Chapter One: Death In The Family
I woke up around six o’clock on a Saturday evening. The massive hangover I felt came with a vengeance. I should not have had that last welcome home whiskey chaser at five a.m.in the morning. Friends can be very bad motivators. It may have put me to sleep, but wow did it sure know how to greet you when you wake.
Massaging the temples of my skull, my body curled in a ball feeling nothing but the freezing air consuming me. The air conditioning had to be on low again. We seriously needed to get that unit fixed. Every time, I ended up like a Popsicle. Annoyed, I hopped out of bed, threw on a white long-sleeved shirt with some slacks, and headed out to the dining room. Seeing the thermostat, I twisted the knob to heat and waited for the warmth to wash over me. Knowing I slept most of the day, I just forced myself to stay awake and attempt to soothe this headache.
I looked around and found myself home alone. Yeah the house was empty, but I was usually comfortable being left by myself having another quiet and peaceful weekend. Usually, in college, I would be in my dorm with my face in a book cramming for tests and surviving off energy drinks and ramen to keep me afloat. So this was a great change and a much-needed break. Although, I worried for my Mom. Yes, I was on a scholarship, but she still struggled to keep everything together, She would always be at work, trying to provide the best for my sister and me, and sadly because of it, she never had a day off. This is why I would help her around the house, get the mail, clean, and all that when I’m here on break. I did not want her to have anything else on her plate. But today was different. This wasn’t like any other time. I knew for a fact that my mom worked at the hospital at five, and yet her scrubs were still folded on the couch, unused. So if that was the case, where was she? I thought on it and then shrugged it aside.
‘She must have called off and decided to run errands,’ I said to myself. I don’t blame her either. My mom deserved a day where she could just shut off her brain and not worry about others for once.
Opening up the cabinet, I grabbed a bowl and decided to have some cereal. I did not feel like cooking today. Grabbing a spoon and then milk from the fridge, I poured some Cheerios into the bowl and made my way over to our bar stool, where I sat down and began eating. Everything seemed normal, but while I scanned our kitchen, I saw droplets of blood in the corner of the hallway. My heart suddenly sank. Did she break something? Did she injure herself? I dropped my spoon on the counter and got up from the table.
Peeking my head, I saw several smudges of blood over the walls. The pictures of me and my family were tilted and broken. I looked down and saw a few shards of glass scattered all over the floor. Walking down the hall, I looked back up and came to the front entrance. Gusts of wind gently swayed the door back and forth. I haven’t seen anything this nerving except in horror movies and I hoped to god that my mom was anywhere but here.
Shutting the front door, I turned to my left and stared at her bedroom door. I wondered what I would encounter on the other side. I took a deep breath and cracked it slightly. Calling her name out softly, I waited and hoped she would yell out anything to assure me that this was just some sort of accident. Pushing her door open all the way, I saw my mom’s room. Blood covered the floors like paint. It appeared as if a struggle had occurred while blood-stained lines led out of her bedroom door. I was in shock. I stood still paralyzed with fear. At that moment, I did not know where to go or what to do. I just stood frozen solid completely silent. I looked upon this gory site and felt as if I was about to vomit. I covered my mouth and turned away while I tried to avoid the sight. Frantically reaching for the doorknob, I closed her door behind me and ran back to my room.
I panicked while pacing back and forth. I tried to process what I just saw. In the back of my mind, I prayed this was all some twisted nightmare. I wiped the sweat off my face and tried keeping a steady head. I started to search my room for anything that could help me. I still wasn’t sure what happened. My mind was jumbled. I assumed some murderer was in my house. In the corner of my eye, I spotted my golf club. I quickly walked over and grabbed it. Afterward, I used my cell phone and dialed 911.
Telling myself to get a grip, I tried holding my phone still. My hands kept trembling which only frustrated me. I shook my head and told myself to focus. I had to get someone here. I then heard a faint tap against my door. I paused for a split second. I dropped the phone on my bed and slowly walked toward my door. My heart pounded so hard, I could not hear my thoughts. The moment I touched the doorknob, I could not find the strength to turn it. I was so frightened that my hand locked. I was afraid of who might be lurking. As I stood there, images of my mom’s room kept popping up in my head. They were so vivid and clear. I pushed that aside and told myself that I had to be strong. I could not have my nerves compromise me. With that in mind, I raised my golf club and forced the door open.
I found my mom kneeling in front of me. She was covered in blood with a gruesome bite mark on her shoulder blade. I stared at her, stunned. My imagination threw out every possibility of what could have done that to her. At this point, I did not know what to do. I was too baffled to think rationally. My mother then collapsed on the ground and began crying out in pain. She held her wound trying to stop the bleeding.
