Never Chapter 2

Never Chapter 2

A Chapter by Montilee Stormer

 

Natalie hurried down the hall as fast as she could without her heels betraying her center of gravity and spilling her onto the floor. It was a fine day to wear heels, she though miserably to herself. Of all the days she dresses to impress the boss, she gets the hospital call and has to practically break her neck getting there, no time to show the boss the shoes, the skirt, the legs. She wouldn’t be back in the office for a few more weeks with out-call visits and family court jamming her already full schedule. She sighed again, more inwardly, as she needed breath to hurry towards the elevators. She supposed there was always next month, and she’d just have to pray that he’d be there to see how far she’d come since the last time they’d crossed paths.

 

She’d parked on the wrong side of the hospital, another mistake in the "How This Day Sucks" column. She still wasn’t used to where everything had been relocated since they’d renovated the hospital – four years ago now– and with every other must-tend-to detail in her life, she’d neglected to have her employee parking card renewed. It meant parking in one of the six visitor's lots on the grounds, each strategically placed to ensure that no matter where a visitor parked, it wouldn't be anywhere near the patient being visited. True to the laws of Murphy, she’d chosen the wrong lot. It wasn’t the first time she’d chosen badly, but it was by far the worst in terms of location and she was as far away as possible from where she needed to be and still be technically on hospital grounds.

 

Through the underground parking tunnels, which at least kept her dry from the punishing elements of mid-fall in Michigan, up the wrong set of elevators which put her on the geriatric ward, back down through pediatrics, a dizzying spin around the commissary, she finally found her way to Reception and Information to get her pass, her credentials, and the super secret map to the Ella Mae Greesham Wing, know affectionately to workers, patients, and visitors alike as the Nut Ward. Rarely did she get the call to for an intake, especially at a hospital where there were trained people on staff that were paid for that sort of thing. However, Natalie specialized in extreme abnormal child psychology so whatever the situation there was obviously no one like her in on staff to deal with the situation.

 

It was exciting in the same way as it was frightening. She’d studied abnormal psychology since having a decidedly inappropriate childhood crush on a long dead serial killer named Albert Fish.  What began as an exercise in determining what to serve him if he’d ever risen from the dead to specifically have dinner with her and then of her, turning into a delicious labryinth into which she’d become entrapped and entranced, puzzling over the circumstances of human nature that could devolve mild-mannered men into ravaging cannibals. From her readings of Fish, Ed Gein, and Ted Bundy, she probed what could make these children skip adulthood and graduate from puberty to monster under the bed. It was an obsession that she turned into a lucrative practice. Not many people could count themselves so scarred and simultaneously, so blessed.

 

At the ground level North wing elevators, she pressed the button to call the cars, and looking around, saw a woman with puffy eyes and stringy hair. She knew the hallmarks of a mother dealing with an emergency, having counseled her fair share as an intern and while on staff for a children’s psychiatric hospital. These were mothers who had no idea that their children were capable of such cruelty, either self-inflicted or projected from a deep well of hatred that wouldn’t be drawn dry by a few tortured cats.  Motherhood wasn't supposed to mean dealing with intake forms and conversations with police.  It wasn't meant to include watching their offspring forcibly sedated and restrained.  That sort of thing happened to children with bad mothers or worse, no mothers.  It didn't make these mothers innocent of their children's actions, only recklessly and willfully oblivious.

 

Natalie reached out towards the woman, wanting to lay a comforting hand on her shoulder. No words would be exchanged, not because she couldn’t find them, but because the simple warming touch of another human being was sometimes all a person needed to be reminded that asking for help was an open mouth and a breath of air past the vocal cords away.  Her hand barely hovered over the woman's shoulder.

 

The woman flinched as if burned, glaring at Natalie as if she’d been, her eyes burning and hooded, like a cat backed into a corner by a flaming broom. Natalie drew her hand back fast.

 

“I – I – I’m – I’m sorry,” Natalie managed to stammer out as the doors to the elevator opened. The woman didn’t answer but rather scurried onto the elevator and began pressing buttons hard and fast to close the doors. Instead, Natalie stepped back and let them close, without getting on, and figured it would be better not to be trapped in such an enclosed space with someone who was clearly borderline feral.

