Author: Cassiopeia1979, aka, R. N. Bourassa
Began: June 30/04
Note: I sort of guessed the location of the BPRD headquarters as Fairfield, Connecticut. I've heard it's been located elsewhere, but I can't tell for sure. Just bear with me. Thanks for R&Ring! I appreciate all reviews. Sort of a mix of movie/comicverse, so please bear with me.
One would think that the big "Keep Out" sign would have been enough to deter someone. The giant "Trespassers Will Be Shot On Sight" sign certainly should have. But apparently, when one is drunk, signs like that mean squat. The only thing that would possibly deter a drunk is the 8 foot high fence with the barbed wire woven through the top.
Luckily, I was only tipsy, not drunk.
See, I just moved to this city a week ago, and had another week's worth of money and time before we had to settle down and get jobs. Being a newbie I wanted to explore the place, get its details, atmosphere and all its little secrets. But before I could do that properly, I had to invade the local bars first. You can't do a proper exploration when you're sober! It's just not right and not nearly as much fun.
So I dragged my roomie along with me, kicking and screaming, to a pub I saw down the block from our tiny apartment. It looked dingy enough for me, had a jukebox full of blues and the usual burned out neon lights, and a clientele I knew I could relate to.
Rielle was being completely uncooperative, but gave up her struggle halfway to the pub when I bribed her with a bottle of Jack Daniels. The best thing about having an old friend as your roomie is you know all her weaknesses, and ol' Jack was one of hers.
The pub, hell if I can remember it's name, was comfortable once you got past the nice film of dust and grease. Even Rielle settled in and molested the jukebox, playing Koko Taylor and a little Dr. John.
A few beers and assorted cocktails later, we were pleasantly buzzing and wanting to explore the city.
Neither of us had explored an American city, only the reserves in South Dakota. That fact, and because we were both from small cities in Canada, we wanted to see if there really was a difference between American and Canadian cities. Just from an anthropological standpoint, of course.
So off we weaved down the dark streets of Fairfield, the time nearing midnight and the temperature being not nearly as bad as all those guys in the bar complained about. When you've lived in a -53 Celsius environment for 6 months of the year, this kind of weather was a breeze (no pun intended).
We strolled around the city, stopping in for food and drinks at a McDonalds (I love late night restaurants), and wandered some more, making bad observations on the graffiti like we actually knew what we were talking about.
The city streets got boring fast. We both got tired of seeing the graffiti and the hookers, and longed to get some fresh air outside the city limits. So I waved down a cab and we climbed in, teasing the driver about his huge parka and mittens when we were only in light jackets.
He took us a few miles and said that's as far as he could go without charging extra, so we got out and walked the rest of the way, only stopping to rest our feet and have a quick smoke before moving on.
Finally we saw the city limits and the world beyond. Well, as far beyond as one could possibly get with no moon, cloud cover and nearing 2 am.
Only then did it occur to us that we didn't know how the hell we were going to get home. I was still a little tipsy, but Rielle was sobering up and back to thinking straight. We didn't have any more money, Rielle was smart enough to leave most of it at home, and from the looks of it we were far away from any place with a payphone.
That's when I spotted the fence. I concluded that someone, probably a farmer or something, lived beyond that fence and would likely have a phone he'd let us use.
Rielle grunted at me and pointed out the "We Will Kill You!" signs. I ignored them. She doubted the farmer or whoever would appreciate being woken up this late at night to a couple of drunken women. I laughed hard. What man wouldn't appreciate that? She just shook her head and smiled.
Rielle isn't as bitchy as I make her sound. I have to point that out now. If she was a bitch I wouldn't be hanging out with her for so long. She's just a little more logical and cautious than I am. I've been working on that though. I got her smoking when we were 16, drinking tequila shots with me at 19, and just corrupting her in general since we were 4. She's done the same to me so we're on even terms. I just have to keep working on nudging her towards the dark side a little more and we'll be unstoppable. Mwahaha.
Oh god I'm drunk. No, no. Tipsy.
We sat down on a pair of cement blocks nearby and contemplated our problem.
One, we were two young girls out alone late at night with no money and no transportation.
Two, one of us was drunk off her ass.
Three, one of us was quick tempered and impatient.
Four, one of us was drunk off her ass.
