Monday, 28 July 2008

From Behind Stained Glass: Meredith's Tale - Part 3

Another short (and hopefuly sweet) extract from INSTITUTIONALISED volume 2

I'm probably going to continue on now and publish this chapter in its entirety as it only represents a small part of the work as a whole and, in any case, is an aside to the main story arc - although its ending does fit in nicely with one of the events depicted in volume 1. The only problem is that part of the middle section is still to be completed (I've had to skip past that bit here) and the ending is still in the process of writing - and the ending is crucial to the series as a whole in that, as I have said, it links neatly from part of INSTITUTIONALISED volume 1 and explores one more deeply certain aspects of the clinic's funding.

As before, I have to point out this is very much a rough first draft and there may well be typo's and grammatical errors etc (if so, feel free to point them out). I'm not a professional writer and I cock-up royally when I do - I'm dyslexic so how the hell am I supposed to know?

The pic came from a now defunct Yahoo group; I'm unsure as to its origin but it seems to have been around quite some while on one group or another. It's a nice bit of hospital-bed bondage and enforced enema procedure; not really as I envisage it carried out in the INSTITUTIONALISED series, but food for thought nonetheless. As before, you can view previous parts by clicking on the title below - a click on the icon to the right should take you to The Institute site to view some other extracts or to view more of volume 1 if you have not read it already.

On a slightly different tack, I am thinking of uploading my collection of women's work-wear and uniform catalogue scans and make them viewable via this blog (I have previously used one such as a 'governess' illustration in an earlier post). They range from nurses' uniforms, aprons and nylon overalls to maids dresses, waitress uniforms and shop-assistant wear and date from the early 1960s (some a fair bit earlier) through to the late 1980s. The, rather tenuous, link to this blog's stated purpose is that much of the inspiration behind the uniforms the girls find themselves placed in, particularly as depicted in volume 1, was derived from those catalogue pics. Please let me know if any of this seems particularly interesting - or, indeed, otherwise.

(Click on title to read previous part - i.e. part 2)


“…I said; we'll have to see about getting you up and about today, I'm afraid. We can't have you lying on your back all the time, now can we?”
The voice was cheery, brisk and breezy. The woman, maturely-plump, her figure somewhat over-enthusiastically filling her white uniform, was bending over the girls head almost as if her intention was to kiss her forehead.
Meredith, startled, was dragged from her reverie. Memories, dreams, nightmares, call them what you will; whatever they were, she had been lost in their thrall to the extent that she had not had even the slightest inkling of the nurse’s arrival, not even when the curtains around her bed had been drawn back. Now, for the first time, she could see beyond her immediate confines; this was her first real glimpse of the rest of the ward.

A second woman, attired identically to the first but younger and of more slender build, stood at the foot of the bed; half turned away, she was craning over a clipboard, bent necked, scribbling away furiously like some court stenographer as if recording every occurrence, every nuance and idiom of speech. Beyond her, directly ahead, a bed, the exact twin of her own, lay empty, the white plastic of the mattress catching the light where the coverings had been rolled back, presumably in preparation for the next occupant. Immediately to its left, white curtains were drawn around what she could only assume to be an occupied bed.

Twisting her head to the left as far as her pillow would allow she could see there was another unoccupied bed separated from her own by little more than a couple of metres and then, around three meters beyond that came ward’s end wall. The latter was dominated at its centre by a large window, occupying fully one third of the width of the wall, that looked as if to be steamed up or misted over in some way and that lay recessed back behind a row of vertical bars that seemed themselves to be inset into the wall.

To her right, some three meters distant, a barrage of thick glistening-white bars, running floor-to-ceiling, bisected the entire room and guarded the double swing doors that, lying two meters beyond, constituted the ward's only access. Not that this latter pair did not represent a formidable enough barrier in their own right; their porthole windows, each inscrutably gazing out from behind its own crisscrossed basketwork of curving cylindrical bars, were as reluctant as any of the ward’s windows to give way to any more than a diffuse luminescent glow at most.

