“Elizabeth!…” I hoarsely shouted as I shot up into a sitting position in the bed. I awoke and found myself drenched in sweat, a massive headache and with the worst scratchy throat I’ve ever had. I couldn’t help but just cough and cough, similar to the experience when you inhale heavy smoke. As I tried to regain my composure, I started noticing that I wasn’t at home and things were not what they seemed.
The room was dark with no lights. The only source of light was an overcast grim sky that came from the large window on the left side of me. Colors of gray and red mixing in the sky like I had never seen before. The illuminated room came into focus and that’s when it dawned on me. It was a hospital room. Why was I in the hospital? No, that couldn’t be right. That couldn’t be right because wouldn’t I be wearing one of those gowns? Looking down at myself, I was wearing a pair of khakis, white adidas, and one of my favorite graphic t-shirts. I glanced around the room again to further inspect where the hell I was but my mind was surely not playing tricks on me. It was a hospital room, a trashed and terribly maintained hospital room, but nonetheless, that’s where I was.
The corner of the room had a door leading to a dark bathroom, there was a patient monitor machine knocked over, about five or six IV bags scattered across the room and a couple of the poles knocked over that the IV bags are usually hanging from. There’s even a little TV hanging in the top right corner of the room with its screen shattered. But above all of that, the room was scattered with syringes. I don’t understand, why was I here in this bed in a crackhead hospital? My head raged and for some reason, I couldn’t remember anything about the day before or how I got here. But most importantly, where was she? Was she here? I knew I had to find her. To get her out of this place. This was no place for us. “Elizabeth..”
My feet hit the floor and it took all my strength to stand. I made my way to the door pushing through the trashed room, careful to avoid the syringes at all cost. I reached the door and pulled it open. The door released a sound of a seal breaking; like the door was sealed with air and it’s the first time the door has been opened. Along with that sound, came the stench. Musky and mildew with a hint of death. “Oh god who would keep a hospital this unclean”, I thought to myself. As I stepped out into the hallway, I started to panic even more. No lights. No staff. Papers scattered everywhere. Equipment smashed on the ground. Missing ceiling tiles. And…soot on the walls? No, that’s not right. Right? This place was just..abandoned. Between the stench and the state of this place, there’s no way this had just happened. Where was everyone? Where were the nurses and the doctors? I needed answers. I needed to know where I was. I needed to know where SHE was. Where’s my wife? Nothing else honestly mattered, I HAD to find Elizabeth.
I glanced around and things just seemed more off the more I looked. From across the way, past the nurses station, I could see more hospital rooms and all of them were shut but what made things more unusual, there were no names. No plaques outside of the rooms that either have the patients names or even the doctors. No room numbers. Just sealed shut doors. Dozens of them. I quickly turned around to observe the room I just appeared from but as I did the door slammed shut behind me. I jumped back slightly gathering what the hell is going on. There was no wind to slam it shut and there certainly was no one else in the room so how the fuck did that just happen. I immediately tried to open the door again. Pushing all my weight into the door but it wouldn’t budge. I stepped back and that’s when I noticed it. A plaque. A metal plaque with my name. ‘Myles Astor’. I read it over at least a dozen times. I couldn’t believe it. I reached for the plaque and when I touched it, I was immediately burned at the fingertips. “Fuck!” I yelled. It felt as if the metal was sitting over an open flame, and almost immediately, the sign turned into a bright illuminated orange, similar to when coal heats up in a furnace. What the fuck was this place?
I snapped my mind back to my original mission. I needed to find her. She was the light of my life and I couldn’t fathom something happening to her. I mean, it IS my duty as her husband to protect her and to care for her. So if she was in this god forsaken place, and part of me knew she was, I would rescue her. She’s my whole life and I know I couldn’t go on without her. I knew that when I saw her all those years ago, she was gonna be my wife. We have our moments and times get tough but I never feel like I will ever lose her. She is perfect. She never argues. She never raises her voice. She has never once let herself go; however she is a small,delicate, dainty thing so I don’t think she could even if she tried. She is so patient. And even though she has a hard time showing it, she has so much love to give me. She is perfect. I have to find her.
