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Spot Check

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Syd knows she's not crazy, and she's absolutely not schizophrenic. There's something wrong with David, with all of them, with this place. It doesn't feel-- It doesn't feel real.

She's not crazy. She's not crazy.

But she keeps seeing things. Doors that disappear, bugs in cherry pie. And now there's this-- Thing. Growth. Pustule, throbbing, breathing, in the wall. Of the wall.

She reaches out, fascinated despite her disgust. She touches it. It starts to bleed and then--

She remembers. Clockworks, David, Summerland, David's house and the gun-- It all comes back in a rush and then--

"What are you doing out here?" says Doctor Busker. No, Lenny. No, not Lenny. "It's after hours."

The monster. The monster living inside of David's head, torturing him and feeding on him. It's the monster.

"I'm sorry," Syd says, trying her best to pretend she doesn't know the truth. She has to get back to David. He's the sleepwalker, not her. She has to wake him up, wake the others up, get everyone-- "I was just on my way back from the bathroom."

"Do you like music?" the monster asks.

"Music?" Syd asks.

"I've had a lot of luck lately with music therapies," says the monster. "Patients find it very calming."

Syd glances over. The pustule is still there, a long line of blood dribbling down the wall. "Yeah, I like music, but I was just--" She has to get back to David. "It's bedtime and all that."

"It's okay," the monster says, and there's menace in its sweet smile. "Go ahead. Go ahead. Put 'em on."

Syd wants to run but she can't. The monster tucks the cassette player onto Syd's waistband, and then the headphones are on Syd's head. But it's not playing music, it's--

Chirping. It sounds like-- She feels-- Was she-- Worried about something? She can't remember.

"It's beautiful," Syd says, pleased. "What is it?"

"Crickets," says Doctor Busker. Lenny. She wants them to call her Lenny. "Just listen."

Syd listens, but-- No, there was something-- She was supposed to--

Lenny reaches out and touches the pustule. It makes a squishy, wet sound. Lenny brings up her hand. There's blood on her fingertip. She licks it clean, then gives Syd a thoughtful look.

"You're bored," Lenny says, her voice still clear despite the headphones and the crickets. "David loves it here. He's just sickeningly happy in this-- Hospital." She says the last word with distaste. "But for you it's-- Folding laundry."

Syd feels her head start to clear, just a little. She remembers saying that. She remembers-- Something's wrong. "It's like a dream."

"You're different," Lenny says. "David, all these other-- Patients-- This is real for them. But not you." She pushes at Syd with her fingertip, and Syd sways.

And then there's a door, a familiar, impossible door, where the pustule used to be. It opens. Lenny walks through, and Syd-- Floats after her, carried somehow, her feet dangling just above the floor.

That nurse is there, the mean one. She's sitting, spine straight, eyes fixed straight ahead. And on the walls are-- Maps? But not for any any land she recognizes.

Syd struggles against the fog in her head. She reaches up and pushes off the headphones. They clatter as they hit the floor. But there's still crickets. Maybe she really is crazy. "What are you-- What is this?"

"Backstage pass," Lenny says. "You want real? Real's whatever we want it to be. So what do you want, hmm?"

"Doctor Busker," Syd tries.

Lenny tuts.

"Lenny," Syd tries again. She looks at the nurse again. What was her name? She's the worst of them, cruel and sadistic. Always watching, always looking for an excuse to--

Suddenly the nurse turns and stares directly at her. Syd takes a wary step back, pulls in on herself, tucks her chin into her high collar.

"You don't like to be touched," Lenny says.

"No," Syd agrees, and feels a sudden rush of relief. "That's-- My thing. Not--" Not schizophrenia. She's not psychotic, she's not--

"And if Nurse Amy had to-- Do a spot check," Lenny says. Her gaze moves down Syd's body, leering, then back up again. "Would you like that?"

Syd shakes head head. "Please, I don't--"

"Syd?" It's David's voice, muffled and far away. "Syd?" And then again, a little louder, closer. "Syd?"

"David?" Syd breathes. "David, I'm-- I'm here!"

"Syd?" David calls.

He's almost on the other side of the door. Syd tries to move towards it, to open the door, but she can't make her body do what she wants.

Nurse Amy stands up and starts towards Syd, a malevolent smile curling her lips.

