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

Check out these other posts about Rose Garden Sanatorium!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

Copyright © Penny Hooper 2019

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without prior permission in writing from the author.

Penny Hooper has asserted her right under Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

This book is a work of fiction and, except in the case of historical fact, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

***

Prologue

Sam Chaudhary

A large swarm of pigeons suddenly flew up in a panic, disturbing the long since settled dust. Their wings echoed as they clapped in the vastness, as if they were applauding the perpetrator that spooked them. Most vanished out through the large hole in the roof, a few others nestled atop of an old door or the other side of the room bobbing along the floor in fear.

They were originally hiding safely in a derelict building. A building that many years ago once held many people; doctors once walked around in white coats, holding patient records while stethoscopes hung from their necks, looking important. Nurses would have rushed around with bed pans and other equally rudimentary items, wearing aprons with large red crosses on them and with their hair pinned back into tight buns. Patients would be seen in straitjackets screaming at the top of their lungs when they were due for more sedatives.

The building now, however, was eerily silent—yet if you listened close enough you would swear you could hear a distance ghostly scream. There were scattered red bricks from the broken walls, broken windows boarded up from the outside and graffiti clinging helplessly to the peeling walls. It was obvious the building was no longer in use.

The pigeons made the boy jump as he walked into the open hall. He had accidentally spooked them while he side stepped past a weed, a bit of nature that had decided to reclaim the building, his foot knocked a loose brick which had caused a loud noise to echo. He stopped to regain his breath and slow his beating heart.

The boy was young, his round slightly tanned Asian face still had a hint of baby fat lingering in his cheeks and his short dark hair complimented his dark brown eyes. He stood holding the zipper on his jacket, close to where his beating heart sat pounding in his chest. His jacket was slightly dirty from months of use and not seeing the inside of a washing machine. It was his favourite and deemed lucky jacket. It was dark red with black trim around the collar and cuffs, contrasting with the blue in his jeans. His jeans were slightly too long for his legs, evident from the fraying at the bottom, where his brand-new Nike trainers would catch them when he walked.

It’s just an old building, he thought to himself, hoping to calm his painfully beating heart as he looked nervously around himself. There are no monsters! he added, sighing deeply.

He remembered what his mother would say to him every night when she would tuck him into bed. That was when he was younger, of course, he was far too big now to be tucked in at night. He was twelve and a half, thank you very much. But his mother’s sweet voice automatically filled his head; ‘Monsters aren’t real, beta,’ she would say. ‘Beta’ being the Hindi word for ‘son’. She would do that occasionally, adding in Hindi words into sentences, she didn’t want him to lose his Indian roots.

After composing himself a little, feeling a little more confident no monsters were going to jump out and eat him, he decided to continue moving onwards and through the vastness of the open hall.

The quicker I get it, the quicker I can get out, he thought to himself as he climbed over a fallen wall, the broken red bricks threatening to pierce the skin on his legs.

He walked as quietly and quickly as possible to the other side of the hall to another corridor, the smell of urine potent in this part of the building, making him a little queasy. As he neared a door separating the hall from the corridor ahead, he also noticed another smell lingering in the air, yet he didn’t think much of it; he had a job to do.

The door, mould threatening to consume it from the bottom upwards, was leaning awkwardly against the corridor wall, only one hinge still attached. He was sure his friend told him he’d have to open a door at the other end of the hall. Maybe it just fell since his friend had been there?

The boy looked down the corridor to another door at the far end. The street light that was originally illuminating his way wasn’t reaching this far, but he could see the last door he needed to go through… he was nearly there. He walked slowly, side-stepping past an old chair left discarded and lonely in the corridor, while feeling proud of himself for getting this far.

But something made him stop. He could hear someone muttering, and it was coming from that room beyond the door. He realised that strange smell was stronger here too. He certainly wasn’t imagining it. He couldn’t place what the smell was, but it reminded him of his Aunt Mysha.

He stood still for a few seconds, in panic. He knew if he ran away now, he’d have his friend telling him he was a wimp for not getting the item he was supposed to get; that damn brick. But if he stayed where he was, and whoever was on the other side of the door was a murderer or something, he’d be dead.

The muttering started to get louder as he stood there, the person was talking louder now, and the boy realised it was a woman’s voice. His panic subsided slightly and was instead replaced with curiosity, he couldn’t help but walk towards the door slowly and quietly. Maybe, if he got close enough, he could hear what she was saying.

The closer he got, the louder the voice got, but not just because he was getting nearer, she was getting louder. Now able to hear her, he started to realise that she was repeating something. Although he could not work out what she was saying, as she was speaking a foreign language. The only word he picked up was ‘mammon’.

What is she doing? he thought. And what language is that?

He crept closer, his curiosity getting the better of him. He was now right by the door, if he just peaked through the gap, he’d be able to see into the room. He could already see shadows dancing across the walls and floor. There was some kind of light and a waft of that strange incense smell too.

The boy shifted his weight slightly on one leg, so that he could peer around the corner of the door, and the room slowly came into focus. There was indeed a woman; she was dressed in all black, she had one hand up in the air waving something burning. She was now shouting, which the boy was grateful for as he was worried she would have heard him by now.

He saw a brick laying in the middle of the room on the floor, it had a very delicate carving of a strange symbol on its side. It was the brick he was tasked to get. It was right next to a strange criss-cross of white lines and circle markings on the floor, directly in front of the woman. He knew there was no chance he was going to be able to go in the room and get it without being noticed. But before he could turn around and leave the building empty-handed, a strange cloud like object started to form before the woman.

Transfixed on the sight, he watched as it swirled and swirled, getting bigger and bigger, until suddenly it somehow imploded and vanished. But it didn’t vanish into thin air, it vanished into a crack, a crack that had formed in thin air. The woman stopped shouting now and the room fell eerily silent. The boy found himself going rigid, not just out of terror, but worried about making a sound.

Suddenly, the crack started to open, ripping like fabric, it was as if something was trying to come through. But he could see the other side, where the room was beyond it, there was no one or nothing there. The crack started to get wider and wider before suddenly a terrifying clawed red hand reached through. The boy’s eyes went wide. He held his breath instinctively as he watched a red hand tear the crack open in one swift movement. He watched in horror as a whole red body attached to the hand climbed through, horns, tail and black leathery wings included.

The boy accidentally let out a squeak of terror and covered his mouth with his hand. But it was too late, the monster and the woman turned around, both staring right at the boy, both with the same horrifying pitch-black eyes. Monsters were real.

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

Check out these other posts about Rose Garden Sanatorium!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!