I know, the most important thing had to be said twice. Rielle pushed me off of my block with her pinkie just to prove her point.
I argued back that I may be drunk but I could still get us home. To prove my point I stumbled to the fence and looked up. Barbed wire? Humbug, I can take it. I'm a tough broad.
Rielle just crossed her legs and waited for me to fuck up.
I'd show her!
She's going to get herself killed one of these days, I thought as I watched my best friend attempt to climb an eight foot fence with hiking boots on and more than a little drunk. And guess who always has to watch out for her? Me. Yah, great. Wonderful.
Not that Lavinia is a complete drunken moron, I would never think that. Well, yah I would. Nights like this, I say it like a mantra. But she's always been a blast to hang around with. No night is boring with her nearby, jumping around, hitting on very inappropriate guys I have to save her from, forcing me to watch movies that I would never think to watch, saying outright things I would never say, and then teaching me to say them and not be nervous about it.
If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have become a DJ or gotten a Degree. Or summoned the nerve to get us both out of some pretty strange situations.
She's also responsible for making me a smoker, but I've forgiven her that.
I watched as Vinny got one boot in the chain link fence and tested her weight on it, and, thinking she'd be fine, tried to lift herself. Not a good idea. She ended up on her ass, laughing and calling the fence a cheating bastard.
Definitely not a boring girl.
She got up, brushed herself off, and looked at me. I tried to keep my face stony and expressionless but when she started bitching about my being completely evil and uncooperative, I busted out in giggles. She looks so funny when she's mad.
She threw a piece of broken brick at me and missed by an inch.
I called her a bitch in retaliation and stood to help her out. She'd give up after two or three more falls. A test of patience, that's all.
Tonight's been fun, I can't deny it. I just sober up too quickly. Maybe because I watered down my drinks, anticipating an exciting night and not wanting it to pass in a drunken blur. And hell, someone had to watch her back.
The bar was cozy, and despite what Vinny thought, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Any place that has Jack Daniels and BB King in supply is just fine with me. She acted as though I hated it, that I thought it was too good for me. HA.
She knows me well, but not that well. I've been in a few dingy places in my life and loved it. People in nice bars were snotty, presumptuous, and mostly rude. I found that people in the smaller pubs and bars were a lot nicer, sometimes more perverted, granted, but more... human.
I thought of humanity and the easily breakable bones of said humans as I boost Vinny up the fence. She got about five feet up and lost her footing, almost falling. I jumped to her rescue but she held on tight and just hung there for a minute.
I slung my backpack over my shoulders and started after her. At least I had skinnier shoes than she did. And am a little more sober as well. The fence is easily scaled and I found myself next to her, feeling a little like Spiderman clinging to a brick wall.
"How about we get down now? We can walk a while, find a restaurant, EAT (I had to accentuate the food part, cause damn I'm hungry. Again.), and just wait till the sun comes up and we're both sober enough to hike it home."
She appeared to consider that for a whole two seconds, before I got a quite blatant NO.
I still don't know if the No was a denial of my request for a nice comfy bed or a NO because she slipped off the fence onto her ass again.
I winced in sympathy when she landed.
Home? HOME? Forgetaboutit!
Ahhh shit I'm drunk. Tipsy. Whatever.
Forget home, this fence has defied me! I will beat it into submission!
I've been watching way too many mobster movies lately.
Rielle was still clinging to the fence and trying very, very hard not to laugh at me as I brushed my ass off and grumbled obscenities at the evil chain link fence. That's when I made my decision.
I AM going to get in there, I AM going to find a Phone, and I AM going to whack Rielle on the head with it before we go home. Thinks she's 'so good because she's still on the fence, putting forth absolutely NO effort whereas I can't even stay on for more than ten seconds.
I sat back on the ground rather ungracefully and started to work at my boots. I heard an 'Oh no," above me and threw a boot in the general direction of the voice. I must have hit my mark because I heard a yelp. Hehehe. Once I got the other one off, I resumed my climb.
"Quick question, Spidey, How are we going to get over the barbed wire?"
"What, you didn't bring your iron chastity belt?" I said in blatant mockery of her sexual deviancy (in other words, complete lack of.)
"Nah, I left it at home. Thought it'd clang too much with all this sneaking around. Plus, I don't want it scratched more than it is." She retorted.
By this time I was eye level with Rielle and we giggled at each other.
