The Nurse Diaries – Prologue – Part 1

Bad language warning! Icon by Thays Malcher from the Noun Project.

Welcome to the Prologue and Part 1 of my comedy thriller novel, The Nurse Dairies – The Life and Times of a Brighton Serial Killer, serialised here for your pleasure.

Fucking Nicked

The Nurse, interrupted

The Nurse is poised, a carrot-sized joint dangling from her lip, strong arm raised high above the man’s head. The orange street lamp’s glow casts deep shadows onto his face. His eyes frantically signal panic. He is unable to free himself, tied to a chair with a pair of fluffy pink handcuffs she half-inched from a gay sex shop in Kemptown.

The victim’s eyes bug out, and he struggles violently. The Nurse’s trepanning blade scythes down, but before it reaches his scalp, a policeman crashes through the door of the flat, followed by several others, like something from a black and white Keystone Cops movie. Get her, lads. A meaty hand wrenches back The Nurse’s arm, forcing her to drop the knife, and the rest of the rozzers jump on her, bringing her crashing to the ground. Oh, fuck. She is well and truly fucking nicked.

The neighbours in the other flats peer out of their doors, amazed, as The Nurse, a respectable young woman who has done nothing nastier than ‘keep herself to herself’ as far as they’re aware, is manhandled down the stairs of the house on Denmark Terrace, Brighton, and shoved – beefy copper’s hand firmly on top of her head – into the back of a police car. And that’s that. What a sorry end to what was steadily becoming a glittering serial killing career.

Missing the rozzers by a whisker

Chemical Dave, The Chief Surgeon, and Hairy Dave are down the Pedestrians Arms, pints in front of them and spliffs in hand, when The Nurse is arrested. It is nothing short of a miracle they weren’t hoovered up by the rozzers at the same time as her. A mere coincidence prevented them from wandering home to Denmark Terrace for their usual Sunday lunch and – this time – certain doom.

Huddled in the corner of the Poison Ivy bar later that day, still shocked rigid by The Nurse’s capture, the three men decide it’s safest to scarper. The last thing they want is to be dragged in for questioning, and while they know The Nurse is the ultimate in discretion, they still feel edgy. What if she spills the beans?

All’s fair in love and war, they conclude, and after one last pint, they stand up, wipe the beery condensation from their palms, shake hands, and leave the pub, each going in a different direction. After which, Brighton being such a nutter-magnet of a city, they simply blend into the background and fade away.

Part 1 – How it all Began

Some people, simply by being alive, tear holes in the universe. The Nurse is one of them. The chaos and misery caused by her work are cosmic in scale. She is a modern Ming the Merciless from the Planet Mongo. She makes Jeffrey Dahmer look like a wuss. She is not at all nice.

This is not just a serial killer. This is a fucking prolific serial killer, and her activities cause much wailing, pulling of hair, and gnashing of teeth across the land. The Nurse is doing a decent job of reducing the population of Britain. She is fucking good at it.

Way back then

The Nurse can’t recall a time when she wasn’t into pain. Not her own pain; other people’s. Never animals, mind you. She has standards. In her opinion, it isn’t fair to cut a hole in the skull of a living being who doesn’t understand what the fuck is happening. It’s no fun unless the victim ‘gets’ what is going on and she can see the horror light up their eyes as she pounces with her super-sharp tools.

At age eight, when The Nurse first discovers the ancient art of trepanning in an old Encyclopaedia Britannica, she’s lost in wonder. She’s still lost in wonder at trepanation, now called craniotomy and used to this day to relieve epidural and subdural bruising.

While common sense and medical science both say it’s wise to replace the chunk of skull that’s been drilled out as soon as possible, then close the hole, The Nurse never bothers with all that fucking nonsense. She’s only interested in the hole-making bit, experimenting with her Victorian diamond-coated cranial drills and trepanning knives.

She adores the sheer effrontery of it, breaking into someone’s most secret place without their permission. The boldness of it, the bravery of it, actually opening the human skull like a nut and watching the brain pulsing beneath. It’s a bit like being a god, peering through the neat edges of the hole she’s made into the ball of grey flesh that makes a person a person. Their essence, their experiences, their emotions, everything except the skin, sinew, bone, and meat that makes up their bodies, it’s all crammed in there, inside a wrinkled, spongy brain, but it is completely invisible. When someone dies, it disappears, leaving fuck all behind except the meat and offal part.

It is bizarre. The Nurse never quite manages to get her mind around the fact that humans are nothing more than ambulant meat, no better than supermarket barbecue packs on legs. It’s a bit like the feeling she gets when she looks up at the night sky and thinks, Fuck me, that’s fucking massive. A slightly unpleasant kind of awe, but that’s the main reason she is so captivated by the potential that trepanning offers. Her experiments might even deliver cosmic answers to universal questions. Who knows?

