Dream Tunnel 3

At 10:50 p.m. Nurse Olive escorted Conroe to her living quarters. “Conroe, this is your roommate, Martha.”

Martha sat on her bed in pajamas, scribbling in a spiral notebook. She glared up at Nurse Olive. “I told you not to call me that. My name is M.” She eyed Conroe. “And I hate roommates.”

“Nonsense,” Nurse Olive said. “I’ll bet you two will be the best of friends in no time.”

“Right,” Martha said, going back to her writing.

“Lights Out is at eleven, Conroe.” Nurse Olive checked her watch. “You’ve got ten minutes.”

“Ten minutes to be in bed?” Conroe asked.

Nurse Olive had already stepped out and closed the door.

Conroe sat down on her bed. “What am I supposed to do—sleep in my clothes?”

Martha closed her notebook and slapped it down on her bed, as though she were trying to swat a cockroach. “You’re not gonna have to worry about sleeping—you won’t be here for that long.”

“What do you mean?”

Martha leaped from her bed and ran at Conroe, knocking her down flat against the mattress, climbing on top of her, and straddling her at the stomach.

“Get off me!”

“I’m gonna mess up your face.”

The door opened, and Nurse Olive walked in. “Conroe, I almost forgot to give you your—what are you doing, Martha? Get off of her!”

“No problem—as soon as I break her perfect little nose.” Martha tightened her fist and contorted her face into something that looked like a Halloween mask.

Nurse Olive yelled down the hall for orderlies.

Conroe pulled her leg up and kicked Martha in the back with the heel of her boot.

Martha’s eyes widened until her eyeballs looked like they were about to pop. She raised her hands like claws—ready to tear into Conroe’s face.

Conroe caught Martha by the neck with her boot and flung her to the floor.

Martha sat in a daze for a moment before getting to her feet. Two orderlies rushed into the room and grabbed her as she lunged at Conroe.

“Take her to Solitary,” Nurse Olive ordered.

“I don’t like her,” Conroe said.

“Martha is somewhat high strung.”

“Somewhat?”

Nurse Olive handed Conroe a pill and a paper cup full of water. “This will help you sleep.”

“I don’t think I’ll have any trouble sleeping.”

“It’s not optional, my dear.”

Conroe took the pill.

“You’ll find a pair of pajamas in the dresser. Sweet dreams.” She smiled and walked out.

Conroe wondered how fast the pill would take effect. She changed into the pajamas and switched off the light.

The mattress was lumpy, but as she began to feel drowsy from the sleeping pill, she knew that the poor quality of the mattress was not going to be a problem. She didn’t like the sensation, though. Conroe wanted to be in control at all times. It had been a rough day: getting into two fights, spending three hours at the police station, and now being locked up in this place.

However, she was exactly where she wanted to be.

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