Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 4

Note: If you’re new to the story please read the Prologue here!

Chapter 4

Carlos Hayek

In another time zone, half-way across the world, Carlos Hayek had been flicking his stress-ball up in the air when that little, daunting light came on. He hadn’t noticed it first, not only was his attention on the little ball, but he was extremely tired and not much usually ever happened in that room. Although, he knew his job was important. He knew it was a matter of national security. Even if he wasn’t allowed to ask questions about it.

He was content not to ask questions too. He got paid pretty well not to. He had enough money to live in the city and send money back to his distant family in Mexico, and New York City certainly wasn’t the cheapest city to live in. He probably would have been happy even if the work wasn’t moral. He was that sort of person. He didn’t know if it was or not, but he couldn’t promise the thought hadn’t crossed his mind once or twice.

The room he was in was modern. It was windowless, with lights bright enough to simulate day even if it was just past two in the morning. There were a mixture of mostly warm light colours of earthy tones on the walls, yet with sharp lines. There were sounds playing through speakers to simulate the outside world; birds, wind, running water, leaves rustling, sometimes it changed too, depending on the time of year. Although it was a huge contrast to what was outside, as the building itself faced East River with the bottom of Roosevelt Island could just be seen. As soon as Hayek stepped outside he was greeted with the sounds of beeping horns from the traffic, distant sirens, chatter from passing walkers and traffic lights. The room was specifically designed to be both warm and inviting, yet stimulating. They wanted those employed inside the walls to be alert yet comfortable.

It was well equipped, with a coffee machine—although it was currently out of order and Hayek and his other colleagues who did the other shifts had been emailing and emailing to get it fixed—there was fridge full of different drinks; water, cola, lemonade, orange juice to name a few, that was stocked daily—of course, alcohol was categorically forbidden—cookies and other assortment of candies were always stocked in the fridge too, there was also a wooden fruit bowl on top of it, stocked with apples, bananas, oranges and pears, to encourage workers to stay healthy. As well as foods and drinks, there was a modern desk with a modern touch-sensitive light probably only for decoration, a basic computer, functional for only his role and a simple black chair.

On the wall in front of him there was a large board with one hundred and ninety-three various LED lights, all next to a corresponding label. When one of those lights started to flash, the computer would pick up on it and display the category it corresponds to. It was a simple system, there wasn’t any need to over-complicated it. It, and the room in general, had one function; report which label or labels were flashing.

Other than the fridge, the desk, the fruit bowl and the wall with LEDS, the room was considered bare. There was no TV, radio, not even a telephone, no electronics were allowed inside the room. No magazines, newspapers, books, or writing equipment were even allowed. Hayek and his colleagues who worked solely within the room were only allowed to bring in a limited amount of items in with them; their clothes on their backs, reading glasses and medication. Other items were seen as a distraction from the important role they had. Even windows were seen as a distraction; the possibility of seeing a bird, a butterfly, a leaf, even a cloud was too much. The items inside the room were of course a distraction, but when they designed the room, they knew it was impossible to remove all distractions, especially if you wanted to keep your employees happy. So, it was designed to limit the risks of distractions and this was their best effort to not only keep the employee happy and effectively disseminate their important role. The only reason why Hayek had been allowed a take-away coffee cup was because he had pressured his boss into it after the automatic coffee machine had decided to give up on life—probably from the overuse—and his ball he was currently throwing up in the air was deemed as a stress reliever and was unfortunately allowed. Of course, his boss was reluctant to allow both, the ball more so, and Hayek clearly demonstrated the reason why his boss was reluctant.

Hayek had a personal competition with himself, to see how high he could get the ball. At first, he wanted to see how small the ball would look before the forces of gravity—which Hayek wouldn’t admit, he never understood—would hurl it back, sometimes smacking him in the face. He then tested how high the ball could go by lining it up with certain points in the room, how high up the LED board could he get it—without touching the board of course, he did that once, the ball smacked the board nearly knocking out the LED light for a label he couldn’t even pronounce, he got threatened with being fired—how high up past the curving lines to his left could he get it. He also tested both hands, he was left-handed, and wanted to know if he could get the ball as high with his right.

Before his variety of vertical-ball competitions, he had another competition to see how much pressure he could assert on the ball before it broke. He tried with his right hand first to test his right-handed strength. But the competition was short-lived when he accidentally got too confident and did the hand strength test with his left hand and split it, which was why he changed to the vertical challenge, he had of course sewn it up when he got home that day.

