(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.)
After her narrow escape, Loreen decided it would be a good idea to keep a low profile for a while, so when the psychologist she had decided to visit on the advice of her friend, Nurse Julia from the Psych Ward, suggested that Loreen should prepare a bag for herself and then enter the Psych Ward for a few days’ observation, she welcomed it with a sigh of relief. Eating in the ward would keep her away from the staff canteen and thus minimise the chance that her presence might jog someone’s memory about the mystery siren who had lured the unfortunate Swannee to his doom…
“Don’t worry Loreen,” the shrink had said, as he opened his office door for his client as her session drew to a close, “…once we’ve observed you for a few days and run some tests, we’ll probably find there’s nothing wrong with you; we’ll find out what these apparitions you keep seeing really are… and what they really mean!”
“Thank you Dr Frood”, she had replied, as if her sigh of relief were a sigh of reluctance, “… I’m sure you know what you’re doing, of course; it’s all for the best…” The burden of looking after Nurse Paula had been something of a strain lately and she had begun to wonder about the sanity of following the advice of anyone spoken to during a transcendental experience. Yet she could not deny that had she not been there on several occasions, Nurse Paula’s actions would most certainly have been lethal for certain patients. Though she doubted her own sanity now, she still felt compelled to act on those occasions when she had realised the meaning of the clues in the crosswords; and she was never without a copy of ‘Take 5’ magazine in her pocket, buying the latest edition the moment after it arrived in the hospital’s shop. But she couldn’t understand why it had been she who had been chosen for this task; she’d never even been particularly religious.
Her relief at managing to escape the scrutiny of the diners in the staff canteen for even a few days was somewhat tempered, however, when she found herself in a bed right next to Catherine Swan… the now-infamous mad murderess who had killed her husband. The poor woman had completely refused to recognise her baby when it had been presented to her; indeed Catherine’s memory of having been married and had any children at all had completely vanished; she now thought she was in the convent to which she’d been prepared to go after a sadly fatal performance had put an end to her partner’s life and simultaneously brought her career as a knife-thrower to a premature close just before she had allowed herself to be persuaded by the blandishments of the then youthful Swannee.. She spent most of her waking hours in prayers or meditations, but the nature of these prayers and meditations was very unpredictable; sometimes they involved the hospital’s patron saint and seemed relatively benign, whilst at other times she seemed to be communicating fearfully with someone she referred to only as the Dark One; occasionally she would speak, snarl, growl and otherwise communicate as if she actually were the Dark One.
Loreen decided that Catherine was totally ‘out of it’. She showed no sign whatsoever that she recognised the woman who now occupied the next bed, so Loreen decided that her chances of remaining undiscovered were still much better here than at work. Of course, she still had to keep an eye on Paula, but Loreen knew Paula’s schedule by heart and had no difficulty in ‘disappearing’ from the ward whenever her protege had a serious mishap. Yes, she would be much safer here, she thought, with some satisfaction.
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On a dimension the existence of which today’s scientists can scarcely dream of, the Dark One brooded; an eternity was coming to an end and he sensed that release from his eternal imprisonment was nigh; sensing a weakness, he extruded a metaphysical pseudopod into that group of dimensions which our scientists recognise as ‘Space-Time’ and found sympathetic vibrations; gently, he eased himself into Elaine’s receptive consciousness… Manipulating this one would be easy, he thought.
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