Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Freedom Fighter II

She found the clothes in the first place she looked: under the mattress.  They were neatly laid out, exactly the way she would have done it, so that they looked almost freshly ironed.  She was dressed and looking for weapons before it occurred to her to wonder why the clothes were under the mattress.  She dismissed the thought.  It was something she'd think about later, when there was time for trivialities like it.  Right now she had to assume that she was the victim of enemy action, and she needed to get out of here.  It would have helped if Montague had been ready with the extraction, but he wasn't essential.  He, too, could be dealt with later.
There was a feeble choking sound from the other bed, and Sylvie paused her search to check on the dying woman.  Her skin was pallid now and her eyes rolled back up in her head.  Sylvie estimated that she had maybe three or four minutes before the machine started its alarms and summoning the staff.  Which meant she needed to think faster.

The alarms blared on the machine for a few short seconds, then shut off.  A little light in the corner of one display continued to flash though, a subtle indicator that the alarms were still sounding in the nurses' station elsewhere on the ward.  For nearly thirty seconds there was stillness in the room, a prayer to the Angel of Death as they took up residence, and then a clicking sound as the door was frantically unlocked.
"Oh God, oh God, she's killed her, that bitch, bitch, that bitch!"  The first person through the door was a man in a pinstriped suit with spectacles disarrayed on his face, thinning blond hair in a comb-over starting to come loose and a red flush that suggested he was getting ready for his next heart attack.  The keys to the room were in his hand, and his legs were trembling with the effort of having run up several flights of stairs to get there first.  Behind him came two nurses, a third pushing a crash-cart, and a muscular male orderly with tattooes on his cheeks and forehead.
"Who are you?"  His question, gasped out from burning lungs, was addressed to the middle-aged woman sat at the bedside in a state of shock.  Her eyes were wide and tears were running down her cheeks; she held the hand of the woman in the bed loosely, her thumb rubbing back and forth on it like she was stroking a kitten.  She was staring at the window: it had been smashed outwards using the other chair in the room, and a breeze was ruffling the curtains.
"Elizabeth," she said.  She blinked, and seemed to see everyone all of a sudden.  She gasped, and her free hand rose to her mouth. "Jenny's niece.  I was visiting when, when...."  She tailed off, staring at the window.  The orderly followed her gaze and strode over to examine it, and then look out of it.  "Oh my," she said.  "You put my aunt in a room with a lunatic.  I'm going to sue."
A nurse picked the chart up off the end of the bed and checked it.  "What year was Jenny born in, dear?" she asked.
"1928," said the woman at the bedside straight away.  "She said that you wouldn't listen when she told you though, and you put 1948 on the chart.  Oh, I suppose that incompetence.  No, what's the legal word? Malpractice?  You wrote important data down wrong so you could poison her didn't you? And you put her in a room with a lunatic so she could kill her.  You know she flung herself out of that window right?  Right?"
"Shut up!"  The man in the suit was on his knees on the other side of the bed, bent double and wheezing horribly.  His face was purple.  "Dear God, yes, Jenny has a niece and she's every bit a bitch.  God only knows what you're doing here today, but get her out!  Get her out of here!"
"She got the chart right," said the nurse softly to the doctor.
"There's no body down there," said the orderly.
"Look up," said the doctor.  "I bet she climbed.  There are guards on the roof though, so they'll either have her, or she's going to have to break another window to get back in, and all the others are reinforced."
"You should go, dear," said the nurse to the woman at the bedside, taking her hand.  The woman stood.
"I'm still going to sue," she said uncertainly.  "Even if my cousin did authorise this."
"Get. Her. Out. Of. Here."

They put her in the lift and pushed the button for the ground floor, and Sylvie relaxed a little.  Not too much – lifts these days all had cameras in – but a little.  She still needed a weapon: her palms itched without something to hold that she knew was lethal when used correctly, but she was away from the main staging area.  The light on the floor-panel reached 5 and a sudden memory surged into her mind, closely followed by another. She hit the 5 button almost reflexively, and the lift shuddered to a stop, the doors sighing open after a moment or two.
"You're too old for this," said Ludovic, in her memories.  "It's time you retired."
She pushed the thought away.  That clearly wasn't one of her memories, they must have had her on drugs up in the ward.  She should take that in account if she needed to fight.
"The Director has an office on the 5th floor.  The people with the keycards are the secretaries in the blood-transfusion offices, but they can't use them.  You'll also need a fingerprint from one of the Executives; they all have offices on the 18th floor.  And armed guards."
That memory was hers alright.  Damn, she was doing things in the wrong order, but she'd get the keycard first. There had to be something she could weaponise in the blood-transfusion labs.

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