Just Say It

Entry by: Seaside Scribbler

16th February 2018
Just Say It

At first, the uniforms bothered her. But she's used to them now, used to how the colours change. The white ones give her meds; the green ones come and fix her up and the black ones ask her questions. They ask over and over and over. The same stuff. She always looks at them but it's not good enough. They want more than she can give and so the days go by, uniforms blending, degrees of pain, inside and out and a rhythm to her days that she can't quite get into. She's constantly off-beat.

The beats get more regular, with time - how much time, she's no idea - and the backgrounds move. She comes in and out of memories and dreams and sees she's somewhere different. First it was all white; disinfectant-tainted air in which she was prodded and stuck and stitched. Just like her mama's sewing, pretty crosses to keep in her blood. The white place, she learned, as the drugs got weaker, was a hospital. Black uniforms on the door and she wasn't sure why for days, if not weeks. There's no way to measure time without Dodger and his rituals. Monday Prayday Tuesday Drugday Wednesday Cleaning Thursday Theiving, Friday PartyOParty Saturday and Sunday Worshipping Dodger in the way he liked, curtains closed, everyone together. Weeks ran together but she knew where she was in them. They all did.

She catches up with the beats and the colours and sees she's in a yellowish house with other people and lots of white uniforms, sometimes no uniforms. But the doors are locked, and this makes her happy.

The questions get more frequent and louder as her thoughts get quieter. She starts listening more and hears things:

Laura Milne, there for five years, teenage runaway.

Hasn't spoken since she was admitted.

Only witness.



Her ears hiss and bite with this last word. She hates it and wishes they'd stop saying it.

One days she wakes, and Dodger is sitting on the edge of her bed. She is so glad to see him she cries and he takes her in his arms and holds her the way he used to, the way that told her she was Number 1.

'You keeping me a secret, like I told you?' he says. She nods and he smiles, his pupils black and deep and beautiful. He is such a beautiful man. Makes her feel so special. She opens her mouth to say Yes, but he clams his hand around it and forces it shut. His eyes grow larger and terrible, then, and closes her own, to block him out, and tries to scream.

When she next opens her eyes, the room is full of greens and whites and she's had a needle in her arm and she's floating.

The drugs in here are okay. Not a patch on Dodger's, but he had his own chemistry, his own magic and the stuff he made blew you away. That was one of the reasons she loved it so much. Tuesday Drugday was the day they got some supplies to last them the week, just the daily stuff, to take the edge off the too-bright lights of the world. In the evenings, if you'd been good, Dodger opened his box of tricks and you could help yourself. She was often good. Often got to have that box of tricks. Dodger had outside customers, too, and sometimes she got to be good with them, as well.

In this yellow place there are things that make you go soft and forgetful and pain-free, and things that send you to sleep, and things that blur the world. It's no a bad place. She doesn't have to do anything.


'Laura,' says a new voice.

She opens her eyes. A young clean man with short short hair is there, sitting next to her. How did he gets in?

'Laura, I'm Doctor Sharman. I've come to talk to you, if that's okay?'

She stares at him. He's so different. Like Dodger's opposite. Dodger is dreads and colours and metal and smell. This man smells like disinfectant, like the first, white place.

'If you want me to go at any time, press your buzzer. Is that all right?'

He shuffles some papers on his lap.

'You've been here for two weeks, now. You were in hospital for about a month, and in all that time nobody heard you make a sound.'

She looks at him. And? she thinks.

'We thought that your voice box was damaged, but last night, Laura, you screamed in your sleep.'

She remembers Dodger being here and what he said. But why did she scream? Dodger was kind and she was good.

She stares at him. She picks up her buzzer on its long snakey wire. The man glances at it, then looks back at her.

'All we want to know,' he says, 'is what happened. You lived at The Temple, Roger's commune. Do you remember?'

Her finger touches the button. This time, he keeps his gaze locks on hers.

'Something bad happened, Laura. We want to know what you can remember. We want to know if you know where Roger might be now? We heard you scream and this means your voice still works. And now that your arms are better, we can give you a pen for you to write it down, we can-'

She presses the buzzer as hard as she can.

