The 17th Installment

Hannah ran into Nurse Stillmark guarding the door. “What’s going on? We heard screaming.”

Nurse Stillmark brushed Hannah’s shoulder with her fingers as if knocking away lint. “You let loose a whole host of patients, dear. Expect screaming.” She turned her gaze to the old woman. “We need your knife.”

The old woman almost smiled but pulled her mouth back into order. “Imagine you asking me for help. My how things have come round.” She pushed by Hannah to step into the hall. “So?”

“While you two’ve been wasting time on paperwork, I’ve been coming up with a plan to get us where we need to be.” She nodded to the nearest end of the hallway. “A security agent waits behind each stairwell door.”

The wide hallways were designed to muffle sound, but it wasn’t soundproof. Thuds and shouts echoed, but Hannah couldn’t tell where the scream had come from.

“All three of us moving at the same time may attract too much attention,” Nurse Stillmark continued. “Don’t look for the cameras!” She smacked Hannah’s arm. “You and I’ll wait here until she gives the all clear. Understood? Now don’t look like that. I know security better than either of you. What, old woman? Suddenly you’re too old and weak to handle one pathetic guard?”

“Pathetic?” The old woman snorted. “Fine. Makes no never mind to me. But when you come through that door after me, don’t stop to look around. Understood?”

Hannah and the nurse watched the old woman march down the hall to the nearest exit. At the door, she seemed to kiss the tips of her fingers and the toss the kiss into the air. Then she pushed the door open and stepped through.

Hannah stared at the closed door, holding her breath. Even if she’d been paying attention to the nurse, she’d have been unable to stop what happened next. It happened too fast.

Pain, sharp and hot, burned into her neck. She fell, or was pushed, backwards, and the steel of a needle glinted out of the corner of her eye. The world was gone by the time she hit the ground.

Nurse Stillmark had hauled plenty of unconscious patients in her years, and she knew every secret doorway in the Asylum. It wasn’t easy, but she had the teenager out of sight before the old woman peered back down the hall. First, the nurse took the bag Hannah had taken from the basement. Satisfied what she wanted was still in the bag, she determined the best place to hide the girl away. She knew just the room no one thought of. And if she worked quickly enough, by the time the girl woke, the building would already be on fire.

To continue on the Installment 18, click here.