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Protect 3

I wake up groggily, slowly rubbing my eyes and moaning at the heaviness I feel. That stuff is freakin' awesome. I wish I could sleep this good every night. The nausea isn't as fun, but I know as soon as I eat, I'll be ok. The doctor from last night shows up and checks my vitals. I tell him about what happened last night again, and he writes it down. He assures me he'll have someone check the TV, and that he'll tell my psychiatrist about what I saw so he can help me cope with it. I thank him again and gratefully take the Pepto he's brought for me.
I feel awesome today, I swear. I feel like I got such a good night's sleep, and I'm so happy that someone listened to me and helped me feel better. I've never felt more understood. I head out to my spot by the window, glad to see that it's not too brightly sunny today. An older woman comes over to me and just starts rambling to me about her poor late husband and how she couldn't cope with his death so she tried to kill herself. By now I'm used to people telling me their life's story. I guess I'm just the kind of person that they feel they can trust with secrets. So I listen and nod my head and tell her I'm glad she's getting help because her husband wouldn't want her to hurt herself. She smiles and pats my shoulder before she gets up and just walks away.
So I sit and relax, just daydreaming as I look outside. My psychiatrist said that my constant daydreaming is because of my emotional neglect growing up, but I just think it's because I'm good at keeping myself occupied when there's nothing else to do. Maybe now he'll say my imagination is causing me to see things.
I eventually get called to see said psychiatrist, who I tell about what I saw last night. He assures me it's no doubt a symptom of PTSD from William killing himself. When I tell about having a bit of trouble sleeping, he assigns me a sleepping pill, which I need to take with dinner so that it'll kick in within a few hours. I gratefully take it and thank him, gladly now able to go about how I feel today.
After my session, I go back to the window, and George is already there, offering to teach me chess. I spend the rest of the day enjoying myself while also being frustrated at how difficult chess is for me.

By the time I get back to my room, I've had dinner and taken my pill. I'm already yawning and ready to curl up with Koko for bed. I turn on the TV and shut my light off, cuddling Koko in my arms and yawning once more before I soon fall asleep.

Tap tap tap. Tap tap tap. C'mon, I'm tired. And I was asleep. I can't be hearing things. I rub my eyes and look around my room, seeing nothing but my TV still on. Tap tap tap. Tap tap tap. I turn to the door, seeing no shadow or anything that suggests there's someone there. Maybe it's pipes or something, the hospital just making noise. Or maybe another patient is tapping on the walls. I just yawn and lay back down, trying to fall asleep again.
Tap tap tap. Tap tap tap. Just ignore it, Luna. Just relax.
Tap tap tap. Tap tap tap...Bang! Bang! Bang!
I jump up and look around, my heart picking up. There's still no one in my room. Still no one outside the door.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
It sounds like it's coming from everywhere. But I don't see anything!
Then I feel my blanket moving. I look down and see that...it's being pulled down from the foot of the bed. My breath is coming way too fast as it keeps getting pulled down, until I'm forced to pull my feet up. The blanket falls to the floor. The TV suddenly starts malfunctioning, frizzing and letting out deep and high-pitched buzzes. I cover my ears when it gets louder and louder, until the screen actually shatters, throwing the room into darkness.
I immediately reach out and turn the lights on. I don't see anyone. But...there could be someone under the bed. Breathing hard, I'm not stupid enough to lean down and check, so I grab the phone and call the front desk. "Hello?" a woman asks when she picks up.
"Th-This is Luna, in r-room 220. I think there's someone in here. Someone pulled my blanket down and I'm scared they're under my bed."
"Ok, I'm sending a guard over," she says quickly. "Stay on the line with me."
"Ok."
After several frozen minutes, there's a key in my door, and a guard steps in. He presses his finger to his lips, then crouches down to look under my bed. I cover my gasp with my hand when he comes back up.
"Honey, there's no one there," he tells me.
