Pale light drifted softly in through the frosted window and settled upon the room like snow. There were no shadows here, no place where this cold but peaceful glow did not touch. The light fell upon the blue walls and white tiled floor, the pale plastic office chair. It fell upon the single wooden door and passed through the window within it, drifting into the hallway on the other side. It fell upon the bed with the white sheets and fell upon her face. It kissed her ratty ginger hair that exploded from her head, her pale skin turned grey by dust, her spots and her deep brown eyes. Wide open. Looking up at the ceiling in fear.
She did not move for a few seconds, she dared not even move her gaze, dared not even breathe. Then suddenly, deciding it was safe, she bolted upright and looked around the room for anyone who dared attack her.
But there was not a soul in sight.
She rested on the edge of the bed and tried to control her heart rate. She looked to the frosted window, but could see nothing on the other side, only a blurry blueness the colour of sky. She turned to the door, and through its window she could see a corridor, with walls the same ocean blue as her room’s. Nobody walked through the corridor and she could hear no footsteps, only the gentle whirring of the air conditioning and her panicked breathing. Pain in her stomach. She winced. But when she reached for her pockets she realised, with disdain, that they had changed her into this stupid hospital gown and taken away her medication.
They changed me, but didn’t bother to shower me? she thought, noticing her smell. Or maybe they did, they just couldn’t get it out. Her dry humour did nothing to calm her nerves.
Footsteps. She jumped up from the bed and grabbed the chair, holding it in front of her in defence and retreating to the corner of the room.
‘Stay back!’ she shouted at the door.
The footsteps stopped. She couldn’t see anyone through the door but knew they must be close.
‘Vicky Fletcher?’ said a voice, male.
The voice ignored the lie, ‘I’m a doctor,’ it said.
‘Let me see your face!’
He stepped into view on the other side of the door.
His hair was blond and well-groomed, his features indistinct, with a flat chin and small nose. He wore a doctor’s coat and carried a clipboard. It was between this clipboard and her that his pale blue eyes darted. Each time their eyes met he regarded her with something between hate and fear. This strange mix of emotions didn’t surprise her; she tended to provoke that reaction.
He inhaled like a man about to be executed and reached to open the door.
‘Stay back!’ She shouted suddenly and his hand retreated almost in relief.
They stared at each other through the glass for a few seconds.
‘Tell me your name!’ she demanded.
He wasn’t looking forward to this but he had known it was coming for a long time. He had mentally prepared for the occasion, prepared to have the walls ripped down, prepared to be broken.
She looks so much older than she actually is, he thought. Life and suffering had embedded themselves into her face in wrinkles and scars. Her eyes were bloodshot, her voice raspy and when she spoke he saw her tongue was black. She was only twenty-five but she looked fifty. It made it hard to hate her when he saw her like this, when he saw her so weak and afraid.
‘Doctor…’ he couldn’t tell her his real name, he thought. ‘… House.’
He regretted the bad lie immediately. Of all the time he’d spent thinking about this event, had he never stopped to think he might need a fake name? He checked his watch, an ornate gold thing, nervously.
Vicky raised an eyebrow.
‘Dr. House? Like the TV guy?’
‘Yes… Like the TV guy.’
‘Can I come in?’
‘No,’ she said instinctively. There was silence for a while and during this time he begged. She wouldn’t give in. He begged. She’d hold him out the room until it was over. But he knew this wouldn’t happen, it couldn’t happen.
‘Okay, okay you can come in,’ she said finally.
He entered, and he could feel her gaze noting his reluctance, he could feel her observing every movement of every muscle in his body.
‘Put the chair down,’ he said, wanting it to sound like an order when in truth it was begging.
She refused to move. ‘Where am I?’
‘You’re in a hospital. Sit down, please.’ He looked at his watch again.
‘I’ll sit when I want to sit. How am I still alive?’
‘Someone found you and called us.’
‘Why is there no heart-rate monitor?’
He was surprised by this question.
‘We saved you. You were fine, all that was required was rest. Now please, sit down.’
Vicky frowned, and put the chair cautiously on the ground before sitting on it.
He realised that she had just sat on the only chair in the room and was forced to perch on the end of her bed awkwardly.
‘What do you want with me, then?’ she asked him, still very hostile.
‘Tell me about yourself.’
‘What?’ This confused her. ‘Are you a counsellor?’
‘Yes, tell me about yourself, tell me your story.’
‘What the hell is this?’
He winced. He didn’t want to have to do this, he wished this would be over. ‘Please,’ he urged, checking his watch again.
‘All right then,’ she smiled slyly, ‘from the beginning?’
‘My whole story?’
‘Well, I was raised on farm in Yorkshire. I had a lovely childhood, lots of friends, my parents were very kind…’
‘You’re lying,’ interrupted the doctor.
‘Yeah, well maybe I shouldn’t be being interrogated by a fucking journo!’ she shouted, stepping up from the chair in a sudden explosion of anger. He crawled backwards onto the bed to retreat from her. ‘Who the hell do you think you are?’ She screamed at him.
‘I’m not a journalist,’ he whispered weakly.
‘Well you seriously are not a fucking doctor are you? I know your type, you’re here for the next big scoop, aren’t you? I can see the headlines now: “The True Story of the Child Killer!”’
He was now crouched at the head of the bed, with the girl stood at the bottom berating him. He clung the clipboard to his chest with one arm. ‘No… Listen, I need to explain.’
‘No!’ she shouted, picking up the chair, ‘get out!’
‘I’m not a journalist!’
‘Get out of here!’ she screamed, wielding the chair threateningly.
‘You have seven minutes! Six now!’
She charged at him, climbing up onto the bed with the chair in front of her. He rolled off.
‘Listen!’ He begged, ‘I’m telling you now you have six minutes left to live!’
‘Get out!’ She repeated for a third time, climbing off the bed and charging again. Trapped in the corner, he dived to one side and ended up lying down in front of the door, still with the clipboard against his chest.
Her legs buckled, the chair fell and suddenly Vicky was on the floor, paralysed by pain, desperately trying not to scream.