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LaMonte Henderson

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The Maternity Ward
By LaMonte Henderson
Thursday, February 19, 2004

Rated "R" by the Author.

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Another work in progress - Horror set in a hospital's maternity ward.


 


 


 “And I’ll tell you this Doc; you don’t have to believe a single word! Hell, it’s not me asking your medical opinion concerning my mental stability; it’s those fuck’in dumb ass cops and straight-laced bureaucratic fuck’in lawyers. They all want to prove me insane so I’ll rot in a fuck’in nut house somewhere but I know I’m not crazy and that’s what’s bothering them, Doc! If I’m not crazy then how could I do what I did? I told them all about it. Told ‘em about all the weird shit that was happening there at night and they just laughed. They called me a fuck’in weirdo, said I was nuts right before they cracked my skull with their Billy clubs and boots.”


A sickly grin slowly spread across his face and his eyes seemed to expand in their sockets.


“It took twenty five stitches to close the gash,” he said as a shaky finger pointed to a clearly visible patch of scalp intertwined with sutures, “and they broke three ribs you know? It’s amazing the damage that army issue black boots can do when all of one’s energy focuses on one particular task, isn’t it? And these,” he hooked an index finger in his cheek and pulled, exposing a row of several broken teeth, “are another result of those little black boots. However, I don’t blame them, Doc. They don’t know that I’m not crazy. They don’t know that I have no hidden tendencies to kill kids. They don’t know that I’m not just some pervert who gets off on that sick shit! Hell, I would never kill a child, Doc but those kids weren’t normal. Shit, I’ve told you that before! I even told you about the missing plasma and plate. Those kids … Doc . . . they . . .”


“Listen, I don’t care if you believe me. All I want is to tell my tale.”


Dr Roberts placed his well manicured hands upon his expensive mahogany desk, quickly glanced at the shiny platinum Rolex upon his skinny wrist, interlaced his slender fingers and prepared to give his full attention to the man stretched out on the light brown, crushed velvet sofa directly in front of him.


The man’s name was Wayne Akins.


As the police files indicated, he was a twenty nine year old Caucasian who resided in Lynwood, California. He had had no previous police record, not even an outstanding parking ticket. He had worked as a LVN at Dr. Martin Luther King Hospital in Los Angeles before passing the exam and becoming a Registered Nurse. He worked the Emergency ward for three years at Dr. Martin Luther King Hospital before transferring to the Nursery. After two years, he transferred to St. Francis Hospital’s Maternity Ward. Police Inspectors asked former supervisors why he transferred, delicately insinuating behavioral problems.  They said he had transferred simply because he was exceptionally skilled with infants and small children and that his expertise was largely needed at St. Frances Hospital; that and the fact that a huge bonus was being offering to RN’s with experience in the Pediatric field and they were willing to pay a much larger base salary with better benefits. Most ended up asking the Inspectors, “What would you have done? The pay at county hospitals sucks.”


On the night of January 30th, just four months after taking the job, Wayne Akins entered the hospital and walked towards St. Francis’s Maternity Ward wearing a dark trench coat that concealed a sawed-off shotgun. After squeezing off two blasts into a security officer who had tried to stop him, Wayne Akins calmly strolled into the Maternity Ward’s Nursery and proceeded to blew seven infants to kingdom come. Two more small children, ages three and two, he stabbed to death with a scalpel. Another two year old police found strangled with a large towel twisted tightly at both ends.


When the S.W.A.T team stormed the hospital, Mr. Akins had given up without much resistance. Detective Aldridge of the Lynwood Police Department told Dr. Roberts that the scene of the crime had looked like something out a cheap B-movie splatter film. Blood and carnage was everywhere not to mention the twisted and disfigured bodies of the murdered children. The shear amount of blood seemed eerily out of place, even in a hospital. He was definitely not squeamish but the crime scene had caused him to puke out the cinnamon bagel and hazel nut coffee he’d had for breakfast. The sight of all those dead and mutilated infants touched something inside him. It wasn’t just the fact that they were dead but how they died. The ones that Akins shot had pieces …well, missing. An arm blown off here, a piece of a foot there, a leg under there; one female even had a huge section of her head blown off.


