Operation #TaleWeaver

teddy-562960_1920

I sat at a desk in the cleared dinning room which was now the reception of a imaginary hospital. I shuffled blank pages around to pretend I was working.

‘Hello!’ my seven year old daughter, Adile spoke.

I looked across at her with her waterfall of blonde hair and pink summer dress on. In her hands she held her favourite teddy bear. He was a medium size, with curly brown fur, a red faded bow tie at his neck, one ear and two black eyes.

She slide teddy on to the desk then with a determined but grim face began telling me a story, ‘we need to see a doctor. Teddy had an accident and he’s got a huge cut in his side and all his stuffing is falling out! You aren’t feeling so good, are you Teddy? So, we’ve come to the hospital to make him feel better.’

‘I see!’ I cried, ‘right, I’m sure we can make teddy better. Let me get some details down then I nurse will come and to assess you then the doctor will examine teddy.’

Adile nodded.

I grabbed a pen and piece of paper, ‘name please?

‘Mr. Teddy Bear.’

‘Age?’

‘Erm…five!’

‘Address?’

‘My house.’

‘Which is what?’ I asked.

Adile recited our address carefully.

‘Phone number?’

Adile thought and repeated the numbers of our house phone.

Then, though it was silly, I took Adile’s name and details, so it seemed this make belief game was real. Then I questioned what was wrong with teddy and wrote the details down.

‘Can you draw me a picture of his injures?’ I asked and handed Adile pencil and piece of paper.

Adile nodded and got to drawing a teddy like shape with a hole in his side and a cloud coming out of it.

‘There!’ she said and give it back to me.

‘That’s good. Please take a seat and wait for the nurse to call you,’ I said and pointed to the dinning room table chairs which were lined against the wall.

I put the paper I had written on and Adile’s drawing on a clipboard then I got up and left the room. Going into the living room, I changed my pink jumper to a blue one and put a nurse’s hat on my head.

I walked back in, stopped in the doorway and looked at the clipboard, ‘Mr. Teddy Bear?’ I called.

‘Here!’ Adile answered with her hand up.

‘I’m the nurse. This way please,’ I said and lead them into the conservatory. I sat down on the floor before the coffee table and Adile sat down on the other side. Teddy on her lap.

‘So, what’s the problem?’ I asked.

Adile launched into her story of teddy’s injury again.

I nodded along then asked to look at him. Adile placed teddy on the coffee table and I looked at the large hole inside and some stuffing poking out.

‘That looks sore,’ I said, ‘does it hurt a lot?’

Adile lent her head down as if listening to teddy whispering to her then spoke, ‘he says it hurts loads.’

‘Oh dear!’ I cried, ‘let me take your vitals and we shall rush you through!’

From the children’s doctor’s kit, I got a stethoscope and listened to teddy’s heart. I wrote some numbers on the paper. Then I took his temperature and so forth, as if I was a real nurse carrying out all the needed tests.

‘Right, that looks okay, Mr Teddy. I’m going to speak to the doctor right now and then we shall get you into surgery.’

‘Is it that bad?’ Adile shouted.

‘Yes I’m afraid so. We need to stitch up that cut and give you a stuffing transfer right away!’

‘Oh no!’ Adile moaned and hugged teddy tightly.

‘It’ll all be fine. Teddy won’t feel anything and afterwards, he’ll be as good as new. Can I leave to get the doctor now?’

Adile buried her face in teddy and nodded.

I left the room and went into the living room once more. I changed jumpers to a white one, took off the nurse’s hat, put the stethoscope on, my reading glasses on and tied my hair back into a ponytail.

I walked into the conservatory and announced, ‘I’m the doctor.’

‘Doctor!’ Adile cried, ‘please fix my teddy!’

Tears sparkled in her eyes and she was on the edge of a crying session again.

I knelt down and took both Adile’s hand and teddy’s paw.

‘It’s all going to be okay,’ I said gently, ‘I know just want to do. Would you like to come with me now? You can stay with teddy whilst I operate.’

‘Yes, please!’ Adile spoke.

I helped her up from the floor and we went into the living room.

‘Mr. teddy, please lay on the table here. Don’t worry, everything is going to be fine,’ I spoke.

Adile lay teddy on the coffee table and I handed her the nurse’s hat whilst asking, ‘would you like to be the nurse?’

With a nod, Adile put the hat on then patted teddy to comfort him.

‘Here’s a mask for you, nurse and also one for me,’ I said and we both put the green masks onto our lower faces, so our mouths and noses were covered.

‘Firstly, teddy let’s give you some special gas which will make you sleepy,’ I said, ‘nurse? Let’s count to ten together whilst I do this, okay?’

