Atonement

The sequel to the short story "Coming Home," some time has passed since the incident between Simon and the doctor which resulted in their deaths. If you haven't read the first story "Coming Home" I suggest reading it first to clear up any confusion about the beginning. The aim was to answer questions left in the short story; please comment, and enjoy.

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8. Revelations

 

Awaking the next day many things were made clear to Edward; one through a series of discussions Ms. Convert had chosen to along with Dr. Duquesne and himself erase the institution from the face of the Earth.  Secondly, it was now December 13th and plans had to be made quickly if the institution was to be erased from the pages of this town’s history.

            “It’s obvious you want to forget what happened to you which is why you want the institute gone Edward, as for me I just can’t stand to sit by and watch the director lie to the public as he forces his doctors to experiments on the unwilling patients; especially the children. That’s my reason, what’s your Charles?” Ms. Convert asked one day during the group’s planning of the destruction of the institute. And that was when Dr. Duquesne revealed his past.

Putting down his cup of coffee Dr. Duquesne’s facial expression became that of a very solemn and serious man. He sat back in the armchair sipping his coffee quietly as he thought about his past, before answering in his usual even tone.

            “Yes, I suppose it’s only fitting if I explained myself to you two if we are indeed to work together in this act of cataclysmic justice; let’s see It all began about oh twelve years ago in this very month,” Dr. Duquesne began to explain. “My family and I were coming back from a vacation from the west coast via the Manhattan Express. It was two O’ clock by my recollection when the train was coming to stretch of track where I guess the track splits in two as the railroad line went separate ways, any way from what I can gather the man at the switch controls must’ve been drunk and fell asleep at the controls and left the tracks switched to an unfinished line under construction and not aware of this the train thundered down the tracks towards certain doom. By the time the engineer noticed there were construction crews and that the track was unfinished it was too late; all he could do is slam on the breaks and hope for the best. The train flew off the tracks and skidded off the gravel embankment and down into a forested ravine dragging the seven coaches and baggage car it was pulling with it. All I can remember next was the sound of metal on metal and stone and then a horrible crash. I woke up in a pool of blood and twisted steel with my arm not only torn out of its socket but almost completely torn off my body; to this day my left arm still gives me trouble.”

            “My god that’s terrible, what happened to everyone, your parents, and the rest of the passengers?” Ms. Convert asked both curious and terrified. Poor Edward had to muster all the energy in his body not to puke.

            “Well I remember getting up and being terrified at seeing my left arm barely hanging on to my body being kept there by a few ligaments and tendons and the underarm flesh that is my armpit. Oh yes and my poor sister, I found her crushed under charred sheets of steel that once made up part of the wall of our coach car,” Dr. Duquesne went on still maintaining his even voice. “My parents were nearby both skewered like shish kabobs on what appeared to be with my father the remains of one of the benches we sat on and my mother’s impailer was part of the door frame to our cabin. Any way seeing this was too much and I passed out to be found by a crew of the construction workers not even a minute later. I awoke in a hospital three days later in great pain because the doctors had forcefully reinserted my arm into its socket, and reattached the rest of my arm back together. Sadly I was the only survivor as it turned out; in all that disaster killed seventy-five of the seventy-six people on the train and three construction workers. Since I had no immediate family I was put into an orphanage for two years where after I bit a child for making fun of my recurring nightmares I was sent to the ‘Johnston Institute for Troubled Women and Children’ where for the next eight years I was pray for Dr. Murdoch and his sick experiments.”

            “What happened then?” Edward blurted out suddenly.

            “Well at that point when I broke out Dr. Murdoch was thirty-three and his mind wasn't completely gone yet, he worked alone thankfully or else I probably would never have escaped,” Dr. Duquesne continued to regal his listening partners. “Well since the day I arrived the sick bastard seemed to take a direct interest in me for some ungodly reason and so almost daily he experimented on me whether it was electrical currents being passed through my body or his surgical expeditions to explore my insides which always left me close to death. Finally one day though the tables turned in my favor when he left me damn near dead on the floor practically stark naked having removed my appendix and part of one of my tortured lungs for studying, luckily he had stitched me up good or I probably would never have escaped. Anyway while his back was turned I managed to find a sedative and I stabbed him in the neck; he collapsed and passed out almost instantly and seizing the advantage I found my clothes, dressed and snuck out running through the woods. After a week I got I think about sixty-seven miles away from there under the cover of night. Finally coming to the realization that I wouldn’t be able to make in the world I willingly put myself in an orphanage under the assumed name Edgar Tillman where I sat for an additional two years. Finally an elderly couple by the name of Duquesne came to the orphanage one day looking to adopt a strong child to help them around their house and by the end of it all I went home with them and became Charles Edgar Duquesne. Taking advantage of my father’s influence I went to school to study psychology, physiology, and anatomy. Finally when I returned I learned Murdoch was dead and the institution was in need of a new child specialist so plotting my final vengeance against that place I took the job with the intentions of destroying that god forsaken place all along. So here I am back where it all started.”

   Edward and Ms. Convert sat in a stupefied silence attempting to try to process the information they were just exposed to. All the things they were told made everything seem to suddenly and perfectly fir together; Dr. Duquesne wasn't a madman just seriously traumatized and seeking supreme vengeance for his troubled past. Edward now understood the doctor’s behavior and why he was so willing to destroy the entirety of the ground that the institute stood on. It also explained why he was so tortured to do the research left behind by Murdoch and why he forced himself to complete the research. Then the thought hit him, ‘Is this why he choose me? Do I remind him of himself when he was younger?’ Edward thought to himself in a moment of what seemed like an epiphany. As if reading his mind Dr. Duquesne suddenly broke the silence.

            “To answer your thought if this is indeed what you’re thinking Ed, yes that is why I choose to take you and give you what I was cheated out of; a decent childhood. I’m just sorry I wasn't in time to save Simon as well, I hope you can forgive me,” Dr. Duquesne spoke with a minor quiver in his voice.

            “Moving on,” Ms. Convert cut in. “I have arranged for all the adult patients to be on a series of “trips” that day and the director agreed, as for the kids Marcy passed her inspection and was released to her family who readily accepted taking her back. The rest I have arranged to be transferred to a care facility for troubled children, perhaps the nuns and volunteers there can give the children a second chance.”

            “Did you honor my request about Brian? I have a feeling all he needs is to creatively vent his anger and he’d become a fine young man once again,” Dr. Duquesne mentioned smiling.

            “Yes, He’s agreed to the terms of your agreement and will be waiting for us when the time comes,” Ms. Convert replied in a monotone voice. Ms. Convert was beginning to feel quite weary since for a few days now she had been jumping through all sorts of loops to get all the preparations in place for the final event; the destruction of the institution. All the while the feelings for the doctor she had developed over the short time she had known Dr. Duquesne kept her going in the hope that when this was all over she might be able to spend her time in life together with him as a couple.

            “Very good,” Dr. Duquesne replied in a most content voice. “All the preparations are set and now we wait for the climax to come. In time no one will ever remember the ‘Johnston Institute for Troubled Women and Children,’ or the atrocities that occurred there.” With that he laughed and took a swig from the wine glass he had sitting beside him during their meeting.

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