Devil on Sea

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The Doctor Will See You Now

Chapter 20
The Doctor Will See You Now

Mary awoke from what she recognised as a chemical induced sleep. Groggily she looked around her room,

cell, you mean, for some sign as to what day it was; ignoring the comment by Nervy. When they had given her sleeping tablets before she had lost track of time completely, often taking days before she got a full grip on the passing of time. Thinking back on her last lucid memory, Mary realised she remembered nothing since receiving the photograph from her dad and collapsing on the floor in tears,

And by the looks of the room they’ve cleared all the letters and picture away.

‘Oh good, you're awake.’ Mary turned sharply towards the familiar voice to see the blurred outline of an orderly, grimacing at the dull pain in her head. Slowly the figure swam into focus and she recognised James stood in the doorway, pills on a tray.

At least I know it’s a weekend. James never works during the week. Mary thought as she looked away and grabbed her heavy head.

‘Dr. Smith would like to see you today. In about an hour.’

The dean? Mary thought apprehensively before holding out a hand without looking; James shook his head.

‘Not today, Mary. Doctor's orders.’

No pills? It's a trap! Nervy fretted, Mary tried to push the thought to one side and watched James leave the room without dropping off any pills.

I’ve not seen a doctor in months, she thought as a wave of excitement pulsated through her, are they going to try and make me better again? Nervy responded with a few choice words to that but Mary wasn't about to take her on. Instead she dressed with a small smile dancing lightly on her lips, before then setting the bed; a task she had never once done since being placed here.

Mary hummed quietly as she almost skipped into the patient lounge. A few patients, as always, shuffled away at the sight of her; one or two leaving the room altogether. But Mary wasn't going to let such little things ruin her day;

Today is finally the start of a new beginning. A quick glance at the date on a digital clock in the nurse's office told her it had only been two days since her last lucid moment, however brief it had been. So picking up a newspaper, and settling into a quickly vacated chair at her approach, Mary idly scanned the headlines to pass the time; butterflies dancing away inside her stomach as if she’d eaten a bowl-full of caterpillars a fortnight before. Nothing in the paper caught her attention for long, although a story about a missing car recovery mechanic, with a CCTV image of what appeared to be a man urinating onto the engine of a car, made her pause for a moment. After scanning the first few paragraphs, and with only vague details being given, her interest waned and she continued to flick through the paper. A rattling of plastic caught Mary’s attention and she looked over the paper to see a female nurse picking up a box off the table in front of her. The nurse smiled and placed a pack of crayons down before stalking away.

Well there go the pencils, Mary thought with dark humour, reaching for the box of “non-toxic wax crayons” and looking through them. The names of the crayons, “Cadet Blue”, “Spring Green”, “Wild Strawberry” leapt to her eyes and caused Mary to smile.

More like “Pregnancy Test Blue”, “Bulimia Green” and “Suspicious Cold Sore Red”. Now where is “Tikka Masala Vomit Orange” or “Is Someone In That Well Black” when you need them? Mary giggled at Sergeant’s remark, stopping only when she realised one of the nurses was watching her; closely. Seeing that it was James she tipped him a wink, stuck out her tongue, and then picked out the black crayon to start on the crossword.

‘Miss Park?’ Mary, deep in concentration, looked up from the crossword at an enquiring nurse, and furrowed her face. Mary was stuck on 12 down, one of the last few left to complete, and the interruption was not welcomed.

Blank, n, o, blank / g, blank, o, blank, blank. Small decorative item often used as a paperweight. Sergeant pondered, trying to help Mary complete the puzzle.

‘Yes?’ Mary asked the nurse politely. The one benefit, Mary had found, of being schizophrenic was that the voices were occasionally helpful if they were set upon a task. Well, at least Sergeant was; Nervy had a habit of flitting from thought to thought and not being much use at even the simplest of tasks, such as a crossword puzzle.

‘The doctor will see you now.’ Mary's heart skipped a beat at those words, even though she heard Nervy mutter a feeble warning. Something to do with raised expectations but they were difficult to make out over Sergeant repeating the clue over and over again in Mary’s mind. Mary got up to follow the nurse, newspaper and crayon in hand.