I picked up an empty paper bag and place it over the bear’s face. Then I gently and slowly pressed the bag inwards, so it crumbled and became flat. Adile and I counted to ten.

‘Mr teddy? can you hear me?’ I spoke.

Adile lent in then shook her head, ‘he’s a sleep,’ she added.

‘Good. Right. I got some stuffing here and I’m going to put it inside the wound now.’

I put a few handfuls of stuffing inside the teddy. Felt it and added one more handful.

‘Is that enough?’ Adile asked.

‘Yes, I believe so and now I’m getting the needle and thread….’

Adile gasped and put her hands to her cheeks, ‘No!’ she wailed.

‘It’s okay,’ I answer soothingly.

I thread the needle with brown thread and got sewing the hole closed.

‘Oh, teddy, oh teddy, please be okay!’ Adile muttered.

She started sniffing and sobbing. I reassure her as best I can.

I finished sewing the hole. I tied and cut the threads then smooth teddy’s fur to hide my handwork.

‘Nurse, I’m all done. You can wake him now,’ I say.

Adile gently shook teddy a few times whilst calling his name. I sit him upright and handed him back to her.

‘Teddy? Are you well again? Let me see!’ Adile said and she carefully inspected my sewing, ‘he’s fine now,’ she concluded and give him a tight hug.

‘Teddy needs some fresh and sun now. Can you take him outside to play? He should be able to now.’

Adile nodded and come over to hug me. Her warm arms wrap around my neck and I hugged her back. I took off the nurses’ hat and mask and kiss her cheek.

‘Thank you, mummy,’ Adile said.

‘Your welcome,’ I answered.

Adile rushed off and I tided things away and straighten things out again. In the conservatory, I paused and watched my daughter and her teddy bear playing in the sandbox, the sun bouncing off her blonde hair and her face full of happiness.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2020/03/26/tale-weaver-268-medical-26th-march/ with thanks).

The Records Office (Part 2)

hospital-2301041_1920

Elisa frowned and walked back into the kitchen. The kettle clicked and she made a coffee. Looking around, she decided not to eat in here as she normally did, but go back to the office and turn the TV on for awhile.

The microwave pinged, she got her food and went back to her desk. The radio was still on but no longer playing classical music, it was an old rock song instead. Elisa went over and looked at the dial. It had been moved from her normal station to another. Wondering why that kept happening, she turned it off and put the TV on.

Channel flicking, Elisa ended up with the news again. She ate and listened to the reporter talking absentmindedly. Years ago, she would have often gone out to lunch with the others. Now, going out and eating alone seemed pointless. Staying at her desk meant she could work through lunch or have a shorter break and thus leave earlier. Today felt like one of those days.

Just before Elisa finished the phone rang. She gulped down her coffee and answered the call, ‘hello, Greenfield Hospital Records Office.’

White noise blasted back at her. Elisa listened for a moment then repeated herself. Still static. She hung up and waited a minute. The phone stayed silent. Eliza took another drink of coffee and the phone rang again.

‘Hello?’

White noise then a super distance voice saying something.

‘Pardon me? I can’t hear you,’ Elisa spoke.

More static blared and Elisa had to hold the phone away from her ear. Placing the receiver back again, she had a voice once more but couldn’t make out anything out. She hung up and decided to let the answer machine get the next call. If it was important, they would keep trying.

Elisa finished her coffee and tided up. She went into the kitchen and saw the sink tap running. Turning it off, she told herself she had left it on and went to visit the bathroom. A tap was also running in here.

Elisa went to the middle sink and turned it off. She was sure she hadn’t left it on. She hadn’t used that sink last time she was in here. She went to the toilet and coming out of the stall, she saw that all the taps were on.

‘What the…? Is there a plumping problem?’

Elisa turned all the taps off then had to turn one back  on to wash her hands. That done, she left, went back to her desk and phoned her boss. There was no maintenance team anymore and any reports like that had to be put into the boss who would then find a handyman to fix it. If they could be bothered. It was unsure what the plans were for the now abandoned hospital. So, maintenance was no longer a priority.

Leaving a message, Elisa got back to work. If she skipped her afternoon break, she could leave forty-five minutes early. She looked at the clock to double check this and saw that the hands had stopped on twelve.

Frowning Elisa got up and took it off the wall. The battery had probably died. She set it on the edge of her desk and looked at her PC clock instead. Nodding, she got back to work, typing up the paper files and refiling things.

The tick tick of a clock stopped her fingers over the keyboard. She looked at the clock and saw the hands had began to move again.

‘Odd,’ she uttered.

Elisa took the battery out and turned back to her work.

Tick Tick.

She looked at the clock. The hands were still moving.

