Group Meeting Chapter 2

Photo of Iris Carden's books. Caption reads: "Excerpt from a book."

Chapter 2 Monday Afternoon excerpt from Group Meeting by Iris Carden

I haven’t got a new work in progress started yet. I’ve come up with some characters I like, but I still don’t know what happens to them. Until I work that out, on Saturdays, I will give you chapters from one of my already-published books. Here’s chapter 2 of Group Meeting. I shared chapter one a while back, and there’s a link to it below.

“OK time to wrap up. So how was everyone’s day?” Sarah looked around the group, hopeful that someone might say something positive.

Bobby, inspecting his nails as usual said quietly, “My day was OK – but the new girl in the kitchen was a bit annoying.”

“New girl?” Sarah asked, “Kara was with you in the kitchen. She’s been your cooking teacher for three months. There was no-one new.”

“I think she was a new nurse,” Bobby said quietly.

“There’s no new nurses,” Sarah said. “Just the same team we’ve always had – two nurses on each shift, who you all know, just in case there’s an emergency, and to help you all keep track of your medicines.”

“I thought she was a new resident,” Jilly said. “She seemed to be one of us.”

“There’s no new residents, either” Sarah began to sound puzzled. “If there were, we’d introduce them at a meeting, rather than just have them turn up at a lifeskills sessison.”

“There wasn’t anyone new,” said Chantal. “Just us and Kara, and Kirk, of course.”

“Kirk the prison-guard,” Johnno muttered.

“Security,” corrected Sarah. “He just has to do checks on the whole campus throughout the day.”

“Yeah,” said Johnno, “because the alarms you staff all wear, and that are stuck all over the walls, and the cameras don’t keep us safe enough. We need Kirk in his jack-boots…”

“Hardly jack-boots,” Sarah interjected.
“….stomping around, making sure we know not to get out of line.”

“But there was a new girl,” Bobby insisted. “She didn’t say anything, but she was there.”

“The girl who didn’t say anything was Jilly,” Johnno said.

“No,” said Bobby. “Not Jilly.”

“She was really pale, looked sick,” said Jilly. “And really tall, and thin. She looked as if she might blow away in the wind.”

“There wasn’t any tall, thin girl in the kitchen,” said Chantal. “You two just invented her for someone to blame.”

“Blame for what?” asked Sarah.

“The graters, we couldn’t grate the cheese for our spaghetti because someone had taken all the graters. It was a stupid joke. It meant I had no protein, because I didn’t get any cheese, and I couldn’t eat the meat.”

“You could eat the meat,” Bobby said. “Or you could have cut cheese with a knife and just put thin slices on your spaghetti, the same as everyone else did.”

“I’m going to suffer from malnutrition,” Chantal’s voice had taken on the whining quality that showed she was warming up to a full-scale tantrum. “Someone here wants me to suffer malnutrition and die! That’s what it is. One of you hid the graters so I couldn’t eat properly, and I’m going to die!”

“Chantal, take a deep breath,” Sarah said.

“I’m going to DIE! I know it. Someone here is trying to kill me! You’re all killers anyway aren’t you? So it makes sense doesn’t it? Someone here is going to kill me.”

“Chantal!” Sarah said sharply. “Listen to me! What you are saying is unreasonable. Nobody ever killed anyone by hiding a cheese-grater!”

“But people do die of malnutrition!”

“Not in Australia – missing out on protein for one meal is not going to kill you when for most of the rest of your life you’ve had enough nutrition, and for the rest of the day you’ve had sufficient nutrition, and from now on you’re likely to have sufficient nutrition most days. It just isn’t realistic.”

“So why did the graters go missing?”
“I don’t know, but I’m sure there’s a logical explanation.” “Maybe the new girl took them?” Bobby suggested.

“There’s no new girl,” Sarah said.

“But Jilly and I both saw her,” Bobby said.

“Maybe the new girl who doesn’t exist stole the graters to kill Chantal,” Johnny laughed, his tortured cat laugh.

“It’s not funny!” Chantal shrieked. “Chantal CALM DOWN,” Sarah ordered.

“He’s laughing because someone’s trying to kill me!”

“No-one is trying to kill you, and there is no new girl.” Sarah’s hand was on the emergency alarm on her waistband. This was the closest she had ever come to pushing it. In less than a minute two security guards, and a nurse, with sedatives if necessary, would be there. “Johnno, stop teasing her. You can see she’s upset.”

“It’s OK Chantal,” Jilly said quietly. “You’ll see. You’ll feel better after dinner, and your medicine. The graters will turn up by the time we’re in the kitchen next. Just try to relax, you’re safe here. There’s the fences and the security guards – nothing can hurt you.”

Chantal began to cry quietly, and Jilly put an arm around her. Jilly looked pointedly at the hand Sarah had still sitting on the alarm button, and Sarah relaxed.

“Well,” said Sarah, “the evening’s yours, and I’ll see you at nine in the morning.” Jilly gently escorted Chantal from the room. Bobby followed, fingers in his mouth. “So Jilly saves the day again,” Johnno said. “Would you have pushed it?”
“If I had to.”

“How do you decide you have to?”

“If it looks like someone will get hurt if I don’t.”

“Very subjective. What happens to us if you do?”

“Whoever is being threatening will be restrained if necessary, either physically or chemically. Once they calm down, it’s all back to normal.”

“Or back to the ward?”
“Oh, I don’t think that’s likely.”
“Do you really believe the crap you sprout? Have they got you brainwashed?” “’They?’ Which particular ‘They’ would that be, Johnno?”

Johnno stood silently a moment, then turned and left the room.

Sarah picked up her notebook, and wrote under the night’s announcements: “For Doc: new girl, graters, Chantal afraid she’ll be killed, Johnno becoming concerned about ‘they’ again.” It seemed an odd list of issues – or for any other group of people it might be. She would add more detailed notes than that to the residents’ individual files when she did her paperwork after tomorrow’s morning meeting.

Chapters of Group Meeting

Cover of Group Meeting by Iris Carden. Cover features photo of old, abandoned, abandoned grave.

Group Meeting

(Novella) In a facility for the criminally insane, a group of people with sinister pasts starts to be visited by a girl who doesn’t exist.

Reviews for Group Meeting:

Group Meeting is quite a spotlight into twisted minds and the depths of insanity…engrossing story by Iris Carden with quite the twist at the end…wow! – Dawn (Amazon)

Fascinating, with an amazing twist right at the end. Deep and varied Characterisations and emotive scene setting. It was totally unexpected, and surprised even me. Highly recommended. – Annie (Amazon)

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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