Cloud Atlas: Chapter Summary (Chapter 8: The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish)
November 5th Timothy wakes up in a hospital, before being given drugs to fall back asleep.
November 6th he wakes up again, unable to remember his own name.
November 7th the doctor informs him that he’s had a stroke. He remembers his name, but the rest of his identity remains fuzzy. Because of the stroke, he has trouble speaking, moving, and cannot go to the bathroom by himself.
One day he suddenly remembers everything. He stays in the hospital for over a month.
All he can do once he gets out is read to pass the time. He begins editing Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery. Tim is frustrated by the lack of ending and wishes for the second volume. He finds Aurora’s library, but it is sparse.
Once afternoon get goes outside and begins poking around the bushes, looking for gaps in the wall. He finds none. He does, however, find the boiler room. Inside sit Ernest Blacksmith, Veronica Castello, and Mr. Meeks. Ernie gives Timothy some Irish Malt, and they become friends. They spend their time complaining about being elderly, Nurse Noakes, and wanting to escape. Timothy begins visiting the boiler room every day.
December 15th Timothy sneaks out of his room in the middle of the night and finds a phone available. He calls his brother’s house and his sister-in-law answers. Denny has been dead for weeks, and there is no one to get him out of Aurora House. In the middle of the conversation, he is found out by Nurse Roakes and made an example of for the other patients.
The next day, Ernie reveals that the nurse spiked his food on purpose in order to give him a stroke. Tim doesn’t want to believe it, and an argument breaks out. That night, he dreams that the second volume of Half-Lives is above his bed.
On Christmas Eve, he approaches a resident with a postcard to send to his sister-in-law. The resident says he’ll send it out. The next morning Tim finds a misshapen sock above his mantle. He thinks Ernie put it there, but all that is inside is his ripped up postcard.
Tim goes to the boiler room to apologize to Ernie, who has a plan to get them all out.
December 28th is D-Day, the day they’re all going to escape.
First, Tim calls Mrs. Hotchkiss’s son and tells John that his mother is dying and talking about family jewels. John says he’ll be at Aurora in half an hour.
After the call, Ernie goes to Nurse Noakes and tells her that Timothy is dead. Timothy waits in a nearby room, and when Nurse Noakes goes in to check on him, he locks her in his room. Ernie nails the door shut.
In the reception room, John Hotchkiss is demanding to be let in the gate. Veronica presses the button to let him in, and the three of them go outside. John and his wife hurry out of the car, and Tim, Ernie and Veronica highjack it. They find the keys and begin driving around. The caretaker is chasing after them. The only way out is through the closed gate, and they ram into it, forcing it open.
Once on the road, they find Mr. Meeks in the car with them. They stop at a pub, several miles out, and order a round of drinks. Tim realizes he left the map in his room with Nurse Noakes, with their route marked in.
Mr. Withers and John show up at the pub, but they provoke the local pub-goers and get beaten up in a good, old-fashioned brawl. The four elderlies escape unnoticed.
At the end of the road, Timothy parts ways with the others and calls Mrs. Latham. She has taken care of all the financials since he’s been gone. His publishing company has been sold, but his debts are paid and he has money. He plans on hiring a ghostwriter to turn his story into a movie.