Putting my arms underneath hers, I said, “Jesus mom, what the hell did this to you?!”
I helped her up from the floor, carried her to my bed, and covered her with a blanket. I then ran into the kitchen to get first aid supplies. When I came back to my room, I saw her rolling around, shivering. Once I got everything situated by the bedside, I knelt beside her and pressed several gauzes on her wound trying to prevent further bleeding. Wrapping her shoulder up with a bandage, I grabbed our kitchen rag and wiped the sweat off her. Pressing the back of my hand against her forehead, she felt like a furnace. I threw another blanket around her body from the foot of my bed and ran to the bathroom. I grabbed a thermometer from the medicine cabinet and jogged back to take her temperature. Placing it under her tongue, I noticed a few teeth were missing. Looking further into her mouth, I reached in and pulled a molar out.
“What the—Mom, your teeth!”
She did not answer me as she was too much in pain. Disregarding that issue, for now, I told my mom to hold still while I waited for a reading. After a minute, I looked down as it wasn’t beeping. It said she had a 100.6 fever. No, wait, 101.2, no wait, what? The thermometer must’ve been broken because her temperature kept skyrocketing. I took it out of her mouth and threw it on the ground thinking it was malfunctioning.
I held her hand trying to comfort her. Finally opening her eyes, my mom slowly looked over at me. They were bloodshot and dilated. Gently brushing my cheek, she finally spoke. “Los diablo’s… están aquí...hijo. Los vecinos, los, los…” she couldn’t finish as the pain she felt consumed her. From then on, she got more hysterical, almost to the point of insanity.
When I looked at her face, I knew she was not going to survive this day without medical attention. Her face was pale, her wound looked severe, her fever did not help, and not to mention the teeth she was losing. I do not know what was happening to her. This was the first time I have ever seen something like this. It was…abnormal. Grabbing my phone again, I had to call for help. I couldn’t let my mom die.
Turning to me, she grabbed my arm with such force I dropped my phone. She kept trying to tell me something but I could not make it out. The only sentence that she did manage to muster together was, “No salgas… a la calle,” before she started to convulse.
I held her down and thought about what to do. Shit c'mon Jacob! You were not premed for nothing. I know you turn someone to their side, but what next? C’mon! This wasn’t the time to draw blanks. Slowly stopping her movements, the light that once filled her with life dimmed in her eyes as they closed with one last breath. I looked at her while a tear came down her face.
Both in disbelief and denial, I said, “Mom?” She did not answer. “Mom, come on. You’re okay, j-just open your eyes, alright? Just… Just...”
Grabbing her face, I kept telling her to wake up, but nothing happened. No, this isn’t real it can’t be. I did not want to believe it, I couldn’t. Pressing my hands together, I began chest compressions. Counting in my head, I tried my best to keep my composure while attempting to resuscitate my mom. Set after set, she did not respond to anything I was doing. Growing weary, I started yelling out and shaking her hoping she would come back to me, but no matter what I did, she just laid lifeless in my arms. I held her close and began crying. I kept calling out her name hoping she would answer me, but she never did.
After what felt like an eternity, I finally built up enough strength to lay her back down on my bed. My mind went blank. I felt empty inside. How can doctors cope with something like this? This was the field I was trying to enroll in, and already I wanted out. My emotions were strong and brewed within me. A feeling like this? Losing someone after trying everything in your power to save them but to no avail? It was just too much of a burden to handle.
Looking at my mother one last time, I turned away while covering her body with my blanket. I just couldn’t stare at her corpse any longer. I sat at the edge of my bed and looked down at the ground trying to process everything. I reached over, grabbed my phone, and tried dialing 911 again. While I waited, no one answered. The phone just kept ringing. I hung up and kept redialing, but no matter how many times I did no one came to my aid. I started getting frustrated. No one would respond. Why the hell was no one answering?!
I lost it. I screamed at the top of my lungs and threw my phone against the wall smashing it to pieces. All the anger, sadness, and frustration that has been stirring up inside of me had finally burst. Tears streamed down my face. I picked up my golf club and started smashing anything that was in sight.
Throwing my club on the floor, I walked over and sat on the dining room floor panting while staring into my bedroom. I just sat there, still naively hoping someone would just come out and say this was a joke. I reached above me and grabbed the home phone to try and dial 911 yet again. As I waited for an operator, I was not surprised that no one answered, but still, I kept trying. I then heard something fall from inside my room. I leaned to my right and took a glance. The rag I used had slipped off the bed. I shook my head and looked away in shame. I got myself up from the floor and started to go through my mom’s papers in the kitchen drawers to see if I could call my aunt or sister.
