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Authors: R.J. Harker

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BOOK: An Infinite Sorrow
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  "HAAAAA!!"  A figure wrapped in a white sheet threw itself up against the kitchen window.  Alice screamed her brains out.  Not a scream of surprise, but one of true terror.  Franklin pulled off the sheet, laughing hysterically.  "I got you.  No denying it.  That was..."

  She took a swing at him as he entered the kitchen.  "That was not cool.  That's what the killer did right before he went nuts!  Don't pull junk like that."

  "Whatever.  We're just having a few laughs.  Isn't that right, Rich?" 

  Rich was busy staring at one of the cabinets.  He could have sworn he'd seen something move...

  The body rolled out of the area that had been above the refrigerator.  All that was left was a decayed bundle of rags and some bones, but it was enough to send the whole group screaming from the house into the night.                      

  *****

  None of them talked about it for a long time.  Finally, Liz was the one to bring it back up.  "We should have called the police."

  Franklin had a big chunk of fried chicken stuffed in his mouth at that particular moment.  He comically stopped chewing and let it drop to his plate.  "That's the last thing we should have done.  Too many freaking complications.  Way, way too many.  We weren't even supposed to be there."

  Rich agreed.  "The guy had been dead for a while, much longer than a few months.  Probably some homeless dude.  I want to forget about it."

  Alice's eyes were distant.  "We shouldn't have gone there..."   

The friends’ most recent hang out was Desolation Falls Theater.  Alice, of course, had wanted to see a horror movie.  Liz hated horror movies.  Franklin wanted in just because of what Alice wanted, and Rich found himself being neutral.  After some coaxing, they all entered the theater for a screening of
The Screaming Unknown
.

  Rich had a seat next to Liz.  "What's it about?"

  Franklin gave him a little jab in the arm.  "Who cares, as long as there are hot chicks!!"

  Alice sat next to Liz.  "Grow up, loser." 

  The film ended up chronicling the life of a guy stuck in a city where everyone was possessed by demons.  At first he was bored.  It was like watching
Night of the Living Demons
or some crap.  About thirty minutes in, some of the imagery started to get to Rich.  A young girl tore out the eyes of her father.  The main character ran some possessed people over with a car.  In one of the kill scenes, a guy strangles another guy saying, "Men who fear demons see demons everywhere.  I have seen my demons, and they are me!!"

  That was it, Rich jumped up out of his chair.  He was soaked with sweat.  Liz tried to follow him, but he motioned for her to go sit back down.  His hands wouldn't stop shaking.  Every muscle in his body refused to relax.  It was the most horrible feeling he'd ever had.  He walked into the men's room.  Usually he was a germ freak, but he splashed some water on his face and tried to pull it together.  From the theater, he could hear the sound of a baby crying.

  A powerful hand clamped down on his shoulder.  For a moment, the world froze into black and white.  Everything he had been feeling, the strain, the horror, intensified tenfold.  He couldn't seem to scream, he just froze up.  Then, the world was moving again, and he found the will to turn around. 

  Franklin looked worried about him.  "Hey buddy, are you ok?  You’re inventing new levels of paleness over there." 

  Rich felt sick.  "I'm ok. I just need to catch my breath."

  "So go catch it.  We need to finish this movie, pal." 

  Rich got two steps toward the theater before he blacked out. 

****

  "Don't worry, I'm a nurse."

  The voice was unfamiliar to Richard.  A tall, brown-haired woman was checking his pulse.

  "What happened?"  He said groggily.

  "You fainted, man!!  What a pansy!"

  Leave it to Franklin to provide soothing words of encouragement.  The nurse was more helpful.  "If I had to guess, I'd say panic attack.  You should be checked out at the hospital."

  "Oh, come on!  I don't need to go to the hospital."

  "We've already called an ambulance.  Just lay there and be still for now.  They're just going to check you out." 

  Once they got Rich to the hospital, the staff insisted on him sitting in a wheel chair.  The whole thing was so stupid; he didn't even feel ill anymore.  The hospital was a dump, and he felt like he was going to catch something just from sitting in the waiting room.  He did have decent company, though. 