After uni, seemingly on track for a career in the Secret Service, The Nurse is rejected by MI5 thanks to a battery of psychometric tests that reveal a slew of troubling hidden habits and attitudes. Interestingly, as she observes at the time, she isn’t bothered. It means she’s free to make her own way, tread her own path, earn enough cash to plan, create, and manage a scheme to indulge her fascination for trepanning real, living humans. And getting away with it.

The Nurse muses while smoking a huge doob. She isn’t an actual nurse, it’s just her nickname for herself, but nursing has to be a good place to start. She’ll be able to play with lots of ill and vulnerable people. They’re much easier to experiment on than the hale and hearty, who have an annoying tendency to put up a fight. She’ll even have access to the tools of the trade, the kit, the know-how, and the necessary expertise around drugs. Resultamundo.

When The Nurse’s much-loathed Great Aunt dies, leaving her a nice, airy flat in a large Victorian terraced house on Brighton’s tree-lined Denmark Terrace – plus a private income – everything changes. She’s fucking made up. Who needs a nursing job when you’ve got an HQ like this in a city centre street, a place that’s packed with vulnerable pissheads most nights? Denmark Terrace is a busy road rich in victims: the nutters, the arseholed, the forgetful, drugged, lost, late, unwary, and unwise. It is so much more discreet than a hospital setting, now that she thinks about it.

The Nurse has fucking arrived. She’s in business. She is motoring. This is where real life finally begins.

Being buggered

Having just left Oxford University, most of the wannabe Chief Surgeon’s life has been spent either being buggered or buggering some other poor bugger. That’s the English public education system for you. The Establishment views such places as perfect proving grounds for the nation’s future bell-ends: the Tory politicians, spies, diplomats, millionaire CEOs, and right wing lobbyists of this world, and he fits right in.

A booming voice – a mellifluous tone – is the Chief Surgeon’s unique selling point. So much so that behind his back, his fellow undergraduates nickname him ‘Mellifluous Tone,’ even though his name isn’t Tony. It’s Geoffrey.

Meet Mister Geoffrey Cocks. Geoffrey has been practising talking like a tosser since childhood. A long, deep breath, the flaring of the nasal passages, and the shifting of the diaphragm in exactly the right way delivers an enormously satisfying boom of a sound, the kind of voice that belongs to people who never listen. The perfect Conservative Party politician’s voice, if you like. Luckily for everyone, he isn’t into politics. He is fascinated by surgery in general, trepanning in particular, and the ‘forever’ role he’s aiming for is Chief Surgeon.

When the Chief Surgeon – as he secretly calls himself – encounters The Nurse, they each recognise a kindred spirit. At twenty-five, he likes to think he already looks the part: a portly ball of a young man with surprisingly small, delicate hands and feet, a massive protruding stomach, balding head, watery blue eyes, and a patterned bow tie. A proto-Gammon, in other words.

The Nurse is not impressed. He’s obviously a massive twat, but she senses he’ll be useful all the same. When they go for a drink in the King and Queen on Grand Parade, he starts talking with some authority on her pet subject. She’s thrilled. He might be a bit of an arse. A lot of an arse, actually. But in one crucial way, he’s her kind of arse. An arse who loves to experiment. An arse who isn’t bothered when his trepanning experiments result in some poor sod’s death. An arse whose particular area of madness is familiar, therefore comforting, as well as inspiring.

Hairy Dave’s close shave

In the manner of so many great British nicknames, ‘Hairy’ Dave isn’t actually hairy. He’s bald. But there’s more. Look closely – something not many people do, to be honest – and Dave actually has no hair at all. Not one hair, anywhere. Rampant early childhood alopecia has left Dave as bald as a billiard ball. He even has bald balls.

Despite the fact that it’s a lie, Hairy Dave is thankful to be called Hairy rather than ‘Baldy.’ As nicknames go, it could be so much worse. At sixteen, he’d spent a particularly miserable year nicknamed ‘Biscuit,’ thanks to some cunt discovering his middle name is Gary. Gary Baldy, Garibaldi, Biscuit. God, that was a shit time. He was so heartily pissed off by the time he left school that he acquired another nickname. For a few dreadful weeks, he was ‘Miserable Dave,’ and he was one truly, madly, deeply pissed off individual. It’s the kind of thing that leaves scars.

If you didn’t know already, or are foreign, you’ll have noticed how the English are hot on nicknames. As The Nurse found out long ago, it is better to give yourself a nickname and make it stick than wait for some cunt to dream up a right shocker for you.

Anyway. Hairy Dave’s balls have not had an outing for a very long time. Not that being celibate bothers him. Having tried every imaginable turn-on, as well as plenty of things nobody in their right mind should be turned on by, Dave knows the only thing that makes him properly horny is criminality. He isn’t fussy, mind you. He just gets off on the thrill of doing bad things, whatever those bad things happen to be.

