The Patient

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic


Despite the doctor's assurances Martin is not convinced that the staff at Green Pastures psychiatric hospital have his best interests at heart. He doesn't even remember the events leading upto his
admission. Just what was going on?

Submitted: July 30, 2018

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Submitted: July 30, 2018

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Doctor Barlow smiled at the patient. She glanced down at her notes. She removed her reading glasses.

‘Good morning, Martin. Please take a seat.’

Martin looked around the doctor’s office in bewilderment.

‘I don’t understand.’ he stammered.

‘You were admitted here to Green Pastures psychiatric hospital, following a recent episode.’

‘I don’t remember.’

He sat down on the leather backed chair facing the doctor.

‘That is perfectly normal in your situation.’ she said.

Martin stared down at his unfamiliar clothing. He was dressed completely in white. The t-shirt, loose trousers and pumps were all white.

‘What happened?’

‘There was an incident. You became extremely distressed. You were deemed to be a danger either to yourself or to others. And so, you were admitted into our care.’

Martin rubbed his eyes.

‘I know it’s a lot to take in. Just relax, try not to worry or get stressed. We will look after you. We want nothing more than to get you back on your feet. If you help us to help you, take your medication, attend the sessions with me, then I’m sure you’ll be out of here in no time. Colin will show you to the recreation room.’

Doctor Barlow waved a hand. Colin, a stocky man in his mid-thirties, hovered close by. He gave Martin a well-rehearsed smile.

The long pale blue corridors had that disinfectant hospital smell. Colin showed Martin down the hall. The polite, pleasant smile never left his face. He wore a tunic that kind of resembled a nurses uniform.

Other members of staff padded along past them, bidding them good morning as they went. Martin simply stared at them. Eventually they turned a corner. He followed Colin through the double doors.

The recreation room as a large open space. There were tables and chairs, armchairs and coffee tables. Wall mounted televisions showed daytime magazine shows. The patients were all dressed in the same white clothes he wore. They were a mix of ages. One woman looked to be in her late teens. She chewed on her thumbnail and looked around nervously. The oldest person was a man with long grey hair and a scraggly beard. He was sitting in an armchair, holding a thick paperback book. He spoke excitedly. He appeared to be talking to the characters on the page. Every person in the room seemed to be slightly odd in some way. One woman waltzed around, dancing with an invisible partner.

Colin waved a hand and told him to make himself at home. Martin nodded. He moved slowly across the room. What was he doing here? The bright strips of sunlight spilling in through the barred windows hurt his eyes. He took a seat in a shadowy corner and tried to figure out quite what how he’d come to be here.

By the following afternoon Martin had given up trying to work out what was going on. Perhaps overthinking and stressing had been factors that had put him here in the first place. He made himself comfortable in the recreation room and tried to lose himself in a paperback book. Someone plonked themselves down in the armchair next to him.

‘It’s Martin, isn’t it?’

He turned. The man was somewhere in his late twenties and had sandy coloured hair. His eyes had a wild, manic glint.

‘Yes, it is.’

‘I’m Karl Engels.’

‘I’m sorry. My memory is a bit hazy right now. Do I know you?’

‘I saw you speak in Manchester. You were amazing.’

‘I was speaking?’

‘You don’t remember the group at all?’

Martin shook his head.

‘You are a member of a group called The Movement. They are anti capitalist. They campaign against the Government.’

‘I don’t recall anything about it.’

‘That’s why they put you here.’

Martin just shrugged.

‘You were one of the leaders. You headed the protests. You managed things. You made things happen. The last time you were arrested they popped you full of pills and dumped you in here.’

Martin sighed. He couldn’t remember any of what Karl was talking about. His memory was so fuzzy. He couldn’t remember actually remember anything before arriving at the hospital. Karl nodded to a nurse. She was staring at them, a disapproving look on her face.

‘See?’ Karl whispered. ‘They don’t like us talking.’

The nurse was watching them. She looked annoyed. Was there some truth in what Karl was telling him?

‘I’ll catch up with you later.’ Karl said.

He patted Martin gently on the arm and left the room. Now that he was alone the nurse seemed to relax. A few moments later she went out of the door.

As he dressed in his regulation white garments the next morning he went over what Karl had told him. A political group? Yes, that did sound faintly familiar. He could see marching people and himself shouting through a loud haler.

A fresh faced nurse poked her head around the door.

‘Good morning, Martin. It’s medication time.’

Martin nodded and followed her to a nurses’ hatch.

A nurse behind a small window smiled as she handed him a paper cup. Martin stared down at the white pills. Just what were they doing to him? Was the medication helping him get better or were they fuelling the fog that seemed to surround him?

‘Go on, Martin.’ she said.

Martin shrugged and swallowed the pills.

He found Karl in the recreation room. He took the arm chair next to hm.

‘They’re watching us.’ Karl began. ‘The Government are still monitoring us. We’re still on their radar. And you, my friend, are public enemy number one.’

‘If this is all true then why don’t they put my in prison?’

‘Think about it? You would be a political prisoner. There would be a rallying cry. You would become a Mandela figure. Worse still if they had you killed. This way they can simply say you had a breakdown and are being treated.’

‘I do recall something about all this. Snippets come to me now and again but it’s all very hazy.’

‘That’s the pills, man. They stop you thinking straight. They don’t want you to remember.’

