After Hours

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Cerrah Bryce is injured badly and needs medical attention, but when she and her father, Leigh, arrive at the local hospital, it is empty. A series of horrible events cascade into one endless night of Hell...

Submitted: April 17, 2013

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Submitted: April 17, 2013

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After Hours

 

It was night. Tires squealed against the wet pavement as one reckless driver sped trough the deserted street towards the hospital. The truck, an old Ford Ranger, barely braked before the driver exited the vehicle with the passenger in his arms. The latter was wrapped in a blood-spattered blanket, whimpering softly as her father carried her to the entrance of the hospital; blood coated her head and matted her fine hair, red and slick. The man leaned over and murmured in her ear, “Hang in there, Cerrah, we’re almost there.” The girl’s eyes fluttered and she looked up fearfully, too pained to respond. Tears streamed down her cheeks, staining them red. Noting this, her father hastened his approach, careful to cradle her fragile body in his arms. The night was silent and only the echoes of hooting owls and the sound of Cerrah’s labored breathing penetrated the film of darkness.

When he pulled open the heavy glass door, the man was aware of the quiet. The only light in the lobby was the faint glow of the emergency lights. Not wanting to jostle his injured daughter, he set her on the bench as he called out, frantic, “Help! Please, is anyone there? My daughter, she was hit by a car! Hello?” He continued yelling and was met by the bitter silence of the building. Shouldn’t they be open 24 hours? He turned to Cerrah, tears stinging his eyes. Bending low to brush his lips against her hair, he whispered, “Baby girl, I promise you’ll be better. If no one is here to help, I’ll fix you myself, dammit.” The last bit was mainly for his own sake. He wouldn’t let her die, he wouldn’t. “Wait here, Cerrah. I’ll be back—I have to find something to patch you up with.” He stroked her hair before sprinting through the hall.

He found it difficult to maneuver through the dimly lit building, but he managed to navigate around the empty gurneys due to his heightened senses; he was running on pure adrenaline now, and necessity. Slipping into each room, he gathered gauze, antibiotics, and even a needle and thread. Surgical glue would have been better, he knew, but he wouldn’t risk taking too much time. Cerrah had already lost too much blood…He ran, out of breath, back to where he had left her. Regret weighed down his heart as he saw her lying on the bench; he’d had to leave her, though he regretted it.

“Cerrah, I’m back,” he touched the blanket, arms still full. He dropped the items immediately and they clattered on the floor. She was gone. The blanket was empty, devoid of her warm body, which was quickly losing its heat. On the ground and trailing into a hallway was a red smear, growing more and more puddle-like with each foot it traveled. He let out a cry of agony, a plea to whatever god existed, and he fell to his knees. Gone, she was gone.

And he had to find her.

~

The whispers wouldn’t cease; once or twice he thought he had heard Cerrah calling out his name, which was strange since she never addressed him as “Leigh” before. It had been nearly an hour since Cerrah disappeared; the bloody trail ended in a room and led him nowhere. In the deserted hospital, Leigh began to feel extremely paranoid, even hearing those damn whispers…He pressed on nonetheless, determined to find Cerrah. Every now and then he’d hear a clatter, or a scream, and he’d pick up his pace, chilled to the bone. The temperature had risen and sweat seeped from his pores. Leigh would feel a breath on his neck that was not his own and shiver. His imagination was running amok, he knew, because he was worried about Cerrah. He should leave, call for help, but he wasn’t entirely sure that help would arrive; an entire hospital was abandoned, for God’s sake. Who knew if anyone would even come? He felt that the task of finding his daughter was best left to someone he trusted, and he trusted he would find her. Ashlyn, the girl’s mother—his wife—had died five years ago to date; he wasn’t willing to part with yet another one he loved.

The lights began flickering until, all at once, they settled and remained on. Leigh grew more comfortable perusing the corridors, but he was still uneasy. The whispers subsided and he let his muscles relax as he focused solely on locating Cerrah. With her wounds, she couldn’t have made it far. Another thought crossed his mind—what if someone had taken her? She wouldn’t have wanted to leave, let alone have the energy to. And those screams, were they Cerrah’s?

It wasn’t possible. He and Cerrah, by some strange fate, were alone in this monstrous hospital. She had run away because she was frightened and he would find her soon.