In fact, any bad thing’s a good thing in Dave’s world, a curious landscape populated by people he’s hoping to rip off, wary people who sense he’s a rip-off merchant, and people who are after his blood because he has just ripped them off. As a result, he doesn’t really have friends, just random contacts who are either terrified of him or keen to relieve him of his gonads.

When The Nurse, fancying a spot of trepanation, knocks Hairy Dave out one dark winter night down Foundry Street in Brighton, it changes his life. Hairy Dave is a bit of a munter despite his youth. The Nurse is quite attractive in the way most young things are attractive, simply because of their newness and freshness. Let’s face it, even baby spiders are fairly cute. While they don’t click immediately, and it isn’t a love thing, they’ve got something dark in common. They both love doing dodgy shit.

The Nurse has Dave where she wants him, manspread-tied to a chair, when he regains consciousness. Most of her victims are terrified when they come around. Hairy Dave is merely inquisitive. Most of them don’t have a word to say for themselves except endless pleadings and beggings, something The Nurse finds fucking tedious. So when Dave starts asking questions, clearly fascinated by the gleaming trepanning tools she’s wielding, she is so taken by surprise that she unties him and hands him her joint to toke on.

It feels fucking great, to be honest, being able to actually talk about her amateur brain surgery exploits with someone who’s this intrigued and impressed. There’s no way she’s killing off this useful fucker.

Saved, it isn’t long before Hairy Dave joins in. The Nurse is a tall, big, powerful woman, but sometimes her victims fight hard to survive. Dave comes in handy, with his total lack of conscience and fiery passion for doing awful things.

With The Chief Surgeon already in The Nurse’s life, they are three, and it feels so right. An unholy sort of triumvirate emerges. Hairy Dave, who regards The Nurse with a heady blend of respect and terror, provides the muscle. The Nurse isn’t quite as skilled as the Chief Surgeon at first. As keen as mustard, she steps back metaphorically and physically, and simply observes. In the early days of their partnership, he does most of the trepanning, and she does the typical nurse thing, handing over sharp instruments on request. As time passes, she graduates to trepanning victims of her own. It didn’t take long before they were neck and neck, no pun intended. Now The Nurse is streets ahead of the posh fat bloke, an incredibly skilful trepanner with more dedication in her little finger than the asshat has in his entire over-privileged, over-entitled body.

Inspired by the Dutch librarian Bart Huges who, in 1965, drilled a hole in his own head with a dentist’s drill as a publicity stunt, The Nurse tries to trepan herself while The Chief Surgeon and Hairy Dave are down the pub. It fucking hurts.

Chemical Dave, artistic genius

Chemical Dave takes drugs. Shitloads of drugs. He’s not too keen on the booze, mind you. He’s aware it turns him into a dickhead, and he steers clear of cocaine since it transforms him into even more of a dickhead, but as for the rest? Yes, please. He has no idea how he manages to stick three years at Brighton Art College, being completely off his face the entire time. It’s probably because he’s an artistic genius and everyone at the college does everything in their power to keep him sweet.

Tripping his nuts off one day on the second floor of the Grand Parade building, looking out over The Old Steine towards the King and Queen pub, Chemical Dave has an epiphany. He’s been watching his fellow arty types for a couple of years as they graduate, drift around the city working in cafes and pubs for a while, then give up and get a ‘proper’ job in insurance, estate agency, hairdressing, or whatever.

I mean, fuck off. There’s no way Dave is going to end up in a three bed semi, bored stupid with a crappy job, a couple of kids and a tired wife, wondering what happened to all his youthful creative fire and passion. But how is he going to turn the tide of awful inevitability that sees more or less every art student in the land end up in banking or managing a shoe shop? It’s a fucker, alright.

When Chemical Dave leaves art college and starts commuting to London daily in search of a suitably arty job, inspiration finally strikes. Bollocks to paying these mental-crazy train fares. He decides to forge his tickets instead, makes a marvellous job of it, and soon gathers an extensive clientele of commuters keen to swerve the outrageous annual cost of a Brighton-to-London-at-stupid-o-clock-in-the-fucking-morning season ticket. At a fee of a grand a pop, Chemical Dave is doing nicely.

It’s no surprise Hairy Dave and Chemical Dave get on so well. When they first meet down at the Pedestrians Arms, they recognise in each other a fellow evil sort, someone else who’s equally easily led and just as happy to do nasty shit. No wonder, along with The Chief Surgeon, they become so keen to support The Nurse in her ambition to become Britain’s best-ever serial trepanner.

Creative explosion

Welcome to the Amateur Brain Surgery Club. Between them, the Daves, The Chief Surgeon, and The Nurse get a lovely rhythm going. They pick up some random cunt, knock them daft, bundle them into a vehicle, trepan them, then either bury the failures or let the successes loose on the South Downs with fucking great bloody holes in their heads, drugged into a state of permanent amnesia. It is huge fun, until the fucking rozzers catch on.

The rest, as The Nurse says, is history. And now she is fucking well nicked, buried extremely deep in the deepest, smelliest shit.

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