 

She didn’t have long to wait for another elevator (thank god for modern hospitals and the need to be there yesterday) and she got on. There was no one else getting on with her, and that was good.  She had been willing to talk to the woman as long as it took for the woman to get to her destination, and then Natalie would have gone on her way, but that was before the woman went rabid.  The receptionist had given explicit instructions about who sees this card and how it’s used. Despite the regally named wing, the psyche ward was still a place of stigma and curiosity. Only properly credentialed people were supposed to be on its floors (and of course those that medically needed to be there), but modern technology was always four steps behind kids and their gadgets. The hospital didn’t want to make the wing known to outsiders to keep the looky-loos at bay. Gone were the days of dank basements, screaming inmates, and lobotomies, and it was quite possible that people would be disappointed at the overall orderliness and lack of chaos, but there was no sense in encouraging the brave and terminally nosy.  No vacant-eyed patients shuffled through the halls, people didn’t scream through the bars of their cells, and the orderlies were professional, compassionate nurses, all trained in the best care they could give someone not together enough to appreciate it.

 

The doors closed and Natalie pressed the button marked C, located well past the top floor numbers of 28 and 29, and ran her card through the reader nondescriptly located to the left of the keypad. It was clever, the two step validation process. The elevator began to move upward, and she checked her bag one more time for all of her identification. The numbers ascended from L to 1 and past 2. Natalie wiped her hand across her face gently, removing sweat and stray eye-make up. She never kept a mirror in her bag and the reflection thrown back from the elevator doors made her look septic. She’d have to hope she looked like a professional psychologist, and not a professional … girl.

 

6 - 7.

 

She ran a hand along her hairline, regretting that Bruce couldn’t see her expertly coiled ringlets, not at all fitting a shrink. She wanted to dazzle him with her smile, and her coyly batted eyes. She wanted him to not see the uncoordinated girl who’d managed to relieve him of not one but two case file specially prepared for court that day and send them spilling all over the floor. She wanted to erase forever that look of complete and utter disappointment.

 

10 – 11

 

She spent weeks – now, let’s be realistic, she chided herself, months - replacing Bruce with Albert, sitting in a wooden rocker, watching his frown turn into a mischievous grin as he pulls out his favorite knife,  patting his knee, gently coaxing her to his lap so he could show her how proud he was of her, because she was such a good girl, rewarding her with first a bite, then a slice –

 

The ding of the elevator snapped Natalie out of her reverie – fantasy – and she watched numbers as the floor ascended from 12 to …

 

nothing.

 

The elevator simply seemed to stop between numbers, neither 12 nor 14 lit, and dinged again.

 

William Breamont Hospital had no 13th floor – not officially, and instead had placed its psychiatric wing there. There was no 13 on the keypad, just the unassuming letter C and the need of a key card. 

 

C for "crazy", thought Natalie, and she surpressed a tired giggle.  The giggle sounded flushed and excited, and that would not look good toward her displaying a professional demeanor. 

 

Even so, should the door magically open onto the floor with no official number, there was no guarantee that you were getting past the guards.  There were the guards on the floors and the guards that were watching via closed circuit television, both in the elevator and on the floor.  Chances were very good that an interloper wouldn't get very far before being escorted by armed men with no sense of humor.

 

This particular visit however, the guards were the least of her worries. She desperately wished for a mirror.  She hoped that the brief but powerful blush of sexual excitement wasn't too obvious and she steadied herself on shakey legs.  Any longer on that train of thought, and she would have needed a moment before trying to walk. Albert and his knife and teeth and bites faded, but not quickly enough, into the dark recesses of her mind to wait for another, perhaps more appropriate, time to indulge in the delights of teeth and bone.  Now, before a new case and new colleagues was not time to look as if she were about to go into heat.  She looked down at her jacket and thanked herself for having the foresight to wear something thicker than just a blouse and camisole.  Walking onto a psyche ward with highbeams blazing was as far from professional as one could get.

