Some of you around here know me, and some of those know that I am an amateur writer. For those who don't, I write a lot of short fiction, most of wish would fall into the horror category. Anyway, it's now in a contest on Reddit, and I figured I could include it here, and if anyone thought it deserved it, maybe they could toss me an upvote? I'd really like to win, to be honest, since it would guarantee a reading on the NoSleep podcast.
Voting: The story is named "I'm No Angel" in the comment section. Just an upvote for that comment is enough. Please don't downvote any competition, though!
Anyway, the story is included below:
It's 3:17 in the morning, and I leap from the bunk as the tone rings. To an outsider, they might just sound like a series of beeps, like a more elaborate form of morse code, but to me, and to folks like me, it sounds as clear as if it were announced over the loudspeaker. Two short beeps, one long, two fast. This is what it sounds like when EMS Rig 6 is brought into service.
My shoes are on my feet before the tone even stops, and I am out the door prepared in under half a minute. We don't need to inspect the rig to make sure we were ready, we do it at the beginning and end of every shift. Lord forbid you arrive on scene and find yourself without Oxygen, or airways. I'm in the passenger seat a full 15 seconds before my partner, Jonathan Torres, a man who always looks better than he is. You have to give the man credit, it's admirable how he can hide himself behind hundred dollar sunglasses and hair gel.
We are pulling out of base as Dispatch comes over the radio. It's a trauma case, and it sounds severe. An early 20's woman, signs of head trauma, likely altered mental status. This was a major league deal. Most people think EMT's ride around in an ambulance all day, like some sort of angel in a blue coat. I'm no angel, just a guy with a job. The fact is, most of what we do is just drive the elderly between hospitals and long-term care facilities. We're a taxi for the fucking geriatric, by and large.
We're on scene long before ALS, and there's a black and white there to greet us. Torres must know the guy, since they give each other a friendly nod and quick, informal greeting. The officer tells us that they were called to the scene of a bleeding, incoherent woman. They suspect drug use. I glance over, my hand tightening on the green bag in my palm. It weighs maybe 40 pounds, and has everything in it that you could ever hope to need in case of an emergency, most of which goes unused for practically everything.
We approach the woman, and I'm a little taken aback. She's beautiful, even with the dried, caked blood holding her blonde hair to her forehead. I feel empathy, something as an EMT, I'm usually completely desensitized to. She's younger than the reports, maybe 16, if that, and is very apparently nude beneath the fire blanket the officer must have draped around her shoulders. She clings to it. For the briefest of moments, I am jealous of a piece of flame-retardant wool.
All she says is that "he almost got her", and that she is terrified and needs to go. We try to assure her that she is safe, and we'll get her going in just a moment. A focused examination of her head reveals discoloration behind the ears, often common with sudden, swift blunt force trauma. Her eyes are banded like a superhero's domino mask, not unlike a raccoon. I'm a little amazed that she doesn't have brains leaking out of her skull at this point. It's a fucking miracle that she's not dead, much less walking and talking.
ALS arrives shortly after, and label her as an unstable patient (due to the altered mental status more than the bashed in head, admittedly), and decide to transport her to St. Francis, the closest trauma center with any kind of cranial specialization. And just like that, the miracle woman, the beautiful, nubile girl with a mysterious past is out of my life as soon as she stumbled in.
I'd like to tell you that I let sleeping dogs lie, but I just couldn't. This girl stayed in my brain, infecting me, affecting me. I laid down my head, and I dream of her. I answer calls and I hope they're her. I let this go on for a week and a half, until I can't keep up anymore. As I go to load a patient, I drop my end of the stretcher. Torres yells at me. I don't hear a thing.
That night, I drive to St. Francis.
It's 5:30 in the morning when I arrive, entering through the emergency admittance entrance. The code for the door is *911, as unimaginative as that is. I work my way past nurses and Doctors I know well, citing a need to pick up a Billing Form I had forgotten. They all nod and give me a knowing smile. These things happen. Accidents happen.
I find her room easily enough, somehow drawn to it. She's not in the ICU anymore, just resting in a bed. She looks so bored, so tired of this hospital. I can relate, I tell her. Sometimes I wish I could just get away. I ask her if she wants to leave, and of course she does, but she's afraid her parents will be upset with her. I tell her they never have to know.
She smiles. Today I am a hero.
I wheel her out in a stretcher. I make sure to time it as soon as the morning charge nurse is away from her station. Dahlia, as I learned her name, pretends to be asleep and motionless. She's so smart, too. Once we're in the elevator, we're in the clear. People just assume I am transferring her. It's funny how easily you trust a man in a convincing uniform. Briefly, I'm terrified to think of what I could get away with if I had a fake badge.
We're to my house before long, and Dahlia sleeps the entire way in the car. I understand, it gets so exhausting in a hospital. How is a person supposed to rest with all of those people, constantly shuffling in and out, all of the pills they give you "for your own good". What a joke.
I carry her across my doorstep like my bride. She's wake now, and she thinks it's adorable. She's practically screaming with happiness at this point, and I'm once again glad I live in such a remote area. It's a half mile of forest and interstate between myself and the city itself, so the privacy is always abundant. Faintly, we can hear voices below us, in the basement. I sigh softly, reminding myself to make sure I turn off the television before I leave my rec room.
I take Dahlia to bed, as any man does with his new bride, and I love her patiently. She's hesitant at first, but some reassurance is all it takes before she bends to my will, much to her benefit. She's so appreciative of how slow we take it, how I respect her virginity and take it with the most delicate of touches. She cries with joy, now, and I smile.I carry her to the family room below, and the voices greet us more urgently this time. I remind Dahlia not to be so forgetful as me, and that she should always remember to turn off the TV before leaving the house. I apologize for not setting a better impression, and I tell her I'll show her to her room again before I take care of it.
We walk down a long hallway, lined with doors on each side, until we come to the end with a more ornate door than the others. There's a small, circular window in it, similar to a porthole, and you can see her beautiful room. There is a shelf with beautiful dolls for her, and a wardrobe full of clothes. I tell her it's all for her, and that I'll never let anyone hurt her again. I lay her in her bed, and she rolls over, crying with happiness once more. It must feel good to be this loved.
I leave her room, quietly locking it behind me so as I may not disturb her. She'll be safe here.As I walk back to the family room, the screaming finally comes to me, from behind the doors. Faces of other brides stare back at me, faces twisted with jealousy and envy. They know how much I will love Dhalia, and they're ungrateful for all I've given them. I shake my head slowly. They'll have to be punished for such impudence. A better man might be more understanding, but, afterall, I'm no angel.