22 December 2009

Angel of Mercy, Angel of Death

I had to switch to a nocturnal schedule to monitor him properly. The hospital is bustling most of the day, and after watching the movements of the staff, I can just about mimic their patterns to further disguise my appearance. Shape-shifting into someone they expect to see takes practice, but not a great deal of energy. All it took was a firmer sense of self, and a strong need.

Being an under nurse in this place is absolute hell. It is a wonder anyone stays. We have to get that new guy in the slums straightened out enough to run a hospital full time. It's a wonder anyone survives this place. It's clean enough, and the science is usually sound, but there is so little contact it is a wonder if the diagnoses are right half the time. I had enough in the first day to switch to night watch.

Hiding in the attic was the only way, but this time I was close enough to react when the ward alarm went off a scant hour before dawn. Still wearing the seeming of one of the under nurses, I slipped past the ward nurse and into room fifteen.

The room was dark, and I wondered how a human navigated it - unless they were intimately familiar with the room layout. But of course, this one did know, she was supposed to be here.

As the figure reached into her cloak and pulled out her tools, I heard her murmur, “There, there, Mr Antfarm. I’m here to help you. You’ll be better soon. Let me take your pain away.” Her voice was gentle as the rain outside.

Grabbing her wrist before she could dose him, I growled, "That is enough of that, sister."

She shrieked, and stabbed at me with the pipette. Not the harridan that ruled the floor, this was the tweenie that got sent down today! In my surprise, I lost my hold on my shape, reverting to my default.

Well, of course that was a surprise for her. Cross-dimensional beings are not unknown here, but finding a bat-winged, fanged figure with glowing blue eyes holding your arm in a dark room will be startling to lots of people. As romantic as her notions about killing people as a mercy to them were, it was too much for her. She fainted dead away.

The commotion was bound to bring someone, and I had to make a quick choice. Nurse Rain was not authorized to be on this floor, but I was not even authorized to be in the building. Discretion being the better part of valor, I blended back into the shadows and shifted between planes to the stairwell.

When the night nurse came in holding her lamp aloft, saying sotto voce, "What goes on here?" there was naught to see but Mr Antfarm, and Nurse Rain, clutching her bottle of opium. I slipped back into my guise as an under nurse and quickly retraced my steps to the room. The evidence was there, and the night nurse was thankfully a sharp one. She barely glanced at me, ordering me to get the watchman and the doctor on call.

Luckily, I didn't have far to go to get Mack, as her screech had been heard downstairs as well. He was on hand to help restrain Nurse Rain as she came out of her faint, babbling about demons keeping her from her duty. The doctor on call was not Roundtree, but one of his students. This one had studied a year in Vienna, much to Antfarm's luck, and was able to sign her into one of the observation rooms. He noted the opium bottle, and her hysteria, and managed to write up a neat assessment dismissing her report of seeing me as hallucination, caused by her conscience and possible drug abuse.

All this went on without any need for me to guide it, and I stopped in to see Mr Antfarm. He had not gotten any further dosages, and his eyes tracked me well enough. I let my eyes show through the seeming, and told him, "I will make sure you get better, but I can't promise there will be no pain. I will do my best, though."

Downstairs, in a broom closet on the ground floor, I shifted back to my default, taking time to pull together my formal suit to confront Roundtree as soon as he got to the hospital.


Darien Mason said...

Well done, my child. Well done.

HeadBurro Antfarm said...

Thank you once more. You would have made your Zaide proud.