AJ woke up disoriented. His vision was blurry...where was he? He tried to get up and could not...his hands were strapped down and he was on some sort of bed. A figure loomed over him. "Oh you're awake now? Mr...eh...whatever your name is. What were you doing in a restricted area and why were you screaming? It took 3 of my strongest male nurses to subdue you. I'm afraid we had to sedate you." AJ raised his head up and managed to croak "water....please...water."
The man who spoke to him earlier introduced himself as the director of the facility. AJ knew he had to be tactful...this was a mental institution and the last thing he needed was for any of the so called 'professionals' to think he needed a spell here. He spun a story about being an investigative reporter and explained his screaming was due to a phone call he received a few seconds earlier.
A severely sceptical doctor reluctantly loosened his straps and told him he was free to go as soon as it was morning. "Morning???" AJ asked. "Yes, it's almost 1am, you've been out for several hours...the sedatives were in effect." With one last look at him, the doctor left the room. He sat up and surveyed his surroundings. The room was clean but spartan. He had always hated hospitals, the smell...the people...everything. The pungent odor of ammonia mixed with the sweet, cloying smell of disinfectant wafted into his nostrils. Christ! He was going to be sick...he needed some air. AJ got up unsteadily and walked to the door. Something made him look back at the bed. There, lying on the bed, naked was Lauren. She was smiling at him, if what she had on her face could be called a smile. It was more like a grimace. Her face had a deathly white pallor and he could see deed cuts on her wrists. She held them out towards him..."come, drink...taste my blood...it's sweet...ohhh, sweeeeeeeeet...." He clapped his hands quickly over his mouth, choking the bubbling scream before it could be born. "A Jayyyyyyyyy! Don't you want to join us? Come and lie widddd meeee...we're all friends here...don't you want a lollipop? Sam will be joining us sooooonnnn!!!" AJ shook his head wildly. This couldn't be real...she wasn't real...no, he was dreaming. Lauren stood up and spread her arms. He could see faint reddish crescents all over her body...bite marks. Her head lolled back and now there was a wide gash across her throat as if it had been cut with a crude knife. From the gaping hole came gurgling sounds. He couldn't help it...he bent over and vomited violently. When he looked up, she was gone. His legs were unsteady and he was about to collapse with fright. The sound of the door opening almost gave him a coronary. It was a nurse. "Are you alright sir? I heard some noises...oh! You threw up on the floor...foolish man! Who is your maid that will clean it up? Can't you see where the toilet is?" AJ mumbled an apology, relieved someone else was in the room. Grumbling all through the time it took to clean it up, the nurse mopped the floor. He was sad to see her go. He looked at his watch, it was almost 2am. Good. It would be daylight soon, the only time he felt some degree of safety these days. He wasn't going to sleep...no sir! What if, SHE should come back when he was sleeping? This was a mistake, he should never have come here. Her ghost obviously hung around her husband Jide.
He opened his eyes. It was morning. Despite his best efforts, he supposed he must have fallen asleep at some point. It was time to go. Sam was still in a coma, Lauren was busier and he wasn't any closer to ending this business.
AJ tried to think about all the scary movies he saw as a child. Most of the time, the stars of the movies usually got rid of ghosts by burning their bones and reading some sort of mumbo jumbo over their graves. Bah. That was nonsense.
There was a lot of traffic on the road so it was late morning before he reached his room. The stupid camera sat on the table like it had every right in the world to be there. The lens looked at him like an evil eye and as he moved about, it seemed like the 'eye' tracked his every step. "Gotta keep it together Andrew Junior, you're losing your mind" he said aloud to himself.
After he showered, he hurriedly dressed up...he HAD to get to the hospital to check on Sam. Hello? Where was the camera? It wasn't on the table anymore. Where was it? He looked everywhere but couldn't see it. He bent down to pick up his shoes from under the bed when...FLASH! The camera was under the bed! It just took his picture! No, that was crazy, cameras didn't walk from tables to under beds and they certainly didn't operate themselves. He reached for it and pulled it out. He dropped it immediately. It was hot! He didn't want to look in the visor...didn't want to see what would be there...
His phone was ringing..."that should be sharon" he said aloud. AJ quickly picked the call..."Hello?" The voice on the other end sounded like Mercy Johnson...or at least how she would sound when she just woke up. "A Jayyyyy, don't you like my picture? Look at eeeeeeeeeet! I did it specially for youuuuuuuuu...don't you want to play with meeee? It's fun in here, we're all in the camera...let's play together...you, me and SAMMMM! We can play and eat HIMMMM!" He ended the call rapidly. He was going insane. Yes, that was it. He WAS going to die too, that was sure...but he was damn well going to make sure she wouldn't get her claws into Sam.
AJ looked up and did something he hadn't done in a long while...he prayed. And prayed. When he was done, tears were streaming down his face.
As he walked down his street, he looked at people walking about...smiling...oblivious. He envied them. None of them had a killer camera, hungry for fresh blood. He envied them and then he hated them in equal measure. He wondered if today would be his last day. "Look out!" The sharp scream jolted him back to reality and he jumped back just in time. Lost in his reverie, he had strayed into the road. A big bus just missed him by whiskers. He breathed out loudly, awash with relief. AJ turned to curse the bus driver but stopped. The glass at the back was very dusty, but written clearly were the words 'next time' it looked as though someone traced out the letters in the dusty glass. He shuddered. He had very nearly bought the farm there.
Sam was exactly as he had seen him last. Motionless and hooked up to several strange machines. "They are for monitoring his vitals" someone said beside him. It was a nurse. He didn't hear the door open when she came in. He looked back, the door was still shut. "Is he going to be okay?" said AJ. "Of course he's going to be okay, we ALL are going to be okayyyyyyy" He looked closely at HER now, there was ketchup on her uniform...no, that wasn't ketchup...it was...BLOOD! "IN THE NAME OF JESUS!" She vanished, right in front of him. AJ was about to rush outside and shout for help when a weak voice stopped him. "Uncle AJ..." It was Sam. He quickly rushed to Sam's side. "Sam! You're awake! Ohh thank God!" Sam was tapping his hand frantically. "Camera...take picture...lady..." His eyes closed again. Now there was a different sound from the monitors hooked up to Sam. Urgent this time. He was flatlining. NURSE! DOCTOR!!! I NEED A DOCTOR QUICKLY!!!!
Within seconds, the room was filled with people. They quickly ushered him away, not before he saw the flat line on the monitor and heard the despairing cry of the doctor. "We're losing him! Give me the syringe....!!!!"
Watch out for the final part of this gripping tale by @marcelloz007