Angel Of Death
It was dark inside the hospital at night. So dark and quiet that it felt as though one’s sound was forbidden and that the act of breathing would somehow violate the laws that governed this silent kingdom. I could feel my ribs slowly undulating under the covers, the feeling unnatural and bizarre. The sheet was only displaced by a couple of half centimetres at best, you see I wished not to make a sound. Intercostal muscles strained and tightened as I forcefully clenched my ribs together forcing the air out prematurely, the only evidence was the strain that pulsed at the front of my skull. The only proof of life in the ward was the shallow exhalations that I begrudged to allow freedom, and into the shrouded night they went filling the void above my head.
The ward was silent. The gentle passive aggressiveness of the lack of reverberation unsettled me causing the primal fears kick in.
[Why was it so silent? Was I alone here?]
I dreaded to dwell on such things. After all it couldn’t be good for my recovery. I am sure that this was my first time in the hospital. After all I had no recollection regarding what had unfolded prior to my awakening and with no staff visible or audio-able I choose to ponder my situation with myself. Of course no advances were made in my pursuit for the truth instead the nagging feeling that I was being watched grew inside me like an illness that coated my lungs with thick toxic miasma. Fear infested my mind with rapid ferocity rendering my calm cognitive thoughts a jumble of loosely stringed ideas.
I hated the dark. It got everywhere like sand between toes and thin cuts of meat. Well it wasn’t surprising when you were situated in the middle of a bay, but in your own home with the lights darkness was a foreigner that had made its way into the safety of your retreat. The home was a place of privacy a place where no one could see who you were. In the dark of the night however you could not see your own possessions. How could one feel safe when the representation of their persona was covered with the veil of darkness hiding what was previously visible.
You could suggest that the opaque qualities of the night concealed a part of yourself and that loss of individually frightened us.
Well there was the biological reason. The sensory overload when the body fears attack, the racing heart beat that rips through the chest when a predator moves in closer and closer lurking and obscured in the shadows. That was fear, the realisation that there was something else out there and it was waiting for its chance to strike.
Cold wind blew in through the window. The breeze tickled my toes forcing me to tuck them under the blanket where bony fingers and wicked fangs could not reach. A questionable fear for a grown man to have but that childish terror had never left me, to this day I hated being alone. Once upon a time I had Alice but now it was just me.
With feet hidden and wits gathered I trained my eyes in the darkness hoping to find answers to where and why I was here. In my left hand was a drip that loosely dangled from the supporting pole. Within its clear piping flowed a foul gel like fluid, the type that looked more deadly than benevolent. Still I was thankful for the care. However, that humble thankfulness was mixed with nauseating paranoia. A fear I had not felt since the tear filled nights I spent listening to the moans from the pipes and the voices that were carried in the wind. Whispers of names that could not be spoken by moral tongues brought forth from the unfathomable jaws of those who remained buried deep in the primal coding of our minds.
Such fears of monsters in the shadows and eyes hidden in the crevices and holes in the walls all must have originated from somewhere.
There was a stumble down the corridor its echo giving me a glimpse into the structure of this hospital. If it even was one, for all I knew this place could be anything.
The walls seemed to be etched by long talons that glided effortlessly through the paintwork leaving a trail of decayed stone visible behind the thin veil that hid the truth.
That was how it was for old building such as this. Everything bad and foul was covered up and concealed and left to fester and rot leaving only the pretty wrapping to be seen.
That was how it was with Family. They cared only for the appearance that must be upheld in any occasion or interaction no matter what. All manners of lies and fallacies where conceived in the minds of those who wished up keep up the status quo. Every parent treated their child as an extension of their ego and so any action or inconvenience forged from the fires of youth was deemed as a tainted image for those who facilitated its growth.
Clothes, hair styles, academics, looks and even the language used was carefully crafted and constructed as to provide only the best for the family. After all one could not have others deeming them to be improper parents if their child carried with them a spec of dirt under the nail from playing or scruffy hair from where hair had been moulded by the pillow after showering. What kind of functioning adult could expect such behaviour from a child? After all appearances where everything in this world. Clothes, hair, academics, looks even the language used displayed the character rather than their style, inspiration, effort, thoughts and words spoken.
Of course I cannot preach. It was human nature to desire what was beautiful and prestigious, whether it be earthly possessions or members of the attracted sex.
The subtle and dominating echo of glass being tapped resonated in the empty room, its entrance stirring up feeble applause in moans and rustles of the inhabitants of the room.
