“I’ll show you where he is. Follow me please,” the nurse said as she walked down the hallway with me following by her side. She looked at me and gave me a small smile, and I answered with a half smile of my own. It was pretty obvious in her eyes, even if she was trying to hide it. She was sad for me. “He’s… weak, so you’ll have to be easy with him.” Which meant he was dying, so try not to speed the process up. I nodded my acknowledgement and looked straight ahead. She tried to make some small talk, something about things happening for a reason and things would turn out fine and stuff like that.
I simply tuned her out.
We passed a few other nurses, and I could see the same thing in their eyes. It wasn’t sadness, it was pity. They pitied me. The relative who got the short end of the stick to come and visit the dying man who sometimes talked to things that weren’t there. Only I knew better, which is why I had decided to come of my own volition. I didn’t need their pity, or their sadness or their sympathy. I vaguely noticed the nurse walking beside me try and put her hand on my shoulder, then think better of it and retreat. That was good. I didn’t need the pity. I was here for the sake of formality… and to see if maybe something would change.
I pulled out of my thoughts because the nurse had changed direction. It seemed they’d taken him a little further down. Most likely so he wouldn’t upset the other patients and make their own ailments get worse out of worry. It’s what I’d do. Or maybe I’d just dump him off somewhere and never look back… I couldn’t really tell.
“If he’s sleeping, you can wait by his side. But try not to wake him up,” the nurse told me. I nodded my acknowledgement again and watched her face.
She had the look in her eyes again.
And something else.
To her, it didn’t make sense that I wasn’t grieving, smiling, crying, fidgeting nor hasty. I was blank. I could tell by the passing reflections of my face in the room windows. I shrugged to myself, causing her to become even more befuddled. I was tired of pretending to be a normal person in a sorrowful situation when it was nothing like that. I was just a person drifting through an event that happened to involve someone related to him.
We reached a door and stopped in front of it. I waited for the nurse to open it, and I could see that she was struggling with something she wanted to say. She opened her mouth a bit, closed it, shook her head and then reached for the doorknob. She twisted the knob, but must have made up her mind because instead of pushing the door open she turned to me.
“The man in there… he ‘sees’ things,” she said gingerly, then paused. “Who is he to you?”
I believe I didn’t blink or bat an eye when I replied. I only shrugged. “My father.”
She regarded me for seconds, and though she may have not known it, she shivered when she pushed the door open. I didn’t envy her. Working in hospitals was tough enough. When someone like my father, who ‘saw’ things got into the mix, it got a little more eery.
In truth, they were not wrong. My father did ‘see’ things. The hospital staff thought he was possessed. I knew it was retribution for all the spirits he had wronged. Or righted. I don’t really know. What I do know is he made a deal with the devil, and I was the payment. But of course, I’m entering his hospital room looking at him with so many liver spots it’s like a connect the dots children’s book. I never understood what his occult affiliations were, but I have to assume they involved money and power one way or the other. Or maybe knowledge. Or fortitude. Looking at him now, I realize it doesn’t really matter.
“You have been promised to my god! And to my god you shall go! That is why I brought you into this world, you worthless sack of bones!”
My very own father had confessed to me that he had made my mother pregnant just so he could use me as a sacrifice. I tell you, it still doesn’t make sense to me. My mother tried, but I didn’t know her that well. Father was the one who was always around while mother languished in what later became a perpetual suicidal state. Until she eventually committed suicide and left me with my father. From that point on I was constantly attacked; I’d see little things that went bump in the night come up to my bed and claw at my face. Sometimes, it would be leeches that appeared out of nowhere, sucking on my blood or energy or whatever it is spirits are wont to suck. My father would see the signs, the scratches, the clotted blood and he would only smile at me and promise that it would be over soon. I shudder to think of the several times I had my skin sliced just so something could come and lap at the blood.
I tried to tell. But no one ever saw the injuries. To them I was as smooth as ever, and that reinforced in their minds that my father was taking excellent care of me. He was in the hospital now because of me. Because he failed to deliver me for the main course after years of appetizers. I resisted, I fought, I stuck a knife into him and he only looked at me with anger. And then I ran. I had been preparing my escape for a long time, and finally I was able to run.
But… I digress…
The nurse left me alone with him and walked out, her footsteps quicker than when we were coming. I stared at the figure in the bed, and searched for something. Anything at all, but there was nothing.
