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…

 

The B Virus

flying-dog-1633706_1920

The experts said the virus transferred from an animal and though it was contiguous, it was a mild bug that would soon go.

He knew differently but was sworn by the Secrets Act not to say anything. Bats were the contaminated animals but they hadn’t been captured from the wild. They had been born and lived in the lab to be the test subjects of a biological warfare drug.

It had been his project until the funding had fallen though. It was his task to destroy the bats but instead, short on money, he had sold them to a market vendor. He hadn’t given it much thought, the virus hadn’t worked and all the bats were fine.

He was slummed on the sofa, having fallen asleep in front the TV when the first reports came in. He awoke, stirred by the noise and saw that a new virus had been declared and the source seemed to be around a market area close to his town.

Perhaps, it was nothing? Just a coincidence. He went back to work; another month, another project, just enough money to get by on.

This thing will all blow over, he thought, the news likes to scare people and make it worse then it is.

But it didn’t go away. Day after day and months later, the virus had spread world wide. A pandemic was declared, people were dying and industry was at crawling speed. Streets and places like cinemas and shops were empty as people tried not to get ill. Everyday reports came in of rising confirmed cases.

He went to his bosses and told them he wanted to help make a vaccine. It seemed every scientists’ responsibility. It was agreed. He went to the archived biological warfare drug project, breed some new bats and got to work.

 

(Please note this is a fiction story and contains no true facts).

Bootlegged

alleyway-282318_1920

The alley was getting darker as the sunset. I lent against the wall and watched the streetlamps flickering on. The rain had stopped a few minutes ago, water dripped off the broken guttering and the overfilling bins. I had no idea how long or how much longer I’d have to wait but it was going to be worth it.

I tried to look casual, perhaps acted like I was looking for a lost kitten or something but it was hard to be so normal in a place like this. I hadn’t seen any police or soldiers or anyone else who looked suspicious. The only other sounds were from the cramped houses either side of me; babies crying, children talking, adults shouting and a lone dog barking.

A rattling of the broken wire fence at the back of the alley and the shuffling of feet drew my attention. It could be him or it could be someone else… I cast about and made clicking noises as if I was looking for a lost pet.

A hacking coughing stopped me and I looked up at the small man standing in the shadows. He was wearing a massive coat that covered him from head to floor, a floppy hat that covered the top of his head and give his face more cover. He might also have been wearing a woollen mask but it was hard to tell.

I walked over to him nervously but trying not to show any fear. There was enough light from the streetlamp to aid us and I tried not to stand in front of it. We both looked and listened, giving enough time for anybody watching us to jump out. Everything seemed normal.

Slowly, the small man opened his coat and there was a soft rustling sound. Light flashed across something shinny. He held his arms wide and coat high to reveal the many pockets sew inside which were stuffed full of bootlegged products.

I licked my lips and stepped even closer. Forgetting for a moment that we had to be careful. Someone could still be watching us, waiting for either the handover or the completion.

‘What you got?’ I whispered.

‘Whatever you want,’ the man hushed back, flashing a smile that showed off his golden teeth.

‘Nonpareils?’

‘Left side, down.’

I looked then pulled out a small grey packet. I felt the weight in my hand and decided that was fine. I put it in the secret pocket in my jeans.

‘Belgian Sea?’

‘Right, top.’

I pulled out a small box and looked quickly inside. I nodded and slipped the box into a pocket inside of my coat.

‘Cow Solid?’

‘Right middle. I got dark, white or milk.’

I selected a small paper wrapped bar of milk and eased it down the side of my left boot.

‘How much?’ I uttered.

He named his price and I handed over a few packets of cigarettes, painkillers and ketchup.

Satisfied we both walked away as it started raining again.

 

(This story was inspired by my fiance wondering what it would be like if chocolate was banned. This scene came into my head and I had to write a short story about it!)    

Plague Pit

kutna-hora-1327862_1920

We should never have returned to the dead planet. And yet, it was full of resources. The colony need supplies for its continuance and there were people who’d pay us well for a rare item or ancient artifact.

As I walked over a wooden beam, distracted by fixing my orange radiation mask, the beam give way under my weight. I tumbled into a dark shallow pit. The sounds of falling earth deafening me as it showered down.

