An Illinois woman loses her ability to walk but that was only the beginning of the horrors that were to become of her. She was haunted by a wheelchair being pushed around by supernatural forces. This was published on the 2004 edition of The House of Pain and in print on the original Tabloid Purposes.
The Ferryman’s Wheelchair
Written by Nickolaus A. Pacione
Word Count: (3,579 Words)
What Hellen Ott saw in her mind and dreams would be an empty wheelchair in a hallway that resembled an old hospice. She could not describe all that was there of her mind and the premonitions living within them. All from her therapy sessions with the doctor telling her about her not being able to walk was the stirring thing triggering her nightmares. While all the while she was confined to bed. The details of the accident were the thing that she cannot recall one bit. In her understanding of the nightmares, became something much darker than what she was able to know. All she remembered of that dream, the rusty wheel chair and having to spend the rest of her life in the thing. She couldn’t really explain the hospice in the dream; even if they played their details out in the vague sense of the word.
“Ms. Ott, I’m afraid I have some horrid news to share with you about the results of your diagnosis,” Dr. Ronald Lawrence responded. He had a stern look to his face.
“What is the diagnosis?” She asked with a terrified look on her face.
“I don’t know if I can tell you point blank,” the doctor said to her, “you will never be able to walk again.”
The wheelchair dream played itself true when the doctor broke the news to her about the results of the accident. She was paralyzed from the waist down but that wasn’t the end of it. The details of the accident were something of a blur. She remembered seeing a woman walking around a cemetery but she disappeared without a trace. Her brother was in the car at the time when it crashed into a semi truck head on. She couldn’t remember how her brother was found by the EMT’s in Justice, Illinois. She saw the spectre walking even when she and her bother were being carried off. As she laid in the bed listening to the doctor – her brother still was in a coma. All she heard when the doctor said, “no longer able to walk,” was nothing but a blur. She was awake; all the surroundings around her was numb. Though if she was dreaming; all she heard was the word “coma.”
She heard the word whispered so slightly, “coma” as it was something so unmentionable. In her mind she saw all the blood within the scene of the car accident; almost if it appeared of what happened to her brother when his head was impaled into the back of the seat when it hit the truck. She was haunted by if he was still alive or not, though they said nothing of his condition. She tried not to think about it because the events would play into the nightmares of something she doesn’t want to see. What she was able of see the teen girl walking around near the graveyard, only to disappear without a trace. While she was laid up; her worry was for her brother. No one knew in her family about the car accident yet, neither did her fiancée, Scott who also worked in the hospital. She kept asking herself, what are they going to say to her family about her brother – especially since they found him nearly beheaded yet; still breathing.
Her mind was going as she drifted to sleep, the details were still vivid of what happened and was able to see as the horror of the accident were vivid. The dream she had of the accident about her brother played the most taxing of details. When she begins to notice before her are every horror turns to life, within the nightmares as the ferryman invited her to walk with him. He was showing her the wheelchair once again but this time with her brother almost fully beheaded and breathing, two coins were taped over his eyes. He said nothing though. All he did was point, and pointed to the pennies on her brother’s eyes. Pushing the wheelchair was the woman known as Resurrection Mary. His head was lopping along; wasn’t able to move his body or limps for the rest of the matter. The way he was nearly beheaded was from behind, severing his spine though the vital organs still functioned. She couldn’t say a word to him because he wouldn’t be able to respond even when she was dreaming. He was comatose and near death; though he might as well be deceased beneath his fleshly coffin with the coins over his eyes.
The brother sat in the wheelchair as it was being pushed along by the spectre who caused her to be in the hospital to begin with. The appearance of her walking on the street caused her to swerve into oncoming traffic hitting a black semi. The emergency medical technicians were trying to keep his head from falling off because of the way the car slammed into the truck. She felt the eyes of the ferryman watching her the whole time. Even when she was being packaged up to be carried to the hospital; she felt him looking at her. His cold eyes – black robe and staff, waiting for the emergency medical technicians to put the pennies over her eyes and the blanket over her head because the condition she was found in was critical to serious. They saw the head dangling by a small thread of skin on her brother; still alive but might as well be dead because he wasn’t able to move his arms and legs. The brother had his whole life to look forward to, now having to be tied to machines. The semi was there, but no one was driving the thing. It had an Illinois license plate, and the registration of it belonged to someone from downstate. Near the Urbana area; but there was no record of a trucker driving that area – not in twenty years. The truck was real enough to nearly kill both Hellen Ott, age twenty-three, and her brother who just turned eighteen.
