Alexus opened his eyes, and all he saw was an orange room. Then, pushing himself up onto his arms, he felt a tug of wires connected to the ventilator.
Where was he? The place didn’t look anything like a hospital room at all. It was just too bright, making him feel uncomfortable. Was the hospital trying new things with the walls, or was he in a whole different place? Or maybe he was finally tripping, making him wonder if all that medicine that might have put him under was the cause of this strange place. Still, he yanked the tubes out of himself and placed his feet on the cold marble ground.
With a shudder, the cold shot up through his legs and into his body, making him shiver. Luckily they were no A/C on, or this would be a whole different experience. He disliked the cold, and the marble floor was pushing it.
Alexus couldn’t help but think this was the afterlife, but the cold reality of the hard floor pushed away from such thoughts and left him wondering if he had passed out from a heart attack. That could explain the excruciating pain near his heart and the tingle that affected his body when waking up. Now that he thought about it, his family does have a history of heart attacks and high cholesterol. His mother did pass away from a heart attack when he was sixteen, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise he would get it as well.
Still, wearing nothing but a bedsheet-like shirt that reached up to his ankle wasn’t helping either. There was no other furniture around him; instead, the bed was in the middle of the room, and a black tinted glass wall was across from him and adjacent to it. Strange, he thought. Why is there a glass wall? Maybe it was like those movies, where the glass window turns on to allow light to come through. He couldn’t help himself but walk forward towards the glass wall and tap at it, hoping that it would do something.
So far, all he heard was the hollow sound of the glass wall. Knocking, it simply followed after with silence. Nothing happens, making him feel stupid for even trying it. Still, it was worth a shot; doing nothing might make him go crazy and such thoughts didn’t sit well with him.
A loud sound of metal sliding against metal could be heard as some kind of bolt moved in place. Then, with a sharp turn towards his left, he saw a bit of the wall moving, eventually becoming a small door. Out stepped an elderly nurse that seemed to be in her fifties. She was wearing the simple attire of blue, her hair tied neatly into a bun, her hawk-like eyes and pointy nose made him wonder if she could poke someone’s eyes out with it the way she held herself.
“Hello, Mr. Tyger. It seems that you are well and awake.”
Alexus took a step forward, trying to form many sentences in his mind to ask her a question, but she beat him to it.
“I know you are quite surprised that you are here.” She walked over towards the bed, where she checked the machine. “But you had a heart attack and were brought here to Mosaic Hospital.” Then, with a click of her pen, she started to jot down notes.
For a moment there, Alexus thought he caught a strange flicker, or maybe it was a sparkle around her. He blinked a couple more times, trying to make sure that his sight was alright; he swore the medication made his eyes feel weird.
“Heart attack?” Alexus asked.
“Yes, the accumulation of constant stress wore out your body.”
Stress. Who would’ve thought it was the number one leading cause of his death? This made him prioritize his thoughts about living. Being in a high constant stressful situation wasn’t something he ever wanted to go through again, especially for his weak heart that couldn’t handle it any more than it could.
“So, why this room, though?” Alexus rubbed his eyes a couple more times, but the glimmer around her didn’t disappear. Instead, it intensified, making him feel like he was tripping. The swirl of black seemed to spark with a tinge of red and even weird shapes that reminded him of the picture test that the psychiatrist used. “Are orange walls the norm around here?”
She stopped, clicked her pen away into her front pocket, and stood up straight. “This room is for our….’ exceptional’ cases.”
“Special? I don’t think heart attacks are anything special. What….one out of every human gets it.” Alexus weakly chuckled at his stupid joke.
The nurse’s body tightened, and her voice went up an octave. “I’m not sure how to tell you this, but you had died for a couple of minutes, Mr. Tyger.”
When she said the word died, the word didn’t even register in his mind. He died? Really? Wow. That was a complete eye-opener, making him feel even more appreciated that he was given a second chance to even be alive. Alexus’ heart swelled in happiness; he felt like a changed man. He had held off on death and won, coming back to life. This in itself was a monumental life-changing achievement compared to anything else that he has ever gone through.
“We usually bring people here with unusual circumstances like your case to help you transition into a…calmer atmosphere.”
Once again, when she stated that he was a strange case, he couldn’t help but wonder what she was talking about. There wasn’t anything abnormal about him, nor did he feel anything weird. However, how she examined him with her beady eyes made him feel like he was some kind of specimen.