I was so stupid to break my phone. I could have called them. Oh god, what will they think when they find out? A grunt was then heard from the room. I stopped shuffling papers and listened in. Was this my mind playing a trick? I dropped everything and walked back to my door. I was in awe when I saw my mom sitting straight up with my blanket still over her head.
I thought to myself, ‘Impossible, this can’t be happening. It has to be a joke.’ I slowly walked inside my room, fear creeping in with each step I take. As I got closer, I heard her breathing increase from underneath the blanket. It was raspy and sounded like her throat was crackling. I reached my hand out towards the blanket and cautiously called out her name again. “Mom?”
Flailing her arms about, she went rampant and pushed me towards the dresser where I tripped and hit my head. I quickly sat upright and grunted in pain. Why did she do that? I got myself back on my feet wondering what the hell happened. Her bloodshot and dilated eyes radiated with intense anger. Patches of her hair were missing from her scalp now. It was as if it fell out. She excreted excessive amounts of saliva that was dripping out of her mouth, not to mention the only teeth she still had intact were her cuspids. She stood on top of my bed looking wildly around as if she had no recollection of who or where she was. Her chest puffed with determination and her shrill wheezing echoed within the room.
Before I could even react, my mom turned her gaze on me. Cocking her head, she examined me like she was assessing who I was. Telling her it was me, her son, she did not seem phased by my comment. Growling, she ran off the bed and charged.
I leaned against my dresser, scared. I put my arms out and grabbed her by her shoulders. I tried talking to her. I tried letting her know it was her own son she was attacking, but she did not care. As I searched into her eyes, this person that I called mom was gone. She did not seem human anymore.
With one quick burst, I pushed her out of my way and booked it out the door. Not letting me escape so easily, she ferociously dove at me and caught hold of my leg, forcing me to fall. Rolling onto my back, my mom flung herself onto me, spewing saliva on my shirt, and chomping her teeth at me. I tried keeping a stern grip on her, but she was so erratic, it made it hard to do so. Turning her head, she then dug her teeth into my right forearm. Screaming at the top of my lungs, I thoughtlessly punched my mom in the head. Jumping off me, I scurried away from her holding my wounded arm close to my chest.
I watched as she swished my blood around the inside of her mouth. What the hell is this? Hearing her gulp it down, my mom licked any remains off her lips and fingers before breathing in deeply. Her body awkwardly shivered as if she were in a state of euphoria. Screeching into the air, she turned to me with a smile on her face.
Lunging at me once more, she tried taking another bite out of me. I did not know what to do so I winged it. I wrapped my hands around her neck and managed to put my foot underneath her chest kicking her back into my room. I scooted backward and crawled into the kitchen trying to find something to protect myself with. I rummaged through all the drawers trying to look for anything useful. The second one below, on the left side, underneath a piece of cloth, was a cutting knife. I grabbed it, got up on my own two feet, and braced myself for the worst. My mom came crawling out of the room, with such rage, such hatred towards me, that I began to shake.
I kept trying to reason with her saying, “Please mom, it’s me! Jacob! Stop, just stop!” She just stood with an empty conscious and a voracious look in her eyes.
A few agonizing moments later, a blood-curling sound erupted from her throat again, and started running towards me. I backed up towards the counter, feeling cornered like a rat. I knew I had no options, so I made the only judgment call I could make. I stuck my knife out in front of me. I hoped that if my mom saw the blade, she would stop but still, she kept coming closer.
Before I even knew it, the knife had pierced her stomach. It did not even seem to affect her at all. She was not screaming or yelling out in pain. My mom just kept advancing trying to reach me. I held her shoulder, and slowly slide the blade out of her completely shocked. Using all my strength, I pushed her away as far as I could. She stumbled backward a few feet and tripped on a chair behind her, falling on top of our glass table shattering it into pieces. Glass embedded her skin as she slowly got back up with ease. I could not believe what I was witnessing. She felt no pain. To her, it looked as if this was just a walk in the park.
As she charged at me again, I ducked, avoiding her swinging arms. I turned around to see where she was now. Running headfirst into the cabinet doors behind me, she screamed in frustration. I backed away from her trying to maintain a distance, only to slip on her blood and fall to the ground. Seeing her chance, she decided to take it.
Pouncing at me, I quickly reacted and stuck my knife out. Her screams suddenly faded. The blade had impaled her through the eye socket. I took deep breaths, trying not to puke or hyperventilate. I watched as my mom’s blood slowly ran down and covered the serrated steel.
Traumatized, I quickly pushed her off me and rushed to the nearest corner staring at her body wondering if she would get up again. Now laying there motionless, blood began spreading throughout the tile lines of the kitchen floor. Putting my hands on the top of my head, tears started flowing out of me. The overwhelming sensation of my mom’s second death was too much to handle.