As soon as I heard this sound I knew we were in trouble. Poe had said he had a surprise for me. I never like the sound of that, because surprises tend to go bad.
We had been working around the house. Cleaning up, putting away everything Poe didn’t want anymore. We organized the house in such a way, that Poe and I lived in one half of the house and left the other half for his memories. Those rooms were filled with boxes, not supposed to see daylight ever again.
‘Polly! Could you come to the library? I have a surprise for you!’
My heartbeat went up and with caution I walked towards the library.
‘What is it, Poe?’
‘I have a surprise!’ He grabbed my hand and suddenly I heard the dreaded sound.
We were at the helipad of a hospital, where a helicopter was just landing.
‘Poe? Please tell me you didn’t take us to Hospital, the one written by Toby Litt?
‘Was I not supposed to?’
‘Have you read the book?’
‘At least the cover?’
‘Poe, I can’t believe this! We have talked about this. Being in a book can be dangerous. Especially if it’s a crazy book like this one. If we die in a book, we die in real life. Don’t make dying easy.’ I was trying to scream very angrily over the sound of the helicopter.
‘God, Polly! You could try being a little nicer. I wanted to cheer you up a bit. You seem so sad all the time. Besides, I didn’t think Hospital was such a bad book. You only read these cheesy literature novels anyways. I thought Hospital was like ER or something. How could I have known?’
‘You could have read the back of the cover!’
‘Well I didn’t!’
‘Ugh, forget it Poe. We need to go back; soon all hell will break loose.’
‘I’m not going back. You’re probably exaggerating. I’m going inside.’
And before I could even scream back at him or stop him he ran inside and I was cut off by Nurse Gemma and Sir Reginald with a young boy on a stretcher.
‘Damn it Poe!’ I screamed and accidentally attracted the attention of the helicopter Paramedic called ‘Zapper’.
‘Are you alright there, Miss? Are you supposed to be here?’
‘Uhm, yes. I just disagreed with a colleague about his tactics. I’m sorry, I’ll leave now.’
‘Wait a minute, Miss. I think you’re too young to be working here.’
‘I’m a fast learner. And I look younger than I really am.’
‘I don’t think so. Come with me please.’ Zapper grabbed me by the arm and dragged me inside. While walking through the big white halls of Hospital I could make out some of the characters I could remember. I saw Steele and Sarah, the big shot surgeons and Patricia Parish, a nurse to stay away from at all cost. Zapper locked me up in a small room with no windows and a big lock.
‘Stay here little girl. I’m going to find myself some cops to take care of you.’ And he locked me in with no way out.
Meanwhile on the other side of Hospital, Poe was witnessing the start of the big voodoo ritual. He had just seen how Sir Reginald severed a baby’s head and drank its blood. He began to understand why Polly had been so bitchy. He left before he could see Steele escape and went up the stairs, looking for Polly to get out of there.
I had tried everything. Kicking, hitting or throwing things against the door or lock wasn’t helping me getting out of here. I sighed and gave up. There has to be another way. I just needed Poe to find me. Out of ideas I started screaming his name. Even if it wasn’t Poe, someone should hear me and open the door. It wasn’t my best option, I didn’t know if the rampage had started yet, but it was the only one I had.
‘Hello! Is anyone out there? Poe! Can you hear me?!’ I screamed until I couldn’t, but no help came. I sat down on the floor and started hitting the door some more.
‘Polly? Where are you?’
‘Poe! I’m in here!’ I heard him trying to open the door, but he couldn’t unlock it.
‘Polly, move away from the door…’
I did as he said and not a second later the door smashed open and I could make out Poe with an axe in his hand.
‘God, am I happy to see you!’ I hugged him, trying to dodge the axe.
‘Are you ok, Polly? I’m so sorry I just left like that. I should have listened.’ He gently put the axe back in the box on the wall.
‘It’s fine. Let’s get out of here.’
‘As fast as we can. I just saw this guy drinking the blood of a baby. What kind of twisted books do you read?!’
‘It will only get worse. Come on.’ I grabbed his hand, prepared to go back to the real world, but nothing happened.
‘What’s going on Polly?’
‘Oh no… I think we’re stuck.’
‘How do you mean stuck?’
‘In the book, the outside world disappears.’
Poe was already on his way to a window and halfway to opening it.
‘No Poe! Whatever you do, don’t go outside or even put a finger out of that window. Everything that touches the outside will disappear in nothingness. Do you see the fog?’
Poe nodded. The windows were completely covered with a thick, white fog, making sure nothing was to be seen from inside.
‘How will it disappear?’
