“Mandy, are you still here with me?”
Of course, I was still here with her. Where did she think I was; fricking Disneyland?
I’d been sat in here with her for over an hour and my teeth were beginning to ache so that whenever I bit down, I could hear a creaking cry in my ears and a rattle through my brain that sounded like castanets being played by a demented demon. I lifted my face to the woman’s ceiling and her fluorescent tube that was hanging above our two heads and the light that flickered and twitched and made a dull buzzing drone. And the sound that recalled a thousand hornets wings that were swooping in towards the woman to sting her from head to toe. And that made me smile at least.
“Mandy can you still hear me. Is Mandy still here or is she someplace else?”
“She’s someplace else bitch!” I replied, and almost giggled at the sharpness to my vowels. And the creaking of my joints in my ears and the buzzing of the hornet’s wings overhead was playing havoc with my ears cause my voice sounded all crumpled and funny somehow and out of kilter.
“That’s not a very nice thing to say is it now Mandy.” The lady said.
“No, it’s not a very nice thing to say is it. Bitch!” I replied, that funny old voice of mine and my hand that I lifted to my lips to hold the words back.
The lady before me smiled cautiously so that the skin on either side of her lips creased and appeared as though her lips had been melted away somehow and the gums revealed beneath. A crumpled fold of skin against her brow as though she were made of wax.
“Oh deary me Mandy.” The lady said. “We have some work to do with you don’t we.” She said, and I realised then that the woman was really quite insane if she thought that she had the treating of me. And the woman was also really quite pretty to boot I thought. For a nun at least.
The pretty nun smiled. A deathly pallor to her skin. The sound of hornet’s wings all about me. Buzzing. Buzzing. The nun had rust-red hair that was pulled back behind her head into a tight bun so that strands of copper hair danced behind her like gossamer. The knuckles of her fingers that were creased white. The fingernails that were painted a scarlet red. She wore a navy-blue gown that hung across her shoulders like a cape.
But the woman was pretty I thought. For a nun at least.
The fidgeting of the woman’s fingertips against a silver cross that was bound against her neck. The silver crucifix that was turned over again and again as though the action gave the lady comfort or strength. And then a thought popped into my head from who knew where of the nun making her prayers by her bed and a candle flickering close by and the lady’s gown catching alight so that she rolled about upon the floor to quell the flames. The nun screaming out and the furnace taking hold and devouring her with flames. Her skin melting clean away to reveal another creature beneath.
A broad smile that lifted my cheeks so that my lips were pulled back and my little teeth revealed. The nun before me blinked and leaned in towards me and narrowed her eyes. The sense that she studied someone else than me.
“Is everything ok with you today Mandy?” The nun asked, her voice that trembled a little with fear I thought and some other menace I couldn’t quite grasp hold of. And it was all that I could do not to jump up there and then and bury my teeth against her cheek and pull great chunks of flesh away. Instead I smiled.
“How ok?” I said, my voice sounding all sweet and innocent like. “In what way?” I asked.
The nun leaned a little closer to study me.
I blinked, and a face that was revealed to me on the other side of my eyelids and staring back. A goblin. A goblin with pointed ears and eyes that were ablaze with flames. Teeth that were as sharp as razor blades and barbed like the fisherman’s hook. I flicked my eyelids open and the nun that was revealed before me once more.
“I don’t know Mandy.” The nun replied. Her voice that was cool. Her words probing. “You seem a little – different today.” She said.
I turned my face from the pretty nun so that she couldn’t catch my eye and studied the room where I remained her hostage a little more. The walls of crumbling red brick. Peeling flakes of plaster that revealed deep gouges against the walls as though a demon had been caged in here and fighting to escape. The flickering fluorescent light that illuminated a beaten bronze cross that was fixed upon the wall. A narrow window to one side with iron bars in place of glass.
The nun remained seated upon her metal chair some distance from me. An invisible barrier that seemed to exist between the two of us. Steel shackles that rattled with malice against my ankles and my wrists. The cool pinch of metal against my skin.
