The permanent temp

Chapter 5

Martha had been doing the rounds with Mr Stoker’s group and could have sworn she’d just seen Rose at the reception desk but as usual, the consultant had been in a rush and she’d probably been seeing things. She decided as soon as she got a break, she would call her friend and confirm she’d just imagined it. Why would Rose be back in the hospital, unless she had an appointment and she’d not mentioned it. Martha also thought she must try and stop by John’s office and have it out with him, ask him why he was avoiding her yesterday and what exactly he was playing at.

He’d accepted the invitation to the presentation the other night, then he’d gone off and left her, twice and then he’d taken Rose home. She was also still a bit annoyed he’d asked Rose first if she was ok after being chased by that creature and he’d given her a hug. If she didn’t know better, she would think he didn’t want to be friends any more. She’d known him about a year and it had taken months to get him to sit at the same table with her in the canteen, when he remembered and she didn’t have to call after him to remind him but at least once he’d sat down, he’d talked to her. Then she’d started going by his office on some pretence or another.

Rose was still debating whether to turn and run or say hello back.

“Say something Rose. What are you doing here?”

“What? Oh, right. The agency sent me, I’m your new temp.”

“Then welcome! Didn’t know they would send you, fancy that!”

“So you didn’t ask for me then?”

“Well, not exactly, since I didn’t know where you worked.”

“I was told you had a very unusual computer system, it doesn’t look like that to me,” she noted as she crossed to the desk to see a keyboard, although it had a lot of extra keys and some were missing. No wonder his last temp left.

“So, where do I start then?”

“Making coffee?” he grinned.

“Typical, that’s all you bosses think us temps do, make coffee and run errands all day. That or wear short skirts, cross our legs and chew gum while filing our nails.”

“Oh, so that’s were my last secretary went wrong then?” he grinned as he crossed to fill the kettle and switched it on. “I’ll make the coffee then shall I?”

“Never mind, I can make it, you’re supposed to be the boss around here. I should have known it would be you really.”

“Oh, why’s that then?”

“Are there many John Smith’s around here with fancy letters after their name then?”

“Maybe not. So, let me give you the welcome speech then? I usually have four patients a day, each staying about thirty minutes and I don’t like any interruptions, well not unless the hospital’s being invaded by space rhinos wearing helmets who are chasing shape-shifting aliens anyway.”

Rose smiled.

“Anyway, the first one will be here at ten, then I’ll have another coffee. Just buzz me when they arrive, then enter them on the computer. I keep my own notes which will want typing up but I usually send them to the general office, you can take the folders down after the last patient’s been in. The hours are nine until four with an hour for lunch. Any questions?”

“I don’t think so except do I call you sir?”

“No, just Doctor will do, let me show you how the computer works eh? After we’ve had our coffee. Oh, can you bring the milk in the mornings? We seem to have run out. Go ask Kathy next door, tell her it’s for me.”

Rose went off to the office next door, getting a long stare from Kathy when she introduced herself but being handed a carton of milk and she seemed quite pleased Rose said she would be bringing the milk for him from Monday morning. The morning went smoothly, John had shown her how to get the sessions screen on the monitor, then to click on the patient’s name, which alerted him as to who had arrived so he could get the right folder, which Rose was meant to have the right four folders on his desk before the first patient arrived so she went to the filing cabinet to retrieve them after getting the names off the screen.

She then went to put them on his desk. John sat there, leaning back on the chair with his arms behind his head and grinning.

“Your day’s files, Doctor,” she grinned back.

“We’re going to get on just fine Rose.”

“I hope so, I really can’t afford to get fired again.”

John smiled at her. “Oh, I don’t think that will be a problem Rose, do you? I meant to apologise to you, for being an idiot the other night.”

“I wasn’t aware you were being an idiot.”

“Well I was but we’ll talk about it after work. Would you like to go get something to eat when we finish? A burger and a banana milkshake maybe?”

“Well just the once then, since you’re my new boss.”

“Call it a welcome. Right, best get to work then.”

He flexed his long fingers and reached into his pocket to put his specs on, which Rose thought made him look cute. He gave her a smile and picked up the first folder.

“Rose, it’s lunchtime,” John called as she was staring at the screen and wishing for a normal computer so she could pass the time and not be bored out of her mind. Even the few patients didn’t want to talk, they just picked up the magazines that she imagined were from next door.

“Doctor, can this computer do anything else? I mean besides bring up the names of your patients for the right day? How does it even do that?”

“Ah, well that’s the clever bit. I get referrals from other departments and the Tardis picks them up.”

“The what?”

“The Tardis, my computer. I invented it myself, good isn’t it?” he beamed proudly.

“Well it’s different but it would be good if I could get on the internet.”

“Why’d you want to do that?”

“Oh, you know.”

“To update your social status perhaps?” he asked, wiggling his eyebrows. “You don’t get paid to do that.”

“Oh, I thought it was a requirement of being a temp? So that’s where I’ve been going wrong?”

John frowned at her. “What sort of jobs have you had?”

“One’s where the boss is usually tryin’ to get you to sit with your skirt halfway up your ass.”

