Mary woke up, feeling rested and relatively pain-free. It took her a moment to realize where she was. The sun hadn't broken yet, the morning sky looked bruised and bleeding streaks of crimson that would soon give way to the sun. She reached up and tentatively probed the bandages around her eye. Her left arm was in a cast, but the pain was tolerable. She was still hooked up to an IV, but the bag was nearly empty. Her bladder was screaming, and after a quick assessment, she decided she was able to get to the restroom on her own. She sat up, a tiny bit woozy from pain medicine and lack of solid food, and cautiously walked towards the bathroom.
While she was in there, she heard some strange noises. The acoustics of the floor and the tiny bathroom made it hard to tell how far away the racket was, but it sounded like someone smashing glass and shouting. Mary was trying to imagine what could cause something like that, and was imagining an emergency wheeling in, a flurry of nurses and anxious faces swarming around a gurney. She recalled waking up to screaming earlier, and couldn't decide if it was real or a dream.
A quiet sound, merely a whisper, reached her ears. Someone was standing in her room. Mary had done her time in emergency rooms and urgent care clinics, she knew nurses always knocked and announced their presence when coming into a room. The hair rose on her neck, and her heart began to pound. She looked a the door knob, and saw the push button that would lock it. Feeling both absurd and terrified, she slowly reached out, trying not to make a sound. She lined her finger up with the button, and right as she heard the sound of another muted footstep, she pressed the button and locked the door. The response was nearly immediate. Something hit the door, and she could hear fingernails clawing at the wood. Terrified, she held perfectly still. The light below the door flickered with the movement of feet right outside. She took a long breath, and looked around for a weapon. There was nothing, unless a washcloth or hand towel was considered dangerous.
The assault on the door continued, and she tried to decide how to handle this. Was this person nuts? Her husband would be yelling her name, daring and demanding her to come out and take her medicine. A professional wouldn't be scratching at the door, so what the hell was going on? She thought about asking who was there, and decided against it. Her only hope is that whoever was out there decided they hadn't heard anything and moved on. After several minutes, that seemed to be the case. The scratching stopped, and the body slams slowly gave away to grunts and eventual silence. She heard the occasional footstep and knew the intruder was still in the room, but couldn't fathom what they were doing. Then even those sounds went away, and she felt fairly certain she was alone.
Trying to retrace her steps, she couldn't remember seeing her clothes, but her cell phone had been on the bedside table. Perhaps the hospital staff had checked for a relative. Or John. Her stomach clenched at the possibility, no the likelihood, that John could be on his way right now. She knew there was no kidding this time. If he found her, he would kill her. Then another idea came, and she had to clamp her hands over her mouth to stifle her groan. She could call Mac. Her brother had resigned himself to her marriage, but had more than once told her that he'd be there in a minute when she was really ready. There was only one problem, however. That meant she had to open the door. And on the chance that John was on his way, she had better get out of this room and wait for her brother.
It took a few minutes, but she got her nerve up to open the door. She pressed the button on the lock, and turned the handle so the door made as little noise as possible. She cracked the door and peeked, and saw nobody. Her bedside table was about three feet away, and her Blackberry was right there. She had a missed call. She took one step and realized she would never make it with the IV pole slowing her down. It was also noisy, and her instinct said she had to be careful. Against her best judgment she quietly closed the door, locked it again, and gave her arm a baleful glance.
Moving her arm at all hurt like hell, but she did have wiggle in her fingers. She moved her arm over as close as possible, and with a little yank she was able to get the needle out of the back of her hand. It didn't even hurt that bad. She quietly pulled out a couple of paper towels and applied some pressure to her hand, but it didn't seem necessary. Besides a dull ache, her hand was fine.
Free to move about, she again cracked the door and made sure the room was empty. She even dropped to her knees to make sure there was nobody under the bed or crouching behind the lame table that sat between the beds. Nothing. She was barefoot, and kept her steps silent as she crept towards the phone. She silenced it immediately, and was punching in Mac's number when she had another idea. She needed to hide first, and be in her safe spot before making the call. She took one glance around and decided her clothes were not available, and leaned around the corner to glance down the hallway. To the left, there was someone in a blood-spattered medical coat walking in the other direction. There was a mess spilling out of a room at the end of the hall, probably the disturbance she had heard earlier. The man was creepy. She couldn't put her thumb on it, but his body language seemed clumsy, almost like a toddler. To the right there was nothing. Her gut was screaming that something was terribly wrong, to lay low and stay there. She tiptoed down two rooms and was sure she had not been seen or heard. The man in the hallway hadn't turned, and she saw nothing unusual. This room was just like hers, except a covered lunch had been left on the tray. She grabbed it and the pitcher of water, and threw a pillow into the bathroom and locked herself in.
Within a few seconds, her brother was on the line. "Mac? It's me, Mary. I need you to come get me," she said. "Something weird is going on, and I need your help."