Know Gnome?

‘Don't be so daft!’ Mary said out aloud to Sergeant’s offered answer, momentarily forgetting where she was and regretting it immediately. The nurse leading turned around and crinkled her face in confusion. It reminded Mary of the way the Queen’s face would look on an old scrunched-up five pound note and she struggled not to laugh at the image in her mind.

‘Pardon?’ The nurse asked, raising an eyebrow and hand creeping close to the “help” button on her belt.

‘I said don't go so fast.’ Mary smiled disarmingly. The nurse’s features softened before she nodded and resumed her walking, at a slightly slower pace. Mary didn't recognise this nurse but then very few stuck around long at Blackwood Lodge. It seemed to be a place staffed mostly by those close to retirement or those on internships. There were only a few of the staff whose names Mary had bothered to learn, with her favourite being James.

He’s the only one who has ever treated me like a human being, and not a piece of dirt they were forced to scrape off their shoe. She thought as they passed him and he favoured Mary with a smile.

They finally arrived outside the door to the dean’s office and Mary stared with nervous excitement at the dark oak door. “Doctor Alex Smith, Dean of Blackwood Lodge” was emblazoned across the door in embossed gold letters. The nurse knocked once, poked her head into the office, and mumbled something that Mary couldn't hear. She turned back to Mary, closing the door behind her, and smiled.

‘Please take a seat. He'll be with you shortly.’ Mary sat down and watched the nurse walk back the way they had come, hips swaying in a manner that declared superiority to any who saw.

Let’s hope one of those high heels snap. Nervy thought with a slither of jealously. Trying her best to ignore Nervy, but in complete agreement, Mary looked around to find herself unwatched for what must be the first time since she'd arrived at Blackwood. That was until she noticed the red winking eye of a camera in the nook above her head. Sighing she focused her attention back on the crossword. In a last ditch attempt to solve the clue she looked across to the cryptic clue, not that she was ever any good at deciphering those. “Across the world all is stalled, until upside down a blizzard is called.”

Sod this for a game of soldiers, Mary thought, leaving Sergeant to ponder the clues alone.

Knot Gloat? Mary ignored Sergeant’s stupid guess and focused on her shoes. They were loose, as Velcro shoes eventually became, and one clung limply to her toes. Shoe laces were forbidden on the ward; for reasons not talked about but left hanging for all to see. Mary tore off one of the Velcro straps, bristling at the satisfying tearing sound, before putting it back on tighter. She did the same with the other shoe, boredom already beginning to creep in.

Bzzzzt! Enter. Mary looked around for the source of the noise, unsure if it was actually real or not.

Was that either of you two? Mary asked internally. She got no response from Nervy, which was as good as a no.

Knoll Growth? Thought Sergeant, which Mary also took as a no.

‘Too many letters.’ She replied to Sergeant, putting the noise down to sound being carried down the corridor.

Bzzzt! Mary, are you there?’ Again, the noise made Mary jump and she looked around in confusion; before realising it was coming from above her.

‘God?’ Mary asked feebly, ‘is that you?’ Mary wasn’t a religious person by nature but having God talking to you in your head was slightly better than the other alternative; which she knew all too well.

Bzzzt! Not quite. It's Doctor Smith. You can come in now.’ Gentle laughter was cut short as the intercom buzzed silent. Mary cautiously opened the door, noting the speaker above where she was sat, to see the dean in a leather backed chair and reading a file. Without looking up he gestured her to the chair at the front of his desk, which Mary slowly walked to.

Mary couldn’t remember having been in the dean's office before. Diplomas and certificates hung from the walls whilst a book case stuffed with ancient looking text books took centre stage behind the brown suit wearing dean. Mary noticed a picture frame on the desk had been placed face down before the dean looked up from the file and smiled at the empty chair again, then his eyes went back to the file. Slowly, Mary sat in the offered chair, folding her hands and shivering from a draft. One of the windows was thrown open and a cold breeze blew through the office.

I'm surprised his papers don't blow away. Mary thought to herself, waiting patiently for the dean to finish reading. The dean finally looked up from the file and smiled warmly as he removed a pair of reading glasses,

‘You have an interesting file, Mary.’ He said quietly but with authority, closing the file and placing it to one side.

