That afternoon heralded the one situation that I had dreaded since I regained consciousness. The nurse entered the ward once again and told me, "Miss Kingsley, an Alicia Rhodes is here to see you, she'll be in a moment." She stepped out of the room and was replaced by my flatmate. At 158 centimetres tall, she stood at the short end of the scale and her frame could almost be described as anorexic, even though the word couldn't be more wrong when referring to her eating habits. Alicia's green eyes were sparkling with the relief that was written all over her face. She was gladdened to see me alive and, if not well, at least improved from the image that had been broadcasted all over the nation: one where I was being carried away from the scene of my attack on a stretcher.
"Hi, Alicia," I said, greeting her as if I wasn't the prime suspect in an assassination attempt on the monarch of England. "How are you?"
"I am fine, thanks. I do not believe for a second that you actually killed Princess Rachel. So tell me, did you, or didn't you kill her." She sounded worried, but there was no antagonism in her sweet, mezzo-soprano voice.
"I maintain that I was not responsible for her death. She was my friend while we both were at St Augustine's and I had no reason to hurt her. I did not kill her."
"You sound as if you are trying to convince yourself of that." Her tone wasn't accusing or condescending. It was full of concern for the person that she had lived with for nearly an entire semester and had grown to like, almost as a younger sister.
"I know," I said, my own voice beginning to sound weary. "It's just that Isaiah told me that the prosecution will be using my diagnosed insanity to dismiss anything that they do not want to be on the general record and I cannot help but wonder. What if they are right, and I am schizophrenic? What if I did kill her and I don't even remember because my I was acting independently of what my memories were constructed to be?"
"Don't think that Terra. You are probably one of the more sane individuals that I have met. You might be a bit odd, but then again, everyone is odd in his or her own way, and you have had a more trying life than most. It is perfectly plausible that you are being used as a scapegoat because whoever was actually behind the attack cannot be accused without screwing with the politics of the nation. But let us hope that this is not the case."
"Thanks, Alicia. For some reason, whenever I talk to you, I end up feeling better about whatever situation I am in at the moment."
"We orphans have to look after each other, you know."
This statement caught me by surprise. In the four months that we had known each other, Alicia had never mentioned her family. I had never suspected that she would have been an orphan as well. "You never told me that you had no parents," I accused.
"I guess that I didn't. My mother and father died in a traffic collision the summer before I went to college for my undergraduate degree. Their estate paid for my attending university, as well as my continued education." Her voice did not betray any emotion when telling me this. Her wounds must have become familiar with the time and weren't torn open at any mention of their cause.
"Thank you for coming. Hopefully, when this is all over, I can return to our flat and we can continue as if I hadn't been arrested and been accused of the crime of the century. That is, if I don't end up getting hanged for killing Princess Rachel and I don't end up getting followed around by a gang of news reporters for the rest of my life."
She smiled, bid me a good afternoon, and said that she really must go, as she had a paper to work on for her doctoral advisor. My eyes followed her as she left the ward, and I thought, wistfully, of how different my life could have been if I had something that more closely resembled a normal childhood. I could, at this moment be at a secondary school, worrying about which, if any university I would have been attending in the coming fall. Yet, at the mental institution, I had no real schooling, and so I could not even come close to the education level of most incoming students at many universities. Through the tutoring that Alicia was generously offering me, I was planning on taking the A-level exams for Physics, Mathematics, Philosophy, and English Literature, and submitting the results to a university in order to hopefully attend the coming semester.
However, that was neither here nor there as, after a few moments of this wistfulness, a gruff looking police officer stepped into the room. "Miss," he said abruptly, "I need you to follow me."
"If you will allow me to first grab my crutches so I may be able to walk, I will." Slipping off of my bed and grabbing the crutches that enabled my travel, I began to head out of the ward and down the hall of the hospital. His pace was brisk and I had trouble keeping up with my improvised method of travel. When the officer stopped and opened a door into a windowless room, gesturing for me to enter. I did so and planted myself on the first chair that I could get myself to. He entered the room himself, closing the door behind him.
"Now, Miss Teresa Ariel Kingsley," He said, with a number of confusing emotions lacing his voice, "in representing the Crown of England, I am formally charging you with the murder of Her Highness Rachel, the Princess Regnant. The Scotland Yard is also placing you under arrest, but until the Doctor discharges you, you will continue to reside here, under effective house arrest. You have the right to remain silent, but anything that you say can and will be used against you. You may choose to hire your own attorney, or to have a DA provided to you by the government. You— "
"Yes, sir, I am aware of my rights. I have an attorney in mind, a Mr. Isaiah Robert Johnson. In addition, I would like to exercise my right to have a private investigator included in the case in order for him to see all of the evidence for himself, firsthand."
