Explode into ecstasy
Then slowly dwindle
You clawed your way out
Of a moonlit grave
Through the clods of dirt
Moistened with your own
Bloody piss and tears
When he showed up once more,
Hand extended, offering immortality.
He insisted that you believe he
Was the one who loved you and
Raised you up from the dead
Promising, as he had before,
That he would never be
The one to actually harm you.
In spite of all of the cuts already made…
*Resurrectionists exhumed bodies from fresh graves, then sold those corpses to local anatomists for dissection during the 18th and 19th centuries. They were also known as body snatchers.
*Adult content warning…*
I knew what I needed to do next and it did not make me happy.
Not one bit.
Whipping out the phone, I tapped at it fiercely only to remember that it no longer functioned. It had been years since I had seen an actual payphone anywhere and good luck getting someone to let me “borrow” their phone, especially when I started to explain to him what I needed.
A groan of frustration escaped my lips. I was going to have to go to his office. Or apartment. But no. I needed to keep things professional. It would have to be his office.
I groaned again and chucked the useless thing into the trash can. It made a satisfying crunch against the metal canister as it made impact. I could imagine the spider web of cracks that must now stretch across the screen.
The sharply dressed middle aged woman walking past me at that very moment paused slightly, looking hard at my contorted face, while clearly debating internally whether or not she should check to see if I was OK. She ended up talking herself out of it, going on her way instead. That was good. I didn’t want to have to deal with a do-gooding stranger’s concern.
What time was it anyway? I glanced around for a clock somewhere, anywhere, and found none. He was a few blocks away. I could get there quickly, certainly before five, if I left now.
I started to walk down Jackson Blvd.
My buttocks burned at the thought of his name, feeling the echo of the stinging slap of his hand followed by a lingering caress before the burn of the next strike.
Why does memory have to be so physical?
He was protective but he was also controlling. I was not the naive, docile, sweet woman he wanted from me but he was physically attracted. Very strongly so. As was I. So much so that I was willing to play the role. Those neurochemicals are incredibly hard to resist once you get a taste of them. As such, we pushed and pulled each scrabbling for the upper hand, for control of the relationship, never quite getting what we desired from the other but trying harder and harder still to get it, working up to a fevered pitch that could only culminate in intense lovemaking.
The fact of the matter was that if he started undressing me even now, I would not stop him. I would gladly offer my body up to him. Even now I wanted him to posses me physically. I just could not allow him to possess my soul. I remembered the delicious wetness of him on my thighs afterwards, the heady feeling of power that came from knowing that even while tied up, I could make him do things….
We were on a dangerous path, he and I. It had to end. We each wanted to believe we pulled the plug but in truth, it was mutual and it hurt in a way I was not prepared to accept. The sting of the memory even now was worse than that of his hand on my backside.
In the end I found that I could not stomach making love to anyone else.
So there had been no one else.
People didn’t like him, people that I knew at least. They did not like how he spoke to me, how he hovered and yet seemed to look through me rather than at me.
What do you like about him, anyway?
I liked having my nipples crushed between his thumb and forefinger but that was not the answer anyone wanted to hear. It was not the kind of relationship I could explain to friends, so they drifted off and away. Here I was in the giant city of Chicago, a place full of people of every type, and I had no one else I could turn to for help.
No one but him.
Maybe he had won our battle of wills, after all?
I stood at the foot of his building, at Wacker Street, squinting to block out the glare of the sun as I looked up to the 62nd floor. Right there at the corner was his office. He had pointed it out to me from the outside one day. A strange mingling of dread and desire rose up from within, making my heart pound and my fingertips tingle as I strode into the lobby working hard to maintain a facade of confidence that I did not feel.
The speed of the elevator always surprised me. 62 floors in as many seconds. The force pressing down on my shoulders always made me feel heavier than I really was.
A trim dark haired woman in a black dress glanced up as I entered the reception area through the thick glass doors. I recognized her.
“Do you have an appointment?”
“No, Laura. No, I don’t have an appointment.”
She sighed and rolled her eyes. “You know he won’t see you.”
The sentence was not even completely out of her mouth before I was down the hall, turning the handle on his office door.
My breath caught.
There he was, standing at the window looking out over the city, hands clasped behind his back.
He chuckled a bit then turned around.
“I’ve been waiting for you.”
And then I knew.
Want to know how we got to this point? Check out the other chapters of Impact:
I am hanging out over at Every Day’s A Mystery sharing what’s on my shelf. Come check it out!