Before that, his competition was to see if he could get the ball to rotate in the air and land in his hand with a certain colour facing upwards. His little stress-ball had six sides; two were red, two were blue and the last two were yellow. It was old and faded as he’d had it since before he could remember. He had a small fascination with the yellow colour as it wasn’t that far off the yellow that was on the lamp shade; a dull yellow or daffodil.

Before he was allowed his stress-ball, he had made the most of the contents of the room, being amused by the touch-sensitive daffodil-coloured lamp, seeing how quick the lamp’s reactions were, counting the ceramic diamond shapes on the body. He amused himself with the label off the bottles in the fridge, the chocolate bars—it was in that room he realised Reece’s had an apostrophe in it, he’d never even cared to notice before—even the half-peeling sticker on the bottom of the fruit bowl. He amused himself with the light in the little fridge, the strange dent on the fridge’s left side, and the small kink in the seal it had, which he was very pleased with himself the day he fixed it.

And of course, he amused himself with the LED board. He counted the LEDs, almost always counting one hundred and ninety-three. He counted the labels he recognised, then counted the labels he didn’t. He attempted to find patterns in it, or inspecting the LEDs and wondering if the damn board even worked.

He noticed the red flickering LED when he stopped his little competition to take a drink of his coffee. Unbeknown to himself it had been flickering for a whole two minutes before he noticed. When he did, he nearly coughed it back into the cup. He sat, with the take-away paper cup to his lips, staring at the red blinking light for a few seconds trying to work out whether he had finally cracked, the room making him go mad, or if that little red light really was blinking. After what felt like years getting paid a small fortune to amuse himself in the strange room, he almost forgot what he was actually in there for.

But then he remembered the procedure. He bolted upright, his stress-ball that was originally on his lap where it was resting and momentarily forgotten was catapulted up onto the desk and knocked the lamp, making it wobble. He had also slammed the paper cup on the desk, the contents having sloshed over the desk and trickled over it, and now dripped onto the floor.

***

Deputy Secretary-General Editha Kalumuna

“Your Excellency…” said the voice on the other end of the phone. It sounded nervous and slightly hesitant.

The Deputy Secretary-General Kalumuna had been fast asleep only moments ago before the phone rang, she rolled over in bed to answer it as quickly as possible before it disturbed her husband. She wasn’t necessarily expecting a phone call, but it wasn’t out of the usual to receive a call this early in the morning, considering her position. But, when the phone rang, she was expecting a different voice on the other end, one from her boss, not the one she heard. She knew the voice of course. She dreaded hearing that voice.

“Hayek?” Kalumuna asked, nervous of the answer.

“Yes, your Excellency,” Hayek said. “I’m sorry, but… a light has come on.”

Kalumuna suddenly sat bolt upright, very awake. “A light?”

“Yes.”

“Who?” she asked.

“United Kingdom, ma’am.”

“Why in the hell are you telling me?” she snapped before she realised what she was doing.

“I… err…” Hayek wavered. “I cannot get hold of the Secretary General, ma’am.”

Kalumuna frowned slightly, a wave of different emotions went through her. She’d admit that annoyance was her first emotion, the fact the Secretary General wasn’t answering his phone and she had to be the second in line to take it, then worry that something had happened to him, considering what this phone call represented, then finally guilt when she remembered where the Secretary General was; he was on holiday.

The Secretary General was half-way into his annual holiday to Hawaii, he went every year to the same spot. Kalumuna never understood his interest in going every year, she preferred to try new places or visit her hometown, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to visit relatives. But the Secretary General, although his ancestors were Ghanaian decent, he had been born and grew up in Boston, USA and was a typical American who liked his usual holiday spots. It wasn’t his only holiday spot either, he was also frequent to Fiji, Thailand and St Andrews, Scotland for the golfing.

It was, however, unusual that the Secretary General wasn’t answering his phone. He always had his phone on him, in case of an emergency. It didn’t happen often, of course, ringing him and disturbing him for an emergency. Normally Kalumuna could deal with it herself. But then, this was a particular type of emergency. She just hoped the Secretary General was busy and missed the call, it was about nine in the evening in Hawaii.

“Sorry, Hayek,” Kalumuna said, and sighed. “I’ll deal with it. Keep an eye on that board. Call me if anything changes.”

