Dave struggled to free himself from the warm fuzziness which seemed to weigh him down like a leaden blanket… as he gradually emerged into semi-consciousness, he realised that someone was shaking him. “Where am I?” he asked, thoroughly bemused. An unknown voice answered him from underneath a broad-rimmed fedora, “You’re in hospital… Pych ward…”
“What?!” Dave now sat bolt upright, “What he hell am I doing here? I’m not crazy!”
The stranger with the fedora grasped hold of him and, quickly shushing him, laid him back down on his pillow. The attendant nurse, who was sitting at the desk at the other end of the ward, briefly looked up, just as the fedora slipped below the level of Dave’s bed. Satisfied that all was as normal as might reasonably be expected in a psychiatric ward, she returned to her perusal of the new roster she was trying to organise, peeved at having to be the one to do it, and knowing that no matter what she did, just about everyone would be unhappy with the shifts she allocated them.
The fedora emerged from below the bed and, with a finger to his lips, said, “Shhhh! We know you’re not crazy… you’ve been brought here for a reason…”
Now Dave was beginning to think he may be crazy after all… who was this stranger and what did he know about the situation… which Dave was only just beginning to understand anyway; last thing he knew he’d been about to punch out some quack who’d handled his previously shattered and now de-calcified foot too roughly, and then the security guards had grabbed him and then…. Oh, yes… the injection…
He looked up again at the face under the fedora and said, “Yeah… I tried to punch a quack!”
The face underneath the fedora looked puzzled for a moment, and then, still talking inwhispers, said, “No… I mean… well, that may have given them the excuse they needed,but you’d have been brought here anyway…”
This was beginning to sound dafter and dafter, thought Dave, but then he thought to himself, what else should I expect in the psych ward? Then he realised what had been said and felt somehow insulted, “Hey! What do you mean, I’d’a’ been brought here anyway… I told you I’m not nuts; just a bit hot-tempered, is all… Anyway who the hell are you and what do you know about me and why I’m in here? You’re just a patient in here yourself! For all I know, you’re the one that’s nuts!”
“That’d be what they’d want you to think,” said the face under the fedora, still trying to maintain as low a profile as possible, “but don’t you be taken in by it for a second!” Then, offering his hand to Dave to shake, added, “Name’s Foodge… I’m a private dick working under cover on a case for Inspector Vin Ordinaire Rouge; I expect you’ll have heard of her?”
“No…” Dave replied simply, then asked the obvious, “What case?”
But just then the ward’s large, swing doors were pushed aside as the doctor entered the ward to do the rounds, noisily followed by a gaggle of interns and med students learning the trade.
“Can’t talk now…” Foodge whispered urgently,”Later… my bed’s the one with the poster over it…” And with that he turned to try to get back to his bed unnoticed, but it was too late; the nurse, as soon as she’d heard the doctor enter the ward, had done a quick reconnaissance tour of the ward and had just noticed the fedora beside the new patient’s bed. With the impatience of which only nurses whose orders have been disobeyed are capable, she ejaculated, “MISTER JONES! What ARE you doing out of bed? Now get back into it this instant before you get us both into trouble!”
Aha, thought Dave to himself, as he heard the fedora-wearer’s real name… I was right… just another loony! He was even more convinced of this fact when he looked up at the poster above the beds further down the ward into which the fedora’s wearer was now slipping: the poster depicted the star of the movie, ‘Babe’ in one of its happier scenes. Yep! he thought again, this guy’s definitely one snag short of a barbie…
And with that comforting thought, he set himself to the task of trying to think of what would be the best way to get out of here… Should he just insist on his sanity; surely they would see he was normal? Or would they see that as a sure sign of mental instability, this insistence on normality? Perhaps it would be wiser to play the game for a while and then gradually ‘return’ to normality? It was a most difficult decision to make, but he would have to make his mind up on a strategy soon, as the doctor was now only a couple of beds away from his and he knew with dreadful certainty that the doctor would want to interview this new patient… and that the result of that interview would determine his fate.
***** ******** *****
The Dark One inside Elaine’s mind felt a wave of satisfaction flood its pleasure centers; everything was going according to plan; the coven had two members already and a third was being prepared for recruitment even as more potential recruits were being gathered. When the coven was complete, the Rite could begin… the ritual that would bring the ‘Others’! Until then, the Dark One knew, he must remain unknown and unobserved to the rest of this far-too-pleasant little planet…
***** ******** *****