I climbed up another couple of inches, ignoring the pain as a link dug into the soft part of my foot. Looking up at the curls of wire, I suddenly wished that we did have iron chastity belts, those thorns wouldn't be so nice digging up there. Eep.
"Chickening out are you? Well, we can go home if you like." Rielle said smugly, testing me with a wicked grin. I accepted the challenge and manoeuvred my way up another foot or so. She came after me, and we ended up racing to the top. It was only another two feet to the wire and I was determined to beat her there.
Once we reached it, we stop, hanging on for dear life because an 8 foot drop would hurt a lot more than a mere five feet.
"So, what now?" Rielle asks, taking a poke at the wire.
I thought for a minute, my mind clearing with all the sweaty effort. "Take off your jacket"
Her eyes widen. "NO! Its leather and I'm not ruining it on this shit."
"Not the outside, moron, the inside, that's replaceable."
"No. Why not your jacket?"
"Because it's too thin. Gimme your jacket."
"Fine! If it'll shut you up! Christ!"
We're close friends. Honestly!
Rielle stripped out of her jacket and is left wearing just a spaghetti strap top. I felt a little guilty because the wind was a bit chilly and she was noticeably shivering, but I got over it fast when she threw her jacket in my face and I almost dropped it. Bitch.
I swung it with one arm and hook it over the loops of wire, leaving a nice safe place to climb over. Leather up, of course. Rielle started her big lip pout and as I worked my way up and over the soft leather, narrowly escaping another bad fall when the leather slips a little. Her jacket got slightly ripped and Rielle started bitching again.
"Oh come on," I say, "Get up here. If you're careful it won't rip."
She caught up to me and slipped over the wire, barely touching her jacket. Once on the other side and securely attached to the fence, she reached up and tries to retrieve her jacket. I heard another tearing noise and she whined, but her jacket finally jerked loose and fell to the ground below.
It took less than a minute for us both to get down off the accursed fence and realize I had forgotten my boots on the other side.
I can't believe the silly bint forgot her boots.
Lavinia hoped around cradling her injured foot (she should have watched for pointy rocks) and cursed like mad while I took a quick look around. It was almost impossible to see, the streetlights were behind us and only illuminated this side of the fence for about six feet, and then it was completely black. This will be fun to run around in, I think to myself.
Once Vinny got the pain out of her system she looked around herself. "Fuck, Ellie, we're not going to find anything out here."
I hate it when she calls me 'Ellie'.
"Well, whose bright idea was it to climb over here? Lemme guess, uhhh, YOURS! Find a way because I sure as hell am not tearing up my favourite, not to mention ONLY jacket to get back over that fucking fence." I immediately regretted my harsh words when she looked down at her feet, ashamed.
"Sorry girl, I'm just hungry and bitchy and more than a little chilled. Where the fuck is my jacket?"
We searched around and Vinny found it when she got her feet tangled in it and stumbled face first into the dirt.
I peered into the dark, hoping to find a streetlight, a porch light, ANY light, something to give us a sense of direction. It's been an hour of hopefully walking straight ahead. I was ravenous and Vinny's bitchiness was getting on my nerves now that she's sobering up. And we were both thirsty. To make matters even more fun, the ground was grassy and rocky and full of holes.
"Hold up, you hear that?" she whispered from above as she helped me off the ground for the umpteenth time that hour. I quieted myself and focused everything on my ears, hoping to pick up what Lavinia, with her instincts taking over, could hear.
The situation got even more interesting when I hear something howl. Not sure if it was wolves or coyotes or just someone's big ass guard dog, but the decision NOT to stick around was easy to make after that. Despite Vinny's bitching protestations I grabbed her arm and turned around.
"Let's try to find the way back to the fence. There's light from the lamps so we should be able to see it from here."
"Well, I sure as hell don't see it."
"We'll go back up there," I said, pointing at the hill behind us. "We can get our bearings."
We climbed back up the hill (if you could call it that) and turned around in circles trying to locate the light.
"I still don't see it!" Vinny said, frustrated.
"Yah, but can't you see the light from the city?"
"Uh huh, all over the place."
"Well, let's go that way," I said, pulling her towards the brightest light.
"My feet hurt," she complained.
"Well, shouldn't have taken off your boots."
"I wouldn't gotten up the fence if I didn't..."
