Horror Science Fiction

Down the warped industrial urine colored hallway of Shady Acres, through the maze of wheelchairs and medical equipment laid about, past the rancid aroma of feces and ammonia, through the aimlessly wandering patients was Room 237. In that room, a broken man lay waiting for death to come. His dark soul was ready for death; foot in the grave, lifeforce extinguishing, his spirit bellowing for release. This room exhaled depression; the humidifier felt like the regurgitated warmth of a pedophile's wet touch.

The broken teeth behind this old man’s chapped lips showed the severity of past fights with his illness. His pain was every observer's pain. He would lay, vegetative, until small whimpers of hurt surrendered his body with morbid gestures of anguish. Small convulsions turn into cataclysmic contractions, ending in a terrific fowl and guttural stench of bloody stools in his bedpan.

His wrinkled face, withered by time and agony, forced a smile when his clouded grayed-eyed gaze rolled to the ceiling welcoming an invisible embodiment of salvation. More times than not when Dez watched the old man fight for his life it ended the same way; his eyes roll to heaven and the stark scoff of his reality breaks his fit with a sneer of hatred. The sorrow of life reborn in him as the ventilator ticks on yet again, time after time.

The old man’s seizures were getting worse if that was possible. One of the worst Saul had seen. Saul worked there for years and never saw this amount of defiling human carnage. This tall, blonde-haired Greek masculine pretty boy muscled this man onto the gurney daily in hopes of 1 day his misery would end. He would lift him back to his bed or to the tub to clean. He was gentle to the old man, feeling sorry for his plight wishing he could help in some way.

Dez also helped. He was a tiny, greasy dreadlocked man and accustomed to hate and hurt. Maybe because of the way he was or the way he looked; he was a weird-looking, thin paled man. His skin was grey, bones protruding gave way to his acne infested face that bulged an awkward, uneven smirk every time he tried to be nice. His outdated shoes and a tight-fitting black ensemble of fashion manifested disturbing stares and a certain amount of stagnant grotesqueness he lamented. This hatred toward his appearance resulted in creative foul language that spewed out through his crooked teeth in disturbing altercations.

Every time, since the first time Dez met this old man he strolled away in an almost victorious militarized march like he was patting himself on the back for a job well done. While Saul eased the old man’s suffering with water, changing his sheets or fluffing his pillows for the next onslaught of bodily attacks Dez shied away, stepping his way to the door and exiting like a secret agent after he slowly planted a bomb. Unbenounced to him, Saul noticed this betrayal.

Saul knew this old man from the beginning or from his admittance 22 months ago. When the old man was admitted, he was of sound mind and body. He said his friends called him Brit, but his chart said Max Weber. He was from Argentina, but when you said his name, he quickly corrected you with his harsh accent, guiding his hand in pronunciation, Maximillian Veber.  He fought with the French, Americans and most of Europe. From the time he was here until recently, he told extravagant tales of the victories and defeats he endured in WW2. From the tank battles of open combat in Hannut, Germany to the hand to hand combat in Munich, he was not only a hero, but speculation dictates he was one of the most influential and inspirational men of this time. He was Patton. He was Roosevelt. The carnage he saw was unsurpassed; men burned alive, tortured at the hands of their captors, monumental injustice, all of which he was a witness to and contributor of at times.

He said he was an honored man, regularly accepting ‘trinkets’ of his valor for his courage under fire in the face of insurmountable odds. Brit was popular among all the old folk there and to see him in the congregation area meant another story of heroism was on its way.

Brit was smug, yet a gracious figure accepting all admiration and commendation for his status. The sparkle in his eye when he told of the woes of fighting the enemy looked like shiny new diamonds inside an onyx backdrop. A small twinkle from the eye exhumed, then a story enveloped. It was a joy for all who were in an ears length and often he was found to be the center of gravity for that nursing home.

Saul thought that most of this was hot air floating out of dying dementia laden old man with a proud delusion of grandeur or some supernatural figurehead, but it brought the small community together.  In fact, before Dez was hired, everyone in the community seemed in better health. A person could mark this up to coincidence, I mean they were old and dying was their hobby, but something seemed wrong to Saul.

