If anyone were to walk down into the deep levels of the Baltimore Hospital for the Criminally Insane, they would hear the echoing wails and screams of the mad, the rough, bellowing answers of security personnel adding to the cacophony of metal bolts sliding and doors slamming. Hannibal Lecter only heard the airy sparkling notes of Bach’s Goldberg Variations played by Gould, a personal favorite rendition of his, winding and twirling down around and through him. The soft crinkle of the butcher paper under his felt tipped marker was the only other disturbance he selected to hear.
His method of Ioci was a practiced stronghold, helping him find solace in the seemingly endless amounts of stimuli and information he has picked up over the course of his life. Hannibal has been able to keep his spirit alive for the year he has spent inside this gray prison cell, owing most to the comforts of his memory palace. Hannibal Lecter is a talented mnemonist; the tutors of his youth recognizing his talents from the age of 6, nurturing him and helping him solidify the first corridors of his mind palace, choosing beautiful baroque architecture even at a young age. It wasn’t long before he started adding his own touches, assigning specific music inside the corridors, and the colors in his mind carefully coordinated.
If any kind of outside provocation were to occur, it would take form inside of his head as simply voiced, pointed messages for him either to take interest in or let them perish. Currently, Hannibal was perusing around past visited Italian cathedrals, taking in all the bronze doors, the frescoed chapels, and especially the art from the finest Italian painters in the corresponding period. The Duomo di Orvieto played out in his interests today, respecting the depicted scene of Judgment Day inside, as well as the very recent addition of the life of Christ on the bronze doors. Idly, in the real world, he sketched figures from Signorelli’s Antichrist, when a small message in his own voice echoed in the empty cathedral.
‘A new arrival.’ It resonated around the large space, accompanied by the vibrating sounds of struggle.
The cell was back into view at his curiosity, his eyes adjusting infinitesimally to the abysmal lighting glinting off the tops of the table not covered by the brown butcher paper. He capped and put down his felt tipped marker, sliding off the bench attached to the chrome desk, feeling it shifting slightly under his movement but unable to move further due to the bolts burrowing down into the concrete floor.
The cell’s inside this corridor were all cookie cutter gray rooms made entirely of concrete. Each cell had a double barrier, a steel barred sliding door on the very outside of the cell from long ago as well as a transparent slab of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene inches back from the bars. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is a strong polymer known for being flame, chemical, and impact resistant, making it a perfect substance for the circumstance. The only imperfections in the clear barrier were the strategically placed air holes down toward the top and bottom, as well as the edges of the cell door and the rolling food carrier. A small twin-sized bed with white sheets and a white cotton comforter, a toilet with no protective screen, a sink with a rectangle mirror covered by another acrylic sheet, a bookshelf filled with books approved by the administration, and the desk where all the amenities that were to offer.
The ruckus of the uncooperative patient bounced down the hallway to his cell, reverberating in the small gray space. From the commotion, the scene laid out in front of Hannibal, showing him the three orderlies, who were normally stationed in the small security office right before turning into the corridor where Hannibal’s cell was located, fighting with the new arrival. After a few more shouts, an order from the general administrator Frederick Chilton, as well as one other distinctive shout that must have belonged to the new patient, things quieted down. Hannibal knew that the administration here wasn’t above drugging someone into submission, having arsenals of syringes filled with Haloperidol or Lorazepam at the ready.
The sound of two wheels rolling reached his ears, the newly admitted strapped upright to the metal dolly they used to transport the exceptionally volatile patients. Pressing slightly against the cool barrier, he could just see the tall and dark-haired man being trundled into the cell directly next to his. The cell had been vacant for weeks after Hannibal convinced the previous owner into swallowing his tongue to silence his filthy mouth forever. The new inmate’s head was lolling forward with his transportation, but beneath the wild and dark curls, the man’s unfocused eyes flashed bright blue at Hannibal. His eyelids were starting to droop heavily, the man fighting off the drugs as passionately as he had been fighting the guards.
