Jackson was so close that I could feel his minty breath fan over me. I tried to act like I wasn’t scared at all but it wasn’t working. I felt raw fear claw into my skin like never before and I guess he sensed it because he was grinning at me like a lunatic. It seemed like he could read my mind and my body. He raised his arm towards me and I cowered in reflex. I felt his fingers move slowly down my arm in a teasing way.
“W-what are you doing?” I asked him.
“You’re scared of me, aren’t you?” he asked.
“No. I’m not scared of you.”
Jackson laughed. “You don’t sound so confident.”
“If you try anything, Jackson. Just anything at all, I’ll scream.”
He moved closer, leaving absolutely no space between us. Our bodies were pressed against each other with the exit right behind me but I couldn’t move, not when a six-foot four giant was towering over me (His physical details were all in the patient’s file.) I felt tiny in comparison of him. He was looking straight in my eyes and I continued to stare back. He needed to know that he couldn’t scare me like that even though I doubted if I’d walk out of this room in one piece, note the pun.
Jackson cupped my face, his fingers digging into my jaw. “If you scream, Nurse Riley, my teeth will dig into your skin faster than any doctor can make it in here. Do you understand what I’m saying?” He wasn’t smiling anymore, and by the looks of it, not bluffing either.
“You won’t do that. The security guy is right outside.” I told him, it was more like I was assuring myself.
He pushed a loose lock of hair behind my hair. A chill ran down my body. “Here’s something, Cotton Candy, my room is sound proof because they don’t enjoy when I scream my head off in the middle of the night which means no one will be able to hear you too.”
I swallowed. I knew Jackson wasn’t lying. “What do you want?”
He chuckled. “I like that question. What do I want? Seems like no one here cares about me enough to ask that. You’re a first though.”
“If you’re gonna ask me to let you out of here then it’s not gonna happen.” I said.
“Oh, of course not, Nurse Riley. I wouldn’t dare ask you that, not when there are surveillance cameras in the hallways that are in dire need of technicians and a bunch of dim security guards who are incapable of handling one crazy.” He sniggered. “Trust me, if I wanted out, I would be out.”
“Then what is it?”
“Dr. Aaron Shaw, he allows nurses to take their patients out for one day if the nurse is able to report about the patient’s good behavior. One full day out of this goddamn place, and you, Cotton Candy, will help me earn it.”
“And how exactly do you think stranding me and threatening to hurt me is good behavior?”
He’d backed away from me, allowing me some space which meant he trusted me enough to not leave the room. “Well, there wouldn’t be any threatening if you co-operate.” He said, settling down on the leather couch and crossing his legs.
“You practically bit a person and injured him. He’s still in shock and hasn’t spoken a word. How do you expect me to co-operate and get you a free day outside after that? And why should I trust you?”
“Will you co-operate with me or not?” He asked.
“Eat your dinner.” I said and placed a few colorful pills on his table with a glass of water. “And after you’re done, you need to have these.”
“Nurse Riley, will you co-operate with me? Or not?” He repeated.
“I will not. I simply cannot.” I said firmly.
Suddenly Jackson’s cheerfulness faded, like he was enveloped by a dark cloud. Without another word, he took those pills and crushed them. I thought that was a very unusual way of having them when he could have swallowed them whole without crushing. Next, he was right in front of me in one single stride as he seized me by the jaw fiercely, squeezing my cheeks into a fish-face. “Usually, I’m not nice enough to ask twice, but I made an exception this time.”
It was too sudden, I didn’t even have any time to react. When I opened my mouth to scream, he forced the powder of the medication into my mouth and as I tried to spit it, he clammed my mouth shut leaving me no choice but to swallow it. My eyes were watering when he let go.
He chuckled. “Cotton-Candy, you weren’t supposed to have my medication. What if Dr. Paul finds out?”
I coughed and tried to breathe. I’d just consumed Jackson’s medication.
Jackson’s psychotic medication!
“You sick bastard!” I screamed at him.
“Oh you better watch your mouth, Cotton-Candy.” He laughed like a maniac and settled down in his revolving chair by the study table. There was a creepy smile on his face as he swirled on it.
I dashed out of the room, and locked it. The security guard looked me up and down. “Are you alright?”
“Yes, I’m fine.” I wasn’t.
I rushed to the ladies restroom in under one minute. I’d pushed my fingers into my throat and threw up all the medication that Jackson had forced me to consume. In normal situation, I would have complained to Aaron but I knew that’s exactly what Jackson wanted. He wanted me to complain to Aaron and then I’d be the nurse who couldn’t handle Jackson which would be a good reason to assign me to another patient leaving Jackson to terrorize someone else.
But guess what, Jack? I don’t back down without a fight.
I thought hard. I couldn’t possibly give him what he wanted, but of course I could pretend to follow his rules, he can’t read my mind. I would do what he wanted me to and in-exchange keep my sanity intact. I had to make some ground rules. Jackson needed to know that he wasn’t the boss here anymore. Just because the staff was scared shitless, it didn’t mean he could run the show.
I felt sick again and I threw up into the commode. My head began spinning from the medication that I’d consumed and I knew I’d be falling asleep soon. I found an empty hospital room and lied down on the bed, my eyes became droopy and eventually, I feel asleep.
“Nurse Riley...” Someone was calling out to me in my dream.
“Nurse Riley, wake up!” The voice seemed so distant.
I coughed, my eyes were still drowsy but I still managed to open them and saw a male figure hovering above my bed. I sat up straight at once and glanced around. Dr. Paul was staring at me, frowning. “Nurse Riley, do you realize this is a hospital where you are supposed to work rather than take short naps on a patient’s bed? Would you like me to report you to Laila?”
“My head hurts. It’s pounding.” I said.
“That’s a very convenient excuse for slacking off, I guess. Faking a headache.” Paul went on. “I don’t know what you’ve been slipping into Dr. Shaw’s drinks, but I for one, won’t be fooled by your goody-two shoes act.”
My hands were balled into fists. “What the hell do you mean?”
Paul didn’t wait to answer as he sauntered out of the room. After I calmed down a bit, I decided to head home. My shift was already over so technically, there wouldn’t be anything that Paul could do to put my job in jeopardy.
Screw yourself, Paul.
The clouds had turned a dark shade of gray, the thunder rumbled and drops of rain pitter-pattered on the ground. Thankfully, I’d brought my umbrella along. I felt uneasy, like I was being watched so I glanced up to find Jackson leaning against his window, his fingers coiled around the window bars, a smile plastered over his face. He waved me goodbye but I decided to ignore him and walked straight ahead.
I could hardly keep my eyes open so I decided to take a cab home. I could leave my car in the staff parking lot for today and drive back tomorrow after my shift and until then a cab would do.
I hailed a taxi and climbed into it. I was so out of my mind that I hadn’t even changed out of my nurse uniform. Before I could climb into the cab, a piece of neatly folded paper fell onto the ground from my pocket. I picked it up and settled inside the car. I told the driver my address and opened the slip.
In beautiful loopy cursive the note read.
Let’s be friends Cotton- Candy :)