Every night before I went home, I stopped by Room 101 to check on Andy Crane, who was young and cute and had been badly hurt in a car accident. He always smiled when he saw me, and I always wondered how he bore it, being eighteen, confined to a wheelchair, and stuck in a state-run home mostly filled with old people waiting to die.
He was listening to music through earbuds the second-shift nurse had stuck in his ears, when I entered.
His expression lightened when he noticed my presence. He retained enough range of motion to be able to clumsily yank the ear pieces out. “Evening, Dr. Beth.”
“How are you tonight, Andy?” I unnecessarily adjusted the covers and tweaked a pillow.
“Fine.” His voice was weak, but I understood him well enough.
“What are you listening to?”
“Nine Inch Nails. They’re good.”
I had no idea who or what he was referring, but I nodded. “Don’t stay up too late, okay?”
I put the earbuds back in, smoothed an affectionate hand over his forehead, and left.
Andy was a favorite with everyone, but something had been happening lately that confused and worried me. Sometime during the night, a young man who could barely move without help somehow managed to twist himself around so he was lying on his back, hang his head over the foot of the bed, and stare at one particular spot on the ceiling. When asked about it, he shrugged and gave an evasive answer.
Determined to find out what was going on, I’d arranged to stay overnight and observe Andy. I caught up on paperwork while I waited for the place to go to sleep. Sometime around eleven, I slipped into Andy’s room, silently moved a chair into a shadowy corner, and sat, waiting.
Time passed slowly. Occasionally, I heard the soft whisper of rubber-soled shoes move past the door or the sounds of one staff member talking to another. Andy’s room was on the backside of the building, so there wasn’t even traffic noise. Someone had left one of his windows open, and a warm, jasmine-scented breeze flowed all the way across the room so I could feel it on my face.
I must have dozed, but suddenly, I was fully awake, blood pounding in my temples. Andy hadn’t moved; he was still lying on his back, asleep. But something was happening on the ceiling. Something like a door opened over the foot of his bed, and a ladder of light was forming, tread by tread.
I stared, mouth open, as a shadowy figure that was vaguely human-shaped descended and stepped onto Andy’s bed. The being jumped to the floor without making a sound and raised its “arms.” The covers flew off Andy, and he floated above the mattress, hovered, then was turned so his head was over the foot of the bed.
Why that position? What did it mean? But there was no time to think about it; the figure lowered its arms, and Andy gently sank to the sheets.
The shadow figure climbed on top of Andy and rocked back and forth, back and forth. I flushed and straightened as I realized the thing was having sex with the boy.
I tried to scream and couldn’t. I tried to move and found I was as paralyzed as Andy.
It turned its “head” toward me. Eye shapes flashed silver, and then a “mouth” opened and I got the distinct impression it was smiling at me.
A shadow hand lifted and laid a finger across shadow lips. “Shh…..”
Word count: 597
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