There was a cool sensation that wafted over my hand that lay close the side of the bed, the fingers hung loosely to the covers gently tickled by the breeze. It was rational to assume that a nurse or night staff had opened a window. After all what else could it be?
Would there not be footsteps?
[Perhaps we missed them? Maybe there were no footsteps?]
No that thought was preposterous of course there were footsteps. However the deduction that my senses were dulling from age was heavy on my heart.
The room was silent once more, the only stimulus that I was granted the freedom of experiencing was the swaying of the bitter air that flowed from an opening to the outside world. The belief that this was a hospital settled my heart and placed ease on my muddled brain. Thoughts and worried flooded my cortex and rendered any conceivable conversation of ideas useless. I had already concluded that the mysterious window opener did not need legs to walk and had simply hovered to the latch opened it.
Then why was there a knocking?
[She must have tapped it.]
How are you sure?
I had no answer to this question. However, I did discover a new found disposition in my psychology. I had assumed that the person overlooking us was a woman an idea orchestrated by the witness of the caring mentality of women. Of course there were foul women as well. In fact I clearly remember my old History teacher Miss.Grant. She was as you would expect by any stretch of the imagination a teacher that you dreaded seeing. What made it worse was that the students all lived in a quaint old town and so any wrongdoing were sniffed out quick and displayed for all to see.
In a way there was no need for an intervention between parents and teachers as by random chance you could be living right next door to them.
The town is most likely gone now a decade ago there was an unnatural phenomenon that had had killed off all of the farmers cattle. While it sounded obvious there was an unsettling evidence that the creatures had been killed, but there is a limit to what can be explained by thought and what drives those around you to crippling madness to the sounds and calls in the night.
You see, in one dusty night in November all 300 cattle in the fields had disappeared. Some claimed the influence of extra-terrestrials, some blamed the weather or illness. The farmers whereas puzzled as anyone else.
It was only a week into the search that the cows were found more dead than alive though some had seemed to be saved for later.
The scene was horrific and terrifying even in my late teens I threw up on the soggy leaves on that misty morning. Of course I like many other believed that nothing in this small town could ever bring us to our knees and pray for forgiveness like the foolish elderly that clung desperately to old values as the rest of the country moved forwards to the new age.
However this event made more than one question the sanctity of god. In the trees high above us rested the bodies of the lost cattle, their bodies engorged and masticated and whatever left was impaled by the tree branches which had become dyed in a deep crimson that seeped in to every valley and mark on the thick trunks that held up the canopy of lifeless corpses.
Not all of them were dead as I mentioned, some still moved with varying degrees of mobility. Detached limbs left some of the cattle waving gushing stumps that sprayed the floor with a bath of pungent acrid gunk that attracted aviaries of all manners to the area. The black frenzied birds where observed as they had their fill on the strewn appendages and mismatched guts and organs that littered the woodland.
In the most disturbing of cases the birds would ignore the abundance of food and instead cannibalise on each other after taking just a few bites of the rotten adipose flesh.
In 17 cases the birds took turns biting chunks out of each other before they collapsed and died from internal haemorrhages and shook.
It was a sight to behold as half ton beasts at the lightest were placed high into the treetops left to rot and die. Some seemed to have gone mad howling at the sun, eyes rolled back and mouths frothing with blood that oozed with tenebrous ink.
The cows that had died were ripped and scattered both in the air and on the ground, their remains could not be cleared by the locals and so within a week a group came to sort out the mess. Men with black suits and gloves came in a sealed off the town, the residents moved elsewhere never to return.
I have attempted to find the town again but it does not show up on any map or image, in fact the roads leading to the place of my birth are all but lost even though their names ring true in my heart.
To this day I could never imagine what could have caused that.
Why couldn’t it have been a person?
[How could that be the case it would be impossible to assume that.]
What do you suggest?
[I don’t wish to know.]
That much was true enough. If it was a sick group then I would only want them punished for ruining the lives of so many and if it was something far more sinister than I wish it never leaves that forest and dies along with the past.
Knowledge was a fickle thing. One moment you know what you know and then you are submerged with aggressive force into the foreign ocean of what you are ignorant to, digested and crumpled by the overwhelming pressure of the vastness of what is hidden and unknown to even the wisest of man.
I sometimes wonder what happened to the old country lanes that we could run in and the bridges we would run and jump off in a desperate attempt to fly.
Their mothers had told us that if we could stay in the air for longer than 7 seconds then they would take off and sail the skies, after hearing such a ludicrous tale I was filled with ambition to touch the clouds and see what the birds saw.
Such dreams were shattered when I broke my arm in the cold river and was scolded by my Mother for foolishly wasting my time with street boys like that.