Meredith blinked, then blinked again as if in double-take, as if her first impression’s failing would yet be exposed; her mouth gaped and her eyes widened -the truth remained the same. Her consternation must have been writ large across that pretty elfin face; at that very moment the second nurse, the one with a clipboard, chanced to look up:

“They had to move you here when you wouldn't calm down. They had no choice - you were far, far too disturbed to be kept on the intensive care ward any longer”.

“But what is... I, I mean, where am...”

“Shhh, hush child, there's nothing to worry about. ” Sensing the young woman's increasing confusion and impending panic the plump woman, the more experienced of the two nurses, had interjected; it was best in a case like this to be candid, to explain quickly. She went on: “This is a secure psychiatric unit, a locked ward as it is sometimes called - nothing to worry about, really. You'll be just fine here until you feel better. As soon as you show signs of recovery, that is that you can satisfy us that you recognise those fears and nightmares of yours as just that, your imagination, we'll do everything we can to get you out of here and back on to a normal ward as quickly as possible. For now, though, I'm afraid this is home for the foreseeable future.”

There was much more here then she could ever have seen, even the rare moments, and they had been precious few, that the curtains had been parted to any degree. For one thing there had never been more than a few degrees of viewing angle opened up between the flaps of that heavily-hanging and sound deadening fabric, for another, such rifts even when opened had been exceedingly fleeting; a nurse might come or go, perhaps a trolley pushed through, but that would be it.

And then there was that cushion, and the strap that went with it. The former was of white foam rubber, the softest imaginable, being U-shaped it wrapped around and cradled her head with a surprising, and initially disconcerting, firmness, covering her ears at all but rendering her completely devoid of hearing.

The associated strap consisted of a broad band of PVC, padded out with a softly quilted lining, running across her forehead, covering it in its entirety other than that at its very centre whereat a circular cut-out of perhaps three centimetres in diameter lay. The latter’s functionality, if any, remained a mystery to her at this point; its existence being known to her only from the rare occasions she had been released from that bands grip so that she might be moved. That it was aligned so perfectly with the fine-bore nozzle that emerged at the very centre of the glittering child’s mobile that hung over the head of her bed, and every other in the ward, was completely lost on her; whether it would remain so would depend solely on the whim of others - any endowed with sufficient pity and wisdom might pray for the continuation of that innocence.

The rational behind that particular immobilisation had been explained to her so many times, all too often in fact; it was a precaution against the possibility that her neck had been injured, though they continually assured her that she was fine. Additionally, on those occasions, as now, that she was released from its unrelenting clamping grip her neck seemed fine, if stiff from the prolonged inactivity. It must be said, though, that even when released her neck’s freedom of movement was somewhat limited by the latex lined neck-brace they kept her in, so she could never be certain.

Even now, her head released from that cushion’s grasp, much lay beyond her field of vision. The wall-mounted colonic irrigation apparatus to the right of the bed head of course remained out of sight, its associated plastic pipe work left coiled on the shelf below; she had experienced its work many, many times yet never once had laid eyes on it. The patient sling and hoist, too, remained for the most part out of sight, having been pushed up against the wall immediately to the girl’s right; this, of course, would not ordinarily have been present, having been drafted in for the purpose of moving her.

The wheelchair she had a fair if oblique view of, the angle sparing her the details of its restraints for now. To any outside of this very singular establishment, not privy to its detailed machinations and agenda, such precautions, even in the most disturbed and demented of cases, might have appeared at the very least somewhat excessive, if not downright oppressive. This would have seemed particularly so considering the degree of hindrance already inflicted by the plaster casts encasing both the girl’s upper and lower arms and those encasing her above and below her knees. The hinged callipers fitted on the latter, presently locked out in the straight position, did at least allow for some degree of freedom in moving her around being positionable and lockable in a multitude of orientations – not all of which were ‘usual’ or necessarily comfortable for the patient.

The gynaecological examination stirrups, presently residing at the bed’s far end, she knew only too well of course. These could be moved up along practically the entire length the bed, if necessary, by means of a simple adjustment of wheel, adorned with a convenient handle, mounted at the foot of the bed – a worm-drive, running along a slot mounted in the bed frame and duplicated at both sides, carried the supports back and forth as required.

