“Deal Down at the Hospital” was originally published in the January issue of Deadman’s Tome.
“After I died,” said seven-year-old Cassie, suddenly free of cancer and wild in the eyes, “there was this big red sky with a huge head floating in it like . . . like the moon, only super close. It was a old man, like a wizard, with sharp teeth a thousand feet high, and gray lips and no hair—not even eyebrows—and his eyes were all white, too, and they looked sleepy.”
The little girl bounced on the hospital bed, feet dangling. She tilted her head and pinched at her blonde hair, which was already starting to re-grow. She couldn’t wait to get her pigtails back.
“And he, and he drooled a lot too,” she went on, “like waterfalls that fell forever. And there were white fuzzies that floated into his mouth. It was a black mouth, except in the back where it glowed orange.”
She paused, clawing thoughtfully at her gown. Her blue eyes danced along with the memories as they came rushing back.
“Oh yeah, and there were all these tiny, funny-looking heads going around the big head like . . .like meteors. They were spinning and going around and laughing. They were so happy!”
“Mm-hmm,” said the doctor, distracted as he went back and forth between charts, x-rays, and blinking machines. “Go on.”
“Then the wizard head talked, but not with his mouth though. His mouth stayed open the whole time like a stinky cave. But all the words went right into my head like, um, like tel-e . . . tel-e-pathic?”
“Telepathic—yes,” replied the doctor, scratching his head over an x-ray.
The girl stood up on the bed and stretched. Her spine cracked quietly. “Guess what he said?”
“I don’t know, honey. Tell me. What did the wizard say?”
The little girl’s cheeks reddened. “He said if I want to, I can live to be one hundred years old!”
“That was nice of him,” said the doctor with his back turned.
The little girl giggled and reached down for a scalpel, her thin shadow stretching across the man’s white lab coat. She bent her knees and leaned forward, swaying from side to side like a parakeet about to fly out of an open cage.
“I just have to keep my promise first,” she said flatly, raising the scalpel over her head.
“Oh yeah?” said the doctor, remembering how much he adored little girls, “What’s that?”
After she pounced on his back and wrapped her skinny legs around his torso, she wasted no time in fulfilling her promise of making sure he never touched another child again.
AUTHOR BIO: Jason Sturner was born and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago, where he has worked as a grocery bagger, elevator operator, rock n’ roll drummer, graphic designer, naturalist and botanist. His stories and poems have appeared in, or are forthcoming in, such publications as Space and Time Magazine, Aoife’s Kiss, Mythic Delirium, Bards and Sages Quarterly,MicroHorror, and Aphelion. He currently lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. Website: www.jasonsturner.blogspot.com