‘Ow,’ superheated coffee sprayed across the wards reception as the
crash finished reverberating through her head. ‘What the hell was
Bella rummaged through the drawers for a cloth.
‘Cindy? You there?’
Another crash bounced round the ward. It had to be the windows. She
leant further into space, ‘…Cindy?’
She should have nicked her colleague’s mobile before she’d welded it to
her ear. The raw look on Cindy’s face the last time she’d returned from
the toilets spoke volumes about how the break up was going.
Bella glanced at her watch; half two on the graveyard shift and bedlam
was breaking out. Her hand crept downwards, rubbing absently at her
stomach. She still felt ill despite the vomiting having stopped.
‘They’re never going to go back to sleep now.’
The hospital was big and full of echoes anyway. But with the woods
joining in the screaming as the storm tore them to pieces it wouldn’t
be long before the whole place erupted.
Her eyes returned to the drawer where they kept the happy pills and she
picked up some charts to distract herself.
‘Should have called in sick.’
The next crash sounded much closer. Bella listened to it roll down the
corridors. She should check on the patients. There was that much
Chlorpromazine in them they hardly knew their own names, but she’d
still feel safer once she’d checked their restraints. Bella was
beginning to wonder how long it would be before the lights flickering
overhead changed her job description to inpatient.
Bella had decided to take a break from the nurse’s station. She already
felt like an animal stuck in a trap. As the nurse approached the
patient’s eyes stayed fixed on Bella. She had a face more spit and gum
than anything else.
‘I thought you might not be asleep’ said Bella. ‘Like to know what's
going on, don't you? It would be nice if you didn’t stare at me like
that though. Doctor Ferryman said he’s going to have to take the week
off after what you did.’
Bella massaged her temples as another flood of nausea rolled through
her. There was something about what Doctor Ferryman had said before
he’d been carted off to have the wound bandaged. Bella tried to
concentrate, ‘You glad they say you’ll be going back soon?’
She meant the unit where they kept the special cases. The entire staff
had turned out to watch the first twenty arrive. ‘A temporary
relocation due to refurbishment’ is what hospital management had called
Bella’s nose was beginning to bleed again. She grabbed a tissue from
her sleeve. The nurses had been given a show as well, seeing as the
strait jackets had arrived in a separate van.
For a moment Bella felt something twist deep in her gut as the
patient’s eyes lit up.
‘Not fair is it? Nothing ever is.’
‘Water, water, water, water.’
Bella looked at the creature sitting in the bed, ‘…not in this world
‘Water, water, water.’
‘Ok, just don’t wake everyone else…please?’
Bella reached the fountain in record time. The quicker she was done the
quicker she could visit the maternity ward.
‘There you are,’ she said as she returned, ‘you can tell the day shift
what a wonderful nurse I’ve been when they get here.’
The girl gave no sign she'd heard but the next time their eyes met it
was a different story.
‘What is?’ said Bella.
At first, she thought the ripples were the carpark’s lights shining
through the flood washing over the glass. But it was too dark for that
and they’d been turned off hours ago.
‘The exchange,’ said the patient with her eyes fixed on the trees
thrashing outside as ripples travelled over her skin. ‘It wants what
Bella stared, mesmerised at the flicker of slick wet gums and naked
teeth as they chewed the air. Her nose bleed was getting worse. Spots
of blood were spattered the tiles round her feet and the tissue was
‘There’s nothing you can do, nothing, nothing, nothing.’
The girl was still saying it when Bella left, ‘nothing, nothing…’ the
word followed the nurse into the corridor as she rubbed her stomach
like something had kicked deep inside.
Bella shuddered, it had only been for a moment, but she'd felt like she
could push a finger through that ruin of a face.
‘Very professional Bella, and you still haven’t checked Neonatal.’
Bella’s shoe’s squeaked as she fled up the corridor. When the arks came
into view she smiled.
‘There you are. I’ve missed you. I bet your Mum never screamed when she
saw you the first time.’ She reached out and tickled one of the tiny
things in their cots. ‘No, not with you little one. I bet she was all
smiles and kisses.’
Button eyes blinked up at her, and for a moment Bella was lost. Her
favourite gurgled and grabbed her finger.
