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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9. The Beginning of the End

 

   December drew to a close rather quickly as the final preparations and countdown to the end began. The snow had fallen an additional three times leading up to the final week which made waiting all the more unbearable to Dr. Duquesne, the only thing keeping him occupied was completing the records and transfer papers of his children patients to the care facility they had selected for the kids. Secretively he had set up a deal with the head of the care facility that after the turn of the new year he would quit the institution and work with the kids over there for the care facility. The Institution was busy preparing itself for the holiday open house and everybody was anxious; no one could put their finger on it but there was a sense of dread and apprehension in the air as the holidays approached.

            “God do I hate the feeling of the encroaching holidays, it makes me almost as ill as some of these patients,” The director of the institution complained to Ms. Convert one day while she was on break. It was obvious the director had run out of cigarettes since he only ever got edgy when he ran out of cigarettes and had a craving for one.

            “Well then I suppose it’s a good thing I suggested everyone be taken on a two day field trip so you could have some time off,” she replied in a childishly innocent tone. Producing a pack of cigarettes from her left pocket she threw them to her boss. “I figured you were running out again so here.”

            “Oh jeez thanks Alice you’re the best,” the director replied in an excited tone as he lit up a cigarette and stuck it in his mouth. Walking away he turned back for a brief second, “Oh and the time you asked for off I think I’m going to give to you for your sign of generosity, happy holidays Alice,” he said as he strode down the hall back to his office. Ms. Convert just sat back and sipping on her coffee she just smiled at the fact that soon that pig of a boss and his precious institution would soon be forever gone.

Finally the day arrived and as night fell Edward felt a sense of liberation in the cold crisp air of the night. Sitting outside the townhouse he had called home to for the past few months he looked around the grounds; the tall mighty trees that formed the small forest around the majority of the property looked quite majestic at night, many of them bare with icicles hanging on them like frozen waterfalls forever frozen in time and space like long forgotten memories of a past that never happened.

            “You ready?” came the voice of Dr. Duquesne as he strode out of the house clad in a semi formal suit. Black dress pants, black boots, and grey buttoned down shirt with a jet black tie covered by the trench coat hw wore which resembled a worn old timber wolf shade of grey. Examining the pocket watch he carried he quickly snapped it shut looking at Edward. “By now Ms. Convert has acquired Brian and are on their way to the rendezvous location, we should get going or we’ll be late for the party.” He smiled wryly. 

Edward looked the doctor, silently nodded and got into the passenger side of the car as they rode off into the night. As they turned off a side road that led down into the woods Dr. Duquesne turned off the headlights so he wouldn’t draw any possible attention to them as they crept along the winding road. As they drove Edward watched the trees and the bushes that passed by his window; to him it looked as though there were shadows of people and perhaps even demons perhaps dancing along wildly wiping through the forest to keep up with the car as they drove. Finally they turned again into a dirt round-about and got out. There was a car already there with two figures clad in black sitting on one side waiting for them. When Edward got out of the car he immediately walked towards the shorter of the two figures who he identified as Brian. Seeing Edward approaching Brian grinned a Cheshire smile.

            “Nice to see you again short stack,” Brian chuckled. Though he was a year younger than Ed he was about half a foot taller and so he always knew Ed as short stack.

Smiling Edward playfully punched Brian’s left arm answering in an equally playful tone, “Aw come one now show respect for your elder, even if he’s shorter than you.”

There reunion was cut short as Dr. Duquesne and Ms. Convert called to them to follow them down the nearby dirt path that Ed knew led straight to the institute. As they slowly trodded along the darkened wooded path Edward watched as the shadows he’d seen earlier continued to follow them keeping an easy pace with them. Coming out of the woods the group found themselves outside a large chain link fence. Luckily the hole in the fence countless escapees had made over time was still there carefully cared for so it wasn’t obvious that it had been cut, leaving an opening to allow the most daring kids to try and escape from this place.

            “Here we go,” Brian whispered as he squeezed through the hole taking a few pieces of the group’s equipment with him. “Piece of cake, don’t know why I never tried to escape before.”

            “Because,” Edward grunted as he squeezed through. “You never had the patience or sense of planning to plot a good escape and half the time you were locked in your room.” Smiling and patting Brian on the shoulder they waited for Dr. Duquesne and Ms. Convert.

            “Oh boy thanks for the endorsement,” Brian shot back sarcastically. Before Ed could respond the two adults had gotten through the fence and carrying the rest of the supplies they pushed by the boys quietly towards the side door into the institute. Ed looked back at the woods one last time before going in and out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw the shadow of a person move out of the woods but disappear. Disregarding it he went inside.

            “Okay, Brian take these tools and go down to the boiler room and open the fuel valve; once done reroute the vapors from the fuel tank and fuel line into the ventilation system,” Dr. Duquesne began to dish out orders as he handed out copies of the institution’s layout and the necessary tools for each job. “Ms. Convert go to Murdoch’s old office and light the fire place with our little “toy” in it and then get the hell out of here. Ed your with me we need to get a few things from my office and then light off the fuse to start this little show of ours.” As everybody took their tools and went their separate ways Ed felt a sudden sense of dread grow in his gut. 

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