I kill the next couple of hours mentally trying out various methods of arresting Ichabot. The hazmat suit remains the most reasonable of them, but far from the most entertaining. The method that takes that prize is the one where we lob knockout gas into the room, drag him into a hermetically sealed cell while he’s unconscious, and interrogate him via a camera-and-microphone setup once he wakes up. I admit that getting canisters of knockout gas might be difficult, but Doc Simmons just told me two days ago that the hospital didn’t have any sort of tranquilizer gun, so I’m improvising.
As the morning wears on and I’m still in the cell, though, I start to get antsy. The drunks are all released one by one as they wake up, so my accommodations do improve slightly as the morning goes on. This is especially true after a janitor arrives to swab the vomit off of the bench and floor. Nevertheless, I’d still like to know things like when I’m getting out of here, or what I’m being charged with. Failing that, I’d at least like some breakfast.
“Hey!” I call to a random police officer I can see walking by. He ignores me, but I persist. “Hey, do I get any food?”
He keeps walking without any sort of acknowledgement, so I try again. “Can I get some water, at least? Hey!”
There’s still no visible response, but a minute or so later another officer approaches with a plastic cup of water.
“Step away from the bars,” he tells me, and I do. He puts the cup down in front of the cell and retreats several steps, then gestures to it. I squeeze the cup through the bars. The cheap plastic cracks as I do, and the cup starts dribbling water immediately, so I drink the entire cup at one go.
“Put the cup back through the bars, then step back again,” instructs the officer, and I do that, too. He picks up the broken cup and turns to leave.
“Hey, is my lawyer coming? When am I getting out of here?” I ask, but the only response I get is his back turned to me. They don’t seem big on answering questions around here.
It’s possible that this is a “squeaky wheel gets the grease” situation. Right now, they’re successfully ignoring me, so perhaps I should raise the difficulty level on that. They already think I’m deranged, so they can hardly expect me to act normally, right?
Then again, it might not be the best idea to play into that impression. But being polite hasn’t gotten me anything so far, so it couldn’t really make things worse. Or could it? There could be worse things happening to me than “nothing.” Nothing good is happening to me right now, but nothing bad is, either. Maybe I should accept the neutral state.
I’m still debating this internally when the female officer from earlier unlocks the door to the holding cell and waves me out. She’s accompanied by a trim, balding man in a tailored suit. He looks to be about my age, has a professionally courteous smile and is carrying a briefcase. Seems fair to assume that he’s my lawyer.
“Dan Everton?” he asks as I step into the hallway.
“That’s him,” confirms the officer before I can speak.
“That’s me,” I say anyway, not to be left out.
“Brayden McMannis, hi,” he says, shaking my hand. “I’m here to represent you.”
The officer leads us down the hall toward where I made my phone call, but opens a door before we get there and motions us inside the small room. It has a table, two folding chairs, and no windows. Honestly, the holding cell was a bit more hospitable.
“Thank you, Erica,” says Brayden, and she smiles at him in response before shutting us in.
“Okay, let’s talk about these charges against you,” says Brayden, sitting down casually in one of the chairs. I sit across from him, but these chairs are anything but comfortable. I don’t know how he manages to look so relaxed, especially in a suit.
“Yeah, so,” I say. “I don’t actually know what the charges are.”
He raises his eyebrows. “They haven’t told you?”
“They have not.”
He opens his briefcase, takes out a yellow legal pad, and makes a note. “That’s unusual. And you’ve been here since when?”
“Probably about eight o’clock this morning?”
“Hm. All right, well, let’s see.” He pulls out a printout and begins reading. “It’s a decent list, but the broad categories are: breaking and entering, assault, battery, destruction of private property, stalking, resisting arrest and terrorism.”
I’m shuffling through events in my head as he lists the charges, mentally matching each one up to what actually happened to prepare a defense, but the last one catches me totally off guard. “Terrorism?”
“Yes, the lab you broke into — Rossum? — there’s some concern that due to some of the cultures they work with, you might have been trying to steal weaponized viruses or other dangerous biological material.”
“Dude, that’s ridiculous. I had no idea they had anything like that there.”
“How about the other charges?”
“I mean, they’re ridiculous, too! But like, at least they’re the kind where I can say, ‘Yeah, but here’s what really happened.’ Terrorism? That’s nuts.”