Drunken logic, gotta love it.
We kept going rather silently, running out of breath because of a slight uphill and me having to pull Lavinia the entire time.
10 minutes later she just stopped moving and sat down. 'I think my feet are bleeding."
Fuck. I sat down next to her, pulled my lighter out of my backpack and lit it, while she pulled off her socks and tried to see her injuries in the dark. I put my lighter closer and indeed saw blood mingling with the grass and dirt.
"What the hell did you step on?" I asked, shutting the lighter and digging through my bag for some Kleenex or something I could wipe the blood off with.
"Obviously something pointy."
I wanted to slap her. Instead I wrapped her feet in an extra T-shirt I had stored, ripping it to shreds and tying it tightly around her dripping feet. "We should get you to a hospital, you might need stitches."
I helped her to her feet, put one of her arms around my shoulder and helped her limp along with me.
We'd only gone 20 paces or so when I felt the ground move beneath my feet. I stopped in my tracks, but almost fell over when Vinny suddenly leaned all her weight on me.
"Loss of blood, gotta get you out of here."
"Sorry, Rielle" she mumbled, her tone full of regret.
"S'okay, just start listening to me once in a while, Okay?""Definitely." We giggled at that because we both knew she'd never live up to it.
The ground suddenly sunk in a bit as a loud crack sounded out. "Shit." We mumbled simultaneously an instant before there was an even louder craaaack, and down we went. The air rushed past us as we fell what felt like 50 feet before we smacked into a wooden floor. I heard something snap underneath me and realized it was Lavinia I mostly landed on. She didn't even cry out on impact, and that worried me.
"Vinny?" I called out, lifting myself very carefully off of the unmoving form beneath me. I got no reply.
"Vinny!" I reached out and found something that felt like a shoulder and gave it a quick shake. I heard a pained groan in response and think, oh thank god, she isn't dead.
I tried to stand up but a sharp pain ripped its way up my leg, crippling me and I had to cover my mouth to stop a scream from escaping. I made myself recover quickly, knowing the urgency of the situation wouldn't allow me to just lay there and cry. I felt around and found dirt walls on all sides. The 'room' was maybe six by six feet, bottle-necked from what I could tell, the space wider the further down you were. Not that I could say for sure, really, with all the crud in my eyes.
I reached out in the dark once again, feeling for something to grab a hold of. The dirt was really loose and rained down around my fingers and onto my injured friend. I finally grasped something cold and solid, possibly a root, and tried once again to rise to my feet. I leaned mostly on my right foot and pulled myself up, grunting a little at the pain.
Not broken, just cracked. Maybe sprained. I thought, wiggling the toes on my left foot.
Closing my eyes I tried to think straight. The top of the hole was 10 feet or more and with a buggered ankle and an injured woman there was no way in hell I could climb out.
We're so fucked.
I kneeled carefully next to my friend and felt for her hand, giving it a gentle squeeze.
I put it bluntly. "We're in a hole in the ground."
"And this is different from our apartment because?"
After a minute of banter we decided that risking our lives and a lot of pain to get out of the hole wasn't worth it right now. Too dark, too tired, and there was no way in hell anyone would hear us yelling until daylight. Instead we tried to make ourselves moderately comfortable, covered ourselves as well as we could with our jackets and extra clothes I had in my bag, and waited till morning.
Six hours later with a blue sky above, we were both wide awake and yelling. Both of us were stiff as hell and grouchy to boot, so our yelling was accentuated with our pissy mood and peppered with curses.
Eventually, Rielle's throat gave out, but mine went on for another ten minutes before it got too sore.
I was beginning to think we wee going to starve to death, and remembered the movie 'Alive' all too well, when our hopes were confirmed. We heard a voice! Maybe they were a search party, someone found my boots and came looking for the owners. HA.
I immediately started yelling again, and although I was lying down my voice carried quite well. Rielle started in too, "Hey, we're down here!"
The footsteps the voice got louder as our potential rescuer got closer. "It's coming from over here, sir."
"Sir?" I say to Rielle, and she shrugs. Either it's a very formal farmer or we stumbled onto something sort of scary.
Someone kicks dirt into the hole and it lands in clumps on and around us, resulting in more than a few curses. "Found em!" A man says from above, and then looks down into the hole at us.
