Mature | Horror/Mystery
” When Andrew Pottarus first wakes he has amnesia. Then he’s told who he is; a survivor, a father, an agent. They help him back to his feet and keep his family safe – a promise he’d be with them again. But little by little the pieces start to fall away.
Until all he can taste is blood. ”
Psychological Horror, Body Horror, Graphic to Intense Violence, Graphic Gore,
Someone, help me.
Nails and concrete dig into the skin of my wrists, pressed down by someone, a shadow hovers above. All I can see is hair, matted hair and the glint of fangs hanging down from a shielded face. There is blood on it, and there is blood on me – it’s all mine. There is more hands, tearing at my shirt and into skin. It’s tearing into my stomach.
Blood. All I can taste is blood.
It tears out chunks; muscle or organs, I’m not sure which, and feasts. Drips of blood fall across my face, smearing across fresh bruises and cuts. It’s making sounds.
I don’t like the sounds.
No hysteric laughter, not tense giggles – they’re pleased; wrought with satisfied hunger.
It still tears into me, scratching away stressed skin and past worn muscles. And as it tears, ripping out organs and strips of tissue, I feel a pulling from my chest. It’s nails are in my heart. It pulls, tugs, digs around the lungs and veins to detach it from its nest. All I can taste is blood. It bubbles up through my nose. There’s a screech, the nails at my wrists dig down – the thing bites down on my neck. I choke
I hold my neck, there is nothing.
Two hands hold themselves at my neck, middle left holding itself at my chest; the rest are frozen. I’m in the same bed I went to sleep in, under the same cork ceiling and under the same hospital sheets. It feels like my heart was about to tear through my chest with how fast it was beating. Each touch to the sheets were magnetized, I could feel each thread of the padding around my neck. I’m okay, I told myself.
Top left pulls away from my neck with only a slight trace of blood, a drop along the white underside of one finger. A sigh, a swing of sheets off to one side, and I’m walking to the bathroom, running the hand under rushing cold water. I splash cold water on my face for good measure, droplets dripping back down into the sink. My face is still the same, nothing has changed.
On the small side table beside the bed, the calendar reads May 31, yesterday. Today is Saturday. I can talk to my daughters today. But until Dr. Matthews unlocks the safe, it’s back to activity books.
Legs crossed, bottom set folded beneath, I start on another one.
There has been nothing else said about an apartment by either Ryan or Dr. Matthews. Last I remember that I was pretty much cleared to move in. What has been taking them so long? Middle left doodles in the bottom corner of the current page, various shapes mostly. Trent has pretty much said I am ready to go, and most of my injuries have healed for the most part, they just need a bit more time – time I could be spending outside this tiny hospital room. As endearing the little activity books can be, they can only do so much.
The various sores don’t help either, having to spend most of my time either sitting on it or sleeping. There is the floor, and the chairs, or even the other furniture that look like they might hold a bit of weight. The floors are cold and hard, the chairs are cramped and small. Would rather not risk trying to balance on the edge of something either. I have very little to do.
The TV on the opposite wall is always too low, the text is too small to read from the bed. Unable to change the channel or up the volume.
Sometime within the next hour Dr. Matthews comes in, his face looking better than a couple days ago.
“How are we doing, Andrew?”
“Bored,” truthful. The doctor unlocks the safe and pulls out the bag. “Any news on the apartment?”
“Actually, yes.” He carries the bag over to the side of the bed, letting it fall at the foot of the sheets. “You’ll be moving in sometime this week. Just a few last things and it’d be ready for you.”
“Oh, good.” I set the activity book to the side and pull the bag over to me. “Is there anything else I should know about?”
“No, but I can ask your superiors about anything. Would you want to move in sooner?”
“Of course I do. I’ve spent long enough in here already. It’s uncomfortable, it’s cold, the sheets haven’t been changed in forever.” Bottom right holds up the part that has been stained with blood. “And frankly, I want to move around more.”
“I’ll see what I can do, Andrew. I’ll leave you to yourself now.” He’s halfway to the door.
“What about the safe?”
“There’s no need for the bag to be locked away anymore. I’ll be back later.”
“Oh. Okay.” And the door closes, metal locks click in place. Alone again.
I flip through the laptop, sending a message to my father’s screen name every couple minutes asking if he and the girls were ready. I get nothing. There is nothing to explore further on the laptop, I’ve already found most of the things that might’ve been hidden away. All that was left was to explore the internet until they respond.
A few minutes later they do. A small message with ‘ready \o/’ pops up in the corner followed by a webcam request. Clicking ‘accept’ launches the two windows – one of their camera and one of mine. I leave it uncovered.
“Wow, dad, you’re looking a lot better!” Chirped a voice, Andrea, as the laptop moved from a countertop to the table. Andrea sat on one side, Terra on the other, my father in the middle.