If left up to him, Akins would get the easy chair with the rock-your-socks-off voltage. Not a deadly dose, just enough to singe off all of his bodily hair and lightly fry his brain. Then Detective Aldridge would personally cram Akins into the gas chamber. Aldridge would smile as he watched the fuck’in pervert silently scream, choking and gasping for air from behind the plate-glass window as he slowly and painfully died. Unfortunately, it was not up to him, as he had stated to Dr. Roberts only a few days ago.


Detective Aldridge had first met Dr. Roberts in St Francis hospital a few years ago. While investigating a case in which a woman had strangled her newborn daughter, they had exchanged brief conversation and Detective Aldridge had asked Dr. Roberts a few questions pertaining to the woman’s mental health. Dr. Roberts had assured him that she had been just fine up until the point where she found it necessary to choke the life out of her two-day-old daughter. They had run into each other a few times after that, each waving hellos or simply engaging in concise conversation. Dr. Roberts had also helped Detective Aldridge’s department put away a few douchbags with his criminal profiles.    


This was one reason Detective Aldridge sent Akins to Dr. Roberts for what he called the psycho tests. Was this idiot crazy? Did temporary insanity take the bastard over? Were there some deep underlying issues here like his parents beating the shit out of him on a regular basic? Maybe they sexual abused him while they left him gagged and shackled naked in the basement? It was Dr. Roberts’ job to find these things out.


“And why won’t anyone listen to you Mr. Akins?”


For a few moments, Akins did not say a word. He simply lay on the sofa staring at the soothing whiteness of the ceiling. There was something familiar in that whiteness, something angelic yet menacing all the same.


 Suddenly his lips began to tremble and a large vein began to rise, slowly but steadily creeping across his forehead, pulsing faster, growing larger. His lips parted as if to say something then abruptly snapped shut.


“Mr. Akins?”


His head swiveled in the Doctor’s direction as if his neck contained balled-bearings. Beads of sweat had formed tiny pools on his forehead and began running down the length of his nose, finally dripping onto the dirty orange prison jumper covering his rapidly raising and falling chest. He stared intently at the Doctor before slowly returning his gaze to the ceiling.


Then unexpectedly, he broke into a bit shit-eating grin.


“They think I’m crazy!” he finally said, “You know that, don’t you Doc. That’s why I’m here, right? They think I’ve lost all touch with reality, think my sanity just flew right out of the window. But it didn’t, Doc, they’re wrong. I’m perfectly sane. I know what  I was doing. 


Think about it, Doc. Everything was going my way; I was on the fastest train straight to the top. I’d never been involved with the police before this. Not even an outstanding parking ticket! So what makes you think I’d suddenly get a wild hair up my ass, go out and kill babies? Babies, Doc! Of all the things in the world to go berserk over you honestly think I’d choose babies? Hell, I know a few politicians I’d get rid of if I suddenly had to go postal. Doc, I’ve been working to save the lives of infants for a greater part of mine? You think I just suddenly decided there are just too many kids in this fucked up world? On the other hand, maybe I didn’t like the way they cried all the time, Doc. Especially those crack-babies. You think Jesus suddenly appeared to me in the form of a Pepsi can or a biscuits and commanded me to slaughter babies? Maybe it was some traumatic incident from my childhood that forced me to? No, Doc. My childhood was quite uneventful. I was not raped, beaten, locked in a closet for the greater part of my life, forced to fondle Aunt Maggie when my parents weren’t around; there was none of that psychological bullshit you shrinks love so much.


It goes much deeper than that, Doc. Maybe it’s a secret the world would much rather keep hidden under the guise of one individual’s insanity rather than entertain the ideal as fact. That would be giving possible credence to the strange and unknown; the monsters that grab the feet you leave hanging over the edge of the bed at night, the hairy things that go bump in the night, and the glowing red eyes that lurk in your closet, little green men, Doc.”


“I was always the skeptic, Doc. I never believed any of that shit. I have always thought of myself as well grounded and logical. Much like you, I always looked for the logical explanation behind the flying elephant. There has to be one, right? ‘Cause if elephants can fly then something’s wrong with Newton’s theory of gravity and if something’s wrong with Newton’s theory then we all should be floating around, right? The world can’t accept flying elephants, Doc. So if someone starts ranting about seeing ‘em then he or she must have a few screws loose upstairs, right? Just one sandwich short of a picnic, huh Doc, one French fry short of a happy meal, right? So what happens to the screwball who admits to seeing the flying pachyderm? They toss ‘em in a private padded cell where they can rant all they want about that flying elephant ‘cause ain’t nobody gonna hear ‘em anyway. That way it’s easier to except Doc, much easier to explain.”


