Authors: Ray Garton
Her arms stretched outward as she rolled over and tried to do two things at once—get to her feet and move toward the door, away from that thing on Mrs. Woodlawn. She screamed again and again as she rose and fell, rose and fell in her clamber to get out of the room.
“What’s happening?” Mrs. Dorcy cried, her voice hoarse with sleep. “What’s going on? What’s
Suddenly, Ana was in the open doorway, hands clutching the frame. She stared down at Wilma in horror.
“What is it, what is it?” Ana cried, frightened by Wilma’s screams and obvious terror.
There was a commotion of footsteps in the corridor.
The thing on Mrs. Woodlawn made another sound, like the harsh gurgling of a clogged drain amplified.
Ana’s wide eyes lifted and she looked beyond Wilma, across the room. Her mouth opened wider and her eyes became impossibly large as she froze for a moment, gawking. Then she backed away from the doorway and screamed.
More footsteps joined the others outside the room. The new ones were moving fast, running, slapping the tiles. A man’s voice snapped, “Out of the way, out of the way!”
Ana looked to her right, then stepped aside and out of sight, leaving the doorway empty again. Wilma struggled to her feet and threw herself at the safety of that doorway and the corridor beyond, arms outstretched, mouth open even though her screams had stopped.
Just as she reached it, the bright light of the doorway was darkened by a figure. Wilma collided with it as the figure’s hands came up and gripped her upper arms, steadied her as it led her out of the room and to her right. Wilma gasped for breath as if she’d come up from deep water.
The man holding her wore a uniform. His left eye was covered by a black patch. His right eye was looking intensely at something behind Wilma. She recognized the sheriff. Still gasping for breath, Wilma pulled away from him, turned around, and backed up a step, until she was standing beside him.
In the room, Mrs. Dorcy called, “What’s going on? Somebody! What’s happening?”
Wilma heard it, then—that horrible creature making its awful, throaty growling sound—and her blood chilled.
“What’s in here?” Mrs. Dorcy shouted. “
There’s something in here
A small crowd was gathered in the corridor just beyond the open door of the hospital room. A couple of sheriff’s deputies stood with nurses, and in front of them stood a doctor Wilma recognized, Dr. Hugo Rodriguez. Standing in front of Dr. Rodriguez were two women—a somewhat pear-shaped middle-aged woman with short, greying brown hair, and a lovely blond woman in her twenties. Between them stood a girl in her middle to late teens.
The girl was tall and fit, her body neither skinny nor fat, but substantial, voluptuous, healthy. Hair the color of rich, dark honey cascaded past her shoulders. Her skin was creamy and unblemished, smooth and taut with youth. She wore a long black satin robe. It was belted at the waist, with a shadow of cleavage showing in the V formed by the lapels. Her shapely feet were bare, her toenails painted red. She looked like she had left the house quickly, with no time to throw on clothes. But it was her eyes to which Wilma’s gaze kept returning. At first, she thought the girl’s eyes were a very pale blue, but when she turned her head just slightly and her eyes caught the glow of the overhead lights, Wilma gasped—they were silver.
More guttural, gurgling sounds from the creature inside the room.
“I can see your shadows!” Mrs. Dorcy cried. “You’re standing just outside the door! Somebody come in here. Please! Somebody
come in here
! I’m scared!”
Looking at the teenage girl standing in the corridor, Wilma momentarily forgot her terror and her breathing steadied. She was mesmerized as her gaze locked on the girl, whose expression was peaceful, serene. She was the most beautiful girl Wilma had ever seen.
“In there,” the sheriff said quietly, nodding toward the open door.
The girl looked at the older woman at her side, who nodded once. As she stepped forward, her right leg appeared through the opening of the belted robe, pale and shapely. She turned to her right and went into the room.
The creature in the room continued making its menacing sounds.
“No!” Wilma cried, reaching out, moving to stop the girl.
The sheriff clutched her arm and held her back.
“Don’t let her go in there!” Wilma said breathlessly. “That thing, that
is in there! That thing will—she’ll be—”
The creature fell silent.
When no sounds of distress came from the open room, Wilma said nothing more and watched the open door. She held her breath, tense, waiting for a scream, a crash, something that would indicate the creature in the room had attacked that young woman. But she heard nothing.
No one moved. Everyone watched the door. Not even their breathing could be heard.
Wilma had no idea how much time had passed. It seemed an eternity as she waited for the screams, as she waited for that little blood-soaked monster to come shooting out of the door, snapping its fanged jaws.
Finally, the girl came out of the room. She held something in her arms. When Wilma saw what it was, she gasped with shock and her shoulders slumped as the tension drained out of her.
The girl held a small infant in her arms. It was tiny, as if it were only hours old. Its body and face were smeared with blood, but it appeared unharmed. It had no snout, no fangs. Its chubby little arms and legs twitched and gently kicked as it gazed up at the girl’s face. It made a little spitting sound as the girl turned her back on Wilma and began to walk down the corridor.
The two women who had flanked the girl now turned and went with her. The deputies and Dr. Rodriguez and the other nurses stepped aside to let them pass, their heads turning as they watched them go. As if under a spell, everyone stood perfectly still and watched as the three women went down the corridor.
The spell was broken abruptly when Dr. Rodriguez stepped forward and went into the room, his footsteps clocking on the tile floor. Wilma heard Mrs. Dorcy say something, her voice lilting upward at the end in a question. She heard Dr. Rodriguez respond abruptly, followed by more of his footsteps. After a brief silence, she heard the hiss of the curtain dividing the two beds being pulled along its track, more footsteps, then silence.
Wilma thought of Mrs. Woodlawn, her large belly torn open, blood all over her and the bed.
Did I imagine that?
Have I had some kind of neurological event? Am I having a breakdown?
