‘Are you up to date on the computer, Nurse?’ Matron’s face had a quizzical look.
Joanna said, ‘Uh, well…’ There was always a strong urge to prevaricate. She knew she wasn’t up to date but was not keen to admit it. But you couldn’t lie. After a little pause she added reluctantly, ‘I suppose I’m not.’
‘You must know, Nurse.’ Matron’s voice was brisk and snappy. When you were in charge of the training wing of a large hospital you had to be sharp and organised. ‘And if you aren’t go and do it now. You know Mr Bingford gets very annoyed about incomplete records.’
‘Yes Matron,’ Joanne said. Oh Christ. She was not up to date. Almost two weeks. And if it got to two weeks the dreadful thing would start throwing out alarms. So she had better do it. Joanne made a face. Updating on the computer was not the most pleasant task in the world.
‘It’s all completely impersonal.’ That was Mr Bingford’s stock statement. Mr Bingford had come to the hospital six months ago with the task of sorting out the records of the trainee nurses. The previous records had apparently been in an awful state, odd bits of paper, frequently getting lost. Once the records were computerised all that was a thing of the past. But the capacity of the computer was seemingly limitless. And so was its thirst for information. ‘Just answer the questions,’ Mr Bingford said with a bland smile. ‘It’s quite impersonal, it’s only a computer.’
Yes, but what about all the information it wanted?’ Private, intimate information. What if…? Joanne — and various other girls — shuddered at the thought of someone getting a print-out of what they were obliged to put in.
‘Don’t worry,’ Mr Bingford said. ‘It’s completely secure. Your secrets are safe on NURSEDAT.’
NURSEDAT was the name of the programme. Data Base for the Nursing Staff of St Gregory’s Hospital. It always gave Joanne a nasty shiver when she pressed the key and that word appeared. But there was nothing for it. Do it now and get it over with. She had a spare half hour before lunch.
Down to the basement where the computer room was. She had a vague hope that it might be in use but it wasn’t. VACANT the sign glowed greenly on the door. Joanne stepped in and the door clicked shut behind her. Outside the sign would now be red: IN USE.
The cool, low humidity air hit her. Everything had to be just so for the computer, lord of its domain. It was quite a small room and with all the computer’s paraphernalia not a lot of space. Enough though. Joanne went self-consciously to the chair in front of the keyboard. There was no one there, no person, but as soon as you were in the room you felt it knew and it was watching you. Humming quietly to itself, it’s screen with that blue, eerie, at the moment vacant light. ‘It’s quite impersonal,’ Mr Bingford said. And really it was silly to think anything else. But in a way it was alive.
She sat down and wriggled her bottom on the chair. It was the computer’s chair, an extension of it, so already she was in contact, her bottom, the backs of her thighs, the small of her back, through the thin material of her uniform. Was there now a different pitch to the hum? Unconsciously she wriggled again, then flexed her fingers. Get on with it, she told herself. She pressed the key.
The computer sprang into life. Words on the display:
THIS IS NURSEDAT. Then:
HELLO NURSE. ARE YOU HAVING A GOOD DAY?
Joanne bit her lip She hated that inane start. It was just the programme but it was made more real by being related to the time of day. After 5 pm it would be: HAVE YOU HAD A GOOD DAY? And before 9 am: HAVE YOU HAD A GOOD NIGHT? Reluctantly she punched in her name. That really got it going. A higher pitched hum plus some whirrings.
HELLO NURSE MARKHAM. HOW ARE YOU? A pause. Then:
YOU ARE NOT WIRED UP, NURSE MARKHAM.
Oh Christ! How could she forget that, that extra little nasty thing. With a redoubled feeling that this machine was alive and watching her Joanne slid her skirt up, to the tops of her stockings. She took the wire from its ledge under the keyboard and moved it up between her thighs. It had a little suction pad at the end which had to be placed against a girl’s inner upper thigh, above the stocking. It measured skin moisture and electrical conductivity and it was there to check on your answers. A sort of lie detector. ‘Because otherwise,’ Mr Bingford said, ‘a girl might be tempted not to tell the truth. And that would defeat the whole object.’
You could very well be tempted not to tell the truth about some of the questions. Mr Bingford said, ‘Don’t worry, it will all simply be used for our records.’ But even if that were the only consideration, which it wasn’t, you certainly didn’t want some of those things on the record.
GOOD. THAT FEELS BETTER. NOW WE ARE READY. PLEASE PROCEED, NURSE MARKHAM.
