Just when I think I'm winning
When I've broken every door
The ghosts of my life
Blow wilder than before
Just when I thought I could not be stopped
When my chance came to be king
The ghosts of my life
Blew wilder than the wind (Ghosts Lyrics (c) David Sylvian)
I've had this song going through my head since S3E1 Lia aired and when I got to wondering what other doors Mitchell might have gone through in Purgatory this was the result. Writing and posting it quickly in case the end of S3 blows it out of the water!
Mitchell stared at the door. If the first two were anything to go by death lay on the other side – but whose would it be this time? He licked his lips nervously, hands clenching and unclenching at his sides. His feet twitched, willing him to stalk off down the corridor and leave this place. Sheer force of will kept him standing there, bracing himself for the revelations to come.
"Are you sure? This one?" asked Lia, her head tilted to one side as she watched him.
Mitchell swallowed hard and gave a hint of a nod. He glanced quickly at her, looking for some clue. Would this one be bad? Worse than the others had been? Goodness knows they had been bad enough. He squared his shoulders and grasped the door handle.
The smell hit him before he recognised the scene: disinfectant and bleach, the characteristic aroma of the hospital, mingled with the reek of sickness and death. The white walls were shocking after the gloom of the corridor. Monitoring equipment and patient charts. The armchair. Oh God, the armchair. He knew whose room he was in and he couldn't bear to see it – not again. It had broken his heart the first time around.
"No, I can't do this. No!" He turned on his heels and rattled the door. It was shut fast. His palm hammered on the paint. "Let me out! This isn't fair! I can't do this!" He had expected no response, and he got none; the door stayed resolutely closed. His forehead rested for a moment on the cool wood and his chest heaved as his self-control came close to shattering. Deep inside him it felt like a hand had clenched round his guts and twisted. He could do this – had to do this – for Annie. But shit, it hurt.
He moved slowly to the front of the armchair and looked at the woman sitting there. She was propped up, just as he'd left her when he set her lifeless body gently down, wedging the cushions beside her so that she stayed upright. She looked like she was sleeping – her face at peace and as beautiful to him as it had always been. As he had the day she died, he wept, helpless tears streaming down his face.
"Looks like there's a story here." Lia's voice was inappropriately chirpy. "Big boys like you don't cry. So who is she?"
"She's my girlfriend. Was my girlfriend. Her name-" he snuffled round his tears, his voice finally cracking, "her name was Josie."
"Wouldn't have thought she was your type. You're what, three or four years older than me? She looks more like my mum." She pulled a face. "God, you and my mum – ugh - makes me ill just thinking about it."
"Can I talk to her? Can she hear me?" His dark eyes were full of pain and need as he stared helplessly at the body in the chair. "Lia? Can she hear me? Oh Josie, I need to talk to you so badly."
Lia perched on the edge of the bed and folded her arms across her chest. "Can she hear you? She's dead, Mitchell. What do you think?" She leaned forward to look more closely at Josie. "She's moved on; she's not in Purgatory any more."
He squatted beside the chair and lifted the cold hand, pressing it to his lips. He put it tenderly back in her lap and wiped his eyes with his sleeve. "I loved her. I stayed clean for her. She knew all there was to know about me, and she loved me anyway."
"All about you? Did she know about Arthur?" Lia's voice was unbelieving.
"Yes, she knew about Arthur." Bristol, at the Clifton Hotel - that's when he had told her about Arthur. He had told her of the guilt of his first kill and his acceptance that he wasn't human any more. He had cried then, too.
"How about Sally?"
"Yes. No. No, she didn't know about Sally – not exactly. But she knew I'd done bad things – killed lots of people. God, I didn't give her the names and addresses of all of them! She was going to save me. She did save me. I was dying – I'd lost a lot of blood - and she gave me hers to make me strong again."
