You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly, Part 21

Posted: 4 February 2013 in fiction, writing, You'll Never Believe A Man Can Fly
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Chapter Eleven

It was unfortunate for Janey Evans, who had just finished her shift on J Ward, that she happened to be standing by the elevator doors in the North London Hospital just as they opened. If she hadn’t been, then she’d likely have lived a long and happy life. As it was, her life ceased precisely two and a half seconds later as the creature that had been Samuel Withers smashed her to one side, and then pushed her into the wall, before moving on.

Though it would not have been any consolation, she soon had plenty of company as the creature moved slowly but deliberately through the accident and emergency unit leaving mayhem and bloodshed in its path. It stopped at one bed for a brief moment, seemingly fascinated by the various items of electronic equipment surrounding it, and gazed at the heart monitor connected to the elderly patient lying there. He was unconscious and mercifully knew nothing of the chaos around him. Immediately thereafter, he knew nothing ever again, as with one swing of a hideously mutated arm, the creature destroyed the equipment, the bed and the patient.

There was a moment’s silence, and then a scream pierced the air; the thing turned towards the source of the noise. Slowly, it limped towards the nurse who had let out the penetrating shriek, its bottom half sounding like slabs of gravel being dragged through tar. It would have undoubtedly continued its slow advance had not its body suddenly started juddering in response to the impact of bullets thudding their way into its hide.

The armed response vehicle had arrived minutes earlier and three armed police officers had run into the reception area. They were too well and carefully trained to react to the carnage with anything other than complete and total professionalism, mindful at all times that they carried a heavy responsibility. They couldn’t just go around shooting anything, they’d been warned.

The lead officer took one look at the creature and all that careful training and sense of heavy responsibility vanished. This thing is just wrong, he thought. He glanced at his fellow officers and he knew they were in agreement. Immediately, the three armed men braced themselves at the main door and opened fire, without even shouting the required warnings. (At the official inquiry several months later, the lead officer had politely but firmly expressed his considered view that in his opinion, the creature would have been unlikely, at best, to stop on hearing the words “Armed Police, Stop!” But that didn’t stop some of the newspapers running their bi-annual feature on ‘trigger happy cops’.)

When the fusillade of shots ceased after a minute or so, the creature also stopped where it was and what was left of its head cocked onto one side, appearing almost puzzled at the interruption. It seemed as if stopping caused something to stick, because from that moment, and until the arrival of Davies a little over an hour later, it didn’t move at all. There was an ominous rumbling sound that was assumed to be breathing, just from the regularity of the sound, but it didn’t sound like any breathing anyone had heard before.

Louder than the strange noise coming from the creature was the sound of moaning, filled with pain, that came from various areas of the accident and emergency room. This was from the injured, both the pre-existing patients and those who had been hurt by the thing that had once been Samuel Withers. Looks exchanged between those still conscious and ambulatory confirmed initial suspicions: no one was brave enough to risk movement, fearing that the creature might move again at moment if provoked.

The three armed officers looked at each other, not knowing what to do. The lead officer took a step back from the door and the others followed. The last one to back out looked around the room as he left, seeing it clearly for the first time. He shuddered, and swore softly to himself, before following his fellow officers, heading for the foyer to brief the senior officer who’d arrived.

Doctors crowded around the door, unsure whether or not to enter the room. Finally, one, a senior consultant named Mitchell took a step into the room, warily keeping an eye on the still creature. There was no movement, no indication that the creature was stirring from what appeared to be sleep. And as the doctor thought that, he made the mental jump to a possible conclusion: the regular rhythmic noise sounded like, of all things, snoring.

Mitchell beckoned to Howard Baker, the charge nurse, who broke all decorum by mouthing a heartfelt obscenity right back at him. The consultant sent Baker an impatient look, and then, pointing at the injured, conveyed to him what Baker correctly interpreted as a ‘patients look’, i.e. ‘look at the bloody patients!’

Baker sighed and reluctantly followed the doctor as the latter dropped to his hands and knees and crawled into the room. The pair reached the first man, a fellow physician, and Mitchell gave him a cursory glance. The man was obviously dead, his chest crushed in, and the doctor swallowed hard. He looked at Baker and motioned with his head that they should move to the next victim. Mitchell crawled a little further, and reached slowly towards a groaning man. The doctor pulled at the other man’s legs, then paused as the groans increased in volume. The physician grimaced, swallowed hard and beckoned Baker who grabbed one leg while the doctor took a firm hold on the other. Together they pulled the patient out of the emergency room to reception, where he was immediately taken away to be treated.

“OK,” Mitchell said, “That’s one. Thanks, Howard.” He looked at the others. “All right, who’s going to help me with the next one?”

The floor tiling suddenly became a matter of great interest for the rest of them, except for one enterprising fellow who looked up, as if he’d always wanted to spend time examining the ceiling. The consultant looked at them with contempt. When this was over, he’d have some things to say, he thought, but not now.

Baker stepped forward. “Looks like it’s you and me again, Mister Mitchell.” The consultant smiled resignedly, but gratefully. Baker may have not wanted to do the first journey, but now that he had, he obviously regarded it as his duty to continue. “Thanks,” said the doctor. “The one by the broken stretcher next?”

Baker nodded and the pair of them entered the room as before, on their hands and knees, trying in vain to ignore the low rumbling noise, and the monster who was responsible for it.

