Chapter 10

Hughes' mind wandered. He was going to have to call this in sooner or later, he supposed. But he also supposed it could wait a while. After all, Colin's condition was hardly deteriorating. What would Hannah think had happened? Or Jon, or Dan? He could really do with a sleep, or a coffee at the very least, to sort this one out in his head. Hughes looked at his watch - five to five - and sighed. Four hours to go, still! These shifts were the slowest periods of time that man had ever experienced, he was sure of it. He thought, did time itself stretch? Was there actually some invisible force pulling the hours of one and nine further and further apart every week? Not some god, though. How could a guy as good as Hughes, he reasoned, be ruled over by some odd force that didn't really exist, and some were sensationalist enough to even call God? Moreover, he considered, how should the spiritual world be ruled over by a few books written millions of years ago, or whenever the bloody things were done. His parents had been believers, though. Fair enough, their son Brian had clearly made his own mind up.

With this, Hughes' reverie ended. He had thought he had heard raised voices somewhere at some point, but thought nothing of it. Dammit, he thought, I must be drifting off. He searched for something to do in order to stay awake. Go home? Who's going to know… but no, he'd probably fall asleep at the wheel. Crossword? He hadn't brought his paper with him today. Just sleep? No, that was the point, that he wanted to stay awake. Hughes eventually decided he would go straight to the staff room and make himself a coffee, and then go and lecture Jones some more. He would find an excuse, something that Jones had done wrong. He didn't exactly make it hard for Hughes to find them, after all…

He stood up and walked to the door. He opened the door, turned to walk towards the staff room, and froze in shock. He didn't know whether Goodison had even noticed him yet, and he wasn't about to get himself killed by finding out. He shrank back inside the office, shut the door silently and slowly, and without thinking turned the lights off.

Outside, Goodison opened his eyes a little wider – he had half-noticed the sudden change in light on the wall opposite. Those lights shone through Hughes' window. He then heard a faint clang and then a dull thud, probably from inside the office. Goodison opened his eyes fully.

Hughes scrambled to his feet in the darkness, and stood the steel bin back up to stop it rattling around. He ran behind the desk, crouched down, and pulled the phone down with him. Outside his window, someone had stood up and was blocking out the light from the corridor. He assumed it was Goodison, but couldn't see through the clouded glass of his windows. It was too tall to be Hannah, and Jones… and then it hit him fully for the first time what had actually happened. Where was Hannah? Had Dan killed her as well?

This thought seemed to spur him into action, and Hughes scrambled back round the desk to the door.

Outside, Goodison heard hurried movements inside the dark office. He ran to the door in a sudden panic, still only half-aware of what was going on.

"Hughes! Brian! It's me!"

There was a sudden click at the office door, and more faint scurrying noises inside. Goodison, desperately trying to placate the situation, went for the door. To his horror, he found that Hughes had locked it. Then, from inside:

"Go away! Get away from here!" It was Hughes' voice, shrill and panicking. "I just called the police, so run away now, Dan! Don't get yourself sent to prison, get the hell out of here."

Goodison was frozen. How could Hughes have called the police? He could have explained to him, they could have sorted it out! Goodison slammed the flat of his hand against the window.

"Hughes, let me in! I have to explain - Jones came running at me when I tried to go for help, I was just on my way here when he attacked me-"

"Go away, Dan!" Hughes yelled, "Get out of the hospital! I already called 999, they're on their way now!"

"Hughes, don't call the fucking police! I told you it wasn't me. Now come on, let me in! I need to talk to you!"

"Please, go away, please – I… I'm not talking to you any more!"

"Hey, have you really called the police?" There was fear in his voice now.

A pause, then Hughes spoke more quietly. "For fuck's sake, yes I have! Now will you go away?

"Shit! Look, I didn't kill them Hughes, it wasn't me, it was Jones!" Goodison positively screamed at him, slamming his fists on the window. He moved back to the other side of the corridor, ran forward and slammed his heel into the door, just below the handle. He heard a splintering noise from what sounded like the other side of the door, but it didn't budge.

Inside, Hughes crouched further down behind his desk as the door prepared itself to give way. As Goodison charged a second time, splinters dropped out of his side of the door, near the handle. And the bastard had said he was innocent, thought Hughes as, with Goodison's third and final assault, the door crashed open. Splinters and bits of wood flew in his direction, as the lock ripped part of the door off while most of it slammed against the wall, and the impact of the handle made a sizeable dent.

Goodison stood silhouetted in the doorway for a brief moment, then suddenly they could both see as he flicked the lights on. Hughes blinked for a moment as his eyes adjusted, and then saw the look on Goodison's face. It was fear, anger, confusion, and desperation. Goodison had tipped over the edge.

Hughes tried one last time. "Shit, look Dan," Goodison stepped forward, "the police are going to be here any minute, so please, get out of here! Look, neither of us want this-"

"You haven't even called them! They aren't on their way here at all! Hughes, shit, it wasn't me! What happened was, Jones came at me with a knife, so I ran to try and get here. He had this huge knife, so I dodged him when he tried to throw me on the floor, and he tripped over my leg, and smashed into the wall. He knocked himself out, he's not even dead!"

"Get out of here! I just called them, I swear…" Hughes' voice trailed off as he heard the unmistakeable sound of a siren outside. Goodison went white as a sheet, said "You bastard, Hughes," and fled in the direction of the ward, and presumably the door towards the outside store. He was gone.

Hughes stood up behind his desk, slipped his coat on, and walked over to the window Jones had been so avidly staring out of earlier. The ambulance had passed by, but a second later another one came past. Obviously sent by the guys in Russellville, because they knew he couldn't send one. He had called in the HMH ambulance's flat tire earlier. Someone had let the front left tire down – he had seen it when he had gone out to find Colin earlier. Probably kids as usual – they knew that thing was hardly ever used, but all the same – an ambulance? Why not smash up a telephone box instead, or brick the kebab shop window across the road? Bastards.

He walked out of the office, stepped carefully over Jones' body. Well he never. Goodison had lied. Where was the knife then, if Jones had run at him with a knife? He clearly wasn't a very good liar. Hughes moved out into the main corridor, and tucked his hand inside his sleeve. He walked over and picked up the knife from where Jones had dropped it. Killed an unarmed man? Dear oh dear, Dan. He moved back over to Jones and, after rubbing the blade in what was presumably Goodison's blood (from the handle of the office door), placed it a few inches from Jones' outstretched. They'd want to find Goodison before he "died of his wounds". How very – he searched for a word - convenient.

Behind Hughes' back at the other end of the corridor, outside the ward doors, Hannah's eyelids fluttered.

Hughes smiled, suppressing a snigger.

And walked out of the HMH for the last time.