Patrice woke up and stretched her arms, her whole self shuddered with the delicious yawn and she emitted a funny sound, like a cross between a purr and a growl, her lips riding up at the mouth’s corners. She repeated the stretch, milking it for every drop of pleasure. Finally, she opened her eyes and was startled by an unfamiliar ceiling–of a cell with bars across its tiny window. Leaping out of bed, her bare feet curling at the touch of a cold concrete floor, she stepped gingerly across the cell and grasped the bars. Outside she saw an orange hued dust, swirled by a violent storm, Patrice imagined it was the Sirocco–a wind which blew sand from the Sahara…
Patrice whirled round in alarm and beheld an elderly doctor, the naked light bulb, inside its cage on the ceiling, reflected from his spectacles and dazzled her. She was very conscious of the cotton shift she wore, the thin stuff barely reaching down to her knees.
“My clothes, where are they?”
“Beside the bed; inside this cabinet.”
“Where am I?”
“Arkham Asylum. Ms. Hathaway, you fainted at the Science Building.”
“I am Dr. Oetker.”
Patrice ignored the introduction. She marched over to the cabinet. The doctor placed a hand upon her arm, restraining her, which she shook off with irritation.
“There is so little time— I need to get dressed—”
“Ms. Hathaway, you are not going anywhere. As your Doctor, I will not allow it.”
Patrice pulled out her jacket from the cabinet; sand fell and sprinkled the concrete floor of the cell. “Dust…” she whispered.
Dr. Oetker was staring past her outside, through the window. “Yes. The local fisher folk say that there is a storm over Innsmouth.”
“Where’s my violin?” she demanded.
The door to the cell closed softly, and its lock was turned.
“Ms. Hathaway, you have a visitor.”
Patrice remained motionless upon the bed, facing the white tiles of the wall, knees drawn up to the chin. At last, she turned to the visitor–it was a teenager, wearing an ill-fitting hounds tooth suit.
“I— I brought you this,” he said hesitantly, producing Patrice’s violin from behind his back, “you dropped it at the Science Building.”
“Oh thank you, thank you so much, I thought I’d lost it.” She clasped the loved instrument to herself. Politely she asked: “And you are?”
“Dorian Minks Jr., at your service, madam,” and he bowed. She couldn’t suppress a smile.
“I’m Patrice Hathaway, pleased to meet you, Dorian.” She frowned. “Just one moment, aren’t you the laboratory technician from the Science Building?”
“Yes, Ms. Hathaway, it was I who called the Asylum after you fainted.”
“I suppose I ought to thank you for that, too.”
“Calling the Asylum?” he said, slightly perturbed. He looked around the cell, and thought aloud: “It’s pretty grim, isn’t it?”
They laughed together.
Patrice rested the violin upon her feet.
“Well, thank you, once again, Dorian.”
“I was wondering—er—would you care to, like to, go out with me—for dinner?”
“Ha! I’m old enough to be your m— well, older sister, Master Minks. But it is a charming request all the same. I bet you only stopped wearing shorts last summer.”
Dorian Minks was crestfallen, but only for a moment. He smiled impishly. “My friends tell me that older women—”
Patrice jumped up off the bed and pointed to the door. “Get lost, creep!”
She strummed the strings of the violin, like it was a miniature guitar, accompanying the notes with a sweet hum which Pattie had learned in the nursery…
“My name is Dr. Mintz.”
“When am I getting out of here?” fumed Patrice. “‘Minks’ you say? I met your lovely son earlier.”
“My son died in infancy, Mrs. Knoop.” Dr. Mintz snapped his fingers and three burly men, a gurney trundling before them, filed into Patrice’s cell. “Watch it,” he warned, “this one will claw your eyes out.” Rough hands seized her wrists and ankles, and began to pull and tear off her clothing…
Patrice Hathaway, naked and lying face-down upon the trolley, the buckles of leather belts pinching her flesh, cried, outraged.
Dr. Mintz pulled a sheet over her trembling body.
“You have a potty mouth, Mrs. Knoop, which is why we had to gag you.” Peremptorily he ordered: “Take her to the basement!”
The trolley, with the prone Patrice, was pushed to a corner of the basement. The room was lit brilliantly by an array of light bulbs. She examined the black mold and the rising damp that was beading upon the wall, and then swivelled her eyes and saw a policeman and Dr. Mintz. The Doctor snapped on latex gloves. He picked up a jumbo suppository, which he dunked into a jar of clear jelly.
He hunkered down beside Patrice.
“In ten minutes, bitch, when big bertha here works her chemical magic, you will confess to Deputy Dingby where you hid the child’s body.”