Author: A. Magiluna Stormwriter, aka ariestess
Character: Alexis Barnes
Fandom: The Sentinel
Date Written: 14-15 July 2008
Series: Light, Water, Muses
Word Count: 1756
Written For: femgenficathon
Prompt: 117. Our biggest problem as human beings is not knowing that we don't know. -- Virginia Satir.
Summary: A glimpse into the mind of Alexis Barnes, asylum patient.
Spoilers: Post-series AU.
Website: ShatterStorm Productions – Light, Water, Muses
Archive: ShatterStorm Productions & femgenficathon ONLY …all others ask for permission & we'll see…
Disclaimer: "The Sentinel", the characters, and situations depicted are the property of Paramount Television, Pet Fly Productions, and United Paramount Network (UPN). This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. This site is in no way affiliated with "The Sentinel", Paramount Television, or any representative of the actors.
Author's Notes: I've always been curious about what happened to Alex Barnes after she friend out her synapses in that temple in Peru. In bringing her into LWM, shatterpath and I have found a way to resurrect this character and give her more of a life. She's truly a fascinating person to write for…
The title comes from the last line (Welcome in The Quietude) of "The Quietude (encuentro De Animales)", off the Manhattan Transfer CD Offbeat of Avenues (1992). I kept hearing this one line repeating in my head while I was writing this, despite actually listening to a lot of heavy metal and classic rock. And the line made sense for Alexis, being so trapped in her own mind as she was.
Dedication: to my muses, as always, for giving me something meaty to chew on…
Beta: shatterpath, as usual…
By A. Magiluna Stormwriter
Look at her, such a pathetic thing.
If you were someone else, you could look in through the observation window to see what should be an orderly room… on the surface. Closer inspection would reveal subtle differences: the walls are too white; the surfaces are too clean; the whole of it is too aesthetically sterile. Except for the bed: the frame stands on its end in the corner, bared of anything resembling comfort; the bedding and mattress are heaped up into a little cocoon in the opposite corner, allowing its occupant unhindered view of the door.
It would simply look like the room of a paranoid delusional patient.
Think of all the help she'll get here.
If you were a sane, rational person looking in from the safety of the outside.
But you're not sane or rational. Not anymore. Not since Peru. You want to blame it all on Blair Sandberg for introducing you to both Jim Ellison and the whole Sentinel thing. For making you try to kill Sandberg as the threat he was to you. For making you go to that God forsaken jungle, which led you to this damned asylum.
They don't even let you have any drawing supplies. Too dangerous, they say, because they think you no longer understand. And sometimes you don't. Especially when the drugs are too strong. And even then, you have to wonder what could be so dangerous about paper and children's crayons.
She's a raving lunatic. Thinks she can get outta here if she paints pretty little pictures.
But they wouldn't tell you, even if you asked them. You mean nothing to them, as long as you're drugged to the gills. Pliant and easily malleable to what they want you to be. They talk about you as if you're not even there. But you've heard every single word said anywhere near you. The room's not soundproofed, and they're not smart enough to know when you're faking sleep. They learned the hard way early on what could happen if they let the drugs wear off completely. They still haven't learned to watch what they say around you yet.
Crazy psycho bitch tried to kill me! Maybe she should just hang herself with those sheets and put us all out of her misery. Waste of the taxpayers' money, whether she's here or in prison.
But they never understand why. Not then, and not now. As long as you're complacently good, they leave you alone. Relatively. There are still the ones that complain about the cameras in the rooms. Those are the dangerous ones, the ones that truly keep you in your safe cocoon. If they had their way, they'd drug you so deeply, you couldn't fight back when they have their way with you… or kill you. Without the cameras, it would be their word against yours. And who would believe the rantings of a clinically insane woman?
Thankfully, they don't tamper with your corner. The food is left on the table by the door, same as your bedding and clothes. You learned early on when your therapy sessions would be; the food was drugged, especially after you'd attacked that one orderly who reminded you of Jim Ellison. Since then, they keep away from you. Or send in the women who know how to treat you at least nominally like a human being.
I ain't cleaning her room. Probably shits in that nest of hers. And probably eats it, too. Never leaves that damned thing unless she's forced to.
They don't understand what keeps you in the safety of your corner nest. They don't know what this room does to you. They don't see the garish trails of its former tenants on this room's walls. Lurid red-brown and yellow stains marring what everyone else sees as pristine white walls. Words of fear, of loathing, of hope, of death. Each one tells a story that you wish you couldn't see. A few coats of paint can't cover the history in this room. The only safe spot is the corner you've sequestered yourself in; for whatever reason, there's nothing of the stench of humanity's psychotic dregs in this one spot. It's almost as if they knew you were going to be here, that you needed this place to call your own.