“Me? Different?” I replied. “No, I’m as right as rain thank you very much.” I replied
The nun studied me a little closer and leaned in towards me so that the legs upon her metal chair began to screech against the porcelain floor tiles. And it was all that I could do not to jump up there and then and throw myself towards the pretty nun and wrap my chains against her pretty neck and ring the life from her pretty body bit by bit.
“Really?” The woman said, enquired. The nun studying me. Scrutinising me. “You seem a little angry. Is something bothering you Mandy?”
“Yes!” I snapped, “You’re bothering me bitch!” I snarled, leaning forwards and rattling at my chains. “And these endless fucking questions.” I hissed. And my voice that wasn’t mine. And the words all crumpled and out of kilter. And an army of woodlice that urgently scurried across the insides of my thighs.
The bronze crucifix that appeared to suddenly flicker with flames against the crumbling brick wall. The nun blinked. Her pretty face.
“Who are you?” She asked and her words drawn out. And I thought it was a strange question for her to ask, because I was pretty sure that we’d been gassing like this for months now and I’d kind of assumed she know who I was by now.
“I’m Mandy.” I said and smiled.
The nun leaned in towards me. The anger that flashed against her face.
“Enough of these games. What happened to your friends Mandy? What happened in the woods?” She said.
“What friends?” I replied abruptly, and it felt like a game this. And so, I pulled a sideways emoji smile which I thought at least would make me appear a little saner. “I have new friends now,” I said, the sideways emoji smile that remained plastered across my face.
“You know what friends I’m talking about Mandy.” The pretty nun snapped, and the spittle that I spied against her lips. And I reckoned she’d be frothing at the mouth before the week was done and barking like a dog. The nun frowned and the corners of her eyes that appeared like crow’s feet. And I reckoned I might have overdone it a little with the sideways emoji smile thing, but what the hell I thought, what’s the point of life if you can’t have a giggle now and then.
“Oh, those friends.” I replied with more disinterest than was reasonable given the circumstances.
“Yes, those friends Mandy.” She asked, the crow’s feet that pinched down against the corners of her mouth and her lips that appeared to have melted from her face. “What happened to those friends Mandy.” She said, leaning in a little closer and her eyes ablaze with fire. “Before you joined us here at Deadwood Hospital.”
I shook my head and an image that seared across my eyes so that I had to blink. An image of death and blood and scorched flesh and crackling skin and the smell of griddled meat upon the air. A sharp piercing scream that whistled around the insides of my head and repeated over as though the sound had been swallowed down to the centres of the earth. The necklace that pressed against my chest. The one I had stolen from my friend.
“I’ve told you this like a thousand times already I’m sure,” I snapped. “I left them at the lodge”
The nun’s eyes that opened wide and her fingernails that snagged against the dress that she wore.
“The lodge?” She asked, leaning in.
And I realised I was getting bored of this conversation, really bored. And if I didn’t get out of this nun’s cell soon then I’d be missing repeats of SpongeBob with the rest of the loonies I was banged up in here with me. And I didn’t want that. I didn’t want that one bit.
“Yes the lodge, the friking lodge.” I said. “Ye know. The gamekeeper’s pad. Creepy place. Centre of Deadwood. The place where the pig plays piano and the children die.”
The pretty nun blinked.
And then a sudden jarring alarm that was heard that made the two of us jump a little from our metal seats. A red flashing light that suddenly began to spin above the metal door behind the nun and the mechanism inside that could be heard unlocking. The steel door suddenly sliding open to one side and a thickset man who was revealed with an angry looking face and a metal baton that was gripped against his hand.
The buzzing of the hornet’s wings that was heard upon the air.
The lady lifted her face to me and smiled.
“I’ve enjoyed our little talk today Mandy.” The nun said. Her lips that were stretched thin and her teeth that were revealed beneath. The hospital guard that smirked behind her and gripped his hands a little tighter around the steel baton that he held.
“And so have I Sister Dixon.” I said.
Sister Dixon smiled.
“Call me Daisey.” She said and her voice light and friendly.
I shook my head.
“No thank you,” I replied, my little girl voice. “I don’t think I will thank you very much.” I said and wondered where our next little conversation might lead us tomorrow.