"And who would that be?" The police officer's gruff baritone had an air of frustration. Seeing his nameplate, I began to understand why. It read "D.I. Cmdr. Fredrick West." A police detective probably would have his sensibilities threatened by the mere thought of private investigators. Especially of the type that Sir Steven Thompson was, with his vigilante attitude and disdain for the police forces of the nation.
"Well, Mr West, I wish that you include Sir Steven Thompson. The detective that was appointed Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order for discovering who had attempted to assassinate both the King and Queen back in '54." I watched the officer's expression, revelling in his discomfort. My previous experiences with police officers have led me to distrust and despise them, along with psychologists and psychiatrists.
"All right Miss, We only have a few questions to ask you at the moment. Where were you at 16:00 last Sunday afternoon, on the 8th of December?"
"I had just concluded my short walk with the Princess at St Augustine's. We take a walk together every Sunday to catch up on each other's lives and to reminisce. She had gone back to her room, and I was leaving. I passed by two people on my way out: her Doctor and Lord Dennis Dent the younger, the son of the Duke of Falmouth."
The detective muttered something uncouth that I could not quite make out, but then continued his interrogation. "Where the two people scheduled visitors?"
"The doctor would be coming in to give her a medication at that time, which he did every day when I was still at the St Augustine's, and he was consistent in his appearance there while I had my weekly walks. Lord Dennis had only recently taken to have meetings with the princess; I believe that they started in mid-September. He usually ended up meeting her right after my walk, and stayed for between 10 minutes and an hour, according to the princess."
"Where you aware that Lord Dennis is engaged to be married to Miss Emma Thompson, the daughter of Sir Steven?"
"No sir, I wasn't. I suppose that you might think that there will be a conflict of interest where Dr Thompson is concerned, but I don't that that will be the case, he seems to be able to be quite impersonal at times. In a situation such as this one, he will not find it hard to keep his own feelings out of the case, whatever they might be."
"All right," The detective continued to inquire, "What is the name of this doctor?"
"Thurnston," I said, "Dr Randolph Thurnston." I now endeavoured to turn this interrogation session into one where I would also get some information regarding the crime. "So, Detective Inspector, how exactly did the good Princess die? The news has been awfully quiet about the method used to kill her, while they are having a field day with the event as a whole."
"Aripiprazole was administered in overdose, either orally or by injection, but we aren't sure what the delivery method was."
Making mental note of what he said, I did a few quick calculations in my head. The tested LD-50—the dose that would kill 50% of test subjects—was about 180 milligrams per kilogram, which meant that it would take around ten and one-half grams of Aripiprazole to kill someone the size of the Princess, who weighed 54 kilograms, fifty per cent of the time. A person who meant to kill the Princess would probably go over the 50% mark, so would probably add an extra gram or two. That would rule out a liquid oral administration because the drug was not soluble enough in water to have a high enough concentration to have a sufficiently large dose in a small enough quantity of liquid to kill her without her being alerted.
"Were there signs of a struggle in the room where she was administered the poisonous dose of medication?" I asked, trying to see if I could indeed eliminate certain methods of administration.
"No, no sign of a struggle, the princess was unaware of the malicious intent of her poisoner." The Detective Inspector had seemed to become too interested in the sheer thinness of the hospital gown, which happened to be the only clothing that I was wearing at the moment, to truly notice that instead of being the interrogator, he was now the interrogated.
I therefore concluded that she had not been force fed a sufficient quantity of even over-concentrated medication, because she would have soon realised the malicious intent of being forced to drink something with ten or more grams of Aripiprazole dissolved in it. Using that assumption, one could then very easily determine whether the drug had been administered by an oral tablet or by injection from any cursory autopsy. Thus, as the detective was unaware of which method was used, even after more than twenty-four hours had passed since her 'death' and with another forty-eight hours in which the princess was in a coma, I had to conclude that the princess could not have been dead at the time that the first news reports containing the time of her death were made public.
"Then, inspector, do you have any more questions for me?" It was only when I asked him this question that the detective became aware of how completely I had usurped the interrogation, and of how completely and blissfully unaware of it he had been at the time.
"No," He said, a little blustered, "I have no more questions, you are free to go, but you are under quarters arrest until you are discharged from the hospital, at which time you will be transferred into the custody of the Keepers of the Peace for holding in the Tower of London. Have a good afternoon, Miss."
As I was escorted back to my quarters, I revelled in the success that I had in taking over the interrogation session over and using to my own ends. The knowledge that I gained from it was certainly valuable, since it proved that at least a little of the information which was supplied to the defence was false which could be used as grounds for a mistrial if it came to that. Hopefully, however, the information would prove more useful as a stepping stone for the method which would be most likely to prove my innocence.
When I returned to my room, I decided that it would be prudent to write another letter to my private investigator, detailing the information that was transferred during the interrogation, as well as mentioning that I had some interesting conclusions to share in the morning.