It was Sunday and the patients were allowed to be in their rooms in the early evening, and that was exactly where Maggie was. Lying on her bed as her heart raced. She could feel something was wrong, the pressure, the weight upon her. She did not want to get up, let alone a snack consisting of a peanut butter sandwich and an orange.
She lay motionless, feeling pinned to the bed. It was as if she were in a sleep paralysis where she could hear the usual sounds of the evening—a patient reading the Bible aloud while others walked around.
Her neck ached, she wanted to die. If she had a gun, she would take her own life, just like Cory. She could not shake the feeling of impending doom. Not only for herself, but also for her best friend Jess—well, former best friend. And for Ethel, especially Ethel. The feeling was overwhelming and unbearable. She could not open her eyes, speak or move, but she could hear everything that was going on around her.
Then there was a screech at her door. Chloe began screaming so loudly it was as though someone was about to behead her with a machete.
“Get off of her,” Chloe shouted from the doorway with a loud piercing cry.
Moments later guards were in the room.
“What’s going on?” one guard said to Chloe, who now stood mute with her hands over her mouth.
“I’m talking to you, Ms. Ackerman,” the guard said, sternly.
“I . . . I see something on Maggie,” she said, pointing toward Maggie’s motionless body.
“There’s nothing on her,” the guard said, walking up to Maggie.
One guard began shaking Maggie’s shoulder. “Ms. McGee, get up. It’s almost time for the med pass.”
Chloe ran down the hall shouting, “Don’t go down there or the devil will get you.”
Maggie opened her eyes and began yelling so loudly her voice began to crack. She began swinging her arms, trying to push away what she thought was the black robed entity, but instead she was pushing away the guards. She was fighting, screaming, and in a panic. One guard radioed for help while they tried to subdue her, she wanted to run down the hall just as Chloe did, but the guards restrained her.
“Get it away from me,” Maggie shouted, struggling against the guards.
Soon another guard arrived with a straightjacket. “Ms. McGee, if you don’t calm down you’ll need to go to the quiet room.” He held up the straightjacket for her to see.
Maggie could not help herself. How could she? The entity fed on her agony every chance it could. She could not escape it, and no one, except Chloe, could see it. Maggie was out of her mind as she kicked at the guards’ legs. She wanted to run away, but they would not let her.
Soon, the three guards had her in the straightjacket as they pulled her down the hallway, down the staircase, and through the dayroom to the quiet room, screaming the whole way.
“The demon keeps biting me, it’s like a vampire,” Maggie yelled. “Somebody has to stop it or I’ll die. It’s getting stronger.”
“There’s no demon, Ms. McGee,” the guard said, tightening his grip on Maggie’s restrained arm.
With the guards still holding her, the nurse gave her an injection of lorazepam to quiet and calm her down. It worked. Soon she was lying on her side on the floor mat.
Maggie heard the door to the room close. Her rapid breaths became quiet as she lay there under the influence of the tranquilizing effects of the benzodiazepine.
A guard stood outside the closed door and looked through the door’s shatterproof window. He turned toward the nurse who had just given the injection. “She and Chloe are giving me the heebie-jeebies with all their talk of demons.”
Beth, the nurse, dropped the needle into the sharps container. “Yeah, I know what you mean, Wade. But you know there is no such thing as demons and devils.”
Wade looked at Beth’s trembling hands and smiled. “You don’t seem too convinced.”
Beth shoved her hands into her blue scrub pants pockets. “There are some people that think mental illness can be caused by demon possession, but I’m not one of them.”
Wade nodded and looked back through the window. “Did you see that?”
“See what?” Beth said, moving next to the guard so that she could get a better look into the quiet room.
“Don’t report me; I don’t want anyone thinking I’m crazy,” Wade said. “But I thought I just saw the hair on the side of her neck move as if it was pushed away.”
“It probably just fell to the side from gravity,” Beth said.
Wade raised an eyebrow. “She kept saying a vampire was biting her neck.”
