A sound from outside the room interrupted Judy’s reverie. ‘The mean one is here,’ she thought, ‘Gotta get back in that bed!’ There was no time as the stodgy old nurse pushed through the door with her clattering cart full of probing and poking instruments of torture. “Hope you’re not sleeping, Dear,” she said in her cigarette voice. “Doctor has you scheduled for a procedure tomorrow. He had a cancellation. I have to begin your prep work tonight.”
“Oh God,” Judy mumbled under her breath. Procedures and prep work, the terrible Ps, poke and prod would be closer to the truth. At least the old bat hadn’t said invasive, PPI was as bad as it got in her experience so far. Invasive could be anything from a relatively simple breast biopsy to a camera poked up her butt to who knew what they would think of next.
“Depending on the results of tonight’s workup,” the starchy old woman continued as if she had read Judy’s mind, “Well, you know how it goes, Dearie. These workups will determine whether tomorrow’s procedure is invasive.”
‘She acts like I’m taking a test,’ Judy thought bitterly, ‘Like I have some control over how positive or negative the tests come out. What she means is that she wants me to behave like a good dying girl and make her job as easy as possible’. Judy was amazed that the old hag hadn’t seen her yet. The lights in the room were dusk dim but ‘Ms. White on White’ was only a couple of steps away. She watched in disbelief as the nurse touched something on the bed. “Come on now, don’t be difficult. I know you can hear me.”
Judy peeked around the nurse to get a look at the bed. She gasped as she saw what looked an awfully lot like someone lying in her bed. How had that someone gotten into the room without her noticing, not to mention climbing into the bed. She had been deep in thought and comfortable for once, having achieved her desire to sit in the chair. She got a little ticked at the thought. Whoever was in there had better damned well get up and find another place to lay down. She didn’t like the hospital one little bit but found she had proprietary feelings toward her place in its confines.
The nurse stood between the chair where Judy was sitting and the bed. “Oh dear,” she choked as she drew her fingers back like they had been burned, “So young and pretty…” She pushed the red button on the wall and bright lights stabbed at Judy’s eyes. In seconds the room was filled with people and carts loaded with last ditch resuscitation equipment. An orderly pushed Judy’s chair into a far corner out of the way. She looked straight into his face and he turned as if he hadn’t seen her. Judy used every bit of her resolve not to rise up out of the chair and yell, “Hey, it’s me… you know, the one who is supposed to be in here. I don’t know who that person is or how they got in!” She couldn’t get up, of course, because she would tangle the tubes and wires snaking from her body.
She watched in fear and awe as half a dozen doctors and nurses worked feverishly on the person in her bed. One stabbed a long needle down into the middle of the still figure. Nothing happened. A doctor took a set of those clapper things she had seen them use when watching ER. He raised them frantically as everyone stood back. He yelled “Clear!” then brought them down on the flesh of the corpse. He repeated the procedure until Judy screamed, “It’s dead! Get it out of here! All of you, just go away and leave me alone!”
Judy realized in an instant of crystal-like clarity that they couldn’t hear her. Then the room was still, more still even than the smoking corpse on the bed. The main participants in the gruesome charade began to file from the room. A gurney was wheeled in by two young men. They lined the gurney up with the bed and stood by, one at each end. “Okay,” breathed the one at the head of the bed, “On three, count.” “One, two, three and lift,” they chanted together. On ‘lift’ the body was picked up and bundled onto the gurney. They began to roll it toward the door. Judy recognized one of them as he said, “Just a sec’.”
Maybe he had seen her… but no.. She watched enraptured as he pushed the hair gently out of the face on the gurney. He bent and kissed the face on its cheek. “Ya know,” he said to his helper, “Sometimes this job gets to me. I kinda liked her.” He pulled a sheet over the face and they rolled the gurney out into the hallway.
Judy touched her cheek. ‘I’m dead,’ she thought, ‘I’m toast and now they have taken me away.’
“Don’t worry ’bout it, lady!” Startled, Judy turned toward the sound of the voice. A boy of indeterminate age stood before her. “Hey, my name is Henry!” He offered Judy a hand.
She took it and relief washed through her. She could actually feel the flesh of his hand. “Wha… wha happened?” she asked tentatively. Something about the boy’s appearance bothered her. ‘He looks like the face on ‘Mad Magazine,’ she thought, a quite uncomfortable thought, especially considering the circumstances.
“Well,” the boy replied, “By the book I’m s’posed t’ give ya a bunch o’ closure stuff an’ lead ya through the um… uh, oh yeah, the transition. But hey, tomorrow’s Halloween an’.. Oh well, see I was hopin’ for a babe closer to my own age. Hey well, age don’ matter, not to us anyway. Am I right, Sweety?”
“Who are you?” Judy asked weakly.
“I toldja once,” he replied. “My name’s Henry. My friends call me… well, I ain’ exac’ly got no friends.” He offered her a mischievous smile. “If I did, they could call me Henry.”
“Do you know what’s happening to me?” Judy asked.
Henry stood there ogling her breasts. “Hey Sweets, is dem real?”
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© artwork & words conceived by & property of Tom (WordWulf) Sterner ©
Soon Angels was first published in “U” Magazine