A/N: People, I'm so unbelievably sorry that I'm posting up another story, but I like this one and I've had it in my journal for the longest time. And, well, the rest of my stories don't seem to have the same kind of, uh, shall I say depth? And this story has been in the back of my head for ages, written down partly on paper, and well, I'VE EVEN GOT A MAP MADE FOR THE HOSPITAL! (which I sketched ALL BY MYSELF so it is in no way shape or form a map that I just snatched off of the side of the map rack at a hospital) and well, I read over my other stories and I just don't think that they're going to get anywhere. If you disagree, just tell me, and well, I'll keep that story on the site, but on hiatus until this story is finished.
Thanks Moz and Pixy-Dizzy for supporting this story, and reading those early drafts of this first and second chapter! I really really appreciate more than words can say.
Chapter One: Questions
"Doctor Icelani, the psychiatric patient has disappeared!" a nurse cried, running along a stark corridor. Her voice echoed off of the walls, resounding inside her head. How had she gotten herself into this mess in the first place???
Her black hair flowed behind her as she ran through the hallways, screaming the words, 'Doctor Icelani' over and over again.
It was a sunny Sunday morning when Miss Mogg woke up. She shut off her alarm clock and got ready for her first day of mandatory community service at the local hospital. She had been sent there because she had been caught shoplifting weeks earlier. Lady Luck had refused to deign her luck vestiges over to Cassandra Mogg the first time she was shoplifting with a bunch of friends, and well, this had been the result. In the end, the judge found her guilty and said she had to serve mandatory time at a local hospital for 53 weeks. The judge also said, "Make it out of the hospital time nicely, and we might erase this from your permanent record. Break out, and we haul you to juvie. Do you understand? You can't afford anymore scars on your permanent record, because it's gotten pretty bad. So either you shape up or we ship you off to face five years of conformity. Case dismissed." So, obviously, what was she left to choose? Cassandra was left with the mandatory community duty.
Which led her to where she currently was, a 16 year old driving to her job at 5:00 am.
A metallic dark green corvette pulled into the St. John Memorial Hospital parking lot, and stopped with a loud skidding sound. Apparently the driver was late for something important weren't they? Either that or the person didn't know how to drive. A car door was thrown open, and a petite girl nearly crawled out of the car. As she got out, I got a really good look at her.She was quite exquisite in an elegant sort of way with soft-looking auburn hair that escaped the bun that trapped it in gently waving tendrils, and these auburn tendrils contrasted starkly against the alabaster skin. Hmmm…I wonder what she's doing here at this hellhole? A city sophisticate at a local suburban hospital? She started walking really slowly towards the hospital after popping something into her mouth. A mint to make her breath fresh for her boyfriend? No wonder she was here…it must have been for a boyfriend, it being 5:45 after all and I know that no girl would wake up at that time other than for a boyfriend, but at least she was free to walk around. But, no. Here I am stuck in a prison of padded walls and under constant heavy-duty locks and surveillance. So much for land of the free eh? They called me crazy, but I know I'm not. Oh yes…I know.
… they didn't.
As Cassandra Mogg got out of the car, she couldn't help but grumble loudly under her breath. Yanking out her purse in jerky movements, she swung the purse over her shoulder. Cumbersome thing…why do I carry it everywhere with me? Cassandra grabbed the zip-lock plastic bag that held the legal papers that Judge Wilcox had signed. Interesting, I could bash someone's head with this zip-lock bag and probably give them a concussion. After combing through her pockets thoroughly, she finally found the piece of gum that she had put there a good week ago. Popping it into her mouth, she started chewing it noisily, hoping that she'd be able to annoy a good amount of people. She had not wanted to come here in the first place, but given no other alternatives, she had to come. Cassie, as she liked to be called by her friends (few as they were), briefly wondered on the car ride over to the hospital on whether she would like the job.
Most likely not.
She strode through the awaiting doors of the hospital.