‘That’s not possible!’ Elisa cried.

She picked up the clock and watched the hands move. They stopped on two and four. Elisa turned the clock around and spun the dial back so that both hands were on twelve again. Holding the clock before her, she watched it closely but the hands didn’t move. Elisa placed the clock on the edge of her desk and watched the hands again. They stayed still.

‘I’m not losing it,’ Elisa spoke.

She got up and went into the kitchen. She splashed cold water on her face then drink down a whole glass of water. Elisa put the kettle on and made a coffee. Waiting, she heard footsteps in the hallway.

That must be security doing their rounds, she thought.

The footsteps walked passed the kitchen. A door creaked open then slammed shut. Elisa jumped and hurried out but there was no one in the corridor. She walked to each door, knocked on them, called ‘hello?’ then tried to open the doors but they were all locked.

‘Maybe, it was another door somewhere else?’

Going back to the kitchen, Elisa made her coffee and returned to her desk. The TV was off and the radio was on. A pop song was echoing through the speaker. Elisa turned it back to the classical station.

‘Today’s messed up,’ Elisa spoke.

The phone rang. She picked it up and heard static. Hanging up, Elisa sent an email to her boss complaining about a problem with the telephone.

A clacking, like something metal falling over, made Elisa gasp and jump around. The noise had come from above somewhere. Breathing deeply, Elisa told herself to calm down. Something had just fallen over. Maybe, a security guard had moved something. It was nothing to worry about.

A crawling feeling like a spider walking up her hand, rose the hairs on her skin and Elisa felt chilly. The feeling that something wasn’t right and she was being watched, had her turning this way and that.

‘I’m done for the day. I’ll make the hours up later.’

Elisa packed up, gathered her things and left. Going up the stairs, she felt slightly better. The basement without any windows sometimes felt claustrophobic and perhaps that all it was. Elisa reached the floor above and walked down the corridor.

She passed windows, it was raining and getting dark all ready. Lights flickered above her and footsteps fell into time with her own. Elisa turned, there was no one just an empty corridor.

Elisa hurried on, wanting nothing more then to get outside. Once, she was in the fresh air things would be better. It was all in her head, she had been working and thinking too hard. Ghosts weren’t real. It was all just normal sounds.

It felt like forever before she arrived at the main doors. She went though and outside. Rain splashed her face, cold wind stirred around her and Elisa felt more at ease. The strange notion that she couldn’t be got out here floated into her mind.

Elisa tried to shake that thought away. What did it mean anyway? Opening her umbrella, she huddled underneath it and walked back to her car. Not once did she look back but if she had done, she would have seen countless outlines of people looking out of the windows watching her go.

The Records Office (Part 1)

hospital-2301041_1920

Elisa unlocked the main hospital’s back door and stepped inside. Rain dripped off her umbrella and coat. Named storm Jorge was building up out there, the rain was heavy coming down on all ready flooded ground and the wind was blowing like a speeding car.

Turning on the lights, Elisa shook her umbrella out and caught her breath. She could hear the rain dripping inside somewhere close by and the wind working it’s way through the broken windows. Hoping it wasn’t too cold in her office today, Elisa walked down the quiet hospital corridors towards the basement.

She was dressed in her relaxed Friday office clothes; grey trousers, flat black shoes, lime green long sleeve blouse and a woollen black jumper. She carried her heavy backpack on one shoulder which held all she needed, plus more to get her through the working day.

Choosing the two flights of stairs inside of the elevator, Elisa watched her step and recalled how only five years, this back staircase would have been busy with office staff and hospital workers. Now, like the rest of the place, they were still. For the past year and a half, Elisa and three security guards were the only people left at the recently closed grounds.

Reaching the basement, Elisa walked to the fourth door which was labelled as The Patients’ Records Office. The other rooms down here were a mixture of supply, storage, other paperwork, a large staff break room and other offices. Sometimes, Elisa would have to go in these other rooms to find things but mostly, she stuck to her desk.

Unlocking the door with one with the keys from a massive bunch of them, Elisa went in and put her umbrella into the stand. Wiggling out of her coat, she hung that up on a peg then put her rucksack at the leg of her desk.

The office was too quiet, she could feel the pressure on her ears. Elisa turned the small TV on which was on the far wall above the handful of abandoned desks and cabinets. The news came on, the sound breaking the quietness and making her feel like she was no longer alone.

Her desk was in the middle of the room, facing the door but she had turned the angle of it so she could see the TV as well. Eliza put her rucksack down, turned on her computer and both screens. Next, she put the heaters on and the kettle too. She made a coffee and sat down on her old chair.

