Nurse Maggie had always admired this doctor’s extreme efficiency as she inspected the stitching, the tight crisscross pattern almost exactly uniform even though the wound had been extremely uneven and difficult to suture.
“I give you antibiotics, you take.” The Indian accent had been awfully problematic for Maurice to understand, “you see doctor at two weeks.”
He didn’t understand what he said, but he had nodded yes, anyway.
Somewhere in the hallway Maurice, the doctor, and Nurse Maggie heard a faint thud and then another in short sequence. Nurse Maggie stopped her cleanup to listen more closely. She worried that a patient had fallen and brought down an orderly with him. She heard a faint rustling sound like a boy run stick a chain link fence before abruptly stopping. “Hold on sweetie,” the nurse touched Maurice’s shoulder in reassurance, “I have to see if everybody is all right out there, and it won’t take but a second.”
Maggie stepped into the hallway just in time to see a shocking site. A giant of man or at least a human like figure lumbered out into the hallway. Maggie couldn’t help but gag as she beheld the nightmarish scene in front of her. She had seen many deformed and decaying corpses in her rotation in the mortuary. The bodies blue, bruised, bloating and looking more like monsters than humans but it didn’t prepare her for this sight. He towered before her, a sickly complexion, ribs to hips abnormally extended, pointed shoulders slumping foreword.
Maggie looked into his face as the creature cantered towards her. She looked into eyes which were more animal than human. His nose, or if you could call it a nose, was flattened, misshapen and elongated. As the thing’s cheek bones lifted, tightened and grew, the jaw seemed to pop out of place to make room for the lengthening teeth. She noted the ears before David grasped her throat. Oversized and pointed ears that made David look like an elf from the pits of hell.
A twist and a snap and the compassionate, humorous, hardworking nurse of forty years lay in a heap on the floor, the life fading from her eyes.
The Doctor surprised David when he opened the curtain and gasped. Tightly wound, spring-like calves exploded into action as David jumped through the doorway, knocking the doctor down and taking his breath away in the process.
Maurice lay shaken flabbergasted. He scrambled onto the exam bed, paper sheets tearing in the process. Much to his horror he was now cornered, his back pushed against the wall. He looked on helplessly as David stabbed his fingers into the doctor’s throat. Long, sharp and hardened fingernails easily punctured the frail skin. As if the doctors throat were a purse, the snatcher greedily opening up his ill-gotten gain as he splayed open the doctor’s neck as if it were a Gucci designer bag. Opening the flesh like the doctor had done to his patients millions of times before. Maneuvering the muscles and tendons until the porcelain white bone appeared. Like sharp knives his hands tore through the veins and arteries. No specialist in this world could ever stitch the shredded mush that survived the lacerations. A warm gore fountain spewed out, ebbed and then spewed out again to the beat of the dying doctor’s weakening heartbeat.
Visibly shaken as Maurice stared at the reflective puddle of blood on the floor, thinking it was a good thing that he had been able to get up off the floor. His shoes had cost over five hundred dollars, but he hadn’t paid for them. He got them from a desperate man wanting to barter shoes for crack. Staring at his Italian leather shoes with triple stitching, these designer brand shoes were his pride and joy. He buffed them every night. Maurice found himself laughing hysterically when he found one, just one lonely and miniscule spot of blood had fallen on his precious shoes.
His laughing stopped abruptly when he heard low, angry growling. The puddle rippled as David drew closer but Maurice refused to look up at the mutated man. So be it, at this very moment he resigned himself to die. He said a prayer and closed his eyes. David’s hot breath could be felt on his neck, and Maurice cringed. His eyes tightened further when he felt the thing’s forehead pressed against his own. David’s forehead didn’t feel like a normal head, instead of hard bone, it felt almost spongy. The flesh pressed against his seemed to rhythmically pulse, as if the skull itself were trying to change its form.
Maurice had to steady himself, and tried to take a deep breath. His frame was tossed off balance from a sudden and powerful tug on his arm. Only sheer determination kept his eyes closed as warm hands gripped Maurice’s wrist like a turkey leg. David sniffed at his bandaged collarbone and finally stepped back from Maurice.
Oh Lord this is it! Maurice’s blood ran cold when he imagined all the horrible ways to meet his maker. He clenched his teeth as his heart pounded.
Warm fluid soaked through his button up shirt and down his legs. Any second now he expected an unendurable pain to seize him. However, the pain never came.
Agony! The pain did not come to Maurice. He did not feel anything, the shock setting in, he reasoned. Then he could smell the unmistakable odor of urine. I’ve done it, he thought, I pissed myself! The acrid stench filled the air as Maurice’s shaking hands moved about to his saturated pants. He was suddenly confident he did not wet himself however, and in fact, the pain had not come to him either! Hesitant, a moment later he began to open just one eye at a time.
Maurice saw for the first time the naked mutant and a sudden realization came flooding over him, I’m not injured, it’s not my clothes that were torn! A stream of urine steadily soaked Maurice’s pants, bitter dark yellow droplets that ran down over his leather shoes.