“I swear to you there isn’t anything wrong with me.”
“We’re just making sure, Mr. Tyger. We don’t want you to go into an outbreak of uncontrollable emotions.”
This nurse doesn’t get it does she? I mean, what does it take for her to understand that there was nothing wrong. Alexus started to fume. Each time she got annoyed, the slight glimmer around her seemed to get stronger each passing moment, eventually to the point where he saw something black and wispy coming out of her body. He couldn’t help but stare. Was she on fire?
No, that’s not right. It looked like the nurse was oozing out this weird smoke-like energy from her body, making him wonder what was wrong with her. Alexus, for sure, was normal, but she was a different case entirely.
“Mr. Tyre?” She snapped her finger in front of him.
“I’m sorry you were saying?”
With an annoyed sigh, she repeated herself. “Are you feeling alright? Do you have any headaches, aches, or pains anywhere throughout your body?”
“No.” Alexus quickly replied.
The black flames around her seem to intensify, coming out of her in rapid succession. Alexus couldn’t help but lean over towards the side, wondering where a mass of dark flames was coming out from. He took a couple of steps around her and followed the trail of black flames. What made his eyes turn wide in disbelief was that black wing-like substance forming from her back.
Was that even natural? Wait, was he still awake, or did he really go crazy and finally snap? The better question is, why the heck does she have black wings?! Is that even a wing in the first place?
“Mr. Tyger, why are you looking at my back?” Her voice was strained. Alexus could feel that she was getting annoyed that he was ignoring her. To her, maybe he looked like a crazy person, but he swore he was not. This whole energy black flaming wing thing was a first to him.
Alexus raised his hand and brushed his hair back. “This might be a strange question,” he carefully worded his words, thinking it over a couple of times. The wings on her back got larger; eventually, the ghastly black energy was slinking over her shoulders and down her chest.
“Go ahead. I’m listening.”
He took a step back, worried that he might get contaminated by the black energy that seemed to wrap around her. Even scarier was that on closer inspection, the black energy was turning into some kind of black bug that was quickly running down her body and eventually melding into her skin.
What the hell was going on? From black wings to black bugs that reminded him of Egyptian scarabs? He thought he needed some sleep soon or might go crazy if he stood awake any longer. It got to the point where the bugs were now crawling up towards her face, and seeing so many bugs on her body grossed him out.
“My. Tyger, what were you trying to say?” Her voice started to become lower, giving it a scratchy tone.
“Y-you have black b-b-bugs crawling all over you!” He yelled out in an outburst, taking a few more steps away from her. Whatever was taking over her body, I wanted no part in it whatsoever.
“Mr. Tyger?” She took a step forward, Alexus, wondering if he was alright. He, on the other hand, took more steps back. “What do they look like, Mr. Tyger?”
“Black Scarabs.” Alexus shuddered. The bugs eventually mixed in with her face, two curly horns with the end that had snake heads jutted out of her head. What was even more terrifying was that her face started to elongate into some Nile crocodile with vicious white teeth that seemed to glisten with hunger. The thought of being chomped by those suckers made Alexus reel backward faster.
“Black Scarabs?” Her voice was strained. She reached over, trying to calm Alexus. But, instead, he flinched away, trying not to get touched by her claw-like hands. He was afraid that her claws would impale him if she got too close, especially if she knew what she looked like.
“What the hell are you,” Alexus spoke in complete disbelief, fear and bile rising towards his throat.
“What do you mean, Mr. Tyger? I am your nurse, doing a full check-up on you.”
“Bull shit. You’re a monster!” Alexus swore, backpedaling away from her as far as he could. “Why the hell do you look like a crocodile with wings?!”
For a moment, there the nurse went into complete silence, her normal color eyes quickly changed bloody red, and a sinister smile appeared on her face. “Mr. Tyger. I think you need to rest. Why don’t you come to lay back down? I can help you unwind, so you’re not hallucinating. It’s the drugs that you’ve administered.”
Alexus couldn’t help but freeze in what she had said; maybe it was the drugs that made him see things, but at the same time, his instinct was telling him that what was in front of him was real. This was no illusion, especially because he could feel the sharp coldness of the marble floor jarring him awake, telling him that this was not fake.
