The nurse

A short story

The kid is running. She's running fast. She stumbles as she looks behind. They're still there, but further away now. She hears them shout 'stop!' but she must get away. The wind blows the hood off her head, so she pulls it back up to hide her face. Then she turns a corner into a back alley behind some houses. The tall walls on either side make her feel claustrophobic, but when she sees an open gate she ducks in and takes a moment in someone's back garden. She gasps for air. Then she's off again, over a fence. She hears that voice again.
She runs through a garden, round to the front of the house and into the street again. She can hear sirens here, damn. A police patrol car screeches into the street and a police officer runs from the garden she came from. He caught up! How the hell did he catch up?
Another police officer appears and shouts 'stop!'. She panics and runs to a junction where she sees another alleyway. She runs straight to it. Faster now, faster! But it is a dead end, stopped by a large concrete wall. There is nowhere to hide here. Shit! She pulls the waist cord around her jogging bottoms to reveal a small washing bag filled with small wraps of cocaine. She rushes to a fence where a garden bush lazily hangs over, hooks the bag onto a branch and drops it behind the fence. The officers are gaining on her still. She can hear their footsteps entering the alley. She needs to act quickly, so she scales the concrete wall and leaps over the top.
She hears an officer scream, 'no!'. Then she realises why and tries to grab the top of the wall, but she is too late. The drop is long, perhaps double the height of the wall she scaled. When she hits the ground below, she feels a sharp pain and blacks out.


Toni is the on-duty nurse at Croydon University Hospital when a young girl is rushed in with several fractures, internal bleeding, and a head injury. Two police officers accompany her. They both have blood on their hands and their uniform is stained. Both of them are young, perhaps early twenties. One of them is a little pale and his lips lack colour. He is suffering from shock. It is more noticeable since he has black hair with a messy look. The other appears more experienced.
She sees his shoulder number as she approaches, 781. 'Hey, do you two need a place to clean up?' Toni smiles. The officer with the black hair isn't listening, but 781 smiles back immediately, 'thank you. We'll be fine for now.' Toni nods, there is a moment of silence and then 781 continues. 'The kid jumped from a twenty-foot wall.'
'Suicide attempt?'
'No. She's a drug runner. We caught her supplying, but she ran. She was just trying to get away.'
'She's gonna regret it if she survives. She's only thirteen years old.' 781 shakes his head and shrugs. The other officer speaks, 'Stupid bitch.'
Toni smiles, but this time it's forced. 'If you need anything, I'm over at station three.' The other officer speaks again. 'all this for a bit of narbis. Deserves all she gets.' He tuts loudly, 'little shit.' 781 nudges him and smiles again. 'Thanks. We'll just be hanging around for an update on her condition.'
Toni heads back to her desk. She shakes her head and feels a pinch of anger towards the black-haired officer. When she reads the girls medical file, she immediately dials social services. The girl - Jenny Palmer - has suffered regular injuries since she was eight years old. She'd be surprised if there wasn't already a case worker. Another referral can only help the girl.


When the girl's father arrives, he has to be restrained by the officers. Toni directs them to a room. They drag him in and Toni asks him to take a seat, which he does, but he is clearly angry. 781 and the other officer block the door like night club security staff. The girl's father begins to calm down. 'Mr Palmer? Let me explain what happened to your daughter. ' He grits his teeth and spits, 'I know what those pigs did to her.'
781 is calm, but the other officer moves forward. Toni looks at the officer and shakes her head. She then smiles. 'My name is Toni. I will be in charge of your daughter's ongoing care. She fell from...'
'Fell? She was pushed?'
'She has a broken ankle and forearm, and a few fractured ribs, but her head injury is the most worrying. She is in theatre to set the breaks and to assess the likelihood of swelling around the brain. The doctor will give you more details as soon as they're done.'
Mr Palmer looks at her now. 'Can we speak without these fools?' 781 nods but the other officer says, 'that's not a good idea.' 781 opens the door and directs the officer to leave and he does. 781 smiles kindly, 'we'll be right outside.' Mr Palmer swears under his breath, but then his demeanour transforms. He sniffs as if he might be about to cry. 'Listen...' He begins, 'When Jenny's mother died, I struggled - I still struggle. I needed financial help, so I went to a loan shark, but I couldn't keep up with the payments. The police can't help, in fact they've made it worse in the past, so it's pointless speaking to them. Jenny is targeted when I can't make a payment. I just... We just need some help.'
Toni touches his shoulder but feels an uneasiness wash across her. 'I will help you as much as I can.'
'Can I see her?' 'When she's out of surgery, I'll come for you. You can wait in here if you need to.'