"Hello, what can I do for you today?" the receptionist asked in a bored monotone. God, show some emotion. Cassie swung her zip-lock baggie over and onto the table in front of the reception lady's desk with a loud plunk. The reception lady blinked a bit and seemed sort of surprised. Hmm…you'd think this wouldn't faze her, what with the fact that she's forced to see people come through with their arms chopped off and all. Guess we all learn something new everyday don't we? The receptionist slid the baggie open and pulled out the legalities. She started flipping through them asCassie started chewing her gum with a pronounced crackling sound so that she was sure that she would annoy the poor woman. "According to this, you're assigned to the psychiatric ward and children's ward," She looked up after she said this with a hint of distrust on her face as though she thought she couldn't trust Cassie; then she went on, "In case you didn't know, the psychiatric ward is down the main hall, and you turn left at the door to the right of the staffroom door, and go down the corridor you see there. There are two parts to the psychiatric ward, the 200 section at the end of the hallway, and the 300. Unless you have been authorized to do so, you are not allowed to go to the 300 hallway unless under dire need to evacuate the residents in the case of fire, tornado, hurricane, or any other kind of disaster that will lead to the hospital collapsing on the patients or the electricity getting cut out. Now, you are also serving the children's ward, and it is down the main hall from the South Entrance, and you turn right after the nurse's station, and go through the double doors and you are in the children's ward. Rooms 270-282 are in the children's ward. That makes 13 rooms for you to watch."
The reception shot Cassie a look that Cassie thought clearly said, 'I don't think you can handle this responsibility, you being a juvenile delinquent and all.' Cassie could be seen clenching her jaw and her knuckles suddenly turned a threatening shade of white. For Cassie, getting her knuckles to turn whiter was quite an achievement considering that she was already very pale. Of course, the receptionist noticeably gulped when she perceived Cassie's sudden menacing stance. A small smile curved Cassie's lips as she noticed how the nurse seemed to visibly cringe at this side of Cassie that she hadn't seen yet. With a smirk, Cassandra leaned forward and inquired, "Where do I get my nurse's uniform? And a map?" How dare that hellion act like this to me? The nurse sniffled loudly as though Cassie was leaking off some foul odor before saying, "There's going to be a meeting for all VOLUNTEERS tomorrow, where they will be given uniforms and schedules. You, having mandatory community service, are not a nurse. You are a volunteer. Meanwhile, in the two days before the meeting, you will walk around observing nurses who have worked here for 5 or more years. You must wear a visitor badge during the observational period and if you are accepted, you will get a badge that says that you are a volunteer while wearing the usual nurse's uniform. You will get a schedule telling you what you are to do and at what time. I advise you observe what they do and learn a little about the layout of this hospital." Why is everyone telling me what to do?? First my friends, then Judge Wilcox, and now this stupid receptionist lady. The receptionist felt a bit perplexed when she saw the 'delinquent' paste on a huge smile and say, "Thank you oh so much for that lovely explanation about what to do. Good-bye and good day miss." And then Cassandra walked away trying to stay in control of her raging temper, although the chains of control upon Cassie's raging temper seemed to be loosening…so she hurriedly walked away as she thought, 'No, cannot kill the receptionist…kill the receptionist and not only will you go see Judge Wilcox AGAIN but you will have to get your butt hauled off to some penitentiary.' Then, she headed down the rest of the main hall and was quite lucky to spot the map rack on the right side of the hall. Heh…watch out Nurse's Station…here I come. A nurse passed by at that moment out of the vending area by the maps and was a bit scared when the girl by the map rack snatched a map out of the map rack, flipped it open with a ripping sound and looked at it, before pocketing it and walking towards the Nurse's Station check-in window with a maniacal grin upon her face.
I sit here bored beyond all known reason, and I stare out the window, my ONLY connection to the world outside. A breeze stirs the leaves of the tree far to my right. How long has it been since I last felt the touch of a breeze? I know that I've been here only a few months, but it has felt like ages.
I know that I may have sinned greatly in the past…but this is a punishment that has endured for far longer than befits my crimes.
What had I done to be tormented like this? A captive imprisoned inside of a square room with padded walls. A person places food inside of my room when I'm asleep, and by the time I awake, the food is cold and hard. Ever try eating macaroni after it's gone not only super cold but super hard? It's not an experience that one would care to repeat, but I've got no choice. It's eat or don't eat and starve. A bird flutters past my window, and all I can think about is how much I hate Arnold for having me put into this situation in the first place.