Of all the staff to stay employed to complete the final tasks of the hospital, she was now the last one. Perhaps, she had been chosen because she had been here for over twenty years and had been the manager of the patients’ records for six of those? Maybe, it was because she had been close to retirement and her boss had felt sorry for her?

‘I don’t mind,’ Elisa had said at the deciding meeting, ‘I can’t imagine retiring and having nothing to do. I’ve been applying for jobs and got some interviews.’

‘The board would like you to stay awhile and finish up things,’ her boss had spoken, ‘would that be okay? Your pay and hours won’t change but you may find yourself working alone for a bit. I’m not sure who else will be staying on.’

Without thinking, Elisa had replied, ‘that’s fine. I don’t mind.’

Her job was simple enough; putting paper records onto the computer system. Checking things had been filed correctly, searching for information when contacted by medical staff or the public and disposing of documents as needed.

It was eerie being here alone but Elisa had grown use to it and didn’t mind as much now. She found she could watch whatever TV or listen to whichever radio station she wanted. There was no waiting around in the break room, no one distracting her and she didn’t mind being a bit lonely.

Sometimes, the phone would ring and it would be security checking  up on her or was medical person from another hospital wanting information. Elisa’s boss would call make sure anything was okay and maybe asking her to do something. Once or twice, a person had phoned who was tracing their family history and Elisa had been happy to help see if there was any records of that surname. 

Occasionally, the back door bell would ring and Elisa would answer the phone to find her boss was outside having come on a visit or it would be a PA from someone from the board wanting to pick something up or a security guard come for a chat.

More often then not, the working day would pass without Elisa having contact from anyone. It didn’t worry her though because she knew there wasn’t much of a need for a closed down hospital’s paperwork.

Recently, Elisa had stated hearing and noticing odd things. She didn’t believe in ghosts, she was a religious Roman Catholic and trusted that everyone went to Heaven or Hell. However, things that didn’t have an explanation happened were happening.

The sounds of doors opening and closing, though there was no wind that day. Voices whispering when Elisa knew she was alone. The phone ringing and no one being there or another phone ringing somewhere else which shouldn’t happen because all other phones were disconnected. Equipment being moved or knocked over, footstep above her or outside the records office door and two or three times, the feeling she was being watched.

Elisa had rung the security team and the police a few times and told them, ‘I think someone is in the building, can you check?’ or ‘I’m just seeing if a security guard is close by as there was a big banging sound and a door slamming.’

It was better to be save then sorry and Elisa was just sure it was animals or the natural movement of things. She got on with her work, filling her mind with her tasks and home plans. Perhaps, soon her employment would come to the end and she would get a new job where she had to work surrounded by people again.

I think I’d like that, to have colleagues again, Elisa thought, to chat with someone and get help with tasks. To make new friends and share cooking tips.

Elisa smiled and carried on typing up records whilst above the hospital buildings lay in silence. That didn’t last long because somewhere a door creaked open and a voice called out.

Pausing, Elisa looked up and listened. Blaming the wind, she turned off the TV and put the radio on instead. A pop song filled the room. Frowning, Elisa moved the dial back to the classical station she preferred and went back to work once more.

Lunchtime arrived. Stretching, Eliza got up and went into the break room. Her back and limbs felt stiff but some light exercises whilst she waited for her ready-meal to heat up would help.

‘It’s hotpot today,’ she said to herself, putting it in the microwave.

She filled the kettle and made another coffee.

Heavy footsteps sounded in the hall and approached the door.

Thinking it was one of the security guards, Elisa called out, ‘hi, come and have some lunch with me. I could do with the company today. Fridays drag so much don’t they?’

She turned, expecting to see someone but there was no one in the room. Puzzled, Elisa stepped out into the corridor and saw she was quite alone.

 

To Be Continued…

 

Learning to Knit

knitting-1430153_1920

Waking in my hospital bed, I came around to the sound of nurses’ voices and the good morning mutterings of the other patients. A TV with the news report brought me further awake and I reflected upon how the world sounded like it hadn’t changed much since yesterday but things for me had.

The keyhole operation had been a success and I should have an easy recover. I was grateful for that because if the doctor had had to open things up, it would have taken an age to heal. He had said I would be out of hospital in a few days then I was on home bed rest for a week. I didn’t mind that, there was plenty of stuff I could do at home but hospital was different.

I don’t know what it was but time seemed to run differently, like it was four hours behind everywhere else here, though when you looked at a clock time tricked you into seeing the correct time so you wouldn’t think any different about it. This was an odd theory of mine but it had helped distracted me for the previous two days.

A nurse appeared to check on me. She asked a bunch of questions which my tried and not all together brain struggled to answer. She looked at my stitches and spoke about having a shower but not getting my lower stomach wet which seemed impossible to me.

