Seraphine (part 2)
It didn't take much time to make out where Seraphine's clothes belonged. The abbreviation referred to the children's mental asylum, the one located across Xenia's favorite forest. This could have explained the girl's state if the institution hadn't been closed five years ago. At least, in black and white...
Driving to my office in the morning, I made up my route so that I could see the place personally. The lock at the gate was missing. People had stripped the building of literally everything and had brought about tons of trash. I didn't get down to the basement or the attic but it looked quite unlikely that anyone had been kept there lately. The asylum did not look as scary as in horror movies. Instead, it looked disgusting, like a garbage hole. I asked some people from the neighboring block of flats if they had ever seen lights or other signs of life there. The answers were all negative.
The former Chief Medical Officer had died in a horrible car crash some months before the last children were transferred to other institutions. The poor lady had burnt alive before the emergency cars arrived on the site. However, other staff members were still safe and sound and continued working in our town as doctors, private nurses or kindergarten teachers. I didn't have Seraphine's photo but I counted much on the description.
"Well, in reality, she might be older than she looks... Some mental disabilities make kids look much younger..." I suddenly thought. "Therefore some nurses might remember her!"
Though I got no result from the doctors, my position of a prosecutor assistant sounded impressive enough for the older nurse Tamara - a warm and welcoming woman in her early sixties. I invited her to a cafe, but she insisted that I should join her for tea at her place. Though Tamara was terrified the CMO's tragic death, I felt that she detested her late ex-boss.
"Could anyone be staying inside?"
"Of course, no!" she exclaimed. "The building was flooded, cause Sveta "optimized" the costs on reconstruction".
I told her about meeting Seraphine, omitting the fact that the girl was staying with Xenia.
"Are you kidding, young lady?" she murmured, turning ashen-pale. "Seraphine was our patient in the nineties. She ran away to the scoundrel who had given her life. I heard that the poor thing... died there..."
"What did she suffer from?"
"We call it clinical lycanthropy. When distressed, she imagined herself turn into a wolf and even moved not like a human but like a wild animal. She also was sure her dad was a wolf. It was a secret she only revealed to me, poor thing..."
"Had she ever seen wolves?"
"I guess. Otherwise, she couldn't have copied their behavior so perfectly. Our guard Misha was a Mansi man from the North and loved hunting when young. He often said she was a wolf locked inside a girl's body. Not a dog. He couldn't believe she was just sick..."
"And her parents..."
"The so-called "mother" was at high school when she bore Seraphine. This sort of women are in the permanent search of a f***er... " I shuddered when the nice Tamara spat this word out. "She was working at a gas station close to their village: a lot of men passed by including the ones who had money. The child was an obstacle. The doctor was sure Seraphine's mind invented the whole story with the wolves as a consolation. Her brain could not stand the fact that her mom was a whore, and her dad was some rude fellow from the highway..."
"Fair enough," I said.
"When she had her tantrums, even her eyes changed color," recalled the nurse.
"Could Seraphine have a younger sister?"
"Someone could have knocked up her mom once again", Tamara shrugged. "I would not envy that poor child. She never came to see her daughter in the clinic, by the way."
"I will need her address," I said in the most official tone.
"Тhe village of Brodnikovo. This is all I know."