An extract from Hell To Pay (Crime Files Book 1)
She took a few more steps into the living room and walked straight into hell…
I’m cold, colder than I’ve ever been in my entire life and I don’t know why. Slowly, I open my eyes, tentatively at first because even opening them a fraction feels like someone's shoving red-hot pins into them. The light is so bright.
What’s with the light anyway?
Has Michael wandered in, blootered on some poncy new beer and left the light on, after collapsing in a heap onto the bed? I’ll brain him if he has. I’m no good to anyone when I don’t get my eight hours.
Pulling myself up in bed, I reach out my arm to nudge him awake so I can give him a right mouthful. My hand finds empty space.
Where is he?
My eyes sting as I prise them open – it’s as though there's been an accident with false lashes and I've glued my eyelashes together - and that’s when I realise I’m not in our flat. The reason I’m freezing is because I’m wearing a tracing paper thin hospital gown: the kind that shows off your backside when you’re being whisked off to x-ray.
A tidal wave of panic hits me and I jerk into full consciousness.
What’s happened to me?
I try to remember, but my brain’s all bunged up as if the top of my head's been removed and the cavity filled with cotton wool.
My arms are bandaged up. Have I been in an accident? If I have, I don’t remember. Maybe I hit my head.
I take in my surroundings. If I’m in hospital, it’s no ordinary one. For one thing, my room’s more like a cell. There’s a bed and a table bolted to the floor, but no personal stuff: photos, or cards, or stuffed animals from people wishing me well. Does anyone even know I’m here?
I grope for a call button to get a nurse, but there isn’t one. What the hell? This place is a prison.
Staggering out of bed, I fight the wave of nausea and dizziness that make me want to yell at the world to stop moving because I want to get off the carousel. The tile floor is stone cold and there are no slippers by the bed. My feet are ice blocks. Why don’t I have any socks or tights on?
Before I reach the door, there's a jingle of keys, then a key scrapes in the lock. Holding my breath, I brace myself for what’s coming.
A woman I don’t recognize with brown hair tied back in a ponytail appears. She’s dressed in a nurse’s uniform and there’s a small smile playing on the edge of her lips.
"Good, you’re awake,
She sounds pleased, as if we’re bosom buddies, when I’ve never seen her before in my life.
"Where am I?"
My voice comes out as a rasp as though my throat’s been sandpapered down.
The nurse puts a hand on my shoulder. "Let’s get you back into bed,
I do as she says. I’m worried if I don’t lie back, I’ll faint.
," she says, as she fixes the pillows so I can sit upright. Parkview Hospital
I know all the hospitals in
, but I haven’t heard of that one. I ask her what kind of hospital it is and she tells me it’s a psychiatric facility. The reason I haven’t heard of it, is because they don’t publicize it. Perhaps because it’s full of nutters they want to keep away from society. The prospect terrifies me because that would mean they must think I’m cuckoo. Why else would I be here? Glasgow
I suck in my breath. When I ask her if this is a nut house, she presses her lips tightly together as she tells me no one refers to psychiatric hospitals in that way any more. Suitably chastised, I mumble an apology not because I think one’s needed, but because she’s the one with the keys.
"Why am I here?"
I’m dreading the answer, but I need to know. I don’t feel any different. Surely if I’d lost my mind, I'd know.
"You had a breakdown."
The way she says it, she could be talking about the weather.
She asks me if I want anything and I tell her a pair of proper pajamas, a dressing gown and slippers would be nice because I’m an ice block. If she gets in touch with Mum, she’ll bring me in some stuff.
Her smile’s still there, but breaks down around the corners of her mouth. There’s something she’s not telling me, because she’s worried how I’ll react. There’s fear in her eyes. I notice she’s wearing a lucky heather brooch, the same one I got for Mum. I’m staring at it as she tells me she’s going to fetch a doctor, when a memory stirs inside me and no matter how hard I try to push it away, someone’s taken their finger out the dyke and the water’s rushing in.
Blood, blood everywhere. Dad’s slumped in his favorite armchair, head bent forward as if in prayer (he never prayed a day in his life); a single bullet hole in his head. I know it’s him, even although his face has been beaten to a pulp: his blood staining the fireside rug my mum was so fond of. Even in death, my dad has a presence. He fills a room with the sheer weight of his personality. Discarded nearby is the baseball bat they used on him. It’s covered in blood and something sticky and dark brown, resembling raw mince.
RELEASED APRIL 28TH FROM LIMITLESS PUBLISHING