• Dzama

The Sick Girl

Sam sat in the train compartment, wearing a pale hat and suit, his case on the seat beside him. The train jostled rhythmically as he watched the little villages go by outside the window. The ticket-taker had already come through and he was alone for now. He opened the case and took out a bottle of wine. He unscrewed the cap and set it on the little shelf to let it breathe, his hand beside it in case it chose to topple over.

After waiting what seemed the appropriate amount of time, he took the bottle and raised it to his lips. When Nora came in he had drunk almost all of it and slept, hugging the bottle to his chest. His hat had fallen over his eyes and he’d kicked his shoes off. She sat down opposite him and stared, watching as the bottle rose and fell with his breathing. “Some impression you’ll make on your new patient,” she said, finally, kicking his foot.

He jerked upright and stared at her. “What are you doing here?” he said. “I’m here to make sure you go through with it,” she replied. He finished the bottle and recapped it, putting it back into his case. He stared at her.

“Now why…” he started, straightened his jacket. “…would I not go through with it? When have I ever not gone through with anything?” “You haven’t seen her,” she said and turned to stare out the window.

When they arrived at the estate Nora did most of the talking. She explained that they were lucky to have Sam and rattled off his credentials. He asked the whereabouts of the toilet as she went down the list. In the small downstairs bathroom he produced a silver flask from inside his jacket and took a long swig, scrunching his face with the intensity of it. Then he flushed the toilet and went back to join them. Soon they all went up the winding marble stairs to the girl’s room.

Even drunk, Sam was not prepared for what they found there. The young girl’s head had opened up and tentacles came out of it, writhing and reaching toward the ceiling. She had two new sets of arms, skinless and raw, with sharp, clutching claws. Another head was poking out of her neck, a small head with sharp teeth and fierce little eyes. They had restrained her with some rusty chains and her whole body writhed and convulsed as she strained against them. “You’re not a moment too soon,” the mistress of the house told them, avoiding looking at the girl. “We’re going to need some privacy, thank you,” Dora said. The mistress stared at them with a certain desperate look in her eye and then left the room, closing the door behind her. Dora looked at Sam. He touched the flask in his jacket but it was empty now.

“You know,” he said to Dora. “I don’t think a stake is going to take care of this. All the holy water, the silver…”

“No,” Dora said, with a small, cold smile. Sam looked at the door as though about to run for it but then turned back to the girl. “All right,” said Sam. “Unchain her.” The moment Dora got the chains unlocked the girl sprung out of the bed onto Sam, tearing his flesh with its claws and tentacles. Dora backed over by the window. Blood sprayed everywhere as all the little tables and lamps were smashed in the melee.

A tentacle reached out and grabbed Dora’s leg and it pulled her crashing to the ground. Just then Sam bit the girl’s neck, biting all the way through as blood surged. He spat out a chunk of neck and struggled to reach his hand into the open wound, pulling out a small, bat-like creature. He managed to get the little creature to Dora, who took it and stabbed it multiple times with a silver awl from her purse. When the small bat-creature stopped writhing, the girl got up off Sam and just stood there. The tentacles sagged and melted away from her head, as did the skinless arms and the little face sticking out of her neck. The girl’s cranium closed back up and she looked like a human girl again, albeit covered in blood. Dora crawled over to where Sam lay bleeding. “How ya doin’, honey?” she asked. He didn’t answer and she helped him up. He held his stomach together as they stumbled to the door. As they made their way down the stairs, the house mistress ran past them up to the child. “Oh, my baby,” she said, squeezing her tight. The girl just stared straight ahead, a odd look in her eye, and whispered, “Just get me a glass of water, Mommy. I need some water.”

The house mistress hugged her tighter. “We’ll get you whatever you want, baby. Anything you want.” A strange smile brightened the girl’s face. Then the front door slammed below as Sam and Dora stumbled out of the building.

Copyright © 2008. All Rights Reserved.

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