And so ends this year’s Sinister Countdown to Halloween. I hope you have been thrilled and terrified by some of these stories. On this last night of October I’ll leave you with a story based in reality and personal experience. Of course there are the fictional embellishments that come with story telling, but keep in mind some part of this story did happen.
Thank you for reading Sinister Countdown this month on The Ink Owl. I hope you all are looking forward to next month’s challenge: Food. Happy reading all.
And now: The Haunting of Room 10
There was a light rap on the glass door and two people walked through the glass door. Their uniforms had a crisp feeling that matched the antiseptic atmosphere of the room.
A nurse, gray haired and dressed white fatigues smiled down at a rather drowsy Luca Rodriguez. “Hello Mrs.Rodriguez, welcome to the recovery unit. My name is Mara, I’ll be taking care of you this evening.”
A smiling youth accompanied the nurse. He plugged in a carted machine with looping lines and flashing numbers on a screen. He was young, in his early twenties. With a comforting smile he spoke to Luca. “And I’m Carl, your aide. I’ll be doing a number of vitals for the next couple of hours.”
He stepped forward, attaching a long cord to the cuff wrapped around her arm. “I”ll be taking your blood pressure now.”
Luca smiled at the pair and nodded. She shifted her head around, taking in the room. She saw her daughter’s smiling face in the far corner. From the lines of the mild aged woman’s eyebrows Luca could tell something had unsettled her.
“Marina, was it it?” She attempted to say, but again the pain medication dampened her physical abilities. The words came out a mumble. Energy drained from Luca’s body as she turned from her daughters face to focus on the wall behind her.
Gray bled into her vision as she focus o tight brush marks that flourished through the scene. It was a picturesque view of an afternoon picnic. Trees encircled those attending, while a solid stone house sat in the background. The smooth stone wall’s presence a stark contrast to the muted green of leaves. But something troubling filled Luca’s mind as she stared longer at the painting.
“I’m sure she will be quite alright Ms. Marina.” It was the aide speaking to her daughter. His voice full of understanding. “Patient’s often come up from our surgical floor completely oblivious to the outside world. It will all wear off in a few hours, if not a day.”
Luca couldn’t pull her eyes away. Something was going on with the green trees. Their color meshed into one, every color seemed to smooth itself out. Until finally with a start she realized something was staring back at her: A skull.
“Huesos de la muerte.” Her dry lips could only twitch out the words. Her voice lost its momentum somewhere within her throat.
She tried to get Marina’s attention, but the woman was lost in her own world, fingers flying over the keys.
Her eye lids closing slightly as anesthesia ebbed at her consciousness. One last time the skull swam before her eyes and then darkness overtook her.
“Mrs. Rodriguez? Mrs. Rodriguez can you hear me?” Luca felt her mind draw toward reality as from a deep well. The voice thundered in her ears, yet her mind registered it as a whisper.
“Yes?” She said, her tongue feeling more familiar with each passing second.
Something felt wrong, again.
“Luca, I need you to stop pulling at your lines. You’ve been dreaming I think.” It was the nurse. The same smile fixed on her face, as a belt would on a pair of pants.
Luca’s eyes roved around the room again, looking for Marina. A foggy memory of her daughter walking out the door came back to her, reminding her she had left some time before. Her eyes settled on he lone painting in the room. The lone skull lurking in a corner. White teeth smiled at her.
Mara could see her patient was more coherent this time. It was frustrating that she had all but pulled both I.V.s out in a single movement, but how could she blame her. The doctors seemed to be throwing all the pain managing drugs they could at her.
“You don’t think she’s had too much do you?” Carl asked from across the room. He was washing his hands in the room’s sink, next to the glass window and door.
“No, lucky for her I know what I’m doing. I swear these residents have no idea what they’re doing.” Mara shook her head, looking back at the heavy lidded Luca.
She shivered as the cooling unit in the ceiling kicked on, “Just keep me up on what her blood pressure is. . . Something just doesn’t feel . . . right.”
Carl was saying something else, but Luca couldn’t keep her mind together enough to understand. The only words she took with her into the quiet dark was that that of Mara.
Something doesn’t feel right.
Carl paused outside of the room. His hand hovering over the door handle. He watched as the hair on his arm stood on end. Electricity ran through his body as the latch clicked and the door opened with a breathe of air.
Did . . . that just happen? He considered the door for a moment then shook his head and walked through. It was the last set of hourly vitals he needed to take, then he could leave Mrs. Rodriguez alone, at least for a few hours.