 

The doors opened upon a well lit hall, it’s archway proclaiming it to be the Ella Mae Greesham Memorial Wing in recessed letters carved into the solid marble, probably named for an imbalanced woman of considerable wealth. Beyond the welcoming arch stood thick metal doors reinforced with steel wire mesh. As Natalie walked towards the doors, keycard at the ready to look like she belonged, a guard materialized from an out of sight enclave. She jumped back, brandishing the card as if it could anything more than give him a nasty welt.  He startled her, not because of the way he suddenly appeared, but because of the strained look on his face. It wasn’t a look of challenge but of naked helplessness. It was the look he probably expected to catch from a damsel in distress, not one he’d ever be caught dead giving. And especially not to a dame brandishing nothing more than a manila folder, messenger bag, and a key card.

 

“Are you Doctor Darling?” he asked panic biting the edges of his words.

 

“Yes,” was all she could get out before he pressed a button and keyed in a number. The doors slid silently opened and he hurried through, throwing looks behind his should to make sure she hadn’t decided the whole shebang was a bad idea and was reconsidering grabbing that pumpkin spice latte from the ground level Starbucks.

 

“I parked too far away,” she began, wanting to explain the flushed look on her face, the sweat that didn’t come from exertion. “I hadn’t realized how far away that West Visitor’s Lot, and then I got lost in that maze of tunnels…” She trailed off her ramble realizing that he hadn’t so much as acknowledged that she had spoken and was several steps ahead. Her delay didn’t matter, he wasn’t listening. It only mattered that she was there, praise God, his walk said. Another keypad, another set of doors, this time past Reception, where the nurse on duty sprung up to greet them, distress openly and naked her face. The guard simply said, “She’s here,” and the nurse began to wring her hands. 

 

“They’ve been waiting for you,” the nurse said. “They had to restrain him.” The nurse picked up a phone and began to speak into it. Natalie wasn’t about to go through the breadcrumbs spiel again, and her mind had turned to this special case she’d been specially called to intake.  "You can go on down," said the nurse, pointing past her station, relief spreading into her voice like milk into a bowl of water.

 

Clearly they all thought she'd had been briefed on the situation, as the guard and nurse looked to her with hope and not a little trepidation, but all she had was a phone memo that said little more than the hospital name and the words Urgent in big block letters.  She opened her mouth to ask for direction like who or why, when screams sounded from down the hall, not woman or man but animal – loud and long and yowling. A doctor came running from a room clutching his hand, his face a rictus of pain. Another nurse was four steps behind him with gauze, harried but efficient, determined to wrap his hand in accordance with blood safety protocol, but the doctor saw the guard and Natalie, and practically ran to meet them.  He hand was bleeding and dripping onto the floor in thick drops Natalie could almost hear. The nurse had caught up, and was wrapping his hand held high above and behind his head. In a flash, so damned quick it was complete and she hurried back down the hall, rejoining the chaotic fray that was her primary duty.

 

“We expected you here an hour ago.” His voice was strained and agitated but not accusatory. “We didn’t want to sedate him, but it’s gotten out of control.”  He immediately flipped into differential diagnosis mode, rattling off the past to the present, catching Natalie up to speed, and he walked back to the room. “Male, early teens, probably prepubescent, admitted for stab wounds to the lower abdominal; possible spleen infarction; exhibited signs of dementia in the wagon which accelerated in the ER. Once physically stabilized and restrained, admitted to psyche for further evaluation. Stable at first, but now elevated anxiety, paranoia and exhibiting violent tendencies.” A chart’s worthy of information rattled off in the space of less than 10 seconds, a child’s life to this point reduced to stats as far as the doctors were concerned. He clutched his hand to his chest again, bending over and breathing hard, the pain now outpacing his rush of adrenaline.  When he straightened again, “he had a knife in his clothes, I don’t know how the ER missed it, but damn it hurts.”

 

Natalie gave his hand a cursory glance, no longer caring about those over the age of 16, more focused on the dementia, flipping through the rolodex in her mind of conditions that would show early onset in pre-pubescent teens.