I see an expression I can’t interpret flit across his face for a split second. “Which brings us to an interesting point. Dr. Argute has taken out a restraining order against you.”
“He’s got one against me? Wow, that’s rich. Also, fast! How’d he get that done so quickly?”
“I suspect he pressed the terrorism angle. You’re ordered to stay away from him and all Rossum properties.”
“You’re not worried about this?”
“It’s no more ridiculous than everything else here. We’ll get it all cleared up at the same time.”
“You keep saying ‘ridiculous.’ Why do you think this whole thing is so ridiculous?”
“Because it is, that’s why! Peterson — Officer Peterson — asked me to come with him this morning so that we could look into suspicious things that Dr. A was up to. Now suddenly this whole thing’s been spun on its head and I’m being painted as the instigator? As a terrorist? I was working with the police!”
“So you think the police set you up?”
“No! I mean, not really. But those charges make it sound like the police were called on me, like I was in the middle of a break-in and they caught me. I’m just saying that I brought the police. I showed up with them. I rode there in Peterson’s car.”
“I see,” says McMannis, making more notes.
“You don’t have to take my word for it. Even if for some reason Peterson won’t back this story up, check the sign-in roster at the front desk. I’m on there yesterday, and this morning, too. My car’s parked out front. I came from here. If this was a terrorist plot, it was totally insane.”
That same expression twitches across the lawyer’s face again, and he writes for a few more seconds before saying anything. To fill the silence, I say, “So, with those charges, what’s bail? When can I get out of here?”
“Ah. Well,” he says, “that’s an interesting question.”
“I feel like you mean that it’s an interesting answer,” I tell him. “And that sounds like it’s not good news.”
“Not entirely,” Brayden admits. “In addition to the charges, and the restraining order, it’s being recommended that you go in for a psychiatric evaluation.”
“Oh, ‘it’s being recommended,’ is it?” I ask, making the air quotes. “Just by the environment?”
“By the judge,” says Brayden.
“So by recommended, you mean…”
“Mandated, yes. Basically. We can fight this, of course, if that’s what you want to do. However, in my professional opinion, kicking and screaming ‘I don’t want to go to the nuthatch!’ is not a good way to make it look like you don’t belong in said nuthatch.”
“And in your unprofessional opinion?”
“Well, the beds at the hospital look a lot more comfortable than the benches here,” he says. It’s a weak joke, but I smile. It seems like the sort of response that a sane, calm person would have, and that’s really the aura that I want to project right now.
“Okay, let’s say I go through with this,” I say. “I’m not committing to — sorry, bad choice of words. I’m not signing on to this yet, but I’m willing to entertain the idea. So I walk in there. What happens?”
“They keep you for up to seventy-two hours, during which time they assess your mental health. There’ll be a lot of talking, a lot of doctors, probably a fair amount of bloodwork taken to see if you have any pharmaceutical reasons for your behavior.”
“Good to know, but I’m sure they’ll test you anyway. Anyway, after those three days, they’ll release an assessment of your state of mind, and we can use that to bolster your defense in court.”
“Well, if they say I’m crazy, yeah. But I’m not.”
“Right, we’d take a different tack if they gave you a clean bill of health,” says Brayden.
“You seem awfully doubtful about this.”
“My apologies. I don’t mean to. I’m just interested in coming up with the best strategy of defense for you, and I’m sorry if it looks like I’ve skipped over a couple of steps.”
“I don’t mind that you seem to be ahead of the game. But you’re already assuming that I’m not sane. How prejudicial is just going in for assessment going to be?”
“Legally? Not at all. What matters is what comes out.”
“Yeah. So in the eyes of most people, only a crazy person would go in for an assessment to find out if they’re crazy.”
“Well, we can have any insinuation like that stricken from the record, and the jury told to disregard it, should it come up. If you get a clean bill of mental health.”
“So what happens if I refuse to go in for assessment?”
“Well, the thing about a judge’s order is that you can’t really refuse. If you don’t go in, then they take you in. Presumably restrained and under guard so that you don’t try to escape on they way.”
“Ah,” I say. “Then I suppose I’d like to voluntarily go in for testing.”
“A fine choice,” says Brayden.