The DorothyL listserve had a discussion last week about hospitals. Can characters walk in and out of sections of a hospital without being stopped, can a patient slip out of ICU unnoticed, all that good creepy kind of thought process. Since I never feel really good about hospitals, the conversation fascinated me.
Unfortunately, I’ve had some experience here. And as fate would have it, during the online conversation, my mum took ill and we needed to put her in the hospital here in Nashville. She’s fine now (Hi, Mom!) and back home in Florida. But the five days she spent in St. Thomas really had me freaked out.
I’ll tell you one thing that’s an absolute – if you want to wander into a hospital room, no one is going to stop you.
If you look like you know what you’re doing, you could go into a room, kill a patient, and walk away with no one the wiser. For five days, I walked in and out and not a single person asked who I was, who I belonged to, who I was visiting, nothing. It was horrifying, really. I’m shocked there isn’t a higher number of hospital fatalities and murders. We won’t even go into the lack of attention paid to the patients.
I’ve never been comfortable in the hospital. The surgery side is fine, emergency is sort of fun in a gruesome ‘things are horrible but they will get better’ kind of way. It’s the ‘spend the night’ areas that I don’t like. I’m not sure where my intrinsic fear of this comes from, having been in hospitals all my life. Maybe it’s the constant barrage of daytime soaps that I watched growing up — DAYS OF OUR LIVES must have set every third scene in University Hospital. Maybe the barrage of people who died, came back from the dead, lingered in comas, had affairs, tainted my worldview.
But I do know one event in particular that really blew it for me. Seeing the Exorcist III in the theater.
I lived in Washington, D.C. at the time, and spent an ungodly amount of time carousing in Georgetown. I didn’t really want to see the movie, but a boyfriend insisted (he wasn’t a boyfriend after that night, I assure you). What a mistake that was. I’ll never forget how scared I was, seeing the halls of Georgetown University Hospital, knowing the streets, the signs, the shops intimately and imagining that the Gemini Killer was real – hell, I couldn’t go to Georgetown unaccompanied for months.
Think I feel things a bit too keenly? That’s why I don’t watch horror movies.
There’s one scene in particular in the movie that still haunts me, where the Gemini Killer comes flying out of a room with the shears to cut off the nurses head – yeah. It was too much for me, I still get chills thinking about it.
Now I find that the movie is based on the book, LEGION, by William Peter Blatty, (yes, quit rolling your eyes, I didn’t know that the original EXORCIST was a book first, I’m sorry) and I find myself wondering if I should get it and read it. Knowing my track record with these kinds of things, I’m thinking no. I just spook too easy.
I watched half of CONSTANTINE (wasn’t scared in the least, just got tired and needed to go to bed) and ended up having one of the most horrific nightmares I’ve ever experienced. Read Peter Straub’s GHOST STORY and couldn’t walk down the hallway to my room by myself for a year. What’s so sad is I read GHOST STORY when I was eight, and saw CONSTANTINE when I was thirty-six, and had the same damn reaction. I just can’t handle the scary stuff.
Yet I can research and write books about serial killers, write short stories about stalkers and demons who terrorize innocents. Any psychologists want to explain that one to me?
Wine of the Week – Maybe this will cheer me up – Molly Dooker Shiraz