John Winchester’s earplugs had proven very useful for the next few days as the authorities converged on Ackley’s hospital room, and all of the powers at be tried to understand what had gone wrong with John Winchester, whose Quipper, username “Killa Kop 420,” had gone under much scrutiny in the days to follow. Media reports disagreed on the true extent of his daddy issues and why he would make it such a personal mission to scare a little sick girl who may or may have not built a chemical weapon and killed a very very rich man; which was a serious thing to do, and they did not disagree that it was very serious, but not worth scaring a sick little girl – except Hound News, who thought it was quite worth it and should become policy.
Through all this, Ackley laid on her bed and ignored everything.
“You’ve got mail, Ackley!”
The Nurse danced into the hospital room holding a shimmering silver envelope in her hands, skipping her feet and spinning like a ballerina before depositing the note on Ackley’s bedside. She knelt over the bed, blinking her eyes expectantly, eagerly waiting for the little gray girl to pick up the letter and rip it open from the side. It was official postage from the Department of Departments, with the official sigil, a golden, pyramidical eye. The Nurse nodded her head and clapped her hands to cheer her on, and Ackley read the letter as loud as her small, liquid nitrogen-filled lungs allowed her to–
Esteemed Citizen Ackley Hermes,
The Department of Departments regrets the unfortunate harassment you received from Agent John Winchester. He has since been disciplined in accordance with state agent reeducation policies, and will be sending you a personal letter of apology when he awakens from his coma.
The Department of Departments’ “Grievous Miscarriage of Justice” department has sentenced Fulton Handler for the crimes of lying to authorities, failing to report a terrorist action and failing to supervise a child using weapons of mass destruction, and all charges against you have been dropped. All charges against the Ladybird were also dropped, by Presidential request. We thank you for your patience in this matter.
As a token of our sincere apology, included is a McDowell’s Arc Card worth 10 amero. The Department of Departments recommends the Shrapnel Shake and the McManhood Burger.
–Leidela Aristotle Sixtus, Department of Departments GMJ Department
Ackley removed the tiny blue and silver gift card from the envelope and stared at it wanly.
“I can’t eat McDowell’s food.” Ackley said matter-of-factly.
The Nurse nodded. “It would be very bad for your health.”
She put her hands on her hips and struck a disapproving pose, then snatched the card out of Ackley’s hands.
“I will have to confiscate this then, for your health of course. Sorry, Ackley.”
The Nurse patted Ackley’s head half-heartedly and marched sternly away, stiff and straight like a soldier. When the automatic door to the room closed behind her, Ackley could still see her through the small square window on the door; the Nurse was jumping up and down, dancing, swinging the card overhead to show off her prize, and shaking her hips.
Passing nurses and doctors looked on with jealousy or disdain or embarrassment, Ackley could not tell. Instead, she reached behind her pillow for her bucket list and pen, and flipped the pages to find a particular list item, Be Preyed Upon By The System.
She checked the box next to it, and then laid down to nap.