O, Death: Part XV

by Matt P.

Saturday, 3:15 AM

Siobhan leaned over to look at the page that her sister put in front of her. The handwriting was difficult to decipher, since it had been written by a fevered pre-pubescent, but it described the events leading up to Matthew and Natalie’s disappearance. How the fever and hallucinations had spread through the the pediatric wing, and the dark vision that they had seen when someone died from it. And how they had traced it through the hospital to the basement, and were going to try to confront it. That day’s entry was from the day they had apparently disappeared, and the fever broke.

“So they went to confront it and locked it away…somehow,” Siobhan said as she looked up, sighing. “That’s distinctly unhelpful. But I guess they couldn’t really take notes as…quasi-ghosts, right?” Siobhan leaned against the nurse’s statement, scuffing her bare feet on the cold floor. “Are my freaking clothes somewhere, or are we going to have to fight this thing with my ass hanging out?”

Despite the situation, Antigone let out a startled giggle, and nodded. “I saw where they put them. We might get murdered, but we can at least do it without your butt being visible.” She sighed. “How much do you remember? What’s the last thing?” She asked, as she pushed away from the station to begin walking down the hallway.

“I remember getting to the door, touching it, and then…” Siobhan shuddered, and shivered as they padded up to a closet. Antigone reached out with a key-chain that included a pink rabbit’s foot to open it, which distracted her for a moment. “And I remember something talking to me.” That caused Antigone to pause in opening the door, leaving it quarter open as she looked back at her sister. “We can talk more once I’m not causing people to go to jail for just looking at me.”

Antigone sighed at that but nodded, reaching in to the closet, and started counting off clothes items. “Shirt, pants, panties, tennis shoes, socks of arguable cleanliness, all in black. We should have bleached them while you were unconscious.” Siobhan reached out to take them and begin pulling them on with little modesty in front of an empty hallway and her twin sister.

“For what, a trip to play at Wimbledon?” She asked with a smirk, as she settled everything back in to place. “Now I wish I’d brought a jacket or something, if we have to fight Death. Or a howitzer.” She leaned against the wall to start pulling on her socks and shoes. “So spill, what the hell happened?”

Antigone sighed again and leaned against the wall next to her twin. “After we got out of the basement the fever started spreading like crazy. Everyone tried to get it under control, but it kept going out. We put out calls to other hospitals and even the CDC, but Paul said it was worse this time—like it was juiced up somehow. But things got really weird on Friday. Dad and Uncle Ryan tried to go in to the basement as the first kids started getting close to dying, all geared up for war. They got blown back, and then every adult got blown out of the building in more of that thick black smoke.”

Siobhan blinked, as a memory came back to her from what had apparently been here fevered state. Tendrils of inky thickness roiling through the hallways, cracking and shoving and causing terror.

Her father shouts something, and there is gunfire—the he shouts more, and it stops. Someone, maybe a cop or security guard, was doing something he thought was dumb. The tendrils kept coming, and grabbed people. Like something out of a Lovecraft story, minus the cultists and ominous chanting.

“Shit,” Siobhan cursed quietly, but vehemently. Laces done, she ran a hand back through her hair and pushed off from the wall. “Well, alright. This seems pretty much straight battle of the High School stuff. We make our way downstairs, and then we fight it. I’ll bring the sword, you bring the dog. It goes away, dad can come back in, and then he won’t be able to lord it over us about that time he killed a god. Party time.” She cracked her knuckles with obviously faked enthusiasm as she started to walk back toward the nurse’s station.

Antigone looked a little bit doubtful. “It’s…death, Bonnie, or at least a version of it. I didn’t see a scythe, but I’m not sure that we can just go down stairs and punch death until it goes away.” Nonetheless, she started to follow Siobhan down the hallway back to the stairs.

“You have a hair-tie?” Siobhan asked as she reached up to start pulling her hair back in to a pony-tail. Antigone reached in to her pockets and scrounged out a rubber band, which Siobhan took with a shrug. “Look…something has to have changed. This hospital wasn’t a horror movie, and then it was, and then it wasn’t, and then it was. There is something that changes there, and makes it possible to put it back in the box. Otherwise it never would have come out of the box, or never would have gone back in to the box. So we just find it, find what Matty and Natty were doing, and do it better.”

Antigone gave a soft smile at her sister’s confidence. They both came to stop at the doors out of the wing unbidden, breathing slowly and mentally preparing themselves for what they would find beyond. “What, don’t want to be almost ghosts for thirty years?” Antigone asked with a little bit of a smile, or something like it—Siobhan thought the banter was for her benefit, and she appreciated it.

“I want to live forever through my work,” Siobhan answered with a smile, rolling her shoulders and focusing on that part of here where some spark of power lived—where her sword lived. Slowly it began to form in her mind, like a flow of power from her core down in to her hand. In one blink it wasn’t there, and then it was—long and slender and made out of the strange Faerie metal, but curved like a katana. She saw Antigone doing the same, and between heartbeats a heavy-set hound clad in iron plates was nuzzling her leg. “We’re in…” She looked around curiously.

“Oncology. Third floor. Things went crazy, and this was the best place to take you,” Antigone offered. There was almost two days worth of tiredness, terror, and fierce protective pride in that statement, and Siobhan reached out with a free hand to squeeze her shoulder.

“Thanks,” she murmured softly, turning to the door. “If there’s a fight to be had we fight to the stairs, get to the basement, and flip the switch to put it back in the box. No ghosts, no death, no fuss, no muss. Ready to storm the castle?”

Antigone nodded, and they pushed through the doors almost at speed.