The Monster in Me by Suzie Lockhart/ Bruce Lockhart 2nd [horror]
Randall Bell stared up at the ceiling fan rotating slowly above his head, afraid to move. He allowed his eyes to roam around the unfamiliar area. Bright sunlight streamed through a window to his left, making little particles of dust visible as they floated in the air. The curtains on the window featured an apple pattern trimmed in a sickly green. A variety of herbs sat drying out on the window ledge. A horde of flies was buzzing around.
Randall slowly moved his head, his nose wrinkling from the strange, yet familiar, odor assaulting his nostrils, while he eyed the rest of the small, but tidy, kitchen. Oh, God, he thought, please not again.
What the stench was he could only guess at; he didn’t plan on sticking around to find out. He sat up, checking to make sure he wasn’t hurt before grabbing onto the edge of the kitchen counter and pulling himself to his feet. Silently, he padded over to the door further down on his left, resisting the urge to look at what undoubtedly would be a gruesome scene. He squinted against the brilliant sunshine as he quietly stepped out, holding one hand over his eyes. In the driveway Randall’s vanilla-white SUV awaited, and he sighed in relief at the sight. At least he had his car. Reaching in the pocket of his suit, he discovered his car keys. Also inside his suit jacket was his cell phone. He took it out and turned away from the sun to check the screen. A surge of panic shot through him when he saw the date.
Randall Bell had just lost three days.
He couldn’t remember a damn thing, except feeling that familiar tightening in his throat while drinking Irish whiskey at a local bar. A particularly tough case was finally over, and he’d been celebrating with his colleagues when he felt it rise up into his chest, squeezing the air out of his lungs. He coughed up blood into a napkin, and then excused himself.
Randall didn’t attempt to recall what might’ve happened during the missing seventy some hours. His instincts assured him that the less he knew the better. Especially after what happened last time.
So instead he drove around until he came across a sign pointing towards the Pennsylvania Turnpike. To his dismay, he saw that he was about one hundred miles from his home near Harrisburg.
He pushed his SUV up to seventy miles per hour. He just wanted to get home and put this reoccurring nightmare behind him. Of course, he couldn’t…not really, when vivid flashes of doing things, horrible things, permeated his thoughts.
Then there was the receipt for odd items he didn’t remember buying, like Italian leather shoes and a hunting knife. What scared Randall the most were the things he’d read about in the papers. That was why he’d avoided hospitals; evidence. He was terrified of being connected to the crime scenes.
The sun continued to beat down so Randall cranked up the air conditioner. He felt the now familiar squirming sensation deep in his gut. He was about half way to his destination when…
“Ugh!” he groaned from the sudden pain in his intestines. He pulled into the Blue Mountain Service station and ran to the men’s room. As Randall sat on the toilet, he bit his lip until it bled; due to the pain he was experiencing as whatever food he didn’t recall eating was violently purged. Tears squeezed out from behind his eyelids, and he wondered if this was similar to the pain during childbirth.
If so, Randall now had a new respect for women.
He knew he would not make it home before another blackout hit. Randall grabbed some Tums and a pack of gum, asking at the checkout if anyone knew where the nearest hospital was.
It had been a dull afternoon at Blue Ridge Hospital when a handsome stranger in a rumpled, but expensive-looking, business suit walked up to the window of the nurse’s office of the Emergency Room, breaking the monotony. Up to that point in her double shift, Michelle Dawson, R.N., had dealt with nothing out of the ordinary. A girl who drank too much at a fraternity party, a guy having some seriously nasty withdrawal from his crack pipe, and a little girl with a broken finger.
“Name?” She inquired pleasantly.
“Randall Bell.” As she looked up and the man moved closer, Michelle noticed his features appeared strained, and beads of sweat had formed on his brow.
“What can we help you with today, Mr. Bell? Are you running a fever?” She motioned for him to come inside her triage station. He sank down in a chair immediately, letting out a small grunt. Michelle pulled on a pair of purple nitrile gloves and took a thermometer out of a drawer, as a woman from the reception area joined them to ask the usual litany of questions. After slipping it inside the plastic sleeve, Michelle popped the thermometer in his mouth.
Upon hearing the beep, she saw that, indeed, Randall Bell was running a slight fever, 99.5.
She waited a little impatiently for the young girl to check his I.D. and insurance card. She hated when they asked for patient’s co-pays up front; a sick person shouldn’t have to go through that. Randall pulled a gold card out of his leather wallet and handed to the receptionist, who bustled away to get approval.