‘Awww, my little sweetheart.’
Bella looked behind her; checking there was no one to see her fawning
over the child. But in the eyeblink of shocking white as lightning
split the sky the ward was empty. Her first thought was an ark had gone
over as the scream reached her ears.
‘That was next door.’ The hairs on the back of Bella’s neck were
standing up now. ‘Cindy…? You there? I’m sorry I laughed earlier.’
But the only answer was the rattle of ceiling tiles jumping in their
sockets. Bella glanced overhead; the wind must have found its way
inside. She set off, trying not to run.
‘That’s it, no more.’ Bella forced herself to calm down. ‘I’m not going
out there again until the next shift arrives.’
She pulled the nurse station’s one shabby office chair over to the desk
and tried to immerse herself in some tunes. When she saw the chart
tucked away by the bin it took her a moment to realise whose signature
was at the bottom.
‘What were you looking at Cindy?’
Bella thought of the look on her colleague’s face the last time she’d
seen her. Maybe it hadn’t been what she’d thought, it was easy to jump
to conclusions after hearing what she’d said to her boyfriend. Bella
read the paperwork’s other name.
Her favourite was called that. It had been the first real problem
delivery she’d attended. Afterwards, as Bella had stepped toward the
door the mother had latched onto her. She’d begged her, said she had to
understand that she’d been made to do it and she was sorry. She’d kept
patting Bella’s stomach too. Bella had hated herself for it, but it had
freaked her out.
She glanced up as the overheads flickered again.
‘This is stupid. I’m calling security…maintenance…somebody anyway.’
Black wings hammered inside the neon fittings before there was a pop,
and Bella couldn’t see an inch in front of her face.
‘Oh my God.’
She was reaching for where she thought she’d last seen the intercom
when she stopped. Hell would freeze over before she cried for help over
nothing. The storm would pass, the lights would sort themselves out.
Bella's head came up. There’d been movement on the tiles, a patch of
darkness that had folded in on itself as something scurried through it.
‘Rats? They’ve been at everything else round here.’
The reduction in power must be affecting the heating, because it was
getting cold enough to give her goose bumps. Even the lights on the
life support’s machines had dimmed. Bella’s hands shook as they
searched under the desk for the torch and when she got up to leave her
footsteps followed her.
The torch beam flickered once before it went flying. A dying quasar
spitting out a last flare like a lighthouse. Something had struggled
over her foot.
‘Please…’ Bella’s finger’s scrabbled on the tiles. When torchlight
trembled across the walls again her mouth went dry. The beam had come
to rest on the doorway where they’d left the asylum’s inmates, and it
was so cold she could ice on the lintels.
Inside the occupants were staring at a shattered window with their
blankets tucked up round their chins. Even the air felt bright and
The torch played across the patient’s faces, but there was no answer as
glass crunched beneath her feet. It was like they were waiting for
something. When the girl she’d supplied with water earlier spoke Bella
nearly left a hole in the ceiling, ‘I told you. It’s here.’
Bella took a step back then another until she couldn't stop but the
girl didn’t shut up. Instead her voice became a song, ‘It’s here, it’s
here, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here.’
A wail came from the maternity ward. The place was in darkness by the
time Bella reached it bar one circle of light above her favourites ark.
Needle sharp teeth grinned up at Bella from below slit eyes. Sol’s skin
looked red raw like he’d been rubbing at it, or something worse. Bella
watched as the baby smoothed a fold behind his ear.
‘What’s wrong with you?’
A crib slammed against her ankles as she tried to back away. The
thudding in her head was so bad there were spots in front of Bella’s
eyes, and her tunic was soaked from the nosebleed. Maternity’s new
addition watched its mother struggle and lapped its tongue along its
lips. The blood sprinkling across the floor was so red it had brought
the saliva to its mouth.
© 2017 Kilmo
Bio: In Kilmo's twenties, he lived in vehicles and caravans on
the continent as part of the European travelling/ squat/ teknival
scene. He contracted Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis in 2011 which
lead to him moving to Aldershot, and to cut a long story short - he
writes. He brought it from squatting in Bristol, to a pub car park...to
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