Hannibal tilted his chin upward, angling his nose toward the air holes at the top of the barrier. Hannibal often identified people and things by their scent, his hyperosmia playing a big role throughout his life. Coming in from the next cell, Hannibal smelled the expected heady aroma of his perspiration. There were things that Hannibal could determine about the newcomer from his smell. His body temperature was extremely high, and his diet consisted mostly of meat, coffee, acetaminophen, ibuprofin, and large amounts of alcohol. His blood sugar level was also very low. There were traces of fear in his sweat, normally undetectable to humans. As well as having hyperosmia, Hannibal also has a vomeronasal organ that is used to detect pheromones. Many animals have it, but it isn’t functional in the humans that do have one, the sensory neurons having no connection with the central nervous system. Hannibal, however, has found over time that his works just fine, requiring minimal mental training to conclude what smells meant what.
Hannibal was about to step away from the barrier when another scent lingered over after everything else. It was a subtle smell, something that Hannibal hadn’t smelled in a long time. The smell immediately reminded Hannibal of the earlier years of his medical training. It was a fevered smell that usually corresponded with a bacterial or viral infection, although he wasn’t able to pinpoint exactly which could be affecting him. With time, more behaviors besides his fever might present itself to indicate his ailments, but without a further physical inquiry, there wasn’t anything Hannibal could deduce. It could just be as simple as influenza, although something prickled in his mind that told him that there was something else remaining in the smell.
Hannibal heard two of the three orderlies’ heavy footsteps retreat to the front of the corridor, the resounding vibrations from the struggle finally ceasing, causing a quiet stillness in its wake. After a few beats, Hannibal heard Chilton in the cell next to him, talking quietly in comparison to the noise the inmate had caused.
“You caused quite a bit of discord this morning. I hope that you are feeling a little more cooperative? I honestly expected a little more professional behavior coming from someone like you.” Silence from the new arrival, most likely still reeling from the shot they administered, prompting Chilton forward.
“We will treat you just as nicely as you treat us, make sure you keep that in mind. The rules here are fairly simple to remember, although if you ever have any questions, I’m sure one of the orderlies will answer you fine enough.”
Hannibal tuned out the droll of rules and conditions set up by default, knowing full well that they were only spoken amenities, the likeliness of Chilton bending the rules to his controlling whims extremely high. Hannibal started to look at the figures he had been drawing, fine tuning a few details as well as he could with his felt tipped marker. His attentions returned to the administrative lead, however, hearing tension in his voice.
“After you’ve grown used to the way things are run around here, you’ll start supervised therapy sessions with me. We’ll start with therapy three times a week and then, depending on how well you respond to an effective treatment, we’ll think about lessening your security status and lowering the amount of time you spend in therapy. How does that sound?” The silence seemed more prominent between them in the wake of Chilton talking.
“Mr. Graham, it’s rude to completely ignore the person addressing you. You’re only making this harder for yourself. The sooner you conform, the easier your transition will be, William. I’m only here to…”
“…The person?” A deep voice just then, groggy and thick with disuse, muddled slightly with the after effects of most likely Haloperidol.
“Excuse me?” Chilton asked, wanting clarification to his seemingly irrelevant statement.
“Completely ignore the person addressing me?” He sternly reiterated, receiving momentary silence from Chilton, although Hannibal could smell the anger rolling off him.
“Yes, right, like I was saying before…”
“What you don’t understand is that you aren’t a person to me, no more than unknown and unseen entities or concepts are people to anyone else at any given time. Even standing here in front of me, you barely register as a physical representation of anything, and I’m known to see things that aren’t there. You don’t even trigger a neurological response as something to notice. It’s why no one consults you or your professional opinion. It’s why you cling to your mediocre advancements, the thick paper of your achievements hanging up in your office as fragile as your self-esteem, desperate and pathetic. You lack, Dr. Chilton, and I don’t find you interesting enough to waste the time I don’t even have on something as made up as you.” The silence after rung with condescension.
Hannibal thought that they might get along just fine.
After that outburst, Chilton rattled off a few words about eventual amenities, his patience thinned and his confidence shaken. Stepping outside the cell, the guards slamming the doors behind him from the guard office, Chilton appeared ruffled in front of Hannibal.
“Don’t smile so wide, Hannibal, lest people start believing that you are capable of any real emotion.” A pathetic and shallow jab. Hannibal continued to grin, turning his back on Chilton to sit back down at his desk. Chilton continued to speak from behind him.
