I woke up in the middle of an empty street.
The city around me, unrecognizable and dead.
Skyscrapers stood rotting and falling apart.
Cars parked near shattered walkways lay rusted.
A sing building stood taller than all the rest.
Its frame, untouched by time, stood tall and looming.
It was just a regular building, yet I feared it with every fiber of my being.
I looked upon it and thought:
“Everything that is horrid and ugly in this existence lies within this building…”
I don’t know why I thought (knew) this.
Against my will I found myself walking toward the building.
As I moved closer and closer I began to see the front of the entrance of the structure.
There hung a sign above the entryway.
It glared a foreboding neon red and simply read “Hospital”.
It was like a child’s drawing…
A child doesn’t know that certain places have specific names.
They just label police stations as “Police Station” and stores as “Store”.
When I saw this sign I laughed (sobbed).
All I could think was:
“Hospitals have two sides to them. On one side you have the smiling two year old walking proudly out of doctor’s office with a band-aid on his shoulder and a lollipop in his hand. Then you have the other side, where the two year old doesn’t get the lollipop, instead he gets the news that he won’t live long enough to ever get another piece of candy again.”
And I laughed (cried) because this hospital only had that one side.
This is no place of healing; it’s a damn pit stop before you’re on your way to the pearly gates in the sky (the fires of hell).
There were no smiling faces in this hospital.
No excited children telling mothers or fathers about how brave they were when they got their seasonal shots.
No wives telling anxious husbands that a little bundle of joy was on the way.
There were only mothers and fathers crying and sobbing as the doctor placed the white sheet over their child’s face.
Only crying wives sobbing to their husbands because they had miscarried for the third time.
Hell, even the doctors that worked here wouldn’t be the kind, gentle healers we all know.
They are cold, heartless, and uncaring:
“Oh I’m sorry sir/mam, your loved one has fallen into a coma and we had to put him/her on life support. Of course, we later found out that your insurance won’t cover this so could you please let us pull the plug, you’re costing this hospital money.”
Of course all of this was just my imagination.
There are no people in that hospital, be they doctor or patient.
No one could survive in that godforsaken place.
My feet started moving again.
I was horrified to find that I was moving closer and closer to the door:
“Oh God, please no! Cut off my limbs, gauge out my eyes! ANYTHING! But don’t force me into this place”
I screamed and raved in my head, but my legs would not obey me.
I placed my hands on the handle and opened the door.
Immediately, a foul stench filled my nostrils.
It smelled like daisies and rotting flesh.
The smell of someone trying to hide filth and taint under a blanket of cheap air freshener.
I gagged and the inside of my stomach lurched.
I managed to gain control of my legs and turned to leave as fast as I could.
I stared in horror; the door was no longer there.
I screamed…then stopped, a voice filtered into my head:
“Hello, what’s your name? Are you here to visit me? I’m so lonely.”
The voice was childlike and, if you didn’t pay attention to it, then it would almost seem pleasant.
But I focused, my fear forced me to, and I heard the voice behind the voice.
It sounded horrifying, like the screams of a thousand agonized and tortured souls all condensed into one sound.
It was the sound of insanity.
The voice spoke again:
“Hello, are you going to visit me? I’m not far; just take the elevator to the 13th floor. I’m the only one there.”
I hated this child’s (thing’s!) voice.
It drove rusted nails into my ears and shards of glass straight into my mind.
This child (monster!) is the reason this hospital (grave) felt so dead, so disgusting.
But I lost control of my body once again.
I moved to the elevators, the doors instantly opened.
I stepped inside, the doors closed and for a moment my heart stopped.
I looked to the elevator’s control panel.
There was only one button.
A floor button.
The 13th floor.
Ironic isn’t it; so many elevators skip the 13th floor but this one only went to the 13th
My hand extended and my finger pushed the button.
The elevator lurched and I could hear the wires above strain to carry their load.
I feared the wires would snap and I would fall to my death (though in the back of my head I almost wished I would just fall so I wouldn’t have to face the patient of floor 13).
