Group Meeting Chapter 8

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

I seem to be in a lupus flare. Expect more posts that are just chapters of stuff I’ve already published. I will write new stuff as I have the energy, and cognitive dysfunction and the very sore joints of my fingers (along with all of the other very sore joints) allow.

Chapter 8 Thursday Afternoon excerpt from Group Meeting by Iris Carden

On the way to the meeting room, Sarah stopped by the residents’ bathroom, and found that the smell they were complaining about was only too real. It really did smell like something that had been dead a while. She’d checked with the cleaners, and no-one had been able to explain it. The room had been scrubbed and deodorised, but nothing had been able to get rid of or mask the smell.

Chantal was first to the meeting room. She looked even worse than she had that morning. She dropped a meat cleaver on the floor, silently. Sarah caught her breath quickly.

“Where did you get that?” she asked.

“It was on my bed, when I went to my room after lunch,” Chantal sat down, and started at the object on the floor. “It’s dirty. I think that’s blood on it.”

Sarah wondered if it was blood, there was certainly an old stain on it. She pressed her personal alarm. Suddenly, she wanted Kirk to be there for the afternoon meeting.

Jilly arrived a moment later, and stepped through the door just ahead of Kirk. She saw the cleaver on the floor, and screamed.

Kirk walked past Jilly, and picked up the cleaver. He muttered something into the radio he carried with him. “How did this get here?” he asked Sarah.

Sarah shook her head. “I don’t know. Chantal says she found it in her room.”

Jilly was still standing where she had been when she’d first seen the cleaver. She was now staring at it as Kirk held it in his hand. She was breathing heavily, had turned pale, and was shaking.

Sarah went over to her and put a hand on her shoulder. “Jilly, come and sit down.”

“Is it…. mine?” She asked.

“Yours?” Sarah asked.

“The one I found that day, in the restaurant kitchen. The day I…… the day I killed everyone, at our Christmas lunch.”

“It can’t be,” Sarah answered. “We don’t know where it came from, or how it got here, but it can’t be that one. That one will be locked up with police evidence somewhere, or destroyed, or something. It can’t just turn up here.”

“But nothing like this can turn up here, can it?” Jilly looked at Sarah. “Can it?” she looked at Kirk. “You keep us safe, don’t you? That’s the reason for the fences, for Kirk and his staff, to keep us safe?”

“I’m going to find out how it got here,” Kirk said firmly. “You are safe.”

“But I’m not safe,” Jilly said. “Because I’m not safe from ME am I? It doesn’t matter how much we’re locked up and kept secure. There’s no-one more dangerous than us.”

Another security guard arrived. Kirk gave him the cleaver and ordered him to lock it away. The guard left, and Kirk pulled up a seat. “I think I’ll stay for the meeting this afternoon, if that’s OK with you,” he said.

“Thanks, I think that would be a good idea,” Sarah said.

Johnno and Bobby entered the room, walked around Jilly who still hadn’t sat down, and took their seats.

“How come Captain Kirk’s here?” Johnno asked. “Did someone do something bad?”

Bobby looked at his left thumb-nail. “Maybe it was the new girl.”

“Chantal found a meat cleaver in her room,” Sarah said. “Does anyone have any idea how it got there?”

“Meat cleavers are more Jilly’s domain than mine,” Johnno said. “I always preferred a scalpel.”

Jilly shuddered.

“That’s not amusing or helpful,” Sarah said.

“The question was: Do you know anything about it?” Kirk said.

“Why would I?” Johnno said. “I’m not allowed to play with sharp implements. Even when we’re cooking either you or one of your brown shirts has to watch me with the cutlery.”

“Does anyone know anything at all?” Kirk asked again.

Everyone looked at each other. No-one had anything to say.

Sarah was frantically scribbling notes to pass on to Doc. Something was going wrong with someone in the program, and she didn’t even know who.

“They were in my room again,” Chantal said. “Didn’t you see anything on your cameras this time?”

“I’ll check the recordings,” Kirk said, “but I haven’t heard anything. I would have heard if there was any sign of anything out of the ordinary.”

“Has there been more fog or distortion on the video?” Jilly asked.

“Sometimes,” Kirk confirmed. “We’re getting a technician in to look at it.”

“Fog didn’t put that thing in my room!” Chantal said.

Jill had at last sat down. “I’m thinking that fog appears on the security tapes when the girl that only Bobby and I see is around.”

“You’ve suggested that before,” Johnno said. “In a compound full of killers, I don’t think we need to be chasing ghosts. We’ve got enough of the damned alive and kicking here.”

“I really don’t know what’s going on here,” Sarah said. “I’m going to see if Doc can come to one of our meetings tomorrow, to see if he’s able to help sort it all out.”

“In the meantime, I’m going to have a guard outside Chantal’s door,” Kirk said. “I am going to make sure nothing like this happens again.”

“’Cause that’s worked so well up until now,” Johnno said. “Besides which, if something really horrible happened to Chantal, it’s not as if anyone in the world would grieve over her, is it? No-one would ever miss any of us.”

“People definitely don’t miss nice Dr John doing house calls,” said Bobby, worrying his right index fingernail.

“No, they don’t,” said Johnno. “And nobody’s missing Chantal down at the child care

centre. And they’re not going to miss her when she ceases to be here at all. Nobody cares about any of us.”

“You poisoned whole families, not just the kids, didn’t you?” Bobby asked suddenly, looking straight at Chantal. “When the kids took home the food they’d cooked in their cooking sessions. That’s how you got the highest death toll of any of us. Any one of those families might have had a pregnant mother. Maybe the new girl is the ghost of a young mother you poisoned. Maybe that’s why she’s throwing up.”

“There is no new girl!” Chantal yelled. “One of you is doing this to me!”

“OK, Calm down.” Sarah decided it was time to try to bring some order. “I don’t know what’s going on here. Nobody does. Speculation isn’t going to help.”

“Don’t speculate about the spectre,” Johnno said.

“Let’s all just go our own way now, have a quiet evening, and we’ll meet in the morning, at the usual time,” Sarah said.

The group moved out slowly.

Kirk stayed back. “I’m going to step up security – get the boys to do some overtime. We’ll watch Chantal’s door, and the hallway. I’ll also make sure someone checks all the fences in case someone can get in from the outside. I don’t think that’s likely – most of the world doesn’t know this place even exists. And if someone wanted revenge, they wouldn’t mess with their heads, they’d just kill them. When I found out what they’d done, I thought about killing them.”

“Great to know,” said Sarah. “The person responsible for the residents’ safety would like to kill them.”

“Come on, you don’t ever think it?”

Of course, she’d thought it. She’d just never say it. What she said was, “I need to go and call Doc – see if we can get him here tomorrow.”

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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