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  • Meiliyl

Anymore

By Meiliyl
Posted on July 1, 2023
Cover Image Title: Anymore
Cover Image by: Meiliyl
Classification: Digital Art
Specifications: 3307x2204 pixels
Year: 2023

You never forget. You can only make the memory bearable enough to move on.


The sun shone modestly through the clean window, and below, pedestrians walked to and fro with a lively bustle. I leaned against the wooden backrest of my chair and leisurely flipped the page of my book. White curtains danced in harmony with the tune of the wind, and the tiny, potted plant on the windowsill nodded along as well. It boasted lovely purple blooms, and I had bought it to bring a bit of colour to the room.

My phone suddenly sounded, and so I placed a bookmark on my current page to pick up the call.

“Hello?” I politely inquired.

[Good morning. May I speak to Ms. Iforax?]

“Speaking. What is the matter?”

[Hello Ms. This is the hospital calling abou—]

My phone immediately shot across the room and crashed into the wall opposite me. The device fell to the ground completely unharmed, while the wall cracked like glass upon the impact.

[Miss, what happened?]

[Ms, can you still hear me?]

Gasping for air, I warily eyed the phone that continued projecting the caller’s worried voice. Despite the words of concern, the phone began to emit a strange red mist which concerned me more. Very soon, the caller’s tone of worry disappeared as their responses began to simply repeat the same words:

[Miss, Are you listening?]

[Miss, Are you listening?]

[Miss, Are you listening?]

[Miss, Are you listening?]

[Miss, Are you listening?]

Inching slowly towards the door, my gaze remained fixed on the device repeating the same words over like a broken record. Once I got within arms reach of the handle, however, the continuously spewing fog began to rapidly congeal into eight skittering spider appendages. As if wishing to permanently attach itself to my ear, the phone manifested legs and began to prowl forward.

Hastily turning the handle in panic, I shoved open the door to escape the shrieking monster trailing behind me. Just as it crouched its spindle-like legs to pounce, I ran out and shut the door behind me. I heard a muffled collision against the solid door, and the now hysterical caller continued to shrilly demand whether or not I was still listening. I was, though certainly not by choice. Nor for long.

In stark contrast to the previous room, this hallway was unfamiliar and dark. Dim, red lights flashed repeatedly as a loud bell reverberated through the walls, drowning the cries of the spider. Glancing at the door I just slammed, I could only barely make out the label “3-5-23” in the bloody lighting. My eyebrows furrowed before my focus was abruptly snatched by swift, shadowy silhouettes racing by.. The figures looked incorporeal; it was as if they were beings of smudged colour and blurry memory,

Out of nowhere, the floor jerked and brought me forward through the corridors, traveling in the same direction as the shadows. Doors flew by, and although I could not make out any of their labels, it seemed like the door numbers weren’t changing: 3-5-23. Over and over again. The hallways were spotless, clean, and the exact same as every stretch that I had previously passed.

Coming to an abrupt stop, I had to squint my eyes to adjust to the brightness of the new setting that presented itself to me.

It was the same room I had just left!

I hastily backed up to dodge a pouncing phone, but then I realized something was off. It was too quiet, and the phone wasn’t here anymore.

`Did that thing disappear somehow?` I inwardly questioned, `Or is this somewhere new—another room? Just as how every room in this place has the same label?`If it was a different room, it was a carbon copy: there were three medical beds on the left of the doorway, with curtain partitions giving each the option of privacy. The right side held a door to the shared bathroom. The space was naturally lit by a medium-sized window across from me.

It was a bright and tranquil-feeling room. The pale, sterile colours made it a bit boring, yes, but it was neat at least. The two beds closest to me were tidy and unoccupied, while the one beside the window housed a habitant. Just like in the previous room, a tiny purple flower sat on the windowsill.

Influenced by the warmth, I instinctively wished to step closer. Rationally, I realized that wasn’t a great idea; however, I also wanted to step away from the door. I took a hesitant pace forward, and then the whole space changed.

Superimposed onto the warm scene was the same place but drowned in crimson. The light that filtered through the window was vivid red, and the person had—

Just like that, the alternate scene had vanished, and everything was back to normal. I doubted my vision as well as my sanity, wondering if parts of my imagination had spilled outwards.

