Following the scan Hannah returned by chair, to the ward. She braced herself for the return to her fantastical surroundings. In fact, the first member of staff she saw was a tall, lithe creature she could, true to cliché, only describe as an elf. She was taken aback by the man’s inhuman beauty. Silky arrow straight hair was tied back into a bun and he moved with a grace and purpose. The whole image was only spoiled by the slightly oversized white polo shirt he wore, adorned with a badge that told Hannah he was a physiotherapist.
A bright light caught her eye. A flickering yellow and gold. Her heart began to beat faster as she saw a familiar figure ahead of her. Speaking with the brown haired nurse from when she first came in, was the demon she’d seen in the street. She now wore green overalls with reflective stripes. Her hair was worn naturally with her horns sticking up from her brown curls and as before her eyes burned softly and their flames cast shadows over her and the nurse. Hannah’s eyes went wide, contemplating what this meant. Only to be taken into her bay and out of sight. “No!” she yelled. The porter stopped. They were already at her bed.
“It’s alright, you’re here, what’s wrong” he said, sounding ignorant. Hannah wondered whether wilfully or not.
“Nothing, I’m fine, thanks,” she lifted herself out of the chair and onto the bed with a wince.
Why was the demon here? If they were all hallucinations why should another one repeat itself so specifically? Perhaps it just meant the woman she was projecting onto worked here. Long odds of a city this size but it was possible.
The smell of dinners filled her nose. Shortly after, Kim the healthcare assistant walked in. “Hannah, love. We weren’t able to offer you a choice of lunch yesterday as well, you weren’t conscious” Hannah chuckled at this, laughing still hurt.
“It’s okay,” she said, focusing on the human looking woman in front of her.
“We’ve got Jacket Potatoes with beans or Tuna, Sandwiches, Chicken Curry, Shepherd’s Pie.” Hannah looked around and noticed the curtain around the bed three had been drawn back. Sat on the bed was a woman, bent over and aged. Her skin was a deep green and even by day she emitted a steady green glow. The old lady opened her mouth, her tongue snaking around her teeth. Her voice echoed around the rooms, into Hannah’s ears and down her spine, leaving her shivering.
“WHERE’S MY LUNCH?” She asked
Hannah interrupted Kim at this “Jacket and Beans is fine! Can’t go wrong” Kim looked at the menu
“Apple or orange Juice?”
“Um, er, orange?”
“Apple crumble for pudding?”
“Sure!” Hannah said, still looking at the old lady.
“WHERE’S MY LUNCH” she repeated again
“We’ll bring your lunch in a minute, Hannah, excuse me,” Kim turned away and faced the glowing woman in the corner. “Your lunch will be with you in a minute, Mrs Mortimer,” the old lady frowned.
“YOU DIDN’T ASK ME WHAT I WANTED!” Mrs Mortimer snapped. Kim smiled
“Yes we did Mrs Mortimer, you filled out a form yesterday. I think you asked for a shepherd’s pie,”
“I LIKE SHEPHERD’S PIE,” Mrs Mortimer smiled. Kim nodded politely
“Good, that’s what you ordered,” she said and walked back out of the bay. The old lady looked squarely at Hannah who felt like she couldn’t move her arms as the lady began to speak,
“DO YOU LIKE SHEPHERD’S PIE?” she asked, Hannah panicked
“YES,” Hannah forced a smile
“Y-yeah. I do. M-my mum makes a good shepherd’s Pie.” Hannah replied nervously. The old lady smiled a fanged smile back.
“SO DOES MINE, GOOD MOTHERS,” She said before she was distracted by her dinner. Soon enough, Hannah was too and she tore her gaze off of the old woman. Maybe it was the painkillers but she couldn’t seem to be worried for very long.
At some point after she must’ve fallen asleep as Hannah woke in darkness, something hit her in the face and she struggled to breath. She struggled for air and clawed at her face. She could feel the thing smothering her and grabbed at it pulling it away. Light filled her vision as she pulled held it in front of her and saw a hooded sweatshirt in her hands and heard a familiar laugh. “Dad, you utter cock!” Hannah said, looking up at her parents.
