The nightmare deepened.
Three summers ago while attempting to break onto a roof for no good reason but to see if he could, He had fallen off a ladder. It had not been pretty. Awkwardly, he had fallen face first. But his face was fine. If his legs had not gone in different directions he probably would have either been dead or at least in a wheelchair. It had been a permanent ladder – affixed to the wall. His left leg went between the wall and a rung while the rest of his weight toppled forward. The fibula is not made to withstand leverage of that sort, and once the fibula has snapped, the tibia doesn’t stand a chance against nearly the full falling weight of a two hundred pound man. Muscle and tendons however are surprisingly strong.
He had hung from the meat of his leg screaming in dire agony until a pair of security guards found him. The two guards called for an ambulance and lifted him down. Breaking his leg had hurt, but getting said leg unhooked made him wish (briefly) that he had died, or at least broken his neck so he could feel nothing below his waist. As they carried him down to street-level he watched his foot dangle like it was made of soggy foam rubber. He knew that this one mistake would permanently change the course of his life.
Titanium implants helped his leg heal – keeping his skeletal position as close to true as possible – and they did a good job. But, the screws had lost their seating and though he walked better than he would have guessed, the bugling skin where the metal was gradually pushing further and further out from his bones was getting grotesque and felt more than a little disconcerting. The time had come to remove the metal from his body before it became an actual cause for concern. That was why he was in the hospital.
The surgery itself had been a cinch. No complications. They almost didn’t keep him a second night, but the surgeon had decided last minute that they had a light patient load and that an extra night of observation was prudent without being excessive. For his part, he figured we’ve got socialized healthcare in
, what’s the harm? Canada
In the dead of night his anti-inflammatory pain-killers wore off and he couldn’t sleep. A buzzer would have summoned the nurse and the problem would have been solved, but his self-sufficient streak had kicked in and he manoeuvred himself into the bedside wheelchair and down the hall to the nurses’ station, knowing full well that they would chastise him for his effort once he got there.
When he turned the corner of the hall, the night-nurse looked up and saw him. From her look he was definitely in trouble. She stood and marched towards him.
“You only impress yourself.” She scolded. “There is no reason for you to be out of your room at this time of night. We are here so you can rest, if there’s anything you need-”
And then it hit her. Hard. From out of a dimmed side corridor. It was a man, but in horrible condition and crazed. She defended herself for perhaps fifteen seconds before she was either unconscious or dead. With the fury the thing had attacked her, he assumed dead. Blood was everywhere.
His first instinct had been to help her, and he tried momentarily before a raking gnash at his forearm made it clear that he was himself helpless and he backed the wheelchair up as fast as he could while the thing continued to claw at the nurse. Soon there was little question as to whether she was dead. While the thing’s attention was still on her he rolled his chair into a bathroom, into the handicapped stall and threw the bolt… hoping that would be enough.
Before long there was more crashing violence outside and shouting. Soon it disappeared and all was quiet. He waited until he heard calm voices before he came back out.
That had been two days ago.
At first he had scoffed at the suggestion that his cut might mean anything, but he had been put under surveillance with a number of other people – staff and patients – who’d received collateral injuries from the rampage. They explained what they knew about the affliction and laid out the known symptoms.
The first time he noticed he was hungry he didn’t even consider the possibility that it could be indicative of something more. He ate when the meal cart came around and then closed the shades, wrapped himself up in a sheet and tried to catch up on some sleep. But the hunger didn’t go away, and the sheet was too much… and for the first time he thought there was a possibility that he was royally fucked.
Now that he exhibited a spectrum of symptoms that previous carriers of Cannibalistic Porphyria had shown, the quarantine had tightened even further. He could not interact with anyone, even other quarantined patients. He was confined to a room and the only people he interacted with wore hazmat suits, and worst of all, he was strapped down. He didn’t need to be strapped down. He was perfectly sane and in control. But of course no one accepted that.
He didn’t want to be here. He shouldn’t be here. He shouldn’t have stayed an extra night. He never should have tried to get on that roof three years ago. He just wanted out.
Early morning, a few hours before dawn by his guess, the door to his sanitized prison cycled and opened.
The silhouetted figure in the doorway wore no sterile protection. No hazmat. Not even a filter mask. A woman, wearing men’s clothes. Vaguely Annie Hall-like. She stepped in close. She smelled… off. He looked up at her gaunt face.
She smiled and twisted open the clasp on his arm restraint, and in a heavily accented whisper that seemed half hiss breathed a single word…