Martin rubbed his eyes. His head hurt.

‘We’ll talk again tomorrow.’

 

The next morning Martin had a meeting with Doctor Barlow. She smiled warmly as he sat down.

‘How are you feeling, Martin?’

‘I’m okay. I’m still trying to make sense of everything.’

‘I understand. With our help you’ll get there. Just keep on taking your medication, just relax. You can talk to me any time you like, and about anything that’s on your mind.’

Martin nodded. He watched the doctor closely as he spoke.

‘It’s good to talk. I’ve enjoyed talking with the other patients. There is one person in particular.’

‘And who would that be?’

‘Karl Engels.’

Doctor Barlow flinched as though she’d been slapped. A second later a false smile fluttered onto her lips.

Gotcha, thought Martin. Karl was right. They do actually disapprove of their friendship.

 

As he headed down the corridor Martin felt strangely empowered by the new knowledge. His friend was spot on. They were keeping them doped up to keep them off the streets and out of the way. He just knew he was on the right track. It was coming back to him.

He had to talk to Karl. They had to decide what to do next. He marched into the recreation room with a clear and sudden sense of purpose.

The room was full of patients occupying themselves as usual. Martin glanced quickly around. He couldn’t see Karl. He paced the corridors. Come on, Karl, he said to himself. He tried the other day rooms. No sign. He tried the toilets, calling out his friend’s name. Still nothing. A nurse watched him. Was that suspicion on her face?

‘Are you okay? Have you lost something?’

‘Someone.  I’m looking for my friend.’

‘I’m sure they’ll be back soon. Why don’t you just relax and watch TV.’

Martin nodded. Until he caught up with Karl there wasn’t really much more he could do.

 

Martin spent the next three days searching the same rooms for Karl. Eventually he turned to a nurse.

‘Where is Karl?’

The nurse simply looked to her shoes.

‘Where is he?’

She paused a moment before speaking.

‘Karl has been moved to another wing of the hospital.’

‘Why?’

The nurse smiled.

‘Is there anything else I can help you with, Martin? Anything else you need?’

 

Martin flopped into an armchair in the recreation room. His head was spinning. He knew for certain in that moment that Karl had been right. He did recognise the name of the radical group. An image popped in his head. Martin was in front of a large crowd. They were applauding and cheering his words. As the image faded he was in no doubt whatsoever. He was a revolutionary and he was being doped up in this hospital and kept out of the way.

A nurse passing by must have seen the concentration and conviction on his face.

‘Is everything alright?’

‘Oh yes, everything is just fine.’

He could see through their lies and their false smiles. They wanted to keep him calm and docile and drugged up. They didn’t want him thinking about things and remembering the truth.

When he woke the next morning Martin knew what he had to do. He must save himself. He couldn’t just sit there and rot. He had to get out. He had to escape and spread the word about what they were doing to people. He would then see to it that Karl was also set free. He and Karl did not belong here. If anything they were political prisoners and should be treated as such. He would get out and make contact with the Socialist group, the Movement. With their support there would be no stopping him.

As medication time was announced Martin walked calmly past the queue of patients. He walked down the white corridors. He moved quickly. He shouldered his way through the fire exit doors. An alarm shrilled. The daylight startled his eyes for a second. He blinked in the harsh winter sun. He broke into a run. He dashed for the tall wire fence that lined the perimeter of the grounds. He heard voices and running footsteps behind him.

They called his name. They told him to wait, to listen. He reached the fence. The hospital staff were a few feet behind him. He swore. He stared up at the fence. It was too high. The staff were too close. If he tried to scale the wire they would just drag him back down.

He turned to face his captors. Doctor Barlow pushed her way through her staff. She approached Martin, concern on her face.

‘Martin, what’s going on?’

‘Let’s just say, I know what you are doing.’

‘I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean. Perhaps if we went inside we could discuss it further.’

‘I want to see Karl.’

At the mention of his friend the staff exchanged glances.

‘Where is he? I want to see him.’

‘I’m afraid that’s not possible.’

‘What have you done to him?’

Doctor Barlow took a few steps closer.

‘There is no Karl. He doesn’t exist.’

‘You would say that. you just don’t want me to know the truth.’

‘Martin, there is no Karl Engels. That, I’m afraid, is the truth.’

‘No. No, it isn’t. You put me here because of my involvement in a political group.’

‘I’m afraid that is only partly true.’ she replied. ‘There is no group. That is part of your delusion. That was what brought you to us in the first place. You became convinced that you belonged to some anti-establishment group and that the Government were out to get you. None of which is true.’

Could that be the case? Could it be that his only friend and ally was a figment of his imagination?

‘But I spoke to you about Karl. You saw us together.’

Doctor Barlow shook her head sadly. She gently placed a hand on his arm.

‘I’m sorry but you were conversing with someone who wasn’t there. That’s why it alarmed by staff.’

She smiled and pulled a strand of hair out of her eyes.

‘Martin, please. You are not well. Let us help. Let me help. Together we will get you well again. I promise.’

Martin nodded.

‘Colin will take you back to the recreation room. We can have a chat after lunch.’

As Martin was shown back into the hospital Doctor Barlow took out her mobile phone.

‘Martin is on his way back to the ward. Have Karl Engels’ dosage doubled.’


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