Corridors of Fear

Reads: 162  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Man wakes up in a deserted hospital.........

Submitted: April 06, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 06, 2012

A A A

A A A


Corridors of Fear

 

By Declan J Connaughton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mason felt reality drift up through the darkness, reasserting itself, his consciousness emerging from turmoil, still clinging to mortality like some languid liquid, refilling and re-energising a critically depleted battery, the energy source that was his life.

There was sound, attuning his ears to something, filling up the invisible air around him, coupled with movement; something whining weakly, as a kitten lost and forlorn.  What was that noise?

 

A discordant jumble of memories insinuated themselves into the confusion that was his mind.  Something about a car crash, but that had been a long time ago – years.  Tracy had died; he could capture her face again, smiling, her radiant blonde hair cut short the way he liked it, that extraordinary forelock which had fired his imagination the moment he had seen it, on a bright, long ago day.

Then there was a trickle of blood on that forehead; a blasphemous gash acknowledging that all was destroyed, utterly obliterated in just one idiotic and terrible moment.  He had held her hand tightly, wiped his own tears from her beautiful face, while her essence slipped away, was stolen from her and from him, all because he accepted that extra martini; a stupid drink which had cost him perhaps his very soul.

Through the heavy shroud of confusion, he could feel his tears encroach; filling up his closed eyelids; trickling down his cheeks; a sobbing tide of desolation. Only now the cascade of sorrow was in the present, the past remained where it always was.Death had rejected his audition on that fateful evening, moving on to someone else, its choice endless; a casting director amid a multitude of actors.

The choreography of what had happened in the here and now reached out to him, letting her precious face dissolve, finding its way back to its proper position in his time continuum.  Mason had been in a book store, not out of any particular interest, but sufficient to stave off the inevitability of his ultimate journey back to his empty and lonely apartment.

He had been in the general fiction section, moving on to biographies, glancing casually; picking up a heavy bound volume; leafing through it; seeing the print, surveying the words; nothing registering - aimless dilution of time.The clean, new smell of its pages penetrated his nostrils, like something newly born.

The girl at the cashier’s desk had given him a number of furtive glances.  He smiled at her, but she didn’t return his offer of friendship, seeing in it something she disliked. Then the despicable old phobia rushed into him, caught hold, and shook him with the power of a Rottweiler, playing with an old rag doll.  He had to get out of there, trapped, feeling eyes suddenly upon him from all directions, a helpless creature under the microscope of giants, a mouse in a large glass jar.  His hands were clammy and slid around the book cover, his finger prints smudging the surface, defacing its silken sheen like a wanton vandal.

Mason debated how to exit the store without falling.

There was only one way, one cure – to convince them of his innocence, that their suspicion of his wrong doing was false, and to stop his heart hammering away, like a demented child on a pogo stick.

  Confronting his neuroses, his psychological nemeses head on, he would not pretend to buy a book he didn’t want today – not this time – would not give the cashier the pleasure of being in control, placing it back on the shelf with grim determination, beginning his stiff, uneven walk towards Golgotha.  He had been there many times before, from childhood, youth and now exile.

Each assault a prelude to the next panic attack; always retaining its virginal power, the experience forever new, but old as his years, which he would never exorcise. Perhaps triumph and overcome ever so briefly, when courage placed its re-assuring hand on his shoulder.

Approaching the check out desk, the girl busy with another customer, he inwardly prayed she would keep her attention away from him until he could storm the exit doors, and out into the welcome grime of the city.

 First one step: then two, with Mason starting to pick up the pace as she ran a credit card through a machine, smiling at the tall man in front of her, directly in opposition to Masons’ greeting of a moment before; a trained smile; automatic, and just as easily removed until the next victim stood up to the plate. 

Take his money like the prostitute you are, Mason thought, a victory as the words flashed through his brain, hoping the unuttered sentiments would click somewhere within her own head, and ruin her face like venomous acid.

He was almost at his destination of escape, when she looked directly at him, the tall man taking his package and disappearing out of view.  Mason kept moving, but time had come to a staggering halt and, as she continued to pierce him with those acute and savage eyes, he felt his breath constrict in his chest, winding around his throat like some evil vine, choking him to death.