A moment later, Dr. Rodriguez’s footsteps sounded again and grew louder as he came out of the room. He turned to her.
“I want the patient in bed A moved to another room immediately,” he said. To the other nurses, he said, “This room is off limits to everyone as of now, including staff.” To the sheriff, he gave a single, silent nod. “It’s all yours, Sheriff,” he whispered.
The sheriff said quietly to his deputies, “We’ve got work to do.”
The deputies separated, and one of them approached Wilma. He smiled and said pleasantly, “Excuse me, but what’s your name?”
Bob finds himself bathing his mother again, as he has so many times in the past. The shower hisses and the bathroom is murky with steam, even hotter and more smotheringly humid than usual. Bob squats beside the bathtub fully clothed, but his clothes are damp from all the steam and they cling to his body heavily, confining and cloying. Through the unceasing hiss of the shower, he can hear music. Its source is indefinable. It is religious music, of course—dirgeful and repressingly reverent. He can’t quite follow the song, but catches bits of the lyric occasionally. Words like “death” and “blood” and “bleed” and “pierced” and “holy ghost” occasionally rise up out of the mournful wail and become clear, but most of it is nothing more than an endless, painful sound that will not stop.
As the music plays and beads of perspiration break out stingingly on Bob’s face, he squats there washing his mother. A wet, soapy washcloth covers his right hand like a mitten as he runs it up and down her thick, heavy thighs. Her flabby, ghost-white legs are spotted with varicose veins—spindly, jagged formations that look like delicate purple spiders clinging tightly to her skin.
Bob’s eyes fall on the inverted triangle of thin, mostly-grey hair. The flesh is puffy, lumpy, and the lips hang wearily from the crease in the center. He begins to wash it. Rubs it with the washcloth. Works up a lather.
“Make sure you get that good and clean,” his mother says, her voice harsh, commanding, and unnecessarily loud.
He slowly moves the washcloth up and down in that crease. Up and down, up and down...
She makes a sound in her throat. It is guttural, as if she’s trying to swallow a sound, to keep it from getting out.
... up and down, up and down...
,” she snaps, her voice tense. “Can’t you do
He can’t take his eyes off of it—smeared with white, soapy lather, the hanging lips jiggling with each movement—as he pulls his hand away and drops the washcloth. It hits the floor of the tub with a heavy, wet slap. He slides his fingers into the crease, between the lips, over the lather.
... up and down, up and down...
She breathes faster, her breaths becoming heavier. Occasionally, there is a high, tense, trembling sound behind one of the breaths.
Bob is conscious of the tightness in his crotch, the ache of his growing erection pressing against the wet material of his pants. Soon, he feels the heat of fluid surfacing at the end of his penis.
As if driven by some exterior force over which he had no control, he finds himself focusing two fingers on the slippery nub nestled in the top of the crease. He moves his fingertips over it in a steady circular motion.
The sounds behind her breaths become more frequent and louder as her body begins to tremble and twitch.
Bob slowly tilts his head back to look up at his mother’s face, breathing through his open mouth. But the naked, trembling woman standing before him in the tub is not his mother.
Ellen G. White’s head is tilted down at him. Her wide, round eyes glare condemnation at him as her fat lips peel back a bit, her dark hair pulled back severely into a bun behind her head, the part in the center razor-straight. Her frantic, passionate breaths hiss between her clenched teeth and puff her cheeks with each exhalation. Her teeth separate and the glistening tip of her tongue appears between them to slide slowly over her bottom lip. The high, ecstatic sounds in her throat deepen and become a growl. Her head jerks once and suddenly, the lower half of her face juts violently outward. Her mouth becomes a canine snout, and its black lips pull back over sharp fangs as she reaches for him and bends down abruptly with a deadly growl—
Bob jerked awake with a strangled cry and sat up in his bed, legs tangled in the sheet, fingertips digging into the mattress. He sat there, back stiff, chest rising and falling with each heaving breath, for a long time, trying to rid his mind of the images that had been so vivid in his sleep.
Daylight oozed into the room around the edges of the drawn window shades. There were quiet sounds elsewhere in the house—the sounds of Mom and Grandma stirring in their bedrooms. The clock read 8:27.
Bob flopped back on the bed. It was too early to get up. He wanted to sleep longer, but his attempts to get comfortable and drift off again failed. Each time he closed his eyes, he found himself looking up at Sister White, her round, ugly face taut with passion as he fondled her genitals. The image made him squirm and wince.
He got up, put on his robe, and peered cautiously into the hall. When he saw neither Mom nor Grandma, he went to the bathroom and took a shower, dried his hair, brushed his teeth. He returned to his room and dressed. By then, it was 9:53.
Bob looked forward to his lunch with Royce, but it was hours away. He had the rest of the morning to kill, and he did not want to do it in the house. He knew his mother would bludgeon him with questions about last night over breakfast, each one louder than the last, and she would not rest until she got some answers. If he did not answer her immediately, Grandma would accuse him of disrespect and tell him how severely God disapproved of his attitude and behavior. And Bob, of course, would be expected to make breakfast, as always. And as always, it would not be good enough for Grandma, who would complain endlessly about how bad his cooking was and how much better her cooking was, while never getting up to cook anything herself.
He felt like a child, a little boy who did not want to leave the safe haven of his bedroom. Bob sat on the edge of his bed, put his elbows on his knees and rested his head in his hands. Over and over, in a whispered voice, he reminded himself, “I’m thirty-eight years old... I’m thirty-eight years old... ”
He closed his eyes, and instead of seeing a naked, panting, monstrous image of Sister White from his nightmare, he saw the bloody, fanged little creature that had brutally snapped its jaws shut on that man’s crotch in the Emergency Room the night before. He groaned as he scrubbed his face with both hands.