“Gloria Rose,” the mid-20s woman answered the clerk behind the tempered glass. The heavyset clerk in loose pink scrubs nodded and typed the name into his computer. Gloria heard the security gate open and turned to find a pair of officers coming through the narrow hall toward her. Gloria tried not to use her abilities on everyone; she had no interest in what the clerk’s life was like. However, she didn’t need her powers to notice the officers seemed extremely uneasy. Curiosity got the better of her and she gave them a quick scan as they walked past behind her.
She suddenly felt thousands of creepy things crawling on the back of her neck and down her spine. Despite trying to be prepared for anything, the feeling was so intense from both of them that she gave a violent shiver at the sensation. Luckily the clerk was still staring at his monitor, and the officers were in a hurry to leave. No one saw her flail her arms as the crawling sensation washed over her.
Gloria rarely felt sensations that strong. The mental scars she feels are strongest the moment they’re created before the victim has time to process them. Whatever scarred the officers permanently happened within the last hour at most.
“Interesting day so far?” Gloria asked the clerk when he finally turned around to give her an I.D. tag. He nodded then leaned closer to the speaker grill in the glass.
“If I were you, I’d pick a different day to volunteer,” he tilted his balding head in the direction of the policemen. “That’s the second pair, first guys that came in ran away screaming. Literally,” he chuckled.
“What happened?” Gloria asked. The clerk shrugged.
“I don’t ask, and I’m not important enough to be in the loop. But whatever it is, it got the attention of some corporate bigshot named Dana Sharp.”
“Who’s that?” she asked. The clerk shook his head and smiled.
“No idea. I’d never heard of her but apparently she bought this place,” he spread his arms to gesture at the asylum as a whole. “We got the word an hour ago, and she just came in about 10 minutes before you.”
“Is she still here?” Gloria perked up. She’d never heard of the woman, but she was very curious about what happened and what kind of person can buy an asylum with ease.
“You’re going in aren’t you?” the clerk gave her an amused grin. She nodded eagerly, her light green curls bounced with the motion. “She’s easy to spot; look for the beautiful woman in a white suit. Good luck.”
Gloria nodded with a smile and took the I.D. badge. As she walked through the narrow corridor to the security gate, two people appeared at the other end behind it. A short, pale woman in a black suit walked out of the gate next to an equally short, mousey man with neat dark hair and glasses.
“Everything’ll be fine Mr. Ragno,” Gloria heard the woman say before she scanned either of them. She did not intend to, but because of her powers, she always knows when someone is lying. Lies leave their own kind of mental scar. She definitely lied to him, and was used to lying; Gloria wanted to know why. She also realized it would be a bad idea to scan both of them at the same time. She wanted to avoid flailing around again, if possible. Gloria slowed her steps and focused on the woman as she passed.
Gloria was ready for more creepy crawling on her neck. She was ready for any manner of unforgettable tortures and atrocities she had helped others through. She was not ready to feel the warm embrace of pure love to wrap itself around her mind. The feeling grew warmer as Gloria dug deeper and found worse and worse mental scars.
Gloria had seen something similar dozens of times. She often encouraged the use of love to help recover from traumas, but this felt different. In the brief moments they took to pass each other, Gloria got the sense that the woman didn’t use love to heal herself. She endured horrors that Gloria could not fathom because of love.
She sensed hundreds, maybe thousands of troubles that would have broken anyone else. She wore her love like a suit of armor that was defense as much as it was a container to hold her pieces together. It was so pure, faithful, and dutiful that Gloria felt twinges of jealousy as the pair walked out of her range. She didn’t learn any more about the lie other than the woman lied for love. Gloria shook her head as she walked through the security gate.
“I’d kill for someone to love me like that,” she mumbled under her breath. She had been so distracted that she didn’t see Dana Sharp until she bumped into the tall, pale woman.
“Sorry!” Gloria immediately apologized, then she noticed the woman’s crisp white suit. Ms. Sharp looked at Gloria and gave her a polite smile.
“That’s quite alright,” she said. “And, believe me,” she winked “I’m very lucky to be married to her.”
“Oh, so you’re the one that made her eyes sparkle like that,” Gloria tried to cover for what Ms. Sharp heard. “They were filled with love.” She enjoyed the warm, loving sensation enough to want to experience it again; and here was the other half of the couple. Gloria eagerly dived into the woman’s psyche.
She was not embraced with warm love. She was not embraced by anything. No love, no mental traumas, no happy memories. Nothing.
When Gloria first discovered her abilities she tested it on various animals and inanimate objects. One time she happened to be focusing on a cat that was hit by a car. She suffered through the trauma with the cat so that it wouldn’t die alone, and she felt the moment its soul left its body. Once the soul was gone, the cat’s corpse became a blank, empty shell.
Exactly like Dana Sharp.