Wicca James Follett © 2009
Vikki pressed the back of her hands to her eyes and started wailing. The four-year-old was tired and hungry. The Gatwick-Alicante holiday flight had been delayed 8 hours. She wanted the familiar surroundings of her bedroom, the reassurance of her cuddly toys. Anne Taylor scooped up her daughter and carried the lightest case into the holiday apartment block's deserted lobby while her husband struggled with the larger cases. The lift was typical of Spain's 1960s-built apartment blocks: a tiny car barely large enough for four adults, with a hinged outer door that had to be propped open with a bag while it was loaded. Anne entered the lift first and put Vikki down so she could help Jack stack the cases.
`Bloody courier and coach scooting off like that,' he grumbled. `Not showing us what's where or anything.'
`It's gone one o'clock, Jack.
' Once all three and their belongings were crowded into the lift and the outer door closed, Jack checked the tag on the keys the courier had virtually thrown at them as the airport coach pulled away. He pushed the button for the fourth floor.
Time would never blot out the memory of Vikki's terrible scream of agony when the lift started moving. The couple had never encountered a lift without an inner door. Anne's cry of terror when she saw her daughter's hand being dragged into the gap between the lift's floor and the side of the lift shaft as the car started rising was lost in the sheer volume of Vikki's scream. Jack's horrified glance took in everything as Anne fell to her knees beside her stricken daughter. Priceless seconds were lost as he struggled with the unfamiliar control panel to stop the lift. It jerked to a halt and he threw himself dementedly against the door in a futile attempt to spring it open, but the lift had risen two metres; the safety interlocks and the floor above held the outer door closed.
The next two hours passed in a nightmare montage of sounds and images. English voices in the lobby; Jack pleading with them not to try to move the lift, shouting above Vikki's terrible screams; the blood pooling across the floor; the sudden silence when Vikki mercifully fainted; the blood; Anne's handkerchief as +a makeshift tourniquet; Spanish voices; arguments; a crash overhead as the roof panel was ripped off and an engineer adding to the crush in the lift; the blood; the luggage being passed up to make room for a doctor and a nurse; the blood; Anne refusing to leave Vikki; the blue flare and crackle of cutting equipment slicing into the door; Vikki being carried unconscious to an ambulance that disappeared into the night, sirens howling despite the hour, with Jack and Anne following in a Guardia Civil car.
Four hours after the terrible accident, a surgeon in the general hospital at Denia told Anne and Jack that Vikki was out of danger. He normally spoke good English but exhaustion had him reverting to Spanish as he tried to explain that the damage was too severe and that it had been too late to save their daughter's left hand. Amputation of the hand's shredded remains had been essential.
Anne's sobs of despair were swamped by Vikki's anguished scream. `Please!' she begged. `Please don't take my hand away!
A voice invaded Vikki's nightmare.
`Viks -- it's all right. Everything's all right. You've got a fabulous new hand.'
`No! No! They're going to take it away!'
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