"Ward 13" drabbles by Lisa Williams

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Closure 5/5

Ward 13

The blackened bones of skeletal trees have been painted with a thin brush on a Wedgewood blue sky. Orange wisped clouds puff across an empty carpark from the incinerator's belch.

Notice of demolition pinned and flapping in the breeze.

The door has been shut but is unlocked.

The interspace between our worlds is ill defined. It’s easy to get lost.


Trapped one side with no means of return.

A narrow corridor.
Locked doors lining its walls.
A small window.
That won’t fully open.
Closing in on you.
Desperation to leave embraces you.
Takes over.
Even I suppose possesses.

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Threat 2/5

Ward 13

He held a clip board. Like they did.
Made scratching notes with a little frown.
Sealing the fates of others in a scurry of ink over charts and plans.

We watched him. Not hard to spot in his fluorescent vest. Currently in the incinerator that hadn’t felt heat for decades. We wondered if he was foe as his boots crunched over fallen plaster in the corridor. Assessing. Deciding our future. We listened to them talking. Hearing the plans. Knowing we may have to intervene and halt them.

The building gave us strength. Without it we would all be lost again.

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LET ME OUT... 3/5

Ward 13

Urban explorers came in tweed to photograph. Positioned dolls. Prams. Anything to make the decay seem more macabre. Although nothing could match the horrors of its past.

The spiralling of a staircase we weren't allowed to climb. Skeletal exposed springs of a mattressless bed propped against a door. Padded. To soften our blow.

The focus on three words.
Words we thought but could never say.
Words we'd write if allowed pens.
Written in 1989 by a boy here to kiss a girl in the desertion.
Written in black.
In capitals.
Meant as a joke.
But rarely was there laughter here.

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Before. 4/5

Ward 13

See? It's me there in the bed.

Not relaxed. Not sinking into a downy nest. Not pulling over a comforting cover.

My nerves jangle. Nervous for the unknown. Terror at the sound of a key turning in the lock.

The restraints were broken. I tell myself that. Attempting to comfort.

But not knowing when.

What they'd managed to do before I escaped.
That was what scared me as I lay in the bed.
Leather straps chafing at ankles.
Pinched skin against my wrists.
Twisting flesh as they held me tight. An embrace of restraint rather than one of delight.

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Ward Thirteen 1/5

Ward 13

The building stood dark against the skyline.

The sloping grounds vibrating from the traffic as the city made its way home. And beneath the grass. The long forgotten passages only a few had known about.

A white tiled room.

A flickering light.

Illuminating barely enough.

Broken restraints on a rusted bed. Dusty equipment in an open drawer. A shiver then for what might've been. An inkling of what went on. The screams of the last patient still dripping from the wipe clean walls.

A catch of breath at the creak.
A sound.
Like the somnambulant soles of a nurses shoe.