I was glad of the shower and change into comfy PJ’s instead of the starched hospital gowned. Once back in bed, breakfast came around and I had porridge with strawberry jam and sugar.

It was only after that I notice that my next door neighbour on the right had been changed. At some point since going in for surgery and sleeping through the night, Lily Dixon, a young woman with blonde hair who’s appendix had been removed had gone and an old woman had taken her place.

I felt a little sad about that because Lily had been a chatter box and it had been nice to listen to her taking about all kinds of things. Now, this new woman had white hair, a pale wrinkled face and was wearing a blue flower nightie. She looked to be in her seventies or eighties and she was busy knitting something.

‘Hello,’ I said, ‘you weren’t here yesterday.’

‘I came in the evening,’ she replied, ‘moved from another ward. They needed the bed up there. I should have been discharged but things are still not right.’

‘I was probably asleep. I’m Lauren Rhodes.’

‘Mary Brian,’ the woman spoke.

‘What are you making there?’

‘Some baby stuff for the premature unit on the other side of the hospital,’ Mary answered.

‘Wish I could do something like that. It would help to pass the time, it always seems to go so slowly in here,’ I sighed.

‘I’ve some spare needles and lots of wool,’ Mary spoke, ‘I can teach you. I have taught my own children and grandchildren. It’s easy once you get the hang of it.’

‘Okay, why not?’ I said.

Mary finished what she was doing, set her knitting aside and pulled a bag up onto her lap. She took two wooden needles and a soft ball of sky blue wool. She got out of her and bed moved her chair closer towards my bed.

‘Are you okay? Shall I get a nurse?’ I asked, worriedly.

‘I’m fine. Do me some good. Now take the needles,’ Mary responded and give me the thin wooden points.

She found the end of the wool and passed me that too. I liked the feel of the wool, it was soft but not fluffy.

Slowly, Mary instructed me on what to do. It was difficult to get the loops and the needles through them at first. I would also drop or just miss one, sometimes I knitted together or and added in a stitch. My first square looked like a mess of knots.

‘Maybe, I’m not ready,’ I said frustratedly.

‘It takes practise. We shall keep going after lunch.’

I had gotten a little bit further by the end of the day. Learning to knit had tried me further and so I slept well enough. In the morning, I was determined to keep trying. The knitting was a good focus for me and it helped to pass the time.

By that evening, my square looked more like it should and I was really pleased.

‘Keeping going,’ said Mary and I nodded.

The next morning, Mary was discharged and I felt miserable.

‘Here,’ I said, passing the needles and wool back to her as she packed her things up.

‘Oh. Why don’t you keep them, dear?’ Mary replied.

‘What? I can’t!’ I cried.

‘It’s fine. I have plenty,’ Mary said waving me away, ‘here have some more balls of wool too. I get them from the charity shop I volunteer at, though I have plenty at home,’ she laughed.

‘Thanks,’ I replied with a smile.

‘Oh and here, take my number so you can let me know how it goes.’

‘Of course!’

Mary left and for awhile I sat feeling deflated then I picked up the needles and started trying to knit again. It took me a good few days to get the knitting right but I found it a nice hobby when I was at home on bed rest.

There was a calmness to the running of the wool through your fingers and the clicking of the needles. I could watch TV and my hands would be busy which helped me not fret over my progress or my mistakes.

A week or so later, I phoned Mary and she was delighted to hear from me. We meet for a cup of tea and became best friends joined by knitting.

Postcard Story

postcard-1197664_1920

Dear Peggy,

Well, the New Year has got off to a great start! We are stranded in New Zealand because on the way home from the fireworks, I fell down a flight of concrete stairs and broke my leg!

Yes, I might have had a bit too much to drink, you know how it goes! Got to hospital via ambulance as Winnie thought I’d damaged my back and neck, I was in too much pain to focus. Hospital is nice but no idea when getting out.

We’ll keep in touch, see you when we finally get back!

Bob and Winnie.

Good For The Soul #3LineTales

three line tales, week 197: vinyl albums in a record shop, bowie, the cure, fleetwood mac, joy division

‘Good for the ears, good for the soul,’ my dad use to say.

He loved music but couldn’t play an instrument or sing a note and yet I couldn’t imagine him without his headphones on, feet and fingers tapping along to something.

It brought tears to my eyes picturing him like that but it was best to remember him that way instead of in a hospital bed, draped in tubes and wires, waiting for a heart transplant that never came.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/11/07/three-line-tales-week-197/ with thanks).

Komorebi #AtoZChallenge

forest-56930_1280

Komorebi; sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees.