His voice sounded far away and detached.


“We let the elephants fly, Doc.”


Suddenly the grin left his face and his head whirled towards the doctor.


“You don’t have to believe me,” he screamed at the Doctor, “none of you do! Yeah, I killed the little bastards, fucked ‘em right the hell up! And I’d do it again if I had to! If you would’ve seen what I saw Doc, you would have done the same. I didn’t have a choice. I had to kill ‘em, Doc, had to.”


His face now took on a pleading look.


“Do me a favor, Doc. Don’t judge me by what you’ve heard from them.” He jerked his head towards the door where armed guards waited quietly beside the door. “The papers, the nurses and Doctors, hell even the pigs, fuck ‘em! Fuck ‘em all! They don’t know jack shit! They came afterwards! They weren’t there! Do you hear me? They weren’t there when those fuck’in . . . little … things . . .


THEY WERE THINGS, DOC! Those weren’t kids. No fuck’in way! No kid could do what they did! They …!!! They…!!!”


Akins was openly sobbing now. He quickly swiped away a flash flood of tears. Dr. Roberts watched his lips tremble and a vein on his nose twitch wildly.  


“There was so much blood, Doc!”


Akins stared at the ceiling again when the sobs had passed and a deep silence filled the room.


Dr. Roberts noticed the collar of his jumper stained with perspiration and his hair plastered to his skull. His eyes had bulged to their limits, threatening to pop right out of their sockets. A tell tale vein of stress had ripped a path across his forehead.


He had the look of a mad man Dr. Roberts thought; the look a man gets right before he puts the double barrels of a shotgun under his chin and pulls the trigger. The look a man gets when he finally realizes he has just impaled his two-year-old kid on the sharpened end of a broomstick in his fit of rage, the look a man gets who has just murdered his wife and three children because he thought his wife was cheating on him and now realizes he has a date with suicide. It was a look he’d come to know very well. The look of total desperation and desolation; when your world suddenly consists of nothing more than isolation and despondency surrounded in a sea of dejection and antipathy, the look of a man who is already dead and has just realized it. It was the look of the living dead, the look of earth’s real zombies.


 Doctor Roberts opened his mouth to say something but Akins finally snapped back into the present and decided to continue. He seemed a bit calmer now. However, the crazed look in his eyes still lingered as he turned towards Dr. Roberts.


“Listen, that’s all I ask. Just listen to what I have to say.”


The Doctor silently nodded his agreement.


“Then why don’t you tell me about the parts of your story that are missing, the parts that the police don’t know about? You said they were not there when things started happening. Fill me in. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?”


After a brief pause Akins finally said, “Yeah, I guess that would be best.”


Akins stared once again at the ceiling. The sweat on his forehead continued to run down his face and neck. His lips still trembled, his eyelids twitched and his eyes took on a dead-man’s gaze. A thin stream of spittle seeped between his lips and dribbled down his chin. He absently wiped it off with the back of a shaking hand, produced a battered pack of cigarettes from his left breast pocket snatched the lighter off Dr. Roberts’s desk and lit up in one deft motion. Exhaling a long, thick gray cloud of smoke, he replaced the lighter. Dr Roberts shoved a plastic ashtray his way and cracked open his office window.


“It all started at the maternity ward.” Akins stated, “Why I transferred there only God knows but I did and I went.


And things started happening…”


 


(2)


“… to a good RN like yourself it shouldn’t be much of a hassle. Hell, the crack babies’ ball a lot but you, like, get used to it and stuff. Besides, their sooooo cute! When I first started, I wondered if I could hang. You know, like, wow, stress maxiumus. Day in, day out, same ole stuff. Babies crying, change babies, feed babies, hold babies. Did you forget this medicine? Did you do that blood test? Did you inform the parents? Did you check for proper insurance? Whew! Then you have to deal with all the religious and political crap around here on top of everything else. But you already know about that, don’t you? What department you from?”


“Wha… Oh, Emergency, but I worked …”


“Whoa . . . What a bummer, dude! I couldn’t, like, hang in there. I had to sub for this Mexican chick once and man, I almost puked all over the place. Gave me the creeps, okay? I saw this guy’s femur all jagged and broken just like a …”


“You get used to it.” Akins interrupted, “Just like getting used to babies crying all day; takes time.”