  "This place is creepy."  Liz was looking at this older nurse who kept rushing in and out of the same room.  She held Rich's hand, which was nice. 

  "That's what I was thinking.  You're not the one sitting in the rusty wheelchair."  Of course the wheelchair wasn't really rusty, but Rich was sure it was pretty close.

  "I get spooked by most hospitals, but this one takes the cake.  I'm never going in here, just let me die."  Alice had a way of taking extreme views of things."

  Something occurred to Rich.  "Hey, I thought you guys grew up in this town?  You must have stayed here before.  Did it used to be nicer or something?"

  "Never been sick," Liz said quickly.

  Rich gave her a funny look.  "You've never been sick?  Right."

  "Never been that sick, like, hospitalized sick," Alice said. 

  Rich couldn't believe it.  "So, you never had your tonsils out, or the measles, or a bad flu..."

  Liz looked away from him and stopped holding his hand.  "Can we talk about something else?"

  "Richard Spoller?"  An impatient male nurse read his name off of a clipboard like he was reading out of a phonebook.  Rich raised his hand.  Liz and Alice were told they had to stay in the waiting room while he was wheeled out of sight. 

  The inside of the hospital looked worse than the outside.  It was like some custodian had spent all his time on the waiting room and took the rest of the night off.  It wasn't that it looked unsanitary, it was just...old.  Cracking, yellow walls.  Peeling wallpaper.  Sick people as far as the eye could see.  Rich was wheeled in next to an older gentleman who looked pretty bad off.  A nurse pulled the curtain between them shut.  "Rest here, I'll be right back with the doctor."

  The doctor was an unassuming, dark-haired gentleman.  He asked Rich some questions about whether he had ever had spells of passing out before, if he had seizures, if he used drugs, etc. All of which were a “no.”  "We're going to keep you overnight for observation, just to make sure everything is ok."

  "Isn't that a little extreme?  I probably just got dehydrated or something."

  "We just want to make sure everything is ok."

  A different nurse came in as the doctor left.  "I'll be taking some blood.  Try to relax."  Rich didn't even ask if it was necessary at this point; they were just going to do what they wanted.  His mom was allowed to visit before it was too late in the evening.  Pretty soon, he was asked if he wanted anything to help him sleep.  The last thing he wanted to do was stay or sleep in this place, but it didn't look like he had much of a choice.  At some point, he drifted off to sleep. 

  There was a light.  Not an overly bright light to force him back to the waking world.  It was just enough to disrupt the darkness hanging behind his eyes, disturbing his dreams.  His dreams were disturbing enough.  At the moment, he was lost in a vast, swirling twilight filled with otherworldly shapes.  His friends and family were in pain, and he was powerless to prevent it. 

  Something was moving in his guts. 

  Rich's eyes popped open.  He felt that something had moved past the door.  Then something else odd occurred to him.  All the lights were gone, as if the power was off.  "Hello?"

  He could hear things moving...moving out in the darkness.  But no voices…  The smell...

  "Um...nurse?  Is something wrong?" 

  "nNNNNnOooOLItTlebOyYyy."

  A familiar feeling rushed into him, a feeling that forced him from the bed.  He neatly plucked the IV from his arm and slid out the door.  He felt awkward in the simple hospital gown, but some instinct was guiding him through the darkness. 

  He caught sight of his nurse.  She was busy crawling toward him on all fours, with bloody eyes and graying skin.  "HAAAAAAA!!!"

  The inhuman screams of some baby-thing echoed through the twisted halls.  The hospital didn't seem like a hospital anymore.  It was transformed into some hellish trap Rich would have to escape from. 

  Rich could barely see outside.  A thick, supernatural fog blocked out almost everything.  A small feeling of relief surged through him as he reached the exit door, and panic flooded back just as quickly when he realized it was locked.

  "No, no, no, no..."