Those hideous callipers, or leg braces as the staff were apt to term them, provided more then enough freedom of adjustment to allow for even the most open and exposed display of her person and the most intimate of examinations. On many such occasions her knees would be drawn back practically parallel with her ears, stretching the sinews of her crotch and forcing those once private coral lips to gape. This would particularly be the case on those occasions when shaving her ‘down there’ was required; it gave unimpeded access of the razor to that region and around her anus too. Regular depilation was a must, it was hospital regulations. It was all about hygiene at the end of the day and she was not a particularly ‘clean’ girl ‘down there’, not particularly ‘fragrant’; she was always overhearing them saying that about her, commenting on her ‘smell’. Her cheeks burned with shame at the thought of it; it amplified the trauma of those examinations out of all proportion.

At other times, always at a time her sedation had been increased beforehand, a small plastic box would be placed on the mattress in a suitable position, this supporting a small wheel, not unlike cotton spool, festooned all around with the softest of hand-selected eiderdown and with a row of slightly longer feathers running around its centre. Two arms emerging from either side of the box carried this device on a little axle slung between them, their positioning being virtually infinitely adjustable. Spinning madly and maddeningly, thousands of gentle feather strokes would kiss then later, once soaked and lathered with her arousal, slaver, lick, and suck at her, softly caressing all around and across her clitoris.

A nurse, sitting by her bedside, would read from a script in lullaby tones, a teeny condenser-microphone pinned to her uniform relaying her voice to the speakers built into that U-shaped cushion pinning her patient’s head. Sometimes these words ran true and ever more so in more recent times. At other times, most others in the early days, her mind would rebel; the ideas coming being just too alien to her. Swamped with strangely perverted images and drowning in her dreams, dreams she couldn’t possibly comprehend, she would strike out the safety of the shore – she would struggle against the sleep-tide, fight to wake herself. She never could of course; the sedative they used was just too heavy. Nor could she resist upon waking, for what could there be to fight if there was nothing to recollect?

And the sedative’s amnesiatic effect, albeit temporary, saw to it that there really was nothing to remember; there were just those missing hours and even those went unnoticed in the 24-hour-lit temporal distortion of that place euphemistically known as ‘the ward’. It was addictive too; it was not medically recognised as suitable for long-term use, that sedative. They undoubtedly knew that and yet they kept her on it continuously, albeit at a much lower dosage ordinarily; it kept her relaxed and her mind soothingly foggy – she was beginning to like that feeling, beginning to wonder how she could ever live without it. She would have grabbed at those little blue and gold capsules when they were brought to her, had she been able, she would have snatched at them, now; it was a deeply humbling addiction - and one encouraged by those softly whispered suggestions she knew nothing of.

The sling having been worked under her, a button was pushed and the hoist sprang into life, albeit remarkably gently. There was an almost supernatural element to that smoothness, of levitation rather than lifting; pulleys of nylon and PTFE, a rope of Dacron standing in where a chain might ordinarily have been expected, these had brought new standards to that, and a quietness of operation that belied the work done. Little more than an electric hum emanated from the crane-like structure; and even that was apt to vanish below the swish of the nurses' dresses – that soft polyester rasp she had become so accustomed to, was comforted by somehow.

The wing-nuts on the hinged mechanism at her knees, that sited between the upper and lower sections of her leg braces, had been loosened off before initiating the lift, allowing the adoption of a seated configuration as it progressed. On being satisfactory seated that adjustment would be reversed, locking the girl's callipers in the new conformation, all safe and sound.

The wheelchair's seat gave markedly under her weight despite her slightness, the white leatherette proving to have an unexpectedly spongy, resilient character. The clinical chill of the plastic came to her, even through the rubber of those awful, sweaty hospital issue bloomers they kept her in; at least it chilled those fleshy regions lying to either side of the thick incontinence towel that resided therein. This latter was a particular bane of her present existence. Affixed internally by straps designed for that purpose, positioned two fore and two aft of the gusset region, the most distal of each pair being just short of the waistband while the other sat just clear of the crotch area itself, the thing was constantly in the most intimate contact with her most sensitive flesh; it both irritated and teased in equal measure.