I lay still, trying not to panic and stay calm. I had fallen underground before and soon my team would be here. The waterfall of noise faded and I heard distant voices calling. Then a powerful light came on from above and I saw what was facing me.

The empty eye sockets of a human skull were staring back at me. The dark pits of those hollows questioning and demanding answers.

I shuffled backwards and heard the rattling of bones as my hands and feet skittled across them. There were more skulls surrounding me, their empty sockets seemingly watching me as well.

There were too many! Far too many to be a normal burial place. This was a plague pit!

I tried to fight down the firing panic and the hint of vomit in my throat. I had to stay still and in control. Repeatedly telling myself it was okay, I shut my eyes and breathed heavily into the mask and air ventilation systems.

A rope bashed my helmet with a thud. I reached for it gratefully and let my team pull me up. Scrambling to the surface once more, I lay down and just breathed. A fine mist fell then a cloud of white drenched me. I was being decontaminated.

This plant was dead for a reason and I didn’t want to become it’s next victim.

Yuletide Gnomes

gnome-3000478_1920

This year elf on the shelf was out and gnomes were in. I liked them better, they had funny, fluffy beards, no faces just a nose sticking out from under a far too big hat and fat woollen bodies. They looked far cuter to have a round the house.

Until, things started happening. Little things went missing and then reappeared in other places. I heard child like giggling and it wasn’t my own children. I came down one morning and found the dishes all washed and put away!

‘What is going on around here?’ I muttered as I went around the playroom and put away all the farm animals for the third time that week.

‘It’s the gnomes, mum!’ my children cried.

‘The who?’

‘The yuletide gnomes. They keep doing all of this,’ my youngest daughter, Izzy said.

‘They like to play and keep the house clean,’ my oldest son, Ben replied, ‘I looked them up. They protect the house and like to eat porridge with butter on Christmas Eve.’

I laughed, ‘such imaginations you all have!’

‘No,’ my other daughter, Freya shouted, ‘they are real!’

I paused, ‘okay, they are real then….Do they report back to Santa like the elf did last year?’

‘Nope,’ my son replied, ‘they are like Santa and give out presents alongside a Yule goat.’

‘Is that why they keep getting the farm animals out? They need a goat?’ I questioned.

‘Maybe,’ Izzy said.

‘We need to buy a goat!’ Freya cried.

‘Let’s see what we can do then,’ I said.

That night after putting the children to bed and sitting down to watch TV with my husband, I kept looking over at the two Yuletide gnomes. Were they really the cause of things? Well, they weren’t doing any harm and if they wanted a goat and porridge on Christmas Eve then I was happy to join in the fun.

 

(Find out more here; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nisse_(folklore) )

The Figures In the Fog (Part 2)

avenue-4620141_1920

I stumbled around on the track, calling and calling Melody back to me. The mare was long gone, lost somewhere in the bank of fog.  I gathered myself and checked for injures, just a few cuts and bruises. My skirts, red velvet jacket and black cloak were damp and covered with mud, leaves and grass.

Breathing the frozen air, I got my bearings and decided it would be faster to continue walking forward then try to go back. My father had planned the road out so that it circled to the house no matter which way you went.

Wrapping my cloak tightly around me and putting the hood up, I set off. The fog parted as I went into it then rolled back behind me. The toes of my boots tapped against fallen branches and I crunched over brittle leaves.

I shouldn’t have bothered to come out here to find my father, brothers and guests. I should have stayed in the warm kitchen overseeing lunch being made and listening to the gossip of the servants. I should have brought my dog with me. Jess could have sniffed out my father faster then my eyes could have spotted him.

It had been, I don’t know, instinct? A whispering voice at the back of my head? That had brought me out here telling me something bad was going to happen. I trusted that voice and my mother had always encouraged me to do so.

I heard footsteps ahead. I stopped and called out, ‘Hello?’

No voice replied but the footsteps continued. Had someone else been thrown off their horse and were lost like myself in the forest?

‘Hello! It’s Rufina. I came to find you,’ I spoke.

The footsteps stopped.

My breathing was harsh in my ears and I thought I heard a rustle in the distance but it could have been anything as the fog muffled all sounds. Then, had it really been footsteps I had heard?

