Ash and Dust Chapter 2

May 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here’s part two of Crown! Let me know what you think.

Chapter Two: Further Reasons why Hospital Security is Essential

Guilt disappeared.

He didn’t immediately disappear, but rather turned into dust. While I reeled from the shock of what was going on, he abruptly turned black-and-white like an old TV show and stopped moving. I stood for a second, aware that my sanity was reaching a breaking point, and reached out to touch him. My finger grazed his coat and he collapsed, like a sand castle knocked over by the waves, into a plume of dust on the ground. I felt something in my head run away with him. I almost giggled before waves of nausea crashed down like the surf.

I sat on the bed for what felt like an hour. Eventually, I checked my watch but it was broken. When I realized that, I felt a twinge of something that felt like regret. I had no idea why, as I couldn’t remember where I got the watch in the first place. I mostly just sat, trying to think through everything, but it was useless. Every few minutes my fingers would drift back up to my head and I would have to force them back down or my stomach would rumble and I would start coughing. My spit tasted like rust, and I gagged when I tried to swallow.

Eventually, I grew tired of the room full of nothing, with the medicinal edge to the colours and the ghostly beeps. I stood up and the blood ran to my head. I stumbled and grabbed the door as I fell forward. I caught myself on the frame, and dislodged something that had been hanging on the back of the door.

Reaching down, I picked up my jacket. I didn’t recognize the jacket, nor did I see my name on it, I simply knew that it was mine, just as the tie was my favourite. I simply knew without consciously knowing. I put the jacket on and reflexively checked the inside pocket. Indescribable joy flooded through me like an orgasm as I found my cigarettes and lighter. Taking a bent cigarette, I lit one with shaking hands, and took a drag that ate half the cig.

Everything in my head seemed to settle into place when I breathed out, like a ball rolling on the hoop that finally falls through. I took stock of the situation, helped by the cigarette. I didn’t know how I got to the hospital, but was likely hallucinating because of the drugs I was on. I probably shouldn’t walk around, but there was no other way in the room to alert someone I was awake, not even a smoke alarm that should have been blaring in my ears. My memory was still fuzzy, no doubt because of the gaping hole in my head, but, cheered, I checked my pockets quickly and methodically.

My pants were empty, but there was a gold ring, a pack of gum, and a bullet in my jacket pocket. I couldn’t help but stare at the bullet and ring for a second. I assumed I was married and I guess I carried a gun once, but that was all I could manage. I idly rolled the bullet around in my hand as I thought.

I hiccuped in fear. I couldn’t feel anything on my skin. My heart started racing again and my stomach was threatening full revolt, but my skin felt cold and dead. Fear bubbled in me and the taste of gasoline burned the back of my throat.

“Ryan, get going. Get gone, and find someone to help.” I told myself, shaking only a little. I stubbed my cigarette out on the ground, and left the room. It was time I found someone else and actually figured something out. I stalked down the empty hallway, past open doors and abandoned rooms. None of them held even the hint of prior usage, and they were all completely identical. A single, long metal-framed bed in a sick-green room that beeped softly. They felt like they belonged in a hospital, but they didn’t fit.

It was so ridiculous, I thought, that I must be tripping wildly on the drugs they had me on. I laughed out loud, wondering what I looked like to everyone else. There were probably people in those rooms who saw me staggering down the hall, looking as loony as Bugs, but I couldn’t see them. A few minutes now, and a security guard would probably start with “Sir, I need you to come with me.”

I decided to stand still, smiling stupidly, and waited for the guard. Yep, any second now, and a friendly, reassuring hand would come clap my shoulder and awkwardly guide me back to a doctor. I waited, and my only companion was my smile and the quiet, steady beep of a phantom ECG machine. There was nothing else. No telephones ringing, no steps, no quiet murmuring, not even the sound of a patient in pain.

I was alone.

I’m no coward, but I was getting a bad feeling from the place. It felt like being a child in bed and the blanket wasn’t big enough to cover your feet. You felt you were safe under the blanket, but because your feet were cold you know you could be hurt by whatever was out there. I swallowed down some of the nausea. I didn’t have a blanket, and I was sure there was something out there.

I walked down the hallway, wincing at the loudness of my steps. The more I tried to be quiet, the louder they were. I cursed every drug the doctors had me on, but only in my head. I didn’t risk being heard by whoever was out there.