"David," Syd calls, pleading for him to come. But he doesn't seem to hear her. And Amy keeps getting closer.

"You can stop her," Lenny offers. "All you have to do is-- Choose."

"Choose?" Syd asks, cringing back.

"Who gets the spot check," Lenny says. "You or-- David?"

Amy's almost on her now. Syd strains against the fog. She thinks of David refusing to believe her, calling her crazy, and-- Amy's hands are reaching out to grab her and-- Syd doesn't want to be touched. "David," she blurts out.

Amy stops. She gives Syd a knowing, promising leer and then-- Walks out the door.

Syd gets a glimpse of David out in the hall, looking worried and confused, and then-- The door closes again.

No. What did she do? "David," Syd breathes, upset.

Amy's voice comes through the door. "Nobody wants you here. I said you're unwanted."

"I have friends," David says, hurt.

"They only pretend to like you," Amy says, cruelly. "You know I'm right. Your whole life you've felt it. You're a freak. You're disgusting. We adopt you because we have to, but deep down, it's all we can do to keep from puking whenever you're around." And then-- Retching sounds, awful retching--

"Leave him alone," Syd pleads, demands. "This is a hospital, you're supposed to-- Help people."

"I'm helping you," Lenny says.

Syd shakes her head. "I didn't know she would--" She just--

The door opens and Amy walks back in. David stares after Amy and then-- starts towards the door.

"David," Syd calls, relieved, but-- David doesn't seem to see her. "David!" Syd calls, angry. What's wrong with him?

David walks in and then-- Stops. The door closes behind him. Lenny walks up to him, touches him, slides her hand down his chest. David seems to be-- Vaguely aware that something's wrong, but--

"He's a little boy," Lenny says, shaking her head. "He just wants to be tucked up all safe with his mommy." She pouts. "And that's you. Mommy dearest."

"No, that's not--" Syd starts, but-- Maybe it's true. David wants to stay here, he wants her to die old with him in a mental hospital, surrounded by--

"This is where he belongs," Lenny sighs. "But not you." She steps closer. "You want more. And you're not afraid to take what you want. All you have to do is-- Choose."

"This is-- No," Syd protests, trying to-- Why can't she--

"Spot check," Lenny grins. "You or David?"

"Me," Syd says, certain. She won't fall for that again. But then--

Suddenly Syd's the one in the nurse's uniform and Amy's in patient orange. Syd starts towards her, unable to stop herself. Her mouth curls into a malevolent smile, but inside--

Amy screams, terrified, and stumbles back. But there's nowhere for her to run. She trembles as Syd's hands reach for her and then--

Syd's not used to touching people. She never touches people, not even David. It's a shock to feel Amy's body against her hands, soft and alive, a shock and a violation and yet--

Her body wants it. Her hands caress Amy's body through her clothes, molest her with no pretense of an actual search. Amy whimpers in fear and then-- Moans. Syd reaches under Amy's clothes, caresses all that bare skin. She feels so good. How--

Syd looks up to see David watching, frozen in place, eyes wide with horror. Pleasure shudders through her, alien and consuming. God, his fear--

"Delicious," Lenny sighs.

Lenny grabs David and pushes him down, and suddenly they're in Lenny's office and David is in the patient's chair, frozen as Lenny paws him. And Amy is in the opposite chair, frozen as Syd paws her. Syd fights but she's a puppet on a string, mirroring everything Lenny does.

David and Amy both tremble and moan.

"Nurse," Lenny says, and Syd turns. She stands with her spine straight, her eyes fixed straight ahead.

"Yes, doctor?" Syd asks. Her head is full of-- Ideas. Beliefs. She remembers being a nurse, worrying if all the patients have got their meds, keeping an eye on the dangerous ones. David's a dangerous one. No wonder Doctor Busker needs help with him. "Does the patient need a spot check?"

"He does," Lenny smirks.

"Syd?" David whimpers. "What's-- Why are you-- Syd?"

Syd slaps him, hard across the cheek. David gapes, stunned and hurt, as his cheek reddens in the shape of Syd's hand. She raises her hand again and he cringes.

"There, there," Lenny coos. She pets David's hair, touches his sore cheek. He flinches and she touches it again, fits her hand along the mark.

"It's okay," Lenny soothes. "Daddy's here." And David-- Relaxes. Leans against her hand.

