Broken - Part 1Submitted by w_t_a_y_s_t_r_m at 2006-11-14 07:31:02 EST
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There was a sickening, sterile smell invading my nostrils as I carried on taking steps down the hallway. It was most definitely a hospital, or dentist or some kind of medical establishment, but it was like none I’d ever been in before. Everything was unfamiliar and uncomfortable in the way only a hospital can make you feel. There were no signs or directions plastered to the walls or hanging from the ceiling like in my local hospital, which lead me to believe I was somewhere else.
All the lights were out in the corridor and in all the doors and windows that stretched the full length of the miserable hallway, with just about enough light reflecting off what I assumed would be the typical beige walls that the NHS seemed to be huge fans of to show me just how empty the place was. I took a few more tentative steps until I reached another corridor crossing my own.
At the junction I hesitated slightly and looked left and right, trying to decide which way would be the best to go. And then I turned to look behind me in a futile attempt to refresh my memory as to where I had come from, but there was nothing but another long stretch of barren hallway. I had no idea what I was doing there.
My first instinct was I had been in an accident of some kind and had only just woken up. That wouldn’t explain how I had been in the middle of the corridor walking and I still had on my jeans and shirt that I had been wearing yesterday in work. But when I tried to think back to the last thing I could remember before waking up here, nothing seemed to make sense.
It was like a mixture of dreams and reality with no discernible timeline, leaving me with the feeling that it had all happened at once and then sleep. Then I heard a very quiet, regularly tapping noise.
I snapped my head towards the sound and saw a young child running down the corridor from my left. I couldn’t make out much detail from the darkness, but from the speed, I guessed it was scared. It wasn’t too long before the child was in clear view, showing me a boy who couldn’t have been much older than ten years old. He noticed me at the same time and skidded to a stop.
We stood staring at each other, horror on his face, and confusion on mine. He only broke his stare to look back behind him down the corridor from which he had just run. I took a quick glance, but couldn’t see anything down there except shadows and the fading beige.
“Who are you?” He finally asked. He was clearly out of breath and scared. Tough shit, kid, that doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore my own fear.
“Where the hell are we?” I asked quietly.
“Hospital.” He took a snot filled sniff and wiped his sweatshirt sleeve across, smudge tears and snot together down his cheek. “Who are you?”
“Why are we here?” I ignored his question again, not quite sure I wanted some strange kid to know who I was in this place.
“I dunno.” He muttered, still constantly looking back down the corridor as if expecting someone or something to be following him. “I haven’t been here since I was eight.”
“You’ve been here before?” The boy nodded.
“When I was eight. I fell out of a tree and hurt my foot.” He held his foot up pathetically to demonstrate.
“Which hospital is it?”
“Salisbury, I think.” Slowly the boy walked around me and down the corridor I had just come from and stopped again, still looking at me.
“Can’t be Salisbury.” I said. “I’ve been to Salisbury plenty of times and I’ve never seen this place.”
“Salisbury’s a big hospital.” The voice from behind me scared me to the point of yelping like a dog that had just been stood on. I spun around to see a girl who was about fifteen years old stood a little way down the opposite corridor to the one I had been walking down.
“Where the fuck…?” I yelled at her, but she seemed undisturbed by my shouting.
“The boy told you,” She said calmly. “We’re in Salisbury.”
“Where the fuck did you come from?” I finished my question this time in a quieter tone.
“A room just up the hall.” She thrust her thumb in the general direction. “I hid there when I heard you coming, but when I heard what you were talking about, I realised you were in the same situation.”
I stood, catching my breath and letting my heart get back to a regular pace before carrying on. These kids didn’t know what it was like to be my age. When you get to 22 your old ticker isn’t as good as it use to be.
“I don’t think we are in Salisbury.” I told the girl.
“We are.” She said with confidence. “It’s the children’s ward, although I don’t remember it ever being this big.”
That could be true. I had only been in the children’s ward once when I was seven to have an operation. Something to do with a heart murmur. I didn’t really pay any attention at the time, and never asking about it since. I could barely remember my time there, except for nearly pissing myself in the hallway because the toilets were too far for me to walk with my drip.
“Then why am I here?” The little boy who I had nearly forgotten about asked.
The girl bent her knees and crouched to his level. “I don’t know.” She said in a reassuring, soft voice.
“And why is that truck following me?” The little boy asked, more tears rolling down his face. The girl turned her head up to look at me. More confused than ever, I just shrugged.
“What truck?” She asked him, in a less reassuring and soft voice.
The boy leant around the corner of the corridor and looked down where he had come from. He let out of a muffled, terrified scream and pointed. The girl and I followed his gaze and saw a large, yellow JCB truck, which only just fit inside the dimensions of the hallway. By rights it should have been much bigger, this one just looking more like a scale model, but it was still moving slowly down towards us, stopping at every window.
When the boys scream finally broke through the muffled stage, the engine of the truck seemed to roar to life. The headlights flashed on, illuminating the three of us, before it started coming towards us as fast as it could. The boy and girl both sprinted, the boy unable to keep up with the girl, down where I had just come from.
Breaking away from the haze I slipped into, I quickly followed, easily catching them up, as the girl was hanging back to try and help the boy. On the way past I grabbed the boy by the back of his sweatshirt and lifted him to carry on running. As we ran I took a look behind, certain that the truck would struggle with the corner, having such a wide turning circle, but I saw something which encouraged me to run faster.
The corridor had widened at the end, allowing more than enough space for the truck to turn easily and continue its pursuit. It was nearly closing in on us, when one of the doors along the corridor burst open and about six or seven hands reached out to grab us and pull us inside.
The three of us crashed onto the floor, landing in a pile with the four people who had pulled us out of the way. Someone else was stood behind the door and slammed it shut, seconds before the truck slammed its way into the wall.
Surprisingly the door held steady, as did the windows and the walls.
“Don’t worry.” Said one of the people who had pulled us inside. She was clearly one of the nurses, dressed in the uniform and with the correct mannerisms, even at a time like this. “We’re safe in this office.”
The light came on over our heads, showing us our five saviours. Three of them were nurses, one seemed like a doctor and the other was a guy about my age. I got to my feet and helped the girl who I had just run with.
“What makes you think we’re safe in here?” I asked. “That truck just stretched the fucking corridor!”
“We’re fine.” The doctor said.
“How do you know that?” The girl asked.
“Because he never came in here.” The nurse answered, looking slightly glum. “He doesn’t know what’s in here.”
To be continued