I rounded a corner and nearly screamed when I heard a voice hush me.

“Shhh!”

Gasping with joy as I recovered, I hurried around the corner and into pitch darkness. The room, from what I could make out, was an empty triage area. Seats sat empty while decaying signs on the wall exhorted soon-to-be-patients to wash their hands and avoid contact with blood. Each was covered with dust and were curling off of the walls, destroyed by age. A nurse sat at a desk with her back to me, and a TV flashing silently in front of her. I could only make out her bobbed hair and her white hat, but the light was too bright in the darkness..

She shifted in her seat and shushed me again. I ignored her and raised my voice, cracked and raspy though it now was.

“Excuse me, ma’am, but I need to see a doctor. Right away.”

The nurse raised a hand in front of her and shushed me a third time. I got pretty annoyed, but kept my head as best I could. Well, considering the circumstances.

“Yeah, well, I’m sorry to bother you, but I’m bleeding from the head, and wouldn’t mind some attention, if you’re not too damn busy.”

She spoke, and her voice made me feel three inches tall.

“Quit bothering me. You’re being a nuisance. No-one likes boys who complain.”

I took a step closer. Something was desperately wrong here. The very room screamed that something was wrong but was trying to look right. I felt my stomach rumble again, but I just wrote it off as the hallucinations. If it wasn’t so creepy, I would have been enjoying the hallucinations, but as it was, they were making my heart go weak.

I must have made a noise or something, because the nurse immediately switched the TV off. The room was bathed almost completely in black, and I could only see the barest outlines from the lights down the hall. She began sniffing the air like a dog, and I was filled with dread. This officially moved from “wrong” to “fucked up”.

She stood, wobbling, and turned to face me. I took a step back and almost vomited in fear. Again. The nurse was naked beneath her straw-like hair, but she wasn’t human. Her arms ended in stumps wrapped in rotted bandages, and her arms and legs were as thin as hockey sticks. The thing’s skin was a sick grey colour, the sheen of dead fish and bodies rotting in water. Her legs hardly worked but she stumped around to face me.

Her emaciated body was what made me want to vomit, but it was her face that made me want to run. Instead of features, she only had a foot-long slash of a mouth and a small, cute, distinctly out of place button nose. Her mouth opened and shut like a fish, showing huge black teeth dripping with blood. Her voice was absolutely beautiful, and oh so wrong.

“You’ve been smoking. I can smell it. That makes you a bad boy. You shouldn’t be smoking, silly. Don’t you know it’ll take away your good-looks, and make your teeth fall out? I know, because I was a bad girl and that’s what happened to me, but I’m better now. I don’t want it to happen to you. I just want to take care of you until he makes you better. Take care of you. Please?”

I coughed up motor oil in fear. She had started walking toward me, her arms stretched out pleadingly. My hand flew to my left breast, trying to grab something that wasn’t there. She was almost on top me and I could smell rot and ash. My feet wouldn’t work and I fell backwards in front of her. The nurse climbed on top me and brought her face close to mine. The smell made me gag, but my unconscious took over. I kicked out with my feet and knocked her over, sending her stumbling into the darkness.

I got up and ran, spitting out oil and trying not to piss myself. My heart was beating so fast it made me light-headed, and I felt a hot stream down the back of my head. Her voice echoed down the hallway behind me, plaintively but insistently, like a teacher half-heartedly trying to discipline a child.

“Come now Ryan, can’t you see I’m trying to help? He just wants to make you all better, forever. You’ll never hurt again! I promise!”

I ran down the hallway in what I thought would take me toward my room, Other monsters dressed like the nurse spilled from the empty rooms, surging like maggots on a wound. They surrounded me too quickly, stump arms grabbed me like scissors me and holding me in place. I struggled against them, but as I knocked one off, another one grabbed me somewhere else.

One of them put their lips to my hand, and I screamed as my flesh started to burn. Desperate tongues began licking me, trying to get at my head wound. A tongue went up my nose and another one lapped across my eye, searing both. A nurse firmly attached herself to the hole in my head and began sucking. In the back of my skull I could hear a shuk shuk shuk as she strained. It felt like someone was ramming nails into my skull and pulling them back out.

