3. Ticking Clocks
I obviously looked seriously hurt, Kirsty had driven me to the hospital, and that cost her money and time. I lay there between the blankets, awake now, but eyes clamped shut, oblivious to what had caused all of this for the time being, but blissfully aware of the warm air being pumped in below me. I squinted, and opened my eyes, batting my lids before staring at the room around me. I was alone in a ward. The painfully white walls, totally bare, everything was just bland white, the only colour in the room was the flattened armchair by my bedside. A nurse came rushing in. “You’re awake, how are you feeling?” she flicked a few switches at the bottom of my bed, and the warmth stopped totally, the room grew still and cold. She blinked down at me through her glasses. Her matted grey hair pulled back loosely into a bun, exaggerating soft wrinkles in her pearly skin. I told her everything that I could feel was wrong with me, and she stood and listened, I didn’t tell her about the blood, or the house, or Kirsty, just that I fell. After I had finished, she spooned some medicine into my mouth, put down her note pad which she had been noting down my words in, and called in a doctor. I lay there in silence for 5 minutes, listening to the soft ticking of the clock above my head. I couldn’t arch my head back far enough to see it, so I just listened, and felt the rhythmic ticking soothe me back to sleep. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. I lay there, hands by my hips, wishing the warm blasts of air would return. It wasn’t very comfortable, but I was aching all over. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Then the clock hands spoke. Voices, two of them, whispering in different tones. Alternating between the tick and tock. My eyes flew open. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. My arm began to burn under the duvet. Tick. Tock. I tried to scream but my mouth simply wouldn’t let me. The lights went out, my monitors turned off, but the clock people kept going. Tick. Tock. Its raining its pouring, the old man stopped snoring, he went to bed, we chopped off his head and he never woke up in the morning. Its thunder and lightning, the dark is very frightening, Vanessa’s alone, she’s just skin and bone, her flesh is cold and inviting. We’re running, we’re crawling, Vanessa’s blood is calling, we’ll rip off the skin, and sink our teeth in, just watching her dreaming is boring. I felt the darkness sweep closer in, it was darker than dark, it was a mist, and I felt it fast approaching my presence. Then the scream came. I woke with a start, the bright lights of the ward blinding me once again, my eyes flickered to the window, just in time to catch a glimpse of the mist disappearing out of it, but it was so fast, I couldn’t tell if I had imagined it. I was still screaming, there were about five nurses bustling round my bed. I shut my mouth. They’d think I was crazy if I told them, I’d never get back to investigate, I needed to know more about the house. “It was just a dream, sorry, I must have fallen asleep, I’m all fine..” I’m sure I didn’t convince any of them, my breathing was still heavy, and my face felt droopy, but they couldn’t argue, so I was spooned more medicine, and a doctor approached. He looked at me with sceptical eyes, and immediately scribbled something down in his notebook. He asked me the same questions the nurse had, and proceeded to test my blood, vital signs etc. I was sat for ages, staring at his face, he looked familiar, but I couldn’t place it. His dull brown eyes, limp brown hair, thick with grey strands, flopping over his eyes so he had to flick it away every five seconds with his pen. His chin was covered in stubble, and his wrinkled lips were harsh and unfriendly. No, I couldn’t remember. I stayed in the hospital for three days, and the clock people didn’t return, neither did the mist. Come to think of it, I don’t remember the clock at all after that. After a long few days, I was left in piece to change. A nurse dragged Kirsty out of the café and I was finally released. We didn’t say anything in the car but flicking through the sheet I had been given by the nurse, I saw that I had been out for a good few hours, however nothing was seriously wrong with me. I continued to nose through the pages, and on the back, was a suspicious looking yellow photocopy, which Kirsty reached over and snatched from me, but not before I saw the heading. I had to go back again soon. Yay. I hated hospitals. We rounded the corner and pulled up at the gates of our new house. Suddenly it all came back to me again, I screamed louder than I ever have, even shouting at Kirsty. My mind was a blur again, full of the blood, dripping, drip drip drip.. the clock people, raining, pouring flesh and blood inviting, thunder and lightning, chopped of his head, watching her dream, never got up in the morning… “Vanessa shut up!” I snapped out of it. “What the hell have you been playing at huh? Thought it would be funny to smash up that table hmm? I told the nurse all about you. You and your temperaments, I’m not surprised that chair couldn’t hold you, fat pig!” I stared at her in silence for a bit. “didn’t you see the.. the blood.. all the blood..” I glazed over again, Kirsty reached over and whacked me on the back of the head, right where I had fallen on it, I whimpered. “How stupid do you think I look girl? There was nothing there. Delusional you are.” She thrust me a blue bottle of pink pills. “Take them. The doctor gave them to me. Maybe they’ll put you off food for a while, lose some weight.” I scowled at her, but she ignored me, opened her door and stood up. “I should have made you clear up. But no, you were such a wimp you had to stay in there! When you come in I want no mess from you sunshine, I’ve put effort into making this house liveable, including your bedroom, don’t ask me why, I don’t even know why I BOTHERED! But anyway, I’ve been told to leave you isolated for a bit, so you can stay here.” She left me no time to protest. “Take a tablet.” She slammed the door, locked it and walked off up into the house. I sat there for hours. We had left the hospital at six, it wasn’t until half ten when she emerged with a key. Until then, I had been sat in the passengers seat with the radio on, the blue medicine filled bottle on the dashboard and the pamphlet with my details on the drivers side. She unlocked the car and we walked in silence, apart from telling me to take another tablet, up the driveway and the stone steps, we stepped into the hallway, and I was relieved to see she had wiped down all the blood, and had a good go at the mould as well. There were lots of large photographs and paintings covering the main patches of clawing. There were a few bunches of flowers spilling out of jugs she’d found in amongst our kitchen junk and there were familiar looking lampshades over all the fittings, she had filled the building with all our furniture, and it didn’t look quite so alien to me. I wandered through all the rooms upstairs I hadn’t had a chance to investigate. I steered clear of the kitchen. Everything looked normal though, there were no spiders webs, no dust in the corners. I walked along the landing, my hand gliding across the dark wooden banister. I peered in all the rooms, and eventually came to the end one. I pushed gently at the wood, to reveal nothing spooky at all. But it was clear Kirsty had made a bit of an effort to make my room look cosy, which was a change, she had actually made my bed and stuffed it with blankets of various colours and sizes. There was even a brand new cream carpet she had attempted to put down. It was nice. I felt appreciated. Feeling calmer since my medication, I clambered into my pyjamas, obviously I wasn’t relaxed as such, but as I perched on the end of my bed, and twiddled the strand of loose hair which fell delicately over my eyes, I couldn’t help but let the darkness sweep over me, and within minutes I was fast asleep.