I turned back to face the open room, this place was massive and I wasn’t sure where to even begin looking. I made my way to the left, keeping the long wall of sealed doors to my side as some sort of comfort. I walked down this side for a good ten minutes when I noticed something even more unusual. There were no hallways. There were no elevators. Not even a set of stairs leading to other floors. It was one giant room. Nothing above or below. The realization unsettled me the most when I remembered glancing out of the window in the room I awoke in. I only saw the sky, the glooming gray and red sky. There was nothing else. If I was on the ground floor, I am sure I would have seen at least a tree or a light post or a parking lot when I looked out that window. But it was just that sky.
I continued on until finally reaching the end of the large room. Nothing. I decided to turn around and explore the right side of the large space. I had to find something..or someone. No, not just anyone. Her. But while venturing on, I’m not entirely sure which I preferred: the absolute still and hollow sound of nothing and emptiness that has been there since I first awoke or the low and slow creak that echoed eerily from the opposite side of the room across the vast abandonment? I slowly turned to face the direction where I heard the creak, I could feel the blood in my body stop flowing within and my heart almost coming to a complete standstill. “Hello? Elizabeth?… Someone?”, I said. I knew what I had to do if I was going to find her. Thinking of Elizabeth, I found the courage to start making my way to where the sound came from, which meant me leaving the comfort of my support wall of sealed tight patient rooms. The creak was so close yet so far. Came from right behind me yet came from nowhere. It was loud yet quite soft.
I crossed the room over to the opposite wall of rooms and the whole side was just mirrored of the side I came from. No hallways. No elevators. No stairs. Just the same soot covered walls and nameless doors with the trashed nurses stations in between. There had to be something. Something I was missing. I felt like I was just running in circles.
That’s when I heard it again. Except this time, coming from the opposite side of the room. The side I had just crossed over from. I turned slowly to face the direction I heard the creak from again. And I could not believe what I was looking at. Directly in front of me, across the way, was a long dark corridor. “No..”, I said under my breath. “That..that’s impossible.” I had searched almost every inch of this abandoned hospital floor and never once saw anything but doors. There was nothing. But..this..this hall..there is no way I could have missed this. I then took into account the location of the dark abyss. “No fucking way..” The hall stood in the exact spot as my room. The same room I emerged from into this wicked nightmare. I walked hesitantly towards the hall. I knew that if this all the room had to offer and I wanted to find her, then I had to be brave and face this nightmare. My stomach was officially in my throat and was immediately struck frozen in fear. I stood in front of the almost pitch black corridor but as I stared, an ominous red glow lightly filled the corridor. The same kind of red coming from an exit sign but there was no sign. No source of this light. Just a dark and long creepy hallway highlighted in dark red.
When my eyes finally adjusted to the dark, I noticed that the hall was lined with four doors largely spaced out on both walls and with one door directly ahead. However, these doors were different from the ones from behind me in the large room. These had a small ray of white lights appearing from under the doors, including the one all the way at the end. There was one other noticeable feature about these doors and the walls. There were plaques. They had something etched on them. This gave me hope. Maybe I can find someone to help me or better yet, I could find Elizabeth herself! I proceeded with caution to the first door on my left. I looked at the plaque and it read ‘Sydney Potter’. The name had a very slight ring to it. I had heard the name before but could not quite place where I knew it from. I reached for the door handle and as my hand began to graze the handle, my eyes wandered to the plaque on the next door. I stopped my reach and stared at the name, anger washing over me. ‘Trevor Bell’. Why the fuck was this guy here? I don’t understand. I thought I took care of him a long time ago. If Elizabeth was here, he knew better. He knew to stay the fuck away from her. I rushed over to his door, grabbed the handle and swung open the door.