I wipe tears from my eyes. "But...But somebody pulled my blanket all the way off! A-And I keep hearing tapping and banging! The TV broke! Actually broke!" I shout, pointing at the fractured screen.
He walks all around my room, even checking the bathroom, but he shakes his head. "There's no one in here. Must have been a power surge or something."
"How does a TV screen just shatter like that?!" I cry, hot tears streaming down my cheeks. "And-And how did my blanket get on the floor?! I don't-don't kick!"
He holds up his hands, stepping a little closer so he can pull the blanket up off the floor. He looks it over for some reason, then flaps it out and lays it back down over me. "We'll check the camera, ok? See what happened. Will that make you feel better?"
I nod my head, sniffling and wiping my face. He gives me a soft smile and grabs the box of tissues from my bedside table. "All right. It's ok," he says, handing me a tissue. "We'll try to get you a new TV as soon as we can, 'k? C'mon, let's move you to another room for the night."
I nod my head again, glad for how kind he is. Not all horror stories about being in a pysch ward are true after all. He takes my hand and leads me out and down the hall to an empty room. He checks it for me, making sure there's no one inside, then tucks me in and assures me that I'll be safe. I only really feel safe when he locks the door when he leaves. I turn the TV on and quickly fall back asleep, exhausted from crying.

The next day, I spend much more time with my psychiatrist, telling him about what happened in as much detail as I can. He opens his laptop and shows me the surveillance camera from last night, his face grim. When I see exactly what I described, I break down. I'm not crazy! Something happened! Something I can't really explain!
"Luna, I...I don't know what to say," Dr Glynn says, his face pale.
I wipe my eyes and grip Koko, having brought her with me so she wouldn't be lonely in a room we don't really know that well. "Do you think...Do you think William is haunting me?"
He shuts his laptop and rubs his eyes. "I'm...I'm a skeptic, Luna...but I honestly can't give you an explanation for what I saw. If it showed that you simply kicked off your blanket, I'd say you were simply having a terrible dream. But...even I can see that you're wide awake before this even happens." He shakes his head and sighs. "I honestly...don't know what to say, Luna. Maybe we'll just keep you in this new room and see what happens, ok?"
I nod my head, glad to be out. "Thank you."
So he goes to get my colouring books and other stuff himself. I feel much safer here in this room where no crazy man killed himself. Michelle eventually shows up and has lunch with me, and when I tell her what happened, she rubs my cheek and tells me she's glad I got out of there before I got hurt.
A little bit later, that young cop, Brock, shows up to my room, taking his hat off once again like a gentleman. "Heard you had a rough night," he says, taking a seat next to me. "Are you ok?"
"Would you believe it if I told you my room is haunted by William?" I smirk.
He gives me a look that just screams disbelief. "Sorry, ma'am, but, uh, I don't believe in ghosts."
My smile just gets wider. "You didn't see the tape from last night, then, huh? My psychiatrist is completely stumped. Probably thought I'd made it up if he hadn't seen the tape."
He nods his head. "Well, at least you're out of there." Then he leans forward. "So, we found something in the pictures William drew. There are definitely pictures of you. You're, um, naked in all of them, but I honestly don't know if they're supposed to be sexual or not." He takes out his cell phone and pulls something up before handing it to me.
Pictures of me, drawn with coloured pencils. Yep, I'm naked in all of them, but not accurately. My breasts are smaller than that, and I'm not hairless down there. But every picture has me in a different pose: up on a cross, laid out in a sunny field, standing by a window and watching as it rains, and being chased by black dogs. It's like he couldn't decide if he wanted to kill me or have sex with me.
"So, what did you find exactly?" I ask, handing his phone back to him.
"In some of these pictures with later dates, you can see a black shadow in the background." He scrolls through and shows me a couple of pictures, and sure enough, there's a small black shadow in every background, each one getting closer and closer. "We think he'd definitely been stalking you while you were here. Are you sure you never came into contact with him before?"