The issue was Dez. He wanted to understand him. He was nice enough to everyone but for some reason, something was off that made no sense. Like a black cloud over his head, bad luck followed. A light would go out, a patient would pass unexpectedly, appliances would break, a sunny day would turn cold and dark. Saul took the initiative like a detective solving a crime, he would regularly follow or stalk Dez like a private investigator trying to crack the case. Then the case cracked wide open the last day of his freedom.

Dez was a private person. Saul got off at the same time Dez did and since his concerns, Saul decided to follow him home in hopes of finding out some dark secret or something to put his mind at ease. Dez’s walk home was routine though; small dinner at the corner of 3rd and Maple called ‘Jack’s place,’ he would enter the bookstore 2 blocks down daily spending his time reading the newest editions before he was kicked out for not buying anything. He once flirted with the receptionist but was laughed at and left embarrassed directly after. He didn’t show up for weeks after that incident, and who would? No matter, she must have quit the very next day because Saul never saw her again. Oh well.

He lived by himself in a normal duplex on Iron St. Saul never knew what was going on inside. It didn’t matter if Dez was in his house or not, the blinds were always drawn, the doors were shut. Saul was a make-shift investigator, but he wasn’t about to commit crimes and break into the house. That would be insanity. After all, he was curious about the man, not a criminal by any means.  He didn’t want to get into trouble or go to jail, he just wanted answers. Dez was weird, said weird things, acted in weird ways but there was never a red flag this man was up to no good. There was just something about him Saul needed to figure out. The only funny thing Saul witnessed about the house was one small strange window at the top. That one window always had a red glow. A weird red glare, something like a safe light from a dark room but Saul never saw Dez use a camera. When it got dark, a shadow would dance back and forth across the blinds. Someone was doing something up there…

Standing next to the bus stop on the corner of Iron and Weigh, the sun began to fade into the buildings beyond, the streetlights twitched, blinked, and clicked on, and Saul was met with another failed day of snooping. It was becoming too dull for him to care much longer. He lost hope, failing to gather interest. Looking up at the stars as they slowly poked out from the black backdrop, he grabbed the pack of cigarettes in his inside coat pocket. Feeling around for his lighter, taking one more look at the house he saw the blinds at the top window sway back and forth. His eyes squinted to get a better look, seeing if he could witness one more clue before the bus would arrive while trying to find his lighter.

“Need a light,” said the black shadow behind him. As Saul turned to acknowledge the familiar voice he was met with a sharp pain in the head and bright stars that led him to the ground. Between the buildings behind the bus stop, what looked like a black creature holding a baton slowly morphed into a man blowing out white smoke from his nostrils like a dragon. His sleuthing days were over, Saul was found out. Dez walked out of the shadow, dropped his smoke, looked around to check for any more eyes, and proceeded to drag Saul back into the shadows with him.

“Wakey, Wakey, eggs and bakie” said Dez in a sly calculating tone. The darkness turned to a red hue when Saul opens his eyes. With ill regard, Dez threw water in Saul’s face as if to say he had enough of his unconsciousness. It was annoying to him. Waiting, watching for this man to come out of it. Did he hit him too hard? Doubtful. He was a big enough man, always showing off his muscles at work. Fucking goody 2 shoes he was! It was time for a Q&A. Saul was waking up whether he liked it or not. He knew where he was right away. He was in that red glared room inside Dez’s house. How he got there without anyone seeing is a mystery. How Dez, a small thin man, could carry the 200 plus pound man up the stairs to the top was also unknown but moot at this point, he was there. He looked around to see pictures of people covering the walls. Some had big X’s crossing through their faces, some had circles outlining their portraits. The door leading out Dez was leaning on was metal and sounded impenetrable as he locked it.

“What’s going on, Dez?” Saul spewed out. While spitting out the stale water Dez hit him with he was surprised by the fact he was not only spitting out water but blood as well. Coming to his senses, his face was numb, hands and feet were bound by the chair he was sitting on and to his left was a picture out of a horror movie; a desk full of tools used for home improvement or a madman’s wet dream of getting information.

