Disclaimer: Kingdom Hospital isn't mine. It belongs to Stephen King, Richard Dooling, Lars Von Trier, and Niels Vorsen... Yeah, I think that covers just about everybody but the cameramen and the light technicians.
A girl runs through the forest. She's disoriented, continually looking over her shoulder. How did she get here? Heavy breathing, a flash of black, brown- an animal! It could be a dog. No, it's too big. A wolf? A bear?
The girl runs faster. She looks to be in her late teens. Her long brown hair bounces and flies wildly about her shoulders and she crashes and bounds through the woods. She vaguely remembers someone telling her that you should never run from a wild animal. It's a little late for that…
She looks around. Where did it go? The forest seems to go on forever. She doesn't know how much longer she can run. Suddenly, it stops. She emerges from the trees and sees a building. A large sign reads, "Gottreich Hospital."
"Thy kingdom come," a voice whispers in her ear. She jumps, spins around. There's no one there. She sees a dark mass a few feet in front of her. The animal. An anteater? She was running from an anteater?
It's dark. When did that happen? Why didn't she notice? A few seconds ago, the sun was shining. She becomes aware of a golden glow coming from behind her. There's hissing, crackling, a burnt smell. The anteater looks beyond her, green eyes glimmering in the odd light. She turns around.
Fire! She hears screaming. Figures are stumbling and racing from the building. The whole thing is engulfed in flames! She shrieks as she is knocked to the ground from behind. Her attacker holds her down on her stomach, putting pressure on her back so she can't get up. It rolls her over- it's the anteater, and it has her pinned. She's crying now. She sees green eyes, teeth. Needle-sharp teeth! She closes her eyes.
She's standing. Standing? She opens her eyes. She's in a dimly-lit hallway. There are no windows, but at the end of the hall is a door. She approaches it cautiously, and reaches out, but before her hand even grasps the knob, the door flies open. Beyond it is a void, darkness, utter and complete. From somewhere within its depths came a low guttural growl and a bright green pair of eyes flashed at her, floating in the blackness.
Gasping, she sat up in bed. Another dream, she thought, looking around the room and groaning. Her stomach ached and her head was throbbing. She was sweating. Strands of her bleached blonde hair stuck to her face. Hands shaking, she began rifling through the drawers of her nightstand until she found a small syringe and a yellow tourniquet.
She examined the needle closely for a second, remembering that she'd already loaded it the night before, as she banded her arm. "This shit's gonna kill me," she muttered, willing the pain away as she gritted her teeth and jabbed it into her arm. A second later, she flopped back on the bed, breathless. Heroin was a bitch. She didn't even enjoy the high anymore. One does grow tired of stumbling around in a haze. It was great at first; feeling that rush was like a little bit of vacation in every shot. It was definitely not like that anymore. Now she just shot up to stop the pain.
Of course, Frankie would have never told her that she'd become so dependent on those little injections. But then, Frankie was never one to care what the effects of his actions might be.
Someone's banging on the door.
The thought came to her absently, nonchalantly as if on a breeze. She listened. Yup, she thought with a grin. That door's getting banged alright. She closed her eyes.
"Sadie! Sadie Miller, open this door! I know you're in there, and I know you can hear me!"
Sadie's eyes flew open. Red flag. The word landlord drifted into her brain, accompanied by the words rent and overdue.
"Shit," she hissed. She bolted out of bed, and promptly fell back onto it with the head-rush that followed. "Shit, shit, shit!" She shook her head and rubbed her eyes to clear them both. Okay, focus. She looked around the cluttered room.
"Fire escape," she whispered, echoing the thought. "Finally, something I can use." She threw a few things into her already cluttered purse, which more resembled a denim-patched saddlebag, threw it over her shoulder and grabbed her coat.
"The check's in the mail," she said quietly, shutting the window behind her and starting down the steps. She smiled when she saw a red-haired girl standing outside of the building smoking a cigarette. "Ruby Tuesday!" she cried, hopping off of the stairs.
"Sexy Sadie!" Ruby flicked the cigarette butt away and ran to hug her. People stared at the two best friends. If the girls' clothes hadn't convinced them of what they were, then their names would have been a dead giveaway. But, so what? In their line of work, it paid to have a colorful name- something that got you noticed.
"Come on," Sadie said giddily. She grabbed Ruby's hand and started running.
"Sadie, what's going on? Are you high?"
"Yes, but that's not the point. Old Lady Harris is on the prowl, and I'm flat broke." They rounded a corner and stopped to catch their breath.
"What happened to all the money you made last week?"
"I had to pay Frankie double so I could take last night off. Plus, a girl's gotta have the essentials," she shrugged and tapped the dark scar tissue in the crook of her arm.
Ruby grimaced. "God, that looks painful."
"Only when I stick it."
"So don't. That shit's gonna kill you."
"So I've heard." She started walking again.
Ruby followed. She was visibly younger than Sadie, though the actual difference was only about a year, and she followed her almost everywhere. Drugs had brought Sadie to where she was, while a need for some semblance of family had drawn Ruby. "Ready to get back to work tonight?"
Sadie smiled. "Girl, I think the question is, are the men of New York ready for us?"
To be continued...
A/N: Short first chapter, though that's pretty standard for me. I know it, so please don't tell me. (I can't tell you how much I love it when I get reviews from people saying "That chapter was really short." This is for all those people- just so they know that I am aware of it). Thank you, and enjoy the rest of the story.