Room 13

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

The steel bars on the window can't keep the grotty beast from crawling into the room to feed....

Submitted: August 01, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 01, 2018



Nighttime in the parking lot of a big city hospital can be dangerous.  In her worst nightmare, Lynda never dreamt such a grievous atrocity could be perpetrated against her.  She was of Gaelic descent.  Her surname was Hatchet which first appeared in Kilkenny where the ancient Hatchet clan had been granted lands by Strongbow as payment for their collusion in the 1172 invasion of Ireland.  Her stout medieval heritage meant that Lynda had a strong psychological constitution, yet, on that fateful night in the hospital parking lot, a fundamental alteration in her personality was triggered.  

In those days, security personnel didn't escort nurses to their automobiles.  Lynda had to walk all the way out to her car alone that night.  A bulb was burnt out in the street lamp where she had parked, making it darker than usual.  Reaching into her purse for the key so she could unlock her car, she fumbled and dropped it.  She bent over to retrieve the key.  When she stood up, two drug-crazed thugs jumped from the shadows and slammed her up against the side of her car while holding a butcher knife to her throat.

Lynda Hatchet had not resisted her attackers.  In fear for her life, she had cooperated fully with the brutal felons, who stole her purse, earrings, and Rolex Swiss luxury watch.  She did not cry out for help and she did not resist, but in spite of her docile capitulation, or rather because of it, one of her vulgar assailants belted her hard with the vicious weapon.  

The smaller of the two muggers had a blatant ego that chided acidly under the humiliating dignity of her stoic supplication.  So, after robbing the defenseless young woman of her valuables, the vile defalcator struck her across the face with the rusty sharp object, knocking her down on the pavement where her lower back crashed against the parking-space bumper, resulting in a slipped disc.  This is how Nurse Lynda Hatchet wound up with a ghoulish jagged vertical scar that ran the length of her facial features, from just above her right brow all the way down over her eye, cheekbone, and mouth, coming to an abrupt halt at her jawbone, marring her placid beauty.

She had been young then, a recent graduate of RN school.  Security guards patrolling the shadowy parking area had caught the dirty crooks while they were attempting a getaway on foot.  Although her earrings were never found, Lynda’s purse with its contents had been returned to her, along with the gold Rolex her parents had purchased from a local jeweler as a graduation gift.

The young man to whom she had been engaged was a professional model.  He was horrified at the injury that so profoundly mutilated the physical appeal of his unfortunate fiancée.  He talked condescendingly of having to appear at public functions such as fashion galas and ribbon cuttings for grand openings of new shopping centers.  Modeling is a savagely competitive occupation.  His career was at stake.  He couldn’t show up for photo-ops with the Bride of Frankenstein.  With absolutely no show of sympathy whatsoever, he unceremoniously broke off the engagement.

Even though the events of that horrific tragedy had played out decades ago, nightmares of the trauma still haunted Lynda’s sleep.  With the intestinal fortitude of her forebears, the physically and emotionally scarred woman had borne up against the ravages of being a victim - a survivor of brutal assault.  

Now, only one day from retirement, she was an embittered childless woman on the threshold of becoming a senior citizen, what some would call a spinster or old maid, slightly bent with age; an agnostic cynic prone to spiteful acts of sly cruelty.  

In spite of the fact that no one much cared for her caustic personality, she was the most competent RN on staff.  In over forty years of devoted service at St. Harpe’s of the Blessed Angel, Nurse Hatchet had never committed an action that resulted in the death of a patient - a spotless record that may have stood if only she had retired one night earlier.

Entering Room 13, she gave the emaciated sallow-skinned female neurotic a look of staunch disapproval, before swallowing her disgust to put on her prosaic bedside manner, “And how is our little Melissa doing this evening?”

Melissa Selby hated nights at the hospital and she utterly feared Nurse Hatchet.  With terror showing in her trembling watery eyes she gazed in mute watchfulness as the brooding medical professional checked vitals.

“The day-shift told me you didn’t eat, again.  If you’re going to get well, Melissa, you’re going to have to eat.  Your body requires nutrition.”

“Tonight’s the full moon,” the terribly frightened patient simpered.

Nurse Hatchet rolled her eyes, “Melissa, I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to think very carefully before you answer, do you understand me?”

Quaking all over like a dying leaf in autumn chill, the tremulous girl nodded slightly.  Nurse Hatchet hammered on, “Do you know why you’re in the psychiatric ward, Melissa?  Huh?  Answer me that, do you?”

A tear trickled from Melissa’s left eye, “Nurse Hatchet,” she whimpered, “please, tonight’s the full moon.”

Ignoring the patient’s desperate pleas and physiological signs of strong emotion, the stoic nurse inspected the flow of the IV bag and adjusted some knobs on a beeping instrument the purpose of which completely baffled the cowering mental patient.

