It was a strange picture outside the modern University Hospital’s main doors when an emergency vehicle arrived in the middle of the night, hotly pursued by an obscure figure in black robes on a white horse. Seeing the signs in French, an observer might have been surprised to hear the shroud-wearer talking English to a shadow in a pointy hat, stout shoes, stripey stockings and shapeless female garb.
“WHAT ARE YOU UP TO, NANNY?”
“Sign must have slipped. Was only off on my travels. Sorry.”
“MIND BINKY FOR ME AND I WILL SEE IF I CAN GET YOU OUT OF THIS!” The words were clipped.
In the intensive care unit, the older woman in the black garb appeared to be trying to die. Despite the best efforts of the young doctor in charge, her heart kept stopping. Seven times the skeletal figure shouted “NO” and grabbed her shoulders while the medical staff applied electrical shocks to her chest. Her body folded upwards with an audible “oof” sound while bony fingers slapped at her face.
A large gentleman in an old-fashioned British bobby’s uniform appeared at her feet and began to argue with her.
“No, go back, Button. It’s not your time. Look, Titch isn’t here. If he were you’d know it was time to leave.”
Blue lights glowed in the eye sockets under the cowl and a voice like animated rust ground out “THANK YOU, CHIEF INSPECTOR, I THINK I CAN MANAGE HERE.” A sand timer was waved under the policeman’s nose.
A bony forefinger tapped on her temple.
“NANNY AB IT IS NOT YOUR TIME AND I WON’T TAKE YOU. GET BACK IN YOUR BODY AND PUT SOME EFFORT INTO IT!” If you think that real fingers clicking sound sharp, try it with pure bone. It is a sound of complete irritation.
The beleaguered physician applied the electricity again and her body bounced on the table. A male nurse appeared at his elbow.
“Will she live?”
“I think so but every shock weakens her. She’ll feel like shit on a stick for a good while after.”
The nurse twiddled with her toes affectionately. “Poor soul, might be better if she went now.”
“MESHUGGAH! SUDDENLY EVERYONE IS AN EXPERT ALREADY!” The hooded figure’s impatience was boiling over. “TITCH! HERE BOY!” A very large black Spanish Hunting Hound appeared in the room and popped his paws up on the trolley, licking at the old woman’s face.
Although the humans couldn’t hear, the dog spoke quite clearly to the witch and the unwilling body collector.
“Told you, Mum. When I said I was going to go Rainbow, I promised I’d come back for you when it was your time so we could walk there together. Now it isn’t your time. Look! I got no lead on!”
The doctor and male nurse gave a last look at their patient and decided to go for coffee.
“She can’t take any more re-animation. If it stops again, we’ll have to leave it.” The young doctor sighed.
With a final prod at her chest, the skeletal figure turned and called the dog to him.
“BEHAVE, NANNY AB. YOU ARE GOING HOME. GOT NO ROOM FOR YOU TODAY.”
The shape who had been holding his horse slipped back into the room and settled comfortably back into the body on the trolley.
“YES, NANNY, NAP TIME BUT THAT’S ALL.”
At that point, Nanny Ab’s faithful partner was driving through the night. A hare appeared on the side of the road, staring at him fixedly. He understood. This was a blessing. Nanny was going to live.