Charles slowly, carefully pushed open the door to the ward, making as little noise as he could.
It was a bare, minimal place - in this hospital, a patient would have few visitors. There were no flowers to brighten one's bedside, no caring relatives who visited, no little personal trinkets to make the cold hard bed feel a little more like home's.
For this was no ordinary civilian's hospital. Every one of the patients here, were victims of a cruel harsh fate - victims of a war-torn civilisation that had crushed in turn their homes, their friends, families; and for some, their sanity.
In a hospital such as this, one did not have any visitors. All those who might have been visitors, were either lying on the bed next to yours, or had simply moved on from this life. And though the cheerful rays of the morning sun were brilliant in their reflection off the whitewashed walls of this ward, the only illumination was that of the utter emptiness and deathly stillness of the room. It was a reminder of the fact that there were few left, to even join you in your suffering, in your despair.
Charles had accustomed himself to this environment, for one came across many of such places in these desperate times. But no matter how accustomed he was, it was the same every time, when he stepped into the ward, and the despair and emptiness swept over him like a rushing tide.
His eye shifted, from the stark walls, to the heavily starched curtains and the illuminated window, to the rows of empty beds. There was only one occupant in the entire ward. That bed was surrounded by others, donned in the white hospital uniforms and a doctor's coat - Doctor Lensherr and the nurses, mother hens caring for a single lone chick.
One, two, three, four... Charles counted, slightly surprised. There seemed to be more nurses present than usual. He found it odd, for he had seen no reason for such a large number of them to be needed. Indeed, Gabrielle Haller had seemed physically none-the-worse for wear when he met her early that morning.
It could be, perhaps, that there were wounds I never saw.
Certainly it was a cause for some concern. Body and mind were never truly separate, no matter how some chose to believe. Any psychological treatment would have to consider the body's physical condition, for one could at any time, adversely affect the other.