On the rooftop

I’ve never been a huge fan flash fiction, mostly because I can get extremely wordy when I’m writing. But, shorter fiction has piqued my interests a lot lately, plus an ad for a paid flash fiction contest is stalking me through social media now, so it sounded like it would be fun. Plus I’ve been motivationally challenged about writing for the last couple of weeks, so something I could do in a few hours seemed a lot more manageable. It seemed to work, so I can’t complain!

Photo by Qusai Akoud on Unsplash

            It was a beautiful day outside, the skies a perfect blue and the sun shining gloriously when the nurse stepped out of the elevator onto the rooftop of the hospital, pushing a feeble old man in a wheelchair.  There was steel in her eyes as she reached the edge of the roof, jolting the old man as the wheels collided against the short ledge, all that was keeping him from the long drop to the ground.  The nurse went around the wheelchair, coldly staring at the old man.  He was so withered that most people would have been shocked that he was still alive.

            “I don’t know how you’ve fooled everybody else, but I see you for the monster that you are.  The rest of them down below can just look the other way.  Three roommates, all dead within twenty-four hours of being near you, all wasted away.  Sure, they were all old and in the ICU, but nobody dies like that so quickly,” the nurse said with hate in her voice.

            “What are you going to do?” the old man asked in a halting, raspy voice, gasping for air between words.

            “Why, I’m just taking you for a walk.  Fresh air is important for patients to get better, you know,” the nurse said, then sighed, “nobody will be believe that when I come down alone, of course, but I know that I’m doing the right thing no matter what the consequences are for me.”

            “Do you think I’m afraid to die?  Look at me.”

            The nurse shook her head stubbornly.  She looked, but there was hate in her eyes.  “I don’t even know if you can die.  Maybe I should have just tried to ‘accidentally’ give you a lethal dose of something, but I don’t even know that would work.  And … I took an oath to help people.  Maybe I’m breaking it here; I don’t know anymore.  But I know that I couldn’t see the damage done up close.  But up here… I won’t have to see the aftermath of what I’ve done.”

            “Please… Don’t do this.”

            The nurse laughed, which turned into a sigh.  “Do you know why I know that you’re a monster?  I was working last night, and I was the first person to respond when your last roommate coded.  I saw you getting back into your bed.  You shouldn’t even be able to walk, but I saw it.  And most importantly, I saw those things coming out of your body that just shouldn’t be.  And that’s why I can do this with a clear conscience.”

            “You’re crazy.”

            “I’m sure that’s what they’ll say about me.  Local nurse went crazy, threw her patient off the roof, but it doesn’t matter,” she said, then got back up and grabbed the wheelchair handles, tilting it up over the ledge.  The old man seemed to have some strength left, as he managed to hold on for dear life to keep from sliding off over the roof. 
            The elevator chimed and the doors opened.  A man in a lab coat stepped out in scrubs, unit cigarette in his mouth.  He met the nurse’s eyes as she glanced back, and both froze for a moment.  “What the hell?” 

            The nurse hissed with anger, then redoubled her efforts to dump her patient as she heard the new man’s footsteps coming to her at a dead run.  Just as the old man started to slide down, hands grabbed her by the shoulders and roughly threw her to the side.  She landed with a thud, getting the breath knocked from her as her arms scraped against the roof.  

            “What the fuck is wrong with you!”  the newcomer yelled, the cigarette, completely forgotten, falling out of his mouth.

            “It’s a monster!”  the nurse screamed, though it came out rather breathless. 

            “You crazy bitch.”  The man said, staring at the nurse with disgust.  He grabbed the handles of the wheelchair and started to push the old man back to the center of the roof. 

            “No!”  The nurse yelled, struggling to her feet, and blocking the wheelchair with her body.

            When the nurse proved surprisingly tough to get around, the man growled, then leaned in and punched her in the jaw as hard as he could.  “You don’t know how screwed you are right now!”

            Her heading spinning from the blow, the nurse shrieked in rage, then dove at the man, fighting like she was possessed.  After a moment, the man started fighting back with full force, realizing that it had become a fight for survival.

            At some point, the two had ended up pushed against the ledge of the roof.  Both were precariously balanced, with the man on top, winning with his size and strange.  It also didn’t help that she was still dizzied from the punch.  The man had descended into some sort of battlelust, and at this point, it was all she could do to keep from sliding over the ledge.

            Suddenly, the man let out a cry of shock, and his eyes rolled up into his head, then he went limp on top of the nurse, as there was a disgusting sucking sound.

            The nurse wriggled her way out from underneath the man, trying to figure out what happened.  Once she was free, she saw the old man standing on wobbly feet in front of the man.  There were two… appendages coming out of his chest and attached to the other man.  He seemed healthier than he had on the way up as he smiled toothlessly at the nurse.

            Bloody, battered, and dazed, the nurse shrieked with hatred.  She grabbed hold of the old man, feeling him struggle against her, felt those appendages stab into her chest, causing excruciating pain to her, but she found the strength from adrenaline, managed to lift him off of his feet, take the last step to the edge of the roof, and throw him over the edge.

            For a moment, the old man hung onto the nurse through the appendages, but then there was a wet ripping sound, and they tore free of her, and gravity took hold.

            The pain of detachment from the appendages was worse yet, and the nurse collapsed to her knees, losing hold of herself.  She looked down, saw her scrubs had become red with blood.  She only had time to wonder how much of it was her own before she collapsed the rest of the way on the roof and darkness took hold of her. 

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