Cassie reached the Nurse's Station, and strode up to the door confidently before pulling on it. The door wouldn't open. One of Cassandra's nostrils flared before she started pushing against it. The door stubbornly refused to open and Cassie came very close to kicking the door. Stupid miserable piece of wood! WHY WON'T YOU OPEN??? However she didn't because a voice from the window next to her said, "Uh… miss…you can't go in there unless you are a volunteer under observation or you are a registered nurse. Otherwise known as an RN. Even then, you need a pass." It was then when Cassie noticed the small slot in the door where authorized personnel were supposed to stick their pass. Cassie glanced up for a brief second before practically stomping over to the window and stared straight at the Nurse's Station receptionist with a look that scared even this experience-hardened receptionist a bit. She had to stare down mad parents and under-paid nurses practically everyday, and she was quite a seasoned veteran when it came to souls barging up to her with die-receptionist-die looks…but despite all, this girl scared even this toughened nurse. The receptionist seemed to give herself a mental slap when she realized that she was scared of a snobby socialite…but she had to admit that the girl was a menace. She decided that it was best to look down again to appear uninterested in the intimidating girl in front of her. Then, in a treacherously low voice, Cassie growled, "I am a volunteer. Do you need to see the papers that I plan to shove down your throat? I'm here for mandatory duty. What do I do?"
The nurse at the desk looked up from the stack of papers that she had been filing previously and merely raised an eyebrow, "Shouldn't you know what you are supposed to do? And were you ever taught manners by your mother?" Cassie seemed to stop and take a deep breath, ok…deep breath…count to ten and don't strangle anyone at mandatory hospital duty…besides…you're at a hospital and it wouldn't do you any good because that receptionist is going to be able to get the medical expertise to save her, and then she plunked down the bundle of legal papers in their handy zip-lock baggie. The receptionist stuck a hand out tentatively and pulled the plastic baggie under the glass window and looked through the papers, wondering the whole time whether she should yell at the girl should her nails chip, and then something caught her eye, "So you were caught shoplifting, and then sent for mandatory hospital duty?" Cassie merely nodded, without saying anything because she was a bit apprehensive that she might accidentally say something that she might regret. Some visitors to the hospital passed by and happened to notice how the auburn haired girl had balled one of her fists behind her back while the other had slipped into her purse. They quickly hurried away, as if they feared that the girl was about to break into the Nurse's Station. (With the full out gun and ski-mask break-in thing) The receptionist looked up, oblivious to the jutted out jaw on Cassie's face, and tsked tsked away before shooting Cassie a very disapproving look, complete with the narrowed eyes and pursed lips. Hmm…now that I think about it, that receptionist reminds me of a really strict, OLD grandmother…or maybe a vulture. No wait…that's an insult to vultures everywhere because even they aren't that ugly. There were long firm wrinkles making themselves at home all over the woman's pinched face, and she had beady light blues eyes. Cassie was a bit surprised to notice that the receptionist lady had these eyes that seemed to notice everything…including what Cassie was thinking. Oh…I don't like that. The lined face of the receptionist deepened as her brow furrowed even more. Then, her face darkened. "It says here, required to do hospital duty, at the psychiatric ward. Nurse assigned to observe; Mrs. Amabilia. Do you know who that is?" Cassie noticed the slight raising tone in the receptionist's voice, and was a bit amazed at the sudden change in her attitude, from stern and cold to slightly hysterical.
Cassie hesitated for a brief moment before blurting out in full force, a bit disappointed by her hesitation, and said, "You must be Mrs. Amabilia aren't you?" What kind of a weird last name is that? Please let me be wrong…this old crone can't be Mrs. Amabilia…the person who I'm supposed to be following for the next TWO days…
Her worst fears were confirmed when the receptionist huffed, "Yes, I am. Why I have to have a VOLUNTEER follow ME through the psychiatric ward, I do not know. Thank goodness you don't 'observe' me during your observational period in the children's ward. Now, hurry up. Find a volunteer nurse shirt and pants and here's your volunteer badge. Go. Get out of my sight, and get the uniform on." Mrs. Amabilia practically threw the badge out under the window, and Cassie caught it just before the badge flew off of the counter and at an innocent passerby. Ah well…at least you're in a hospital where you'd get immediate medical attention from the ensuing concussion. "After you change, you are to report to me and wait for further instruction from me. Oh, and here's a volunteer pass that you'll need to slide in the slot to get in." After grabbing the huge heap of legal papers and shoving them back into the zip-lock bag, she shoved that under the window and at Cassie. "Now go change!" The receptionist's head bent back down and she directed her attention back to the stack of papers that had sat there patiently the whole time waiting to be filed. Cassie chewed her gum loudly again before sighing loudly and slid the pass into the slot. Lockers loomed into view. Ah great…I don't know where the nurse's uniforms are. What am I supposed to do? Raid lockers for the uniforms? Cassie looked around in a vain attempt to try and find some kind looking nurses to interrogate about the location of the uniforms. God…are these people trying to get me mad on purpose? Not only have they not told me about the pass thing, so I was forced to look like I was trying to break into the Nurse's Staion, but I had no clue about the uniform thing. Why I ought to-
