Death's Remedy, Chapter 1: The Man in the Wheelchair

Chapter 1
The Man in the Wheelchair

Remedy sat on her plain, white hospital bed hearing the faint conspiratorial whispers of what must’ve been her doctor and her mother by the door. Their silhouettes were outlined on the thin curtains that covered the glass that looked into her semi-private room.

But there was no mistaking that third shadow. A blurry mass of darkness that fluttered down the hallway slowly and silently, at ease with itself as it was unseen by everyone else— except Remedy.

“Hello there,” she said aloud to the empty air in front of her. “Have you come for me?”

The shadow had left her sight, making a decent way past her room. Once Remedy had chosen to speak she heard a soft hiss, not agitated like a cobra about to strike but rather one that sounded bored and curious. A gust of wind hit the room coming from no feasible point of origin, making the curtains sway.

Remedy continued to stare in front of her, as an entity she couldn’t quite make out appeared by the side of her bed. The air shifted and rippled, like mirage lines on a steamy desert day. The problem was that Remedy couldn’t see it, she could only sense its strong presence. And it wasn’t for a lack of trying either. No matter how hard Remedy tried to turn her head, her neck became stiff and simply wouldn’t move, as if it was part of the creature’s design to prevent itself from being seen.

“You might as well get it over with then,” she said. “I just got here though. Might be a relief to the doctors... This hospital’s full enough as it is without me hogging a semi-private.”

The harbinger of death let out a shrill noise. Remedy imagined that it was smiling, possibly laughing. They usually did when they talked to her. Just as suddenly as it had come, the shadow flew back into the hall and glided away.

It didn’t come for me then, Remedy thought. If not me then… who?

The sudden turn of the door knob pulled Remedy back into reality. A middle-aged doctor in his thirties stepped in with a head full of brown hair and a bulky body of tanned skin. “Remedy?” Dr. Gillian called for his patient’s attention.

“That’s me.” Remedy’s eyes met her mother’s for a moment. She walked in behind the doctor, smiling. But the smile that was on her lips did not reflect the sadness that was in her eyes.

“How are you feeling, dear?” Mrs. Letum sat on the edge of her bed and held her daughter’s hand. Remedy flinched and pulled away.

“I’m fine,” she said as she saw the concern creep on her mother’s features. “A bit dizzy, but fine. I’m feeling better though. Can we go home…?”

“I’m afraid we can’t let you leave, Remedy,” Dr. Gillian said. “Your condition turns out to be a bit more severe than we thought.”

Remedy’s eyebrows rose in confusion. “I told you. I just... fell down the stairs. Did I break something…?”

“Well, you said yourself you weren’t sure why you fell down the stairs. Your mother said you’d been pale and faint these past few days and we did a blood test to make sure. And the results… came back as Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.”

The blank look on Remedy’s face showed no reaction. The doctor felt an explanation was in order. “It’s a type of…”

“Blood cancer.” Remedy turned to her mother and gave a dismal smile. “Like the one Grandpa had.”

Mrs. Letum’s grip on her daughter’s bedside tightened and her face blanched. She broke their meeting gaze and stood up, wandering to the open window that looked over the back lot of the hospital. Dr. Gillian watched her reaction curiously, but decided it was not his place to inquire. He took up the seat Mrs. Letum just left and leaned towards Remedy.

He spoke in a gentle tone. “I understand how this might come as a shock. But there are treatments available for this disease. If you’re feeling better, we could discuss which could be best for you with your mother. We can find a way to cure you. If you need to talk about this with someone we could call in a counselor and —”

Remedy gave an airy nod as she inched her way off her bed. Her head felt a little light and her leg still throbbed from her fall, but otherwise she felt fine and strangely alert. She could hear a crash come from a room somewhere down the hall and approached the door.

“Remedy,” John called out to her, grabbing her lightly by the shoulder. “Please come back and sit. We still need to talk about a few things…”

She simply shook her head and shrugged John’s hand off when another crash, louder this time, caught his ear as well. John sidestepped in front of Remedy and came into the hallway, seeing a few nurses rushing into said room presumably taking care of some patient. As another doctor came up to John for a consultation, Remedy slipped past him and ran towards the room.

Remedy saw an old man with cobblestone grey hair and tanned skin, sitting in a wheelchair. He seemed angry, shouting at the nurse who tried to placate him, pushing him back down every time he tried to get up on his feet. A monitor and an IV stand were on their side on the floor, having been knocked over in his rebellious attempts.

“Let me go!” he said in a voice that was heavy and scratchy after years of use. “I need to see her!”

As Remedy kept her gaze on the floor, she noticed something out of place. The number of shoes was odd. Mathematically speaking. She saw the white sneakers of the nurse peeking out from his blue scrubs and snuck inside a little further to see if she could find the pair of the old man’s slipper. When she reached a vantage point that could see to the other side of the bed, Remedy gasped as she saw a stub of flesh for his left leg, being cut off by the knee as opposed to seeing where the rest of his leg was supposed to be.

That was the last Remedy could see as a firm hand pulled her by the collar and back into her room. She looked up to the face the hand belonged to and saw her mother, stoic and quiet as always. “You shouldn’t wander off in a hospital like this. You might catch something.”

“Something worse than cancer?” Remedy mumbled just loud enough for her to hear.

Remedy lay back down on her bed, staring at the faded white ceiling as her mother and Dr. Gillian discussed treatment options. The mention of chemotherapy made her eyes flick to them every once in a while, but she was too immersed in her own thoughts.

Her mind couldn’t stop thinking about the man in the other room. The one who seemed so upset to find himself in the hospital in the first place. Not that Remedy couldn’t relate to the feeling. He however was more than upset. He was furious, practically volatile. He had cuts on his face and arms, bruises on his neck and legs. He looked like he had been in an accident. He and someone else.

Remedy recalled the amputated leg and shuddered. She saw that by his feet was a black cat. One with sharp claws and wide, mesmerizing green eyes. It turned to Remedy as soon as she came, and it let out a sound that was familiar and terrifying. It let out a soft hiss.

“That man’s going to die soon,” she thought aloud, making her mother and John Gillian freeze mid-speech.


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