Joanne tried to ignore the suction pad high on the inside of her thigh, but she couldn’t. It was like the computer’s hand up there, in that secret place between a girl’s legs.
13 DAYS SINCE THE LAST INPUT, NURSE. TOO LONG. WE PREFER A WEEKLY INPUT, OR MORE FREQUENT. PLEASE CORRECT THIS FAULT IN FUTURE. THIS IS YOUR SECOND WARNING. THERE WILL BE A DEMERIT.
Joanne had been expecting that. She had been reprimanded for lateness at her last input. She had better not do it again.
DETAILS NOW, NURSE. BEGIN FROM YOUR LAST INPUT; 22 APRIL. USE YOUR DIARY. I HOPE YOUR DIARY HAS BEEN PROPERLY KEPT.
Joanne took the red leather diary from her handbag. Diaries were issued by Mr Bingford and they had to be fully kept up, and not just about hospital matters. Mr Bingford had been explicit about what was to be recorded. It was for the computer. The computer needed all those details. It wanted a complete record.
It began putting specific questions and Joanne answered them, referring to her diary when necessary. These first questions were about purely professional matters and there was no real problem. Attendance; punctuality; duties carried out. Any problems or difficulties. Any reprimands or criticisms, from Matron or any of the doctors.
All of this was all right except that where there were problems, failings, you were going to get demerits. And it was not nice to get demerits. You had to go and see Mr Bingford about them. Joanne did have some failings to record, nothing too major, but they had to be told to the computer. The trouble was that it wasn’t too clear how the system of demerits worked, how they were added up. Mr Bingford knew, of course.
But that was not a problem for now, although going through her diary it did seem to Joanne that there was a lot of little things and you couldn’t leave them out. Not with the computer’s sneaky thing up there on your bare thigh able, it seemed, to know exactly what you were thinking. Joanne wriggled her bottom on the chair. Because they were coming to the end of the job-related questions. And then…
GOOD, NURSE. NOW PERSONAL MATTERS. PLEASE BE SPECIFIC IN YOUR ANSWERS. VAGUE ANSWERS WILL BE REJECTED AND WILL ALSO EARN DEMERITS.
SOCIAL/SEXUAL CONTACT WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX. INPUT NAMES OF ALL CONTACTS.
Oh Christ. Try and remember what Mr Bingford said. ‘It’s all impersonal.’ Yes. But…
Her boyfriend Kevin. The computer knew about him of course, from previous inputs.
NUMBER AND NATURE OF CONTACTS.
They had been to the pictures twice. That was all really. A nurse still in training did not have a lot of free time.
DETAILS OF CONTACTS WITH MR KEVIN FILTON. BE SPECIFIC.
They had just been to the cinema. That was all.
WAS THERE SEXUAL CONTACT IN THE CINEMA? WERE YOU WEARING A SKIRT? WERE YOU WEARING KNICKERS?
Yes she had been wearing a skirt, and of course knickers. But the computer seemed to assume that you wore a skirt so that…
DETAILS PLEASE. WAS THE CONTACT’S HAND UP YOUR SKIRT? DID THE CONTACT HANDLE YOUR SEXUAL PARTS?
No. Kevin hadn’t done that. But… he had tried to put his hand up her skirt. And you had to tell the computer everything.
HOW FAR, NURSE? ON THE BARE THIGH ABOVE YOUR STOCKING?
Well… just about.
THE CONTACT WAS ATTEMPTING TO HANDLE YOUR SEXUAL PARTS?
No! Well, I don’t know.
ANSWER REJECTED. YOU KNOW THE CONTACT WELL. 93 DAYS OF SOCIAL/SEXUAL CONTACT. THIS CONTACT HAS FONDLED YOUR SEXUAL PARTS BEFORE. PLEASE ANSWER.
Joanne was sweating. What was the computer’s sensor making of that? She didn’t know that Kevin was trying to do what it said. Although presumably if she had let the hand continue… The computer would not be happy until it got that straight simple answer. And so she gave it.
AFTER THE CINEMA, NURSE. DETAILS OF FURTHER CONTACTS WITH MR KEVIN FILTON.
Nothing much. They had sat in Kevin’s car. With Joanne in fact all too aware that whatever they did would have to be input into the computer.
DID SEXUAL INTERCOURSE TAKE PLACE IN THE CAR?
DID YOU OR MR FILTON REMOVE YOUR KNICKERS?
PLEASE INPUT ALL DETAILS OF WHAT TOOK PLACE.