“Can I have your word that you will keep this one alive? God forbid you kill off another one of my patients, regardless of how… utterly rude they can be,” His tone was directed back toward William. “Although, maybe I just damned myself by saying something, considering how this one likes to copy the work others.”
Taking the newcomer’s lead, Hannibal didn’t respond, playing as if Chilton wasn’t there, but his mind began to race at what Chilton had just said. Chilton was insinuating that this William Graham was the Copycat Killer that had been murdering across the Midwest and Southeast, always following shortly after a string of crimes in the same nature and style. Hannibal had only heard the banal off-handed remarks of the guards whenever they dared to whisper about it to each other, knowing that this particular subject matter was heavily discouraged in the hospital, especially down in Hannibal’s ward where it was the most likely to stimulate some of the inmates. Even certain psychological reading material that Hannibal had asked after was rejected by the administration.
Hannibal extrapolated from the useless pieces of insight the orderlies did decide to discuss, learning that the Copycat Killer had been someone who was working in law enforcement, the guards not specifying which force. Apparently, William had been involved enough to know exactly what to do and how to make it look like another killer’s victim pattern and killing technique, hiding behind someone who had been active in the same area. Hannibal mused whether this was murder plagiarism on a whole new level. He remembered that the Copycat Killer was on trial for murdering five known subjects, each one in the same style as a murder that, now piecing everything together, William must have been working on prior. To gain such insight and work with that much-detailed evidence, he must have been some kind of investigator, or a profiler. Maybe, FBI at most, thus the publicity, it being an interesting enough case to even reach down here in the pit.
That means that he might know Jack Crawford personally. This made Hannibal smile wider.
It didn’t take as long as he expected before Chilton, red faced and tight lipped at the lack of response, stomped off down the corridor. Hannibal, smile still in place, had only briefly begun to inspect his drawings idly, musing more about who William Graham is, when all the lights down the corridor shut off, engrossing them in nearly complete darkness. Some of the more unstable inmates ruined the silence, the disturbed shouting out frightfully into the sudden, consuming darkness.
“Keep them off until lunch.”
The guards begrudgingly went from cell to cell, simultaneously calming the inmates and bitching about Chilton.
“Always have to fucking clean up after his god damned ego. Either calm down and back away from the barrier or receive a shot. The guy’s ego is as fragile as a woman’s heart, I swear to you.”
Hannibal took this opportunity to take out a new piece of butcher paper, the last sheet that he would undoubtedly get for a while after his behavior towards Chilton. In the darkness, he began to draw. Although it was almost pitch black, the feeble light of the guard office barely trailing its way down to his cell, Hannibal drew with his eyes closed, submerging himself completely in the velvety dark. He drew the flash of blue eyes that he saw, unfocused with the injected sedative but nowhere near as lifeless as every other inmate Hannibal had seen admitted here. Next, he drew different sections of the dark brown curls that appeared black in the hallway, the appearance of them looking long overgrown in Hannibal’s opinion, like William hadn’t been able to take care of himself for a while.
After Hannibal was sure that he had filled the page with sketches, he retreated to sit on his bed, his ears subconsciously straining to hear anything from the next cell. In the echoing dark, the most he could make out was breathing, shaking in random intervals, and the soft mewls of intense dreaming, the Haloperidol surely putting William to sleep. Hannibal took a deep breath through his nose, scenting the newcomer again, still wondering at the sweet heat that trundled off him.
William had mentioned to Chilton that he saw hallucinations, but psychosis or schizophrenia did not smell like this. There were several mental illnesses that caused hallucinations, but remembering his flashback to his medical years before psychology became his study, Hannibal believed then that he was originally correct in his theory that William has some form of infection. He smelled before that William was a drinker, but Hannibal didn’t think that he was experiencing alcohol withdrawal delirium. Without really being able to ask William questions, or at least watch his physical behavior, Hannibal wouldn’t be able to conclude the ailment, much to a slightly surprising chagrin.
Considering the puzzle of William Graham’s illness currently unsolvable, Hannibal retreated back into his mind palace and up to the cliff side town of Orvieto, reveling in its Italian quaintness. Hannibal stayed in his reverie until he was aware of a faint putrid food smell that was out of place with the surroundings of his projected location. The lights flashed back on blindingly, although the light source itself was weak. Once again, the mad wound up their siren like wails, the calls echoing through the corridor. Through the noise, Hannibal heard the squeaking wheels of the food cart, stopping and starting again after dispensing food to each cell inhabitant.