‘Erm, thank you doctor Smith.’ Mary was unsure on how to address a dean and her growing nerves weren't helping.

‘Alex, please. Call me Alex. Have we met before?’ He offered his hand which Mary shook.

‘Oh, okay. Thank you, erm, Alex. And no, I don’t think so’ Mary said as Alex rose from his chair and walked around the side of the desk. The wind opened the file on his desk and the dean muttered, reaching back to close the file and placing a glinting object on top.

‘Tell me, how are you finding it here at Blackwood?’ Alex asked, sitting on the corner of his desk and folding his hands together. Mary, whose attention was momentarily distracted by her file, looked up to find his eyes flicker up from her chest to stare intently into her eyes.

That can’t be a comfortable way to sit, Nervy thought, and Mary was reminded of the way a headmaster at high school would sit; just before the child before him received the cane.

‘Erm. Fine, I guess.’ Mary stated uncomfortably.

Truth be told, I hate this place. But that’s hardly something I can tell you.

‘You guess? Looking through your file it doesn't seem much has been done to help you, Mary. You're constantly medicated and when you're not you have a tendency to have, episodes.’ There was something about the way he said the word episodes that worried Mary, ‘You've not had a visitor in over a year now and it doesn't seem to me that you've made any friends with your fellow patients either. You seem, my dear, to be all alone. Would you agree that this is the case?’ Mary burst into tears at such a frank and obliterating analysis of her world. Her life had been summed up neatly and the full weight of loneliness crushed her. She turned inwards for support, for comfort. Nervy muttered something about the doctor being too close whilst Sergeant wanted another look at the cryptic clue.

I really am alone, Mary thought trying to stem the flow of tears, and yet ironically, they say a schizophrenic never is. She felt an arm creep around her shoulder and whilst at first she flinched, she soon leaned in close and cried harder.

‘And a widow at that too. No wonder you're suffering, my dear.’ Alex chimed in, helping her find rock bottom as uncomfortably as possible.

Did he just sniff our hair? Nervy asked with disgust; full attention now on the unfolding scene Nervy found herself in. Mary leant back and smiled up at the doctor.

‘D-do you have a t-tissue?’ She asked, a little ashamed at yet another loss of control of emotion. Not letting go of Mary's shoulder, Alex reached across the desk and handed her a metal tin with tissues poking out of the top. Taking a few sheets Mary dabbed her eyes, lady-like, before blowing her nose heavily and loudly. Seeing a bin to her left she threw the wet tissue and watched as it bounced to the floor. Alex painfully tightened his grip on her shoulder, briefly.

‘Don't worry about it. Tell me, Mary, are you happy with the way your life is going?’ Alex asked, smiling down at her warmly. Mary shook her head in reply, unable to meet his gaze and feeling lower than an investment banker's morals. ‘I believe you hear voices, Mary. I also believe these voices may be the reason for your anxiety attacks and your loss of control of emotion. Tell me, how many do you hear?’ Mary slowly held up two fingers, still unable to look the dean in the eye. ‘And how does that feel? In your mind?’

‘At first it was fine; in fact they would often help me. Now they spend too much time arguing and fighting each other and it feels like my brain has melted.’

‘Well that’s what I’m here for, Mary.’ Alex said with a smile as he squeezed her thigh with a hand that had been there for awhile,

When did his hand get there? Nervy asked, slightly offended by the dean’s closeness,

‘We’ll scoop your brain up and put it in the fridge. Not the freezer mind, that’s how you get brain freeze.’ The dean continued with a child-friendly smile and tapping her nose before placing his hand back on her leg.

Brain freeze? What’s going on? Mary, why is his hand still on our thigh? Nervy was starting to get frantic. Mary tried to ignore the comments, replying to her with,

He’s only trying to help and put me at ease. Not wanting Nervy to have an “episode”.

‘These pills, Mary,’ Alex asked, interrupting Mary’s thoughts, ‘that you take when you’re having one of your…episodes. Tell me, how do they make you feel when you take them?’

‘I don’t.’ Mary began, unsure how truthful to answer.

