Lakeside Doomsday Cult
I step through the door clearly marked FIRE EXIT and the cold December air wraps around me like an icy blanket.
I fumble in my jacket pocket for a beat-up pack of Camel Lights, find them and light one. This is as close as I've got to quitting, switching from regular to lights. But that's pretty much life, isn't it? When you're a kid you aspire to being a doctor - you grow up to be a nurse. Hell, sometimes I still wonder how I made it that far, with all the pot I was smoking in college.I stand puffing furiously on my cigarette, trying to get in as much nicotine as I can in such a short amount of time. I swear to God I'm the worst employee in the continent, I get off in half an hour, and here I am slacking off for a fucking smoke. Christ.
The snow has stopped falling for now, the gloomy black clouds have gone their separate ways, leaving a strangely pretty dusk. A deep orange with streaks of smoke-like charcoal, carving the late year Canadian sky into a god-sized Jack O'Lantern.
My thoughts are penetrated, then shattered by the, like everything else in Lakeside General Hospital, badly aging intercom speakers crackling and hissing a demand.
"ALL STAFF TO WARD 5, ROOM 3, IMMEDIATELY"
Room 3 is where a looney guy from some hardcore Christian settlement on the edge of town is temporary residing. Like, or what rumor says, anyway, is that it's a border line cult, and they’re all obsessed with the idea that the end of the world is coming, and that angels are gonna descend to Earth and save all that have faith, leaving the rest of us to burn for eternity in Hell - which is what Earth will apparently become during the whole party, or some such bullshit.
I take one last drag, inhale deeply, then let the thick blue smoke drift lazily from my mouth before discarding the 3/4 smoked cigarette (what a damn waste) on the asphalt, and heading back inside to see what all the fuss is about.
I make a pit stop at one of the staff bathrooms to piss, and to stash my jacket so I don't get busted slacking off. The man that stares back at me from the speckled mirror looks tired. Actually, tired is an understatement. More like the living dead. Five day shadow strewn across his lower face, hair sticking up in tufts at odd angles, looking like he just dragged his sorry ass out of bed. And where the hell did those crow's feet come from? Some giant hourglass wielding corvidae that comes in the night and curses us all with our own mortality?
I squint and grimace as I notice that salt flecks are already beginning to be laced with the pepper in my once jet-black hair. Hell, I'm only twenty-seven, too.
I run some lukewarm into my cupped hands so it forms a small pool, then splash it into my face. My energy levels have gone to the dogs in the past year or so, constantly groggy and lethargic. I've tried iron supplement pills, and eating more red meat, but it's been to no avail. Nothing seems to make a difference. I rub my eyes and spit into the chipped hand basin, and head out of the bathroom.
The religious nut is really flipping out this time. Three nurses are trying their very best to sedate him but failing miserably, as he's thrashing about like the mad man he is. Luckily (not for him) he's cuffed from the wrists to the metal bed. Crazy bastard's trouble, that's for certain. He arrived here a couple of days ago, brought in by the cops after a showdown in the local Chapters bookstore. Apparently he had strolled in, jumped up onto the counter, and started preaching to the poor folk who had just wanted a new paperback to read on a cold Manitoban Winter's day. By what the cops said, he had really gone to town as well, like waving his arms about, and raving about end times. Old Jim - the store's owner, told him to get the hell out, or he'd call the cops. But that only seemed to work him up even more. He started screaming like a banshee, pushed Old Jim onto his ass, then dropped to his knees, gibbering to himself in tongues. Jim got back up, grabbed a huge English dictionary from a shelf, and clobbered him around the head with it. Then he called the cops.
They arrived, put him in cuffs, bleeding nose and all, and took him over here. To be honest I think they just didn't want to deal with him down at the station - which I don't blame them for, but the fucker really needs to be in a psych ward. Problem is, the doctor who does the admissions down the road is on vacation in Seattle, seeing his family, or something. So for the time being, the lovely people at Lakeside General are stuck with him.
'Goddamnit Bobby! Are you just gonna stand there?' Victoria, one of the nurses shouts, unable to suppress the exasperation in her voice.
Victoria's quite good looking; a brunette with a killer figure. Curves like the end of a hockey stick. I've found I've had a few closer moments with her on the night shift when there's not much to do. One of these days, fingers crossed. I wish the same could be said for the other two. One's a she-dragon, who must have lived here when Lakeside was just a few Métis teepees pitched on the South West side of the water. The other, is a sour-faced woman named Cynthia who really has it in for me and always looks like she has a mouthful of lemon juice.
I have a terrible habit of zoning out a lot, you know, just getting lost in thought. It can happen mid-sentence. I'll just blank out.I manage to grab his legs and hold them down, so the She-Dragon can administer the sedative - though, I wouldn't mind seeing her kicked in the stomach. Or the Ice-Queen Cynthia, either, come to think of it.
