The followingis a llittle taster from Phantasms in the Infirmary Vol II The new batch....
THE portal to the book is thus:
However let me entice you if iI can?
Shadows on the Wall
‘I am well and truly shattered’said Dr Natalie Barlow to herself as she slumped on the comfortable and welcoming bed in the hospital accommodation she was renting during her six-month placement. She had just finished a stint in the busy medical wards in St Augustine’s Hospital. All in all, she had been on duty for more than twenty hours with little if no rest. She had managed to grab a quick few minute’s sleep between the incessant bleeps and calls and barely had any refreshments or nutrition. ‘Ironic’she thought, ‘considering I am supposed to look after people and I can barely look after myself it seems.’Life as a junior doctor was not all that easy. Learning the art of medicine was harder than she had anticipated. The long hours, calls, decisions, lack of support, lack of sleep and the miles and miles of walking were far from glamorous and fulfilling. She had to be at the beck and call of her registrar, Dr Gerry Fellows and her “Old school”consultant, Dr Cecil Johansen, a bright mind with no real character or people skills, for all those hours with little or no thanks from them. The hierarchy of medicine was not a nice and pleasant experience for her. Feeling like she was “flying solo”most of the time, this junior doctor was still supported but only for the more difficult and interesting decisions. It was certainly good experience but at times she felt she needed a short admission to a comfy bed on one of the wards, just enough to get some well-earned sleep and a welcoming meal. The pecking order did not stop there; she was also the “Goffer”for the myriad of ward sisters and nursing staff who insisted on her attention in order to manage the many patients under their care. ‘Dr Nat’as she was affectionately called by the nurses, ‘please write this patient for these meds’or ‘can you review Mr so and so in bed whatever to discharge them home, we need the beds and there is a bed crisis…’. The work seemed boundless and the bed crisis seemed to blend in from one day to the next. She must have walked thirty miles during her endlessly long stint, roaming the extensive corridors and endless staircases in the massive building. They seemed to get longer and the stairs steeper As she got more fatigued. ‘I must get one of those pedometers one day, it would be interesting to know what distance I have really covered on a shift’she mumbled to herself as her head snuggled into the comfortable feather pillow that now supported her weary head. ‘Surely this is enough exercise for anyone? I could even justify saving the extra expense of the gym fees with the half marathons I do on a daily basis?’the young medic thought. Now though, she could release some of the pent up frustrations and catch up on her precious sleep. This was time for herself, to pamper her battered physiological and psychological self. To regain some sense and shutdown the over activity her body and brain had endured with the assault of the last twenty hour shift. Although tired, she was not able to get to sleep straight away, after all it was three in the afternoon and people were in the middle of their busy working day and the hospital was crammed with visiting out patients and relatives undertaking investigations and undergoing consultations with her peers in the busy hospital. Doors banging loudly from parking cars outside, the din of people chattering, cries and wails from people, more cars and ambulance sirens galore were impeding her slumber, it was getting too much. Living in the hospital grounds was convenient and cheap but it had its obvious faults and she was experiencing them all. She needed a strategy to overcome the sleep deprivation and tiredness and Natalie busied herself in order to get the precious sleep her weary body craved for. She reached into the side table and reached for a small box, rattling it to ensure its contents were safely within it. Taking out a small lighter and a candle, she lit the candle, a scented candle with the essence of vanilla and lavender for ambience but kept the light on to ensure the dimly lit cell of a room was less eerie. She needed something to distract her for the next few hours and extinguish the noise pollution too as the candles scent would not achieve this so she reached out for her MP3 player in the same drawer. This was stuffed with relaxing tunes, placed the earphones firmly in her tired ears, looked through the range of genres in music and selected some appropriate music. ‘Aha, a little mood music from Enya will help soothe me into a snooze’as she pressed the play button and tried again to repose and rested back on the bed, staring up at the white ceiling and the light fitting fixed firmly in the centre of it. The sweet dulcet tones of Enya’s voice played “Orinoco flow”in her attempts at a lullaby. She was sailing into the song and getting more reposed with every note of the enchanting melody but alas, still not asleep. Still awake and eyes half open, she noticed the light bulb flicker. ‘Oh no, the bloody bulb looks like it is going to blow, I’ll wait for it to do so, change it then get some shuteye’she thought. The bulb now started to emit a brighter light and then flickered like a strobe light when suddenly the bulb no longer flickered and remained on. ‘Must have been a power surge?’said Natalie. ‘These old hospitals and their cranky electrical systems are quite the pain in the neck at times’she thought. Suddenly, the room became unbearably cold now and the scented candle extinguished