Chapter 7: Westford

Bryce kept his face buried in Edison's chest the during the ride to the detention center while Edison stroked his hair and muttered reassurances to him.

The Metrocop glanced at them in the mirror. This kid wasn't a ruthless cold-blooded killer. He was just a kid who had been defending himself against a man who should never had been let out of jail. He felt more than just a twinge of pity. For a brief moment, he considered setting Bryce free. In the end, he knew what his duty must be. He did not stop until the car reach the Westford Juvenile Center.

Westford was located in the suburbs just before the Fringes. The parking lot was free of clutter. Edison suspected that the teens in residence were at least a part of the cleanup crew. He got out of the car and helped Bryce to his feet.

A group of teenagers were sitting on a nearby bench, chatting animatedly. Another group was playing with a remote control car, it's members building a variety of ramps which they would then attempt to make the little vehicle leap over.

"We encourage activities which create and bolster friendships and positive attitudes," explained the woman who approached them. "My name is Lisa Andrews. I'm the activities coordinator here. Mr. Lawrence will be with us momentarily to do your intake..."

"This is Bryce," Edison told her. "He's a bit upset at the moment."

"The Metro station called and relayed the situation to us, so I understand completely. It's a terrible tragedy, to have so much and then face losing it because of something like that."

She looked at Bryce, wanting to turn his face to meet hers, but know that after the attack he would probably not appreciate being touched in even the gentlest way by a stranger.

"Bryce? Can you look at me?" she asked instead.

Edison nudged him encouragingly. "It's okay, kid."

Bryce turned to face Ms. Andrews. She looked kind and that made him relax just a little.

Ms. Andrews took a cloth from her pocket and offered it to him. "Your glasses look like they could use a bit of cleaning."

Bryce accepted it and cleaned the away the stains from his tears that had smudged the oversized lenses of his spectacles. He offered it back when he was done, but Ms. Andrews shook her head, so he put it in his own pocket.

"As you can see, we encourage outdoor activity. However, that is not all this center is about. If you'll follow me, I'll show you some of the indoor things we have to offer."

"Do you have a computer and connection?" Bryce asked as he and Edison followed her inside. "As Network 23's head of research I..."

"Don't worry about that right now, Bryce," Edison said. "You need to concentrate on dealing with what's happened to you. Max will take over as head of research and development until you get back. You've got enough of your own problems to work with right now. You don't need someone else's complicating them."

"In other words, I'm fired."

"No. You're on hiatus until this matter is resolved," Edison corrected him.

"We do allow supervised computer access," Ms. Andrews explained. "But clients are only allowed to use it in order to prepare for their trials or to study for their diplomas if their still in high school. And they're only allowed an hour per day in order to prevent any one person from monopolizing it all day."

Edison wondered how long it would take Bryce to get used to such an arrangement after a four of unlimited access to Network 23's entire mainframe preceded by two years at ACS. Of course, the boy would be occupied by other things, most prominently his upcoming murder trial.

"There you are," a man in his seventies approached them. "I'm Mark Lawrence. I'm the director of the center. You must be Bryce Lynch?"

"Yes," Bryce replied.

"Welcome to Westford," Mr. Lawrence said. "I take it Ms. Andrews has been going over the various activities our center encourages. She can show you more later. Right now, I have to go over a few personal things with you and also explain the rules. The rules are quite simple; no fighting, no smoking, food is only to be eaten in the dining area or kitchen at designated meal and snack times. This includes food brought in by friends, which is discouraged but not disallowed. We clean up after ourselves. Cleaning supplies for the bathroom are kept in a locked cabinet to be asked for after each shower. As for the personal things we have to deal with, we know that you were raped which is what led to the killing of Mr. Parker. We've arranged for you to meet with a counselor twice a week to help you deal with the incident. Her name is Leona Harris. She's a psychologist who specializes in helping teens who are dealing with physical and sexual abuse. You'll be seeing her on Mondays and Thursdays after breakfast."

"That's good," Edison told Bryce. "You're going to need help with that. Especially after so many years being trained to quell your emotions."

"I suppose so," Bryce decided. He really didn't want to talk about what Parker had done to him, but if Edison thought it was a good idea, then he guessed he could put up with it.

"We'll be having lunch in an hour," Mr. Lawrence said. "Most of the paperwork is already filled out. I just need you to go over it and sign it. Then I'll show you to the cafeteria."

"I guess that means it's time for me to go," Edison said, apologetically, to Bryce. "I promise I'll do everything I can to see you get a fair trial. Until then, listen to these people. They're trying to help you. Especially your counselor."

Bryce watched him depart, wondering only briefly how he intended to get back home.

Back                         Home                              Max Headroom Main Page                              Next

Your Name or Alias:      Your E-mail (optional):

Please type your review below. Only positive reviews and constructive criticism will be posted!