I never remember much of anything anyway, when sedated,

‘They put me in a stupor and I remember nothing for days at a time. I assume I’m bed bound as I when I do begin to remember again I’m always waking up in my room.’

‘Well I’m happy to inform you, that’s not the case. You’re a fully functioning human being, more or a less.’ Alex said, eyes drifting down and away from Mary’s eyes for a moment. ‘They merely make you more… placid and able to respond to simple commands. Which I think you’ll agree is of much benefit when you do decide to go off the rails.’ Alex chortled to himself. His hand was still on Mary’s thigh as he reached across the desk, opened one of the drawers, and pulled out a box of tablets. ‘I’d like you to take one of these pills now, please.’

Why? Nervy though with suspicion.

‘Why? Mary asked with some of Nervy’s concern.

‘Are you questioning your doctor, Mary?’ Alex smiled at her disarmingly, hand momentarily squeezing Mary’s thigh. Mary shivered when she felt one of his fingers begin to gently stroke her bare flesh; Nervy panicked.

‘I mean, I’m not having an, erm,’ Mary grasped for words frantically; her emotions beginning their old race towards panic, ‘Episode! I’m not having an episode, as you called it. I was hoping I could come off them, you see. Start to receive treatment again. Try and cure myself rather than knock me out whenever the voices get too much.’ Mary tried to push away from the dean and felt her world begin to crumble again when Alex burst into laughter and maintained his grip.

Known Gloat? Sergeant thought.

‘Treatment?’ Alex said in-between laughing, ‘Oh no, Mary. I don’t want you getting better. Just not remembering.’ He squeezed her thigh again, a touch too tightly and Mary yelped, ‘Now take the pills.’ Alex said before slipping a pill into Mary’s mouth, closing her jaw, and pinching her nose. Mary joined Nervy in panicking; her eyes bulging as she frantically looked around the room whilst trying to shake her head loose from the dean’s grip.

'I've been watching you ever since you were first admitted, Mary, and boy are you a beauty.' The dean, lowered his head to stare into her eyes as Mary struggled against him. 'I think you and I are going to become very close very soon. Very close indeed.' Mary's thoughts were a blur as the burning from the desire to breathe edged her ever closer to swallowing the pill. Her eyes swept across his desk for anything to help as her arms flailed against him in vain.

Snow Globe! Sergeant shouted forcefully and with urgency. Mary saw the glinting paper-weight snow globe sat atop her file, where the dean had placed it moments before. She reached, wrapped her fingers around it and gripped tight as she swung it hard in the direction of the grinning dean. There was a sickening wet crack and Alex went limp. He let go of her mouth and nose and crumpled awkwardly to the floor. In her overwhelming desire to breathe Mary inhaled the pill before coughing it back up; spitting it at the unconscious dean who had blood seeping from a cut on his temple.

Thanks, Sergeant. Mary thought, grateful for the rescue Sergeant had supplied.

You’re welcome. I knew I’d get the clue eventually. Sergeant replied with pride before asking, Wait, what’s happened here? Mary looked at the snow globe in her hand, blood now staining the top. On the inside snow rolled around the small miniature model of a Victorian house, a house she recognised as Blackwood Lodge, and words Mary never bothered to read. She put the globe back on the desk and looked around the office in panicked confusion.

What do I do now? Mary thought to her-selves.

Panic. Replied Nervy.

Don’t panic. Replied Sergeant. Mary tried to take stock of her situation, consciously aware of time ticking away.

Okay, okay. I’ve knocked out the Dean after he tried to… Mary didn’t want to follow that train of thought, but when she saw a box of condoms in the opened desk draw she had an inkling of where it would end up, so I can’t really wait around for him to wake up.

Run. Thought Nervy and Sergeant in unison. It was rare Mary’s other two voices agreed and that swayed it for her. Heeding their advice, she looked for a way out and as a draft caught a lock of her hair, Mary turned to stare at the open window. Alex began to moan at her feet so Mary gave him a swift kick to the bollocks; her two voices cheering as she did so. Unsteadily she climbed into the window frame, steeling herself to jump and flee from this nightmare she had been forced to call home.