itself. ‘That is very strange?’she reflected. However, little did she know what was to transpire? From the corner of the room, she noticed a smoky black figure appear. It was tall and big but there were no distinct features to identify it as anything in particular. It was simply a blackness that grew in front of her now gaping eyes. It glided across her small room stopping momentarily as if looking straight at her and then moved on until it disappeared through the wall opposite to where it originated. Natalie was frozen to the spot. Confused, bewildered and very scared, she was focused on its sinister sequence with no logical explanation to hand she clutched her quilted bed cover closer to her face, covered up in a protective huddle. A strong smell of burning accompanied the apparition. It was a spectral encounter for sure. The adrenaline surge now kicked in as she jolted up on the bed and starred at the wall. There was nothing there now. ‘It must have been a figment of my imagination’the young doctor thought, trying to distinguish logic from a mirage brought on by tiredness. Her rationalization made sense however this did not account for the candle, the light flickering, the cold…as she pondered on this, just as suddenly the smoky figure was standing in her room again. This time, its features were more evident. It was a man, or a figure resembling a man. Caped and sporting a big hat on his head, the appearance similar to a cavalier of old. The apparition was centered on the wall where it had disappeared. Again a sudden drop in ambient temperature and the smell of burning accompanied it. The burning smell was that of flesh. The ghostly dark figure now hovered toward Natalie, and screeched as it came nearer. Her response was to scream and jump out of the bed, propelling herself to the door of her room and pulling on the door knob to release her from her captivity. It was strange because despite the extreme coldness, the doorknob felt scorching hot and she released it immediately. It was then she felt the most helpless she had ever done. Her end was near, or so she thought. The ghost seemed to follow her and she felt trapped and endangered when the door suddenly opened and one of the neighboring nurses boyfriends was at the door, pushing it open and enquiring if she was okay. ‘Thank god you opened the door’a stuttering and shocked Natalie exclaimed. ‘Well we heard screams and wondered what was going on?’Rob, the boyfriend replied. ‘Are you okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost’. ‘Yes, I think I have’she replied and grabbed hold of the young man and cried into his shoulder. Michelle, the nurse next door was now at the doorway, only witnessing this crying young doctor, grasping her precious boyfriend and wondered what on earth was going on. Rob gesticulated at Michelle as if to say ‘give her some space’as they led her to the communal kitchen. Michelle held her hand as she sat in the safety of relative strangers as Natalie now retold her short but terrible ordeal whilst sipping a small brandy. Michelle had been in the hospital accommodation for over two years and confessed to have heard this same story before. Natalie was shocked to hear that two previous occupiers of her lodgings had left suddenly following visitations from this cloaked smoky apparition. They had even given him a nickname; he was known as the “Caped Cavalier”. This was far from funny to the over tired and shocked Natalie. She was upset and no one had warned her of any malevolence or ghosts in her residence when she had pitched up the week before. ‘Well its something you don’t tend to advertise if you want to make some money from rent’an insensitive Rob uttered and stopped by Michelle’s look, before he said anything else that was equally as unhelpful! ‘It was extremely terrifying and I can’t go back in there’Natalie sobbed as she stressed the fear she was in. ‘I need to call the estates manager now and get another room’Michelle handed her cell-phone to the distressed woman and facilitated the call. ‘Hello, my name is Dr. Natalie Barlow, I am in room thirteen in the nurses quarters and I would like to get another room please, I cannot go back in mine’. There was a pause as she listened to the estates manager. ‘No there are no cockroaches or floods, there is a bloody ghost in my room and I cannot go back in there’she replied with a certain assertiveness to her tone. Again she listened before replying ‘don’t tell me to get a grip of myself, you haven’t had to live through a fucking cloaked man suddenly appearing out of no where, do something’. A few seconds later the call was ended and she hung up. ‘So, what’s the verdict?’Michelle enquired. ‘Well, apart from her thinking I am a nut-job, she will be here presently to examine the room herself’. Within ten minutes, a very hasty and flummoxed Mrs. Regan, head of estates was there. Mrs. Regan, a matronly looking woman in her fifties was now interrogating the young doctor ‘So tell me, where and when did this all happen?’Natalie recounted what had happened and the estates manager just replied ‘humph, we will see about that, give me your key, I will go in there and prove there is nothing like a ghost here in my building’. Natalie handed her the key to her accommodation and waited as the stout cynical woman made her way to the haunted room. Her little legs hurriedly propelled her down the short corridor in her determination to disprove this story. “Bang”the door closed firmly behind her, they waited. It was not long before the screams were heard from the room and a pale and disheveled looking Mrs. Regan appeared…‘Are you still insisting it