“Are you trying to say there’s an invisible vampire in there with her right now?” Beth said. “She’s crazy, not a victim of a vampire. You know that.”
The guard shrugged. “Yeah, that’s totally ridiculous.”
Beth walked back to the medication room to continue the evening med pass while Wade kept peering into Maggie’s locked room. He kept looking at her, at her hair, at her neck. He rubbed his eyes and looked again. For a moment, it looked like the skin on the side of her neck was moving. Must just be her heart beating.
After Chloe had taken her medication, she looked at Wade, who was looking into the quiet room. She crossed her arms as if a chill had come over her. She timidly walked toward him.
Wade turned and looked at Chloe. “Do you need something, Ms. Ackerman?”
She shrugged a shoulder. “Is Maggie okay?”
Wade nodded. “She’s okay. She’s sleeping.”
Chloe inched slowly closer to the window.
“You need to go back to the day room,” Wade said, not wanting Chloe to break out in a screaming rage again.
Very timidly she said, “May I see her?” She looked at the floor and then back up at Wade. “She’s my friend; I want to make sure she’s okay.”
“One quick look and then you need to get back with the others,” Wade said, stepping to the side so that Chloe could see inside the white room.
Chloe was taller than Wade and much skinnier. She kept her head down, not yet ready to look into the window. Before she looked up, she asked, “What do you see?”
“Why are you asking me that?” Wade said, annoyed. “I see Ms. McGee lying on her side on the floor.”
“Nothing else?” she said.
“What else am I supposed to see?” he said. “You’re not afraid of seeing that vampire, are you?”
She looked up at him. “You saw it, didn’t you?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Wade said, shaking his head.
Chloe slowly turned her head, and her eyes, to look into the quiet room. She stopped breathing when she saw the dark robed entity wrapped around Maggie with its grotesque head at her neck. Then she saw it look up at her. Chloe could tell that the entity knew she could see it. She held her throat and began gasping for air as she fell into Wade.
“Help, Ackerman’s having a seizure,” Wade shouted as he lowered the distressed mental patient to the floor.
While the nurse and two other guards came to Chloe’s aid, Wade looked back into the quiet room. He saw Maggie’s head be yanked back as if someone had pulled it to expose more soft tissue. Then, for a moment, a fleeting moment, he thought he saw a dark shape, with long jagged teeth, bite into Maggie’s neck.
Chloe stopped shaking and began weeping as a guard helped her stand. She looked at Wade, who was still looking through the window at Maggie. “You see it, don’t you?”
The guard looked at Chloe, who was being escorted away and then at Beth. He wanted to say what he saw, but instead he looked back into the room.
“What’s wrong? You look like you saw a ghost,” Beth said with a cocked smile.
The guard pointed at Maggie through the window. “Does she look okay to you?”
Beth walked next to Wade and looked through the window at Maggie. “She is laying a little weird, I’ll check her. Besides, she can have the restraint removed now.”
The guard opened the door for Beth but did not go inside. He watched as she checked Maggie’s pulse and respirations. He heard Beth ask Maggie if she was all right and then saw her eyes pop wide open, but she did not say anything. Then he saw the nurse remove the straightjacket and attempt to reposition Maggie’s head and body so that she was not so contorted. And that was when he saw the demon inside the room clearly—it was on the mat with Maggie. He saw its black decaying face rise from Maggie’s neck and saw its long, snakelike tongue lick some invisible substance from around its mouth. It looked at the nurse and pushed her so hard she hit the wall on the other side of the room. The nurse winced as she slid down to the floor. Then he saw the thing’s red eyes look directly at him, and then yank Maggie’s head back to expose her neck, and began feeding again. Wade could sense its arrogance and imagined it saying, “So what are you going to do about it, Wadey boy?”
He ran in to help Beth up, but she was already standing and running to the door.
“What the frickin’ hell just happened?” Beth said, terrified.
“I don’t know,” Wade said closing and locking the door. “But it wasn’t McGee that pushed you.”