“Melissa, I’m going to say this one time and one time only, if you start that nerve-grating screaming again like last night, I swear to God Almighty, I’ll call Julian in here and have him strap you down in restraints.  Do you hear me, young lady?”

“But it was looking in the window last night,” Melissa’s tears were flowing freely now, her voice breaking pitifully under the oppressive weight of debilitating terror.

“There are bars on the window, Melissa, steel bars.  Nothing can get into this room.  You are perfectly safe.  I’ve told you a hundred times.”

“The bars aren’t close enough together to keep it out.”

“Oh dear, here we go again, the little furry creature with red eyes, fangs, and razor-sharp claws.  Grow up, Melissa!  It’s time for you to act your age.  Don’t you want to get well so you can get out of here?  Do you actually like being a patient of the mental ward?”

“It can crawl between the bars.”

“It’s all in your mind, Melissa.  It’s a delusion, a diseased departure from reality.  If you don’t let go of that morbid fantasy, you’ll remain right where you are.  Do you really want to be stuck in this dreary hospital?  Wouldn’t you like to get out so you can go goofing off at the mall with all your bratty little friends?”

Melissa’s fears were deepening into schizophrenic mania.  She pleaded with the insensitive nurse, “I had the nightmares last night, then I saw it.  The bad dreams always come on the night before the full moon.  When I wake, I see it peeking through the window at me, then on the night of the full moon, it comes to feed.  The bars on the window won’t help.  It can crawl in through the spaces between the bars.”

No sooner had Melissa spoken the words, than she glanced up at the high narrow window to see a rodent-sized creature covered in thick brindle-colored fur, repugnant and sneering, ogling her with a pair of menacing red eyes.  The poor girl shrieked in unadulterated mindless terror.  Nurse Hatchet, who had been roughly scribbling something on the patient’s medical chart, snapped sharply with a look of scorching contempt.  The long ugly scar on her reddening face was livid.

“That’s it, you little wench, I’m calling Julian!  You’ll spend the night in leather straps sleeping with Prince Valium!”

Suiting the action to the word, Nurse Hatchet vigorously mashed the button to summon the big strong orderly, whose tall hulking form speedily appeared, shadowing the doorway of Room 13.

“No!” Melissa wailed, “please don’t!  Can’t you see it?  Look at the window!  It’s there staring at me through the window!  You have to get me out of here!  Please don’t leave me in this room!  Not this room, not tonight, it’s the full moon!  The awful thing is here to feed!”

“I’ve had it with you and your little monster, Melissa,” Nurse Hatchet blurted without casting so much as a fleeting glimpse at the window to which Melissa’s panic-stricken eyes were glued in soul-crushing horror, “a good night’s sleep is what you need.  You’ll soon be calm and have no worries so you can rest peacefully.  Our good friend Julian is here to make sure of that.”

In frantic desperation, the frail psychiatric patient attempted escape by rolling off the edge of the hospital bed, tearing the IV tube from her arm in the process, blood trickling from the hole in her sallow skin.  A hand like stone caught the fleeing girl at the waist and heaved her back onto the bed.  Even though Melissa struggled violently, in her weakened state she was no match for the sturdy power of the stout orderly who deftly performed his duty.  In a matter of slightly under two minutes, he had the ranting patient effectively immobilized in unyielding restraints.  He placed the suffocating weight of his considerable bulk over the poor girl’s wan torso as Nurse Hatchet administered the promised injection, stabbing the needle into a bulging vein of the sickly girl’s scrawny arm and plunging the piston home.

Melissa, writhing in psychotic apoplexy, shrieked again at the unthinkable fate of being sedated with the red eyes of the diabolical thing leering at her through the window.  She couldn’t understand why the medical people wouldn’t help her.  Nor could she fathom how the creature entered without breaking the thick glass, but the malign thing was now in the room.  Because of the presumed security of the steel bars, had the window been left unlocked?  Had the fiendish abomination crawled in through the ventilation shaft?

“It’s here!” Melissa wailed, “right behind you!  Look!”

The desperation in the tortured girl’s anguished voice had a powerful instinctual pull even on Nurse Hatchet who, in spite of her determined resolution, glanced backward for a moment.  She was astonished to see what appeared to be a child’s toy sitting on the cabinet in the corner.  She looked back at Melissa with a hateful glare in her steely gray eyes, “Where did that teddy bear come from, young lady?  Has that pervert father of yours been here today?  I ordered the day-shift not to let him anywhere near you.  He’s the reason you’re in here.  Don’t worry, dear, I’ll get to the bottom of this filthy deception!”

Nurse Hatchet’s mind was being creepily infiltrated.  She had said teddy bear, but in truth there was something distinctly disturbing about the fuzzy object she had witnessed.  It’s little arms and paws were somehow gruesome.  The grim stuffed animal was unwholesome, sinister, evil.  Nurse Hatchet shuddered at the thought.  She wanted the beastly thing out of her sight.