He was more handsome in person than he appeared on TV, she decided.
“This might burn going in,” she murmured. “The computer says your level was a smidge too low.” They were piloting a new AI program that made treatment decisions instead of doctors. It was said to be more effective and more reliable, better outcomes.
The patient looked up at her from his newspaper and nodded, winking. “Thanks for the heads up.” A great wracking cough rattled through his chest at that moment, leaving him gasping for breath. He sat down the paper. There was his face on the front page in an article talking about his admission to this very hospital for pneumonia.
“That sounds… better?” It was a statement and a question. She looked at him hopefully.
“Oh, believe me, I do feel better than I did yesterday.” He spit out the great glob of yellow phlegm that had caught in his throat, then wiped his mouth.
“On the mend, then!” She smiled down at her VIP patient. Her shift was approaching its end and she felt some degree of melancholia about that. Rubbing elbows with the rich and famous was quite fun.
Illness was the great leveler, after all.
She couldn’t wait to tell her fiancé!
And her mom.
And her best friend.
Technically she was not supposed to tell anyone about this fellow, privacy laws and all that, but how could she be expected to keep a secret like this? She had really met him, spoken to him, touched him. The part she would not tell anyone about was the number in her pocket. He had slipped it to her after telling her she was beautiful and that he would like to hook up sometime. She patted her scrubs absently to make sure the paper was still there. Not that she would ever take him up on it, mind you.
Power was sexy…. but phlegm? Not so much.
She walked out of the room and back to the nurses station where she charted her activities of the past hour or so in the EHR. She caught sight of the man’s wife getting off an elevator and she found herself watching with envy. The woman was beautiful in a way she herself could never hope to be. His wife walked purposefully, a blue coat draped elegantly over her arm, a slight smile curled on her lips. No one at the hospital had ever seen her smile before. They were all warned to stay out of her way.
He must have called to tell her he was feeling better.
The nurse glanced back at the computer screen. There was a new order for another six bags of potassium for the fellow in room 432.
A quick check of the blood test results reassured her. His potassium level was indeed very low.
She checked her watch. It would be another 30 minutes before she could hang the next one. The next shift would be kept busy, that was for sure.
The papers and news stations all shouted about his death. Across every front page. Leading every news program.
He was dead.
She couldn’t believe it. How? He was getting better.
Did she do something wrong?
The voice on the other line spoke a greeting in Russian.
“It is done?” she asked.
“Da,” the voice said gruffly then hung up.
She smiled to herself as she dropped the burner phone into the crackling fire and poured herself a glass of champagne.
Yes. Of course it was done. A simple hacking right under their noses and no one would ever know. Cardiac arrest from a potassium overdose. In the hospital. They would do everything possible to keep it hidden if it were discovered. No one wants to be the hospital that killed someone like him…
It was a beautiful, elegant thing.
There would be no other women.
Let’s make this one 6.5….
He hit enter then scanned down the list.
Ahhh… a 90 year old woman. Perfect!
This time he picked the sodium level.
In thirty minutes he had changed the results on over three dozen patients. Just one or two per provider, not enough to cause much of a stir…. Since none of the docs at the various system clinics spoke to each other.
Potassium level 6.5? No eveidence of hemolysis noted. Damn.
She sighed and dialed the patient’s number, hoping he would pick up.
“Hello?” a male voice said
“This is Dr. Stephens. I was calling to discuss your lab results. Do you have a second?”
“Your potassium is showing as rather elevated. Most of the time this ends up being an error but at this level, if it is true, it can kill you. We need to get it rechecked. The best place to do that is the ER. They will recheck the levels and do an EKG and if it is really elevated they can bring it down.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, sir. I know going to the ER is not a cheap proposition but I don’t feel like at this level we have much of a choice.”
He sighed audibly. “Ok, Doc. If you say so. Should I go right now?”
“Yes. I’ll call ahead and let them know you are coming and why.”
She had alerted the lab to these abnormal results several times. Each and every time it seemed they were proven false. It had been occurring since the mandate that all providers had to use the system laboratory instead of sending their samples to an outside place. Invariably she was told it must be a problem with the way staff was drawing the blood.
Only it wasn’t… She knew that was not possible.
The board gave a standing ovation. Revenue for the system had reached an all time high. It had been a banner quarter. Things had been looking grim for so long….
A nondescript figure in a dark suit with a light blue silk tie sat silently in the corner, arms crossed, smiling to himself.