Six months trapped in hospital with a brain tumour and I didn’t want to spend another moment in doors. But my wife and nurse insisted on a few days resting and strength rebuilding at home before I went back to my hobby of hiking.

‘Take it easy,’ my wife said as we arrived at the forest trail.

‘I shall do,’ I replied and we set off.

Spring was high in the air. The flowers and leaves on the trees out in full and the gentle breeze carried their scent to me. Birds were singing loudly, making the perfect music to our walk. Sunlight was coming down through the trees, creating dancing patches of light on the ground.

The air was so clean and fresh, a shock after the disinfected air of the hospital. There was colour everywhere, so different from the blandness I’d been in. Warmth kissed my skin and I looked up at the sun through the trees’ leaves. I took deep breaths, eyes shut, let the light play across me and relaxed fully for the first time in almost year.

‘Are you okay?’ my wife asked.

I nodded.

‘I’ve missed this,’ I said quietly, ‘nature is the best healer.’

The Cowboy Ghost #SundayWritingPrompt

ghost-town-551136_1920

I couldn’t sleep, my operation was tomorrow and my head was all over the place. I slipped from the hard hospital bed and drew the thin curtains around so I wouldn’t disturb anyone. Turning on the lamp which blinded me, I dug around for my Ipod and headphones.

Music might not help me sleep but it might calm me. Putting the headphones on, I scanned through the Ipod till I found natural sounds music. Relaxing waves of the ocean filled my ears. I lay back and let them carry me away.

I pictured a white sand beach, hot sun, palm trees, ice cold coconut and pineapple juice drinks. The sea was a dazing bright blue with just a touch of white on top of the waves. I was sitting on a chair basking in the sun, next walking along the shore, feet getting wet.  then I was swimming in gently tumbling waves.

I smiled, feeling all drifty-dreamy.

The song changed to the rattling of something….the neighing of a horse? Oh, was I riding a horse on the beach? How nice!

The creaking of a wooden sign blowing in the wind, a crow cawing and the beach scene changed to being in a desert.

I reached, keeping my eyes closed, to stop the track and re-play the ocean one but then a handsome, rugged man floated to my mind and my finger stopped.

The man, a stereotypical wild west cowboy, was riding a brown horse into a wooden built town. A strong wind was blowing, stirring up the top layer of desert sand. A storm was to be coming. The cowboy got off his horse and looked around, the town seemed to be abandoned.

I decided that whatever was happening here I didn’t want to know. I tried opening my eyes but they felt too heavy to do so. I fumbled my fingers across the Ipod but I couldn’t find the right button to press. I sighed, give up and carried on listening to the track with scenes playing out in my head like a movie.

The cowboy was stood in the wild west town, listening for signs of life. He heard tinkling piano music coming from the saloon. Walking over, his spurs clicking, boot steps heavy, the music grew stronger and he started to hear laughter. There where people here after all! He stepped up onto the porch, it creaked under his weight then he opened the saloon doors which screamed on disused hinges.

The music and laughter stopped. The place was empty!

The cowboy looked around and saw a thick layer of dust everywhere. He went over to the piano, boots and spurs loud in the silence and pressed down a few keys, out of tune wheezing notes sounded. That wasn’t the music he had heard before.

The cowboy walked out, confused. A rumble of thunder sounded, the wind was getting stronger, sweeping the desert sand about. Next door, was a motel. He walked in, wondering if he could get a room for the night. He went up to the counter and ring the bell once then repeatedly. Nobody appeared and dust lay here too.

He headed back, collected his horse and wandered through the town. It started raining and the sky was growing dark. The cowboy didn’t really want to spend a night here but he felt there was no choice now.

A church bell rang out, he stopped and counted, ‘one, two…three, four…five, six…seven, eight…’

He went to the wooden church and tried the door but was locked tight.

The rain started falling heavily, the thunder rumbled again and in the distance, the now black sky was light up by a fork of lightening.

The cowboy’s horse stamped her feet and neighed nervously.

‘It’s all right, girl,’ the cowboy said as he rubbed her muzzle, ‘Looks like we got to stay the night. Let’s go back to the saloon.’

Hurrying through the rain which was fast turning the dry sand to mud, the cowboy turned behind the saloon and found a stable. It was rotting like the rest of the buildings but still standing for the moment. They went inside and found dry but moldy hay.

The cowboy lit a lantern, casting light to see by. He made his horse as comfortable as he could then sat for a few minutes. He fell into deciding if to stay the night in the stable with his horse or not. Would the beds in the saloon be more comfortable?

He decided to go and see. The cowboy got up, taking his bed roll, the lantern and whatever else he needed. He headed outside, braving the storm to get back into the saloon.