I nod my head. "I didn't even know what he looked like."
He licks his lips, putting his phone away. "According to his pyschiatrists, he'd been acting...happier when you arrived. We've seen on security tapes how, if you were out of your room, he'd always be there to watch you. He never took his eyes off of you."
I try to keep my breathing under control, remembering that William's dead. "So...why the hell did he kill himself in front of me?"
He shrugs his shoulders, sighing and scratching at his hair. "We don't know. Everyone is saying he just suffered a psychotic break, and since you were his obsession, he thought it was right to do it in front of you."
I shudder and rub my hands over my face, wishing I could just forget the past few days. "Great. Maybe he wanted to get at me from the afterlife, then, 'cause that's all he's been doing since."
He pauses, licking his lips again. "What...What happened last night?"
I bite my lip, now unsure if I should spread this around. But there's proof, so I can't say I'm lying. "The past couple of nights, I kept hearing tapping, like when he was trying to get my attention. Then, last night, it turned into banging, and something was pulling my blanket off the bed. The TV shattered, like the screen actually shattered! When a guard came in, he didn't find anyone else in the room. So...they moved me to this room whle they're cleaning up the glass, but they think I should stay here and see what happens."
He nods, though I don't think he really believes me. "Well, I hope things get better now that you're in a new room." Then he smiles, his cheeks turning pink. "Think they'll let you out to go to the park next door?"
I tilt my head, curious as to why he's asking. "With an escort, yeah."
And that's how we end up heading down to the small hospital park next door. There are a few little kids out here, and they don't take any notice when I join them on the playground. Brock stands on the ground and watches me with a smile as I climb and hide and giggle when he finds me. And when I go down a slide, he's right at the end to catch me. It feels...good. It's been so long since someone played with me like this. And Brock is deceptively strong and is able to pick me up and swing me around. And he doesn't once hesitate to make a face to make me laugh.
We end up with me on a swing, him behind me to push me. "You feel any better?" he asks me.
"Yeah! A million times better," I smile.
"That's good. You deserve a little break."
"And...you're ok with playing with me? It's not exactly what normal twenty-somethings do."
"Who cares? I mean...as long as it makes you happy and doesn't hurt you or anybody else, then you do what you wanna do."
I hum at that, a little glad that he's understanding of my Littleness. "I just...don't like all the responsibilites of being an adult. Too much for me to take in in such a short time."
"What was happening...before you got in here? I-If you don't mind me asking."
I lick my lips and wonder how much to tell him. "I felt...totally isolated and misunderstood from my family and friends. I just...felt like this alien that was desperately trying to find my place in the world. And...trying to live on my own and pay bills and hold up a job and school and...I just couldn't do it."
He's quiet for a moment, then carefully grabs my hips and slows me down to a stop. I look up when he moves around to stand in front of me. "I won't say I know how you feel, 'cause I don't. I wish I did know, so I could say something...y'know, helpful. But...well, I guess I grew up always knowing my place in the world."
He takes a deep breath and crouches down so he's looking up at me instead. "Nobody...abused you, did they? Your family?"
I shake my head. "Not really. I mean...my mom wasn't good with emotions and...treated my depression and emotions like I was forcing them to get attention."
"Luna, that's emotional abuse," he states simply. "Did she ever neglect you when you were upset?"
I nod my head, swallowing down my emotion. "A few times I cried in front of her and she got mad at me. And, um, when I was having a bad day, she'd just tell me to suck it up and get happy."
He nods his head, his eyes trained on my face. It almost scares me how attentive he is. "Did she...ever blame you for something bad happening?"
I shrug my shoulders at that. "I don't think so. I mean, she'd sometimes say it was my fault that I was in a bad mood, instead of acknowledging that it was because of her."
"Did she prepare you to live on your own?"
I shake my head. "Never taught me anything."
