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By Sarah-Anne Dexter


Morning From Hell

Serena Campbell trudged onto AAU at eight o'clock in the morning, really, really regretting that last glass of wine she had last night. It always seemed to be when she was out with Raf and Fletch that she overindulged. Well, now she was paying for it. She only prayed that Hanssen didn't see her like this. That smirk he wore when she was hungover always drove her up a tree.

In fact, Henrik Hanssen in general drove her up a tree. Not that she regretted asking him to come back to Holby – better him than Guy Self or some other jumped up idiot without a clue – but he was just as infuriating as she remembered him to be. Being the know-it-all, pain in the backside, indecipherable Swedish lanky-long-legs that he was, he was everything that irritated her. Although, having reacquainted herself with her ex-husband, Edward, after Hanssen left for Sweden and Guy Self took charge of the hospital, she was able to appreciate the good things in Hanssen.

At least he wasn't a scheming, lying, cheating, manipulating alcoholic buffoon.

Serena's wasn't feeling much love for her darling ex-husband at the moment. He was hell-bent on humiliating her; he was older than she herself was – born in 1963, compared to her 1966 birth – and he was marrying some gullible twenty-something girl, barely older than his own daughter. And, to make matters even more delightful, he had invited her to the wedding. She couldn't help but wonder what on Earth it was that Edward Campbell thought he was playing at.

But there was no room for him in her head right now. The wedding wasn't until April, and she had the run up to Christmas and New Year to deal with for now. It was just wonderful to run an Acute Admissions Unit during the festive period. Most years, it was filled with drunken fools who either got themselves so intoxicated that they couldn't tell their heads from their backsides, or else they got so messed up on drink and drugs that they thought they were superheroes and did something extremely moronic. Usually, men did the latter more than women did.

Why did she have to be surrounded by men? They were going to drive her crazy. One of these days, they were going to land her on the psych ward.

As Serena sat down at her desk with her paper cup and switched on her computer, she contemplated being oh-so-cruel and taking all her annual leave this month. Her colleagues would hate her, she realised with amused glee. However, it wasn't a possibility. They were short of a consultant, yet again, because, yet again, Ric Griffin had vanished. He was good at doing that. He'd been gone for months, and no other consultant in the hospital was stupid enough to volunteer themselves for AAU. They all valued their sanity too highly to willingly take charge of this place.

It was a punishment from Hanssen that had landed Serena here in the first place. That was three years ago.

Back then, she had been a very different person to work with. It had been all about numbers and efficiency, and she had been hired because her mind was able to work like that. She had been to Harvard Business School, and Hanssen had known it. But now, she wasn't all that interested in it. She found there were bigger things to deal with on AAU than money. Maybe that was what Hanssen had been trying to teach her.

“Well, I've learnt my lesson, Henrik,” she muttered, annoyed. She sipped her coffee and exhaled, hoping to relieve herself of stress. Unsurprisingly, it had no effect.

Her phone rang, the high-pitched noise bouncing off her already splitting head. Edward Campbell, the caller ID said. Ugh. Since when did he get up before eleven o'clock these days? Or was he actually having to get up and work now he had a partner who was barely out of braces? Annoyed, she turned the phone over and it automatically silenced itself. She logged into her computer with the distinct wish that her ex-husband would just disappear.

There was a knock at the door, and she turned to find Raf DiLucca standing at her door. “Serena, I need your help. Arthur's got tonsillitis and it's like World War Three out here,” he told her. She sighed at got up, only to see he was not exaggerating.

A large family had just come onto the ward, the oldest man being wheeled in with some facial injuries and what looked, on the face of it, like a dislocated shoulder. Seemed someone had been fighting. Following him were who Serena could only assume was the wife and kids – all five of the children – and another man in a wheelchair, who wasn't in quite as bad a shape as the first.

“ right to work with the normal folk!” shouted the second man. He had a distinctly Irish accent and a look of outrage upon his bleeding face.

“Ah, awa' an' bile yer heid, min!” was the first patient's reply. He, it appeared, was very much a Scotsman. She had just enough experience with Raf's drunken brother to figure out his mood.

“Gypo scum!”

At that, Serena's eyes fixed on the Irishman. “And who is this lovely soul?” she asked of Cara Martinez, who walked next to him. She, too, was Irish, but wouldn't dream of saying something like that.

“Mr. Dermot Murphy,” Cara said.

“Well, Mr. Murphy,” Serena smiled at him. She was so not in the mood for this. “I shall warn you now that I do not tolerate racism on my ward. Another outburst like that and you'll be reported to the police.”

“Racism?!” he hotly demanded of her.

Serena raised an eyebrow at him. “Yes, Mr. Murphy. Racism. You are making derogatory comments to another person for the mere fact that he is a travelling man. That, I'm afraid, is racial abuse. I will not have it on any ward I am in charge of.” She looked up at Cara and said to her, “Bed eight. Raf, see to Mr. Murphy, please. Try and get him in and out with as little disruption possible.”

“Of course,” Raf smiled.

She walked up to the other man and his family. “Thanks fir that, doctor,” he said. He was sincere; Serena was sure it was something he was subjected to quite regularly. “Ah'll be fine. Had worse than this afore. Scaldies just love tae gi' me a kickin'. Nackins ur just as shan, mind,” he grinned at her.