“Sorry about that.” Michelle preferred not to follow generally accepted protocol, because she felt a sick person should be seen by the triage nurse first. The ‘higher-ups’ didn’t like it, and she didn’t care. She was a good nurse, had been here in the E.R. for ten years now. “You’re running a bit of a temperature, Mr. Bell.” Michelle smiled at him. Even in his present state, he was a very nice looking man. “Would you please take off your suit jacket so I can get your blood pressure?”
He nodded and struggled out of the Copenhagen blue jacket that must’ve cost a pretty penny. She wondered what he did for a living. She’d felt the taunt muscles of his arm underneath his pale blue shirt when she strapped on the cuff.
Time to put a halt to the direction her thoughts were taking. She was supposed to be a professional, after all.
His blood pressure was definitely too high for a man of his age and physical condition and his pulse was rapid, as well. Her brows creased together.
“What is bothering you this evening, Mr. Bell?”
Randall Bell sat tight-lipped, unsure of how to tell this nice nurse exactly what his problem was. He cleared his throat. “I… I don’t know how to explain this.” She would never believe him. Hell, he certainly didn’t want to believe it.
Except, he did. In one of those fragmented memories, he was looking in a mirror, but staring back at him was an evil, monstrous face.
“Try your best.” She encouraged. How unusual that such a successful looking gentleman could not articulate what, exactly, was wrong. Then again, most men did hate admitting anything was wrong. Hated doctors, period.
The nurse tending to him had a beautiful smile; Randall thought she was a few steps shy of looking like Halle Berry. A light citrus scent lingered on her honey skin. A fleeting thought ran through his mind; he wondered what had made her want to become a nurse.
“I’ve been in a lot of pain. I have trouble falling asleep. I…” Randall wondered how to explain the blackouts.
“I see. Tell me, where does it hurt?” Michelle asked.
He stared into eyes the color of amber, thick lashes curling around them. “All over.”
“Hmm, like a flu bug?”
He shook his head no, trying to convey his ailment without sounding totally off his rocker. “I have these blackouts. I wake up in strange places. It’s getting really bad, affecting my work.”
“What do you do?”
“I’m an attorney.” Randall Bell replied, hesitant to tell her he was the state’s prosecutor. This could be really bad for him. His career would be over.
Michelle’s eyes widened a bit. A bit of chemistry lingered in the air between them. He could feel it. But he could also feel…
“Ugh, ow!” Randall hollered out in pain, doubling over and clutching his stomach.
The nurse was hovering over him, and when the pain subsided, she wanted to check his abdomen. She helped him onto the examination table, asking him to lift his shirt.
Damn, Michelle thought, as she pressed gently on his rock-hard abs. Even her slight touch made him squirm and wince. “I’m sorry,” she murmured, right before coming across an odd lump. When she pressed on it, it moved. Shocked, she backed away just as Randall cried out.
“What… I mean, how long…” Unexpectedly, she found herself at a loss for words.
Randall turned to look at her. Unwelcome tears were streaming down his cheeks from the agony. He had to tell her… had to tell somebody.
“I… I just lost three days. I need a surgeon to… to get out this monster that’s inside of me!”
Michelle stood shell-shocked for a moment. He had to be using the word monster as a metaphor. Great, she thought, a super-hot guy comes in and he might be a nut case. She took out a chart and began writing, trying to mask her disappointment, but at the same time wondering what the hell was in there, moving around.
“Um… okay, Mr. Bell. Can you elaborate? Tell me when this started. Please.”
“Several weeks ago.”
Michelle wasn’t sure she wanted to know more. He might be really ill, or really sick in the head. Either way, she decided to let the doctors sort it out.
“Okay, Mr. Bell. I’m going to send you right back to room 4B, and we’ll order some blood work and x-rays.” She attempted to keep her voice steady.
He lay back on the bed. “I’m not nuts. There really is a monster in, ugh, me.” It was apparent that Randall’s pain was getting worse. Michelle would talk to the E.R. doctor about giving him something to ease his discomfort.
She put her hand gently on his arm and tried to sound reassuring. “We’ll get this all figured out. Just try to take it easy.”
He winced again, briefly placing his hand over hers. “You’re very pretty, you know. Thank you.”