“I tried to convince him not to,” Hannah’s mum, Mary said with a sigh.
“I’m sorry Cariad, I couldn’t resist,” said Lloyd, Hannah’s dad, “Do I still get a hug?” he asked.
“Yes,” Hannah replied as her dad moved in for a hug, “but that doesn’t disqualify you from being a cock!” Her mouth felt weird, like it wasn’t well attached to her. Words were hard to get out. She then hugged her mum warmly. “ We came as soon as we heard you’d woken up, well, and once you were allowed visitors, How are you feeling?”
“I’m not really, to be honest, I’m doped up to my eyeballs,” Hannah said frankly.
“I bet!” Hannah’s mother exclaimed
“Well you did hit a car,” Her dad added,
“She knows that Lloyd!” snapped Her mother
“Well she might not, memory loss and all that.” he suggested
“It was rather silly of you,” her mum said, clearly filling the silence with whatever came to mind.
“Thanks mum, that helps,” Hannah sighed
“Yeah, thanks mum,” Hannah’s dad joined in, taunting his wife, “Now who’s being overly honest,” Hannah chuckled at this.
“I honestly thought you’d be hospitalised playing that sport of yours!” her mother said
“I’ve not so much as sprained a wrist playing roller derby, mum,”
“No head trauma? Might explain why you did what you did,” Hannah thought back to the burning eyes of the demon. Then she wondered how the heck she’d explain that to her parents.
“Otherwise, you came out of it pretty well!” Hannah’s dad smiled. Hannah looked at her then at her warmly smiling father. Then at the patient’s around them. They didn’t see any of them, did they? Then again maybe this was all in her head. Any semblance of security at her situation and conviction in her opinions melted away again back inside her own, probably malfunctioning brain. She was in the right place to find out though, her internal monologue insisted, and at least her mum and dad were there. They’d support her whatever. She knew what she wanted to do. She just needed to find the courage.
Hannah was left with a warm feeling in her heart, her laptop and a bunch of films to watch. She placed the laptop screen as a wall between her and the rest of the world and finished the wall with her headphones. Only the bravest member of staff would climb over this wall. She felt her head float and her movements not feel quite like they were her own as the painkillers continued to do their job.
As a film finished she pulled out her headphones, closed her laptop, inhaled deeply and purposefully pressed the call button. Nick answered.
“You’re still here!” she remarked
“14 hour shift,” he said with mock exhaustion
“Ouch, that hurts, and I’ve just collided with a car,” Hannah laughed, so did Nick. That was reassuring
“How can I help?” Nick said matter of factly. Hannah paused. Nick was about to ask what was wrong.
“Your tattoo moves about,” she remarked. “like, it moves about over your skin and you were talking to a woman with eyes that were on fire,” once she started she couldn’t stop. “I saw a man in an office with green skin, the vampire nurse, all of it!”
Nick thought on this then spoke quietly.
“So you can see?”
“Everything? Yeah,” .
“Snakes for hair?” he asked
“That shouldn’t be happening, you should be seeing wall to wall,” he paused, “well, humans,”
“Nick, I’ve been seeing things for years,” she found she was crying, “I thought I was hallucinating,” Nick smiled reassuringly.
“I probably shouldn’t be so blunt with you but no, you’re not hallucinating,”
“The woman with flaming eyes and a tail! She’s real?” Hannah said, sobbing slightly. She wasn’t sure how to feel about all this.
“Yeah, that’s Amy, she’s my flatmate. She’s actually a paramedic, she accompanied you in,” Nick smiled. “Actually she said she suspected that you could see the real her,”
“How’d she figure that?” Hannah asked
“Amy being,” Nick paused “well, being a demon, she doesn’t see the world like us, she can see emotions, auras, waves of happiness and anger, fear and joy, everyone giving them off and intermingling,” he paused “but around you, nothing,”
““I’m guessing most folks look at her and just see a normal,” she paused “or um, average human,”
“Yeah, non-human folks should be protected by” it was him turn to pause, “this may sound stupid but by a magical charm,” Hannah scoffed
“You just told me demons and goblins really exist, nothing can shock me right now,” Hannah chuckled and sniffed. Nick passed her some tissues.