Akins glanced down at the black and white nametag pinned onto the rather dull nurse’s uniform. His eyes wandered to a pair of enormous breasts and his mind instantly imagined her frolicking around a large swimming pool dressed in a Playboy bunny’s bathing suit. She was still wearing the large glasses and her full, sensuous lips were moving but he heard no sound.  His eyes quickly darted back to enlarged light green eyes behind huge, old-fashioned, Jackie-O glasses. Her teeth were perfect, he noticed, and her curly blond hair fell just below her chin line. She reminded him of a fifty’s pinup girl or one of those pictures painted on the nose of B-52 bombers in World War II. Betty Page with short-cropped curly, blond hair came to mind, Jane Mansfield only shorter, Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe in a nurses uniform with Jackie-O glasses. The list could go on forever. He shook the vision from his mind and tried hard to hide the flash of red threatening to shoot up his cheeks and across his face.


“Not that I’m weak in the stomach and stuff but seeing people’s brains splattered all over the place gives me the willies. Just last week this guy got sucked into some machine at that factor over in Inglewood and when they pulled him out his body looked like he’d been inside a meat grinder. GROSS! I mean his…”


“Excuse me Miss Dorsett, but …”


“Oh, I’m sorry. I must be rattling off like those Militant Nuns. Let’s get you changed and taken care of.”


She stifled a giggle.


“Sorry, sounded like I’m talking to one of the babies. Anyway, I’ll show you to your locker and … you already got a name tag, right?”


Akins nodded as he patted his front pocket.


“Afterwards, you have the pleasure of listening to Sister Matilda break down the rules. You met her when we stopped by the nurse’s station, remember? The big East German chick with the husky voice and strong handshake. She has a grip like a man’s and stuff?”


Akins nodded in agreement.


 “Then I’ll show you the babies. They look so cute in their little jumpers and colored diapers. You know, sometimes I wish Bryant and me, could like, you know, have a few. Bryant’s against it. Says the world is, like, pretty lame. No place for kids to play nowadays, except the toxic waste dumps they call playgrounds. That concrete jungles not too friendly for kids. They grow up learning how to break into houses and hotwire cars before they learn how to read. And sex! These kids grow up excessively fast. Just last week he had this thirteen-year-old kid giving birth. Babies having a baby, that’s what my mom says. Kids just can’t be kids anymore. Drugs, gangs, peer pressure, sex, alcohol, mindless violence and don’t forget those video games. And if that’s not enough for you, you got those fanatical terrorist bastards threatening to blowup anyone who tells Allah to go fuck himself on one side and Mr. President with his finger constantly on the nuke button in the name of peace on the other. What is this world coming to?  One day they are going to mess around and kill us all. You have any?”


“Wha…?”


“Kids, you have any?”


“Oh no, I’m not married and I…”


“Well, it’s probably for the best. That’s what Bryant says. Toxic waste dump called Los Angeles breeds mostly criminals anyway. I’d just as well...”


“I’m sorry Miss Dorsett but I’d really like to get started.”


“Jane.”


“Huh?”


“Jane. Just call me Jane. We go on a first name bases up here. Not like the psych ward or dietary, Mr. This and Mrs. That, none of that nonsense here, just Jane.”


She threw him a big toothy, sensual smile.


Akins’s eyes wandered back to her enormous breasts. He caught himself and quickly looked up.


“Okay, Jane it is.”


She smiled again and wiped a curly strand of blond hair away from a huge lens.


“That sounds a lot better.” she said, “Now if you’d, like, follow me we’ll get you set with a locker.”


She quickly whirled around and proceeded through heavy stainless steel double doors and into the crowded chaos of the hospital’s main corridor. Akins was close at her heels.


 


(3)


The rush of Doctors and nurses was strangely soothing to Akins. It meant a sense of purpose, stability in chaos, as he sometimes referred to the mad rush. Most Doctors or nurses encountered in the main corridor were on a mission. Most likely a crucial mission that could mean life or death in the span of precious minutes. The majority were tired; working many hour overtime on little sleep, underpaid and unappreciated still working long hours and suffering physical and mental abuse to save the lives of strangers. Some of those strangers were murderers, some innocent victims, some homeless or less fortunate people looking for a place to spend the night and a free meal but to Akins they were all the same; sick or dying humans in need of help.


