Patient Sixty Three

            This is a preview of my new story, Patient Sixty-Three. There are more works under construction, yes, but for now I hope you enjoy this little snippet. This short story will be released, in full, on this website.


    “Do you ever find yourself just laying in the grass here? Hoping you could stay forever?” James said, laying his head on his folded hands in the grass. They had lay there so often, just on the top of the hill, the grass had receded among the rest of the field.
    Rosalie rolled and put her arm around him, holding him close. “More times than not. It's like I remember as a child.” Then, longingly whispered, “The same.”
    “I miss you every time we leave this place.” James said. He held her in his arms and kissed her cheek. They held each other until the sun fell lower in the sky, saying nothing.
    James stood and stared at the horizon, just over the trees, entranced by the beauty of sunset in this place. He turned to her.
    “Well, Rosalie, shall we go home?” James smiled and offered his hand. Rosalie smiled back, her pearl-white smile glowing in the warm summer sun.
    “Let's go home, James.” She said, grasping his hand as her fingers brushed the tips of wild grass, overgrown in the fields that had been alone for so long. “Home sounds wonderful.”
    They walked towards the sunset, back home, back to sadness, to reality.

    James awoke with a start, laying in the floor. The room was dark, just a small sliver of light coming in through the window to his left, shining straight to the other wall. The wall shone white with small indentations every few inches, like pillows quilted into a blanket. Just as he realized where he was, a door opened on his right.
    “Dr. Oswin? It's almost time to shut down for the night.” The security guard, Hector, stood at the door. James stood, brushed his white coat in an attempt to flatten the wrinkles there, and walked to the door. He checked on his patient. She was fast asleep there, holding her stuffed bear tightly.
    “Since when did I become 'Dr. Oswin' to you, Hector? We've known each other since we were seven. Call me James.”
    Hector locked the door behind them, sealing off the patient's room. A brass-colored sign with the number “63” sat on the otherwise bare white door.
    “Well I've got to call you proper, Doc, you did help me out after, well, you know...” Hector's face fell, no doubt thinking of Melina. After Hector lost his wife to cancer, he fell into an alcoholic binge. After losing his job and the court took away his son, James gave him a position at the institution.
    “Look, Hector, we've gone over this. I'll always be James to you. Never will I be more important than you.” James smiled sharply and Hector looked back up, holding James in reverie. He hugged him firmly and let him go.
    “I appreciate everything you've done for me, James.”
    They walked down the hall, back to James's office. The conversation was fairly regular after that until Hector said, “Doc”. He coughed, and then, “James, tell me again why it is that you are so interested in that patient, in particular? All the nurses say she's a rare case, that's why you spend so much time caring for her.”
    James frowned. “Well, Hector, do you want to know the absolute truth?” He raised his eyebrows and looked Hector straight in the eyes.
    Hector said nothing. “Well,” James started. “the truth is that I can't completely diagnose her condition. She has many symptoms that would suggest a severe case of Type-II Bipolar Disorder, but there are also strong hints of Schizophrenia that I can't really ignore. You know how thorough I am, Hec, I have to find the real diagnosis.
    Hector's eyebrows were raised in question, but he must have accepted it because he replied, “Well, maybe she's one of those really crazy ones, Jimmy. You know, one fry short of a happy meal?”
    James forced a small chuckle and said, “I suppose so, Hec.” They were at his office now. He turned, shook Hector's hand and said, “Well, I suppose I'll see you tomorrow morning, buddy. Sleep well.”
    Hector took his hand. “Will do, James. You get some good rest, too.” And as he walked away, “Try to get home before the sun sets next time, eh, Doc?” and walked out the door.
    The sunset, James thought.


