My eyes flicker open slowly as I begin to come to my senses I’m sitting on a floor the ground pressing against me. The first thing I pick out is the dim light bulb above me sizzling on and off as whatever power source runs it struggles to keep it lit. I’m in a small room, the walls stained in grime, what were once white tiles like those on hospital walls or in an operating theatre are now brown and dirty shades of yellow like thick grease or tar. Some are missing or cracked and it looks as if they’ve been weathered by neglect and time.
I try to move my hands to my side but can’t. I feel a cold stabbing sensation around my wrists stabbing into me and realise I’m chained to the wall behind me by handcuffs or some type of steel bonds. I don’t panic like I normally would, for some reason I don’t seem to be worried, I slowly bring my eyes downwards and that’s when I notice the shape curled up in front of my feet. I can’t quite make it out in the dim light but I pick out clothes what looks like torn dirty jeans and a long sleeve red coloured shirt as I scan along it I can see hair. It’s a person…. no not a person a child curled up in foetal position motionless and facing away from me.
I try to open my mouth and call out but all I can hear is a strained mumble and not the words I try to say. I must be drugged I tell myself maybe that’s why I seem so calm they have me sedated maybe to keep me quiet. Suddenly the child thing in front of me twitches like the start of a seizure but not as wild. I watch as its’ back straightens and hands begin to claw outwards along the floor its’ fingers tapping the tiles like a spider scurrying off into the dark. It begins to moan, a sorrowful pained sound and it turns on its side on its stomach twitching unnaturally. Its hair covers its’ features long, black strands rubbing along the floor around its head and I can’t make out if it’s a girl or a boy. Its’ hands begin to touch along my legs and I feel its’ icy bony grip around my ankles as it pulls itself upwards and towards me.
The fear that up until now didn’t seem to exist kicks in like a shot of adrenaline directly into my veins. I feel my heart lurch forward as if trying to claw its’ way through my ribs and out of my skin to escape. I pull on my bonds and feel steel begin to cut into my skin. Suddenly I can hear my screams and I scream with all the air in my lungs. It grips harder now around my thighs and I can feel it’s skinny torso as it lies limply on top of me moving towards my face. I kick and pull and scream in complete terror, feeling warm wet liquid begin to drip from my wrists down along my forearm. I hear it gasping for air a struggled sound like the final breathes of a dying beast. It pulls itself up toward my face its’ dark hair blocking its’ features and brushing along my cheeks. The light in the room gives one last sizzle and goes out. I wake up.
I’m in my bed and can feel the sweat dripping down my forehead and my gown sticking damply to my skin. Light shines in the window to my left, a warming comforting sun and I begin to come back to reality hearing the noises of the hospital around me the beeping of the machines and pitter-patter of feet along the corridors. That’s the third time I have had dreams like that in the last week and in every one the sense of realness is terrifying, the smells, the noises, ever since the patient who had been next to me had passed away in the night.
I came here because of a major heart attack I had had while driving home from the office. My wife has always warned me of the dangers of stress from the workplace and living life on the go but I had always ignored her. After all I enjoyed it, I could never understand how people could spend time watching TV or reading a book, I always feel the need to move, to do something and when I don’t I feel anxious; that’s why I had applied to be the CEO of Aldromeda, a technology company in our city because I knew how hard the work was and how unrelenting the hours were. But nevertheless it had caught up with me and I had to be cut from my car with the jaws of life as I had fell unconscious and cut across into the dike at the edge of the motorway.
Paramedics mentioned another car crashing behind me as it tried to swerve out of the way to avoid me as we made our way towards the hospital in the ambulance. I couldn’t respond because of the excruciating pain in my chest. If you’ve ever had a cramp that forces you to move it’s like that by force multiplied by 1000, mixed with the feeling of razor blades being pushed into your heart you forget to breathe at times as all you can concentrate on in those seconds is the pain.
