Chapter 9

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Cynthia Porter. That was her name. I knew Cynthia Porter, I had talked to Cynthia Porter, I liked Cynthia Porter. I had memories of her, and although there were only a few, they were still memories all the same. She had been in the institution as a patient. She had even been in Lori's office for the monthly check-ups.

The only problem was that she didn't exist.

Or at least to Ms. Hellman she didn't. I remembered how this dumbfounding theory had come about a few days ago, when I went to Lori, asking her if Cynthia was supposed to be in surgery. Lori hadn't seemed to remember Cynthia, but she had told me that she's getting old and is having a harder time remembering the numerous patients here, so this was normal. But, she claimed, she hadn't admitted anyone to surgery in the last week. So then what happened to her?

Since Lori didn't know anything, this is when I went to Mrs. Hellman's office to find out more about the situation. I was always nervous when I spoke to her. Not only because she was my boss, but because she was an intimidating person in general with her patronizing and superior attitude. She had been surprised to see me entering, and was even more surprised when I told her what happened. I questioned her about the mysterious employee and about what happened to Cynthia, and this had been her reply.

"The employee you saw may have been Thomas, he just got transferred from the second floor. He's completely harmless. And as for this girl, you must have been mistaken. I oversee everything that goes on at Wickendale, and like Lori said, there hasn't been any surgeries in the past week. Are you sure Thomas didn't go in there alone, to get supplies or something?" Her expression was condescending, and her voice reminded me of a cackling witch.

"No, he had a patient with him. That's why I was confused," I explained. "I don't know why this would've happened, and I'm concerned."

Ms. Hellman sighed in annoyance. "What was the patients name again?" She asked.

"Cynthia Porter."

As soon as I said the name, something changed. Ms. Hellman's face flashed an expression I couldn't identify. It might have been stress, worry even. But there was no trace of either emotion now, her features immediately returning cold and hard a second later. She remained silent for a short moment, seeming to gather her thoughts, then looked me dead in the eye.

"You must be mistaken, Rose. There is no patient here by the name Cynthia Porter."

I could instantly feel my eyebrows knit together in confusion at her statement. That can't be true.

"Ms. Hellman, I don't mean to disagree with you but yes there is. I've talked to her before, I saw her just minutes ago."

Ms. Hellman continued to argued with me, as I argued back. She kept denying that a Cynthia existed in this institution, which was absolute bullshit. I described Cynthia to her, trying to jog her memory, put to no prevail. We went back and forth as I tried to be as polite as possible to my boss even though my patience was growing thin.

But eventually I resorted to demanding that she check her files for the name. "Look in your files, her name's in there; it has to be," I said. And what the woman did next angered me and worried me beyond belief all at once. She actually laughed at me, but it was a condescending laugh of disdain, as if she pitied me.

"Rose, dear, I know all that goes on at Wickendale. I am the warden, I have eyes and ears everywhere. I know every staff member, every patient. And I can assure you, there is not a single person here by the name Cynthia Porter. You must be seeing things. Are you feeling alright?" She asked with not an ounce of concern in her voice.