The Prayer Room is located in the Herod Halls of the castle, just off the overpass. It’s an original part of the building where St Wigan, when he was in residence, would lock himself away seemingly with no food or water for days. He emerged when God had delivered his message. Normally this meant someone was burned, hanged, or buried alive in Gregor Court. God could be a nasty bastard if Noah Wigan was to be believed, and Francesca Chamberlain made the perfect nasty vessel to operate through. However, that’s another grisly tale for another grisly day. For now, our story focuses on the Prayer Room in more recent times. The room has no plumbing. It doesn’t have a bowl or sink on offer. You eat and drink very little whilst you’re in there so you find yourself with little to excrete anyway.
As the famed monk said, “God provides the nourishment.”
He may have been able to get a fat soul with conversations with a figment in sky, but for our inmates it drained what little will they had left. There are no windows. You are completely engulfed in darkness. You are left alone with only time to think and to say your prayers.
Jake tried to keep himself awake for as long as possible. He didn’t know how long he would be left to rot. He had no means of counting the hours. He could only try and keep himself awake for as long as possible – not that he would find much of a cosy bed. It was a moss covered, granite floor. In fact, the dampness within the Prayer Room really attacked the lungs. It was common in the prison to hear the cough of an inmate that had spent some time in solitary.
Jake had to keep himself awake. He wanted to stay alert should some of the ghoul guards come for him. That was what the inmates were calling the guards who lost their minds. Jake didn’t pray. He never was the praying sort but the voice inside his head was ringing loud. He tried to keep it ringing as his eyes started to feel heavy. He was slumped on the floor. His issue trousers were damp from the moss. He was in the most discomfort he had ever felt but he couldn’t resist sleep. Those beta brain waves were crying out to him.
“Come on, Jakey. Just close your eyes. Sleep it away. Sleep. Sleep…”
He was jerked awake by a sharp pain. Something had bitten him. He could hear a squeak and felt a draw of a long, worm-like tail across his hand. He pulled it away and as he did so he caught the feel of matted fur.
“Fucking rat,” he grumbled to himself.
There was another sharp bite on his lower leg where the trousers of his kit had slipped up. There was another one there. He could hear the hungry rodents squeak at each other. Then there was another bite at his hand. This one was harder than the others. The broken rat teeth must have pierced skin.
Jake tried to kick his leg out to make them scurry away but they were brave and they were hungry so they took another bite. One ran across his chest, the worm tail drawing underneath his chin. Jake was on his feet by then, trying to shake them off. They finally did scurry away when the doorway was opened.
Parts 1 and 2 of The Boss trilogy is available now.
Contains scenes and themes some may find distressing.
Like a military parade the nurses of Harbour House were set in a neat line ready to hear their orders for the day. They were waiting for their super star doctor to begin his rounds. The polished wing tips, sharp, well tailored suits and neatly combed hair he was like a film star within the facility. Although, Beverly wished he hadn’t shaved his moustache. He looked so much better with the moustache. Without it his face seemed longer, more angular.
“Good morning ladies,” said he. Beverly handed him a clip board of notes.
“Good morning doctor,” they all rhymed off like obedient school children.
Winslow read through the notes quietly.
“Beverly?” he turned to the burly, middle aged matron. “We need some vitals and a urine sample from Mr Finn.”
“Yes doctor,” she replied.
“He can be a bit of a challenging rascal so if he gives you any trouble call a porter.”
Beverly set off to her task.
She glanced in the window of the room to see artist, David Finn, lying on his bed sketching on a scrap piece of paper with a blunt charcoal pencil. She knocked on the little window and he looked up. She pointed to the back wall. David grinned and raised his middle finger at her. She frowned and darted her finger more severely. David rolled his eyes but he stood and put his back against the back wall. It was rules in Harbour House that addiction residents had to keep away from the door when nurses were bringing in the carts. A nurse had been attacked recently when one of the addicts tried to steal medication from her trolley. Beverly didn’t feel unsafe around David. Having his back against the wall wasn’t going to make much of a difference anyway. If he really wanted to feed his addiction he would and the cameras watching wouldn’t stop him.
“How are you feeling today?” she asked as a nurse’s general enquiry as she wrapped a blood pressure cuff around his arm.
