Maxwell left the house, being sure to lock the door behind him. He got into his car and placed the book into the passenger seat. Maxwell leaned his head back against the headrest, wincing in pain and breathing in deep. He took another look at the gashes in his arms. They were much deeper than he thought. He looked at himself in the rearview mirror. His face was beginning to bruise, and he noticed several small cuts here and there.
Maxwell sat in the vehicle for a moment, contemplating the situation. Minutes passed, then the whispers started up again. Maxwell braced himself. The whispers didn’t start to get louder. They were the usual whispers. Nothing to worry about, though he did wish that they would go away.
Several more minutes passed until Maxwell finally decided to go to the hospital. He wasn’t sure what it was that attacked him, but hoped that whatever it was wouldn’t stop modern medicine from preventing infection. He started up the engine and drove away.
It didn’t take long for Maxwell reach the hospital. He glanced at the book in the seat next him. He opened the glove box and placed the book inside. Maxwell stepped out of the car just as another vehicle attempted to park in the empty parking space he was currently standing in. The driver pressed hard on the horn. Maxwell flipped the driver off. Suddenly, the driver’s eyes turned bright red for a second, similar to the ones he was staring into earlier.
Maxwell quickly dropped his hand and walked away. He didn’t want to stick around to see if those eyes were real or imagined. He walked toward the emergency room entrance. As he did, he passed a young woman pushing a toddler in a carriage. For a split second, both their eyes changed red, as with the driver.
Maxwell looked away and picked up his pace. Whenever he passed anyone, their eyes would change to red. It was as if the figures from before were following him, or at least messing with him.
He finally got to the sliding doors of the emergency room. He entered the building, clutching his injured shoulder. The woman at the front counter saw Maxwell, and got the admission paperwork ready.
Maxwell got to the table, and started to fill out the forms.
“What happened to you?” The woman asked, noticing Maxwell’s blood soaked sleeves.
“Attacked by some random dog,” He responded, unsure if she would believe her.
The woman took another look at his arms, taking note of the large gashes. She cocked one eyebrow and said, skeptically, “A dog did that to you?”
“It was really big dog.”
“Sure,” The woman didn’t buy it. She took his paperwork. “Someone will see you shortly.”
Maxwell began to walk to the waiting area. He looked back at the woman. She was staring at him with bright yellow eyes. They didn’t flash like before. They stayed yellow, and they were staring intensely. Maxwell turned around, ignoring what he was seeing. He was sure he was imagining things. Regardless, he sat in a chair facing away from the front desk.
Maxwell stared at the television screen. It was showing some program on the Discovery Channel. It was about dreams. If only, Maxwell thought, wishing this was all a bad dream.
Maxwell looked around the waiting area. No one was looking at him. There was a child on the floor in the corner playing with some blocks. His mother was in the chair next to the child, reading a two month old fashion magazine. A construction worker was also staring at the television, clutching his hand. It was wrapped in a blood soaked bandage. Judging by the amount of blood, Maxwell knew the worker had been there a while. Gotta love the first class healthcare around here, He thought.
A young man came from the double doors next to the front desk. “Chuck Porter?” he called. The construction worker got up and headed towards him. “Let’s take a look at that hand?” Both Chuck and the young man disappeared behind the double doors.
Maxwell went back to staring at the television screen. It wasn’t long before he heard a tiny voice next to him. “Hey mister? What happened to your arm?”
Maxwell looked over at the child, then his arm. He looked back at the kid and told him the dog bite lie.
“You’re lying,” Said the child, not even looking at Maxwell. In fact, the child wasn’t looking at anything. He was staring at the wall behind Maxwell. If not, through it.
“What makes you say that?” Maxwell responded, a little freaked out.
“Because my daddy did that to you,” The child’s voice deepened.
Maxwell didn’t like where this was going. “Look kid. It was a dog attack. I’ve never even met your dad.”
Without hesitation, the child snapped his head to face Maxwell. His eyes were glowing red, anger on his face. “Liar!” The child yelled with an inhuman voice, startling Maxwell.
Maxwell then heard a familiar voice behind him. “Maxwell Shepard?”
Maxwell looked behind him, still startled. It was the young man from before. Maxwell looked back down at the child. He was back to playing with his toys. No one in the waiting room seemed to have heard the child. It was like nothing had just happened. Another mind fuck, Maxwell thought.
He got up and walked toward the young man. “Follow me Mr. Shepard.” The man led Maxwell through the double doors, giving Maxwell the once over. “So a dog did that to you?”
“That’s right,” Maxwell replied, not sure if he was going to buy the lie.
“A really big dog, right?” the man said with some sarcasm.