Whites come in, look angry eyes at the doctor and usher him out.

'Now now, Laura, calm down. That's it keep you - calm down Laura - Fin get me a D - Laura, keep - OUCH - jab her, quick!'

She can see Dodger watching from the shadows behind the door as the warmth draws up from her arm and spreads over her whole body and takes her back to softness and flying falling sinking down and down and down. The last thing she sees is Dodger smiling at her, nodding and smiling.

She's back at the The Temple, listening to music and dancing, trying Dodger's new stuff, giggling as it takes hold, grabbing her friend's arm. Her friend? It's a new face. Sharon. It's Sharon!

And when she opens her eyes properly, that Doctor Sharman is there again, with two whites either side. He's got a photo of Sharon - how funny, that she was just thinking about her. She smiles and looks at him. If Sharon's in the room, everything will be fine.

'Do you remember this woman?'

Before she can stop herself, Laura nods. The man smiles a strange, full smile and glances at the two whites. She knows she's done something wrong and she hangs her head.

'That's good, Laura. That's really good. Thank you. I'm going to ask something difficult now. Do you remember what happened to her?'

And Laura hears the music in her head again, the thump-thump-thump of bass that reverberated all through the house and her chest and made her feel sexy and good and on fire as she danced and Sharon danced, as they danced together, with Dodger, swaying into each other and being real, as they always were real, as Dodger told them they were, not like everyone else Out There...

She looks at the man.

'Do you remember what happened to her? ' he says again.

There's the colour red, crept into this yellow place and she can't think why. She hates red, has since-

Hands, holding her. Needle, float, away.

This time her dreams are dark, frightening lies of hell. How she imagines hell. All her friends. Faces she's not seen, faces at The Temple. Dodger doing something. A drug he made. Not going well. Dodger doing something wrong. RED RED RED RED.

This dream changes and she's no longer in The Temple, she's back in the yellow place and there is Dodger, sitting on her bed.

'Tell them, Laura. Tell them what you did,' he's saying. 'Tell them what you did, with that knife. Tell them how you cut. Tell them...'

But she shakes her head. Your knife, she's thinking. Knives. Lots. Your red. Your knife. Your worshippers. Your-

Dodger laughs. 'Me? It wasn't me, lovely girl. It was you. Don't you remember? I stopped you. I grabbed the knife. It was you. Not me. tell them it was you. Tell them it wasn't me. Tell them it was you. Tell them it wasn't me. Tell them to let me go. Tell them it wasn't me...'

The voice goes into a loop in her head. She tries to beat it out of her, to stop its red insistence because she knows it's wrong. Dodger- What did her do? She remembers him with the knife. But - but he grabbed it from her. He told her so. And she promised to protect him, she remembers now, as Black uniforms arrived and she lay there warding off the black in her mind. 'Protect me, and we can start all over again,' he says. And she looked around and she saw-

-the hospital. And she'd done something bad. And Dodger got taken away. And then she was here and they want her to tell them what happened.

When Doctor Sharman comes back, he's with a tall lady.

'This is Inspector Stubbs,' he says. 'We really, really need you to tell us what happened. We have a man in custody, but we can't keep him in custody - we can't keep hold of him - unless you tell us what he did. We found him yesterday. Please, Laura. We know what he did, we just need you to say it, so we can lock him away somewhere safe. Just tell us what he did. Please. Or we have to let him go. He's a dangerous man, Laura. You know how he kept you all there. Do you remember what he did? To all of you? How he drugged you and stabbed and-'

She's transfixed by his voice. It's different from last time. This time, he really needs something from her, just like Dodger's customers. Those ones she had power over. That sweet power. Good girl, Dodger used to say. That's it, good girl.

She looks at the man, and the tall lady. This doctor and this inspector and she knows they're the enemy. They're the ones Dodger used to protect her from. We're Real, he used to say. And she knows that anything else is just noise in her head.

Her voice is quiet and scratchy, and feels strange, out in the open after so long inside her.

'It was me,' she says.