There were three pieces that didn’t quite fit in this jigsaw. Yes, they were part of the overall picture, but they felt as if they’d been taken out of another set. Why do I remember Nat moving, for instance? That image doesn’t belong in this picture. Nat died, I was there at the funeral. It was the way it happened that made me remember it. I know now that when people die it’s not like it usually happens on TV. It can be slower than that in real life, it takes more time. It’s actually quite hard for people to die, in fact, particularly if you’re trying to kill them.
People die of all sorts of crazy things every day – such as slipping on ice, choking on toast and even laughing themselves to death. But to purposefully kill them is quite hard. It’s all there on the internet, people die of silly things. I did say that home education is nothing like school. I have plenty of time to research this stuff. So, it was perfectly possible that Nat could have moved after being hit by the black car. Again, my source was the internet, so I hope it’s correct, but it was on a reputable site.
After death occurs, there’s a period called ‘clinical death’ where a person can be revived. Well, Nat was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, even though the body was still taken away in the ambulance. The blood on my clothes was certainly for real and Nat was completely still in the road as the medical staff scurried around the body, doing their best to save another life. I don’t really know what death looks like, but even to my thirteen-year-old self, Nat looked dead to me. But probably only a thirteen-year-old would have seen this.
The adults were all talking and busy. Mum was being comforted by a police officer and I was chatting to an ambulance man, close enough to see what was going on.
From nowhere, a man joined the huddle of medical staff around Nat’s body. He showed them some sort of card, I’m guessing that it must have been identification. Whatever it was, they jumped at it and it was obvious even to me that he was now in charge.
As they started to move away from the body, and in the second that they were distracted, and thrown off balance by the arrival of this man, he did something to Nat. I couldn’t see what it was – it wasn’t an injection, but whatever he did had the same motion as giving somebody an injection. Nat’s body didn’t do anything immediately, in fact I only saw the movement just as it was being lifted into the ambulance.
It could have been anything, of course. I have no knowledge of medical procedures and he certainly looked as if he knew what he was doing. It was just very surprising that this man had been the same person who had distracted Mum immediately before Nat’s accident.
Meeting Doctor Pierce
When you’re a kid, you’re introduced to all sorts of adults and people in authority and you’re expected to just accept it as a normal part of life. Yet, at school, at home and even in TV programmes, you’re warned constantly about ‘stranger danger’. What’s a kid supposed to think, for goodness' sake? One minute I’m being told that I have to see this doctor who I really don’t like, then next minute I’m being told to alert a responsible adult if someone talks to me and it makes me feel uncomfortable. Well, that’s exactly how Doctor Pierce made me feel. In fact ‘uncomfortable’ wasn’t the word for it.
It wasn’t because I was frightened of him or anything like that. He just had real problems communicating with children. He was so intelligent and high flying, that I really struggled to relate to him.
And that tie of his, what was that all about? I never really listened to what he was saying, because I was watching that tie all the time. The metallic quality of that logo was really unusual. Metallic objects usually catch the light and often reflect different colours based on the surroundings. Only Doctor Pierce’s tie didn’t do that.
The metallic logo on his tie seemed to have a life of its own and reflected colours that weren’t even in the room.
Or at least I’d noticed that whenever I was anywhere near him, that’s what happened.
The Day Of The Visit
It was pretty amusing on the day of the visit to the bunker. In fact, if I never saw my family again – and I had to consider that possibility at the time – it was a pretty nice ‘final day’ together.
Mum was so funny. She got a real bee in her bonnet about us being tidy if the holiday people were going to take a publicity photograph of us all. Dad was a bit stressed too. We all knew money was tight, but that extra spending money that we were due to pick up … well, anybody would have thought it was the Holy Grail that we were collecting.
Dad was determined to get there on time and bank that extra cash. It was one of those scenes of family chaos, where Mum’s trying to get us all decent and ready at a certain time, Harriet’s rebelling by spilling juice all over herself five minutes before we go out and Dad’s doing a big ‘countdown to leaving the house’ to make sure none of us gets distracted by our tech.
The only problem is, we didn’t have an internet connection in this holiday house. Can you believe that? Who doesn’t have a broadband connection these days? Well apparently, some rural areas in Southern Scotland don’t. Give me city life any day. So it’s fair to say that we were all pretty desperate to get connected. And they had free wireless at the bunker. Thank goodness, civilization at last.
Mum and Dad refused to take all of our tech, they were too embarrassed, so the deal was – as we were ‘guests’ on this visit – that we’d just take Mum’s laptop and my phone and have five minutes ‘catch-up’ time in the café.
That’s why Mum got caught outside the doors when the darkness came. It was ‘tech-time’ and we had left my phone and Mum’s laptop in the car.
The woman was sitting uneasily on the low, hessian-covered chair. It was a small concession to comfort, though they both knew that comfort was not going to be a primary concern in what happened next. The doctor moved over to the computer equipment and began to make hand gestures on the screen.
This was advanced technology, recognizable for what it was – screens, speakers, camera, tech hubs – yet somehow unfamiliar.
As the doctor moved his hands, there was a faint, pulsing glow just beneath the skin on the woman’s neck. It was where the device had entered her body only minutes before.
Whatever it was, it was receiving some signal from the equipment in that room. She could barely feel it; it brought no pain or discomfort, but she knew that something was going on.
The doctor never spoke to her while all of this was happening. He didn’t offer words of reassurance or explanation as you might expect from a medical professional.
The woman had experienced all different types of doctor in her lifetime – friendly, brash, superior, calming – but never one like this.
This man made no effort to establish a rapport or demonstrate an appropriate bedside manner.
If she had to describe how he made her feel, she’d probably say, ‘Uncomfortable’.