Wait! Sergeant screamed, causing Mary to pause, Money! Mary really didn’t fancy waiting around much longer but Sergeant was right. She wouldn’t get very far as she was and even less so without money. Dropping back into the room and searching through the drawers of the desk she found Alex’s wallet and what amounted to a hundred pounds in notes. She stuffed the cash in her pant’s pocket before stopping to look at her file sat atop the desk, now blown open again by the breeze. Alex moaned again and Mary was caught between fear and intrigue. Fear won, just, so she grabbed the file and made her way out of the window without a second glance. She thudded heavily to the ground and rolled, almost losing her grip on the file. Looking back at the institute just once, Mary took off across its grounds, only pausing temporarily at the request of Sergeant.

Stop! We must go back!

Why? It’s too dangerous.

But we’ve left the crossword! Mary shook her head in frustration at having stopped for such a frivolous request and continued her fleeing, unsure of where to go but purposely avoiding walking along roads.

The institute must be far out in the sticks, she thought as she continued to cut across farmland, through hedgerows, and into pastures inhabited by cows and sheep. She finally burst through a hedgerow containing berries, and more than one sharp thorn, and found herself on a gravelled dirt road. A horn to her right made her jump back against the hedge as a black cab slammed on the brakes, stopping just short of her. A fat man in a black t-shirt leaned out of the window,

‘Watch where you’re fucking going, love!’ He screamed, food and spittle spraying from his mouth.

‘Please! Help me!’ Mary pleaded with panic, knowing she must look in need of assistance. The driver looked at her for what seemed an eternity before his hardened gaze softened slightly.

‘Sure thing. You got cash on ya?’ Mary nodded in reply, ‘then get in the back.’

Mary climbed in and fearfully looked out the back window.

‘Where to?’

Shit, where to? She thought to herself, hoping for inspiration.

Preston? Replied Sergeant.

‘Preston?’ Mary asked Sergeant aloud in confusion.

‘That’s a bit of a stretch.’ The driver replied, Mary watched suspicion creep across his features via the rear-view mirror.

‘Will you go that far?’ Mary asked the cabbie, unsure if he’d be willing to make such a journey but thinking it was as good a place as any to go.

Mum and dad will just send me back and the only place I know people outside of Brighton is Preston. She thought as the cabbie whistled and re-arranged his mirror to look at her better. Mary saw writing on his t-shirt but couldn’t read the words in reverse.

‘That’s gonna cost ya, love.’ He finally answered with doubt still in his voice.

‘Will fifty do? Up front?’ Mary hadn’t been in a taxi for years and she was no longer sure of the cost of fares. He nodded, much to Mary’s relief, and she pulled out the notes she’d stolen from the dean. They were all twenties and she handed three of them over.

‘Actually, sixty it’ll cost ya.’ And with that he turned the meter off and set the cab rolling, slamming Mary into the back of the seats. Mary noticed a bag in the back of the cab and held it up.

‘There’s a bag back here? John Lewis’, if you know him.’ The driver chuckled to himself,

‘That’ll be the last guy I picked up. He seemed pretty desperate to make a good impression for the conjege… sex visit he had planned. Why, I don’t know. If his wife is bat shit crazy, living in that Blackwood place, I doubt she’d notice what he was wearing.’ He paused for a second and stared back at Mary through his mirror, ‘Say, you’re not from there, are you?’ Mary swallowed, hard, trying her best to hide her fear whilst shaking her head.

‘No, no. I, erm, got lost going for a walk.’

‘And now you want going back to Preston? Bit far for a walk, ain’t it?’ The driver asked, not convinced by her reasoning and the taxi beginning to slow down.

‘I, erm, got the train down to visit family. They promised me a lift back but well, they, we,’ Mary sighed, ‘we had a fall out.’ The driver grunted a non-committal response and the taxi picked up speed again, clearly convinced by her reasoning,

Or just not caring. Sergeant commented. He then focused his attention back on the road and turned the radio up, which suited Mary as she didn’t really want to talk anyway. Mary gently kicked the bag towards the front of the cab, to hide the mouldy pizza box she’d just noticed, and it toppled away from her partially spilling the contents. She never noticed what would have been a familiar looking wallet bounce behind the pizza box, before it was covered by a jumper.

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