Elvish Ain’t Dead

by James Edwards-Smallbone

The psychiatrist paced down the seemingly endless grey corridor. Despite the best efforts of a team of decorators the relentless dinginess clung to the mental health centre (they were officially discouraged from using the ‘A’-word) like a leech, sucking away any last watery remnants of joy. He approached room 42 and lifted a medical chart from its hook on the bland wall, acknowledging the tired looking nurse with a tipping of his glasses.

“Good Morning.”

“Morning Dr. Glossop.”

“And how is the patient today?”

“Very disturbed I’m afraid sir, he was raving all night. Dr. Tanner was forced to administer sedatives.”

The doctor’s pristine brow furrowed, wrinkling the skin over his bald head and displacing his horn-rimmed spectacles. “What a pity, when we were making such excellent progress.” The nurse nodded with the jaded sympathy of one who’d seen a thousand such tiny tragedies. “Very well, you’d better let me in.”

Keys jingled in the lock like fairy bells as the nurse opened the door of the padded cell. An atmosphere of restful, sterile calm washed out over the psychiatrist and he entered, a reassuring professional smile pasted over his features.

“Hello Mr James, I’m Dr. Glossop.” No reply punctuated the vacant silence. “You remember me don’t you? I’ve been visiting for ten months now. We’ve been talking about Terrapposita.” Stillness. “Edward?”

“Hmm?” The man looked up at last. That is to say his face looked up, his eyes appeared to be focused somewhere else entirely. “Oh hello Dr. Glossop, I didn’t hear you come in. I was just talking with Sycamore.” Not for the first time the psychiatrist scanned the empty room. There was evidently no-one present but the two of them.

“Miss Sycamore is here now?”

“Of course! You just have to know where to look, how to look.”

Glossop sighed inwardly but tried not to let it reach the surface. James was a difficult patient who clung to his delusions more firmly than most.

“We’ve been over this rather a lot, doctor,” the man added reproachfully, “it’s all there in the book if you’re still unclear.”

Ah yes, the book. He’d read it cover to cover a dozen times or more in an effort to understand the root of the author’s delusions. “You’ll be pleased to hear it’s selling well, Mr James.”

“Sales don’t matter Dr. Glossop! What matters is that people know Terrapposita exists and how it can be reached.” Glossop adjusted his glasses with an incredulous cough and scratched his nose as he always did when considering a thorny problem. “I’m not mad you know.”

“Of course not Mr James,” the psychiatrist responded in a conciliatory tone, “you’re simply here to recover from a stress-related mental episode”. Glossop’s bedside manner was legendary, a fact to which many of the more suggestible nurses could attest. The patient however had lapsed again into silence, cocking his head like a dog listening to the distant call of its master. Somewhere out in the corridor a bell clanged ethereally.

“I’m afraid I have to go doctor, the Bell of Oakholt is striking noon.”

“That’s the lunch bell, Edward,” Glossop snapped, letting terseness overcome his measured tones for an instant. He was beginning to take James’ lack of progress as an affront to his professional skills. “I’ll see you again this afternoon”. The author however had returned to his previous catatonia and Glossop turned back into the corridor with another practised frown. The nurse had vanished to be replaced by a burly orderly who had somehow crushed himself into a narrow wicker chair and was engrossed in a thick, colourfully bound tome. Glossop leaned inquisitively over his shoulder.

“It’s Terrapposita sir, by Edward James. It’s very good. I’m reading it for the Richard and Judy book club.”

Glossop’s scowl could have iced over active volcanoes. He preferred biographies; at least the characters in those were real. “Come on,” he growled, “I’ve got Napoleon and Julius Caesar to see before lunch.”

In the silence of his room Edward shut his eyes and calmly counted to seven and a half before opening them again to a view of a beautiful wooded hillside.

“Who were you talking to?” The speaker chirped with a high musical voice which exuded warmth and friendship as she pushed white-gold hair back over her large pointed ears with dainty elfin fingers.

“Dr Glossop,” the author replied distantly.

“From the book?” The voice was laden with apprehensive concern.

“From Earth.”

There was something like fear in the creature’s huge almond eyes as she took his hand with her own, gloved in exquisite pearl dragonscale.

“You shouldn’t say such things, Edvardion. Earth is just in your imagination, it isn’t real…”

James Edwards-Smallbone (and no, he did not make that name up) is somewhere between Baloo and Brian Blessed and writes to get rid of ideas that are taking up valuable brain space.

  1. #1 by Alice on August 5, 2008 - 1:31 pm

    James, you are brilliant. Why have I never read your fiction before? Or is most of what you write to us fiction only I never realised?

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