Her hands once again started to reach out towards Alexus; he viciously slapped it away, eventually his back hitting against the wall. “Get away from me, demon!” he shouted, half in fear and half in hysteria. This was his first time. He felt terror, and the lady in front of him was the cause of it all.
A foul-smelling sulfur-like substance lingered in the air, making his stomach turn. He never smelled a dead body before, but this was the first time he thought it might smell like it if he ever saw one. What was worse was that the smell didn’t just stay for one to two seconds. Instead, it invaded his nose, making him cough hard.
Plus, the temperature in the room quickly dropped. Alexus could feel himself start to shiver; the glass walls started to fog. Even his breath began to form in front of him. What was surprising was that the demon lady wasn’t even affected. Instead, she seems to grow stronger with each passing time.
“Mr. Tyger.” Her voice became deep as she growled in anger. “Get back to your bed.” She hissed, storming towards him.
“No!” Alexus yelled, frightened. His hands drew back, and with a snap, he hit her square in the face. She stumbled backward, reeling in pain. Then, without thinking, he pounced on her; his feet drew back as he viciously kicked at the monster on the ground. He wanted it down and gone; the thought of it eating him, or worse, killing him, made him react out of pure instinct.
With a yell, the monster shouted out in pain. She rolled out of his stomp and got on her feet.
A feral growl erupted out of her throat; she glared at him with the full intent to kill. “Mr. Tyger. What the hell are you doing?! Are you trying to kill me?!” She shrieked to the point where her voice went up two octaves in anger. If any higher, he felt that she could even break the glass.
Alexus didn’t give her a chance to attack first, and instead, he bulldozed forward into her. They both made contact, she lifted into the ground temporarily, but she didn’t fall for some reason. Instead, her black wings extended outwards, flapping behind her to the point of kicking upwind. He took the initiative and changed course if she didn’t want to fall. So instead of dropping her down, he threw her into the wall.
Her long snout snapped near his face; she tried her best to tear off his head. Luckily he was able to swivel his head away from her face before his ears could get chomped off. Her foot caught him on his stomach; sharp pain riddled his body as she kicked him backward. For an elderly lady her size, she had quite a kick. He was flung towards the opposite side of the wall, which was far away.
He let out a grunt as air escaped out of his lung, and his body collided against the wall, causing a temporary blackout. His chest felt constrained as air escaped. What was worse was moving caused an electrifying shock to pulse throughout his body. He couldn’t move for a moment. Then, all it took was for the nurse to appear before him, her hands wrapped around his neck choking him out.
“How did you know?” She hissed slowly so that only Alexus could hear. “No one should’ve been able to see me.”
Alexus’ toes were touching the tip of the floor; his fingers dug into her hand, scrapping it to peel it off in desperation. So far, it was not happening, making it ten times more difficult to breathe. He was starting to even see white spots as his breath became short.
“Your kind can’t see me; that’s why you humans are so easy to possess.” She chuckled. “Still, you entertain me for the moment; now it would be best that you die here and now.”
He squirmed, using his hand to strike her across the face. She barely budged and instead didn’t even seem to feel it. Who would’ve thought the strength that he had wasn’t enough.
This was his second time. He was heading towards death. It was in the hands of a monster who wanted him dead, not because of stress. Stress was a slow killer, but this monster lady wasn’t, and he had no time to prepare for this whole fight.
Alexus didn’t want to die a second time, and with all his strength he could muster, his hands reached forward as he dug his fingers into her eye. She screamed, reeling backward in pain. Then, with a heavy thump, he slumped onto the ground, coughing up a storm. The fresh air made his throat constrict; he didn’t have time to stay on the ground.
He pushed himself off the ground and threw himself at her with a grunt. They both clamored through mid-tumble, hitting themselves against the bed. Alexus’ right-hand snake across her neck, he gripped hard. Muscles bulging to the point of fear of letting go. He choked her out as best as he could. Her fingers dug into his skin, taking away pieces of him under her nails as a trail of blood formed downward. She bulked hard, trying to squirm her way out.
Alexus searched around for anything that could help him in choking her out. Finally, he saw what he was looking for, not too far away from him. With quite a bit of struggling, eventually, his left hand reached over and grabbed the cord in hand.
“Let me…go…you stupid human!” She coughed and hissed in between her breath; he let go momentarily while he reached for the cord, snagging it. “When I get out of this, I’m going to destroy you!”
