As they rushed the bed, the girl let go and Sarah fell backward. As the two guards restrained her hand and tied her ropes back, the two women ran out of the room and down the hallway.

"I don't understand this. I just... I don't understand. I can't... this can't..."

"You understand it. You probably understood it as soon as the first patient we saw talked to you. Are you recently divorced?" Cathy asked. Sarah nodded. "Did your husband say you were useless?" Sarah nodded again. "Then you understand it. It may take a little time to sink in, but that was my mistake. I should have waited to introduce you to the patients."

"I guess I'm fired..." Sarah said with extra breaths, fighting the urge to cry. My useless self couldn't keep a job for one day, she thought.

"No, you're not fired. Everyone does something like what you did. Even me, though that was a long time ago. Actually, it shows me that you care about your patients. We have to get your arm examined and treated right away, but after that I'll show you their charts," Cathy said and led Sarah down another hall.

"Wait a minute- the nurse I'm replacing, what exactly happened to her?" Sarah said, applying pressure to the wound on her arm.

"I think you know that, too. She only made it half a day. I'll just say that you're incredibly lucky that you chose a child to untie rather than a grown man," Cathy said.

Six Months Later. . .

The elevator opened, and a short woman with impeccably arranged blond hair emerged, glancing at the enormous security guards on each side.

"Hi, I'm Sarah. I'll be doing your training today. You've signed your NDA?" The woman nodded.

"I'm going to tell you something up front, and I want you to listen. What you will see is proof enough of what I'm telling you, and I need to warn you. It will be hard to believe, but Everything I'm going to tell you is the truth. Once you hear it, you may want to try to release the patients, but don't. Believe it or not, I did the same thing on my first day, and I have the scars to prove it."

x x x

A bit rough, this one, but the story was so strong by another newby contributor that I couldn't resist - GM.

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