“Thanks, not looking back yourself, Andrea. Is that a new fashion you’re wearing?” Her hair on one side stood up. She holds it down and sticks out her tongue. Can’t help but let a chuckle slip through. “How have they been?”
“They’ve been doing very well, Andy. They really want you around though, me too, it’s so hard to control both of them with only two arms.” He laughs, Andrea still holds down her hair. Terra was busy with something.
“What’re you doing, Terra?”
“What, oh. Just a little game!” she holds up the screen of the phone. There was a lot of bright colors, nothing the webcam could pick up clearly. “It’s an app on the phone, grandpa got it for me! I like it a lot.”
“What’s it about? The webcam can’t really show it very well, but it looks fun!” A lot more fun than activity books over and over.
“It’s a puzzle game, stacking things gets you points, and you can spend the points on an avatar.” She taps around the screen, waiting a few second before holding it up to the webcam. It was clear than the other time, I could see a character wearing various things.
“Aw, looks cute. What’s the name? Maybe I can play it as well.”
“It’s – hold on.” She pulls it away to tap at it some more. “It’s called ‘Blocks of Grimoires’!”
“Blocks of Grimoires? Got it.” I scribble it out on a piece of paper. “Andrea, what have you been up to?”
She drops her hand from her hair – the stray hairs stand back up – and pulls out from under the table a small clay sculpture. “I made this in class! The teacher said it was perfectly made!”
“What animal is it? Does it bite?” A smile creeps across my lips.
“It’s a Catfish, part cat, part fish!” She holds it closer to the camera. “Like a mermaid!”
The conversation continues into the late afternoon, close to their lunch time on the other side of the country. They’re in California, and dad said something about keeping me on the other side of the country – I had to look up a map. Never told them that. More or less, I rediscover myself, bit by bit as the girls recount things I can’t remember clearly. Big family events, some moments that they vividly remember, their birthdays.
While they chattered about who’s birthday was better, a bit of hair pulling from Andrea, my father looked away from their set up before separating the girls. “Both of your birthdays were wonderful, don’t fight over them,” my previous smile curls, letting out a small sigh when Dad had to pick them up under his arm and took them off screen. It was just me and the webcam then, barely a whisper of background noise – the tv was louder.
It was a couple minutes until Dad came back, “sorry about that, Andy. They’ve been stressed recently.”
“What’s been going on?”
“Not sure, but Terra isn’t comfortable taking the bus anymore. I need to drive her to the school and have a friend pick them up.”
“Is she being bullied?”
“Haven’t told me, but it’s very likely. But the thing is, she’s been taking a bus up until two weeks ago.”
“Ah…”, a sigh follows. “Nothing I can do from here. Take care of them, Dad.”
“Stay safe Andy.” The connection closes, their side disconnects.
Top right runs across the rough prickles of hair that has grown back so far, brushing across the faint scars from the screws. Since I have the laptop open, might as well look for the game Terra was playing. You can only do so many activity books, I’ve discovered. Eventually I find it, and several similar other games, and plan on spending the rest of the day playing them.
An hour later the lock of the metal door clicks. It’s Dr. Matthews, without his white coat and with a bag slightly larger and a different color from the one … Jacob gave me. “What’s this about?” I close the laptop, half stuffing it into the bag.
“The apartment is ready for you, Andrew.” He drops the bag to the ground; it’s heavy. “Your superiors gave the go ahead to move you to the new place. This has some clothing in it; enough for the trip to the apartment. I’ll leave you to get dressed. Just knock on the door when you’re done, Jacob will take care of you from there.” And he’s out.
Staring between the door and the bag sitting down on the floor at the foot of the bed, I don’t move. Why now, all of the sudden? Couldn’t he given me a heads up when he came in earlier?
I set aside the laptop and pull the second bag onto the bed. It’s in a much better condition, the colors deeper than the first bag’s dull tone. Inside it were two different shirts, two different pants, underwear, and a plain pair of shoes. Various tones of white, brown, or blues. I’m guessing the two pairs are to give me a choice. One has only a single set of arm holes while the other is a long-hanging top – it’s pretty obvious what I’d wear. Why would I wear the former?
Before I can pull it on the hospital gown needs to come off. It’s former two-arm profile was mended by someone to include four extra arms, digging snuggly around the middle set. After a few minutes of trying to get it off in one piece I tear out the stitching and drop it to the floor.
The top easily pulls over all six of my arms, although it sags halfway down my thighs; perhaps a few sizes too big? But it’s better than nothing – I guess. The rest fit well enough; worn down jeans, well worked shoes, I hope the underwear is new. Hopefully they give me some more clothing on the way there.
