Brida's voice was dead, and her eyes vacantly scanned the contents of her cell. In one hand, she held a small, worn bag, which contained the few belongings she could actually claim for her own. A hair comb. A note from her mother. A small gemstone that had been passed down through the generations, given to her by her father. A rag doll with black button eyes and brown yarn for hair, the only doll she'd ever owned. All these things had been locked away in the warden's office, and it was the first time Brida had seen them, since she had arrived at the asylum.

The warden rapped gently on the wall beside Brida's open cell. Vaguely, Brida heard the knocking. It sounded like a death knoll. Once, twice, three times. Only when the warden called out softly, "Brida?" did she jolt herself to the present.

"Brida, it's time for you to say goodbye."

Brida's voice was dead, as though someone had reached into her throat and pulled out any ability to speak. Tongue moving in vain, she tried to form words, but she found she was unable to do anything but let her eyes rest in a comfortable stare on the wall ahead of her.

I should be feeling something. I should be feeling something about this - anything! Why do I feel so numb?

"Brida, please, it's time to go now. Bring your belongings, and we'll head out. Is there anyone you want to say goodbye to?"

Something welled within Brida, a roiling emotion that she could not name. Feeling the emotion at the tips of her fingers and the pit of her stomach, she turned to face the warden. "Shale," she said, and the rich, throaty sound of her strained voice brought her back to her senses. "I want to say goodbye to Shale." Before you take me to my "adoptive family." Before you tear me away from the only person who actually meant something to me. Before you take me away from this place that I hate but that makes me feel safe, I want to say goodbye to Shale.

"That can be arranged," the warden replied, clearly thankful that Brida had broken from her silent reverie. "Come this way; you can say goodbye to your friend."

The emotion singed Brida's mind and tickled her heart. It would only be a matter of time before it broke loose and hailed hell. But until then, Brida would have to bide her time. She would only let the fire fall when it was an appropriate time.

She had not discussed it with Shale, but it was her only choice left. Either burn the asylum and free Shale, or let her hope of a future be the one to go up in flames. And it would not be the latter.

The End

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