“Rose, I’m not like that. Blimey, no wonder you kept leaving then, I mean if you weren’t willing to oblige.”

“No, I wasn’t. Sorry, I was being catty. So, where’s the café then? I hope it’s not expensive, I don’t have a lot of spare cash.”

“My treat, first day. Most staff go into the staff canteen and bring their own stuff and just buy a drink but we can go to the main café if you want?”

“No, the staff one’s fine.”

“Good, right then, just turn off the monitor then when we come back, I’ll log you onto the computer and give you the password.”

Then he remembered Martha would be in the staff canteen. Still, she would find out sooner or later Rose was working for him. Best get it over with then. Martha was already on her way since Mr Stoker had given her something to do and she’d not had chance to wander down towards John’s office. She sat facing the door but her jaw dropped when John walked in followed by Rose.

“Rose! What are you doing here?”

“Hi Martha. I’ll just get something to eat.”

John was already in the queue with a tray and ordering two of today’s specials and never bothering to ask Rose if she liked chicken and bacon pasta. He was getting two sodas and Rose could only stare at him and walk behind him to a table on the opposite side away from Martha.

“John, you were being rude, Martha’s sitting over there.”

“Was she? I never noticed. Here, get your lunch before it goes cold. Look Rose, she makes me uncomfortable, ok?”

Rose smiled and sampled the food, which tasted good and was probably better than the visitors got and they paid twice as much.

“Sorry, I never realised it was that bad, when you said something the other night. You should really tell her you’re not interested in that way.”

“Any suggestions how I do that exactly?”

“Nope, I’ve never dumped a woman before,” she smiled.

John saw the funny side and glanced over at Martha, who was composing a text message by the looks of it and he hoped it wasn’t to him. It wasn’t, it was to Rose as her message tone beeped.

‘Traitor, why are you having lunch with John?’ it read.

Rose composed one back. ‘I was invited, he’s my new boss.’

Martha wasn’t going to just let this ride. ‘Oh, that makes it ok then, doesn’t it?’

Rose decided enough was enough and put her phone back in her pocket.

“Trouble?” John asked, reaching for his soda.

“Nope, just jealousy rearing it’s ugly head. I don’t know what’s come over her, I thought we were good friends.”

“Ah, there’s nothing like women playing at being jealous. My ex was jealous of Kathy in the next office because she used to flirt with me.”

“I can see her point, she gave me a right look when I asked for milk for you.”

“Mm, I bet she did. So, what did Martha have to say?”

“It doesn’t matter. I’ll bring a packed lunch on Monday, you go to the main café. I don’t want you to feel awkward and have to sit and eat lunch with me every day.”

“I don’t feel awkward Rose, I just don’t like being looked daggers at.”

Rose turned to see Martha staring at John’s back and could see him having to pull them out, several of them by the look on Martha’s face.

“Anyway, what has she even to be jealous of?” Rose wondered.

After lunch, Martha had already left, determined she was going to get to his office one way or another but she had an awkward patient to see to, a Miss Finnegan, who kept saying she was feeling sickly when all she did was eat salad for lunch and dinner in the three days she had been there, despite instructions from Mr Stoker. Then, Martha had been searching the corridors for the woman who had only supposed to be going to the bathroom but she’d been gone for over an hour and both bathrooms were vacant.

Martha had also had a run-in with two mysterious figures wearing all leather and motorcycle helmets blacked out when one had shoved her to the side as they came out of the lift.

“Oi, watch it mate,” she’d called after them.

The other one stopped and turned but Martha chose to dive into the lift and pressed the button before the man could reach her. Who did they think they were she wondered and what were they doing here? Were they messengers? She shook it off and got out on the next floor, John’s floor and began her search for the missing female patient. The search brought her to John’s corridor and she really should check there to make sure the woman wasn’t hiding or making a nuisance of herself.

She opened the outer door to his office, Rose was staring at the screen.

“Hi Rose. I’m looking for this patient of ours, a Miss Finnegan, oldish with grey curly hair, has she been in here saying she’s lost?”

“No, no-one like that’s been in. You lost a patient then?” Rose mused.

Ha! The great Martha Jones had lost someone, served her right for giving that look to them earlier.

“Not exactly, she has to be in here somewhere. Look Rose, I’m sorry about earlier, ok? I was a bit surprised that’s all. How did you get this job?”

“John called my agency, Donna thought it would be amusing to see if I could actually keep a job more than a few days I suppose.”

“Did you tell John where you worked?”

“Well no but I may have mentioned Donna’s name but how would he know where to look? Did you tell him?”

“Of course not. Anyway, I haven’t spoken to him since the other night, he’s been avoiding me and you being with him today didn’t help.”

“Sorry Martha but it’s not my fault, I didn’t know Donna was going to send me here. Anyway, it’s the weekend, maybe you could ring him and see if he’s busy?”

“I don’t think so Rose, he doesn’t seem to want to see me outside the hospital, maybe that’s why his last girlfriend left him?”

“What? You mean she was only his girlfriend in the hospital? How do you know that?”

“There were rumours he only saw her here or in the nearby pub.”

“Well, it’s no-one’s business really, is it? You’d better go find your missing patient Martha.”