In mid-thought, she bumped into a tall, bearded, brown-haired man who seemed to be looking for someone. "Excuse me, do you know where Mrs. Amabilia is young lady? I have some most pressing matters to discuss with her." Cassie blinked rapidly, having no idea who he was and by the look that replaced the previous blinking, well, it appeared that she was not happy with what he had done at all. YOU BUMPED INTO ME YOU IDIOT! APOLOGIZE! God, you doctors think you're so high and mighty…running into people like me with NO THOUGHT on how RUDE you are being. You just bump into me like you have not one care in the world! And on my first day of work too…I think I'm not going to enjoy my 53 week stay here. After taking a visible deep breath, Cassie answered, hoping that her tongue wouldn't go and rebel against her brain, "Last time I saw her, she was sitting at the reception desk." She then turned to walk away. After taking only a few steps, grumbling about the stupid rude people in this world, she went and bumped into someone else. This 'mandatory' hospital duty is really damaging to my ego…then again…I could make this not mandatory and go to juvie. I wonder what dear old Dad and Mom would think? Cassie looked up with flashing brown eyes, only to see that the person that she had bumped into turned out to be a nurse too…but only a few years older than her. (Taller too…the other girl towered over Cassie) She seemed 18 or 20 or so, and she had the biggest turquoise eyes. Great…here I go preaching about how rude people are bumping into others and I go and bump into someone. Lady Luck just has issues with me doesn't she? "I'm so sorry." Hah! I'm already making big strides in making this world a better place. Cassie turned and was walking away to look for a friendly nurse when the girl ran after Cassie, thinking the whole time, 'Wow…that girl walks really fast.' All of a sudden, the girl put her hand on Cassie's shoulder and caused the other girl to spin around to deal with her new attacker. "What's your name? Are you new to this hospital?" asked the girl, and Cassie looked at the girl kind of in disbelief as she thought, 'Here one hour, and I'm already being interrogated.'
"Yes, I am new here. Now, I've got to go find a uniform. Talk to you soon. Bye." There we go. Short and sweet. I can't possibly go wrong with that.
"Oh, you need a uniform? I can get you the bags that you need to wear…just kidding. They're shirts and pants but they're so hideously baggy that wearing them basically equates wearing a bag."
Cassie shot the girl a slightly weirded out look. "They can't possibly be like that…"
"Oh, but yes they are!" Cassie was a bit surprised when the girl started smiling at Cassie's comment as widely as Buddha and continued on, saying, "You've got spunk. I like that. I oversaw how you handled Mrs. Amabilia, the local evil woman, and well, it's amazing that you held out as long as you did. Most of the times, people are running away from the check-in window when she's on duty. Quite amazing actually how she's always the one on check-in window duty in the first place." The girl lifted her shoulder and lowered it as though to show that she really didn't care.
Cassie looked up and down at the girl who had just walked up to her blabbing her head off, in a very friendly, bubbly but strangely un-annoying way. The girl was an African American, and was quite a beautiful one too. Cassie felt a hint of jealousy creep up as she noticed the girl's natural flair and bubbliness that would just attract people to her. Cassie was most definitely not a person most people would flock to. Or so she thought. Apparently this girl thought differently. She also had the sleekest raven-black hair that was pulled back, with a few straight strands escaping to sit on her shoulder while the rest of it stayed put behind a green headband. Cassie lifted her hand to touch her bun almost resentfully as she felt her wavy hair threatening to mutiny against the bonds that held it in its bun. Ugh…a few strands of hair have already escaped. She realized that she had been sitting there staring at the girl, and the girl had a sad look of dejection on her face. "Oh, I get it, you don't want to be friends with me…but I'm gonna try anyway." At this, the girl immediately perked up, and Cassie looked on incredulously. Is this girl like Super Happy Girl or something? Why is she so happy in the first place? She's like a clown…they're both happy for no apparent reason…which makes you wonder why they're so happy. "Is this some trick that you hospital staff people play on all of us or something?"
"What? You think that this is a prank or something? No way! I actually think you are pretty cool. So who are you?"
Cassie sighed loudly as though tired of this conversation before saying, "I'm Cassie Mogg. My real name's Cassandra, but I prefer to be called Cassie. And you would be?"
"Oh! How completely like me to forget to say the important things before blabbing on and on about the dumb things. My name is Virginia but everyone calls me Ginny. My last name is Smithfold. My Dad's German, but the last name's not German because Mom chose to keep her true last name, Smithfold, and I've decided to do that too. Well, it really wasn't really all my choice because my Mom was the one who plopped the name Smithfold as my last name onto the birth certificate…so well…guess I really had no say in the matter." Ginny waved her arms helplessly around in the air.