Julian was walking out of Room 13 while Nurse Hatchet tossed the used syringe into the sharps wastebasket, red with the ghoulish biological hazard contaminants warning stamped on the side.  After washing her hands with antibacterial soap, the sadistic nurse stood gloating over the mortified helplessly restrained psychiatric patient.  Turning toward the cabinet in the corner, Nurse Hatchet was surprised to see that the eerie teddy bear was mysteriously gone.  Looking around the room, she could not figure where the furry little thing had got to.

“Ah well,” she mumbled to herself, “Julian probably took it to the nurses’ station.  Tomorrow morning when the day staff arrives, I’m going to lay down the law about Melissa’s sexual predator father.  Before I leave this hospital for the last time, they’re going to know Hell holds no wrath like Nurse Hatchet’s scorn!”

Scribbling harshly again on sad Melissa’s medical chart, Nurse Hatchet didn’t notice the hideous furry little beast hop up on the bed and crawl under Melissa’s hospital gown, its disgusting paws creeping up her naked belly, its loathsome head popping up at her neck.  With nasty red eyes glaring, its cruel mouth virtually touched hers, sucking the air out of her lungs, stealing the hysterical girl’s breath.  Closing her eyes against the putrescent horror, Melissa bawled out a pitiful ululation that caused Nurse Hatchet to snap scornfully again, “Do you want me to gag you, Melissa?  I’ll stuff so much gauze in your ornery face it’ll dry up all your saliva!  If being in restraints isn’t enough, I can add cottonmouth to the list!  Your night’s shaping up to be a lesson in discipline, young lady!  Now shut up, or else!”

The threat was only a bluff.  As badly as she wanted to silence the raving girl, in over four decades Nurse Hatchet had not been responsible for the death of a patient.  She wasn’t going to risk obstruction of an airway that could result in suffocation or strangulation of an epileptic lunatic on her last night before retirement, although if the pathetically annoying girl were to end up on a cold slab down in the basement morgue, it would be no great loss.

Nurse Hatchet began scribbling on the chart again, but a quick furtive motion caught her eye.  Glancing up, she thought she saw a quick flash of movement dart from Melissa’s neck off into the blind spot on the far side of the bed.  The infuriated nurse walked over for a look, but saw nothing suspicious.

The self-absorbed medical professional slammed the chart into its holder at the foot of the bed, then trotted in a huff to the door where she flipped the light switch, plunging Room 13 into a prison of threatening shadows, with only the faint dim glow of the small nightlight on the wall above the patient’s bed standing between Melissa and an eldritch abyss of primal darkness.

“Good night, dear.  Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite!” with which Parthian shot, the vindictive RN exited the gloomy room, closing the door behind her and locking it.  

Depositing the key into her pocket, Nurse Hatchet turned to walk away through the ascetic chill of the long stringently clean bland corridor that smelled chemically of disinfectant and rubbing alcohol.  After only a few paces, the almost retired veteran nurse stopped dead in her tracks.  From out of Room 13 Melissa’s agonized voice reverberated in deafening peals of horrified blood-curdling shrieks.  The pitiful cries for help grated irritably on Nurse Hatchet’s tightly strung nerves.

The incensed RN turned and stepped briskly back toward the locked door of the darkened room.  “I swear I gave that girl enough tranquilizer to knock out a horse!  Well, I’ll just pump her squirming veins full of a second injection.  One way or another, that obnoxious spoiled brat is going to stay quiet tonight!”

As Nurse Hatchet was about to insert her key into the lock of Room 13, a strong hand came to rest on her wrist, “Relax, Lynda.  Give the medicine time to take effect.”

It was Julian.  His soothing deep masculine voice brought a forced smile to Nurse Hatchet’s stern face, the flushed gray-pink of the ugly scar amplifying the fiery force of her merciless dictatorial attitude.

In their inhuman arrogance, the pair of psychiatric ward staff members had no way of being alerted to the danger as the grotty beast tugged at Melissa’s rigid cowering shoulders ruthlessly pulling her off the mattress onto the cold hard floor, then dragging her under the bed where it would begin feeding.

Melissa’s guttural screams had risen to a shrieking maniac pitch sharp enough to peel the paint off the walls, when suddenly, the helpless girl’s screeching wails abruptly subsided.  Room 13 was enveloped in the stark stillness of dead silence.

“See?” Julian murmured appealingly.

Nurse Hatchet’s thin lips tightened into a licentious grin of victory.  She and the brawny orderly walked quietly away through the faint hum of flickering florescent overhead lights that suffused the deserted hospital corridor in ghostly pale luminescence.  Neither of them noticed the pool of thick crimson slowly oozing out into the hallway from under the locked door of Room 13.

© Copyright 2020 Sean Terrence Best. All rights reserved.

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