Sunday May 29th, 2016

The exercise:

I suppose we should get back to the House of Mercy, huh? You know, before May ends in... two days?

I'm going to try to get things back on track over the next few months. Aiming for mid-June, then within the first two weeks of July, then back to being in the first week for August onward. That's the plan, at any rate.

All right, let's get to it.


Julie was feeling confused. Again. When, she wondered idly, was the last time she was truly certain of anything? Probably when she'd become convinced that she was fully, no going back, out of this world crazy. What was that, two weeks ago? Two months? During that brief time when she was convinced she'd been given a roommate who reminded her of someone she couldn't quite remember?

Now, though? She wasn't so sure.

Was she starting to get better? The signs, Julie felt, were conflicting.

It had begun shortly after they'd allowed her out of her restraints for a short period each day. That had felt like trust, as though they were telling her We know you're no longer crazy enough to do yourself harm within the confines of your room. She had been inordinately pleased.

It was a day or two after that, however, that the incident had occurred. Babs had given her the usual assortment of pills to take with lunch. Then she did her usual oral inspection to make sure they'd all gone down. Normally she would stay and make sure Julie ate a proper meal as well, but she'd been called away and didn't return for quite some time.

While she was gone Julie had begun to feel quite ill. Perhaps the fish had gone off. Maybe her medications were from an expired batch. Whatever it was, lunch (and her pills) were not going to stay down. Julie got out of bed to rush to the bathroom but there was not enough time. Not wanting to vomit all over the floor, she went to the window instead.

She'd had to clean up a little, but no evidence of what had happened remained by the time Babs returned. Embarrassed, Julie said nothing. By that night, when it was time to take her final pills of the day, her stomach was still in an uproar. This time she excused herself to use the bathroom mid-meal, ran the faucet at full blast to cover the noise, and emptied her stomach once more.

When Julie had exited the bathroom Babs had barely looked up from her notebook. They'd been working together long enough that little suspicion remained, which allowed Julie some leeway that she had never thought to take advantage of.

But by the next morning, having gone almost a full day without medicine, Julie had begun to notice things. And those things had not only brought her back to the question of her sanity, but to the practices of the staff of the House of Mercy as well.


Greg said...

Well, you got to it in May; I can't even say that! Still, well done, and I'm very intrigued by what you're setting up for Julie here -- I mean, we've pretty much known all along that there's something odd here, but it'll be interesting to see what Julie sees when she's off the meds. And I think I can provide a suitable side thread until you're ready to reveal all :)

"The doctor says that there are complications with your leg, dear." Babs was always so reassuring and grandmotherly, even when she appeared to be an unusually large bumble-bee. Anne forced a smiled on her face: there was always something. The bone wasn't healing well, there was septicaemia, now there were complications. She'd lost track of how long she'd been here now, and that couldn't be a good thing, but there was always another reason she had to stay. And another reason she should be taking pills too, it seemed; surely no-one took antibiotics for this long?
"I guess I'll need to stay until that's sorted out then," said Anne. Her tone betrayed her dismay.
"Oh no, dear," said Babs with a buzz that Anne's mind interpreted as an insincere smile. "You can leave whenever you like! You've got medical insurance, right? And I'm sure you'll find some way to explain why it looks a little like a gunshot wound."
Anne's stomach twisted. Babs was right, she was always right. She wasn't keeping her here, she was just helping her make sure there was no trouble for herself on the outside.
Outside? Where had that word come from? That felt like... that felt like she was starting to feel like here was home.

In truth though Anne was starting to think of the hospital as a kind of home. She knew a lot of the staff by name now, and they weren't keeping her in the wards since her leg had gotten better; they've given her a job to do and a uniform and... well, it was a better job than she'd had on the outside... in the real world... none of these words seemed right. Before. A better job than she'd had before.
"You should go and get started on the drug doses, dear," said Babs, fluttering her wings a little. Anne smiled, her spirits actually lifting a little at the thought of having something to do, and she limped down the corridors to the pharmacy and it's little preparation room.

"Julie McDonald," said the second chart, and Anne paused for a moment. That was who she'd come looking for, and who didn't recognise her. At the back of her mind there was a nagging itch, so strong that she actually put her hand up to her head to scratch it. As she did an imp of mischievousness seized her, and she looked along the shelves for the cod liver oil. There, there it was. She dipped each of Julie's tablets in the cod liver oil: that would teach her to not recognise her when she came trying to rescue her. The imp goaded her again, and she picked up a pen and added to the chart that all of the pills were to be dipped in cod liver oil. She'd get in trouble if they found out it was her, but the other girls who did this job (all badgers, skunks and platypuses) wouldn't ask; they'd just do it. She let a smile play over her face and felt the itch at the back of her mind subside again. How odd.
"Kirsty Wellcome," said the next chart; she was in for "being too pretty". Then there was Maurette Orleo, she was in for "being pregnant without a father". What an odd bunch they had here at the House of Mercy!

Marc said...

Greg - I guess we've all been busy lately, huh? Oh well, hopefully everyone can free up some time soon'ish.

I really like the tie in with Anne being the one to mess with Julie's pills. And I'm intrigued by the other patients revealed at the end of your piece... makes me wonder about this house of supposed mercy even more.