A laugh popped out of nowhere, and both Ginny and Cassie looked quite surprised to hear it come from Cassie. "Okay, back down to what I need to get done…do you know where the nurse's uniforms are? All I have is the volunteer badge and the volunteer pass." Ginny smiled a little as she said, "Hun, come on, follow me and I'll show you the storage closet with all the, uh, uniquely decorated bags." Snorts of laughter could be heard coming from the Nurse's Station locker area…and since they were there for all the hearing, well, somebody overheard and that person happened to be Mrs. Amabilia, and she got this fuming look on her face which definitely suggested that she wasn't too happy. "Miss Mogg! I demand that you GET CHANGED. I'm supposed to lead you around remember or has all that interrogation in front of a judge scrambled your minute sized brain?" Cassie stopped laughing immediately and had started turning an umber color. She had just stood up, probably intending to go and beat Mrs. Amabilia to a pulp when Ginny grabbed her arm (Cassie shook her arm furiously and Ginny's hand flew off as her grip slipped but she immediately grabbed Cassie's arm again to make sure that Cassie didn't charge outside to make Mrs. Amabilia suffer the consequences for insulting Cassie.) "HUN! Control your temper! Count to ten before you go and murder that woman!" Cassie spared Ginny a withering glare before practically spitting out, "I've already counted to ten for this woman!! I'm not going to go and do it again!" Plus, I'd be wasting my breath that could be better used to keep my body oxygenated as I pummel Mrs. Amabilia.
Five minutes later
Several attempts and five minutes later, Ginny successfully dragged Cassie to the storage closet. "Okay, now take this and put it on okay? Go down back into the Nurse's Station, and as soon as you step out of the storage closet, look to your left and you'll see an open doorway. Now, that leads you into bathrooms. Alright, now get changed and come back okay?" As Cassie left, grumbling, Ginny smiled a little at the thought of Cassie's spirited fight all the way to and into the storage closet and thought, 'Well, there's one that they won't drag down at this hospital.'
Cassie came back fairly quickly considering that she seemed not too intent on establishing a friendship. Ginny grinned widely at this and said, "So, where are you assigned?"
"I believe that I'm supposed to take care of the little hellions in the children's ward and the deranged people in the psychiatric ward. So, I'm basically dividing my day between mentally messed up people and boisterous, hyper little devils. I can just picture it now."
"Not all the children's ward patients are all that bad…trust me. There's this one really nice HOT guy named Devin Murphey. He started his stay at the hospital a little bit after I became a volunteer here. So, he's been here a little less than a year. I think he's staying in room…uh…276. I think. I'm not quite sure…"
Ginny looked over at the other girl only to see her with her mouth gaping open. "You've been here for how long exactly as a volunteer? I don't know how you'd be able to stand it…having to cater to other people's wishes…"
This time, it was Ginny shooting the looks of confusion in the other's direction as she nearly gasped, "You mean you don't want to be here??!!"
Cassie remained silent. No way am I gonna get this friendly…so I'm basically not going to tell her until I'm sure that I can trust her, and that she's my true friend. Otherwise, she's never going to know until the day that hell freezes over. By the sudden blank look that blanketed the other girl's face, Ginny realized that this was a topic not to be brought up again for a really long time. However, the curiosity that usually got Ginny was already gnawing at her. "Ah well, back to the other question that you asked me. Umm…let's see, I believe that I've been here for about a year. It's really not ALL that bad once you've been here for a while. At least we get paid for listening to other people complain day in and day out!"
Cassie smiled a brief small smile, but Ginny was still able to catch it.
For the rest of the day, Cassie was forced to shadow Mrs. Amabilia. Her feet were so sore by the end of the day from all the compulsory walking that she was forced to do, and to give an idea of how much walking the poor girl had to do, Cassie was spewing curses every single minute of the 45 minute drive home. As soon as she arrived at Pinnacle Point, her family's humble abode, she continued bellowing curses for another five hours, especially during her long 'relaxing' soak in the tub. Confound it all! I swear…if I have to go through this everyday I am going to march straight to those hospital officials and give them a piece of my mind!!!
Still here. Ha, always will and probably always will be. Went from a somebody to a nobody. The irony of it all. I sit here with knowledge that could save many, and well, naught but one knows. The crazies walk free while the sane are trapped within walls that seem to constrict and hold them in.