Ms Dorsett made a sharp left at the next intersection, rushed through another set of double doors and hooked another left. Akins followed, watching her ample buttocks sway to and fro. He watched the heads of men and women alike turning to watch after her and was left wondering how she ever passed the board to become a registered nurse. He never thought it actually possible for someone to fit the stereotypical description of a dingy blonde but she really fit the bill. A vision of her standing in front of the board of directors, a bunch of gray-haired old fogies of the examination panel, answering questions popped into his head.


“Ms Dorsett,” one of the gray hairs would ask, “would you please explain to the panel the signs and symptoms of thrombophlebitis?”


“Oh yeah! Okay, like, it’s like a real bummer. Unilateral calf swelling, like, reduced or absent pulses in the foot on affected side. You know, like, not a total gross out, just kind of lame, real lame. Pain calf on …”


Akins fought an urge to giggle as Ms Dorsett stopped in front of a door which stated ‘Personnel Only’.


“You have locker number… let me see, um… 44.”


She handed him the wall locker key.


 “Get dressed and I’ll meet you at the nurse’s station, say in about twenty minutes?”


Without waiting for a response she turned and switched through the door and down the corridor. Akins watched her until she disappeared, found his locker and got dressed. Fifteen minutes later he stood behind the nurse’s station feeling like a child on the first day of Kindergarten.


Sister Matilda towered over Akins. She stood like a Drill Sergeant in a habit running down the rules and regulations of her department, rattling of instructions, stating the consequences of broken rules and finally ending stating that absolutely no nonsense would be tolerated. When she was done she casually waved Akins away into the care of Ms Dorsett and marched off in search of violators of her code of conduct.


Ms Dorsett, who had been standing close by with an aluminum chart pressed tightly against her chest and peering through her large lenses, quickly grabbed Akins by the arm and dragged him away from the nurses’ station and in the direction of the nursery. They rounded a corner and Akins found himself staring at a huge display window. Two men stood in front of the window talking and grinning wide grins full of pride and pointing at five rows of cribs behind the glass. The rows were five deep with an aluminum chart at the foot of each crib. Three incubators lined the far right wall and a heart monitoring device was attached to one of them. Beyond the incubators were storage cabinets and a small, glass medicine cabinet with a lock and a huge changing station.  A small nurse’s station had been set up in the left corner and decorated with blue and pink animals. The cribs themselves were white with detachable rails on either side. The baby linen was either blue or pink, depending on the baby’s sex.


Conversation ceased momentarily as Ms Dorsett smiled at the men then disappeared through a door next to the window with Akins following behind her. Akins couldn’t help but smile as the two men exchanged knowing glances before return to the babies behind the window.


“This is where you’ll be spending most of you shift.”


For the next hour or so, she briefly went over the location of necessary emergency items, showing him the basic layout of the nursery, where supplies were kept, medical records and dietary charts and ended rounding every crib and introducing Akins to each of the babies individually.


Eventually, she walked over to an intercom built into the wall beside the door.


“If you need anything just buzz me. I’m pulling watch tonight at the station. This …” she jerked her head toward the intercom, “is tied directly to the nurse’s station. No one answers, it goes directly to security. Marla and Denise are pulling shift with you tonight. They should be here shortly. Tomorrow you’re going to be on your own, Sister Matilda’s orders, so I’d badger Marla and Denise tonight if I were you, any questions?”


I shook my head.


“Good, then I’ll leave you guys and gals alone to get acquainted.”


With that, she switched down the hall and disappeared around a corner.


The rest of the shift was uneventful.  Marla showed up around ten thirty, Denise about half an hour later. They went over the basic routine again. They reaffirm my knowledge of where things were located, emergency procedures and most of all, my knowledge of Sister Matilda’s commandments. They really seemed to over-emphasize Sister Matilda’s rules and regulations, but later, after I had had time to think it over, it seemed oddly out of place. As if something hidden in those rules was very critical to my existence and I had to follow them with great precision.


 


 


2).


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Reviewed by Nickolaus Pacione 2/20/2004
Hell yeah -- this one is flawless in the approach you are looking for with the horror. Very dark, which is something needed in horror these days. I don't think Materinity wards had been played around enough when it comes to horror. You'd appreciate "Dreams From The Stillborn." This kind of horror is an artform.


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