I was in a frenzy and began thrashing harder. I tore my head forward, ignoring the pain, and heard a moan as the nurse was dislodged. Others began clamouring and whining, pressing around my head trying to get a lick in, which left my arms free for a second. Desperately looking for an escape, I saw a bright exit sign I had missed before. The illuminated stick figure was being chased by a stick monster wielding a needle.

Mustering everything I could, I surged forward, dislodging some of the monsters. There may have been six on them crawling on me, but they felt like they weighed twenty pounds. Two grabbed on tighter but I rammed myself through the exit door. I took two steps into the new, and dark, hallway, and felt air as stairs abruptly dropped away. I tumbled and took the two nurses with me. We pitched down together, crashing into the stairs and walls.

We rolled for a flight and miraculously, I didn’t hit my head. I shot up swinging but it was pointless. The two nurses were on the ground in pieces. Their skulls had collapsed from the fall and a thin black liquid oozed out. Their arms and legs had broken in so many places they looked like tendrils rather than limbs. The others pressed through the upper door, moaning loudly when they “saw” me with their eyeless faces.

I ran down the stairs, terror giving me speed. My body ached, but I knew that if I stopped I would hurt too much to carry on. I kept running down and down while the stairs just went down and down and down.

Finally, my lungs bursting and with at least ten storeys behind me, I almost ran past a door. I barely stopped in time to redirect myself and burst through. It was rusted shut but with an agonizing squeal it popped open into the lobby.

It was a wide room full of dead elevators, broken chairs and a ruined fountain. A giant ramp had been built out of garbage that lead straight up to the second floor. A room had been blown out but only darkness filtered out. I risked a look behind me and saw dozens of nurses fast on my heels.

Running out into the lobby, the first of the nurses stumbled through the doors. Seeing me running away, she screamed. Loudly. My ears started ringing and the pain brought me to the floor.

Creatures dressed in white coats screamed back and ran from the darkness, down the ramp at me. They were naked beneath their stained lab coats which hung open, revealing giant crab-like claws stitched onto their chests. I got up and started running again.

The front doors were flimsy glass sheets that looked no thicker than a sheet of paper. They were covered in a greasy sheen that warped the light from the outside, showing only a milky, yellow film. I rammed into it, grabbing the handle and pulling as hard as I could. “Come on, come on you God-damned door!” I yelled as I pulled, but it wouldn’t budge. I put a hand on the glass to try and push, but pulled it back the moment I touched the yellow film.

What I thought was just opaque glass was actually normal glass covered in fat. It ran and bubbled where I had touched it, smelling like sizzling bacon. I retched a bit, but pushed against the exposed glass. I cried out when I felt it give a little. I reached and arm back to punch it, when a giant claw grabbed me, and began squeezing.

A doctor had grabbed me with his tumorous claw and was trying to jab me with needle-like fingers. I yanked away from him but the claw left thick furrows in my arm that wept a bright blue liquid. More nurses looped their arms through mine and tried to pull me away, all while long, black tongues urgently licked at me.

A doctor leaned in and whispered in a reassuring voice . “This will only hurt for a second, just a second, and then you’ll be all better. All better. He’ll make you strong and healthy. You’ll never hurt again, ever, I swear.”

Instinct I didn’t know I had kicked in.

The doctor’s face exploded beneath my fist. Little chunks of bone and gristle flew at me, but surprisingly little blood. My mind started to wonder why his bones had broken so easily but my subconscious was having none of it. I wrenched my arm forward and down and was rewarded as a nurses’ arm snapped in two places. The dying doctor was swarmed by nurses who began lapping at the ruin of his head, momentarily forgetting me. I fell into a fighting stance and threw a doctor over my shoulder, breaking his back and opening him up to the desperate lapping of more nurse’s tongues.

The nurses turned on whoever I wounded while the doctors tried to fight them off and turn them against me, but they were too slow and clumsy. A doctor started raging and chopping up nurses with his claw but was only swarmed with more as they fought for the corpses. Free for a minute, I grabbed a nurse with both my arms and threw her through the door. The glass shattered. Boiling fat ran down in sheets, burning the fallen and gorger alike.

Thin, yellow light flooded the room, and the nurses and doctors ran screaming from it.

“Like it, you bastards? Don’t want me anymore?”

I heard sizzling and popping behind me. The nurse was writhing as she turned black and withered. She smelt like melting rubber and sizzled into a black mass no bigger than a basketball.

I stepped through the door and into the light, shielding my eyes with a free hand. 

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