Down On The Upside

By Stephen Garman, Guest Writer

Michael lay unconscious bleeding in the bed next to his friend, Eric Miles, while men and women in pale scrubs blurred around the room.

“He’s crashing get him stabilized,” the red-faced doctor shouted, pointing to Eric, as he groped around Michael’s body in search of any sign of life other than his sporadic breathing.

“He’s convulsing we need to hold him down,” the nurse gestured toward several young men as Eric’s monitor blipped chaotically. Eric’s toned body thrashed against them until the young men managed to grapple his limbs. “I need 20 cc of Ativan STAT!”

One of the orderlies tourniqueted his arm and injected the Ativan. After a few moments of convulsing, Eric calmed and stoped thrashing about.

“Still no pulse, nurse! Get me the shock paddles!” he commanded as he franticly prepared Michael’s chest for the imminent impact of the shock paddles. “Ready–one– two–three–clear” the doctor announced as the paddles collided with a deafening echo against Michael’s chest. Michael’s eyes flashed open as the surge rushed through his body, twisting and snaking its way through his veins, until its revitalizing grip held his heart. “ Michael can you hear me?” the doctor asked waving a light over his shimmering jade eyes.

Michael’s eyes widened and darted wildly as if he were looking for a exit before he fixated upon the doctor! His fist shot up and grasped the doctor’s collar forcing the doctor down into his field of vision. A desperate gasp escaped his cracked pale blue lips. “He killed them, Eric, he got’em!” he exhaled before he fell back into his cyanotic trance upon the bed.

“Get the phone I need to speak with N.Y.P.D!” the doctor yelled still dazed by the strength of the young man’s grip on his collar. The young men and nurse had finally stabilized Eric when several men dressed in suits waltzed in as if everything and everyone was beneath them.

“Hello my name is Agent Gordon Solace” announced the tallest man in black as he reached for his lower left pocket and retrieved a shining bronze badge which he flashed briefly to the doctor. “I’m here on official FBI business regarding the Two Face Killer and I expect your full cooperation.”

“Well, yes of coarse, Agent Solace, but you still haven’t told me why you’ve come here. Surely I don’t have anything to do with this.” His voice quivered as the detective’s piercing gray eyes focused intensely upon him; and, for a fleeting moment it was as if he was not looking at the doctor but something deep within.

“The young man lying in bed over there. Do you know anything I should know about him?” His gaze grew more intense as if he had burned a hole through the doctor’s chest and was looking out the other side toward the boy.

Solace pushed one spindly arm out and removed the quivering doctor from his path before walking to the bed where Michael lay unconscious. He rolled like a brewing storm cloud over the silent room until his shadow lay menacingly over Michael’s bed. “What is your connection to him and, why do resemble him so closely, boy?” he muttered aloud as if he couldn’t resist preforming a poor dramatic intrigue for a captive audience. “Notify me when he wakes up. Tell him that he is essential to the case and is not to leave until we have spoken.” He ordered as he and the others marched out of the room like they were playing follow the leader.

“Hope that’s the last of our worries! After all tonight’s a full moon so the crazies will be out.” He said as he composed himself and gazed through the dusty old window pane at the radiant moon. The doctor and company exited the room to return to their usual rounds since they were no longer immediately needed.

The silent halls echoed with the occasional squeal of gurneys and broken cart wheels as Michael slept. Eric awoke. The room was still distorted and spinning from the medication swimming through his veins. His limbs were numb and senses snared in a potent haze that seemed to separate him from the world. A dull hum began to throb against the walls of his mind intensifying with each smothered pulse until it lacerated the veil. A soft male voice echoed through beckoning him back to reality. “Shhh… Eric, where’s Mikey?” the voice whispered in his ear as Eric looked to Michael’s bed which was now filled with nothing but bandages and disheveled sheets. “Eric I need you to tell me what they did with Mikey.” The eerily familiar voice rang again through Eric’s ear. The color faded from his face and a scream began to well up inside choking his voice.

“It… it can’t be! I watched you die! Sam’s boys snuffed you out like they tried to do to us!” Eric stammered tripping over his own words in fear of looking at the source of the voice.

