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The water of Lake Macquarie usually shimmers and shines under endless summer skies with spectacular sunsets transcending from a dusty pink to burnt orange but the last couple of years the residents have endured nothing but gloomy weather that reflects the mood of the people.

Along with the rain Covid has kept the tourists away leaving the locals isolated indoors away from their family friends and work colleagues.

But one of the locals really couldn’t care less if she never spoke to another person ever again, Eleanor Bana lives alone in a ramshackle old house on the edge of the lake and she only ventures out to go shopping or to her place of employment the recently reopened psychiatric hospital at Morriset where she works as a nurse.

Eleanor is a tall striking woman in her early thirties with a fair complexion, jet black hair and her intense green eyes could most likely stare down a charging rhino.

If she put in an effort when she was younger Eleanor could have made it big as a model making huge money in Paris, London or New York but instead Eleanor down plays her looks dressing in drab clothes wearing little or no makeup.

When she does go shopping she wears steel capped Doc Martin boots and hides behind a pair of cheap sunglasses to ward off any potential interaction with other shoppers.

Eleanor also loves venturing out at night during thunderstorms carrying a metal tipped umbrella that she holds above her head to attract a drone of lightening to jolt her heart and shower the sky with sparks of the tempest.

Eleanor Bana enjoys the darkness morbidity and blood but she isn’t a vampire but she might well be Lake Macquarie’s first witch.

Five nights a week just as most residents are setting their alarms and going to bed Ellie as she calls herself comes into her own.

Midnight is known as the witching hour and that is the time she clocks on at work to begin an eight hour shift at Morriset hospital where she wanders the wards bringing doom and gloom to the patients unfortunate enough to be under her care.

The psychiatric facility opened its doors again after falling into disrepair and decay with the only residents being mobs of kangaroos and ghosts.

After the refurbishment the local member of parliment hailed the hospital as a blessing for the mentally ill but the ghosts of the past who haunt the wards will beg to differ.

When the clock strikes midnight Ellie starts her shift and at this time of night she is the only nurse working on the second floor and that is exactly how she likes it.

She begins by pushing her dispensing trolley from room to room checking to see if the patients have been prescribed their medications and to see if they are resting peacefully and thankfully at this time of night most patients are deep asleep so Ellie can perform some procedures that would be definitely be frowned upon by the hospitals board of directors.

At 3am after her first break of the evening quickly goes into the staffroom and grabs an item from her locker.

The item in question is a scuffed medical satchel that looks as old as time itself and if Ellies grandfather is to be believed the satchel once belonged to Lucifer.

Ellie was given the satchel 8 years ago by her maternal grandfather when she graduated as a nurse with honours.

Ernest Brunt was a well respected GP who worked out of the same surgery in an inner suburb of Sydney for 53 years.

He carried the leather satchel everywhere he went because to Ernest the satchel was very special he called it his little bag of tricks.

After the graduation party Ellie went back home and carried the little bag of tricks upstairs to her room.

Eager to have a look inside she sat on her bed and opened the bag but was disappointed to find it empty but an odour emanated from the red velvet lining hitting the back of her brain like a brick.

The smell of death and disease at first repelled Ellie but after a few seconds she stuck her head over the bag and took a deep breathe.

Instantly the smell of danger hit the back of her throat and Ellie took a few steps back and was tempted to give the bag back to her grandfather but a dark corner of her mind told Ellie to treasure the gift she was given.

After retrieving her bag of tricks from her locker Ellie placed it on a nearby bench and rummaged around to make sure that nothing was missing.

The bag contained an assortment of medical items you would expect to find vials, bandages, latex gloves. scissors etc but also present were a dozen specimen jars, various syringes and Ellie’s favourite tool a razor sharp scalpel.

But it is the specimen jars that interest Ellie the most because they contain body parts floating in an alcohol solution that Ellie began to collect on her very first shift at the hospital six years ago.

Each jars contain foreskins, clitoris’s, different coloured eyeballs, finger and toenail clippings, hair samples and various other body parts.

Most of the samples were taken from the recently departed who she found down in the morgue on her weekly visits but tonight Nurse Bana has other plans.

As she admires her souvenirs Ellie feels her knickers getting moist and she is tempted to rub at the tender spot causing the annoyance but she has business to attend to so she closes the bag and walks out of the locker room.

In room 10A 19 year old Andrew Nugent is asleep completely unaware that evil has just entered his room.

His eyes flutter as he dreams about the good times before paranoid schizophrenia destroyed his life.

Smiling as he sleeps Andrew recalls memories of his mum and dad and playing with his baby sister but soon his dream will turn into a nightmare.

Ellie is pleased to see that the patient is sleeping because normally he is highly agitated and needs a constant cocktail of drugs to keep him calm.

