Look Again (short story)

This is a little flash fiction piece I wrote for the fun of it. When you finish, feel free to comment. I’d love to hear how many characters you could identify. Enjoy, M.C. Lee

Look Again

The motorcycle squealed around the corner. Paul tightened his grip on Henry’s waist. Night was almost here, and they still had to get home in one piece. Not that they’d stay that way after Mom found out Henry had blown another job interview by showing up late in holey jeans and insulting the boss.

“Hold on,” Henry called over his shoulder, revving the engine. “This baby can go a hundred miles an hour! Nobody comes down this road; it’s perfect.”

Green grass and narrow side roads flickered. They shot past a large building so quickly Paul could only read “Hos.” The speedometer hit forty as they passed a 25 MPH sign.

Paul gulped. “Maybe we should slow–”

A large shape loomed in front of them. A horn blared. Henry jerked the handlebars. A truck blew past as the motorcycle wobbled.

Henry stepped on the brake and struggled for control. He slid toward the edge of the road and hit gravel. The motorcycle spun.

Paul flipped off the back of the cycle and tumbled across the lawn. When he could breathe, he removed his helmet and pushed himself to his hands and knees. His left ankle screamed until he rolled into a sitting position on the grass.

Where was Henry?

The acrid stench of burnt flesh wafted through the air. Paul crawled to the overturned cycle and shoved it off his unmoving brother. One side of his body was burned from face to foot.
“Wake up, Henry! You idiot, why won’t you ever wear your helmet?”

Why wasn’t anyone around to help? The truck was gone. Across the wide lawn, he could barely see the “Hos” building. Oh, please, let it be a hospital instead of a hostel or a baked goods factory.

Henry groaned and then screamed.

“Oh, boy.” Paul struggled to one knee and pulled Henry up halfway. He drew Henry’s good arm over his shoulder. “Ready, stand!”

“Okay, okay,” Henry whined, as he lurched to his feet.

Together, they limped toward the distant building. They had crossed half the field and could finally read the Hospital sign in the dim light when they saw a petite redhead in overalls weeding around a large oak tree. She looked up at their calls and dropped her tools. She jumped behind the tree so quickly it looked like she melted through it. By the time they reached the tree, she was already gone.

“She could’ve helped.” Henry’s breath hissed between his teeth with every step.

“Yeah,” Paul groaned, hopping on his good leg.

They hobbled on until a shaggy, heavily-bearded security guard ran out to help them. He threw Henry over his left shoulder, then wrapped his right arm around Paul’s waist and half-carried him to the hospital. “Let’s get inside before dark, and we’ll take care of you.”

As soon as they crossed the threshold, the guard yelled for help, and people came running with wheelchairs and stethoscopes. “The moon’s almost up. I’m off shift,” the guard said. “Huldra will be here as soon as the sun sets.” He dropped each of them into a wheelchair and ran off.

Paul could see the huge night guard strolling down the far end of the windowless hall. The florescent lights made her skin look gray against her navy uniform. Then the hospital staff swarmed around, blocking his view while they took vitals and tallied wounds.

“Nick’s in the burn unit,” Paul thought one of them said. The man still wore Vulcan ears, two weeks past Halloween.

“This is bad,” the fair-haired woman in gray scrubs wailed. “Call Dr. Frank from surgery to assist.”

Those two took Henry one way while a bald man with a tattooed forehead pushed Paul silently in another, too rapidly to read most of the door signs. Paul saw only Sandra Mann: Anesthesiology, and Bo G-something: Psychiatry.

He was helped into bed and abandoned for hours. Henry’s burns were higher priority, but someone should still update him. He stared at the brown Maintenance door across the hall until he had memorized every board and hinge. It took him an hour to notice the handle was halfway down the lower Dutch door.

When a lab tech showed up to draw blood, Paul tried to interrogate him about Henry.

All his questions were answered with a lisping, “I don’t know, thir,” as the tech watched Paul’s blood ooze into large test tubes.

“How much do you need?” Paul asked. “Does setting my ankle even need blood tests?”

The tech licked his lips.

Paul hadn’t meant to imply he was incompetent.

“You can athk Dr. Harker, thir,” the tech mumbled. He gave a tight-lipped smile and left with the blood.

Paul threw himself on the pillow and listened to the nurses next door laughing and talking about the bandages they rolled. When they walked by, they had almost as many bandages trailing off their bodies as piled on the cart. What a sloppy hospital. He hoped they were more proficient with Henry.

He still hadn’t gotten answers before the janitor worked her way past him. The tall, beautiful woman hummed to herself as she swept. When she came back the other direction, she sang and pushed water endlessly in front of her mop.

It was nearly morning when Henry woke Paul from a nap he hadn’t known he was taking. His brother’s burns still crossed his face, but he moved easily.

“Henry! Nobody would tell me how you’re doing. I was starting to worry you died, and they were hiding it from me.” Paul laughed at the joke.

“I’m fine,” Henry said. “They hired me in their imaging department and sent me to look at your ankle.”

“Fixing my ankle is great, but since when have you been an x-ray tech? Won’t Mom be surprised!”

“I’m sure she will,” Henry said. “Hold still for a minute.” He leaned over Paul’s ankle, turned transparent, and slid his ghostly head into the break.

Marty C. Lee

© 2018 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.