“Don’t worry, those aren’t for you. They’re more for shock value than anything. Ask her. I’m not a bad man, just have a bad job,” Dez said jokingly. He nodded to the corner and as Saul strained to look, he saw the woman from the bookstore out cold, tied up on the make-shift bed. Her breathing was shallow but that’s all he could tell. Was she close to death? Maybe.

 “Wha--..” A smack to the face of Saul, Dez wasn’t quite finished. Saul noticed his ungodly strength. It was strong beyond strength like getting hit with a brick. How could this little man almost knock this 6”2’ strongman out with a mere slap? He was no slouch to the pain of a fist to the face, he was in fights before, but this was superhuman! He never remembered getting hit like that and would now never forget. His front tooth slowly fell out. He never saw this side of Dez before or even could have imagined he was capable of this feat! Dez turned and walked to the door.

“What happens to you is of no significance to me, that’s not why I’m here. I’m not here for you or her but you seemed to take an interest in me and that’s something I can’t have.” he said while lighting another cancer stick. Shaking his hand playfully, “You should have minded your own business, friend.”

“He’s a war hero,” Saul pummeled out the words as best he could from his traumatized mouth.

“Yeah, but for which side, Saul? That’s the real question.” Dez laughed a vicious awful laugh. For which side? What did he mean by that? He was on the side of good, wasn’t he? He was an American hero, fighting for humanity! He fought the German! He fought the Japs! He fought on the side of good! He saved lives with his heroism.

 “The old man’s old life is over and I’m here to recruit him to my side. The more I torture, the more I hurt this man, the more he’ll give in to death. Pray for it, scream for it…but it will be the death I want him to have. If he casts his allegiance to me, his soul will be mine. I will end his suffering and he can go to hell. He will become like me, friend. Back in this cesspool to recruit more souls and then soon we will take over…

Saul then began to chuckle, “You’re so messed up! You need help!”

Dez focused his energy. Straight faced, staring at Saul, a smirk, then the red-light blinks in and out, in and out for what seems forever. The light turns from a cherry red to a blinding blood red. It glows brighter and brighter, in and out. Black-winged shadows appear on the floor behind Dez. He transforms into a blackened figure. Faceless. No matter how bright the red room grew, the black figure grew along with its black wings. Saul was in awe. He shed tears while yelling for God to help him. The woman, now awake and shivering in fear, screams a chokingly scream for help. She kicks and flops around like a dead fish trying to get loose. Looking to the blinds beside her that sway slowly back from her movements her pleas and screaming for help go unnoticed to the outside world. She turned back to the dark creature now before her, eyes growing wide as the mouth of the shadow of this black monster on the wall swallows her body. The walls tell the tale of a devil feeding on the soul of a victim tied up. The struggling stops, her gaze goes blank like the patient of a lobotomy. She’s breathing, but shallow. She’s gone. Saul never Dez move, just his shadow. It was shocking, Saul couldn’t believe his eyes. Was he in hell already? Was he dead?

Within a second the hell unleashed becomes docile and the room returns to normal. Was he seeing things? Was something in the water? The unreality is too much!

“You’re lucky Saul, you now know the truth. I never had that luxury. I had to pray for death and die to know what you know.”

Saul, crying and in awe from what he saw and says, “What’s the truth, Dez?”

Dez squints, taking one last drag of his cigarette “There is a God and a Devil and they’re playing a game, friend. There are demons like me whose job in death is to find life and convince them death is better. So, you have a choice, Saul.” Dez flicks his cigarette butt, walks over to the desk, and picks out a small chainsaw. He grabs the pulley and starts it, revving it as high as it can go. “Time to leave that old life behind!” 

January 08, 2021 21:57

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Michael Boquet
01:17 Jan 18, 2021

Wow, this is a complex story. A little bit wordy maybe. Like, you could have told the same story with more concise. I got a little bogged down in the text and had to force myself to finish. I'm glad I did though, great ending. I loved your use of metaphor. Very well done.


Matt Allen
18:08 Jan 20, 2021

thank you for your feedback. much appreciated


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.