Even though the patient is strapped to his bed Nurse Bana knows that he could still be dangerous so she administers a sedative then checks his vitals to make sure that he is stable because the last thing she wants is for a patient to die on her watch because then there would be a investigation.

Putting on a pair of latex gloves Ellie grabs the scalpel from her bag she lifts the patients gown to check if his is uncircumcised or not.

Smiling Nurse Bana covers the flaccid penis in alcohol to prevent infection then moving quickly in case a cleaner appears Ellie holds the foreskin firmly and stretches it out like a turtle neck and with a quick cut she severs the morsel and drops it into a specimen jar.

Working expertly Ellie applies some dissolvable stitches and barely five minutes after attending to her patient she leaves the room to complete her rounds.

Andrew Nugent has no idea that a tiny piece of him is gone forever but at least he survived the night relatively unscathed.

Two hours later Nurse Bana decides to take an early break because she doesn’t get along with any of the other night shift staff but when she enters the canteen she is annoyed to find a few tables already occupied.

Ignoring the other people she puts a bowl of spag bol in the microwave and after four minutes her meal is ready.

When she turns around the six pair of eyes that were watching her quickly turn their attention back to their mobile phones.

As she eats Ellie scans the room, two female cleaner sit huddled together over in the corner near the coke machine and seated next to them four burly male orderlies who are usually loud and boisterous remain silent.

After devouring the spaghetti Ellie searches her bag of tricks looking for an apple she packed at home, pushing aside the specimen jars and zip lock bags containing the ingredients for potions and spells Ellie has planned for the weekend.

Taking her her bite of her apple the young orderly who only started working at the hospital a week earlier decides to open his dumb mouth ‘Hey Nurse Ratchett why don’t you come over here and wrap your mouth around this lump of meat.’

Looking daggers at the loud mouthed orderly who leers back at her cupping for crutch ‘Come on Ratchett and swallow my load’

‘I am not into pimply faced overweight nineteen year olds who are hung like a cashew so why don’t you go away and play with your crayons.’

The cleaner snigger but the orderlies are not amused especially Reynolds the victim of Bana’s acid tongue who attempts to bring her down and lucky for him his three workmates hold him because they have seen Bana’s bad side so they remain tight lipped and watch the evil nurse leave the canteen but Reynolds cant hold his tongue and whispers towards the retreating back ‘I will get you for that you crazy cunt’.

Forgetting the idiots Ellie’s mind drifts back to the night of her graduation when her grandfather gave her the special present.

After thanking her parents and friends for coming to her party Ellie walked into the loungeroom where her grandfather was waiting.

Ellie has always been her favourite so he hugs her tight and wishes her all the best for her future endeavors.

‘Happy graduation Eleanor i trust that you have had a great day.?’

‘Sure thing grandpop but i can see that there is still one gift that i haven’t opened yet.”

The grey haired old man smiles at his grand daughter and hands her a big gift wrapped box.

Ripping the wrapping paper to pieces Ellie is eager to see what her grandpop bought her because he always seems to know what she wants but when she opens the box she is disappointed to see an old battered medicine bag inside but she quickly hides her feelings and gives the old man another hug ‘I love it grandpop thank you’.

‘I know that it mightn’t look like much but this bag has been handed down from generation to generation and was given to me when i graduated in 1950 by my own grand father Sir Reginald Shaw.’

Drawing his grand daughter close to him the old man whispers in her ear ‘This is no ordinary bag Eleanor, carry it with you where ever you go and it will keep you from harm and guide you on your journey through life.’

‘Now listen closely Ellie because this is very important, if you rub the brass plaque on the top of the bag you will have the power to hypnotize people and get them to do whatever you wish but also Ellie be very wary because it is said that the devil himself sometimes resides inside the bag and if he grabs hold of your mind Eleanor then nothing can save you from evil Ellie nothing.’

Ellie was of the opinion that her grandpop had probably drunk a few too many glasses of sherry so she smiles at the gentle old man and thanks him for the great gift and promises to be careful.

A week later Ellie is up in her room reading Stephen King’s novel ‘Cujo’ and even though it is a good story she begins to think about the bag she got for her birthday.

Putting down he book she opens her wardrobe and grabs the handles and puts the bag on her bed.

Made of high quality leather with brass buckles and trim the bag looks just like an old medicine bag should look like but Ellie decides to take a closer look to see if what her grandfather told her makes any sense.

She notices a small brass plaque on the top bearing her grandfathers name Marcus Ignatious Graham Bana esquire.

The brass plate is a little tarnished so Ellie spits on a corner of a handkerchief and begins to rub and this is the moment when her world changed forever.

As she cleaned the plaque the cowhide began to shimmer in waves of different colours and emotions and at first she smiled in joy but as she rubbed further the colours stop sparkling but transform themselves into deep browns black and despite knowing that she should heed her grandfathers words and be very careful Ellie looks into the depths of hell and her soul and innocence enter the darkness never to seen again.

