This is a creative writing experiment, shamelessly stolen from the Chopin Manuscript: a serialized story where each author writes a different chapter. The members of this blog are each writing their own chapter, and we’re calling ours the “Cakepan Manuscript”. This is our second story.
For this story we used a random plot generator, which gave us: “The story starts when your protagonist gets lost. Another character is an anesthesist who is researching something terrible.” You can start reading at Chapter One, and each week we will post a new chapter until we reach the thrilling conclusion!
We hope you enjoy!
Chapter Three: 2 by 2
“Who sent you? Who told you to pretend to be my daughter?” he asked.
Maureen looked at him squarely with those big, blue, unwavering eyes of hers.
“You did,” she said.
Russ backed up and shook his head, trying to force his brain to start working, force the pieces together. Tony had his hand on the metal bar of the door and he kept licking his lips.
“Me?” Russ said. “Why would I do that?”
“You knew you would be sent here. You asked me to get you out.”
“We don’t have time for this, Maureen,” Tony said. He took a step toward Russ who kept backing up.
“Tony, no!” she said but those big blue eyes never left Russ’s. He jerked his head away from that unwavering gaze and Tony was there, reaching out for him. Fear shot through Russ’s body like a shock from a live wire. In that moment the thought of that grasping hand touching him was the most terrifying thing he could imagine. He tried to swat it away but couldn’t bring himself to touch it. Instead he lurched back and turned to run.
Russ collided with a brick wall in green scrubs. He rebounded and would have fallen but huge hands steadied him. They didn’t let go. Russ looked up and up into the broad face of an orderly. The face split in what was supposed to be a smile and Russ shrank back as far as the hands would allow.
“I thought I told you to stay put, Mr. Winston?” It was Nurse Ratched and her tone was light but her eyes were hard. “Who were you talking to?”
Russ turned but the hall was empty and the door to the parking garage was just clicking shut.
“My daughter,” Russ said.
“Mr. Winston you don’t have a daughter.”
“Yes. Her name is Maureen.”
“I’m not. I’m…”
The hands that had steadied Russ now squeezed. The movement was slight but the pain was considerable. He had no doubt the brick wall could break him in two with very little effort.
“That’s alright Mr. Winston. Let’s get you back to your room.”
The huge hands stayed on him to the elevator and all the way up. Russ watched carefully and saw they got off on the 14th floor. Nurse Ratched dismissed the orderly at the elevator and walked Russ down the hallway. Back to the goddamned room.
“Let’s get you back into a gown, Mr. Winston.”
“Okay,” Russ said and started to tug at his shirt. “I’m sorry I’m such a bother.”
Russ groaned and put his hands on his stomach. He swayed and bent double.
“I think I’m going to vomit,” he said. “Could you get the bathroom door?”
Nurse Ratched rushed to the door and opened it. Russ waddled over still bent and as he passed the nurse he started to fall. She reached out to steady him and Russ straightened quickly and put all his weight behind his fist as he punched Ratched in the gut. She folded over and Russ brought the edge of his hand down at the base of her skull. He pushed her into the bathroom where she lay dazed and groaning. Russ shut the door and wedged a chair under the handle before fleeing this damn room.
He made his way to the elevators and hit the button but the car was taking too long. He found the door to the stairs and ducked in. Russ looked down the stairwell, then up. He needed time to think and they’d be watching for him to try and get out. Instead of going down Russ started climbing and kept climbing until he ran out of stairs. There was a metal door that was being held open with a brick and Russ could see the roof. He stepped through the door and started to look around.
“Patients aren’t supposed to be up here.”
Russ jumped for the voice was right next to him. A skinny man in scrubs was perched on a piece of ductwork smoking a cigarette. His hair was slicked back and he was unshaven.
“How do you know I’m a patient?”
The man pointed with his cigarette.
“You’ll never get away from them while you’re still wearing that.”
Russ looked where he pointed and held up his wrist. He still had the plastic ID bracelet on.
“What makes you think I’m trying to get away from anybody?”
“Spare me old man,” the skinny man said. “It’s written all over your face. Did they come for you? A pair of them pretending to be someone you know. They always come in twos.”
“Who does?” Russ pulled at the bracelet but couldn’t get it off.
“Well I don’t really know but I’ve been trying to find out.” He walked over to Russ and took his hand. He pulled out a pair of medic’s scissors and cut off the ID band. “Russell Winston. Huh.”
“Who the hell are you?” Russ said. He rubbed his wrist as if the bracelet had galled him.
“Alex Udo,” the skinny man said. “I work here. But I don’t work for them.”
“If you know something why don’t you just spit it out?”
“Like I said I don’t know. Not for sure,” Udo said. He threw down his smoke and stamped it out. “But I think I just got a big piece of the puzzle. Come with me. There’s something you should see.”
Udo walked off and Russ followed. Udo crossed a helipad (Russ wondered where the helicopter was) to a pair of doors to a large elevator. Instead of a call button there was an electric card reader. Udo swiped a card and the doors opened immediately. They got in and Udo had to swipe his card again below the floor buttons. He pressed one marked B and the doors closed. The elevator began to drop smoothly and quickly.
“Where are we going?” Russ said.
(Continued in Chapter Four)