The fucker's writhing around like crazy, even though I have his ankles in a death-grip. He kicks free of my hold, and plants a firm kick straight in the belly of the She-Dragon, causing her to drop the sedative before she can dose him up. A horrible choking sound comes from her throat, she clutches at her stomach and drops to the ground winded. I guess wishes do come true. Though, I do feel a slight pang of pity for the old girl.
Christ, he's really wound up now, eyes wide as saucers and raving in a frenzy.
'Our lord will take us to the promised land, we who hold onto the faith, and serve, serve the lord with all of our pure hearts, oh mighty lord, Heavenly Father! The sinners and unbelievers will fall to your sickle of glory! And bathe in the rivers of blood and fire! And burn! Burn! Burn! Oh, this wretched earth will become the new Hell! You will all spend eternity here for your blasphemous ways! Your squalor-filled souls will atone for your malevolence!'
‘Blah, blah, fucking blah,' we get the point, Charlie Manson.'
His bed is rattling like the chains of an old ghost from a forgotten chain gang. The She-Dragon is still on the ground in a sorry pile, Cynthia has ran off somewhere - probably to try and get help, though, I'm not sure who she thinks she is going find, maybe she'll call Ghost Busters. That leaves Victoria, who is standing there looking pretty damn helpless.
‘C'mon Vic, let's get this looney under control - grab that sedative from the floor, it's over there by the window'
The fluorescent tube lighting on the ceiling starts to crackle and flicker, and the other vacant beds in the room seem to have started shaking also - the previous patients got moved to the next room after the fruitcake got moved in. I try and make sense of the situation; surely our religious buddy isn't freaking out hard enough to shake the other beds, and definitely not enough to screw with the wiring. And then it hits me, the painfully obvious answer: a goddamn earthquake. Though, it's pretty rare to have one in these parts.
'Victoria! Better find somewhere to take cover, I think we have an earthquake on our hands now too.'
'Oh shit, you really think?'
Suddenly, it seems like the sky has exploded. Globes of burning orange sail across the night, burning bright and blinding, then dropping straight downward. It was as if the stars were falling to their death. It was the most horrible sound I had ever heard, unfathomably loud, it was as if all the cars in the continent had collided simultaneously, and then some.
Then silence, everything was dead quiet. The window shattering made no sound, the cracks that tore across the plaster walls gave no noise.
I'm thrown off my feet and into the wall with a severe force, by what I guess is some kind of shockwave, sliding down and crumpling in a pitiful pile on the linoleum. Vision is blurred, and I'm feeling strangely euphoric. I can make out the shape of Victoria across the room, also in a pile on the floor, though, there is a puddle of seeping crimson circling her. I believe I'm crying out to her, but I have no way of knowing if I actually am, or not.
Breathing seems to be slowing. Everything is flickering like my grandfather's 16mm home movies; dancing sprites of burning light across the surface of staggered sight. Christ, my head's beginning to hurt, feels like the worst hangover of a lifetime, like passing out after a bottle and a half of Canadian Club and a handful of pills, then waking six hours later to an alarm blaring like an air raid siren, and you manage to pull your sorry ass out of bed only to find you're all out of painkillers and Alka Seltzer.
You know, maybe I could have actually had something with her. She's a nice girl, the type of girl you could happily crawl into bed beside every night, and not wake up regretting it. Or, should I say was, past tense is probably more accurate now.
I must be becoming borderline delusional, the blow to my head screwing something up in my brain, because a figure is descending through the fractured ceiling. Oh shit, I'm losing it. The figure is a man with blonde hair in little curls, and chiseled features - imagine Michelangelo's David growing wings and flying off into the evening. Wings? Shit. The man has fucking wings.
He's hanging in the air above the lunatic’s bed. He smiles, the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, then flaps his feathered wings and drops closer to him, about a foot or two above the bed. Light is starting to seep through the ceiling, tender and pale.
He reaches out and takes him in his arms, cradling him like a small, sick child. He looks into the angel’s eyes, and tears are streaming down his face. They ascend back through the ceiling, and into the chaos of the sky.
I can feel a warm trickling down my neck. I must have cracked my skull.
Growing very faint.
I can feel the life leaving me...It's ending.
About the Author
Benjamin Blake was born in the July of 1985, and grew up in the small town of Eltham, New Zealand. He is the author of the novel, The Devil's Children, the poetry and prose collections, A Prayer for Late October, Southpaw Nights, Reciting Shakespeare with the Dead, and Standing on the Threshold of Madness. Find more of his writing (and photography) at www.benjaminblake.com.