– o –

Davies had intended to stay in that night. He’d flown almost directly from the agency to the address of Williams’ apartment, which he found after a couple of wrong turnings. He was finding flying at night far more confusing than during the day time and had already clipped two lampposts on the way. He might heal fast, he knew, but it still hurt like hell when it happened.

He’d found the flat just as Williams had promised and hadn’t even needed the key: a mental suggestion and the door swung open. He walked in to find a well sized two bedroom apartment, exquisitely decorated. Each room was done differently, but the style of each fitted the dimensions perfectly. Davies spent ten minutes just wandering around the flat, marvelling at the taste. Williams was a constant surprise, he realised, when he saw a small collection of crystal figurines, one of a perfectly beautiful ballerina almost taking his breath away.

Williams had a large DVD and video collection, and he noticed three or four titles that he’d not previously seen, but had always intended to watch sooner or later. He decided that it was much too late now to be described as sooner, but after a wash and a bite to eat, he’d watch the DVDs. This could, after all, be the last night where he’d be undisturbed for some time, he realised, and he wanted to do nothing special, nothing out of the ordinary.

He liked the idea of doing something mundane: watch television, take a bath, have something simple normal to eat.

When he’d checked around the flat, however, he’d realised that unless he took Williams’ earlier suggestion and acted on it, only the first of those would easily be accomplished. He’d opened the refrigerator and just stared at the contents. He should have known. The fridge was almost full, but with macrobiotic foodstuffs, all of which looked less appetising than the packages in which they came.

He pulled out the scrap of paper upon which Williams had scribbled the local details and, memorising the details, he left the flat, closing the door after him. He took the narrow steps leading down to the entrance door just a tad too fast and it was with an sense of alarm that he felt one foot slide on the edge of a step. For a moment, he tottered on the edge of the stair, before losing his balance. As his foot slid away from underneath him, a wave of frustration hit him and he grabbed at the stone railing that ran down the side of the steps. It crumpled and he was suddenly holding a hand full of powder. A split second later, he was hovering above the stairs and he floated down to the ground floor.

Bloody idiot, he thought, knowing that his fall could have been witnessed by anyone. He walked to the main door, hit the exit button and entered onto the street. He turned left and started to walk down the pavement away from the apartment block. As he did, he noticed that there was an almost instinctive wish to fly, but he tamped it down, knowing that to fly would just lead to more chance of being discovered.

The five minute journey to the shop at what to others would appear a normal pace seemed excruciatingly long to him, the self-imposition seeming like a chore. He wondered how long it would take for him to start resenting it.

“Maybe I should be resenting it now,” he said out loud, gaining him a very strange look from the woman who happened to be walking past.

“She’s not worth it,” the woman said, and then walked on, leaving Davies in bemused puzzlement, wondering why she’d interpreted the comment that way. He smiled at her back and continued on his way, seeing just ahead of him the pub Williams had referred to in the directions.

Davies soon reached the all night shop and was profoundly grateful for the money that Williams had given him. He stocked up with several cans of soft drink, a slab of butter, a jar of pickle, some full fat cheese and some white bread. He didn’t care that it was supposed to be less healthy. He was pretty sure that whatever damage the combination would do to his body, it wouldn’t be a patch on a bullet wound, and he now had experience of his body’s restorative abilities in that regard.

The manager of the small shop greeted him at the check-out and Davies paid for the goods, remembering at the last moment to get some soap and shampoo. He added a bottle of scotch to the bag almost as an afterthought. The journey back to the flat was equally frustrating, and he was grateful to get through the front door.

As he did so, he let go of the bags which obediently rose up as if they were on invisible columns. They floated ahead of him as he entered the kitchen, and the food contents found their way into the small gaps left in the refrigerator. He felt a twinge of guilt, at storing cans of fizzy drink next to the health foods, but quickly got over it. He placed the toiletries in the bathroom and decided to have a bite to eat before a bath. Williams had told him to relax and after making himself some cheese on toast, he intended to do just that.

He switched on the high definition flat screen television; comedy. He needed comedy to just relax to, laugh along with, and forget about the world for a short while.

The programme was only five minutes from the end when the screen darkened and then brightened again as the word “Newsflash!” appeared. A voiceover announced “We’re going over to the Newsroom for a urgent news report…” and then the voice faded, along with the news notification board. Davies saw (along with several million other viewers) the face and upper body of a familiar senior BBC presenter, in front of a busy newsroom. The news presenter looked solemn, and Davies wondered which Royal or senior politician had died. They rarely interrupted for anything else these days. But behind the newsreader a large graphic of a red cross, with the words “Gunfire at London Hospital” suddenly appeared.

The newsreader spoke clearly and slowly. “A siege is in its second hour at the North London Hospital. Early reports suggest that some doctors and patients have been killed. We’re going over live now to the hospital, and our correspondent, Amanda Robinson. Amanda, are you there?”

The scene switched to an outside shot of the hospital, and a young attractive female reporter. She looked unsure of herself, and Davies recognised a look of fear on her face.

“Yes, David, I’m here.”

“What’s going on?” asked the presenter.

“Latest confirmed numbers are nineteen dead and about forty injured, David,” the woman said. “The police are not releasing any details about the names of the deceased or those injured. However, I understand that a number of medical staff are among the victims. Also, the police are withholding any details about the perpetrator, but I’ve heard from several people that he’s a victim himself, of an industrial acci…”

Davies didn’t hear any more, since he’d opened the window and left the flat, heading for the North London Hospital.

– o –

© Lee Barnett, 2013

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