The cowboy pushed open the door and went in with rain dripping off his leather hat, coat and pants, sandy mud clumping his boots and smell of the storm thick in his nose. The saloon was as empty as before.

He went behind the bar, found some bottles of whisky and took them upstairs. His boots stomping as the wooden steps squeaked. He pushed open the door of the first room with his foot and looked in. There was just a single bed, side table and a curtained window.

He went in, placing the lantern down on the side table and got himself comfy. Boots came off, jacket too. He uncorked one of the bottles with his teeth and took a few swings. It wasn’t great whisky but it tasted okay.

He made the bed, settled in and pulled a book out of his belongings. Drink in one hand, Bible in the other, he listened to the storm raging outside. The wind was doing it’s best to bring down the wooden buildings, there was so much creaking and snapping. The rain was like a whip, lashing about. The thunder was rumbling like the empty belly of a beast and sometimes lightening would flash up the curtain covered window.

The cowboy began to doze off. Warm, comfy, whisky hazy.

A pearly piano note broke through the storm, quickly followed by more as someone played fast across the keys.

The cowboy stirred. The Bible slipped to the floor with a slap. He awoke and listened, frowning at the piano notes he was hearing but knew he couldn’t possible be.

A woman’s laughter echoed, wood creaked, long skirts swishing.

The cowboy smelt hints of perfume.

Voices rose and fell, chairs scrapped the floor, metal cups clanked and the piano music came impossibly fast.

The stairs creaked once more, lighter this time as if the person upon them was bare foot and weighed little. A gentle girly laugh and ruffle of skirts outside the cowboy’s chosen room made him believe he was no longer alone.

The cowboy snatched up the lantern and got to his feet, drawing one of his guns, he went to the door but it squeaked open before he could touch it.

All the noises stopped, silence hit him painfully but the cowboy stood his ground.

The door swing then was thrown against the wall with a loud bang.

The cowboy just had time to make out the woman – tall, fair haired, huge blood red dress- before she launched herself at him and sent them both tumbling to the floor. The cowboy shot his gun, the bullets hitting the ceiling and causing wood and dust to rain down on them.

The woman’s hands wrapped around his throat. He felt ice cold, dead fingers choking the life out of him. He struggled but her grip was too powerful. She bashed his head against the floor, he felt waves of dizziness and nausea. The cowboy tried to smash her with the gun but he lost his grip and the weapon skidded away. He grabbed her with his hands, fingers fisting the silky dress and slipping through the material.

The cowboy’s head smashed into the floor and he heard a deafening crack,  blackness washed over him.

Outside, the rain poured off the roofs of the wooden buildings, the wind howled through empty rooms, the thunder echoed as lightening flashed over the church tower and set the wooden cross ablaze.

 

My eye lids fluttered and I came back awake. The glaring lamp above me stung my eyes. I pulled my headphones off and rested a few minutes. My mind felt strangely blank but then bits of pieces came back to me.

I couldn’t hear any weather. There were the sounds of other hospital patients’ sleeping and shifting on scratchy sheets. Nurses’ hushed footsteps and whispered voices reached me.

Heavy footsteps with a slight metal jingle crossed the floor. The curtain around my bed fluttered and I got ready to explain to the nurse why I was awake.

The curtain carried on moving as if someone was running their hands over it looking for the gap to part them. It got faster, a huge rippling all over which was more like the wind then a person.

A spike of fear hit my stomach, what was going on?

Hands appeared, reaching through then the fingers bending to find the edge of the curtain.

‘Thank, God,’ I whispered, ‘I’m sorry for being awake, I’m having trouble sleeping.’

The curtain was violently yanked back, I jumped, almost tumbling from the bed, ‘there’s no need for that!’ I cried, scrambling in the blanket.

Then I saw him.

The cowboy from my dream! I heard his boots and spurs hitting the floor, the cracking of his leather jacket and pants. His hat was down, half covering his face, I could make out a strong jaw line covered in black stubble. His throat was badly bruised, some of which were outlined like finger marks. He smelt of stormy air, burning wood and old whisky.

‘He’s not real. You’re still dreaming,’ I whimpered, clutching the sheet to my chin like a scared child.

I heard a rumble of thunder, a clash of lightening, rain hitting the window like stones and a desert wind howling down the ward. I wanted to turn to the window to look but something held my gaze fixed on the cowboy.

There was a plop, plop sound and despite myself, I looked over the edge of the bed and onto the floor. Black blood was pooling around the cowboy’s boots, it was falling from the edge of his coat.

‘What do you want?’ I demanded.

He took his hat off and put it to his chest as if in an old fashioned greeting. I saw his face fully but it was just a skull! Deep hollowed, black eye sockets, no nose, high cheek bones, wide jaw and two rows of clenched together gold teeth.

