The pinch in my side was followed by a chemical warmth. The nurse pushed me through a doorway into a resident room.
A bag of bones covered in skin rested on top of one of the beds. Tubes snaked in and out of the woman’s emaciated body. Lumpy blue veins mapped her exposed flesh. A machine pumped air, artificially filling her lungs with a whoosh. Thin wisps of white hair framed her head. Her lips hung wide open, a scream suspended on her face. From the huffs and beeps of the various monitors, I judged that she was alive, if only slightly.
At the last second, my hands reached for the door frame in hopes I could hold on and not be put in the room with that ghastly woman. With the adrenaline rush spent, my strength followed suit, and my knees buckled.
The nurse slid her hands beneath my arms and hoisted me onto the adjacent bed. I struggled against her, but the injection rendered me useless. The edges of the room grew fuzzy. She belted my wrists to the rails of the bed.
Hot tears rolled from my eyes as she left the room. I pulled against the restraints. The woman from the hallway appeared in the doorway. Her wheelchair squeaked as she rolled in.
“Help me,” I called.
She laughed. A thin stream of drool escaped the corner of her mouth.
“You didn’t help me,” she said. She closed her eyes and turned her chair in circles.
One, two, nurse is coming for you.
Three, four, she needs some more.
Five, six, she’s gonna do her tricks.
Seven, eight, you’ve sealed your fate.
Nine, ten, tick-tock again.
She cackled and scooted back into the hall.
More? More of what?
My brain could not make sense of anything. Whatever the nurse drugged me with was working. I couldn’t summon any of my powers. My head felt fat and lazy. An urge to sleep came over me, but I used what remaining strength I had to keep it at bay.
Oh Mel, if only you’d been with me.
The nurse reappeared. She closed the heavy door behind her. She walked to the other bed and mumbled to the woman there. I strained to hear.
“…energy…for you, Mother…be well soon.”
I felt a shudder tear through my body as she kissed the near-corpse on the lips.
She climbed onto my bed and put a hard knee on each side of my body.
The hiss and purr of the woman’s machines washed over my frazzled mind.
Stop making such a fuss.
The nurse leaned forward so her mouth was inches from mine.
She inhaled deeply, as if she could breathe in my essence.
She chanted things I did not understand. I flinched as she gestured with her hands. She inhaled again.
I felt a pull inside my body.
When I closed my eyes, I could see the cat clock grinning. Its back and forth eyes taking pleasure in my misery.
Oh Mellybean, this is tragic.
I sealed my lips tight and tried to buck my hips. The nurse barely budged. Her thick fingers pressed my cheeks together, squeezing my mouth open with force I could not stop. I tried to hold my breath, but once she realized what I was doing, she bounced on my middle, causing me to gasp. Still greedy, she sucked at me. I felt the pull deep inside.
Three, four, she needs some more.
A wild scream ripped through the air. My eyes fluttered open at the sound. I saw the nurse’s body fly across the room, cracking hard against the wall. She slid to the floor with a dull thump that made me feel sick.
The body in the next bed sent out a long death squeal. Her form writhed beneath the tubing, tangling limbs, plastic, and wire. After a minute, she was finally still. The nurse could not save her mother this time.
“Now that’s tragic,” my sister said from the corner of the room.
“I’ve been working on a few things,” she said, obviously proud of herself. “Top secret.”
She unlatched my wrists, and with a *pop*, she teleported us to my apartment.
I collapsed to the floor in tears, my sister holding me and keeping me safe.