“She’s probably sat up in bed drinking tea and pretending she’s been there all the time knowing my luck. I think she did it on purpose. Oh and watch out, there are two messengers going around the building not looking where they’re going, one bumped into me coming out of the lift.”

“Thanks for the warning and sorry about not sitting with you but John was paying, I didn’t bring much money with me.”

“Yeah, ok. Friends?”

Rose smiled. “Yeah, friends. Hope you find her.”

“So do I or Mr stoker will put it in my file. It’s funny though but before she went missing when I’d just got back from lunch, I’d looked at her chart and I got a shock from the metal clip but the forecast isn’t for a storm.”

“That’s weird then.”

“Yeah, right, I’m off and I might call John later, see if he wants to go for a drink after work.”

Rose thought she’d best not say he was taking her for a burger and a banana milkshake after work. Still, it wasn’t exactly a date, he probably wanted to see what she had made of her first day, it was perfectly normal.

John’s next patient came in with a teenage boy who did nothing but stare at her until John indicated he was ready but after they had left, Rose heard a commotion in the corridor. Rose was curious and went out to see people running down the corridor.

“Kathy, what’s going on?” she asked the woman from the next office.

“I think one of the patients has gone mad, someone said Mr Stoker has been found in his office and all the blood was drained out of him, don’t know what’s going on now.”

John was now behind Rose.

“Really? That sounds interesting, shall we go take a look Rose?” he asked her, a grin on his face.

Rose knew this was going to be trouble. He locked the door and led her to Mr Stoker’s office, Martha was already there, closing his eyes.

“What happened Martha?” Rose asked as John got his specs out and Martha was staring.

“It was that patient, I came to tell Mr Stoker I couldn’t find her, she was just coming out, with those two messengers I told you about, they pushed past me but I saw her putting a straw back in her handbag. Then when I came in, he was just laid there. I called security but everyone kept looking in and screaming then running down the corridor, she’ll be hiding somewhere I expect. What the hell happened to him?”

“You’re the medical expert Martha, you tell us,” John replied, taking a look around the office.

Two medics came in and took over and Rose led her friend back into the corridor.

“Come back to John’s office, I’ll make you a drink,” Rose suggested, trying to lead Martha away.

“No, I’m fine Rose, I have to go see the administrator, he’ll want to know what happened, I expect Miss Finnegan’s checked herself out by now.”

“What was she in for?” John asked, taking off his specs that Rose thought he really looked cute in.

“Salt deficiency, that’s what Mr Stoker said it was, no wonder when all she ate was salad for every meal.”

“There’s salt in blood, she’s a blood-sucker or a vampire.”

“Don’t be daft John, there’s no such things,” Martha laughed.

“How else can you explain it Martha?” Rose asked her.

“Well we won’t know unless we find her and ask her, will we?” John stated, looking as the two medics took the consultant away.

“Oliver, what are you going here?” Martha asked her fellow student.

“I heard what happened, it’s true.”

“Bad news travels fast,” John muttered under his breath. “So, where would she go next?”

“Maybe she’s gone, like Martha said,” Rose suggested.

“I doubt it, come on Rose, she’s got the perfect feeding ground here for her snacks, blood banks on her doorstep but I wonder why she’s taken so long? Come on, let’s see if we can find her eh?”

“Rose, don’t be daft, if she’s wanting fresh blood and she’s been waiting, anyone could be her next victim?” Martha warned her.

“Don’t worry Martha, I’ll look after her,” John promised, taking Rose’s arm.

“I’ll go to the office then.”

“Right, you do that then Martha. Any ideas where she went?”

“Don’t ask me,” Martha huffed, knowing when she wasn’t wanted as she walked off.

John led Rose further down the corridor until they came to the old part of the hospital, empty cages lining the walls and abandoned wheelchairs all over the place.

“Does anyone actually come down here?” Rose wondered out loud.

“I expect so, x-ray and MIR are down here. Oh, maybe that’s where she’s hiding?” His face lit up.

“Seriously?”

“It’s the last place anyone will think of looking for her, just think about it?”

“If you say so. Best look out for those two blokes in black.”

“Yeah, I wonder who they are?”

“Her henchmen?” Rose suggested, John giving her a funny look. “Maybe not then. Why don’t we split up?”

“No way Rose, we stick together.”

“Anyway, I say this is your fault.”

“What?”

“You said no interruptions unless there were shape-shifting aliens or space rhinos in helmets, remember?”

“I was joking Rose, to put you at ease.”

They had reached the x-ray department but it was empty apart from a technician who didn’t look too pleased to see them.

“Anyone been in here?” John asked him, pointing out his badge clipped to his belt.

“Not recently, not since they opened the other x-ray department in the new wing. Don’t know why they bother keeping this one open.”

John nodded and went back out, almost bumping into Rose.

“Still don’t want to split up?” she asked, holding him back.

“Well ok but be careful. I’m going to take a look in the MIR department, you look in the rest of these rooms then come and find me, I’ll be down there somewhere. No longer than five minutes, right?”

“Right, good luck.”

“You too and yell if you find anything, or run.”

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