The Hospital Thing

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: The Horror House

Laura was in pain. She didn't really care what it took to take it away.

 Springville Children’s Hospital was nothing less than hell on earth. Laura’s lungs ached. They ached, because of the dry, stinging air being pumped into her body; against her will.

 Her eyes, her lungs, her blood, her soul – it all burned.  She was hot all over, and no matter how much she wanted to, she couldn’t cry. 

 Machines beeped lazily around her, dry gases hissed through plastic tubing.  The boy behind the curtain – Jeremy was what the nurses called him – was murmuring to himself again.  Laura could see his restless silhouette, wiggling against the tubes restraining him. 

 Laura let her head fall back against the pillows with a miserable sob.  Red digits on the clock ticked forward through time, until midnight passed and three o’clock came to the two of them. 

 Jeremy was crying.  Laura wanted to die.  Her body was wracked with pain, she had no strength left to cry.  She lay still, head swimming, while the ceiling warped and wavered before her red-rimmed eyes. 

 The machine beeped as she breathed. 

 Slowly, she became aware of another sound, a soft sound, growing louder.  It sounded in time to her breathing, a soft swishing noise that seemed part of her ventilations.  It was gentle, yet all the same, it sent chills up her spine. 

 She tried to turn her head, peeping behind the curtain, where she could just barely see half of the open door. 

 Swish, swish, the sound grew louder.  A pale form moved passed the door, pausing at their door.  She couldn’t see it, but she knew it was there.

 Jeremey started screaming. 

 “Shh, shh,” something rasped in the darkness.  The screams tapered off into broken sobs.

 Soft voices echoed like a thousand people speaking.  They came together, melded, became one soft whisper that couldn’t be heard above the sound of the machine.  Jeremy answered it.  A slim shadow towered over his little form.  It was unnaturally, monstrously, tall – so tall, it nearly touched the ceiling. 

 It bent, low, over the bed, where the outline of Jeremy’s small hand reached up to touch.  A stick-like hand with too few fingers and too many joints, rippled by the folds in the curtain.  Laura couldn’t breathe.  Her heart was hammering in her chest, and she thought she’d truly rather be dead.

 Tumors, seeded all through her body, pulsed with the dry-hot pain in her chest.  Tears dribbled down her cheeks as she squeezed her eyes shut. Why was this happening to her? This bone cancer? This waking nightmare? This pain?

 The sound started up again. 

 Swish, swish.  The curtain moved with a flutter and a rattle of metal ball-bearings. A few long white fingers clutched the edge with delicate slowness, drawing it to the side. 

 “No, no,” Laura sobbed, "No!"

 “Shh, shh,” said a gentle voice, and when Laura dared to crack open an eye, she saw it.

 It was no monstrosity; it was a woman. A pale-haired, pale skinned woman with a long white dress and dark, dark eyes.  She tilted her head to the side, and smiled.  It was the gentlest smile Laura had ever seen. 

 The tears came faster.  The pain squeezed Laura’s lungs and made her weep, unashamed, before this stranger.

 With a long swish of her skirts, the woman drew closer and came to sit on Laura’s bed.  A gentle, pale hand swept her cheek, kind, pained eyes watched her with pity.

 

“There, there,” The woman cooed, and her voice had a strange echoing quality to it. It made Laura feel light-headed and fuzzy all over her body. “Don’t cry, sweetheart.” 

Her voice wrapped around Laura like a warm blanket. She felt weightless. 

“Tell me what hurts,” The woman said gently. 

“Everything,” Laura whispered, eyes unfocused. A kind hand cradled her cheek. The woman smiled again. She had too many teeth, like a deepsea fish. Her eyes were a little on the large side. Laura couldn’t remember why that might’ve bothered her. 

“Everything?” The woman sounded bemused, unhinging a deformed jaw to gape at Laura’s dazed face. “I can help you.” 

“Can you?” Laura murmured, head lolling to the side. Her whole body felt like lead. She was so sleepy.

“But,” The woman held up one slim finger and smiled again. It was full of kindness and understanding. “It has to be freely given.” 

“How?” 

The woman bent low over her. What Laura thought was hair fell around about her face, shrouding her in a gentle perfume. Laura’s heavy eyelashes fluttered shut. A cool breath ghosted her cheek. 

“What’s your name, sweetheart?” 

“Laura,” the unwitting victim responded, unaware of the many-limbed creature draped over her prone form. Six thin legs gripped the ceiling above, while the body - no thicker than a breadbox, cascaded down from the hips to leer upside down at the little girl. 

The woman hummed, voice musical. 

“Laura,” She cooed, “Tell me - will you give me your pain?” 

“My what?” 

Two huge, bulbous white eyes wriggled in their sockets from glee. The noseless face tilted side to side, elated, while the smile cracked the head nearly entirely in half. It didn’t mind much; it was about to feed for the second time that night. A true feast. It had gone many weeks without something to eat. 

“Pain,” The woman’s voice seemed a little harder than before, but Laura was far too sleepy to recognize the danger. “You must give your permission. I want your pain. I want your suffering.”

“Even the cancer?” 

Especially the cancer.” 

Some unholy speech was liquifying the girl’s brain with every syllable it spoke. She perceived it as kind words: all the kind words she wanted to hear. Her head lolled to the side, just a little, and a trickle of clotty grey brain matter dribbled out of her ear. 

“You can have it,” Laura said, the pull of sleep dragging her deeper and deeper into a warm fuzziness. 

“Thank you,” The woman replied, and Laura closed her eyes again. Indeed, the pain was gone. For the first time in years, she took a deep breath of air and let herself slip into the sweetest sleep she had ever had. 

Sometime around three in the morning, the nurse’s station got a code blue for room 294. Laura Maxe’s monitor suddenly went flat. It was not entirely unexpected. She was suffering the late states of bone cancer; the prognosis was terminal. 

She seemed to be asleep when they got to her. Resuscitation was attempted, but failed. Her parents were notified. 

Her ashes were sprinkled over the Atlantic ocean a week later. 

They never did an autopsy. If so they might have found she had no brain; that it had probably been removed via the left nostril. A day later, her former roommate also passed away. 

But it was a hospital. No one so much as batted an eye.


Submitted: May 06, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Arlie Robertson. All rights reserved.

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Nolonger

Extremely vivid story. Disturbingly brilliant!

Fri, June 18th, 2021 1:10am

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