What was I looking for? Sadness? Anger? Hatred? Delusions? Pity? I felt nothing for the man who was clawing for his life. I walked to the bed and sat down on the chair by the side. I didn’t bother to push it closer; I wasn’t here to bond. I was here to observe.
“So… you came…” a sandpaper voice said. With a blank look, I gazed at the face of my father, tubes decorating his body like art. My blank stare unnerved him, and he knew that I knew. “I… don’t know… what I was… thinking…
“Your mother… bless her soul… she was a… a… sweet… sweet person.” I said nothing, just stared blankly at the decrepit figure squirming in the bed. He waited a few seconds for me to speak. I didn’t speak, just kept staring at him. He tried staring back.
I could do this all day. He, on the other hand, could not.
He realized this, and cleared his throat. Or tried to. Instead, he entered a coughing fit that I patiently sat through.
“I didn’t mean… didn’t know… she killed… killed herself… my fault… I tried…” Jumbled words. It didn’t matter, though. He was dying. I was waiting. Nothing had changed. “You… they will… come for you… I… I should… have delivered you to them… would be… better that way…” I had questions in my head. Why did he do what he did? What did he do? What was the deal? What was to have become of me if he had succeeded? But… it didn’t matter.
He was dying, I was waiting. Nothing had changed.
“Oh no… no no no no no no no.” He grew frantic as another of his ‘things’ came by. I switched my gaze to where he was looking and saw wispy black smoke wrapping around itself. Dishevelled tendrils pulled out of the mass and suddenly I was looking at a being from the spirit realm. One of the actual ones that did the talking and dealing. I knew I should have been scared, but when you have demonic leeches sucking your blood at the age of 8, you don’t really get scared of much else. It even becomes quite normal to sit in a room and see smoke form the shape of a being.
“Boy… are you here to deliver your father?” The smoky entity’s whispers travelled all around the room. I stared at the entity and shook my head. The entity chuckled. “Well then, father, you shall perish. It’d be best, boy, if you left now.”
“No thank you. I’m fine where I am.” My first sentence since I entered this room, and my voice sounded as calm as it would if I was asking for a glass of water. I won’t lie, I was a little afraid of myself at that point. Had I become so abnormal I could hold a conversation with the entity that had come to kill my father? Maybe, maybe nothing.
He was dying, I was waiting. Nothing had changed.
“You mortals… sentimental lot you are. Would you like to say a few words to your father?” That whisper again, inside and outside at the same time. I looked at my father and saw tears falling down his face. I should have been surprised; I rarely saw him cry. In fact, he had drilled it in me how crying was a weak mechanism and how I should never let anyone use it as a bargaining chip over me. Ironic that now he was trying to use it on me. Or maybe he was crying because of fear. It didn’t really matter.
“I’m so sorry… I’m so so sorry…” My father blubbered in-between sobs and sniffs. When he got himself under control, I saw hope in his eyes. Hope that maybe after all these years I would finally speak to him and absolve him of his sins. So many things went through my head, but none of them came out of my mouth. I could see the moment when he went from hopeful to crestfallen as I returned my gaze to the entity regarding us with… interest? amusement? disgust? I couldn’t tell. It didn’t matter either way.
A slim tendril snaked out of the mass of smoke and slid all the way to my father’s neck, piercing the skin and pushing deeper.
Was it painful? Was it sweet? I couldn’t tell. I could tell, however, that my father was pleading with me using his eyes and whatever sounds that could pass out of his mouth. His skin tone started turning paler, and I could see the life getting sucked out of him.
“We have your blood. We will come for you when it is time. Do not think to run, boy,” the whispers lashed out again. The heart monitor showed that my father’s heartbeat was slowing down, and his eyes were already fluttering close. I got up from the chair, straightened my clothes and regarded the entity.
“When I’m ready to see you, then I will see you. Until then, you can have him and his allies.” I was still calm, and it was scaring me. But I went with it and shrugged. The entity stayed silent for sometime.
“Your gall. It is amazing. Let us meet again, boy,” the entity chuckled before it finished up on my father. I shrugged again when the heart monitor flatlined and walked out of the room. There was no point in staying around, so I began to find my way out of the hospital.
He was dead. I was gone. Nothing had changed.