The remaining clothing I stuff back into the newer bag, as well as the contents of the previous bag. Jacket, laptop, wires, a wallet, phone, and a bag of candies; I stuff them all in and throw the bag over my shoulder.
I knock on the metal door – finally leaving this damn place.
“Have all your things?” Jacob opens the door and waves me into the hall. A pair of people dressed in black stand on either side of the hallway, their backs turned to us. “You should put on the jacket – it’s going to be chilly out there.”
I haven’t seen him for a while, and can’t tell if anything has changed. “Oh, okay.” I have to tug the jacket out, pushing everything else back in before setting the bag down. Jacob checks the bag as I pull the jacket on, with only the top set going through the sleeves. When he’s done with his check he pulls the front zipper of the jacket up, leaving my second and third pair to hang beneath the jacket. He slaps a loose hat onto my head and pulls out a knit scarf. Mixed blue.
“This’ll keep you from getting a cold,” he wraps it for me. A person in black on the hallway to my right looks over their shoulder. They look away when Jacob is finished with the scarf. The top of the bundle goes up over my nose – feeling my breath on the scarf. “Okay, let’s go.” He’s shorter than me.
The people in black suits follow us through the hospital; two walk ahead of us, another two at my sides, and two more behind us. Besides us I don’t see many other people; just a pair in the break room and a woman that waits for us to pass before continuing on her way.
We walk to the back of the hospital.
A black SUV sits just outside the exit door, a second vehicle is parked just behind it. The first two in black split up to the other side of the vehicles, the pair behind us go to the car. Jacob gets into the passenger seat of the SUV; I get into the back seat of the SUV with a person in black on either side of me. I have to hold the bag in my lap.
Outside the sun was halfway through setting. Street lights were already lit.
No one talks during the drive to the apartment.
The two at my sides stare straight ahead. Jacob is up to something in the front passenger seat. There is no radio. The dashboard clock reads 6:01.
Around 6:32 the SUV comes up to an apartment complex, pulling in through a resident entrance. When it eventually comes to a stop at the furthest point of the complex we don’t get out. The people in the following car pull ahead of the SUV and get out first. After a minute, they motion to the driver of the SUV, and both she and Jacob get out. Two other people in black open the doors for us in the back seats.
They escort me quickly to the second story apartment, catching only glimpses of the surroundings. The people in black don’t enter the apartment, Jacob is the only one to follow me in and he locks the door.
“What do you think?”
The entrance went straight into the living room, where a couch sits with its back facing the door and a flat screen tv sits across from it on a wood table. Two standing shelves stood on either side of the wooden table, nothing on them. I walk into the kitchen as Jacob stands still beside the couch. I feel his eyes on me.
The kitchen holds different shades of black, white, and brown – a microwave sits on the counter top, there is no table or chair. The bathroom has small travel sized bottles on the sink, a pair of towels sit on top of the toilet. The bedroom’s bed stood against the wall closest to the door, it’s sheets are a solid blue. The closet is small.
“It’s nice.” Haven’t I been here before?
“That’s good. Management did a good job tending to it!” Jacob shows me where everything is in the kitchen; containers, pans, bowls and cups. The fridge doesn’t have much in it, but the pantry to the side is filled with prepackaged dried soups. “Until Dr. Matthews thinks your fully healed, try to stay on the food in the pantry. We won’t stop you from trying anything though – just don’t tell the Doctor. You got the wallet Trent gave you?”
I nod. “Yeah, it’s in the bag.”
“Good, it has a debit card in it. The pin is written inside the wallet, and don’t worry about the balance. Just don’t buy too many things.”
“Okay.” I drop onto the couch, right beside the bag.
“Oh, and one more thing. Hold on,” he vanishes into the hallway to the bathroom, coming back out with a set of orange pill bottles.”Matthews wants you to take these, since you aren’t in the hospital anymore.” Medication. “There’s also painkillers in the bathroom, if the pain gets any worse. Do you have the phone?”
“All the numbers in there are for you if you need anything. Do you think you need any help with it?”
“I’m sure I can handle it. I can just text, right?”
“I’ll be leaving you be now, though I might be back later this week.” He drops something on the counter. “The keys to the apartment are on the counter. Keep the door locked at all times, alright?”
“Good,” he smiles, “take care.” He pats me on the shoulder as he makes his way out the door. For once I’m happy to hear a door lock click, and he shuts the door.
I sit there in silence, listening for the sound of Jacob and the people in black leaving. Shoes on stairs, a pair of engines starting up, and eventually the silence. Pulling off the hat and the scarf, depositing them on the side of the couch, I head to the bedroom. On the way I throw off the jacket, stretching all three sets of arms while kicking off the shoes before flopping down onto the bed.
Some actual comfort, at last.
And I fall into a deep sleep.
Hoping for no more nightmares.