The inspector asked the same questions every time. In fact, he very seldom seemed to change himself either. He brought the same damp, dusty overcoat; the same damp, dusty smell that hung around the room; the same unwavering look; even the same briefcase. Every session it sat at his feet like a faithful leather pet, its hinges squealing when he opened it and rustled and crinkled papers in front of Aubrey. Sometimes they were the same but the good inspector appeared to have an arsenal of important documents to flash at him so they provided some relief from the monotony.
It occurred to Aubrey as Inspector Ilmauzer sat himself down at his bedside for the seventh or eighth time that the short time he was conscious in was mostly spent with this man. The rest was drifting in and out of hysteria and being incapacitated. He considered it a good day when he didn’t have a foul, chemical taste in his mouth. The sudden swings between hysteria and complete boredom surprised him; even put him on edge a little when he wasn’t too drugged up.
“Doctor, I’m going to ask you some questions.”
The same stiff formalism as ever. As he watched him shuffling through paperwork, Aubrey noted that the good inspector would much rather be smashing his face into a table and screaming the questions at him. His nose was still sore from the last time they had been alone. Of course, they had quickly decided that he was far too “damaged” for normal questioning and had put him in the precinct medical bay.
And then they came. One after the other like little needles in his side, tranquilising him and drawing him deeper and deeper into a kind of self-induced torpor. He had grown so used to the questions that he now knew when to nod or shake his head in reply without ever having to listen to him.
Ilmauzer sighed and put the file down. “You’re not focusing, Aubrey,” he said sharply, making the younger vampire jump, “This interrogation means absolutely bloody nothing to you. I’m wasting time. I’ll cut straight to the point.”
The man frowned at his indifference. He lowered his tone and leant in, putting his face close to his. “Aubrey, we can be civil. You have something I want and I can help you.”
Aubrey flinched away from him, “I know.”
“Then we can help each other,” he said, “Tell me where those documents are. I’ll make your charges go away.”
“This conversation is giving me terrible déjà vu, inspector,” said Aubrey, turning his head away from him and lowering his gaze. He didn’t like to be so close. “I thought I had already expressed my disinterest in assisting a corrupt officer of the law.”
“Helping a murderer isn’t doing me much good either, doctor,” Ilmauzer rejoined, not missing a beat, “But I’m doing it anyway.”
There was a long silence. Ilmauzer watched him carefully, eyes flicking up and down the young man as if scanning him, memorising him. Aubrey was still painfully thin- his wrists looked like they could snap with the lightest touch and his face was drawn and white and martyred. He could easily be broken.
Ilmauzer tried again. “You left them with the ragman, didn’t you?” he said, inspecting his face for a response, “Tell me where he is and I’ll let you go.”
“Only if you swear not to touch him. And his name is Verges. Verges.” There was something more defiant in Aubrey’s voice this time.
“I can’t do that, you know that,” he said matter-of-factly, “It’s cruelty to make a ragman let alone keep him- and highly illegal. He’s barely even human and only just alive.”
The doctor closed his eyes. “Couldn’t one say the same about the two of us?”
Again, Ilmauzer was the first to break it. “You’re not co-operating. Fine. But I gave you fair warning.” He sat back in his chair and crossed his arms. “I’m having you transferred.”
For the first time, Aubrey looked up, startled. “Transferred? To where? Why? I should be going to jail.”
“Oh no. I convinced them that you were unstable when you killed your sire- it happens a lot, you know,” he said, voice as nonchalant as if he were talking about the weather, “So, they’re moving you to another facility.”
“Facility?” Aubrey echoed weakly.
“An asylum. It specialises in your kind, Aubrey- confused fledglings. Frightened children. People so trapped they have no where else to turn. You’ll be safe there,” he paused, and then added, “And I will be able to keep an eye on you.”
Aubrey felt all the blood drain from his face and realised that he was shivering. An asylum? That wasn’t possible. That wasn’t fair. Words in his mind were fully-formed but failed at his lips, culminating in soundless mouthing of the same word over and over.
Ilmauzer smiled grimly. “Yes, Aubrey,” he insisted, “You’re not getting away. Did you think it would be so easy? That you could just run off to a distant jail, serve a decade or two and run away? That this was it? Don’t be so stupid- you’re not going anywhere unless I have those documents. And I swear to God, Aubrey, I will keep you in that asylum until I do,” he hissed, eyes not leaving his for a second. He drank in the young man’s fear, not revelling in it but certainly taking it with a sense of satisfaction.
He shook his head furiously. No, no, no. This couldn’t be happening. In an instant, all of his carefully laid plans seemed to fall away. He was protected in a jail and could bear the sentence- you didn’t argue with a sentence either. You served it and then could fade away into obscurity if you so desired. In an asylum the inspector had him completely at his control. Aubrey knew of what went on in some of them and he knew without a doubt that years of that kind of torture would destroy him. And then… and then he would break down and tell him everything. Give up Verges. Betray him.
“… oh God…”
“God has very little say here, Aubrey,” Ilmauzer said quietly and got to his feet. He cast one last look at him before nodding and turning away. “Good day, doctor. I suppose the next time we talk will be at the institute.”
This time, words didn’t fail him. “No! No, please, don’t do this! You can’t! No!” he gasped, finding his voice raising with every syllable until he was nearly shrieking, “Please God, don’t! I’m guilty! Guilty! I killed him in cold blood! Send me to jail! Execute me! Please!”
Ilmauzer was unmoved. “Medic,” he called calmly, “Your patient is having another of his episodes- I suggest you sedate him until we have moved him.”
“You bastard!” Aubrey screamed, “You bastard, you can’t do this! Please don’t do this to me!”
The inspector shook his head and, without a second glance, left as Aubrey’s cries where drowned out by a gaggle of white-clad men and a smothering of chloroform.