Bronte's Inferno XXXI (It's Just Lazy, Isn't It?)
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I woke up in a hospital bed. I know, if you were reading a novel, you'd toss this book as far from you as you could. I know I would. I mean, who puts that kind of thing in a novel? It's just lazy, isn't it? As though the author just couldn't find a credible way out of the previous scene.
Charon was by the bed, fiddling with something that beeped and buzzed and was connected up to various parts of me, she'd have got the part if she'd been auditioning for the part of Nurse Ratched in a remake of 'Cuckoo's Nest'. I cleared my throat, began coughing and then the beeps stopped, followed by a particularly annoying siren sound going off. Was this it? I wondered if the crash team were called that because they were so noisy, what with the trolley banging off the door and the edge of my bed. What happened next was shocking. No, I mean shocking. Anyway, the beeps started up again. So no clear white lights. Never mind, I wasn't a big fan of Lindisfarne, anyway. The crash team crashed out of the room although I couldn't hear any alarums coming from elsewhere. Maybe it was a hard habit to get out of, or they'd watched too much medical drama on the tele.
'What was all that about, Mr Bulgakov?' Charon's brow was furrowed, I had thought it would have taken something by Massey Ferguson to achieve that, until that moment.
'You were brought in with a touch of hypothermia. Nothing too serious. That's your third seizure today. You were found wandering by a sheep farmer from Ripon way.'
'But that's miles from…' I stopped, not wanting to sound any more mad than this rather distant version of Charon already thought me.
'Yes, you were, Mr Bulgakov, miles from anywhere,' she looked down at the old-fashioned patient's notes on her clipboard, 'And naked.'
'What the hell was in that pill you gave me?'
Massey Ferguson did their job again, 'What pill?' You've been on a drip since last night, Mr Bulgakov.'
I looked down at one of the cannulae, the one in the back of my right hand. There was something odd about it. I mean the hand. The skin wasn't crepe-y enough. Why was she calling me Bulgakov, anyway? I hadn't been carrying any ID with that name on. It was just the name the Editor-At-Large insisted on using. I'd never use it on a bank account. I doubt even an oligarch would. It was a nom-de-plume, a pseudonym, an alias, a disguise.
Charon pressed a button on the thing next to my bed and I watched the liquid all the way down the plastic tubing, through the cannula and then into the back of my hand that I didn't know anything like. Then I didn't know anything at all.
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