They stopped outside of William’s cell, the voice of Barney talking sternly but kindly to him. Barney was Hannibal’s personal favorite out of the orderlies, admiring him for his pursuit in knowledge and commitment to his mail-order night courses for school. Hannibal knew that Barney wanted to see every Vermeer before he died, and that Barney agreed with him that psychology wasn’t a science. Barney, tall and broad, dark and smart behind wide set eyes, was the only person he had found interesting enough to talk to for some length. Hannibal respected Barney, just as Barney respected him, although never forgetting who Hannibal was.
“William Graham? Mr. Graham, my name is Barney Matthews. I’m the head orderly that you’ll be seeing most of the time while you’re here. It’s 1pm now, which is when we start to dish out food for lunch, but I’m sure Dr. Chilton discussed that with you.”
“If he did, I don’t remember…” A whisper, his voice gentler than before, higher pitched.
Hannibal could picture Barney’s white baby teeth, his higher pitched voice odd coming out of someone so tall and broad. After a few seconds of silence, Hannibal straining to hear William’s breathing pattern, and finding him still awake, Barney opened the door of the rolling food carrier, setting the tray inside.
“It’s hard to get accustomed to the comings and goings of a place like this, but it’ll be easier for you if you at least try. If you aren’t hungry now, you can leave the food. Come morning, though, we’d like to see you eat. We have appetite encouraging medicine we can give you if you continue feeling ill.” Hannibal smiled at Barney’s willingness to help. The willingness wasn’t lost to William Graham, hearing him softly mutter out a kind but thick voiced reply.
“Thank you, Barney. And, you can call me Will. I prefer Will.” The sincerity in his voice plucked at Hannibal, wondering where the brutality he saw with Chilton went.
“All right, Will. I’ll come check on you in an hour’s time. Try to eat, I know it doesn’t look good but it tastes better than you might think.”
Barney wheeled out in front of Hannibal’s cell, and Hannibal stood up politely.
“Good afternoon, Barney.”
“Good afternoon to you, too, Hannibal. Sorry about the lights earlier.”
“That’s quite alright, Barney. We all know how Chilton loves petty torments. How are the mail-order classes coming along? Are you still on the science courses or have you moved on?”
“Moved on, actually. Starting with general social studies, which consists of nine themes, starting with culture.”
“Culture? That is a bit general. Can’t imagine you could fit a whole world of culture into a single mail-order course.” Hannibal agreed with Barney and moved forward to collect the tray, eyeing the contents for what he would eat and what he’d leave behind. Fortunately for him, half of the food on the tray looked passable, more than what he usually consumed per meal.
“Yeah, we’ll have to see how it goes. The reading material is quite hefty, although I highly doubt it could cover all possible bases. Maybe we can talk about it sometime later when I really get into it.”
“I look forward to that, Barney. Until then.” Hannibal tipped his head and waited for Barney to wheel back to the guard office before turning his back to the double barriers of his cell.
Hannibal set the same prison gray tray down onto his table, taking up the dry wheat bun and eating it first, pulling tufts of dry fluff out of the roll and slowly eating each piece. Hannibal had been paying some attention to whether William, or Will as he had asked to be called, had risen and received his tray during his conversation with Barney. Endeavoring to listen fully with no one to interrupt, Hannibal found Will still awake, his breath shaky and fast, but no sounds of eating or tray scraping found his ears. Flaring his nostrils again, he could smell over his lunch the fear in Will’s scent, increasing steadily with his breathing. Fear was natural and second hand in here, the backbone of most establishments like this one.
Hannibal started to separate the vegetable medley of plastic-like green beans, carrots and corn, stabbing his fork into the adequate looking pieces and eating them. It took Hannibal almost a full hour to finish separating and eating his lunch, combing through the rest of his vegetables as well as eating most of his mashed potatoes, starch aplenty in the meals here, but consequently being the only decent thing to eat. Regardless, Hannibal never ate the meat provided.