I had been in here a week recuperating when they wheeled in a small boy and placed him in the bed across from my own. He had his head bandaged from the crown of his skull down to just above his lips. Even his eyes were covered and I felt sorry staring at the poor guy as they positioned him in the bed attaching the drips and wires from the machine next to the bed to him. No parents came with him and I wondered where they were, shouldn’t they be with him or at least someone I thought to myself.
When the nurses left I tried to make conversation asking him what his name was and telling him that I’ll be his bed buddy for a few days hoping to comfort him or at least let him know that he wasn’t alone but he just lay there motionless, not even turning his head once the whole time or making a sound. I guessed that whatever had happened had deafened him or maybe be was still asleep due to the anesthetic they give you after an operation. I thought nothing of it and fell asleep.
When I woke up it was night and the lights were low in the room. I stretched my arms out yawning and turned to my left and gasped in fright. The boy was sitting on the edge of his bed motionless staring at me. I couldn’t see his eyes underneath the bandages but I could feel his eyes staring into mine ….if that makes any sense. I immediately jumped up out of the bed throwing my legs out and standing up I asked him if he was okay trying to keep my voice low not to startle him but he didn’t respond he just sat there not moving, God it didn’t even look like he was breathing!
I crept cautiously towards him trying not to scare or surprise him. I got close enough to reach out and touch his shoulder and as I did his hand darted up and grabbed my wrist. I yelled in shock and tried to pull my hand away but he held it in place his grip like a vice, cold and bony. I started to shout for the nurse to come and help as his head turned slowly towards me, slowly and mechanically like something from the Exorcist and at that I’m nearly sure I wet myself. His bandaged face stared directly into mine and I watched as his lips began to part curling upwards into a menacing and evil smile while simultaneously baring his teeth like a dog or a rabid animal. The nurses rushed in the door behind me and tried to loosen the boys grip all why I shouted for help trying my best to pull away but he wouldn’t let go until one of them withdrew a needle and pushed it into his neck. He loosened his grip and let go slumping lifelessly as the nurses picked him up and positioned him back onto his bed.
I tried to stay awake that night not wanting to sleep for fear that I would wake with him next to me but I couldn’t seem to keep my eyes open and eventually nodded off in the early hours of the morning the noises of the machines around me getting lower as I slipped away into sleep.
When I woke the next morning I turned to see where the boy was and found the bed next to me empty. At first I panicked scanning the room around to see if he was standing somewhere and embarrassingly enough I checked under my bed to see if he was lurking there but he wasn’t. The nurse came in an hour later with breakfast and I took the opportunity to ask her about the boy. She told me that he had went into cardiac arrest early in the morning and had died on the operating table, apparently there was no one to break the news to afterwards and they had had to phone relatives as his parents died after they crashed their car with the boy in the back seat the week before. I felt terrible for him and promised to try and find some information about him when I was well enough to leave. I thanked the nurse and ate my breakfast.
I have had horrible dreams since, one where I open my eyes and he’s at the bed below me but without his bandages and facing away from me, his head turns slowly but not his body and i hear the strain and snap of his neck as it rotates backwards and again I try to move but cant. I always wake before I see his face.
I hope to god this was the last , I might even request that the nurse gives me something to keep me awake tonight or try to pull an all-nighter watching DVDs on the TV in the ward. I feel my gown still clinging to me and try to pull it out from underneath me when I spot something. It looks like a small bruise underneath the gown. I slowly lift it up and my heart drops into my stomach. There are more bruises all purple and fresh along my legs from my ankle upwards and all are in the shape of small hands like a child’s. I scramble as I pull the robe up further finding them along my sides as well.
As I lift my head to call for help the lights around me dim and the noises of the hospital fade away I try to scream but I can’t. A shape appears in the doorway in front of my bed; small with black hair standing motionless. This time I can see part of his face. His lips curl upwards slowly into a menacing smile and he bares his teeth now sharp like those of a beast and the lights go out.