What a sight we must have been. Hung-over, stiff, dirty and bleeding, we would have scared anyone.
"Jeeezus! Sir, you gotta see this." The man said into the radio he held in his right hand.
Another voice replied from the radio and more dirt was kicked into the hole. In an uncharacteristic moment of pure evil, Rielle yelled up, "DO YOU MIND?"
I almost congratulated her but was too busy digging dirt out of my eyeball to care. I mumbled "Shit," as a particularly annoying bit stung my eye, and Rielle got to her foot (her other one was broken or at least cracked from the looks of it) and said calmly to the man above,
"My friend here is injured, I think her arm's broken, and her feet are still bleeding. She needs to get to a hospital."
"May I ask why you're down there?" The man said, completely ignoring Rielle's request.
"We're mole people." I snapped, and Rielle glared at me. 'What?"
"Don't be cheeky to a guy with a gun."
Once again I looked up at the uniformed man above me and tried again. "She's pretty hurt, and I'm not exactly in ecstasy either, I think I cracked something in my left foot. Could you get us out of here?"
"Not until my superior gets here and probably not until you answer my question."
"We fell, alright! We got lost and fell and now we're here... and we've been here for over 7 hours now."
"And how'd you get in here?"
"Ummmm" I delayed, not exactly wanting to tell him our embarrassing escapades, "We, sort of, umm, stumbled onto the place?"
"Try again..." he said in a smart ass tone.
If there was a rock nearby I would have smacked him with it, rescue be damned. "JUST GET US THE FUCK OUT!" I yelled, fed up.
He sighed impatiently and fondled the gun I knew he had holstered underneath his jacket. "You know, technically you two are trespassing, and by law I am allowed to shoot you. So I'd be a little nicer if I were you."
I thought for a fraction of a second. "Well, technically," I accentuated the word, "If you shoot us, you'd be shooting Canadian citizens and that would count as an international incident you don't want to deal with. So if I were you, I'd get my lily white arse moving and find that supervisor you've been yabbering on about."
I hate power mongers.
"Whoa, Ellie, you bitch." Lavinia said appreciatively from her dirt pillow.
"He pissed me off!" I said, as if that would excuse my words. Well, he did! My patience only goes so far, and as I've been told before, that's not very far at all.
Whatever I said, the soldier shut up and left, hopefully for his supervisory officer instead of what he was probably doing, leaving us to rot.
I leaned against the wall behind me and ran my fingers through my hair, resulting in more dirt landing in my eyes.
It took another ten minutes for someone else to come. This time it was a bunch of someone else's, all soldiers from the looks of them, five heads peeking over the edge, looking amused, and one little old guy that seemed very out of place in the surroundings. He had a fuzzy grey Einstein-like hairdo and glasses. In a way, he reminded me of an old English professor from University.
"Hello down there!" He said with a pleasant smile but curiosity in his eyes.
I immediately liked him, though there was something strange about him I could not put my finger on, and it wasn't the soldiers around him either.
"Hi!" I returned, "Ummm, could you help us out? I asked one of these soldier guys earlier and he, well, denied my request."
"Yes, so I heard." he said, glancing at someone I couldn't see. I couldn't help but feel embarrassed about the entire situation. "If we help you out, are you going to tell us what happened, how you ended up down there?"
"It was her fault!" Lavinia pointed at me. I kicked her for that one.
The older guy looked even more amused but hid it quickly and barked out orders to the soldiers around him.
In minutes I was hauled out of the hole by a guy in green. I watched Lavinia stare up at me and I waved. She grinned back and then yowled when the guy taking care of her arm poked something he shouldn't have.
Once I was in the sunlight and seated as comfortably as one could get on a patch of rock, I felt instantly better. I still swear Indians are solar powered, and being stuck in that hole really made me sick. Vinny always contests that theory although I've proven it over and over to her.
The older man introduced himself as the head of the base (base?), Professor Bruttenholm. He told me to call him Broom because it was easier. I shook his outstretched hand lightly after half-heartedly wiping it on my dirty jeans, which brought out a pearly white smile from him, which disappeared as soon as Lavinia and her escort popped out of the hole and was replaced with concern.
She did look like shit now that I could see her properly, dirt caked all over her, blood everywhere, and looking mighty pissed at the soldier who treated her quite roughly.