 She didn’t resemble what a girl should look like anymore; there was poison behind that stare, a malicious glee of a monster.  He had seen it a million times before and melted under its glare every time.  Sweat daubed his forehead with an invisible brush, but he was passed her, weaving through the doors and into the rain. 

The sights and sounds of the city passed through his body in a gush, making him cough and splutter, instigating glances from unknown faces looking at him oddly, maybe with concern,  then just as quickly moving on, satisfied they at least afforded him a semblance of recognition should he fall dead before their feet. His heart still played its rigorous and deafening drum beat, and Mason’s face felt crimson turning to purple.

 After several gulps of deep, polluted air, he began to calm down again; normal tempo returning; no heavy hand had dropped upon his shoulder, demanding he return to the shop, to open his coat for an inspection;  once more he was just an anonymous person, on an old historic street, not relevant to anybody.

 He was alone in the world.

The rain, beginning to assume more authority, cooled Mason’s flushed face, the drops oiling parched and arid lips; very tired now, as if his whole body had run a momentous killer marathon, and, it was at this point, he decided to get a drink, a cold beer to cleanse and sooth his bitter mouth.

People started running in all directions, umbrellas upraised in defence, diving for cover inside shop doorways or under canopies.  The rain was pelting faster and heavier now, and Mason was grateful the apartment was only an effortless block away.

 Looking for the familiar neon sign, he spied the bar on the corner, almost opposite, and with his vision firmly set on the requirements of alcohol; he stepped off the pavement and into the path of on oncoming cab.

He was hurtling, flying, through an enormous, pitch black void; soaring through a winding nothingness; a sensation of being high, like the first snort of cocaine, enveloped by metaphysical chaos.

 That sound was gradually emerging from the infinity, but this was hours later, time out of sync.  There was the definite whine of a mechanical device.

  He was sure there had been considerable time loss, disorientation like the after effect of an aesthetic.  Straining to hear voices, he was met by the continuous shrill note, playing one long, irritating melody.

 What was that?  Something familiar – and then he was holding Tracy’s dead hand, as it lay on the hospital stretcher, in grim hurried transit down a hospital corridor.  Already too late, already too cold.

He was alive, had not joined her from this side of existence.  Then – abruptly….. nothing.

#

Mason strained for the void to clear, willing it to dissipate, like the sun from an eclipse. Instead, it seemed like an interminable graduation from darkness to a dawn which might not see another day; the light seeping from its cocoon; his eyelids fluttering and then springing open; to be assaulted by a harsh fluorescent whiteness from above.

No voices, just that electric moan, which he realised with sudden clarity, must be a monitor somewhere beside him.  Shutting his eyelids; protecting them from the merciless and blinding glare beating down on him; fatigue mugging his brain cells, like heroin through an addict’s veins.  He was being smothered by the black cosmos again, a netherworld, where no shadows of his past or present existed.  Mason was out for the count.

#

 

He came out of the midnight trance slowly, resisting the imposition of wakefulness out of habit, but finally trying to meet it, to come fully awake.

 Blurry retinas adjusted themselves sharply; the light from the ceiling tolerable now, mist and fog lifting.  Without moving his head, he cast his sight downward and over his form, then left and right like a deaf mute trying to indicate something.  Mason was lying flat out on a metal hospital gurney; the light bouncing off its metal frame, bathing the stainless steel utility in brilliant luminescence, exaggerating its clinical aspect, bestowing an ethereal effect upon it.

Trying to sit up, his whole right side crying out in pain, forcing his raised shoulders to collapse into a wounded heap.  Perspiration made the pores in his forehead act like a sieve, dribbling down either side of his aching head.  He was out of breath, coughing hoarsely, the mere act enticing more afflictions from his injuries.

“God damn it”!

He felt crushed; couldn’t move another inch, his heart racing, an out of control train careening towards some fateful, doom laden disaster.  He waited for it to slow down, or give out altogether, expecting the latter. The thumping in his chest and ears gradually began easing back, his breath recovering from its forced labour.  Checking his left wrist, Mason noticed the plastic band which circled it, where his watch had been.  There was no name or squiggled number on it.

What time was it? Eyeballs searched the blank walls for a clock, feeling they might pop out of their sockets with the strain. It must be behind him, where he couldn’t see.  He waited: seconds and minutes adding up, expecting another human being to make a sudden entrance, a nurse or a doctor to check his condition.  He could clearly acknowledge the monitor now, and noted it had been switched off.  He listened expectantly for the movement of rubber soles coming towards him.  What was keeping them?