Dumbfounded, Serena didn't even try to make sense of that and looked up at Adrian Fletcher. “Who am I putting in bed three, then?” she asked him.

He beamed at her, seemingly reading her mind: this was going to be a long morning. “Mr. Edward McDonald.”

“Hilarious,” she sneered at him.

“That's really his name!” Fletch insisted. Serena could only huff and order Fletch to clean up his face and administer pain relief before he had his shoulder relocated.

Serena turned to Mr. McDonald's wife and children. “I'm afraid you can't all be here. There just isn't enough room. There's a café at the main entrance, though, and a relatives' room upstairs.” The woman nodded, obviously not at all offended.

“Morag, tak' the kinchins tae git a rout, wid ye?” she asked of the oldest, who looked about sixteen. “Ah'll tak' wee Nell.” She handed Morag a twenty pound note and took the baby from her; Morag took the twenty pound note and the children and headed in the direction of Pulses, the hospital's café. Once Morag and the other three children were safely on their way, their mother introduced herself. “Joan McDonald,” she smiled.

“Serena Campbell,” she smiled back.

“Fir the love o' God, dinna tell Ed yer a Campbell,” Joan warned. “Tae him, ye'd best be just Serena.”

Serena smiled, trusting a travelling woman's judgement on how her husband will react. She knew little of the travellers' cultures, apart from their traditional ways were not anything like how they tended to be portrayed. Years ago, she had a case like this whilst doing a stint in Perth Royal Infirmary as a junior doctor, and researched all she could on the subject – not that very much was actually known. They appeared to be quite a covert people.

“Not of'en ye git a doc on the traiv'ler's side,” Mr. McDonald grinned up at her, with a look of satisfaction upon his face. “Nivur mind aboot auld Dermot. Moich tae the world, thon yin.” Joan gave her husband a withering look, causing him to translate for his doctor. “I mean, dinna mind Dermot. He's just a wee bit nuts when it comes tae wir lot. Disna like us much.”

“I'd gathered,” Serena replied, glancing at Fletch's smirk at their own inability to understand their patient. She examined Mr. McDonald, and, though he looked like he'd done a half a dozen rounds in the ring, he was fine. All that needed done was his face and his shoulder and then he was going to be ay-okay.

She smiled, exhausted by the time she returned to her office. At least she had done some good. She didn't even need to know why the two men had laid into one another; that much was obvious to anyone with functional eyesight. Serena lifted her phone to find that Edward – her ex-husband Edward, not the one out there on the ward – had called another three times in the short period she had spent seeing to McDonald and Murphy. And, another two calls from an unknown number she could only assume was Liberty's, Edward's fiancée.

This, of course, meant there was something wrong.

And, undoubtedly, Edward and Liberty didn't have the required brainpower between them to figure out whatever it was themselves. That didn't surprise her in the slightest. Edward was devious, but sometimes, he was just really thick.

She sighed and called him back, to hear him say, “Serena? Thank God.”

“What's up with you now?” she snapped, too hungover and grouchy to put up with him.

“I think I'm dying.”

“I'm hungover, too, Edward, but there's no need to be a drama queen,” she drawled. He always had been a bit soft about hangovers. Funny, really, since he was an alcoholic. He tried to tell her he stopped, but she knew better than to believe that.

“No, Serena, I'm vomiting blood.”

Instinctively, she stood up. “Call an ambulance. I'll meet you at the door.”


“AAU!” she barked the order at him. When he didn't answer her, she lost her cool. “Now, Edward!”

“Eddie, listen to her!” a young female voice panicked in the background. Liberty, she guessed, recognising the voice from that pathetic voicemail about things being “awks-town” between them.

“For once in your life, Edward, do as you're told. I'm not making a home visit, if that's what you're angling for.”

Liberty was still in the background, and it was clear she had dialled 999. She was almost shouting for an ambulance; Edward sighed. “Alright, Serena, you win. Libby's called the ambulance.” A breath of relief escaped Serena. As much as her ex-husband frustrated and angered her, she by no means wanted him dead.

She replied, “See you soon,” and hung up. Picking up her coffee cup, she headed back to the main ward. She sought out someone who did not know Edward's connection to her off-hand. Cara. Cara had no idea. “Nurse Martinez,” she called the blonde nurse over. Cara hurried over, glaring at Dermot Murphy. Obviously that man had not learned to keep his opinions to himself yet, then.

“Yes, Ms. Cambpell?” she asked sweetly.

“Cara, I need you clear a bed for me. We've got an imminent arrival. And could you get Morven to pull out Edward Campbell's medical notes, please? Born the nineteenth of February, 1963.”

Cara gave her an odd look but replied, “Of course,” nonetheless.

And with that, Serena half-ran off the ward and down towards the main entrance. She had no doubt that Edward's ailment was connected to his ongoing alcohol problem, but she didn't know if Liberty knew of that problem yet. As irritating as the girl's voice was, she was innocent of everything but stupidity when it came to Edward. She was a doctor, but she couldn't fix stupid. And she didn't want to, either, because it was not her fight.

But when she rounded the corner towards Pulses, she was met by the chest of a man; she had been moving to fast and paying too little attention to notice and stop in time to avoiding hitting him. It was just her luck that, when she looked up, she was under the scrutinising gaze of Henrik Hanssen.

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