Nothing much. Because as usual there had been the awful fear of this, sitting here in front of the keyboard with that nasty thing up her skirt. Some kissing and general smooching. Kevin wanting to do more of course but Joanne pushing him off, refusing.
WAS THE CONTACT’S PENIS ERECT, NURSE?
Hating having to answer, wanting at least to say that she didn’t know. But the computer would not accept such an answer.
WAS THE CONTACT’S ERECT PENIS AT ANY TIME BARE? DID YOU MAKE CONTACT WITH THE BARE PENIS EITHER BY HAND OR BY MOUTH?
Just then Joanne became aware of someone behind her. She gave a little yelp of shock. It was Mr Bingford. He had come silently in and was close behind her looking over her shoulder. How long had he been there? He put a reassuring hand on her arm.
‘Hope I didn’t surprise you, Nurse. Everything OK?’
Had Mr Bingford been standing there watching these awful questions come up? Joanne shuddered at the thought. No, he couldn’t have, he must have only just come in. Not that it made a lot of difference. Mr Bingford could get a print-out of everything, every girl’s complete record, whenever he wanted. All the questions, and all the answers.
She made some sort of reply to Mr Bingford. If he wanted to talk to her she would presumably stop, and continue her input later. That at least would be a great relief. A break from this torture. But…
‘All right. Keep going then, Nurse. Complete your input.’
Oh Christ! Not with him watching. Yes. The hand squeezed her arm again. Somehow Joanne made herself press the re-start key. Right away the computer was continuing along its one-track way.
PRESUMABLY MR KEVIN FILTON WANTED YOU TO HAVE SEXUAL INTERCOURSE, NURSE?
Oh God!!! Gritting her teeth. Yes.
BUT YOU REFUSED?
WHAT THEN. HE WANTED YOU TO MASTURBATE HIM?
Joanne made a little moaning sound. She couldn’t lie and she couldn’t prevaricate. Yes.
DID YOU MASTURBATE THE CONTACT, NURSE?
No! She wanted to put in a whole frantic string: No! No! No! Mr Bingford’s hand was rubbing her arm.
BUT YOU HAVE MASTURBATED MR KEVIN FILTON, NURSE. ON 10 JUNE. IT IS ON THE RECORD.
Oh God. Yes.
ONLY THAT ONCE? NOT SINCE?
No! No! No!
There was nothing else the computer could get out of her about Kevin. Because there was nothing else.
ANY OTHER SOCIAL/SEXUAL CONTACTS, NURSE?
No. But then there it was noted in her diary. Dr Barkley had asked her out last week. She had said No. Trainee nurses anyway were not supposed to go out with doctors.
DO YOU SUPPOSE DR BARKLEY WANTED TO HAVE SEXUAL INTERCOURSE, NURSE?
Joanne, shook her head, red-faced. After some seconds hesitation she keyed in: I don’t know. For once the computer seemed prepared to accept an indefinite answer.
‘Is that it?’ asked Mr Bingford, still close behind her. Joanne, close to tears, said Yes. Mr Bingford reached across her and closed out her entry. Then he keyed something else in. There were whirrings and a high-pitched hum.
On the screen appeared: NURSE MARKHAM HAS 16 DEMERITS OUTSTANDING.
Oh Christ! Sixteen! How had she got 16?
‘Oh dear, Nurse, that’s rather a lot, isn’t it? Look, why don’t we get rid of some of that right now. Then it’ll be over and done with. No point having a large number like that staying on your record.’
Joanne stared numbly at the now blank screen. Her demerits had never been dealt with here before, not here in the computer room. It had always been at Mr Bingford’s flat. But…
Mr Bingford’s two hands came round Joanne from behind and took hold of her tits. She gave a little squeak as the hands squeezed. If anyone else had done that of course it would have to go on her record. But not Mr Bingford.
‘Come on,’ he said. ‘Get up and slip your knickers down?’
There was not a lot of point arguing. Joanne took the sensor out from up her skirt and put it back on its shelf, then got up. Mr Bingford sat down in her place. There was not a lot of room but… Her hands went up under her skirt. Tugging down her knickers. Holding up her skirt she got down over Mr Bingford’s lap. Mr Bingford’s hand fondling her bare bottom. And then… Joanne gave a gasping grunt as his hand cracked hard down.
She got a good hard spanking but even so at the end of it Mr Bingford said that was only worth about five demerits. But they could deal with the rest, he said. Still breathing hard from that very painful spanking Joanna heard Mr Bingford tell her to take her knickers on down. Right off.