“What the...?” Like a horrible accident that you couldn’t take your eyes away from, Maurice stared at the blue-black bruised and now naked man. “Did he? He did! I think a wild man somehow marked me!”
This blatant display reminded him of his mongrel dog named “Wolf”. Enamored by canines, in his lifetime Maurice had had many dogs, a Siberian husky, two Alaskan Malamutes and his pride and joy, a half Chow and half a Husky mongrel named “Wolf”. In the beginning after Maurice had saved him from an uncertain future and “Wolf” came home to stay with him, “Wolf” had sprayed everything in sight. Even going so far as to hiking his leg and spraying Maurice! When he extended his hand to smack “Wolf”, Maurice looked into his big fierce eyes and his heart had melted. “Wolf’s” eyes revealed respect, loyalty and thankfulness.
One scorching hot July day three men looking for an easy score of drugs almost ended Maurice’s life. He had just locked the door to his small apartment heading out for the day when he came face to face with the business end of a gun. “Wolf” sensed something was amiss with his master. The mongrel looked out the window to see Maurice down on the ground. “Wolf” then jumped out the window, shattering the two pane insulated unit almost mortally wounding himself in the process, however, not before also taking out the two surprised muggers.
A tear came to his eye from the memory of that proud day. Now looking into this lunatic’s eyes as salty urine soaked through his clothes, permeating his skin and ruining his shoes, he couldn’t help but be reminded of Wolf’s eyes. The human mutant had eyes that reminded him inexplicably of his beloved pet. He had canine eyes! Canine eyes on what once were human eyes. Maurice took a shaky breath.
David sniffed Maurice’s collarbone with his flat misshapen nostrils. Maurice had an unusual aroma that was different than both Nurse Maggie and the scared little Doctor. Maurice cringed again; still afraid he would be attacked like the others. Instead of attacking him, David let loose his arm and with one powerful leap he ran off through the hallway.
Maurice stood wet and alone in the exam room, shaking as the urine turned cold against his skin. He couldn’t take his eyes off the Doctor lying on the floor that now had two mouths. One mouth God had given to him at birth, and the other mouth a grotesque vertical sprawling gouge in his neck courtesy of David’s claws.
He had a sudden realization enter into his head and ground him on earth once again… Somebody is going to notice these bodies. With the unusually strong police presence in the waiting room, Maurice shook off the thought of David waiting for him just beyond the curtains more afraid of the cold prison cells he made his way to the closest exit.
The hallway made a U-shape back to the emergency room. Maurice reasoned it would be impossible to explain to the police why there were two bodies while he miraculously came out unharmed. The flip side of that coin, though equally unappealing, the entrance doors on the other side always locked by nine o’clock and there would be a good chance that the crazy man was off that way.
He had no chance to think about it when he heard the intercom blare, “Dr. Lewis come to the emergency room, Dr. Lewis come to the emergency room.”
Instead of exiting from the emergency/registration room that he came in at he decided to take his chances on the door that had been locked since nine. Quickly stepping over one body then the other Maurice navigated through the corridor. As he passed one particular room he noted the torn curtains and two more bodies of police officers on the floor. The perpetrator of that crime had to have been David also. He quickened his step as he heard doors opening and voices.
A strange realization came over him. Somehow he knew the man that pissed on him had made his escape. No longer in the hospital, Maurice had the strange feeling that the man had already left town somehow. But how could that be, a man that he had never met, never seen before until this bizarre day, and he instinctively knew where he was? Maurice could open his mind and see the man, like an uncanny tracking system, a primitive Lo Jack, if you will. He knew somehow that a second lunatic roamed the halls of the hospital too. In fact, Maurice could feel a few of the patients in the hospital slowly going through a metamorphic change. He knew somehow that it was a metamorphic change and not rabies or a disease taking hold in them. He pondered this for a moment, this newfound ability to “read the touched”. Confused and angry noises near to him, spurred him out of thought and he moved on.
As he neared the locked exit doors shards of shattered glass told him that the second lunatic had definitely been through there. The crisp night air smacked his face from the broken and gaping doorway, energizing Maurice. Each step he took made him cringe as he heard the crunch of broken glass he envisioned the glass embedding itself in his once expensive shoes. He breathed in the fresh outside air. It was a refreshing change from the hospital’s sterile and stuffy smell. Looking at his fresh stitches a sudden realization came over him. He had been there when all of the murders took place. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead as Maurice tried to reassure himself everything would be fine. He had given the receptionist a phony driver’s license with a phony address. And as far as finger prints, well that would be no problem as he had been born without them, a condition called “dermatoglyphia”. In fact, his Creole grandmother said he had been born lucky and blessed by the spirits. Is that why he had survived? And how did he not know the things then that he suddenly knew now? Like the fact that the patients that he sensed upstairs were not just sick they were going through a change just like he saw in the blue, bruised, mutant man? And how is that when he opened his mind he could sense him?