  He tried the next door.  Locked.  He wildly looked around for some way to escape as one of the dead nurses came charging into the hall.  "HEAAAA!!"

  The half-rotted thing was holding up two scalpels, and charged him.  He screamed and threw a chair at it.  The chair leg connected with the creature’s face.  Its head snapped back with a sharp crack, and it collapsed.        

  Now he ran.  Part of him was scared that he would slip, run into a wall, or that those things would catch up.  The other part of him pushed himself until his legs burned.  His instincts guided him through the unfamiliar twists and turns, out one of the emergency exit doors into the chilly night air. 

  "A phone, I need to find a phone."  Seemed like an easy enough task, now that he was out in the open.  "Probably should have tried to grab my things before taking off, but that nurse...what the heck is going on?" 

  Rich tried to head for Main Street, but he just couldn't get his bearings.  The fog kept thickening around him, and he kept ending up back at the hospital.  He was growing increasingly panicked as the inhuman screams from the hospital echoed out into the town.  He could hear them coming, coming to drag him back to the white room where all his nightmares would come true. 

  "Hey Rich, this way, buddy.  It's me, Stan the clone!"

  It was Stan, motioning for Rich to follow him down one of the alleys around the hospital.  He just didn't look quite right, though.  "Stan?  How are you out this late man?" 

  "No, I'm not your Stan.  I'm Stan from the second iteration, the really cool one.  Follow me!!"  He ran into the darkness.   

This was all impossible.  He'd left Stan at the movie theater.  Stan's folks were even stricter than Rich's mom.  He knew for a fact that Stan would be a prisoner of his Xbox by now.  Now there were two Stan's?  "No way I'm following that freak." 

  On the other side of the dark, fog-covered road, Rich could just barely make out the outline of a small car.  A bloodied doctor stumbled out of the hospital, "Time for your cheeeeck uuuuup hehehehe!" 

  "Sorry, gotta go!"  Amazingly, the car was unlocked with the keys still in it.  Rich pinched himself.  No dream this time, this was happening.  He fired up the engine, and set off down the main road toward the highway. 

  "Ok, ok, got to get out of here.  I'd better drive to...to...and then I'll call...someone...crap."  The fog was clearing, but Rich realized he didn't know any other town names, he didn't know what road he was on, and couldn't remember anyone he was supposed to call. 

  BAM!!  The front tire was almost swallowed by a pot hole.  The road was in really bad shape, and the starless, moonless night didn't make it any easier to get his bearings.  "CRAP!!!"

  A little girl stepped out onto the road.  Rich swerved at the last minute and hit a tree,

******

  Rich's head hurt. 

  For a moment, he thought he was waking up in his room at home, but then the cold hit him.  He rubbed his eyes and looked around.  He appeared to be in a concrete room with no windows.  No door either, he could see right into the hall.  A few people walked past, uninterested. 

  "Hey!  Hello?  Where am I?"  Luckily, somehow, he had a plain set of clothes.  Walking around in a hospital gown would have been really awkward at this point.  He walked out into a long hallway, which led to some sort of vast cafeteria.  It was filled with young people his age, and in the same plain grey uniform, all eating something which looked like low budget ham (He hoped it was ham).  Finally, he spotted a familiar face.  Alice was sitting at table six. 

  He sat next to her.  "Man, I'm glad I spotted you.  How'd we get here?  What is this?" 

  She turned to face him.  Only her left side had been visible to him when he'd entered the room.  It was Alice all right, but Alice with an eye patch.  "Commander, I'm not in the mood for games.  I'm going on thirty hours without sleep, and we're not even prepped for the next op yet.  You should probably get to central command."

  Rich took the time to blink.  "Central what?  Damn, Alice, I didn't know you'd go all Nick Fury on me for a hospital prank.  Who did I tick off that bad for you guys to keep me going this long?  Is Franklin back there?" 

  She stopped eating.  "How could you even joke about Franklin?  Get your head on straight, and quick.  We've got a job to do." 

BOOK: An Infinite Sorrow
8.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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