“Leigh,” he heard the whisper cracking like a whip, sharp against his eardrums. He spun around but found nothing there, nothing but the blackness behind him. The lights that were lit had shut off behind him, herding him forward. He had no choice now but to move forward, for he had little chance and hope of finding Cerrah in the darkness. He slid into the room nearest him. The lights were still on here, thankfully, though there was an unpleasant stench wafting about the room. He had never smelled anything like it; vaguely reminiscent of rotting meat, it churned his stomach. He was reluctant to continue his search in this room, but his drive to find Cerrah was beyond his control.

He stopped in mid-stride.

Speechless, he was stricken by the horror he was seeing. Under the desk in the room was the most foul, disgusting thing he had ever come across in his life. It was a rotting, writhing mass of flesh; with a humanoid mouth, it was groaning, complaining about the burden of its pulsing existence. The odor was pungent, and Leigh heaved everything he had eaten that day onto the floor—not that it mattered anyway. The floor was filthy, flooded with the vile excrement of the monster he was faced with. Leigh could not bear the sight and, struggling to maintain his composure, he turned away.

“Leigh…” he heard a hiss. Compelled by some force to face the creature once more, he saw that the sound originated from the beast indeed. Though it appeared to be a monster, he could see the humanity in its suffering gaze; it gave one last cry before all hell broke loose—“Run.”

~

Bursting in from the closet were the most ferocious hounds he had ever seen. Their jowls were coated in blood; they were salivating, hungering after his flesh. Leigh knew that he would not be able to outrun them, so he chose to outgun them. He backed into the metal chair that was beside the desk and raised it above his head. It thudded against the fierce animal's head; the dog yowled but was relentless. Leigh hadn't the stamina for another swing, and he was slowed drastically. The dog managed to latch onto his arm with its vice-like jaws while its accomplice's teeth grazed Leigh's thigh. He cursed out, biting his lip. Was there venom in the dog's bite? It burned like fire; Leigh had never experienced that before, and he had been attacked by a dog in the past. Stimulated by the taste of Leigh's blood, the hounds were in frenzy.

Leigh's mind was racing. He was in so much pain; he wanted nothing more than to lie down and sleep. But he remembered his daughter, who was somewhere in the hospital, injured. And now that he knew of the monsters lurking within the establishment, the urgency of the situation was intensified. He would not abandon her now.

Filled with a sudden surge of strength, Leigh kicked out at his attackers, his boot connecting with a satisfying thwack. The dog on his leg went flying and slammed against the wall. He swung his arm in an arc against the desk and his other assailant crumpled. He didn’t leave them another chance for an attack and ran out of the room, pulling the door shut with his uninjured arm.

Leigh collapsed, exhausted, against the door; the hounds were howling and throwing themselves against it as well, but were unsuccessful in their attempts. Leigh’s heart pounded in his chest. He slowed it with deep, controlled breaths, but he could not ease his mind. His little girl needed him, but he was weakened. He would rest here a while, at least until he felt he could go on…Leigh felt his mind close as well as his eyes, which were growing heavier. It would be nice to sleep and then wake to find this all a dream.

“Daddy!” Leigh’s eyes flew open. She was there—not in his head this time, but for real. But where was she? She must have been close because he could smell her perfume, a light and flowery scent. Mustering the last of his strength, Leigh stood and walked down the hallway, following her cries. Just as he reached the end of the hallway, he saw her round the corner to his left. How? How could she be walking? The truck had hit her fully—

“Cerrah? Wait!” His voice was hoarse. He willed his legs to move faster, but couldn’t go as quickly as he would have liked. His body felt on fire—venom, there must have been venom in those dogs. That didn’t make any sense—but then again, nothing did in this place. Every inch of him was slowing while his mind was raging. She was so close, so close. But she wasn’t close enough.

Leigh felt his legs collapse beneath him, giving way. He was paralyzed and his vision was fading. The last thing he could see before he blacked out completely was the face of his late wife beaming down on him.

It was not a kind smile.

~

Drip, drip. Drip.

“Did you turn off the faucet, Cerrah?” Leigh groaned, throwing his arm across the empty space beside him. His eyes opened and adjusted to the bright fluorescent lights instantly; he looked to see a saline drip attached to his arm, and immediately knew where he was. Memories of previous events in the building flooded his mind and he jerked into a sitting position. That was too fast of a move for him to make, for he was overcome with nausea and had to lie down once again. He was strapped to a gurney—at least his lower body was, anyway. He could not move his legs more than half an inch in any direction. He made another attempt to sit up, kicking his legs as hard as he could, but it was to no avail. Leigh even tried rocking from side to side with hope that he could throw the gurney off balance, but he was still weak from the poison…

He felt insanely better, though, which brought a question to mind: who had taken the venom from his system? He recalled seeing his wife, but she was dead—then again, he might also be dead. But there would be no residual pain after death, would there? Leigh wasn’t entirely sure, especially not after the nightmares that had taken root in the hospital.