When Jenny comes out of surgery, Toni is pleased to hear there were no complications. Mr Palmer sits with her in a room on the ward. The two police officers are hanging around. Mr Palmer straightens when he sees Jenny's eyes open. She stirs and moans when she tries to move. He touches her hand. 'Don't move too much. You've done your ankle and arm.'
'Where am I?' She blinks as she fights off the drownziness.
'You're in hospital. Are you with it?'
'Oh shit.' She rubs her eyes.
'Are you with it?' Mr Palmer insists.
'Yes. They were chasing me. I didn't realise the wall was so big.'
'Shut up you stupid slut.' He grabs the cast around her arm and wrenches it.
Jenny yelps. Mr Palmer grits his teeth and growls, 'now listen to me carefully.'
Jenny nods as she bites her lip. Tears roll down her cheeks.
'You're going to say they pushed you.'
'You'd better hear what I'm saying, Jenny. They pushed you, OK?'
'OK.' Jenny whimpered.
'Repeat it.'
'They pushed me.'
'Who pushed you?'
'The police. The officer, he pushed me.'
'Good. Do the police have the drugs?'
'Good. Where are they?'
'I err...'
'Don't say you lost it. You know what happens when merch goes missing.'
'I didn't lose it, I just. I'm trying to remember.'
'You'd better remember abit quicker or I'll beat the memories out of you.'
Just then, Toni walks in. She's carrying some leaflets which contain information and contact numbers for grief councillors and help with debt. She stops, almost not believing what she just heard. Her brow furrows and her eyes narrow. 'Mr Palmer, get away from Jenny now.'
He immediately leaps to his feet. 'What you gonna do?' He swings an arm and slaps her across the face with enough force to knock Toni off balance - she didn't expect it. She grips the end of the bed to steady herself as her face throbs. Mr Palmer has already moved behind her and closes the door. He then thumps her in the back of the head with his fist and she falls to her knees. She is momentarily blinded by the strike and breathes deeply as she waits for her vision to return.
Mr Palmer speaks calmly but his tone is menacing, 'you're going to get us out of here, nurse Toni.' He takes a lock knife from his pocket and moves over towards Jenny. 'Or you know what happens.'
Toni clenches her jaw and musters as much strength as she can. Mr Palmer pushes the knife against Jenny's wrist but Jenny instinctively pulls away. Her wrist slides against the blade, which opens a deep wound. The blood spurts out immediately. Mr Palmer's eyes widen. Toni takes a deep breath, her eyes glitter and swirl a bright green and she yells, 'Puer defendat!' (protect the child) The knife blade bends and spins out of Mr Palmer's hand and embeds into his shoulder. He screams, 'ah! What the fuck!?'
Toni focuses her attention on him now, although Jennys blood continues to splash on him. She now sees him for what he really is. He is evil, she can see it in his black, jagged aura. He must be stopped.
She lifts her hands into the air and chants, 'Porta scelus tuum de te mala opera tua' (Suffer for your evil works). Mr Palmer's eyes dart around the room. His expression becomes that of a scared child. He panics and shouts, 'No! Get away!' He swings his arm around. 'No! Get them off me! The crows! Get them off me!'
Toni smiles, 'Sir, what you see are Ravens, not crows.' She then opens the door and shouts, 'Officers, I need help in here. This man needs to be taken to the secure mental health facility.'
781 and the other police officer rush in and take hold of the thrashing Mr Palmer. Toni then focuses her attention on Jenny. There is a large pool of blood on the floor now. Blood is dripping from the hospital bed and she has stopped breathing. Toni knows there is no more time. She hits the emergency button and as the police officers drag Mr Palmer out of the room, she whispers, 'Uti mihi vim vitalem. Iam interrupta componunt mortem.' (Use my vital properties. Now mend death.)
A violet glow eminates from Jenny and she rises a few inches from the bed, as if catching up with her retreating soul. She lands back on the bed and coughs. Her wrist wound has partially healed, along with her other injuries. Several doctors and nurses rush into the room and Toni holds up a hand. 'She's back. She's safe now.' She takes a deep inhale of breath and looks down.
Jenny looks at her with wide, terrified eyes.
Toni touches her hand and smiles, 'it's going to be OK from now on.'

  • Share:

Steven Sweeney BSc(Hons), MSc

'The Brink' comic creator, author, Web developer and musician with 5 albums.