While he picked apart his meal, he looked over the series of drawings he had done in the darkness, reviewing and following the lines of his art, previously learning many years before that it helps to never pick up your medium. All his sketches on the page were essentially one continuous line. The only time he picked up his marker was to move after he completed what he was drawing. On the brown page, the black lined shapes of Will’s eyes, some of his curls, as well as the different shapes of his drugged body limply strapped to the dolly were scattered around the sheet of paper, completely filling the page.
Will in all that time hadn’t moved toward the food, prompting more conversation with Barney later when he came back to collect the trays. Will didn’t answer, causing Barney to prompt more health specific questions toward him. Hannibal waited, hoping he would open up a bit more about his physical state, maybe clueing him in on his condition, wanting to solve the puzzle of part of his smell.
“You look a little pale, Will. Are you feeling alright? Looks as though you might have a fever.”
“…Always have a fever…always...” Barely a mumble, trailing off at the end, but Barney and Hannibal heard well enough.
“If I go and grab a thermometer, would you allow me to take your temperature? This will give me the time to show you how the orderlies operate going in and out of a cell.”
Barney moved out of Will’s cell after that, moving quickly for a man of his size, walking down the corridor and back again in a small amount of time. After some gentle verbal direction, Barney tended to Will.
“If I could please have you lay face down on top of your bed for me. Thank you. Put your hands behind your back where I can see them? Thank you again.” The cell doors slid open, and Barney entered, handcuffing William.
“Well, I can tell without the thermometer that you have a really high fever.” A swift pause and a digital repetitious beeping. “That’s what I thought… We need to get you upstairs to the infirmary immediately. You have a fever of 104.”
“No…” A weak waver escaping from Will.
Without further consent from Will, Barney rose from the bed and started on his medical and security protocols, notifying another guard to let Dr. Chilton know and to ask for a stretcher.
“No…” Will repeated feebly, the blankets on his bed shifting against themselves. Hannibal pictured what was happening based on sound, seeing Will with a sheen of sweat on him rising from the bed to stop Barney from continuing. Ignored now by Barney, realizing that Will needed medical treatment regardless of consent, he continued to talk to another orderly until the sound of more wheels carted down towards Will’s cell.
“Please, Will, if you could continue to lay face down with your hands where I can see them, we can get you upstairs to…”
“No, please. It’s alright, I’ll just be wanting some aspirin.” Will argued shakily, the fatigue and strain in his voice apparent, leaving him sounding breathless. Hannibal heard the springs of his mattress strain and then a solid thud as Will plummeted off the bed.
“With a fever of 104, aspirin is only going to do so much. You’re in some serious danger if you don’t get looked at. Please cooperate, or I’ll have to use force and I really don’t want to do that, so if you could please allow me to help you?”
Will was panting against the floor, silent and unresponsive except for the puffs of exasperated air and thick swallows. After a few moments, Will conceded with a heavy sigh, allowing Barney to handle him while still lying on the floor to pick him up onto the stretcher that arrived. Hannibal leaned forward, pressing lightly against the barrier. With Will laying down on the stretcher, Hannibal was able to get a better look at how wild his hair was, how full his beard was, how pale he was besides the deep bruising color around his eyes, and the sheen of sweat that covered him. He was tall, but not as tall as Hannibal, and much too thin, like he hadn’t eaten a good meal in quite a while. Will had the overall appearance of someone who hadn’t be able to take care of himself properly for a long time.
Will’s eyes were closed, the look on his face a mixture of exhaustion and frustrated exasperation. Once he was strapped into place and the stretcher was lifted to lock in a more upright position, Will opened his eyes and looked directly at Hannibal’s face, his eyes skirting around him, not able to look directly into his eyes. Will blinked, and Hannibal blinked back although he didn’t need to blink, before he was carted away. Will didn’t look away from Hannibal the whole time, and Hannibal looked back. Blue eyes crashed against maroon briefly before the corner around the guard office to the infirmary interrupted their momentary glance.
In that swiftest of moments, shaking recognition flashed across Will’s eyes, a resonating and intimate understanding. It was quick, difficult to place in the face of utter exhaustion, but Hannibal felt it from inside his cell, something coiling up deep inside his gut and pulling. Will knew him. His notoriety was worldwide, Hannibal knew, but this was something beyond the social awareness or tabloid infatuation.
He believed more in that moment that Will Graham knew Jack Crawford, Agent in charge at the FBI, and the man who caught him.