What Have I Done?
What have I done? Sam cowered in the spare bedroom closet of their 19th century Victorian home while nursing the wound on his leg. The smell of dust, sweat and blood permeated the air. The bleeding seemed to have finally stopped but his concern was infection. A big wound like that is surely going to get infected … if he survives.
His love for her had driven him to extreme measures. The doctors said they could not help her, no matter how much of his family money he threw at them. Inoperable cancer, they said. He could not sit by and do nothing, however. He was not going to take her home just to die.
He met Sir Mayberry at a party long before Ellen got sick. The memories of those times made Sam smile slightly despite the pain. Mayberry was an Englishman of many talents and contacts. Sam felt confident that if anyone knew what could be done, Mayberry would. Maybe there was an unconventional or black market procedure or drug. Sam was willing to try anything to save his Ellen.
What Mayberry came up with was more than unconventional and Sam was not sure of the legalities, either. He felt it was worth a try. Sam was told that a man in black would arrive on a certain day at a certain time. This very tall and strange man had a pale complexion and wore a tall black top hat. “I am he who brings the cure. Show me the subject,” He demanded in a strong accent. Sam showed him to the bedroom.
The darkness in the closet was engulfing him. Sam awoke from the daze he was in suddenly with a gasp. He stopped himself from falling asleep in the closet. Perhaps it was the blood loss or the lack of sleep. He sat silently for a few minutes making sure he was not too loud. He knew it was still out there.
Top-hat Man asked to be left alone. He carried a large back bag into the room and locked the door. All Sam could do was pray. He had rediscovered his faith after the loss of their second child at childbirth two years ago. He still wasn’t sure anyone was listening, but it was all he had now. He had to believe there was a plan. Otherwise, he was just another victim of the ebb and flow of the universal chaos.
Then the noises came. First there was thumping. Then a man talking loud, perhaps chanting but nothing was intelligible. He knew he had to trust in Mayberry’s man, however. If it cured Ellen, it was all worth it. “Top-hat Man is he who brings the cures.” That’s what he said.
More noises followed the next several days. He thought he heard a scream but he knew it wasn’t Ellen. He knows those screams too well from the two failed childbirths. They were almost…inhuman. This was followed by the smells. He was not sure whether it was smoke, blood, or urine … or perhaps all three, but it was awful. He could not leave, though, so he burned scented candles in hopes it would cover the stench.
The worst was on the fourth day – total silence. He heard nothing all day. He was tempted to break down the door and check, but he resisted. He loved Ellen too much to ruin this opportunity. He put his head to the door to listen in and he could still hear her breathing. Or at least something that sounded like her breathing. He promised himself to give it one more day.
On the evening of the fifth day, just before Sam had committed to breaking the door down, the silence was broken. A deeper, raspier breathing could be heard from down the hall. The unmistakable odor of blood came from the door. When Sam arrived at the door, blood and gore was pooling from underneath the doorway.
Breaking down the door took more than Sam thought it would. When he did, the horror he saw shook him to his soul. Blood and gore was everywhere – on the bed, on the walls and on the floor. Ellen was nowhere to be seen and neither was Top-hat Man. Sam stumbled in the puddle on the hardwood floor of the bedroom and caught himself on the doorjamb. What did he do?
The raspy breathing continued. Something moved on the opposite side of the bed from where he was. He first saw a top hat rise from behind the bed. Then a mass of horrid and unnatural flesh followed. No face or features were discernible. All he saw was a mass of black, red and purple flesh amorphously moving towards him like a massive amoeba. Before Sam could move, a hideous arthropod-like limb reached out from around the bed and around his leg. Something bit into his flesh. Sam pulled away in a panic and ran.
His leg was beginning to feel numb. Sam fought the fatigue as he thought about what to do. What was that thing? Where was Ellen? His mind was a swirl as fatigue seemed to be taking over. His surroundings were becoming a blur as he realized that perhaps this was more than just fatigue.
Then he heard a door open and a voice, “Sam?” Was that Ellen?
With all the strength he had left, Sam leapt from the closet hoping to greet his wife. The adrenaline from the elation surged in his veins. It worked! My Ellen is cured!!
In the darkness of the spare room, he only saw the shadows of a formless mass and a top hat. He felt something wrap around his waist and bite into his abdomen. The room began to spin. He could hear a raspy voice vaguely similar to Ellen’s say, “Do you like my new hat?”
What kind of cure was this? Another accented voice came from the mass. “I cured her of her accursed flesh.”