“Yes, ma’am!” Hayek said almost military-like, making her wonder for a moment if he had been drafted at some point in his past, but couldn’t remember, and then hung up on her.            

Without hesitation—and ignoring her husband’s half-awake questions—she got out of bed, slipped on her night robe and rushed into her home office to make some very important calls.

Click here to read the next chapter!


If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

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I fell in Love with a Psychopath – Chapter 4

If you’re new to the story, please read the prologue here.
This work is my first draft and thus unedited, so may be subject to changes.


Chapter 4

The next week and a half went by in a mess. Or was it that I was a mess?

Later that day, after Liam had asked me out – well, sort of. He finally managed to ask if I wanted to go out on Friday. I was already busy Friday, I had made plans with Leah to go out with a few of her friends for a meal. It was a favour for her. She had found out her ex-boyfriend was going to this meal because he was best friend with her best friend’s fiancé or something and she needed someone to back her up. It was an interesting night actually. Her ex-boyfriend was actually really lovely and didn’t hold any grudges against Leah and was quite happy now with his new girlfriend. Even Leah went away – albeit a little drunk by the end of the night – a lot happier knowing that there was no bad air between them.

Liam then asked me if I wanted to meet up at the weekend, but he was busy Saturday and I had already arranged to skype my friends back home and do some well-needed cleaning on Sunday. I had a pile of washing and ironing and my apartment was a mess. I hated it being a mess. But I counter-offered next weekend, so as to avoid it sounding like I was brushing him off, and he agreed.

So, I had a date with my crush, Liam, on Friday after work.

That was in two days.

When Wednesday came, I found myself sat in my apartment fiddling with my thumbs. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I was too nervous about Friday evening. I had tried reading a book, but when I read the same line about five times I gave up. I tried to watch TV, but everything just reminded me of Liam and I was a nervous wreck watching it. Even this silly advert about a super-power man with kitchen clothes that is able to scrub away any tough bit of dirt reminded me of Liam – he was always sneaking up to people and blurting lines from the advert. I tried to clean more of my apartment, I hoovered my floor again, even though it didn’t need doing. I washed all my dishes, put a load of clothes on to wash, dusted, cleaned the windows, even gave the kitchen a good scrub. But by about half seven, I had done everything and was bored – and a nervous wreck.

I plopped myself down on my sofa and stared at my blank TV screen, just about seeing my reflection in the mirror. For some reason my own reflection reminded me of a poster I read. The poster had these girls on the front of it drinking cocktails. I think it was because one of the girls looked a little like myself and my mind decided to bring it up now. The poster itself – although not very well done from what I could remember – was trying to advertise a deal on cocktails. Every Wednesday evening they have a two for one deal on cocktails at the bar. It was as if my unconscious was trying to tell me something: go to the bar.

The only problem was; the bar was Xander’s local.

But was that a problem? It’s not like I was going there on a date. I was just hoping to pass the time until Friday without going crazy with nervousness.

Before I was able to talk myself out of it, I was out of the shower, dressed in my favourite red dress and out of the door heading for Mario’s.

***

“Can I have two Mojitos, please?” I yelled to the bar man about the unexpected busy noise. I couldn’t help but think the extras were back in place. I just needed to figure out where the main star was again.

“Two Mojitos coming up,” said the bar man, before he wandered over to the drinks shelf to grab the white rum and pour a two shots into a large metal mixing decanter.

As soon as he poured one shot in though, I turned around to face the bar to scan the faces.

I huffed under my breath as I couldn’t see who I was looking for. I had caught the attention of a few guys because of my red dress, but none of them interested me.

Last time I was at Mario’s, I had worn jeans and blouse. This time, I had made an effort. My red dress always got me attention. I had read somewhere once then men were attracted to the colour red. So not only did I have my red dress on, I had deliberately accentuated my eyes in dark make-up and wore a deep red lipstick.

I realised as I was sat in a cab that I was being stupid. I told myself that I was only going for the cocktails that was it; I was bored and wanted cheap drinks. But as soon as I saw my reflection in the cab window, I realised it was more than just me being bored and wanting cheap cocktails. I wanted to see Xander again. I felt guilty; I had a date with a perfectly nice guy on Friday. Liam. I was looking forward to it, I was even nervous about it to the point of feeling sick. Unless it was because Xander had been a distraction from Liam last time, that I wanted him to take my mind of Liam again?