He paused in the doorway. A familiar and yet completely inappropriate smell assaulted his nose. The smell of baking sugar cookies.
Must be the kitchens again, their starting early. But the thought died in his mind as he realized the time. 0140 read in large numbers on the wall. And it’s a weekend, they never start anything early on a weekend.
He shook his head, as if to clear away the thoughts and smell and stepped over the threshold. Guess someone got a delivery below us, lucky ducks.
The room was dimly lit by the night lights from the hall. Soft humming of machinery filled the room. Luca lay sleeping, blankets tucked in around her like a nest. Carl attached the sphygmomanometer to the blood pressure cuff. He read the patient’s temperature and recorded her oxygen and heart rate.
They had all read within normal parameters for the last few hours. Nothing had changed. It was all well and good, yet something tickled at the back of his mind. He began wrapping cords up around his vital’s cart preparing to leave.
A voice whispered through a pile of blankets. “Hueso.”
Carl paused, peering through the half dark at the form in the bed.
Did she just say something? He stepped to the bedside and looked down at his patient. Her face was as placid as ever, eyes moving gently beneath her lids. He shook his head and was about to turn around when she spoke again.
“Muérete.” The voice that came from his patient wasn’t the same. It was harsher, more commanding.
Back stiffening as he leaned over Mrs. Rodriguez. “Luca? Is everything alright?”
At that moment Luca’s eyes flew open, showing only the white of her sclera. A knobbly hand shot out and grabbed Carl around the wrist. It squeezed his wrist so hard he was sure the bones would crack.
He gasped and tried to pull away, but the arm only pulled him tighter to the bed. Before him Luca’s body continued to tremble, shaking the bed itself. Lights flickered on and off around them both. Something fell to the floor with a crash.
Luca opened her mouth again and spoke, “MUERETE!”
The voice reverberated within his chest. His vision blackened and then came back into focus. The large window opposite bubbled in it’s frame. Cracks formed all around it’s metal seal.
Sound augmented itself in the space and Carl screamed in pain as his ear drums burst.
His mind reeled. What’s happening?
The bed in front of him rose up from the ground, hovering in place as if it were all a magician’s show. He twisted in Luca’s grip as the bed continued to rise.
“Let go! Let go!” He shouted, but his words were muted in his damaged ears. The hand let go and he fell to the floor. Sliding away from the bed he tried to find some kind of cover. Medical supplies and equipment rained down on him from all sides. as if a giant child had ripped the room out of the hospital everything shook up and down.
I’ve got to get out! Got to get away! Looking around for some avenue of escape Carl saw the glass door, slightly ajar. Beyond it lay the hallway in perfect silence.
He lunged forward, head bashing against a rolling laundry cart. His vital’s cart smashed into a hundred pieces where he had been. Then it arched upwards towards the ceiling.
He slid into the door as gravity shifted from side to side. He managed to get one hand out of the room and cling onto the door jam. Discordant clamor reigned behind him as he tried to shift his body out the quivering door. Luca’s bed and body lay obscured beyond an undulating mass of shattered equipment. Everything outside the bubble continued to move. Things broke to pieces on walls, floor, and ceiling. Gouts of water traced unnatural lines from ground to ceiling shifting midstream.
Carl’s mind couldn’t accept what was happening around him, he just stared. He wiggled himself halfway through the opening and it all stopped. Silence deafened his ears. He turned to see a pathway clearing on one wall. A golden frame sat, untouched by the destruction all around.
It was the painting.
“Muerete.” Came from the whisper in the bed. No human vocal cord could have spoken at that low or harsh of pitch. Carl reached a hand to his ear and felt warmth running down his cheek and neck.
And then it was upon him. Broken materials and things wrapped themselves tight around his exposed legs. He grabbed onto the door hand as it yanked open. He felt his fingers give way under the unimaginable strength assaulting him.
With a yell he fell into the waiting void. And with that the door to room 10 clicked close.
Mara poked her head around the corner of the darkened nurses station. “Has anyone seen Carl?”
Several people shook their heads, ensconced in their computer screens. Another nurse looked up with bleary eyes. “I think I saw him heading to room 10 a while back, but I can’t be sure.
Mara grimaced. “Well he’s not answering his phone, so if you see him, tell him he’s late on that three o’clock blood sugar.”
The other nurse nodded as Mara disappeared back out onto the unit. She sniffed a couple times and then turned to the aide next to her.
“Does it smell like baking cookies to you?”