As the blackness engulfs her Ellie opens the front of her pyjama pants and rubs and rubs until she is sated.

A month after her encounter with the orderlies Ellie receives a phone call at 6pm by her only friend at the hospital, head nurse Susan Bellamy ‘Ellie the director wants you to come in immediately, i know that your shift starts at midnight but the arsehole wants to see you pronto.

‘God Ellie what have you done now?’

‘Nothing Susan i swear, i have been behaving myself, it is probably just a misunderstanding.’

‘Okay but he is in a shitty mood so please get here as quick as you can and don’t antagonize him any further.’

Ellie parks her car in her usual spot twenty minutes later walks up two flights of stairs down a long corridor and knocks on the directors door.

Dr Percy Grainger is 60 years old tall and thin with sparse black hair, people have compared him with the actor John Cleese but until Cleese Grainger is never in a good mood and rarely smiles.

‘Come in Nurse Bana this want take long.’

‘Take a seat, but before i start with the reason why you have been summoned tell me why do you carry that hideous case with you wherever you go?’

‘Before Ellie can reply the balding prick ploughs on ‘You are not a doctor nor will you ever be so from now on i order you to put the bag in your locker when you arrive or better still throw in it the rubbish, it looks like something Jack the Ripper would carry on his murder spree.’

‘I will have you know that this medicine case was given to me by my grandfather who was a prestigious doctor in Sydney a way better person than you will ever be, furthermore Dr Grainger this bag is precious to me and i carry it to protect me from creatures like you.’

Grainger smirks like a toad that just swallowed a fly ‘I should of fired you as soon as you sat down Bana but i wanted to give you enough rope to hang yourself with and you have come through with flying colours, thank you Nurse Bana.’

You were observed entering room 10A at 5am 20th August where you performed an unauthorized circumcision on patient Andrew Nugent causing him needless pain and anguish.’

‘I only learnt of this a few hours ago, had i been made aware of this indiscretion earlier you would have been shown the door immediately.

‘Nurse Bana your employment has been terminated forthwith so go and clean out your locker then you will be escorted by security of the premises.’

Ellie picks up her bag of tricks and places it on her lap and she slowly begins to rub the brass plague bearing her grandfathers name ‘First of all my actions weren’t needless because his foreskin will be me perform my witchcraft along with all of the other samples that i have collected over the years.

‘You will destroy all of the evidence that you have against me and you will keep your mouth or i will cut out your tongue and shove it down your throat.’

‘So do we have an agreement Director Grainger.’

While his nemesis was giving her demands Grainger watched as she rubbed the plague, he sat transfixed staring deep into the polished leather.

As he minds eye sunk deeper and deeper into the abyss he saw an old man that looked a lot like him swinging from a branch of a gum tree located outside his home at Wangi Wangi.

‘I will ask you again Director Grainger do we have an agreement.’

‘Of course we do Nurse Bana you are a valued member of the team here at Morriset Hospital and hopefully you will continue to work here for many years to come.’

Bana gets to her feet quickly followed by Grainger who offers a hand to shake but it is ignored.

Like a little boy lost in the woods Grainger Grainger looks frightened not quite knowing what is happening.

Bana walks out happy that she has out maneuvered Grainger but she also knows that the spell she put on him want last long.

Lost in her thoughts of how she will rid herself from Grainger permanently Ellie doesn’t hear the footsteps of four men who are sneaking up behind her but when she finally realizes that she might be in danger it is far too late.

A hand covers her mouth before she can scream then she is dragged unobserved into an empty storeroom.

Her captors throw her to the ground and tie her hands to a metal downpipe then they gag her with a rag the leader slaps her face a few times to get her attention ‘Hello Nurse Ratchett remember me?’

With blazing eyes Ellie looks up at Reynolds the young stupid orderly that she ridiculed a few weeks back’ Cat got your tongue Bana? Oh sorry i guess you can’t say much with your mouth full can you.’

‘Did you think that you could bad mouth me and get away with it? Well let me tell you that by the time that i am finished with you you will be a broken shell begging for mercy.’

The other three orderlies aren’t keen on sticking around to see what happens next so they make an exit ‘Do what needs to be done Reynolds but make it quick, we will return with a basket and wheel the bitch down to the incinerator and watch her burn.’

When he is alone with his victim Reynolds pulls a knife from his jacket and approaches ‘I am going to fuck you every which Ratchett you crazy bitch and when i get tired of you i will gut you like a fish but i will make sure that you are still alive when i throw you into the fire.’

Ellie knows that she hasn’t got much time if she is to survive but she also knows that Reynolds has the same IQ as a bag of nails so all is not lost yet if only she can gets her hands on the bag of tricks.

Trying to remain calm Ellie looks around the small space only to find that the leather satchel has been kicked into a corner out of reach ‘Shit.’

Part two is coming soon so hang tight.

THE END.