    James woke up in his bed some time around 4:30 in the morning, in a cold sweat. In attempts to clear his mind, he wiped away the sweat and shook his head.
    Rose had come to him in his sleep again. But not the one he knew. Beautiful, sweet, innocent Rose. She came to his bedside, face pale and hair wet, in a tangled mess around her face. She touched his chest, her hands cold and frail. Revolted by her icy touch, he sat up in bed, taking her by the wrists and sitting her down, away from him.
    He wiped her hair out of her face and saw the dark circles under her eyes, her painfully chapped lips and her distant eyes. No doubt the look of his patient, Rosalie Donner.
    No, this wasn't Rose. Inside her somewhere lay Rose in that same field of wild grass, under a setting sun. But not here.
    She reached again, this time for his face, and as her fingers rested on his lips, he felt everything good inside him being extracted. Happiness, love, hope and light, all being ripped from his soul from this girl, she who, inside her heart or soul, somewhere harbored the woman that gave him all of those things.
    As his heart began to race in panic, he looked her in the eyes and in them saw a new glimmer of happiness. His happiness. Her lips twisted into a half-sick smile, a smile almost fake, like those worn by bed-ridden, dying cancer patients. Then he felt numb, and fell over into the floor.

    It seemed so real that he believed it may have actually happened. But how did he make it back to bed? James figured he felt alright enough. Heart still racing, a scream welling up inside his chest, but he stood and stumbled toward the liquor cabinet in the kitchen.
    After a few swigs of hard Canadian whiskey, he was feeling a little bit better. The shakes and racing pulse had faded, but his mind lingered on her smile. He shivered, possibly from the cold of his home, he wasn't sure.
    He washed his face with cold water and took a look at himself in the mirror. His eyes were encircled in blue-gray indentations, his lips too red and his eyes just a shade darker than their usual gray. James attempted a smile, and the man in the mirror smiled back faintly, just enough to ensure sanity.
    After pouring another drink, he headed towards his bed. Another swig of his whiskey and he lay in bed, flipping the pillow to its cold side. After just a few moments, he began to drift away into a deep, dream-free sleep.


“Good morning, Doctor.” A trio of nurses at the front desk chimed simultaneously as James walked by. None of them looked up from their paperwork. The elevator door dinged open and he waltzed inside, looking at the front desk as the doors closed. Helen, the large woman at the end looked at him briefly. He wasn't sure but it looked like pain in her eyes. He would talk with her later, he thought.
The door dinged back open on the third floor of the hospital. James stepped out, his office coat still in his hand along with his briefcase. An old man, one of Doctor Hershall's patients, strolled down the hall, slapping his cane against the wooden benches every now and again, breaking the mournful silence that shaped these halls into daggers this early in the morning.
As James passed him in the hall, the old man turned at looked at him, as James looked at him. The old man put his hand up in a wave, then put it over his heart. A grimace formed over his cracked and withered lips. James waved, smiled, and walked on. He looked at me as if I were leaving and never coming back, he thought.
Down the hallway his office sat unattended. Usually one of his nurses would have come by and flipped on the lights or brought some status updates on his patients. The door was locked and the lights were off. James searched his pockets for his keys but they weren't there. He must have left them in the car. Dammit, not again, James. Your head is wrapped much too far around this one.
James peered down the hallway, back towards the elevator, looking for a nurse or better yet, Hector. In fact, he hadn't seen Hector yet. Hector could have been a janitor at the Pentagon, for all the keys he had. But usually he waited on the ground floor of the building with the nurses until he'd come in and had his coffee.
He started to walk away, towards the elevator again, and just as he turned away, he heard his office door creak open. He stood, frozen in place. Whatever horror he'd connected to just now put his mind back in his dream from the last night. The cold fingers reaching to his lips. Life and warmth gone. Happiness and love, smashed. A blanket of cold washed over him as he turned to face the door.
James tried to see what lay beyond the door. The evil that held him in place. Down the hall the lights flickered as a serving tray fell just outside a patients door. A carton of milk sloshed across the fake marble floor and a spoon clanged around. Then he saw what looked like an old woman's hand slip from the bottom of the doorway and fall to the ground.
Suddenly he felt that whatever lay beyond the office door would bear shorter consequence than waiting for what happened next. He snatched his labcoat and briefcase tightly then rushed through his office door, slamming it behind him and locking it. He panted and rested his head against the door, cold sweat now at his brow.
The coldness washed over him again but this time the lights flew on and behind him came the screams and shrieks of many men and women. It sounded unintelligible but he knew they were all trying to tell him something. Screaming still, he turned and there stood roughly thirty people.
None of these people had faces. Instead their faces melted into nothingness like lava, changing and flowing as it rolls down a deep slope. He let out a small scream of his own, more a yelp of a crying animal, and his heart felt like it stopped. He crashed to the ground and felt the cold wash over him more intensely.
Rose, he thought, and fell into blackness.