“Hello?” Leigh called, taking in his surroundings. The room was bare; white walled and sterile, the lights were the only color in the room. How long had he been in here? Weeks, maybe. There was no telling. If he could only catch his captor’s attention, make them realize he was awake. Then he would be set free and could find Cerrah. Unless the person who saved him had also saved Cerrah; maybe she was being held in another room. Though he had his doubts, Leigh prayed that this was the case.

There was a sharp rapping on the door, and a voice called out from behind it; the voice was strangely familiar, and whoever it belonged to knew him. And it was definitely female.

“Leigh, are you awake?”

The woman left no time for him to respond, for she threw the door open.

His heart stopped.

It was his wife, Ashlyn.

Her horrid grin contrasted violently with her beautiful face; she was pleased to see him, too pleased.

That must mean he was dead.

“Leigh Andrew Bryce, aged 32,” she read off of the clipboard she was carrying, tucking a spray of blond hair behind her ear. She was dressed as a nurse, something they had both enjoyed in the privacy of their home, before her suicide.

Leigh was dumbfounded. “Ash, you’re…here.”

She didn’t even look at him as she responded. “Of course I’m here. It seems we’ve both been very, very bad in our lives.”

“Am I—are we dead?”

There was a silence that followed, and he knew the truth because of it. Yes, they were dead.

And they were both in Hell.

“No,” Leigh pleaded. “I can’t be here. I haven’t done any wrong!” He struggled to break loose the bonds on his legs.

There was a grave look upon Ashlyn’s face. “That’s what you say each time you’re here.”

Leigh was confused. “Each time? I’ve never been here before.”

His wife shook her head. “No. You’ve been here over a thousand times. I mean, the journey is always different, but you always end up here to confront your demons.”

Leigh refused to believe it; wrong, this was all wrong. He was a good person and a remarkable father. He didn’t deserve this fate.

Sighing, Ashlyn explained, “You don’t remember how you ended up here, do you?”

Leigh didn’t respond.

Ashlyn made a gesture and the door opened once again.

It was Cerrah. Or at least she looked like Cerrah; she couldn’t have been his daughter, though, because his daughter was injured. The girl standing beside Ashlyn was perfectly healthy.

Cerrah was, also, still alive. He hoped.

Her face was not welcoming, and she stood strong and willful—this was unlike his docile Cerrah. She had a remarkable likeness of his daughter, but she was false.

“Father,” she said coldly. “You didn’t expect to get away with it, did you?” She didn’t wait for him to respond as she strode over to the operating table beside him. She picked up a scalpel and caressed it. Leigh’s blood ran cold. “Making me into your puppet, that is. And in the end, being the source of my death. But I made sure you died, too, in that emergency room.”

“What are you talking about, Cerrah?” He asked, tears stinging his eyes. “I love you—I was nothing but good to you!”

Cerrah’s face transformed, twisting into a cruel snarl. “You were good to me, all right! You treated me as any man would treat his wife! For seven years since I was nine, I wasted away on the inside. I knew that what you were doing to me wasn’t right, but I never had the courage to say otherwise!”

Ashlyn took a step forward and placed a comforting hand on her daughter, “Cerrah, hush. We’ll find some way to get you out of here. He’s the one who deserves to suffer for eternity, not us—”

“I was your daughter!” Cerrah cried, disgusted. She turned to her mother, fists closing around the scalpel. “I belong here—everyone in this sick family does. I took that syringe beside my bed and drove it into his neck! I did that!” She looked at the scalpel in her bleeding palms, unfazed. “I wish I had been strong enough then to snap his neck, to wrap my hands around it as he had so often done to me and squeeze until he could breathe no longer.  But now, this eternity in Hell is giving me the chance to exact my deserved revenge. It’s not Hell to me, dear father. But I will make it so for you,” she said quietly before driving the tip of the scalpel down into his skull.

~

It was night. Tires squealed against the wet pavement as one reckless driver sped trough the deserted street towards the hospital. The truck, an old Ford Ranger, barely braked before the driver exited the vehicle with the passenger in his arms. The girl’s eyes fluttered and she looked up fearfully, too pained to respond. Tears streamed down her cheeks, staining them red. The night was silent and only the echoes of hooting owls and the sound of Cerrah’s labored breathing penetrated the film of darkness, which would soon envelop them all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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