#

Mason had passed out again, and that feeling of time being eaten up within a millisecond of his being conscious greeted him when he woke.  He was still in the same position as before.  He cried out, agitated, but didn’t recognise the voice which pleaded weakly through his larynx.

 There had to be a way of getting of this thing.  Waiting another second in full anticipation that his nurse would materialise at any moment, then gathering his strength for the onslaught, yanking his body upward, like a dying soldier on a battlefield, reaching out one final time towards the darkening sky.

 Using the gurney’s side bars for leverage, his battered and bruised frame rose up in a slow, grimacing motion.There was no back on it for support, but he had to pull the security bars on either side down to stand any chance of forcing his legs off the bed.

The salt of his body abandoned it in rivulets, running away; seeping through and out of every orifice, hanging from his eye lashes like leeches obese with blood, stinging his eyes like drops of lemon.  Another few seconds, his inner voice, spoke: Just another push and you’ll be there.

 Turning sideways, he let go of one side of the gurney, grasping the other side bar with both hands.  His lungs were threatening to explode, as he hoisted the bar up and then outward, letting it go with a jolt and a bang.

He was suddenly in an out of control, impossible flight.

There had been a split second of panic, and then his entire being flew through the air without wings, before hitting the hard, pitiless floor; gravity his enemy and tormentor.

Black dots invaded his vision, like a ferocious attack of flying saucers from another world, wanting to blank him into eternity.

Mason blinked continuously, forcing the advance of darkness away, teeth clenched against the self torture.

 Someone would come now, wouldn’t they?

The seconds passed by – nothing, nobody.

#

 The ever present silence maintained its grip, refusing to let go.

 He didn’t try to move again; the pain beginning to subside; content to lie stretched out, in a mimic of the corpse he would surely become.  They would find him like this, and move his body to the morgue, where he could play it out for real, frozen stiff, with no one to claim him.  That’s how it would end, and that was pretty sad, he thought.  Not one friend in the entire universe.

His mind shifted into rewind mode, back to that morning; only here history was being revised.  He wouldn’t stop for beer.  On the re-run, he would get back to the apartment, throw his keys on the table, and crash out.  Let the world worry about itself; not sleep at all, just flip the switch to the TV, and close his eyes while it droned out some attention seeking programme or other.  Not even eat, just lie there.  Not injured, just numb.

“Not a care in the world”! hoping it was loud enough for someone to hear.

Victim of circumstance, Mason mused, perplexed.  How often had he heard that?

Just like that time several months ago, when he’d been too lazy to go to the bank.  A robbery attempt and two innocent people dispatched to their cold graves with bullet holes shredded through their bodies.  If he hadn’t bothered checking out his email and then gone on Facebook that morning, maybe it would have been him who ended up on a slab……just like with Tracy.  As simple as that. Q.E.D.  Circumstances.   Someone seemed determined always to pick up his tab. 

Going to sue this hospital for every cent it has.

Mason turned himself over on his stomach, the cold floor permeating crotch and knees.  He could see straight through the open doorway now, out into a hallway.  A wheelchair was propped about twenty feet away against a wall.  Pulling himself along, resembling a hideous man sized slug, he was out through the doorway, inching ever closer to the chair, tendons of his neck sticking out like wiry thorns, the burning in his side as if he were swimming in lava, laced with glass.

“You bastards are going to pay for this”! he managed - the chair just within reach.  He imagined he was a superhuman magnet; all he had to do was stretch out his hand, and the steel chair would swing itself around and move swiftly to where he crawled, in a scene in from a horror movie, pursuing the actress down the misshapen landing.

He had to take a break again, just as his hand touched the bottom of it, pain personified, prostrated against the foot of the contraption. 

Mason looked down the hallway.  It ran several yards and then veered off to the left, fluorescents gazing down at intermittent gaps.  Any minute now someone would just appear from around that turn, and stop with a shock as they saw him.  They would blink: twice, maybe three times, and run towards him screaming emergency!  He waited for this mythical hero to appear: first a few seconds, then minutes.

