JOURNEY DOWN A HARD ROAD

Chapter 15: Take the Darkest Path

Edison got his friend Rik to give him a ride past the East Garden Asylum. He wanted to see the layout of the place, to find out if there was any way he could get inside without alerting staff.

The place was huge, with a dull grey wrought-iron fence surrounding it.

"Looks like a graveyard," Rik remarked.

"A grave for the mind," Edison replied, darkly.

"I don't see any way you're going to be able to get in," Rik said. "There's no chance of putting on a disguise. You're Network 23's best known presenter."

"So what do you suggest?" Edison asked.

"We have to find somebody who can impersonate a doctor. Someone who is strong enough to handle a tough orderly or two if necessary."

"What about Blank Reg?" Edison asked.

"Again, too well known," Rik said with a shake of his head. "Same deal with Blank Bruno after that Sunset Scare a few months ago. Actually, everyone you've been in contact with is pretty well-known. Though I can think of one man who's known by name and reputation only."

"I'm not sending Breughal in after Bryce," Edison said. "I want Bryce in one piece."

"Considering the alternative, I don't think you have a choice," Rik told him.

Jenny had no problems hacking into the East Garden Asylum's securicam system. Though it did take five tries before she found Bryce's room.

"Oh, Bryce," she said, frowning at how fragile he looked amidst all the machines, tubes, and wires. She watched him for a few more minutes, then rewound the securicam feed until she saw the images Dr. Meyer and Dr. Wilkins.

"15 c.c.'s of belladonna extractů"

Theora and Jenny stared at the monitor in horror.

"If they've been giving him that much since the beginning," Jenny said, her voice full of regret, "then brain damage must have already set in."

"It might still be early enough for it to be reversed." Theora told her. "Don't give up hope too quickly."

"I hope so," Jenny told Theora. "Bryce is very proud of his intellect. To lose even a tenth of it would devastate him."

Jenny returned the securicam to real-time. She sat there, watching Bryce lie there, each second bringing him closer to ruin and death.

She remembered the way he'd been at ACS. That rainy day when they had both begun their time as students at the Academy.

Bryce had been very calm for his age. If he'd felt any excitement at attending such a prestigious school he didn't show it. At least not in ways that most people could see.

Jenny had seen it, though. That quiet sparkle in his eyes that she recognized from all those times she'd looked in a mirror at the college girl she'd become.

She had joined him in the hall as they'd waited to attend their first lecture. Theirs had been an awkward introduction, since he'd been rather shy at the time.

Jenny had persisted, however, and they had eventually become good friends. They had been lab partners on several ventures including a program that changed TV programs from High Def to Hyper-Def and solving the riddle of Schroedinger's Cat in a clever manner by standing up together in front of the class and announcing simultaneously that the cat was alive and dead.

The ouzo bar was packed as it was every Saturday night. Edison walked over to the bar when Breughal stood. There was a half-pint of something that looked like lager, but was a little too orange in color standing on the bar beside him.

"Been keeping out of trouble?"

Breughal looked up at Edison with a smirk. "Ninety nine percent of our current stock is legally dead." he told the reporter.

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