The elevator moved slowly and I felt eternity pass me by before it halted to a stop with a recognizable “ding” (a death toll).
The doors slid open and I stepped into the hallway.
The air was cold here and it seemed that no one tried to hide the scent of decay here.
The lights were dim and the paint on the walls was pealing.
A cockroach scuttled into a hole in the wall only for a rat to follow a second later.
The walls were bare and I could see no rooms.
I turned to my left and began to walk down the hall.
I came to a stop in front of the only door on this floor.
I stared at the door; the plaque on it read “1303”.
Below the plaque, a poem (warning) was engraved onto the wood of the door (scratched out by a dying soul).
“Here lies the bad thing.
Among the monsters he is king.
Murderers, rapists, psychopaths his kin.
Stare not at the endless rows of teeth in his grin.
Walk away if you can, run away.
Open not this door; let not the voice of the bad thing make you sway”
I wish I could follow that piece of advice.
I felt my hand move (why does my body keep betraying me?).
I thrust out my other hand still under my control and clutched at the traitorous limb.
The child (bad thing) spoke again:
“Why are you taking so long, sir (HURRY THE FUCK UP)? I am so lonely (OPEN THE GODDAMNED DOOR). Please come inside (YOU PIECE OF SHIT! I’LL KILL YOU! I’LL RIP YOU APART).”
I could hear the other voice clearly now (insanity’s voice).
It screamed and threatened me.
It lashed like an animal on short chain.
It wanted out.
I was afraid, I was more afraid than I have ever been in my life.
Sweat trickled down my neck where veins bulged with fear induced adrenaline.
My arms shaking, my right fighting against my left to keep me from opening the door (seal).
My right hand was cramping, it was getting harder and harder to keep a hold of my left hand (traitor).
“Sir, are you still their? (YOU SON OF A BITCH! YOU BETTER STILL FUCKING BE THERE!) Please open the door; it’s been so long since anyone visited (FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT OPEN THE DOOR!).
The clashing of that childlike voice with the voice of a thousand screams was nauseating.
Tears welled up in my eyes and fell down my cheeks.
I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I screamed and let go of my hand that strained to grab the door knob.
My left hand instantly shot out of my grip and took a hold of the knob.
My eyes watched on in horror as my hand slowly turned the door knob.
I heard the click of the door (the loudest sound I had ever heard).
Slowly, I pushed the door inward and stood before the bed in the center of the room.
In the bed lied a sickly little boy.
Tubes in his mouth and IVs in his arms.
A heart monitor stood beside the bed.
It beeped at a slow tempo (does this monster even have a heart).
I looked at the child and for all appearance’s sake he looked normal.
But I knew, as I looked at him, I knew that what was in that bed was not a child.
It wasn’t even human.
The child/monster/thing opened his/its eyes and I nearly collapsed to my knees.
There were no eyes, just two pieces of a broken mirror shoved into bloody sockets.
I saw my reflection in those eyes, but not a reflection of how I currently was.
I saw a reflection of myself, bloodied and battered, my eyes gone and my chest torn open to reveal my still beating heart.
“Hello sir, I am so glad you came to visit…NOW I CAN EAT YOU.”
The childlike voice was gone.
The monster ripped the tubes from its mouth to reveal not teeth but row after row of syringe needles dripping with fluid (venom).
I screamed and I screamed but I could not move.
The beast lunged from the bed and tackled me to the floor and as my head hit the tile all I could think was:
“You look an awful lot like my son, kid.”
I woke up.
I got out of bed, body drenched in a cold sweat, my lungs were out of breath.
I walked out of my room and into the hallway.
I walked until I reached my son’s room and opened the door.
I stepped inside and walked to my son’s bed.
I leaned down, caught with the sudden urge to kiss my son’s head and reassure myself that he is fine.
I smiled at him, all of my fear vanishing, replaced by the unconditional love I had for my son.
I turned to leave never noticing my son smile revealing needle teeth and opening his mirror eyes.