I was immediately met with..nothing. And I mean absolutely nothing. No lights, just pure black. I reached my hand inside the room and tried to feel for a light switch but the more I grazed the wall, the more nothing I was met with. I decided to call into the room, “Hello?”, but the room echoed. This room had to have been much larger than the hallway led on. Much larger. The echo sounded like I was calling into a multi story empty warehouse. I decided to take a step back and close the door. Trevor wasn’t worth my time anyway. After I shut the door, I looked down to the space between the bottom of the door and the floor. The white light was shining through again.
I turned around to examine the names on the other wall. ‘Lisa Reynolds’. ‘Westly Carson’. ‘Sadie Joy’. Those names. I don’t understand. What the hell was I looking at? My boss really couldn’t be here, right? And my best friend? And Sadie? Now that is a name I never thought I’d see again. I opened the door leading to Sadie’s room but was met with the same sight as Trevor’s room. Just hollow black nothingness. I closed the door and looked at the last door on this wall. My parents. ‘Daniel and Caroline Astor’. They were here, together. I wanted to see them, I HAD to see them. I leaned my head against the door hoping I wasn’t going to be met with the same sight as the other rooms. They would help me find Elizabeth. They would help get us out of here. They always took care of us no matter what and took care of things when life got rough for us. I hesitated opening the door, praying that I would be greeted by their smiles. But alas, there was once again nothing. I shut my eyes tight and felt a single tear escape and roll down my cheek. Defeated, I shut the door behind me and when I looked up at the wall across from me, I looked at the name on the third to last door. ‘Baby Girl Astor’.
I was an only child. My parents never wanted another child. I have no cousins and I certainly didn’t have children. So whose room was this? The bottom beamed with white light just as the rest of the rooms did but this time I heard the faint sound of a baby babbling. I stopped at the door, unable to even move my hand to the knob. I couldn’t bring myself to even want to open this door. But none of that mattered because just then my eyes glanced at the final door on this wall. The final door before the main door that the hall made its end at. I finally found what I was looking for. ‘Elizabeth Astor’.
“Elizabeth!”, I shouted and, without hesitation, I flung open that door. When I opened the door I was greeted by a blinding white light. Like somehow opening the door made the light shine brighter and when my eyes finally adjusted to the light, that’s when I saw her. She was facing the back wall or what would’ve been the back wall. From what the room apparently was, we were in just a blank empty white space illuminated by light. Facing away from me, I took focus of her long brown hair draping down her shoulders and back. She was wearing a pure white sleeveless dress that fell past her feet.
I wanted to run to her. I wanted to grab her, spin her around and hug her. I wanted to tell her about everything it took for me to find her, I wanted to know where she was this whole time and what had happened to us but for some reason I couldn’t move. I wanted to fling myself at her and yet I was paralyzed. Something felt so wrong.
“Elizabeth! I found you! I can’t believe I found you, where have you been?!“
“Myles…” she said under her breath.
The way she spoke, there was no excitement. There was no relief. She spoke almost with anticipation and disappointment. “Elizabeth, are you OK? Are you hurt? Is Trevor here? Where are we? I can’t remember a damn thing!” Elizabeth still faced the opposite direction. She never moved, she never even looked over her shoulder to look at me.
“Of course you can’t. Of course you don’t know what happened. It’s very typical.” She spoke with such confidence and lack of hesitation, something very unlike her. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This was so unlike her, I mean after all, she knew better than to speak to me like this…
She started to turn slowly towards me over her left shoulder. The first glimpse upon the left side of her cheek exposed a deep purple bruise that faded up into her eye socket. The more she faced me, the other marks quickly showed their face. The cut lip. The red hand print across the right side of her face. The black and blue bruises on her bare arms. The scratches across her chest.
I stared at her in disbelief, mouth dropped slightly open. I watched the bruises and cuts fade and disappear in the same spots and then onto new spots. They spread across her body and disappeared all at once. The only thing that stayed the same were her emerald green eyes staring into my soul and I was convinced that her eyes could set a whole fire with just that stare alone. That look paralyzed me even further.