And you're not even including the smells, the sounds… the ghosts. Oh yes, the ghosts. Some of them even help to shelter you in your safe nest. But not many of them. You'd thought Jim Ellison was insane when he'd mentioned the ghosts while you were in that temple in Peru. And then you wound up here and found yourself the object of much speculation by people who'd died in this very room. Of course, the fact that you joined the conversations didn't help bring you any semblance of understanding from the staff.
She thinks she can get off easier if everyone thinks she's got multiple personalities. That's why she talks to herself like that. Ain't that what all them cold-blooded killers do to get time in a psycho ward instead of prison?
If you'd known back in Sierra Verde what you know now, you'd have knocked Sandberg out cold, taken his wallet, and gotten the hell out of there. But no, you weren't that lucky, were you? You were taken in by his boyish charm and his fascinating information about the Sentinels. There was something else about it, something familiar and dangerous at the same time. It wasn't until you met Jim Ellison that you understood what it was about Sandberg that drew you to him. And then it was too damned late.
The rational part of your mind tried to stop yourself from drowning him. But that part of you just couldn't overcome the primal side that really saw him as a threat to what you wanted. No matter what else you'd been in your life, you'd never been a killer. Not before that fateful day.
I heard she took off for South America to escape the cops after she killed that guy. And when they caught up with her, she'd created this whole insanity thing to get outta going on Death Row.
Finding the temple had been a blessing and a curse. So many things suddenly made sense to you, practically from the minute you stepped into the cool, musty room. The pools drew your attention first, never really left your thoughts the entire time you were there. You'd wasted no time in slipping into the surprisingly cool, comfortable water, never once questioning how it got there or what it was actually for.
Whatever you'd expected to get from immersing yourself in that water, you certainly didn't consider the silence. The moment you slipped beneath the cool liquid's surface, all of the noise in your head went away. It was perhaps the single most exquisite moment in your entire life. That perfect, calm stillness surrounded you like the softest of down wrapped in silk. You never wanted to leave.
And then they'd shown up. They couldn't leave well enough alone, could they? You finally found peace in your life, and they wanted to take it away from you. You'd attempted mating with Ellison. Now you can blame that on the jaguar, on the tranquility of the temple's water, on hormones, on your desire to be alone. Okay, you don't know what to blame it on, but you know that if you'd mated with him, he'd go away and leave you to your solitude.
I heard she was in solitary confinement out in California for a while. Wonder if she holed up there like she does here?
In the end, you lost your solitude, your equilibrium. All of your senses were dialed up so high, too high, and nothing you did would stop the endless feedback loop in your head. Sandberg had called it a zone out, but that's so wrong. You couldn't zone out. You couldn't even stop the sensations. So many stimuli battering at your senses until you couldn't even hear yourself scream. The cacophony was enough to tear your psyche to shreds. Even going back into the pool wasn't enough to stop it.
You have vague recollections of looking up at them, at the temple as it shrank from your site. You wanted to go back inside more than anything; the sunlight was blinding you, the sounds of the jungle deafening. But you weren't able to move, to speak, as they took you away from the one place you'd felt like you belonged.
The next thing you were consciously aware of was this asylum. Nothing was familiar or safe to you. You knew no one. You were even more alone than the time you spent in solitary confinement. That had ended. This will never end, not until you finally die. Then you can become one of the ghosts that haunt this room. Maybe, if you're lucky, you'll escape as a ghost and go haunt Ellison for a while. That would be just desserts, wouldn't it? It's his fault you lost your sanity and your life. Why shouldn't you ruin his?
You sure you don't want me to go in there with you? She's a dangerous psycho, ma'am. Is she fit for travel? Ma'am, you don't wanna take her outta here. She ain't stable.
You must be getting a new therapist. No one else comes in to see you anymore. You curl up tighter in your cocoon, cautiously sniffing the air. The tang of gunpowder and desert wind assaults your senses. Feeling bold, you take in another lungful of air, tasting unlit tobacco, mint, and cucumber.
The ghosts are hushed for the first time in a long time, and there's an air of anticipation and curiosity in the room. As the door opens, the gross extent of sensual assault eases and your senses are filled with the newness of the woman walking in. She feels safe.
There's something about this woman. Something that you know will protect you for the first time in a long time. But when have you ever been right about judging other people? Not since you were left in solitary confinement. Nothing's been the same in your life since then.
But if she can get you out of this hellhole of an asylum, maybe she can help you find the safe contentment you found in the cool, silky water of a pool in a temple in a jungle in Peru.
If you don't take this chance, will you ever know sanity again?