‘I don’t know. In the book someone sticks his arm out of the window and it’s severed, like a clean cut. No blood, nothing, just gone.’
‘That’s really bad… We need to get out of here, but how?’
‘Well well well, what have we here? You are some naughty children. I think you’re not even supposed to be here?’
‘Polly? What is that thing?’
The Rubber Nurse had found us. She was walking towards us with a squeaky sound coming from her rubber uniform. She was dressed in six-inch white rubbery stilettos and whore white latex gloves up to her elbows. Right now she was still talking in a little girl voice, but I knew better.
‘Poe, don’t trust her. That’s the Rubber Nurse and she’s a bad person. Let’s get out of here.’
‘You’re not trying to get away from me are you?’ She said, less girly.
‘Polly, on my mark, we take the stairs. Are your ready? Go!’
We started running and the nurse screamed after us, not able to run in those absurd heels. We hid from all the commotion around us in a room filled with comatose people.
‘We can’t stay here very long.’ I said to Poe. ‘Soon everyone will get better or come back to life. We need a plan.’
‘What is this place? Polly, I promise I will not take your books for granted anymore. You read some weird shit. But how are we getting out of this Hospital if there is no outside world? How does the book end?’
‘Very strangely. I think the outside world comes back, but Hospital will go up in flames as well, so I don’t know if waiting is our best option.’
‘What will happen if the story ends with us in there?’ Poe asked.
‘I don’t know, it has never happened to me before.’
‘Well, I guess this is not the time to find out. What causes all this?’
‘The voodoo ritual, I think. It’s been a while since I read this book. Wait! There’s this boy, he wishes for everyone to get better. The story sort of revolves around him. So maybe, if we find him, we can go back.’
‘Does he have superpowers or something?’
‘Not that I know.’
‘So he’ll just wish us back, like he wished everyone to get better?’
‘That’s the plan.’
Poe sighed, but it was the best we could do. We started to hear some moaning behind us. The coma patients were waking up, which meant that Hospital was a mess already. We had to be careful not to run into one of the Satanists, because they would definitely try to kill us. We might not die anymore in Hospital, but they could always throw us out of a window and that would mean permanent death.
‘Polly, we need to go. They’re waking up.’ We started running through the white halls of Hospital. ‘What does this boy look like?’
‘Uhm, I don’t really know… I don’t think they ever say that in the book…’
‘So how will we find him?’
‘I’m hoping we’ll know, when we see him.’
Together we searched the entire hospital, using the stairs as the elevator had fallen down the shaft. Hospital was turning into chaos. Dead, chopped up bodies were back to life again, coming from the morgue downstairs and all kinds of naked people were hitting and killing each other, just to see what would happen. But one of the most disturbing things we saw was a woman that had to relive giving birth to her son over and over. When the boy had come out and they cut the cord, it would grow back on and he would disappear back inside his mother. The Satanist had started a fire that was spreading throughout the entire hospital rapidly. Our chances of finding the boy felt smaller every second until I saw the tree growing through the Hospital.
‘Poe! That tree! The boy should be somewhere around here! We need to find the exit. The story is ending soon.’
‘Wasn’t that a bad thing?’
‘It was! But we have survived so far. Find the boy!’ But before Poe could move, he was attacked by one of the Satanists. They were fighting vigorously and I tried to help were I could.
‘Polly, I’ll be fine! Find the boy!’
The hallway became more crowded and started moving me with it. The crowd pushed me through many big doors until it stopped at the exit. I had found it, now all I needed was the boy. There was lots of screaming and violence around me and trying to find a small boy was near to impossible. I spotted Sir Reginald in the distance, being smashed by a part of the ceiling. Vaguely remembering the story, I knew the boy had to be around. I looked for Poe, he needed to be here. I wasn’t sure if he could get out with me. I called for him, but he didn’t answer. All of sudden I saw the boy. I knew it was him without ever seeing him. He was being helped through the crowd towards the exit. He looked around and locked his eyes onto mine. I felt a hand grabbing mine and the library of Poe’s house appeared.
‘Whoa, that was close.’ Poe laughed.
‘You think that’s funny? I was so worried! I thought you were gone and I couldn’t stop going back.’ I said upset.
‘Lighten up, Polly. We’re fine now!’ and he gave me a hug. ‘This was fun!’
I looked at him angrily and he backed away a bit.
‘At least admit it was exciting.’
‘It was a bit, wasn’t it?’
He laughed again and walked away.
‘Oh Polly, I do think we should pick a more helpful book next time. Get to the bottom of this Writingdesk Conundrum thing.’
‘That sounds like a good idea, Poe.’