One of them died last year, on second thoughts it may have been the year before.
I wondered what would be left for me when I finally passed on. Maybe that’s why I was here, perhaps this was where I would die and pass on to the next world. I remember that the church would sing praises to the lord almighty would deliver us from temptation and forgive us of our trespasses.
I chucked at how I could remember the words to the song despite the eons from where I had last heard it uttered by dry lips as I paid the smallest amount of attention possible, enthralled by the image of the man on the cross.
I wonder what he would say about the cattle in the trees.
Do you ever feel as though you are hung up on things that no longer matter? That was how I felt about Alice. Alice, Alice, Alice and yet her name never left my heart, never stopped sounding natural to me like the name was...made for me.
I met her by chance at one of those parties that Mother hated, the kind where music blasted in a room under the floor of a bar and a girl with blond hair and the bluest eyes danced with tangled braids and sweaty arms.
Clearly not the more pleasant of first impressions when she tripped and landed by me in a hot mess.
However it was. In a weird way it was perfect, I saw a person free and wild like the river that had broken my arm all those years ago. In her eyes and the flowers in her hair I saw the meadows and clear skies that I ran through on scarlet summer evenings.
Alice was wild. Well every woman at the time seemed to be natural but that was years ago, more than a few of course. I met her in the 90s but still it was more than a lifestyle and a look, she was confident she was at peace and she brought that to my heart when we laid down a blanket on the hills and watched the clouds drift pass without a slightest of cares whilst a band played in a muddy field just a few hundred meters away.
I loved her dearly. She was all that I had.
I remembered every night that I spent with her, some I spent close to her skin, and some I spent close to her heart. I am not sure which I missed more, her touch or her voice. The cold memory of each torn my heart in two.
I was relaxed my numb sensation that travelled up my arm, the wind causing me to drift in and out of reality.
I did not mind thinking but I would advise against it. When one things they are able to process what clouds their mind and from that they become better the next time around. However when one finds only the bad they become cynical and when one sees only the good they are left disheartened and betrayed. There is no need to state which I am.
We were told by a French man to accept the utter hopelessness and instead do what we wished to do, as to end life was absurd. To me living was just as absurd we lived to survive and reproduce. Every thought feeling and idea helped us survive. What was the point of doing what we want when we only did what we wanted in order to stay sane and function?
The brain developed to find certain things enjoyable and when it becomes desensitized we go out to find ourselves and discover who we are.
It was madness, but unlike Alice I chose to carry out that absurdity. After all I was against the idea of hanging like a cattle in a tree.
I wonder where we go when we die. Is there a soul? Is there a point over than the coding of our genes? Why did I ask? Did I expect an answer?
Then again if there was a creator then I existed just to fill up the space and act as a vessel for his ideas. Such an existence would be hell, having your life and personality already determined with nothing to change it, any action you make was already destined to happen.
In the end you chose to do nothing. I like that I can chose for there cannot be a creator.
Hence I am left to suffer needlessly. If there was a creator why would they make a life only to explore suffering?
Such nonsense from those who seek meaning.
There is no meaning, there is no value.
I heard a buzzing in the walls, an infernal hum of millions of wings all fluttering with black sickles that cut open the air and filled the empty void with a cry of unintelligent jargon.
The buzzing seemed to originate from the room behind us. The structure of the rooms seemed to be constructed in rows with rooms leading to each other.
I did my best to shake off the feeling of death that accompanied the smell that snakes in through the curtains that were now visible in the dim morning light. However with the fear that I was in line to die came the knowledge that I was in a hospital.
Who would let a hospital be overrun with flies?
[They must have come in through the window and that’s why it was closed.]
Then explain the smell.
Which was true but I may have chosen to remain ignorant to the truth. After all imagine if there was a facility that just let its patients rot and die.
Where was I?
How do I get out?
Let me out.
Get me out.
Please I don’t want to die.
Shush just calm down. There is an explanation. I did not have one. Mother would be cross with me now. She always questioned and peered into my actions. I remember our last conversation. I was questioned on my choices and blamed for my loneliness. If I had listened to her I could have married into a good family and kept the dignity that was bestowed upon me.
Would I have been happy?
Was it wrong to chase after what I thought I wanted?
Could I have done something about it?
Why? Why was it me? Why did I have to be the one with this life?
There was a glimmer in what seemed to be the corner of the room, a line of silt illuminated in a silvery hue that pierced my iris that had grown accustomed to the endless darkness.
