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Escalation

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This story is No. 8 in the series "Myriad". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Cybermen, Daleks, Phantom Zone villains - they're nothing compared to what comes next.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > GeneralvitruvianFR183162,62001922,59325 Aug 0614 Sep 06Yes

Bedlam

"...ing Dr. Silberman. Paging Dr. Silberma...aaauuwk!"

The PA system cut off with a squawk as an orderly's head embedded itself in the speaker. The unfortunate man's body continued to stumble around like a proverbial chicken for a few moments before tumbling over.

The normally sedate corridors of the Sartorius Mental Health Clinic and Hospital were truly in a state of bedlam. Here a patient writhed in agony, covered in insects and snakes conjured from her hallucinations. There a nurse backed away from a trio of patients released from their cells in the violent ward. Their faces seemed to be distorting themselves, taking on the forms of inner demons. Pandemonium reigned, the internal monologues and maddening voices usually heard only by patients in their own heads now clearly audible in the halls.

Through it all walked the cause, a short young woman with tousled black hair, holding something that glowed in her right hand. She looked immensely pleased at the chaos she had so far created.

The subject of the earlier page came panting down the hallway from the other wing of the hospital, flanked by a half dozen orderlies. He paused to catch his breath, eyes growing wider in horror as he took in the scene before him.

"Restrain those three!" snapped Dr. Silberman, pointing at the patients menacing the nurse. Four of the orderlies started forward, but seemed to bounce off of an invisible barrier before them. The young woman started to laugh shrilly, almost a cackle really.

"Oh, Dr. Silberman, you should see your face!" she said. "I mean, really! Don't you know this is just what this place has always been like, under the surface? You shouldn't look so shocked; it's only the truth I'm showing you."

"Wh-what truth is that, Nancy?" asked the doctor. His eyes must be failing him; it looked like her feet were floating a few inches off the floor.

"That this place is a madhouse!" said Nancy Downs. "You like to cover it up with your neutral colors and your medications and your muzak and your smug names for everything, but that doesn't change what it really is - a place of madness and chaos."

"N-now, Nancy... I don't know that it does anybody any good, calling mental institutions by such old-fashioned names." He had a syringe full of sedative in his coat pocket, if he could only get close enough to her. "We're only here to help people with problems. You said you wanted to see me?"

"No, I told them that unless you got here pronto, there'd be Hell to pay. Well, guess what, doctor? You got here okay, but Hell is already here!" Nancy seemed to glide forward till she was only a few feet away. "I'm checking out, in case you were wondering, but I thought I'd throw myself a going away party first, and I didn't want you to miss it."

"I'm afraid I can't authorize your release, Nancy. You and I both know that you're still a danger to yourself and others, no matter how far you may have come over the last few years." He gingerly tested the air before him; it truly felt like there was some kind of spongy barrier before him. No way to administer meds, he had to try to talk her down. Time enough later to deal with the impossible nature of the crisis, once it was averted.

Nancy cackled again. "Oh, doctor! You don't know the half of it! You bet I'm a danger - a danger to you and everybody else who's denied me what is rightfully mine. What I worked for. What finally fell into my lap."

She looked down at her hand. "And I am leaving, but not before I put on my party dress, and not before I put a fitting end to our therapy sessions. You see, I've decided that you're the one that's in need of a major breakthrough, a reality check as you like to call it."

Nancy twirled the fingers of her left hand over the object she held in her right - it looked almost like a round version of a Rubik's cube, but glowed white all around - and tendrils of energy seemed to gather around those fingers. Then she passed her palm downwards across her face and torso.

First her hair arranged itself in a more artful arrangement of spikes, as though primped over for an hour. Then her face changed subtly, eyes accented by mascara and lips ruby red with lipstick that she had never been allowed in the hospital. A nose ring even appeared, despite the piercing having long since healed.

Finally, her hospital gown shimmered and was replaced by a Gothic confection in black lace and silver buckles and chains. Nancy Downs looked every inch the witch she had always claimed to be.

Dr. Silberman could no longer deny the evidence of his eyes. Nancy's black boots were pointing down, and there was air between those points and the floor.

"That's right, doctor. I can too fly, and I couldn't leave before showing you how wrong you were all these years."

"Nancy, I don't know how you're doing all this, but you've got to stop," said Silberman. "You're hurting people here... it just can't end well. Please let me help you...." He trailed to a stop as Nancy raised one hand and the roof opened up above them.

Nancy laughed. "Hey, cheer up! Maybe you can join me up there, if you just think some happy thoughts!" Her lips twisted from a smile into a snarl. "On second thought, no, I don't think you're going to be having many happy thoughts. For keeping me locked up here, I think you deserve more like the worst thoughts from your whole life... I wonder what those might be?"

Nancy's hand came forward through the barrier, but Silberman felt himself unable to move. He couldn't see her fingers; it was as though they'd vanished into his skull, and it felt as though something were moving around in his head... searching... sifting.

"Oh, doctor, that's really good!" exclaimed Nancy after a moment, pulling her hand back to her side. "You really surprise me; I wouldn't have thought you had enough imagination in you for that kind of a nightmare. No wonder you've worked so hard to blank it out, forget it."

"Well, no matter," said Nancy. "This will make for a lovely parting gift, I think. Dr. Peter Silberman, this is your life... and death. Say hello to some old friends." The object in her right hand flared white again. "Ta ta for now, doctor - though if I'm not mistaken it's more like forever."

As Nancy Downs ascended, cackling away, through the hole in the roof, Dr. Silberman found himself released from his earlier paralysis. Looking around, he observed the orderlies with him were still and silent. Were they still dazed by Nancy's strange powers?

Just as this thought connected, they started to turn towards him, but something was wrong. They looked different - taller, even larger than before. Tan skin, mirrorshades. They weren't wearing their uniforms any more, but rather leather jackets over jeans and T-shirt. Gloves. Boots.

It was him - the man who'd attacked the police station all those years ago. Then the mental hospital where Sarah Connor was a patient, ten years later. "I said I'd be back," said six voices in unison, with a curious accent.

Silberman looked desperately around for an avenue of escape. The nurse came towards him from where the patients had had her trapped. But she wasn't dressed like a nurse anymore - more like a patient, in a tank top and pajama pants. Long brown hair framed a strong, grimly-etched face - Sarah Connor's face. He gasped and turned, ready to run back the way he'd come.

He stopped upon turning. A piece of the corridor wall bulged and flowed outwards, resolving into the silvery shape of a man. The man acquired color and definition - it was that cop! Maybe he could help...

The athletic-looking cop wagged one finger in front of his face and quirked his lips in a small smile. As Silberman watched, the finger elongated into a silvery metal spike.

At last, Silberman screamed. It was music to Nancy's ears as she flew away.
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