MCA Hogarth does these great art livestream things every so often. It so happened that a couple sessions ago the chatter in the accompanying chat room made my brain esplode with the inspirations, and over the next few days, I ended up writing about ~3500 words of a short story. Unfortunately, I got all the way to the last scene and have since been stumped by the ending. But I said I'd share with everyone so they could see the monster they'd created (did I mention that this story had spawned an entire setting of its own in my head within a day of my starting to write it? >.>).
So I figured I’d post it in parts since the story is kind of laid out in three scenes anyway, and possibly get some feedback that will help me figure out how to put this thing to bed (because I haven’t finished anything in a long long time, and I’m kind of excited about the prospect –-). I’m open to thoughts and speculation on the story itself, as well as constructive criticism and grammar/spelling correction. Seriously. I haven’t shared a lot of my writing in recent years, and I’m very out of practice. ––
Anyhow, without further ado, Part 1 of “All Sales Are Final*”!
“She won’t wake up until her soul is returned to her body.”
Ted Spires stared at the only vaguely familiar nurse. She had swept into the room a few minutes earlier, the almost imperceptible scent of ozone wafting after. She wore neatly pressed scrubs, and went about the business of checking his wife’s vitals and the level of fluids she was getting.
“Wh…what?” he asked dumbly, shocked by the utter strangeness of the non sequitur. Up until that moment, he had been sitting by the bed, head in his hands, ignoring everything else in his misery.
Six weeks. Six weeks since the disease wracking Catherine’s body had completely disappeared. Six weeks since she had fallen irretrievably into something that hovered between a coma and a vegetative state, her body responding to stimuli, but her brain showing no signs of anything but baseline activity. Every doctor he had spoken to since had been completely baffled by the miracle-mystery. Compared to her previous medical records, her body was healthy, pristine even, and her brain was undamaged. But so far, nothing had any affect on her condition.
The nurse plucked at the pillow, at the sheets and blanket, straightening them though they didn’t need it. “Her soul. It needs to be rejoined with her body, or she’ll stay this way for the rest of her life. She’s fallen for the oldest trick in the book, and a gotten caught in a particularly nasty loophole, I’m sorry to say.”
Ted simply gaped at her, unable to produce a response that was adequately insane. Was the nurse some sort of religious nut, or just your standard run-of-the-mill crazy?
She paid his expression no mind and continued talking absently while she completed her duties. “We try to protect the patients, but we’re not supposed to interfere directly, and frankly, we’re short-handed these days.” Her eyes drifted momentarily back to Catherine, brow creasing in anger as she spoke more to herself than to Ted. “But we should’ve caught this one. The fool probably doesn’t even known what he got his hands on.” She shook herself from her thoughts and approached him, pulling a business card from her pocket along with a pen she used to write something on its back.
“I don’t know where the one who did this is now, but his kind have no scruples.” She held the card out to him and he took it without looking at it. “That’s where he usually hocks his wares. If he’s stayed true to form, you’ll find what was taken from your wife there.” She peered down at him for a few long moments, as if her gaze might pierce through his eyes and into his skull, then blinked before turning and heading toward the door, speaking as she went. “You’ll know what you’re looking for when you find it. Just…don’t go signing any contracts without reading the fine print first. That’s how she got in this bind in the first place.”
And then she was gone. Ted could have sworn he heard a sound like wings beating just before the door closed. The click of the doorknob brought him back to himself and he flew to the door and threw it open. The hall was quiet and there was no one in sight except the night orderly at the desk a short distance away.
“Everything okay, Mr. Spires? Do you need something?” the young man asked quietly. Ted approached the desk and asked if he had seen the nurse that just left his wife’s room. The orderly gave him a strange look and told him the duty nurse wasn’t due around for another hour. “Maybe you should try and get some sleep, sir. I can bring you some extra pillows or blankets if you like.”
“No… Uh, thanks, Ben.” He rubbed his face, thinking the orderly might be right. “Sorry for bothering you.”
He returned to the room, and just when he began thinking he might have hallucinated the entire thing, he saw the card on the floor where he had dropped it.