The intricate pattern produced was mesmerising but with its ghostly assure came the suspicion that the webs could be anywhere and that there could be any manner of creatures lurking around me. I could feel hundreds of eyes stare longingly at my flesh their mouths dripping with drool, legs that scutter across the walls.
Despite my inability to see the contents of the room I could vividly imagine the elongated legs of creatures that tiptoed around the room observing me, waiting for their chance to consume me.
With such fears came the unnatural bodily reaction to itself. Every brush of my skin by a hair of a nail caused me to shudder and panic, my body seemingly unable to move against the paralysing shroud that covered the ward. There were pin prickles on my back that felt like the burrowing of tiny vessels digging and feeding on the muscle on my back.
I had heard of insects that performed this kind of behaviour and the thought of my body housing something alive that wriggled and festered under my skin causing me many sleepless nights.
I was terrified of the prospect that there could be something within me that would one day burst out or deform me. Perhaps it was the distaste to having another creature cutting through me and using me as a host. The thought of being treated like a dead body placed me in an uncomfortable place, it was not natural for a living body to decay whilst still breathing.
The image of the cattle crossed my mind. I am sure there is some metaphor that can be made using those cows, a significance to someone’s life but to me it was an object of horror and disgust. Nothing more and nothing less. There was no meaning to that senseless slaughter.
I could no longer venture into my mind, it was too filled to sadness and pain that I could not bear to stand any longer.
Instead I turned my attention to the void in the room the yawning of the silence and the dark. I could still pick up on the buzzing and coupled with my mental state I could almost feel them crawling over my skin. The short strides from a multitude of legs that jitter and scamper as they sway from side to side seemingly unable to travel to their target but instead exploring every nook and cranny caused by the folding of limbs and valleys of toes.
It was a horrific sensation.
I could say with begrudged certainty that this was death. How else could I feel like this?
There was an echo down the corridor. A familiar sound of footprints, no two sets both walking towards my room.
But if I am dead how could there be anyone here, could I be saved from this torture?
It was only now that I realised how torn up my vocal cords were, no matter how hard I tried all that I could muster was a long groan that occasionally displayed the scrapping qualities of a disjointed moan. I could not move but my mind was still functioning and it slowly deteriorated as time went on. As the sounds of footsteps came closer I could feel the sickly swashing of saliva filling my mouth which seemed to have been hung open as the thick coating of fluid dribbled on to my cheeks and neck.
“Everyone here is dead Patrick, we didn’t move from Ireland to be stuck in this hell hole.”
“Alyson stop it. They will hear us.”
Dead, Dead, Dead, Dead, Dead, Dead, Dead, Dead, Dead.
[What do you mean dead? I’m not dead. I am still alive. Help me, please help me.]
These thoughts screamed in my head while my throat could only muster a moan.
“Do you hear that? There is something in here.”
“Patrick come back I’m scared. Patrick, PATRICK!”
There was a thump a gargle followed by the crunching of bones and then finally silence.
Patrick must have been carrying a flashlight as the room had suddenly become much brighter allowing me to see the contents of the ward.
The walls where white and splattered with blood, the beds mostly empty with some housing still bodies. The floor was glossy and coated with fluids. I had very little movement of my neck only able to across from where I was laying down and my nose covered the view of my feet.
It was amusing how it was worse to see what was in the room rather than sit in the darkness. In the corridor something was sliding away causing the air to be filled with a dull slithering noise that came with the rustling of clothes.
Something pulled at my arm flopping my head to the side.
It was then that I noted two things about the ward.
One was that there were no open windows. None. The room was a contained with a corridor to the far edge that I was now facing. A long glass window that allowed people to see inside was visible but the wall behind it was a solid white.
This didn’t mean much by itself but if not for the second point I would have been left with many questions.
Where was that cool breeze coming from?
What was tickling my toes?
What was numbing my arm?
What caused me to feel so faint and light headed?
Those questions were answered in the worst way possible. One would usually be petrified after encountering such a faint but there must have been such little blood that I could no longer even react to such a thing. My eyes began to close, my breathing had ceased longer than I could remember.
The last image that I retained was of my arm in the jaws of a white figure. Its body was almost skeletal and paler than the moon in a crisp winter’s night. Its eyes saw more than I could ever perceive, colours and lines that would make my mind dissolve if seen. Before me hunched over was a creature born from madness, its dislocated jaw slowing sliding up my arm as it gazed deeply into my wide eyes with apathy and deep knowing?
In the background another figure dragged away a woman’s body all the while the man’s was gorged and torn up by the third entity.
I felt a tear run down my cheek. The only resistance I could attempt at such a cruel fate.
Isn’t it funny how little you know until you see it.
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