After what felt like an eternity of staring into the green abyss, she spoke again. “You couldn’t leave me be, could you? You couldn’t leave me to be who I really was. The me before you. You couldn’t fathom me living my own life. Being happy. Having friends. Spending time with people without you there. You couldn’t trust. Trevor was my friend. I have known him my entire life and all you saw was a threat. I wasn’t allowed to be friends with anybody, was I?”
As she spoke, I noticed the bruises and marks began to fade entirely with nothing new appearing upon her porcelain skin. She continued, “I had to stay silent. I had to smile in public while I screamed for help on the inside. Nobody looked up. Everyone turned their heads. We played this facade to pretend you had the picture perfect life. And of everything that you ever have taken from me there was one thing I will never forgive you for. You took her away from me, Myles. You never even knew she was there but she was and you just couldn’t leave your hands off of me. She was the one thing I had. My one will to live. My life was over from that point on. I saw her as my means to live, to escape, to love, she was my solace, my ability to provide a new life for me and her that I couldn’t provide just for myself.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, “Baby Girl Astor..” I whispered to myself. I have a daugh… I had a daughter.. I lowered my head and eyes to the floor and I stared at my feet as I felt the unbelievable shame wash over me. I didn’t want to believe her.
She continued, “For 12 years, I’ve been scared and vulnerable of your wrath. I knew very early on that I was never gonna be protected and always in fear. I tried to leave. I tried to work on it. I tried. But you either gave me false promises or made me truly believe no one else would ever love me. But then I learned one other pressing thing.”
She paused for a long time and it was because of that I decided to look up.. And, God, I wish I hadn’t. I jumped back and screamed. Elizabeth’s right side of her face and body were covered in burn scars. Patches of flesh flaking away and radiating smoke. She stood there full of anger and somehow emotionless. Then almost all at once, I noticed the “walls” begin to go up in smoke with dark soot rising from the floor up the infinitely tall walls. The heat began to grow within the room as well to an almost unbearable temperature.
She finally spoke but with so much more hatred than before, “If you couldn’t have me, then nobody could. And you made sure of that. You robbed me of life and made sure I went down with you!” I looked down at my hands the moment when she said that and felt heat move through my body. My hands were starting to scar the same as her face and body. I panicked and searched for the words to say to get this to stop but once again I was paralyzed with fear. I had to leave but I needed her to come with me.
“Get out…” she said, the walls now slowly being engulfed with flames. The flames illuminated brightly in the eyes of my wife, a mix of red and orange with the now ominous green.
“Elizabeth, we have to leave!” I said. “You have to come with me!”
“GET OUT!!” Elizabeth roared. The sight and sound of her terrified me to my furthest and I immediately stumbled backwards, crossing the doorway and stopping just before the doorway. The last thing I ever saw and would see of my wife was the walls now erupting in flames and black smoke while she burned. She was practically engulfed but her expression never changed; just that same angry stare into my soul. And just like before when I woke up, the door slammed shut. I stumbled backwards, startled and dumbfounded. I looked down at the bottom of the door and it was a pure white light again. No red, no smoke, just nothing again. It was like nothing had happened. I reluctantly reached for the door and gently grazed my hand against it. It was cold. That’s impossible. I just watched this room get set on fire. I grabbed the door handle to try to get back to her but it wouldn’t budge. It was no use.
I slowly turned my head to the right and stared at the final door at the end of the hallway. The door that sat at the end of this corridor, facing the other rooms. The door that sat closed with a faint white light under the door, now stood slightly cracked open with the white light shining out of its openings. My eyes glanced slightly to the plaque on the left side of the door on the wall and read it out loud. “Myles Astor.”
My eyes immediately went back to the door. That shining beautiful white light immediately changed to a dark deep shade of red.
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