HELL HOSPITAL Episode 3
(Disclaimer: this series of stories is completely fictional and none of the persons, places or institutions in these stories are real, but figments of my own imagination. Any similarity to any real person, place or institution is entirely coincidental.)
Elaine had always liked working in morgues; they were so peaceful and quiet; and the clientele didn’t answer back… often! She usually felt in tune with the spirits there. Elaine had always loved the atmosphere of transience she experienced at railway stations or airports or at the dockside of some shipping port or other; and morgues had something of this transience about them too. All such places had the same fleeting and ephemeral atmosphere, as people rushed through the crowd, excited by the prospect of a new adventure in a strange and foreign land, perhaps a little afraid of missing their transport; whilst others made preparations for their journey or said tearful farewells to loved ones; and still others sat silently and self-contained in waiting-rooms; a million emotions mingled on the morning air and every one of them spoke of life.
That was where the similarities with the morgue ended, of course… the transience was there but the life was not. And though the eternal was present here too, nonetheless the morgue was not exactly bustling; only herself, her two assistants and an occasional cleaner ever came down here… and none of those would ever do so if they didn’t have to… Whenever they came down here even the doctors were all business; they never stayed to chat.
Usually Elaine and her assistants were outnumbered by stiffs; the ‘dearly departed’ as they called them in public for the sake of the recently bereaved. Even the porters who delivered the stiffs just dumped them, signed the paperwork in double-quick time and shot through as if their lives depended on their being elsewhere; heaving huge sighs of relief at being able to finally breathe freely… No one liked the morgue at St Helvi’s.
But not a single one of them would admit that it was because the morgue spooked them; that the morgue was, indeed, a spooky place. But Elaine had learned how to read people just as easily as she had learned how to read the cards themselves, in the thousand and some tarot-card readings she had done to supplement her pitiful salary; and she knew they were all spooked by this morgue. There was something not quite right about this morgue…
Of course no morgue was a particularly pleasant place and people often found them spooky; Elaine knew very well that spirits often hung around such places until they figured out which way they were supposed to go, and this, she felt, explained any morgue’s ordinary or ‘background’ level of spookiness. Indeed anywhere the ‘recently departed’ had passed through on their final journey from the place of their demise to their final resting place was a bit spooky too, she realized.
But this was different. This was a deep and abiding presence; a lurking menace… As she extended her sensitivity, Elaine sensed a dark and brooding malevolence hovering just beyond the fringes of her awareness; an entity full of malice and spite. Sensing her presence as soon as Elaine’s mystical insight had turned towards it, the darkness instantly withdrew itself and hid from her sensitivity, but even so, in that briefest of glimpses, Elaine had sensed the darkness, the hideous evil, which, it seemed to her hyper-sensitive awareness, had always been there at the heart of St Helvi’s…
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“So you don’t believe in God then?” Loreen asked, and took another huge bite out of her hamburger ‘with the lot’.
“Nah… well… I dunno…” Julie said, thoughtfully. As a psychiatric nurse she had seen so many people so obsessed by religion that it interfered with their ability to get on in ‘the real world’… some of them had even believed themselves to be the living incarnation of various deities… yet these were ‘crazies’ she knew, and even though some of them were remarkably charismatic and seemed relatively sane in other respects, she knew without a shadow of a doubt that they were all delusional. Medication usually rid them of their delusions along with their ‘divine voices’; and St Helvi’s Psychiatric Wing’s deprogramming programme usually helped them see the ‘error of their ways’ and eventually turned them into solid, if atheistic, citizens.
After a few moments thought she stuffed the final bite of her sausage roll into her mouth and, through a mouthful of crumbs, said, “Well… I suppose it’s always possible… anything is possible…”
“What about angels?” Loreen inquired, rather persistently, Julie thought.
“Well, like I said, I suppose anything is possible!” Julie began to suspect Loreen’s sanity now… it seemed like she really wanted her to believe that religion wasn’t really all just a bunch of fairytales held together with bullshit. She didn’t like to be impolite, but then she wasn’t about to be converted either. You couldn’t convince a crazy person that their delusions were just that simply by telling them they were wrong; one had to be much more subtle than that.
“What would you say if I said I knew someone who’d seen an angel?”
Julie thought, ‘I’d say they were totally nuts!’, but kept the thought to herself. To Loreen she said, “Well… I dunno… I’d like to see some evidence… You must realize it does sound a bit crazy?”
Loreen had expected this answer, “Hmmm…” she said pensively, “I suppose so… but my friend… the one who’s seen the angel… she seems really like a sane and sensible person otherwise. She doesn’t seem nuts at all.”
“Well…” Julie said, conscious of the need for tact, “Many delusional people seem quite normal when discussing any other topic but the one which concerns their delusion… I suppose they’re not really counted as ‘nuts’ until their delusions start to interfere with their daily life; their work and family… We shrinks only ever intervene when these become totally chaotic and out of control. Then, of course, we must do something!”
“Oh, I see…” said Loreen thoughtfully, as she sipped her coffee. “Well… thanks for that. Do you think my friend needs to see a shrink?”
“Dunno…” Julie responded, careful to appear casual and offhand, “Maybe… couldn’t hurt, could it?”
“No… I don’t suppose it would… Well anyway, thanks again… see you later, I’ve got to get back to work now…” She did not add that she needed to find a convenient closet to hide in so that she would be on hand to prevent Paula’s next disaster, which an angel had warned her about. But she did think that the accuracy of St Helvi’s predictions about Paula’s stuff-ups could only indicate that she wasn’t really crazy at all. After all, that was eveidence, wasn’t it? Nonetheless, she thought it would probably be a good idea to make an appointment to see a psychologist… not a psychiatrist, or else she knew she would be instantly drugged, sedated and zombified to such an extent that any kind of coherent thinking would be quite out of the question. She drained her coffee, stood up and, now lost in her own world of thought, drifted out of the canteen. Julie shrugged, puzzled by the encounter but determined not to let it get to her… instead she turned her attention to the question of whether or not her diet would allow her another sausage roll… they were unusually good today.
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