“Been better,” David replied. “Been worse.”
The cuff began to inflate to the point he felt his arm was going to pop off. It made him self conscious of the track marks the needles had left behind. He found this strange because they never seemed to bother him before. When the blood pressure was taken and pulse checked she handed him a urine cup.
“I need you to fill this,” she instructed.
David made to take it from her and head to the bathrooms.
“Sorry,” she said stopping him. “You have to do it here. They weren’t happy with your last results.”
“That’s abuse,” David protested with some humour.
“When you are sufficiently clean and sober you can take it up with the city Medical Authorities. In the mean time fill the cup please.”
David wrinkled his nose. “I’m a nervous pisser.”
Beverly shook her head. A smile traced her rosy lips. “Hurry up Finn. You haven’t got anything I haven’t handled before.”
David giggled like a school boy. “Okay nurse kinky, you said just fill the cup.”
Beverly checked the watch clipped to her breast pocket. “And if you could hurry along I’d appreciate it.”
With raised eyebrows David filled the sample cup. The nurse wiped it, stored it and finished checking temperature and pulmonary rate.
Down the hall the beautiful cry of the violin sounded. A group of nurses sat along the bed listening.
‘So handsome,’ they cooed. ‘So talented.’
Vincent Baines had first picked up the violin at age six. It called to him in a way no other instrument did. It cried. It laughed. It covered a whole range of emotions and from the first time he struck the bow across the quivering strings there was love between them. His relationships with people were fraught with emotional turmoil but the violin always hit the right note when needed.
He loved to write concertos for the cry of the violin because only its soft strings seemed to understand him. Sure, the piano had a lot to say and they were well acquainted but it didn’t fill Vincent’s heart and mind they way the violin did. Even with everything that lead him to Harbour House the violin still made sense. It never changed. It never judged. Highs, lows, soft and harsh the violin concerto had it all and for as long as he could play it would always love him.
After the last note was drawn the emotion of the piece still lingered.
A nurse wiped a tear that was forming in her eye. Thy all applauded. Vincent, holding the bow in one hand and the instrument in the other bowed graciously.
“That was beautiful,” one of the nurses gushed.
“Thank you,” Vincent responded politely, storing the black violin with red trimming back in its case. “Just a little something I’ve been working on.”
A bell rang.
“Time to get back to work,” announced the self appointed leader of the group. They filtered out chatting merrily. Vincent followed behind them but took a right in the corridor towards the rec room.
In another part building lay a dressing table. It was old, well used. A special addition to make the occupant of the room feel at home. Tawny was a longer term resident so the good doctor gave some special allowances. The mirror was covered in old fliers from the Knock Knock club as well as photos of old friends, Agnes and a young Tabitha.
The lady herself was found on her way to the rec room. She had her arm linked in that of Glenn’s. “You spend way too much time in here,” she was saying. “You’re a big, handsome fella. You should be out there.”
Glenn smiled shyly. “Between two jobs and my wee lass to look after I don’t really have time …”
“You must be going blind old girl. He’s an ugly cunt,” Curtis teased, sauntering along beside them.
Tawny laughed. She patted Glenn’s arm. “Don’t you listen to him.”
“I don’t,” Glenn assured.
They reached the rec room. “Anyway boys, this is where I get off.”
Vincent was seated at the piano preparing to practice some exercises. Tawny wrapped her arms around him and kissed him as she passed.
“Good morning, gorgeous,” she said. Vincent smiled and patted her arm.
David was leaning over the sofa trying to find the remote so he could switch off a Coldford City football game. City were up three nil against Swantin and he couldn’t bear to watch the celebrations of the arch rivals of his beloved Coldford Athletic. Tawny slapped his backside.
“Good morning, handsome,” she winked. She held out a cigarette. “Ciggy?”
When he looked up he could see Beverly waving the remote at him.
The three took seat at their usual table by the fireplace. Winslow watched them from the door way. Like a fine, oiled machine his beloved facility ran. It was his passion project and like all his other pursuits, Harvester Farm for example, things had to run a very particular way.
Time is ticking by for the residents of Harbour House. A unique rehab facility with standards, laws and regulations all of its own.