I don't like hospitals. I spent too long in them when I was a girl. The final diagnosis, when I was twelve, was strange enough for me to remember it all this time and strange enough for me not to understand it until years later. Munchausen-by-proxy. I find myself not listening to the doctors when they talk to me, and shivering without an obvious reason in certain rooms. It's not good, given that we're technically wanted criminals on the run. I think we've even been blamed for the explosion, though at this stage I expect Grozny is just waiting to reveal that we're serial-killer paedophiles who torture small animals and call it art.
And somehow I seem to be playing mother to two men, one who's so hopped up on drugs that he keeps looking at me like he fancies me, and the other who's not hopped up enough on drugs to stop looking at me like it's all my fault. Sometimes they swap roles for half-an-hour or so. Right at the moment Puppy is my best friend, and I barely understand half of her sign language.
Jeremy -- I can't call him Red now, just in case -- has a disgusting room-mate I try to avoid and try harder to keep Laika away from. Not because I'm worried about what he might try on with her, but because I'm worried about what she might do to him when he does. Jim -- he'll always be Q to me though, I think I've romanticised him into my secret agent -- is in a room by himself but the doctors are very suspicious about how he came to be injured like this. I don't know what happened either, but they don't want to believe me and it won't be long before they decide that the police should be asking the questions.
We're moving on then. Laika has suggested that she knows somewhere safe we can go, and Jeremy tells me that it's a church. The hand-sign looked like it had tentacles to me, and I've read my Lovecraft so I'm hoping that it's not going to turn out to be consecrated to Dagon and have an odd smell of fish about it. Getting people out is going to be tricky though. The easy option, the one I've thought of and rejected five times now, is to call Joel and get his help.
But can I be sure that that's safe?
And there's the rub, I can't. I haven't come this far and seen this much to suddenly become the ditzy heroine and call for the knight in shining armour, especially when that armour's looking like it might have been polished in the blood of innocents.
So we're taking another route. Laika knows where we're going, I'm driving, even though the thought of sitting in the driver's seat makes my... let's say upper thigh... ache, and all I have to do is get everyone moving. We're stealing an ambulance. The keys are in Laika's pocket and she's going down to the ambulance station in a neon-green jacket, a fax is about to arrive on headed diplomatic notepaper instructing the hospital that Jeremy and Jim are being transferred, and I've just told Red to get ready to go. I'm about to warn Jim, and then it should just be a case of supervising the porters to the ambulance and leaving.