 

“We expected you here an hour ago, we don’t know what else to do” said the doctor, now more exasperated than scared, had begun to repeat himself, and was surely slipping into shock. That however didn’t tamp the anger rising in her chest. Natalie gave him a withering look that was known to work on uppity waitresses and Victoria’s shopkeeps too big for their nametags. Her voice took on a razor’s edge which, no one expected.

 

“Look – I just got the call a half an hour ago. I need more than a verbal assessment and your word that he’s crazy. Sedate him if you have too, I need time. Give me his chart and let me work.”

 

The doctor shrank back, looking more Doogie Howser than Gregory House, cradling his wrapped hand close to his chest like a fragile wounded bird, but before he could so much as whimper and apology, another wounded scream issued from the room. Before the guard could grab her, Natalie sprinted forward stopping short of entering the room, skittering slightly on heels that barely made contact with the floor.

 

The boy, not more than twelve or thirteen, lay strapped to his bed, the rolling type that could take a patient from room to room without unhooking equipment. The only difference between this bed and standard hospital issue was that there was at least four inches of dead space between the wheels and the floor, and it hoovered and swayed violently from side to side, perilously close to swiping nurses and other guards trapped against the wall.  It was floating.  Even in her internships on the roughest psyche wards, she's never seen a patient physically move a bed while restrained, and seeing this bed - the casters locked to prevent rolling - suspended above the floor, took her breath away.

 

“…the hell?” was all Natalie could say before the bed fell to the floor with a thump hard enough to shake the windows and crack the linoleum flooring it landed on. The boy rolled his head from side to side, moaning in waves of loud and whisper quiet. For the time being, he was all levitated out. The staff looked at each other, almost double-dog daring one another to approach.

 

“We’ve given him everything we could think of without possibly killing him,” said the doctor meekly behind her “but nothing seems to work at calming him down. I don’t believe in possession, but suddenly I want to call an old priest and a young priest and pray for the best.”

 

Natalie looked at the doctor’s hand again and back to the bed. Beneath it on the floor was a knife, the large kitchen variety used to slice tomatoes and onions and anything else a large bladed knife could slice into. “How long has he been strapped down and where did the knife come from?”

 

“Since he arrived. I don’t know how, but the knife just appeared and then he was waving it around and then it was cutting my hand, and then it was gone and he was strapped down again.”

 

The boy on the bed let out a mournful yowl, quieter and without as much force, as if the drugs were finally combating and overtaking whatever drug this kid took to make him invincible.  Meth perhaps, PCP?

 

“Tink,” he said, his voice waning on every word. “Tink, where are you?”

 

Natalie took a few tentative steps into the room. “My name is Natalie. I’m not Tink but I could find him for you. Is he a friend?

 

The boy on the bed rolled his head towards the sound of Natalie’s voice. “Tink,” he said softly. His lips were dry and cracked and his eyes were wild slits. “Where’s Tink?”  He stank like someone living on the streets, a mixture of manure, piss and garbage reaching her nose.  She fought nausea and the accompanying facial expressions hard. 

 

Natalie put on her “mom” voice, the one that worked with kids who were at their wits end. Even if they grew up without mothers, the sound of a soothing voice was sometimes all they needed to relax. “I don’t know, Tink isn’t here.” She took a few more steps towards the bed. “I could find Tink for you, if you like.”

 

The boy’s eyes locked onto hers – so intelligent, so sharp, but cloudy with drugs and pain. “Tink can fix me.”

 

She looked down at his bandaged midsection. “Tink can make you better? That’s why you’re in a hospital. We’re here to make you better. You just have to give the medicine a chance to work and give us a chance to help you.”

 

The lost little boy was suddenly gone replaced by a cornered animal, like the woman in the elevator. One minute vulnerable, the next dangerous. “You stupid b***h,” the boy said with so much malice and acid that despite herself, Natalie took a reflexive step back. It was a desperate growl that harbored hatred of what was seen and fear of the unknown. “Tink doesn’t need hospitals or doctors with their cutting blades. I ... we ... just need her and her … her …” his voice trailed off into a gutteral moan and his eyes began to roll into the back of his head and the bed began to shake hard, not from levitation but from the muscle contractions of his body. He was having a fit of enormous magnitude.

