O, Death: Part IV

by Matt P.

“I can’t believe he spilled all of that goddamn soda again!” Siobhan muttered angrily to herself as she shoved the mop down in to the bucket, splashing a little bit of soapy water out on to the floor. “This is a man that they trust with Operation—the board game—let alone actual scalpels and sharp things.” She attacked the spill with the mop like a warrior with a spear. “Or his own taxes. Or dressing himself!”

“Oh, Doctor Alvarez spills things all the damn time,” Paolo commented from the nurse’s station, where he was opening boxes and sorting supplies. “He’s tried to spill on a couple of the nurses on purpose, but Paul made sure he knew that’d cause some problems.” Paolo looked at the spill that Siobhan was taking care of, and his dark eyes stormed for a moment, cutting through the normal enthusiastic bonhomie. “If he spills something on you just let me know.”

Siobhan raised an eyebrow and looked over to Antigone, who was helping Paolo with sorting the supplies. “He spills on me on purpose I’ll go all monkey steals the peach on him,” Siobhan stated darkly as she considered the patch. She gave it one more swipe with a mop before she shoved it back in to the bucket.

Paul looked up from where he was entering information in to the computer. “Do we want to know what in God’s name that is?” He asked, his voice a mixture of horror and curiosity. He had slightly golden hair and slightly tanned skin that made him look monochromatic, and also somewhat like a scarecrow.

“She’s basically threatening to rip off his testicles,” Antigone offered, moving away from the counter to come around. “Come on, ripper of gibbly bits, let’s put the mop away. Which closet did this one come from?” There were several janitor’s closets nearby it could have come from, and the janitors were apparently territorial.

“Down past the private rooms, since the geriatrics keep stealing the one from our closet,” Paul commented after glancing up to look at what name was written in Sharpie on the side. “Little bit of a walk. Write if you find work,” he offered helpfully. Siobhan sighed, one more thing to throw down on the benighted name of Doctor Alvarez, and began pushing the mop and bucket down the hallway.

“You wanna see if we can ride this thing, like Dad used to do with floor polishers?” Siobhan asked as they strolled in to the hallway, several hallways away from their destination.

Antigone glanced down at the rolling bucket dubiously. “No, that just seems like a good way to get our legs wet. No thanks. We could just steal a floor polisher if we really wanted our internship to last exactly one working day,” she pointed out. The mop bucket squeaked as they rolled it along. The two twins shared an amicable silence as they considered the relative merits of not having to deal with another spilled two liter of soda, when they heard a loud crashing sound coming from one of the side hallways of private rooms. They brought the bucket to a stop and stood there curiously, before there was another loud clattering. Siobhan looked at her sister who sighed, rolling her eyes.

“Of course we’re going to investigate it,” Antigone agreed with a shake of her head. They pushed the mop aside and began walking quickly in to the hallway. It was not as well lit, the overhead lights flickering in need of changing, casting dancing penumbral dancers on the antiseptic green hospital walls as they walked by them. It took Antigone’s brain a moment to catch what was wrong with that, and when it did she reached out to grab Siobhan’s arm.

“What?” Siobhan asked, as there was another crash.

“Bonnie, what color are the walls in Pediatrics?” Antigone asked, glancing around quickly.

Siobhan’s eyes followed her sister’s as she answered. “Cheerful pastels like a nursery…” she offered, trailing off slowly. “The opposite of the shitty green hospital walls everywhere else has.” She let out a very weary sigh. “So we’re what…in another dimension? Trapped somewhere?” The green walls around them, flickered and speckled with darkness, looked ominous. But back in the intersection they had come from they could see the normal hallway, looking thoroughly unmolested. “Well, not trapped,” she said with a little bit of hope.

“Shall we add more money to Morgan’s bill for our therapy?” Antigone asked with faux good humor. Another person might have seen only the nervousness and thought she was looking for an excuse not to, but Siobhan knew the truth. Especially after everything that had happened with Oberon, she wouldn’t turn away; not when these were patient rooms, and not when there might be someone in them who needed help.

“What’s a couple more grand, right?” Siobhan offered with a matching cheer. Moving with a much quicker step they walked to the door, and paused again. Room 823 had a door with a large window covered by a blind, and the noises coming from within sounded like they were distorted somehow—as if they came from a great distance or were down a long hallway. They locked eyes for a moment before nodding, and shoving open the door.

Inside was chaos.

The room was decorated in a slightly older style, but it was apparent that someone had been living in the room for at least a couple of days. Cards were flying around the room, and the moment they walked in a pair of teddy bears launched over their heads and went sailing in to the hallway. Beyond the wind and the swirling cards the room was empty for the first long second they stared, until there was another clanging crash. Both girls flinched back and blinked from the sudden onslaught of sound, and when they opened their eyes it changed. Now it was filled with flowers glass and plastic containers that were being sent flying everywhere, the bed was made with blankets.

And there were two children with chestnut hair jumping off of the bed and screaming loudly, bare feet hitting the floor and their hospital gowns catching in the wind. A corner of the room was billowing shadows, lightning crackling in the roiling darkness. The two kids were definitely running from the growing darkness.

“RUN!” The boy screamed at the top of his lungs, grabbing at Siobhan’s arm. The girl grabbed at Antigone’s arms, and neither sister fought the instinct. They both turned and followed their younger counterparts in throwing themselves through the door. Antigone and Siobhan spilled out in to the hallway on their backs, looking back to the room with wide eyes.

The hallway was clear, and well lit. There was no sign of any struggle or disturbance, and the two children who had run with them were not there any more. The hallway didn’t even have the decency to have a strange breeze, or a flickering light.

“Damn I hate this town sometimes,” Siobhan muttered as she pulled herself back to her feet, sighing. “What do you figure, ghosts?” She asked as her eyes glanced back down the hallway.

“Maybe…” Antigone said absently. “Probably. But…I don’t know. I wish we’d gotten a picture or something. The…two seconds of panic aside, those kids seemed familiar.” They both pondered this for a long moment in their own fashion, Antigone chewing on her lip and Siobhan tapping her feet.

“If this were on TV, it would be something we’d recently seen,” Siobhan pointed out. “Something they’d dropped the hint about…” she trailed off, her eyes moving to meet her sister’s. Both sets of eyes widened, and without a word they turned and started running back down the hall.