The young man led Maxwell into another room. It was typical examination room. A counter with various supplied, a stool, a rolling chair, and the exam chair. “Go ahead and take a seat, Mr. Shepard,” the man instructed. “Take off your shirt so I can get a good look.”
Maxwell did so. The man came closer, and looked at the cuts up and down. He grabbed some antiseptic and some cotton. “This is going to sting a little.”
The man rubbed Maxwell’s wounds. Maxwell winced in pain. A little? Maxwell thought.
“Okay,” The man finally said. “It doesn’t look like these cuts are going to get too infected. I’m going to go get the doctor, so he can get a good look. We’ll most lik ely just bandage you up and send you on your way with some antibiotics.”
The young man got up and left the room. When the door shut, Maxwell got a feeling of isolation. The room was too quiet, too cold. It was always like that at the hospital. Maxwell hated it. Even if he wasn’t being chased by dark spirits, the room would’ve felt like that.
The lights in the room suddenly went out. Maxwell stood up, looking around anxiously, though he couldn’t see anything. Maxwell looked towards the mirror on the back of the door. Get a grip, Maxwell thought. This is probably just a power outage. There is nothing to worry about.
Maxwell closed his eyes and began to take deep breaths to calm his nerves. He then heard someone breathing heavily behind him. Maxwell began to breath faster, afraid. The breathing behind him was in no way human. The breathing came closer. Maxwell could feel the heat from each breath on the back of his neck. Maxwell couldn’t hold back any longer. He opened his eyes and looked in the mirror.
Behind him in the reflection were big, red eyes, glowing brightly. Maxwell’s eyes widened in fear. Before he could react, the thing behind him grabbed his hair and snapped his head back. Maxwell felt something sharp pressing against his neck. He began panic.
“How ya doin’, Maxey boy?” A deep, crackling voice filled the room. “Nice cuts there. Did a big dog do that to you?”
“Who….who are you?” Maxwell stuttered.
The thing tightened his grip on Maxwell’s hair, and pressed the object harder against his throat. “No questions, boy. Don’t even speak. When that doctor comes in here, you are not to say a word about us. You can probably imagine what will happen if you do,” Maxwell felt familiar claws run across his cheeks. “Do I make myself clear?”
Maxwell managed to give a slight nod.
“Good,” The creature said.
The lights flickered back on as someone started to enter the room. Maxwell looked around the room. The thing had disappeared.
The man had closed the door behind him. Maxwell recognized him. The man was about average height, had perfectly square glasses, and a dark beard. It was Maxwell’s family doctor, Dr. Root.
“Maxwell,” The doctor said curiously, “You are pale as hell. Looks like you’ve just seen a ghost.”
Maxwell thought about the warning he just received. He responded, “The lights just went out for no reason, Doc. It kinda scared me.”
“Yeah. These lights have motion sensors to save energy. If you stay still for too long, they’ll shut off.”
“Makes sense, I suppose,” Maxwell changed the subject. “So, what are you doing here? I didn’t know you worked in this hospital.”
“I don’t. I was called in when you arrived.”
“Why would they call you in?”
“Well Max, apparently you told the lady at the front desk you were attacked by a dog. She thought it to be a lie. She looked up your medical record and called me. She thinks you inflicted those wounds on yourself.”
“What? Why the hell would I do that?”
“Well, you did lose your sister eleven months ago, didn’t you? I wanted to come by to make sure you didn’t hurt yourself, and that you weren’t having a late fit of depression.”
“I didn’t do it to myself. I can promise you that.”
Dr. Root looked at the wounds. “Certainly wasn’t a dog. What was it, Max?”
“I… I can’t tell you that.”
“Was it someone you know? Are they threatening you?”
“No. It’s,” Maxwell paused. “It’s just… really complicated. I just can’t say.”
Dr. Root and Maxwell just stared at each other, as if they were trying to read each other’s thoughts. Dr. Root was truly worried for Maxwell. His sister, Julie, had displayed similar behavior shortly before her death. She had cuts and wounds on her body that were very similar to the ones he was looking at now. Julie had told the doctor that dark spirits did it to her. Dr. Root didn’t believe her, and placed her under close observation.
Several months went by. Julie made no attempts to hurt herself. Then, one day, the doctor decided to make a surprise check up on Julie. When he entered her room, he was in for a shock. There was a dark figure with glowing red eyes, and huge red claws pinning a crying Julie against the wall. The doctor couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
The creature, too, was shocked to see the doctor. The creature dropped Julie and approached the doctor. It warned the good doctor never to tell another soul about them. If he did, the creature promised they would make him suffer a painful and slow death. The creature said something about only wanting the girl. The doctor, out of fear, obeyed. He had never told another soul, fearing for his own life and the safety of his own family. The creatures that were torturing Julie were surely doing the same to Maxwell. He couldn’t hold that secret in any longer. He had to let Maxwell know. He assumed that because they both knew about the creatures, he might be able to get away with telling.
