Despite his daily dealings with ripe, decomposing bodies, Andy Spotts had an unfortunately sensitive stomach.
After catching a glimpse of his own stress-induced bloody nose, the young coroner managed to throw up on nearly everyone in his vicinity.
A nearby neighbor in a fit of utter desperation, no doubt caused by some form of PTSD due to a previously sick child, passed several strong sleeping pills to Mr. Spotts, skillfully covered under the pretense of anti-nausea medication.
Bitterly questioning why I signed up for this, I wondered if the projectile vomiting, currently soaking me to the bones, would ever stop. I also wondered when this type of messy behavior became a normal occurrence in my line of work.
I am a white washed, hideously decorated waiting room. Previously, I’ve acted with the speed of a well oiled emergency room. A continuous flow of people streamed in and out of my doors in rapid succession. Not to boast, but I was rather impressive.
However, new arrangements from management set my proverbial teeth on edge. Schizophrenically, they both refused to take anyone back into the office or let the poor souls depart from my reluctant care. Leaving over a hundred people statically sitting within my walls, simply waiting.
Due to mind-numbing boredom, my patients usually sit in a sort of heavy lidded stupor. I might have been concerned for their well-being, but in all honesty, I enjoyed the quiet. Although, I was not graced with it today, for several fist fights sparked between a few of the resident psychopaths.
Three arms, a rib, and six fingers were broken as a result of their idiotic and pointless actions. The stupidity did not stop until a nurse had been stabbed repeatedly in the chest. Frankly, I’m not entirely sure why or even how he’s still alive.
It is said, bad company corrupts good morals. As the urge to strangle the majority of my tenants grew increasingly stronger, I bore a new appreciation for those regrettably accurate words.
I exhaled antiseptic, questioning the sanity of myself and management.
Sweat, blood, and no small amount of tears were spilled. But in the end, I had managed to calm everyone down. Eyes glazed over, they began to slip back into their daze.
My sigh of relief, however, was cut short by the sight of a newcomer. I groaned. Another warm body was like adding fuel to a fire. Disaster was bound to follow.
Although admittedly, I found the newcomer somewhat intriguing, for unlike the majority of my patients, he did not appear to be openly wielding any weapons or have any signs of carnage on his garments. The only notable thing on his person was a spotless white clerical collar. Although, to which denomination the priest held to, I will spare myself the embarrassment and not guess.
The man slid into a seat closest to the bolted doors. That was his first mistake.
His second involved lighting up a cigarette, taking a long drag, and exhaling a cloud of smoke near his disgruntled neighbor.
“The sign says no smoking,” the neighbor informed him in a thick French accent.
“It also says, no shoes, no shirt, no service.” The priest stared pointedly at the kid sitting next to the Frenchman. “I’m assuming he’s yours.”
“Yes, it’s good not to become too attached, right?”
“What are you doing here?”
“Don’t really know,” the priest said, a note of concern lacing his words. He took another long drag from his cigarette.
“What about you and the kid?”
“Unfortunately, I- we are in the same blind predicament as you are,” the Frenchman said, “in fact, everyone is.”
“No one in this waiting room has any clue as to what they are waiting for?”
Either not believing or holding no fondness for the Frenchman, the priest rose from his seat in favor of another on the opposite side of the room. The old leather creaked under his weight. The priest deliberately flicked the butt of his cigarette, sprinkling the warm ash onto the scuffed floor before inhaling deeply.
“Don’t mind Gabriel,” the new neighbor said, “his ability to tolerate human interaction vanished about five minutes before his arrival.”
“My condolences to the rest of the patients.”
“Name’s Charlie Thorn.” The kid held out his hand.
“So, you are a priest?”
“Didn’t the collar give it away?”
“You’ll have to forgive Charlie,” a girl with red streaked hair said, “we have a strange group of folks in here. We’ve come to learn not everything is as it seems. You’ll catch on rather quick, won’t you? I trust you’ve heard what happens when you start assuming things?”
“Jonny!” A young man by the name of Tyler Mariotto rebuked the girl, while sending an apologetic glance at the priest.
“Aw, come on, Tyler,” Jonny peered at the priest, her eyebrow half cocked, “I think our Father Tomas as been around the block a couple of times. Haven’t damaged his holier mind, have I?”
“I’ll survive, m’dear,” the man assured her.
The introduction of Father Tomas stirred my tenants. Several glazed eyes fluttered towards him. Ears strained to catch his words. Their newest form of entertainment had arrived and they were curious as to its contents.
But none were as curious as the good Father himself. He took in my whitewashed walls and my occupants within them. The unnaturally thin young man sitting by himself, a pool of blood forming at the base of his feet. The child with large, exotically colorful wings jutting from his shoulder blades. The pale woman wrapped in thick, black tattoos. The blind man, successfully playing a game of ping pong.
The door standing in the back of the room did not escape his notice either. At first glance, it held little cause for concern. But a double take revealed the deep scratches etched into its wooden surface. It took very little imagination to guess what happened.
The priest turned his attention back to Charlie, not showing the slightest inkling of concern over his curiously disturbing view.
“Don’t suppose the Frenchman’s right,” he said, lighting another smoke, “someone must know what we’re all here for.”
“Jonny’s got a few theories,” Charlie said, “most of them have to do with mind wiping and brainwashing, if you’re into that sorta stuff. Though even she will admit, none of them hold a shred of proof.”
“What’s the point of messing with our minds?”
“I figure they wanna see if they can wipe away all the crazy crap we’ve been through,” Jonny said, “I mean, look around. Not one of us has a normal story. No microscope in the worlds could find a shred of sanity amongst the lot of us. Making us the perfect test subjects.”
A nearby kid snorted in his wheelchair. He leaned forward, giving Jonny the most condescending gaze one could ever find sitting on the face of a fifteen-year-old boy.
“Honestly Raz, do you actually think they are stupid enough to mess with the minds of Madman or Judas? With intellect like that, it’s amazing any of you survived the apocalypse.”
“Shut it, wheels,” Charlie growled, clenching his fists, promising me another ugly fight today.
“Charlie,” the blind man warned, swatting the ping pong ball back at his vertically challenged opponent. “Though Eddie is in a wheelchair, I’d highly recommend you never underestimate his right hook, he can still kick your ass.”
Thank God for Jared and his ever present voice of reason, for Charlie backed down at those words of wisdom. Father Tomas, however, kept pushing his luck.
“Are there any other theories?” he asked, “or have the lot of you just been clawing fruitlessly at the back door?”
It’s like he’s deliberately trying to start a fight…
Coincidentally, the scratched door suddenly creaked open. All eyes turned to the nurse in blue scrubs. She stepped over the threshold, glancing at the clipboard clutched in her hands. A mischievous smile tugged on her lips. A smile which left its witnesses a little curious, and also a little afraid.
She spotted a man sitting near Andy Spotts, the drugged coroner. With a quick jerk of her head, she motioned for him to follow her.
“Sun Cho, the doctor will see you now.”