He sighs, hanging his head. "It's no wonder being an adult is so difficult for you. Do you have any siblings?" When I nod, he aks, "Did she ever make you take care of them?"
"Well, babysit, yeah, but she always made me play with my brother when we were younger. I don't remember her ever being there for him emotionally either, so I tried."
"So you had to grow up emotionally quicker than you should've, and because you had no one to help you with your feelings, you became depressed and isolated. And now you're stuck in this...half-child half-adult mindset," he explains, more to himself than me. He looks back up at me with hard eyes. "I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that alone. A parent shouldn't just keep you healthy physically, but emotionally, too."
I flinch when he reaches up, but he just wipes something wet from my cheek. A tear. "I-I'm sorry," I immediately apologize, wiping my eyes.
"Hey, there's nothing wrong with crying," he smiles warmly. "Did you not like crying in front of her?"
I shake my head. "No, never. 'Cause she never did anything, so there was no point."
He sighs again, shaking his head before looking up at me with a soft smile. "Well...I'm glad you're getting help."
My eyebrows knit together. "Why do you care?"
He shrugs his shoulders, his cheeks turning pink again. "Maybe 'cause I'm a cop. And I just think a smile as bright as yours, it would be a crime to take it away."
No one...No one has ever said something like to me. Before I can stop myself, I choke out a sob, then another, and then my vision gets too blurry for me to see. I feel him pull me up and into his arms. He holds me tight and unrelenting, and it's unlike anything I've ever felt. He rocks us slowly, running his hand over my hair and telling me it's all right to cry, that he'll never get angry with me or ignore me when I'm crying.
It may be hours before I finally calm down, hiccuping and still coughing a little, but I feel like the entire world is off my shoulders. Brock rubs between my shoulderblades, easing aches I've had there forever.
"Um, thanks," I mumble. "No one's really..held me while I cried before."
"Don't worry about that, honey." I can't help but smile at the sweet name. But then I can't help but yawn. "It's about time for a nap, huh? Don't you get one everyday?"
I nod my head. "Yeah. 'm tired."
"I don't blame you. C'mon, I'll take you back to your room."
Before I can move, he's moving his arm down and pulling me up into his arms like a princess. "I-I can walk j-just fine," I stutter, but I still wrap my arms around him, afraid I'll fall.
"Don't worry, I won't let you fall," he smiles, easily carrying me back to the hospital.
The guards and nurses give us both a funny look, but most just smile as the policeman takes me back to my room. Seems they've moved more of my books over, and that makes me a little happier, even though I'm about to take a nap. Brock carries me inside and gently lays me down on my bed, pulling the blanket up around me.
"You sleep tight, honey," he tells me softly. "I want you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when I see you next."
I giggle when he tickles me under my chin. "Yessir. Now go away. I can't sleep with you here."
He chuckles at that. "Yes, ma'am. Sweet dreams, hun."
I watch, amused, as he tips his hat to me, and makes his way to the door. But as soon as he's close enough, it slams shut with him on the other side. Something rips my blanket off of me and pushes me flat on my back. Something holds my ankles and wrists down, and then it starts to rip at my clothes. Something is being scratched along the walls, my blanket and pillows being thrown around the room. I can't stop screaming as I try to thrash and pull myself away, my clothes being torn and slashed. Something is banging. Everything is banging. My skin burns as something I can't see or touch scratches at my legs and arms and stomach.
Suddenly, everything stops, and I scramble off the bed just as the door bursts open. Brock rushes over to me, his hat gone. He tosses his gun down as he pulls me into his arms. "Luna! Luna, are you ok? Oh, God, what happened?" he asks in hysterics.
A nurse and doctor rush in behind him, gasping as they look around at the mess. My pillow and blanket are torn to shreds, there are scratches all over the walls, the TV is hanging haphazardly on its harness, and not only are my clothes haning off of me in loose shreds, but I'm covered in bloody scratches.
I thought I was safe. I thought I was safe. I'm not safe anywhere.
part three!!
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