Syd struggles again, knowing-- This isn't right. Nothing about this is right. They have to get out of here. But she can't make her body listen.

"I said he needs a spot check," Lenny says, angrily, and Syd's body straightens, walks around to the back of the chair. She leans over David and caresses him the way she did Amy.

David doesn't resist, doesn't fight. Syd reaches under his clothes and caresses all that bare skin. He feels so good. She's hungry for him, starving. So hungry.

"Such a pretty boy," Lenny coos. She grabs him by his hair and starts kissing him, open-mouthed and noisy.

David goes stiff and then limp. His eyes glaze over, and Syd feels his heartbeat slowing against her palms. She feels-- Intensely horny, her body throbbing.

"Have a taste," Lenny says, and pulls Syd down to kiss David.

Power floods Syd's tongue, her throat. It's like swallowing liquid lightning. She stumbles away, her head suddenly clear.

Lenny kisses David again, and then turns to Syd, flushed with delight.

"What--" Syd gasps. She feels-- Intensely alive, strong, powerful. She feels like she could do anything. And then the feeling fades, and without it-- She's weak, empty.

Amy's behind David's chair now, a nurse again, malevolent. She caresses David and then holds him down.

"Syd?" David whines, dazed.

Lenny crooks her finger and Syd's body walks toward them.

"You're a fighter, kid," Lenny says to her. "You've got moxie. I like that."

"You're not Lenny," Syd realizes, remembers.

"See, we could keep playing this game," Lenny says. "I control you to make David happy, you break free, I control you again. Or-- You take control. Switch to the winning team. That little taste you just got? There's so much inside him." She nuzzles David's cheek, licks it. "An endless feast." She moans and holds him closer.

"Never," Syd says, defiant. "You're-- A parasite. A monster." But there's a pain inside her and she pulls in on herself.

"Hurts, right?" Lenny says, knowing.

"What did you do to me?" Syd demands.

"I gave you a taste," Lenny says. "A free hit of the good stuff." She nips at David and grins. "Some high-quality shit, right from the source."

Syd feels sick. "You made me--"

"And now you need more," Lenny says. She caresses David, takes one last taste, and then stands, starts towards Syd. "You're hooked."

"No," Syd denies, but-- She hurts inside. She starts shivering, sweating like-- Some kind of strung-out junkie. What's wrong with her?

"It's okay, kid," Lenny soothes. "You just need another hit."

She reaches for Syd and Syd flinches away. Lenny steps back, hands raised, placating. And then the room shifts, and Syd is where Amy was, holding David down.

Syd tries to pull away, but-- She can taste it. His power. Her hands curl into claws, digging into David's shoulders.

"David," Syd moans, fighting this with all her strength. But it's so hard. "David, wake up. Please!"

Lenny climbs into his lap again, strokes his swollen cheek. She kisses David and feeds on him and Syd can feel the power leaking out of him. She breathes it in and the shivering eases, the pain fades. She finds herself-- Leaning towards the source of it, seeking more.

She resists. She can't-- It's wrong, she can't--

And then--

Her mouth is over David's and she's drinking, drinking, there's so much--!

Lenny gives a delighted moan. She caresses Syd's head, holds her closer to David and then-- joins her, kissing him, feeding and feeding.

They only stop when they can't take any more. Syd's so full it hurts, but she feels amazing, she feels-- Like a god.

"Yeah, that's it," Lenny says, pleased.

"No," Syd moans, but it's too late. She can feel how her body-- Needs it now. Craves it. "I'm not like you," she denies. "I'll never be like you."

"Moxie," Lenny declares, delighted. "Spot check, time to make your choice."

And then-- Syd's standing in the hallway. What was she--

She was just with David. He said-- She's crazy. He called her crazy. She's not.

She should leave. She should figure out what she needs to say for Doctor Busker to say she's clean and then she can--

But David. She can't-- She can't leave him. She needs him.

She needs him.

There's some kind of-- Weird bump on the wall. It's bleeding. But it doesn't matter, only David matters. She turns around and heads back.

She thinks-- Maybe David was right. She can touch just fine. She wants to touch, but only-- Him. God, she needs to touch him, kiss him, she feels-- Hungry for him.

She opens the door to his room. David's still working on her portrait. When he sees her he smiles, relieved. "Syd," he says, and puts aside the brush.

He looks-- Absolutely delicious.

She closes the door behind her.