“Maxwell,” The doctor finally said. “Can I ask you something?”
“I guess,” Maxwell replied.
“This is going to sound crazy, but was it something inhuman that did this to you? Say, something that looked like a living shadow with red eyes and big claws?”
Maxwell stared at the doctor in disbelief.
“How the hell do you know that?” Maxwell exclaimed, accusingly.
“Max. Remember when your sister was admitted to my care two years ago?”
“Yeah, I remember. She was hurting herself. Cut up her arms pretty bad.”
“She wasn’t doing it to herself.”
The doctor then told Maxwell everything he had experienced with the creatures. Maxwell couldn’t believe his ears. All this time Dr. Root knew about these things, but didn’t tell anyone. He might have been able to save her life. Maxwell was beginning to turn red. He could feel the anger building up inside of him.
“You bastard,” Maxwell said, staring into Dr. Root’s eyes. “You could have saved Julie! Why didn’t you? Tell me!”
“You saw what they did to Julie, Max. I couldn’t let that happen to me or my family. I didn’t know that these…things would drive your sister to suicide. I thought she would eventually tell someone.”
“But she didn’t, did–” Maxwell stopped mid-sentence. His tone changed from anger to questioning. “Did she?”
There was a long pause. Maxwell stared off in the distance, thinking.
“There was a book under Julie’s bed,” He finally said. “There’s got to be something in it. Maybe some way to stop these things. I gotta go Doc.”
Maxwell turned and started to leave, but the doctor grabbed his arm. “Be careful Max. We don’t know what these things are capable of.”
“It’s a little late for being careful, dontcha think?”
With that, Maxwell left.
Dr. Root left the examination room, and walked down to his office. He sat down at his desk, turned on a small lamp, and leaned back in his chair. He brought his hands to his forehead, and breathed in deep. He looked at the photo of his family. He had a gorgeous wife, and two beautiful children. They were gonna miss him.
The lamp on the his desk began to flicker. He knew they were coming for him. All this time, he’d been hiding in fear. Not tonight. Tonight his wrong would be righted. This was a just punishment for letting his patient be tortured for so long. Dr. Root cracked a little smile. He was not afraid.
The light went out on the desk. Dr. Root felt a presence behind him. This is it, he thought.
He turned around to face the presence. It was the same creature that had threatened him two years before. Two bright red eyes, and pair of vicious clawed hands to match. They were bigger than he had remembered.
“I warned you never to tell anyone about us,” the creature said.
“I had to,” Dr. Root replied. “Julie had to be avenged, and Maxwell will avenge her. He’ll find a way to stop you.”
“How little you know, doctor. That boy has no idea what he is into and neither do you. You will die for disobeying me.”
The creature raised his right claw. Dr. Root closed his eyes, preparing for the end. Images of his family, friends, and even some patients flashed before him. Tears started to flow from his eyes.
The claw came down ripping chunks of flesh from the doctor’s face. The doctor opened his eyes, and tried to scream. No noise came from his mouth. The creature grabbed the doctor’s legs, and squeezed. Blood began to soak the doctor’s pants, and he could hear his bones breaking. Unable to stand any longer, the doctor collapsed to his knees.
The doctor, with one hand holding his torn face, looked up into the creature’s eyes. The creature swept his hand away and grabbed the doctor’s head. The creature began pressing on the doctor’s eyes. Dr. Root pounded at the creature’s arms but it did nothing. Blood began to pour from from his eye sockets. The doctor stopped swinging his arms and the fell lifeless by his side. The creature pulled his thumbs out of the lifeless doctor’s eye sockets. The doctor fell completely to the floor.
The creature looked at his handy work. This was another waste. He had no use for the doctor’s soul. Why couldn’t he just obey orders? The creature picked up the doctor with one hand, and began to cut deep gashes all over his limp body. The creature dropped the doctor. Blood oozed from every cut. The creature took one last look, then he disappeared into the darkness.
Outside the hospital, Maxwell approached his car. He passed a few people, but this time their eyes did not change. He reached his car and got in. The whispers started up again. They were clear whispers this time. Maxwell listened. Where’s the book? Where’s the book?
Maxwell opened the glove box. The book wasn’t there.
“Oh no…” Maxwell said, shocked. He frantically looked around the dashboard, the floors. “No no no no! Where is it!”
The whispers were getting louder. Where’s the book? Where’s the book? Maxwell looked around, in a panic. The whispers continued. Where’s the book? Where’s the book? Maxwell grabbed his hair in frustration, then the whispers stopped. Maxwell paused, then heard one singular voice whisper, It’s behind you.
Maxwell heard an unfamiliar voice behind him. “Looking for something?”