This is Part Two of the ongoing horror story, “MAYFLY”. Part One is here. I hope to update every few weeks, so stick around!
So I stayed. Maybury took a troubled breath, and began again.
“I’ve talked a lot of shit in my day, Philip. But nothing we dreamed of could ever prepare me for what I’ve seen.”
I smiled, trying to stir a germ of good humor in the mix. “Prepare you for dying over and over, you mean? I should think not.”
Maybury cackled in his way, jagged, rough, and tempered by years of trauma. “Ha! ‘Dying over and over.’ I must seem like a spandex superhero to you. No, no. The dying is the least of it.” The swaddled man shuddered, idly fingering his I.V. “Let me tell you… The first time I died, I -”
“Knock, knock,” a woman’s voice boomed from over my shoulder. I turned and saw a sculpted woman, dusky and athletic, cool slate eyes set behind half-mast lids.
“Ah, Shaheen. I was beginning to wonder about you.”
“Put this on,” the amazon commanded, tossing Roger a grey trench-coat that unfurled as it flew. “We have maybe three minutes.”
“Did you have much trouble?” Roger slipped off the gown and tucked his little frame into the coat.
“No. No trouble.” She rolled her shale eyes toward me, heavy in their Olmec grooves. “And this one?”
“Oh, he’s fine. He’s an old friend of mine. He’ll be no problem – will you, Philip?”
My foetal response died in the throat under her dead, wild gaze. I shook my head.
“There, you see.” Roger stood into hes pants and slipped on his loafers. “Now, let’s go.”
“You first,” Shaheen intoned, mocking sweet, and gestured with her hand. I obeyed, Shaheen following uncomfortably close behind.
Something was clearly wrong. The steady hospital bustle that had earlier helped lure me to sleep had gone silent. Shaheen’s pace prodded me through the entryway and into the ward. Through the buzz of climate control I picked out a sickening crackle. I paused to listen, but Shaheen grabbed me at the shoulder, forcing me onward.
“Come on. No gawking.”
As furtively as I could manage, I searched for signs of the hospital staff. Phones rang unanswered, and it was all I could do to not rush over and snatch them up. In the window of a second – as we passed the galley kitchen, I saw an orderly in indigo scrubs face-down on the floor, writhing uncontrollably, his gasps and strangulation audible for a moment, then silenced as we passed the doorway.
“I apologize, Philip -” Roger stamped along weakly, some of his usual humor returned. “Shaheen here is my personal assistant.”
“I’ve told you, Maybury, I prefer that you call me ‘bodyguard,’” the woman said, seemingly to empty space. She produced a staff ID card and swiped it on an electric strip. An elevator answered our summons and we filed in.
“Is that so. Tell me, sweetie – if you’re my bodyguard, how on earth did I die again this morning?” Roger needled with a child’s glee.
“You’re the one who wanted a day to yourself -”
The elevator doors opened to reveal a shorn-headed security guard, speaking into his comm with his back to us.
“Yeah, I’m headed there now. Must be a problem with the phone lines again. Damn contractors-” He turned then and saw us, contorting his wormy brow. “Excuse me! This is a staff elevator. You’re not allowed to…”
He stopped, mouth agape, jaw quaking. His eyes rolled in his head and he made a guttering noise as if struck in the throat with an open palm. He had not yet sunk to his knees before Shaheen ushered us on to the parking lot.
“Don’t ask,” Roger rasped secretively in my ear. “She’s sensitive, poor dear.”
“W-will they be all right?” I heard my own voice quiver with terror.
Maybury frowned at the sunlight as we stepped free of the building. “Mm. Surely. Well – mostly.”
“Come on,” Shaheen ordered, ad we hurried behind. Surely, I could have tried to escape then, amongst the cars of the lot, and with the main entrance to my left. But I did not run. The woman, clad in black and jut forward like a grim prow, held a power I could not begin to comprehend. I dared not test it. And despite the fear of the unknown that gnawed at my gut, a thousand questions bubbled up, straining against the lid, demanding answers.
Shaheen remote-started the car as we approached, and no sooner had we piled in than she swung the car out of space and jutted toward the road.”I’m guessing the police will be after us?” I queried causally, as if asking if the Giants were playing this coming weekend.
“That’s likely,” Maybury perched like a gnarled scavenger bird, cradling himself with his arms linked to the ankles. “Does that bother you?”
I take a breath and started, “Look, you’ve already thrown a wrench in my day, and before the authorities crash our little party I’d like to hear about the first time you died.”
Once again, the hex-headed light shown in Roger’s eyes, his mouth erupting in a snarling grin.
“Yes. Oh yes. Let’s start there.”