The Web (Chapter 1)
First chapter of The Web. I actually started writing it years ago but I haven’t brought it too much up to date as there are things that require the absence of universal social media.
John Malcolm woke with the movement of his own hands flailing around his head and hitting the back of the fitted wardrobe. He was hunkered down, arms across his head, like a terrified Orang-utan that doesn’t want to see something happening just in front of it.
He breathed in deeply, a long, shuddering breath that sounded and felt like a sob. Everything ached as he slowly pushed out through the suit bags and crawled on hands and knees in to the darkened bedroom.
The window was still slightly open and a cool breeze fluttered the curtains and, reaching him, turned his sweat soaked T shirt icy and uncomfortable.
He made it to the bed and hauled himself up on to the soft duvet, pulling it up and wrapping it around himself, massaging his legs. Somewhere in the dark there was a bottle of pain killers which would probably have acted quicker but the massage helped to warm his skin.
This was the third time in a week and as he rolled towards the bedside table, the light and his notepad and pen, he knew beyond any doubt, something had to be done.
He sat staring at the copy of Country Living and wondered why people found the kind of clutter depicted there acceptable in period houses. It really did seem that this guy had everything in his bath room including the kitchen sink. And why did they insist on painting everything that awful washed out green.
He looked up at the clock, unusual for a doctor’s waiting room. He had noticed that few waiting areas in hospitals had clocks. He smiled. Maybe Simon didn’t care if you knew how long Mrs.Tiddlybits had kept you waiting.
A buzzer sounded in the office and plain Jane said; “John Malcolm,” in her flat, plain voice.
He stood and without waiting to be told where to go made his way to Simon’s office. He knocked, and the educated Highland voice told him to enter.
Simon looked up as he finished entering something in to the computer. “John. Have a seat. What can I do for you today?”
“I’m sure it’s got something to do with the accident something that’s just started to happen because of…. I don’t know, the fact that I’m not taking the pain killers any more, well, not so many as I was….”
“John,” Matthews interrupted him. “What is the problem?”
“Dreams. Well, dreams when I’m asleep. When I’m awake I suppose you would call them visions.”
“I don’t know what else to call them.” Malcolm sat back, his worried blue eyes scanning his friend’s face trying to gauge the reaction.
“You want to tell me what ya see in these visions. I mean are they something like… say, the winner of the three thirty at Leicester? Something we could all make a few bob on?”
“Nothing like that.”
Matthews steepled his fingers. “You’re worried, aren’t you?”
“Scared would be a more accurate description.”
“Going round the twist.”
“Ah whist man.”
“I fell on my head, Simon.”
“And we told you exactly what the damage was. If there had been any likelihood of anything else either Monty or I would have told you. Christ man, it certainly isn’t in our interests to keep things from our patients, especially not someone like yourself who spent time in the States. Ye might sue us.” He sat back. “How are you sleeping?”
“You mean apart from the dreams?”
“They wake you?”
“Sometimes. Mostly just confusing.”
“Usually I start off dreaming I’m a small boy, round about six or seven years old, just a little lad. And I know that it’s me, I just have this feeling that is. But it isn’t. I’m not explaining this very well. I’m just scared in the dream, in real life. I haven’t written a word since I got out of hospital.”
“You don’t think it could be a writer’s block?”
“No.” He was definite. “I’ve had that, and it isn’t like this.”
“You say you get these visions when you’re awake?”
“And do they just happen?”
“I don’t get any sort of warning. One minute I can be sitting at home watching day time TV and the next I’m in a garden, Mediterranean sunshine, formal terraces, marble statues, the lot.”
“And you want to know what’s wrong? God above man, if I were given a choice between the crap they show these days and …”
“I know what it sounds like but to be perfectly honest Simon, I’m scared, I’m really scared.”
“I can see that old son. Well, let’s have a look at you physically and if we can’t come up with something, then we’ll have a rethink. O.K.?” Matthews looked at him forcing Malcolm to make eye contact. “I said O.K.?”
“Great. If I make an appointment for you to see Monty a.s.a.p. though God knows when that will be with this authority and given how Monty’s trying to pull in the pennies these days still, we can but try and I will let everyone know how urgent it is. Mean-time, do you think sleeping tablets might help? I mean something really mild, nothing addictive.”
Malcolm shook his head. “I don’t think so. I’m not really the tablet type.”
“You could try relaxation.”
“All that buttock clenching and breathing from your belly. I don’t think that’s really me either.”
“No, perhaps not but you can’t just put up with it. If you’ll allow me a very unmedical observation, you look like shit.” He half smiled. “Would you not try just a wee bit buttock clenching see what happens. Jane has a really useful set of tapes out there you tell her I told you could borrow them.”
“All right, I guess I’ll try anything.”
“Even not worrying?”
“That I can’t promise.”
“Not even if I tell you not to, that you’ve more than likely nothing to worry about.”
“Well, I will get to work on this appointment so that at least we can put your mind to rest on that score.”
“Thanks Simon.” Malcolm stood and started towards the door.
“You won’t forget those tapes, will you?”
“No, I won’t. Thanks. I’ll see you.”
“Aye, be seeing you.”
“Do you want the good news or the…depends on your point of view news.”
“How about the, you’re not going off your head John news?”
“I got the results of your scan. It would appear that all is physically well in that department.”
“So, there is no physical cause for what is happening. It is still happening? You are still having the dreams?”
“Yes, I’m still having them.”
“Right, well, the next step and I do not wish to hear squeals of anguish and threats to take yourself off to another vet, the next step is for me to make you an appointment with my friend, Dr Suzanne.”
“Don’t tell me, she’s a shrink.”
“She isn’t anything. He is a psychiatrist who happens to specialise in sleep disorders. He’s a Yank, or is he a Canadian, I can never remember, either way he’s very good and I’m certain that he will be able to help you.”
Malcolm looked as distressed as he felt. It was the last thing on God’s earth that he wanted and yet it seemed that that was what would have to happen. He knew Simon Matthews too well to think that he wouldn’t force the issue. Tiredly he rubbed his hand across his eyes, a gesture of defeat. “All right,” he said softly. “If that’s what you recommend.”
“It most certainly is, and I have no hesitation what so ever in doing so. I’ll try for next Thursday if that suits you.”
“I don’t think I’m busy.”
“Right, I’ll give Julian a ring, find out if Thursday suits him and if it does I’ll call you and let you know and where you have to go. Right?”
“I’m no’ guaranteeing this John but we’ll give it our best shot, eh?”
“It can’t do any harm.”
“No. Oh er how did you get on with the tapes by the way?”
“Not too brilliantly. I’m just a writer, I lack the imagination to transport myself off to a tropical island.”
“Ah well, it was worth a try. I’ll get back to you as soon as I have spoken to Julian.”
“Thanks, and I am glad that it was nothing physical. The thought of spending more time under Monty’s tender loving care did not exactly fill me with glad expectation.”
“I did not think for a moment that it would, nor did I think that we were looking at a physical problem. Still better safe than sorry.”