Placed in the chair, her useless hands now dangled over the ends of the armrests, plaster-enwrapped fingers splayed fan-like; true the resin-based nature of the casts made them softer and more resilient than had they been fabricated from the more traditional plaster, but not as flexible as might ameliorate, in any real sense, the totality of that immobilisation.

Analogous to the mechanism surrounding her knees and allowing angular adjustment to her leg braces, a plastic hinge arrangement linked the casts fitted around her upper and lower arms – this providing stability to her elbows. The similarity ran to the wing-nut and ratchet adjustment of each limb's conformation and by this means the required right-angle bend at the elbow had been introduced, making allowance for a seated posture; again a simple re-tightening of the nut by finger and thumb alone was sufficient to lock each limb in the required attitude.

Having secured an entire plethora of straps and bands around the limbs and torso of their patient, both of Velcro and those secured by buckles and all seemingly unnecessary considering the circumstances, she was deemed 'ready for transfer'.

This 'transfer', when it finally came about, turned out to be somewhat disappointing; it was not quite the lengthy excursion that all that preparation, precautions and fuss might have suggested. Indeed, this sojourn consisted of little more than the length of the ward, a decidedly limited dimension, the negotiation of a substantial, securely locked door and a fairly narrow passageway stretching all of ten metres or so, the latter requiring traversing in single file, one nurse leading the way, the other pushing the wheelchair and bringing up the rear. If she harboured hopes of some glimpse beyond the confines of the hospital, then the frosted glass of two windows that they passed in the ward, then that windowless passage beyond, dashed them in their entirety.

Their destination was, if anything, even more of a let-down; four bare white walls stared back at her as she was pushed across the threshold, unadorned in any way and notably uninterrupted by any window. They had set out in the opposite direction to the ward's security-grille-guarded exit and she had guessed from the outset that they were not actually going to be leaving the unit as such – but she had expected something more, somehow, than this near empty box of a room. Being of perhaps four metres on a side, its only occupant stood bang slap in the centre; a bench or examination table of around waist hight and having a most singularly sinister appearance glowed there as if spotlit, its white plastic top dazzling to the eye. This latter furnishing, noticeably bolted to the floor, was arranged longitudinally within the space. Hinged at its centre, it had been left with the end closest to the party folded down in a manner not unlike a drop-leaf table, the extreme edge reaching down close to the floor and the whole having the form of a horizontal 'L'. Releasing her from the imprisonment of her wheelchair, they stood her up against the contraption, her legs once again straitened, knee joints locked and her callipers pressed firmly up against that vertical section.

A short explanation followed, delivered in a hurried flurry and giving the impression of some fast approaching dead line. It flowed past her largely without comprehension; she felt muddled, foggy, as she so often did these days. It was something to do with needing to have an x ray of her back in a particular orientation and, as she was overdue for an anal exam, 'killing two birds with one stone'.

She was placed in a standing position, bent at the waist with arms stretched above her head, her elbow joints having been locked out now as had been her knees, the latter by way of the callipers. A broad Velcro-fastening band was then drawn tightly across the small of her back and another pulled across her shoulders and upper back, the latter being of some thirty centimetres in breadth and seeming superfluous considering the enforced rigidity of her extremities.

Her chin rested in a raised U-section cushion, provided for that purpose; a cap of criss-crossed leather or plastic straps was fitted over the top and back of her head, firmly secured by buckles at its sides, stabilising her head and allowing the neck brace to be released at the rear and her head to be tilted back such that she faced forward.

Despite their apparent redundancy, leather straps were then fastidiously buckled at her wrists, elbows and again close to her shoulders, the fastenings struggling to accommodate the plaster casts at those points. Her legs were similarly restrained, drawn out into an embarrassingly exposed exaggerated inverted 'V' conformation by straps positioned around her ankles, knees and upper-thighs.

