You Raise Your Kids to Do Better than You…

… but it’s still a little irritating when they do it. Here’s a story the Spawn wrote yesterday, and it’s better than my work at age 16. Sigh.

Sickness Story

by the Spawn

It was around two am that it all started. Up until that point it had been the kind of quiet night that that made the graveyard shift tolerable. The waiting room had been silent except for the tick of the clock and the footsteps of the occasional doctor or nurse passing through on their way to and from their car. I had been passing the time reading one of those dollar store romance novels that are never written all that well. It seemed nothing bad enough to warrant a hospital trip was happening anywhere in little Silver Falls.

When Joyce Marlow barged in, four-year-old son in her arms and nearly inconsolable, I honestly barely looked up from my book to hand her the clipboard full of forms to fill out. In my defense, Joyce was the towns well known hypochondriac, bringing her little boy in almost every other day, completely positive he had whatever disease she had just seen on Lifetime. To say I was annoyed when she slapped the clipboard away would be an understatement, but I didn’t have time to talk to her about hospital protocol for the second time this week before she started yelling at me.

“Goddammit, this is the emergency room! My baby is dying! Get a doctor; we don’t have time for this!”

I looked at the boy for the first time and realized that paranoid as Joyce was, she might be right this time. Her son’s eyes were bloodshot and sunken, his skin so pale you could trace his veins like a road map, and his mouth was crusted with something.

“Now, Joyce, what seems to be the matter with little Henry?”

“Oh, Dr Calhoun, oh thank god, you have to help him! He’s vomiting blood, oh god, he’s dying!” Joyce sobbed and flung herself into the waiting arms of the good doctor as best she could while still holding Henry.

“Vomiting blood? Okay, let’s get him to the ER, put him on fluids, and then figure out what’s wrong.” Dr Calhoun quickly led the distraught mother and child out of the waiting room. Dr Alvin Calhoun looked more like an actor playing a doctor, with his silky blond hair slicked back, tan skin, and godly features, but he was actually one of the best doctors we had. Joyce and Henry were in good hands.

I didn’t give it much more thought until five minutes later when two more people came in with the exact same symptoms. Over the course of the next hour the waiting room began to fill up with people with road-atlas skin, bloody eyes, and gunk-caked mouths. I did my best to get them all signed in, a surprisingly easy job considering most of them were completely lucid, though some seemed to be dizzy and out of it. Despite the fact people were constantly being taken back to the emergency room, the waiting room just kept become more and more full. It seemed like half the town was here, sick with whatever awful disease this was.

Around three-thirty, the glass double doors slammed open with a bang that startled everyone who wasn’t completely dazed. Into the room stumbled Johnny Miller, Varsity quarterback for the Silver Falls Bobcats. He was the worst case I had seen all night. His skin was bone white and it looked like someone had traced his veins in red marker. His eyes weren’t just bloodshot; they were bleeding, trails of red tears running down his cheeks. When he somehow managed to stagger to the front desk I couldn’t help but step back.

“Johnny?”

His response was to lean forward and vomit on my desk. What he expelled wasn’t blood, though. It may have started as that, but now it was something thick and tar black, reflecting the fluorescent lights like oil. It seemed like he would never stop vomiting what looked like more fluid then can come from a single human body. When he finished he stood swaying for a moment before falling face forward.

On instinct I tried to stop him from face planting into the black bile by grabbing his shoulders. The noise that followed was something that I will hear in my nightmare for the rest of my life. A wet tearing sound filled the room along with a snapping popping sound. Almost like breaking a wish bone at thanksgiving. Both his shoulders had torn open, revealing that most of his insides had rotted away and was now that same awful black tar. The horrible smell of decay, which had vaguely been in the waiting room since Joyce had arrived and that I had brushed off as hospital smell hit me full on. Rotting leaves and soured milk and month-old meat, a horrible organic stench that made me sick to my stomach.

I jerked back in revulsion at the smell then looked in horror at my own hands. The slick black tar was smeared onto my hands from where I had grabbed him. It was under my nails. I took off running to the bathroom and desperately scrubbed my hands in the sink, trying not to heave at the vile stench that seemed to cling to everything. I stumbled out of the bathroom, gasping for air and realized that I had run to the bathrooms connected to emergency room.

The walls were filled with rows of beds, full of people sick with whatever hideous illness this was. Bodies slick with sweat and tar bile and shiny, vein-blue skin with doctors frantically working over them, unable to do anything to help. I pushed myself against the bathroom door, trying to be out of the way. Near me I spotted Joyce, leaning over a bed and clutching Henry, wailing hysterically — the heart monitor he was attached to was flat lining. Dr Calhoun was trying to pull her off of her son. Suddenly I noticed his eyes were starting to open again. I tried to say something, tell her not to worry, see everything’s fine, when the four-year-old twisted around and tore his mother’s throat out. Blood, real red blood, sprayed across the room as she screamed. The child lunged again and bit into Joyce’s face while the doctor recoiled in horror.

Again I took off running out of the room and through an emergency exit. I gasped in the cool January air. I was behind the hospital, near the dumpsters, but I would take the smell of dumpster any day over the decay that was inside that building. I couldn’t go back. Fuck my job, fuck having a paycheck, I was never going back in there again. I had to go home, shower, make sure I didn’t catch the disease. I walked, slowly now, around to the front parking lot were my car was.

A group of men in full hazmat suits with Center for Disease Control logos on them were standing outside the hospital holding fancy instruments that did who knows what. They were grabbing anyone coming out the front doors and putting them on buses and one was talking to the head doctor. The best I could make out of what they were saying involved quarantine. There was no way I was going to spend any more time with the people infected with that disease then I already had. I couldn’t reach my car around them though.

In the end I walked the five miles back to my apartment from the hospital packed my bags and left that hellhole town. If the CDC has any sense they’ll burn Silver Falls down and salt the earth. All I know is I’m never going back. I survived. Even if my eyes have been looking bloodshot lately, and my color’s not too good, I’m sure it’s just because nightmares of that town are keeping me up. Aren’t they?

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About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
This entry was posted in Family, Literature, Why I Do What I Do. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to You Raise Your Kids to Do Better than You…

  1. I’d watch that movie.

  2. Bill Neagle says:

    I likes it. I likes it a lot. To say she is a better writer than you at that age? I don’t know. Maybe. Perhaps. Probably. Yeah, I think she is. go ahead – smile and put at the same time.

  3. Bill Neagle says:

    Doh! “pout”

  4. Fencing Bear says:

    We are all dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants. I’d say you qualify as a giant. : )

  5. Jeff says:

    “Road-atlas skin” is a particularly nice descriptor, all the more so because in a digital age, it suggests a rough, tactile surface (in addition to the lines). Your daughter has a good eye for the specificity that makes horror effective.

  6. thehappyserf says:

    A nice zombie outbreak story told from first perscpective of a typhoid Mary. It does grab you a bit. I wonder from whom she learned that storytelling style? 🙂

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