She patted his hand for a moment before pulling away uncertainly, and then she called for a wheelchair to take him back.
Randall hated emergency rooms. Who didn’t? The noise, the God-awful gowns, and the smells especially disgusted him. Of course, they weren’t as bad as what he’d smelled earlier at that strange house. He could hear doctors and nurses whispering outside his room. He knew they thought he was a nut case, but there was also concern that something was definitely amiss. The nurse had felt the damn thing move. Every time it shifted, the pain was excruciating. A young man had come in to take blood about a half hour before. Randall had been left alone since.
“Mr. Bell?” An older nurse dressed in a traditional starched white dress, complete with the hat on her head, came bustling in. “We’re going to take you back for an MRI.”
Randall nodded. He could just imagine the look on the doctor’s face when the doctor saw what was inside of him.
He was asked the usual questions, including if he was allergic to iodine. They felt the contrast dye would help reveal what was going on.
“Where is the pain located?”
At the moment, it was still in his gut, but felt as though it was trying to make its way up into his chest. He circled the whole area with a finger. He was given a Dixie cup with 4 ounces of something comparable to cough syrup, but more disgusting, to drink.
A male technician named Tyler was waiting for him in a small, sterile room. The tech helped him onto a table, speaking to him in a calming tone of voice.
Randall wasn’t very comfortable; it was not made for a six foot tall man.
“We also need to add some contrast through your I.V.”
The dye seared through his veins and made him feel slightly nauseous.
“This won’t take long, Mr. Bell. Close your eyes and try to relax.” The machine began whirring and the table lifted slightly as it entered the giant donut hole. Tyler stood beside him, pressing a few buttons on the side of the donut, reassuring Randall that even though he would be in the small room off to the side, he would be able to hear and see him, in case there were any problems.
His arms dangled off the table above his head. The machine clicked as Randall was moved to and fro through the opening. The sound echoed around him infuriatingly.
He tried to remain still, but he couldn’t help crying out from the pain.
“Are you okay, Mr. Bell?” The irritatingly calm voice asked.
“Spectacular.” Sarcasm laced his tone.
The bed returned to its resting position, and Randall was helped into a wheelchair. God, how he hated all of this; being treated like some invalid.
“Augh!” He hollered, doubling over. Damn this thing!
As he was led back to 4B, Randall Bell could feel the nasty creature crawling around in him, scraping its claws against every fiber of his being, as if it was trying to figure out just what made him tick.
He was emotionally and physically drained. What did that damned thing do when it forced Randall to black-out?
The pulsating entity was pushing its way up his esophagus again, and when he felt his throat tighten and the breath being knocked out of him, he tried to let out a terrified scream.
There was a flurry of activity as the doctor rushed in. Randall’s throat looked swollen. He heard someone say through his haze of confusion, that they thought he was having an allergic reaction to the iodine. He tried gesturing with his hands, but they were busy shooting medication into him to counteract the reaction he wasn’t even having.
Blood spewed from his mouth, splattering the doctor. Randall was howling in agony.
“Dilaudid. Stat!” The older nurse that had been there earlier handed the doctor a clean towel. A younger girl beside her hurried after the doctor, and came back within minutes, handing the older nurse a syringe.
“Mr. Bell, this is Dilaudid. It’s for the pain.”
Some relief would be nice. There was sincere concern etched on her wrinkled face. He wasn’t aware that his eyes were bulging.
The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end as a prickling sensation briefly overwhelmed him Then a wave of warmth washed through him, and his body began to relax.
“There, there,” the older nurse cooed at him as if he were a baby. At thirty-five, to her maybe he was. He was feeling fuzzy. That dil… dila… whatever the hell it was, it was some good shit, he thought. Even the monster seemed to settle. Randall wondered if the thing was just biding its time.
“Thank you,” he murmured drowsily.
The nurse left the room, and the menace inside Randall Bell began to slither up his brain stem.
When he stood, Randall Bell was a little woozy at first. It took an extra minute or two to gather himself enough to get dressed. By the time he straightened his cuffs and tied the laces on his Italian shoes, he was perfectly fine.
Or, rather, IT was. Bell was sound asleep.
Hmmm, now where was that delicious nurse that had greeted him earlier? What was her name? Michelle something…?
Two doctors stared at the films from Randall Bell’s CT. Their logical minds not fully comprehending the images of the horrific face staring back at them.
“Dedicated to Terry—a loving soul gone to soon.”
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