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I was sitting in the hospital waiting room. One of my friend’s little girl had been in an auto accident. My friend had been in the hospital night and day and I decided to stop by to give moral support and offer help. Right now I was waiting for the husband to come out of the girl’s room and join me.
While I waited I saw a clown come into the waiting room and sink into one of the seats. Although, the woman’s expression was hidden behind the white-painted face with a wide red mouth, her body posture suggested she was exhausted. I got up and asked her, “Could I get you anything? Coffee?”
She gave a low chuckle, “You must not be used to hospitals. Isn’t hospital coffee supposed to be the worst in the world?”
I took a seat by her. “I had heard that police coffee was supposed to be the worst.”
“Perhaps it is prison coffee?”
“Wouldn’t that be the same as police coffee?”
“No. Prison coffee would have to be anti-police coffee, and therefore, wouldn’t count as coffee at all. We’ll have to think of some other bad coffee,” she giggled now.
I liked her pink fuzzy-curled wig. She even had a pink flower painted on her left cheek. She had painted huge purple half circles over her eyes, which had long pink eyelashes. Her clothing was a silken pink and purple vertically striped jump suit. Although her shoes were longer than the normal shoe, they were slender and feminine – to go with the rest of her costume. I said, “How about airport coffee? Coffee on the fly. That has to be the worst coffee in the world when it relies on insects.”
She showed her teeth in a laugh. “Did you actually make a pun?”
“I did. That’s me. Punfully honest.”
“Uh huh. Airports don’t have flies. At least not ground flies.”
I had to laugh at that one. “You pun some, you lose some.” I decided to bring the conversation back to normal and asked, “You come here regularly?”
She nodded. “Yeah, the kids need all the cheering up they can get. Some of them are in here far too long.” She held out a bouquet of brightly colored silk flowers. “Here, have some flowers to cheer you up. You look like you need it.”
I blinked. There had been no flowers before. Before I could answer she reached behind my ear and pulled back a plastic orange Easter egg. “Go ahead, you can open it.” Inside was a small package of jelly beans and a tiny bird. The flowers had disappeared again.
I laughed and said, “Thank you.” Opening up the little package, I offered her some. We both sat there a moment eating the candy. I perched the little bird on my knee. I was going to explain why I was in the waiting room, when down the hall I heard someone shouting. I watched as the activity level in that wing of the hall increased. Various hospital personnel showed up and I could even see a police officer. For a moment, it looked as if the hospital had everything under control.
The shouting modulated into words: “No! Don’t let it get me. Please help. Oh, dear God, please save me.” People that had gone into the room were backing out. The police officer had taken his gun out of the holster, but appeared paralyzed with fear.
I got up and rushed my way through the throng of people to the room where the shouting was coming from. Sight and smell hit me simultaneously. The sight was a giant grasshopper inside, its mandibles hovering over the teenaged boy on the bed. The smell was that of a demon. Sprawled at the end of the bed was a doctor, holding up an ineffectual reflex hammer as if it were a crucifix against evil. I took a deep breath and using one of my abilities, pulled the grasshopper demon and me into a pocket dimension.
The grasshopper was enraged. Though I didn’t hear coherent words from it, I received the impression of “Mine! How dare you deny me my prey?” It jumped at me. Though I had my sword ready, I was bowled over by its charge. I swept the sword at one of the legs that was stabbing at my face. The ends of the legs were covered with razor-sharp spikes.
By the time I sprung up, I had taken several cuts to my body, but I had scored a hit on one of the six legs. The tip was hanging by a shred of chitin. This injury seemed to give it pause as it remained out of my reach. I gave it a standard warning, hoping it could understand. “You must return to your own dimension. It is forbidden to be here.” I held my sword ready, hoping its soft glow would give the same message. The creature clicked its mandibles which seemed large and sharp enough to take my head off. It circled me a full 360 degrees. My sword was ready to take its head off. In the enclosed side-dimension, I was ready to choke from the stench of this creature.
It jumped and I stabbed upward. However, my sword met nothing as I heard the sound of ripping and I was alone in null space. I flickered back to real time and grabbed the boy and his bed and pulled him into the null space.
“I want some answers!” I demanded through his sobs. Null space is a way to pull the battles away from human experience. The dimensional pocket not only is elsewhere, it is elsetime, so the boy was still at the point of facing the giant grasshopper. It took him a moment to realize that the grasshopper was gone. As I waited for an answer, I saw several places on his body had been bandaged and his right arm was in a cast. The IV line was leaking.
He said, “It was just for fun. I found the spell and thought it would be super-cool to summon a demon. I thought I might get a free wish or something. I never dreamed a monster would show up!”
I threw back my head in frustration. What kids will do in total stupidity. I took another deep breath and said, “It doesn’t work that way. Demons aren’t pets that come at your request. What probably happened was you just caught its attention and it decided to have a little human snack. Where did you find the spell?”
“It was just some old book. I found it at great grandfather’s house.”
“Burn it!” I was through with this kid and took us back to real time. I had sheathed my sword and made my way back through the little crowd of nurses and doctors - who weren’t the least bit happy to have a civilian in their midst. The police officer waved his gun, but appeared confused as to what he was supposed to be shooting at. He lowered it. For that matter, everyone appeared confused. The screams were gone, though the boy was still softly crying. Any grasshoppers, giant or otherwise, were presumably back where they were supposed to be.
I strode back to the waiting room, not wanting to be asked any questions. Let them figure out something to explain the uproar. I’m sure that a simple answer of mass hallucination would suffice. I sat back down by the clown.
She hissed at me, “What in the world do you think you were doing? You’re one of those men who can’t let people do their job. You just had to go stick your nose into other people’s business.” She got up and stomped to the elevator, not even allowing me an opportunity to explain, not that I could really explain.
I blinked and sunk into my seat. I saw the little bird laying on the ground and bent to pick it up. It had been squashed and I worked to straighten its legs out. One leg broke off and I gave it up as a bad effort. I pocketed it then and picked up the remains of the jelly beans to put them in the trash. I hoped my friends would come out soon. I still didn’t know how their daughter was doing.
And for more of Dave's adventures, see "Galactic Guardian Serial"