There was a knock on the door. “Come in,” James said, not looking round. The doors within the hospital were not locked; Dr Walsh didn’t believe in locked doors. He said Darkmoor was not a prison, it was a place to heal.
Albert, the elderly cleaning supervisor, stood in the doorway talking to James. James looked up at him, finally realising he had not heard a word he had said.
“Sorry, Al, mate, miles away. What’s up?”
Albert smiled at James like a grandfather. “I said, how you doing? Craig the night nurse said he heard you scream and cry out in the night.”
The nightmare came back to him, causing him to clutch harder to the sink. Albert noticed something was wrong and started towards him, but James held his hand up. “I’m fine, Al, just a nightmare. Nasty flashback.”
“Are you going to tell Dr Walsh about it?” Albert said. He was standing between the door and James, looking tense, as if he were ready to leap at James if he looked shaky again.
“No, yeah, maybe.” James rubbed his eyes, his back still against the sink. “I dunno, Al.”
Albert nodded sympathically. “I think you should, James. Dr Walsh would want to know.”
James nodded his head. There was another knock at the door. He looked past Albert and saw Dr Barrett stooding in the doorway. “Hello, Albert, what are you doing in here?” she said smiling.
Albert turned back to James. “Just seeing how our boy is doing.” He smiled under the bristles of his white beard. “I better get on, James. Take it easy, son.”
James nodded again. “Will do, Al. Cheers.”
Albert left the room, Dr Barrett stepping to one side to let him through. “Everything alright, James?” she said with a small smile.
James walked to his bed and sat down. He sighed. “Not really, Doc, had a nightmare last night.” Dr Barrett let the door swing shut and sat down on the bed next to James. James could smell the faint flowery scent of her perfume, subtle but there. Dr Barrett had started at the hospital a month after James had arrived. She was Dr Walsh’s assistant, and all the patients liked her.
“Do you want to tell me about it?” She smiled sympathetically.
“I was in the corridor outside my room. There were little creatures out there with badger heads. They had brown material bodies and …” James took a deep breath. He looked down and noticed his hands were shaking. “And serrated blades for hands.”
Dr Barrett nodded as he talked, listening intently to every word he spoke. “Have you dreamt of these creatures before, James?”
James shook his head, then looked up at Dr Barrett. She was about thirty, and had long strawberry-blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail. Her eyes were a deep brown, almost black, the colour of tree bark, behind her thick-rimmed glasses. She was pretty, very pretty, and James had had several fantasy dreams about Dr Barrett since she had been here.
James lowered his gaze to his hands, but lingered on Dr Barrett’s breasts.
Dr Barrett shifted her weight on the bed. “OK, James, I want you to draw these creatures for me and Dr Walsh.”
James nodded. “Why?”
“So that we can see them. And if you see them outside the dream world, it might help you.”
James nodded. Dr Barrett stood and walked to the door. James glanced at her rear as she left, but it was covered by her lab coat.
Dr Barrett opened the door and turned back to James. “You sure you’re OK, James?”
James nodded again, not looking up from his hands.
“I’ll see you in group.” Dr Barrett pulled the door shut quietly and left.