Unsure, I walked on, feeling my way more then anything. When the path didn’t feel solid under my feet, I stepped about till I found it again. It felt like being in a dim light, like it was evening time instead of late morning. Branches and leaves brushed me, heightening my senses.

I spotted movement ahead and thought a figure was coming out of the fog. Was it my father? One of my brothers? Or one of the guests? It was hard to tell but it looked like a tall man.

‘Hello? Who’s there?’ I shouted., ‘It’s me, Rufina!’

No reply came.

I picked up my pace and approached the figure but as the fog parted, there was no one there.

I turned around, peering as if I could see the figure somewhere else but there was only the fog and the shape of the close by trees.

‘Is there anybody there?’ I shouted, ‘please come to me! No playing games, it’s too dangerous out here for that!’

The wind shook the trees, there was a rattle of dry leaves and I felt a few brush against my legs as my skirts was whipped up. I pushed things down and straightened my cloak out. I tied the ribbon of my hood tighter and ordinate myself.

I did have a big imagination thanks to all the books I read but I couldn’t have really conjured someone just being there on the road?

Shaking the thoughts out of my head, I carried on and tried to work out how far away I was from home. I knew the road looped down to the edge of the forest before going back up. I must be close to that dip now.

A howling echoed through the forest. My all ready cold skin chilled further and I tripped a step. I held my breath and tried to listen. Where had the howl come from and what creature had made it?

No wolves roamed here. Was it a wild dog? Perhaps, it was the gardener’s pet dog? Or one of the hunting pack hounds?

‘I’m over here!’ I cried then realised how silly that was surrounded by this fog.

The howl sounded again. It was just a single one and it wasn’t answered by another. Not a good sign as the hounds would have been making a lot of noise. There must have been fifteen to twenty dogs all together, so there was no way they could be quiet.

I fretted, unsure what to do. Should I call the dog to me and risk it being a stray or wild dog that could bite me? Or it could be a friendly dog who would guide me back home?

Before I could decided there was a ruckus close by and something jumped out. I screamed and tried to run but something hit into me and I fell.

To Be Continued….

In The Boat

morning-4573991_1920

The sun was dipping low and reflecting on the lake’s still surface as if there was a second sun setting on another world under the water.

I didn’t look back as I walked on the planks towards the small blue painted wooden boat that lay in the tall rush reeds. I was calm in mind; empty headed my grandmother would describe it as.

Untying the boat, I pushed it out so the bottom wouldn’t get stuck then got in. I rowed out, noticing the thin mist parting around me and the ripples the oars created. It was all ready freezing out here and a thin frost was settling were it could. I could imagine the morning sun making the frost glitter like candlelight on crystal.

Stopping, I lay down in the boat’s belly and listened to the lapping of the small waves. I shut my eyes and let the cold come to me. Tomorrow, they would find me with frost on my eyelashes and lips. My yellow and gold lace trim ball gown frozen to my body and his last letter against my heart.

 

Dead #3LineTales

three line tales, week 195: hands coming out of the ocean

She wasn’t dead though she was meant to be. Instead, she was crawling out of the sea he had tried to drown her in with revenge all ready on her mind.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/10/24/three-line-tales-week-195/ with thanks.)

Wish #first50words

forest-3394066_1920

I wish we hadn’t gone to the woods that night. It had been fun at first, playing hide and seek.

In the dark everything was more hyped, thrilling and dangerous.

Hiding under a dead tree, trying not to laugh, I heard something whisper my name then felt hands around my neck.

 

(Inspired by; https://first50.wordpress.com/2019/10/14/i-wish-4/ with thanks).

Monastery #WhatPegmanSaw

tigers-nest-2691190_1920.jpg

There were so many Buddhist monasteries in Bhutan it had been hard to decide which ones to visit. I marked them on my map and tried to fit one in everyday.

No matter how calm being there made me as soon as I left the darkness crept back in. Heat would prickle my skin, thoughts and voices would crowd my mind. I felt taken over and no longer in control.

My only choice was to remain in a monastery but I didn’t want to be trapped. That’s how the darkness wanted me to be though; one way or another.

 

(Inspired by; https://whatpegmansaw.com/2019/07/27/what-pegman-saw-bhutan/ with thanks).