Wednesday, December 18, 2013

the quickening

A scientist hurrying in to a lab.
Take a look at this, sir.
Leaning in to a computer, buttoning his shirt wrong.  
I’ve never seen anything like it.
Patterns of coloured lines shimmering like wild isobars across one area of the country.
All that gravity.
What can it mean?
A shared look.
Then, typed out in white letters across the bottom of the screen: CHRISTMAS 2013.

There are so many falls tonight there has to be some explanation.

Olive, 96. Propped against the dresser, chattering.
Len, 84. Wedged between the commode and the bed, bellowing.
Beatrice, 87. Lying on the floor of her room in the EMI unit, humming.
Alia, 86. Back in the chair she rolled out of, whimpering.
And Steve, 22. Sitting on the steps outside the nightclub, shouting into a bloodied phone.
‘I’ve never fallen over on the dance floor’ he says. ‘Not ever. I must have been assaulted.’ The doorman says no, takes our call sign, goes back inside. Steve is already on his feet, striding on to the ambulance. ‘I’ve broken a tooth and cut my chin,’ he says into the phone. ‘No, mate. I know. Never.’
He’s not badly hurt, but the cut on his chin needs a stitch.
He’d already taken his bloodied shirt off; he keeps dropping it onto the floor. I put a blanket over his shoulders and put the shirt to one side.
‘Yeah, mate. If you could. Just tell her I’m okay. Yeah, mate, yeah. Just one of those things. Who knows? See you later.’
He throws the phone onto the trolley, stares at it a moment, then gathers the blanket tightly to him.
‘I can’t believe it,’ he says. ‘I’ve only just got back from Hong Kong. And now I’ve chipped a tooth.’ He shakes his head, as if Hong Kong and a chipped tooth are entirely random events.
‘I’ve never fallen on the dance floor,’ he says.
I nod to agree that anyone could tell from looking at him he’s completely safe when he dances.

What I don’t tell him, of course, is about all the other falls we’ve been to tonight.
I slowly lower my clipboard, and peer out of the door.

And then the film cuts to a scene on a boat, a fisherman holding on to a wire, frowning into the darkness. And then a scene in a house, where all the toys in a child’s bedroom suddenly start to shake, the mechanical monkey thrashing its drums, then toppling off its shelf.

Because other, darker forces are at work tonight.

Forces that will become known as... The Quickening.


tpals said...

Ooooh, spooky!

Blair Ivey said...

Do you often have people yakking on the phone while being treated? Call me old-fashioned, but that's just rude.

jacksofbuxton said...

Steve could be put down to other wordly spirits Spence.

Or alternatively too much of the local spirits.

Spence Kennedy said...

tpals - I love all those films - more the build-up than the payoff, though.

Blair - Not that often, thank goodness. I agree, v rude!

Jack - Yep. Not too much of a mystery about THAT particular fall, despite his Travolta-esque confidence.