No Florence Nightingale materialised, and Mason dragged himself up on his knees, gripping the sides of the chair firmly; wrenching his frame upright, not believing a body could experience such punishment, and still have the will to breathe.  Turning around, so he could sit down into it, saliva running in thick glue down and over his chin, he was certain that it would move and send him, sprawling, like a drunk backward, where he would hit his head and maybe have a brain haemorrhage. But someone seemed to have left the break in the ‘on’ position.

He sat down heavily, hand pulling the small lever down, freeing the wheels from their clamps.  An instant of hope rose up in his mind that maybe it was an electric model, only for that moment of confidence to be scorned at contemptuously when he realised it was manual.

It took several minutes to get the hang of it, as he kept veering off centre, banging into the wall a few times; causing him to swear, but eventually the chair seemed trained to his will; enough to cooperate with an amateur.

 Keeping his eyes firmly on that bend coming ever closer, his level of anger was rising by the second, and, with each successive push of the wheel, he was preparing to let whoever was unfortunate enough to come striding into his line of fire, have it – no holds barred.  Manoeuvring the chair to follow the wall as it turned the bend and entered another corridor, he found himself in an area just as devoid of human life, this time stretching even further.  Mason let out a roar; as much as he could afford with his depleted strength.

At the very end of the corridor, he could just make out a dim light.  He waited for the usual cacophony of life in a hospital to start up; a vinyl record resuming its place after being cut off, mid flow, during a power cut; some joke being played on him by someone who thought they were The Mad Hatter, then resumed his agonising journey; passing bare walls, with not so much as a painting on them, or sign affixed.  For the first time, he felt unease; there had to be someone?

#

Obviously, he had been brought here, a tag was on his wrist, his clothes and watch were removed, and he had been put into the paper thin gown which ran just below his knees and opened at the back.  There had been a monitor which greeted his re-entry into the world, which someone had turned off.

His side was starting to spasm; something he wouldn’t be able to endure for much longer.  Morphine was what he needed, and quick!

The sickly green walls continued to look down at him from either side as he made his way through, as Moses must have parted the Dead Sea.  Continuing to push the chair, he was greeted by another bend.  Another corridor.

“No way this is happening”, he muttered. 

Glancing the way he had come, before veering around the bend; a scream of rage escaped him.  The corridor he was entering was exactly the same as the one just traversed.  His mind tried to convince him that he had options, but there was only one way to go.

 Just as before, the walls were obsolete of anything, another stretch of dead man’s land, but as Mason moved inexorably onwards, he could hear something ahead.

 The corridor terminated in a complete dark cube.  Journey’s end, he thought, praying.

There was definitely something moving up there, forcing what little strength remained in his abused body forward.  As he approached the blackened gloom, it disturbed him and he paused, uncertain.  There was a clanging, rattling sound, and an image of slaves entered his head.

  Nothing for it but to continue, or just give it all up, surrender, beaten, a Guinea Pig running through a never ending maze.  There was nowhere else to go.

Driving slowly into the unknown, he felt vibration running along the floor caressing the balls of his feet, before a door opened in front of him, casting a baleful ray of light – it was a lift.

Mason relaxed immediately.

Whatever lay behind this bizarre odyssey was about to be explained; in the presence of his lawyer would be better.  Getting to hospital reception was all that consumed him now, as he guided the wheelchair through the narrow doorway, banging his elbows sharply.

The usual robotic woman’s voice uttered “Doors closing”, and Mason thought, at that second, if she had been a real person he would have married her without any strings, even if she weighed fifty stone and stood nine feet tall.

The lift doors closed as he caught sight of himself in the mirror which adorned one whole side of it, shocked at how haggard and tired he looked, almost twenty years older.Need rest badly, but a shot of something even more, feeling a smirk run across his lips, looking around for the buttons which led to the various floors.  The panel was blank.

Sickening disorientation crept into him as he checked for an alarm button, which was also absent.  Maybe it was voice activated?

“Ground floor”, he commanded, waiting.

“First floor, then”, after several seconds.

The lift began to descend against his wishes, with such slowness and care that it seemed designed to tease him.

“Ascend”! Mason shouted.

The lift, which was now his prison, maintained its course, with the light overhead beginning to flicker.

“Stop”!

The steel cage continued to its ultimate destination, ignoring his ranting, which had now turned to screams.

Then, the light went out...........


© Copyright 2018 Declan J Connaughton. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

avatar

Unknown

More Horror Short Stories