Yet once I took that first step, I kept walking. The floodgates had opened, and my legs forcefully walked me over to the far bed. Every centimetre I approached, those red glitches assaulted my vision with growing intensity. From short snippets to immersive illusions, I witnessed in stop motion the young man on the bed, with a shirt nearly black, slowly turn his head. At about a metre away, despite his body fully facing the window, his neck had screwed a terrifying 160 degrees to look at me; his blurred face flashed a brilliantly wide, yet miserably empty smile.

An instant later, he was gone. I was left in the bloody world with an empty bed before me.

A deep murmur sounded from behind me. I whipped my head around, and a large door with the blazing letters ICU stood there, forebodingly. It was silent, and so was I, but a change did eventually come about.

The large, thick metal doors to the ICU ominously opened, and beyond it I could only see darkness. Out of the abyss, a figure stumbled into the glow of the sign. They wore an entire suit of red scrubs, and stumbled in a way that made them appear intoxicated. Clumsily patting their sparkling clean scrubs off and… well, and gaining some semblance of balance so they do not topple over, they looked back at me with a carefree expression.

“Sadly, the patient did not make it,” they said with a tone completely lacking any sort of remorse, their eyes almost jeering. They took a step closer and reached out to pat my shoulder; something I could unfortunately not swat away. My body was rooted in place, and I could not move an inch to react to the clown.

“Complications happen occasionally, and we can only lament our bad luck; you understand, right?”

I felt my cheek twitch, and my teeth grinded against each other. Where the doctor had patted my shoulder, a lurid red handprint was left. I didn’t respond; instead, as if invisible chains had released my limbs, my legs shot forward into a sprint. Dashing past the doctor and towards the open doors, tens of hundreds of doctor clones poured outwards facing me. A moshpit of ridiculing faces and bright crimson hands flooded my vision, but I kept pushing, squeezing, inching through.

There was something in there, something waiting for me.

I wasn’t sure how long had passed, but eventually, I made it past the clown army. Once I broke through the last line of defense, all the figures simply disappeared behind me, as if my struggles were but an empty effort. I was left alone in the dark.

Well, not alone.

Ahead of me was an operation table with a covering on it. As for what was under that covering, well, it was human shaped. The scene was lit by countless electrocardiograms showing the standard repeating QRS pattern, and there was the distinct sound of a heartbeat in my ears.

As if enchanted, I slowly approached; curiously, the rhythmic heartbeats that resounded in the pitch black grew quieter as I drew closer. Taking that final step and looking up to all the EKG monitors, the peaks and valleys vanished off-screen when a noisy beeping sound drilled into my eardrums. I whipped my head to the side and realized that the patient on the table had sat up; his face was strangely scribbled out with a black marker, but I could still see the same smile.

My eyes widened for a second before relaxing. My shoulders dropped, and I let out an exhale I wasn’t even aware I was holding. As the ringing echoed in my head, a chained door seemed to have cracked as I finally found what I was searching for.

His neck craned as he surveyed his newly revealed torso; his patient garment was utterly shredded and his chest open, putting onto display his darkened, bubbly lungs and rotting intestines.

“What a shame,” he pined, then looked back at me, leaning forward; we were only a head’s distance away from each other now. He raised his arms and tightly gripped my shoulders with an anchoring force.

“Oh, Frax…” he sunnily began, “I sacrificed everything that I had for that ring, for us! The least I could ask from you is a lung, right? You have two, lovely, healthy ones; you can spare me one~”

I felt a lump in my throat; it made it painful to swallow. My eyes grew warm, but despite that, a gentle smile broke out on my lips.

“Of course, dear,” I heard my voice coax. I leaned down slightly, and almost felt a chilling breeze pierce through my skin and squeeze the air out of my lungs. Maybe it was just the lump in my throat that was making my breathing painful. My chest hurt. My heart hurt.

I weakly raised a hand with all the strength I could muster to cradle his head; his scalp no longer had as much hair as it used to. My cheeks felt damp and my vision was no longer clear.

“Get better soon, okay?”

Under the dim green glow, his smile had disappeared, and he looked at me with pity and sympathy.

I had so much I wanted to tell you, yet now there is nothing to say.

If only I could have helped you somehow ease the pain.

But the purple flower at my bedside has already withered and decayed.

My eyes are open now, and I hollowly stare at the ceiling, soaking myself in memories.

`I’m sorry, it's all my fault.`


[ * The End * ]

[Writing Editor: Paul Shannon]


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