“She was beautiful, but she was beautiful in the way a forest fire was beautiful: something to be admired from a distance, not up close.” -Terry Pratchett
Tyler Melody Ross sat masked in her padded cell in the sanatorium in upstate New York. In the common room, the first game of the 1954 World Series pitting the New York Giants against the Cleveland Indians was playing on the radio, but Tyler never was taken to the common room. She was kept continually sedated, not unconscious, but groggy enough so she could be handled. In that way, she could be fed, her toilet needs taken care of (and menstrual needs for five days every month), and walked around her cell for twenty minutes to get a bit of exercise. Other than that, she was alone and isolated, and the staff felt all the safer because of it.
The mask was heavily laced with asbestos as were the walls of her cell. There was no window, but a barred panel in her door where the glass could be slid open provided air. Her hands were encased in mittens, not that she really needed them, but if she were to have a lucid moment or two, she would be unable to remove the mask. At all costs the mask must remain on her face for the rest of her life.
No treatment had worked, not drug treatments, not electroshock, not repeated dunkings in ice water, they all failed to cure or even marginally improve Tyler’s condition. So she remained drugged, provided brief company only out of legal and medical necessity, and otherwise was left to ponder whatever dreams she entertained inside her difficult and diseased mind.