The 19th Installment

Hannah woke up on a hard floor. She moved slowly, pressing her fingertips to her brow. Pain pinched her neck and shoulders, and she moved her fingers apart just enough to peer through them. The darkness wasn’t absolute. She turned her head to find the source of the vague light. Dust tickled her nose and she sneezed.

The sneezed forced her to sit up. Dust floated around her in the moonlight pouring in through a window. A window. The stupid cow left her in a room with a window. She pushed herself up to her feet and sneezed again. The pain in her muscles eased as she hurried over.

She was four floors up. Below were the trees where she, Nate, and Clem had stood earlier. It seemed so long ago. Hannah reached for her phone then cursed. How clever she thought she was to leave her phone behind. “I’ll be untrackable,” she’d told Nate and Clem. “I’ll use my wits! Old school.” She snorted now. Then sneezed.

She’d brought no ID either. How clever it had felt in the light of the afternoon.

She leaned out the window. If anyone was outside, they were elsewhere. This was a remote corner. Who was she going to shout to for help?

But another window! Turning back to the attic, she found shadows. A stumbling walk around the full circuit of the room proved the other windows were well boarded up. She finally found the door locked as expected but more substantial than she’d have guessed.

Hannah brought her hands back to her face, closed her eyes, and pulled at her cheeks, feeling her cheekbones. “If there’s a way in, there’s a way out.” With a start she remembered her lockpick kit. She reached to find an empty pocket. Of course. “Damn that woman!”

She stomped back to the window. The air cooled her face. The stars winked promises. And Hannah remembered the boy. She’d seen that boy on the roof. He must’ve been in this room and climbed out and birds… She shook her head. Even if that were true, which was impossible, she couldn’t expect birds to arrive and take her away. That was…

She stepped back from the window. Surely the nurse wouldn’t leave her up there to starve to death. Nate and Clem knew where she was. Her parents would look for her. All she had to do was wait.
But Hannah was never good at waiting.

* * *

Nurse Stillmark’s memory of the passageways didn’t fail her, and the old rarely used door needed a shove to open. An overgrown hibiscus bushes blocked the doorway. Leaves and closed blooms tore in her hands as she grabbed them and twisted them out of her way. It wasn’t exactly that she’d forgotten patients had set free from their rooms, but she hadn’t considered, not seriously, that they could’ve left the building and been wandering around wherever they pleased. Security could be counted on to take care of such things. A rogue patient or two on the grounds weren’t her problem.

Nurse Stillmark pushed her way through the hibiscus. It felt good to feel the warm night air, no chance of rain.

But the noise she’d made fighting with the hibiscus bushes attracted attention. Several patients stared at her. She knew each and every one of them, their names, their files, and the various medications she gave them each night. She knew more about them than they knew about themselves. But they remembered her needles and were surprisingly fast.


To read the 20th installment, you can click here. Thanks for reading!