"So you were in here too? Hospital gown? Maybe those little sticky pad things on your chest?" she sighed. "No, I'm not seeing that as attractive, sorry. Can we go back to the uniform, do you think? That had real potential."
"She was dying of cancer. She said... she said to think of it as an organ transplant." His face twisted and he turned away to conceal his sorrow from her.
"You needed blood and she was just there, offering herself to you?" Sarcasm dripped from every word. She raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow. "How...convenient for you."
He got to his feet and turned to her, anger conflicting with the anguish on his face. "Don't you dare! Don't you fucking dare try to imply anything. To twist this and turn it into something dirty. Something sordid. It wasn't. It was..."
"What? Beautiful? Romantic? You killed her, Mitchell. She was supposed to be the love of your life and you killed her."
"It wasn't like that. She came to me – lay down beside me."
"In bed with your lover one last time. The hospital gown must have been a bit of a passion-killer." Lia's tone was mocking – intended to rile him, and it was working a charm.
"Damn it! It wasn't like that. It was like... intimate, caring... I dunno. I can't describe how it was. But it wasn't like Sally. It wasn't violent or obscene or degrading. It was her last act of love for me. She was dying anyway. She was-"
"So, a victimless killing at last, is that what you are saying? She was dying anyway and she came willingly to you, so that makes sucking her life away all right?"
He just stared at her. Of course it didn't make it all right. He had killed Josie, how could that ever be all right?
"You needed blood to survive and the only way to get it was by taking it from someone you loved. You poor thing. What a decision for you to have to make. It must have been terrible."
He nodded sharply, dragging his sleeve across his eyes once more. His eyes were red; his cheeks tear-streaked.
"You know, I'm seeing Josie as the victim here, not you." Her tone changed; the gentle sympathy of a moment before transformed into harsh bitterness. "So you pulled the 'I can't help it. I can't control myself. I'm so tortured' thing with her, did you? And the poor girl fell for it hook, line and sinker. She fell in love with a monster. You turned her into fucking Fay Wray, Mitchell." She curled her lip and looked at him with distaste.
"And she saved your life? Let you carry on to kill and kill again? Have you killed? Between Josie dying and now, I mean? Yes, I can see in your eyes you have. Lots of people? Does it even matter how many? Even if it was only one, that would have been one person she had saved, wouldn't it? Properly saved, not phony 'I'm a vampire, help me' type saved."
His eyes pleaded with her to stop.
"From where I'm sitting it would have been better if she'd left you to die. Or if you'd had the decency to let her die naturally – just showed that little bit of restraint, just that once – and then quietly faded away yourself. Seems to me that Josie was that landmine again. Why didn't you just step on the landmine, Mitchell? Put us all out of your misery."
She jumped to her feet, smiling brightly again. Jesus, how did she do that? Go from cheerful to intense to friendly to scolding so fast he never knew where he was with her. She kept wrong-footing him at every move; putting him through the wringer.
"Come on then, I think it's time to go, don't you? See what the next door has in store for you."
As she pushed the door open the radio crackled and he could hear Annie's voice again, more desperate than ever. "Mitchell? Mitchell? Please hurry. I'm running out of time. They are coming for me. They're taking me to Hell, Mitchell."
"I'm coming, Annie," he muttered, "I'm coming as fast as I can." He would take whatever Lia threw at him for Annie. He would save her, whatever it cost him.
Outside in the corridor Mitchell grabbed Lia's arm. "You said she'd moved on - Josie. Did she...? I mean... do you know... where did she go?"
"Heaven or Hell, you mean?" Lia smirked at him. "So despite all your bluster you believe in it. You care where she ended up because you believe it." Her eyes grew cold. "I don't know where your precious Josie went, and right now I don't much care. But I hope they are saving a special place in Hell for you, Mitchell. So, which door now?"
He went back to the door that had been drawing him from the beginning. The one with the circle pattern window. Surely this one couldn't be any worse than Josie's door. Please God, this one had Annie behind it.