Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.
Except for the cries of a few patients sleeping restlessly, the STAIR ward of the psychiatric centre was completely silent. The young intern could hear the ticking of the clock on the wall four metres away, and shivered as she patrolled the cold linoleum floors of the hospital’s corridors.
It was Anna’s first night shift, and so far she wasn’t enjoying it.
As she crept along the corridor, peering in windows and checking on a few of the more troublesome patients, a smell tickled her senses. It was a faint metallic tang, with an undercurrent of sickly sweetness.
She frowned and looked into the small window of 505, the nearest room. The darkness was a mystery of curves and lines, and Anna could see no movement within. All that was inside the room was a static stillness, utterly lifeless.
The STAIR ward was for patients with a history of violence. They could usually be seen moving in their sleep. There was maximum security in this ward, but if there was any chance that a patient had escaped from room 505 on her watch…
Anna shook her head. She was just being paranoid.
She turned away from the door and continued down the hallway. The hall seemed considerably darker now, or was it just her imagination? Anna breathed in and out deeply, watching her visible breath part the biting cold of the night.
A sound reached her ears, a loud crash that echoed through the STAIR ward. Anna spun around. The sound had come from room 505.
Anna’s hand slid to the baton on her belt. Batons were required equipment for all hospital staff to carry, but it had been almost two years since anyone had actually had to use one. Staff were instructed to use them for “defence only”. Anna felt safer with a hard, heavy metal clutched in her hand.
She wanted to page for help, to call for backup. Her fingers hovered over her beeper for a moment. Anna told herself to stop being stupid. She would look like an idiot if she called for unnecessary help on her first night.
She approached the door and carefully turned the handle. The door swung inward and Anna stepped inside, holding the baton aloft.
The room was empty. Shadows danced over the walls, making Anna jump, but when she looked, it was only the moon being filtered through the leaves of a tree outside.
“Hello?” Anna called. Where was the patient? Was he in the bed? The pile of sheets and pillows was utterly still, unmoving.
The door swung shut behind her.
There was a click as the deadlock set. Anna found her keys and fumbled for the lock with shaking fingers before reaching for the doorknob. As soon as her fingers touched it, she screamed and jerked away. Her hand was covered in something dark and sticky.
A strong smell of bitter-sweetness suddenly met her nose, threatening to engulf her. The stench was the same she had smelt before, but ten times stronger, and now Anna knew what it was.
She felt dizzy and had to sit down on the floor to steady herself. The half-congealed blood on her hand shone wetly in the moonlight.
There was blood on the doorknob of 505, and the patient was missing. Perfect. Just what Anna needed in her first week at the centre.
She stood, her breathing returning to normal, and wiped her blood-covered hand on her scrubs, ignoring the clean white material. She looked around the room for something to turn the knob with, unsure that she could stomach the feel of blood on her hand again.
The only thing in the room was the bed, lumpy with sheets and pillows. Anna approached the bed and reached out for one of the sheets. She pulled it back… and cried out in horror.
There was a man strewn across the bed in a strange position, half-hidden by pillows. His eyes were glassy and staring, his mouth caked with dried blood. Anna took in the white scrubs and gagged. He had been one of the doctors.
Anna quickly gathered up the sheet and stumbled over to the door to turn the handle. She fell out into the hallway and started to run, calling out for a doctor. Why was there no one around?
She heard a shout from behind her and turned to see a man in white scrubs walking towards her. He had an I.D. badge clipped to his chest.
“Doctor, there’s a patient missing!” she cried. “And there’s a doctor… room 505… there’s blood… dead…” Anna stopped her vehement yelling for a moment and stared at the face on the man’s I.D. badge.
It was the face of the dead doctor in room 505.
The man approached her, leering as her towered two feet above her. As she watched, his face twisted into a maniacal grin. Anna screamed and tried to scramble away. The patient followed, reaching out for her.
Her grabbed her by the front of her blood-stained scrubs and pulled her down to the ground. She kicked at him, screaming, and tried to reach her baton. The patient got to it first and tossed it away. His eyes burned into her as her leant to hold her arms down.
Anna turned her head and saw two figures approach. They both wore white scrubs. They could help her! She shouted out to them, hating how trembling and scared her voice sounded.
The patient raised his head.
“Doctors,” he said calmly. “Can I have a little help here? This one’s trying to escape.”
It took a moment for Anna to register this statement. “What? No! I’m not! I work here!” she shouted, struggling. The patient’s grip was like iron. “There’s a dead man in his room, he’s on the bed-”
She was cut off by the patient, who smiled coolly and shushed her. “Of course. We’ll take you to a safer room, okay?”
The two doctors leant over her. Anna suddenly realised how she must look. Her scrubs were imbrued with blood and her hair was everywhere, run through with streaks of dark red from her hands. She smelt like death.
“We’ll just give her some sedative and you can take her to get cleaned up,” said one of the doctors to the patient. The patient grinned and nodded. Whilst neither of the doctors was looking, he winked at Anna.
“No!” she yelled. “No, you’re making a mistake-”
She screamed as a doctor jabbed a needle into her arm. She felt her muscles relax, felt her eyelids grow heavy as the sedative wrapped her in warmth. She was aware of being picked up, and saw the inside of a clean room labelled 516. Looking up, she was dimly aware of the patient’s face above her, smirking victoriously.
Then she slipped into unconsciousness.

Copyright © Kaika 2008



Forresters Beach, Australia

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Artist's Description

Just a short story I wrote to start branching out into as many genres as possible. Part thriller, part horror. You know.

Artwork Comments

  • clo1616
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  • Kaika
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