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Welcome to Bedside Manor 6

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

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Tobias took a knee and pulled the boy away from his mother’s body. An awkward silence fell as we waited to hear what our honorary leader could possibly say. I didn’t envy his position. I wouldn’t have known how to talk to Wolfgang under the best of circumstances. I certainly couldn’t process more than a superficial “I’m sorry for your loss” if I had to. But Tobias wanted to be the one in charge, and that position came with certain burdens that guns simply could not help.

Tobias did the best he could, “Wolfgang, listen. I need you to be strong, okay?”

The kid seemed plenty strong to me. Just a callous, empty, “Okay,” followed by a long stare at his mother’s body and the words, “I guess whoever killed the old woman got Mom, too.”

Jerry was the next to speak. “I think it’s high time we all get out of here.”

Tobias stood and turned to square off against him. “Get out of here... and go where?”

“Anywhere,” answered Loren, stepping up to Jerry’s side. “Pick a direction and go! There’s a murderer in this house. It’s better than sticking around and getting picked off one at a time.”

“Nobody’s going anywhere!” Tobias said sternly.

Jerry crossed his arms. “It sounds an awful lot like you’ve got an ulterior motive to keep us in place.”

Tobias was getting worked up now. “If I was the killer, don’t you think I’d just have shot you all by now and been done with it?”

“Of course not,” Jerry responded. “The thrill is in the hunt.”

I punched him in the shoulder. “Alright, everybody shut up. Okay? Whoever’s behind this was hoping for this exact scenario. I don’t know how they did it, but I don’t much care anymore. The important facts are these: We’ve all been lured into a trap. We are being watched and toyed with. Nowhere inside this house can be considered safe and none of us can be trusted. The stupidest thing we can do is stay put.”

“Wait a second,” Tobias said. “What do you mean by ‘we’re being watched’?”

“Jerry and I have reason to believe our room is bugged.”

Tobias shifted his eyes to the body. “So then, there could be cameras. There might be footage of whoever killed--”

A jolt of energy shot through me fast and hard. I lost my breath and nearly lost my balance along with it. For a moment, I thought I was having a heart attack. But then the moment passed just as suddenly as it came.

“Dude,” Jerry put a hand on my shoulder. “You alright? You look like you just swallowed a stinkbug.”

“Claire!” Loren caught her sister before she fell over. “What’s wrong?” She struggled to catch her breath, then looked at me and answered without using her words. The killer knows we’re figuring it out. He’s panicked. He’s changing plans. And someone is about to die. It wasn’t just a suspicion or an intuition. It was the feeling of terror you get a half second before a car accident. When you see it coming but can’t stop it. The moment when time slows down, when some people see their lives flash before their eyes. It hadn’t happened yet, but we were way too late to stop this. It was as good as done.

“Fuck!” I screamed.

Claire finally spoke. She said exactly what I knew she was going to say. “I’m so sorry.”

The feeling was already wearing off. That sense of inevitability dwindled by the second, replaced with a newfound urge to get the fuck out of there before what I saw came to pass.

I chose my words carefully. “We have to leave!”

Tobias raised his voice. “I said we’re not going anywhere until--”

I’d heard enough out of him. Tobias wasn’t the only one here with a weapon. Before I’d even had time to think it through, I pulled the stun gun out of my pocket and hurled it as hard as I could. It struck him right between the eyes, dropping him onto his back.

“Yes!” I screamed immediately before realizing why I should not have done that.

“Dang, dude,” Jerry said. “Nice shot.”

Tobias was already getting back to his feet. He reached into his jacket, presumably going for the handgun, but then his face registered a look that I recognized all too well. The oh shit look. That’s when I knew, He doesn’t have his pistol anymore! He looked around for his weapon, but his eyes settled on something else.

“Jerry!” I screamed, pointing to where the stun gun had landed by the stairs.

Tobias leapt for it. Jerry let out a battle cry of “Sproing!” as he dove headfirst across the hall. They collided and tumbled down the stairs together. Loren stepped forward, but I held out my arm to stop her.

“Wait,” I said.

“For what?”

“Until we see who gets the gun.”

They both took a hell of a beating on the way down. There was blood on both of their faces when they finally came to a rolling stop. Jerry kicked the stun gun across the floor. Tobias took the bait, leaping to his feet while Jerry grabbed his ankles and pulled them out from under him.

Loren asked, “Shouldn’t we…”

“No, no, he’s got this.”

I knew Jerry would either get to the weapon first, or Tobias would spend the only charge on the one guy here who had already tasered himself for fun on multiple occasions. They grappled clumsily across the room until Jerry got the upper hand, snagged the weapon, and fired it into the air with a triumphant, “Ha!”

Tobias immediately punched him square in the nose. Jerry dropped the gun, grabbed his bleeding face, and said, “Ah fuck you, ya sore loser!”

Loren charged down the steps with Claire tailing her. I kept close. When she hit the foot of the stairs, Loren shouted, “That’s enough!”

Jerry pointed at Tobias, “He started it!”

Loren ignored him. “This isn’t helping! Put your dicks away and pay attention to what’s happening before it’s too late!”

Tobias wiped his bloody face off on his sleeve. He looked around at the crowd that had gathered on the first floor, then up the steps. “Bridget?” His voice had lost all authority. Now it was replaced by simple, old-fashioned fear. “Honey? Where are you?”

I looked behind me. There was no one at the top of the stairs. A quick head count proved that we were suddenly missing two more people. Bridget and Wolfgang were both lost, disappeared into the ether just like old Nathaniel. And… (I just now noticed), Maggie. There was a bloody spot on the floor where she had died, but evidently someone had moved the body.

I looked towards the front door. It was right there. We were almost free. Just a few steps and that unspeakable vision I saw at the top of the stairs wouldn’t be possible.

Tobias was already on his way up the stairs, calling his wife’s name. The others shifted gears accordingly, joining him in the search without even a second thought. Only I stayed behind, by myself, wishing there was something I could do to change their minds. But Tobias wouldn’t leave without his wife. Loren wouldn’t leave without the missing child. Claire wouldn’t leave without her sister. And Jerry wouldn’t leave until everyone else was safe. Nothing I could say would change it. That’s why he was about to die.