Resurrection Mary proceeded to push the wheelchair along while the ferryman walked with her. He motioned to Hellen to follow him, follow him into the room where her brother was kept. Hellen could not do anything but watch, helpless to what the ferryman was doing – – looking on in absolute horror to the understanding around her. The ability to walk was nonexistent in the physical realms. Standing before the ferryman she watched; nothing she was able to do to help her younger brother while his head still flopped around as a rag doll. Not a drop of blood touched the floor, only the display seen before her eyes was enough to keep her from looking any ghost such as Resurrection Mary pushed him away to his room. Hellen was able to follow for only a few feet before her legs started to buckle. She mouthed, “wait, bring back my brother – it is not his time, take me instead!”
She wasn’t able to let loose a single whimper. Though her eyes told the horror well.
Back in her bed, she was awake. The nurse shook Hellen lightly because she wanted to have her take her prescription given. Motioning to her to give her arm out for an injection, being that she was still in a lot of pain from the accident. The only thing haunting Hellen is the accident and the nightmare following her as she was carried to the hospital. All the blood on her body wasn’t hers. The blood belonged to the passenger behind her, that passenger died instantly and while they zipped them up in the recovery bag – her brother and her were listening to the ferryman pushing the wheelchair. The wheel chair rested before the car with the ferryman pushing it along – with a pair of coins on the eyes of the rear passenger, her brother’s best friend.
“You’re going to be fine, this will help you sleep,” the nurse said to her in a calming voice.
Please I don’t want to go to sleep, she tried to say but only was able to think it, the nightmares are the reason why I don’t want to sleep. I saw the ferryman with Resurrection Mary pushing along a wheelchair within my dream. How could this pass – or the question of why I was able to see her in the hospital. Or the ferryman pushing my brother along. Something I don’t understand; when the ferryman stood there with my brother –– was it his time to die? I mean –– his head was barely attached to his shoulders, according to the emergency medical technicians he was still breathing. The EMT’s weren’t able to revive his girlfriend; they found her dead on arrival. The ferryman wheeled her away on the gurney. He came for her now he’s coming for him.
She didn’t want to sleep even if the meds were forcing her to sleep. The details of her dream were still vivid, and didn’t have the strength to go over to her brother. The darkness which greeted her was the worry she had for the younger brother and what death followed in the accident, the squeaking of the wheelchair outside of her room; no one was pushing it. The sound was an old kind of sound, almost if a gate wasn’t oiled that well. The pushing along of the chair left a trail of slime, the kind of slime a ghost would leave behind –– though everything around the wheelchair was nonexistent. It was only the wheelchair in the lone hallway. She couldn’t say a word or have the words to say, even the words enough wouldn’t replace anything what she was thinking. She kept looking out the door where the wheelchair was placed, much as it did within the dream – but the setting of the dream was hospice. She sat there in the room and only from the door, she saw the shadow of the wheelchair standing outside of her room.
The corner of her eye which she sees from, the howling of the wind of the winter air kept her company. She felt its howl as she was confined to her bed, and her lower half of the body wasn’t able to move. The full reality of her paralysis sank in – even to her dreaming state. From where she was resting in the hospital, the skyline of Chicago facing the south side was the ever present thing. Even in the darkness she saw the city, and in the next room she heard the haunting old squeaks of the wheelchair. It had an un-oiled sound to it; the wheels moved along the silence killing every bit of it left. In the mirror’s reflection she caught a glimpse of what was in the wheelchair. The blood off the chair was familiar to her, the body of her brother’s girlfriend. The drops of blood and slime oozing under the door; she couldn’t find the voice to scream with. The meds the nurse gave her caused her to be too numb to scream; she barely made sense of her surroundings though the ever present thing was that wheelchair squeaking as a rusty, un-oiled gate. She was haunted by it since she saw the pennies resting on the eyes of her brother’s girlfriend, the girlfriend was seated in the wheel chair with a shard of glass impaled in her forehead. The girlfriend said nothing, but the ferryman was pushing her along.
