Monday, October 29, 2012
The Statement of R. Carter, Ph. D.
"Violence was never really a problem at Chambers Academy. There's the occasional bit of fisticuffs, and an odd cat-fight, but it was always hand to hand. We don't have a precedent for a student whipping out a length of steel pipe and letting loose.
As for why, well, we should have expected something in hindsight. Ms. Sarah Cruz was the daughter of the first man on the moon in over half a century. She got attention, and speaking bluntly, in an environment filled with rich, spoiled prima donnas whose greatest aspiration is to join the ranks of the glitterati, you'd do the kid a favor by kicking her into a tank full of piranhas. At least then it would be quick.
Jealously cuts deep and stings hard, and the envious share only their pain.
Ms. Cruz's grades started to slip before that Orion 2 capsule did a retro burn. We thought it was just a dip due to stress, but... it got worse. I'm sure you can guess why.
I was officially assigned to her on June 5th, about one month after the mission. I got the call when she turned in a quiz soaked in tears.
As much as I wanted to get down to doing something helpful, our first session was just me asking about family history, about her moods, allergies, and other first session clinical BS.
The week after, when we met next, I asked her about her home life. I grew.... just a little concerned when she told me that she didn't want to talk about how things were going with her family.
Officially, I didn't jump to conclusions. We changed the subject and talked about how bitchy her classmates were getting.
Unofficially, I did not want to find out that a national hero was beating his kid, if not worse. My faith in humanity is tenuous enough as it is, and the prospect of drinking my liquor cabinet dry to numb the pain of that revelation is neither a pleasant nor cheap one.
During the session after that, she shared with me her anxieties about friendships made after the spotlight was cast on her. Her voice was an octave higher, her tempo significantly more rapid – something was happening and I couldn't get an answer from her even when I asked.
I did get an answer from my nightly news troll the next evening, on the front page of the Huffington Post: “'Captain Daniel Cruz, missing.'
'Mental Illness suspected,' were the other three words that were burned into my skull, and I knew that things were going to get significantly more complicated.
I think that was on a Wednesday, Thrusday maybe. Sarah didn't show up for the rest of the week.
She did next week. It happened on Tuesday. Surveillance footage showed that one of the other students - Marceline Higgins I think was her name – she called Sarah's father a “schizo astronaut.”
And, yeah, that's when Sarah pulled a steel pipe out of her bag and engaged in some visceral stress relief. Campus police showed up, cuffed her, and dumped her in the on-campus holding cell. Under watch.
I was called in to evaluate her. She was shaken and crying and told me that her dad wasn't crazy. She was sure of it. I asked her what was going on in her family, and she told me that she wanted to show me something the next time she visited. I scheduled for an appointment on the next day.
She wasn't pressed for charges, though it took some creativity on my part to convince the police that it wasn't pre-meditated.
When we met the next day I didn't know what to brace myself for. She sat down on my office's couch and told me that her dad had been writing ever since he got back home from his mission. He first wrote in his diary, then in cheap journals, then on napkins and receipts, and then on the walls of their house.
She showed me one of the cheap journals, and that he wasn't writing exclusively in poetry. Or even in English.
Within were things like structural diagrams made out of optical illusions, cross-sections of neurons, mathematical proofs in numbering systems that I couldn't decipher, and all of them were written over pictures of this odd, spindly, branching character or figure with dark red blobs all over it. Its shape was never completely consistent, but only had slight variations.
All of it was in pen. It was not compelling evidence for a sound mental state.
I stopped flipping the ink-soaked pages when I came to one that had more familiar symbols. I told her that those looked like electrical schematics.
I recommended that she see an off-campus psychologist, but she protested. She said that she trusted me more. I made an appointment for the end of the week.
She showed up and pulled a device out of her backpack. I asked her what it was and where she got it, and she told me that the school's electronics club built it for her. She told me to get a tissue and hold it under my nose. We both did.
She pressed a button and my office vanished. Every wall, every book, every piece of furniture was replaced with gray sand, no sound, and a black sky holding only the sun. I couldn't breathe, but I knew that I didn't need to.
That... thing from every page of the notebook stood in front of me. Perfectly still. Slowly distorting, changing. I felt a ringing in my nerves that vibrated into a cold pain.
I felt something damp on my lips and blinked back into the office. Sarah was in front of me, with red blossoming in her tissue. I checked mine, seeing that it was the same.
And that is why, gentlemen, I am not surprised to see you, or your DoD warrant, or your concealed firearms.”