Monday July 11th, 2016

The exercise:

Let us return to the House of Mercy.

Took some time this morning to weed out our carrot row in the garden. While I was out there I discovered the first ripe cherry tomatoes of the season - Max was suitably impressed when I brought home six of them.

This afternoon we took a family trip to the beach. The sun hid behind clouds for most of it but that didn't stop Max from wanting to be in the lake. I got the honor of going in with him and... I think I'm finally warmed up again now.


Julie stood in the doorway between the bathroom and her room, still as a statue, and tried to think clearly. Doing so had definitely become easier in recent days, but the forgotten keys dangling from the lock on the door leading to the hallway had thrown her mind into chaos.

Apparently, she reminded herself again. Apparently forgotten.

Was this a test of some sort, she wondered, or an honest mistake? Babs had left in quite the hurry after Julie suggested that Babs looked like a chocolate sundae with two cherries on top.

Well, technically, she didn't leave until after she'd licked her lips and declared chocolate sundaes with cherries on top to be her very favorite childhood food.

Maybe Babs had been so flustered that she'd left the keys in the door. But how far could she get, really, before she realized her mistake? There were at least half a dozen other keys on the ring; were they just to other rooms, or to her office, or... to the outside?

Julie crossed the room slowly, shuffling her feet across the cool tile floor. How much time did she have? Had her hesitation already cost her the opportunity to escape? Would she ever get another one? Was it worth it, right now, to take the chance anyway?

So many questions. It was making her head hurt. She returned to her bed and sat down heavily, her toes brushing the floor as her legs swung side to side. She hadn't always had this much trouble making decisions. She could remember being very decisive before... Doug.

She grew still then. She hadn't thought of her ex-boyfriend since shortly after she'd arrived at House of Mercy. Had Anne told him she was here? Probably not. By the end she'd hated that smug bastard almost as much as Julie had. He would have just laughed if she had, maybe said something about how he knew all along that Julie was nuts.

"But I'm not nuts," Julie muttered as her eyes returned to the silver temptation of the keys. "I don't belong here. I need to leave. Now."

She stood up, unaware that her hands had balled into fists. But then, just as she was about to take her first step toward freedom, the door handle jiggled. Without a second thought Julie collapsed back onto the bed and commenced humming as she stared at the ceiling.

"Sorry to bother you again, dear," Babs told her as she entered the room and managed to make the keys disappear silently, as though they had never been there. "Cecilie has to come to visit us and would like very much to meet you."


Greg said...

Should I be worried that you're growing tomatoes on your carrots? That sounds like genetic modification to me! ;-) And I have to be amused by your tale of the lake, given that you were proudly announcing that the weather was a little cooler now... speaking too soon?
Ah, so Julie is being tested and nearly gets caught too! I like the way you build the tension, and the reason for her delay and not reaching the keys before Babs comes back is perfect, harkening all the way back to January! Even better is that you've given Julie reason to wonder if it was a test still, but no actual proof one way or another... you're devious!

Dr Richards and Dr Morrow were the first people into the room after Babs opened the door and said something quietly to the people outside. Dr Richards still looked slightly scaly to Julie and she found herself watching his mouth when he spoke, waiting to see if he had a forked tongue or not. Dr Morrow made the back of her neck itch when he looked at her. He was short, with a wide mouth and tombstone teeth; his hair was actually beige and not brown, and he was wearing surgical gloves. If she hadn't already been jumpy around him that would definitely have done it as well.
"Juliette," said Dr Morrow. His eyes, bloodshot, narrowed and he held out a latex-gloved hand.
"Julie," said Babs. There was her usual grandmotherly authority there, but there was also a note of deference. Julie stayed sprawled on the bed and made no effort to take his hand.
"Iguana-man," she said. "Dr Lizard and his friend Iguana-man." She giggled, hoping she sounded convincing. A headache was starting behind her right eye. "I can see stars!"
Dr Richards had a pained expression on his face, and Dr Morrow took a step forward.
"We should check the medication," said Dr Richards. "She's clearly responsive, but I think the dose may be a little hi–"
There was a noise like the buzzing of a hive of bees that cut him off. He half-turned towards the doorway, and Dr Morrow stepped back again. Babs actually shrank against the wall and Julie saw her fingers clench into fists.
"Or maybe," said Dr Richards when the buzzing stopped, his words slow and careful, "we should increase it a little and see if she continues to call me a lizard."
"All in the name of science, Doctor," said Dr Morrow, just as carefully. "We'll record the medication plan and pass it by the ethics committee of course."
"Of course, Doctor," said Dr Richards. "We should do that now, in fact."
The buzzing started again and Julie thought that the bed began to shake. Then it stopped.
"After we finish the rounds."
"Of course, Doctor."
When the two men had left the room and the door was closed again Babs stood upright and relaxed a little. Her grandmotherliness returned, but there was still fear in her eyes.
"I hope you enjoy the new regime," she whispered, clearly thinking that Julie wouldn't be listening. "I wonder what you'll think we all are next?"

Marc said...

Greg - har har, funny man. The tomatoes are in the row next to the carrots :P

Thanks for the kind words on my entry :)

This was delightfully handled. The buzzing of the bees is a great, sinister touch, and the reactions of the three staff in the room were spot on. Not to mention intriguing.

I shall have to think on where we go from here...