RP Paradise- The Good Doctor

Brightheart Corp

New member

The path back to the compound was well maintained. It should be, after so many years of cars driving back and forth, after so many feet had trampled the grass beneath them as they walked it. It was clear, and the trees still had that look of being freshly trimmed. As Dr. Emily Russo parked her car by the entrance, she smiled and hummed to herself. She was on her way to visit several special children, children who she had only just gotten permission again to see.

It had taken weeks to get the right authorization, and she’d had to play it off as “uncontrolled experimentation”. The idea that they could examine how the children did outside a lab experiment now that they had given them all the tools necessary for survival. That, the CEO had bought, hook, line, and sinker. It was a good thing too, because Emily wouldn’t have gone without the proper authorization. She hadn’t come this far, becoming the Principal Investigator for the company, only to throw it away.

Even if it was for Lyle.

The small woman hummed as she walked the path, A bag slung over her shoulder. Inside were her note-taking gear, as well as several small kits meant for samples. Hopefully, all three of the children would consent, but she knew she’d get Lyle at least. She and Lyle had a special bond that she knew she could continue to utilize. After all, he was just a child.

Children didn’t know better.

She smiled wide as she saw the facility. And she smiled even wider when she saw that the doors were back in place. So they were taking care of the place, or at least making it liveable. Which meant they had intentions of staying there long-term. That made sense. It was the only home that most of them had ever known. Emily sighed happily and walked right up to the front door.

She tested the handle. It was unlocked. Of course, it was unlocked. They were children, even if they were strong children. She let herself in, coming into the entry hall. There, she stopped and called out, “Is anyone home?”

Arlo Baker was finally getting used to things. Not just Arlo. Arlo Baker. That’s what the files they’d found in the main office said. Mary and Lyle had picked different names. Well, Mary had helped Lyle pick a different name after they found their files. After Mary found Lyle’s father on the internet just by googling his name. But Arlo’s name brought up a missing person. Family who missed him, family he’d go back to, one day.

Mary didn’t say why she changed her name. She was the oldest of all the survivors, and nobody really thought to question her. He understood about Lyle, though, even if he didn’t like the… kid. As much as Mary insisted Lyle was just a kid like them, Arlo had trouble reconciling that with the monster that shared their home. And this was their home. It wasn’t that he was ungrateful for Lyle’s part in getting them all out of there. Even if this was all of their home now because of him, Arlo couldn’t get the image of what these halls looked like while they ran through. How many of the other children had disappeared. How he’d been picked to feed the skinny little monster, twice, and had to come close to killing him to make him stop the first time.

He didn’t know if he regretted not doing it. He knew that was what the doctors wanted, and deep down, he knew there was something in him that wanted it, too. But he remembered the look on the kid’s bony face. The fear as he curled up, waiting for the end. And Arlo knew he couldn’t do it then.

Hopefully, he wouldn’t have to do it now. Lyle wasn’t Lyle anymore. He was Adam now, and Mary was Eve. They’d been the ones to turn this place from a prison to a safe haven, Mary by planning it, Lyle by doing what had to be done, what his instincts told him to do. Arlo had helped set things in motion, but it was Mary’s plan with Lyle as the main instrument, so he was willing to step back and let them take the spotlight.

And honestly? It was going better than he thought. The little kids, the ones who hadn’t lost friends to experiments with Lyle, they seemed to love him. And while Arlo was still hesitant, he couldn’t argue when Mary pointed out that he seemed to care about them, too. Two in particular from that truck of kids that came in after they took over – Coby and Laura, 7 years and 9 years old – followed him around like little ducks. It’d be cute if it didn’t make Arlo so nervous.

Their childish loyalty meant that when Lyle – Adam – was away to hunt, since he wasn’t allowed to do that in the facility anymore, the inseparable pair needed to find someone else to pester. With Mary – Eve – busy with cleaning and reorganizing the place, Arlo was usually the target as he did his rounds of clearing rubble and wrangling little kids.

He closed the door quietly behind him. Coby was taking a nap in one corner of an old office apart from the other kids so he wasn’t overstimulated, while Laura was set up in the other corner with paints. She’d told Arlo that she used to use paints to keep her hands busy so she didn’t have to wear her gloves all the time. Lyle had argued that maybe she didn’t need to keep her gloves on all the time, anyway, but Mary had said the paints were a good idea. Even Lyle respected Mary’s last say on things.