What is going on around here, why isn’t anyone else seeing this as well? Hellen screamed to herself. All the things she couldn’t make sense of played in her mind, from the blood on the floor to the coins over the friend’s eyes. Please, take me instead. Take me instead, please –– it isn’t their time to pass, I would rather die than to live in this hell not being able to walk. Pleass I beg of you; take me instead of my brother’s girlfriend. I cannot live with myself if I am not able to walk again. Take me instead, please, for God’s sake –– take me instead, she thought. In the horror from her eyes she’d seen it; all the loved ones carried off by the ferryman. Hellen violently thrashed her arms from side to side but she wasn’t able to move her lower half of the body. The further she drifted to sleep; the deeper into the darkness she drifted – and more she felt the hand of the Ferryman touch her IV tubes.
The cold touch of his hand, and telling her, “This isn’t your time to go. I can see the coins on your eyes but this isn’t your time. Nor isn’t your brothers, but the things you’ve seen about him might play into it being his time.”
Hellen began to fade back into unconsciousness once again, it was the nurse waking her up to take her vital signs. The nurse tried to make some small talk with her, but not responsive; asked her about the younger brother but nothing came out of her mouth –– not a single word. The nurse didn’t even hear the creeping of the un-oiled wheelchair passing by. Nor the Ferryman pushing it along or Resurrection Mary was able to be seen from the corner of her eye. She felt the needle pinching slightly on her IV; trying to ignore all the pain she was in. The pain was the immediate thing.
“What is the level of pain you are giving off? On a scale of one being mild to ten being the most severe,” The nurse suggested to Hellen. She had a calm voice to her but even in the pain she was suffering cannot be soothed by a calm voice.
“What does it matter, just give me drugs!!! I must have drugs!! I need something to numb this pain you fucking bitch; damn you, I bet you haven’t squeezed out a few puppies yet, ” Hellen ordered. By now, Hellen was sobbing from how bad the pain was and the reality haunting her. That reality being not able to walk.
The nurse stepped back a few feet, a bit alarmed, “Don’t spin your head around at me. You almost sound possessed when you bit my head off. I don’t even know what it is like losing my ability to walk or begin to imagine what it is like – especially with the loss of your brother’s girlfriend.”
“She was my sister’s best friend. How is my younger brother doing, he is going to live?”
The nurse said nothing at that point and time.
She must of known something, Hellen thought to herself. The thoughts where the loudest thing in her mind, almost if they were screaming. Her observations of the surroundings around her were of the details that drawn further into the horrors within. The needles in her veins slowly pinched at her flesh as the tape secured them, all the plastics sustaining her. Time had no meaning within a hospital room, and time slowly ticked into days. Time had no meaning to Ms. Ott, especially with her being confined without the ability to walk –– almost if she lost all her freedom to walk around, even in her dreams; she was paralyzed. Her legs and waist were dead to the world around her. While she was confined to that bed, she heard the ferryman pushing the wheelchair along with her nearly beheaded brother seated in it. The sound of the black semi truck in the background playing loudly in the back of her head, as a sinister form of a movie theater reminding her what happened and why she was here. Within a musky hospital room she felt the smell of dried blood crawl into her lungs.
In the lungs the blood crawled, as a small parasite they resembled because she was not able to cough them out. The pain within her legs she felt as the limbs were starting to die, and nothing she was able to do about it. While she coughed in pain, the wheelchair rolled closer in the room –– this time with Resurrection Mary pushing the chair and her brother seated with his head dangling almost if it was ready to roll off without warning. Still dangling with a small thread of flesh; still looked at her if he had a sign of life in him. She was helpless to help her brother, Darryl, while he just sat there –– bleeding, and watching her; watching her as she slowly bares the witness of her legs dying to her life before everything the doctors were able to do.
I am alive but still dying, Hellen thought to herself, can someone help me?
Doctor? Is there a doctor in the halls? She tried to get another gasp of wind out to call for the doctor in residence.
“It going to be fine,” the doctor making the rounds responded; “ We could not reach your parents but we managed to reach your fiancée. As for your brother, he’s still in critical condition. The head was reattached but the chances for him to walk are very slim. You are very fortunate to get out of the accident when you did, otherwise, the Ferryman would come for you pushing a wheelchair. Your brother’s girlfriend wasn’t as fortunate. Might as well place the coins over her eyes, and allow the Ferryman collect her.”
“Who’s the ferryman?” Hellen responded, with a weak voice.
“Death,” the doctor answers, “he comes for those with their passing to take them across the River Styx.”
That baffled Hellen, especially she never read up on this kind of folklore. The very thought of the ferryman walking around a hospital with Resurrection Mary; a haunting thing for the mind to fathom.