Or was it something else?

But whatever was going through my mind. Conscious or not. Xander wasn’t in the bar.

“Here you are, love,” said a voice from behind me. The young barman had made me my Mojitos already and had placed them on the bar top. I smiled and took out my purse from my clutch. After I paid for them, I wandered over to a free booth which appeared to be wet where someone had clearly spilled a drink, and slumped down in disappointment.

***

I was there for an hour and a half, sipping my Mojitos. I only had two. I decided it wasn’t worth getting another two in fear of drinking too much and having a hangover at work tomorrow. It wasn’t until I was trying to drain the remainder of the melted ice in the bottom of my glass that I realised there wasn’t much point staying there either.

I sighed and stood up from the booth, taking the glasses with me and putting them on the bar top. The bar man giving me a small nod in appreciation as he noticed me, and I just smiled back and left feeling hugely disappointed, both at not seeing Xander and with myself for even thinking this was a good idea in the first place.

When I got outside and started to sulk away, I noticed there was a bit of an incident happening down a side street. The side street was actually down the side of the bar. It wasn’t an alley; unlit, dark and smelling like urine, like back at home in the UK, but it was definitely a little darker and less populated. I noticed there was a guy yelling in the distance as I walked past the street, my phone out in my hand ready to call a cab. I stole a glance down the street and saw there was a guy in dark clothes yelling at another guy. Another was present but was holding himself back away from the scene a little.

But I gasped and stopped in the middle of the street when I seemed to recognise one of them.

I stared down at the commotion and realised finally what was going on. Someone, the guy in dark, held something in his hand. I had a feeling it was a weapon. I wasn’t sure if it was a gun or a knife. But the thing that upset me to the core was that he was clearly threatening a guy in a grey suit. It was a mugging. And the guy in the suit, even from this distance, I knew who it was.

I rushed into the shadows of the street and took my shoes off, now bare footed I walked down the other side of the road and towards the issue, hoping and praying that the attacker didn’t hear me and didn’t attack before it was too late.

Not that I knew what I was doing, but I was hoping that coming up from behind him I could find something to whack him across the head and knock him out. I’ve had my fair share of incidences to be able to protect myself, although none have involved a gun. But me, walking barefooted down the street, looking for something to use as a weapon, was their only chance.

“Just give me the watch, Rich Boy and no one will be hurt,” I heard the guy in the black hoody. Now realising he was in a filthy hoody that was up over his head. His posture was bent and I could see a glint of a knife in his hand.

“I’m not giving you the watch, so either you stab me or fuck off,” said the deep booming voice that went with the masculine bulk in a suit.

“Just give him the watch, Xander,” said the guy holding back. Looking apprehensive.

I didn’t realise at the time, as I was too busy looking for something large and heavy, that Xander really didn’t give a shit the guy in front of him had a knife in his hand.

“No, this watch was a gift from my grandfather, I’m not…,” he paused, his green eyes suddenly fell on me, just as I reached down and found a large rock on the floor next to a large bin. I put my finger to my lip to signal him to stay quiet. His eyes flicked straight back to the attacker in a matter of seconds. “I’m not handing it over. Over my dead body!”

Xander’s friend hadn’t noticed me yet, but the attacker had noticed he paused and went to turn around to see behind him. He would easily have seen me. I held in a gasp as I had straightened up, putting myself in a position to run if I could. But Xander took a step forwards as if to go for the guy and he stopped and held up the knife in his hand at Xander. “You move and I’ll stab you!”

“And you move and I’ll kill you,” Xander said, his voice sounded a little menacing.

The guy seemed to falter slightly, suddenly unsure whether to pursue this idea of mugging Xander and must have been weighing up his options. In the meantime, I had started to slowly make my way towards the guy now armed with – hopefully – a weapon in one hand and my heels and clutch in another.

But just as I made my way slowly and quietly across the street, hearing my own heart pound in my ears and my head yelling at me to leave Xander and save myself, I stood on something and gasped in pain.

Unfortunately, however, the guy with the knife had heard and swung round, knife swung round with him, still in his hand. His emaciated face sunken and pale, his grey eyes fixed right onto mine. I remember seeing pure madness deep within them.

I gasped again and accidentally let the rock in my hand slip from my grip. It landed painfully on my bare foot and I screamed in pain.

Check out the next chapter here!

~~~

If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

If you’re interested in buying the book, here’s the links: