Leaves of Autumn

I wrote a bunch of prompts you can read about the process here.  This is my response to one of them.


 

Gerald stared out across the broad lawn, leaves of red, gold and brown skipping across the surface as the wind chased them through the garden.

“Can I get you anything Gerald” a kind faced nurse asked, pulling the rust coloured blanket up onto his lap.

Gerald looked at her over the rim of his glasses for a moment before answering.  “No.  No thank you” he said slowly.   He was pretty certain that she was new but something in the back of his mind told him that he knew her from somewhere.  Somewhere else though.

“Okay dear” she said walking away smiling. “Dinner will be at seven, it’s pork chops tonight, your favourite.”

“Did you hear that Albert?” He asked the man in the blue pyjamas sat next to him.  “It’s pork chops again, third time this week.”

Albert didn’t reply and stared out into the distance.  Albert always stared out into the distance these days though he did enjoy the pork chops.

“Is she a new one Alfred?” Gerald asked him without expecting a response.  “I’m certain she is but she seems to know I like pork chops.”

Albert blinked.

“No I don’t quite remember either” Gerald continued.  “Everything seems a little fuzzy you know.”

Albert blinked again.

“And I’ll tell you another thing, not only are we eating a lot of pork chops Alfred but it seems to have been Autumn for a rather long time.  Do you even remenber when it was anything but Autumn because I don’t.”

Gerald pulled back the blanket from his knees and let it drop to the floor.  There was a word he was looking for but he couldn’t quite find it and then just before he had it he felt it slip through the his grasp like the wind that whistled through the trees outside and teased the leaves until they sailed to the ground.

His old gnarled fingers gripped the arms of the chair as he attempted to lift himself up onto his feet.  He felt a shooting pain in his stomach and stood bent over.

“Gerald, what are you doing?” came the voice of the new nurse before he was able to steady himself.   His legs felt weak, like they hadn’t been used for a long time.  He looked down at them noticing how thin they seemed.

“Come on you” She said placing a hand on his arm and easing him back into the chair.  “Whatever is he like eh Albert?” She asked Albert smiling.

Albert stared straight ahead though Gerald noticed him stiffen ever so slightly.  He didn’t remember much but he didn’t remember Albert being so fat.

“There really is no need to be up and about Gerald whatever is the matter?” She asked sharply.

Gerald tried again to stand but felt once more her arm on his shoulder and this time more forcefully and he sat back in the chair.

“There’s something wrong here” Gerald said as she once again put the blanket on his lap.  “Everything feels wrong, what’s going on?” He demanded.

The nurse’s eyes narrowed and she placed a hand on each of his shoulders as she leaned in towards him.

“Now Gerald let’s not get upset, you know how it effects Albert.  There really is no need to concern yourself and you don’t want to miss out on pork chops tonight now do you?”

She stared deep into his eyes and it sent a chill through him.  He scrambled in the recesses of his mind, everything a blur and tried to remember something, anything.

“What have you done to me?” he whispered as she continued to stare at him, pinning him where he sat.  “What have you done to Albert and why can’t I remember?  Why is it always autumn?”

Albert.  That was it.  He hadn’t always been like this.  It wasnt’t always pork chops and autumn.  Before there used to be…

“Gerald, you really need to settle down” she said, her tone now ominous her smile long gone from her face.  “You’re upsetting Albert see.”

Gerald turned slowly and saw that Albert was staring across at him, tears running down his fat cheeks.

“Albert I…”

Nurse stood upright looking down at him.  Gerald suddenly felt very small and there was a knot in his stomach.

“Now shall I get you those pork chops?” she asked with her fake smile now plastered once more across her face.  “I’ll fetch you some too Alfred.”

Gerald nodded as Albert continued to stare at him before nurse settled Albert back into his chair.  She straightened him up and again he faced the wall as she tucked Albert’s blanket tight around his legs and patted his stomach.

“Albert loves his pork chops don’t you Albert.”

Gerald watched her walk away and push through the double doors at the far end of the room.

“Albert, what’s going on” he whispered.

Albert turned towards him, his eyes wide and breathing heavily.   A mix of pain and fear was etched across his face.

“Christ man what is it” Gerald pressed.  “What’s going on?”

Albert opened his mouth to scream holding his stomach but no sound came out.  His face contorted and eyes bulged as his mouth continued to widen and his face reddened.  His lips, stretched thin,  turned white and then began to bleed as his voiceless scream continued and his eyes began to roll back into his head.

Gerald forced himself from the chair once more, his heart pounding in his chest and his head spinning.  He looked about and began to move as quickly as he could towards the double doors.  His legs felt like they would buckle beneath his as he shuffled in his slippers, and turning back he saw Albert reach out an arm towards him and even in this state it seemed to him to be somethign of a warning.

He slowed as he reached the doors and stood pressed against them, breathing heavily.   Nothing made sense, nothing felt real.  he shot a glance back at Albert and saw he was slumped on the floor in fromt of his chair.  Surely the only thing he could do was to call the nurse.

Gerald reached for the door handle but before he could push through them he heard the voice of the nurse beyond them.

“Just get those pork chops ready” he heard her bark.  “And add extra we need to fatten them up.  The pupae are getting hungry and Albert’s will be ready to hatch before the spring.”