Intensive Caring

Intensive Caring book cover burned flesh

Alice snorted and spat a large glob of green phlegm down the back of the man she pushed in the wheelchair in front of her.  He won’t feel it, she reasoned, reduced sensation in his upper body, as he likes to tell me.  She smirked at the thought, as she was not entirely convinced that she believed it.  She had made it her goal on more than one occasion to test this assertion, resulting in a range of injuries to Simon, the man she now pushed, the man who paid her a hefty chunk of his meagre income to be his carer.Initially, the injuries had been minor: small scratches, or the prick of a pin, however, when he had barely noticed these, she had escalated to cigarette burns and paper cuts on the webbing between his fingers.  Alice was quite proud of this idea.  With Simon unable to maintain full control of his upper limbs, she delighted in holding his hand in front of his face and dragging the paper between each of his fingers and watching the discomfort etched on his face.  If he had been able to speak, Alice had no doubt that he would have had a few choice words for her, but he could not, his disability restricting him to a few sounds that she could loosely describe as communication.

What made it even more amusing for her, was that his brain had not been affected by his disability and he was able to comprehend exactly what was happening to him. He was forced to lay in his room at night knowing what was in store for him the next day and was powerless to do anything about it.

She regularly looked for ways to inflict maximum discomfort to those in her care.  With Simon, she had found that the addition of lemon juice to the tiny wounds she had inflicted would cause him to thrash his arms wildly in a vain effort to stop the pain.  This often caused her to smile as she watched him.Perhaps she had been doing this for too long, but after a while, his tear filled eyes and pitiful moans had ceased to amuse her.  The needle that she used to give him his medication each night – don’t want him dying – had served her well for a time, as a two inch needle down the back of the fingernails seemed to cause a significant amount of pain, judging from Simon’s face.  This had been enough to keep the smile on her face for several weeks but her greatest pleasure came from taking him out and whilst in the supermarket, telling him which finger she would be working on that evening.

He often tried to attract attention when out with Alice, but she was always able to explain his outbursts and people moved away, satisfied by her explanations, as they were so very plausible.  Some evenings, she would politely request that he refrain from drawing attention to himself when out, unless he wanted to experience what it felt like to lose the top part of his finger to a pair of bolt cutters.  Simon had only tested this threat once and had one short finger to show for it.

When the needle had lost it’s lustre, it was time to move on again and Alice had moved directly to scalding.  Never in a place that could be seen; his upper arms, back and chest had the blistered skin to show her efforts.  Not wanting to mess around with first-degree burns, she had skipped this step and gone straight to second and third-degree burns.  The first time, she had taken him to the hospital under the pretence that he had spilled a hot coffee on himself and observed the treatment that he had been given.  Whilst she did not have the skills or the resources of the accident and emergency doctors, she had learned enough to make sure that he suffered just the right amount and didn’t succumb to any infection or other ailment that she had not administered herself.  The scalding had held her attention for several weeks.

*   *   *

Alice glanced down at Simon and watched the glob of phlegm trickle down the back of his neck and disappear inside his t-shirt.  The streets were busy today but no one even gave the pair a second glance.  To the casual observer, they were a disabled young man and his carer out for the day.  What they did not know and could not see, was that this particular carer had lain awake all night wondering where her amusing game could go from here.  She had dismissed the idea of dismemberment, as this would be too obvious to any observers, similarly blood letting or cutting didn’t seem exciting enough.  So Alice pushed the chair, weaving in and out the pedestrians and pondered her predicament.

As she approached their bus stop for the return journey, she saw the bus pulling up short of the stop.  She started to run, Simon bumping around in the chair in front of her, wondering why the bus had stopped several hundred feet short of it’s stop.  Her answer came moments later, as an ambulance, sirens blaring and lights flashing, emerged from behind the bus, heading along the street in her direction.  With the other traffic on the road pulled over to let the ambulance pass, it was able to accelerate easily along the road.

As it approached Alice, the answer she had been looking for came to her.  Waiting until the ambulance was almost alongside them, she feigned a stumble and let go of the wheelchair.  Simon rolled several feet before the chair angled toward the road.  Dropping off the kerb, he was thrust out of his wheelchair into the path of the speeding ambulance.  There was a sickening thud as Simon’s head made contact with the front of the ambulance and he was catapulted at least a bus-length further along the road, coming to rest with his legs in the road and his head on the pavement.  His head had been crushed and bits of his brain had been thrown onto several of the pedestrians, who were screaming.

Alice climbed to her feet, frowning.  That was not as much fun as she had thought it would be.

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