I fought for breath but couldn’t get any in. My body went numb and I so badly wanted to tear my eyes away but I couldn’t!

The cowboy turned slowly, spurs scrapping the floor. He showed the back of his skull which had been totally smashed in. There were chunks missing and cracks running along like crazy paving.

I screamed and screamed.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2019/02/24/sunday-writing-prompt-campfire-ghost-stories/ and also, Sound Effects: Night In A Ghost Town https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sch7HyYANiI with thanks).

‘Tis Not The Season To Be Jolly #TMAT120

grinch-1898511_1920.jpg

I didn’t have any Christmas spirit inside of me, what I’d had instead had been cancerous lumps. The doctor said the operations had been a success but I would have to stay in hospital over Christmas to recover. There was no place worse to spend Christmas, other then jail and the streets, I guess.

‘Home by new year’s eve, maybe, if you are well enough,’ he had added.

I looked at the few tatty decorations the ward nurses had strung up and the tiny Christmas tree on the table. It looked like no one had even tried, like me they couldn’t be bothered. There was no jolliness to be had here.

 

(Inspired by; https://rantingalong.blog/2018/12/06/joelles-tales-first-thursday-of-the-month-tmat120-writing-prompt-for-december-2018/ with thanks).

 

Something In The Night (Part 2)

abandoned, architecture, building

Abe reached the top of the staircase, his old legs feeling shaky after the climb. He stopped and caught his breath. The light from his torch spotlighted on the wall before him and the edge of a large picture frame.

Rising the light up, Abe saw the huge portrait of a middle-aged man wearing an early 1800’s black jacket, white shirt and red cravat. The man had long black hair which was tied back with a black ribbon. The man’s head was slightly turned to the right, so the dark brown eyes were staring off into the distance and not looking down at you as many other portraits did. Underneath the painting, a worn out bronze sign read Jacob Oscars.  

Abe had looked the man up after his first exploration of the asylum and found that Oscars had been the original owner and designer. Though only a few years later, he had sold the place to Doctor Charles Denty who many people had believed was the founding father. Abe had researched Denty too and uncovered some chilling stories about the scientist and his brain experiments.

Turning to look behind him, Abe saw the window above the front door which looked down upon the stairs at this level. It was where he had first seen the light. Now though he could see the dark stormy night pressing against the glass.

Clearing his throat as quietly as he could, Abe turned left and went up a few steps that led onto the first floor and the east wing. The light he had seen from the security cabin had come from this side and past by the window he was now approaching. Not stopping he pressed on to the end where a large, but less grand staircase led to the second floor.

His feet slowed but instead of going up he turned right and followed the corridor around and into a long hallway. The wall on the left was lined with doorways and the wall on the right was broken up by a few windows which Abe knew looked down onto the asylum’s center courtyard.

Silence and dust hung heavy in the air as Abe shone his torch along the doors. Nothing looked undisturbed and still there were no fresh footprints. All of a sudden the weight of the search got to him. Abe’s thoughts tumbled and the thrill of the chase began to fade.

Where do I start? he asked.

Casting his mind back he thought about the few times over the last five years when he had caught trespassers. There had been three different gangs of teenagers who had made a lot of noise destroying things and one gang had started a fire in one of the ground floor rooms. They had been easy to track because of the noise and they had brought a lot of lights with them too.

Other trespassers had been small groups of work men  who had come to rob the place of any valuable; lead, copper, expensive wooden fits and anything else they could remove. Abe had easily heard them at work too. It was no quiet job ripping through walls and flooring.

The last lot of trespasser were the ones Abe didn’t mind and actually allowed in. They were the abandoned places lovers. They came with cameras and recorders to take photos and film the asylum. Sometimes there was only one of them but most of the time they came in pairs or threes. Their whispering voices and flashing cameras drawing Abe after them.

It had been awhile through, close to a year now since the last known trespassers had been in. Security had been tightened at that point, but Abe was sure people had found ways to escape his notice. Plus, old age had caught up with him and Abe’s hearing, eyes and fast movements had slowed.

Abe moved carefully down the hallway, listening hard for any sounds. At the first door which was half open, he shone his torch into the large room. The empty floor and walls met his eyes. It had been the night nurses’ room once, Abe had read on an 1852 blueprint of the asylum that were framed on a wall in the security cabin.

A creaking of a loose floorboard or door vibrated downwards. Abe rose his torch and looked up at the ceiling. He held his breath and waited for more. A whispering voice tickled his ear. He couldn’t make at the words. Another creak came, longer then before. Someone was opening a door on the second floor.

To Be Continued…