Wednesday 1 January 2014

Rat's Tale

The sound of footsteps woke him. Not the noise they made on the linoleum of the hospital corridor outside his room, but the rhythm – the way they stopped, there was a dull thud and then they started again, closer to his door now.

He was a light sleeper. He always had been; the instinct for self-preservation was far stronger than the need to rest, but since the shooting, it had been worse and despite the armed guard outside his door, he still didn’t feel safe in the private hospital room. Too many people wanted him silenced for him to feel safe anywhere in this country now.

That dull thud. Exactly the noise a body might make as it fell off a chair onto the floor. An armed guard’s body perhaps?


He was wide awake now – as wide awake as he could be, with the cocktail of antibiotics, painkillers and whatever else they kept giving him at regular intervals. Eyes still closed, he heard an almost imperceptible squeak as the door to his room opened.

Lenny turned over in bed, yawning, letting his eyelids flicker open briefly to see a dark silhouette against the light from the corridor. The door swung shut silently. He listened for the sounds of movement, breathing, anything to give him a clue about who was in the room and where they were.

There was no way he could run, no chance of being a match for anybody physically. It was less than four weeks since he’d been shot and he’d only recently lost the Frankenstein line of staples snaking down his side. There was still a long and messy scar. With his right arm in plaster from palm to bicep, more bruises than he could count only just fading from his face and body and he was in no position to fight off an attacker.

And I don’t think he’s come for a chat.

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