Maurice had been on autopilot, lost in thought as he walked and walked. When he finally opened the door to his apartment his loyal mutt “Wolf” was there to greet him.
Bounding around in circles and running about excitedly “Wolf” jumped up on Maurice’s chest and jumped off, then hunched down ready to jump up again. Suddenly “Wolf” stopped and instead of jumping he buried his muzzle in Maurice’s crotch. He lingered in Maurice’s crotch for an awkwardly long amount of time. “Wolf” smelled something peculiar coming from his clothes, coming from his person. He whined and buried his muzzle in the shag carpeting.
Maurice stood still and when his dog looked up again he saw betrayal in his eyes. He couldn’t be sure but he thought he heard a whimper as his loyal friend retreated to the safety of the adjoining kitchen area. Maurice strained his eyes to see the shadowy form across the room. “Wolf” and Maurice’s eyes met. The glowing yellow eyes of Maurice’s companion were filled with unease, is if he did not know Maurice anymore.
The dog whimpered again as he laid his head on his out stretched paws. His whimpers reminded Maurice of the first time he met the mongrel, suspicious and lonely. It was as if “Wolf” suddenly did not recognizing him. Maurice cautiously walked forward and kneeled down, his hands sinking into the dog’s lusciously dense fur.
“It’s okay boy, it’s just me.” He said, compassion filling his voice.
Maurice had always treated his dogs more like humans than pets. Even as a boy, Maurice had tried to rescue every flea bitten and mangy stray that he came across. It left his mother pulling her hair out. She agonized over the decision to keep yet another dog, another mouth to feed on a clerk’s miserable salary. But she always gave in, even when the low income apartment building had a no pets allowed policy. Maurice’s father had died when he was just a toddler and his mother thought the dogs were good companionship for him. “Wolf” had been there when his mother eventually succumbed to emphysema and heart disease. He remembered clutching the dog as he shed tears into its musty fur, comforted by its wet tongue on his hand. This whimpering now reminded Maurice of the un-trusting and scared dog he took home so many years ago and it hurt him somewhere deep inside.
“Don’t you recognize me anymore boy?” Maurice lovingly patted “Wolf’s” tense brawny shoulders. The dog remained rigid and unmoving, only blinking as it stared down at the kitchen floor. The fur on the dog’s back stood up straight and his tail curled up close to his body. “What’s wrong with you?”
The pungent aroma of urine hit him all at once making his nose wrinkle as he staggered backward. “Whoa!” His soaked pants clinging to his legs, he tried not to wretch.
Worried about his dog, he had almost forgotten all about his strange encounter at that hospital until now. His eyes began to water as he choked on his own body odor. His despairing mood in a newfound hopes once again. What if the god-awful tang was what had his dog so on edge? A shower and some fresh clothes, definitely a good night’s sleep and maybe his dog would be man’s best friend once again.
Steam billowed out from the shower as Maurice finished and slid open the glass doors. Taking a deep breath in, exhilaration over taking him, he stepped out of the shower and quickly covered his clean body with a fresh towel. Tying the towel around his waist, he then tossed his precious shoes and all his clothing, now ruined, into the waste receptacle. The smell of urine from the bruised man and his own pungent sweat were now gone. Maybe now that he was clean his dog would be less intimidated and friendlier towards him. Lightly patting his dreadlocks dry with yet another fresh towel he peeked around the corner and snuck a look at the dog that now curled up on the couch.
Maurice’s heart sank, “Wolf” laid silent, stoic, and his un-trusting eyes were trained nervously on Maurice’s body. Fuck it; it had been an eventful day to say the least and his mind and body were completely exhausted. He flopped on the bed without shutting off the light or having brushed his teeth.
He lay in his bed still but sleep eluded him. Noises that came from the apartment adjacent to him, coupled with the bright bedroom lights had him tossing and turning until he heard a rustling sound at the edge of his bed. His pulse quickened when he heard the familiar jingle from “Wolf’s” collar. Frozen in fear and afraid he would spook his dog if he moved an inch, Maurice closed his eyes and listened.
He tried his best to contain a smile but it crept in any ways as the mattress shook. “Wolf” had jumped onto the corner of the bed with Maurice. As nervous as his beloved dog had been, his instincts to protect his beloved master had prevailed. The dog was still startled and perked up with every noise and movement that Maurice made, but with “Wolf” lying near him, Maurice was finally content enough to drift off to sleep.
Maurice drifted off in dreams, but not peaceful or pleasing dreams. One of a Wolf’s pack now, everywhere he went his pack followed, continually multiplying in number. Maurice ran until exhausted, he gave up running. He readied himself for whatever the Wolf pack had planned to do to him. Turning around he could see thousands upon thousands of radiant red, yellow, and even blue lupine eyes staring back at him from the darkness that enveloped them. In between the pair of red and yellow eyes one brilliant green eye stood out among the thousands. The form approached him, this one with the luminous green eye until they stood face to face; breathing in each other’s breath.
“I’m coming for you Maurice! Get ready!” The form in the darkness howled.