 

“He’s seizing” came a voice from the far corner. The potential for violence was forgotten for the time being, and doctors and nurses trained to maintain life and bring it back from the brink, if necessary, sprung into action. Tubes and directives were exchanged over the shaking, prone body and a monitor was hooked up, probably not for the first time, emitting a screeching noise like one long finger along an interminable blackboard.

 

“Clear” someone shouted and six bodies took a collective step back as electricity was driven into the body, a sharp jerk upward as a response. From that moment on, the only movements of the body were manufactured by those of people trying to restart the heart within.

 

Natalie exited the room letting the doctors and nurses do their jobs, albeit more half heartedly than when they originally began, and made her way to the nurses station where the guard and receptionist stood and sat respectively, ashen and quiet.

 

“We’ve never had a situation like this before,” said the nurse, looking to be on the verge of both sobbing and throwing up. “I know what the doctor said, and I could lose my job for telling you, but they really did use the hard stuff, the serious anti-psychotics. Nothing was bringing this kid down. And he looked so young.” At this her voice broke a little and tears began to stream down her face. The phone rang and she looked at it helplessly. She pulled herself together to answer, not masking her pain but sounding professional enough to redirect the call to someone more collected to answer.

 

“Did I really see the bed rise off the ground,” asked the guard softly. His voice was full of terrified awe, and he crossed himself.

 

“I don’t know what I saw,” said Natalie, her sexual excitement of the elevator forgotten and a tingling in her hands that was sure sign of shock. “I just really hope I never see it again.”

 

From down the hall, the nurses and doctors exited, quiet. A second doctor softly spoke directives to a nurse with a clipboard while the doctor with the bandaged hand leaned up against the wall, staring into the room, looking as shell-shocked as the rest of them.

 

He looked down the hall past the dispersing staff to see Natalie still on the floor. “May I see you in my office? We have some things to go over before you head out.”

 

“Answers to questions?” asked Natalie, more sarcastic than hopeful, but in his current condition, the cynical humor was lost on him.

 

“I can have the guard bring you down,” he said, already heading towards the exit, his voice fading as fast as the adrenaline leeaving his system.

 

“I’ll be there in a few. Give me a minute, okay?”

 

He nodded, needing a few himself, and used a keycard to exit the floor via a staircase at the other end of the hall.




© 2008 Montilee Stormer



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Reviews

Wow! Powerful imagery. Subject a bit too strong for my taste. Don't really think that I can read much more but did want to at least give it one review.

Posted 4 Months Ago


the ending of this chapter was intriguing. I want to know more. I too, was confused about the levitation scene. Didn't know if it was figurative or literal. again, descriptions are great but tighten up the writing. I found myself skimming some of the descriptions to get to the action.

Posted 11 Years Ago


Keep this one going Montilee. Really good. I love what you've created with the Natalie character, that strange obsession/facination should be a blast to work with. Apart from the spelling errors (big whoop), the only thing that needs work is the bed levitating scene. I didn't realize it was actually levitating until the guard mentioned it later. (I thought it was just a metaphor or descriptive which made it more confusing) It needs to make a bigger impact methinks. Other than that...can't wait part part 3!!

Posted 12 Years Ago


I definitely liked reading this. You paced this out well, giving just enough to keep interest in what's there and fuel interest in what's to come. Natalie seems like she'd be an interesting character to follow through a book, so I'm hoping you keep her as a main character. Of course, there are grammar and spelling errors, but I'm sure I don't need to point them out to you. For now, very good job with this.

Posted 12 Years Ago



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Added on April 25, 2008


Author

Montilee Stormer
Montilee Stormer

Royal Oak, MI



About
Short Version: MontiLee Stormer is a troublemaker, writing acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. Her interests wander from abnormal psychology and serial killers, to lost loves and.. more..

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