“Not going to happen.” Alexus bit down on his teeth, using muscles that he never thought he had; he wrapped the cord tightly around her neck.
When she pulled away from him, he grabbed both ends of the cord and pulled with all his might. His knee went into her shoulder, pushing down to give him that extra leverage that he needed.
She clambered and partially screamed in outrage.
“Come on. Come on. Come on. Quickly knock out!” He mumbled with half exasperation, tugging harder and harder with the cord. Her elongated jaws snapped open and close, trying to get towards him with every ounce of strength that she could muster. Black scarabs started to crawl out of her body and headed straight towards him.
Fear gripped Alexus’ heart. He didn’t want those nasty critters crawling up his body. He could already feel their legs climbing up, heading straight for his face. He knew that if he let go right here and now, this crazy monster was going to kill him. There probably wasn’t going to be another god-given chance like this, and right now, he was in a pickle.
Sharp stinging pain riddled Alexus’ body, the Beatles started to clamp down, biting every inch of his exposed skin, causing severe pain he never thought a beetle could inflict. Finally, he wound up, wrapping the cord tighter, and he pulled. Eventually, the nurse started to turn white; her hand and feet twitched as she let out her last breath of life.
The only thing that didn’t seem to want to stop was the beetle. It just kept coming upwards towards Alexus’s face. He had to use his elbow to knock them off until finally he couldn’t hold on any longer and brought up his hand to whack them away.
Alexus jumped up from the ground and widely brushed them off himself. Unfortunately, most of them fell on the floor as he began to do a wild stomp dance, trying to get those beetles to die. The thought of them getting inside him made his skin crawl, and seeing a single one of them alive was something that he didn’t want.
A few minutes passed, all the Beatles died under his feet, while the monster lady didn’t move on the floor. He leaned over nudged her with his foot, hoping that she wouldn’t spring up into action. Instead, the black swirls of energy around her started to dissipate, turning into mist.
Eventually, what was left was the body. Alexus froze up in complete disbelief. Then, she was back to her human self.
“Oh, shit.” Alexus mouthed, realizing what he had done. “She’s dead.”
The thought of killing someone made the end of his hair stand up. He had never killed anyone before, and right now, what he has done would make him end up in jail. He stumbled backward until he tripped and fell onto his butt.
He just killed an elderly.
Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. I just killed someone. The words kept repeating over again in Alexus’ mind. His life was over. He knew he was going to be charged with first-degree murder.
Quickly, Alexus sprung onto his feet and headed straight toward the same door that she came out from. His body slammed into the wall with shaky hands. He pushed himself through the door, almost spilling out and slamming into the opposite wall. Luckily no one was there, and all he could do was run.
Alexus ran as if his life depended on it; each turn, he swiveled, jumped, and even pushed aside anyone that was in his path. The thought of what happened in the past five minutes horrified him. He couldn’t stay here any longer. He was a wanted man.
“Excuse me!” Someone called out, trying to stop him from running through the halls.
“Hey!” Alexus’ shoulders hit a passing doctor, causing the doctor to stumble backward. “Watch where you’re going!”
He didn’t have time to say sorry. The thought of stopping wasn’t even an option.
“Somebody stop him!” Someone shouted. Alexus looked over his shoulder and found men wearing black and red suits pointing their fingers at him wildly.
“I said stop!” A buff bald-looking man ran up from the side. He bulldozed towards Alexus, causing him to falter backward. He used that opportunity to swivel out of his grasp. Luckily he didn’t get a good grip on him to force him down into submission.
Scrambling onto his feet, Alexus bolted forward. Another man in a suit jumped forward, his hand grabbed onto the back of Alexus’ shirt, jerking Alexus backward. He faltered as the body guard’s hands snaked around Alexus’ neck.
“Let go!” Alexus shouted in desperation.
“Not going to happen.” The guard grunted. “You’re coming with us.”
“Damn it! It wasn’t my fault! I swear she was a demon!” Alexus wildly tried to get out of the guard’s hold; he could feel the power building up in his muscle, prying the arm away. This was one time, he wished that he took some form of martial arts or even self-defense, but he lucked out on that aspect of life so far. Unfortunately, he didn’t see the punch coming from the side of another person, and their fist landed against the temple of his head. A splash of white rocked him to his socks, and the next thing he knew, he crumpled on the ground and knocked out.