There was something disturbingly familiar about it all; all that attention to detail, all that complexity of restraint while so obviously unnecessary. It was something she thought she recognised, had experienced before in some other place, long ago; there was something ritualistic, fetishistic about it all – it froze her blood, petrified her heart, near unhinged her mind.

Finally, as if in answer to an unasked question, she felt fingers toying with the broad elastic waistband of her knickers. With a concerted smoothly sweeping action a pair of hands was dragging the tacky latex from her bottom, peeling the clinging fabric free of the latter's fleshy overhang with a sound not unlike a young girl,s breath drawn softly through lips pursed with uncertainty, then away from, and down, her thighs, to end stretched wide between her knees.

The mortification was tangible; in her mind's eye she could see now the heavily saturated towel at the crotch dragging down the gusset, revealing its loathsome and embarrassing contents to all – why did it always have to be this way? Why couldn't they clean her up first, at least change the towel if not the knickers? Would it be so difficult? Didn't they care about her feelings? That these concerns remained internalised was probably for the best: Yes, they did care, her feelings were of paramount consideration, no, it would not be difficult; beyond these she would not have appreciated, nor liked, the responses – it was best she was spared the fruits of curiosity...

Suddenly they were gone – just like that. She was alone, abandoned in silent vulnerable isolation; no words spoken in explanation, no light-hearted inter-colleague banter, the only clue to their departure being the softly-padded thud of the door closing behind them. She was alone, open and secured, helpless...

How long it had been she had no way of reckoning, yet her feeling was it hadn't been very long; though what such a relative term might actually mean to one confined as she was, is debatable. Strangely, she hadn't heard the door, not even its muffled re-closing yet somehow she sensed she was no longer alone. For a while she couldn't be sure; there was something there, a slight muffled shuffling perhaps – then her very bowels twisted, mangled in fear, in utmost dread...

It was the wheezing that came first – dry, like old parchment, like the rustle of drought fallen leaves. Then the cough came; not quite a death rattle, although she had so often prayed it was. Decidedly masculine, it came in excited staccato bursts, the nervous asthmatic constriction of elderly bronchi. Then it came nearer, that unseen presence, the breathing, laboured and heavy; moist foetid breath lapped around her neck and hung there like rotting strands of seaweed, then dangled down her back, then sniffed and snuffled between and around her buttocks, bony fingers, the nails ridged with time, easing the globes apart.

Her mind had become as frozen in terror as her body had been immobilised by more physical means, her last cogent thought being one of utter disbelieve: how could it be him, here, in this place, in this hospital – how could he have got to her here? She knew it couldn't be, of course, how could it? It had to be some sort of hallucination, the sort they were always warning of, that she denied yet they insisted she suffered – had they been right all along? Yes, that was it, just another delusion, it had to be, just had to...

She waited, what else could she do; even that scream wouldn't come, it froze somewhere along her throat. That scream had always torn through the air, rang in her ears, but that had been only in nightmares; they told her that's what they were and punished her if she said otherwise. They had so many ways of punishing, all for her own good; they could withhold her meals, not let her sleep, they might simply ignore her for days or even weeks - that was by far the worst, no one speaking to her, not smiling, not even acknowledging her own smile, it was subtle but effective – so very many ways. No, she could only wait, the scream wouldn't come, the punishments had been too effective - what if it was all just another nightmare? But this was no nightmare, they were never in the here and now, never in this setting – yet how could she be certain? No, it had to be a nightmare, another derangement. That is what they said they were and she was not allowed to object, she was not allowed to question the fact; that was what was stifling her scream, slowly dismantling her reason thought by thought, belief by belief...

Gnarled arthritis-clawed fingers kneaded and prodded the flesh around her most intimate regions as so often before, exploring, teasing. Then a hesitation, the pause she knew to be the calm before the storm, an uncertain meandering countdown, time itself seemingly hanging pendulous in space, quivering before the coming tempest; a most agonising prospect for any woman. And then... AND THEN...
To be continued
Copyright (c) 2008 Garth. P. ToynTanen

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