Arlo would stay in earshot in case they needed anything, but maybe now he could get some other work done. Now that the front entrances were clear and completely clean, he needed to replace the lock on the front doors. He, Mary, and Lyle would all get keys to come and go, but after Helen got lost in the woods and Lyle had to go and bring her back, they’d all agreed it needed to be the next main project.

He picked up the toolbox he’d found in a maintenance closet, and the grocery bag from the hardware store in Chula Vista. He’d be right down the hall, and maybe he’d see Adam come back for the day. As much as he didn’t like seeing the end results of their resident monster’s hunts, he much preferred knowing when Adam was back on the premises so that he could keep the kids away from where the predator was hibernating.

He never thought he’d find something worse than a bloodstained Lyle in the doorway, but even as he came around the corner, he was met by a voice that set every hair on his body on end.

His voice dropped an octave to growl, “Dr. Russo.”

There she was, confident as if she still owned the place. On the spot, Arlo’s expression had changed to open hostility, his eyes cold and his shoulders squared. His fingers wrapped around the toolbox handle, and he felt the metal start to creak under the pressure. There was absolutely no reason why she should be standing there. Absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t charge in and break her before she could hurt anyone here.

He remembered Lyle’s face, scared and then bloodied, and swallowed hard.

“Leave. Right now.”

The doctor smiled when she saw the biggest of the three kids she was there to see step into the entrance hall. It would be Arlo that she ran into first. The one she’d least likely be able to talk to and breakthrough with her point. Keeping her smile, she gave a small huff of a sigh and tilted her head at him as she looked him over.

He looked good. His hair was grown out, and he was wearing civilian clothing. He had bulked up in a way that made him far more physically imposing than he had ever been before. Though she could see now, that anger that had made him such a good test subject. It was boiling just under his skin in a way it never had a chance to when he was one of her subjects. That was an interesting effect of being “free”.

“Arlo. It’s good to see you too. Are Lyle and Mary around? I was hoping to speak to all of you at the same time. After all, I’ve come a long way to be here right now. They moved me all the way up to the Los Angeles lab. It took a lot of convincing for them to allow me to come back here.”

There was something in her voice, and in the way she fluffed her short brown hair, that conveyed how unseriously she was taking Arlo in that very moment. Her equally brown eyes flashed behind her glasses as she looked up at him with a smile. She pushed her thin black glasses back into place, flashing the patches of paler skin on her hand. She was confident he wouldn’t hurt her. Especially not if Mary was anywhere around. She would know better than to allow any harm to come to Emily.​

The metal of the toolbox groaned again as Arlo’s fingers tightened around it. He wanted to swing it hard, to send her to the ground and make sure she’d never bother any of them again. There were little kids here. Mary wasn’t going to be able to do this. In fact, Mary was going to want to talk to her to make her go away. But Lyle…

Killing her would be Lyle’s first choice. As much as Arlo wanted to, that realization made him relax his hand around the handle of the toolbox. They couldn’t all be like that. And there were little kids down the hall. He wouldn’t let them see what he could do with his strength. It was for rebuilding, for carrying them. It wasn’t for killing. No more. No more killing.

He set the box on the ground.

“Lyle and Mary aren’t around anymore,” he said, his voice still solid and heavy. It wasn’t a real lie, he tried to convince himself. They weren’t Lyle and Mary anymore. “Anything you need to talk about you can tell me.”

Maybe it was out of place. Maybe it was out of line. But with Laura and Coby so close, he didn’t want to leave Dr. Russo alone now that he knew she was here. Not even to find Ma- Eve, who’d have better answers to any questions, who’d have a solution. She always seemed to have a solution. But Arlo was the one here, and he needed to make a decision. Maybe, just maybe, he could keep Emily here until Lyle came back. Maybe he wouldn’t know what to do, but he’d definitely do something.

Right. So Arlo just needed to stand and listen, buy time until then. He could do that. He’d spent lots of time just standing and listening and pretending to understand while he made other plans. He could spend a few more minutes.