Group Meeting Chapter 5

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

I didn’t get something new written for today, so here’s something I prepared earlier.

Chapter 5 Wednesday Morning excerpt from Group Meeting by Iris Carden

“Well,” Sarah said brightly, “how did everyone sleep?”

“I didn’t.” Chantal was emphatic. “Someone was pacing up and down outside my room, coughing, slamming the bathroom door, and muttering something. And they were throwing up again. And knocking on my door, but disappearing before I opened it. This is a really sick joke, and whoever is doing it really ought to stop it.”

“Did anyone do it?” Sarah asked. “Was anyone outside Chantal’s room last night?”

“I got up once and used the bathroom,” Johnno said. “But only once, and I didn’t slam the door or throw up.”

“Well someone did,” Chantal insisted, “and look what else.” She held up two cheese- graters. “These were left under my pillow. Someone really thinks this is funny, but they’ve got to stop this or there’ll be trouble. Whoever you are, you can’t do this to me and get away with it.”

“This is really strange,” Sarah said. “The graters were under your pillow?”

“Yes, they were. Someone is really being childish. And they’re stopping me from sleeping and if I don’t get enough sleep I could get sick and it would be all their fault.”

Sarah thought a moment. “I’m going to ask Kirk to look at the security camera tape from the hallway outside your room, to see if we can get an explanation for this. In the meantime, I just want to ask that if anyone here knows anything about this, they tell me after group this morning. Chantal, we will get to the bottom of this for you.”

“And whoever did it is going to be punished, right?” Chantal asked. “They’re going back to the ward?”

“The ward isn’t for punishment, it’s for treating sickness. People only go back to the ward if they are not well enough to be here or are refusing to participate in the program. There will be consequences, however, if someone has been doing these things, and I will have to find out from Doc exactly what those consequences are.”

“What do you mean ‘if someone’s been doing these things’? Someone has been doing these things!” Chantal was very upset.

“Maybe,” said Sarah, “but yesterday afternoon there was no-one around at all when you were complaining about someone knocking on your door. So maybe…”

“Maybe what? I’m hallucinating? I’m the one who isn’t seeing the girl who doesn’t exist, remember?”

“I didn’t see her either,” Johnno added. “But maybe I’m hallucinating not seeing her, too. How about that, Chantal? We could have discovered a whole new mental disorder, just on our own. Doc could write it up in a medical journal and win an award for it.” His tortured cat laugh grated on Sarah’s nerves even more than usual. “We could be famous. Newspapers could pay us for our story – how we didn’t see the girl who wasn’t there.”

“Thank you very much,” said Sarah. “I think we can do without that kind of comment. Chantal, I don’t know what to make of this – but Kirk can tell us if anyone was actually in the hallway. If there was, this is a cruel joke and there will be consequences. If there wasn’t, I guess we see what Doc has to say about the whole thing.

“Lifeskills this morning is health with Kara, and you’re having an exercise session out on the front lawn – some ballgames, and yoga to finish with.

“After lunch, you can choose to catch the bus to the library if you want to change your books. The bus will be going from the front gate at one, and will be back by two-thirty. And if anyone wants to see the chaplain, it’s chaplain’s chat time from three to four. The chaplain

will be in the quiet room, anyone who wants to talk to her is welcome to meet her there. At four o’clock we meet back here to wrap up the day. OK, well, enjoy your day, and I’ll see you at four.”

Bobby stayed behind. He gnawed hungrily at his left thumb-nail.

“Did you want to talk about something, Bobby?” Sarah asked.

Bobby looked at the nail as if he’d never seen it before. “You said if anyone knew anything about the noises in Chantal’s hallway to stay and tell you.”

“Did you make the noise?” “No, I didn’t”
“But you know who did?” “Yes.”“So who was it?”
“It was the new girl.”
“Bobby, there is no new girl. I keep telling you that. Even Jilly understands that now.”

“But I’ve seen her, and Jilly’s seen her. How can she not be real if both of us saw her. She’s not part of my sickness. I never see things that aren’t there – I just need to light fires. I see the new girl in the hallway outside Chantal’s room a lot. I don’t think she likes Chantal. She makes strange faces when she looks at Chantal’s room. And I think she’s the person Chantal hears throwing up as well. She looks like she’s really, really, sick.” The left thumb returned to Bobby’s mouth.

“I don’t know what the explanation for you seeing her is, then Bobby, but there is no new girl. There’s no new residents, no-one new on staff, and if someone had found their way in here, Kirk or his team would have found out and sent them outside again, maybe even had them charged with trespassing. I’m going to ask Kirk if I can look at the security tapes with him – but I really don’t expect to see any strangers on the tape. There’s no new girl. All I expect to see is a logical, totally normal, explanation for what is happening in Chantal’s room. Either someone is playing tricks on her – or there is no-one there, and she is imagining it all. That’s the only two choices. It can’t be the new girl, because there is no new girl.”

Bobby, thumb still in his mouth, shuffled out of the room.

Sarah watched him go, wondering why he had so much invested in the idea that there was a “new girl” in the half-way house

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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