James opened his eyes and came to a normal reality that reflected the one in his memory. His nursing staff (excluding the nurses at the desk) stood in his office, leaning away and almost grimacing, waiting for him to speak. Hector rushed from behind them to his side. He helped him up and held his shoulders. “You alright, James? You’re white as a ghost.” James looked around the room and saw that some of the nurses had begun to smile again.

“Yes, Hector,” he looked him in the eyes and shifted his weight back against the wall. “I’m alright, you all just surprised me.” After scanning the room for a moment he realized that everyone had donned a cone that read “Happy Birthday”. Hector led him to his chair and sat him down. “Here man, we cut your cake for you. Have a bit and try to relax, okay?”

Hector turned to the nursing staff. “I’ll take care of him. Let’s give him some time. Take a piece of cake with you on your way out.” He picked up a paper plate with a piece of cake that had the letter “J” on it and handed it to James.

James just stared at the piece of cake on his desk until the staff left. Only Hector remained and as soon as the last nurse left and closed the door behind her, “Did you get any sleep at all? You look like absolute hell.”

“Plenty,” He lied. “I just have a lot on my mind this morning.” Hector’s eyebrows raised in disbelief but he let it go. He sat down next to James and they sat in silence for a while. Just as James was ready to get up and do his rounds, Hector spoke. “I think you need to take a break, James. You’ve worked fifty or more hours every week since you took this job..” James could have brushed off everything until Hector said, “This patient will be here when you get back. Just let it go.”

All of a sudden everything in James changed. He fought the strong urge to attack Hector. His fist pulled back but he grasped the arm of his chair until his knuckles turned white. Every muscle in his body tensed, ready to explode at the command of his brain. How could he know how it feels? “I mean, what does it matter? Crazy is crazy, a week off isn’t going to kill her.”

Everything changed. Colors remained the same but sounds and smells took longer to process. His vision blurred and the only thing in focus was Hector. His rage seemed to work its way into his fist like a hallucinogenic drug. He pulled back like he was ready to strike stone and he lost all control in that instant.

Hector’s eyes widened as James struck him square in the jaw and as he landed in his back James dove into him, driving his knee into Hector’s pelvis. He struck him once, twice in the face and grazed his cheekbone once. Hector regained his bearings and grabbed James’s arm and twisted it around his back and used his knee to shove his assailant away from him. They squared in the office. “James, what’s wrong with you?”

A fist came flying from James’s end. Hector dodged it but James flailed and struck him in the ribs. It was a good hit. Hector dove into James, spearing him to the ground and using his mass as an advantage. He easily pinned James to the ground but as James struggled he reached his head towards him and bit Hector’s forearm.

Hector’s nerves shot a scream of pain to his brain and the next stop was his mouth and as Hector bellowed in pain, the door opened in front of them and two of the male nurses rushed in. They subdued James and one of them pulled a syringe from his fanny pack and injected James with it. He continued to struggle for a few seconds and Hector saw the eyes of a murderer in his best friend. His eyelids slowly began to close and his struggle became less violent altogether. Then his head hit the floor again and yet again, he was unconscious.