“I guess I don’t die so good, just like you said Eric.” He mocked softly chuckling to himself as Eric‘s brow perspired heavily. Eric choked again quivering as he tried to roll to see the source of the haunting voice.

“ Auron if that’s you, please tell me something. Where’d you go after everything? I mean how’d you live through taking two to the chest and one to the head, man?” he whimpered expecting to see a ghost on the other side of the bed , but instead was greeted by only a mere gust of winter air from the now open window and the clatter of footsteps that echoed through the otherwise silent halls.

Eric looked toward Michael’s bed where his friend had lain unconscious for most of the night . He slowly lurched to the edge of his bed and swung his feet over to the frigid linoleum floor below. He stared at the bed for a moment waiting for the image to focus before realizing the bed contained not Michael but only blood spattered bandages and disheveled sheets. “ Mikey, where are you?” the words slipped from his mouth as he hoisted himself up using the metalic foot board of the bed. He noticed the cold feel of the smooth steel beneath his palms before he released his desperate grip and attempted to shuffle towards the door. His vision was fading back into the endless abyss from which he had just broken free until he collided with the bed table that had been pushed to the center of the room. Eric shook his head violently in an attempt to fan away the haze that clouded his senses. Upon regaining his senses Eric took hold of bed table and forced it forward using it to maintain stability and balance until he was at the threshold.

Eric stealthily peered into the dimly lit hall but, saw no one. He coasted down the hall using the table taking comfort in knowing that he would not be confronted. Eric heard a faint dinging sound in the distance. He froze in position and listened to the deafening silence throughout the corridor until it was disrupted by the sound of slow paced footsteps coming down the adjoining corridor. Eric quickly wheeled into the employee lounge as the footsteps drew nearer.

“ I don’t understand” the voice from the hall spoke as if he were annoyed.

“ What’s not to get Solace?”the other man quipped as they came to a sudden halt in front of the lounge. The door creaked alarming Eric who then quickly fled to the closet leaving a crack just big enough to see through. Solace and a short portly Irishman stepped inside and started for the coffee machine.

“ So some spook knocks off a few dirty cops, butchers an alleged rapist and makes an attempt on a drug lord’s life before fading into the night like a friggin ghost. He also managed to save two punk kids from him and you’re sitting here whining to me about why you can’t catch him.” He rambled incessantly to Solace between large slurps of acrid coffee.

“ Whose side are you on anyway, McMarrow, mine or our killers?” he bellowed spilling some of the black sludge on his black and red pinstripe tie.

“ To be honest I think someone who cleans the scum off the street for us should be given a medal of honor rather than being hauled off in cuffs like a common criminal. After-all he did in one night what we have been trying to do for years and everybody knows Sam’s got too many connections to the higher ups for any of us to come close to getting dirt on him. We’d be iced or canned if we ever tried, boy-o.“ he explained to Solace who’s face had twisted into a grimace like he’d gotten hold of some putrid creamer.

The intercom above them crackled to life startling them “Code Pink room 313”

“That’s the boy’s room!” The mug dropped from Solace’s hand as he bolted into the hall. When Solace arrived in the room, he was awestruck by how both boys had vanished without a trace.

“I can’t believe that two people in such a critical condition could bypass my security detail and abscond from the hospital right under my nose!” he yelled as he slammed his fist against the door arch. He entered the room still furious from the strong blow to his ego. A chill ran up his spine as he came to the open window and saw the figure standing finger pointed outward, not in accusation, but like a toddler’s imaginary pistol . The figures hand jerked backward like a recoil and the word BANG echoed to Solace’s ears. He looked down and upon further investigation noticed a faint trail of blood across the ledge under the window leading to the nearby fire escape. Solace shimmied across the ledge and rushed down the ladder to catch up with the killer.

Eric looked out the closet and crept back into the hall. Once in the hall he took advantage of the prevailing state of chaos to sneak onto the elevator unnoticed. Eric pushed the button to return to the bottom floor. He waited hidden behind a column until he had a chance to read the map of the facility that was posted on the wall. Eric now knew that there were only two ways out the morgue exit and the lobby doors. He moved toward a set of gurneys left by fleeing attendants. Eric grabbed the display skeleton and tipped it onto the gurney covered it with a cloth before rushing toward the morgue. He rammed the doors and sprinted off into night in search of Michael.