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3. (3 November)

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3.

On the first floor of the Secure Unit at Lake House, in a perfectly normal hospital room, Arthur sat on his bed.

The light green blankets tucked neatly beneath the mattress, undisturbed by sleep yet again. The bed, fixed to the wall (as all furniture in the Secure Unit needed to be), creaked softly, the rhythm filling the dimly lit room.

The faint breeze coming through the standard allowed opening of three inches (metal grilled of course), of the window (as all window openings needed to be in a Secure Unit) stirred the curtain of the ensuite shower room.

The curtain could never be fully opened on its velcro'ed track (as all shower curtains were required to be in a Secure Unit) so the breeze merely pushed it back and forth, seemingly in time with the soft creaking of the bed.

Knees up to his chest, arms wrapped around his shins, Arthur rocked himself to and fro, shaking his head, trying unsuccessfully to clear the vision before him.

The Lady had appeared again.

Glowing softly in the dim light of Room 14, holding a hand out to him, beseeching him to follow her, leave this place and take up his destiny.

Arthur wanted none of it, wanted only the medication that would banish the Lady, stop the hallucinations and let him sleep again.

God he missed sleep. Still, silent Nothingness, no dreams, no thoughts, no memories, just peace and rest.

Hadn't he earned it? Didn't he, of all people in this land, deserve peace?

Apparently not.

Through screwed-shut eyes he saw war and death, steel on steel deafened his ears in the silent room. Faces of loyal friends, lions rampant on a standard, the sword. His sword.

'The Once!'

Then, as she always did, the Lady whispered, 'Now, the Future!'

Flashes in his mind, visions of comrades he'd yet to meet, loyal and true. A band of brothers riding out to save the land, unite the Kingdom again. Again? Who was he to even imagine such deeds?

'King!'

The Lady's voice echoed into Nothingness as the door was opened and Gwen entered, carrying his medication, (usually the highlight of a night in a Secure Unit) she smiled and offered him the wondrous cup that held the promise of salvation.

Arthur unwrapped his knees, reaching out for the cardboard cup. In his mind Gwen stood, beautiful in her green velvet, corseted and bejewelled dress, her thin crown glinting in the dim glow from the grilled nightlight.

'The Grail? My love, you have found the Grail!'

Arthur leapt from his bed, grabbing Gwen in his delight, pinning her arms, he hugged her to his chest, kissing her hair and face in ecstasy.

Confusion as the nurse struggled free, pushed him away and reached for her personal alarm. Gwen backed out as the room turned red and sirens sounded in the corridor.

On the linoleum, the dispensary cup lay crushed, nothing magical, nothing Holy. Merely paper.

The alarms fell silent, and the red light vanished, as Gwen reset the system and assured the Response Team that no-one was hurt and they wouldn't be required (at least not for now).

She looked through the small observation window, shaking her head sadly at the broken man within, then she closed the vanity blind and went to fill in the Incident Log.

Inside Room 14 the Lady, too, shook her head sadly, disheartened at the pitiful state of her King.

Arthur wept as he scooped the tablets up from the floor, swallowed both and returned to his bed, rocking himself until the drugs brought peace.


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3. (3 November)

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