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The Bells

The clouds above New Babbage were painted orange as the sun was setting on the last day of September, already the days were growing shorter and colder. The evidence of this was on every clock in the city, including the asylum’s which struck the hour and was followed by a chorus of bells.

The sound carried to the black cat who was crouching on a bridge to the north.  The cat was overwhelmed by the transformation the facility had over-gone since he had been forced to flee from it, pursued by metal clockworks and individuals swayed by Dr. Dinosaur.

While he did like the changes made to the exterior that he could see, Arnold approached the reconstructed asylum nervously.  This would be the first time he had met with the forewoman since she and her crew had turned on him.  He couldn’t help but bare his teeth at Beatrixe Rouse when she greeted him jovially outside.  

She didn’t appear to notice his demeanor as she gestured to the building behind her triumphantly,  “You’re going to love the changes I’ve made!”  She ran inside excited, but he didn’t follow her immediately.  He took his time, sniffing around every corner before he dared follow.  

Once he finally did enter the building he gasped in shock.  Where once there had been white walls meant to calm the patients and keep them from hurting themselves there was now harsh metal.  There were other changes as well…iron cages placed in strategic locations, chair restraints, and a ‘maximum security’ area were just a few.

Arnold felt torn about some of these changes, while others he despised.  The chair restraints and iron cages would be removed as soon as he could manage it…but he liked the new roof and bell tower.   At least he did till he found out they were set to sound off every fifteen minutes.

They fled from the bell tower, clutching their sensitive ears and getting back to the first floor where the sound was much more tolerable.  

The two took a moment to recover, and then Arnold rounded on her angrily, “I want it so that the bells sound every three or six hours, or just every hour if you can’t manage better.” He had no idea how much work that would cause her, but it needed to be done.  Even if the bells were more tolerable downstairs the frequency would still drive the inmates into even worse mental states.  

She nodded along and saluted him before she took out a napkin from her pocket and began to scribble on it furiously on the floor.  Staring down at her while she worked he wondered if she even remembered attacking him anymore.  He asked her what she remembered about that day in July and she stopped and then looked at him blinking.

“The last time I saw you…”  She seemed to think for a moment and then looked even more confused, “I don’t remember it very well.  I think we were all going to have a party or a cookout…but then we didn’t.”

Arnold nodded to himself and turned away again.  She had almost no memory of her involvement in the events or being affected.  That confirmed for him that if Mr. Harvey had burned down his own hospital he’d have little to no memory of doing so either.  It wasn’t confirmation, but at this point he had come to a decision.  He would blame everything that went wrong in those months on Dr. Dinosaur and spare everyone else his ire.  

He yelled back at Beatrixe irritably, “Just fix the bells.”  

…well most of his ire.

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