“Amy’s human appearance isn’t super dissimilar to what you see but no horns, less sharp teeth, not-flaming eyes,” Hannah nodded at this. “Tell you what, I should get a doctor and we can have a chat about this,” Nick left her with her thoughts for a moment
He returned with Doctor Cunningham. Who drew the curtain around Hannah’s bed “So Hannah,” the doctor began “I hear you are seeing things as they really are,”
“Yep, demons, goblins, Mrs Katsaros’ snakes, whatever is going on with Nick’s Tattoo,”
“Right, we did wonder that about you” Cunningham said frankly.
“Because of the aura thing?”
“Partly that and partly because we’ve been trying to use magic on you for the last 24 hours,”
“That glowing blue liquid I was on last night? That some kind of magic potion?” she scoffed, finding the words absurd as they passed over her lips.
“More or less,” Cunningham commented “and we’ve been trying to cast magical spells on you,” Hannah raised an eyebrow to this. “Without my consent?!” she asked sternly and to her surprise she found she was actually offended. “Have I been sectioned or something?”
“No, no. It’s just. Under the Magical Secrecy Act we can perform magic on anyone deemed a threat to security, technically we were supposed to wipe your memory,” before adding, “but we didn’t! By the way!”
“You probably couldn’t if you tried,” Hannah said, finding her tone quite defiant and cocky.
“Well exactly,” Nick remarked
“As far as we can tell Hannah you’re basically the opposite of magical,”
“That sounds like an insult,” she chuckled. “What do you mean?” She asked
“Well most people are just about magical, have enough of a magical presence to be fooled by an illusion charm and go about their day, some people are more magically sensitive, some can train themselves to be more magically sensitive,”
“Like you two?”
“Well, sort of, actually I’m a Werewolf,” Cunningham said calmly. “In fact my first interaction with Ward Thirteen was after I was bitten, so I had to be introduced to all of this, like you. I understand how mind blowing it call all be!” he said reassuringly and Hannah found she was actually calmed by this
“And what about you?” Hannah asked Nick
“Ah, this is all standard to me, my family is a long line of people involved in magic in one way or another,” he explained.
There was a pause. Suddenly Hannah began to laugh. “This is so ridiculous! I can’t tell if I want to be terrified or relieved! Magic is real! Werewolves are real! It all sounds so stupid!” she paused “No offence. “ she added to the doctor. “So there magical creatures and people who can perform magic walking around, hidden in plain sight.
“Yes, pretty much,” Cunnignham said
“All over the country,” Hannah added
“Yes, well partly.” Cunningham began “over the years a lot of them have moved to Severnside, hence why Ward Thirteen is here,” Hannah nodded at this. Something started beeping at the doctors waist, Hannah noted it was a pager “Crap, sorry Hannah, can I get back to you,”
“Its fine, I’ve got enough to process,” she said quite calmly. “What’s the course of action now?”
“for what it’s worth the MRI didn’t show any brain damage, we can probably discharge you tomorrow morning,”
“And my um, new found knowledge of the world,”
“I’ll arrange for you to see Tariq, he’s an existential councillor. He really helped me after I was first bitten, helps people ease into this new world,”
“That’d be good, thanks,” And Cunningham was off again at full speed.
Nick looked to Hannah. “I should probably get back to work, let me know if you need anything,”
“You seem pretty calm about all this,” Nick said
“It’s partly the pain meds!” she chuckled. “Also,” she paused, “this might sound weird, but it’s reassuring. You’re just doctors and nurses and you’re all really supportive!”
“Good to hear,” Nick smiled. There was a pause
“I think I want to get some sleep,” Hannah said finally.
“Me too, half an hour left,”
“Good night Nick,”
“Good night Hannah,”