"Ummm, could you get this gorilla to let me go, please?" she said once she was on solid ground she could stand on her own but it noticeably hurt. She wobbled a little but stayed standing. Professor Broom told the soldier to let her go and she immediately hit the ground. I hopped over and landed next to her, checking her arm out.
"You okay?" I asked.
'Yah, Wonderful. You?"
We laughed at ourselves, we knew we looked and felt like shit and hell, the situation itself was hilarious.
The professor looked down at us two giggling girls and smiled again. "Let's get these two inside, get their wounds checked."
"But sir, what about..." argued the soldier next to him.
"Later. First, their wounds, and then some questions." Broom interrupted.
Even the way he said questions didn't seem intimidating. I was sure we'd be interrogated, as we were intruders on an army base, but from the kind look on Broom kind face, I knew it wouldn't include torture devices.
We were helped up and into an army truck the size of a small house. Vinny knew enough to keep her smart mouth shut for the time being, but I knew inside she was itching to say something weird.
The truck drove for about twenty minutes before I heard the sound of cement under the tires. It was a bumpy ride, but the professor stuck in the back with us and the soldiers, enduring the occasional near bruising. I liked him a lot.
Eventually we made a couple of tight turns (you could tell by the way we almost fell off our respective benches) and stopped with a creak and a bang. The breaks and engine need work, I thought, before the back doors were opened and we were herded out. Surprisingly they didn't even cuff us as we were lead towards a door in the side of a small cement building. I silently wondered where the rest of this supposed army base was.
Lavinia groaned when a soldier accidentally bumped into her arm, so I moved to her and kept close, just in case. The professor took his time and caught up to us when we reached the door.
"Step inside my parlour' he said with a grin.
I finished 'Said the spider to the fly'.
He chortled appreciatively and held the door open for us. Two soldiers accompanied us, while thankfully the rest remained outdoors.
We were lead through a large blue-lit room, with a strange symbol of a fist holding a sword on pretty much every wall. There was a single desk on the opposite side of the room and our little group went to it, taking our time because Lavinia and I both had buggered feet. The soldiers had a light grip on our forearms (uninjured in Vinny's case) but they weren't rough at all, just sort of guiding us gently behind the professor.
The man at the desk took one look at us and gave an inquiring look to the professor.
"You know the drill." is all he said in reply. The deskman picked up the phone, spoke quietly into the receiver and hung up. Satisfied, Broom walked off and we went with him, to an area just off to the right, where there was a small elevator.
We went in and with a ding the doors closed and we were going down.
"Interesting." I said aloud.
"An underground base? Makes for a good cover I guess, I just hadn't been in one before." I said, my curiosity piqued.
The two soldiers holding us tightened their grips a little, probably unconsciously. I decided to shut up before I got us into worse trouble.
Professor Broom noticed how uncomfortable I was and asked the soldiers to unhand us. Unfortunately Vinny still needed the help so I grabbed her before she hit the elevator floor and stood her up straight. She gave me a thankful yet nervous look and held on. Once comfortable, and wondering why the ride was taking so long, I decided I had a few more questions of my own.
I caught Broom's eye before speaking,
"May I ask what's going to be done to or with us?" I said it with a little smile to show that I knew he wouldn't hurt us but with enough caution to know that someone else could.
"I'm hoping whatever it is will be quick so we can get you girls on your way."
Hmm, evasion. Not good. "Well, I'm grateful that you're helping us at all instead of throwing us in the nearest prison." I just had to throw the little hint in there.
"Obviously you didn't know it was an army base you, errr, stumbled upon. I don't think you girls are an immediate threat to base security." he said with a laugh. What he doesn't know won't kill him, I guess, so I keep my mouth shut. He continued "I want to get your foot looked at. I don't think it's broken but it's possibly cracked. If that's the case we can wrap it and put some ice on it, and the swelling will go down in time." Then he turned to Lavinia, "You, on the other hand, need stitches and a cast for your arm... and possibly a painkiller for your head." This he said in almost a paternal way, like Vinny was his own often injured daughter and he an inch away from giving her hell.
"Yah, she landed on it pretty hard." I interrupted. "She was unconscious for a few minutes after we fell."
The door finally dinged again and the doors opened, revealing what looked like a first class medical facility. In other words, sterile, white and cold. As we were escorted down the hallway I recalled how much I hated hospitals.