Harriet Freeman twisted her fingers together nervously in her lap. It had all taken a dramatic and fatal turn for the worst. The smell of disinfectant stung her nose and the squeak of rubber soled shoes on the plastic floor made Harriet's teeth grind together.
The corridor was almost empty apart from her, hunched over in a rigid plastic chair. The room behind her, however was full of people. Seven nurses, quiet and anxious.
One tapped her penil on the frosted glass window set in the door, and Harriet jumped. The nurse pressed a finger to her lips and bekoned her inside.
Palms sweaty, Harriet fumbled with the door handle, slipping inside the small room. In here, the smell of disinfectant was stronger, and Harriet longed to throw open the window.
All the nurses were standing and all looked ill at ease. There were far to many of them in the room, the girl needed two at most.
What Harriet didn't know that four of the "nurses" were undercover security sent in by MI5. They operated in a different department to Harriet, so she recognised none of the carefully made up faces that blinked at her as she entered.
When she saw the girl, Harriet drew in a breath. This was probably why they wouldn't let the parents in yet; they were still in an obscure meeting room in the depths of the Royal Surrey Hospital.
The figure on the bed looked tiny, overshadowed by tubes and monitors, flashing lights and bags full of liquid. Her face was calm and serene, eyes shut and mouth set in an almost bored expression.
One arm was in a cast, supported in a canvas sling that lay neatly across her chest. It was lower down that the worst damage lay, but a sheet had been tucked under her elbows.
However, wads of bandages could still be seen, tubes couldn't be concealed as they twisted under the covers. An IV needle snagged the skin on the back of her hand, another tube was taped beneath her nose.
Harriet felt deeply moved. This little girl just looked so defenceless, so weak and innocent. Her hair was greasy and hung limply across her forehead. It was such a sad, depressing little scene, this poor girl in this grey, miserable excuse for a room with no love to support her, no friends to comfort her.
Harriet sniffed, and blotted her tears away with a Kleenex.