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The address said 696 Eden St. and the building was easy to find, considering it was the only building on the whole street. There was a substantial contrast between the picture of the address on Google Maps and this colossal-sized building. The picture only displayed the logo ”Ever After Homes” and the front entrance of the building. I whipped my phone out from my smoky-grey pea coat to dial the number of Dr. Lucie—my battery was at three percent. I needed to get out of this frigid weather, especially since my interview was in five minutes. Being that I was short on time and energy on my phone, I began to walk hastily toward the most familiar entrance—the door was locked.
A blood-curdling scream and a crackling thud rang through my ear before I could make my next move. Petrified by the gruesome sounds, I stood deathly still.
“So sorry, my dear,” said a spine-chilling intonation.
Startled, I turned around to meet the mysterious voice that lurked behind me. My eyes scarcely met with who I assume is Dr. Lucie. He looked as if he could live as a resident in the facility I would soon be working in, instead of an actual doctor. The antique lab coat he wore had a Monroe bisque hue that was evidently once a lucid white. His hands were folded together behind his back in angst to give me all the information that this new career path entailed. His demented grin rippled through his face to his bare head; lines of skin folding one over the other.
“This way, dear,” he chuckled.
With a disgruntled feeling of suspicion, I followed him behind the seven-floor building. He walked rapidly to a gaited door and violently opened it. If it wasn’t for the fact that I needed a new job and a place to stay so desperately, I wouldn’t have gone inside.
To my surprise, his office had a very elegant feel to it. Newton’s Cradle balance balls dangled at the front of his desk. The walls smelled of fresh paint and had a hinted color of salmon. I sat down in front of him and did not say a word. He just kept staring at me with this maniacal smirk.
“Here, drink this,” he said as he pulled out a bottle of sparkling water.
It looked expensive. “No, thanks,” I said with a look of concern.
He looked dismayed. His face slowly retracted into an almost expressionless frown; so I just drank it to appease him. It was almost instantaneous that he gave his signature smile again— that made one of us.
He gave me the usual walk-through of the floor that one would give at any job. As I walked through the corridor leading to the lobby, the smell of an old elementary school dumpster filled my nostrils. The putrid stench of urine, defecation, and carnage mixed into the aroma like it was done by hundreds of Febreze plug-ins. I was on the verge of vomiting. The sound of “Mr. Sandman” by The Chordettes echoed through the halls in muffled high and low pitch monotones. With Dr. Lucie’s left hand tucked inside of his left lab coat pocket and the other hand snapping, he swayed to the lobby merrily. There, I was introduced to the grotesque residents that I would be serving these “happy pills” to for a long time to come.
After being introduced to almost every resident in this limbo of a nursing home, I was finally escorted to my dusty palace that I now call home. Taking this job felt like such a dishonor to my full capability—aren’t I better than this? Maybe that’s just my pride speaking. I can already sense the dread I will be feeling waking up to the smell of death at the dawn of every morning—goodbye life.
“Bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, Mr. Sandman...” The music woke me up from a dream that I could not remember. The thought of my deceased mother fluttered through my head as I was putting on my beige scrubs. Taming my emotions, I wiped the single tear that ran down my jowl.
A strident holler shrieked my name. “SABRINA!”
With no moment’s hesitation, I bolted out of the door to the med station where I come to find a resident by the name of Lynda Marie. She traveled by wheelchair and could not sit up straight. This forced her to wear a belt. You could always tell if she was around. The bitter old woman was paralyzed on half of her face; it made her drool a great deal on herself. She smelled of a rotting foot infused with wet dog. The doctor suggested I give her extra medicine so that she would not scream.
“Just shut up and fork it over you disgusting excuse for a person!” Lynda snarled.
Before I could put the pills in a sauce cup, she lunged herself forward, yanking the whole bottle from my clutches and began to feast upon the yellow tablets as if they were her last source of nourishment. I swiftly grabbed the bottle from inside her mouth. Unsuccessfully, my hands had slipped from the sage mucus spewing from her nose—she swallowed all of them.
Dr. Lucie gleefully took her to her room. Her face had amber red blotches and her glazed violet tongue hung lifeless from her mouth. Dr. Lucie later thanked me and said that Lynda needed a nice rest. Guilt circled my mind as a shark does around its helpless prey. This job was too much for me to handle.
It was the end of the day and the music began to skip and fizzle. I had been sulking so long that I did not even notice that Lynda was my only patient today. My eyes were swollen from the excessive crying I had been doing for the past eight hours. I was contributing to the harsh realities of this world. Lynda’s vegetated state reminded me of the last interaction with my mother—I was a mess.
The lights at the med station flickered and the music was almost completely impaired. The sound of doors slamming shut echoed the hallway like a demolition site. The smell of wet metal took over the integrated facility. The light bulbs blew out one by one and the only form of illumination came from the red fire exit sign on the other side of the corridor— time to go.
Instinctually, I fled the med station as quick as a gazelle would run from a pouncing lion. I slipped on a turquoise ooze bleeding from every crack on the floor.
“Leaving so soon, my dear? Come and take those special pills! It will make you feel better! C’mon, you ape!” said Dr. Lucie in a shrill voice through the intercom.
Hearing the thunderous footsteps of a rabid being behind me, I bear-crawled to the fire exit until I could use one of the safety bars to stand up. Finally, I slammed the door open and entered to the roof of the seven-floor building.
This is the in-between; truly a place of limbo. It’s humid and foggy on the roof of this building. I felt lured to the edge. My eyes became flooded with confusing tears.
“Nobody is left to care, Sabrina. Just do it,” said the malicious doctor from the intercom.
I closed my eyes and just as I was about to jump, an angelic voice cried out, “Follow the voice of Urie. Sabrina, follow me!”
I turned and followed the little girl like a bat out of hades. I felt almost as if I was floating down the steps while my spirit gravitated towards her; it was magnetic and majestic. Nothing was stopping me from fleeing her guidance. We were heading toward the entrance of the building where I first met Dr. Lucie. I could taste victory for it was not far.
“Hurry! Hurry!” Urie said anxiously.
The light that beamed from the open door was as bright as the back of God himself. I was free, but Urie was out of sight. Her anxious voice turned into wailing sirens of police cars and ambulances. An EMT was pushing a body into the ambulance. Overwhelmed with such a revelation, I dropped down to the concrete floor. With not a moment’s hesitation, the EMTs launched me onto a stretcher. Flashes and moments of them checking my vitals faded in and out until the anesthetic they gave me put me to sleep—I was still.
When I had woken up, I was in a hospital bed with the curtains closed. The nurse took notice of my consciousness and ran to get a doctor before I could even ask any questions. I saw the shadow of the nurse writing in a note-pad while the doctor muttered his thoughts. He then snatched the notepad from the innocent nurse and haltingly opened the curtains.
“Hello, my dear.”