“What about the semi-truck, that black semi?” Hellen asked with a frightened tone to her voice, “it had no driver. That semi was driving itself, we couldn’t see no driver in the road or if the driver abandoned the truck. The police told us no one had a truck of this description since the mid 1980s. Wait, are you saying my brother and his girlfriend got seriously hurt by a phantom semi? You are now talking of things that can only be described of the Outer Limits, or a diesel fuel version of Jason Voorhees.”
“This truck had no driver or had an existence of being seen, though there was a case of this happening once before in Urbana or just exiting Urbana. A couple was driving west when a black semi-truck slammed into them at an intersection. They just wrote the account off as road rage, but the truck that slammed into them had no driver. A phantom driven truck hitting them, no survivors. I was the medical examiner working the night, it was a scene out of a horror movie –– everything about that night just seemed wrong,” the doctor responded, “if this is the same truck that hit you, consider yourself fortunate to survive. I have seen the similar scene you described when your brother was beheaded alive, and his girlfriend was killed. The wheelchair being pushed away leaving a blood and slime trail. I’ve seen it when was doing the autopsy.”
The doctor continued his narrative while cold sweat was rushing down his forehead, being this might be a similar account to what he saw when he was working Downstate Illinois. He felt as he was walking into an episode of Tales From The Dark Side when he was relating his account of horror to Hellen; but when she described of the wheelchair being pushed along by the Ferryman –– he knew. Somehow the doctor knew exactly of the entity she was barely able to speak of, it was in her eyes of she was trying to say she seen the Ferryman or Resurrection Mary pushing a wheelchair along of her younger brother with his barely dangling head. Hanging by a small strand of flesh, it would appear as one can see all the organs under the skin. The blood continues to flow from them; and he watches while his older sister is confined to bed without the ability to walk.
Even in the lack of ability to walk, her haunting only started. In a silence greeted her when the meds given – the injection of morphine played into her nerves. Even in the blur she heard the sound of the wheelchair creaked across the floor as a rusty gate in the need of oiling. All she saw with the chair being pushed along by a ghost, and that ghost being Resurrection Mary. Her belief in ghosts were something to be questioned, though before she was confined to the hospital –– she never believed in ghosts, just believed in demons and angels. After what she saw of her brother and his girlfriend, she does believe though it is one thing that plays in the back of her mind. Of all that remained, and the horror playing in her mind –– the sound of the wheelchair creaked across the floor near her room, with the corpse that was once the girlfriend of her brother. But the dream about the wheelchair became the horror of reality, that reality that haunts Hellen Christine Ott for the rest of her life – her brother was a beheaded vegetable who might never be able to speak again or walk. For that he was alive, though might as well be deceased. Her legs were dead.
Site: House of Pain 2004 Archive
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"The Ferryman's Wheelchair"
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|Reviewed by Lee Garrett
|Very creepy, very enjoyable. A surreal slide into horror. Great job, my friend.|
|Reviewed by A Serviceable Villain
An outstanding write - a first-rate horror story that 'creeps' into your mind and soul, stirs it around and around, and exits, or does it? Enjoyed immensely!
|Reviewed by Sherry Gibson
A very creepy read but it held my interest to the end. So often when reading a short story of any length I get lost along the way and my interest falls. When I lose my concentration I stop reading. Your story held me to the end, so that was a big plus for it! You ability to bring out details causes the reader to actually visualize the scenes as if they were painted by an artisit. When a writer can make a short story that visual I know it's a job very well done. Great work .
|Reviewed by Mitzi Jackson
|Man Nick, i love the details and this is alittle diffrent from the ones i read of you before changing up alittle?
This is an amzaing write, i agree with earlier comments your imagination is out cold
|Reviewed by Robert Montesino
|Nick! You have an imagination that just doesn't quit...and this story proves that! A fine candidate for the anthology, a story I won't forget! Well done!|
|Reviewed by Terry Vinson
Man, this story is one atmospheric son of a gun.... talk about 'inducing a chill'...this is the one...a true masterpiece of creepiness. This truly deserves to be published.
|Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner
GAWD. this one is creeeeepy! *shivers* horrifying, haunting write--BRAVO! you are the master of these kinds of stories
(((HUGS))) and love, karla. :0
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|YIKES! Chilling, scary write, as only you can pull off! BRAVO, Nickolaus! (I'll never look at a wheelchair the same way again! THANKS a LOT, bub!)
(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :)